The next time he sees Sherlock, Lestrade is seriously going to wring his neck. He'd also like a quiet word with the tosser who invented penguin suits, the director of the Royal Opera House and Richard bloody Strauss.
He's kicking himself, too: should have known Sherlock wouldn't pass up a chance to sabotage his trip to Rosenkavalier with Maurice once he found out about it. Or maybe Sherlock just couldn't resist watching Lestrade make a prat of himself.
“Oh for goodness' sake, Lestrade!” Sherlock had said. “Everyone knows what you're supposed to wear to opening night at Covent Garden.”
And he'd dragged Lestrade off to Mycroft's tailor for something mysteriously described as “semi-bespoke”, which Mycroft had almost certainly got landed with the bill for, even though Sherlock said it was his present to Lestrade, “to make up for – various things.”
Maurice's stunned expression when Lestrade produced the semi-bespoke outfit from its bag made him feel like a cartoon character who'd just run off the edge of a cliff.
“Isn't this right?” Lestrade asked, heart sinking. “Sherlock said – oh fuck.”
“No – no, it's wonderful,” Maurice said shakily. “I didn't dare suggest white tie – I never imagined you'd be willing to – Christ, the thought of you in that –”
He'd taken the suit from Lestrade and hung it up just so, then hauled him off to bed and shagged him so thoroughly Lestrade couldn't hold a grudge against Sherlock. Or anything else against anyone else, come to that...
It's all coming home to roost now, though: tonight's the night they're going to Covent Garden, and now he actually has to wear the bloody thing. Everything feels stiff and strange: braces instead of a belt with the trousers, a shirt with studs instead of proper buttons, the weird pointy collar, a waistcoat with three little buttons. And that's not the worst of it: Lestrade's stupid fucking tie is already crumpled from his five, no, six failed attempts to wrestle it into submission. He's going to look like he's been dragged through a hedge backwards at this rate.
Going to look even worse next to Maurice, who of course looks bloody immaculate and right at home in his own beautifully tailored penguin suit.
“Fuck!” Attempt number seven produces a worse mess than the previous six.
“Need a hand?” Maurice asks, sizing up the problem at a glance.
“Thanks,” Lestrade says, turning to face him. He's past pretending he can do this on his own.
“Turn round,” Maurice says. “It'll be easier if I stand behind you.”
“Trust me, it works better this way,” Maurice says.
“This is an excuse to stare at my arse, isn't it?” Lestrade complains, but he does as he's told.
“Don't need an excuse for that,” Maurice says, pressing lightly against him. “Oh god, I knew you'd look gorgeous.”
He runs his hands up and down the line of Lestrade's dress shirt and kisses the side of his neck, finding that spot just behind the ear that makes Lestrade go weak at the knees.
Lestrade thinks about saying Sod Rosenkavalier, let's go to bed, please, Maurice. But he knows Maurice has his heart set on their big night at the opera and he doesn't want to deprive him.
Maurice produces a fresh tie – probably has dozens of the bloody things stashed away somewhere, Lestrade thinks morosely. He drapes the long white strip around Lestrade's neck and does intricate things with it while Lestrade tries not to squirm.
“There,” Maurice says, taking his hands away.
They look in the mirror. Perfect.
“How the fuck did you do that first go?” Lestrade asks, aggrieved.
“Public school education,” Maurice says apologetically. “Has to be good for something.”
“Shame,” Lestrade says. “I was just starting to get into having you dress me up.”
Maurice pulls him round to face him and slides his arms around Lestrade's waist inside the tailcoat. Whispers in his ear, tender filthy suggestions about post-opera undressing and all the things he's going to do to Lestrade when they get home.
Which means that Lestrade's going to be fidgeting all the way to Covent Garden and probably half way through the first act into the bargain. If that's the sort of dirty talk you get at the opera no wonder they have to cut the trousers like this.
Lestrade straightens his waistcoat, checking again to make sure his braces aren't showing, and smooths his tailcoat.
Maurice still hasn't got a hair out of place, damn it. He's looking a bit flushed, though, and his expression is a mixture of mischievous and thoughtful that makes Lestrade feel hot under his wing collar.
“What?” Lestrade says, torn between nervousness and arousal.
“I was just thinking,” Maurice says dreamily, “what a good thing it is that we've got a box.”