Anthea closes the door as she leaves, and John’s alone in that big, intimidating office. He knows Mycroft will be a while, he always makes John wait. Stupid Holmes’ mind game, he guesses.
The first time he’d come here, John had sat down in the squeaky leather chair, hands pressed between his knees, waiting nervously, turning his head towards the door every single time he could hear footsteps in the hallway. He’s so not in the mood for that today, though.
Sherlock’s been more irritating than usual, probably as retaliation for John’s throwing out his latest research in mould. John had warned him that the kitchen table was no place for ‘science’. He’s not going to apologize.
So, John isn’t exactly in the mood for more Holmes shenanigans. But he promised Mycroft he’d give him these files personally, not trust them to a delivery service or even to his secretary. He’s not sure if that is Anthea’s job or if she’s more like a personal assistant or something but he got the idea. Nobody touches these files.
Putting his bag on the chair, he takes his coat off, wraps it on the back of the seat. No reason to suffocate in the well-heated office. Now that he’s more comfortable, he proceeds to explore the room.
The content of the bookshelves is very heteroclite. There are books on everything, from law texts to novels, as well as a 26-volume encyclopaedia, treaties on East-European geopolitics, and so many random things, even a cookbook.
John picks up a book crammed between the Oxford dictionary and a copy of the International Geneva Conventions. He wouldn’t have pegged Mycroft as a Neil Gaiman reader, but then he isn’t sure exactly how many of the books on the shelves are here because they’re useful and how many just to fill up the impressive space.
Settling down in Mycroft’s seat behind the massive oak desk, John opens the pristine copy of American Gods. Wednesday is offering Shadow a job when the office door opens. John looks up from the novel, trying to keep his face neutral, like he wasn’t sitting in Mycroft’s chair, reading a book off Mycroft’s bookshelf.
Mycroft raises an eyebrow, but doesn’t say anything as he closes the door behind him. He’s not carrying his umbrella today, but he’s wearing white gloves that draw John’s eyes to his long, elegant fingers.
“Hello, John,” Mycroft says, walking over to the front of the desk. He leans against it, right next to John. “Do you have the files?” he asks lightly.
“In my bag,” John says, pointing out the chair on the other side of the desk.
“Good, good.” Mycroft smiles. “Pure curiosity, where were they hidden?”
“Secret drawer in the medicine cabinet, upstairs bathroom,” John informs him pleasantly.
Mycroft nods. His relaxed attitude betrays nothing, though John can’t help feeling more and more nervous. He has no illusion that he’s successfully hiding his growing nervousness from Mycroft, either, because Mycroft is way too much like Sherlock in some aspects.
There’s a silence, during which Mycroft takes off his gloves, folds them carefully and puts them in his pocket. John slowly lays down his book on the desk, next to Mycroft, and stands up from the comfortable desk chair. He ends up being only a few inches away from Mycroft’s calm, composed face.
John resists the urge to gulp.
“I’ll get them for you then,” he says quickly.
“Why don’t you do just that,” Mycroft smiles.
He follows John as the doctor walks around the desk to the other chair and opens his bag. John takes out a beige envelope, holds it out, and Mycroft’s long fingers wrap delicately around it.
“Thank you, Doctor Watson,” Mycroft says, and there’s something in the way he pronounces his name that makes John’s mouth go dry.
“No problem,” he smiles nervously.
“Would you like some tea? Or a cup of coffee, maybe?” Mycroft asks pleasantly. “Unless you have somewhere else to be, of course. I wouldn’t want to keep you from anything.”
John hesitates. He doubts it’s a very good idea to spend more time with Mycroft than strictly necessary.
“I have nowhere else to be,” he finds himself saying. “A cup of tea would be lovely.”
Mycroft smiles again, that smile that makes John feel like a child to whom some benevolent parent is according a favour. It’s slightly unnerving. And slightly something else he isn’t sure he wants to admit to himself.
Mycroft presses a button on the phone on his desk and asks for two cups of tea. Ten seconds later, Anthea walks in carrying a small tray that she carefully sets on the desk. She gives John that weird half-smile that seems to mean she knows something he doesn’t, or maybe is just the only way she knows how to smile, then leaves in quick, efficient steps.
