Actions

Work Header

Old Fashioned

Chapter Text

Greg pushes his hands into his coat pockets, swerving to avoid a group of teenagers coming out of the McDonalds on Baker Street. The tube was packed, hot and sweaty, but it’s cold out all the same. Seven in the evening, and getting dark; rush hour on the tube won’t be over for a while yet. No need to hurry. Hopefully whatever Sherlock’s been texting him about all day won’t be too disturbing, and John will put the kettle on. Maybe he’ll even get invited to stay to dinner. He hasn’t seen little Rosie for a couple of months, and that’s always a treat. 221b’s kitchen is even pretty clean, these days.

He glances up at the flat’s windows as he approaches, and so he misses the moment when the long black car draws up next to him. When he realises it’s there, he takes a step back and pushes his hands more deeply into his coat pockets.

Mycroft steps smoothly out of the car, as ever looking far too elegant for the scruffy reality of a normal London street. “Detective Inspector,” he says, calmly.

“Mycroft,” says Greg, nodding and giving him a cheery smile. “How’ve you been?”

Mycroft raises his chin. “Quite well, thank you.” There’s a half-moment of awkward quiet before he tips his head to the side slightly. “And – you?”

There we go. Greg suppresses his smile, which he knows would come off wrong; it’s actually a real compliment that the elder Holmes brother is prepared to waste this pleasantry on him. He’d long ago got used to the fact that Mycroft may hide it better, but is in some ways just as socially lacking as his brother. “Yeah, great, thanks,” he says. “This a coincidence? Or have you received a summons, too?”

Mycroft’s eyebrows rise. “Ah,” he says, a note of caution creeping into his tone. “My brother was most insistent that I should visit, a rare enough occurrence, it is true.”

“Hmm,” says Greg. “Bloody hell. I wonder what he’s got in store for us.”

”God above,” adds Mycroft, under his breath, striding determinedly for the front door.

Greg follows him, snorting with amusement when Mycroft rolls his eyes theatrically. The door has been left open half an inch. Mycroft plucks a note from beneath the (crooked) door knocker and passes it to Greg: ‘Come in, if your ungodly passion for cake has overpowered you’.

Greg sighs, and tries not to stare at Mycroft’s long, elegant fingers as they straighten the door knocker. He crumples the note into his coat pocket, following those terribly expensive-looking leather brogues up the stairs.

Sherlock’s violin turns from a pretty cascade of notes to an unholy shriek as he catches sight of Mycroft. “Brother,” he says, with a deliberately-fake smile. “Gary.”

Greg rolls his eyes but doesn’t have time to answer –

“Hey, mate,” says John, jogging down the last couple of stairs and depositing Rosie in his arms. “Could you –? She’s really grouchy because I let her nap too long and now we’re all behind schedule –” he pats Greg on the shoulder. “You’re a pal. Alright, Mycroft. Sherlock, did you get that new pack of the food she likes? The carrot and apple one?”

“On top of the fridge,” says Sherlock, putting his violin carefully away in its case.

Rosie rubs her sleepy eyes, bottom lip decidedly wobbly. She lets out a small whimper, and twists in Greg’s arms. “My,” she says, grumpily, leaning dizzily backwards and stretching out her arms to her uncle. Then, more crossly, “My!”

He gives her a stern look. “Allow me to take off my coat and put down my umbrella, Rosamund,” he says, calmly. “Then we shall talk.”

Greg rubs her back, gently, allowing her to continue watching as her uncle unhurriedly hangs up his coat and umbrella. He can feel the eagerness in her small body when Mycroft finally slips his hands under her arms and settles her on his hip.

“Now then, young lady,” Greg can hear Mycroft murmur, as he walks away towards the window. “On voit qu’est ce qui se passe sur Baker Street, hein?”

Greg does not miss Sherlock’s dramatic eye-roll as Rosie makes a contented little mmm? noise.

“Can I have a cuppa, Sherlock?” asks Greg, taking a seat on the sofa. “Long day at work, and I came straight here, since you sent me about eight texts saying I should.”

“No, I requested that you come at once,” says Sherlock, flicking the kettle on. Greg doesn’t miss Sherlock’s gentle hand on John’s hip as he passes him at the sink, or the fact that he automatically pulls down John’s mug with the rest. He smiles quietly to himself.

“Alright then, what’s it all about?” asks Greg, accepting the cup of tea Sherlock puts into his hands a couple of minutes later.

At the window, John takes Rosie from Mycroft’s arms with a muttered ‘ta’, and starts negotiating her gently into the high chair at the kitchen table. Her grumpiness returns in full force, and for a few minutes it takes the combined efforts of both her parents to get her calm enough to accept a spoonful of carrot and apple purée.

Mycroft, still standing by the window, sips his tea.

Greg smiles at him, thinking absently that Rosie would probably eat the whole pot of fruit mush for Mycroft. He’s never seen her with her uncle before, and he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t surprised to see Mycroft accept her so gently, so readily.

Another side to him.

Damn it.

Greg drops his eyes to the cup of tea in front of him. “Out with it, then, Sherlock,” he says, good-humouredly.

Sherlock takes a seat in his armchair and crosses his legs. “The recent spate of couple murders,” he says, fixing his gaze on Greg.

Greg’s stomach lurches, unpleasantly. “Not mine, I’m afraid,” he says, putting his cup of tea carefully down on the coffee table. “Spread across teams by area. Can’t get you in on ’em.”

Sherlock steeples his long fingers. “No centralised investigation at New Scotland Yard,” he says, quietly. “Barely reported in the papers, even the tabloids. Why?”

“Well, you know how it is – the media – they pick up some stuff, can’t be arsed with –”

“You know why,” snaps Sherlock, eyes piercing. “The couples turning up dead just happen to be gay.”

Greg takes a breath. “I don’t know, Sherlock,” he shrugs. “Might just be –”

Sherlock interrupts him, impatiently. “I have a lead,” he says, “and a plan. Already in motion. It requires your help.”

Greg makes a helpless gesture. “I already told you, Sherlock, it’s not my case. It’s not even one case.”

Sherlock waves the objection away. “Doesn’t matter. I have – taken steps.” He glances up and back to Mycroft, silently observing at the window. “Do sit, brother dear,” says Sherlock. “You are, as ever, highly reminiscent of the spectre at the feast.”

Mycroft sighs, but takes a seat at the far end of the sofa, crossing his elegant legs in front of him.

At the table, John coaxes Rosie to another spoonful of carrot mush.

“This plan?” asks Mycroft, archly. “I still fail to see why I am here.”

Sherlock looks at them both, as though wondering how they could possibly be so unfailingly dim, then sighs. “You two,” he says, waving his hand impatiently between them. “You are a couple. I have been talking to the suspect for some time now, online. A dating site for couples interested in – adding someone else to their partnership. In…” he smirks, “more or – less permanent ways.”

Greg shakes his head slightly. Opens his mouth, and closes it again. “What?”

Sherlock sighs, and rolls his eyes. “Dear God.” He takes a breath, and speaks very slowly. “You two. Are a couple. You have invited the murderer to your flat in –” he glances at the screen of his phone, “– oh, just over a week from now. We’re going to catch him.” He smiles at them, smugly. “See? Simple. If you apply even one moderately functioning brain cell to the task.”

There is a very long, and very horrible, silence.

Greg looks over at Mycroft, who is blinking, repeatedly.

Greg stands, a sudden surge of restless, furious energy propelling him to his feet. “I’m sorry, Sherlock, but I think what you just said is that you’ve been catfishing a murderer online, pretending to be a couple, your brother and I, and now you want us to meet him? A murderer? As a couple!” The last few words are really quite loud, and Rosie makes a startled squeak in the kitchen.

Sherlock glares at him.

Greg takes a deep breath. “Sorry,” he says, automatically, then – “No – no! Not – not sorry, because – of all the things, Sherlock, that you have ever done, this is undeniably the most – the most utterly – I –”

He closes his eyes, fists clenched, and takes several deep breaths.

“Overlooking many, many other problems with this entire scenario –” he pauses and takes another breath, “– what on Earth makes you think that, as a couple, a detective and a – a – whatever he is –” he gestures wildly at Mycroft – “would put themselves online on a dating site?” He presses the heel of his hand hard into the doorframe, a slow-motion punch that relieves his fury just a little.

“Oh, didn’t I say?” says Sherlock, with a smug smile. “That’s how he’s doing it. The murderer. It’s a supposedly completely protected site, the best encryption in the dating site business etcetera, etcetera. You upload pictures of yourself, but you’re not allowed to share certain details openly on the site. Face-to-face meetings are encouraged and digital privacy is sacrosanct. I’m surprised he hasn’t found anyone more high-profile to murder yet.”

Greg puts a hand over his eyes. “Christ. I – Sherlock. What made you think this was going to work? I mean –”

“From talking to him,” Sherlock interrupts, “he’s a classic serial killer, desperate for attention, for fame, for the validation of seeing himself in the papers. He’s a narcissist. As you can imagine, you two – a detective who’s been on the telly –” he parrots, inanely, “– and a ‘high-level civil servant’ are his wet dream. He can’t wait to get his hands on you.”

“Right,” says Greg, hollowly. “And you’ve made us a date with him.”

“Yep,” says Sherlock, crisply. “The twenty-second. Just over a week.”

Greg leans weakly against the doorframe. “Mycroft. Please. Say something –” he gestures at Sherlock, “– to your brother.”

Mycroft has hardly moved, his shoulders high, posture impeccable. The only sign of anger is in his lips, pressed so tightly together they are white. “‘Our flat’,” he says, voice taut. “What did you mean by that, Sherlock?”

“The flat you share, in Knightsbridge,” says Sherlock, sweetly. “Lovely place. Stupidly expensive. Completely lacking in taste. Perfect for my pompous arse of a brother and his bit of rough.”

Mycroft looks as though he is about to choke on his own tongue. “Why, brother,” he clips out, “did you and John, an actual gay couple employed in the detection of crime, not undertake this task?”

“Us?” asks Sherlock, indignantly. “We are parents, Mycroft.” He pauses for effect. “Parents.”

“Appalling, Sherlock,” says Mycroft, coldly. “Send the details to me. I shall ensure that my team take on the cases. We will trace the murderer through the site. Please be aware, however, that I do not appreciate you forcing my hand in this manner, and I shall not respond to any similar future effort.” He shifts, as if to stand, but Sherlock holds up one finger.

“Impossible, I’m afraid,” he says, with infuriating calm. “I’ve already had my hacker – the one who got into your systems last year, remember? – look over it and there’s no way to get through the site. Their legal structure is hosted deliberately outside the EEA so demands for data sharing won’t work. And the protections are, it has to be said, quite impressive.”

Mycroft stands up, chin high. He steps towards the door, reaching for his coat. “Then I am afraid you have wasted your time, Sherlock,” he says, with what Greg judges to be an extremely decent impression of calm. “Remove all images of me from the internet immediately, or I shall be forced to take further steps.” He turns his back on his brother, and starts to pull his coat on.

“The murders won’t stop,” says Sherlock, quietly.

Greg watches Mycroft’s face freeze into a rigidly neutral expression. He unhooks his umbrella from the coat stand and plants its tip on the floor, hands folded on the handle. At last, he turns and looks at his brother. A long, silent moment passes between them.

“I will attend this – meeting,” says Mycroft, at last. His voice is brusque, holding no suspicion of having relented. “The Detective Inspector need not be involved.”

Greg does a double-take. “Sorry – what – no – Mycroft, you’re not going to –”

Sherlock shakes his head. “Impossible. He won’t stay long enough to get grounds for arrest.”

Greg clenches his fists and lets out a growl of fury. “Wait, so now you’re saying – what, we’ve got to let him start murdering us? There’s no forensic evidence?”

Sherlock widens his eyes at him, snottily. “I wouldn’t know, Gavin, since you ‘can’t get me on the case’.”

“You will not be there,” says Mycroft, firmly, making brief eye contact with Greg.

“Hang on just a second –” protests Greg, “this is mad – Sherlock, you can’t let him –”

“No, I can’t let him,” snaps Sherlock, “because I’ve already told you, the murderer won’t –”

Rosie lets out a distraught-sounding wail from the kitchen, and all three men stop talking. Greg stares at Sherlock, breathing hard.

“I know, sweetheart,” murmurs John. “Come on, you. Bathtime. Let’s leave all these loud men to their argument.”

“So just assuming, for a minute,” says Greg, through clenched teeth, “that we for some reason go along with your insane plan – if we can really call it that – what, we just turn up at this flat, on the twenty-second, and pretend to want to –” he waves his hand, running out of words for a moment. “Swing – with him – or whatever –” he clears his throat. “And then wait for him to start killing us?”

Sherlock rolls his eyes. “No. You and Mycroft will live in the flat until the twenty-second. You will learn how to behave as something approaching a decent impression of a couple, although God knows how given that Mycroft is involved –”

Greg sees Mycroft bridle, slightly, his chin lifting and his back straightening –

“Mycroft will work at home. I have already cleared it with Anthea,” he says, lazily, waving a forestalling hand at Mycroft, who frowns angrily. “You will also work at the flat, George. But Mycroft will have the murders transferred to you, so you can start a centralised investigation. Your team will work on it at the Yard, and you’ll bring me in. They will provide backup when the meeting takes place.”

Greg just gapes at him.

“If this plan were to come about, Sherlock,” says Mycroft flatly, “you would owe me ten investigations. No questions asked.”

“Three.”

“Ten.”

Sherlock rolls his eyes. “Fine. Nothing abroad.”

Greg snorts. “Fuck, Sherlock, I don’t even know what you’d owe me,” he says, shaking his head. “Three separate months of total, absolute silence from you. No texts, no calls for cases. Nothing. When I ask.”

Sherlock narrows his eyes. “Alright,” he says, at last.

“And you never, ever deduce my love life, ever again.”

Sherlock smirks. “Fine. Nothing to deduce, anyway.”

“Sherlock –”

“I said, fine.”

Greg looks over at Mycroft. “I can’t believe I’m saying this but – you have had cases transferred to me before. And taken them off me.”

Mycroft glances quickly at him. “It can be done.”

“Perfect,” says Sherlock, standing up and clapping his hands faux-brightly together. “Right, now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m meant to be helping with bathtime.” He makes a shooing motion at them both. “You move in tomorrow. And I know this will be hard, Mycroft, but do try not to be too incredibly obvious about the fact that you are untouched by human hand since 1992.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes.

Greg opens his mouth, then shuts it again.

Outside, on Baker Street, Greg runs a hand through his hair and looks obliquely up at Mycroft. “Christ. Fuck,” he mutters. “How – how did we just –”

Mycroft looks away down the street. “Please excuse me, Detective Inspector,” he says stiffly, as his car pulls up smoothly next to him. “I have much to do."

Chapter Text

Sleep does not come easily that night. Greg turns over for what seems to be the thousandth time, nudging his pillow into a new position, pushing the duvet down. Eventually, he thumps over onto his back and stares up into the darkness.

Bollocks.

Why the fuck do we have to ‘move in’ on a Saturday, anyway?

This is going to be very, very awkward, isn’t it?

Greg is a generally easygoing, likeable person, or at least all signs point to it. His team at work are relaxed and friendly, even though he’s the boss; he gets invited down the pub most of the time. He can’t usually go, because there’s always paperwork to do, but still. The thought’s there. And when he can manage to get to five-a-side football, he always has a good laugh.

But Mycroft – God knows, they’ve met enough over the years. Their catch-ups were even pretty regular, at one point, councils-of-war while Sherlock was still using. But now, with John and Rosie – there hasn’t really been a need, and Greg’s sightings of Mycroft have returned to the occasional glimpse at the edge of a crime scene, or the odd phone call if there's some information Greg can provide about a case Sherlock’s consulting on. Often, it’s the assistant on the other end of the phone.

Greg sighs. And, yeah, Mycroft Holmes is utterly, utterly fuckable in that tall, leggy, snooty way that just begs to be ruined, but Christ, he’s made it obvious enough he has no interest in talking to me, let alone – well, anything like that.

What was it he said? ‘You and John, an actual gay couple.’ He’s probably not, then. Probably straight.

Although – really? With the suits? And the matching ties and pocket squares, and the silk scarves?

Come on, Greg. Well-dressed doesn’t mean gay. He pushes the heels of his hands into his eyes and glances at his watch. Quarter to four. Ugh.

Maybe he’s just not interested in…anyone. Like – well, not like Sherlock, as it turns out.

He turns on his side, pulling the duvet over his head.

One thing’s for sure. You are very much not his kind of bloke. Whoever he goes for, you can guarantee they’re discreet and expensive and of genius-level intelligence. Not some scruffy DI with a failed marriage behind him and – as Sherlock never fails to point out – with a distinctly ordinary brain between his ears.

*

He only manages a couple of hours’ sleep, in the end. He packs a bag; one of his work suits and a couple of shirts, just in case, but if they’ll be spending most of the week in the flat, he’s going to make the most of it. He pulls on his grey jeans, a navy long-sleeved t-shirt and a jumper, then throws another pair of jeans, some underwear and assorted other t-shirts into the bag. Might as well be comfortable.

Next, he packs the couple of books he’s been meaning to finish for a while, and two or three DVDs people have lent him that he still hasn’t got round to watching.

Pyjamas, he remembers, hurrying back to the bedroom. He never bothers, on his own, but he can’t help a snort of amusement as he imagines Mycroft Holmes’ look of disgust at finding him wandering around the flat naked at three in the morning.

Surely there’ll be towels and stuff there. He puts his work laptop in the bag; he doesn’t have any of the case files yet, so there’s nothing he can do about that.

Taking a quick shower, he thinks how distinctly undelighted Sally will be about having her and the entire team’s workload rearranged wholesale at no notice on Monday morning – and about having to work with Sherlock. He grimaces, knowing he’ll most likely hear her opinions on the subject at the earliest opportunity. Once he’s shaved and added toiletries to his bag, he makes coffee and scrolls through the news on his phone as he eats some cereal. The mobile vibrates on the counter.

Do you require a lift to the address Sherlock has provided? MH

Greg raises his eyebrows.

No, I’m alright thanks. I’ll get the tube. What time are you getting there? GL

His stomach flips as he thinks about what’s to come. An entire week of living with the cagiest bloke I’ve ever met, pretending to be his – well. With the treat of possibly getting murdered at the end of it. He tips his head slightly. Maybe it’ll be something to look forward to by then.

The things we do for Sherlock. All of us. Christ.

Shortly. My car is on its way now. MH

Greg finishes his cereal.

OK. I’ll be along in a bit then. GL

*

Delays on the Piccadilly line mean that Greg doesn’t arrive at the exclusive address in Knightsbridge until after ten. There’s obviously a video system, because when he presses the button for the flat he’s buzzed straight in.

A concierge smiles discreetly at him from behind the front desk. On the wall above him is a huge and horrible mural in what looks like beaten gold. Greg hurries into the lift.

Mycroft answers the door looking as formal as ever in a dark grey three-piece suit and white shirt. Perhaps his concession to the weekend is the ever-so-slightly more electric shade of blue to the tie and pocket handkerchief. Greg feels a thousand times scruffier than he usually does.

Mycroft hands him a keycard as Greg shuts the door. “For you,” he says, formally.

“Oh, wow,” says Greg, looking down the hallway. “So. They went with gold in here too.” He gives a snort of amusement, glancing up at Mycroft.

Mycroft’s quick, assessing glance takes him in and darts away down the hallway in a moment. “It does seem to be rather a motif,” he says, thoughtfully. “I am afraid we find ourselves in the land of the ‘young professionals’.”

Greg grins. “I was going to say oligarchs, but whatever.” He shrugs off his coat and hangs it up. “Hopefully I’ll get used to it and it won’t seem so…” he pushes off his shoes.

“Entirely tasteless?” suggests Mycroft, quietly.

Greg laughs. “Yeah. Yeah, that’s it.” He picks up his bag. “Could you –” he waves a hand down the hallway, “– show me where my room is?”

Mycroft clears his throat slightly, not meeting Greg’s gaze. He ushers Greg down the hall, motions him through a doorway and into a large open-plan kitchen, diner and living room. “It is – up the stairs,” he says, indicating them.

“Duplex? Christ,” mutters Greg, as he steps inside. “How much must this place cost to buy?”

Mycroft shakes his head. “I did not inquire. Sherlock kindly used my credit card to acquire it for the week, so I am sure I shall have some indication by the end of the month.”

Greg gives a bark of laughter, hand on the horrible golden handrail. “How…how is he still…”

“…at liberty to wreak havoc among the general populace?” returns Mycroft. “Sadly I have still not overcome my societally-instilled aversion to fratricide.”

Greg grins, emerging into an airy room accented with – inevitably – gold. A huge king-size bed nestles against one wall. A door stands open to the softly-lit marble bathroom.

Greg looks around.

Fuck. His stomach drops away, and he glances to Mycroft, who is wearing his stuffiest, most inscrutable expression.

“Oh,” he says.

Mycroft looks steadily at the floor. “Please,” he says, motioning to the bed. “It is not an issue, Detective Inspector. The sofa is extremely comfortable, and very large. I shall, however, need to use the shower, as there is a downstairs toilet but no washing facilities –”

Greg almost laughs out loud. Mycroft Holmes, sleeping on the sofa? He turns to him, holding out a placatory hand. “Mycroft, honestly,” he says. “If anyone’s going to kip on the sofa, it’s me. Don’t worry about it.” He drops his bag. “I’ll just leave this here for now, so we’re not tripping over it downstairs.”

In the other corner of the large bedroom is a desk. What he assumes is Mycroft’s laptop sits open on it, though the screen is locked. He was working already. On a Saturday.

He squats to take the books and DVDs out of his bag, then motions to Mycroft’s laptop. “Feel free to carry on working, if you need to.”

Mycroft gives a curt nod. “I shall.” Hand on the back of the desk chair, he turns. “I understand that a food delivery will be arriving sometime this afternoon,” he says, rather distantly.

“Yeah. Right. No worries, I’ll sort that,” says Greg.

“There are details downstairs on the building – there is a gym and a swimming pool.”

“Great.” Greg edges towards the stairs. “Thanks. I’ll – see you in a bit, then.”

Damn. Didn’t think about packing for a workout. Although – to be honest, I could probably do with some new stuff. My trainers are really grotty, and definitely not supporting my feet right any more. Might pop out for some new bits and pieces.

He deposits his books and DVDs on the coffee table in front of the huge flat-screen TV, and goes to poke around the kitchen. There is at least tea, coffee and milk, though the fridge and cupboards are bare of anything else. He smirks to himself at the sight of the horrible gold lampshades hanging over the kitchen counter island.

One bed. A week. Jesus Christ, Sherlock.

The food delivery arrives at about three, just when Greg is beginning to seriously wonder whether he ought to go out and buy lunch.

He packs everything away, impressed by the range of stuff, then puts the kettle on.

“Cup of tea?” he shouts up the stairs, to Mycroft. “Food’s here, if you’re hungry.”

A few minutes later, Mycroft descends the stairs. “I should certainly like a cup of tea.”

Greg smiles. “Sherlock didn’t order the food, did he?”

Mycroft gives a sardonic smile. “Hardly.”

“Yeah, thought not. Your PA – what’s her name?”

“Anthea.”

“Is it?”

“Well.”

Greg grins, holding the milk carton over the second mug of tea. “You take milk, right?”

“A splash, thank you.” Mycroft accepts the tea and leans his hip against the counter island. It’s probably the most casual action Greg has ever seen from him – apart from falling asleep next to his brother’s hospital bed – and it feels intensely strange to witness.

Greg leans back against the counter behind him, and smiles. “You noticed the lampshades?” he nods to just above Mycroft’s head.

“Indeed,” says Mycroft, wryly. “How could one not?”

Greg takes a sip of tea. “Work going okay?”

Mycroft raises one shoulder in a curiously expressive half-shrug. “My team are checking over the files from the separate investigations before having them transferred for compilation by your team.”

Greg nods. “Right.” He hesitates, takes another sip of tea. “D’you normally work at the weekend?” He fails to catch Mycroft’s gaze, which flicks away as soon as he looks up.

“Yes,” says Mycroft. He stands up straight, glances towards the stairs. “In fact, I should –” he gestures upstairs.

“You don’t need lunch? I was going to have something.”

“No, thank you.”

Greg says, to Mycroft’s retreating back, “I – thought I might go out for a bit. There are a few bits I need to pick up at the shops.”

Mycroft looks back at him. “Very well.”

“D’you want to –” Greg blurts out, before Mycroft turns away. “Later. I could – cook us something, if you want. You’ll need dinner, after no lunch.”

Mycroft’s look of astonishment – a quick raise of the eyebrows and slight part of the lips – is whisked away as quickly as it appeared. “Yes,” he says, as though he is not quite sure what else to say. “Certainly.”

“Great,” says Greg. “I’ll – see you later then.”

In the end, he decides to just get a sandwich and a coffee while he’s out. He manages to find a sports shop with a treadmill where they fit him for some new trainers, and picks up some trousers, socks and a couple of t-shirts while he’s at it.

He browses a couple of bookshops, then wanders home, another ridiculously expensive coffee in hand.

When he closes the front door of the flat behind him, he calls out, “only me,” and instantly feels stupid. Didn’t take you long to get back into old habits.

Nas used to laugh at you for that. ‘I know it’s only you,’ she’d say. ‘You’re the other person with a key to our house.’

It’s been strange, not sharing a house with someone.

Mycroft does not reply, but then, Greg hadn’t really been expecting him to.

Greg sets about checking the fridge for something for dinner. There are a couple of beautiful swordfish steaks that need using up in the next couple of days, so he locates some potatoes and cuts a few homemade chips. While they’re parboiling he starts chopping up a pack of tomatoes and – yes, there is a jar of capers. He’d thought so, but he blesses Anthea silently all the same.

He sprays a tray with olive oil and puts the chips in to bake.

He sets some garlic and onion frying, then makes up a stock; chops a couple of red peppers, and adds them to the pan. Once everything has fried off, he adds the tomatoes, stock and capers, and allows it all to simmer, gently.

He puts the news on the huge TV in the background, and investigates the cupboard where he’d stashed away the alcohol which came with the delivery earlier. Yes, there are a couple of bottles of red.

Out of curiosity, he googles the names and years on the bottles.

Bloody hell. Well. That might make him a bit more talkative. Christ knows we need something to break the ice. Hope he doesn’t mind me drinking some too.

He opens one of the bottles, leaving the cork out.

The chips are getting close to ready. He sets a large, wide-bottomed frying pan to heat on the stove, and pours in some olive oil.

Hand on the bannister, he leans up the stairs and calls, “Mycroft?”

The reply comes after half a minute. Mycroft sounds both cautious and curious. “Yes?”

“Are you happy to have dinner in five minutes?”

“Oh,” says Mycroft, sounding rather nonplussed.

Had he forgotten what time it is? Having seen Sherlock work, Greg wonders if that laser focus, the lack of care for time, self, or hunger, somehow runs in the family. “If you need more time I can put it off,” he offers, fixing his gaze on the turn of the gleaming golden bannister.

“No – no, thank you,” returns Mycroft, still sounding a little lost. “Five minutes will be ample.”

Greg returns to the stove, where the frying pan is ready for the fish. He seasons the steaks with salt and pepper, then sets them sizzling in the oil.

He’s concentrating on turning them, so misses Mycroft’s entrance into the kitchen.

“It is most kind of you to cook dinner,” says Mycroft, rather hesitantly. He is standing next to the cutlery drawer. “Should I –” he pulls the drawer open a little.

“Oh, yes, please,” smiles Greg. “Forgot. I did open some wine, though, I hope you don’t mind. Could you get some glasses?”

Mycroft nods, once, and busies himself with collecting cutlery.

He sounds – he sounds like he doesn’t know how to thank someone for doing something nice, thinks Greg, glancing up to watch Mycroft lay the table. He is still wearing his impeccable suit, his tie; even his shoes. Suddenly, Greg realises how massively ill at ease Mycroft is with the entire situation. He looks quickly down at the frying pan as Mycroft turns back to search for wine glasses.

“Above the sink, I think,” prompts Greg. “Are there any serving bowls in there?” Mycroft places a couple silently next to him, on the counter. “Thanks,” murmurs Greg, concentrating on plating up the swordfish steaks.

Once they’re done, he puts the chips in one serving bowl and the Provençale sauce in the other. He smiles, glancing up in surprise as Mycroft’s long fingers pick up the plates to carry to the table. Greg follows with the serving bowls.

Greg takes a seat and, somewhat awkwardly, Mycroft sits opposite him. Greg picks up the wine bottle. “Mmm?” he asks, making to pour for Mycroft.

“Thank you,” says Mycroft, nodding.

Greg pours himself a glass, too, and raises it to clink against Mycroft’s. “Cheers.”

Mycroft hesitates for a fraction of a moment – just long enough for Greg to wonder if he usually says something more cultured as a salutation – then, “cheers.”

Greg serves himself with some sauce over the swordfish and takes a few chips. He frowns, and gets up to search in the cupboards. “Ha,” he says, with satisfaction. “Anthea. What a champion.”

Mycroft raises one eyebrow as Greg sits back down. “You propose to put – tomato ketchup – on this –”

Greg grins, unrepentantly. “’S’got chips, Mycroft. You can’t eat chips without ketchup. It’s the law.”

“Ah. Well I suppose you would be best-placed to know,” says Mycroft, drily.

He’s only put a couple of chips on his plate, Greg notes. He must be starving, though, surely, after not having any lunch? He looks at Mycroft’s careful posture, his beautiful suit – thinks of the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables in the fridge, the skimmed milk – the snide comments from Sherlock about weight and cake –

Fuck that.

“Had to make the chips in the oven,” Greg says, casually. “No fryer. Hope they’re alright.” He eats a chip, covered in ketchup.

“This is all delightful, Detective Inspector,” says Mycroft, taking a sip of wine. Then, awkwardly, “thank you.”

“Well, it was Anthea provided all the stuff,” says Greg. “I just improvised.” He drinks some wine. “Love cooking, anyway. So. My pleasure. D’you remember when we used to meet a bit more often?”

Mycroft puts down his wine glass. His shoulders straighten, slightly. He looks wary. “Yes.”

Greg gives him a gentle smile, trying to make clear that there’s no trick, no barb to come. “You started calling me Greg, for a while,” he says. “’S’far as I’m concerned you can carry on. No need for all the DI business.”

Mycroft’s lips part, slightly, then he drops his gaze to his plate. He concentrates on cutting a piece of swordfish. “Very well.”

There is a short and rather awkward silence, while Greg eats some more of his dinner.

“So – all of this is quite…odd,” he says, after a minute or so. “Still not quite sure how we let ourselves get talked into this.”

Mycroft sighs. “Despite his usual theatrics, my brother’s distress about the murders was unfeigned,” he says, quietly, not looking up at Greg. “His behaviour was high-handed, of course. It was unlucky that there can be no recourse to the usual legal and digital methods of dealing with the problem.”

Greg puts down his knife and fork and takes a gulp of his wine. “Yeah,” he returns, throat a little dry. “Not sure why the cases haven’t been combined already at the Yard. ’S’pretty clear there’s a pattern.”

Mycroft still does not look up. “I am afraid I incline to my brother’s explanation,” he says, blankly. “Neither the law nor the press are well-regarded for their track records in the area.”

Greg nods, looking away. “Well,” he says, changing the subject, “either way, we’re in it now.”

“Indeed,” returns Mycroft, somewhat grimly. “My brother’s talent for chaos is remarkable. I must apologise that you have been involved in this manner.”

Greg shakes his head, taking another sip of wine. It’s heady, strong, and it’s starting to loosen him up a little. “Not a problem,” he smiles. “A week’s holiday, in a beautiful golden flat –” he laughs, catching the sharp, amused flick of Mycroft’s gaze.

“Hardly a holiday,” murmurs Mycroft, picking up his own wine glass. “An entirely new case, without being able to employ the usual investigatory techniques.”

Greg shrugs. “’S’alright. The team can do that for me. I’ll just get on with the routine stuff. Do the background reading. Get the warrants through. All the usual.” He takes a mouthful of swordfish and sauce, savouring it after the full-bodied acidity of the wine. He fixes his eyes on Mycroft’s. “Seems like you’ve only got higher up the chain since we used to see one another more.”

Mycroft shifts in his chair, gives his sideways press of an insincere smile. “The normal course of events, merely.” He puts his knife and fork together with finicky precision.

“I’ve still never actually heard a job title for you.”

“No.” He raises his chin, but where Greg often sees impatience in Mycroft’s interactions with Sherlock, he finds only blank politeness. It’s a warning, of sorts: this far, and no further.

Greg gives a surrendering half-smile. “Alright.” He finishes his glass of wine. “D’you want any more food?” he asks, pushing the bowl of chips towards Mycroft.

“No, thank you,” says Mycroft. “You must allow me to wash up.”

“’S’alright,” says Greg, “no need. There’s a dishwasher. I can do it.”

“No, really.” Mycroft stands and takes the plates, begins rinsing them in the sink before placing them in the dishwasher. Greg catches himself watching Mycroft’s perfectly-suited arse as he bends over, and glances guiltily away.

If you’d told me last week I’d be having a polite argument with Mycroft Holmes about who should do the washing up, I'd’ve told you you were mad.

“I’m planning to watch a film,” he says, on a whim. “If you want to join.”

Mycroft straightens up and looks around at him, seemingly unsure what to say.

“The Brand New Testament,” says Greg. “You might want a break? You’ve worked all day, and it’s past eight.” He finds, suddenly, that he’d like to watch the film with someone. Picking up the bottle of wine, he holds it over Mycroft’s glass, giving him an enquiring look.

There are a few seconds of seeming indecision on Mycroft’s part, and then he nods. “Yes. Thank you.”

Greg smiles, refills Mycroft’s glass, then his own. “I didn’t make pudding, I’m afraid,” he says, standing up. “There’s loads of fresh fruit, though.” He carries his glass of wine, and the bottle, over to the sofa.

When Mycroft joins him, carrying his own glass of wine, Greg hands him the DVD box while he finds the remote and searches for the correct settings. Once it’s ready, he turns. “Look alright?”

Mycroft takes a sip of wine, gaze slipping away. “Certainly.”

“We can watch something else if you –”

Greg can’t decide whether the twitch of Mycroft’s eyebrow is surprise or perplexity. “There is no need. It sounds interesting.”

Greg shrugs and looks back, flicking through the DVD settings. “My brother sent it at Christmas. Next time he Skypes, he’ll ask what I thought of it. Haven’t got round to it yet.” He finds the language setting. “Assuming you don’t need the subtitles?” he asks.

A half-second’s hesitation; then, “I should be fine without them.”

“Thanks,” says Greg, turning them off. “Bit distracting.”

Mycroft has settled, one leg crossed over the other, at one end of the large corner sofa. Greg looks at the corner seat. “You don’t want to sit there?”

Mycroft finishes his sip of wine. “No,” he answers, with a hint of enquiry in his tone.

Greg grins. “Best seat, in the corner,” he says, settling comfortably into it, throwing cushions away to the other end of the sofa. “When it’s not covered in loads of stupid tiny cushions.”

There is, this time, a definite hint of amusement at the corners of Mycroft’s mouth. “The bed has a good number, too.”

Greg sighs, rolling his eyes. “Gold?”

“Naturally.”

“I always end up putting them in the wardrobe in hotels,” grins Greg. “And then the staff get them out and put them back on the bloody bed every night.” He presses play on the film.

“I must confess to a similar tussle with cleaning staff in hotels,” says Mycroft, quietly, and Greg grins at him. “Especially with regard to the small and singularly useless decorative blanket laid across the bottom of every bed.”

“Ugh, don’t,” laughs Greg. “I’m convinced they don’t wash those things properly.”

Mycroft’s huff of amusement takes Greg by surprise, but he tries not to show it. He sips his wine as the studio logos play. “You must have to travel quite a lot,” he asks, casually.

Mycroft tips his head slightly in agreement. “Relatively regularly.”

Greg nods and tucks his feet up onto the sofa beneath him.

“You speak French,” says Mycroft, and it is awkward, a half-question from someone who, Greg thinks, doesn’t often chat casually with others.

“Yeah,” he returns, keeping his eyes on the screen. “My dad was French. My family – well, my half-brother and sister – live over there.” He glances over at Mycroft’s profile. Doesn’t he know this stuff already? I’d kind of assumed he’d read everything there is on file about me, what with Sherlock

“And your half-brother keeps you up to date on French-language film.”

Greg grins. “What he thinks I’ll stomach of it, anyway.” Maybe it’s the wine that makes him add, “he’s a lecturer in francophone culture. Grenoble.”

Mycroft blinks. He seems a little lost, and Greg wonders when the last time he had a conversation like this was.

“Not everyone in the Lestrade family’s an idiot who left school at seventeen,” smiles Greg, stretching, settling himself more comfortably in the corner of the sofa. He flexes his toes against the cushions and takes another gulp of wine.

“Your profession attests against any idiocy you may claim,” says Mycroft, stiffly.

Greg chuckles. “Hardly. I’m just smart enough to know when to enlist help from someone with a better brain.”

“Which sets you ahead of many of your professional superiors, it would seem.”

Greg gives a half-shake of the head and a wry smile. “Hmm.” He lowers his glass of wine, suddenly. “Hang on – you’re not religious, are you? Gabe said the film’s a bit –”

The corner of Mycroft’s mouth tips up in a dry twist of amusement. “I am afraid that, in any hotel room, the Bible joins the cushions and the blanket in exile.”

Greg grins. “Alright. Yeah.”

Greg can’t hold back his laughter on ‘God exists. He lives in Brussels,’ and he steals a sideways glance at Mycroft: he is smiling, a little reluctantly perhaps, as though ashamed of his amusement.

“The accent is certainly a little different,” says Mycroft, tentatively, as though testing the right to talk. He does not look over at Greg.

“Yeah, although it’s mad how much easier it is to understand kids than adults,” returns Greg, easily. “I always have that with my nieces. Find them much clearer than Gabe and Anne-Sophie.” He gestures, apologetically. “His wife.”

Mycroft gives a small nod.

“You were speaking French with Rosie?” asks Greg. “Yesterday.”

“Oh. Yes,” says Mycroft, burying his nose in the wine glass. “Her comprehension is improving greatly,” he adds, stiffly.

Greg smiles. “D’you see her much?”

“More than my brother professes satisfaction with.”

Greg rolls his eyes. “Well, he could just not let you, if he didn’t want you to.” He sips his wine. “At least you’re close enough to see her regularly.”

Mycroft does not seem to know what to say. He buries his nose in his glass of wine.

“We Skype and stuff, of course,” says Greg. “But it’s always so busy at work – never seem to get a chance to get over there.”

Mycroft re-crosses his legs. He’s uncomfortable. Stop talking, Greg.

They watch the film in silence for a few minutes, Greg chuckling, glancing obliquely at Mycroft, who is mostly attempting to hide his amusement.

Greg sees his face change, darken for a moment, when God beats Ea with his belt. Mycroft drains the last inch of his glass of wine.

Fuck. Right.

Greg kneels, and leans over, sharing out the last of the bottle of wine between their glasses. “Nice wine,” he says calmly.

“A favourite of mine,” returns Mycroft, voice bland.

“You don’t mind sharing it?” asks Greg. “I just – went ahead and opened it. Sorry.”

“I have no objection to your having done so, Det–”

“– Greg –”

Mycroft shoots him a slightly exasperated look. “Greg.”

Greg smiles. “Ta.” He gives a dry chuckle. “You should be able to use my first name, since we’re –” he hesitates. “What are we? Married?”

Mycroft is silent for a few moments, and Greg’s quick sidelong glance shows him eyebrows raised, wine glass not quite to his lips. “We should take advantage of the change in the law, perhaps,” he returns, smoothly, at last.

“Great.” Greg leans over and touches his glass to Mycroft’s. “Damn. Should’ve got you a ring while I was out.” He laughs as Mycroft shoots him a reproving glance.

Greg throws back the last of his wine and curls into the corner of the sofa, getting comfortable. “So, d’you know what Sherlock’s actually been talking to the suspect about?” he asks, curiously. “Be nice to know before it all kicks off.”

Mycroft clears his throat, rather primly. “My brother has – not yet vouchsafed me that information,” he says, with a frown. “In his words, ‘you wouldn’t understand it anyway, and you’d just freak out’.” The final two words are delivered dripping with disgust.

Greg snorts a laugh. “Oh, god,” he mutters. “Well, I suppose we can guess the general point of the conversation, given that it’s –”

“Yes,” says Mycroft, repressively. “Quite.” He finishes his glass of wine and places the glass on the coffee table. “I shall get the information from him before long.”

The film unwinds, and the pleasant buzz of the wine has Greg laughing, absorbed in the story. He thinks Mycroft might be feeling it too, a little: his smiles are no longer so ruthlessly suppressed. Greg marvels at the change in his face, when he smiles. He looks so much younger, and less aware of himself.

“Would you like a glass of whisky?” asks Mycroft, hesitantly, after a while. “I requested that Anthea buy some. I think I shall have one.”

“Sounds great. Thanks.” Greg watches him walk away, carrying the wine glasses to the sink. He rinses them quickly, then reaches down tumblers for the whisky. Greg forces himself to look away, finding the remote to pause the film.

The whisky is incredible, smoky and deep. Easily the best he has ever had. “Amazing,” says Greg. “Good choice.”

Mycroft’s smile is quietly satisfied.

“What did you buy?” he asks, looking at the bag Greg had brought back earlier.

“Oh, new trainers and workout stuff,” says Greg. “Didn’t bring any with me, and my old things needed getting rid of anyway. Seemed like a good excuse. Spent enough, though! If you see me not using the gym in the next week, kick me, yeah?”

“I shall be going,” says Mycroft, tentatively. “I shall prompt you when I return.”

“Ta,” says Greg, with a smile.

By the end of the film, Greg is warm and sleepy; not drunk, but pleasantly relaxed. He stretches, comfortably. “What did you think?”

“Very enjoyable,” says Mycroft, quietly. After a moment, “and you?”

“Yeah, it was a good one. At least I’ll be able to talk to Gabe about it now.” He yawns. “What d’you normally get up to in the evenings? I don’t want to get in your way, if –”

Mycroft shakes his head. “I rarely have an evening free. Work.”

Greg turns to look at him. “You must get the odd night off?”

Mycroft looks down at his hands, still folded around the empty whisky glass. “I tend to read,” he says, quietly. “And listen to music.” He turns his head away, as though wishing to end the conversation.

Greg knows how to take a hint. “God knows I spend enough nights working myself,” he says, groaning as he stands up. He holds out a hand for Mycroft’s whisky tumbler, and goes to wash both in the sink. “Not really enough to set the dishwasher yet,” he says, automatically. “I’ll put it on after breakfast.” Shit, this is weird. It does feel like being married again, discussing the small ins and outs of running a home.

“So,” he adds, briskly, turning away from the sink. “I’ll just grab my stuff from upstairs and use the bathroom now, if that’s okay. You could wake me in the morning when you go to the gym, then I can take a shower while you’re out.”

Mycroft appears to be looking at his mobile. His shoulders are very straight. Greg cannot see his face. “You are welcome to the bed – Greg,” he says, blankly. “I sleep little, in any case.”

Greg reaches into a cupboard for a glass, running the tap for cold water. “What, like Sherlock?” he asks. “Denying yourself sleep until you crash out for fourteen hours?”

Mycroft turns to look at him, almost indignant. “Certainly not.”

“D’you want some water, too?” asks Greg. Mycroft nods. “I’ll – go and use the bathroom,” he says, leaving Mycroft’s glass of water on the kitchen island.

There are spare blankets in the wardrobe. He piles them, with one of the pillows from the bed, next to the stairs; then takes his toiletries and pyjamas out of his bag and gets ready for bed. He leaves his toiletry bag in the bathroom. We’re sharing it, after all.

When he pads barefoot down the stairs, carrying his bedding, Mycroft is standing somewhat uncertainly in the kitchen. Greg cannot quite catch his gaze; it slips away.

Greg spreads the blankets on the longest part of the sofa, fetches his glass of water from the kitchen, and sets his book on the coffee table next to him. Mycroft, who had been looking at his phone again, makes his way towards the stairs.

“Goodnight,” yawns Greg, pulling back the blankets. “Sleep well.”

Chapter Text

Sleep, that night, is fractured at best. Greg expects to fall asleep within minutes of opening his book, but by one in the morning, he’s still reading. He tries just lying in the dark, for a while, but still can’t drop off.

When he finally does sleep, he dreams: a case from a couple of years ago, twisted and scrambled, the murderer freed, children in danger – everything unspools in French but his comprehension has gone. He is of no use at all. He wakes, cold and shivery, unable to bear the darkness.

It’s times like these he wishes he still smoked.

At five, he gives up on sleep and gets his work laptop out instead. There are some emails he knows he’ll need to clear before the investigation kicks off, some loose ends to tie before the work gets redistributed to another team.

Mycroft pads silently downstairs at half past five, clearly disconcerted when he realises Greg is not asleep. He is in socked feet, carrying his trainers in one hand. It jars in Greg’s brain, so far from Mycroft’s usual impeccable demeanour.

“Morning,” says Greg, as cheerfully as he can manage. “Off to the gym?”

“Yes,” returns Mycroft quietly. “I hope I did not wake you.”

“Nope,” says Greg, trying not to notice just how closely the workout trousers cling to Mycroft’s long, slim legs. “Been awake for a while.” He realises it might sound as if he’s complaining about the sofa. “Got a few work bits to get through before – y’know, this week.”

Mycroft tips his head and takes a seat on one of the kitchen chairs, bending to pull on his trainers.

“Have a good workout,” says Greg, absently, finishing an email. “See you in a bit.”

Once Mycroft has gone, he works for about another half hour, then goes upstairs to do his teeth and change into his new gym kit. Better start well, anyway. Not every day you have a private gym down the hall. Looking in the mirror, he discovers his hair is a bedhead mess, silver strands sticking up at all angles where he ran his hands through it in the night. He looks at himself critically in the mirror.

Scruffier than any husband of Mycroft Holmes has a right to be. He almost laughs at the absurdity of it all.

When Mycroft returns to the flat, he is flushed pink, but just as impassive as ever. He does not speak, going straight upstairs.

Greg makes sure he has his keycard, and heads out. The shower has started, so he doesn’t bother shouting up the stairs.

It feels good to run, after two nights of bad sleep; the weight machines are satisfyingly tiring. After an hour, he cools down, stretches and walks back to the flat.

Mycroft is at the desk in the corner of the bedroom, sharply suited and – Greg notes – wearing his shoes again.

“I’ll just –” says Greg, motioning to the bathroom. “Sorry.”

“Please,” says Mycroft, without turning round.

Greg showers quickly, shaves, and spends a couple of minutes putting his hair in order. After earlier – better try not to look too scruffy.

Downstairs, he puts the kettle on and finds a cafetière in one of the cupboards. “Did you have breakfast?” he calls up the stairs, turning the TV on. The main channels are dire on a Sunday. He finds a cookery channel and mutes it.

“I am fine, thank you,” is Mycroft’s distant answer.

Greg snorts, quietly. “I’m making coffee,” he calls. He spoons rich, deep-smelling Java into the cafetière and sets it to brew.

In the fridge are eggs and bread; Greg starts to make toast, and sets a pan to boil on the stove. He chops a couple of apples and oranges, puts them in a bowl.

When Mycroft pads down the stairs, Greg asks, “boiled or poached?”

Mycroft’s fingers are long, delicate as he begins to push down the plunger on the cafetière. His quick, oblique glance meets Greg’s for only a second. “Poached.”

Greg smiles. “Alright. I’ll try not to muck it up too badly. Sorry if you get a mangled mess.”

Mycroft sets the table, and takes charge of the toast.

When they settle to eat, Mycroft does not look as awkward as he had the night before.

“This is becoming a habit,” he says, with that peculiar inflection – either snide or a cover for awkwardness. He pours Greg’s coffee.

“Mmm?”

“Feeding me.”

“Well. If you’re not going to feed yourself.” Greg grins, taking a gulp of coffee. “What else are husbands for?”

Mycroft’s amused gaze flashes at him for a moment, before flicking away. Greg’s stomach twists with triumph, with pleasure. Almost a smile. And he’s not even had any wine.

“Good workout?” asks Greg.

“Quite satisfactory.” A moment, a sip of coffee – “and yours?”

Greg smiles. “Yeah, great. ’S’a treat, having the gym right there.”

Mycroft’s face betrays nothing.

Oh. He’s got a private gym at home, hasn’t he. How the other half live.

“I was thinking of going out in a bit,” says Greg, breaking the yolk of his poached egg. “Found a nice bookshop yesterday. Thought I’d have another browse round. And there are a few cafés and things.” He pauses a moment. “Come with me, if you’ve got time.”

Mycroft swallows his mouthful of egg and toast, face blank. He takes a gulp of coffee.

“Go on,” says Greg, with a smile. “Establish our cover. I’ll leave you alone to work later, promise.”

“Very well,” says Mycroft, quietly. Greg sees guilt and apprehension in the press of his lips, the set of his shoulders. He thinks he should be working. And when was the last time he just – spent time with someone? Christ. He’s nervous. I’m making him nervous.

We can’t just drift silently around the flat together for a week.

“Great,” says Greg, finishing his coffee. “I’ll get ready, if you’re happy to go soonish.”

Walking out of the building together, Greg thinks what it would be like if they really were married. I’d hold the door for him. Let my hand rest in the small of his back, maybe. Would he ever want to hold hands?

There is almost a force field around Mycroft, an aura of isolation and untouchability. What was it Sherlock said? ‘Untouched by human hand since 1992’? Greg tries not to smile.

I wonder what happened then.

At the bookshop, he deliberately holds the door open for Mycroft, smiling at him; he catches the bemused gleam of his glance for just a second.

Inside, Greg potters in the hardbacks section, enjoying the chance to browse the new releases. God, when was the last time I had a day like this?

He grins when he sees The Book of Dust; he’d read something months ago about it coming out, but missed it, apparently, when it did. He picks it up.

He finds Mycroft in the Russian literature section. “Getting something doom-laden?” he smiles.

Mycroft’s quick sideways glance cuts to him, and away. “A somewhat unfair characterisation,” he murmurs, but Greg can see the corner of his mouth twitch slightly. “And you?” asks Mycroft, looking at the book Greg’s holding.

Greg chuckles. “Don’t laugh. I know it’s for kids. My nieces made me read the original ones when I was visiting them once, and now I’m addicted.”

He’d expected veiled scorn or bemusement at his choice of book; instead Mycroft tips his head, eyes bright with interest. “Have you read Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ?”

“No.”

“It is interesting. An intriguing companion to last night’s film, perhaps.”

