Inside 221B, on a fresh spring Tuesday afternoon, a conversation was in progress - as all the best conversations usually were - over tea and ginger nut biscuits. The subject of Greg's impending birthday had arisen, and hot debate about the precise nature of the gift to be given had ensued. Options had been presented, ideas negotiated, appropriateness discussed. A kind of consensus had been reached between the three men most intimately interested in the subject, and recommended timings were being sketched out in accordance with four rather complicated schedules.
"So Friday, you reckon? He'll be done by the usual time, and I'm not on shift at all that day," said the chipped mug of extra-strength builder's; one sugar, not-too-much milk.
"Yes, I can be there on Friday afternoon for the preparations. I should be able to have a half-day, barring some major global disaster. Rest assured, I'll be pressing my team to avert such an encumbrance on our weekend, but it is always somewhat in the lap of the gods," replied the Wedgwood china; unsweetened Earl Grey with lemon.
"Rubbish. Let the idiots get on without you, brother, or they'll never learn. At least on Friday," commented the contemporary ceramic with the insulting slogan; honeyed and milky.
"Believe me, dearest, nothing would give me greater pleasure."
“Really? Nothing at all…?”
Mycroft Holmes smirked at the cheeky, sly look he received from his incorrigible brother. He elegantly sipped his tea and crossed one leg over the other as he sat back in the client-armchair, fixing Sherlock with a heated look. Sherlock grinned, slurped noisily and slouched carelessly in his consulting chair, just to make a point. John ignored both posers and tutted inwardly from the sofa. If they weren’t fighting, they were flirting. If they weren’t flirting they were f -.
"Fine. We're OK for Friday, John. No clients allowed," continued Sherlock, interrupting John’s pleasant reverie.
John raised his eyebrows in mock shock. "What, not even if a 10 comes in?"
Sherlock shook his head decisively. "Even a 10 will have to wait until Monday. Birthdays take precedence. Birthdays are more fun."
Sherlock had acquired a love of birthdays since becoming part of a relationship which involved double the conventional number of them, and since he realised that everyone else sort of hated them. Birthdays were very high on the very short list of things that were allowed to postpone cases. Other candidates for consideration included, Christmas (reluctantly and only due to partner-pressure and mass sulking); extreme illness (such as a bullet wound or man-flu), Rosie-related emergencies, and Eurovision.
"Special measures, then. No clients. Phones, devices, and laptops off," said John, decisively, relieved there was not going to be a row about it.
"Yes. He deserves it," nodded Sherlock, earnestly.
"Yeah. He does." John smiled, pleased as ever to witness the depth of feeling between his lovers. "We'll let him get down the pub for a swifty with the Yard lot, and tell him he needs to get his arse to Mycroft’s by seven or else."
"Has to be Mycroft’s, does it?” Sherlock screwed his nose up sceptically.
“We can’t very well do it here, can we, brother mine? Hardly the right setting. Not believeable in the slightest,” scoffed Mycroft. “And though she’ll never know it from me, I do have a soft spot for Mrs H, and I’d sooner spare her the trauma of listening to it through the walls,” he said, shifting in his seat uncomfortably. “I can hardly look her in the eye as it is.”
“Myc has that lovely study with the big globe and the mahogany plan chest…,” said John, dreamily.
“Ugh, you and that study. Why don’t you just marry it? Fine. Pub. The Hampstead house, 7 o’clock. Don't let him linger. I don't want him coming home roaring pissed, unable to perform," warned Sherlock, frowning.
"It'll be fine. He's not exactly going to go out clubbing with Anderson, is he? He's not that far gone into midlife crisis," said John, feeling slightly unwell at the thought.
"Do you think he's coping, though, John? I do wonder," mused Mycroft, with a little concern.
"About being on the wrong side of 45? Well, wrong side of 48. Yeah. He'll live. 50 next year. That might be a head-fuck. But can't complain with us to keep him in trim, can he?"
"He has seemed a little...," said Mycroft, holding his hand flat in the air and tilting it from side to side.
