William likes spending time in his office after hours; no one bothers him here because no one thinks he stays past 6 p.m. But this isn't overtime; it's down time.
There's a knock at his door, and he mutters to himself as puts his book down on the desk.
"Yes?" he asks, opening the door, and then regrets even answering.
"William," Grell says, and brushes right past him into the office. "You are a terrible workaholic."
"I suppose I am," Will says, and leaves the door open. "I'm quite busy."
But it's clear that Grell has already surmised that Will is quite the opposite of busy as he looks around the room--desk clear, office chair pushed in, and a book sitting next to the very comfortable leather chair in front of Will's desk.
"Oh?" he asks, casting Will a sly smile.
"Yes," Will replies tonelessly. He doesn't put on airs and returns to his chair, leaving the office door open as an invitation to leave, and sits back down where he had formerly been.
"Oh, but Mr. Spears," Grell laments, "I was hoping for your undivided attention."
"What is it, Sutcliff?" Will murmurs, frowning as he picks the book back up.
Grell just preens and says in an injured voice, "I have been accused by various co-workers of my appearance being indecent."
"Well," Will says, not looking up, "that isn't unexpected."
"What a terrible thing to say," Grell says in a psuedo-outraged voice, and much to Will's dismay, closes the office door.
"I'm simply stating the truth," he says, knowing Grell is slowly drawing closer, until he's standing directly in front of Will. "Divine beings in our station are expected to act in the most discrete, respectable and venerable manner -- a value to be reflected in both appearance as well as behavior."
"Am I not pious?" Grell asks, a smile in his voice as he bends forward to meet Will's gaze.
"Some may even call this vanity," Will says, taking a single strand of Grell's long hair between his gloved fingers where it's fallen indolently over a shoulder. "A punishable sin."
"Oh Will," Grell huffs, but he doesn't move an inch. "This is the nineteenth century, not the seventeenth."
"Well," Will says, pulling his fingers back and watching the hair as it drops again to brush Grell's arm, "it is still quite indecent, worn down in that fashion."
"You and your silly obsession with humankind and their prudish whims," Grell says playfully. He leans forward and picks the book out of Will's hand; Will just surrenders it without argument.
Grell straightens and flips through a few pages, then holds it upside down as if it's written in Greek and crosses his eyes. "Oh William," Grell laughs lightly, "I never knew you were such a scholarly prig."
"A man who understands death," Will says, raising an eyebrow and adjusting his glasses, "is a rare human indeed."
"Well," Grell trills, handing the book back to Will, "he couldn't have been that remarkable if he was still on the To Die List, William dear."
"Perhaps not," Will says, and opens the book again. Grell just stands there and stares at him.
"Don't you have somewhere to be, Sutcliff?" Will finally asks, not looking up.
"Well," Grell says, a devious smile in his voice, "I wouldn't want to be caught doing overtime, of course. Since it is nearly 7 p.m."
"Of course," Will says simply. Grell makes an expression of severe consternation that Will doesn't see as he simply flips to the next page of his book and crosses his legs.
After a few minutes of Grell simply standing and Will ignoring him, he finally says, "Well, who is this man taking you away from me?"
Will makes a disgruntled sound of protest. "I am not yours."
"Oh darling," Grell swoons, "fight me more. It's positively delicious."
"Sutcliff," Will finally says, frowning at him, "I shall be forced to remove you myself if you don't stop this ceaseless hounding of my attention."
"But I do have it now," Grell says, leaning forward and getting close enough that Will can smell his hair, "do I not, Will?"
"No," Will says, ignoring the smell of Grell's hair in favor of turning his face away. "I am otherwise engaged."
"To that man," Grell nearly cries, pointing at the book. "Home wrecker! What's his dastardly name, anyway?"
Will finally loses his patience enough to sigh and close the book again. He turns his eyes up to meet Grell's horrified, dramatic expression; as soon as Grell sees Will looking at him, he adds a gusty sigh and turns his face away, eyes closed.
"How will I ever recover from this treachery?" he says, pushing his voice up two octaves.
"His name is John Donne," Will says in a flat voice, ignoring Grell's antics. "And there is no home to wreck."
The only way Grell is ever going to leave is if he's reaped; Will knows this.
"Come," Will finally says, standing up. Grell is in the exact same pose, frozen like a statue. "If you really must know, I'll explain."
Grell cracks one eye open, and the curiosity is so apparent on his face Will almost laughs; a smile does manage to tug stubbornly at his lips no matter how much he fights it off.
"You know," Grell says softly, almost in a purr as he turns to face Will, "mocking a lady is a punishable sin."