“Ta,” says Greg. “I’ll go and find a copy.” He wanders off and locates the book, then drifts, carrying it, into the cookery section. He is flicking through a pizza recipe book when he becomes aware that Mycroft is standing nearby.

Bloody hell. He doesn’t know whether to talk to me or not.

“Thanks for the recommendation,” says Greg, tipping the Pullman book’s cover towards Mycroft. He glances around. “I always seem to end up in the cookbooks section.”

Mycroft presses his lips together. “Inspiration.”

Greg grins. “Yeah, ’cept I’ve got a shelf full of cookbooks and no time or energy to cook, usually.”

Mycroft’s long fingers brace against the cover of Persiana. His smile is rather wry. “A situation I can relate to.”

“’S’pect you’re out a lot in the evenings, are you?” asks Greg. “Sherlock always gives the impression you spend your life schmoozing politicians.”

Mycroft’s grimace at the word makes Greg laugh.

“There are plenty of formal events to fill my evenings.”

Greg gives an amused half-shrug. “Prob’ly still better than the paperwork that usually fills mine.”

The corner of Mycroft’s mouth twitches. “It depends who one is seated next to.”

“Oh yeah, I bet. Hadn’t thought of that.” Greg holds up the books. “I’ll go and pay for these. Want to get a coffee?” He notices the bag Mycroft is carrying. “What’d you get?”

Mycroft hands him the bag, and Greg slips the book out. Ice by Anna Kavan. He flips it over to read the blurb. “Interesting. Wouldn’t’ve thought you’d go for sci-fi.”

“It is…not purely so, I understand,” says Mycroft quietly, accepting the bag back from Greg.

Greg smiles. “Back in a minute.”

He leads the way, in the end, to the café he’d found the day before. Holding the door open again, he garners himself another cautious flash of Mycroft’s gaze.

“You get us a table?” suggests Greg. “What d’you want?”

“Americano, please. Black.” Mycroft holds out a hand for Greg’s bag of books. “Shall I –”

“Oh, ta, yeah,” says Greg, handing it over. Their fingers brush, lightly. “Anything to eat?”

“No, thank you.”

Greg orders the coffees and buys himself a slice of chocolate cake. On the off chance, he puts two forks on the tray.

Mycroft has managed to find them the best table in the place: at an upstairs window, looking out over the busy street below.

“Best seat in the house,” says Greg, putting Mycroft’s coffee in front of him. “Nice work.” He settles at the table and takes a sip of his cappuccino. “Can’t remember the last time I sat and people-watched.”

Mycroft glances at him, sidelong. “Given your profession, can it still be a pleasure?”

“What, ‘anyone might be a murderer’?” asks Greg, with a quick smile. “I know what you mean, but – well, most people aren’t, are they? Whether by circumstance or – whatever.”

Mycroft’s palm curves to the shape of the coffee cup. “You appear to have retained a touching faith in humanity –”

He was going to call me Detective Inspector again. Greg smiles. “Hope so. Hope I don’t completely lose it.” He turns to look at Mycroft. “You know, Sherlock told me once you’re better than him at observation. Seeing things about people.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow flicks up. “Was he in withdrawal?”

“Ha.” Greg acknowledges the pitch-black humour. “No. He’d had a couple of whiskies though.”

Mycroft pulls his shoulders back, correcting his posture. “I do not know which of us is ‘better’ at it,” he says, quietly. “I do not know how one would judge.”

Greg takes a forkful of chocolate cake; savours it slowly. “Seems a bit of a curse, for Sherlock,” he says, carefully. “Think he finds people – boring. Because of it.”

“He finds it difficult to comprehend the banality of the majority of people’s obsessions,” says Mycroft, gaze fixed in the street. “The smallness of their lives.”

Greg is silent for a few moments. “I’ve never been able to get my head round how normal most killers are,” he says, after a while. “Banal, like you said. People want them to be monsters, but they’re not, most of ’em. Just people, like the rest of us. That’s the scary thing, in the end.”

Mycroft does not react. His thumb strokes the cup, slowly.

“Got you a fork,” murmurs Greg, pushing it across the table. “If you fancy any cake.”

Mycroft looks up at him. “Thank you, but no.”

Greg shrugs, and smiles. “Might start my book,” he says. “If you don’t mind.”

“Not at all.” Rather to Greg’s surprise, Mycroft takes his own book from its bag, and starts to read the preface.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ absorbs Greg quickly, and it’s a shock when Mycroft says, rather awkwardly, “Greg?”

“Mmm? Sorry.”

“I may get another coffee. Would you like anything?”

“Oh – yeah, thanks. Cappuccino again?”

Mycroft nods, once, and steps away, leaving his navy wool coat over the back of his chair.

Well. This is a turn-up for the books. Reading in a café with Mycroft Holmes. Who’d’ve guessed?

Mycroft has already made his way through quite a lot of Ice. Greg goes back to his book.

When Mycroft returns, it is another of those moments – a splintering of Greg’s perception, his image of Mycroft as impossibly remote against the reality of his carrying a tray with two coffees on it. Waiting on me. Blimey.

Greg takes his cappuccino with a grateful smile. “How’re you liking the book?”

“Greatly.” With some hesitation, “and you?”

“It’s brilliant,” says Greg. “Thanks for suggesting it.”

Mycroft’s gaze slides away, out into the street again. “I thought perhaps –” he says, cautiously. “I could make dinner, this evening. If that would be…”

Bloody hell. “Yeah. Great.” Greg smiles. “What’re we having?”

“Ah. That I have yet to determine.” Mycroft shoots him a slightly guilty look.

Greg laughs. “No worries.”

“Is there anything I should not make?”

“Nah, don’t worry. Not allergic to anything. Pretty much like all food.”

Mycroft’s half-smile is quick.

They settle, again, and read for another half hour or so.

Greg glances up to notice Mycroft tapping at his Blackberry. “D’you need to get back?”

“Yes,” says Mycroft. He hesitates a moment. “You do not have to accompany me, if you are comfortable.”

Greg smiles. “Yeah, I might get some lunch here,” he returns, easily. “You not going to eat?”

“No thank you.”

“Can I just run and get a sandwich then? While you keep the table?”

“Certainly.”

When Greg returns, Mycroft has pulled on his coat, and is frowning at something on his Blackberry. “Thanks,” says Greg, settling back into his seat. “See you at home, then.”

Mycroft nods, curtly. “Indeed.”

What would it be like if we were married? Would he kiss me goodbye, in public? Probably not. Doesn’t seem like the guy for public displays of affection.

Or private displays of affection, probably.

Watching out of the window, he sees Mycroft divert into an Italian deli a few doors down. Italian, tonight then? He smiles, anticipation warm in his stomach, then frowns at himself. He’s not – it’s not some date, you idiot. He’s only doing it to be polite, because you cooked last night. Sad old man. Been alone too long, that’s your problem.

Two years, since the divorce came through. Separated before that; a kind of liminal period where neither of them had been quite sure whether it was going to take, this time. And yeah, there’d been a couple of women, once it was really over. Not one-night things, not exactly; but he’d been clear that he wasn’t ready for anything more. Everyone knew the score.

They didn’t last long.

Possibly time to try and start dating again. But God: the time and effort it took, for so little reward. A pleasant time, usually, because he’s sociable, and enjoys talking to people; but just – pleasant. Nothing more. Is it really worth it?

Probably, yes, if you’re going to go all soppy just because Mycroft offered to make dinner.

He reads for a while longer, making his way steadily through his sandwich, and when he’s done he strolls slowly towards home. There’s a gorgeous florist’s, on the way. He used to bring his wife flowers, sometimes.

Not enough, towards the end.

He blames himself, still, for not seeing that it was happening again. It feels like wasted time, getting back together that one last time. Being honest with himself, it had never been the same since the first affair.

He’d said he trusted her, and he’d believed it at the time. I didn’t, though, and it wasn’t fair on me or her.

The older you get, the more you learn.

Closing the door of the flat behind himself, he sighs. Tiredness from two bad nights is kicking in, now. Don’t nap, or you’ll sleep badly again tonight. He tidies up the sofa, folding his blankets, piling them neatly together with the pillow.

Mycroft must have put the dishwasher on. It hums quietly to itself in the kitchen.

Greg puts his hand on the banister. “Tea?” he calls.

“Thank you,” says Mycroft, in return. “Yes.”

“Want me to bring it up?” Greg crosses to the kettle, listening carefully for the response.

“No. I shall come down.”

Greg sets the kettle boiling and reaches down two mugs. “How’s it going?” he asks, when Mycroft appears.

“Well, thank you. The case will be transferred to your team soon.”

“Oh, God,” says Greg, with a grimace. “I’m praying Sally doesn’t check her work email until tomorrow morning.”

Mycroft gives him a rather quizzical look.

“Pretty sure she’s not going to be pleased to have to abandon our ongoing stuff and reorganise the whole team,” explains Greg. He puts a teabag in each mug and pushes the kettle towards Mycroft. “Show me your perfect cup of tea, then.”

The corners of Mycroft’s mouth twitch, slightly. “I beg your pardon?”

“A week’s too long to have someone making your tea wrong,” laughs Greg. “Go on.”

Mycroft’s perfect tea, it turns out, is relatively strong with just a small dash of milk. Greg likes his even stronger, but with much more milk. He glances up, and finds Mycroft’s laser attention focused on each action as he makes it.

Greg takes a sip, leaning back against the counter. He closes his eyes a moment, runs his hand through his hair.

“Sergeant Donovan usually schedules the team’s activities?” asks Mycroft, and Greg can hear the hesitation in his voice.

I don’t think he chats, much. “Yeah,” he says, shooting Mycroft a smile. “I check over the schedules and reassign people if we need to. But she essentially runs the team on a day-to-day basis. I just deal with the paperwork. Push for warrants and so on as fast as possible so the rest of ’em can do their jobs. Fend off requests from the higher-ups. Deal with the media. Try and defend the team from meddling by people like you.”

Mycroft’s smile is cautious. “And occasionally solve a murder.”

“Ha. Try to.” He drinks some more tea. “At least I don’t have to take witness statements any more. Notoriously one of the worst and most boring parts of a police officer’s job.”

Mycroft tips his head enquiringly, sipping his tea.

“The public, God love ’em, are useless. Writing down what they have to say about almost any crime is almost always also useless. An exercise in pure frustration.”

Mycroft smiles.

“Although – telling the families is always on me. And escorting them to the formal identification. So I s’pose it balances out.” He grimaces, and looks away.

“Not an easy profession.”

“No. But worth doing.” Greg gives a half-shrug, then rubs his eyes. “Prob’ly ought to do some work,” he groans.

“I suspect that you did not sleep well,” says Mycroft contritely.

“Nah,” says Greg. “It wasn’t the sofa though, promise. Didn’t sleep well the night before either. ’S’catching up with me.” He finishes his tea and puts his mug down next to the kettle, then crosses to the sofa. He presses power on his work laptop and pops to the loo in the small downstairs toilet room.

By the time he comes back, Mycroft has returned upstairs, but another cup of tea waits next to Greg’s laptop. It is perfectly made.

*

Mycroft pads downstairs a few hours later, carrying his tea mug. Greg glances up, and smiles. “Finished?”

“For now,” returns Mycroft. “I shall start to prepare dinner, if the time seems appropriate.”

“Definitely,” says Greg, enthusiastically. “You must be starving. Don’t know how you can go without lunch.”

Mycroft’s back is turned, reaching into a cupboard. Greg’s gaze slides down, following the curve of his back to his arse. God. It looks just as good in those trousers as it did in workout gear.

Stop it. Time to start internet dating.

Greg looks hurriedly back at his laptop screen as Mycroft turns, slipping off his jacket. He lays it carefully over the back of the sofa.

“What’re you making then?” asks Greg, skimming through the overview document Mycroft’s team has sent to his.

“Mushroom tortellini,” says Mycroft, rather distantly.

Christ. He’s so unsure. And yet he must manage meetings, people, interactions, all day at work. “Sounds amazing,” returns Greg absently, caught up in a paragraph about the second couple found dead. Then, “hang on, are you making the pasta?”

“Yes.” Mycroft sounds rather cautious.

“Bloody hell. Fancy.”

“Oh. No, quite easy, I assure you.”

“I’ve made pasta a couple of times, but it took me ages.”

Mycroft does not respond. Greg’s glance round shows him cracking eggs into a bowl.

The case is awful. Three gay couples, found murdered in their own homes. He has to agree with Sherlock: it’s a scandal that the cases were dealt with separately, assigned by area rather than combined as one. The similarities between them are striking.

His chest feels tight. He takes a deep breath, reading through the notes. Each time the same. He pushes the laptop away, palms flat on his thighs, feet tucked beneath him on the sofa. Jesus Christ. I should have been on this from the start.

When Mycroft clears his throat, slightly, Greg looks up. Mycroft’s gaze flicks away. “I thought perhaps – a glass of wine, while I cook,” he says.

“Yeah,” says Greg, with probably-indecent haste. “Yeah. I’ll – I can open it.” He unfolds himself from the sofa, happy to put physical space between himself and the laptop.

If we were really married, I’d ask for a hug right now.

His fingers are clumsy as he opens the wine, takes down the glasses. He pours them both a generous glassful. “Cheers,” he says, somewhat grimly. He takes a gulp of wine, not bothering to wait for Mycroft to be ready to touch glasses. “I can help with dinner,” he says. “Give me something to do.”

“Truly, there is no –”

“Please.”

Mycroft looks at him, and does not look away when Greg meets his eyes. He motions to an onion, sitting on the side. “That needs chopping, very finely.”

Greg takes another gulp of wine, then sets down his glass. He rolls up his sleeves. “That I can do.”

“The method and order of the killings,” says Mycroft, quietly, weighing out flour.

“Yeah,” sighs Greg.

Mycroft hesitates a moment. “We need to find out what Sherlock has been discussing with the suspect.”

Greg nods, peeling the skin and one outer layer from the onion. “Yep. The difference between partners in each case.”

“Indeed,” says Mycroft, seriously. “Ligatures.”

Greg concentrates on drawing the knife through the onion in careful, thin slivers. “Probably partly consensual. Initially.”

Mycroft whisks the eggs in the bowl with a fork. “I apologise that you have been – personally involved in this,” he says.

Greg shakes his head, eyes beginning to sting from the smell of the onion. “Not your fault. Seriously. You don’t have to keep apologising. I’m used to Sherlock’s antics by now.” He turns the chopping board and begins to cross the original cuts, as finely as possible.

He hears the bright clink of Mycroft’s wine glass as he puts it back down on the counter. His voice is measured, almost toneless. “You have spent years supporting Sherlock in a number of ways. I appreciate it. Deeply.”

Greg pauses in his chopping; blinks, eyes stinging with unshed onion-tears. He wants another gulp of wine, but needs to wash his hands first.

“’S’just good to see him – y’know. Where he is now,” he says, keeping his voice as light as possible.

“Indeed,” returns Mycroft.

Greg finishes chopping the onion and turns to the sink, scrubbing his hands under cold water. Turning to pick up his wine glass, he leans back against the counter. Greeted by the sight of Mycroft Holmes, shirt sleeves rolled to the elbow, kneading pasta dough, his mouth goes slightly dry.

Dear God. He takes a gulp of wine.

“Anything else I can do?”

“You could wash the mushrooms,” says Mycroft. “They will also need chopping, though not as finely as the onion.” His voice is a little unsteady with the effort of kneading. A lock of hair has fallen forward over his forehead.

Greg discovers, silently, that even a small amount of dishevelment in Mycroft Holmes’ appearance can leave him both bothered and distracted.

Fuck. Bollocks. This is bad. He finishes his glass of wine.

“No worries,” he says, easily. Finding the mushrooms in the fridge, he sets them to rinse in a colander under the cold tap. Mycroft has finished his wine too, so Greg pours them both another glass.

Searching the drawers, he finds a rolling pin and sets it quietly at Mycroft’s elbow, then chops the mushrooms, spreading the pieces on kitchen towel to absorb excess moisture.

Once that’s done, he has a few more sips of wine. His lips feel bitten, plump with the bittersweet tanniny strength of the red. Mycroft has rolled out a thin, even layer of pasta. He takes a knife and runs it smoothly through, creating long, wide strips. His fingers are deft and sure.

Greg takes his glass of wine with him to the sofa. He finds the news and watches it absently, thoughts of the case intruding on his attention.

Once, he turns at a contemptuous noise from Mycroft; he is watching the news item about negotiations with the European Parliament with a raised eyebrow, wine glass on its way to his lips.

“That good?” asks Greg.

Mycroft gives a humourless little laugh. “Quite so.”

“Surprised you’re not living in Brussels, at the moment.”

“Despite the bizarre accusations of omnipotence Sherlock levels at me, I am not God.”

Greg laughs. “No? Okay.” He sips his wine. “Actually the whole situation does feel a bit like something God would’ve thought up in that film.”

“Not an inaccurate assessment,” says Mycroft, grimly.

“Christ,” says Greg, “now I’m really worried.”

Mycroft’s only answer is another rather mirthless huff of amusement.

“Has there really been no press interest in the murders?” asks Greg, biting his bottom lip, staring unseeing at the television.

“I have no doubt that they are monitoring them,” says Mycroft. “But in the absence of a coordinated Met investigation, and presumably lacking details on the forensic specifics of all three cases –” he breaks off, sounding distracted, clearly concentrating on something. The kettle boils. “It seems to me that the story has not yet matured into something headline-worthy.”

“Your lot haven’t squashed any requests for information, then?”

“No.”

“Fuck,” groans Greg, running his hands through his hair and down over his face. “They’re going to be all over it once we do release the details. The fact it’s prob’ly sex-related, too –” he sighs. “Tabloids are going to love it. They couldn’t be happier than when ‘promiscuous’ gay men die.”

“Indeed,” says Mycroft, quietly.

Greg watches the sport news without his usual interest.

“Dinner will be ready in a few minutes,” says Mycroft.

Greg gets up and attempts a smile. “Great. I’ll set the table.” He divides the last of the bottle of wine between their glasses and puts the cutlery out. He can’t think of cheery conversation to make.

‘You always get like this,’ she’d said. ‘Sometimes I think you can’t hear a thing I’m saying. Or can’t be bothered to listen.’

He’d shaken his head. ‘No. Just – y’know. Got a big investigation on.’

She’d pursed her lips. ‘Always got time for the dead, haven’t you? Not so much bothered about the living, though.’

Mycroft carries two bowls to the table. Not only are there tortellini, he’s toasted some hazelnuts as a topping, and it’s all drizzled with a glossy dressing.

“Wow. What’s the sauce?” asks Greg.

Mycroft takes a seat. “Sage butter and lemon,” he returns, quietly.

Greg holds his glass up, waiting for Mycroft to touch it with his own. “Thank you for this.”

“Not at all,” murmurs Mycroft.

Greg sips his wine and puts his glass down. He can feel the alcohol, now, hitting him a little harder than yesterday. Drinking on an empty stomach’ll do that.

“I –” he hesitates. “Sorry if I’m not very good company over the next few days,” he says, in a rush. “When there’s a case – it’s not always easy…” he trails off, playing with his fork.

Mycroft clears his throat slightly. “There will be no issue. I am hardly sociable myself, at the best of times.” He spears a piece of pasta.

Greg shakes his head. “Oh, I don’t know,” he says, trying for a smile. “I had a nice day.” He tries the pasta. “God. Mycroft. This is amazing.”

Mycroft is not able to entirely suppress the relieved smile that twitches at his lips.

They eat in silence for a while.

“Used to drive my wife mad,” says Greg, finishing his wine. “What I was like, on cases. Well, the murders. Sorry. Yeah. I’m just not very good at…stopping thinking about it.”

Mycroft is silent for a few moments. “It is to your credit that the cases absorb you so thoroughly.”

Greg shakes his head slightly. “Ha. Well. Not sure my ex-wife would exactly put it that way.”

Mycroft makes no answer.

Greg feels a bit fuzzy with the wine, now. Not drunk, but in a space a little separate from the normal realities of life.

“’S’why I admire Sherlock, y’know? He may say it’s all about the puzzle. Cold rationality. But it’s not. He never loses sight of why he’s doing it. The people. He might not want to talk to ’em. Or be nice to ’em. Sometimes he scares them on purpose. But he solves the puzzle because he knows people need him to.”

Mycroft sits back in his chair, savouring the final few sips of wine.

“An’ to impress John,” says Greg, tipping his head to the side.

Mycroft’s smile twitches at the corners of his mouth. “My brother is remarkably consistent.”

“He’s lucky,” says Greg, seriously. “They both are. It’s not easy. Finding someone like that.”

Mycroft’s lips press together. “So I am told.”

Greg looks at him, at the lock of hair that – though tidied a little – isn’t quite back in its original impeccable position. “You don’t – you’re not – with anyone, then?”

Mycroft’s gaze flicks away. “No,” he says, finally. His chin is high, shoulders back, full of prickly, defensive wariness.

“Sorry,” says Greg, standing, stacking the plates. “Being nosy. Copper habit. Sorry,” he mumbles again, on his way to the sink. He rinses the plates, and puts them slowly in the dishwasher, his actions made more deliberate by the wine.

“Whisky?” asks Mycroft.

“Please,” says Greg, leaning against the counter. And, “thanks,” as Mycroft passes him the tumbler.

When Greg curls into the corner of the sofa, he pulls his feet up, makes a rampart of his knees, rests his head on his arm. Tired.

“I should’ve pushed for the case,” he says, quietly, and takes a gulp of whisky. “Could’ve. They would’ve let me have it, if I’d pushed.”

Mycroft, settling at the other end of the sofa, goes still. “It was hardly your –”

“Coward,” Greg cuts him off. “Because of – y’know. Victims bein’ gay.”

“Your record would suggest no such likelihood.”

“Nah, well.” Greg laughs, bitterly, and takes another swig of golden liquid fire. “Trust me.” He rests his elbow on his knees, tangles his fingers in his hair. “I – like men and women, y’know.” He squeezes his eyes tight shut. All the same, he feels light with the confession, with saying it out loud.

Mycroft does not answer, and Greg does not look up to seek his expression. He keeps secrets for a living. Probably not a homophobe. Never seems to have a problem with Sherlock and John, anyway.

“I don’t talk about it at work,” says Greg. He shifts, lying back against the sofa cushions, heels of his hands pressed against his eyes. “There’s this – pretence of inclusivity, y’know. But I worked with some of the ones who’re high-ups now, back in the nineties, when the papers were still running AIDS stories. D’you remember what it was like?” he groans, sitting up, wrapping his arms around his knees.

Mycroft is watching him, eyes dark grey. He does not look away when Greg catches his eye. “Vividly,” is his quiet answer.

Greg nods. ’S’just – when you know for a fact the Chief Constable had a good laugh about the ‘gay plague’ twenty years ago…y’know?”

Mycroft nods, once.

‘An’ the tabloids are going to be awful with this one,” sighs Greg. “I was a coward. Didn’t want to put my hand up, push for the case. In case anyone asked why.”

If he didn’t know better, he’d think Mycroft Holmes’ eyes are full of sympathy. “I cannot see that there would have been a different outcome for the victims,” he says, at last.

Greg shakes his head, taking another gulp of whisky. “We don’t know who he’s out there with, now. This suspect of Sherlock’s might not even be the guy. This –” he gestures to himself and Mycroft, to the luxurious flat around them, “– is just one lead. We might have nothing at all.”

“You will have expedited forensic analysis and warrant approval,” says Mycroft, with determination. He sips his whisky, the light glinting off the ring on his right hand. “Tell me as soon as you hit any administrative block.”

Greg smiles at him. “You’re a good man, Mycroft Holmes.”

“An opinion you will find it hard to defend to others,” returns Mycroft, with a thin smile.

“Oh, shut up,” says Greg, surprised to hear a note of fondness creeping into his own voice. “I don’t think you’re that short on friends.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow rises, but his gaze is coolly amused. “I assure you, Greg,” he murmurs. “My professional life absorbs the entirety of my time and attention. And it is not exactly conducted in cordiality.”

Greg grins. “Well, yeah,” he says. “But you mostly hang out with politicians, don’t you?”

Mycroft’s laugh is unfeigned, and seems to take even him by surprise.

“Rosie loves you,” smiles Greg, a bubble of triumph in his chest at having made Mycroft laugh.

“Rosamund also loves carrot and apple purée and something called ‘Peppa Pig’.”

Greg throws back his head, and laughs. “Well, that’s true.” He runs his hands through his hair. “Sherlock bloody idolises you, you know. Underneath all that – whatever it is you two have going on.”

Mycroft glances away, and then back. He does not seem to know what to say.

“An’ I used to enjoy catching up with you,” says Greg, gently. “Even though the circumstances weren’t the best.”

Mycroft looks quickly away, finishing his whisky.

“Why’d we stop doing that, in the end?” asks Greg. “I mean, I know Sherlock got a lot better.” He smiles. “Did your club put their foot down? Couldn’t have someone like me wanderin’ in at all hours?”

Mycroft gives him a sidelong, sharply amused glance. “‘Someone like you’? Believe me, Greg, there are many who hold memberships to the Diogenes more corrupt and disreputable than a well-respected Detective Inspector in the London Met.”

“Are you telling me you hang out in some sort of den of thieves?”

“Without doubt, I fear.”

“Right kind of theft, though, yeah? Government-approved. Done by rich people.”

“Cynicism, I see.”

Greg huffs a laugh. “’M’getting old, tired and grumpy.”

“Hardly, Det– Greg.”

“An’ pissed,” groans Greg, rubbing his eyes. “Hit me, tonight. Not usually such a lightweight. Or such a grumpy bastard. Sorry f’being depressing.”

Mycroft’s mouth tips into a half-smile. “You have not been.”

“Sorry,” says Greg, again. “Think I might try'n get some sleep.” He motions to the pile of blankets and pillow at the other end of the sofa.

There’s a long moment of silence.

“The bed is large enough to share,” says Mycroft, voice blandly neutral.

Greg has to admit that the prospect of a proper, comfy bed is extremely appealing. He feels like he could sleep for a week. “You sure?” he asks. “’Cause I’ll be fine down here if –”

“Truly,” returns Mycroft, turning away. He stands up to take his whisky glass to the sink. “It is not an issue.”

Probably not straight, then. Most straight guys our age wouldn’t let a man who likes men sleep in their bed, would they? Greg shakes his head. Shut up brain.

“I’ll go and do my teeth then,” he says, standing up.

Changing into his pyjamas, he has a sudden worry that he ought to be showering again. He puts on some extra deodorant before pulling on the soft t-shirt he sleeps in. When did I last share a bed with anyone? Must be more than a year. Christ.

He looks at himself in the mirror as he does his teeth. Not his best look: dishevelled hair where he’d run his hands through it. Eye bags, and the slightly bleary look of someone who’s had a bit too much to drink. He sighs. Attractive.

Mycroft’s books and phone charger lie on the far bedside table, so Greg clambers into the near side and huddles down under the duvet. The mattress is luxurious, the sheets soft, high-quality cotton. He almost sighs out loud, already feeling himself relax.

He’s plugging his phone in when Mycroft appears at the top of the stairs. He puts a glass of water on Greg’s bedside table, then walks round the bed to set one on his own.

“Thanks,” says Greg, taking a swig before settling back down. Mycroft shuts himself in the bathroom, carrying his pyjamas.

Greg’s so sleepy that he has to blink a couple of times to focus when Mycroft emerges from the bathroom – charcoal cotton pyjama bottoms and a navy t-shirt – and has another moment of dissonance. Mycroft Holmes in pyjamas. His eyes drift shut again, though, and he’s asleep before Mycroft has finished hanging up his jacket.

Chapter Text

Greg glances at his watch. Three in the morning. He’s dying for the loo, but also very comfortable, and very sleepy. He drifts for a few minutes, half-awake.

Nope. This is going to wake me up if I don’t go.

Curling back into bed is wonderful. He pulls the duvet up around his ears and buries his face in the pillow. The bed really is massive.

Mycroft turns over. Greg can feel the warmth of another body behind him, not touching, but nearby, breathing quiet and slow. It is inexpressibly comforting. He falls asleep again quickly.

Next time he wakes, his hand is stretched into the space where…he opens his eyes. Mycroft is gone. He checks his watch – 05:17. Must be at the gym. He turns over, tucks his legs up, and slips into sleep again.

His alarm goes at six. Mycroft still isn’t back, or at least not upstairs. He can’t hear anyone below, though. He slips into the bathroom and pulls on his gym kit, yawning and rubbing his eyes. As he’s doing his teeth, he hears the front door close.

“Mycroft?” he calls.

“Yes,” comes the distant, quiet response. Greg finishes doing his teeth and pads downstairs.

“Good workout?”

“Fine, thank you,” says Mycroft. He has two warm spots of colour in his cheeks. He finishes filling the kettle and sets it to boil.

“Just going myself,” says Greg, heading into the hall to pull his trainers on. He sneaks a peek at Mycroft’s arse in those running tights. “I’ll put a wash on when I’m back – for the kit.”

“Mm,” is Mycroft’s only reply, already heading for the stairs.

Why don’t I do this all the time, wonders Greg, working his way round the weights machines in the gym. He feels clear-headed, planning how his day’s going to go: reread the background information, then start working through the profiles of each victim. Coordinate with Sally on which of the team are going where to interview who – workmates, family members, neighbours. Start collating statements as they come in. Request higher-level forensic investigations on all the bodies, and at the sites. With the might of Mycroft Holmes behind me, he thinks, and then smirks to himself.

Christ, I’m glad he couldn’t see that.

If he can read minds like Sherlock, I’m fucked.

*

In the flat, a freshly-brewed cafetière stands waiting, with a mug next to it.

“Thanks for the coffee,” calls Greg, pushing off his trainers by the door. “You started work already?” he asks as he climbs the stairs.

Mycroft, sitting at the desk, half-turns to glance at him. “Yes,” he says, looking quickly back to his laptop screen.

“Sorry,” says Greg. “Just going to take a shower. Won’t be long.” He grabs jeans, boxers and a t-shirt on his way into the bathroom.

Starting the shower, he strips off his gym clothes. The water feels wonderful, pummelling his tired shoulder muscles and washing away the sweat he’d worked up on the machines.

It’s strange knowing that Mycroft’s so nearby, typing away on his laptop while Greg is naked. He washes his hair, then lathers shower gel across his skin, under his arms, down his legs…

His cock has plumped, a little, and his hands linger for a moment as he washes. He generally gets off in the shower, when he needs to, and it’s been a couple of days –

But Mycroft is just outside, and he really, really ought to stop.

He’ll know.

Does it matter if he knows? We’re two men, sharing a flat for a week. Surely we’re both going to have a wank sometime. Maybe he’s done it already, this morning, while I was at the gym.

He’s hard now, and he curls his fingers around his cock, not allowing his breath to catch, trying to make no noise at all.

As he begins to stroke, slowly, he tries to listen as though from outside. Does the water cover the noise of my hand, the rhythm of my strokes? Christ, I’m hard. Must’ve been more wound up than I realised. All this healthy exercise I’ve been taking.

He leans back against the wall of the shower, eyes closed against the spray. Sinking his teeth into the back of his left hand, he imagines biting down on someone’s shoulder, nuzzling at soft pale skin as long fingers tighten on his hips, directing him, pulling him down, using his body, stroking his prostate in shocking bursts of sensation – his hand on himself, a desperate blur of motion between their stomachs as he tips closer and closer to the edge – teeth, lips, tongue at his neck, marking him, drawing out delicate, bruising pain from the pleasure –

He silences his groan, teeth dug viciously into his hand. His breath catches, chest heaving as he paints the glass of the shower with come, stroking himself through until he can take no more.

Fuck. When it’s safe to take his hand away from his mouth, he rinses down the shower glass and himself, then turns off the water. His left hand has deep, red imprints where his teeth had clenched.

He dresses quickly, cursorily arranging his hair in the mirror, hanging up his towel to dry, and picking up his gym kit from the floor.

He opens the door rather tentatively, feeling like a teenager sneaking out of his room. Mycroft isn’t there.

As he walks downstairs, his brain whispers, haven’t thought about getting fucked for a while.

Haven’t come that hard in a while either.

Fucking hell.

Mycroft is pouring himself a cup of coffee. Greg crosses to the fridge and takes out the milk; unscrews the cap and passes it to Mycroft.

Mycroft glances up, eyes dark, and takes it from him. Their fingers meet in a brief brush of skin at the handle.

“You had breakfast?” asks Greg, pouring a cup of coffee and adding plenty of milk.

“Mm,” says Mycroft, gaze lowered, stirring his coffee.

“Which means no, but you’re not going to eat any.”

The flash of Mycroft’s gaze is piercing.

“Bet you don’t get away with starving yourself when your assistant’s sat in the next office.” Greg takes the teaspoon from Mycroft, tiny points of contact as their fingers touch.

“I do not starve myself,” returns Mycroft, a chilly dismissal.

Greg is surprised by the strength of his wish to touch Mycroft in some way. We are supposed to spend this week learning to act like a couple.

“’M’going to set up on the table and prob’ly spread stuff out across the counter,” says Greg, getting out cereal, a bowl and spoon. “’F that’s okay.”

“Naturally.” Mycroft turns away. “My apologies, I have some calls to make this morning, so you may hear me speaking.”

“Are you going to have to have me killed if I overhear?” asks Greg, giving Mycroft’s back a sly grin. Navy pin-stripe suit, today. But no jacket. Silky back to his waistcoat.

“I have no idea what you mean,” says Mycroft, turning; a gleam of deadpan amusement. “You appear to be under some strange misconception with regard to my profession.”

Greg gives a huff of amusement. “Sorry about that. We can have a nice chat about what your job actually is, later, and then I’ll know, won’t I?”

The corners of Mycroft’s mouth twitch. “Mm.” He walks tall, shoulders pulled back, up the stairs.

Greg spends a large part of the morning on the phone to Sally, who – as predicted – is not best pleased with the situation. They talk it all through, step by step, laying the plan for the week ahead.

“Wait, and I got a briefing email from the Super saying you’re going to be working this one remotely. No details though. What’s going on?”

Greg sighs. He’s been dreading this moment. He explains, downplaying the worst of Sherlock’s behaviour.

“What the f–” Sally censors herself, taking a deep breath. “So the freak came up with one of his half-baked plans and you’re just going along with it? No offence, boss, but –”

“Sally –”

“Oh, sorry, Sherlock,” she says with slow, sarcastic deliberation. “Have you absolutely lost it, boss? Sitting around waiting for a murder suspect, playing happy families with the other Holmes fr–”

“That’ll do, Sergeant Donovan.” Greg lets the finality of his tone sink in. “As you’ll’ve seen from the Super’s email, this has been fully approved by the chain of command. If you have any concerns I suggest you raise it with them.”

He hears a quick, angry intake of breath at the other end of the line. “Yes,” she says, at length.

“I’ll need extra support, working this remotely,” says Greg. “Regular updates. If you could assign someone in the office to make sure that’s happening while you’re out and about, that’d be helpful.”

“Yes.” There’s a short, sullen pause. “No worries. And I get it, boss – about the lead you’re working. Being fair, it’s – probably not the fr– Holmes’s worst plan ever.” She takes a breath. “Unless you get murdered.”

Greg smiles. “Oh, I don’t know. At least there’ll be a DI job going then, eh?”

She gives a wry laugh. “Well, when you put it like that.”

He laughs. “And listen, Sal. You’re going to have to be the face of this one with the media. We can’t risk the suspect putting two and two together about who’s handling the investigation. I can do all the behind the scenes stuff, but if we end up with appeals for information and press conferences and all that, it’ll be on you.”

“Yes, boss.”

“Alright. Better crack on.”

“Yeah. As if I want to listen to you all morning anyway.”

“Yeah yeah, I know.”

He spends the morning rereading all the briefing notes, slowly building a virtual incident board for each couple; Sally updates him on the team’s assignments. He puts in the formal requests for increased forensic scrutiny.

“Alright?” he mumbles absently, when Mycroft pads down the stairs some hours later. Some part of his brain notes: still no jacket.

“Fine, thank you. In need of tea.” Mycroft fills the kettle and clicks it on, leaning back against the counter and surveying the neat piles of Greg’s notes.

Greg glances at them. “Need to get post-it notes and blu-tack,” he mutters, waving a hand at it all. “Mostly virtual now – so the whole team can see it – but I like having it on paper too.” He shuffles a couple of piles of papers. “I’ll pop out later.”

“Tea?” enquires Mycroft, hand hovering over a second mug.

Greg checks his watch. “Christ. Yeah. How is it three already? After giving you shit about not eating as well.”

Mycroft clears his throat, back still turned as he pours water into the mugs. “Anthea assures me that dinner at a restaurant together would be typical behaviour for a married couple,” he says, voice blank. “She has made us a reservation at a small Italian restaurant with a good reputation nearby.”

An end point to the day. Some good food, wine or maybe a beer, and a break from looking at this stuff, spread out across the surfaces in the flat. Christ. Yes.

Mycroft has not turned round, adding milk slowly to their tea.

“What time?” asks Greg, wanting to see his face.

“Seven forty-five.” Mycroft turns and places Greg’s cup of tea – the perfect shade of brown – at his elbow.

Greg smiles up at him, catching his eye. “Great.” Then, “Anthea’ll make someone a very thoughtful husband someday,” he grins.

Mycroft blinks, and makes for the stairs, carrying his own cup of tea.

“Thanks, Mycroft,” says Greg, as he watches him go.

*

By the time half-past six comes, Greg is ready to pack it in for the day. He’s received his first ‘bugger off’ from SOCO, unwilling to redo work. The last thing Greg does is forward the email to Mycroft, with a brief note: you did say if I hit any barriers…sorry to call it in so quickly.

His phone rings just as he’s shutting down his laptop.

“Sal? Alright?”

“Fine, thanks. Just a quick one – Super’s asked if we need a couple of extras from Granger’s team to go over the ground on the three original sites. I assume yes?”

“Please,” says Greg, surprised. “When did this last happen to us? Am I hallucinating?”

Sally gives a wry laugh. “What have you done to Big Brother Holmes? I assume this is him.”

“Ha.” Greg shuts his laptop, fingers tracing the logo. “You’re probably not wrong.”

“He obviously likes being married to you,” teases Sally. “Whatever it is you’re doing, boss, keep doing it.”

“Yeah, yeah, alright, that’s enough of that thank you,” says Greg, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms. “I’m off, Sal. Anything else before I go?”

“He taking you out for dinner, hm?” she asks. “The Shard? The Ivy?”

“Oi. Carry on like that and I’ll have you for insubordination.”

Sally giggles. “Whatever you say, boss. Have a good night.”

He hangs up on her, trying to ignore the fact that he’s blushing like a schoolgirl.

*

He showers again, quickly, washing away the details of lives curtailed, of injuries and postmortem results.

He takes care to arrange his hair with more precision, and to shave closely. He puts on his grey work suit with a long-sleeved white t-shirt.

When he emerges from the bathroom, Mycroft is pulling on his jacket. Greg’s brain registers both disappointment at the loss of slight casualness, and mmmm. Yes.

Stop it. Fuck, he’s going to realise what I’m thinking.

Mycroft goes into the bathroom, and Greg wanders downstairs. He drinks plenty of water – having accidentally denied himself for most of the day – and texts his brother to say he enjoyed The Brand New Testament.

When Mycroft appears in the kitchen, he is his usual impeccably-dressed self.

Greg smiles. “Nice suit.” If we were married, what would I say? Not that, anyway. More. Better.

Maybe I’d just show him.

Mycroft glances at him, as though checking for sincerity; then a cautious, very slight curl at the corners of his lips.

As they take the lift down to the reception area, Mycroft clears his throat. “I received your email regarding the forensic investigation. I hope to have a more productive response shortly.”

Greg digs his hands into his trouser pockets. “Thanks Mycroft. That’s brilliant.” He rests his head back against the bright golden wall of the lift. “Right, that’s it,” he says, with a wry smile. “’M’not talking about work again this evening.”

Mycroft nods, once. “Very well.” He pulls on his black leather gloves, fingers flexing in deft, decisive movements. “I understand that this restaurant is particularly well-known for its lasagne.”

“God, sounds amazing,” groans Greg. “’M’starving after today.”

“If you will forgo lunch, Greg,” says Mycroft, with such deadpan delivery that Greg has to do a double-take to check for any sign of facetiousness.

“Yeah yeah, alright,” he grins. “I know.”

Mycroft presses his lips together.

“How’s this place on dessert?” asks Greg. “I’ll probably have room.”

Mycroft shakes his head slightly. “My apologies. I do not know.”

Greg pulls a disappointed face as they step out of the lift. “What kind of husband are you? Bloody hell.” He catches Mycroft’s eye, smiling at him as he holds the street door open.

He can feel the ghost of the action it would require to usher him out of the door, hand in the small of his back; the gentle pressure of his fingertips against the fine wool of the navy coat.

Greg’s mobile pings, and he glances at the text. “Gabe,” he says, looking up at Mycroft as he slips the mobile back into his pocket. “Texted him to say thanks for the DVD.”

“Your half-brother and his family live in Grenoble?” asks Mycroft, with a prickly kind of tentativeness.

“Yeah,” smiles Greg. “Well, just outside. In the valley. Gorgeous views, with the mountains and everything. The girls can ski like pros.”

“You visit them?”

“Ha. Not very often.” Greg follows Mycroft in a right turn, past a pub and the storefronts of shops which have closed for the evening. “Last time was a couple of years ago.”

“And do you ski?”

Greg laughs. “No. God, no. I mean I gave it a go because the girls wanted me to, but you should’ve seen ’em. Nearly laughed me off the mountain. Cheeky little buggers.” He stops as Mycroft comes to a halt next to a small, unassuming Italian place, and holds the door open for him.

Has he noticed me holding the door for him? He’s just being polite in return. Jesus. I’m like a teenager with a crush. Stop it.

“Thanks,” he says, stepping inside.

It’s small, split-level; there are a few couples in, and a group of four, but overall it’s quiet, as you might expect on a Monday. The decor is simple – exposed brick and natural wood – but the ambience is intimate, most of the light coming from fairy lights and candles.

Is this place going to turn out to be surprisingly expensive? wonders Greg.

“For two?” asks a waitress, producing two menus from a drawer.

“Booking under Holmes,” says Mycroft quietly, over Greg’s shoulder.

“Great, come this way, Mr Holmes,” says the waitress, leading them up the few stairs to the upper level. Their table is tucked into a secluded nook. Ivy cascades over the exposed brick, fairy lights tangled within it.

“Some drinks, gents?” asks the waitress. She pushes the candle to the back of their table before lighting it, and distributes the menus into their places. Greg hangs his jacket over the back of his chair before taking a seat.

“Peroni, for me,” he says. “And d’you do –” he scans the menu. “Yeah. Some bread, too. Thanks.”

She smiles at him, eyes lingering on his, slipping to his lips. Her mouth quirks, and she bites her bottom lip.

“And for you, sir?” she asks Mycroft, politely.

“The Montepulciano,” says Mycroft, glancing at the menu.

“Glass? Bottle?”

Mycroft lifts one eyebrow, looking at Greg.

“Bottle,” says Greg, with a smile. When the waitress walks away, he chuckles slightly. “My liver’ll thank me once this is over.”

Mycroft presses his lips together, suppressing amusement.

Greg leans back in his chair, getting comfortable. “Yeah, me trying to ski was hilarious to witness, according to the girls. Less hilarious for me. The bruises didn’t go for weeks. I assume you’re good at all that stuff?”

“‘That stuff’?” asks Mycroft, crisply.

“Oh, y’know. Skiing. Polo. Rowing.” He grins.

Mycroft raises his chin. “Ah, I see. A healthy streak of inverse snobbery.”

Greg laughs. “Go on. Tell me you’re not.”

“Do you truly imagine me as part of the rowing team at Oxford, Greg? Drinking, partying, hearty singing and up at four thirty to break the ice on the river?”

Greg snorts. “Sorry. S’pose not.” He tips his head to one side. “Although I ’spect you were up at four-thirty.”

Mycroft’s eyes are bright, amused. “In fact I can ski, passably, but to no great standard.”

Greg grins. “Go on. What’s your posh sport? You must have one. I know it. I just know it.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes. “Fencing. I reached – a certain level of proficiency. But I hardly get time these days.”

“Knew it.” Greg’s grin of triumph gets turned to the waitress as she starts unloading the tray of drinks and nibbles. She smiles back, pouring his Peroni.

When she leaves, Greg laughs. “See? Fencing. So posh I never even thought of it.”

Mycroft can’t suppress a huff of amusement, fingers restless on the stem of his wine glass.

“Oxford, then?” asks Greg.

“Yes,” returns Mycroft, looking away across the restaurant.

Greg takes a piece of bread. It’s heavenly. He finishes it far too fast. “Well, it was going to be one or the other,” he says, with a small smile.

Mycroft does not react for a moment. “Oxford is well-known for being more political,” he says, after a minute. “A launchpad for a career in power.”

Greg nods. “Right. Sounds like a laugh.”

Mycroft’s wry “ha,” seems to surprise even him. “Yes,” he says, grey eyes black in the warm, flickering light. “A broadly accurate assessment.”

“Still. Must’ve been a bit of drinking and partying?”

Mycroft glances away and back; a little uncomfortable, perhaps. “I was sixteen,” he says, after a moment.

“Oh,” says Greg, watching Mycroft’s fingers straighten the line of the napkin next to his place. “Sounds about as much fun as being a bisexual copper in the late ’80s.”

He’s never said it out loud before. His heart flutters, slightly. It sounds – right.

“How old were you when you joined?” asks Mycroft, taking a sip of wine.

“Eighteen,” says Greg. “Uniform ’f’course, at first. No graduate scheme, back then.” He gives a wry half-smile. “Thank God. I’d never’ve got in.”

Mycroft watches him with slightly disconcerting attention. “You should not do that,” he says, offhandedly.

“Mm?” asks Greg, looking up.

“You speak disparagingly of your talent as a police officer, of your intelligence. It is manifestly out of step with the reality of the situation.” His gaze drops, long fingers nudging the cutlery into exact right angles with the edge of the table. “We are both aware that your career has been held back, rather than advanced, by Sherlock’s presence. I, at least, am aware that your priorities lie in ensuring that justice is served, rather than in closing cases for any more ambitious reason.”

Greg opens his mouth, and closes it again as the waitress stops next to their table.

“Would you like to order your mains, gents?” she asks brightly.

Greg glances at the menu. “The lasagne, thanks,” he says, automatically.

“Salmon, please,” says Mycroft, blankly.

The waitress smiles at Greg as she takes their menus. “Another Peroni?” she asks, eyes bright.

“Nah, I’m fine thanks,” he says. “My husband’d like some still mineral water, though.”

Blinking, she smiles again, tightly. “Of course, sir.” She retreats quickly to the kitchen.

Mycroft’s eyelashes are lowered. “I did not ask for water.”

“Nah, well. We won’t mind having some, mm?”

Mycroft looks up. “Indeed not.” His eyes are dark grey.

“So then, husband,” says Greg, with a smile. “We need to work on our story.”

Mycroft raises a quizzical eyebrow. “‘Story’?”

“Where’d we meet? How’d we get together? Where’d we have our first kiss? How long’ve we been together? Who proposed? How? Where’d we get married? Why’re we inviting random strangers off some dating website to – y’know?”

Mycroft presses his lips together, looks down at the table. “Of what possible use can these details be to a killer?” he asks.

“Maybe none, to him. But it’ll make a difference to us, won’t it? He’ll be on edge, probably. Even if we do manage to keep it out of the press that I’m leading the investigation, I’ll be a lot closer step to it than he’s got so far. He’ll be wary, because of my job, but if what Sherlock says is right and he’s a narcissist, he’ll be excited too. We’ve got to be good at this. Make it seem – natural.” He takes a gulp of beer.

There is a long moment of quiet between them. Mycroft frowns slightly. “Then meeting through my brother seems most likely.”

“Yeah,” says Greg. He wants Mycroft to look up, to meet his eye; he looks a little lost. “Bread?” asks Greg, holding out the basket.

“No, thank you,” returns Mycroft, glancing up.

Greg smiles at him, gently. “D’you think he’s going to have put two and two together with ‘Holmes’?”

Mycroft’s eyebrow flickers. “Perhaps not. It is not an uncommon name.”

Greg nods, thoughtfully. “Yeah, okay. So maybe we met when your brother was having some problems. I had to arrest him as part of an investigation, and you went mad at me.”

Mycroft raises an eyebrow, a wry twist to his lips.

Yeah, alright, so basically the truth.

“And we ended up having angry sex in the back of your car.” Adds Greg. “Massively unprofessional on my part.”

Mycroft’s fingers freeze for a moment, caressing the stem of his wine glass. “Ah. Yes, well,” he says, drily.

Greg grins. “We kept ending up in bed together. Well, not bed, but you know what I –”

“Yes, thank you Greg.”

“And then your brother got hospitalised, and I saw the way you looked after him, and –” he pauses, sipping his beer, “things changed.”

Mycroft’s quick glance, beneath his eyelashes, catches Greg’s for a second. “Then I suppose our first kiss is accounted for,” he says, blandly. “Angrily. In the back of my car.”

Greg smiles. “There’s a difference,” he says, pulling a piece of bread apart, slowly. “Isn’t there? Between the first kiss, and the first time you kiss and you know it’s – something more.”

Mycroft says nothing in return.

The waitress delivers their food, and Greg inhales the rich smell of his lasagne. “God, that smells gorgeous. ’M’starving.” He digs into it with a fork.

“Outside the hospital,” says Mycroft quietly. “Smoking. At three in the morning.”

Greg looks up. Mycroft’s face is entirely impassive as he picks up his knife and fork; he does not meet Greg’s eyes.

Embarrassed? No. Uncertain.

“Mm, perfect,” he says, nodding. Then he laughs. “An’ our first argument as a couple was a few months later, when we both tried to give up smoking at the same time.”

Mycroft raises an eyebrow.

“We kept snapping at each other,” says Greg. “Eventually you had to carry on smoking until I’d quit.”

Mycroft takes a sip of wine. “Why was it who had to continue?”

“I’m older’n you. Going to die sooner.” Greg waves his fork. “But you had to stop again too after a while, ’cause the smell was driving me mad.”

Mycroft takes a bite of salmon. “This must have been several years ago.”

“Three? Five? God, this lasagne’s amazing. D’you want to try any?”

Mycroft shakes his head. “No, thank you. Five.”

“’S’their speciality, you said.”

“This, too, is delicious.”

“Good,” says Greg, finishing his beer. Mycroft holds the bottle of wine over Greg’s empty glass. “Mm, please,” says Greg. “So, who proposed?” he asks, as Mycroft pours him some red.

