There were only three hotels in London that Danny Wilde would consider staying in for more than a night or two at the time - well, three in theory. Two in practice - the London Ritz was the long-term residence of a business rival of his called Maury Brown, and Danny had made a very serious promise to himself not to be within three blocks of that man and his obnoxious conversation, ever again. The Athenaeum suited him very well for a time, until an elderly Marquise who stayed there every summer complained that had he offended her sense of decency, and the management politely but firmly asked him to make arrangements elsewhere. Danny had to admit that locking yourself out of your own hotel suite could give an unfortunate appearance, doubly so if you happened to have a couple of girls with you at the time, and perhaps triply so if all of you managed to leave your clothes on the same side of the door as your keys. He wasn't too put out; he was sure that the Mayfair would suit him perfectly well too. And it did, until that rather unfortunate incident with the international gang of jewel thieves and the tiny block of white stuff that turned out to be C4. (Brett had paid for the damage on that occasion, but it wouldn't have made a difference either way.)
After all that, it only seemed natural that Danny should move into Brett's London flat for a couple of weeks, until he found a new place to stay.
Fifteen years later, it occurred to him quite suddenly one morning that at some point, he had been planning to move out again. Dismissing the folly of youth with a shrug, he curled his arm around Brett's stomach and went back to sleep.
It had long been considered beneath a Sinclair's dignity to queue for anything, and beneath their honour to marry in any building smaller than a Cathedral. But Brett was the last of the Sinclairs, and the thought of his ancestors' disapproval didn't trouble him much.
(Besides, Danny hadn't wanted to wait. "Let's do it quickly, before the bastards change their minds. Besides," - patting Brett's paunch affectionately - "you aren't getting any younger, you know." Brett had ruffled Danny's rapidly thinning hair, and murmured his assent.)
And so, on December 21st 2005, two gentlemen in their eighties joined the queue outside a Westminister registar's office to register their civil partnership. One wore his best morning suit beneath a battered but warm tweed overcoat; the other, a pair of extremely well-cut trousers that had fit him better ten years previously, and a plush velvet jacket. He grinned and waved aimiably at the reporters as they reached the entrance to the building.
Brett fiddled with the gardenia in his buttonhole all the way through the ceremony and signed the papers with an almost feverish haste. Danny stroked a soothing thumb over the back of his hand, and flirted with the registrar.
"Is he always like this?" she asked, a hint of a giggle in her voice.
"My dear girl, you have no idea," Brett said, rolling his eyes, and gripping Danny's hand a little more tightly.
"Daniel," Brett said, in a tone of studied casualness, "you're not planning on going back to America, are you?"
Danny raised an eyebrow. "You see me packing?"
Brett gave the sigh of the world's least appreciated martyr.
"Really Daniel, you can be painfully obtuse at times. Allow me to repeat myself. You're not going back to America, are you?"
A prolonged minute of silence - Danny always liked to consider all the angles - then a wicked smile. "Why, your Lordship, I thought you'd never ask!"
"Brett." The smile was still wicked, but there was nothing but sweetness in those very blue eyes. "No, I'm not going back to America."
"Well - good. I thought it was high time we had that cleared up." There was nothing in Brett's voice that could have told you he was anything but calm. Unless your name was Danny Wilde, of course.
"High time, he says. Well, high time if you want, your Lordship." Danny had crossed the room in two strides, and his lips on Brett's were sudden and tender. "Me, I think it's time for some champagne. Don't you?"