"Nah, we'll soon snap him out of that," said John, reassuringly, touched by Mycroft's sensitivity.
"Better do. He's been grotesquely grumpy in the last few weeks," said Sherlock, with great insensitivity. "He shouted at me for burning a hole in his dressing gown!" he exclaimed, outraged by the mere memory of it.
"Can you imagine?" drawled Mycroft, dryly.
"You left a bunsen burner on, you careless prat!" cried John, throwing his hands up in despair.
"I was coming back to it! He burned the hole, I merely lit the flame. Not my fault he wasn't paying attention. First rule of any lab," replied the sniffy detective.
"It isn't a lab, though, is it? It's a kitchen, where normal people make porridge and read the paper," said John, instantly regretting having started up this conversation again.
"Not my fault you and him are normal," huffed Sherlock, placing as much emphatic distaste on the operative word as possible.
"Ish," corrected John, holding up a finger. Sherlock thought about it and nodded.
"I concede 'ish', yes. Still, he shouldn't stay over so often if he can't cope with the working environment," he carried on, haughtily.
"Yeah, well, let me know when you're planning on telling him that. I'll bring popcorn. As if you'd prefer it! No special cuddle time with Greggy? Anyway, your lab in his loft room causes enough problems. When all those flies hatched...".
Sherlock winced. "He was not happy about that."
"He's still not. Keeps finding carcasses down the toaster," said John matter-of-factly.
Mycroft gave a polite cough. "At least Gregory's dressing gown wasn't dissolved in acid. Unlike mine…," he finished, darkly.
John shook his head in sympathy. That had been a woeful day.
"Still haven't recovered from that, have you, love?"
Sherlock spluttered. "Neither have I! You were horrible to me about it, Mycroft! Completely unreasonable, verging on embarrassingly hysterical," he said, still highly offended.
Mycroft quirked a smile and raised a superior brow. "Still feeling the consequences of my displeasure when you sit down, brother mine?"
He was very proud of the way he'd handled the situation. Sherlock flushed.
"John, make him shut up!” he howled. Then under his breath, “Yes, actually, if only phantom pains. Mean…". He pouted magnificently as he remembered all he'd suffered (quite unfairly) in the aftermath of that little (only slightly intentional) misadventure.
"Warranted," said Mycroft, with great satisfaction.
"Not in the slightest! Greg says you're not allowed to..."
"No, Gregory forbids me from interfering with his quality discipline time, and prohibits my using an implement in the extraction of justice from your backside. I am, if you care to recall, permitted to spank you like the peril to human patience that you are."
"Don't use that word, Mycroft!" complained Sherlock, cringing.
“Patience? Peril? Or spa-“
“Shut. Up! John, make him!”
John looked at his watch, trying as hard as he could to tune out the whining.
"Could we maybe get back to Greg's birthday surprise, if it's not taking up too much valuable bickering time?"
"Quite right, John. Lock, stop being a vexatious horror."
"Why don't you stop being a massive - "
"For God's sake!" yelled John.
"Well, I ask you!" Sherlock put everything he had into his sulk, but then took a very patient and mature breath. "Do you really think Greg will go for it? The plan?"
John chuckled without even considering it. "You're having a laugh - course he will!"
Sherlock looked a little insecurely at him. "What if he's too tired and just rolls his eyes at us? Then we're all left standing there like complete tossers."
Mycroft frowned mildly. "Surely not a distinct possibility? Given the circumstances? The visual imagery of the thing alone suggests...," he trailed off, suddenly beset by intriguing little technicolour scenarios. He re-crossed his legs.
John shook his head. "He won't leave us hanging. Not for this. Rat up a drainpipe." He sipped at his tea with conviction.
"And you're sure this is what he'll want?" Sherlock looked intently at John, searching for telltale signs of doubt.
"Mate, seriously, I know how that godforsaken little mind of his works. He'll go for it. You know he thinks about it. Just like Mycroft thinks about...what he thinks about."
Sherlock giggled. "Dirty soldiers."