“You,” says Mycroft, after a moment. He concentrates on placing the wine bottle carefully back on the table, not making eye contact.

“Mm,” says Greg, with a nod. “On the first holiday I’d managed to get you to take in three years.”

Mycroft flicks him a cautiously amused look. “Where?”

Greg feels a strange pressure to get it right, somehow. “Iceland. We saw the Northern Lights.”

Mycroft’s gaze falls to the plate in front of him, but he cannot suppress the slight lift at the corners of his mouth.

“Bet you’ve seen ’em, have you?” asks Greg, drinking some wine.

“Never.”

Greg smiles. “Always wanted to, but never found the time to go.”

Mycroft clears his throat. “I have visited Iceland for work, but hardly left the hotel.”

“Happens to you a lot, does it?” asks Greg.

“Unfortunately so.”

Mycroft has nearly finished his glass of wine. Greg tops it up.

“Problem is,” he says, “we’ve got to figure out why we’re using this website. Dating, I mean. Inviting other people in. Has something…y’know. Gone wrong with us? As a couple.” He feels his cheeks heat. At least this is a couple having sex together, I suppose. Instead of just cheating.

Mycroft’s gaze is fixed firmly on the ivy cascading down the wall next to their table. “We work too much,” he says, quietly.

Fuck.

“Ah, yep. That’ll do it,” says Greg tightly, trying to keep his tone light.

Mycroft’s eyes flick away as Greg looks up. He shakes his head slightly. “It is perfectly possible for it simply to be an activity – the couple in question might enjoy together,” he says, with quiet finality.

“Yeah. Yeah, you’re right,” says Greg. “Doesn’t have to be…” he waves a hand. “Y’know.”

“A small private ceremony,” says Mycroft. “I confess, I have no idea where.”

“’S’alright,” smiles Greg. “We can work it out.” He finishes his lasagne and puts his knife and fork together on the plate, giving an appreciative sigh. “D’you want pudding?”

Mycroft shakes his head, quickly. “No, thank you.”

“Yeah, I think I might’ve accidentally eaten too much bread,” says Greg. “’M’full.”

Mycroft tops up Greg’s wine.

“Oi,” protests Greg, laughing. “I had a beer before this!”

When the waitress returns to clear their plates, Mycroft says politely, “my husband would like the tiramisu.”

Greg’s stomach clenches. Okay. Okay. He’s prepared to say that in public, then. Didn’t expect that.

The waitress smiles. “Nothing for you, sir?”

“No thank you.”

Greg groans. “How’d you know I really wanted it?”

“It was the first thing you looked for on the menu,” says Mycroft, with a private half-smile, “even before the first course.”

Greg laughs and puts his hand over his stomach. “Eyes bigger than.”

When it comes, the dessert has two spoons with it. Greg grins. “Ha. Look. They think I’m going to share with you. The fools.” He throws his head back and laughs as Mycroft raises an eyebrow at him.

The first spoonful is heaven. “’S’good,” groans Greg. “Mascarpone not cream, bitter coffee, not soggy, really dark chocolate.” He takes another bite and looks at Mycroft. “Try a little bit. Go on.”

Slowly, Mycroft picks up the second spoon. “Just a little,” he says. “I shall have to atone for this at the gym tomorrow.”

Greg laughs. “God, tell me about it. Me too.”

“This is worthy of the name of tiramisu,” says Mycroft, putting the spoon firmly down. “There are so many extremely poor imitations in London.”

“Def’nitely,” agrees Greg. “Some of ’em hardly taste of coffee at all. The worst one I ever had – I swear it was made of whippy cream.”

Mycroft grimaces. “I trust you arrested the restaurant owners.” His fingers fold his napkin restlessly, in precise squares.

“Oh, yeah,” says Greg. “Cells’re full of people who committed crimes against tiramisu. ’S’like you said. I’m just after justice for the victims.”

Mycroft’s eyes find his, for a moment. His mouth twitches in a smile.

“D’you want to get coffee here?” asks Greg.

“At home, perhaps,” says Mycroft, finishing his glass of wine.

“Mm, fine by me,” murmurs Greg, finishing his own. “Knackered, now.”

“You slept rather better, last night?” asks Mycroft, making eye contact with the waitress.

“Yes. Yeah, I did.” Greg savours the last spoonful of tiramisu. “Thanks for – y’know. Sharing.”

Mycroft shakes his head slightly. When the waitress appears, he asks immediately for the bill.

“You were up early again though. At the gym,” says Greg.

“My usual time,” says Mycroft.

“Bloody hell,” mutters Greg as the waitress comes back. “You get up at that time every day?”

“Yes.” Mycroft looks mildly surprised.

The waitress stops by the table with the card machine, and Mycroft hands over his card.

Greg motions to stop him, but Mycroft shoots him a slightly smug warning glance. Greg rolls his eyes. Alright, I s’pose we wouldn’t really be arguing over the bill, if we were married. You win this time, Holmes.

As they stand up and pull on their coats, he smiles. “I’ll get the next one, alright?”

Mycroft avoids his eyes. “Very well.”

“Y’know,” says Greg, reaching up to straighten Mycroft’s coat collar, “for an international super-spy or whatever you are, you’re not very good at lying.” He only realises what he’s doing as he finishes smoothing Mycroft’s collar into place.

Mycroft is looking into the middle distance. He blinks, twice.

Greg removes his hand immediately. “Sorry,” he mutters, under his breath, as they turn to go. Then, as they close the door of the restaurant behind them, “sorry, didn’t think about what I was –”

“Truly, it is not an issue, Greg,” says Mycroft, smoothly, drawing his coat more closely around him. “Perfectly consonant with our cover.”

Greg shivers. “God, it’s cold,” he grumbles, pushing his hands deep into his coat pockets. “Sh’we get home?”

Walking quickly back to their building, Greg thinks about his own flat – small, convenient to get on the tube to work. Not ‘home’, by any means. It was just somewhere he’d found when he’d split up with Nas, just – convenient. Somewhere he could afford.

Somehow the bizarre golden flat he’s passing a week in feels more homely than that place ever has.

In the lift, Mycroft draws his gloves slowly off, tucking them into his coat pockets. Greg tries not to stare at his hands.

“Coffee, yeah?” asks Greg, pushing his shoes off as Mycroft closes the front door of the flat behind them. “Need to warm up.”

Mycroft glances up at the hallway clock. “Given the hour, I may have camomile tea, instead.”

Greg hangs up his coat. “Wow, it’s years since I bothered buying that. Used to like it, I think. Tastes a bit like grass, right?”

Mycroft smiles, unlacing his shoes. He leaves them next to Greg’s.

Walking around in his socks, thinks Greg.

“Not weed,” grins Greg, making his way into the kitchen. “Actual grass. Did a couple of months in vice once, covering for a colleague. If they’ve invented something people won’t smoke or sniff, I don’t know what it is.”

“I’ll make a pot of camomile,” murmurs Mycroft, as Greg fills the kettle. He sets it boiling and reaches down two mugs, pushing them next to the kettle.

Greg leans his hip against the kitchen counter, fingers of his right hand braced against the granite countertop. “Thanks for suggesting dinner,” he says, suppressing a yawn, watching Mycroft’s profile. “Stopped me – y’know. Spending all evening trying to work.”

Mycroft blinks, once. “Anthea’s suggestion,” he says, quietly.

“Yeah,” returns Greg, touching him briefly on the arm. “Your company, though. Nice evening. Thanks.” He yawns again. “’M’going to go'n put my pyjamas on while that brews.”

In the bathroom upstairs, he uses the loo, brushes his teeth and changes into his pyjamas. He pulls on a jumper before heading downstairs.

Mycroft has placed Greg’s cup of tea carefully in the exact centre of a coaster, on the coffee table. He is sitting on the sofa, checking his phone and sipping his tea.

Greg curls into his usual place in the corner of the sofa, and puts the news on silently in the background. He takes a sip of tea. “Ta,” he mutters. He runs his left hand through his hair. “Good game,” he adds, nodding at the TV, “trying to work out what they’re talking about from just the live subtitles.”

Mycroft looks up, and raises an amused eyebrow as the automatic subtitles horribly mangle a junior minister’s name and profession. “Ah, yes,” he returns. “So I see.”

Greg rests his head back on a cushion, pressing the warmth of his cup of tea against his stomach. “Think this tea’s sending me to sleep. ’F’you were Sherlock, I’d be worried.”

Mycroft gives a wry smile. “I believe he has only drugged you once, Greg.”

“Ha. And that’s good, is it?”

“Believe it or not, a below-average number of occasions, taking into account the number of years you have known him.”

“Jesus. How many times has he drugged you, then?”

“Several, unfortunately. Of course, when we were children there was – retaliation.”

“Christ. You two must’ve been a handful.”

Mycroft looks away, towards the stairs. He makes no answer, and sips his tea.

“Sherlock will send over the transcripts of his conversations with the suspect tomorrow,” he says, eventually.

“God,” groans Greg, on a laugh. “That’ll be interesting.”

Mycroft gives a slightly wry huff of amusement. “Quite so.” He finishes his cup of tea. “I shall get ready for bed,” he says, crossing to the sink to wash up his mug.

“Leave that,” says Greg, looking round. “I’ll do it. Be up in a minute.”

Mycroft hesitates for a moment, but acquiesces, socked feet padding silently up the stairs.

Greg realises that he didn’t see, last night, whether Mycroft came to bed with bare feet. And he was gone before I got up.

He finishes his tea, and washes up the mugs and teapot. He deliberately avoids looking at the files, photographs and paperwork laid out on the counter and table as he passes.

Mycroft lies on his side, facing away from Greg, duvet drawn up over his shoulders. He turns a page of Ice.

I wonder if he reads every night before sleep.

Greg goes to the loo one more time, then plugs his phone in on the bedside table, and climbs into bed. He can’t feel Mycroft’s comforting warmth, over on the other side of the huge bed.

“Still liking the book?” he asks, through a yawn.

“Yes,” returns Mycroft awkwardly, after a moment.

Maybe I wasn’t meant to talk. Silence in the bedroom. So he can pretend we’re not in bed together. He closes his eyes, turns on his side, back to Mycroft.

“You do not read before sleep?” asks Mycroft, quietly.

“Sometimes,” murmurs Greg, eyes opening again in surprise.

“But often something else,” says Mycroft, and he sounds so like his brother that Greg can’t help laughing. “What?” asks Mycroft stiffly.

“Deducing,” huffs Greg, smiling into the pillow. “You sound like Sherlock.”

Mycroft makes a slightly dubious and grumpy noise, but then, “you listen to something.”

Greg rolls onto his back, sighing a slight laugh. “Yeah. Forgot to bring earphones though. It doesn’t matter.”

“What do you listen to?”

“Radio 4. Five Live, sometimes. Audiobooks, occasionally. Just, y’know, quietly.”

There’s a short pause. “Radio 4 would not disturb me at all.” Mycroft does not move to look at him, but he has not turned a page in his book for a while.

Greg looks over at him, eyes following the curve of his long, pale neck. “You sure?”

“Of course.”

Greg props himself up on his elbow, and opens the iPlayer radio app on his phone, setting Radio 4 on low volume. He turns out his lamp and curls under the duvet, facing Mycroft but with plenty of space between them. “Is that alright?”

“I can hardly hear it,” says Mycroft. “It is fine.” He turns a page. “Would you like me to turn my lamp off?”

“Nah, ’s’alright if you want to keep reading for a bit,” yawns Greg. “Doesn’t really bother me.” His eyelids drift closed.

*

When he wakes, his watch says just past three. The display is harshly blue as it lights, and he clenches his eyelids shut against it. He’s warm, and incredibly comfortable.

He realises only very slowly that there’s an arm wrapped gently over his stomach, hand resting at the centre of his chest. There are knees settled snugly behind the backs of his own. His feet are tangled with someone else’s, and there are soft, silent breaths tickling the hairs at the base of his skull.

It feels wonderful.

Slowly, he explores every point of contact between them: Mycroft’s fingertips, gentle on his chest; their feet (bare feet, his brain adds) fitted together, Greg’s arches curved over the tops of Mycroft’s; their knees, their thighs, pressed close; the regular rise and fall of Mycroft’s chest against Greg’s back.

He wants to press back, closer still, become nothing but warmth and soft, synchronised breathing, but he’s afraid to move at all, to disturb this fragile, secret peace.

He can hardly hear the radio over the suddenly-insistent drumming of his pulse.

He fights sleep for a while, wanting to just be here instead, but his eyelids are heavy, his breathing lengthens with Mycroft’s, and he slips again into sleep.

Chapter Text

When he wakes, he’s alone. It’s a few minutes before his alarm, and Mycroft’s side of the bed is empty.

Had we moved apart by the time he woke up? Greg rolls onto his front, props himself up on his elbows and unplugs his phone. He turns off the radio.

He sifts through the usual morning notifications – news alerts, an email from the girls that’ll need replying to properly later, a text from John and a couple of group messages from the football team.

His morning wood presses, hard, between the mattress and his stomach. He turns over, sighs, and gets up, carrying his gym kit into the bathroom. Once he’s used the loo he gets changed and does his teeth, then makes the bed and goes downstairs to make coffee.

“Morning,” he says, brightly, as Mycroft pads through the kitchen on his way upstairs.

“Good morning,” says Mycroft, stiffly, without making eye contact.

Greg leaves the cafetière with a mug next to it.

He can’t stop thinking about it as he walks down the corridor to the gym: maybe he woke up. Maybe he’s straight and now he’s having a crisis. Thinks because we accidentally spooned I’m going to – want him or something. Well. Make a move on him. Shit.

He reaches into his pocket, and realises that he’s forgotten his phone. Fuck. Better get it, in case Sally or Sherlock call.

Back in the flat, he takes the stairs two at a time; the door to the bathroom is closed, and he can hear the shower running. His phone’s not on the bedside table. He looks around for it, confused. He lifts the pillow, then flips back the duvet; eventually, he sees the corner of his phone under his pyjamas. He must have left it in the bed when he was making it, earlier.

He’s just making the bed again when he hears it: what sounds like almost a whimper from the bathroom. The shower’s still running, and Greg’s immediate thought is Christ, is he crying?

He takes a couple of silent steps closer to the bathroom door, but the next noise Mycroft makes is a groan, hastily stifled, and – oh.

Oh.

Fucking hell.

Greg’s hard again in seconds.

Just a couple more steps closer, and it’s probably just his imagination but he thinks he can hear laboured breathing through the noise of the shower, and then a muffled moan that makes Greg hot from his scalp to his toes –

Don’t be found here. Christ.

He walks downstairs, and out of the flat, closing the door silently behind him; his phone is cold in his palm. I hope there aren’t security cameras. His cock tents his gym trousers obscenely.

The loos in the gym are empty, and very fancy. He shuts himself in a stall, shoves his phone into his pocket, makes a pad of plush loo roll and sets it on the marble ledge to the side. Leaning back against the wall, he pulls his cock and balls over the waistband of his gym trousers.

He spits in his right palm, but it’s hardly needed; running the pad of his thumb over the head of his cock, a bead of thick, clear precum forms. He spreads it over the head, struggling not to gasp. More form as he begins to stroke, staying silent, controlling his breathing.

Long fingers, long, pale and elegant, tight around his hard cock – moaning, needy, out of control – a crack in that perfect façade – the need to come, to feel good, driving him on beneath the hot shower spray –

How does he do it? Does he lean against the wall, like me? Does he move his hips, fucking his hand instead of stroking his cock? Does he bite his arm to keep from moaning louder? When he comes, does he groan or is he silent? Before today I’d’ve bet on silence – and now

He’s breathing hard, through his nose, trying to make as little noise as possible, but he’s close, desperate; he caresses his balls for a few moments, then reaches out blindly with his left hand for the pad of loo roll.

He runs the palm of his hand over the head of his cock, and uses more precum to stroke himself harder, pressing his lips together to stop any sound.

Fuck – how often does he need to wank? Does he do it every day? Does he do it in bed, sometimes, when he wakes up hard, using yesterday’s shirt to wipe his chest clean of come?

No, never Mycroft Holmes –

But then, those noises –

Those noises

Greg starts to come, shaking with the effort of silence, stroking himself through, hard and fast until he can take no more, spurting into the pad of loo roll. Finally, he drops it in the loo and leans his head back against the wall, allowing his eyes to close for a few moments.

Fucking hell.

He wipes himself down more thoroughly, and flushes away the evidence. He washes his hands carefully.

He works out hard, until his muscles are screaming, until he can barely breathe.

*

Back in the flat, a fresh cafetière of coffee stands waiting. Greg gulps down a glass of water at the sink, then runs upstairs. Mycroft, at the desk, is talking on the phone, so Greg says nothing as he collects clothes for the day and shuts himself in the bathroom.

Beneath the spray of the shower, he braces his hands against the wall and takes a couple of breaths.

Fuck. I may have a wanting-to-fuck-Mycroft-Holmes problem.

Text John? ‘Hi John, what do you do when you want to fuck a Holmes brother?’

Except in John’s case, the answer would most accurately be ‘miserably say nothing for seven years, until the Holmes brother in question finally gets sick of waiting’.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck.

And anyway, this isn’t like that. All of this is fake – we’re not husbands, we’re not even roommates. We’re barely acquaintances, these days. And Sherlock and John – it’s not just fucking, it never has been. They’ve been more than that, from the minute they met.

This isn’t that. It’s just – attraction. And it’s just hitting you like this because it’s been a while since you’ve been with anyone.

And you’ve got no idea if he’d even – if he’d ever –

He washes his hair, then climbs out of the shower and gets dressed. He leaves the stubble, because it’s not as though he’s going anywhere in particular.

Downstairs, he has a mug of strong coffee and some cereal, then chops up a couple of apples and pears. It’s quite a lot, when he’s done, so he puts some in a bowl for Mycroft and runs upstairs with it.

He’s still on the phone, so Greg places the bowl on the desk at his elbow and gently squeezes his shoulder.

He sees Mycroft’s back straighten, slightly, and there is an infinitessimal pause in his speech; but then he continues.

Greg curses himself all the way down the stairs.

*

The victims’ incident boards grow and grow, and he’s receiving statements, now, from the teams out interviewing their friends, families, neighbours; he’s also having to manage Sherlock, who’s already pissed Sally off mightily.

The hours pass quickly, and Greg mutters his thanks to Mycroft, who makes him a cup of tea sometime in the afternoon.

It’s seven o’clock when Greg can’t think any more, and finally notices how hungry he is. He runs his hands through his hair, and rubs his eyes.

“What d’you want for dinner?” he calls up the stairs.

Mycroft appears in the kitchen as Greg is unloading the dishwasher. He must have set it going sometime earlier.

“I can make dinner, if you need to continue,” says Mycroft, quietly.

“Let’s do it together,” sighs Greg. “I need a break.” He waves a plate, reaching up to put it in the cupboard. “Brain’s full of – y’know. Murder.”

“Very well.” Mycroft opens the fridge.

Greg stands next to him. “Halloumi and pomegranate salad, new potatoes, French dressing?” he asks.

“Certainly.”

Greg smiles. “I’ll put the kettle on.” He pulls the potatoes out of a cupboard on the way.

Mycroft takes ingredients from the fridge, then slips his jacket off, laying it carefully over the back of the sofa. He starts to scrub a few new potatoes; Greg adds a couple more to the pile. “You don’t eat enough for an adult human man,” he says, when Mycroft raises an eyebrow at him. “And I’m starving because I forgot lunch again. ‘S’being around you. You’re no good for me, Holmes.”

He thought he’d made his tone jokey enough, but Mycroft’s brow draws down a little; Greg reaches out and squeezes his arm. “Joke,” he says, with a gentle grin, deliberately catching Mycroft’s eye.

Mycroft looks away again, quickly, down at the potatoes.

Greg sets a pan of water boiling on the hob, and adds the new potatoes as Mycroft finishes scrubbing them. Mycroft dries his hands and goes to turn the grill on, while Greg unwraps the halloumi. Low fat, he notes, as he bins the packaging.

“Alright with big slices?” asks Greg, glancing sidelong at Mycroft. “Think it’s nicer when it stays soft inside, but say if you’d rather something else.”

“That will be fine.” Mycroft makes up a serving bowl of salad, then says, rather tentatively, “I shall assume that you are better able to make vinaigrette than I.”

“Genetic?” asks Greg, with a grin.

“Training, perhaps,” says Mycroft, with a small smile.

“Ha. Unfortunately my dad had fucked off back to his other family in France by the time I was old enough to learn that stuff,” says Greg, putting the halloumi onto a baking tray.

“Oh,” says Mycroft, looking entirely unsure of what to say next.

Greg laughs, handing him the baking tray. “Don’t worry about it. Honestly. There’s a lot of water under the bridge since then. Fuck, I mean, a lot. I’m so old,” he grins.

“Hardly,” says Mycroft. He opens his mouth, then closes it again, sliding the tray of halloumi under the grill.

He doesn’t know what he can ask. “He passed away a couple of years back,” says Greg. “We were alright by then. Had been for a while. With the girls – he lived near them. So I saw him a bit more, towards the end.” He takes the potatoes off the hob and sets them to drain in a colander.

Mycroft nods, once. “So the last time you visited your family –”

“The funeral, yeah.” Greg finds balsamic vinegar, mustard and olive oil. He blends mustard and a pinch of salt in a jug, then adds a splash of vinegar, mixes thoroughly and adds in the oil. “Should be okay,” he says, “but we don’t have any honey so it might be bitterer than usual.”

“I am sure it will be fine,” says Mycroft, removing the halloumi from beneath the grill. Greg gets a fork from the drawer and flips the pieces over, and Mycroft puts them back.

“I’ll lay the table,” says Greg. “Think we finished all the wine though. Sorry.”

“There is no need to apologise. It was hardly you alone.” Mycroft removes the halloumi from under the grill and places the tray on the wooden chopping board. He begins to put salad and pomegranate on two plates.

Greg places two glasses of water on the table and carries over the colander of new potatoes, holding it out so Mycroft can take a few.

He takes just two.

“Oh come on,” says Greg. “Did you even have breakfast? I know you didn’t have lunch.”

Mycroft, without making eye contact, places a third potato on his plate.

Greg puts several on his own plate, and shares out the halloumi equally between them. He carries the jug of vinaigrette with them to the table.

“Y’know,” he says casually, not looking up as Mycroft takes a seat opposite him, “there’s plenty of police on the job not as fit and skinny as you. Christ, I’m definitely not. I wouldn’t worry.”

Mycroft chokes slightly on a sip of water.

Greg continues, without giving him time to speak. “Just because Sherlock can be a snotty little shit, doesn’t mean he’s right.”

Mycroft blinks, and eats a potato. After a few moments, he says, “Sherlock has provided me with the transcripts of his conversations with the suspect.”

Greg looks up. “Oh, God,” he laughs. “Have you –”

Mycroft shakes his head. “Not yet.” He clears his throat slightly. “Perhaps after dinner.”

“Together, yeah?” asks Greg, wincing slightly.

“With whisky,” says Mycroft, decidedly.

Greg laughs. “Deal. Jesus Christ. I dread to think.”

“Indeed.”

Greg crushes up his potatoes and pours vinaigrette over the top, pushing the jug towards Mycroft when he’s done. “So other than Sherlock, d’you see family much?”

Mycroft shakes his head slightly. “No. Our parents are in town slightly more often now, to see Rosamund, but there are no other relations I see regularly.” His tone is one of relief, more than anything.

Do his parents even know Sherlock used to be a drug addict? They never turned up to the bloody hospital once, when he was sat there, working at his brother’s bedside. I saw him crying, once. Just through the window. Never went in. Tears running silently down his face. He wasn’t gasping or sobbing. Just looked exhausted.

“They stay with you, then, when they come to see Rosie?”

Mycroft nods, once, eating some of his salad. “And attempt to drag me to whichever piece of musical theatre they wish to see at the time.”

Greg snorts. “Okay, I might be getting you wrong here, Mycroft, tell me if I am, but I just can’t see you as –”

“No,” says Mycroft, fervently. “Quite.”

Greg laughs. “How d’you get out of it?”

“Usually, plead work. Sometimes I cannot, otherwise M– my mother starts to plan strategically, and asks me to take annual leave in advance.”

Greg grins. There’s something off about all this though, isn’t there? It sounds like a happy family. The sort I’d’ve given anything for, as a kid. But none of this fits together with them never turning up to look after Sherlock. Them maybe not even knowing about it. “They must be relieved Sherlock’s settled and happy, too.”

Mycroft tips his head, regarding Greg with dark grey eyes. They are guarded, reserved; but full of interest.

He knows I’m being nosy. But he’s intrigued about why. Greg holds his gaze, unabashed.

Eventually Mycroft looks down at his plate, and clears his throat. He presses his lips together for a moment. When he speaks, his voice is crisp and unforgiving. “My parents’ interest in musical theatre might be viewed as ironic, given the contempt in which they hold homosexuality. They have, now, come to accept that they will have no more grandchildren than Rosamund. However, the bond through which she is their grandchild is skated over, ignored. If Doctor Watson and Sherlock decide to marry, our parents will have certain decisions to make. They had no interest in Sherlock’s problems with drugs because they stemmed from a devastating relationship he conducted at university. A relationship with a man.”

Greg sighs. “That’s shit. I’m sorry.”

Mycroft half-shakes his head, eyes lowered. “It does not affect me. But I hope that Rosamund does not come to understand it.”

Straight, then. “Yeah. Kids can pick up all sorts.”

“Sherlock tends to react to it by being more loving, more tactile with John in their presence. But I fear that at some point this may cause – some debate which Rosie may be witness to.”

He forgets to call her ‘Rosamund’ when he’s worried. Greg’s heart squeezes in his chest. Jesus Christ. Stop it. He just told you he’s straight. “You really think they’d not go to their wedding?”

Mycroft raises one shoulder in an elegant half-shrug. “I do not know. But it is not beyond the bounds of possibility.”

Greg sighs, cutting up his last piece of halloumi. “I’ve no idea what my mum would’ve said about me liking men as well,” he says, thoughtfully. “I mean, there were a couple of guys – but no-one you’d take home, y’know, and being in the police, back then, it wouldn’t’ve been safe to… I met Nas so young, anyway, and we got married,” he shrugs. “I like to think Mum'd’ve been okay with it. But I don’t know.”

Mycroft’s eyes flick across his face. “When did she –”

“When I was twenty-two,” says Greg, with a sad half-smile. “Long time ago now.”

Mycroft nods, once, but does not say anything, putting his knife and fork together precisely in the centre of his plate.

Greg finishes his water. Why did you tell him stuff about you again? You were finally learning something about him, and you shut him up again. He’s not like other people. I don’t think it works the same, somehow – trading confidences. That was a rare moment, and you stopped it.

Mycroft collects together their plates, rinses and puts them in the dishwasher. “Whisky?” he asks.

“If we’re going to read the transcript, def'nitely,” sighs Greg. “Back in a minute.”

When he returns from the loo, Mycroft has set up his laptop on the coffee table, alongside two generous tumblers of whisky, and the bottle. Greg laughs, taking a seat on the sofa. “You’re not optimistic about this, then,” he says, nodding to the whisky bottle.

“No,” says Mycroft, drily, picking up his tumbler. They clink them together.

“Alright then,” says Greg. “Let’s just skim it. Find out what’s in our future.”

Mycroft takes a gulp of whisky. “You do realise –”

– Detective Inspector –

“– Greg, that Sherlock is likely to have used this as another opportunity for petty revenge against me –”

“I swear, if I get murdered while committing indecent acts with a cake, just because Sherlock’s a petty little shit, I will become a ghost and haunt him for the rest of his life.”

Mycroft’s rather reluctant laugh is accompanied by an eye-roll. He draws his laptop into his lap, and Greg arranges himself next to him so he can see the screen comfortably. There are just a couple of inches of space between their shoulders.

The site has a private email system, rather than real-time messaging. The suspect had contacted them first.

Greg is surprised by the tone of the email: respectful. Almost professional-sounding.

‘Reading your profile, I could be just what you’re looking for: 32, 6’3, slim, brown hair, blue eyes, dom, ready to play. Let me know if you’re interested. Happy to send a photo if you are. Nick’

Sherlock had replied:

‘Hi Nick. Thanks for getting in touch. We’d like to see your photo. Should we send ours? We have a fairly specific scenario in mind, so if you could let us know what you are comfortable with that would be helpful. Greg’

“Oh bloody hell, he’s pinning this on me,” groans Greg, putting a hand over his eyes.

“Despite his professed lack of social understanding,” growls Mycroft, “he is, I am sure, aware that pretending to be your own brother on a couples’ dating site is –” he pauses, seemingly unable to find the correct word.

“Really, really weird?” enquires Greg.

“Yes,” says Mycroft, taking a gulp of whisky. “Precisely.”

Nick had messaged back:

‘Hi Greg. Here’s my picture. Yeah, it would be great to see yours too. You both have interesting jobs. Let’s get to know each other a bit before we meet. I’m comfortable with most things – done a bit of everything over the years! Let me know what you have in mind and we can discuss further.’

Mycroft opens the picture. The man is very handsome, with an aquiline nose, high cheekbones, wide blue eyes, and neatly-cut dark brown hair. Mycroft shifts slightly on the sofa.

Greg takes a sip of whisky. “Alright, next one.” He puts an inch more space between himself and Mycroft, trying to keep his voice professional-sounding. Don’t make him uncomfortable.

'Thanks Nick. Here are our photos. Good to hear you’re open to most stuff. We have a scenario in mind where you tie my partner up and I’m unable to intervene but have to watch. Greg’

“Jesus,” mutters Greg. “He’s really baiting him, then, if –” he sighs, rubbing his eyes.

“Yes,” murmurs Mycroft.

The next message had come fairly quickly after the last.

'I like it. Real-life hero can’t help his partner. Very hot ;) And no worries about being able to do it – that’s an easy one! I can go much kinkier than that if you decide you want to see me again ;) Nick’

Mycroft makes an exasperated little huffing sound in his throat.

Greg turns to looks at him. “What?” he grins.

“‘Real-life hero’?” says Mycroft, gesturing at the screen. “He is –” he hesitates, then enunciates the word with disgust, “flirting with you.”

Greg laughs. “Don’t think you’re allowed to get jealous, husband dear. We did invite him to have sex with us.”

Mycroft’s cheeks tint slightly pink. He finishes his whisky, and leans forward to reach the bottle. “More?” he murmurs.

“Thanks.” Greg holds out his tumbler, and receives another generous measure. He gulps some more, and runs a hand through his hair. “Think I’m getting a horrifying insight into just how boring I might actually be though,” he says, with a slightly awkward huff of laughter.

Mycroft raises an eyebrow.

“Well, y’know,” says Greg, gesturing with one hand at the screen. “All this. It’s just – really not my thing.”

The corner of Mycroft’s mouth tucks in, slightly, in disguised amusement. “Recreational BDSM, or casual sex with strangers?”

Greg laughs, and leans back against the sofa cushions, tucking his legs up beneath him. “God. Adding people in. When you’ve got a good thing going, why ruin it?”

Mycroft takes another sip of whisky. “I confess I cannot see the attraction either,” he says, quietly. “Though I am sure there are many valid reasons for doing so.”

Greg sighs. “Yeah. 'S’pose so. Because of Nas, I guess I…can’t get my head around it, but I’m sure it works for some people.”

Mycroft says nothing, sipping quietly at his whisky. He doesn’t know what to say, thinks Greg. Fair enough. Jesus, how much whisky have I had? People don’t just casually chat about the fact their ex-wife cheated on them repeatedly.

“So…” asks Greg, pausing to take a gulp of the fiery, smoky whisky. “You don’t date then?”

Mycroft shakes his head, once. “No. It became obvious long ago that it would be incompatible with the demands placed on my time and attention by my career. There is no reason to review that assessment.”

Greg nods. “Yeah, tell me about it. ’S’always been tough to have a relationship with this job. Gets under your skin, y’know? Just because you’re not at work doesn’t mean you’re not thinking about it. Drives people mad, eventually.” He sighs. “Anyway. Time for me to stop being self-pitying. What’s the next one?”

Sherlock had replied:

'Good to know you’re interested. Getting to know one another – as it says on our profile, I’m a detective with the Met, and my partner is a civil servant. I can’t tell you a lot about his job, but he’s looking to relax after so much stress, I can tell you that! I mostly investigate murders. Both our jobs are time-consuming and leave us with not much time to play, so we want to make it good when we do. Could you let us know when you might be available to meet?’

The businesslike tone takes Greg’s breath. Is this really how people talk about sex? About inviting someone else in? He’s not a prostitute, but it’s like a service, somehow. Dates and times. Acts. The bare bones. Christ. Is that – is that sexy? Am I just old and boring, for wanting more?

After that, the messages are fairly mundane, fixing the meeting for the twenty-second, agreeing that it can take place at Greg and Mycroft’s flat (address to be sent twenty-four hours in advance). The only one that sticks out is a quick aside from Nick:

‘You know, Greg, I think I’ve seen you on the telly. Can’t find anything about Mycroft online, but you’ve been in the papers with some of your cases. Your picture didn’t lie! ;) Nick’

Mycroft’s exasperated sigh makes Greg snort. His stomach clenches with the knowledge that Mycroft is – in some way – jealous. He bumps his shoulder against Mycroft’s. “He’s nothing to me baby, I swear.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes and gives Greg a death stare. “‘Baby’?”

Greg coughs laughter through the last of his whisky. “Alright, sorry, husband. What would you like me to call you?”

“‘Mycroft’ will be quite sufficient.”

Greg snorts. “God, no. We need pet names.”

“No-one needs pet names.”

Greg laughs. “Fine. Not 'baby’. But I’m going to call you Myc.”

“Urgh,” groans Mycroft. “My mother’s irritating nickname of choice.”

Greg grins. “Sorry Myc. Too late. It’s what I call you.”

“Very well, Gregory.”

Greg shoots Mycroft a look. “Jesus. It’s like I’m being told off by my mum.”

“Sorry, Gregory. It is what I call you.”

“Only you could make a nickname longer and more formal.”

Mycroft smiles smugly. “And you claim to be boring, Gregory.”

“Don’t worry, darling,” grins Greg, standing up and taking his glass to the sink. “Only in bed.”

He hears Mycroft laughing quietly behind him as he drinks a glass of cold water. His stomach flips with the knowledge that he made Mycroft laugh, out loud.

“Honestly, that transcript was tame,” says Greg, leaning his hip against the kitchen counter. “I’d assumed Sherlock’d be taking the opportunity to tell a murderer we liked fisting and gimp masks or something.”

Mycroft chokes slightly on the final sip of his whisky. “Perhaps the very fact of making us a date with a murder suspect was enough for him.”

“Well, if we get murdered he can have a really good bloody laugh, can’t he?” says Greg flippantly, leaving his glass next to the sink. “’M’going to go and get ready for bed.”

When he emerges from the bathroom, Mycroft is sitting on the far side of the bed, back to Greg, checking his phone. His shoulders are not quite as straight as usual.

Tired. He never gives himself a break, does he? The gym’s the closest thing to relaxation in his day. Greg climbs under the duvet and plugs his phone in, opening the iPlayer radio app. Mycroft shuts himself in the bathroom.

When he emerges, Greg is scrolling through the day’s news on his phone, catching up on what’s been happening.

Mycroft lies down on his back, on the far side of the bed, and sighs. “Since he has been researching you,” he says, quietly, “we must assume that he knows Sherlock and I are brothers. That he will be suspicious.”

Greg puts his phone down on the bedside table and turns to look at Mycroft. “Yeah. Agreed. He’ll be ready.”

To Greg’s surprise, Mycroft turns on his side, and glances quickly at him. “There is something you should know,” he says, blankly. “About Sherlock. His absence –” he clears his throat. “He left only because there was a threat against the lives of people he loves. Of his friends. One of them was John. Another Mrs Hudson. And another – you.” He does not look up.

Greg’s heart seems to leap in his chest. “What?”

“Snipers. Following all of you. Sherlock had to die to save you. It was the only option which remained to us.”

Greg blinks. “Right. Moriarty?”

“Yes. I am sure that Sherlock is not behaving as cavalierly with your safety on this occasion as it seems,” says Mycroft quietly. “He values you highly.”

“I –” Greg has no idea what to say. “Thanks. For telling me.”

Mycroft shakes his head.

“No snipers on you, then?” asks Greg.

“No.” Mycroft turns over onto his back again.

And that cuts both ways, doesn’t it? thinks Greg. Probably Mycroft’s security was too high. But maybe they just didn’t think Sherlock particularly cared.

As he drifts into sleep, Greg realises: what I said, downstairs. He doesn’t want me to think badly of Sherlock. God, these brothers.

*

He wakes later this time, four-thirty, maybe, by what’s on the radio; he doesn’t even dare tip his wrist to check the time. He’s in the centre of the bed, on his right side, curled inside Mycroft’s protective embrace.

And it does feel protective – Mycroft’s hand, splayed across Greg’s chest, where his heart speeds as he feels the hardness pressed against his arse.

It’s just a thing that happens to men in the morning. Come on, you bloody know this. How many times have you woken up hard? It’s just – biology.

He ignores the insistent press of his own cock against the fabric of his pyjama bottoms, and concentrates on matching his breathing to Mycroft’s. Slowly, he slips back into sleep.

Chapter Text

He wakes with a sudden certainty in his mind: we need to ask everyone, everyone they knew, why they were inviting someone else into their relationship. Well, their sex life, anyway. Had something gone wrong? Some of the friends and families might know. And the neighbours – sometimes neighbours hear arguments.

When Mycroft returns from the gym, Greg is still in his pyjamas, typing furiously on his laptop at the kitchen table.

“You requested that I should kick you if I saw you not using the gym,” Mycroft says, quietly, turning on the kettle.

“Mm,” returns Greg, not really hearing. “Yep. Later.”

“Do you wish for some coffee?”

“Mm.”

“I shall take that as a yes.”

“Ta,” says Greg, as Mycroft places a mug of strong coffee next to him. By the time he’s finished the emails he wanted to send, the coffee has cooled to lukewarm. He gulps it down anyway, and pads upstairs on bare feet to see if the bathroom’s available.

He must have been silent, coming up the stairs, because Mycroft does not turn around. He is looking out of the bedroom window, tipping his right wrist for the cufflink; he has already finished the left.

Cufflinks. These days. When cuffs with buttons are standard, and he’s probably not even leaving the house today.

Why do I find it so bloody sexy?

Greg watches, silent and still. He can imagine the soft, pale skin at Mycroft’s wrist; can almost feel what it would be like to run the pad of his thumb across it. Mycroft cups his left hand around the back of his neck, rubbing the muscles at the place where his neck meets his shoulder. His long fingers massage, hard, and Greg’s hands almost twitch with the wish to do it for him.

He works so hard.

Did he – this morning – in the shower?

He takes the last few stairs as loudly as he can, saying, “thanks for the coffee. Sorry I wasn’t really listening.”

Mycroft’s posture snaps straight immediately. He does not turn to look at Greg, drawing his waistcoat quickly on. “It is not a problem, Gregory.”

Greg grins, picking out a t-shirt and boxers, collecting his jeans. “Thanks anyway, Myc.”

As he closes the door to the bathroom, he chuckles at the sound of Mycroft’s loud, exasperated sigh.

He keeps the stubble again, but has to tidy it up a bit around the edges today. He takes a quick shower, not daring to do anything about the way his cock thickens and hardens as he washes.

I could hear him yesterday, so he’d be able to hear me. Don’t.

He dries off briskly, and does his teeth.

Mycroft is on the phone when he emerges, a bowl of chopped fruit next to him on the desk. When Greg gets downstairs, there’s another bowlful, waiting next to the just-boiled kettle.

He’s thoughtful, thinks Greg. He’d be a good husband, if all of this was real. He eats the fruit, slowly, as he reads the latest summary report from Sally.

Now that the cases have been combined and details released to the public, pressure for a press conference is increasing by the hour. Greg schedules a call with the Superintendent to discuss it at ten, and sets a pot of tea brewing. He runs upstairs with a cup for Mycroft, expecting him to still be on the phone. He is not, and looks up as Greg places the tea next to him and picks up the now-empty bowl.

“You do not need to –” says Mycroft, awkwardly, reaching for the bowl.

Greg laughs and bats Mycroft’s hand away, leaning back against the desk. “Don’t be ridiculous. All going alright?”

Mycroft crosses his legs and sits back in the desk chair. “Yes, thank you. And for you?”

“Yeah, okay. Got a call with the Super in a bit, press are ramping up and need feeding.” He grimaces, crossing his ankles and sighing. “Not me in front of ’em. Sally.”

Mycroft makes an acknowledging mm noise. “For the best, perhaps.”

“Oh, she’s much better at that stuff anyway,” says Greg, with a smile. “I just get annoyed with the bastards. Inane fucking questions, and barely listening to the answers, which they twist to whatever agenda their paper has anyway.” He rolls his eyes. “Wish I never had to deal with ’em.”

Mycroft smiles. “Your cynicism is showing, Gregory.”

Greg grins. “Yeah, alright, sorry.” He stands up. “Right. Better get on.”

“Thank you for the tea,” says Mycroft, formally, as Greg walks to the stairs.

“No worries,” returns Greg, smiling at Mycroft’s back.

*

The morning passes quickly. Once Greg gets off the phone with the Superintendent, he rings Sally and they start agreeing wording for the press conference.

“’M’sorry Sal,” says Greg, running a hand through his hair. “The Super’s going to sit in on it, too. You’ll be answering the questions, but we can’t risk people asking why there’s no senior officer on the case. We don’t want the papers deciding it’s homophobia in the Met or something.”

“Yeah, I get it,” she says. “I was wondering who’d be subbing for you.”

Greg sighs. “How’s it all going in the office? Anything else I can be doing?”

“No, it’s all going fine, boss. You were right about Jiang’s ex-girlfriend, by the way. Neblett went back to push her on the relationship angle, and she came up with a few things. We’re not sure how much of it is jealousy, but he’s uploading the statement to you now.”

“Great, thanks Sal. I’ll keep going through it all as it comes in.”

“To be honest, just you being the one to deal with the fr– with Holmes is more helpful than anything,” she says, through a yawn. “How’s Big Brother?”

Greg lowers his voice. “Fine. It’s all fine.”

She laughs. “Listening in, is he?”

“See you later. Have a good day,” he says, firmly, hanging up.

Automatically, Greg gets up and sets the kettle boiling. He’s not ready to work again yet; he needs a couple of minutes’ space from it. Leaning against the counter, he thinks about Mycroft, working hard upstairs, as always. The other night he’d given Greg an end to the working day; an evening out. He Googles the area.

After a few minutes, he texts Mycroft.

I’m making myself a sandwich. Can I make you one? G

You could simply talk to me, Gregory. MH

I’ll take that as a yes. G

No, thank you. MH

As the scruffier husband in this marriage, I thought it’d be a shame for the world to miss out on your suit and cufflinks today :) Fancy a drink out tonight? 8:30? Found a cocktail bar nearby that’s meant to be nice. G

It’s a minute or two until the reply comes through, during which Greg makes himself a cup of tea and gnaws on his bottom lip. Too much? Shit.

I do not think that ‘scruffier’ is fair, Gregory. Less formally-attired, perhaps. A drink would be most acceptable, and that time is convenient. MH

Greg grins madly as he opens the fridge and takes out the ingredients for a cheese and tomato sandwich.

Great. We’ll have some quick dinner before we go. Promise I’ll shave and everything :) G

There is an even longer pause before the next message comes through.

There is no need to. MH

Greg stares at the message, absentmindedly cutting his sandwich into triangles. Is that…does he…he’s just being…kind?

Well I’ll let you decide, husband. Can’t have you ashamed of me. G

Ludicrous, Gregory. MH

Greg sips his tea and blinks at the screen of his phone. Rereading the messages, he catches himself smiling softly.

I’m being stupid, obviously, but it feels a bit like we’re…flirting.

But then I have been single for a really long fucking time.

*

On the way to the bar, Greg holds every door open for Mycroft. He no longer receives flashes of Mycroft’s bemused gaze as he does so.

Inside, they take a booth together, and a waiter brings them cocktail menus.

Mycroft flips immediately to the whisky section of the menu.

“Hey, you don’t want a cocktail?” asks Greg.

Mycroft grimaces. “No.”

“Oh come on,” grins Greg. “They’re not all ‘Sex on the Beach’ and loads of sugar syrup.”

Mycroft raises an eyebrow, and returns to his perusal of the menu.

When the waiter returns, Greg smiles at him and hands him the menus, plucking Mycroft’s from between his fingers. “Old Fashioned, please,” he says. “And can you do him a Manhattan cocktail?”

“Of course, sir,” says the waiter.

“Only,” adds Greg, “he wants the Laphroaig, if you could.”

The waiter smiles, and walks away.

“Gregory,” says Mycroft, with mock exasperation.

Greg smiles warmly at him. “Live a little. You might like it.”

“I doubt it,” says Mycroft, with a slightly grim half-smile.

Greg laughs. “The living, or the cocktail?”

“Either,” returns Mycroft, but the corners of his mouth tuck in, all the same.

“I assumed you’d be sipping cocktails with bigwigs all the time,” says Greg, shrugging off his suit jacket and laying it next to his coat.

“They may sip cocktails,” says Mycroft. “I stick to wine, champagne or whisky. Less likely to be either watered down or overly sugary.” He tips his head, slightly. “Or, more often, I opt for sobriety.”

“Never trust the only sober person in the room.”

“Quite,” says Mycroft, crisply, with one of his slightly unsettling, deliberately-cold smiles.

Oh come off it.

Greg laughs. “Oh well. No-one here but me. And I’m not going to try and get state secrets out of you, promise.”

Mycroft corrects the angle of the coaster in front of him, long fingers restless. “I confess,” he says, after a few moments. He seems to regret speaking, pressing his lips together.

“Go on,” says Greg, comfortably, leaning back against the cushion of the bench.

“It is – strange. To spend so much time in the company of one who – has no agenda related to my work,” finishes Mycroft, not looking up.

“Other than finding out what it is you actually do,” teases Greg, gently.

Mycroft flashes him a look of mock exasperation. “Well.”

Greg grins. “Go on. Job title.”

“Civil Servant.”

“Oh sod off.”

“It is true,” says Mycroft, spreading his long fingers slightly.

“Fine. Describe what you do.”

“Paperwork.”

Greg rolls his eyes. “Guess you’re also a Detective Inspector in the London Met, then.”

“Gregory. Your job is much more demanding than mine, I assure you.”

“Deflecting interrogation using subtle flattery, designed to distract.”

“I had not understood that dat–” Mycroft pauses, looking away, “– that married couples’ evenings out routinely involved interrogation.”

Greg gives a slightly rueful laugh. “Well. Not always.” Shut up, you idiot. “But then, married people’s dates don’t usually involve trying to find out what the other one does for a living, either.” The waiter is approaching with their drinks. Rather mischievously, Greg adds, “’s’more of a first-date question.” He turns to receive his cocktail.

When he looks back, Mycroft is regarding his drink with distinct disfavour.

“Cheers,” says Greg, holding out his own; they touch glasses, and drink.

Mycroft sips his, delicately. Surprised pleasure as he tastes it is quickly suppressed when he notices Greg watching him.

“You like it,” says Greg.

Mycroft presses his lips together. “It is – acceptable.”

Greg grins. “You’re also a stubborn bastard.”

“One of those things,” says Mycroft, with a flicker of a smile.

“I know a lot about you already, really,” says Greg, savouring the delicate balance of flavour in his Old Fashioned.

Mycroft raises one eyebrow.

“I know you’ve got the power to pick up and drop my cases like they’re yours. You can have stuff reassigned to me if Sherlock wants it. You can use the surveillance network to keep an eye on your brother – not sure if that one’s sanctioned or not, to be honest. You have a fleet of posh cars at your beck and call, with ‘drivers’ who are clearly highly-trained bodyguards. You dress like no-one I’ve ever seen, ’cept maybe James Bond.” He pauses, turning on the bench to face Mycroft more squarely. “You’re highly educated, interesting and clearly care for people, but you keep yourself apart. Alone.”

Mycroft pulls his shoulders back, straighter, watching Greg with dark, considering eyes.

“Maybe it’s what Sherlock always said,” says Greg, thumb caressing his cocktail glass. “Maybe you find people boring, like him, because you’re so much more intelligent than them.” He takes a sip of his drink. “Turned out to be a crock of crap in Sherlock’s case, but maybe.”

Mycroft’s expression is carefully blank. “You miss your ex-wife.”

Greg smiles, giving an amused huff. “You attack when you think someone’s presuming too much.”

Mycroft’s lips press together, eyes sharp, boring into Greg’s. “You can have no inkling of whether I ‘keep myself alone’.”

Greg shrugs. “You told me you don’t date. And you got it wrong. I don’t miss Nas. I miss a relationship – being close to someone. Not her. I loved her, but I didn’t trust her, by the end.”

“And must trust be a prerequisite?”

“Yes. Always.”

Mycroft’s gaze slides away. “Even where there can be no true honesty?”

Greg hesitates, watching Mycroft’s fingers turn the glass. “Depends, doesn’t it? On why. What’s it’s about. What you understand about each other. You can still trust someone without knowing all the details. But they don’t get to wilfully mislead you.”

“Known unknowns?” asks Mycroft, drily.

“The Rumsfeld school of dating,” laughs Greg. “Jesus.” He finishes his drink.

The waiter passes their table, and pauses to take Greg’s glass.

“Two more of the same,” says Mycroft, finishing his own cocktail.

“Knew you liked it,” grins Greg, triumphantly.

“I simply did not wish to re-examine the menu,” says Mycroft, calmly.

Greg laughs. “Sometimes you’re so like your brother.”

Mycroft gives him a freezing stare.

“See?” snorts Greg. “’S’uncanny.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes, then regards Greg with quiet interest. “You have made an admirable list of the freedoms that my job affords me,” he says. “I am sure there is no real need for me to supply more information. Suffice it to say that I, like you, have signed the Official Secrets Act.”

“Yeah, and the rest,” says Greg, accepting his cocktail from the waiter with a nod. “Your clearance must be through the roof. But alright. I’ve no wish to wake up in a cell somewhere off the map. I’ll stop asking.”

“The British government does not officially sanction illegal detention, or the use of enhanced interrogation methods.”

Greg laughs, watching Mycroft try to fight a smile. “Comforting. Thanks.”

Mycroft takes a gulp of his cocktail, looking away towards the bar. “If you are – interested in a relationship, then why…?” he does not seem to know how to finish his question.

“Not that simple, is it?” smiles Greg. “I’ve been out with a couple of people since the divorce came through but…” he shrugs. “Just wasn’t…y’know.”

