“Isn’t it time we try a different approach if we are to hope for a different outcome?”—Mycroft Holmes (The Thing Is)
The leather jacket still fit, though not as snugly through the shoulders anymore and a little tight over the belly if Greg zipped it up. It was 22 degrees out and zipping would have been ridiculous anyway. Wearing it was ridiculous, but Greg couldn't do this in his own skin.
He knew what his younger self would have made of a man like him: middle-aged, wedding ring recently removed, too carefully shaven, clothes too carefully chosen, too nervous. He'd never gone home with that sort of man, never wanted to be somebody's bit on the side. He'd had the luxury of choice, back then.
He lingered across the street from the club and wished he remembered how to do this. Ah, fuck it, he was sure all the things he'd used to be good at weren't what was done anymore, but he wanted this badly enough to risk looking like the damned fool he undoubtedly was, so he put a bit of his old swagger into his stride and let the flow of human traffic carry him to the door.
Three drinks later, he'd had a flattering amount of attention paid to him and was beginning to realise he could afford to be choosier than he'd thought. He was still reeling in a very pleasant way from turning down an offer of a threesome (and wondering what the hell was wrong with him, turning down a threesome) when the scent of expensive cologne wafted lightly over him and hit his dick like a goddamned freight train.
“Good evening.” The voice matched the cologne, and when Greg turned around, the clothes matched everything. Wet-fox hair, sharp features, high hairline that would be receding in a few years, lovely soft hands.
When he'd been sixteen, the first public-school boy Greg had ever pulled—the first boy he'd ever pulled, not yet understanding about himself, not yet knowing he could like both tits and cock, but knowing he wanted something more and wanted it from this boy—that boy had tugged Greg into the dark, empty place under a pier and sucked him until Greg had been sobbing, shaking, coming with a fist shoved into his mouth, wiping tears from his eyes afterwards, and that posh voice had whispered filthy, filthy directions as Greg clumsily returned the favour. That memory had fueled many of Greg's favourite wanks for years afterwards.
“Evening,” Greg said, and wished like hell he could think of something else to say. “Uh, buy you a drink?” Damn it, wrong way 'round, and he inwardly winced and kicked himself.
The man tilted his head as if Greg had just done something interesting, and after a slow, lazy moment, he challenged lightly, “What would you suggest?”
The laughter bubbled out of Greg before he knew it was coming. “From this place? Good God, this swill is for kids who wouldn't know Laphroaig from Loch Dhu. Anything you've got back at yours would be miles better.” He hadn't meant to say that last bit. It'd just spilled out, like the laughter. “Greg,” he said to cover the awkwardness, and offered his hand.
“Believe me when I say names are hardly necessary.” The hand in his clasped firmly, warm and dry, and all right, an anonymous shag wasn't what Greg had been hoping for, but it would do. He let his fingertips brush the inside of the wrist just below the cuffs and didn't imagine the quick indrawn breath from the other man. “Would a thirty-year Talisker suit your refined palate?”
Greg was a police officer. He knew damned well why a body did not go off to a stranger's house on the promise of drink and sex. But Greg had decided that afternoon to finally put an end to the marriage that hadn't been going right for years, if it ever really had done, and this posh bloke was hitting all his buttons, reminding him of another time when his world had suddenly opened to unimagined possibilities, and Greg thought, Fuck it, I want this.
“Is that the best you can offer?” he asked cheekily, and was delighted to see a small, surprised, pleased smile in return.
# # #
The address they ended up at—well, “posh” didn't come close. There had been bleeding suits of armour in the room with the whisky and the fireplace, where they'd had the promised drinks. The bedroom had a fireplace too, come to that, and Greg was nearly dizzy with hope and anticipation and the erotic associations of so much luxury.
The man turned from hanging up his suit jacket and came to the bedside, where Greg had been invited to sit but was standing instead. “There are condoms and lubricant in the nightstand,” he said, not touching yet. “I must insist—”
“Yes,” Greg said immediately. “Yes, me too. I have some as well.”
“Use whichever you prefer, then.” Finally he stepped in close enough for Greg to breathe in that scent that had been curling its way down his spine, and Greg cupped the back of his head and met his lips.
The kissing was lovely and hungry and started a burn low in Greg's belly. He took his time, sliding hands up and down the wiry back for a long, long while before undoing buttons and pushing fine cotton halfway off. There was more chest hair than Greg had expected, and freckles peppering pale shoulders. And oh, yes, although the fabric of that shirt was still crisp, Greg tasted salt on skin when he tongued a nipple, and it was wonderful.
The man started to go to his knees, but Greg wanted male musk and body hair and a fat prick on his tongue, wanted to remember exactly who he was with. He drew him up and pressed him towards the bed. “Let me.” His voice was much rougher than when they'd started, and he liked the way the man's eyes went wide and dark.
The taste of latex was nowhere in his fantasies, but without it he wouldn't get any of this at all. He made up for it by licking the salty crease of a thigh, the nicely heavy bollocks, the trail of hair from navel to flushed cock. When he closed his mouth around the cockhead, the belly under his forehead quivered and a soft hand touched his hair lightly; still polite, still careful, and Greg didn't want that. He wanted him shattered, broken to pieces, shaking and swearing and shoving himself down Greg's throat.
