Greg smiled and felt his victory in his chest. He’d asked Mycroft Bloody Holmes out and Mycroft Bloody Holmes had said yes.
Mycroft stood in front of his dressing mirror and took a shaky breath. He picked his favorite cufflinks up off the bureau and regarded his clothing once more as he slid the mother of pearl topped links into place. He’d opted for his steel grey suit with a slightly off-white shirt and a blue tie. It was as casual as he could bring himself to be. No waistcoat. No bracers. The top collar of his shirt undone and tie made slightly looser to accommodate. This was the Mycroft Holmes equivalent of jeans and a polo. However, he was sure to be dressed far better than Gregory. As he looked at the waistcoat that was still on the suit hanger, he fidgeted with the belt he so rarely wore and took another breath. It was tea. That was all. Yes, he’d averted wars, ended regimes, altered history, and directed the future over tea, but this wasn’t work. It was, for once, pleasure. As Mycroft turned away from the mirror and began to compose himself so that he might leave the solitude of his room to once more be under the eyes of his many staff members, he faced the truth that he had spent so many years without time for pleasure that he might have very well forgotten how to act under these circumstances.
Mycroft had, in the safety of his own mind, come to think of that week as the fabled “perfect storm.” He was assaulted by his own feelings which had seemingly existed but lay dormant until conditions had been right for them to overtake him. Then following Sherlock’s annoying and rather un-surprising betrayal of his familial confidence, Gregory had asked him out to tea. Not the meal tea but the beverage. When telling Anthea, he worried he would actually see her bounce with joy before he amended his words to portray the simplicity of the rendezvous. To all who regarded him, Mycroft had been composed and not in the least bit worried about his after work date with Gregory. Not that he had desired to inform anyone. When one has a full compliment of staff that follows one’s every movement, it becomes difficult to have a private life. However, coming home at lunch to shower and change his attire had betrayed to all how truly nervous he was. Nervous enough that he had changed clothes to do something he and Gregory had done 19 times before. Except now, instead of sipping coffee and discussing business, they would be sipping tea and discussing themselves. Another wave of panic overcame Mycroft, but he was now in the car and under the gaze of Anthea and one of his security staff, so he fought down the evidence of his emotional state. Mycroft envied Gregory’s ability to be calm and collected at all times, but more than anything, he envied Gregory’s ability to dress casually and not look like an overgrown Uni student who is in desperate need of a legitimate career.
Little did Mycroft know, but there was nothing calm or collected about Greg at that moment. Greg had left work at noon too. He’d accidentally (or he claimed it was accidental) asked Mycroft out the previous Monday. But with their schedules, it was the Friday of the week after before they were both able to find a time that worked. So Greg made a flimsy excuse for why he had to leave work and fled home to clean up. A long shower and two minor pep-talks later, Greg had gotten dressed. It took him nearly two hours. In the end, he’d decided on his favorite pair of jeans and the dark green button up that always seemed to make his eyes and hair look better. He then obsessed over his hair and wished, for potentially the hundredth time that day alone, that it wasn’t grey.
Once Greg had taken longer than his ex-wife would to get ready, he sat on his sofa and tried not to panic as he waited until it was time to leave for the café. He cupped his hands over his mouth to slow his breathing and attempted to talk himself down again. Greg had always been a man of action. In all his past relationships he’d been the one to instigate the firsts. So the fact that he was the one to ask Mycroft out wasn’t at all surprising. What was surprising was that he hadn’t initially wanted to ask him out; he’d been afraid to. Mycroft was always so in control of his life and the lives of those around him, and Greg worried that if he was too forward, if he took too many first steps, that Mycroft would resent him for the power grab. And, in truth, Greg thought it might be nice to not always be in control. Of course, then he’d gone and asked Mycroft out. And now he sat on his sofa and panicked. After another minute Greg gave up and left his flat. It wasn’t a very long walk to the café and he knew he’d be there early, but it was better than sitting in his flat and fretting. Now he was able to sit in the café and fret.
When Mycroft stepped into the café and fidgeted with his belt again, he noticed Gregory sitting at a table in the corner looking as pale and anxious as he felt. The sight warmed Mycroft and a small smile spread across his lips. He evenly strode to the table and removed his suit jacket before sitting down.
Greg smiled when Mycroft walked up and couldn’t help but raise his eyebrows when Mycroft’s jacket was removed. “Wow, no waistcoat and an open top button. So relaxed.”
