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Greg came home to the faint sound of music drifting gently down the hall. He hung up his jacket and toed off his shoes, straining to hear the soft chords, and then followed them to the source. They were coming from the very back of the house, from the room Greg had nicknamed “the Ballroom” in his mind, although Mycroft insisted it was far too small to be a proper ballroom. It was still fairly spacious, with gorgeous dark hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an arched doorway that led out onto a stone balcony overlooking the garden. It also happened to be one of three rooms in the building that housed a piano. Greg had asked Mycroft once why they needed so many pianos, and Mycroft had shrugged and explained that they’d been there for about as long as his family had owned the house, which was a very long time considering the Holmes fortune went back several generations. Unlike the other two, which were smaller and square (Mycroft had called them “upright” once) the one in the Ballroom was a stereotypical, enormous grand piano, sleek and black and a bit intimidating to look at. Currently, as Greg stopped in the doorway and stared, Mycroft was bent over said piano, his suit jacket slung over the bench next to him and his shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbow, his gaze completely focused on the keys as his fingers danced over them.

Greg was torn, wanting to let his boyfriend know he was home but also not wanting to distract him. Hesitantly, he cleared his throat and Mycroft startled, hitting a wrong key and wincing at the clashing noise. “Sorry,” Greg said. “Didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“Gregory,” Mycroft said, turning to look at him. “I didn’t expect you home so soon.”

Greg checked his watch, approaching his boyfriend as he did so, “Actually, I’m running a bit late. Got tied up in some paperwork.”

“I must have lost track of time,” Mycroft murmured. He tilted his head back to look up at Greg when he stopped in front of Mycroft, and Greg leaned down, cupping his cheek and kissing him properly.

When they parted, Greg took a seat next to Mycroft on the piano bench, careful not to sit on top of his suit jacket. “I heard you playing,” he said. “It was nice.”

“I’ve been practicing,” Mycroft responded. “We did have a deal, after all.”

Greg frowned, not sure what Mycroft was referring to, and then it came back to him and he let out a huff of laughter, “I thought you forgot about that. It was almost a week ago.”

“Mmm, you promised me you would wear a leather jacket if I played piano for you,” Mycroft said. “That is not a deal I’m about to forget.”

“So you’ve been practicing?”

Mycroft blushed, “I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be…terrible. And I didn’t want to play just any boring song. I know how you hate classical music.”

“Yeah?” Greg asked. “So what were you playing? It sounded kind of familiar.”

“It should,” Mycroft said. “I went through your music to find it. I listened to it a few times, and then I taught myself to play it by ear. I’m sure I could have tracked down the sheet music, but I’ve always preferred playing by ear. The piece feels more…alive that way.”

“So go on,” Greg shifted so he was straddling the bench, facing Mycroft. “Play it for me.”

Mycroft hesitated, “I’m not sure…”

“I heard you coming in. It actually sounded really good. Please?”

Mycroft nodded and obligingly brought his hands to the keys. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, without so much as glancing at Greg, he began to play.

It wasn’t quite perfect, but it really was good. Mycroft was a little hesitant, but there was passion in his playing, and Greg’s breath caught and lodged itself uncomfortably in his throat even before Mycroft hit the chorus, because now Greg recognized the song. He remained silent, not moving a muscle, hardly daring to breathe as Mycroft played. Only when he hit the final note, tapering off into lighter key strokes until he stopped altogether, did Greg finally let out the breath he’d been holding. “Wow.”

“You liked it?” Mycroft looked at him, a shyness Greg was very familiar with permeating his gaze.

“I loved it,” he said quietly. “Foreigner. You learned classic rock for me.”

“I felt the song was…particularly relevant,” Mycroft said. He faced Greg fully, a deadly serious look on his face. “I think we ought to have that conversation now, Gregory.”

Greg didn’t have to ask to know what conversation Mycroft was talking about. “Maybe not here,” he suggested. “Do you want to move somewhere else?”

They relocated to the living room. Greg hesitantly took a seat at one end of the couch, and he wasn’t sure how to feel when Mycroft settled on the complete other end, feet tucked up under him and fingers drumming nervously on the backrest. “So,” he said softly. “We should…talk.”

Mycroft didn’t respond. He stared at the floor, the drumming of his fingers increasing in tempo. It was a nervous tick that Greg was quickly learning to pick up on. “Mycroft,” he said, firmly but not harshly, and Mycroft looked up at him, expression completely lost.

“I know it’s awkward,” Greg said, “and probably a bit scary. But we do need to talk about this. Okay?”

Mycroft nodded, “Yes. This is…necessary.” He took a deep breath, and then let it out in a frustrated huff, “I’m just not sure where to begin.”

“Let’s start with this,” Greg offered. “What do you know for certain you’re comfortable with? I know there’s obviously going to be times where you aren’t going to want to be touched at all, but in general, what are you okay with?”