Mycroft blushed to his hairline, feeling a twitch in his trousers. "You think about dirty doctors!" he shot back, determined not to be outdone in disgrace.
"So what?! I like the shiny instruments,” exclaimed Sherlock, his voice rising higher. “John's worse, he thinks about dirty policemen!" he accused, pointing aggressively at the bemused man.
John nodded impassively. "Yeah, I like a bit of restorative justice, me. We all have our special happy place. Greg's just happens to be...you two in posh school uniform and me in a pair of glasses and a tweed jacket, that's all. The filthy bastard."
Sherlock snorted. "I think it's disgusting."
"No, you don't."
"No, I don't. I'm running another check on his deleted search history. Just to be safe."
"Go ahead. You'll see I'm right. Can you see him saying 'not tonight, lads, pull your pants up, I'd rather have a curry and a kip?'"
"Probability practically nil, I should say, brother mine," said Mycroft with equanimity.
"Exactly. Don't worry about it, love."
"OK," said Sherlock, smiling sweetly at this reassurance.
After a pause in which all three men drank their tea and polished off the remaining biccies – they were always careful to put the right number out so there couldn’t be any more undignified hair-pulling fights over who got the last one - Mycroft cleared his throat a little hesitantly.
"Erm, gentlemen, perhaps we might discuss the exact structure and sequence of events? I know you two are happy to improvise, but I would feel a little more comfortable if I knew the general direction..."
"We're fucking, not writing a sodding play, Mycroft!" scoffed Sherlock.
John kicked at him pointlessly from the sofa. "Oi, be nice. Sure, Myc, if it helps. I thought I'd meet him at the door."
"You know, in character. Set the mood. Give him the setting and the context."
"Mm, and we'll be waiting - in the room or outside?"
"Ooh, dunno. Inside? Slouching about being all Holmes-ish? God, your bored slouching is annoying. Is it genetic? That’ll get his blood up for a start."
"Could stand outside, waiting, all worried and scared,” offered Sherlock. “That would be interesting. Maybe more realistic?"
"See how you feel. But I'll know from his first reaction if we're on or not. Worst case scenario he says 'not tonight, darlings', and we just reset for Saturday. No big deal. Either way, we're all getting laid on Greg's birthday. This way, we just get a nice opener. So to speak."
"We all get laid whenever it's Greg's unbirthday too,” said Sherlock. “I just want it to be a bit kinkier for him than usual."
"I know. Bless."
"I'm not entirely sure I know what the, erm, angle should be," said Mycroft, doubtfully.
Sherlock giggled, earning a reproving look from his brother, who found double entendres tiresome. Especially when he was the one accidentally making them.
John shrugged. "Usual type of thing, I guess. I’ll lead, you follow. Do you want to go through some scenarios?"
Sherlock looked through his lashes at his brother and waggled his eyebrows, his voice sinking to the depths of his sultry range. "We've both been very bad boys, Mycroft…"
Mycroft suppressed a smile even as he blushed and adjusted himself. "Haven't we just?" He pressed his lips together thoughtfully. "Could we...vary the dynamic a little, do you think?" he ventured, hesitantly.
John's face registered open curiosity. "What did you have in mind, lovely?"
"Well, I do get a little...habituated to being the calm and calculating one. I always seem to play the more responsible role in such scenes. I wondered if I might be permitted to explore my, shall we say, Sherlockian side?"
"Want to let your hair down a bit, Myc? Get yourself into some trouble?” John leaned forwards, highly interested and keen to encourage more of this type of thing. He very much saw it as his job to instigate as much original filth in their lives as possible.
"Something like that," he said, smiling wryly.
Sherlock’s face split into a delighted grin and he bounced in his chair. "You want to be the naughtiest one! You want to get taken down! Do you want to have a temper tantrum, Mycie?! Oh, yum! I could give you lessons."
"I've seen it done by the master too many times to need lessons, thank you.” Mycroft looked down, somewhat abashed under the scrutiny of his lovers, but enjoying their excitement and approval. “I confess I had thought about being a little less...compliant with instructions. I think Gregory might like it too, for variation."