Mycroft blushed as he sat and laced his fingers before setting his hands daintily on the table. “Yes. This is the most casual my wardrobe ever gets.”
“I appreciate the gesture.” He grinned at Mycroft.
“And I’ve noticed you look as pale and sweaty as I feel.”
Greg stared at Mycroft for a moment before laughing loudly, his entire body and countenance relaxing when he realized his tension wasn’t a secret. “Yeah. I haven’t been this nervous for a first date in ages.”
Mycroft too relaxed and let a genuine smile spread across his face. “Nor I. Then again it has been, as you said, ‘ages’ since I’ve actually been on a date. Let alone a first.”
Greg noticed the change in Mycroft, noticed the rare openness that was on his face and in his words. So he jumped at the opportunity to actually learn more about him. “How long?”
If Greg had been drinking anything, he would probably have chocked on it or recreated a comedy show and spat it out. As it was, he just coughed a little as he inhaled his own spit and nodded. “Well then, I suppose it’s good to end a dry spell like that.”
“Indeed.” Mycroft looked away and after a moment realized something he could say to fill the silence. “Tea.”
Greg frowned, pulled from his own musings by Mycroft’s voice. “What?”
“Tea. What kind would you like?”
“Oh. Russian Caravan. But don’t you dare pay. I’ll take care of it before we leave.”
Mycroft had already stood up, and he now paused awkwardly, standing closer to Greg and frowning down at him. “But I make more than you. I have an enormous expendable income. It makes sense for me to buy.”
“Yeah, but I asked you out. So I pay.”
Mycroft raised his eyebrows and a small mischievous grin crinkled his eyes. “Well then, I officially extend the invitation for our next date; whatever, whenever, and wherever it might be. That way, I can pay.” With that, he turned and went to the counter to order them both a tea. Greg was glad Mycroft was turned away because it gave him time to hide his deep blush. If he thought a compliment from the proper man had been flustering, being asked on a second date before the first one even got going sent his body into overdrive as he blushed and sweated. By the time Mycroft returned, though, he had composed himself and was sure Mycroft would be none the wiser.
As Mycroft returned, he sat Greg’s tea in front of him and politely turned the saucer until the handle was pointing the right way. “I see you’ve composed yourself again.”
“For a moment there, after I propositioned you for a second date, you looked as though you might either faint or squeal. I was pleased that neither happened.”
Greg propped an elbow up on the table and pointed at Mycroft. “Oy. I wouldn’t have done either. I’m just not used to men as attractive as you being so forward with me.”
It was Mycroft’s turn to blush. He sipped his tea as he calmed the flame in his cheeks, “I’m not used to being called attractive. I fear I could get rather used to it.”
They both smiled again and were silent. Greg realized it was his turn to come up with something to say so he swallowed some tea and pointed to Mycroft’s cup. “What-cha got?”
“Tea. What kind of tea did you get?”
“Oh, Darjeeling. It’s my favorite.”
“Why am I not surprised.” Greg chuckled
“What do you mean?” Mycroft’s eyebrows furrowed in genuine confusion.
“I mean, it’s good tea and all, but it’s a bit…poncy.” Greg backpedaled when Mycroft raised on eyebrow and frowned. “Not that I’m saying you are. I mean a bit. The suits and the hair and the car. It’s all a bit flowery and disgustingly English. And the tea is…yeah.” He looked at his hands, feeling horrible for essentially insulting Mycroft.
Mycroft placed a hand over his mouth to hide a chuckle. “And your tea is unsurprising too. Smoky and stout but not overpowering. A bit rough around the edges but well worth it. Also not Russian.” Greg looked up and saw the humor in Mycroft’s eyes and began to chuckle. Mycroft chuckled lightly as well.
“Very true, Mycroft. Not Russian at all.”
“I know, Gregory; I’m terribly astute.”
“I respect that you want to call me Gregory, but if the mood ever strikes you to be less formal, please feel free to call me Greg. Or Ory. Or even Reg if you’d like.” Greg’s words inspired another round of laughter from both of them, Mycroft relaxing enough that a few unrestrained laughs slipped out.
“And you may call me Mycroft. And if you desire to shorten it I shall not mind. Just know that I’ll be forced to make you disappear if anyone else hears you call me anything but Mycroft.”
“So I shouldn’t tell your brother next time I see him how much fun I had with his brother MyMy?”
Mycroft looked frightened for a moment before he sneered comically. “I changed my mind. You may not call me that. It’s positively terrifying.”