“I like kissing you,” Mycroft said definitively. “It’s…nice,” he blushed. “It makes me feel special, like you’re completely focused on me.”

“You are special, love,” Greg said, giving him a small smile, which Mycroft returned tentatively.

He had a little more confidence when he continued, “For the most part, it doesn’t feel…sexual when you’re kissing me. When it’s on my forehead, or my cheek, or what have you, it’s just you showing me affection. It doesn’t feel like you’re trying to initiate anything.”

“That’s because I’m not,” Greg said.

Mycroft nodded, “Generally speaking, it’s the kissing combined with the…touching that makes me nervous. Especially if it’s on the lips. That feels a great deal more intimate, and I panic a bit when you put your hands on me.”

“I’m sorry,” Greg said softly. “I didn’t realize that was an issue for you.”

Mycroft studied his lap, “It isn’t all the time. A great deal of the time I like it, and I know you like to have that physical contact. You’re a very physical person, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a bit much, sometimes.”

“Understood,” Greg said. “And you’ll tell me when it feels like too much?”

Mycroft hesitated before answering, and Greg gave him a sharp look. Mycroft nodded quickly, “I’ll tell you.”

Greg sighed, “I know this is hard for you. It’s not easy for me either. The way I reacted at first…that’s inexcusable.”

“You were upset. It was a reasonable response.”

“I shut you out,” Greg argued. “I shut you out for week, Mycroft. And this is after we’ve had conversations where I’ve asked you not to shut me out, to talk to me, to be more open with me. That makes me a hypocrite, and it’s really not okay.”

Mycroft looked like he didn’t know how to respond to that. Greg could see clear disagreement in his face, but also an unwillingness to voice it. “I’m not perfect, love,” Greg said. “You seem to think I am, and I think part of that is because the bar has been set so fucking low for you that I could be a halfway decent human being and you’d think I was Prince Charming for it. But I’m really, really not perfect. I’m going to make mistakes. I already have. The point isn’t being perfect, love. It’s working this stuff out together, as a team. Do you get what I’m saying?”

“I believe so,” Mycroft said. “I’m not sure I agree with it entirely, but I understand the point you’re trying to make.”

Greg sighed, “That’s all I can really ask for, I guess.” He wished there were an easier way to make Mycroft see where he was coming from, but he supposed that was what the therapy was for. They were getting there. Mycroft was already doing a lot better than he had a few months ago.

Mycroft gingerly returned to the previous subject, “There are definitely specific ways I’m more comfortable with you touching me than others.”

Greg snapped back to attention, “Right. Okay.”

“I enjoy having your hands in my hair,” Mycroft said, “but only so long as you’re not pulling on it. You’ve never actually done it, but there have been a few times where I thought you were going to, and it made me anxious.”

“Duly noted.”

“In general, it’s a good idea not to exert a lot of pressure. My…control issues. If I feel like I am unable to get away, even if I know all it takes is one word to make you stop, I start to panic. My wrists in particular. I like you holding my hand, but never grab me by the wrist.”

Greg winced, because he was fairly certain he’d done just that back when Mycroft had come onto him. Catching the reaction, Mycroft said, “As long as your grip is light, it’s fine. Anything strong enough to move me is not.”

Greg hesitated, and then scooted closer to Mycroft, stopping in the middle of the couch. Pushing away the awkward feeling, he offered out his arm, “Show me.”

Mycroft blinked, momentarily confused, but then he slid closer and wrapped his fingers around Greg’s wrist lightly. His grip was loose, just enough pressure that he could probably take Greg’s pulse but not enough that a jerky movement wouldn’t break the hold. “This is acceptable,” he murmured. He tightened his hand a bit, “Anything this strong or tighter is not okay.”

“Got it,” Greg said, making a mental note.

Mycroft let go of him, “And, naturally, anything involving actively tying me down or handcuffing me isn’t an option.”

Greg couldn’t suppress his laugh. He felt a bit bad at Mycroft’s startled look, and he quickly shook his head, “Love, that’s not even a question. If you can’t handle completely ordinary, vanilla sex, there’s no way in hell I’m introducing anything like that in the bedroom.”

Mycroft muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, “Well, you are a police officer.”

“So you think I want to handcuff you in bed?” Greg asked. The corner of Mycroft’s mouth twitched, which was enough confirmation for Greg. “If we ever get to that point, we’ll discuss it then, but that’s never really been my thing. But just taking a shot in the dark, you probably don’t want to be pinned down either, even without accessories.”

“Definitely not,” Mycroft agreed. “If at all possible, I’d prefer to be physically on top during sexual encounters.” He hesitated, then blushed and added, “I mean that in the logistic sense, not penetration-wise. I’m…less certain about my opinions on that.”