Mycroft glances at him, and away again. “I do not.” He says it with a fierce kind of sternness.

Does he think I’m going to laugh at him, or something?

“Just – y’know. No 'spark’. That…thing, that makes you keep wanting to see someone. That makes you desperate to see them. Just – never hit me. With them.”

Mycroft’s gaze returns to Greg, almost reluctantly. He sips his Manhattan. He looks preoccupied, as though he is processing new information.

If anything, I think Sherlock’s 1992 estimate might’ve been a bit optimistic.

“And with work, it’s hard to find time, anyway,” says Greg. “But that’s – not an excuse,” he says, shrugging. “If I’d met someone – y’know. We’d make time. I would. But it’s not been an issue, so far.”

Mycroft’s long fingers work absently, folding a black paper napkin into an intricate pleated fan. “Work is, indeed, all-consuming,” he says, after some hesitation.

What is it he’s not saying?

“Feel like this week must be your worst nightmare,” laughs Greg, trying to lighten the mood slightly. “Forced to live with the scruffy DI who’s let your brother get into various kinds of trouble for years on end.”

“I confess that I do not find sharing a living space easy,” says Mycroft, slowly. His second cocktail glass is almost empty. “But I believe I have explained before that your – mentorship of Sherlock leaves me deeply in your debt.” He looks away, and straightens his shoulders. “In any case, you are a considerate roommate,” he adds, quickly, as though daring himself.

“So’re you,” says Greg, finishing his cocktail. “I could get used to someone making me tea like you do. Although you need to work on your lunch-making skills. And lunch-eating skills, come to that.”

The corner of Mycroft’s mouth tucks in, slightly. “My apologies, Gregory.”

“Yeah, quite,” smiles Greg. “Husbands these days.” He signals to the waiter, who steps over to their table. “Same again, thanks.”

“Gregory. I have to work tomorrow.”

“I know, I know. So do I. But it’s a bit fucking grim,” says Greg, with a half-laugh. “So. This seems like a good plan just now.”

“I shall remind you of this conversation at 6am.”

“Oh, shut up,” says Greg, smiling at Mycroft. “Stop being such an adult.”

“May I note, as an aside, that you are older than me.”

“Bastard,” grins Greg, as the waiter places their drinks in front of them.

Mycroft is not quite able to hold back his smile.

Is he getting drunk? I sort of – really want to see that.

“Anyway,” says Greg. “We could be murdered in a few days. We might as well make the most of life in the meantime.”

“Your sense of humour is, I believe, known as ‘black’.”

“Yeah, that or ‘gallows’,” says Greg, ruefully. “Happens to a lot of coppers, I’m afraid.”

They touch glasses, and drink. Mycroft shifts, crossing his legs. “Gregory –” he says, and hesitates. He bites his bottom lip, briefly.

“Go on, Myc,” says Greg, with a gentle smile.

Mycroft shoots him a quick, amused glance from beneath his eyelashes. It catches Greg’s breath, makes his heart turn strangely in his chest.

“I am aware that we have not, yet –” Mycroft hesitates again, taking a sip of his cocktail, “– achieved a level of – performative physical intimacy where others might presume us to be married –” he stops, pressing his lips together, looking fixedly at the table.

Fuck, where’s this going? Is he talking about – what’s he talking about?

Mycroft looks sorry he’d ever started talking. “I am aware that we need to be more physically – demonstrative in public,” he says, quickly, as if wanting to get it over with.

Greg looks up at him, surprised. It’s not as if I haven’t thought the same thing, I suppose

“I know what you mean,” he says. “But I s’pose two middle-aged guys in a relationship might not be hugely into public displays of affection. Given, y’know, history.”

Mycroft nods, not looking up. There is a faint touch of pale pink to his cheeks. “You are correct, of course,” he says.

Is that – he’s not – disappointed, is he?

Don’t take the piss. As if Mycroft Holmes is gagging to hold your hand in public.

“We should practice, a bit, though,” says Greg. “At home, maybe. We need to be able to look like it’s normal.”

Mycroft looks towards the bar. “Yes,” he says, quietly.

Greg’s stomach clenches. He runs a hand through his hair. “You’ll probably regret saying anything, soon,” he says, with a chuckle he hopes is convincing. “Nas used to push me away, towards the end. Said she was ‘sick of being mauled all the time’.” He flushes, suddenly realising what it sounds like. “I mean – I wasn’t – it wasn’t –Jesus, I wasn’t grabbing her or anything, just small stuff – cuddles, kissing her neck…” he trails into silence.

Mycroft is watching him, dark grey eyes piercing.

“So,” says Greg, through a gulp of cocktail. “You’ll have to tell me what you’re comfortable with. Because apparently I’m naturally a bit too tactile.” His throat feels tight.

“I have no frame of reference from which to judge, Gregory,” says Mycroft, and his voice is surprisingly gentle.

“Yeah, but you’re – there’s plenty of stuff you prob'ly wouldn’t want,” says Greg. “You’re – I mean – I’m a man, so – y’know. Don’t want to. Erm.”

There is a long, thoughtful pause. “You are aware that I exclusively sleep with men?” asks Mycroft.

Greg coughs slightly around a sip of his cocktail. “Pardon?”

“You appear to be under the impression that any affectionate behaviour may be repulsive to me on grounds that you are a man. Granted, I have not slept with anyone for a long time, but when I have done so in the past, it has always been – men.”

Greg looks at him, blinking slightly.

Mycroft takes a sip of his cocktail, avoiding Greg’s gaze. Drily, he adds, “what about my dress or manner gave you the impression that I am straight? I shall endeavour to correct it.”

Greg laughs, suddenly, leaning back against the bench cushion. “Jesus, Mycroft. Okay. Thanks for clearing that up.” He laughs again.

Mycroft’s eyes, though guarded, are lively with amusement.

“I mean –” says Greg. “I know that – I hope you know I still wouldn’t do anything – inappropriate. ’S’just nice to know I wouldn’t be making your skin crawl.”

Mycroft nods, once. “Naturally. That is entirely understood.”

“So…” says Greg, awkwardly. “You don’t really – do relationships?” More just – sex, sometimes, by the sounds of it.

Mycroft tips his head, slightly. He looks at Greg with piercing attention. At last, he says, “once. A long time ago. Since then – no.” He turns the glass slowly in his long fingers. “I am sure it sounds strange to you.”

“Why?” asks Greg, with a slight shrug. “I’ve only had one real relationship, haven’t I?”

Mycroft gives his deflecting half-smile. “Ah yes, but yours was successful.”

Greg laughs, slightly bitterly. “Was it?” he asks. “How’re you defining ‘success’, exactly?” He glances away, then tries to chuckle. “Jesus. Sorry. ‘Bitter old man’. Not a good look.”

“Gregory,” says Mycroft. “You are neither bitter nor old.”

“Ha,” says Greg, quietly. “Thanks, Myc.” He watches the other man for a few moments. “So is it – just work? That makes it difficult?”

Mycroft glances up, then away. He raises one shoulder in an elegant half-shrug. “I am – temperamentally unsuited for any such arrangement.”

Greg stares at him, disbelievingly. “What?”

Mycroft looks at him, surprised. He raises an eyebrow.

“Have you secretly wanted to murder me all week?” asks Greg, with a smile.

“No,” returns Mycroft, questioningly.

“Then I don’t know what you’re on about,” says Greg, baffled. “You’ve spent the last few days making me cups of tea and coffee, giving me space to work, supporting me with the forensics lot, setting the dishwasher, making dinner – took me out for dinner, when I’d had a shit day –” he shrugs. “‘Temperamentally unsuited, my arse.”

Mycroft blinks at him. “These things are matters of common decency, surely,” he says, at last.

“Yeah, and they’re stuff that lots of people, in whatever kind of relationship – housemates, married people, anything – don’t do. Don’t bother doing. So.”

Mycroft presses his lips together. “Quite apart from the fact that my career requires – discretion,” he murmurs, then hesitates. “I am a private man.”

Greg nods. “Yeah. That’s okay.” Why am I – I don’t need to persuade him to get a boyfriend, do I? “Not everyone wants a relationship. Just being a nosy copper again,” he smiles.

“It is – I do not mind,” says Mycroft, quietly. He sounds very slightly surprised.

Greg finishes his drink. “Just going to use the gents’,” he says, standing up. Christ, I’m more pissed than I thought.

When he comes back, Mycroft has finished his cocktail, too. Greg checks his watch. “How’s it half ten already?”

Mycroft shakes his head. “I shall –” he gestures towards the toilets. “And perhaps we should return home, afterwards.”

“Prob’ly for the best,” sighs Greg. “Responsible adults, an’ all that.”

Mycroft smiles at him, standing up. “We must suppose so.”

Greg grins, and watches him walk away. Slowly, he pulls on his suit jacket and coat, motioning for the bill.

The waiter smiles at him as Greg enters the tip amount into the card machine. “How long have you two been dating?” he asks.

Greg glances up, surprised. His gaze skips from the boy’s multiple earrings to the threads of purple running through his hair. “Oh –” he checks his automatic answer, and buys time with a smile. “Just a few weeks. Not really sure where we are, at the moment. But – going okay. I think.”

The boy grins, waiting for the receipts to print. “If it helps – the way he looked at you when you walked off to the loo. I think it’s going more than okay.”

Greg’s eyebrows rise. His heart leaps in his chest. Across the bar, he sees Mycroft coming back. “Thanks,” he grins, taking his receipt. “Shhh.” He flicks his gaze obviously to Mycroft.

The boy gives him a conspiratorial smile in return. His face is sober again by the time Mycroft returns to the table. “Goodnight,” he says. “See you both again soon.”

Greg stands and picks up Mycroft’s coat from the end of the bench, holding it out for him.

Mycroft’s gaze is a briefly-bemused flash, but he turns, allowing Greg to help him on with his coat. Deliberately, this time, Greg reaches up and fixes the collar; lays his hand gently on Mycroft’s chest for a moment when it’s done. Smiles into his eyes.

Public displays of affection, he thinks. If you want the full husband treatment, you’ve got it.

Does he really look at me – his stomach flips.

And what the hell do I do if this is a bit more than a wanting-to-fuck-Mycroft-Holmes thing?

*

“Tea?” asks Greg, as Mycroft closes and locks the door of the flat behind them.

“Thank you,” says Mycroft. “Camomile, please.”

“Mm,” nods Greg, padding into the kitchen in socked feet. “No worries.” He clicks the kettle on, and drops his wallet, keycard and phone onto the kitchen counter next to his paperwork. He shrugs off his suit jacket, and hangs it over the back of a chair.

“That is terrible for the shape,” says Mycroft, absently, taking down mugs and placing them next to the kettle. He walks upstairs, carrying his own jacket and picking up Greg’s on the way.

Greg smiles to himself. Temperamentally unsuited. “Pretty sure it’s not going to make much difference to my old M&S suit, Myc,” he calls up the stairs after him.

“I cannot fathom how I have accidentally married a heathen,” says Mycroft, coming back down a few moments later.

Greg laughs, pouring water into the teapot. “Yeah. Sorry. Must be awful for you.”

Mycroft stands, resting his hip against the kitchen counter. He pours a small amount of hot water into each mug.

Greg watches his face as he does it, gaze tracing the delicate, pale pattern of freckles. He’s ginger, isn’t he. Naturally. Holy God. Tentatively, he steps slightly closer. The false, warm courage of whisky cocktails runs in his veins. “If we were married,” he says, looking up into Mycroft’s dark grey eyes, “we wouldn’t stand like this.”

“No?” asks Mycroft. His voice is calm, but his fingers flex, slightly, against the granite counter.

“No,” says Greg, with a smile. His hand hesitates for a second, before resting gently on Mycroft’s arm. Slowly, he turns around, close, the warmth of Mycroft’s body almost magnetic. He runs a hand down to Mycroft’s wrist, and guides his hand to his side.

He doesn’t quite dare to wind Mycroft’s fingers with his own.

Greg leans back, just a little, resting his back against Mycroft’s chest. The long fingers at his hip twitch, infinitessimally.

“Okay?” asks Greg, tipping his head back onto Mycroft’s shoulder, looking up at him.

Mycroft swallows. “Yes.” He blinks.

Greg looks back to the teapot, leaning over to pour the small amounts of water in the mugs down the sink. “How long’s it been, then?” he asks quietly. “Since you were with someone?”

“An extremely long time,” says Mycroft. His hand moves up, slightly, on Greg’s side.

Greg has to fight not to lose his breath. “Yeah?”

“The – relationship I mentioned took place in my mid-twenties,” says Mycroft. “I am just four years younger than you.”

Greg keeps his voice calm, unhurried, as he pours the tea. “And since then?”

“Occasional –” Mycroft stops, and sighs. “Convenience, only, I fear.”

Greg turns, handing him a mug of tea. Mycroft’s hand falls away from his side, quickly, almost guiltily.

Greg walks past him, towards the sofa, brushing his fingers gently along Mycroft’s arm. He takes his usual seat, in the corner, and waits for Mycroft to sit down – then holds out his hand. “C’mere.”

Mycroft raises an eyebrow at him.

Greg laughs. “Why’re you so good at that?”

“Professional necessity,” says Mycroft, drily.

“Ha. Well, still. Come here.”

Mycroft’s eyes are wary, but he places his cup of tea on the coffee table and moves along the sofa, somewhat closer. Greg puts a hand on his shoulder. “You sure you’re okay with this? Us trying this?” he feels stupid asking, but Mycroft seems so off balance, so unsure. And he’s had a bit to drink, says a cautionary voice in the back of Greg’s mind.

“Yes,” says Mycroft, quietly. His gaze is fixed on his own hands. “If anything is unwelcome, I shall not –” he gestures, slightly.

Greg nods. He slips his arm around Mycroft’s shoulders and pulls, gently, tucking him against his side. “Put your feet up?” he murmurs.

Mycroft complies, socked feet curling onto the sofa near Greg’s. Greg tangles their feet together, amazed by the feeling of Mycroft yielding to his touch. Slowly, Mycroft allows his head to fall onto Greg’s shoulder.

“Yeah?” asks Greg, softly.

“You were correct about the corner seat, Gregory. You will have competition from now on.”

“Bollocks,” says Greg. “Didn’t think that through, did I?” He feels Mycroft smile, against his shoulder. “Put your arm ’round my tummy?” asks Greg, resting his head on Mycroft’s. Suffused with warmth and sleepiness, he has to suppress a sigh of satisfaction as Mycroft does so.

After a minute or two, Greg smiles. “Don’t s’pose you know, but you give great cuddles. Woke up the other morning to find you spooning me.”

Mycroft goes tense immediately, seemingly about to move away. Reflexively, Greg tightens his arm around Mycroft’s shoulders.

“Hey,” he laughs. “I wasn’t complaining. Then or now.”

Slowly, Mycroft relaxes. “My apologies, Gregory,” he says, quietly. “Clearly my sleeping self has no understanding of politeness. You should certainly have simply pushed me away.”

Greg chuckles. “Don’t be ridiculous. No chance.”

Mycroft’s fingers pleat restlessly into the fabric of Greg’s shirt. “Nonetheless. I had no idea of – when I suggested –” he sounds appalled.

“Don’t worry,” says Greg, gently. “I didn’t think that. It wasn’t – you weren’t – you don’t seem like the kind of bloke who’d do anything like that,” he says, at last. “I didn’t even think you were necessarily interested in men. Or anyone. Which – it turns out – you’re not, really. So.” He gestures at the way they are wound together on the sofa. “Don’t feel obliged to this, Mycroft. We’ll stop, the second you want.”

Mycroft does not move. “Not yet,” he murmurs, at last, and Greg feels an anxious knot in his chest unravel.

“C’n I have my tea?” asks Greg, through a yawn. “God, sleepy now.”

Mycroft sits up to pass both cups of tea to Greg, who holds them until Mycroft has settled back onto the sofa, into Greg’s embrace.

Greg sips his tea. “So’f’we were married,” he says, sleepily, what’d we be watching right now?”

“That depends, I suspect, on who had picked the entertainment, Gregory.”

Greg smiles, rolling his eyes. Such a Holmes. “Yes, darlin’. And if it was you that chose?”

Mycroft does not answer for a few moments. “I particularly enjoy black and white film,” he says, quietly. Rather tentatively, Greg thinks. “Pre-Hays code film is extremely interesting. And occasionally, historical documentaries. Although, if I get time, I often simply read.”

Greg nods. “Any history? Or any particular interests?” He glances down. Mycroft blinks, looking rather knocked off balance by the question. “Ancient civilisations interest me,” he says, at last. “The Romans. The Sumerians.”

“You ever been to Pompeii?”

“Never. Close, once, for work, but alas –”

Greg nods. “You should go. Such a short flight, really.”

“You have been?”

“Yeah, once. With Nas.”

He feels the tension in Mycroft’s shoulders the moment he speaks her name.

Mycroft sips his tea, and says nothing.

Greg remembers the painful silence between them, that holiday; shortly after the end of the first affair, an attempt to rebuild things. An attempt to pretend that things were back to normal. Better than normal. Fixed.

“Really interesting place,” says Greg. “An’ apparently it could get covered up again anytime, so –” he laughs as Mycroft looks up at him. “Yeah. The guide made a point of telling us that right at the start of the tour. Think she enjoyed the terror in us tourists’ eyes.”

Mycroft smiles, and suppresses a yawn. “I shall have to go to bed, Gregory.”

“Yeah, me too,” sighs Greg. “I’ll just wash up these bits. You use the bathroom first.” He doesn’t want to let go of Mycroft. He smells so good. It’s not a particular cologne or scent – he just smells…right.

And, in the back of his mind, as he washes up the teapot: when was the last time you felt like this, hmm? Oh, yes, that’s right. With Nas. At the beginning. Your wife, Nas.

Fuck.

*

When he climbs into bed, Mycroft is lying on his back, reading Ice.

“You’ve nearly finished it already,” yawns Greg, opening the iPlayer radio app on his phone. “I’ve been left behind. Got to get on with the Pullman.”

Mycroft tips his head to look at him. “You will have more time once the case is over.”

Greg sighs, plugging in his phone, then lies down again. “Yeah. Unless we get murdered,” he says, deadpan.

“Well, quite,” returns Mycroft, with a slight smile.

“Sleep well,” murmurs Greg, turning on his side, away from Mycroft.

It’s probably a quarter of an hour later that Mycroft turns his lamp off too. In the darkness, he shifts, and Greg tries to judge which side Mycroft is moving to lie on. This way. He’s facing this way. Faintly, he can feel the warmth, the human reality of Mycroft behind him; close, but not touching.

Greg’s heart lurches in the darkness. Be honest, Greg: all you want, in this moment, is his arms around you.

And:

Not all I want. But all I can probably hope for.

He shifts back, slightly, as though in his sleep, keeping his eyes closed. His heart thuds, willing Mycroft not to move away. The sound of his own blood thunders in his ears.

“Gregory…” whispers Mycroft, in the darkness, and Greg feels a tentative touch at his hip. Mycroft’s voice sounds splintered, drawn thin with fear. “Should I –”

“Yes,” whispers Greg. “Please.” It’s an effort to get the words out. He’s dizzy with need, with breathlessness.

Mycroft shifts closer, until his chest is pressed against Greg’s back. He does not try to tuck his knees behind Greg’s, and his hand hovers at Greg’s hip.

Slowly, Greg puts his hand over Mycroft’s, and moves it to the centre of his chest. He presses back a little more; not daring to get as close as they had woken up together.

Mycroft’s breath catches when Greg squeezes his hand.

“Thank you,” whispers Greg, in the darkness.

“No, indeed,” returns Mycroft.

After a while, Greg falls asleep, his last thought a hope that Mycroft cannot hear how hard his heart is beating.

Chapter Text

When he wakes, grey morning light is filtering from behind the blackout curtains. They have turned over in the night; he is curled on Mycroft’s chest, their legs tangled together. Mycroft’s breathing is peaceful and regular.

Discreetly, Greg shifts his hips back a little. He tips his wrist to look at his watch, then blinks a couple of times.

Gently, he taps Mycroft’s chest. “Myc?”

The change in Mycroft’s breathing happens immediately, a sudden tension in the hand on Greg’s back, a quick skip of the heartbeat where Greg’s ear is pressed. A couple of seconds, and he relaxes. “Gregory?”

“Not quite sure how, but it’s half eight.”

“Half past eight?”

“Yeah,” says Greg, trying not to laugh. Mycroft sounds so horrified. “D'you still want to use the gym? I can make you some tea and breakfast while you do.”

Mycroft gives a slightly appalled little laugh. “Anthea will be wondering if I am dead.”

“At half past eight in the morning?” asks Greg, incredulously. “What time does she get in?”

“We usually make first contact about the day’s tasks at six, when I return from the gym.”

Greg groans, and stretches slightly, settling himself more heavily onto Mycroft’s chest. “Oh well, you’re already late now –”

Mycroft snorts, long fingers pushing gently at Greg’s shoulder. “Up. Off. May I use the bathroom first?”

Greg grumbles, rolling over, pulling the duvet around himself as Mycroft’s warmth withdraws. “Why don’t you just work in your pyjamas for a bit, if you’re worried about the time?”

Mycroft, sitting on the edge of the bed, throws him a disdainful glance. “Do you imagine me to be some sort of savage?”

“Oi!” laughs Greg, using Mycroft’s pillow to hit him squarely between the shoulderblades. “Bastard –”

“The poor decision I apparently made in marrying you does not mean I have to emulate your behaviour.” Mycroft laughs as Greg hits him in the side of the face with the pillow. “Charming,” he adds, heading for the bathroom.

Greg huddles under the duvet, warm and unwilling to emerge. Unplugging his phone, he scrolls through the news, trying to ignore his morning erection.

Apparently cuddling all night and then play-fighting with Mycroft is…well.

He’s probably not in there, is he?

No. Christ. Don’t think about that.

Maybe he just doesn’t find me attractive.

But then – what the waiter said – and he wouldn’t get close last night

Greg rolls onto his back, rubbing his eyes. Jesus Christ. I’ve got to stop obsessing like this.

When Mycroft emerges, he looks the most devastatingly unfinished that Greg has ever seen him. He is not wearing a tie, and his top collar button and cuffs are undone. He has bare feet. His work mobile rings insistently on the desk, and he hurries over to pick it up. “Anthea,” he says, back turned to Greg.

I’ve never thought someone’s feet were elegant before.

Greg takes the opportunity to get into the bathroom without Mycroft seeing the way his morning wood is tenting his pyjamas.

When he comes out, Mycroft is sitting in his desk chair, flicking through a spreadsheet as he talks quietly to Anthea. “I am quite aware of the urgency. But we shall have to reschedule the meeting. It must not be left to her team to run it. We shall find ourselves sidelined in the negotiations.”

While the kettle boils, Greg checks through his emails, replying to a few and deleting others. Waiting for the pot of strong coffee to percolate, he chops up fruit into two bowls. He longs to add yoghurt and granola to Mycroft’s, to give him just a bit more sustenance.

He doesn’t eat enough.

He’s not going to thank you for trying to feed him up, though, is he? And what on earth right do you have, anyway?

Upstairs, Mycroft is still speaking on the phone. Greg puts the cup of coffee and bowl of fruit next to him, resting a hand on his back for a moment.

Mycroft looks up, clearly preoccupied, eyes refocusing on Greg. He smiles, vaguely, and Greg returns it, squeezing his shoulder before walking back towards the stairs.

“Gregory?”

Greg turns, hand on the banister, surprised. “Mm?”

Mycroft locks his phone and places it on the desk. “Thank you for the –” he gestures to the coffee and fruit.

Greg half-shakes his head. “No worries. Let me know if I can bring you some proper breakfast.”

Mycroft glances up at him, then away, hesitating. “Gregory – I – apologise for mentioning your wife in the way that I did, yesterday. It was –” he presses his lips together, “– not my prerogative to do so.”

Greg tries to keep the extent of his surprise from showing on his face. “Nah, honestly Mycroft,” he says, easily. “I shouldn’t’ve been trying to…y’know. Find out more about you. Not my place.”

Mycroft’s eyes rest rather unhappily on Greg’s for a moment, then drop to his own hands, knotted in his lap.

“Anyway,” says Greg, with a rueful half-laugh. “You were right. Not – not about her, specifically. Just…the marriage. Being like this. Like that. With – someone.” He looks fixedly at his own bare toes. He smiles, glancing up into Mycroft’s eyes. “’S’nice.”

Mycroft hesitates. “And – difficult,” he says at last, a shade of a question hovering in the words.

“Yeah,” says Greg, heart clenching with the sudden truth of it. “Yes.”

There’s a moment’s silence. “I –” begins Mycroft.

“If you’re going to apologise again,” smiles Greg, “don’t. It’s not your fault I’m divorced and grumpy about it.”

Mycroft gives a wry huff of acknowledgement. “That may not – how much did Sherlock contribute to the situation?”

Greg’s eyebrows rise. He half-shakes his head. “Nah. No. I was always…I always worked too hard, even before Sherlock came along. She hated him – for telling me about the cheating – but it wasn't…” he shrugs. “At the end of the day, she was cheating.” He watches Mycroft’s discomfort, the way he smoothes the line of his crisply-pressed suit trousers with those long fingers.

Mycroft looks up. Greg doesn’t glance away.

“You must’ve known, too,” says Greg.

Mycroft’s fingers go still. His shoulders freeze for a moment. Greg half-expects superciliousness, a casually cutting reply, but when Mycroft speaks, his voice is careful. “It was not my business,” he says, quietly.

Greg says nothing, watching him.

“I should not have wished any such intrusion, under – in –” Mycroft clears his throat. “Similar circumstances.”

Jesus. He seems – nervous. Does he think I’m…angry with him?

The urge to step across, to put his arms around Mycroft’s shoulders, is almost overwhelming. He digs his toes into the carpet. He wouldn’t like it.

Mycroft looks fixedly at the desk. “Had I understood that Sherlock might – perhaps I should have –”

How did we end up talking about this? Now, of all times?

When was the last time Mycroft Holmes couldn’t finish a sentence properly?

“It’s not your fault, Mycroft,” says Greg, trying deliberately to catch his eye. “I buried my head in the sand – for years – wasted so much time, because it was easier than doing what I knew had to be done. Stupid, but also my decision. Nothing to do with you, or your brother. An’ I’m grateful to Sherlock, in the end.” He gives Mycroft a quick half-smile. “Chose the most painful way and time to do it, ’f’course, because he’s a bastard, but it’s better, like this. Even on my own. ’S’better. To face stuff.”

Mycroft blinks, and looks uncomfortably away, down at his hands. Greg wonders if he just wants him to leave.

“You were correct,” says Mycroft, quietly. “I do. Keep myself – alone.”

Greg’s heart seems to twist in his chest. “Doesn’t have to mean lonely,” he says, warmly.

Mycroft glances up. He does not meet Greg’s eyes, fixing his gaze instead on the collar of his t-shirt. He tips his head slightly in acknowledgement; acceptance of the point. “Sometimes it – does,” he says, as though the words are not quite voluntary.

Greg takes a breath. “I know what you mean.”

Their eyes meet, and neither of them seems to know how to look away.

Mycroft’s phone rings, making him start slightly.

Greg pushes up to stand properly. “Sorry,” he says, nonsensically. “I’ll just –” he gestures down the stairs, then follows his actions with words.

He sits at his laptop, staring unseeing at his emails. Nothing new’s come in, nothing good enough to break the case.

Why’d you go and make yourself sound like some sad, lonely old bastard? It’s not…it’s not like you made it sound.

It’s not like you’re just craving for anyone.

It’d be nice to have someone, yeah, but not – not just anyone. Not any relationship, no matter who.

His phone rings, and he grabs it up. “Yes?”

“You alright, boss?”

He sighs. “Fine, Sal. What’s up?”

“Just a catch-up.” He can hear frustration in her voice, too.

“I’m stuck with it,” he says, forestalling her questions, her expectations. “Nothing’s –” he shrugs. “You know what I mean. We’ve got new stuff, but it’s not enough. Nothing’s jumping out at me.”

She makes a frustrated growling noise. “And where’s Holmes in all this?”

“Which one?” asks Greg, drily.

“Yeah, God, you live with one now,” she says, barely distracted by his attempt at humour. “Can’t he just – I dunno – figure it out from the crime scene photos or something?”

Greg sighs. “He’s not magic, Sal. He’s already agreed to go along with his brother’s bloody stupid plan. ’S’enough for now, surely?”

“Well where’s –” she hesitates for a moment, “– Sherlock, then?” she finishes, through gritted teeth.

“Barely answering his texts,” admits Greg, bracing himself.

“Wait, so he’s just dumped this on you – on us, and now he’s not even going to bother –?” she sounds murderous.

“He’ll answer,” says Greg, in the voice that means: not interested in having this debate again.

There’s a minute of mutinous silence between them, and Greg really isn’t in the mood for this today.

He sighs. “I’m going to go,” he says. “Going to go'n have a walk or something. Do some thinking. Get through to Sherlock.”

She breathes out, and the tension between them is gone; the old argument, postponed for another day. “Yeah. Yeah, alright boss. An’ thanks for keeping all the statements and boards in order. It’s great having it all there.”

“Let’s hope it helps a bit more than it has been doing so far,” he says, grimly. “Right. I’m off.”

“See you,” she says, and Greg hangs up, tucking his phone into the pocket of his jeans. He runs both hands through his hair, then rubs his eyes.

“’M’going out for a bit,” he calls up the stairs, to Mycroft. “D’you want anything?” Only as he finishes speaking does he remember he could be interrupting a phone conversation.

“No, thank you,” says Mycroft, appearing at the top of the stairs. He hesitates a moment. “You are not – making headway with the case?”

Greg shakes his head, slowly. “Nah. Nothing’s making sense to me. We’ve got a load of new stuff, but none of it’s coming out into concrete leads. Nothing we can get our hands on. Just blind alleys. And our tech lot don’t seem to have made any progress with the site.”

“Sherlock is not responsive?”

Greg glances down at his own bare toes, curled on the bottom stair. “Gone pretty quiet, actually.”

Mycroft nods. “I hope your walk is beneficial.”

“Thanks,” smiles Greg. “See you in a bit.”

*

He strolls slowly to WH Smith and buys post-it notes; gets a takeaway coffee, window-shopping absently as he picks idly at the tangled threads of the case in his head.

I need to read their conversations with him, from the site. I need to get more of an idea of him. What he’s like. Anything we can use. He’s got tech trying to get into the victims’ accounts, but no luck so far.

He dithers outside the jewellery shop for ten minutes, but then decides: yes. I think it’ll be alright. I think he’ll take it the right way. He’s sharp, so clever, and Jesus, he’s funny, in his own dry way

He stops at the florist on the way home, too, because in for a penny, and all that.

*

As he pushes his shoes off and hangs up his coat, he can hear the kettle being filled. “Enough for a cuppa for me too?” he calls, padding into the kitchen.

“For all of us,” says Mycroft, flatly. His eyes linger for a moment on the bunch of flowers in Greg’s hand. He looks much more formal now, waistcoat, tie, shoes, shirt crisply buttoned.

Sherlock’s gaze – narrowed – flicks between them.

“Aren’t you supposed to be working?” asks John, the lightly teasing tone an easy, familiar habit between them.

Greg huffs amusement. “No Rosie?” He walks to the sink, next to Mycroft, and reaches down a vase. The last thing he’d want is me to give him these in front of his brother. He tries not to allow his cheeks to flush as he fills the vase with water. “Can you pass me the scissors?” he asks, touching Mycroft gently on the elbow.

Cornflowers and two types of heather spill free as he cuts away the paper. Slowly, he starts to put the stems into the vase, spinning out the task, not turning to face the curious gazes of their guests. Next to him, Mycroft has taken refuge in tea-making.

“Mrs Hudson’s looking after her for a few hours,” says John.

“Mycroft informs me that you have been failing dismally to progress with the case,” interrupts Sherlock, sharply.

Mycroft’s soft, exasperated sigh makes Greg smile. He cuts his gaze sideways to catch a flash of Mycroft’s eyes rolling.

“For someone who pushed this case on us with no warning,” says Greg, “you’ve not been helping much, have you?”

“Sorry,” says Sherlock sarcastically, accepting a mug of tea from Mycroft. “I had temporarily forgotten your inability to reason out even the simplest of problems without my prompting.”

John takes a sip of tea, raising it in thanks to Mycroft. “Rosie had a temperature. We were a bit worried about her.”

Sherlock purses his lips, shooting a look at his partner. John grins, unrepentant.

Mycroft’s fingers are warm, briefly in contact with Greg’s as he passes him a cup of tea.

Greg nudges the vase of flowers ever so slightly towards him, lifting his gaze to catch his eye.

Mycroft’s expression does not change, but he turns to the counter, away from Sherlock and John, long fingers deft as he rearranges one or two flowers. “Rosamund is quite well now?” he asks, flatly.

“Quite,” returns Sherlock, with a crisp bite of a t that feels mocking, somehow.

Greg’s suddenly sick of it. He looks at John and Sherlock over the rim of his tea. “I’ll send you the most up-to-date profile boards, and all the statements,” he says tiredly, before taking a sip. “You’ll probably spot something I haven’t.” He turns his head, watching Mycroft’s profile as he places the vase of flowers next to the kettle.

Greg’s eyes, finding Mycroft’s, try to convey meaning: trust me?

Mycroft’s eyebrow flickers. When he leans back against the edge of the counter, his shoulders have drawn up a little: cautious, guarded.

“Doubtless,” returns Sherlock, but his tone lacks its usual cutting edge.

Greg gives Mycroft a private half-smile. Moves, turns; fits himself, as he had the night before, against Mycroft’s chest. Leans on him. Waits, and tries to suppress any expression that might give away the leap of his pulse, the pounding of his heart as Mycroft’s hand finds his hip bone. The gentle touch slides up a little, until Mycroft lays his hand flat across Greg’s stomach; pulls him in, just slightly closer. It feels proprietary, and Greg’s heartbeat trips over itself.

Greg sips his tea, as calmly as he can. Sherlock’s lips open, then close, without sound.

“We read the transcript,” says Greg.

John smirks, knowingly. “How was that?”

“Actually, way less bad than I’d assumed,” laughs Greg, leaning his head back against Mycroft’s shoulder. “Christ, Sherlock, I thought you’d’ve taken the chance to –”

Sherlock’s nose crinkles with disgust, and John laughs silently into his cup of tea.

“What’d you reckon?” asks John, eyes sliding sideways to check Sherlock’s profile. “Ball gags?”

Greg snorts. “Fisting, at the very least.”

Sherlock chokes theatrically on his tea, pantomiming a retch. “Gavin. Please.” His eyes flick back and forth between Greg and Mycroft. He opens his mouth to speak, then closes it again.

Greg puts his cup of tea down and curls against Mycroft’s side, nestling his cheek against Mycroft’s shoulder. He smiles at Sherlock, eyes flicking for the barest of seconds to John’s. Mycroft’s hand, gentle on my hip.

“You guys got everything you need, yeah?” asks John, thinly-disguised amusement in his voice.

“Yeah, all good,” says Greg, keeping his voice light. “’Cept the solution to the case, ’f’course.”

John looks to Sherlock, but gets no reaction. His eyes are locked on Mycroft’s.

“I’ll get him to take a look,” says John, a slight lift and roll of his eyes. “Sure he’ll see something.”

Greg nods, and tightens his arm around Mycroft’s waist. “Thanks, John.” Neither Holmes brother speaks. “Ring me, when you find anything, yeah?” asks Greg, into the silence.

Sherlock doesn’t reply. John’s voice is full of amusement as he takes Sherlock’s cup of tea out of his hand, and tugs him towards the door. “Yeah. Come on, you. See you, Greg. Mycroft.”

“Give Rosie our love,” calls Greg, as the front door opens. He only starts laughing when he hears it close behind them.

The sound of Mycroft’s dry chuckle – the feeling as his chest begins to shake with laughter – Greg turns, happiness making him smile uncontrollably. He rests his forehead on Mycroft’s chest.

He slips both his arms around Mycroft’s waist; it just feels right, and Mycroft’s hands on his back make his breath catch –

They pull each other in, by degrees, until they’re hugging – smiling, not laughing now. Greg turns his head, forehead against the side of Mycroft’s neck. The smell of him – right, so bloody right – almost makes him dizzy.  “Speechless,” he says. “For once.”

“A rare occurrence,” returns Mycroft, leaning slightly into Greg’s touch.

Greg smiles. “I got you something. While I was out.”

“Oh?” Greg can feel Mycroft pulling back a little, curious. He wants to hug him closer. Instead he stands up straight, and reaches into the pocket of his jeans.

He passes Mycroft a small box. “Public displays of affection,” he says, with a quick smile. “Just wish I’d got back here with ’em before those two arrived.”

Mycroft opens the box, his expression a complicated muddle as he looks at the two small objects inside. Eventually, he glances up to Greg, something vulnerable in his grey eyes, visible even through the protective layer of amusement. He raises an eyebrow.

Greg smiles, reaching into the box to take out the smaller ring. “It’ll prob’ly bring you out in a rash,” he says, with a laugh. “’S’only silver.”

Mycroft’s mouth twists with an attempt to suppress amusement – no, more than that. Happiness? “I am perhaps not so high-maintenance as you think me, Gregory.”

Greg turns Mycroft’s hand, heart swooping at the delicate brush of skin on skin. He places the ring in Mycroft’s palm, and takes the ring box. “Don’t know if it’ll fit. Told ’em to try a couple of sizes smaller than mine.” He takes his own ring out of the box.

God, it feels strange sliding it onto his ring finger. He used to do it when he was nervous, or thinking about a case: turn his wedding ring round and round, the repetition of the action easing his thoughts.

He watches, oddly nervous, as Mycroft pushes the ring over his knuckle.

“They said we could exchange it, if –”

“There is no need.” Mycroft holds out his hand. The ring sits comfortably in place, on his left hand.

Greg smiles, and deliberately doesn’t think too hard as he tucks himself against Mycroft’s chest, sliding his arm around his waist. “Sorry you’ve got such a cheapskate husband.”

Mycroft’s chest rises and falls with a huff of amusement. “You think I should demand platinum? Gold?”

Greg turns his face to Mycroft’s neck, trying not to be too obvious about breathing him in. “Yeah. Kick off.”

Mycroft’s breath is warm in his hair as he laughs. Laughs. Openly. God, it sounds good. Greg’s chest aches with the wish to turn his head, tip his lips up, press them to Mycroft’s –

What would he do? Pull away? Push me away? Recoil?

A couple of inches. Just a couple of inches, and I’m too bloody chicken to try.

His other ring – his wedding ring – he took off the day the divorce was finalised. It sat on his bookshelf for a while, but his gaze was drawn to it too easily. In the end he carried it in his coat pocket for a few days, uncomfortably aware of its presence.

Eventually, he was ready. Disbelieving, still, somehow; a little numb; but ready.

He left it unobtrusively behind on a park bench one day, after he’d finished his cup of coffee. No fanfare, nothing to mark the occasion. Just – left it behind.

He’s wondered, a few times, what happened to it. Did it fall from the bench, unobserved, pecked at or pawed by a pigeon or a magpie or a rat? Did someone find it? Wear it? Turn it in? Is it residing, unknown to him, in the lost and found of his own police station?

His finger, now, has that strangely familiar weight again. Behind Mycroft’s back, he runs the pad of his thumb over the silver band.

“How’d you manage to get Sherlock here?” he says, not lifting his head to look at Mycroft. He’s hyper-aware, all the same, of Mycroft’s hand, tentatively in the small of his back. He’s half-hard, just with this closeness, this strange intimacy.

Mycroft’s chest is loud against Greg’s ear, quiet words magnified by proximity. “Brotherly sentiment.”

Greg snorts, and pulls back to give Mycroft a look.

Mycroft smiles. His hand tries to fall away from Greg’s side, but Greg holds it in place, suppressing his own catch of breath as their hands meet.

“He is fully aware that his behaviour on this occasion is beyond the pale. I used that to…bring pressure to bear.”

“You gave up one of your investigations, didn’t you?”

Mycroft presses his lips together. “Yes,” he admits, eventually, rolling his eyes slightly.

Greg laughs and puts his hand on Mycroft’s chest. “Sorry I wasted it. I should’ve had Sherlock look over the evidence while he was here, but I –” he hesitates, glancing at the flowers.

“They are beautiful,” says Mycroft, quietly, eyes fixed on Greg’s shoulder. “Thank you for buying them. They – alleviate the gold of the kitchen, somewhat.”

Greg chuckles softly, watching Mycroft’s eyelashes sweep his cheeks. “They’re for you,” he says, stroking his thumb across the fine fabric of Mycroft’s waistcoat. “I just didn’t think – when I came in – I mean, Sherlock prob’ly couldn’t’ve coped –”

Mycroft glances up, and away, cheeks tinted delicately pink. He does not seem to know what to say for a moment. “Thank you,” he manages, at last.

“Thought the cornflowers’d look nice with your eyes,” says Greg, heart turning in his chest. Shut up.

Mycroft’s eyebrow twitches up a little, confusion amid his flush of pleasure. “I do not have blue eyes.”

“They look blue, sometimes,” says Greg, staring fixedly at the flowers. “If you wear it. Your tie, or your suit.” And don’t think about that too much, Mycroft, because

Yeah. Mycroft Holmes not thinking too much. Seems likely. Christ.

“I am sure he will send you his impressions once he has checked through the evidence.”

Greg sighs, looking over at his laptop on the kitchen table. “Yeah. I should prob’ly email him. And go through the rest of this morning’s statements. Haven’t exactly – worked much today. Sally’d be hopping mad if she saw me wandering around drinking coffee and buying flowers.”

Mycroft sighs, with a half-smile, and turns towards the kettle. Greg immediately mourns the contact between them, feeling it as a tug to his heart, a breathless, sudden lack.

“I shall make some more tea. Mine has gone cold, and I suspect yours will have too.”

Greg glances down at his mug, on the side. “Yeah. Yes. Thanks.” He takes both their cups and rinses the cooling tea away. “’M’sick of being stuck with this case,” he sighs, frustration in his tight, jerky movements. “There’s nothing – nothing distinctive enough. Nothing that sticks out. If I was in the office I’d be able to –” he puts the mugs down by the kettle, and waves a hand. “Y’know. Get on with other stuff while I thought about it. And I’m approaching it all the wrong way round – even assuming Sherlock’s right about this guy is stupid – I shouldn’t be biasing the case like that, ’s’alright for him to do that, he’s independent and a bloody genius, but I’ve got to consider all the angles –”

Mycroft’s hand hesitates for a moment, as though about to touch Greg’s arm. In the end he diverts the movement into stirring their cups of tea. “You have been considering the evidence as usual, have you not, Gregory? Assessing all the statements? Not limiting the investigation?”

Greg groans, frustratedly. “Yeah. ’S’just…not usually this slow. Usually there’s something – something that makes me go back – something that clicks, y’know, even when ’m’not really concentrating –”

Mycroft hands him the cup of tea. Greg wants to keep hold of the fingers that brush his –

“Has there been anything that looked promising?”

Greg sighs. “Yeah. Yeah, one thing that I thought might lead to something. One of the victims – the second couple – Liam Jiang. His ex-girlfriend – she obviously wasn’t telling us everything, but her statement –” he puts his tea down, and goes to his laptop. “One of the team went back to get a second statement from her. She said –” he pauses, looking for it. “Yeah, here. ‘He said he wasn’t with him then, when he came out to me. But I wasn’t sure, after. He liked it, I think. Other people. Women, I thought, but clearly not, in the end. The thrill of it.’”

Greg looks up at Mycroft, frowning. “I don’t know. I just thought – if we could work out why they – the couples – wanted to get others involved, there might be something there. And it’s that statement that keeps snagging at me.” He sighs.

Mycroft’s eyes are deep grey, fixed on Greg’s. He licks his lips, as though he might speak; but does not.

Greg closes his eyes, and runs his hands through his hair. “I don’t know,” he says again, with a defeated shrug.

“Is there anything I can do?” asks Mycroft, quietly.

Greg half-shakes his head, opening his eyes. “You already have. Getting Sherlock on it’ll be the biggest help. ’S’just – y’know. ’S’against all the training – all common bloody sense to just sit around waiting for one suspect to maybe, possibly have a go at murdering you. I should be able to get this sorted by looking at the evidence, not –” he waves a hand.

“There must have been previous occasions on which –”

“This one’s not going to end up unsolved, Myc. ’S’just –” Greg turns to stare at his laptop again, grips the back of the chair in front of him. “Not.” Angrily stabbing at a few buttons, he sends an access link to Sherlock for everything he’s collected so far.

Mycroft’s hand, gentle on his back, surprises him. Greg straightens up, and turns into Mycroft’s embrace. “I won’t let it –” he mutters into Mycroft’s chest.

Mycroft’s arms tighten around him, and Greg is almost overwhelmed by a mass of impressions: he smells so good; the warmth and hardness of his chest; strong arms; the silk back of his waistcoat, cool under my fingertips

“I hope you do not mind me saying so,” says Mycroft, into Greg’s hair. “But I believe you are – putting rather too much pressure on yourself over this case.”

Greg huffs frustratedly against Mycroft’s chest. “Don’t you think I should? We’re here, doing this – an’ Sherlock’s right, this’ll be another of those ‘gay cases’ the papers milk for all it’s worth –” his fingers want to pull and twist at something, but Mycroft’s waistcoat is too fitted. “An’ if this guy is the murderer he’ll be here, with you – with us –” he doesn’t know how to tidy that thought up; he tightens his arms around Mycroft instead, hiding his face, eyes screwed shut.

Mycroft’s voice, when it comes, is perfectly calm. “I am quite sure that any assailant would find you more than a match, Gregory. I myself am not untrained. We are hardly defenceless.”

“Not like I’ve got a gun or anything,” mumbles Greg, but the closeness of Mycroft is having its effect, his brain calming already.

Mycroft says nothing, and after a few moments Greg notices. He pulls back, looks up at Mycroft’s impassive expression, and rolls his eyes.

“You and your brother –”

‘It is perfectly legal, I assure you. I carry my license and should be pleased to show it to you.”

Greg rests his forehead against Mycroft’s shoulder and half-laughs, half-growls.

“You’re insane. All of you. John and his bloody – pistol I don’t know about –”

“Also perfectly legal.”

“Now, maybe.”

“Yes,” says Mycroft, with a small smile.

“Pretty sure your brother’s got an unspecified number of guns somewhere too –”

“On the contrary.”

“Hmm.”

“He prefers to leave that to Doctor Watson. I believe it fits the dynamic of their relationship conveniently.” Mycroft steps back, just a little.

Greg looks up at him, wanting to fold back against Mycroft’s chest. “You’re good at that stuff. Understanding relationships. People’s motivations. Good motivations, as well as bad ones. You think you’re not, but you are.”

Mycroft does not seem to know where to look. He steps back again, glances up and away. “I shall make lunch,” he says, quietly.

Greg wants to sigh, to take back his words. Clearly too much. “You going to eat?” he asks, instead, lightly.

Mycroft gives him an amused, slightly reproving flick of one eyebrow. “On this occasion, yes. I do not believe it would be beneficial to you to continue working just at the moment. If you could find a television programme which would be acceptable…” he gestures toward the TV.

Greg curls into the corner of the sofa, and finds a channel that seems to be rerunning an entire series of MasterChef.

When Mycroft comes back, he brings them each a plate of crackers, avocado, tomato and mozzarella slices. Greg can’t help but notice that Mycroft has many fewer crackers than he does.

“Thank you,” says Greg, appreciatively, accepting the plate. “You watch MasterChef?” he asks, nodding at the screen.

“No,” says Mycroft, taking a seat on the sofa.

Too far away. Greg stretches and moves, allowing his foot to touch Mycroft’s hip.

Mycroft glances at him from under lowered lashes, and shifts slightly closer, into the contact.

“’F’you’re like me, you’ll get addicted easily,” smiles Greg. “’S’too easy to watch. And then I end up missing loads or not seeing who won because something kicks off at work and I lose track.” He has one of those strange moments of dissonance again, watching Mycroft arrange slices of tomato, avocado and mozzarella onto a cracker. His fingers are deft, delicate; Greg has a startling urge to kiss them.

“A cookery competition, then?” asks Mycroft, quietly. He takes a bite of cracker.

“Amateurs, yeah. Although they do run a professionals’ one now, too. And one for kids. Don’t tell Sherlock. He’ll want Rosie to go on it.”

Mycroft half-smiles. “I find it wisest to assume that my brother is perfectly au fait with every development in popular culture.”

Greg chuckles. “Yeah, alright. Can’t argue with that.” He finishes the cracker he’s eating. “Delicious, thanks Mycroft.”

“There was no art to it, I assure you.”

“Nonsense. ‘Seasoned perfectly’,” smiles Greg, gesturing to the television. “‘Presented with precision.’ You’ll learn the lingo.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow rises slightly in what looks like bewildered amusement.

“D’you watch Bake Off?” asks Greg.

“Do you think that likely, Gregory?” Mycroft glances at him, then smiles at Greg’s expression. “Its migration from the BBC was deemed important enough for inclusion in the Prime Minister’s briefing notes,” he admits. “But I fear that that is the extent of my engagement with it.”

“You write those?” asks Greg, surprised at this sudden insight.

Mycroft seems to be suppressing a laugh. “Goodness, no. I do, however, read them for my own edification.”

Greg absorbs this information, chewing slowly. “But you don’t get time to actually watch any of this stuff.”

Mycroft’s gaze flicks to him, and back to the television screen. “Never my highest priority, I fear.”

But here, when you think I’m panicking, you’ll sit and watch something that probably makes you feel like your huge genius brain is leaking out of your ears.

‘Temperamentally unsuited’.

He finishes his lunch and leans forward to put the plate on the coffee table, then moves along the sofa and curls himself gently against Mycroft’s side.

Mycroft accepts the closeness with a series of rather surprised blinks, leaning forward to put his plate on the table too. “You have abandoned your corner seat.”

Greg smiles. “Well, you were over here. Husband,” he adds, in as joking a tone as he can manage. “Go and sit in the corner, and I’ll join you.”

Mycroft huffs a small laugh, but obediently stands and moves into the corner of the sofa. Greg curls against his side, tangling his feet with Mycroft’s. “That okay?” he murmurs, resting his head on Mycroft’s shoulder.

“Naturally,” says Mycroft, calmly. There is a very slight catch in his breath.

“They’re going to say he’s put too much on the plate,” says Greg, nodding at the TV. “’S’meant to be fine dining sizes. In other words, not enough food to feed a human.”

Mycroft half-smiles. “What it lacks in size, it makes up for in richness.”