Greg laughed and nodded. “I could not agree more.” Greg looked down at his half empty cup of tea and chewed his lip. “Can…can I ask something that’s not really first date conversation material, but that I need to ask anyways?”
Mycroft frowned a little and nodded. “Of course you may.”
“How did Sherlock know that you fancied me?”
“Present tense. The action is still occurring.”
Greg blushed and looked up. “Fine then. How did he know you fancy me?”
“Because I called him.”
“Yes. He and I may have an, at times, adversarial relationship. However, he is still my brother, and he has been present for some difficult times in my emotional history. I had to inform him, it was the least I could do.”
Greg propped an elbow on the table again and leaned his chin on his hand. “Difficult times? If you don’t mind my asking, I’d like to know more.”
“It’s hardly first date conversation.” Mycroft laced his fingers and his face became passive. Greg could see the walls and barriers returning. The walls and barriers that had, thus far, been conspicuously absent from their date.
Greg felt himself bristle at seeing Mycroft so closed off. “Bullshit.”
Mycroft fought down a grin as he leaned back a little. “How so?”
“You already know the shit in my past because it got talked about before and after our meetings about Sherlock. You know about my ex-wife. You know about how many asses I had to kiss to become a D.I. You know about all the biggest screw ups in my life because I’ve either told you about them or you watched them happen. For God’s sake Mycroft, you rushed my divorce papers through last year so I could get that bollocks done with. We’re a little past first date conversational topics.”
“But you said—”
Greg cut him off with a sigh. “I know I just said the whole telling Sherlock thing wasn’t first date conversational material, but I was just being polite. If you don’t want to tell me you don’t have to. I just don’t want you to stand on ceremony and get all…proper”
Mycroft softened when he realized he’d gone into his business mode again. He truly had forgotten how to behave in a more relaxed situation. He nodded and sat up a little taller, preparing himself for Greg’s reaction. “I’m divorced as well.”
Greg’s mouth dropped open. “What?!”
“When I was younger, I was married.”
“To a woman?”
Mycroft rolled his eyes. “Yes to a woman, thus my using the term married. I didn’t say I was civil partnered.”
“Yes, I’m as gay as they come, but I had an absolutely horrid father. He told me he wouldn’t have a poofter for a son, and he would always say that someone had to carry on the family name. He quite literally forced me to marry a childhood friend, Melissa. I suppose I could have said no, but being disinherited at the age of 18 when I’d just started Uni and needed the funds was more than I could face. Melissa was my closest and constant companion for all of my youth. And, moreover, she was in love with me. Oh, she knew of my preferences, but somehow she’d convinced herself that she was the exception.” Mycroft propped both elbows up on the table and placed his chin on his knuckles, feeling like the boy he used to be as his memories drew him into their hold. “I wanted to love her. I wanted it more than anything. But I didn’t. After a year it became evident to both of us that I would never return her love. However, I had my family’s money while her father had bankrupted himself. So we stayed together and both saw others. We stayed married for seven years. The day my father died I filed the divorce papers. Well…she filed; she used the grounds of infidelity so that she could get a portion of my inheritance tax free.” Mycroft grinned and seemed to come back to himself, sitting up and looking at Greg once more.
- Greg noticed the softness in Mycroft’s voice and the smile on his face, and he smiled as well. “You made her do that.”
“Obviously. After she dedicated so much of her life to my charade, it was the least I could do.”
“You are an amazing man, Mycroft Holmes.”
Mycroft blushed and looked down. “I don’t stand in front of bullets, as you do.”
“No, but I think you might secretly be the nicest person I know.”
All emotion fell off of Mycroft’s face as he stared at Greg. He felt his pulse double and a knot form in his stomach. It had been a very long time since he’d felt so attracted to anyone. He nodded slowly. “Go pay for the tea.”
Greg blanched and looked worried. “I’m…I’m sorry, was that too far?”
Mycroft gently shook his head and smiled. “No. No it was just far enough that I desire to leave the café and go for a stroll through the city with you. Of course the stroll is just a pretext for me to take your hand while we meander about.”
Greg grinned so widely it almost hurt and stood up. “Meet you outside.”