“Yeah, we’re not even going to discuss penetration right now,” Greg said.

Mycroft frowned, “Why not?”

“You had a panic attack giving me a hand job. Let’s work our way up, okay?”

“Fine,” Mycroft accepted the answer.

“And in case it wasn’t clear,” Greg told him, “I’m totally fine with you being on top of me.”

Mycroft quirked an eyebrow, “You don’t find it emasculating?”

“What?”

“To have me in the position of power all the time.”

Greg stared at Mycroft, incredulous, “Where the hell would you get that idea from?”

Mycroft looked away, and Greg immediately felt bad. “Let me guess,” he murmured. “David?”

“David,” Mycroft confirmed. “He liked me on top occasionally, when I was doing all the work, but otherwise he preferred me under him so he could be in control.”

Greg hesitated, unsure if it was appropriate given the conversation, but he threw caution to the winds and wrapped his arms around Mycroft, hugging him gently. “You’re in control here. It’s not even a question,” he reassured Mycroft when he let go. He gave a playful grin, trying to lighten the mood a bit, “Besides. I don’t mind being a little bit dominated by you.”

“I see.” Mycroft blushed. “Is that…‘your thing,’ as you put it?”

“I mean, not specifically, but I do like it.”

“Then what, specifically, is-?”

Greg shook his head, “We’re not talking about me right now.” Mycroft looked like he was going to protest, but Greg cut him off, “You told me part of the issue is you wanting to push yourself for the sake of my pleasure. I’m not going to encourage that. Right now, I just want to talk about you, and what you’re okay and not okay with. When we get a little farther into it, we can talk about what I like. Now, is there anything else, specifically, that I’ve done or you’re worried I might do that you know you don’t like?”

Mycroft considered that for a moment. “Generally speaking,” he swallowed hard, and Greg could see embarrassment colouring his face, “I, ah…I don’t like…” He broke off.

“You don’t like what?” Greg prompted gently. “I know this is a little embarrassing, but it’s important. It’s okay.”

Mycroft took a breath, “I don’t typically like feeling your erection when I’m in your lap. There has been precisely one occasion where I felt comfortable with that...” At Greg’s confused look, he supplied, “that time at your parents’ house.”

“Right.” It was Greg’s turn to blush.

“You have a tendency to put your hands on my hips and use that leverage to…well, when I straddle you, I straddle your thighs for a reason. So unless I initiate that step, I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t.”

“I’m sorry,” Greg apologized. “I wasn’t even really aware I was doing that.”

“It’s fine,” Mycroft said. “That’s why we’re having this…incredibly awkward discussion.” He gave a tiny smile that drew short laughs out of both of them. “I will say: I do very much enjoy how vocal you are during sex.”

Greg covered his face in his hands. “Christ, that’s…” He looked at Mycroft, “You really like that?”

“Of course. Verbally, you’re very helpful. You continually check in, you make sure I’m okay with the proceedings, and you help guide me-“

“Even though we shouldn’t have been there in the first place,” Greg cut in, remembering that disastrous moment with the customary shame and guilt that accompanied it.

Mycroft put his hand over Greg’s, “Still. In the future, that will be an asset for us. As for the rest, well, I do enjoy causing you to make a variety of noises. You’re far from shy about it, in the moment at least, and that gives me…I’m not sure pride is the correct word, but it’s the nearest descriptor I have.”

“Amelia hated how loud I was in bed,” Greg winced.

“I am not Amelia,” Mycroft said, and Greg wondered if Mycroft was struck by the same strange sensation that Greg was. He was normally the one reassuring Mycroft that their current relationship did not reflect his past one. To be on the other end of it was a stark difference.

“It wasn’t just her,” he admitted. “People tend not to like it very much.”

“I think you’ve just been engaging in intercourse with the wrong people,” Mycroft said, a bit tightly.

Greg raised his eyebrows and teased, “You think everyone who isn’t you are the wrong people.”

“That’s because they are,” Mycroft said simply. “At any rate, we keep getting off task.”

Greg shrugged, “We’re mostly on task. And it helps it be a little less awkward. The more comfortable we are here, the better. The last thing I want to do is get it stuck in your head that talking about sex is uncomfortable. You hate talking about things that are uncomfortable, and we’re going to need to have an ongoing discussion about this stuff. Anyway, you were saying. No pulling you into my lap.”

“Precisely. Let me come to you if I feel in a position to do so.”

“What about in general?” Greg asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Initiating stuff,” Greg explained. “For the most part, I initiate all the physical contact between us. You’ve been doing it more lately, but typically I’m the one who reaches out to you for hugs or kisses or whatever. So how does that apply here?”

