By the time Jim cracks an eye, squinting against the sunlight from the palatial windows that line the east wall, the shower has already been switched off, the far side of the bed long since gone cold. With a groan that ratchets up to a squeal as he stretches, Jim rolls over and sighs. He can’t stay in bed forever, but he takes a moment to nuzzle into the pillow next to him, breathing in the lingering scent. He can hear the taps running, the subtle splash and clatter that signifies the ritual of shaving, and resigns himself to meet the day. It takes no small amount of effort to pry himself away from the delicious smells of sex and musk that perfume the bedclothes, but he forces himself upright, away from the plush embrace of featherdown and egyptian cotton sheets so fine they feel like silk. He could easily live in this bed, and that thought more than anything else makes him leave its tempting comfort. Dangerous. But then, he was never one to play it safe.
He pads over to the en suite, scratching the back of his head and making no attempt to tame the disarray of his hair. There will be time for careful grooming, but he knows his unkempt appearance will only stoke the flames of desire. He’s always been a bit of a pyromaniac, that perverse thrill the same whether he’s lighting literal or metaphoric fires. He’s been burning his entire life, so it’s only fair that the world should too. And nothing compares to setting fire to ice and watching it melt.
The water’s gone silent, so he raps a jaunty tune on the door and flings it open, not waiting for a response.
“Good morning, sexy,” he purrs, and grins at the reflection greeting him in the mirror, startled blue eyes gone slightly wide at the intrusion. Mycroft rubs a flannel over his face to clear away the remnants of cream, and when he turns back to face Jim, the collected calm is firmly back in place. Jim leans against the doorjamb and crosses his arms in mock pout.
“Oh phooey, you wiped it all off. You know how I love to see your face covered with white goo.” Mycroft gives him a stern look intending to convey stop behaving like a child I don’t have time for this nonsense, and Jim rolls his eyes in response. “Pssh, you’re no fun.” He leans forward and swipes a finger along the freshly shaved jawline, impossibly smooth in a way that makes Jim want to rub that cheek over every inch of his body. “You know you love it too.” He can see Mycroft suppressing a blush, which only serves to spur him on. Where there’s smoke… He drags his thumb over those soft pink lips. “When you’re covered in it, absolutely filthy, begging for more… you can’t get enough.” He slips the tip of thumb into Mycroft’s mouth and winks. He’s rewarded with a flash of sharp teeth, and he yanks his hand back with a yelp. “Naughty, naughty,” he chides, and sucks on his lightly bruised knuckle.
Mycroft has already turned away, buttoning his dress shirt over the plain white vest and tucking it into his expertly tailored trousers. Jim can’t help sidling up behind him and smoothing his hands down that perfectly displayed arse. He never could resist a well-cut suit.
Mycroft shakes his head and reaches for his tie, which Jim promptly snags from his delicate grip.
“Here, let me.” He threads the silk around the popped starched collar, and stands up on tiptoes to see over Mycroft’s shoulder. Mycroft is looking at him in the mirror with an air of vague annoyance, but Jim knows there’s a fondness underneath, invisible to any observer but there nonetheless.
“I have been wearing ties since before you were in nappies, James. I am perfectly capable of tying them myself.”
“Not really the point.” Jim has to restrain himself from making an overt pun on the word knot, though from the glare he receives from Mycroft’s reflection, he suspects Mycroft knows anyway.
“What, pray tell, is the point?”
Jim leans in closer as he cinches the knot. “This way, I get to admire that lovely long neck of yours,” he coos into Mycroft’s ear. He folds down the collar, letting his fingers stroke along the lightly freckled skin. “And do this,” he breathes, and traces the pink shell of ear with his tongue. Mycroft lets out a quiet puff of air, and it’s as sweet a sound as any wanton moan or desperate plea. It’s the crack of a frozen lake in the first weeks of spring, it’s the creak of an iceberg as it shifts and strains, it’s the hiss of steam from a freshly slashed corpse on new fallen snow. It’s the sound of the thaw, and it sends fire rushing through his veins, flooding his body with liquid heat. He glides his hands over Mycroft’s chest and down, down, down, until his fingertips brush the front of those elegant trousers. He rubs his stubble against the smooth expanse of Mycroft’s neck, nibbles the tender lobe at his lips as his fingers seek the tantalising erection growing under his attentions.
“Come back to bed.”