"Sit down," Will says, pointing at the chair. Grell takes a moment to adjust his hair and jacket and then sits down primly on the edge of the vacated chair.
"Now," Will begins, and hands the book to Grell, "read the first stanza."
Grell gives him an unsure look, but Will just stares back with an unreadable expression.
"Very well," Grell says, but his voice is a little more uncomfortable than his normally melodic way of speaking.
"As virtuous men pass mildly away, and whisper to their souls to go..." Will can already hear a devious smile in Grell's voice, "Whilst some of their sad friends do say, now his breath goes' and some say, 'No.'"
He lowers the book to look up at Will. "They always say no," he says, shrugging. "Poets. Almost as bad as novelists, if not worse."
Will doesn't address Grell's observation, just says. "Read it again."
Grell raises an eyebrow, but for once doesn't comment except to make an exasperated noise, and reads it again.
This time, Will goes around to the back of the chair and looks over Grell's shoulder as he speaks.
His hair smells even better this close, and Will attempts to blink sense back into himself.
"The next verse," he says, and reaches over Grell's shoulder to point it out. Grell removes one glove in order to turn the page, and Will's hand awkwardly skitters away as their fingers touch accidentally.
"The next verse," Grell says, something strange in his voice, "is even worse."
"Please continue," Will says. He can't bring himself to stand up straight though, flooded with the sweet smell of vanity and punishable sins.
Sin smells like roses, and feels like fire; Will closes his eyes and listens to Grell read the next verse.
"So let us melt, and make no noise, No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move; 'Twere profanation of our joys; To tell the laity our love."
Grell taps his index finger against the page thoughtfully. "Well," he finally comments, and he actually seems to be more interested in his own thoughts for once than theatrics, "it is quite futile to tell the common people about true love. It is only women of love and loss that truly know its value!" Then his voice rises, "And of course, darling William, we know that the love of divine beings is more worthy than any worldly--"
Will has gotten too close and his nose is pressed against Grell's hair. Grell abruptly stops talking and takes in a sharp breath, then stiffens when Will inhales deeply.
"Pick any verse," Will says into his ear, "and read it for me."
Grell's fingers have gone perfectly still on the page and he doesn't move. This time, when Will reaches over him and chooses one instead, they don't touch.
"This one," he says, "read this one."
"I..." Grell says breathlessly, and for the first time since Will can recall, he simply does as asked after a moment. "But we by a love so much refined, That ourselves know not what it is, Inter-assurèd of the mind, Careless, eyes, lips and hands to miss..."
Will has pushed the mass of Grell's hair over one shoulder and then bends forward to smell his skin, lets hot breath rush over Grell's neck until he touches his lips there as lightly as a breeze that barely stirs branches, almost accidental.
"How careless, William," Grell says softly, and tips his head further to the side.
"Close your eyes," is all Will says quietly, calmly. Then says softly when he's convinced Grell has closed his eyes, "Lips..." and brushes gloved fingers over Grell's mouth, "and hands..." he spreads his palm out to lightly brush across Grell's neck, "...to miss," and draws away.
Will leans down now and takes the book from Grell's limp fingers; he rounds on Grell to face him where he's sitting in the chair. He still has his eyes closed as Will reads the last verse.
"Such wilt thou be to me, who must, Like th' other foot, obliquely run; Thy firmness makes my circle just, And makes me end where I begun."
The sound of the book shutting firmly wrenches Grell out of his dreamy reverie and he looks up at Will.
"Have I actually managed to render you speechless, Sutcliff?" Will says, his voice amused and back to normal.
Grell opens his mouth to speak, shuts it, and then finally stands up. He looks away from Will, not meeting his eyes, but still primping at his hair as he pushes it back over his shoulder to trail down his back.
Bloody roses and their bloody scent; Will fights the urge to adjust his glasses.
Grell just reclaims his glove, pulls it back on, and finally turns to face Will.
"Perhaps," he says, "Mr. Donne should have been taken off the to To Die List after all."
"Perhaps not," Will says, reclaiming his seat and opening the book again, "you were correct, Sutcliff. Poets are indeed worse than novelists. Trite and petty, no comprehension of death."
Grell leans forward unexpectedly. "Then I assume you won't mind, dearest," he says, and rips a page out of Will's book, "if I take this with me." And before Will can give him an outraged lecture about first editions and well worn pages, he turns on his high-heeled foot and walks away.
Will just lets Grell go, because he knows which page is now missing.
*Poem is John Donne's, A Valediction Forbidding Mourning