“What you’ve been doing up to this point is fine,” Mycroft said. “I don’t mind you initiating nonsexual contact, even if it’s something that could eventually develop into sexual contact if certain steps were taken. But let me take those steps. Follow, don’t lead.” He took a deep breath, like he was bracing himself for something, and said, “I have to be the one making the decisions about how far we go. If you initiate it, there’s a much greater chance of me panicking before I can tell you no, and a much lower chance of me remembering I’m allowed to say no. However, if I’m the one who has to make the decision to take each step farther, we reduce the risk of me panicking and I’ll feel more comfortable because I control the pace.”

Greg nodded, “That makes sense. Honestly, it’s what I would have suggested anyway.”

“Eventually, we should get to the point where I will be okay with you initiating things,” Mycroft said, “but…well. Best to take it slow.”

“Best to take it slow,” Greg echoed in agreement. “Anything else you can think of that we probably should talk about?”

“Is there anything that you don’t like?” Mycroft asked. Greg went to protest, because they had just talked about that, but Mycroft didn’t let him, “This is important to me, Gregory. You are more experienced than I am, so I will need some guidance. This isn’t me trying to work around finding out what you like; I legitimately want to know if there’s anything that could be a problem for you.”

“Oh.” Greg hadn’t considered that. He’d been completely focused on Mycroft’s needs, and he hadn’t considered his own experiences. He opened his mouth, and then chuckled and closed it again.

“What?” Mycroft asked.

Greg shook his head, “Sorry. I was just going to say that the only things to avoid for me are the usual ones, but then I remembered that you might not actually know what those are.”

“Better if you tell me,” Mycroft agreed.

“It’s pretty basic, honestly,” Greg said. “Nothing you do will, you know, give me an anxiety attack like you could have, but in general I don’t like biting and if you’re going to dig your fingernails in, don’t do it hard enough to break the skin. Other than that, I’m pretty much okay with most things.”

“Good to know,” Mycroft said. “No biting? At all?” The look on his face was…coy was the only word Greg could come up with.

“Well, I don’t mind a bit of nipping, if that’s what you’re asking,” Greg murmured, aware they were swaying closer together, Mycroft’s eyes drifting down to his lips. “Just nothing hard enough to break the skin. I’m not a fan of the pain, or the blood.”

“I see,” Mycroft said distractedly. His hand came up to tangle in the hair at the nape of Greg’s neck, breath ghosting over his face. Greg stayed stock-still, afraid any movement on his part might break the moment.

The instant Mycroft’s lips met his, the thought disappeared from Greg’s mind and he cradled Mycroft’s face in both hands, sinking into the kiss eagerly. Mycroft drew Greg’s bottom lip between his teeth, and Greg hissed, moaning when Mycroft bit down lightly. “Yeah, like that,” he managed, because there was nothing else he could say.

Mycroft hummed, a little, pleased noise. He deepened the kiss, tongue slipping confidently into Greg’s mouth, and Greg let him lead. He was on fire everywhere Mycroft was touching him; the hand on the back of neck, the other curled around his shoulder like a grounding force, where their legs were pressed together, Mycroft’s knee nudging into Greg’s thigh, and of course his lips because fuck, Mycroft was an amazing kisser.

He only just remembered Mycroft’s request, stopping himself from dropping his boyfriend’s face in favour of pulling him into Greg’s lap. Instead, he kept on hand on Mycroft’s cheek and settled the other on Mycroft’s arm, figuring that was a safe place to touch. Mycroft pressed him back into the couch, sliding one leg between Greg’s to straddle his thigh, giving him a better angle. Greg groaned into the kiss, tilting his head back and using what little brain function he had left to keep from thrusting his hips forward to grind against Mycroft.

On their next break to gasp for air, Greg panted, “This really isn’t where I thought this conversation was going to go.”

Mycroft dragged him into another incredible, bruising kiss, and then murmured against his lips, “Well, I wouldn’t be adverse to a little hands-on practice.” The double entendre was not lost of Greg, as Mycroft slid his hand from Greg’s shoulder to his chest, toying with the top button on his shirt.

Against his body’s urging, Greg turned his head to the side when Mycroft went in for the next kiss, causing his boyfriend to pout slightly and place a row of kisses down his jawline instead. “Mycroft,” Greg said, “hey.” He pushed his boyfriend’s shoulder gently, and Mycroft leaned back, frowning. “This is a bad idea,” Greg told him.

“Is it?” Mycroft bit his red, kiss-swollen lips and gave Greg the most seductive “come hither” look he had ever been on the receiving end of, because of course Mycroft knew how to push every one of Greg’s buttons.

“Yeah, I think it is,” Greg insisted. “I’m pretty sure we’re not done with the conversation.”

“And I’m fairly certain breaks are allowed when one’s partner is being irresistibly charming.” Mycroft leaned in for another kiss, and again Greg turned away.

“Yeah, no, this is definitely not the sort conversation where breaks to make out are reasonable.”