“Oo-er,” chuckles Greg, raising an eyebrow.

Mycroft’s rather shocked huff of laughter makes Greg laugh properly, and tip his head to look up at him. Fucking hell, he’s actually blushing a bit. Christ. “Disgraceful, Detective Inspector,” says Mycroft disapprovingly.

Greg settles down again, closer. “Don’t give me that. I heard you laugh.”

“Consternation, merely, I assure you.”

Greg chuckles and sneaks his arm across Mycroft’s stomach, hand coming to rest on his side. “See? They think it should’ve been half the size.”

“I should have thought they would be more concerned about the lack of originality in the dish.”

Greg smiles, fighting a yawn. Warm and comfy. Mycroft’s arm is around his shoulders, hand resting softly in the centre of his back. “You’ve picked this up quickly.”

“I eat in many ‘fine dining’ establishments by necessity.”

“Ooh, terrible for you.”

Mycroft prods Greg’s bare toes gently with his socked ones. “They begin to pall, after some time.”

“’M’sure,” mumbles Greg, shifting slightly, nuzzling his nose into the collar of Mycroft’s shirt. Why all these buttons? So formal. How does he smell so good? “’D’like the chance to get sick of ’em though.”

“By all means, join me,” returns Mycroft, quietly.

“Yeah?” murmurs Greg, as he drifts off to sleep.

*

Waking, Greg stretches a little; stirs; feels someone – Mycroft – move next to him – “God, sorry,” he says, sitting up. “’S’your arm gone dead?”

Mycroft half-smiles. “Not at all.”

“Sorry,” says Greg again, rubbing his eyes. “Getting old.” He huffs dry amusement. “‘Getting’.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes slightly. “Nonsense. I suspect you needed it.”

“Yeah. ’Cause I’m old,” sighs Greg, running a hand through his hair. “No other explanation. Been sleeping really well –” he stops. With you.

“Nonetheless. You have been worrying too much about the case.”

Greg shakes his head, slightly. “Hardly ‘too much’.”

Mycroft’s hand lies lightly on his back, still. Now it lifts a little, tentative, and Greg pushes into the touch. No. Don’t leave.

“Sorry for stranding you watching MasterChef,” says Greg, glancing quickly to Mycroft. “You couldn’t even reach the remote.”

Mycroft’s half-smile flickers quickly across his face. “Had I been discontented, I should have moved. I fear you were correct. This programme proves addictive.”

Greg smiles. “You’re too kind, Mycroft Holmes.”

Mycroft employs the cold, thin smile that Greg had previously thought was his only form of showing amusement. “I fear not.”

Greg laughs, and catches his gaze. “Shh. You put up with a lapful of policeman for – Christ – how long was I asleep?”

It’s fleeting – a flicker of shadow in Mycroft’s grey eyes, but Greg understands, quite suddenly and certainly.

Mycroft quickly drops his gaze. “An hour. Not more.”

He fancies me. He – Mycroft fancies me too.

The fizzing, dissolving sensation in his stomach takes him by surprise. It’s not like the few dates he’s had have turned him down. He’s used to laughing off the banter from his team at work, who’ve never forgotten the time the Daily Mail referred to him as ‘the handsome, square-jawed Detective Inspector Lestrade’. He’s even, on occasion, batted away a pretty blatant come-on in the pub. But this – to know that someone like Mycroft finds him attractive…

“Just going to…” he gestures upstairs with his thumb, and clambers off the sofa.

In the bathroom, once he’s used the loo and washed his hands, he splashes his face with cold water. He feels hot, bothered, wrong-footed. He didn’t mean me to know, that’s for sure. But something about what I said – he couldn’t hide it, just for a second.

Jesus Christ. Fuck. He must know how much I want him. He has to know, observation skills like his

Greg sits on the edge of the bath, hands clutched almost painfully into his hair.

Somehow, this is worse – knowing there’s a chance, even a remote, outside possibility, has made this a thousand times more tortuous.

I want to fuck him.

I – I want him.

I want – him.

Mycroft, the first person to acknowledge, since the divorce, how much Greg misses what he’d had. Mycroft, who’d known, all along – before Greg himself had known – but who’d considered Greg and his feelings before all else, in an infinitely more tactful way than his brother. Mycroft, who’s spent the week sharing space, and even socialising.

Mycroft, who said that Anthea suggested a restaurant.

Mycroft, who let Greg nap on him, when the pressure of the case got too much.

Mycroft, who curls around Greg in the night –

The rings were an in-joke, but the flowers – they were just because I wanted to.

Chapter Text

Greg stands up, chest tight, almost dizzy with disbelief and understanding.

As he walks down the stairs, he watches Mycroft, standing at the sink, washing up the lunch plates. Greg looks at him, properly, as he hasn’t allowed himself to before. His stomach tightens, and he can feel his cheeks flush.

Fuck. Fuck.

Butterflies squirm and leap, low in his stomach.

When he comes to a halt next to Mycroft, he feels an almost magnetic need to touch.

Mycroft looks resolutely down at the glass he is washing. “Could you boil the kettle?” he asks, with a brittle insistence that makes Greg want to pull him close.

“Myc,” he says, touching Mycroft’s arm gently, palm cupping his elbow. “Myc –”

Mycroft’s chest rises and falls, quickly; he does not look up, but his hands have gone still in the bubbly water.

“Please –” whispers Greg, and what he means is look at me, I need you to look at me, but he can’t make his lips form the right shapes.

He steps in close, and places the fingers of his left hand lightly in the centre of Mycroft’s back; unsure what to say, he presses a kiss to Mycroft’s white-shirted shoulder.

Mycroft’s breath catches. Tension thrums in him, his back and shoulders tight and upright. Slowly, reluctantly, he turns his grey eyes to Greg’s.

“Myc,” murmurs Greg, again.

Mycroft’s gaze travels over Greg’s face, brow creased slightly in quizzical confusion, and Greg’s not sure whether to laugh or cry because he’s got no idea, has he, what I’ve been thinking all this time

Greg touches Mycroft’s chin, tentatively, fingertips only. The skin, closely shaved, is soft beneath Greg’s touch; but all the same, if he moves his thumb against the grain there is the tiniest hint of stubble, and it’s so human, so beautifully, desperately physical

Greg looks into those grey, vulnerable, questioning eyes and leans forward slowly, waiting for Mycroft to pull back, to push him away –

His heart hammers in his chest. He can hear nothing except the blood rushing in his ears, and when he presses his lips softly to Mycroft’s, heat curls through him, every inch of his skin alive with sensation or perhaps the lack of it, he can’t tell any more, needy for touch –

Mycroft hardly moves for a moment, and oh God, he doesn’t want this, I’ve fucked up – but then he shifts, a returned whisper pressure against Greg’s lips.

Greg presses closer, letting his fingers trail along Mycroft’s jaw, drawing him down into the kiss, and still they’ve hardly moved and Greg doesn’t dare take a breath in case it breaks the spell –

When their lips part, at last, Mycroft doesn’t open his eyes. Greg looks at him, up close, gaze caught on those pink, tender lips.

He wants to bite them.

Another kiss, and their lips brush a little harder this time. Greg slides his left hand, flat, into the small of Mycroft’s back and the touch prompts a deep breath in that breaks them apart for a moment –

Greg makes an incoherent noise, something that means no, don’t, his right hand curving reverently to the warm, smooth skin of Mycroft’s neck as he presses up on his toes to recapture the kiss.

Mycroft turns his shoulders slightly, hands still in the sink, and he doesn’t want to drip water on the floor flashes nonsensically through Greg’s mind. He doesn’t care, he pushes closer, heart leaping with every returned press of Mycroft’s lips.

His right hand travels slowly from Mycroft’s neck to his shoulder, urging him gently to turn. Mycroft resists the movement until Greg smiles into the kiss and runs his hand down his arm, crisp white cotton beneath his palm, to the folds of a neatly-rolled shirtsleeve. When his fingers meet the tender skin of Mycroft’s arm, his own gasp sounds loud in the space between their lips.

Greg pulls Mycroft round to face him, and backs him gently against the counter, closing the space between them. Mycroft holds his dripping hands awkwardly, and Greg smiles up into his eyes. What d’you think I’d rather right now, gorgeous? A dry t-shirt, or getting to kiss you again?

As Greg kisses the corner of his mouth, Mycroft’s eyelids flutter shut. His hands come to rest, tentatively, on Greg’s sides.

Greg’s stomach knots itself as he teases another gentle kiss from Mycroft’s lips. He’s hard, and though their chests are pressed together he keeps his hips back, a discreet space between them. He can’t quite believe this is happening, can’t believe Mycroft is allowing these kisses, this contact, but then he remembers long fingers in the centre of his chest in the darkness and soft, regular breaths on the back of his neck.

Greg nuzzles his lips under Mycroft’s jaw, across pale smooth skin that catches with a hint of stubble. He finds the carefully-buttoned collar all too soon, a frustrated huff of breath as he reaches to remove Mycroft’s tie, unbutton his collar. “You got all dressed up,” he murmurs distractedly, fingers busy, a little shaky, and does he want this? but when he glances up, Mycroft’s eyes are so full of disbelieving need that Greg can’t help a quiet groan.

His fingers find Mycroft’s waistcoat, and come to a halt at the first button. Mycroft dips his head and kisses Greg, harder than before; his fingers tighten slightly on Greg’s hips.

“Mmm,” hums Greg, into the kiss, slipping the first of Mycroft’s waistcoat buttons open. “Yes?”

Mycroft nods, pulling Greg against him by the hips, and Greg has half a second of hope he’s okay with – before he feels how hard Mycroft is too, and his stomach twists with fierce, burning arousal.

He wanted me to know.

He bites gently at Mycroft’s bottom lip, fingers moving deftly now from one waistcoat button to another. Once it’s open, his momentary sense of triumph is thwarted by the fact that Mycroft’s shirt is still crisply fastened beneath his hands.

Greg runs his palms slowly over Mycroft’s chest, and pulls out of the kiss, smiling breathlessly against his cheek. “Why’re you wearing so very many clothes, Mycroft Holmes?”

“Singular lack of foresight,” murmurs Mycroft, burying his lips beneath Greg’s jaw. “My apologies.”

“Hmm,” smiles Greg, turning his head and stretching his neck to give Mycroft better access. “Thank you. At least you know what you’ve done wrong.”

Mycroft’s soft huff of amusement is warm against Greg’s skin, and Greg presses him back against the kitchen counter, revelling in the feeling of their mutual excitement, stopping just short of grinding their erections together.

Greg kisses Mycroft’s earlobe and pulls back, bringing one hand up to cup his cheek, seeking eye contact.

Mycroft’s grey eyes meet his for a moment, and then he turns his head, kisses the pad of Greg’s thumb, lips nuzzling into the palm of Greg’s hand.

God. Jesus Christ. This is actually happening, isn’t it? He wants me. He definitely wants me. No mistaking that, and I want to – honestly, anything, I’d take him to bed in a heartbeat but I don’t know what he wants –

Would that be too much? Too fast?

Greg presses up, stealing kisses as he slips open the buttons of Mycroft’s shirt, starting at the collar, working steadily down.

He doesn’t allow himself to take everything he wants, yet; to run his hands over the skin he’s revealing, inch by inch. He waits, convinced, deep down, that each button is a liberty Mycroft cannot really be allowing him to take.

As he undoes the last one, Greg’s breath catches in his throat. He lets his lips wander, a chain of kisses along Mycroft’s jaw, to his earlobe, down his neck; the lack of a restrictive collar feels ridiculously luxurious. Greg nudges the shirt aside, burying his nose in the place where Mycroft’s neck meets his shoulder. He doesn’t smell of anything, and yet the scent of his skin is addictive – and what does all this remind you of, you silly bastard, this craving, this need to be close – Greg nuzzles into him, kissing along Mycroft’s collarbone.

Mycroft’s long fingers bury themselves in his hair, stroking through it in a soft repetitive motion, and that shouldn’t be as hot as it is

Greg slips his arms around Mycroft, murmuring “come with me,” into the pale, freckled skin at the base of his neck. It’s only a whisper, at once pleading and demanding, and Mycroft moves with him. They kiss, moving by inches at a time, breathlessly trading smiles as they stumble backwards towards the sofa.

“Myc,” murmurs Greg, looking up into those grey eyes. He can’t help but grin: no hint of indignation at the nickname. Mycroft’s cheeks are flushed, his eyes bright, lips red and swollen.

Fuck.

Greg pushes him down onto the sofa, caught for a half-moment in Christ, look at him, shirt wide, in disarray. He straddles Mycroft’s legs.

The kiss is slow and needy, and when Greg teases the tip of his tongue along Mycroft’s bottom lip, he is met with tentative touches in return. It deepens, slowly, until Greg can’t help but gasp. “Myc,” he whispers, against Mycroft’s lips.

He slips his hands under the edges of Mycroft’s shirt, finding the solid, smooth warmth of his shoulders. The pads of his thumbs run softly over pale skin, gentle patterns traced again and again. He pulls back a moment, watching Mycroft’s eyes for permission. They are dark, pupils wide, his chest rising and falling with rapid, shallow breaths. “’S’this okay?” asks Greg, and his voice sounds dry, cracked. Don’t tell me to stop. Please don’t tell me to stop.

Mycroft nods, once. Greg leans forward to kiss him, slowly, biting at his bottom lip. It spins out, slow, intense.

Mycroft’s fingers slip tentatively under the hem of Greg’s t-shirt. Greg groans and presses into the touch, resting his forehead against Mycroft’s temple.

Mycroft makes an interrogatory noise low in his throat, hands bunched in the fabric.

“Yeah,” whispers Greg, against the soft skin in front of his ear. “Yes.”

Mycroft pulls the t-shirt up, over Greg’s head and arms, laying it across the back of the sofa. The arch of his body as he stretches to do so, the closer press of their chests and cocks, makes Greg catch his breath.

Mycroft’s eyes are wide, running across Greg’s shoulders and chest. His hands smooth Greg’s sides, coming to rest on his hipbones.

Greg smiles, watching his expression, heart racing. When’s the last time someone looked at me like that?

His long, beautiful fingers on my hips. Christ.

He slides his hand around the back of Mycroft’s neck, thumb stroking the soft skin, and takes a hard, demanding kiss.

“’M’giving you stubble rash, gorgeous,” Greg smiles, brushing his lips over the tender, reddened skin of Mycroft’s chin. His stomach twists with the pleasure of leaving a mark.

The side of Mycroft’s mouth pulls up into a smile that makes Greg’s heart squeeze. “Nonetheless. The stubble is…pleasing.”

“Then it stays,” smiles Greg, kissing Mycroft’s lopsided smile.

“Mmm?” asks Mycroft, thumbs brushing distractingly across the skin low on Greg’s stomach.

“Whatever my husband wants,” grins Greg, brushing his nose along Mycroft’s. “Them’s the rules.”

“These rules sound most – fulfilling,” murmurs Mycroft, grey eyes full of a complicated expression that Greg cannot quite read.

“They can be,” returns Greg, deliberately dropping his voice lower. He grins as Mycroft’s eyebrow flicks up. His stomach flips. “What does my husband want?” asks Greg, and his voice sounds strange to his own ears. Oddly vulnerable.

Mycroft blinks, presses his lips together. “Gregory,” he says at last.

He sounds almost…lost.

Greg runs the pad of his thumb along Mycroft’s lower lip, and smiles when Mycroft kisses it. Deliberately, he makes eye contact with him. “Is this all…’s’this alright?” he asks.

“Yes,” says Mycroft, gravely, without hesitation. A pause, and then he clears his throat. “It is a long time since I have…” his gaze drops away.

God. Jesus Christ. This isn’t easy for him, is it? And still, he’s…with me. Arousal and a strange, warm feeling tug inside his chest. He lays a hand on Mycroft’s cheek. “There’s no pressure for anything,” he says, seriously. “Honestly.”

Mycroft’s half-smile flicks across his face. “Believe me, Gregory, other than some slight apprehensiveness, there is no reluctance whatsoever on my part.”

Greg grins, fingers gentle under Mycroft’s chin, tipping his gaze up so that their eyes meet. He presses himself ever so slightly closer to Mycroft, spreading his legs just a little more, hard cocks imperfectly aligned but pressed together through the fabric of their trousers.

Mycroft blushes slightly, rolling his eyes, unable to suppress a smile.

Greg chuckles, and kisses the corner of Mycroft’s mouth. Easing himself off Mycroft’s lap, he kneels to untie the laces of those expensive-looking shoes. “Way too many clothes,” he murmurs, glancing up to find Mycroft’s gaze. “Just ’cause those two were coming over. Lie down for me?”

Mycroft blinks, but complies. Greg can’t help but note the nervous hands pulling his shirt around him a little. A man that gorgeous, worried about his looks.

Greg lies down next to him, settling himself on Mycroft’s chest, threading their feet together. He’s hard against Mycroft’s hip. The sight of the sizeable bulge in Mycroft’s trousers makes his stomach twist with arousal.

He runs his fingertips slowly, teasingly, across Mycroft’s stomach, nuzzling his head onto his shoulder. “You didn’t mind me waking up here?”

Mycroft’s right hand rests gently in the centre of Greg’s back. “Not at all.” He sounds a bit surprised at his own words.

Greg raises his head and looks up at him. “Can I kiss you again?” he asks, and he can’t help the grin that spreads across his face.

“Naturally,” says Mycroft. He raises an eyebrow when Greg laughs. “What?”

“Nothing.”

“Gregory.”

Greg nudges Mycroft’s shirt aside, kissing just below his collarbone. He looks up, still smiling. “Sometimes you sound just like your brother.”

“Gregory.” Mycroft frowns, sounding appalled.

“Alright, alright, I know, you’ll have me deported and fired…” Greg nips gently at the pale skin of Mycroft’s chest.

Mycroft shivers.

Greg glances up at him. “Yeah?” he asks, softly.

Mycroft blushes, blinks. Greg touches his cheek, gently, demanding eye contact. “Yes,” whispers Mycroft.

Greg kisses the place he’d bitten, then bites it gently again.

Turning on his side, Mycroft pulls Greg close, hand gently insistent in the small of his back.

Greg slips his hand under Mycroft’s shirt, sweeping it up and down his back, revelling in the feeling of touching so much smooth, soft skin.

Mycroft kisses him, softly at first. When he bites Greg’s bottom lip, Greg gasps and groans quietly. “Yes?” asks Mycroft, innocently.

Greg laughs. “Yes,” he returns. “Wicked man.”

Mycroft laughs drily. “I have no idea to what you refer, Gregory.”

“’Course not,” murmurs Greg, brushing his lips against Mycroft’s.

They kiss until Greg is breathless, right hand stroking Mycroft’s back, left tangled in his hair. Greg’s lips feel sensitive, swollen. I never want to stop.

His cock throbs in his jeans. God. How much more of this can I take?

Christ, plenty, you idiot. You’re nearly fifty, not a bloody teenager.

He might not want to do anything, and that’s fine. I can just have a shower before bed.

Kissing Mycroft’s neck, he discovers, is pretty spectacular. The other man’s breath catches as Greg nudges kisses beneath his jaw, behind and below his ear; when Greg deliberately drags his stubble down the length of Mycroft’s neck, he is rewarded with a stifled groan that gets him instantly even harder.

“God,” pants Greg. “You know you’re bloody gorgeous, Mycroft? Christ. I can’t – I c’n hardly think straight –”

Mycroft frowns in confusion or repudiation, but Greg nibbles at his earlobe and the expression dissolves into one of desperate bliss. His hips hitch slightly, their cocks pressing harder together.

Greg pulls back a little, panting hard, and rests his forehead on Mycroft’s. “We should – we should stop? Or –” oh fuck I need you, I need you

Mycroft’s eyelashes flutter. His cheeks are pink, flushed high with arousal. “No,” he whispers. “Gregory…”

Fuck. The way he says my name.

“Thank fuck,” mutters Greg with a breathless huff of laughter, pulling Mycroft into a bruising kiss.

Mycroft’s hand on his back urges him closer still, and gently – fuck, I hope this is okay – Greg thrusts his hips forward. The friction of his aching erection rubbing against Mycroft’s feels incredible. Greg stifles a moan and pulls back to look at Mycroft.

Blushing furiously, Mycroft closes his eyes, pushes his forehead against Greg’s, and thrusts his hips in return.

“Fuck,” breathes Greg, arousal shivering hot and bright down his spine. “Oh, fuck. Mycroft – Myc –” His fingers find the top of Mycroft’s trousers; dip fretfully beneath the fabric at the small of Mycroft’s back. “Let me?” he whispers, shakily.

“Yes,” returns Mycroft without hesitation, eyes still closed.

For a moment Greg’s not sure he’ll be able to manage Mycroft’s buttons and fly; his fingers are clumsy, arousal coursing through him. But then he finds the knack, and gets them open. Mycroft’s cock, contained in soft black cotton, presses from the fly.

Greg’s breath catches, uneven, electrified by the knowledge that he’s a layer of clothing closer to Mycroft. And then his hands are pushed away; Mycroft’s long fingers busy themselves with Greg’s trousers, touches which make Greg gasp – his fingers, he’s – Christ

They thrust together, through their underwear, and Greg kisses Mycroft hungrily, pushing him against the back cushions of the sofa.

“You feel so –” pants Greg, nipping, kissing at Mycroft’s jaw. “Fuck, Mycroft, I can’t even talk. Think.”

“I fear I am – experiencing a similar – effect,” murmurs Mycroft. There’s a rough, desperate edge to his voice that makes Greg want to moan.

Greg puts his hands on Mycroft’s waist and nudges him onto his back, moving to straddle him, catching his hands and holding them above his head as they kiss.

Mycroft arches his back, thrusts up, and groans as Greg thrusts down at the same moment.

The friction feels gorgeous. Greg lays a chain of kisses from Mycroft’s mouth to his ear, then begins to nuzzle down his neck, nipping and licking at soft pale skin. Mycroft gasps, “Gregory, oh –” He shivers. “Stop, oh, stop – Gregory –”

Greg lifts his head to look at Mycroft, flushed and dishevelled beneath him. “Okay?” he asks, voice rough with want.

Mycroft’s eyelashes flutter. “Too – too ‘okay’,” he says, with a wry flick of a smile. “You must not –”

Greg pushes his forehead against Mycroft’s temple. I’m so hard. Am I going to make him come? Fuck. Oh Jesus Christ, how the hell am I going to get through this without disgracing myself?

“Myc,” he murmurs. “Christ. Can I – can I touch you? I’m – fuck, I’m close, you’re drivin’ me mad –”

Mycroft groans, low in his throat. “Please. Yes. I – I too –”

It’s been a long time since I did this, thinks Greg, pushing Mycroft’s underwear unceremoniously aside. Gently, he wraps his hand around Mycroft’s cock, enjoying the way it strains in response to his touch.

Mycroft’s breath catches. Glancing up, Greg watches him biting his bottom lip, clearly struggling not to thrust into Greg’s grasp.

Nothing hotter on this earth than watching Mycroft Holmes struggle not to come.

Jesus. I could do this forever.

“D’you want me to suck you?” he whispers, into Mycroft’s ear. He begins to stroke him, tortuously slowly.

Mycroft arches beneath him. “Gregory,” he murmurs, brokenly. “No. I – like this. Or – together,” he adds, tentatively.

Greg hums approval. My clever, gorgeous boy. Roughly, he pushes his own boxers down and takes them both in hand. “Like this, darlin’?”

Mycroft’s eyelashes flutter against his pink-stained cheeks. “Oh,” he groans, breathlessly.

Mycroft’s cock, steel-hard against mine – Greg begins to stroke them, then brings his hand away, licks his palm, and returns to his task.

The noises he makes. The others he’s holding in. He doesn’t understand I want to hear all of it.

Greg runs the tip of his nose slowly down the side of Mycroft’s. “Open your eyes, gorgeous? Look at me.”

Mycroft blinks them open, a soft moan caught behind pressed-together lips.

“You feel incredible,” whispers Greg, increasing the pace of his strokes. “I’m – I can’t wait much longer,” he adds, a breathless huff of amusement catching in his throat. “’S’too much.” He thrusts against Mycroft, through his grip.

Mycroft groans, clamping down on the noise after a second.

Greg lets go of Mycroft’s hands, propping himself on his elbow. “Put your hands on my hips?”

Mycroft does so, long fingers restless, thumbs teasing the skin of Greg’s stomach.

Greg bites Mycroft’s earlobe. “Take,” he whispers. “Show me what you want.”

Mycroft’s eyes are dark, full of something complicated. He pulls Greg down at the same moment that he thrusts up. They push, together, through the tight circle of Greg’s grip, breaths loud and uneven in the space between them. Desperation courses through Greg, the need to come burning in his veins.

Make him feel good, make this good for him, come on – he waits a moment, thrusting just after Mycroft, additional friction as they push in delicate counterpoint –

“Oh –” Mycroft’s groan is broken, scattered as he breathes out. “Gregory…”

Fuck fuck fuck. Mycroft Holmes is saying my name as he

“Yes,” he whispers into Mycroft’s ear. “Come for me, Myc.” He bows his head, kissing below Mycroft’s ear and further down his neck. “You look so good,” he murmurs, into the pale skin. “So fucking incredible.” He kisses the corner of Mycroft’s mouth. “I want to see you come. Watch you.”

Mycroft gives a broken, choked-off moan, arching his back, hips thrusting up. “Oh – Gregory –”

Greg can feel it, how Mycroft is suddenly even harder in his hand. Greg can’t control his own movements any more, thrusting roughly against him, into his tight grip.

Mycroft bites down on his bottom lip, holding back another moan, and begins to shake, spurting come between their stomachs and onto Greg’s hand.

“Yes,” breathes Greg, not quite sure what he’s saying. “So beautiful, Myc, so gorgeous – yes, oh, fuck, yes –”

He’s coming for me. Mycroft is coming, because of me.

Mycroft’s fingers tighten on Greg’s hips, pulling him down; “Gregory,” he groans, voice rough, and Greg loses all control, thrusting once, twice, desperation and relief breaking through him from the bones out in a sensation so overwhelming he can barely breathe –

He shivers as he comes, groaning out nonsense he can’t remember, using Mycroft’s come to stroke them both through it until he collapses, panting, onto Mycroft’s heaving chest.

After a while – a minute or two? – Greg raises his head. He brushes Mycroft’s chest accidentally with his stubble, making him shudder. Greg laughs, madly, resting his forehead against Mycroft’s shoulder. “God – darlin’ – sorry.” He kisses the soft skin beneath Mycroft’s collarbone. “Sensitive,” he whispers, softly, “after that.” Slowly, he grazes his lips up to Mycroft’s mouth.

There’s apprehension in those dark grey eyes, and Greg wants to make it disappear; he kisses Mycroft’s bottom lip, then the corner of his mouth. “Gorgeous,” he mutters, between kisses.

Mycroft’s eyelashes flutter surprise, but the fear has gone.

Greg smiles against his cheek. “We’ll be glued together at this rate,” he grins.

Mycroft grimaces. “Gregory.”

Greg laughs. “Come'n have a shower with me,” he mumbles. “I’ll hold you up ’f’you hold me. Not sure my legs work anymore.”

Mycroft’s quick half-smile flickers at the corner of his mouth. “A fair trade, I suppose.”

“Thanks for helping an old man out.” Greg stands up and reaches for his t-shirt; wiping Mycroft’s chest and stomach, then his own, he throws it towards the washing machine. He pushes his boxers and jeans down, stepping out of them and heading for the stairs. “C’mon you.”

On the bottom step, he turns and watches Mycroft walking towards him. He has shed his shirt, but his trousers are once again tidily buttoned. Greg smiles; as Mycroft comes close, he runs his palms luxuriously over those pale shoulders, wraps his arms around his neck. Same height, like this. Feels strange. He kisses Mycroft, enjoying the catch in his breath, the tentative progress of his hands from Greg’s waist to his back.

Greg nuzzles at Mycroft’s temple. He smells perfect. Gorgeous. Just exactly…right.

“Never mind about the shower,” he mumbles into Mycroft’s cheek. “Let’s go to bed.”

“Gregory –” Mycroft says, embarrassed amusement in his voice, “I am afraid –”

Greg grins and kisses him. “Yeah, no, me neither,” he chuckles. “I just…that’s what I want, right now. Just…bed. You.” Your skin. Curling up with you, in this… the moment feels delicate, somehow. Greg wants to revel in the glorious closeness, this intimacy.

Mycroft blinks, hesitating, and Greg holds his breath for a moment.

“Very well,” says Mycroft, quietly, sounding rather dazed.

Greg takes his hands, unable to hold back a smile. “Come on you.”

They climb the stairs, pausing to kiss several times, fingers tangled together; next to the bed, Greg puts a hand in the centre of Mycroft’s chest. “No clothes in bed. It’s a rule.”

Mycroft raises one eyebrow. “Is this a husband rule?” he asks, drily.

“Yep,” returns Greg, with an unrepentant grin. His fingers skim the waistband of Mycroft’s trousers, making short work of the buttons and fly. He pushes them and the boxers to the floor and takes Mycroft’s hands again, pulling him onto the bed.

They settle under the covers, and Greg hums his approval as he gets as much of his skin in contact with Mycroft’s as possible. He rests his head on Mycroft’s chest. “Perfect,” he murmurs.

The fingertips of Mycroft’s right hand draw delicate patterns just above Greg’s shoulderblade.

Greg has to suppress a sigh of contentment. “Feel good?” he asks Mycroft, softly.

Mycroft’s chest jumps with a silent huff of amusement. “Yes.” More tentatively, he asks, “– and – you?”

Greg raises his head, making eye contact. “Myc,” he smiles. He finds himself suddenly at a loss for how to say what he means. “You know I do.”

“Signs were encouraging, I grant you,” says Mycroft wryly, but Greg can hear an edge of real vulnerability in his voice.

Greg shifts on top of Mycroft, propping himself on his elbows, and dips his head to kiss his neck.

Mycroft squirms beneath him, breath catching in his throat.

“I know how much you love having your neck kissed, now,” smiles Greg, nuzzling his lips against Mycroft’s jaw. “’S’a good thing to know.”

“Ammunition,” murmurs Mycroft.

Greg looks up, and strokes a finger down Mycroft’s cheek. “Hmm. Doesn’t send you that weak at the knees.”

“I was lying down.”

Greg grins, burying his face back into Mycroft’s neck, kissing and nuzzling his beard against the soft pale skin.

Mycroft wriggles, struggling not to laugh. “Gregory – Gregory! You are – weaponising your ill-gotten knowledge.”

Greg raises his head. “‘Ill-gotten’?” he says, mock-indignantly. “Oi! An’ anyway –” he concentrates his attention on the dip at the base of Mycroft’s throat, kissing it softly, “I am not. ’M’only gently teasing the gorgeous man I just had sex with.” He hears Mycroft’s quick intake of breath but does not look up.

God. He said he hasn’t slept with anyone in ages. Am I doing this right? Is he okay?

Feels gorgeous, here like this. Relaxed and happy. Christ, I am, I’m just – happy.

The wonders of a good shag, eh?

I could make it better for him, though. Next time.

Greg rolls over, taking his weight off Mycroft. He runs his hand slowly up and down Mycroft’s side. “Can I ask…” he trails off, not exactly sure how to put it. Looking up, he finds Mycroft’s dark grey eyes fixed piercingly on his. Greg clears his throat. “Would you…want to do that again at some point?”

Well, that was smooth.

“I mean, not exactly – but – with me –”

Even smoother. Greg can feel his cheeks starting to heat.

The slight frown that flickers across Mycroft’s brow looks like bemusement. “Certainly,” he returns, his calm tone belied by the slight tightening of his fingers on Greg’s back. “If…” he adds, stiffly.

“Yeah. Yes,” says Greg, slightly too quickly. He laughs a little at himself and rolls his eyes. “Sorry. ’S’been so long I’ve apparently forgotten how to have a normal conversation about this stuff.”

The corner of Mycroft’s mouth flicks up for a moment. “I am fairly certain I can outdo your record,” he says, wryly.

“Urgh,” groans Greg. “Are we really going to compete about dry spells? God. Depressing.”

Mycroft half-smiles, and looks away. “There is now no need to do so.”

Something in his voice makes Greg look at him, gaze running over his profile, the long line of his neck.

Is he – what’s he thinking? He seems…I don’t know.

“I’ve…” Greg hesitates, unsure. “Y’know. Had a few dates since the divorce. Some of ’em we even went out a few times.” Mycroft shifts slightly, still not looking directly at him. “And…once or twice. Y’know. Had sex. But it was never…” Greg clears his throat, feeling unbearably awkward and regretting the decision to speak. “It wasn’t…didn’t last. I wasn’t really ready for – anything, to be totally honest. At the time.”

Mycroft turns on his side, facing Greg, and pulls the duvet up over his shoulders. He rests his cheek on his arm. His eyelashes flutter when Greg smiles at him. His lips move, as though he may speak, but in the end he doesn’t.

Greg strokes one finger down the underside of Mycroft’s arm, to his elbow. “Sorry. Don’t know why I’m going on about all that.”

“There is no need to apologise.”

Greg strokes the pad of his thumb gently across Mycroft’s bottom lip. He doesn’t touch, like I do. I want to touch his skin all the time. Is it too much? “I’m glad this week happened. Sherlock’s ridiculous non-plan.”

Mycroft’s eyes widen for a moment; a cautious smile tugs gently at the side of his mouth. “As am I,” he returns, very quietly.

“You know…” Greg pauses. “I’ve always thought you’re hot.”

Mycroft raises one eyebrow. “‘Hot’,” he says, sardonically.

Greg laughs. “Shut up, you. Gorgeous. Bloody sexy. Whatever you like.”

Mycroft’s cheeks tint pink.

Fuck. Well that’s adorable. “Turns out being threatened in a damp warehouse does it for me,” grins Greg. “’S’long as the threatener’s a leggy bastard in a nice suit.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes. “I fear you are not the only recipient of such tender attentions.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know you cheated on me with John,” says Greg, shaking his head mock-disappointedly.

“And several others, who were more amenable to supplementing their income.” Mycroft presses his lips together. “Additionally, I should like to request that you never use the words ‘cheated on me with John’ again.”

Greg laughs. “Sorry.” He’s reaching out to touch the dip at the base of Mycroft’s throat, but deliberately forces himself to hold back. “I – can’t stop touching you,” he says, on a slightly embarrassed huff. “’S’that – okay? Because I don’t have to. Don’t want to make you – uncomfortable, or –”

Mycroft’s fingertips stroke softly along the back of Greg’s hand. “Please.” He hesitates; blinks once, twice. Then, as though having made up his mind to it: “It has been some time, since… I find myself unused to –” he swallows. “It is, however, welcome.”

Heart squeezing with relief and pleasure at the permission to touch, Greg places his palm flat against the side of Mycroft’s neck; slides it slowly to his shoulder. He leans forward and drops a kiss on Mycroft’s collarbone. “Love your skin.”

Mycroft watches him out of the corner of his eye, looking somewhat bemused. “I am terribly pale.”

“Beautifully pale.”

“The difference between our skin tones is somewhat startling.”

Greg laughs and shifts closer on the bed, nuzzling a chain of kisses down Mycroft’s chest. “That’s ’cause you’re ginger.”

Mycroft sighs. “Yes,” he says, reluctantly.

Greg snorts, deliberately making eye contact. “Don’t be like that. You’re gorgeous. Shut up and accept it.” He continues kissing down Mycroft’s sternum, taking a detour to brush his lips close to his left nipple. “Didn’t get a chance to find out, before,” he murmurs, nonsensically, engrossed in circling tiny kisses and licks closer to the dusky-pink, sensitive skin. “Good? Or bad?”

Mycroft’s voice is just the tiniest bit unsteady as he whispers, “good.”

“Mmm,” hums Greg, appreciatively, and continues kissing down Mycroft’s chest. He grins as he hears Mycroft’s amused, frustrated exhale.

Suddenly, there’s a warning hand on his shoulder, long fingers digging slightly in. “Gregory.”

Greg looks up. “Yeah, darlin’?”

Mycroft blushes slightly, and blinks. “I think perhaps I should – shower.”

Greg smiles, and gives a quick one-shouldered shrug. “Whatever you want. Up to you. Don’t be worried though. I’m fully aware of what come tastes like.” He laughs.

Mycroft bites his lip, suppressing a smile. “Nonetheless.”

Greg wriggles back up the bed, winding the fingers of his right hand through those of Mycroft’s left. “C’n I…” he hesitates. “Should we talk about what you’re…interested in? Happy with? In bed, I mean,” he clarifies, awkwardly. “Sorry, it’s just – it sounds like it’s been a while for you, and it’s been – Christ. Over twenty years since I slept with a guy.”

Mycroft opens his mouth, and closes it again. “Yes, I –” he clears his throat quietly. “I am – I believe – relatively open in my preferences.”

Greg raises Mycroft’s hand to his lips and kisses his knuckles, one by one. “Yeah. Yeah, me too.” He smiles up into those dark grey eyes, and takes a breath. “I…there’s one thing I’ve been – thinking about.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow flicks up. “Yes?”

“It’s…I mean, it’s not for now, we’ve not got the stuff and it’s prob’ly way too much pressure –”

Mycroft tucks the corner of his mouth up, hiding a smile. “Gregory.”

Greg gives an embarrassed huff of laughter. “Sorry.” He presses his lips against Mycroft’s knuckles. “I – I mean, I just thought about you – inside me. Me on top. You pulling me down, your hands on my hips.” He closes his eyes, taking a breath. It’s said now. He kisses the back of Mycroft’s hand. “In case you haven’t noticed, I have a bit of a thing about your hands.”

“You asked me to put them on your hips during –”

Greg closes his eyes, smiling against Mycroft’s fingers. He can feel a flush spreading across his face. “You’re just extremely observant, aren’t you, Mycroft Holmes?”

“Is that such a surprise?”

Greg laughs. “Yeah, yeah, alright.” Opening his eyes, he catches a warmth in Mycroft’s gaze that makes his heart leap in his chest. “So…” he says, slowly. “Anything you’re – wanting to try?”

Mycroft looking flustered has quickly climbed the league table to one of my favourite things ever.

Mycroft licks his lips, preparing to speak, and it reminds Greg of the way he’s heard him talk on the phone for work – considered, careful.

“I – confess to having imagined pressing you against the wall of the shower.”

Greg’s breath catches. “See, you seem so prim and proper, Myc, but I’ve a suspicion you’ve a filthy mouth on you when you want.” He grins. “Carry on.”

There’s a spark of amusement in Mycroft’s grey eyes. He shifts their joined hands, placing the pad of his thumb softly against Greg’s bottom lip. “Firstly, in order to fellate you. And subsequently, to fuck you.”

Arousal jolts through Greg’s stomach. Eyes fixed firmly on Mycroft’s, he opens his mouth and licks at his thumb; pulls back to kiss the pad. “Knew it,” he says, happily. He pulls Mycroft’s hand down, to where his cock has grown hard again. Greg groans softly in his throat as Mycroft wraps his long fingers around him.

Shifting closer, Greg kisses Mycroft’s shoulder, his collarbone. “We’re going to have to go and get condoms,” he smiles, “before Boots closes.”

Mycroft Holmes buying lube and condoms in Boots.

Oh god.

He grins against Mycroft’s shoulder, and starts to laugh.

Mycroft’s hand stops moving, and he raises one eyebrow in a frankly terrifying enquiry. Greg’s cock strains at the sight, and the smug smirk that ensues only makes Greg laugh harder.

“Oh, god,” laughs Greg.

“What, Gregory?” asks Mycroft, at the same moment.

Greg flops down onto his back. “Sorry, just…I was wondering if you’d fancy going and buying us some condoms from Boots?” He snorts at Mycroft’s expression, then groans when he feels Mycroft withdraw his hand. He pushes both hands into his own hair, still half-laughing. “Yeah, alright, thought not.”

“Your sense of humour is appalling.”

“You’re far too good at figuring stuff out, and very smug when you do.”

“Undoubtedly. Nevertheless, I now find myself in the position of being able simply to order you to make the trip to a pharmacy.”

“Say ‘Boots’, you posh bastard.” Greg tackles him, kissing and biting at his neck. “No reason the poor overworked policeman should have to wait on you –”

Mycroft wriggles beneath him, trying unsuccessfully to avoid the onslaught. He’s hard again, too. Greg wants him, fiercely.

“Neither of us is exactly fulfilling our contractual obligations just at present, Gregory –” he writhes away as Greg bites gently at his neck. “You must not –”

Greg lifts his head, and gives Mycroft a slow, deliberately-wolfish grin. “Mark your pretty pale skin?”

He feels Mycroft’s cock throb against his stomach. Ha.

Mycroft narrows his eyes, knowingly. “Yes.”

“How about below the collar?” asks Greg. “Fancy sitting there talking to posh Westminster fuckers wearing my marks just under your clothes, hmm?”

Mycroft takes a slow breath and blanks his expression. “Go to the pharmacy,” he says, coldly.

Greg lowers his head, biting and sucking alternately at one spot on Mycroft’s pale chest, until he raises a red mark. “Yes, sir,” he says, mock-insolently, once he’s done. Glancing at his watch, he laughs and sits up. “Actually, I should go, it’ll close soon.”

“Yes, you should.”

“Cheeky bastard.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” says Mycroft, loftily.

“Oh, sorry, you could say ‘facetious knave’ in posh –” Greg laughs madly and ducks as Mycroft throws a pillow at him. He leans back across the bed. “Kiss me before I go, then.”

It turns rather more heated than planned. Greg buries his hand in Mycroft’s hair, pulling him in, closer –

“Go away,” murmurs Mycroft, hands on Greg’s shoulders, grey eyes heavy-lidded. “Awful man.”

“Yeah yeah, sorry,” grumbles Greg, clambering off the bed.

“I suspect you will find me most – appreciative of your sacrifice,” says Mycroft, voice equal parts seductive and ironic.

Greg looks back at him over his shoulder. “What d’you reckon’s the world record time for going to Boots and buying condoms, gorgeous?”

He grins madly as he walks down the stairs, listening to Mycroft’s huff of amusement.

Chapter Text

Greg, picking up lube in Boots, texts Mycroft.

Are you still naked? :) G

The three little dots pop up almost immediately.

Gregory. I am attempting to salvage some small remnant of a working day. MH

Greg grins.

Yeah, but are you naked as you do it? G

I have too much regard for hygiene. This flat – and incidentally this office chair – will be in other hands next week. MH

Greg grimaces, something cold in the pit of his stomach at the thought. He stares absently at the range of condoms available. Guess I’ve sort of been pretending this isn’t going to end. Which is ridiculous. Especially given there’s meant to be a murder suspect turning up in a couple of days.

He sighs. What kind of condoms does Mycroft Holmes prefer? Ribbed? Dotted? Despite himself, he smirks. Pretty sure he’s not a ‘flavoured’ man.

He looks back at his texts.

Guarantee you other people have sat in it naked. Probably oligarch bum prints all over the flat. G

The three dots flicker straight away.

Thank you for that disgusting thought. MH

Give up and go back to bed then. And send me pictures ;) G

I sense a hidden agenda. MH

Really not hidden at all, gorgeous :) G

The dots flicker on, pause, flicker again, and stop. Nothing comes through. Greg pays and heads to the exit.

Anything you want me to pick up for dinner, while I’m out? G

While Mycroft’s typing, Greg wanders slowly towards Tesco.

Salad, perhaps? MH

Greg grins. I know what you mean, gorgeous.

Sounds good. Quick food. More time for shagging. G

The dots ripple, rapid-fire.

Gregory. MH

Just saying what we were both thinking :) G

There’s a pause.

Well, I suppose that is true. MH

Greg laughs, quietly. I probably look nuts, laughing to myself by the salad.

See you in a few minutes. G xx

*

When Greg closes the front door of the flat behind him, he can hear that Mycroft’s on the phone. Bollocks. He really is back in work mode.

He fills the kettle, and sets it boiling; puts the salad bits away in the fridge. He’d bought a couple of bottles of red, too, Googling what was nice as he stood in the shop. He’d spent significantly more than he normally would on wine.

Only the best, he thinks, with a small smile.

“That was Sherlock,” says Mycroft, appearing at the top of the stairs.

“Yeah?” asks Greg, looking up. “Sorry – did he try and ring me?”

“No.” Mycroft looks concerned, lips pressed tight.

“What’s up?” asks Greg, stepping close, taking his hands. “Myc? You okay?”

“I –” Mycroft hesitates. “Sherlock thinks I am wrong to be concerned,” he says, with a distinct lack of conviction.

“What about?” Greg puts his hand on Mycroft’s chest.

“‘Nick’ has left the dating website,” returns Mycroft, with a frown. “I am concerned that perhaps the – attempts our teams have been making on the site were detectable –”

“Shit,” mutters Greg. “What does that mean for all this, then, d’you think? Reckon he’s still going to turn up here?”

“Sherlock is sure that he will keep the appointment. I suppose we can only remain to find out,” says Mycroft, worriedly. “But…” he doesn’t finish his sentence. His hand slips into Greg’s hair, fingers caressing his scalp.

Oh, darlin’.

“Hey.” Greg lifts Mycroft’s hand and kisses his palm. “Don’t worry.” His chest feels full, and he wants to say more, but he isn’t sure how to put it into words.

Slowly, he presses up on tiptoes. “If I kissed you…” he murmurs, smiling softly. “Would that help?”

The corner of Mycroft’s mouth twitches into a knowing half-smile. “It might perhaps help, somewhat.”

“Good,” grins Greg. “Maybe we can improve on ‘somewhat’ as we go along.”

He bites gently at Mycroft’s bottom lip, and then they’re kissing fiercely, until Greg moans low in his throat.

He finds himself backed slowly against the fridge, Mycroft’s hands in his hair and on his hip.

“So you wish me to fuck you,” murmurs Mycroft, and his voice has a gravelly edge that steals Greg’s breath.

“Mmm,” hums Greg, biting Mycroft’s earlobe. “God, yes.”

“And what else?” whispers Mycroft, lips soft just above the neck of Greg’s t-shirt.

“Fuck. Anything, really,” grins Greg. “Pretty sure I’d want most things you did.” He wraps his arms around Mycroft’s waist and pulls their bodies together, as close as possible.

He’s hard, too.

Mycroft kisses slowly up Greg’s neck, to his ear. “And do you wish to fuck me?”

Greg shivers, dropping his head back against the fridge. He can feel his own eyebrows rise. “D’you – do that?”

Mycroft stands tall. After a moment of hesitation, he makes eye contact. His grey eyes are thoughtful. “Yes,” he says, quietly.

It’s written all over his face, thinks Greg. Not usually. But maybe with me. A bubble of warmth expands inside his chest.

He puts a hand on Mycroft’s cheek. “Don’t feel like you have to. Some people aren’t keen, an’ I’m happy either way. Or no way.”

Mycroft blinks, then leans his head into Greg’s touch. “You are kind to say so, Gregory, but it is unnecessary, I assure you.”

Greg kisses him, hand caressing the back of his neck. “We can always stop, no matter what we do,” he murmurs. Deliberately, he catches Mycroft’s gaze. “Always.”

Mycroft’s eyes linger on his, wide and deep. Greg smiles as Mycroft leans in. They kiss again, and Greg finds himself pressed harder against the fridge. Mycroft’s arm slips around his waist, crushing them still closer together.

Greg snakes his hand between them, touching Mycroft through his trousers. “You feel so good.”

Mycroft, kissing along Greg’s jawline, simply hums, low in his throat.

“Bit disappointed by how many clothes you’re wearing though,” smiles Greg.

“Likewise,” murmurs Mycroft, slipping his fingers under the hem of Greg’s t-shirt.

“I went to Boots,” protests Greg. “Pretty sure no-one wanted me to go naked.”

“Nonsense. I am sure the locals would have been most appreciative.”

Greg grins. “Flatterer. ’Fraid us officers of the law can’t go wandering up Knightsbridge high street in the buff.” His breath catches as Mycroft teases at his neck with his teeth. “You were only here though! You didn’t have to get dressed.”

“Gregory. I was speaking to my brother.”

“He couldn’t see you.”

“Nonetheless.”

Greg laughs. “Alright. Silly man.”

“How dare you,” murmurs Mycroft, into Greg’s ear.

Greg groans as Mycroft bites at his earlobe. “Somehow I don’t think you’re too annoyed.”

“I do an excellent impression of equanimity, believe me.”

“I don’t want that,” murmurs Greg, squeezing Mycroft’s cock through his trousers.

Mycroft pulls back and looks him in the eye, doing his best to smooth his expression into one of aloof calm. His hair is slightly rumpled where Greg had run his fingers through it; his cheeks and lips are blush-pink, and his breathing is not entirely even.

Greg grins, happiness swelling uncontrollably in his chest, and pulls him down into a kiss.

It’s weird. I want him again, but it’s not urgent, this time. I could do this for hours. I want to examine every inch of his skin.

“How’d you feel about that shower?” asks Greg, kissing the corner of Mycroft’s mouth.

“Yes,” says Mycroft, simply, and Greg’s stomach flips. I – I think that’s rare, for him. Just ‘yes’. No reservations.

“Come on then, gorgeous.” Greg grabs the Boots bag on the way.

Upstairs, he shakes the lube and two packs of condoms out onto the bed – perfectly made. Because of course he made the bed. God. Greg’s heart squeezes.

“Ah. An ambitious programme, I see.” Mycroft raises an eyebrow at the boxes on the bed. The corners of his mouth are twitching up, despite his attempt to control them.

Greg laughs, and wraps his arms around Mycroft’s waist. “Well, there I was in Boots, asking myself ‘does Mycroft Holmes prefer ribbed or dotted condoms?’ and I had no idea, so.” He shrugs. “I was pretty sure you weren’t a fan of strawberry-flavoured, but if I was wrong…”

A huff of amusement escapes past Mycroft’s impassive façade.

Greg presses up on tiptoe and pushes their foreheads together. “I’m going to take all your clothes off again, now.” He kisses Mycroft, softly. “I’ll just use the loo and get the shower going.”

He does his teeth, too, and looks at himself in the mirror: hair dishevelled from Mycroft’s fingers running through it; cheeks flushed; eyes bright. He grins. Shagged out. Or – well. Not. But soon, hopefully.

He turns on the shower and emerges from the bathroom, pulling his t-shirt over his head as he does.

Mycroft, checking his work phone next to the desk, looks up and bites his bottom lip.

“Oi,” smiles Greg. “Put that down.”

Mycroft does so, stepping closer. He runs his hands slowly down Greg’s arms, raising goosebumps.

