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Kintsugi (Broken)

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The first time Greg checked in on him, Mycroft was shattered, a vase which had fallen from a great height with its pieces kicked to the four winds. Neither all the king's horses nor all the king's men were enough to heal his wounds, but Greg had been charged with his caretaking, and so he vowed to be there while Mycroft put himself together again. He vowed to be there, no matter how loudly Mycroft wished he wasn't. But that wish was as empty as Mycroft was, all bluster and no bite, so day after day Greg went and sat and endured.

Mycroft never quite showed him the door.

Greg became the anvil against which Mycroft threw himself. He stayed there through numberless cups of tea, glasses of scotch, and bottles of wine. He stayed there through Mycroft's fear, his insecurity, the words he would not say. He stayed there to lend some steadiness to the proceedings. He stayed there to witness the fits and starts of a man relearning to believe in himself.

It needed to be done.

It was all he could do.

Mycroft eventually moulded himself into the right shape, but there remained great glaring gaps in the surface, missing bits where his shadow showed through. Greg came by more often, those days.

Try as he might, Mycroft couldn't bluster past his fragility.

Greg had been tasked with this assignment, but as the visits turned from task to treat to treasure, he no longer considered it a chore. Instead, Mycroft became a friend. The two of them spoke of shoes and ships and Japanese pottery, of publishing and rings. They sat with music. They sat in quiet. Bit by bit, Mycroft eased. His faltering smile was a shard of light, and its rarity made it endlessly beautiful.

One day Greg arrived uninvited to find Mycroft in shirtsleeves and good spirits. He teased with his usual acid warmth. He made Greg dinner. In the candlelight the cracks gleamed; they'd healed at last, but remained a map of what had been, a reference point for past pain. Their edges were no longer sharp, however, and to his surprise, Greg found that he was allowed to touch them. More surprising than that, Greg found himself desperate to try. As he smoothed his hands over each one, traced their edges with fingers, lips, tongue, he flowed with care like molten gold.

Mycroft shone from within, the dark seams crazing across his skin like kintsugi in reverse, a beautiful negative flash. Greg rolled him in his arms, stroked him, pressed along his spine with the brightest of pleasure. He had long since become the strength at Mycroft's back, and now the heat their bodies built proved that Mycroft's brittleness was gone; he had grown pliable, resilient, no longer liable to shatter. They bent and twisted, plaiting themselves together, and into the crucible Greg poured every ounce of love.

When the glow muted, they lay cooling and complete. Greg pressed a kiss to the nape of Mycroft's neck and slid over to look at him. There was a line of gold across his face, gold spidering across his hands, gold in the cracks of his lips. Gold in the corners of his eyes. Gold underneath his tongue. He was rimed in beauty. He had not been reforged, but rescued. He had not been destroyed, but reformed. He was stronger than he was before, and precious, and Greg couldn't take his eyes off him.

"You look different," he said.

"Thanks to you," Mycroft said.

"Are you okay?"

"I have never felt so whole in my life."

"Cracks and all?"

Fire burned in his eyes, the residual heat of the effort of two. Healing never looked so fine. Mycroft beamed, and Greg was overwhelmed with the beauty they'd made, together. "Yes, Gregory." He had been made anew. "Cracks and all."