Mycroft put his jacket back on and stepped outside. It was still warm enough that he didn’t need a full coat, but the setting sun had put a little bit of a nip in the air. Mycroft watched Gregory through the glass of the café as he paid. Very few people in his life knew about Melissa and even fewer knew the real reasons behind their marriage and subsequent divorce. There was something about Gregory that loosed his tongue. Perhaps it was Gregory’s own openness. The man didn’t care what others thought about him, so he shared everything. It made every person who met him adore him instantly. No one in London was ever that willing to tell their life’s story. But Gregory was. He was such an unquestionably good man; it made Mycroft wish to strive to somehow be worthy of his attention. He’d dated many a person, been married, and had even lived with two of his past paramours, but none of them had ever inspired him to be a better person.
Greg leaned against the counter as the cashier ran his card. He smiled when he noticed Mycroft watching him. The way Mycroft kept staring meant he hadn’t noticed, so Greg was afforded the opportunity to watch him without Mycroft censoring his actions. Something in the way Mycroft stared and smiled made Greg’s heart race. He’d dated so many people. Men, women, couples, transgendered individuals. Hell, he’d even dated someone who said they felt like they were a dog trapped in a human’s body. Greg’s love life had always been full. His few years as a married man meant that he could do nothing more than look, but he’d still looked. And then he met Mycroft. Somehow, even when he’d told himself he wasn’t allowed to look, he’d looked. And then stopped looking at anyone else. In 43 years, 30 of which were spent chasing anything that moved and was up for it, he’d never stopped looking. But it was like Mycroft was a floater in his eye. Anytime he tried to look at another person, all he could see was Mycroft. Logically it should have been annoying, but it wasn’t As soon as he signed the receipt, he stepped outside and rejoined Mycroft.
“Well then, a walk?”
Mycroft held out his hand and smiled. “Not a walk, Gregory, a stroll. Much more relaxed.”
Greg took Mycroft’s hand and smiled at the feeling of their fingers laced together. “If you wouldn’t mind too much, we could stroll down towards my place. I don’t fancy taking a cab, and I’d rather not have to walk half of London to get home.”
Mycroft nodded and let Greg lead them on. He gently rubbed his thumb along the back of Greg’s hand as they walked in silence for a while. “I am still in shock that you return my affections; however, I am so entirely happy that you do and that you asked me to tea.”
“As am I. I may need to buy Sherlock flowers or intestines or whatever you get for someone like him as thanks. If it weren’t for him warning me not to break your heart I’d have contented myself with thinking you could never say yes to a date.”
Mycroft continued to let Greg lead as they fell back into a comfortable silence. He knew where Greg’s flat was, of course, so when they approached it he felt his chest tighten and his tongue grow thick. “So, the next date, I pay.”
“Yes. And hopefully we can find time for it sooner, as opposed to later, to go out again.”
Mycroft released Greg’s hand and turned to face him as Greg paused at the stairs up to his building. “I’d very much like that.”
Greg fiddled with his keys and looked up at Mycroft. “Well…I suppose I should let you go. Don’t want the free world falling into chaos because of me.”
Mycroft chuckled and grinned. “This is true. I do have time enough to properly bid you goodnight though, if that is acceptable.”
Greg blushed. He hadn’t had someone ask permission for a goodnight kiss since he’d been 15. “I’d like that a lot.”
Mycroft stepped forward and placed his fingers gently on Greg’s cheek. He slowly leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to Greg’s lips. Greg’s eyes rolled closed when he felt Mycroft’s mouth warm against his own. It had been years since he’d been kissed in this way. Soft. Passionate. No demands. He was used to kisses that were doors to something else. This kiss was a door to nothing. It was its own entity. Greg felt his hands move up to rest on Mycroft’s biceps. After a few moments, Mycroft drew his mouth away from Greg’s. It was almost painful, as he enjoyed the sensation of kissing Greg. Greg also did not want the kiss to end, he pitched forward a little as his body tried to make it last. He opened his eyes slowly and smiled up at Mycroft, whose eyes were still closed and whose mouth was still open slightly.
“Wow. I thought I was excited for a second date before,” Greg smiled a little and stepped away slightly.
Mycroft cleared his throat and opened his eyes, nodding slightly. “Indeed. However, even the best date must end sometime, so I will bid you adieu.” He stepped away completely, his hand lingering on Greg’s cheek as long as it could. With a reluctant smile, he turned and began to walk down the street to the conspicuous black car just down the road.
Greg walked up to the door of his building on surprisingly wobbly legs and watched Mycroft walk away; there were large grins on both their faces. “I’ll text you.”
“You had best.” Mycroft waved without turning back and slipped into the car, his grin still in place.