Greg undoes Mycroft’s trousers, and slips his hands under the hem of his shirt, seeking warm skin. Suddenly, he feels he can breathe again. Unbuttoning Mycroft’s shirt as fast as possible, he pushes it from those pale shoulders. “Second time today,” he murmurs, shaking his head in mock-disappointment. “You’re a nuisance, Myc.”

Mycroft bends his head and bites Greg’s shoulder, pushing Greg’s trousers and boxers down at the same time. “Undoubtedly,” he murmurs, fond amusement in his voice.

When they are naked, Greg grabs Mycroft’s hand and pulls him into the bathroom; as they step into the shower, he wraps his arms around his waist.

“I missed your skin,” he says, under the spray, kissing Mycroft’s chest.

“It has been under an hour, Gregory.”

Greg looks up at him. “Yeah, I know. Bloody awful.”

Mycroft shakes his head, and blinks, then kisses Greg hard. The rain shower beats down on both their heads.

Greg finds himself turned gently around. Placing his palms flat against the marble wall of the shower, he closes his eyes as Mycroft’s hands stroke shower gel in long, luxurious sweeps up and down his back. Slowly, Mycroft focuses in on Greg’s shoulders, massaging circles with the pads of his thumbs, moving down his spine in a rippling motion that makes Greg groan and rest his head on his forearms against the wall of the shower.

“Christ, that feels incredible,” he groans, as Mycroft’s clever fingers find the place at the base of his spine that suddenly seems to be an unravelling knot of tension. “You’re amazing. This is amazing.” I can feel him smiling, he thinks, as Mycroft kisses his neck.

He feels like he could float. And he’s hard again, he realises, without any sense of urgency; just enjoying, completely, the feeling of being touched. Taken care of.

“You have to teach me how to do this to you,” he mumbles, as Mycroft’s fingers run channels of pure pleasure on either side of his spine.

It’s frighteningly easy to imagine: home, after a long day, and welcoming kisses; missing each other, even just for a few hours. Two glasses of wine, a bath, and long, clever, strong fingers unknotting the day; a slow, deliberate act of forgetting, of reaffirmation, of this is us, this is what really matters

It feels so good he could almost cry. His eyes sting, and he blinks.

Turning around, he takes Mycroft’s hands and holds them under the water to get rid of the shower gel; then kisses each palm in turn. “Magician,” he says, lightly.

“Civil servant,” returns Mycroft, but his grey eyes are fixed questioningly on Greg’s.

Turning his face away, Greg picks up the shower gel and pours out a generous handful. He concentrates on washing every inch of Mycroft’s chest, stomach and back, finding calm in the soothing sweep of his hands across Mycroft’s pale skin.

The bubble of quiet between them is comfortable, and Mycroft touches Greg a little in return: smoothing his hair back out of his eyes; placing the tip of his finger on the faint scar of a knife wound on Greg’s side.

His eyebrows rise, a mixture of curiosity and concern written in his expression.

“Oh, god,” laughs Greg. “That’s years old. Some little shit slashed at me when I was a DC. Off his face on something or other, and scared out of his wits. Didn’t go deep, and healed quickly.”

Mycroft’s lips twist with his conviction that Greg is playing down the injury.

Greg laughs. “Honestly.” He finds himself turned, and feels the pad of Mycroft’s thumb sweep delicately over the mess of tangled skin a few inches above his tailbone, on his other side. “Yeah, that was worse,” says Greg, quietly. “But nowhere near my spine. It healed.”

“When?” asks Mycroft, voice tight with something suppressed.

“Finished healing a couple of months before Sherlock turned up, actually,” says Greg, turning back round and sweeping his palms over Mycroft’s chest. “Been lucky in the past few years.” He tips his head slightly, touches Mycroft’s chin. “Thanks to you two. Sniper shot would’ve been a bit harder to come back from.”

Mycroft’s fingers twitch perceptibly on Greg’s hip. His eyes darken and he looks, suddenly, both as imperious and as scared as Greg has ever seen him.

They look at one another for a long, silent moment.

Greg presses up on his toes and kisses Mycroft with lingering, slow intensity. When they part, his chest feels tight, overfull.

“Anyway,” he says, with a huff of slightly embarrassed amusement. “Don’t think I didn’t see these.” He brushes his fingers over the three circular marks on Mycroft’s left shoulderblade.

Mycroft glances away, gaze dropping.

“Those are cigarette burns,” says Greg, fingers gentle on Mycroft’s cheek.

Mycroft’s eyes meet his with a defiant grey gleam. He nods, once. “A very long time ago.”

“I c’n see,” says Greg. He kisses the marks. “’S’okay. ’M’not asking.”

Mycroft blinks, then runs a hand over his face under the spray. “There is no great story to it, Gregory,” he sighs, quietly. “My – role has changed greatly over the years.”

“That’s – work?” asks Greg, unable to keep the surprise out of his voice.

“It – was.”

Greg breathes out, slowly. “Shit. Um – okay.” He puts his left hand on Mycroft’s chest.

“You assumed it was something…other than work.”

Reluctantly, Greg looks up to meet his gaze. “Honestly?”

“Please.”

“I – wondered about…Sherlock.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow twitches but he remains otherwise impassive. “No,” he says, at last. Then, heavily, “why?”

“I just…I know you used to let him stay at yours a lot. When he was high. I’m sure things weren’t great, sometimes.” Greg hesitates, then gives a dry huff of laughter. “Promise not to get weird about it. ’S’all long in the past.”

Mycroft presses his lips together. “‘Get weird about’ what, Gregory?”

“Promise.”

Mycroft sighs. “Very well.”

“He…threatened me with my own bread knife once. Broke in while I was asleep, y’know, like he does. I got up to check what it was – he was high as a kite, and terrified. He didn’t mean to. But Nas came downstairs just as I was calming him down. Screamed. Set him off again. He – it really wasn’t planned, on his part.”

“Neither of you told me.”

Greg shrugs. “Nah. Well, you two – ’s’never easy between the two of you, is it? I…it wasn’t important enough.”

Mycroft puts both hands on Greg’s shoulders, then slides them up until he is cupping his face. Slowly, he pushes Greg back against the marble wall of the shower. Their breaths are loud in the space between them, and Mycroft’s piercing grey eyes flicker between Greg’s eyes and mouth.

When their lips meet, Mycroft closes his teeth delicately around Greg’s bottom lip and tugs, very slightly, until Greg hisses pleasure-pain, smiling and wrapping his arms around Mycroft’s neck.

Mycroft goes down on his knees, kissing Greg’s stomach, his hipbones, the tops of his thighs. His hands stroke Greg’s sides.

Greg’s fingertips rest, lightly, on Mycroft’s shoulders. He’s teasing me a bit, observing my reactions. Fuck. Oh, fuck.

I want him inside me.

I want him to fuck me, slowly, until the only thing I can say is his name, over and over a-fucking-gain.

When the long fingers of Mycroft’s right hand wrap around the base of his cock, Greg catches his breath and lets his head fall back against the marble. “Myc,” he murmurs, but his voice is lost in the sound of the spray.

He can’t help but watch. Mycroft’s lips – clever ridiculous beautiful smart-Alec diplomat-politician’s lips – stretching to take him in; the feeling, incomparable, warm, encompassing –

Oh, fuck, I’ve needed this – this feeling, and all along I’ve needed you, exactly you, without knowing

Warmth, tightness, and the slick soft lapping of Mycroft’s tongue; the flicker of fair-ginger eyelashes against delicately-tinged cheeks, and Greg cannot stop the wander of his own fingertips, stroking, caressing, digging into pale bunched-muscle shoulders – surprisingly strong, holding me down, back, against cold marble, oh fuck

The shock of eye contact – sudden, dark grey and knowing – as a very deliberate trick makes Greg gasp; a tongue that follows, mines a vein of pure pleasure to the head of his cock, flicking, insistent, at the ridge and just below, a place that makes Greg’s eyes want to roll back with yes, oh god, yes

Greg’s fingers find the back of Mycroft’s neck, tentative, rubbing softly, restless on warm skin, at the line of wet hair.

Teased, now, Mycroft’s head rising and falling along the length of him; lips mostly, the occasional flick or curl of tongue to the head of his cock. Waves of pleasure building with the tight, caressing glide, and the sharp, animal twist in the pit of Greg’s stomach as he watches the reddened stretch of Mycroft’s lips.

Fuck. Oh god, he’s good at this. ‘A long time’, he said, but did he mean everything? Or is there some lucky bastard in Westminster who gets a fucking spectacular blow job every so often? Greg frowns slightly, adjusts his shoulders against the wall; pushes the thought firmly away. He opens his eyes and looks down to find Mycroft watching him. Smiling, Greg runs the pad of his thumb along the line of Mycroft’s cheekbone, then gasps as Mycroft shifts to take him deeper, suck him harder.

Greg laughs, breathlessly. “Fuck.”

You look so fucking pretty like this, Myc.

What’d he say, if I said that to him?

Bet he could dirty-talk me into the ground – oh, Christ

Right hand wrapped around the base of Greg’s cock, Mycroft has begun pulling him in long, smooth strokes, mouth and hand working together. His grey eyes are dark, full of amusement and sharp concentration, and his movements are deliberate: I could make you come anytime I wanted. Anytime.

Greg groans, left hand flying into his own hair, pulling hard for control. His pleasure, formerly so unhurried, is suddenly acute; he fights it, fights himself, squeezing his eyes shut against the barrage of overwhelming sights and sounds. He wants to hold Mycroft’s head still, push into the warm, welcoming tightness, fuck his mouth.

“Myc,” he moans, fingernails tight in the meat of Mycroft’s shoulder. “Stop. Fuck. Stop.”

He gasps a laugh as Mycroft raises one eyebrow and runs his tongue slowly around the head of his cock. “You’ll make me come.”

Mycroft’s other eyebrow rises too. “Mmm.” He might as well’ve actually said ‘duh’.

Greg’s stomach twists. “No. No, not yet.” He strokes Mycroft’s cheek with his thumb. “Darlin’,” he adds, smiling.

Reluctantly, Mycroft draws back, slowly relinquishing; licks his lips, red and swollen.

“C’mere, please,” murmurs Greg, because behind the need to bite those pretty lips is the desire, just as overwhelming, to wrap his arms around Mycroft’s waist, to get as much of their skin as close together as possible. He winds his fingers with Mycroft’s, and pulls him to his feet.

There is surprise in Mycroft’s eyes as he is pulled in. Gently, he clasps Greg’s hands in his own and pushes them up, against the wall above their heads. Holding them there, he kisses Greg’s arm, his shoulder, the curve of his neck.

Greg bucks his hips, pushing his hardness against Mycroft’s. “’S’go to bed.”

“Eager,” murmurs Mycroft, voice a little rough.

“’D’you think I wouldn’t be?” smiles Greg, taking advantage of his hands being freed to run them through Mycroft’s hair, to wrap his arms around Mycroft’s neck. “After you sucked me like that?”

Mycroft gives him a smile that makes an attempt to hide its pleased smugness.

On the bed, towel wrapped around his hips, Greg rips the plastic off both packs of condoms and the lube. He stretches his arms, his shoulders, his neck, as he feels Mycroft run a towel gently over them.

He must’ve taken his own towel off to dry me.

“Perhaps I am a little surprised that you wish to…” murmurs Mycroft behind him. His long fingers stroke Greg’s shoulder, his bicep.

Oh. Greg drops the condoms and lube on his pillow, and turns around. Stretching himself diagonally across the bed, he looks up at Mycroft. His gaze is lowered, avoiding eye contact.

“Why?” asks Greg.

Mycroft’s eyelashes flutter. Greg reaches out to wind their fingers together.

“I suppose – you were married to – for so long –” his discomfort is obvious.

What, so you thought I wouldn’t be comfortable getting fucked?

“I’m a ‘whatever feels good’ sort of guy, Myc.” He squeezes Mycroft’s fingers, demanding eye contact. “’S’long as it’s good for both of us. And – I know I sound like a broken record, but if this is too much for now –”

Mycroft stretches out next to Greg, on his side.

Not close enough. Greg shifts them together, nuzzling beneath Mycroft’s jaw, pressing kisses into his skin.

“Gregory…” whispers Mycroft, as Greg licks the dip at the base of his neck. “Tell me what you want.”

Greg smiles, pulling back to kiss Mycroft’s chin. “You in the business of wish-fulfillment, Mycroft Holmes?”

“Hardly. I should make an appalling fairy godfather.”

Greg snorts a laugh. “Maybe I should lead with the fact the thought of you fucking me made me come in the shower the other day.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow twitches. “Spontaneously?” he asks, deadpan. “Or were there other factors in this equation?”

Greg rolls his eyes, grinning. “Yeah alright, Myc, I’ll say it, shall I? I was wanking thinking about it.”

“How delightfully truthful of you, Gregory.”

“You asked, gorgeous.”

“Perhaps I should also ask for a demonstration.”

“Visual learner, are you?”

Mycroft smirks, and Greg leans in to kiss him. As they kiss, slowly, Greg pushes himself up on all fours.

Mycroft makes a dissatisfied, questioning noise, hands on Greg’s shoulders.

“’M’not going far,” murmurs Greg, with a smile.

“Where are you going?” Mycroft’s tone makes it clear just how unacceptable this is, and Greg’s chest feels warm, full.

“Just want to kiss the rest of you,” he whispers, into Mycroft’s side. “Never got much of a chance to explore, earlier.”

Mycroft squirms as Greg allows his stubble to scrape gently down the soft, pale skin at his ribs. Greg grins, and lays a chain of kisses towards Mycroft’s stomach.

“Gregory…” Mycroft’s long fingers dance discomfort on his shoulders. “I –”

“Myc,” murmurs Greg. “Gorgeous. You turn me on so much, you know that? All this pale skin. And long beautiful legs I’ve not even had a chance to kiss yet…” The bright red hair on Mycroft’s stomach brushes Greg’s lips, and he hears a quick intake of breath.

Mycroft’s hard, his cock lying across his stomach. Greg kisses closer, teasing, the occasional brush of his cheek or stubble making Mycroft gasp. He nuzzles his nose into the crease below Mycroft’s hipbone, breathing him in, learning the pattern of pale freckles.

He kisses lower, lips brushing a path from freckle to freckle. Occasionally he stops to bite, soothe and lick; he makes his way slowly, exploring Mycroft’s thigh, enjoying how he can make him tremble with the lightest of touches.

He discovers that Mycroft’s ankles are quite ticklish.

Oh god, how I’ve missed this: making someone laugh. Learning every inch of their skin.

Greg’s hands run gently over Mycroft’s shins, his knees, his thighs. Unhurried. Relishing the texture of every place against his palms, his fingertips. When he makes those noises…

Greg’s still hard.

Mycroft’s hands catch his, pulling him up the bed.

“Mmm?” murmurs Greg into Mycroft’s ear. “You okay gorgeous?”

“Gregory,” says Mycroft, and his eyes are soft. “It is I who should be…” he presses his lips together.

Greg’s chest feels full, bursting. “I love this,” he whispers. He can feel himself smiling. Beaming. He can’t stop.

Mycroft’s gaze rakes his face, and he blinks, quickly, twice. “I – too,” he returns, quietly.

Greg kisses him, gently, tongue teasing his bottom lip.

“So, about us…having sex,” he murmurs, when they part. “It’s been an incredibly long time, for me. This, I mean.”

“As it has for me, too.”

Greg sets a hand in the centre of Mycroft’s chest. “I’ll need plenty of preparation.”

“Naturally.”

“I don’t always come. Even when it feels incredible.”

Mycroft nods, simply.

Greg grins. “And with an old bloke like me – well. Working against the odds, twice in one day.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes, a hand in Greg’s hair. “You must tell me what feels right as we continue.”

“’Course.” Greg hooks his leg around Mycroft’s and shuffles closer. He looks up at him through his eyelashes.

Mycroft’s hand on Greg’s chest is gentle, pushing him firmly down to lie on his back.

Fuck. He can be so tender, I forget what it’s like when he’s in charge.

‘Tender’? Jesus Christ, Greg. Get a grip.

Greg pulls a pillow under his neck, getting comfortable. Mycroft’s right hand drifts slowly down, brushing first one nipple, then the other.

Greg gasps. Mycroft smiles.

I love that he’s not trying to hide his smile any more.

Mycroft reaches up for the lube, squeezing it liberally into his right palm. He settles on his side, head on his left hand, grey eyes fixed on Greg’s face. He warms the lube, and when he encircles Greg’s cock his hand slides with ease along its length.

“You planning to watch me?” asks Greg, grinning breathlessly.

“Yes,” says Mycroft, and his smile is smug.

Greg laughs and shifts a little, arching his back. Mycroft is building an insistent rhythm of smooth, tight strokes that has him squirming already. “Why?” he asks, innocently.

Mycroft smirks. “Because watching your face as I bring you to the edge of climax and refuse to take you any further will, I suspect, be uniquely satisfying.”

Greg’s eyebrows shoot up, and he lets out a quick huff of surprised laughter. “There’s that filthy mouth again, Myc.”

“I understood you to say that I should continue to articulate all such thoughts.”

“Oh, you definitely should. I’m not complaining.”

“Similarly, I imagine that observing your expression as I push first one and then two fingers inside you will be highly arousing.”

Greg’s stomach twists. “Christ. Fucking hell.” His cock throbs in Mycroft’s grip and he fights the urge to push up.

Mycroft adds a swipe of his thumb to the head of Greg’s cock that makes him stifle a moan. He leans down to take Greg’s earlobe between his teeth, tugging it gently.

“Oh, fuck,” whispers Greg. He strokes Mycroft’s chest with the flat of his hand, running his fingers restlessly over the place he’d marked earlier. He rolls his hips. “Myc…”

Mycroft claims his mouth in a demanding kiss, biting hard at his bottom lip. “Gregory?” he murmurs, silkily.

“You’re making me feel too good again.”

Mycroft’s lips curve against his. “My apologies.” His hand slows, but his grip tightens, luxurious waves of pleasure buffeting Greg’s ability to think.

Greg laughs breathlessly. “What’ve I got myself into?”

“Undoubtedly something of a mistake.”

They kiss, slowly, lazily, breaths and whispers exchanged in the space between their lips as arousal winds tighter and tighter in the pit of Greg’s stomach.

Eventually he gasps and pulls back from the kiss. “Darlin’,” he says, urgently.

Mycroft stills his hand. He is flushed, eyes bright. “For such an ancient, worn-out husk of a man, you appear quite –”

Greg snorts and pokes him in the ribs. “Bastard.”

“You insisted on warning me, Gregory –”

Greg flops back onto his pillow, laughing, and covers both his eyes with the heels of his hands. “Yeah, an’ I should’ve remembered who I was talking to, shouldn’t I? Stubborn bloody Holmes.”

“I have no idea what you mean.”

“’Course not, gorgeous. Pretty sure you’re planning to wind me up to the point that I come the minute you’re inside me.”

“There is no such expectation on my part, Gregory.”

Greg squirms as Mycroft pours more lube into his palm. “Oh, god…”

Mycroft smiles, softly, and Greg tries not to be overwhelmed by the spark of gentle humour in those grey eyes.

Fucking hell. He loves doing this, doesn’t he?

One long finger glides down the length of Greg’s cock, which strains to the touch. Mycroft’s moving lower, though, making Greg gasp; he has to hold back a moan as Mycroft cups his balls, begins to rub his perineum.

“Spread for me,” murmurs Mycroft, into his ear. He turns, slightly, pulls a pillow down the bed. “Up.”

Greg lifts his hips obediently, and opens his legs. With his hips up, he feels somehow much more exposed, more vulnerable.

Perhaps Mycroft sees a change in his expression. His fingers do not still, but he leans in to take a kiss, slow and soft.

Him watching me is hot but Christ – he’s going to be inside me.

Fuck. It’s such a long time since I last did this.

His heart is speeding. No matter how good what Mycroft is doing feels – the fact that I want him to do this – we only kissed for the first time a few hours ago

Greg screws his eyes shut, arches his back, groans as Mycroft’s long fingers stray down – long, gentle sweeps of sensation brushing across his very centre –

We kissed, just a few hours ago, and now this.

When this is over, this week, he’s not going to want anything to do with me, is he?

We’ve built ourselves a bubble. This flat exists outside time, for now, and when it’s over, I’ll be back to ‘Detective Inspector Lestrade’ and hardly ever seeing him. Only it’ll be worse when I do, because I’ll know he’s funny, and thoughtful, and that he smells exactly right when I bury my nose in his neck, and that he’s got a filthy mouth, and that he’s amazing at back massages and sucking me off, and that he likes to watch me squirm.

His heart sinks, cold, and he tries to focus on the feeling of Mycroft’s fingers stroking at him, teasing –

Reaching up, eyes still closed, he pulls Mycroft down into another kiss.

After a moment, Mycroft pulls back. “Open your eyes,” he says, quietly. Every word is enunciated beautifully.

Slowly, Greg blinks his eyes open.

“Keep your eyes on mine.” Gently, Mycroft’s first finger pushes just inside.

Greg’s breath catches, and he’s afraid to think what he looks like. What’s my face doing right now? God knows.

He’d forgotten how easy it is to get overwhelmed, lost in the sensation of being breached, taken – how can this feel so big?

He wants to close his eyes.

“Gregory.”

“Myc –” it’s too much, he’s almost panting, out of his depth.

“Relax,” purrs Mycroft, and if it was anyone else, Greg might snap at them that you can’t just relax on command, can you –

But his voice is so calm, and those eyes are full of warmth. To think I ever thought he was cold. To think I ever thought he didn’t know how to deal with people. He just doesn’t…see the point of hanging out with many people, maybe.

Which means I’m one of the ones he doesn’t mind being around. Maybe – maybe we could – after this week – after all…

Fuck, Greg, you’ve got in over your head here.

He relaxes. Bears down, deliberately, despite the stretch.

Mycroft crooks his finger, intentionally but with infinite care.

“God,” hisses Greg. “Long-fingered – bloody – shouldn’t feel like that – yet –” he rolls his hips, slightly.

Mycroft, clearly trying to hold back a smile of pure delight, brushes his lips across Greg’s cheek to his ear. “It ought to feel as good as possible for you, Gregory.”

Greg tips his head, seeking kisses. He needs them, needs the fragile press of Mycroft’s lips against his own. “Mycroft Holmes, secret sex god,” he murmurs, with a smile, against the corner of Mycroft’s mouth.

Mycroft raises an eyebrow. “What is so secret about it?”

Greg huffs a laugh. “Well, you never told me.”

“You did not ask.”

This time, Greg laughs properly, cutting himself off with a muttered “fuck –” as Mycroft begins to move his finger again. “An’ if I had asked?” he resumes, breathlessly. “What would you’ve said? ‘Yes, actually, Detective Inspector Lestrade, my prowess in the sack is legendary? Care to try me out sometime’?”

Mycroft bites his earlobe. “Perhaps.” He kisses below Greg’s ear, a chain of nuzzles and licks to his neck.

“No you bloody wouldn’t,” teases Greg. “You’d’ve said ‘bugger off, you jumped-up public servant’.”

“I am a public servant too, Gregory.”

“I think we both know who’s a bit public-servant-ier than the other one.”

Mycroft huffs against the base of Greg’s neck. “You are quite ludicrous.”

“Come back here, please,” murmurs Greg. Just – kiss me, alright? Just fucking kiss me.

He’s surprised by his own neediness.

Mycroft is moving his finger in and out, now, slowly, crooking it occasionally so that sensation peaks into crests, backing down again when Greg’s breathing gives away the shock of pleasure.

Greg’s not sure when it happened but it’s gone from too much, too large to more, I need more. “Two,” he whispers, against Mycroft’s cheek. “Give me two.”

“Open your eyes.”

When he does, Mycroft is watching him, analysing, grey eyes intent. The laser focus takes Greg’s breath more thoroughly than anything merely physical could. He wants, and is half-surprised to find that he’s still hard.

Mycroft smiles, satisfied, and draws his index finger gently free. More lube, and the pads of his fingers, teasing, rubbing –

“Myc.”

When Mycroft’s fingers push back inside, it is so much more but Greg still wants it, needs it, and this is better. He grinds down, intent, wanting to get the preparation over with so the next part can begin.

“Gregory.” Mycroft’s fingers still, and his eyebrow is imperious.

“What?” mutters Greg. Part of him doesn’t want to admit that the tone of voice is working for him. “We can…speed things up a bit, now.”

“It will take until I am happy that you are entirely ready.”

“An’ you say I’m ludicrous.”

“You are.” Mycroft pushes a little further, ghosting the pads of his fingers over Greg’s prostate with unfailing instinct. “Quite ridiculous to think that I might risk hurting you by failing to prepare you correctly.”

Greg moans as Mycroft builds a restless pool of warmth inside him, pleasure that rises and falls with the movements of his fingers, but seems to mount, steadily, slowly, all the same.

God, he’s good. And – of course he bloody is – right. I’m still tight. Greg feels full. Just a little too full, still, but he’s on the edge of more, please, again. He wants to growl or groan or bite – to expel, somehow, the pleasurable frustration mounting inside.

Mycroft shifts slightly next to him on the bed; pushes Greg down onto his back. Greg kisses him, bites hard at his bottom lip, until Mycroft hisses a gasp.

Greg moans and lets go when Mycroft rubs with slightly more deliberate pressure. “Devious bastard.”

“I have never claimed to be otherwise.”

“Alright. Honest devious bastard.”

“Yes.” Mycroft’s eyes sparkle with amusement and arousal.

“’M’sorry,” murmurs Greg, reaching up to kiss his reddened, bitten bottom lip. “’M’just all…” he trails off.

“Wound up?” whispers Mycroft, shifting into feather-light circular touches of Greg’s prostate.

Greg laughs, a bit hysterically. “You could say that.”

Mycroft’s fingers glide, now, in and out; and it’s not enough.

“Fuck me.”

Calmly, Mycroft props himself up on his elbow. Gently withdrawing his fingers, he again uses more lube, and presses two fingers steadily back in; a long, slow slide.

Greg can already feel how Mycroft’s cock is going to hit exactly where he needs it – “oh fuck,” he whispers, and only after a moment does he realise that it’s his own voice. “Oh God, oh fuck –” and because he doesn’t want it to stop, “Myc, Myc, please, yes, oh fuck, yes –”

The winding, spreading pleasure is stealing all his attention, now, but Mycroft is speaking.

“Open your eyes.”

“Oh –”

“Gregory. Open your eyes.”

There’s a moan in Greg’s throat as he does; not a protest, but perhaps a plea for mercy. He feels edgy, full, desperate. “Please,” he whispers, looking deep into Mycroft’s eyes. “Fuck me.”

For a second, he sees it: the tiniest movement of the eyebrow, a flicker of vulnerability alongside the need. It makes his chest hurt.

Greg puts his hand on Mycroft’s face. “Darlin’. Fuck – I need you.” When Mycroft does not move, Greg reaches up above his own head, until he finds a pack of condoms. He turns it over. “Dotted alright?” he grins.

Mycroft rolls his eyes slightly, attempting to suppress a smile. “The preference should be yours, since –”

“Whatever makes you fuck me,” smiles Greg, opening a condom. “Come here. Or take it.”

Slowly, with great care, Mycroft withdraws his fingers. Greg gasps, shifting his hips. He catches a flash of concern from beneath Mycroft’s eyelashes, and smiles. “Stop worryin’.”

He shifts onto his side, throwing the condom packet onto the floor. When he wraps his hand around Mycroft’s straining cock, Mycroft presses his lips into a tight line, a slight hitch of breath in through his nose.

Greg kisses him as he rolls the condom on, teasing Mycroft’s lips apart with his tongue. Once it’s on, they kiss for a few more moments, then just breathe, foreheads together.

“How –” murmurs Mycroft, at the same time as Greg says, “are you –”

“Please,” says Mycroft, a little stiffly.

Christ. It takes so little to make him unsure again. He’s still got no idea how much I want him to do this. Greg nuzzles his cheek, kissing towards his ear. “Will you – sit up, maybe?” he whispers.

Mycroft sits up, back against the headboard, surrounded by pillows. Greg climbs into his lap, straddling him, not quite able to believe how empty he feels, how much he wants to be filled.

Mycroft’s hands are gentle on his back, sweeping arcs across his skin.

Greg searches for the lube, which he finds under a pillow. Taking Mycroft’s hand, he pours a generous amount into his palm, and smiles.

Mycroft’s lips twitch in return. As he begins to touch himself, spreading the lube along his cock, he raises an eyebrow at Greg. “I believe it was I who asked for a demonstration, not you.”

“Can never tell how things’re going to turn out,” teases Greg. He leans in, kissing the soft pale skin in front of Mycroft’s ear. “You look good, Myc. So fucking good, doing that.”

Mycroft’s left hand tightens, slightly, on Greg’s hip.

Greg covers both Mycroft’s hands with his own, enjoying the slide along Mycroft’s cock for a moment, before drawing his hand away. He places both Mycroft’s hands on his own buttocks, holding that cool grey gaze. I want to feel you pull me down. Split me open.

He kneels up, wrapping his hand around the base of Mycroft’s cock; getting comfortable, he leans back, supporting himself on Mycroft’s thigh.

Mycroft is looking up at him, watching his face with a deep, hungry expression that makes Greg’s breath catch.

“Ready?” asks Greg, in a whisper. His voice sounds rough, strange.

Mycroft smiles, and digs his fingernails very slightly into Greg’s buttocks.

Greg grins, leaning down to kiss him. How does he know what I need?

Slowly, he positions himself. Presses the head of Mycroft’s cock against his entrance. Gasps as he pushes down, breathing through the strange, incomparable feeling of being breached.

He gasps against Mycroft’s lips once the head is inside; not even kissing now, just breathing together. When he opens his eyes, Mycroft’s calm grey gaze meets his.

I must be tight, thinks Greg. And the fact that he’s not letting it show on his face – he can’t decide whether it’s infuriating or hot. Both, probably.

“Pull me down,” he whispers against Mycroft’s cheek.

Mycroft’s long fingers stroke gently across the sensitive skin of Greg’s buttocks; spread him a little, teasingly, then tighten. Apply pressure. Pull.

“Oh,” murmurs Greg, resting his forehead against Mycroft’s. “Oh, oh –” he concentrates on relaxing, accepting, bearing down. It’s too soon to feel exactly good yet. But –

Mycroft’s eyes are fixed on his, and Greg couldn’t look away if he wanted to. There’s a demand in that gaze, a vulnerable sort of need that makes Greg’s chest ache.

Mycroft pulls him slowly down, as far as he can go, and the feeling of being filled has Greg panting, gasps of air against Mycroft’s lips.

“Fuck,” whispers Greg, bringing both hands up to Mycroft’s shoulders, then cupping his face. He doesn’t know what to say; what could convey the almost-painful swell of emotion in his chest. He could cry, if he let himself. “Myc.”

Mycroft’s arms wrap around Greg’s waist. It’s almost a hug, now; clinging together.

Is he feeling it, too? This – the need to hold? Get close?

How much closer could we get, you idiot?

And:

He prepared me so well.

He can already feel how full is turning into move. More. Please.

“I need to – I –” he groans slightly, a huff of amusement in his throat. “God. Can’t talk, sorry.”

Mycroft smiles. “You seem remarkably lucid.” For a moment he seems like he’ll say more, but he bites his lip and remains silent.

“I need to move,” murmurs Greg, kissing Mycroft’s bottom lip, his chin. “I – God. Christ, Myc. I need – more. Already.”

This time, Mycroft’s wish to speak seems to break the bounds of his restraint. “You are unaware of what you saying my name is – doing to me, Gregory,” he whispers, grey eyes dark.

“Your name?” smiles Greg, ignoring the flash of deep, aching arousal running low in his stomach. He nuzzles Mycroft’s jaw. “You don’t mind ‘Myc’ now, then?”

The corner of Mycroft’s mouth turns up in a half-rueful smile. “Just now I should not mind what you called me.”

Greg’s heart squeezes. He should tease – keep things light – but he feels raw, full, wanting only to be close. “I won’t abuse it,” he smiles.

Hands on Mycroft’s shoulders, he begins to move; tiny exploratory rocking motions at first, followed by a press up that moves Mycroft out an inch, and back in. He groans. “Christ. It really is a long time since I last did this.”

Mycroft’s palms are flat in the small of Greg’s back, a comforting, grounding presence. The pads of his thumbs describe arcs across skin made sensitive by arousal. He leans in, kissing Greg’s neck with languid enjoyment.

Greg experiments, building up – inch by inch – to a slow, smooth glide along Mycroft’s rigid length. He doesn’t yet attempt to find a position in which to stimulate his prostate; he simply gets used to the feeling, to the stretch, to the building, overwhelming tension of yes, fuck, yes, more.

“You feel –” whispers Mycroft, into Greg’s neck. He does not finish his thought; but the strain in his voice, the reminder that Greg’s actions, his exploration, are driving Mycroft towards coming  – Greg gasps, lips soft against Mycroft’s temple.

“Yeah?” he murmurs. “’S’okay for you?”

Mycroft’s huff of amusement is warm against the base of Greg’s neck. “‘Okay’ could, I suppose, describe it.”

Greg grins, pulls back; deliberately finds Mycroft’s gaze. “Touch me?” He wants to come with Mycroft inside him; it’s suddenly important to him, lodged as a necessity in his chest.

What if this is the only time?

He pushes the thought away, violently, digging his fingernails into Mycroft’s shoulders.

Mycroft gives a soft hiss through smiling lips. “Have you yet –”

“No,” smiles Greg. “Not been trying yet. Just – still getting used to it.”

Mycroft gasps as Greg pulls up until just the head is still inside; then sinks slowly back down. Greg watches Mycroft’s face, savouring every tiny play of expression.

Mycroft is watching him in return, lips slightly parted, breathing not entirely even. His right hand makes a loose fist around Greg’s half-hard cock. For now, he does not move it. “Lean forward a little,” he says, quietly.

As soon as Greg shifts forward he can feel it. Tendrils of the warm, frustrated pleasure built by Mycroft’s careful preparation – “Myc,” he moans. His cock twitches in Mycroft’s fist.

“Yes, Gregory,” murmurs Mycroft, and his tone makes Greg shiver. ‘Gregory’ might as well have been sweetheart, or darling, or baby

He rests his forehead on Mycroft’s, lets his eyes fall closed. “You feel so good,” he groans. “I’m so full – ’f’you.”

Mycroft’s left hand moves down, caressing Greg’s buttock; cupping it, long fingers grasping, laying claim. “Move for me,” he coaxes. “Move again. Just as you did last time.”

Oh god. Oh god – the way he speaks to me – asking? Ordering? I can’t decide

Mycroft strokes Greg’s cock once, lightly, top to bottom. His fist is held too loosely to provide release, but Greg groans and pushes forward a little, into the grip.

He feels suddenly edgy, full; he could come, fucking himself hard and fast on Mycroft’s cock. But if he waits, he has no doubt that Mycroft will make this right for him. Perfect.

Slowly, still leaning forward, he raises himself, thighs shaking. There – oh – Mycroft’s cock hits his prostate with every movement, now, a long slow slide of almost agonising pleasure. “Oh, fuck,” whispers Greg against Mycroft’s temple. He’s fully hard in Mycroft’s fist.

“So, Gregory,” says Mycroft, in his ear. “Is it as you imagined as you masturbated in the shower?”

Fuck. Christ. That shouldn’t make me ready to come on the spot.

Greg lifts his head to make eye contact. Mycroft’s gaze is alight with arousal, and just a hint of amusement. “Better,” he murmurs. “It’s just what I imagined. I couldn’t – I couldn’t quite get how you’d look at me.”

Mycroft blinks twice, then tightens his grip on Greg’s cock, stroking him with more purpose. His left hand urges Greg closer still, and he rolls his hips, pushing up.

“Fuck,” gasps Greg. “I – yes. Oh, fuck. Do that – keep – keep doing that.” He grinds down as Mycroft pushes up.

Mycroft’s breath comes in gasps, his cheeks tinged with pink.

Greg buries both hands in Mycroft’s shower-damp dark auburn hair, fingers twisting, tilting Mycroft’s head back for a kiss, biting down on his bottom lip and running the tip of his tongue across its sensitive, smooth inside.

Mycroft’s left hand tightens on Greg’s buttock, urging him into a faster rhythm.

Greg raises and lowers himself on the hard length inside him, trying to hold in a moan as warm, spreading pleasure floods low in his stomach. His hands flow back to Mycroft’s shoulders, gripping and kneading.

Mycroft’s right fist is a teasing pressure on Greg’s cock, moving with him, never quite allowing him to push himself through it.

Greg gasps a frustrated laugh. “Bastard,” he murmurs.

Mycroft’s smug answering smirk twists when Greg clenches his muscles around him.

Mycroft gasps. “I might say the same to you.”

“If you’d just give me what I want –” whispers Greg, against Mycroft’s lips.

“Am I not?” asks Mycroft, with a roll of the hips.

Greg’s breath catches. He leans his forehead against Mycroft’s temple. “Should’ve remembered Holmeses have to win every argument.”

Mycroft pushes a kiss under Greg’s jaw, then begins to kiss and lick lower, down his neck. “Put your hands up on the wall,” he murmurs.

Dazedly, Greg does as he’s told.

Mycroft’s lips brush his collarbone, then his chest, over his heart. Only when Mycroft runs his lips gently over the sensitive pink nub of his nipple does Greg groan with realisation.

“You’re going to give me a heart attack,” he mumbles, as Mycroft’s tongue flicks out to swirl around the nipple, intense sensation shooting directly to Greg’s cock.

“Unlikely,” returns Mycroft. “Given your job and perfectly delightful physique, I am quite sure you are in robust health.”

Greg laughs properly this time, leaning his head against Mycroft’s. He feels filled, aching from head to toe with pleasure and the dawning, cresting need to come. He surrenders totally. “God,” he laughs, softly. “How can you be so – how c’n you – inside me and still so –”

Mycroft gives one last lick to Greg’s nipple and tips his head back; looks up. His eyes are dark, full of something Greg can’t quite categorise. “You take my articulacy as an insult, in the circumstances.”

“If you could just babble incoherent crap like I do, that’d be great.”

“You wish me to retain the sense of my comments?” asks Mycroft, in the flat tone that – Greg has learned – means he’s being really bloody cheeky.

“Complimenting my ‘physique’? Yeah, alright. Feel free to carry on doin’ that.” Greg gasps as he pushes down onto Mycroft again, then bites rather viciously at his pale earlobe.

With the flat of his tongue, Mycroft licks a long, slow stripe across Greg’s nipple. “You are quite stunning, Gregory.”

Greg’s heart squeezes. Bloody hell.

“Still pretty bloody articulate,” he teases, bringing one hand down to stroke softly through Mycroft’s hair.

“‘Hot’,” says Mycroft, sarcastically, and Greg throws his head back, laughing.

He cups Mycroft’s chin in his hand and pulls him into a kiss. “Alright, alright,” he grins, breathlessly. “File it under ‘things I should never’ve said to you’.”

“Certainly not,” murmurs Mycroft.

Greg smiles, and kisses him again. At last, he pushes his forehead against Mycroft’s. “I need –” he almost moans. “Please.”

Mycroft looks at him sternly. “What do you need?”

Greg growls, low in his throat. “I need your hand,” he says, slowly, enunciating with precision. “I need you to make me come.” He groans as he grinds down on Mycroft’s cock. “I – I can’t take much more.” His voice sounds strange, rough and desperate.

“Mmm,” hums Mycroft, kissing Greg’s neck. “We are, of course, working against the odds. Twice in one day, for a man of your…”

Greg moans and bites Mycroft’s shoulder, panting hot breaths against the pale, freckled skin. “Oh, god. Cheeky bastard.” He clenches his internal muscles, his thighs, and sets a punishing pace, fucking himself hard and fast on Mycroft’s cock. Pleasure jolts through him; he’s hitting his prostate with every stroke but it’s more that every movement seems to be accompanied, now, with a kind of welling, building bliss –

Mycroft bites down on Greg’s neck, and people might actually be able to see that but oh, god, I fucking hope so, I want people to know that I’m – that we

Greg’s cock throbs in Mycroft’s fist, and at last his grip is satisfyingly tight – he must’ve used more lube, because Christ – Greg pushes up into Mycroft’s hand, which only serves to intensify the sensations inside him.

“Oh god, oh fuck, Myc, Mycroft, Myc –” he can barely speak, and has no attention left for what he might be saying –

“Gregory,” murmurs Mycroft, softly. “You can have no idea what you look like.” The tightly-controlled strain in his voice is one of the hottest things Greg’s ever heard. His hand strokes Greg’s cock in time with the frantic pace of his movements. “I wish to watch you. Now.”

Greg moans, looking down into Mycroft’s deep grey eyes – he whispers “Myc, oh fuck –”

As Greg starts to shake, Mycroft’s left hand moves up and wraps around his waist, pulling him close, pulling him in and down as hard as possible onto his cock – and Greg’s spurting over Mycroft’s hand, his chest, desperation breaking suddenly into searing pleasure as he grips onto pale freckled shoulders, groaning out Mycroft’s name –

Greg registers, through the haze, lips and teeth and hot breath against his neck, then:

“Fuck,” bites out Mycroft, in a whisper; his hips are restless, thrusting shallowly up, and Greg realises he’s still striving for control, somehow –

He takes his left hand from Mycroft’s shoulder – dug my fingernails in, looks like it’ll hurt – and tugs Mycroft’s head back by the hair. He presses their foreheads together. “Come,” he urges. “Fucking hell, Mycroft. Come in me. I need you. I fucking need you.”

The quiet whimper that escapes Mycroft’s lips as his control finally breaks makes Greg groan. Greg rides him, grinding down, cupping Mycroft’s jaw in one hand, thumb smoothing along his cheekbone.

At last, Mycroft’s eyelids are heavy, languid with excess of pleasure, with relief. He wraps both arms tight around Greg’s waist.

Greg runs one finger over the pink crescent marks on Mycroft’s shoulders. “I’m sorry darlin’,” he murmurs. “Might’ve got a bit carried away there.”

Mycroft blinks and smiles, lazily. “You may, I fear, need to affect a scarf.”

Greg puts his hand up to his neck. “Yeah, I felt you do that,” he grins.

“My apologies, Gregory. I – forgot myself.”

Greg’s stomach swoops with arousal. He gives a quick, one-shouldered shrug. “Nah. I kind of like it.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow flicks up. “Will you feel the same at the police station on Monday morning?”

Greg’s heart sinks. Can’t we just forget about that?

Mycroft runs a hand up Greg’s back in a long, soothing arc, then gently shifts his hips.

“Oh,” murmurs Greg, sadly. He widens his eyes, looking down into Mycroft’s.

What if that was the only time?

Well you’ll just have to make sure it isn’t, won’t you?

Mycroft smiles. “I am afraid so,” he says, kissing Greg’s pouting bottom lip.

Greg gasps as they separate, suddenly feeling the ache inside, in his thighs, in muscles he hasn’t used for years. He collapses onto the bed, flat on his back, and waits for Mycroft to come back from the bathroom.

When Mycroft returns, the hectic pink flush is fading a little from his cheeks.

Greg opens his arms, desperate, suddenly, for Mycroft’s skin again, to be as close as they can manage. He feels empty without him, a little unmoored. “C’mere, darlin’,” he smiles.

When Mycroft settles himself on Greg’s chest, Greg nuzzles his cheek against auburn hair.

Mycroft’s right hand is on Greg’s side, and Greg realises after a moment that those long fingers are stroking the edge of his old bullet wound.

Oh, gorgeous. His chest feels warm and full. He tightens his arm around Mycroft’s shoulders.

“We should really make dinner,” he says, drowsily, after a while.

Mycroft shrugs, slightly, but returns no other answer.

“Not sure I can be bothered,” murmurs Greg. “What d'you think?”

Mycroft shakes his head against Greg’s chest.

“’M’going to make you eat a proper breakfast in the morning, though,” says Greg. “So be prepared. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Mycroft huffs a little laugh.

Greg smiles. “Come on you. Let’s get under the covers.”

When Mycroft is tucked up behind him, when his knees meet the back of Greg’s, when his hand lies softly in the centre of Greg’s chest – Greg gives a deep sigh of contentment.

They drift, for a while, occasionally murmuring something or other; heads together on one pillow. Greg is falling closer to sleep by the moment.

“Perhaps – after this week…” murmurs Mycroft. “Perhaps we might…”

“Mmm,” mumbles Greg, dizzy with sleep, with warmth and contentment and safety. “Yeah, darlin’. Whatever.” Anything you want. Whatever you want this to be, it can be. I’ll do it, sweetheart. Even if it’s not as much as I want – still, maybe we can have something.

Greg falls into deep, oblivious sleep.

Chapter Text

Greg floats for a while between sleep and waking, eyes closed. He aches, pleasantly. And he’s hard.

Blinking his heavy eyes open, he remembers, and a pang of disbelief cuts close to his heart.

Did that – fucking hell, did that really happen? He turns over, but Mycroft’s side of the bed is empty. Greg runs his hand into the space.

Must’ve gone to the gym. Never gives himself a break, does he?

Come back, gorgeous. I’d happily go for round two, even if I do ache like hell. He smiles, and shifts his hips with lazy, restless arousal.

Come back.

Christ, I need to piss.

Groaning, he rolls out of bed and pads into the bathroom. He does his teeth, waiting for his morning erection to subside, then takes a piss. As he washes his hands, he looks at himself in the mirror.

He can’t stop grinning.

Oh, Myc. You don’t know what you’re missing, being out right now. Step one of…whatever this is going to be: making you understand that I really, really love morning sex.

Good thing you’re used to exercise first thing, darlin’.

He splashes his face with cold water and wraps a towel around his hips. He could do with a coffee before his shower, and a look at his emails. He wants to read through it all again. I’ll get there. I’ve got everything I need to get this sorted.

He whistles as he walks down the stairs, and when the blow comes, all he feels is pain blooming out from his nose, his head, and he feels himself fall, and then –

*

“Novel weapon, the kettle,” murmurs an unfamiliar voice. “Less cliché than the frying pan, the cudgel of choice of all fictional matrons and housewives. Less amusing, though, sadly. Still, gets the job done.”

Greg feels sick. His face is hot, and itchy. He tries to open his eyes, and the sliver of daylight is accompanied by a splitting, tearing pain in his head that convinces him he’s actually going to throw up –

“Don’t add vomit to the upholstery of this doubtless-expensive couch,” says the voice, amusedly. “You’ve already bled all over it.”

Greg lets his eyes fall closed again. Christ. Fuck. My hands are – they’re tied up. His stomach lurches in panic.

Where’s Mycroft?

“Hope you don’t mind,” adds the voice, in a mock-coy manner that turns Greg’s stomach, “but I did take a little peek under that towel. You are a sexy policeman, aren’t you? Very nice. Very nice indeed.”

Greg fights down nausea, and concentrates on trying to open his eyes.

Keep him talking. Find out where Mycroft is.

“Why –” he manages. His throat feels thick and full, and he realises slowly that everything tastes of iron, of blood.

Fuck. Nose probably broken.

He – ‘Nick’, I s’pose – chuckles lightly. “‘Why’?” His voice is a parody of Greg’s choking gulp. “Suddenly a police detective and his partner want to date me? The one who works with Sherlock Holmes? Jesus. You’ve got the usual amount of brains for a policeman, I see.”

“Admission,” slurs Greg, still attempting to open his eyes properly.

‘Nick’ laughs. “Oh dear. That little bonk on the head really didn’t help your natural thinking disadvantages much, did it?”

Greg’s heart clenches, cold. He’s not planning to leave. Which means I won’t be, either.

Oh, fuck. Oh god. Has he hurt Mycroft? Or – ?

He swallows down yet more blood, hot and sickening at the back of his throat.

“Why?” he repeats, more roughly this time. Fear and fury sharpen his attention, and he forces his eyes open. He struggles to focus.

“They’ll get in, eventually,” murmurs the voice. “I’ve been impressed, actually, by all the work your lot have put into breaking the site’s encryption. I underestimated the police on that front. Shame you detectives aren’t as sharp as your IT teams.”

Greg opens his mouth to ask where Mycroft is, but something – some buried instinct – tells him to wait. He swallows again instead, trying to breathe through his mouth.

“Sit up,” says Nick, impatiently. “Can’t listen to you anymore.”

Greg’s head pulses with pain as hands pull him roughly up into a sitting position on the sofa. Immediately hot blood runs down his chin, instead of back into his throat. There’s an irritating warm trickle down his temple, too, and he blinks, realising that his head must be bleeding.

It feels like sacrilege, knowing that this man’s handprints are covering, erasing Mycroft’s.

The last fingerprints on my skin could’ve been his, and I – I would’ve been okay with that.

Greg opens his eyes properly, fighting down another wave of nausea. Nick’s good-looking, in a bland, underwear-model sort of way. Probably goes down well on the sites, thinks Greg, dully.

“You know this isn’t going to end well for you,” rasps Greg, tiredly. “Why – this? Now?”

Nick’s eyes are full of a dark kind of triumph. He looks at Greg, eyes slowly following the trails of blood down his neck. “Why not?” he says, at last. “Why the fuck not?”

Something shakes itself loose in Greg’s brain. “Because,” he says, slowly. “Because this isn’t what you get off on.”

Nick leans forward, slightly, as though he can’t quite stop himself. The naked fascination in his face – the greedy desire to be examined – disgusts Greg. Silently, barely moving, he tests if there’s any give in the thin rope around his wrists. There isn’t.

“You need the dynamic,” says Greg. “You need the couple. You need to get in between them. Fuck ’em up. Makes you feel powerful.”

Nick gives a short, sarcastic laugh. “I am powerful.” His eyes slip to the notes and files spread across the kitchen counter, the table. His smile tips, a fondly modest simper that makes Greg swallow again, sickened.

“You want the emotional – what? High?” asks Greg, mouth twisting. “Before you kill ’em?”

Nick does not answer. His wide blue eyes are full of amusement.

Greg’s revulsion has formed a tight, angry knot in the pit of his stomach. “What the fuck is this, then?” he says, twitching his bound wrists.

Nick reaches out and smears at the blood running down Greg’s neck. He slips one finger through it, following the line of Greg’s jaw. “Well, I know it’s not exactly what you asked for, baby,” he murmurs. He looks around, blue eyes wide with theatrical dismay. “But your partner wasn’t around, so I thought we’d just get started. See how we go from here.”

Greg swallows, fear cold in his chest. “My – partner,” he says, slowly.

Nick gives him a flirtatiously disdainful sidelong glance. “Don’t,” he murmurs. “Another man lives here. One with a lot more money and much better taste than you.”

Greg almost laughs, heart swooping, because Mycroft was already gone by the time he broke in, Jesus Christ, fucking hell, he’s okay, he’s fucking okay –

Don’t come back, darlin’. Please don’t.