"Ha! Knew you always wanted to be more like me,” said Sherlock in triumph. “But I'll only be worse in response. I won't be able to help it.” He bit his lip coquettishly and looked down, and up again. His eyes opened wider in mock-innocence and he curled a piece of hair round one finger. “My behaviour is simply dreadful, you know. Mr Watson’s always saying so," he said in a breathy little voice, casting a very wicked look at John.
John put his mug down to prevent himself dropping it. "Stop that now if you know what's good for you. Save it for Friday or I’ll be useless.”
Mycroft rolled his eyes impatiently, but hit upon a helpful suggestion. "As much as Gregory loves taking you in hand when you’re being a ghastly brat, you could try for 'good little boy who is so very sorry and desperate to please', and see where that gets you?"
Sherlock considered this. "Well... Yeah. Never thought of that. That'd be a change for him, wouldn't it? A treat. Just this once."
John rubbed his hands together. "OK, so naughty Mycroft has led his sweet baby brother astray."
"Oh, he has,” agreed Mycroft, smiling suggestively. “And Mr Watson is very cross indeed."
"Yup. I'll do stern and exasperated, and ‘very sorry to call you in from work, Mr Lestrade, but really I'm at the end of my tether with these two’..."
"That sort of thing. I do think you ought to consider 'nervous about incurring the wrath of poor, frustrated Mr Lestrade'. Depending on Greg’s take, of course. Could add an interesting dimension. And we'll take it from there?"
“Bad boys will be punished, Mycroft Holmes,” said John, looking down his nose at him. Mycroft flushed and pretended to examine a loose thread on his cuff.
"Don't tell us too much in advance. I like surprises too,” said Sherlock quickly, as though it needing stating aloud.
"I know how you do,” said John, grinning broadly. “We’ll leave lots of room to manoeuvre, and we’ll all hatch our own vile little tricks over the next few days, yeah?”
"What about costume?" asked Mycroft, glad to be getting down to logistics.
Sherlock tutted disapprovingly. "Oh, vanitas vanitatum, brother. Do you ever think about anything apart from clothes?"
"More than you can ever comprehend, brother mine. Just for that I’ll choose some little shorts and knee socks for you…"
Sherlock opened his mouth in outrage.
"Keep the Latin for Friday, that'll drive him crazy," chimed John, helpfully.
"Oh, John, he really doesn’t know any. Barely enough to do The Times crossword. In all seriousness, would you leave it to me to source all the requisite items? Clothing and…the rest? I shall strive for authenticity."
"Always, Myc. You and your filthy contact book. Priceless."
"Thank you, John. One does one's best."
"Repeatedly, as I recall."
And that was that.
“Great,” said Sherlock, slapping his hands together with finality. “Now, is anyone going to give me a blowjob?”
He was met with a veritable wall of incredulity.
“No? Handjob? Fingerjob? No-one? Huh. So rude. In that case, I’ll be in my room practicing my autofellatio. Do not disturb or you’ll put me in traction.”
He wafted out in a cloud of regal detachment, shedding clothes.
John shrugged neutrally.
“Mycroft, it strikes me that the best thing we could do right now is ignore him completely and fuck each other over the coffee table.”
“Mm. Fancy it, John?” replied Mycroft, casually, examining his nails.
“Always. But what are the chances of us getting through it undisturbed?”
“Low to zilch.”
“Exactly. And what odds us not wondering about what’s going on in there?”
Mycroft sighed, and looked up to the ceiling thoughtfully. “Pathetic. Hardly worth calculating.”
John shook his head in exasperation. “I feel there must be some formula for resisting the little bastard somewhere. Can’t you work it out, Holmes?”
“If I could do that, my dear Doctor Watson, I’d have had a far simpler life.”
John winked. “It wouldn’t suit you, mate.”
“I’ve always liked you, you know," mused the British Government, pleasantly.
“Snap," replied the good doctor, rising to his feet.