“Sugar? Milk?” Mycroft asks.
“I take it black,” John says, shaking his head slightly.
Mycroft hands him a cup and John takes a careful sip. The tea is just the perfect temperature, not hot enough to burn his tongue, but far from cold yet. He takes a longer sip, feels the warmth of the beverage seep through him.
“So, how is my brother?” Mycroft asks lightly.
“Annoying,” John answers flatly, and he catches a gleam of true amusement in Mycroft’s eyes.
“That he certainly can be,” Mycroft agrees.
“He did manage not to confront any dangerous criminal mastermind in the last few weeks, actually,” John says.
“It’s reassuring to hear that,” Mycroft replies. “Though this probably won’t help his being annoying.”
“Probably not,” John has to agree. Now that he thinks of it, it might actually explain why Sherlock has been so obnoxious lately. “I think he misses all the excitement.”
“Don’t you?” Mycroft asks, raising an eyebrow.
It’s a sincere question, and John takes the time to think before giving an answer. After all, Mycroft’s proven to be a keen observer as far as John’s psyche goes.
“A little bit, I must admit. But life is never dull for long with Sherlock.”
John must be imagining things, but he could swear Mycroft’s answering smile seems a bit bitter. He drinks the last of his tea, and leans towards the desk to set his empty cup back on the tray, but Mycroft catches his hand.
“My brother isn’t the only one who knows how to make life interesting, you know?” Mycroft says, his fingers wrapped around John’s on the teacup.
John gulps, wondering when Mycroft’s face had gotten so close to his. He lets the cup slip from his fingers and Mycroft sets it on the tray, then leans in.
His lips are firm against John’s, moving with authority and intent, but somehow not forceful. If John could actually scramble enough brain cells to do anything, like maybe push him off, Mycroft would let him. But right now John’s brain is frozen because Mycroft is kissing him, and John suddenly realises his own lips are starting to move with the other man’s.
He takes a step back, bewildered. Mycroft looks at him with this smile that’s just a tad condescending, an expectant eyebrow raised.
“Um, I better go,” John says, turning to get his coat.
He’s half-expecting Mycroft to put a hand on his shoulder, make him turn around. He isn’t sure what he’ll do if that happens. To be honest, he thinks there might be a chance he’d let the man kiss him again. It scares him a little bit when, as he puts his coat on and grabs his bag, he notices that he’s maybe a little bit disappointed that Mycroft didn’t make another move.
John is halfway through the door when Mycroft speaks again.
“If you ever need anything,” he says, “do stop by.”
Sherlock is doing things in the kitchen again. John refuses to ask, refuses to even look at what his flatmate is doing. Instead, he sits down on the couch, fishes the remote control from where it’s slipped between the cushions, and switches the telly on.
Images move in front of him, but he can’t hear a word of what is said. He can’t help it, can’t stop thinking about what happened earlier. Like the images and sensations are burned into his mind.
What would have happened if he’d kissed back? Would Mycroft have laughed and commented on how John is attracted to danger? Because Mycroft is dangerous, John knows it, and if he’s completely honest it does have an effect on him.
Would Mycroft have kept going? Would he have slipped his long hands under John’s shirts, would he have bent John over the massive oak desk and taken him there, just like that? John shivers at the idea, shakes his head slightly. Thinking about how Mycroft is always in control of everything he does isn’t helping.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that John…that John had let that happen, had made that happen by reciprocating Mycroft’s kiss, encouraged the man to touch him, to take him. What then? What would come after that? Would it change everything? Would it change anything?
“What is it?” Sherlock asks, interrupting John’s thoughts as he stands right in front of John, blocking his view of the telly.
“What is what?” John frowns, looking up into Sherlock’s serious face.
“The thing that’s occupying all of your thoughts,” Sherlock says, sitting down –or rather lounging down– next to John. “You’ve barely spoken two words since you came back from Mycroft’s, and you’re not complaining about my latest experiment. Don’t touch the bottle of milk, by the way.”
“Since when are you so observant of people’s behaviour outside of a case?”
“Since my experiments get flushed down the toilet when I don’t listen to you. Now what is it?”
“What’s in the bottle of milk?”