“Well, that’s true,” he says, almost lightheartedly.

“So what, you shacked up with Holmes?” asks Nick, with a conspiratorial grin. He’s sitting on the coffee table, looking directly at Greg. His hands are on his knees, almost as if he’s about to meditate.

Greg realises, with a shock, that Nick means Sherlock, not Mycroft.

“I always assumed Holmes was with that Watson bloke,” muses Nick. “But I can see it. You and him.”

Greg blinks, right eyelid heavy with thick, cooling blood. “Something like that.”

“Got a ring, I see,” says Nick, nodding to where Greg’s hands lie curled in his lap. The towel seems oddly, brightly white to Greg’s aching eyes. He’d expected it to be bloodstained, but it’s not.

Greg tries to control the instinctive urge to curl his hands away from the  gaze. “My marriage,” he says, vaguely.

Nick smirks. “Guess we know who cheated in that one, then.”

Greg’s stomach knots, fear and anger roiling hot and low in his belly. He tries, desperately, not to let it show on his face.

“You don’t want to cheat on this one,” adds Nick, a contemptuous smile curling the corners of his mouth. “So you thought you’d try this instead. See if it gives you the same…kick.”

Jesus. There’s got to be a story behind this.

Greg swallows. He tries to keep his voice neutral, keep the revulsion out of his tone. “So what, then,” he asks. “You let them think you’re just – that you’re going to –”

“Sometimes we do,” says Nick, sinuously. “Sometimes I come back.” His eyes flick to the files, and he leans closer, conspiratorial. “Liam and I – we had a bit of a thing going on. Sometimes with his husband, sometimes without.” He leans back, stretches. “You should’ve seen his husband’s face.”

“I have,” says Greg, between gritted teeth.

Nick’s eyebrows rise, and he grins. “Yeah. Yeah –” he stands up and makes his way over to the kitchen counter. He seems drawn, fascinated.

A cold shudder of disgust creeps down Greg’s spine. The idea of Nick touching – looking at – the crime scene photos makes his skin crawl. Getting off on them. Working himself up before he gets to me.

But this isn’t – me alone. Christ. He’s going to wait for Mycroft to come back, isn’t he? He’s going to drag it out, because that’s what makes him light up. When he sees the partner’s reaction.

Greg drags at the thin rope around his wrists, trying everything, anything, to break it. Burning pain shoots through his wrists as he twists the rope, trying to find even the tiniest bit of slack. He keeps one eye on Nick, searching through the files.

He’s standing side-on to Greg. He glances up amusedly. “You can rub them raw, baby. Not going to do any good.”

Panic threatens to close Greg’s throat. He’s breathing through his mouth, his nose a sodden, clotted explosion of pain. His head is throbbing, heavy. Pretty sure I’ve got concussion, he thinks sluggishly.

Part of him just wants to go to sleep.

He stares at the man doing this, and the miserable ordinariness of evil strikes him once again. A crisp white shirt, slim grey jeans and leather shoes. He’s well-dressed, and his haircut looks expensive. But you can tell it’s nothing like the quality Mycroft wears.

Mycroft. Oh, god, Mycroft. Don’t come back here, darlin’. Please.

His eyes keep trying to close, and he won’t let them because he needs to keep his eyes on Nick, got to know where he is – maybe there’s something –

Something I can

The two shots feel like punches to Greg’s gut – and there’s noise, demanding his scattered, dulled attention – a man screaming, and it’s Nick, on the floor –

And suddenly Mycroft is in front of him, white-pale, eyes burning with what looks to Greg like undisguised terror. He’s wearing his gym clothes, and his hands are at Greg’s face – not touching the nose – and on his shoulders, his sides, touching, touching, as if he has to check everywhere –

“You took your gun to the gym,” says Greg, stupidly, and then he realises that the warmth on his face is tears, and it hurts even more because his broken nose burns, and he can breathe only in gasps.

Greg hears voices behind them, at the door, in the corridor. His head is spinning and Mycroft’s cold hands are around his own – grasping, holding – he realises Mycroft’s trying to untie the restraints around his wrists but not managing, because his hands are shaking –

Greg blacks out.

*

“He’s back with us.” It’s John’s voice, and every background noise says: hospital. “Greg? You alright?”

Slowly, Greg blinks his eyes open, half-expecting still to find it difficult, to be working against a weight of clotted blood. He’s still having to breathe through his mouth, and he can feel that there’s pain, though in a muted way.

“They reset your nose,” says John, with a half-smile. “You look like you’ve gone ten rounds.”

“Hardly,” croaks Greg, then coughs. “He just hit me.” John’s holding a straw to his mouth, and adjusting the angle of his bed; a few sips of water help his throat, although trying to drink with no other way to breathe is horrible.

“Well you’re going to have some impressive bruising to show for it. And the lump on your head’s a good one.”

Greg grimaces, blinking, looking around the hotel room. “Sherlock?” he asks, thinking: Mycroft?

“He’s –” John hesitates for a moment, “– with his brother.” He can’t quite mask the surprise in his voice.

“Here?” asks Greg, eagerly. I need to see him. Thank him. “Is he okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, all fine,” says John, and there’s an edge of curiosity to his tone. “He’s – I think he and Sherlock are in work mode to be honest.”

“Here?” demands Greg, again.

John shakes his head. “Nah. You know them. Big black car, Mycroft’s people all over the place, and off they went.”

Greg’s heart clenches, and he sinks back against the pillow. “The – Nick?” he asks, more hesitantly.

John purses his lips. “Mycroft – shot him,” he says, eyebrows raised. He shakes his head at the question clearly forming on Greg’s lips. “Both legs. He’s in the hospital. Not here.”

Greg can feel tears of relief stinging behind his eyes. He closes them, and breathes deeply through his mouth.

“Clean shots, too,” says John, still sounding surprised. “Obviously had – practice.” He’s inviting confidences, clearly curious.

“Did he…” Greg keeps his eyes closed. “Was he – alright?”

John’s silent for a few moments, and eventually Greg opens his eyes.

John chooses his words carefully. “He looked…shocked.” He licks his lips. “But he had just shot someone,” he adds.

“Yeah,” nods Greg, regretting the movement as pain shoots through his head. “Yeah,” he repeats, more quietly. “’S’Rosie okay?” he adds after a moment, purely to disrupt the shrewd stare John is giving him.

“She’s fine,” says John, and his tone says: don’t think you got away with that one. “Mrs Hudson’s got her for now, but visiting hours are over soon, so I’ll have to go then anyway.”

Greg resists the urge to nod. “Can you drop me off at mine?” he asks.

John snorts. “No chance. You’re on concussion watch here, because you definitely have one. You blacked out. And you’re on the good stuff for your nose and your head. You’ll be surprised by how much it hurts once they discharge you. Normal painkillers won’t make much of a dent. Just – stay here. You’ve got a private room and everything. I’ll be back tomorrow to get you home.”

Fuck, yeah. I do have a private room. No prizes for guessing who sorted that out.

Surely Mycroft Holmes doesn’t have to abide by visiting hours? Maybe he’ll come. Greg’s skin feels tight with how much he wants to see Mycroft.

“Thanks,” he returns, attempting a smile at John. “Cheers.”

“See you tomorrow, then,” says John, standing up and taking his coat off the back of the plastic chair. “Get some sleep.”

“Yes, doc.”

John gives him a quick half-smile, and raises a hand in final farewell as he closes the door.

Greg reaches out for the cup of water, and raises it slowly to his lips. He’s shocked to find his hand is shaking.

He finds the TV remote and cycles slowly through a few channels; there’s nothing he particularly cares about, and he finally falls asleep to the drone of a programme about a couple hunting for a house on the Costa del Sol.

*

When he wakes, there’s a nurse in his room.

“Alright Mr Lestrade?” she asks, cheerily. “How’re you feeling?” She’s got a Northern accent.

“Where’re you from?” he asks, before he thinks about it.

She smiles. “Burnley. Well, near.”

“That’s it,” he says. “Knew it was somewhere like that.”

She holds the straw to his lips. “Least you didn’t say Newcastle, like one lady yesterday.”

Greg chuckles, and takes a sip of water. “Thanks.”

“How’s your head?” she asks.

Greg tries nodding, experimentally. His head still thuds dully, but most of the pain is concentrated in his nose. “Better, I think. Yeah.”

“That’s good,” she says, picking up his chart from the bottom of the bed. “You’ll be wanting some breakfast, and these are to have with it.” She puts a couple of white pills in a pot onto the table next to the bed. “They should be round soon.”

“It’s tomorrow?” Greg asks, then realises how stupid that is. “I mean – I slept – how long did I sleep?”

“You must’ve had plenty,” she says, giving him a sympathetic smile. “Best medicine, really, as my Nan always says.” She nods to a door to Greg’s left. “There’s a bathroom in there – if you take a shower, make sure you keep your head out the water. You’ve got stitches in, and the dressings for your nose need to stay dry.”

Greg mumbles “thanks,” and gives her another smile. “Um,” he adds, urgently, as she heads for the door. “Sorry – you don’t know if – if anyone came here, do you? To see me?”

She shakes her head. “Sorry – it wasn’t visiting hours so it’s not likely, but I’ve not heard of anyone.” She closes the door quietly behind her.

Realising how much he needs a piss, Greg pushes back the sheet and tests his legs. It’s okay, and once he’s used the loo he turns on the shower, suddenly wanting nothing more than to get his skin clean. He thinks of handprints, fingerprints: Mycroft’s. Nick’s. Mycroft’s again.

His hands were so cold. He was shaking. Greg sees again in his mind’s eye the ghost-white shade of Mycroft’s face, the terror in his dark grey gaze.

He scrubs at his skin with the hospital-issue soap.

*

Back in bed, Greg discovers his mobile on the table next to him. Someone had turned it off, presumably to preserve the battery. He climbs back into bed, and powers it back on.

There might be something from him, he thinks, watching the manufacturer’s logo go through its familiar sequence. His heart squeezes in his chest.

There are a lot of missed calls and texts – emails piling up in his work inbox. He checks through. Sally – Mrs Hudson – a few other colleagues. An unrelated email from his brother.

Nothing from Mycroft. Nothing from Sherlock, even.

He lies back against the pillow, looking at his phone as if it has somehow failed him.

Is he – maybe he’s angry with me? That I made him shoot Nick?

Unease coils in Greg’s gut, guilt and shame stinging through him. Wandering around the house in just a towel, no idea there was a murderer lurking downstairs.

And I call myself a policeman.

He turns the TV on, relieved when he feels sleep pulling at him again. He curls his fingers around his phone. There’ll be something from him when I wake up, he thinks. Bound to be.

*

“Alright, you lazy old man,” says John’s voice. “Brought you some clothes. No-one needs to see your wrinkly old arse in that hospital gown.”

“We’re the same age, you prick,” mumbles Greg, blinking awake.

“We bloody aren’t.”

“Basically,” mutters Greg, checking his phone. More calls, more texts: nothing from Mycroft. His heart sinks. “Does Sally know what’s going on?”

“’Course,” says John, putting a bag of clothes on the bed next to Greg. “She got there after a bit, yesterday. Had a row with one of Mycroft’s team. You were already out, by then.”

Greg sighs. “An’ –” his heart hammers. “Mycroft? Is he – is Sherlock – are they –?”

“Sherlock’s got Rosie at home,” says John. He licks his lips, looking fixedly at the bag of clothes he’d brought for Greg. After a moment he shrugs. “He said Mycroft’s – alright.”

Greg nods. “Right,” he says, numbly.

“Have you eaten anything?” asks John, looking at the side table. Greg turns to look, too, then guiltily shakes his head.

“If those are your morning painkillers, we should get you something,” sighs John. “You get dressed, I’ll pop to the Costa downstairs. Sandwich or something?”

Greg can’t think what he might want, really. He doesn’t particularly fancy eating. “Yeah. Thanks.” As John closes the door, he climbs out of bed and starts pulling on the clothes. He feels slow and clumsy, every movement more difficult than it should be.

He’s angry. Or – or maybe – now that things have gone back to normal…maybe he’s regretting it. What we did.

Greg fights back the sting of tears, pulling the dark grey jumper on over his t-shirt.

John makes him eat the sandwich and take the painkillers before they leave the hospital, and Greg discovers that he’s hungry after all.

*

It’s strange being back in his flat. Its air of gently untidy emptiness puts him on edge.

He misses Mycroft.

He misses gold murals and tacky lamps and stupidly overpriced furniture and marble bathrooms and home gyms and Mycroft. Myc.

He checks his phone again. Nothing.

He knows he needs to shop, just for the basics. Enough to wash down the painkillers the hospital had given him, anyway.

He crawls into bed, and puts his phone on to charge next to him.

*

When he wakes, there are more messages from colleagues. The work football team he plays with occasionally have caught on, and there’s a whole thread of banter-filled well-wishes. One from Sally, saying he’s signed off for a week, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Finally, he sends a text.

Hi Mycroft. Thank you for everything. Home from the hospital now. Hope you are ok. Greg xxx

He thinks about signing it ‘Gregory’, but he can’t bear to – if he’s regretting it, that’ll just make it worse…

He watches his phone, willing it to come to life with a reply of any sort.

He uses the loo and does his teeth. His reflection in the bathroom mirror is pretty awful: a stitched cut across his temple, bruising around his eyes, and a brace and dressing across his broken, swollen nose. Maybe I should be glad Mycroft doesn’t want to see me, he thinks, wryly. A memory of Nick’s finger, running up his neck, along his jaw, slick with thick, hot blood. Greg swallows, and turns away.

He pushes on his shoes; goes through the mechanical, ritual check of keys, wallet, phone. He walks to the small Tesco at the end of his street, and picks up milk, bread, pasta, sauce, and a frozen pizza.

He checks his phone every few minutes, and tries to ignore the curious stares he receives both from the staff and from passers-by.

He’s glad to get back to his own flat.

He puts the pizza in the oven and turns the TV on, just for some background noise.

He’s regretted all of it, and decided to just have a…clean break, he thinks, numbly. And then, nonsensically, I wish I’d managed to do something. Help somehow. Get away from Nick. Myc wouldn’t’ve had to – and I could’ve – we could’ve talked, maybe

His stomach is cold, knotted tight. He’s suddenly not sure if he can eat. He curls his hands on the back of a kitchen chair, gripping hard, thinking about never putting his arms around Mycroft again.

Never burying his nose in the crook of Mycroft’s neck, or fumbling to get rid of his many layers of clothes, or breathing him in, filled with that sense of right, oh god, perfect

He checks his phone. Nothing.

He eats the pizza, slowly, staring absently at the TV. It’s on a channel with regular ad breaks, and it babbles the same nonsense over and over. He can’t be bothered to change it.

He’s just washed up when the buzzer goes, making him jump. He dries his hands on the teatowel as he hurries over to the intercom, picking up the phone. “Yeah?”

“Let me in, please,” says Sherlock, tersely.

Wrong Holmes, thinks Greg, without really meaning to. He presses the entry button, and crosses to hang the teatowel back up.

When he opens the door, he finds Rosie dumped unceremoniously in his arms. Sherlock gives his usual impression of suppressed energy.

“Careful,” is all he says by way of greeting. “Watson’s into headbutting people at the moment.”

Greg looks down at the little girl, who regards him with wide, dark blue eyes. She settles her little fist on his shoulder, then looks at Sherlock, enquiringly.

“His face looks so appalling, Watson, because he was hit hard by a bad man and had to go to hospital.”

Rosie looks back at Greg, and asks, “My?”

Greg blinks.

“Où?” she asks after a moment, as if questioning the very stupid.

“She saw you together, last,” says Sherlock, in a flat drawl that attempts to hide his pride.

Greg swallows hard. “Je n’sais pas, ma choupette.”

Sherlock frowns at him. “You speak French?”

Greg shrugs one shoulder.

“My,” says Rosie, crossly.

Sherlock sighs, rolling his eyes. “Intolerable. He has forever associated himself with the French language in my daughter’s mind.”

“Why not?” mutters Greg. “He’s her uncle.” He settles Rosie more comfortably on his hip. “Tea?”

“Yes,” says Sherlock, leaning against the arm of the sofa. He hasn’t taken his coat off.

“What will Rosie want? I’ve got squash.”

“That will be fine.” There’s a slightly awkward moment of silence. “I have not yet seen this flat.”

Jesus. Is this what Sherlock trying to make small talk is like?

“Yeah, well. Didn’t really feel like a housewarming, when I moved in. And you wouldn’t come to something like that, anyway.”

“Doubtless John would have made me.”

“Yeah, an’ you’d’ve set fire to something to get away,” says Greg. His head’s throbbing. He’s not really up for trading ill-matched wits with Sherlock, today.

“You have just eaten,” says Sherlock, flatly.

“Yeah,” mumbles Greg, not even bothering to ask how he knows. The washing up’s still on the draining board, after all. He turns, holding Rosie well away from the kettle as he pours two cups of tea.

“Did you take the painkillers that the hospital will have given you?”

Greg puts the kettle back on its cradle. “Oh. No.”

Sherlock stands, and takes back his daughter. “Then I suggest you do so. Where is the squash?”

“Top cupboard.” Greg gestures vaguely with his hand, and goes to the bathroom. He takes the two prescribed painkillers, scooping water from the cold tap.

Confused and wrong-footed, he remembers Mycroft’s face, carefully blank: he values you highly.

Sherlock has settled in a kitchen chair, Rosie in his lap; he is helping her take sips from a glass of squash. Greg’s cup of tea sits opposite, and Greg suddenly has the impression that he’s found himself on the wrong side of the interview table at work.

“What made you think of the painkillers?” he asks, dropping into the chair.

“John told me to ask,” returns Sherlock. He glances up. “Additionally you have an unhealthy grey pallor, beneath all the bruising.”

“Thanks,” mutters Greg, into his tea. “Should’ve known having you around would really boost my self-esteem.”

They both take sips of tea.

“You were at the crime scene,” says Greg, at last. “Anything interesting? Helpful?”

Sherlock shrugs. “The case was solved already,” he says, curtly. “Thanks to my brother’s overreaction it will take far longer to convict the murderer, and if he gets a good defence lawyer he may be able to use his injuries as leverage for a reduced sentence.” Sherlock tips his head. “However, he was at least in the process of attacking an officer of the law, so that will tell against him.”

“At least,” mutters Greg, too tired to even roll his eyes.

Sherlock rolls his, instead. “Your head injury has further impaired your thinking capacity, I see.”

“You sound just like him. Nick,” says Greg, staring numbly at Rosie.

Sherlock sighs, dramatically. “My brother. Overreacted,” he says, slowly, as to the extremely stupid.

Greg flicks his eyes up briefly, to where Sherlock’s silver gaze seeks to pin him. He looks quickly away. “Didn’t feel like an overreaction to me. At the time,” he says, stubbornly.

Sherlock sighs, loudly. “I know that you and Mycroft have been physically intimate.”

Greg’s heart jolts, adrenaline fizzing down his spine. “Sherlock –” he stares at Rosie, who is running one small finger down the side of her glass.

Greg puts a hand over his eyes, then takes a sharp breath in as pain shoots through his nose. “Ow – f–” he hisses, instead of swearing. “What the –” And then it hits him. “You were poking around the f– fudging bins, weren’t you?”

“Yes. As, I might remind you, were forensic teams from both the Met and the security services.”

“Jesus. F–” Greg catches his breath and closes his eyes. “Christ how do you live, without swearing?” he mutters. “Why are you telling me this?”

Sherlock sighs. “I am telling you, firstly, that my brother overreacted. And secondly, that both your workplaces are now fully aware that you had a…”

“Yeah, thanks,” cuts in Greg, tightly. He stares at Sherlock. “And what’s that supposed to mean? Am I meant to be embarrassed, or something? ’Cause I’m not, apart from the fact I’m now apparently discussing it with his brother.”

Sherlock rolls his eyes again.

“Look, Sherlock, I’m very tired. My head’s banging, it feels like someone tried to spread my nose across my face, and this is one of the more awkward conversations I’ve ever had in my life. Could you just say it? Whatever it is? Plainly, like a normal human being?”

Sherlock sighs, theatrically, and maybe it’s Greg’s imagination that there’s sympathy in those mercurial silver eyes. “For a long time my brother has had a horror of those in authority over him perceiving in him any – weakness, at all –”

“Great, so you’re just here to tell me I’m a weakness to him? Some kind of – inconvenience –”

“Shut up, Lestrade.” There’s an edge to Sherlock’s tone that silences Greg immediately, a vulnerability behind the clipped speech. “We were – it was clear, during our childhood, that sentiment of any kind was –” Sherlock seems to search for the correct word, “– undesirable.” He swallows. “It has proved – long-lasting, as a conviction.”

Greg nods, once, but doesn’t speak.

Sherlock’s gaze cuts away. He glances down, and helps Rosie take another sip of squash. “Mycroft isolates himself,” he says, at last. He takes a breath. “As I did.” He looks up, fixing Greg with a fierce look. “It can be superficially satisfying to enter a realm where only the life of the mind matters,” he says, flatly. “It also cannot, and should not, last.”

Greg thinks it through, watching Rosie turn on her dad’s lap, wriggling to be allowed down. “You’re saying this is an opportunity,” he says, slowly. “You’re saying – you’re saying he dreaded his bosses knowing he – and now it’s happened, so he – we might as well –”

“It is, naturally, incomprehensible that you might wish such a thing,” says Sherlock, quickly, but there’s a hint of enquiry in his tone that tells its own tale.

“Don’t think he’s interested, Sherlock,” says Greg, wrapping both hands around his mug of tea. He clears his throat, slightly. “I’ve – not heard from him.” It feels shameful to say, somehow. As if he’s been stood up.

Sherlock lifts Rosie down to the floor. “I have seen him so – affected on only a handful of occasions, Lestrade,” he says, blandly.

And Greg knows that Sherlock means what he remembers too: again and again, in the hospital and out of it. Overdoses, or near-overdoses. For years before Greg knew them, too; and through it all, Mycroft’s strained calm, only given the lie when he thought Sherlock was sleeping. His stricken expression as he watched Sherlock commit suicide in slow motion.

Greg looks away. “This place isn’t baby-proofed, Sherlock.”

“I shall, then, take the basic precaution of watching my daughter to ensure she does not drink bleach,” returns Sherlock, with a sarcastic smile.

“What am I supposed to do?” asks Greg, chest tight. “I can’t just – there’s always eight layers of security between him and the outside world –” he sighs. “An’ if he doesn’t want to see me –”

“He will find it easier to deny himself what he cannot see,” says Sherlock. “Entertain no romantic notions that he will run after you like a lovesick puppy, should you leave him alone.”

“Yeah, right, thanks,” mutters Greg, resentfully. “You’ve got such a way of putting things, Sherlock.”

“He will be at work,” says Sherlock, finishing his tea and putting the mug back on the table with a flourish. “Wash your face. And wear something –” he waves a hand at Greg, “– better.” He scoops Rosie up, prying the TV remote from her small hands. “We must go.”

“Right,” mumbles Greg. He holds the door open for them. “See you later, Rosie.” He clears his throat. “Thanks, Sherlock,” he adds to his retreating back, but gets no answer.

*

Greg showers again, then uses a flannel to carefully wash his face, making sure his stitches and dressings don’t get wet. He grimaces. Shame I can’t wash my hair.

Mostly, he’s just not expecting to see Mycroft. Doubt I’ll get past Anthea, if I even get that far.

He pulls on black jeans and a black shirt, then dithers and changes his mind; black won’t go with the blue of my face. He swaps to a white shirt instead.

He feels incredibly unattractive, face puffy and swollen, cut and bruised. Avoiding his reflection in the bedroom mirror, he pulls on socks and his work shoes. He unearths the nice charcoal coat his sister-in-law had sent him for Christmas from the back of his wardrobe. He’s only worn it a couple of times.

Most of my stuff’s still in Knightsbridge, he thinks. Or probably in evidence bags by now. He sighs.

He thinks about a taxi, but he’d rather take the tube; he finds earphones, so at least he can stay in his own world and try to ignore the way people stare at his bashed-up face.

Chapter Text

Rather to his surprise, the staff at Reception let him into the lift. It opens onto the familiar sight of Anthea’s office. She looks up, eyebrow flicking in a quick flash of surprise.

“Detective Inspector,” she says, smoothly. “What a pleasant surprise. Please allow me to say how glad I am that you are –” she surveys his face, “– on the mend.”

Greg’s stomach is squirming. He swallows, and takes a breath. “Thanks. Um.” He looks at the door to Mycroft’s office. “Can I see him, please?”

Her face is a study in polite blankness. She looks down at her computer screen, taps a few times on the keyboard, and looks up again. “He has a few minutes,” she says, decidedly. “Please go through.”

For a moment, Greg isn’t sure what to say. He realises his shock must be showing on his face, because the corner of Anthea’s mouth tips up in a smile.

“Just a few minutes,” she emphasizes.

“Yeah,” he says, unsteadily. “Yeah. Thanks, um, Anthea.” He backs away, towards Mycroft’s door. “I mean it. Thanks.”

He knocks, wondering if it’s the right thing to do, but if he’s on the phone or something –

“Come,” says Mycroft tersely.

Greg opens the door, steps inside, and shuts it behind him.

Mycroft, sitting very straight-backed at his desk, blinks several times.

“I’m sorry,” says Greg, into the silence. His voice is betraying him; tears sting behind his eyes. “I know it’s not – but I had to see you.”

For a moment, Mycroft seems entirely at a loss for what to say. Then he clears his throat. “I have several meetings –”

Greg nods, numbly. Oh Jesus, this was a fucking stupid idea. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m sorry. Anthea said you only had a minute.” He gets stuck. He wants to apologise again. He wants to turn around and just leave.

If this awkward silence goes on much longer, he might actually cry. His head feels like it’s splitting in two. Shit. Probably should’ve taken some more painkillers, before

“Sit down,” says Mycroft, getting quickly to his feet. He steps out from behind his desk, and suddenly there’s a gentle hand on Greg’s elbow. Greg is steered, not to the chair in front of Mycroft’s desk, but to the sofa near the window. “You look –” Mycroft takes a seat next to him, withdrawing his hand carefully from Greg’s arm.

“Like shit. Yeah, I know,” mutters Greg. He feels too warm. Everything has taken on a rather surreal quality, heightened like images from a film. He struggles slowly out of his coat.

“Allow me to bring you some water,” says Mycroft, politely, and Greg wants to scream.

What happened to ‘Gregory’, darlin’? What happened to you holding me, and kissing me, and fucking me? Myc…

He accepts the glass from Mycroft – held carefully out so that their fingers do not touch – and takes a sip of water. “Are you okay?” he asks, after a moment.

Mycroft swallows, and nods. “He did not touch me.”

“I know, I just…” Greg drinks some more water. “I texted you.” He knows it sounds needy; but it’s out, now. He stares fixedly down at his knees. “Sorry. I know you must be busy.”

Mycroft clears his throat, but does not seem to know what to say. Greg looks up, and catches a bleak expression in Mycroft’s eyes. Almost immediately it is gone again, his face a careful blank.

Greg’s heart races in his chest. “Myc,” he manages, struggling to breathe. “’S’can’t be – please don’t –” He can’t finish his sentence, and to his horror he feels his eyes filling with tears. He doesn’t blink, trying to hold them back.

Mycroft’s hand twitches on the sofa, and when Greg looks down at it two large tears fall at last, landing, glistening, on his black jeans. Greg closes his eyes, trying to control himself, and suddenly Mycroft’s arms are around him, and there’s sharp pain at his temple as Mycroft pulls him close, murmuring “Gregory, oh for pity’s sake, Gregory –”

Greg slumps forward into welcoming arms, and cries, hardly able to breathe, head and nose an indistinguishable ball of pain.

“Gregory,” murmurs Mycroft, over and over.

“Don’t want to lose you now,” mumbles Greg, at last. “Please.” He rubs his eyes, and groans. “D’you have any tissues? Your entire suit must be a write-off.”

Mycroft huffs rather shaky amusement into Greg’s hair, and retrieves a soft cotton handkerchief from his jacket pocket.

“That looks expensive too,” says Greg, eyeing it.

“Use the handkerchief, Gregory.”

Greg rubs at his eyes and face with the cool cotton square. “Jesus. I’m so sorry, Myc, I’m sorry, I just – I didn’t mean to –”

Mycroft pulls him a little closer. “It is I who should apologise, Gregory. I – I tried to – manage without you.”

Greg’s stomach clenches. He looks up into Mycroft’s dark grey eyes, pinched with what looks like shame.

“I can’t manage without you,” says Greg. “Not now.”

Mycroft blinks; opens his mouth and closes it again. “I am sorry,” he says at last.

Greg shakes his head, then winces with pain. “This could be good,” he says, fiercely. “We could.”

Mycroft stares at him, naked disbelief written across his face. “Gregory?”

“Listen.” Greg swallows, trying to make his thumping brain obey him. “What did you think was going to happen after this week? Originally, before – Nick, before all that at the end? The other night, in bed, falling asleep, after we –” he watches the delicate progress of a blush across Mycroft’s cheeks, and fights the urge to kiss him. “Please tell me.”

Mycroft looks away, down at the floor. “I do not know,” he says, warily.

Greg takes a breath, trying to calm his racing heart. “Did you think we’d be friends? Fuck buddies? More? Nothing?”

“‘Fuck buddies’?” says Mycroft, with disgust, and Greg can’t help a rather hysterical little laugh.

“Friends with benefits?” he offers, instead.

Mycroft’s gaze flicks to his, and then quickly away. “Perhaps I assumed that we might meet – again. Occasionally,” he murmurs, cheeks positively flushed now.

Greg balls the handkerchief in his left hand and puts his right on Mycroft’s arm. “Darlin’,” he says, softly. His voice sounds ridiculous, nasal and rough; but Mycroft’s breath catches, all the same. “Look at me. Please.”

Reluctantly, Mycroft meets his gaze, grey eyes hesitant.

“I – want more than that,” says Greg, quietly. “I – I know you prob’ly don’t, an’ I’m nothing like anyone you’d usually be with, but I…think we…” he takes a breath. “I’ve loved every minute with you. I want anything you’re prepared…if you are, I mean.”

Mycroft blinks, several times. “What does that mean, in…in practice?” he asks, at last.

Oh, sweetheart. Sherlock wasn’t wrong about you, was he?

“Come out with me,” murmurs Greg. “Date me. Text me. Come home with me. I’ll cook for you. Call me if you had a shit day. Spend the weekend with me, if you want to.” He swallows. “Come to bed with me.”

Mycroft’s long fingers are restless, smoothing the seam of his navy suit trousers. “In short, a – relationship,” he says, with curt tentativeness.

Greg slides his hand down; hesitates a moment, then winds their fingers together. “Would you consider it?” he asks.

Mycroft takes a breath. “I believe I told you that I am – fundamentally unsuited –”

“You did,” says Greg. “And it’s bollocks now, just like it was then. I lived with you.”

“For not even one week. On best behaviour.”

“It’s a lot more than most people get, before they decide to at least give it a go. Date.”

“‘Date’.” Mycroft says the word with cautious, crisp humour, and Greg can’t help laughing.

“We’ve already been on two, darlin’,” he smiles. “And you aced both of ’em.”

Mycroft regards him, bottom lip caught behind his upper.

“Please,” says Greg, simply.

Suddenly, Mycroft’s grey eyes are dark with fear. “I could never –” he swallows. “Yesterday was –” he turns toward Greg and touches his jaw gently.

“You’re worried I’ll be target number one for whoever’s out to get you next?” asks Greg, and he can feel himself grinning. “Yeah?”

Mycroft raises an eyebrow. “Yes. Why are you…?”

Greg laughs, squeezing Mycroft’s hand. “’S’an answer in itself! You want this. Which makes me the luckiest man alive, doesn’t it?”

Mycroft blinks, and looks down at their joined hands.

“What time d’you finish work?” asks Greg. “Doesn’t matter if it’s late.”

“I have a meeting until ten.”

“Come to mine. I’ll make us dinner. Stay over. Please.”

Mycroft shakes his head, decidedly, and Greg’s heart sinks. “You must certainly not cook. I shall bring food with me.” He fixes Greg with a stern look. “I expect to find you relaxing, Gregory, when I arrive. Having taken the prescribed dose of painkillers and drunk plenty of water. I shall order you a car to take you home.”

“There’s no need –” mumbles Greg, but he receives another reproving look, which silences him. “Thanks,” he says, instead. He can’t stop smiling.

Mycroft busies himself with his mobile phone for a moment, then looks up at Greg. He has a rather thoughtful expression. “How are you with kissing, just now, Gregory?” he eyes Greg’s nose.

Greg’s stomach twists with happiness and arousal. “How’d I know?” he asks, teasingly. “You haven’t tried. Is this a trap to find out if I’ve been kissing someone else?”

Mycroft looks briefly indignant, then smiles when he sees Greg’s grin. “It is not,” he says. “And in any case, I should not have blamed you, given the behaviour I have displayed in the past two days.”

“Well, the only people I’ve seen are John, Sherlock and Rosie,” grins Greg.

“Then I should perhaps have blamed you,” smiles Mycroft. He opens his mouth to speak again.

“Rosie misses you,” says Greg, anticipating the question. “She was so cute. She said ‘My? Où?’”

Mycroft rolls his eyes, attempting to suppress his pleased, proud smile. “That is something that the two of you have in common. Despite a remarkable aptitude for the French language, you seem entirely unable to use my name correctly.”

“She seemed to think you should be at my flat.”

“She is an extremely intelligent child. And now you ought to be in your flat too. The car is downstairs. Rest, Gregory, I beg of you.”

“Hey, so we’re not even trying the kissing?”

Mycroft stands up. “I should hurt you.”

“Not necessarily. You don’t know that yet.” Greg stands up too, and steps close. “We could at least give it a go.” He puts his hand on Mycroft’s chest, over his heart; smiles up into his eyes. “Don’t you think?”

Mycroft takes a breath. “Well –”

“One thing though,” grins Greg. “I can’t really breathe much right now, so there’s that.”

Mycroft flicks his eyes up in exasperation. “Gregory –”

Greg leans up, and kisses him.

It’s slow, and infinitely gentle, and Mycroft pulls away too soon; but Greg’s chest feels full, his heart tripping over itself. He pushes his forehead against Mycroft’s, and smiles.

I love you, he thinks, suddenly, and his mind is full of it: a total certainty, and it would be the most natural thing in the world to say it.

Don’t, you fucking idiot.

You’ve only just got him to say he’ll give dating a go. Don’t – don’t push it.

Fuck, though. I do. I love you.

Greg looks up into Mycroft’s eyes. He can feel himself overflowing, shining with the knowledge; he smiles. “I’ll see you later, darlin’. Text me, when you’re on your way over? I’ll need to let you in.”

“Of course,” says Mycroft, watching him, eyes quizzical. “Until this evening, Gregory.”

Greg takes one last look, then closes the door, grins broadly at Anthea, and punches the button for the lift.

*

I am in the car. MH

Greg finishes wiping down the kitchen surface, wrings out the cloth and rinses his hands. He drinks another glass of water (can a Holmes tell if you’re hydrated or not, just by looking?) and puts plates in the oven to warm. He sets the kettle boiling.

Good. I missed you. G xxx

And I you. I shall just be a few minutes. MH

What are we having for dinner? xxx

Italian food from one of my favourite restaurants. MH

See? Another date aced xxx

You cannot possibly know that yet, Gregory. MH

Why? What are you planning to do? Leave me cold and alone in bed?? xxx

It did not escape me that our kiss most certainly did hurt you to some extent. Surely anything more vigorous is quite out of the question. MH

None of those bits are hurt ;) xxx

You are disgraceful. MH

Do you mind? xxx

Not in the slightest. I am on your street. MH

Hurry up and come in then xxx

We are not going to bed until I have personally witnessed you eat a hearty meal. MH

Doesn’t have to be in bed xxx

Greg grins to himself, and waits next to the intercom. When the buzz comes, he picks up the phone. “Hello?”

“I am here.”

Greg buzzes him in, and stands in the open doorway. He watches Mycroft climb the stairs, overnight bag in one hand, takeaway in the other. Greg’s heart squeezes, tight, and seems to grow, filling his chest. “Hi, gorgeous,” he smiles.

Mycroft’s mouth turns up at the corner. “Good evening, Gregory.” He steps into the kitchen-living room and looks around. “You have been cleaning, not relaxing.”

Greg grins, and shuts the front door. “How would you know? You’ve never been here before.”

Mycroft gives him a look that clearly says: do not be disingenuous.

“Well I wasn’t going to have you turn up to a grotty tip, was I,” smiles Greg. He steps forward and tries to take the takeaway bag from Mycroft, who twitches it away from him and places it on the kitchen side. “Oi,” protests Greg. “I’ve got a broken nose, not a broken everything.”

Mycroft smiles and, after a moment’s hesitation, reaches out to take Greg’s hand. Their fingers weave together, and Greg steps in against him, pressing close.

“Have you taken your painkillers?” asks Mycroft.

Greg laughs and rolls his eyes. “No, alright? But it’s because I’m meant to take ’em with food. So I will when we eat.”

“Then we should do that,” says Mycroft, briskly. “Where should I put my bag?”

“Bedroom’s through there,” says Greg, keeping his voice low. “So. There, I s'pose.”

Mycroft regards him with an I know what you’re doing expression that makes Greg laugh. He steps back, hands held up. “I’ll put the food on the plates.”

“And fetch your painkillers.”

“And fetch my painkillers,” Greg echoes. “Promise.”

Mycroft smiles, and steps away. “Very well.”

“You can use the wardrobe or whatever if you need to hang stuff up,” calls Greg after him. Posh shirts, probably. Gorgeous bastard. S'pose half his stuff is in evidence bags now, too.

He fetches two more pills from the bathroom, sets the table, puts out glasses and a jug of water; then opens the cartons of takeaway, putting them on the table too. Mycroft goes into the bathroom, and Greg gets the warmed plates out of the oven. By the time Mycroft reappears, Greg is sitting expectantly at table. He points to the pills next to his water glass. “Happy?”

“When I see you take them, yes,” says Mycroft.

Greg smiles, softly. “D'you want a glass of wine? I won’t, but you can if you want.”

“No, thank you,” says Mycroft, taking his place. They’re sitting at right angles to one another. “I hope that the selection appeals.”

“Looks gorgeous. I read the receipt. Shall we have a bit of everything?”

“Certainly.” Mycroft distributes pumpkin and ricotta ravioli between their plates, while Greg splits the pollo Milanese. There’s even a crisp green side salad to share.

“Thanks for this,” says Greg, holding out his water glass. “Haven’t got much in the house at the moment.”

“Naturally not,” says Mycroft, expression soft. They touch glasses.

“Toast only for breakfast, I’m afraid,” says Greg.

“You know that –”

“I’ll get you eating breakfast eventually, gorgeous,” smiles Greg, swallowing his painkillers. “’S’good for you.”

“I can think of better uses of time in the morning.”

“About that,” grins Greg, picking up his fork. “What counts as a morning workout, for you? Just a raised heart rate, or –”

Mycroft raises one eyebrow. “Interesting. Tell me more.”

“Just saying. The morning after the night before is a beautiful thing.”

“It can be, I am sure,” says Mycroft, with a private smile. He blinks, then looks up, seriously, at Greg. “If you knew how much I blame myself for leaving you that morning, Gregory –”

Greg resists the urge to shake his head, but grabs Mycroft’s hand. “Don’t, gorgeous,” he murmurs. “I’m so, so glad you did. Otherwise –” he swallows, looking deep into Mycroft’s eyes. “You literally saved my life. Fuck knows why you take your gun to the gym with you, but Christ.”

Mycroft squeezes Greg’s hand. “It has unfortunately been deemed necessary that I be armed at all times. In the normal course of events it constitutes a ridiculous precaution, especially given that personal security is also assigned to me.”

“Well, this time,” says Greg, shrugging. “Myc…the relief, when I knew it was you, when you were there. Thank you.”

Mycroft shakes his head, and takes a slow breath. “You kept him talking, despite being so badly injured.”

“It was alright, once I knew…” Greg’s chest feels tight. He suppresses a shudder, thinking about Nick’s hands on his face, his skin. “At first, I thought he must’ve – I couldn’t see you.” He gasps a shaky breath. “But then – he didn’t know where you were, either – thought you were Sherlock, in fact.” He laughs, slightly. “I knew he hadn’t got you. And what he was saying – I realised he’d wait. He’d have to wait, because he only,” Greg swallows down disgust. “He only liked it when the partner was there. That was what he got off on.”

Mycroft grimaces, finding Greg’s feet under the table with his own. He’s taken his shoes off, realises Greg, and his heart squeezes with it.

“He was picking on compulsive cheaters,” he says, unable to stop. The thoughts have been swirling in his head for over a day. “Opening up cracks between them and their partners. Enjoying it, like a show.” He shakes his head slightly. “An’ I was – I couldn’t see –”

Mycroft squeezes Greg’s hand, looking at him with a cool, grey gaze. “It was natural for you to find the case difficult,” he says, gently.

Greg looks at him. “You could see it, at the time,” he says. “You could see I was crackin’ up over it because…”

Mycroft hesitates. “I thought that perhaps your personal history might make it particularly hard,” he says, cautiously.

Greg watches him, and then he reads the anxious look in those dark grey eyes. “I’m not angry at you,” he says, wonderingly. “Don’t think that, gorgeous. I’m just…never think you’re not good at this stuff, alright? You saw what was going on, an’ you looked after me, an’ I’m grateful.”

Mycroft swallows. “I fear that perhaps – in the circumstances – it might seem as though I have…taken advantage.”

Greg smiles at him. “Don’t be a plonker. I was half gone on you before we even got there.”

“Ah yes, my apologies, I forgot that you find me ‘hot’.”

Greg groans. “You ever going to let that drop?”

“No. Now eat your dinner, Gregory. You are supposed to take those painkillers with food.”

“God, I’d never’ve thought Mycroft Holmes would fuss,” grins Greg, picking up his knife and fork.

“Well, now you are well aware,” says Mycroft, giving his plate a private smile. The corners of his eyes crinkle with it, and Greg’s heart feels as though it’s trying to climb out of his chest.

They eat in silence for a while, feet tangled together under the table. The food is delicious, the pumpkin ravioli in particular.

“You were right about this place,” murmurs Greg, nodding at the food. “’S’amazing. Please tell me they do puddings.”

For a moment, Mycroft looks stricken. “Gregory. I am sorry. I should have ordered tiramisù for you.”

Greg shakes his head, squeezing Mycroft’s foot between his own. “I meant when you take me there on a date,” he says, fondly. “I unpacked the takeaway bag, remember?”

Mycroft looks doubtfully at him. “Nevertheless.”

“Shush, you.” Greg puts his knife and fork together, and drinks the rest of his water. “Bed?” he asks, with a grin.

Mycroft smiles. “Certainly. You must need to sleep.”

Greg gives him a look, then picks up the plates. “I’ll just rinse these –”

In a second, Mycroft is on his feet. “Sit down,” he commands. “You have already done far too much today.” He takes the plates from Greg, running water over them in the sink.

Greg steps up behind him and wraps his arms around Mycroft’s stomach, resting his cheek between his shoulder blades. “I won’t deny the orders’re working for me, darlin’, but I’m going to stand here anyway.”

Mycroft makes a small noise of amused exasperation. “You are a terrible patient.”

“You’re a very sexy doctor.”

He can hear the smile in Mycroft’s voice. “You are quite determined to distract me.”

“Yeah, well, you never said you were actually going to wash up. I said rinse –”

“I never agreed to do so slovenly a job.”

“Oh, right, well that’s charming,” Greg grins, pressing a kiss to the back of Mycroft’s waistcoat. “Are you seriously washing up the takeaway boxes?”

“How else might one recycle them in the Council-approved manner?” Mycroft’s voice is full of the dry humour he uses to make fun of himself, and Greg’s heart swells with affection.

“’Spect they do spot checks on your recycling, with your job,” he grins. “Seems like the sort of thing a minor government official would be marked down on.”

“Undoubtedly.”

“And anyone you associate with must also be free of the suspicion of shoddy recycling practice.”

“Naturally.”

“Especially anyone you might associate with quite…closely.” Greg tightens his arms around Mycroft’s waist.

“To a heightened degree.” There’s a note of something else in Mycroft’s voice alongside the dry amusement, a hint of sadness that catches in Greg’s chest.

Greg bites his lip. “You prob’ly know this actually, but there’s a whole load of crap that goes along with dating someone in my job. It’s worse if it’s a colleague, but I’ve an inkling it applies if it’s someone in the other services, too. If – y'know, if we –” he swallows, “I’ll have to check. Sorry, I know that adds a bit of pressure.”

Slowly, Mycroft places the last takeaway box on the draining board. His movements are delicate, tightly-controlled. He hesitates, seeming to choose his words with care. “I am afraid that you will already be under – investigation, Gregory. By the services for which I work.”

Services? Interesting.

“I’d sort of assumed so, to be honest.”

Mycroft’s chest rises and falls under Greg’s palms, a quick intake of breath. “I hope that it will not in any way…” he doesn’t seem to know how to finish the thought.

“I don’t mind, darlin’. Doubt they’ll find anything too incriminating.” He smiles against Mycroft’s back. “Can you take me to bed yet?”

Mycroft turns in his arms, and kisses Greg with gentle fervour. He tips Greg’s head back, clearly trying to avoid his nose as much as possible.

Greg smiles into the kiss. “’S’that a yes?”

“It is, although let it be known that I remain concerned about the endeavour, given the state of your health.”

“I’ll put that in the notes,” grins Greg. “An’ type up the minutes later.”

Mycroft narrows his eyes. “Terrible patient. And facetious with it.”

“Also noted. Thank you for your feedback.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes and turns Greg around, hands on his hips, directing his course.

I wonder if that’s deliberate, thinks Greg, a flip of arousal low in his stomach. Probably. Suddenly he can only think of Mycroft’s arm low across his back, pulling him down hard, holding him steady as he’d started to come –

In the bedroom doorway, Greg covers Mycroft’s hands with his own, turns and looks up at him. “I’ve missed you.”

Mycroft pushes Greg down to sit on the edge of the bed and kneels in front of him, brushing a gentle kiss across his lips. He doesn’t linger, obviously not wanting to hurt him, and Greg makes a groaning sigh low in his throat.

Kiss me properly, gorgeous.

Mycroft smiles against the skin of Greg’s neck, kissing, biting gently. “I cannot tell you how much I have missed you, Gregory,” he murmurs, and his voice rumbles.

Mycroft’s fingers are deft at the buttons of Greg’s shirt; flicking them quickly apart, brushing revealed skin with soft kisses.

Greg gasps as his shirt falls open and Mycroft’s lips find his nipple. The swirl of that warm, lazy tongue steals all his attention, becomes a vital sensation, heady and addicting –

Greg’s breathing fast, low and rough in his throat. “Myc,” he groans, as Mycroft’s tongue continues to circle, as the suction increases until it’s almost a bite, almost tearingly pleasurable –

Mycroft’s eyes snap open, suddenly, pinning Greg with a grey gaze full of analytical intentness, full of pure, unadulterated concentration.

“Fuck,” mutters Greg. He could make me come in seconds if he tried. Jesus.

And suddenly the sensation is gone, gentle kisses to Greg’s sternum instead, dropping lower to his stomach which suddenly he wants to suck in, to make flatter even though he’s in decent shape for an old bloke, really –

Kisses, bites to Greg’s hipbone, just above the waistband of his trousers; long fingers smoothing Greg’s sides, sliding to his hips, running luxuriously over the fabric of his trousers and flowing into place, finally, to begin quietly undoing Greg’s belt.

The soft catching sound of his zip, and Mycroft’s private smile; Greg’s cock, hard and full, and the groan he can’t hold in when Mycroft runs the pad of his thumb along its length.

A moment where Greg’s attention pulls back, suddenly, and finds Mycroft Holmes, in two pieces of a beautiful navy suit, kneeling to him, watching him, with a hungry look in his eyes –

Greg wants to push his fingers between those lips, wants to see again the way they stretch around his cock, red and swollen; wants to kiss Mycroft, gently, push him down on the bed; straddle him, come riding him, shake uncontrollably and be held safely; wants those handprints, those fingerprints, everywhere.

Only his.

As Mycroft tastes him, a tentative flick of the tongue first, Greg gasps a breath. He leans back on one hand and places the other on Mycroft’s shoulder, palm seeking the reassuring fabric friction of Mycroft’s waistcoat, its silky back, and – sliding to the side – the smooth expensive cotton of his crisp white shirt.

Greg is taken in, surrounded with hot, wet, smooth and the sensation builds, deliciously tight – Mycroft’s hand closes around the base of Greg’s cock and the feeling of being engulfed is complete. He wants to thrust, and he wants to stay entirely still; to watch as Mycroft takes him.

Mycroft’s right hand travels gently up Greg’s side, a scratch of fingernails across his ribs that makes him huff with arousal and amusement. His thumb circles Greg’s nipple, gently, drawing out a fine curl of aching, frustrated pleasure.

Greg’s cock throbs as Mycroft’s tongue massages its underside and swirls around the head. Tentatively, Greg moves his hand up to stroke Mycroft’s hair, restless with the half-formed need to push, to thrust.

Mycroft moans, softly, in his throat. His gaze finds Greg’s, full of fierce assent.

Greg’s breath catches. He allows his hand to lie a little heavier on Mycroft’s head, watching his expression for any hint of discomfort.

Instead, Mycroft groans gently and sucks a little harder at Greg’s cock. He begins to bob his head, flicking his tongue against the rim, against Greg’s frenulum.

Greg is almost floating, a tide of pleasure washing helplessly through him. He strokes his fingers slowly through Mycroft’s hair, taking satisfaction in mussing it from its usual impeccably-groomed state.

“Myc, darlin’, you’re going to have to – stop –” gasps Greg after a few minutes, on a half-laugh. “Too much.”

Mycroft smiles, slick lips curving around Greg’s cock. He pulls back, hand stroking, tightly, insistently, at Greg’s length. “I have no wish to stop.”

Greg takes a breath, unsure what to say. Fuck, God, yes, Myc. Suck me.

“Unless you have any strong objection, I shall continue.” Mycroft’s eyebrow flicks up, a cheeky non-question.

Greg makes a bitten-off moan as Mycroft takes him in again, sucking lightly at the head of his cock. He runs his hand through Mycroft’s hair, restraining the urge to pull, to push, to twist. “Fuck,” murmurs Greg. “Are you sure – this is –”

“Mmm,” groans Mycroft, softly. The vibrations make Greg gasp.