“Wasn’t I the one who said I should control the pace?”

“You’re also the one who emphasized going slow,” Greg countered.

“Fine,” Mycroft leaned back on his heels, but he didn’t move to leave Greg’s lap. He arched an eyebrow, and Greg was a bit impressed at how easily he was able to switch between desperate and provocative and calm and collected.

When Greg didn’t say anything immediately, Mycroft asked, “Well?”

“Give me a minute,” Greg said. He was still panting slightly, trying to even out his breathing. “You’re fucking amazing with your mouth and not all of us can act as unaffected as you.”

Mycroft smirked at the praise, and Greg rolled his eyes, “So glad to be stoking your ego with this.” He sighed, sinking back into the couch cushions. “Okay. You going to behave long enough so we can finish this discussion?”

“Will we resume our activities when we’re done?” Mycroft asked.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Greg said.

“Fair enough,” Mycroft said. “Did you have something in mind?”

“Yeah, actually.” It had occurred to Greg in the middle of Mycroft kissing him. “You really like to undress me when we’re making out.” It was true, more or less. Mycroft seemed to really enjoy unbuttoning Greg’s shirt and getting his hands on Greg’s chest.

“So?”

“So, am I allowed to return the favour?” When Mycroft pulled a face, Greg said quickly, “I know it’s going to be a case-by-case basis. I just want to know if it’s an option, or if I shouldn’t bother asking.”

Mycroft slumped down, finally climbing out of Greg’s lap to settle next to him, although he was still close enough that they were completely pressed together. “I don’t…” he sighed, “I don’t know if I’m okay with that.”

“That’s fine,” Greg said.

Mycroft hesitated, “It isn’t…it isn’t because I don’t trust you or I don’t think you’ll stop. It’s…Gregory, I really despise my body.”

Greg wasn’t surprised it had come up. He was actually a little shocked it hadn’t appeared earlier. He brushed a loose strand of hair back behind Mycroft’s ear, “I know, love. And I know that it’s going to take more than me telling you how absolutely bloody gorgeous I find you to fix that.”

Mycroft squirmed slightly in response to the praise. “It’s true,” Greg pushed, “I know you don’t agree, and it breaks my heart, because you’re stunning, Mycroft. You’re so attractive that you’re completely out of my league, and you know I tell everyone that, so it’s not just me trying to convince you.”

“Gregory, I appreciate the point you’re trying to make, but I’m the one who has logic on his side here,” Mycroft said. “You’re incredibly fit for your age, you’re classically handsome, and if you don’t think people are calling you a silver fox it’s because they’re doing it behind your back. I, on the other hand, am flabby, with an unappealing face, a nose that has been described as ‘beak-like’ on more than one occasion, and a dreadful amount of freckles.”

“First of all, I love your freckles,” Greg countered. “I want to get you naked to see if you have them all over and play fucking connect-the-dots with them and my tongue. You really don’t have a clue how much they turn me on.” Mycroft flushed scarlet, but Greg just went on, “Secondly, your nose is not beak-like, it’s a perfectly normal nose, and an adorable one at that.”

“Noses are not adorable,” Mycroft protested.

“Yeah, well, everything about you is adorable,” Greg said. “Deal with it. Thirdly, your face is not ‘unappealing,’ Mycroft. I don’t know who said that to you, but they’re wrong, completely wrong, because trust me, I took one look at your face the moment we met and thought ‘shit, why did he have to be so attractive?’ And fourthly, love, for crying out loud, we’ve talked about this. If anything, you weigh a bit less than you really should considering you’re six feet tall. I know your weight issues are a work in progress, but I really wish you’d believe me when I tell you that you are definitely not fat.” He sighed, “I know I’m not going to convince you. It’s something you’re going to have to work out for yourself.”

Mycroft laid his head against Greg’s shoulder, “I’m sorry.”

“For what, love?”

“For being so high maintenance. For having such a low opinion of myself.”

“You don’t need to apologize for that, love. It’s not your fault.” Greg pressed a kiss to the top of Mycroft’s head. “If you really don’t feel comfortable with me taking your shirt off, I won’t do it. I’m not trying to force you into anything here.”

“Thank you.” Mycroft’s voice was quiet, and Greg could tell he was still hung up on the feeling of guilt.

In the hopes of distracting him, Greg asked, “Is there anywhere specific that is completely off limits for me to touch?” At Mycroft’s look, Greg rolled his eyes, “You said it first; I really like touching you. I’ve always been very hands-on, and I get it. You probably don’t want me groping your crotch, so unless you specifically tell me otherwise, I’m not going to do that. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other places you’re not okay with me touching.”