Mycroft takes in a deep breath and sighs it out, in the world-weary way he perpetually carries about him like that damned umbrella, and Jim knows what’s coming, but he can’t resist cupping his hands around that straining bulge and giving one last stroke. Cool fingers wrap around his wrists, gently but firmly pulling his hands away.
“I can’t.” His tone is implacable, absolute, but Jim can hear real regret just under the surface. He finds Mycroft’s gaze in the mirror and gives a lopsided half-smile.
“I know.” He shrugs ruefully. “Worth a try, though.” Mycroft releases his hold and slides his waistcoat from the hanger, and Jim steps back so he can slip it on. He watches those nimble fingers dance along the buttons, admiring their practised precision, and tries not to dwell on the memory of their deft touch on his skin. It’s hard to clear the thoughts entirely from his head, when the snug fit of that waistcoat draws his eyes back to Mycroft’s hips. Mercifully, the suit jacket soon follows, covering the tempting curves of arse and waist with long clean lines, which Jim must admit are nearly just as sexy… or maybe more? Damn.
Mycroft turns to leave the washroom, but Jim stops him with a hand on each shoulder.
“Uh uh uh, not so fast,” he lilts in the sing-song voice he knows gets under Mycroft’s skin. He makes a big show of brushing imaginary specks from Mycroft’s shoulders, smoothing his lapels, and adjusting his pocket square just so. Finally, his hands come up to the Windsor knot just below the enticing swell of adam’s apple, stroking the silk as he pretends to straighten it. Mycroft clears his throat.
“What?” Jim knows his faux-indignation isn’t fooling anyone, but he does so love to play these little games. He looks up through his lashes, meeting Mycroft’s arched brow with exaggerated innocence. “I can’t let you go out into the world looking a mess. What would the Queen Mum say?” He lets his fingers slide down the length of tie, before giving a small tug. Mycroft lets himself be pulled down, and Jim leans in. He can feel Mycroft’s breath quicken, an almost imperceptible shift but it’s there, and he grins. He pops up on his toes and plants a chaste kiss on the tip of Mycroft’s nose, then rocks back on his heels with a little giggle. Mycroft blinks, shakes his head in exasperation, and grabs Jim by the neck to haul him back in. The kiss is punishing, Mycroft’s hands fisting in his hair and Mycroft’s tongue down his throat and Mycroft’s teeth scraping his lips, and it’s all Jim can do to just hold on and take it. Just the way you like it, the knowing voice in his head reminds him, and he tries not to whimper in agreement.
When Mycroft pulls back, Jim’s hands are loosely curled around his tie, limbs limp and useless. Mycroft brushes him away and smoothes the tie back into his waistcoat. He sweeps out through the door while Jim is still struggling to catch his breath. It takes Jim a few embarrassingly long seconds to regain his senses before he can pull himself together enough to follow Mycroft back into the bedroom.
Mycroft is packing files into his attaché case, and doesn’t bother looking up when Jim enters the room. “Do try not to blow anything up while I’m gone.”
Jim scoffs. “No promises, sweetheart. You know how I get bored when you’re away.”
Mycroft makes the small noise that Jim has come to learn means I am surrounded by children I don’t know why I put up with you and he can’t help but answering, “Oh, come on, you love playing mother. Well, you certainly love doling out spankings.” Mycroft doesn’t deign to acknowledge that comment at all, snapping his briefcase shut with a sense of finality. Jim glides closer. “Well, sunshine, I hope you have a fun day fixing the world.”
“So you can tear it all down again tonight.”
“It’s what we do, darling.”
“Don’t burn down the house.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it!”
“And if I find you’ve been overstepping my plans, there will be consequences.”
“Of course.” Jim pats him lightly on the back. “I’ll be fine. I’ll play by all your little rules. Now, off you pop! I wouldn’t want you to be late for your important plans for world domination.”
Mycroft heads to the door, pausing ever-so-briefly as he reaches it. “See you tonight?” It’s barely a question, more of an indifferent statement, or at least that’s what he’s aiming for. Jim knows better. Mycroft keeps his back to him, opening the door and starting out.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Jim croons back. Mycroft inclines his head in a slight nod, and he’s gone.
Jim flops down in the centre of the bed, limbs splayed wide. He stares up at the ceiling, a slow smile creeping across his face, and begins to plot out just how he’s going to earn his punishment.