“A mild sedative. Well I say mild, I haven’t tested it yet. But it shouldn’t be dangerous, at least not in small doses.”
“And where is the milk gone?” John sighs.
“Down the drain. It was past its use-by date anyway.”
“I’ll go buy some more, then,” John says, trying to stand up, but Sherlock grabs his arm, keeps him seated.
“Not before you tell me what’s going on.”
John sighs again. He should know better than to try to distract Sherlock, really.
“It’s nothing you can do anything about,” he says, because he’s not going to blurt out to his flatmate ‘your brother kissed me and now I’m confused like hell and don’t know what I should do about it’. “I just need to make some personal choices about my life.”
“Does Sarah want to get back together with you?” Sherlock asks with a disapproving frown.
It’s not that Sherlock has something against Sarah personally, he just likes to have John all for himself. Be able to drag John with him at any hour for any reason. Sherlock once joked that he’d be lost without his blogger, and John suspects that though Sherlock could never be truly lost, he’d feel lonely.
The detective needs someone to talk to, someone who truly listens to him and trusts him. And as long as John was in a relationship, Sherlock had resented Sarah for keeping John away from him. His attitude, and John’s habit of not showing up on a date because he was working a case on a regular basis, had led to an inevitable break-up.
“No, it’ not Sarah,” John says, looking away.
John doesn’t answer. Which must be enough for Sherlock, because the detective sighs and gets up.
“Don’t touch the sugar either,” he says ominously.
“Are you even listening to me?” Sherlock asks, exasperated.
“What? Yes, yes, of course,” John replies, waving his hand dismissively.
He opens a bottle of milk under Sherlock’s piercing gaze, wrinkles his nose at the smell that comes off it. Right, the ‘mild sedative’ Sherlock had been working on a week or so earlier. He wonders if Sherlock even remembers it’s there.
He puts the bottle back in the fridge and wonders if he could get Mrs Hudson to buy some milk for them. She’ll probably complain but do it anyway, because that’s what Mrs Hudson does.
Sherlock is talking again, and John catches a few words here and there. Something about tunnels and a bakery? The detective isn’t watching him anymore, he’s pacing in the living room, flailing his hands around as he keeps talking faster than a Doctor Who actor. Then he stops, turns around with a triumphant “Ah-ha!” and pulls his phone out of his pocket, probably to text Lestrade about his sudden epiphany.
Yup, boring case. Already solved. John pours himself some black tea and winces as it burns his lips.
“Frankly John,” Sherlock says without looking up from his smartphone, “I think I like you better when you’re actually in a relationship than when you’re moping around because things are ‘complicated’ and you don’t know what you should do.”
“I’m not–“ John starts, but a sharp glace from Sherlock shushes him.
Maybe he is moping. Maybe the reason he can’t get excited about anything is because he’s been denying himself something he actually wants. Maybe he should just damn the consequences.
Sherlock is smiling from the corner of his mouth as he reads Lestrade’s answering text. John has a feeling it’s not the D.I. that’s making him smile.
John doesn’t care, he just opens the door and gets in as the assistant, or secretary, or whatever Anthea’s job description is, comes after him.
“Ah, John, what a nice surprise,” Mycroft smiles from behind his office. “Make sure no one disturbs us,” he instructs Anthea with authority, and the young woman nods, closes the door as she leaves.
John stands there, waiting, not exactly sure how to proceed. His mind is set though. He watches calmly as Mycroft stands up and walk around his desk, towards John.
“What can I do for you?” he asks with a smile, like he doesn’t already know. Like he doesn’t know everything.
“I’d like to take you up on your offer,” John says.
“Of course, of course. And which offer might that be exactly?” Mycroft is now standing right in front of John, all elegance and composure.
“This one,” John replies, grabbing the collar of Mycroft’s shirt and pulling him down for a kiss.
Mycroft is still smiling against his mouth, and John half expects him to start purring happily, like a cat who’s finally caught the mouse he’s been chasing. Then Mycroft slides his tongue inside John’s mouth, his long fingers tightening greedily on John’s waist, and it’s John’s turn to smile.
He has no idea where this is going, but he’s determined to enjoy the ride.