Mycroft considered the question. “I don’t believe there’s anywhere else I should have a problem with. I don’t mind your hands on my hips so long as you aren’t moving me, and the only thing that could potentially be an issue is, as I mentioned earlier, me feeling overwhelmed. It isn’t necessarily area-specific, as far as I can tell.”

“And that’s fine,” Greg said. “If it changes, you’ll just have to tell me.”

“I don’t think I’m going to ask you to…feel me up,” the words sounded odd in Mycroft’s mouth, and Greg had to hold in another laugh because it actually looked like Mycroft was serious. “The easiest way to overwhelm me is direct stimulus to…well. For the time being, I think sticking to nonreciprocal acts would be better. It’s what I’m used to, anyway.”

Greg frowned. That thought really didn’t sit well with him. “Love, I’m not sure I’m okay with that,” he said. “I’m not exactly a fan of getting off and leaving my partner hanging in general, but with you it feels a lot like taking advantage.”

Mycroft offered him a placating smile, “You’re a selfless lover, Gregory. I understand you might not be entirely comfortable with the implications of the concept, but I assure you, it’s not about you taking advantage of me. I am easily overwhelmed, but I still wish to pursue a physical relationship with you. The simplest way to acclimatize myself to sexual contact is to perform the acts which I feel capable of on you because that is what I’ve been used to in the past.”

“I’m just worried we’ll get stuck in a cycle,” Greg said. “You have this habit of not pushing your comfort zone, and I think it’ll be a lot easier for you to work your way up giving pleasure to me than it will for you to get comfortable with the idea of receiving pleasure. You have a lot of really fucked up ideas about what you deserve, love. I get being overwhelmed, but I think it’ll be really easy for you to convince yourself that it has to be all give and no take. Do you get what I’m saying?”

Mycroft nodded. His face turned thoughtful, “What if I were to offer a compromise?”

“What sort of compromise?”

“Would you consider it acceptable if I performed unreciprocated sexual acts on you, so long as I did not move on to the next stage before I was comfortable receiving the same act?”

“What?” Occasionally, just occasionally, Greg wished he was a genius.

“In layman’s terms,” Mycroft explained, “I could, for example, give you a hand job without desiring reciprocation, but I would have to be comfortable allowing you, at least some of the time, to reciprocate before we could move on to me performing oral sex on you.”

“Oh.” Greg turned the thought over in his mind a few times. “That seems…fair. But if we start this, and either of us decides that’s not going to work, we’ll revisit the agreement, yeah?”

“Of course.” Mycroft agreed easily. There was silence between them for a moment, and Mycroft tentatively asked, “Shall we put that agreement into practice, then?”

“You asking to start snogging me again?” Greg grinned as he said it so Mycroft would know he was teasing.

His boyfriend returned the smile and followed it with a surprisingly gentle kiss. He rested his forehead against Greg’s.

“What was that for?” Greg asked softly.

“That was a thank you,” Mycroft murmured.

“For what?”

“For allowing me to set the boundaries,” Mycroft said. “To you, it may be basic decency, but to me it means the world.”

“I love you,” Greg told him. “I don't want to do anything to hurt you if I can avoid it.”

“I love you too,” Mycroft's voice was reverent. Greg realized his boyfriend's eyes were closed.

“And you'll tell me if you think of anything else, right? If there's something we forgot to cover?”

“I'll tell you,” Mycroft promised. He opened his eyes, and Greg could see clear arousal in them, the pupils dilated and the expression full of fire. He could feel Mycroft's heartbeat speeding up where they pressed together, and Greg's began racing to match. “Gregory,” Mycroft drew out his name in a long breath that had Greg suppressing an undignified whimper.

“Yeah?” he managed.

“I would very much like to resume kissing you now.”

“Okay.” Because really, what else was there to say?

Mycroft slipped back into his lap like he belonged there, and Greg opened eagerly into the first kiss. Mycroft's fingers in his hair were more confident than before, gripping harder. The kiss was rougher, more passionate, and Greg didn't even try to fight for breath because suffocating would be worth it to drink in Mycroft's kisses forever. His fingers found purchase on Mycroft's hips, but he didn't try to pull him in, just clutched at him as if afraid he might disappear from under Greg's fingers.

“Fuck, love,” he panted out between kisses, and Mycroft shifted, moving his attention from Greg's lips to his neck, sucking rough bruises that nothing short of a turtleneck or scarf would hide. His teeth scraped lightly over Greg's pulse point, and Greg moaned.

He was hard, achingly so, basking in the heat of Mycroft's attention, and Greg resigned himself to jerking off later because there was no way every excruciating, beautiful second of this wasn't going to sear itself into Greg's memory.