The toff made a perfectly lovely noise when Greg told him that.
It'd been years and he choked at first until his body remembered and he got the knack of it again. Then he was able to lose himself in the scents, the painfully tight grip in his hair, the hips moving under his fingers, the drool on his chin. The quiet, shuddering sighs above turned sharp when, after what seemed like hours of sucking and licking, he brusquely slid his forefinger straight into the nob's spit-wet arse and the man gasped, thrust hard for a few throat-bruising moments, and came.
Greg stripped off the condom and flipped him onto his belly, smearing the fine sheets. “Let me fuck you,” he said, and it came out less commanding and more pleading than he'd intended. “You can manage twice tonight, yeah? You can have me after,” he promised, and shuddered because oh, God, yes, please.
He made a long, slow time of it. So many things he'd missed, so many things he'd regretted never doing with a man. A one-night stand, an anonymous fuck, no-one he'd ever have to face again. Bollocks-deep, he leaned forward, snugged his arms around the lean, sweat-slick shoulders, pressed kisses to hot skin. He poured lube over the head of the man’s cock, held it in a slick fist and fucked his foreskin with an index finger; when the man cried out, utterly shocked, Greg managed only seconds more before he groaned and pulled out and barely got the condom off in time to come over the sleek back beneath him, rub it all over smooth skin.
Afterwards he offered himself shamelessly, begging loudly, silently damning the layer of rubber between them. The pillow smelt of cologne. The hands on his prick and in his mouth and deep up his arse were soft and fine and none too polite after all, and the man fucked the breath out of him with a thoroughness bordering on greed.
Greg indulged in something dangerously, embarrassingly close to cuddling as their sweat dried. His arse burned and tickled with lube. He stretched and sighed, debauched and contented, drunk on touch, and ruffled dark, damp hair affectionately before the man rolled off. “Thanks for that,” he said. He could feel himself smiling, feel peace and optimism settle over him like golden light. “For all of this. Thank you.”
When he finally got back to his empty home at an ungodly hour, he hung up the leather jacket with no small amount of satisfaction and went to bed without showering, rubbing the faint scent of expensive cologne into his own sheets.
He spent Sunday thinking about possibilities.
He'd see a solicitor on Monday, get the divorce started. He supposed it should have been harder, sadder, to put an end to things, but really, Holmes (twat though he was) had been right. She was cheating, had been for a long time, and the marriage never had been what it should have been. No, it wasn't hard.
And things were different now, not like back when he'd joined the Met. Non-discrimination policies and the like, even if the Chief did have a stick up his arse. No, a lot of things were different now. A lot of things could be different for Greg, if he was brave enough.
He figured he was just about ready to be brave enough.
On Monday morning he walked around the hall corner to his office, already thinking about the good coffee and the breakfast sandwich he'd splurged on at the shop to make the morning paperwork a bit less miserable, noting absently that the hallway was unusually quiet, when over the aroma of sausage he smelt a familiar cologne.
The fox-haired man was sitting beside his desk. Greg's stomach abruptly dropped through the floor.
“Detective Sergeant Gregory Lestrade.” The man rose and offered his hand. Sharks had warmer smiles. “How delightful to see you again.”
Greg set the bag and coffee firmly on his desk. “Let me save us some time. You don't need money and I haven't got any anyway. I won't compromise an investigation and I won't lose evidence for you. Whatever you think you can blackmail me for—”
“Do sit down, Sergeant. You have it all wrong. I'm only here to ask for a small favour, and I'm prepared to be quite generously grateful if you co-operate.”
“A favour, but it's got nothing to do with my job even though you're in my office. Right, sure.”
“Of course there's a connection with your work. I have a younger brother about whom I am greatly concerned. I wonder if you might agree to check in on him from time to time and let me know how he's doing.”
“There's a different department for that.” I've had my hand up your arse, he thought. I rubbed my come over your face. You shouldn't be this damned intimidating.
“I'm not asking you to do it in an official capacity. It's not just for my benefit, but yours as well. Despite his hopelessly obnoxious manner, I believe you've found him quite useful at times. In fact, as you are aware, his unacknowledged assistance with several difficult cases may have been instrumental in your possible promotion, Detective Sergeant. You're up for review shortly, are you not?”
“Bloody hell,” Greg whispered, because the penny had finally dropped. “You mean Holmes. The junkie.” He tightened his fingers on the edge of the desk so as not to grab the smug git by the lapels.
After a few moments of silence, the bastard mused absently, “Your new Chief Superintendent is known for such...rigid habits of mind. Little tolerance for unconventionality, particularly for...proclivities that could be said to be the cause of marital dissolution. So difficult to prove discrimination when one's superiors simply argue that one's current rank is the one beyond which one has not the talent to advance. However should such a thing be refuted?”
Greg cursed, low and vicious. “Did you know who I was before you pulled me?”
“Of course, Sergeant.”
I won't do it, Greg told himself. Never, never co-operate with a blackmailer. You're fucked either way.
There was a bottle of thirty-year Talisker on his kitchen table when he got home that evening. He sat with his head in his hands for a long time.
Three and a half weeks later his wife said she'd like to try again, and he discovered just how big a coward he really was.