Mycroft nipped at his pulse once more before pulling away from Greg's neck. His face was flushed, his hair messy and his eyes nearly black. He looked utterly debauched, and Greg's cock gave a painful throb at the image, straining against his trousers. “Gregory,” Mycroft bit his lip, a flash of white against red, a moment of uncertainty playing across his face. It faded quickly, replaced by a pure hunger that sent shivers down Greg's spine. “Gregory,” Mycroft repeated, a beautiful growl, and Greg's dazed mind thought that his name had never sounded so good. Mycroft reclaimed his lips and did something unexpected. He slipped a hand between them, into Greg's lap.

Greg pulled back from the kiss, breathing hard, staring at Mycroft in shock. His boyfriend didn't try to move his hand, keeping the pressure light, barely ghosting over where Greg desperately wanted to be touched. Greg tried to speak, but all he managed to do was choke on his tongue, and he cleared his throat and tried again, his voice coming out rough and low, “Love, are you sure?”

Mycroft nodded. There was no sign of hesitancy in his face, just desire. “I'm not…” he started, then stopped and swallowed. “Just like this,” he said, pressing down a little harder and drawing a moan from Greg. “Is that alright?”

“Yeah, God yes, Mycroft, please,” Greg begged. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he thought he should have been embarrassed that he was so desperate to have his boyfriend feel him up through his trousers, as if he was a teenager and not a grown man, but Greg didn't care.

Mycroft shifted carefully, settling himself more comfortably in Greg’s lap. His hand, the one that wasn’t hovering over Greg’s clothed cock, slid down from Greg’s hair to wrap around the back of his neck, keeping Mycroft balanced. He had a look of deep concentration on his face, staring down between them like he was trying to solve a puzzle. It shouldn’t have turned Greg on so much, but it was Mycroft.

He considered saying something, maybe to reassure Mycroft that whatever he was comfortable with was fine and that he could back out, or maybe some gentle encouragement, but whatever it was flew from Greg’s mind the second Mycroft brought his hand solidly into contact with Greg’s erection and instead all that came out was a groan of pleasure as Greg’s eyes slammed shut and his head tilted back. Mycroft’s long fingers curled around him, tracing out the edges where his cock was tenting his trousers, giving Greg the distinct feeling that Mycroft was sizing him. The pressure was good, but Greg wanted more, needed friction, and he forced himself to let go of Mycroft’s hips, his hands grasping at the couch cushions instead as he fought to keep his hips from bucking up into the sensation.

Mycroft hummed softly, apparently pleased by his reaction, and rewarded him with a gentle squeeze that made Greg gasp and whine low in his throat. “Mycroft,” he whimpered, beyond caring about appearances, “love, please.” His voice broke off into a moan as Mycroft squeezed him again.

“Open your eyes, Gregory,” Mycroft murmured, and Greg obeyed without a second thought. Mycroft’s eyes were dark and burning with lust, and his lips quirked into a smile when he purred, “Would you like to kiss me, Gregory?”

“Fuck, yes, please,” Greg panted, and Mycroft swooped in, the grip on Greg’s neck tightening as he claimed Greg’s lips. Greg allowed himself to reach up with just one hand to cradle Mycroft’s face, clinging to him desperately, and Mycroft’s chuckle reverberated through his body where they were connected.

“You’re so eager, my darling,” Mycroft punctuated the words by flattening his palm and finally, finally giving Greg the friction he was desperate for, grinding the heel of his hand down against Greg’s erection.

Greg couldn't help bucking his hips up into it, nearly unseating Mycroft, who tightened his grip on Greg's neck in response and ground his hand down again.

After so many months without sex, Greg hadn't expected to last very long. Still, it was a little embarrassing to cum after only a few minutes of Mycroft alternating between firm strokes and teasing touches to his cock, all without even unbuttoning his trousers. His orgasm caught Greg completely off guard; a particularly satisfying stroke along his entire length had coincided with Mycroft breaking away from plying his lips with bruising kisses to bite down gently on his earlobe and Greg was gone, his vision whiting out as he panted Mycroft's name, trembling as he came in his pants for the first time since high school. He was vaguely aware of Mycroft's voice murmuring in his ear through the aftershocks, his hand loosening its grip and then letting go altogether.

When Greg managed to pull himself back together, still breathing heavily but with most of his mind not clouded by a post-orgasmic fog, he stared at Mycroft’s flushed face and managed an uncertain smile. “That was…unexpected.”

“Quite,” Mycroft agreed.

Greg hesitated, glancing towards Mycroft's crotch, where it was clear he was not as unaffected as his calm words indicated. Seeing the direction of his gaze, Mycroft shook his head, “I'm fine, Gregory.”

The twinge in Greg's chest made him second guess agreeing that this scenario was okay. It must have shown on his face, because Mycroft leaned in and pressed a sweet, chaste kiss to his lips. “I love you,” he said. “You’re so very good to me. But I don't think I'm quite ready for that yet. Perhaps next time.”

“This morning, you thought you weren't ready for…” Greg made a vague gesture between them to indicate what they'd just done. His body was cooling off, and his pants were starting to become uncomfortable.

Mycroft inclined his head, agreeing with Greg's point, but he said, “I appreciate your concern, Gregory, but I truly am fine. The arousal will subside shortly, and I'd rather quit while we're ahead than risk an anxiety attack.”

“Fair point,” Greg agreed. “Why now?”

Mycroft frowned, momentarily processing what Greg was asking, and then clarified, “Why now did I feel able to initiate sexual contact?”

“If you want to phrase it like that, sure.”

“We just laid down some very distinct boundary lines,” Mycroft said. He stood up, smoothing down the front of his shirt and drawing Greg’s eyes momentarily to his bare forearms. “You are allowing me to direct this. You are making it about me, about what I want. In doing so, I was able to think very clearly about what I did want, and in that moment, I wanted you. So I did what I felt ready for.”

“It wasn’t out of some...I dunno, misguided desire to please me?”

“Gregory, I do believe we just discussed that.”

“I know,” Greg raised his hands in surrender. “Just checking.” He stood up too, “Now, I’m going to shower. I forgot how disgusting cumming in your pants feels.”

“Have fun,” Mycroft chuckled.

From the doorway, Greg shot him a cheeky grin and a wink, “Weren’t you listening, love? I just did.” He left the room to the sound of Mycroft’s laughter.

The shower was excellent. It allowed Greg a chance for the thrumming of his body, still a bit high after his orgasm, to subside. When he stepped out again, he toweled off and wiped away the steam from the mirror, grinning at his reflection when he noticed the hickeys that Mycroft had trailed up and down his neck. They stood out darkly against his skin, and his cock gave an interested twitch at the thought of Mycroft marking him so clearly. Greg wrapped himself in one of Mycroft’s dressing gowns, luxuriating in the feel of the silk against his bare skin, and slipped out of the bathroom.

Mycroft was in their bedroom, clearly changing, his waistcoat and tie set neatly on the bed. Greg walked up behind him, wrapping his arms around Mycroft’s waist and pressing a series of soft kisses along his neck. Mycroft stopped unbuttoning his shirt. “Happy?” he asked quietly.

“Very happy,” Greg murmured. He tucked his head against Mycroft’s shoulder, unwilling to let go just yet.

“Because we had sex?”

“Because I love you,” Greg corrected. “Don’t get me wrong, it was fucking amazing, but the fact that you trusted me enough for that makes me a lot happier than just having sex.”

Mycroft turned in his arms. “You never cease to amaze me, Gregory.”

“That a good thing?”

“It is.”

“Then good,” Greg grinned. He pecked Mycroft’s lips, and then said, “I know you said you weren’t interested in reciprocation, but I definitely want you to get something out of this. So whatever you want tonight, I’m at your beck and call.”

“Very thoughtful of you,” the corner of Mycroft’s mouth lifted into a smile. “Tonight, I think I’d like for us both to change into our pajamas, order in, curl up on the couch in the screening room, and watch a film.”

“I definitely can do that.”

“I get to pick, and you can’t complain about my choice.”

“Whatever you want.”

“Excellent,” Mycroft returned Greg’s kiss. “Then I suggest you let go of me so we might change.”

Greg released Mycroft reluctantly, stepping away and dropping his dressing gown on the floor before pulling his pajamas on. Mycroft, as usual, turned his back to Greg, still modest and shy when it came to full nudity, and Greg didn’t try to look at Mycroft changing. The fact that Mycroft was comfortable enough to do it in front of Greg was plenty; Greg wasn’t about to go against Mycroft’s wishes and try to sneak a peek.

Without looking, he said, “I’ll call in now. Where do you want?”

“I’m craving Thai tonight,” Mycroft answered.

“Usual order?”

“Yes, please.”

Greg left the room to make the phone call. At some point, he heard Mycroft slip past into the screening room, so when the call was over he joined his boyfriend there. The opening credits were already rolling, and Greg groaned, “Terror by Night? Really?”

“You promised you wouldn’t complain,” Mycroft said.

Greg joined him on the sofa, Mycroft curling into his side as Greg wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “You made me promise that on purpose, didn’t you?” he accused. “You know how I feel about these black and white detective films.”

“You might find them boring, Gregory, but I enjoy them,” Mycroft returned. “Now shush. A promise is a promise.”

Greg sighed, pressing a kiss to Mycroft’s temple and smiling in spite of himself. “It is,” he agreed, thinking of the other promise he had made. “I guess we’re both getting a present on my birthday, then.”

Mycroft grinned smugly up at Greg, “It appears we are.” He settled himself more comfortably against Greg, relaxing into his embrace, “I’m very much going to enjoy you in leather, my darling.”

“Anything for you, love,” Greg murmured. “Anything for you.”