“It feels so good, Myc,” murmurs Greg, not even quite sure what he’s saying. “So fucking good. I’m – oh god, fuck – yes –”

“Mmm,” murmurs Mycroft, approvingly. He does not look up, but he pauses for a moment. “Talk to me, Gregory.” His voice is a little rough, breathy, and a dark thrill of arousal thrums low in Greg’s belly. Within a moment, Mycroft has closed his lips around him again; begun a long, slow, tight slide, mouth and hand moving in tandem, that has Greg moaning.

“Jesus Christ, fuck – why’re you so – good at this –” pants Greg.

Mycroft looks up at him and raises one eyebrow, flicking his tongue lightly across Greg’s frenulum.

Greg groans. He moves his hand forward, fingers still tangled in Mycroft’s hair; strokes the pad of his thumb along Mycroft’s eyebrow.

Mycroft’s eyelashes flutter closed at the touch, brushing his pale cheeks. There are dark shadows beneath his eyes; Greg can see the places where freckles would come clear, if exposed to sun. Greg lays the flat of his hand softly along the side of Mycroft’s face. His palm moulds itself to the hollow of Mycroft’s cheek as he sucks him, and for a moment he trembles dangerously on the edge of coming. He closes his eyes for a second, clinging to control.

When he opens them again, he watches Mycroft’s face with an ache in his chest that almost steals his breath. I’m in love with you, he thinks, and it feels like it’s trying to push its way out of him, between his ribs. Fucking hell, I’m in love with you, gorgeous.

Talk, like he wanted.

And don’t say you love him, idiot.

“Fuck, Myc, you’re – going to make me –” he groans. “You look so good. I could watch you like this –” he laughs, breathlessly. “Well, I would say forever, but that’s lookin’ very unlikely at this point –”

Mycroft’s lips curve, and he fixes Greg with a very smug grey gaze. He swirls his tongue devilishly slowly around the head of Greg’s cock.

Greg lets his head fall back. “Oh, god –” his voice is rough with need. “Myc, you’ve got to – I’m –”

Mycroft takes Greg deep, hand and suction tight; he pulls Greg’s hand roughly onto his head, then takes Greg’s balls in his palm. He caresses them gently, and Greg realises that the slickness he can feel is saliva running down from the blow job, and Mycroft’s long fingers find the place behind his balls that makes him gasp, groan, and this was permission to come in his mouth, right, because I can’t – I can’t – fucking hell

Greg opens his eyes, cresting the wave of his need to come, knowing it’s inevitable now – he watches the flutter of Mycroft’s eyelashes, the delicate pink tint of his cheeks, the obscene red stretch of his lips around Greg’s cock and he moans, just a noise at first and then he’s groaning Mycroft’s name, over and over –

“Fuck, Mycroft, oh Christ – Myc – Myc –” though he fights it, his eyes close, overwhelmed; sensation crashes in and he spurts burst after burst of come into the hot slick tightness that surrounds him –

It’s strangely delicate,  fine layers of additional feeling weaving into his consciousness as he comes – the full, deep sensation of Mycroft’s fingers pressed behind his balls; the lazy swirl of Mycroft’s tongue, not still but not urgent in its movements; the tight, steady grip of Mycroft’s hand at the base of his cock. Greg feels every tiny movement in a haze of dazed, sated pleasure.

He opens his eyes, and lightens the pressure of his hand on Mycroft’s head.

Mycroft catches Greg’s gaze, and swallows.

Greg grins. Arousal aches, low and insistent in his stomach. His chest feels full to bursting. “Myc…” he murmurs, because he’s not sure what else to say.

When Mycroft releases him and sits back on his heels, his lips are red, his cheeks still flushed. He’s hard, the bulge of his cock distorting the clean, crisp line of his suit trousers.

“You look gorgeous,” says Greg, and he hadn’t planned to, but it’s true. He watches the slight flicker of doubt and confusion in Mycroft’s eyes. Oh, darlin’. That has to stop.

Mycroft kneels forward; slips Greg’s shirt carefully off and lays it on the bed next to him. Urges Greg to lift his hips, and draws down his trousers and boxers in one deft movement. He stands, and lays everything carefully over the back of a chair. “I shall be back in a moment,” he says quietly. His slight smile makes Greg’s heart skip.

Once Mycroft is in the bathroom, Greg feels a bit stupid lying naked on top of the covers. He curls under the duvet, every movement luxurious with tiredness and wellbeing. His eyes want to close, and finally he lets them; just until Mycroft comes back.

Shame I can’t suck him in return. He deserves the best blow job in the world after that.

Greg smiles, and slips into sleep.

Chapter Text

When Greg wakes, he’s instantly aware that he’s absolutely dying for a piss. The pain in his nose and head hits him second, followed by the rough, raw rasp of his throat – breathing through it all night instead of my nose. Bollocks.

Then – as his eyes snap open – fuck. Oh shit. I fell asleep – now he’s gone

Greg sits up in bed, running his hand through his hair and wincing as his head thumps with pain.

Loo. Painkillers. Water. Text Mycroft.

Fuck.

Standing up is crap; it makes his head hurt even more. Jesus Christ, Greg, way to show Mycroft how much you want him, leaving him high and dry after he sucked you off – don’t think about that. Despite the pain, despite the uneasy feeling that he’s fucked up with Mycroft, the memory is threatening to get him hard.

Between the bedroom and the bathroom, Greg freezes.

“– we are hardly in such a position that we can allow them to take sole control of the negotiations,” snaps Mycroft, and his voice is pure business, the clear, clipped tones that Greg has heard innumerable times. Sitting at Greg’s kitchen table, laptop open in front of him, he’s wearing a small Bluetooth earpiece. Two mobiles are ranged alongside his laptop.

Bare feet, thinks Greg.

And: open collar.

And: he stayed. He stayed here with me, even though he’s working. Even though I fell asleep on him.

Mycroft looks up, and the weight of his clear grey gaze pins Greg in place.

Mycroft smiles, sweeping Greg from head to toe with a look that could set fire to a block of ice. “I am sorry, but I simply do not accept that we should step away from the talks at this stage,” he says, tersely.

Greg is suddenly intensely aware of every inch of his bare skin. Before he can stop himself, he raises one hand in a slight wave. As Mycroft smiles again, Greg looks down at the floor and discovers that his cock, though not fully hard, isn’t exactly uninterested in the situation either.

“In any case,” adds Mycroft, “this is entirely the wrong venue at which to air these concerns. Please make an appointment with my assistant if you wish to discuss them one-to-one.”

Greg shuts himself in the bathroom, and leans against the door.

You waved at him. He rolls his eyes, then screws them shut with embarrassment.

He’s here. He’s here.

He crosses to the sink, and runs a flannel under the cold water, then uses it to carefully wash the parts of his face that don’t hurt too much or have stitches in. The bruises around his eyes and nose are a slightly lighter purple today. He drinks from the tap, takes two painkillers, and cleans his teeth. After using the loo, he takes a shower, still avoiding getting his face wet.

When he emerges, towel slung low on his hips, he detours back to the bedroom for his phone then strolls into the kitchen as confidently as he can.

Mycroft watches him, still listening attentively to whatever call he’s taking.

Greg makes his way to the cupboard where he keeps the cereal, and pours himself a bowl of corn flakes. He raises his eyebrows at Mycroft, waggling the box.

Mycroft shakes his head, and Greg rolls his eyes.

Greg sits on the sofa with his breakfast and his mobile, and turns the television onto silent rolling news. From this angle, he can only see the side of Mycroft’s face, the nape of his neck. He has an almost overwhelming urge to go over and kiss the tender, pale skin.

“That last point needs much more fleshing out,” says Mycroft, curtly. “There are several aspects to the problem which that wording does not cover. As currently expressed, it will be perceived as ignorance at best, obfuscation at worst.”

Just so you know, if my nose wasn’t busted I’d be under that table sucking you off right now. G xxx

Greg watches Mycroft check the message with a quick side-swipe of his long, elegant forefinger; his body language freezes for a moment, then he clears his throat.

“Nothing, Minister,” he says, after a moment. “Merely a slight – cold. Please continue.”

I should perhaps have known that working at your place of residence was a mistake. MH

Sorry about last night, gorgeous. xxx

Mycroft’s head tilts, slightly.

Why? MH

Left you high and dry after you gave me the best blow job of my life. xxx

You were exhausted, Gregory. It was quite clear. You have nothing to apologise for. MH

Still. Don’t like being selfish in bed. xxx

Are you eating your breakfast? I am sure you have taken your morning painkillers and I should remind you once more that you are supposed to take them with food. MH

Fussing again? You can hear me crunching, you idiot. xxx

Mycroft’s shoulders straighten, and Greg grins in the knowledge that he’s bridling at ‘idiot’.

Did you find everything you needed for your shower, breakfast etc? xxx

Shower and coffee, yes, thank you. MH

You’re fussing over me having breakfast, but didn’t have any yourself? xxx

There is no medical necessity for me to eat breakfast. MH

“Some refinements are still necessary, but the basics are there,” says Mycroft guardedly. “Please send me the notes and slides so that I can suggest any changes or additions in writing.”

You’ve got to eat, gorgeous. Keep your strength up for fucking me the minute you get off that phone call. xxx

Mycroft shifts slightly in his chair. Greg finishes his corn flakes and gets up to rinse the bowl in the sink; he boils the kettle and makes himself a cup of coffee. His stomach flips when he hears his phone vibrate.

He leans back against the counter within Mycroft’s field of vision, checks his phone and sips his coffee.

I have quite enough strength for that, Gregory, I assure you. MH

Greg smiles.

God, I wish I could suck you right now. See how long you could go without everyone else on that phone call realising you’re getting head. xxx

Mycroft’s cheeks flush delicate pink as he reads the message.

Pretty sure you could talk normally about reports or presentations or whatever while you were coming down my throat, but it’d still be fun to test. xxx

Greg grins as Mycroft closes his eyes for a second, blush deepening. Greg’s hard under his towel, and the rigid line of his swollen cock is obvious through the thick fabric.

Are you hard for me, gorgeous? xxx

Mycroft opens his eyes when he hears his mobile vibrate. He makes eye contact with Greg as he opens the message, narrowing his eyes slightly.

I suspect you already know the answer to that question. MH

Greg takes a sip of coffee.

See how hard you’ve made me already? xxx

Mycroft’s response is immediate, a few flicks of his long, elegant fingers.

Only indirectly. MH

Greg grins, catches Mycroft’s eye, puts down his phone and his coffee, and drops his towel.

Ah yes, so I see. Should we test whether I can adequately fellate you while commenting on the planned WHO presentations of several government departments? MH

Greg’s stomach flips.

Christ, Mycroft. Much as I’d love to take you up on that, I’m going to use the time getting myself ready for you. I meant it. I want you the minute you’re done with this call. xxx

“Your entire second slide needs to be re-examined in light of recent changes to Public Health Europe’s guidance and the ECJ ruling,” sighs Mycroft. “Continue.”

Come here. MH

Greg wraps his towel around his hips, determined not to be drawn in by the lure of Mycroft sucking him again.

Mycroft’s gaze is full of warmth, however, as he looks up into Greg’s eyes. He places his hand on Greg’s stomach, slides it up over his ribs, until it comes to rest over his heart.

Greg smiles. His chest is bursting with happiness. Silently, he takes Mycroft’s hand in his, and kisses it. Looking down into Mycroft’s eyes for a moment, he steps away, picks up his phone from the counter, and walks towards the bedroom.

He leaves the door wide open, and drops his towel on the floor.

Want to watch, gorgeous? xxx

You are a torturer, Gregory. MH

Yeah well you’re gorgeous, sexy, clever as hell and in my flat. What am I meant to do? By the way, I’m taking that as a yes. xxx

Yes. MH

Downside – I won’t be able to text you anymore. I’ll be busy ;) xxx

Mycroft types the next message quickly, but seems to hesitate before sending it.

You do this regularly? MH

Occasionally. When just my hand won’t cut it :) Mostly don’t get the time. xxx

Greg lies down on the bed and turns his head towards Mycroft, watching him fondly.

You alright gorgeous? I don’t have to do this. Or I can close the door. I know you’re working. xxx

Mycroft’s gaze flicks up to meet Greg’s. The corners of his mouth tip into a sweet smile that makes Greg’s heart thump.

You are quite magnificently beautiful, Gregory. I shall watch you with joy. MH

Greg almost gasps. He reads the message again. Christ. You can’t just say things like that. And you don’t even know how romantic that is, do you?

I love you, you idiot.

Charmer. xxx

Mycroft sits back in the kitchen chair, eyes fixed on Greg; he’s speaking to the conference call, but his actual words are not audible.

Greg sits up and opens the drawer of his bedside table; finds the lube and his butt plug. He lays them next to him on the bed. Turning on his side he props his head on his left hand and smiles.

Mycroft raises an eyebrow. His gaze sweeps slowly down and, heart beating, Greg slips his hand down too.

He teases his cock with his fingertips, feeling Mycroft’s gaze as an almost physical sensation. He gasps, slightly, watching the laser attention Mycroft is paying him.

Wrapping his hand around his cock, he strokes himself once, down and then back up. He plays with his foreskin, teasing the sensitive place beneath the head indirectly. Smiling, he watches Mycroft shift slightly in his chair.

Compared to the way Mycroft had prepared him the other day, Greg’s usually pretty rough with himself. He generally fingers himself quickly open and slips the plug in, accepting the initial discomfort but allowing himself plenty of time to adjust. He’ll do it before he takes a shower after a long day at work, clenching around the plug, playing lazily with himself as the water soothes away the day, before retiring to bed to edge for as long as he can.

Been a long time since I bothered though.

Most of his wanking is done as fast as possible in the shower before work, just to take the edge off. It’s been years since he had anything like a regular sex life – even before the end of his marriage – but he can still never shake the sense of being a sad old bastard that having to get off without someone else there gives him.

Mycroft’s speaking to his call again, tone cold and clipped. Greg tries to suppress a shiver. Mycroft definitely doesn’t need to know how much that gets to me.

Wonder if he could tell how much I wanted him when he threatened me in that warehouse. Christ, I could hardly look at him.

He kneels up, facing Mycroft, because it’d be a massive shame to miss the expression on his face. He strokes himself a couple more times, slowly, watching the way Mycroft’s gaze plays over his body. Christ, it’s good to feel like this again. Wanted. Wanted by someone gorgeous. Someone I – love.

Leaning over to grab the lube and plug, he settles himself more comfortably on his spread knees. He flicks open the lube and liberally coats his right index finger.

When he runs the slick pad of his finger across the sensitive skin around his entrance, his breath catches with anticipation. His cock twitches in his left hand.

Mycroft is watching his expression avidly, tone clear and blank as he comments on another presentation. Greg grins at him, receiving only a slightly-raised eyebrow in return.

Greg slips the tip of his finger inside, sensation from the rim and the sheer dirty pleasure of doing this as Mycroft watches mingling into a lightning thrill of arousal low in his belly.

He teases himself, stroking his entrance, dipping the tip of his finger in and out; relaxing consciously, skin hot and shivery with the sensation of being watched.

He takes the slim plug, lubes it carefully, and begins to work it slowly, slowly inside himself – a much longer tease than he would ever normally bother with. He lets it show on his face: the pleasure, the need, the burn of being breached. He rocks forward, on his knees; supports himself on his left hand as he uses his right to work the toy inside.

He bites his bottom lip, keeping his eyes fixed on Mycroft’s. Relaxes, and accepts the plug inside.

Mycroft’s eyes roam restlessly from Greg’s expression to his body. He crosses his legs; swallows as if his throat is dry.

Dear God, Myc. You’ve no idea what the way you watch me does to me.

Greg sits back on his heels, clenching a little around the toy, and puts his hands on his thighs. His cock is still thick and full, but only half-hard now. He stands up, and pulls on a pair of boxers.

In the bathroom, he washes his hands and looks at his flushed, bruised face in the bathroom mirror.

Mycroft is listening quietly to a presentation – eyes sharp, head on one side – when Greg emerges from the bathroom. His gaze runs over Greg, an almost physical sweep of sensation. His long fingers curl, beckoning Greg closer.

Greg goes, smiling, watching dark grey eyes analyse his every movement.

The long, elegant fingers of Mycroft’s right hand pause at Greg’s hipbone – then travel softly over the fabric of his boxers. Fingertips brush lightly along the length of Greg’s cock, outside the material. Mycroft’s eyes are locked on Greg’s, full of laser concentration.

Greg badly wants to kiss him.

The plug is a noticeable presence inside him; some of his attention flows to the way it fills him, presses and rubs with all his smallest movements. It’s not intrusive; just – noticeable. Greg’s breath catches as Mycroft’s fingertips skim along his cock again.

“Darlin’…” whispers Greg, smiling.

The corner of Mycroft’s mouth tips up; he takes Greg’s hand in his, and silently kisses the palm.

Oh fuck, sweetheart, why’re you like this?

Greg could almost cry. He runs his thumb along Mycroft’s cheekbone.

Mycroft sits back. “Very well,” he snaps. “To me for corrections. Final presentation.”

Greg grins, then bites his lip. He squeezes Mycroft’s fingers and pads to the bedroom for his phone.

Back in the kitchen, he takes a seat at a 90-degree angle from Mycroft at the kitchen table and tucks his feet up on the chair next to his thigh. The plug shifts inside him, and Greg catches his breath, closing his eyes for a moment. When he opens them again, Mycroft is watching him hungrily.

Hope this presentation’s a quick one. xxx

Mycroft smiles, flicking him a knowing glance.

As do I. MH

Greg moves his foot; places it on Mycroft’s thigh. Shifts his toes restlessly; strokes them almost absent-mindedly against the hardness at Mycroft’s groin.

Did he come last night? If not he must be desperate. God, I’m such an idiot for falling asleep.

You are intent upon distracting me in every possible way. MH

Greg grins.

Want me to stop? xxx

Mycroft wraps his hand around Greg’s foot; strokes gently at the side, at the sole, making him gasp and twitch, ticklish.

Absolutely not. MH

Greg’s heart aches, full. He itches to type it, to say it: I’m in love with you.

I’ve fallen in love with you, Mycroft Holmes.

He curls his foot into Mycroft’s palm, and smiles, softly.

Good. xx

Don’t know if I could anyway. xxx

Mycroft’s eyelashes flutter against his cheeks as he reads the text. His thumb traces a soft, brushing path back and forth across the top of Greg’s foot.

He hesitates.

I find myself unable to concentrate with you here. MH

Greg smiles, gently.

I can sod off for a bit. xx

Mycroft’s quick frown, the way he runs his hand up Greg’s leg in a protective, preventive manner, makes his heart leap.

Or not. xxx

Not. MH

Whatever my husband wants. xxx

Greg’s heart sinks as the text sends. Shit. He might not want to remember that bit of nonsense.

It’s only then that Greg realises he’s still wearing his ring. He thinks he sees the moment when Mycroft notices too; gaze skittering shyly away from the silver band on Greg’s finger.

Sorry, I thought they’d taken that off at the hospital but obviously not! x

They did take it off at the hospital. You just put it back on again.

Greg works the ring quickly off his finger, trying to ignore the cold, heavy feeling in his stomach. He doesn’t look up at Mycroft’s expression.

The ring makes a neat metallic click against the surface of the table. Greg pushes it away a little.

His finger feels strange. Too light.

“Please check the December WHO drug information report,” says Mycroft, frowning. “Your fifth and sixth slides will need updating to take account of it.”

Greg feels suddenly useless. He’s sitting here, working, listening to a load of presentations while I distract him and arse about with a ring I should never’ve kept.

Jesus Christ. How can I have got to this age and still not’ve learned any sense?

Greg stands up quickly, and goes to boil the kettle. He regrets the plug, now; it shifts inside him, building tension, building need.

Bloody hell. Way to make an exhibition of yourself. He lays his palms flat on the kitchen side, listening to the kettle start to heat.

“Adequate,” summarises Mycroft. “Ensure that your data is consonant with the latest WHO reports before sending it to me.” He pauses a moment. “Thank you for your presentations.”

As the kettle boils, Greg hears the snap of Mycroft’s laptop closing. There’s a tiny metallic sound, too, but then Mycroft’s hands settle on Greg’s hipbones from behind.

His lips find Greg’s shoulder; skim up, softly, towards his neck.

“Sorry, about –” mutters Greg, but Mycroft shakes his head, biting gently down on the skin at the place where Greg’s neck meets his shoulder.

“Gregory –” he murmurs. “You have nothing to apologise for.”

Greg sighs, and leans back against Mycroft’s chest. He lets his head fall back onto Mycroft’s shoulder, and closes his eyes.

Mycroft’s hands slip around his waist. “In fact I –” his voice is hesitant, full of apprehension. “I wish to apologise, myself. For my unpardonable behaviour. For not visiting you at the hospital.”

Greg turns; puts his hands on Mycroft’s shoulders. For a moment he’s not sure what to say.

“Sherlock said you’d keep away.” He bites his lip, not meeting Mycroft’s eyes.

There’s a quiet intake of breath. Mycroft’s fingers twitch slightly on Greg’s hips. “I am a coward.”

“Hardly.” Greg frowns.

“I fear, in this case –” Mycroft’s voice sounds rather strangled. Greg still can’t look up to meet his gaze. “I have behaved in a cowardly manner.”

Greg brushes his thumb back and forth across the crisp fabric of Mycroft’s shirt.

Mycroft swallows. “Seeing you – in the hands of that – monster –” his voice is tight, carefully-controlled. He does not continue.

When Greg looks up, he is shocked by how pale Mycroft is. He remembers cold, violently-shaking hands, pulling desperately at the restraints around his wrists.

“You were there,” he says. “You stopped him.”

Mycroft takes a breath. “I would not – usually be.”

Greg can’t help a rueful half-smile. “I wouldn’t usually be taking part in some bloody stupid half-plan dreamt up by your brother.” Mycroft raises one eyebrow, and Greg gives a quick, acknowledging huff of laughter. “I said usually.”

The corner of Mycroft’s mouth tips up, rather mirthlessly. “It led me to behave as though I had no – regard for your situation,” he says, stiffly. “When in fact, quite the opposite is true.”

Greg’s heart squeezes in his chest. Wonder how often Mycroft Holmes apologises to people.

I’m going to guess at not very often.

“Would you really’ve just – what? Avoided me?” Greg’s blurted out the question before he has time to think. His stomach twists with regret immediately.

Mycroft’s staring down at the floor, a pained crease between his eyebrows. “I – feared –” he swallows. “I had gained an – insight into losing you.”

Greg’s throat is dry. “Felt like I was losing you, though,” he says, voice rough.

Mycroft’s grey eyes are anguished. “It was – supremely selfish. Forgive me.” His gaze cuts away. “I am unused to being – a necessity.”

“That’s not true,” says Greg, heart pounding. “You’re needed all the time. Sherlock, and – I don’t know, the bloody Government –” he gestures with his right hand. “I just want you. That’s all.”

Mycroft glances at him. His grey eyes are full of mingled fear and confusion. “It is an – unfamiliar sensation,” he says, with a rueful flicker of a smile at the corner of his mouth.

Greg’s heart hurts, full. “You do want – this?”

Mycroft closes his eyes a moment. He looks terribly vulnerable, dark circles beneath his eyes. “More than I can say.”

Greg puts his hand on Mycroft’s chest. “Thanks. For staying.” He tries for a lighter tone. “Even though I fell asleep on you.”

Mycroft’s quick glance is full of fond reproof. “You place far too much emphasis on the strict exchange of orgasms.”

Greg grins. “Yeah? Think you’d be annoyed with yourself too if you’d fallen asleep on me like that.”

Mycroft concedes the point with a flick of his eyes upwards, a quick wry smile. “Perhaps so. Nevertheless. You had just been released from hospital.” He lays his palm gently along the side of Greg’s face; his long fingers caress Greg’s temple, near the stitches. “Brace yourself to be looked after, Gregory.”

Greg smiles, then makes a face. “Soppy bastard.”

Mycroft purses his lips, attempting to repress a smile. “One of those things, perhaps.”

Greg grins at him. “So what was that about exchanging orgasms…?”

Mycroft smirks. “Well, by your reckoning, you are in my debt.”

Greg pulls him closer. “Come to collect?”

“I should prefer to place you further in debt.”

“If you’re into self-denial, just say so.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow flicks up. “I find you quite maddening.”

Slowly, Greg undoes the second button on Mycroft’s shirt. “Yeah, well, look at you, all racy with your top button undone and no tie. What am I s’posed to do, hmm?”

Mycroft rolls his eyes. “You make fun of me quite mercilessly, Gregory.”

“Who’s makin’ fun?” grins Greg. “Don’t gloat, just because you’ve got the power to stop my ancient heart with one undone button.”

“This from the man who has thus far spent the morning teasing me in every possible way.”

“Hardly every possible way.”

“Oh dear Lord.”

Greg laughs, continuing to unbutton Mycroft’s shirt. He leans in and places a kiss on Mycroft’s collarbone. “Don’t really know why you bothered getting dressed, anyway.”

“To work, Gregory. The thought of listening to all those ministers while naked was impossible to contemplate.”

“Well, for future reference, when you’re in my flat the default is you getting your kit off.”

“Oh dear. Perhaps we should meet at some more neutral location.”

“I’ll be happy to undress you wherever, darlin’.”

“You are quite shameless.”

“I’ve no plans to start feeling ashamed of wantin’ you to fuck me, thanks very much.”

Greg feels Mycroft’s arms slip around his waist, and finds himself pulled in close. He takes the opportunity to kiss Mycroft’s neck, eliciting a soft catch of breath which tightens the knot of arousal in his stomach.

He tips his head up, watching Mycroft’s dark grey eyes; and when their lips brush, he pushes the shirt from his shoulders, down his arms, palms skimming soft pale skin. Their breath is loud in the space between their lips.

Greg pulls Mycroft closer, and finds that he’s hard.

“’S’been more than a minute since you finished your call.”

Mycroft half-smiles. “True.”

“An’ I thought we had an agreement.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow lifts, slightly. “Turn around, Gregory.”

Greg’s breath catches. He presses up, kisses Mycroft gently on the lips, and turns around. He braces his fingers gently against the kitchen counter.

Mycroft smiles against Greg’s shoulder, nipping gently at his skin. “You look as though you fear an onslaught.”

Greg chuckles, leaning back against Mycroft’s shoulder. “Just my own reactions, darlin’.”

Mycroft kisses his ear. “I can confidently say that your reactions will be delightful.” His fingertips skim the waistband of Greg’s boxers. “Yes?” he murmurs, in Greg’s ear.

Greg nods, then huffs his amusement. “Well you might find ’em delightful. I’ll prob’ly just be embarrassed.” He is hyper-aware of Mycroft’s long fingers dipping below the waistband, teasing at his hipbones and stomach.

“Do not be ridiculous, Gregory.” Mycroft kisses Greg’s shoulder again. He sounds a little rueful as he adds, “if anyone is likely to embarrass himself…”

Greg groans. “Only ’cause I was such an old man last night –”

Mycroft growls and bites at Greg’s shoulder. “Quiet, Lestrade.”

Greg can’t help giggling. “Uh-oh. I got surnamed. D’you need my middle name to complete the effect?”

Mycroft contemplates his defiance with a soft huff of amusement. “Perhaps it would be useful.”

“’S’French.”

Mycroft nuzzles Greg’s hair and kisses behind his ear. “Yes?”

“Can’t help feeling like you’re going to use this against me.”

“You gave me explicit permission to use it against you.”

Greg turns his head and kisses the corner of Mycroft’s mouth. “Clément.”

“Gregory Clément Lestrade.” Mycroft tries out the sound of it. “Your father’s influence.”

“Yeah.” Greg can’t think. Mycroft’s thumbs are rubbing small circles at the base of his spine; his fingers spread below the boxer shorts, stroking the sensitive skin of Greg’s buttocks. “Fuck – Myc –” Suddenly all he wants is Mycroft, close, around him – everywhere. “Put your arms ’round me.” He’s surprised by the strange vulnerability in his own voice.

Gently, Mycroft’s hands withdraw from their place at the small of Greg’s back. Greg can feel hesitation in Mycroft’s movements; hear caution in his voice, when he speaks.

“Gregory –?”

Greg reaches back, catches Mycroft’s hands. He slips them around his waist; leans back, attempts to get as much of their bodies in contact as possible. If he let it, his breath could catch. He is full of desperate, welling emotion. He keeps his eyes closed. Stay. Please.

Mycroft is still hard. He seems to be trying to shift his hips away.

He doesn’t want to push me. He’s not sure what I want. What he should do. Greg winds his fingers into Mycroft’s. “Come to bed.” He opens his eyes for a moment; turns his head to make eye contact.

Mycroft’s grey eyes are full of worry.

Greg leads him into the bedroom, their fingers still entwined.

“’M’sorry,” he says, facing round to Mycroft. “’M’not –” he gestures, slightly.

Mycroft hesitates. “I can understand if – following our conversation –”

“Myc –” Greg shakes his head. He’s no idea what to say. After a moment he lifts Mycroft’s hand to his lips; kisses his knuckles, his palm. “Please.” He pulls Mycroft close, breathing in the scent of his skin. His voice is rough when he says, “I want you.”

Mycroft hesitates a moment longer, but when Greg kisses him he kisses back, a stifled moan in his throat.

Greg fumbles with Mycroft’s trouser buttons and fly, slipping his hands under the waistband of his boxers, too; pushing at everything, needing only skin.

“Be inside me,” murmurs Greg, against Mycroft’s lips.

“Anything,” whispers Mycroft.

Greg pulls him back, towards the bed, and laughs a little as Mycroft helps him out of his boxers; they lie down together, and Greg draws Mycroft’s arms around him, spooning – “like this –”

“Give me the lubricant.” Mycroft’s voice is calm, quiet in Greg’s ear.

Greg gives it over, and finds a condom too.

When Mycroft’s fingers – warm and slick – caress his balls, and behind them to his perineum, Greg shifts restlessly, turning over onto his back. He watches Mycroft, runs two fingers up his neck, into his hair. He opens his legs, invites touch, tries not to notice the insistent presence of the plug too much. He’s still half-hard. He gasps when Mycroft’s fingers sweep back, the pad of his thumb smoothing softly around the plug, the place where it enters Greg’s body.

Greg squirms with frustrated, needy pleasure. “God – fuck –”

Full. Not full enough.

Mycroft’s eyes are dark, sharp, watching Greg’s every reaction minutely. His fingers are gentle. His lips part, slightly, as if he might speak; but in the end, he does not.

“Please,” says Greg, at last.

Mycroft smiles, and his eyes light with softness and warmth. It transforms him. He dips his head and kisses Greg’s shoulder, his collarbone. “Turn on your side for me, again.”

The gently-commanding tone makes Greg’s stomach clench with want. He turns.

Mycroft’s long fingers run the length of his thigh; tuck behind his right knee, caressing sensitive skin. They urge the leg up, bending his knee further.

Greg looks over his shoulder, amused. “You putting me in the recovery position?”

Mycroft rolls his eyes and runs his hand down Greg’s arm. He pulls it up, above Greg’s head; holds it with his left hand. “You are absurd.”

“Well ’f’you think I’m going to need reviving – great –” Greg laughs as Mycroft bites gently at his shoulder. His heart is racing, despite his words: like this, he feels lightly restrained, held in balance only by Mycroft’s grip on his hand, his hip.

He’s so hard. Greg pushes back against Mycroft, rolling his hips slightly; his heart thumps as he hears Mycroft’s breath catch.

“Myc…”

Mycroft’s long fingers caress Greg’s hip; his thumb describes a small circle on the soft flesh of Greg’s buttock. “You want this?” His voice is soft, but every consonant is crisply, beautifully sharp.

It makes Greg squirm.

“You know I do.” Greg tucks his right leg up a little further; presses his eyes tight closed. “Darlin’.”

Mycroft’s fingers travel lower – touch, stroke – as his lips skim the line of Greg’s shoulder – neck – hairline – it shouldn’t feel so good, should it, his lips at the nape of my neck

It’s not really a place Greg’s thought about, before.

Greg gasps as the plug is slowly withdrawn: it hurts, a little; feels good, more. “Fuck,” he mutters, left hand bracing against the headboard. The wood – probably not real wood, it’s only IKEA – is cold and smooth beneath his palm.

Mycroft’s fingers are gentle, and the plug is gone; Mycroft picks up the condom and tears it open. Another of those strange moments of dissonance – Mycroft Holmes opening a condom packet with his teeth – and the sound of the lube bottle lid –

He takes good care of me.

Greg turns his head back as far as he can to watch Mycroft’s expression. His eyelashes are cast down – putting the condom on, and lube, I s’pose – and his cheeks are flushed. Greg squeezes his left hand.

Mycroft smiles, slightly, and flicks his gaze back up to meet Greg’s. There’s a long, breathless moment.

“’F’you’re going to ask whether –” grins Greg. He chuckles as Mycroft rolls his eyes slightly. “Answer’s yes, anyway. Please. Yes. Now.”

Mycroft turns his head; brushes his lips along the tanned skin of Greg’s upper arm. “You are an impatient man, Gregory.” He moves behind Greg, hips shifting.

“’Course I am.” Greg wants to press back, tease, torment until he gets what he needs; frustration crawls through him, the urge to be close, closer

The fingers of Mycroft’s left hand tighten in Greg’s; pull, ever so slightly, stretching his balance just a little, and in that moment of stolen concentration Mycroft presses his hips forward, the head of his cock pushing inside.

Greg gasps, then bites his bottom lip. He takes a breath; relaxes consciously. He arches his back, pressing his head back against Mycroft’s shoulder.

Mycroft holds still. Runs his right hand slowly up over Greg’s hip, his side, his arm. Gently lets go of Greg’s hand, and guides his arm up and back, stretching behind Mycroft’s head.

Greg settles his hand, curved to the back of Mycroft’s neck. He turns his head, pressing his cheek to as much of Mycroft’s pale skin as he can reach. “More,” he gasps.

Mycroft’s hand lays itself flat along Greg’s thigh. His breathing is deliberately calm, controlled.

Greg presses back as Mycroft pushes forward, taking the length of him slowly, steadily, and without hesitation. He breathes deeply against the skin of Mycroft’s neck, and groans softly.

Mycroft buries his head in the crook of Greg’s neck; kisses and nuzzles. He doesn’t move yet.

Greg takes more deep breaths; arches his neck to allow Mycroft room to kiss it, to explore. With a sudden rush of realisation, he understands that he’s being held with the kind of delicate grasp that might be devoted to a crystal tumbler or a priceless bone-china teacup.

Fucking hell. His eyes feel hot. He swallows, hard, and pushes back against the fullness inside him.

“Shall I move?” Mycroft’s lips brush Greg’s earlobe, and his tone is a tease.

Greg bites at Mycroft’s jaw. “Teasin’ me.”

“Does that greatly surprise you?”

Actually, it sort of does. It’s new to Greg: being held with reverence, while being teased, and made to wait.

He’s not sure what he’d expected of Mycroft and sex. Somehow, the enjoyment, the skill, doesn’t surprise him. The tenderness –

No, not surprise. But Greg’s still adjusting, maybe, to the gap between everything he knows of Mycroft, and the image he’s held of the man for such a long time.

It’s always been there, though, hasn’t it? There to see. Him crying tears of exhaustion and frustration next to his brother’s hospital bed. The way I never lost my job, never even got demoted, after Sherlock – went away. The way he’s been, all this week

He always puts other people first.

Even now, when he must be desperate, after last night

Greg shifts, rubbing the fingers of his right hand softly across the nape of Mycroft’s neck. “Darlin’,” he murmurs. “C’mon. I want you. Hard.” He shifts his hand up, stroking it through Mycroft’s hair.

Mycroft takes a breath. His fingers tuck behind Greg’s right knee. He flexes his hips, pushing at Greg’s limits; draws back a little, just an inch.

Greg groans, slightly. “Yes. Yeah.” It feels good – he feels full, at last, not edgy with the need to come, but full, satisfied.

He’s done this enough to know that in this mood he’s unlikely to come before Mycroft does. He doesn’t care. This closeness, this feeling of being surrounded, is everything he’d wanted.

When Mycroft’s fingertips run back up Greg’s thigh; pause, soft, on his hip; and dip to run along his half-hard cock, Greg smiles.

“Don’t worry, gorgeous –”

Mycroft’s hips are building a slow, inching rhythm, still not moving all the way in and out.

“Gregory.” He sounds ever so slightly reproachful. There is an almost-breathless catch to his voice that brings a low ache of arousal to Greg’s chest.

“Seriously. I’ve got what I want. Promise.”

“Then allow me to have what I desire.”

Greg gasps as Mycroft pulls out by a few inches. “Oh, fuck –” He presses his head back against Mycroft’s shoulder. “’S’just – not always that simple –”

Mycroft pushes back inside him, smoothly, leaning forward to kiss the side of Greg’s mouth. “Do not imagine that I say this – do this – to place pressure upon you.” His fingertips travel, lightly, the length of Greg’s cock. “But please accept my assurance that nothing could possibly satisfy me more than to bring you pleasure.”

“You do. You do, darlin’.”

“I shall,” murmurs Mycroft, softly amused. He moves a little, just an inch down the bed, but it makes a difference immediately. He thrusts, shallowly, hardly moving his hips.

“Fuck,” whispers Greg, against Mycroft’s jaw. His left hand braces against the headboard. He presses back, seeking more.

“Gregory,” murmurs Mycroft, kissing Greg’s arm, his shoulder, his neck. His thrusts are harder now, deeper. Words fall from his lips, hushed, a little less perfectly-enunciated than usual; the slight evidence of slipping control makes Greg flush with excitement. “You do not know what it was for me to bring you pleasure last night.”

“Frustrating?” smiles Greg, but he keeps his eyes closed, because he cannot trust them not to shine and fill.

“Certainly not,” whispers Mycroft. He rolls his hips in a long, slow thrust. “A thoroughly satisfying experience.”

Greg is finding it hard to separate the different centres of pleasure beneath Mycroft’s hands and lips and teeth and –

Mycroft nips at Greg’s earlobe, then soothes it with a swirl of tongue. His hand delivers tight, slow strokes to the length of Greg’s cock.

Greg groans, fingertips stroking the side of Mycroft’s neck. It’s a small sensation he can distinguish, a place he can be sure that’s him, separate, the skin I’m stroking is his and not mine

The rest of him feels absorbed, balanced in Mycroft’s arms, held and taken. Surrounded. He stops moving his fingertips, wanting the feeling to be complete. His chest is tight and full.

The smallest of noises in Mycroft’s throat – hardly even a groan – makes Greg suddenly, intensely aware of how much he must be holding back, controlling.

“Yes, darlin’ – Myc – oh, fuck –”

Mycroft’s hand is tighter, moves faster, but it’s the relentless waves of pressure inside driving Greg towards the edge. He couldn’t control himself now if he tried.

“Mycroft – you’re makin’ me – I can’t –”

“Yes.” Mycroft’s voice is full and warm. “Yes, Gregory. Let me see.”

“God –” Greg presses his face to the side of Mycroft’s neck, eyes screwed closed, struggling to breathe with the enormity of the tension overtaking him, the fullness in his chest, inside him – those arms tight and reassuring and those hands –

“Let me feel you. Now.”

Suddenly Greg could be floating, and the fall over into bliss is a fine edge, tipped –

It bursts through him, and he’s gasping against the warm soft skin of Mycroft’s throat, moaning nonsense as he comes. He chases pleasure greedily through the aftershocks, pushing back onto the rigid length inside him; only as he kisses, open-mouthed, under Mycroft’s jaw does he realise that the other man has gone still, a torn-sounding groan stifled between pressed-tight lips as he loses control.

“Darlin’ – fuck, yes –” Greg kisses Mycroft’s neck, wanting to turn, wanting to kiss him properly. He holds Mycroft close, hand curved to the back of his neck.

“Fuck,” murmurs Greg, at last. He moves gingerly, suddenly aware of the pain in his nose, his head.

Mycroft’s lips plant a gentle kiss against his shoulder. “You are in pain, Gregory.” Concern echoes in every quiet syllable. Mycroft’s voice is a little rough, and Greg almost shivers with it.

“You can’t go from coming to fussing that fast, Myc,” he smiles, keeping his voice light. His chest tightens with the knowledge that Mycroft will have to withdraw, soon. Have to go to the bathroom and clean up and carry on with his day, inescapably separate.

Mycroft nips at Greg’s earlobe. “I am capable of many things.”

Greg holds his breath as Mycroft withdraws, then rolls onto his back to watch him walk away. He swallows, trying not to notice the ache in his chest.

He sits up and clambers out of bed, pads into the kitchen, throat tight and dry. Leaning against the kitchen counter, he sips a glass of water. On the table, one of Mycroft’s phones buzzes. It stops, then starts again immediately.

“Darlin’ – your phone’s ringing,” calls Greg, urgently, picking it up and carrying it into the bathroom.

Mycroft, standing at the sink, dries his hands quickly and takes the phone. “Yes?” he answers, tersely.

Greg puts his hand on Mycroft’s chest.

With a quick flick of grey gaze, Mycroft lifts it; brushes his lips across Greg’s knuckles. “No,” he sighs. “Schedule her for this evening. And order the car. I shall not be long.”

Greg’s heart sinks.

“Yes. And ready the briefing notes.” Mycroft hangs up. “I apologise, Gregory.”

“No,” murmurs Greg, mustering a smile. “I was surprised you were here this morning anyway, to be honest.”

“I would stay, now, if I could.” Mycroft’s palm curves gently to Greg’s cheek; his thumb strokes just below Greg’s temple.

“Thank you,” says Greg, simply.

Mycroft shakes his head, eyes full of a guarded kind of vulnerability.

“D’you need anything before you go?” asks Greg. “Cuppa?”

“No thank you. The car will be here very shortly.”

“Go’n get ready then.” Greg smiles. Will you come back, later? He doesn’t know whether he should ask.

It goes too quickly: Mycroft dressed, packing his bag, putting his laptop away in its expensive leather case; phones tucked into the inside pocket of his jacket, top button, tie pushed into place, sitting sideways in his chair at the kitchen table to lace his shoes – and his phone buzzing, again, with the news that his driver has arrived.

They kiss at the door – too gently, but Mycroft smiles and draws back when Greg tries to push for more –

“Gregory. You must not hurt your nose.”

“Honestly, you’re such a –” Greg smiles, rolling his eyes in mock frustration.

“Considerate husband?” asks Mycroft, picking up his bag.

Greg’s stomach flips with the word. “Yeah. Bastard,” he grins.

“Well then.” Mycroft’s long fingers touch Greg’s chin for a moment, and he bends to kiss him softly, one last time. “Relax, today,” he adds, sternly, opening the door.

“Yes, dear,” returns Greg, in his best henpecked husband voice.

Mycroft narrows his eyes at him, but the corners of his mouth twitch all the same.

Greg closes the door, and leans against it. He aches all over; his head is pounding. Slowly, he moves over to the table and sits down in the chair Mycroft had used.

There, on the table, is his ring; and next to it, another – a couple of sizes smaller – on a fine silver chain.

He blinks.

Chain probably cost ten times what the ring did, he thinks, numbly.

Reaching out, he draws the ring closer, and gathers it into his palm.

He had it with him.

Okay.

Chapter Text

Greg’s phone vibrates next to him on the sofa.

[20:09] Gregory, I apologise most sincerely but there seems no chance I shall see you tonight. I have just finished a meeting, but another is scheduled for 9pm, and may run late. I must return to the office for a 5am briefing, followed by another meeting. I hope for a few hours’ sleep at my flat in between. Perhaps – if you are free – we could meet tomorrow evening? MH

Greg sighs. He’s curled up under a blanket watching Paddington 2. Earlier, he’d Skyped with his brother, sister-in-law and nieces, who’d been shocked by his bruised, stitched face. Aude had confidently assured him that the Paddington films were “the best for making you feel better, Uncle Greg” and Gabe had added that they were actually very good, even for an adult audience.

Greg has been enjoying them. He’s tired though. He aches all over, and he knows he’ll have to get up, make something for dinner, take his painkillers and go to bed.

Don’t fall asleep here on the sofa without doing any of those things. Definitely don’t do that.

It’s more than just tiredness, though; his chest feels oddly hollow.

Mycroft – a few hours ago we were as close as we can get, and then he was gone.

The phone in his hand buzzes again.

[20:11] I trust you have eaten dinner and taken your painkillers? MH

Greg can’t help smiling slightly.

[20:11] You’re fussing again. I’m just making dinner now. xxx

He levers himself off the sofa and goes to boil the kettle.

[20:12] What are you having? MH

[20:12] Just pasta and pesto. Knackered actually. Lazy dinner. xxx

[20:13] I should be there to cook for you. It is late, Gregory. You must get to bed once you have eaten. MH

[20:13] Fussing! xxxx

[20:14] Naturally. How have you spent your day? MH

Greg’s heart squeezes at ‘naturally’. He sets pasta boiling, washes some tomatoes, and digs pesto out of the back of the fridge.

[20:15] Long Skype call with Gabe, Anne-Sophie and the girls. They were horrified by my face. I’ve been watching the Paddington films at their recommendation. xxx

[20:16] That sounds suitably relaxing. I approve. MH

[20:16] Didn’t know what to expect but they’re actually great. We should watch them together. xxx

[20:17] Certainly. MH

[20:17] What are you having for dinner? xxx

[20:18] Anthea has ordered me a salad from a nearby delicatessen. A favourite place. MH

[20:19] Glad you’re having something. Anything else I can fuss about for you? xxx

[20:20] Just yourself, thank you, Gregory. MH

Greg smiles; hesitates. He wants to mention the ring on its fine silver chain; wants to ask what time he’ll see Mycroft tomorrow.

Needy. Don’t.

[20:22] Doesn’t sound like you’ll get much sleep tonight, with all your meetings and such an early start. xxx

[20:23] Regrettably that is so. Am I correct in thinking that you are signed off work this week? MH

[20:24] Yeah, Sally let me know the other day and the Super emailed through confirmation. xxx

[20:25] Anthea informs me that I have a large amount of annual leave to use up and my meetings Wednesday to Friday inclusive can be rescheduled. Perhaps we could spend some time together, if you are free? MH

Greg’s heart twists; seems to grow in his chest. His eyes feel hot and full. Jesus Christ, Greg. Could you stop trying to cry at everything? He takes the pasta off the hob and pours it into a colander.

[20:26] Yeah, that’d be great. Sure you can let the country go to shit for three whole days?? xxx

[20:27] If you can let the criminals of London have their fun for a week, I fail to see why not. MH

Greg grins, mixing pesto into the pasta. He pads into the bathroom and takes his painkillers, scooping water from the cold tap with his hand.

[20:30] Taken my painkillers, alright gorgeous? xxx

[20:31] Thank you. Now eat dinner. MH

[20:31] I’m rolling my eyes at you. xxx

[20:32] But also eating pasta. xxx

Greg tucks himself back onto the sofa with his dinner, and sets Paddington 2 playing again.

[20:33] Good. Is there anything you would particularly like to do during our time off? I can make reservations. MH

Greg runs a hand through his hair, closing his eyes. God, darlin’ – I just want time with you. And you’re giving me that. He smiles a rather wobbly smile. Christ. Are these pills making me such a soppy old bastard or am I doing that all on my own?

[20:34] Honestly? Stay in bed a lot. Cook with you. Watch films. Talk. Go to bookshops and read in cafés. I would say take you out to try more cocktails but probably not the best idea on these pills xxx

[20:35] You are a very convenient date, Gregory Lestrade. MH

[20:36] It’s alright, you can say cheap. xxx

Greg scrolls up through their conversation, and there it is again: You are quite magnificently beautiful, Gregory. I shall watch you with joy. MH.

His heart thumps in his chest.

[20:37] Nothing about you is ‘cheap’, Gregory. You appear not to know it, but you are exquisite. MH

Greg swallows a mouthful of pasta with difficulty, throat thick. Christ. Fuck.

[20:39] You’re ridiculous. Spend three days showing me what you mean though, please. xxx

[20:40] You may count on it. I fear I must now prepare for my meeting. MH

[20:40] Good luck gorgeous. Hope you get a bit of sleep at some point. xxx

[20:41] Get plenty of rest, Gregory. MH

When Greg finally drags himself to bed, he sleeps with one hand under the pillow, wrapped around his phone.

*

He does not wake until ten the next day, and when he does, his head and nose ache. He feels good though – better for the sleep. He groans as he drags himself up into a sitting position, wincing at the pain behind his eyes. He checks his phone.

[09:22] I trust that your silence is due to good sleep. My first meeting of the day is over. MH

There’s also a mess of notifications from the football group chat, checking in on him; he replies quickly to those.

[10:11] Only just woke up! How are you today? xxx

[10:12] Have you taken your painkillers? Had breakfast? MH

[10:13] Oi, I’ve only just woken up. Give an old man a chance xxx

[10:13] Tomorrow I shall be there to bring you breakfast. MH

Greg pulls his knees up; wraps an arm around himself. I love you. Christ, I really, really do.

Three whole days together, and how I’m supposed to stop myself telling you that and fucking everything up good and proper is a bloody mystery.

[10:14] Only if you eat some too. xxx

[10:15] You strike a hard bargain, Lestrade. MH

Greg bites his lip, hesitates; but – Mycroft seems so…

[10:16] What time do you think you’ll be done tonight? xxx

[10:17] I hope, by six thirty. MH

Greg’s eyebrows rise. He’s really…he’s putting this first.

[10:18] Great. Want to come here? xxx

[10:19] I shall bring dinner. I must join another call, Gregory – until tonight? MH

[10:20] See you later gorgeous xxx

Greg takes the morning slowly: cereal, painkillers and coffee; a long, hot shower. Very carefully, he washes his hair, keeping his head tipped as far back as possible so his face doesn’t get wet.

In their chat, Anne-Sophie sends him pictures of the get well soon cards the girls have drawn him. Aude’s is a picture of Paddington, and she prescribes marmalade sandwiches; Léa has gone for unicorns and hearts. He can’t help but grin.

Would you like to come here, if you have time off work? asks Anne-Sophie. There are direct flights from Heathrow every day.

After a minute, Gabe’s ‘typing’ notification comes up too. You’d be welcome, Greg. The girls would love so much to see you.

We wouldn’t make you ski, adds Anne-Sophie. You are injured enough already.

Greg laughs, quietly, and rolls his eyes.

Thank you both. I’ll arrange to come soon, I promise. But I just want to sleep and do nothing for the next few days.

You are safe, after this incident? asks Anne-Sophie. We did not want to ask more on the phone with the girls, but it was this attacker, yes? The murderer of gay couples?

Yes, types Greg. He’s not sure what else to say. He’s in custody. I’m not in danger, don’t worry :)

Inevitably, we worry, types Gabe. With you running around playing the hero.

Greg rolls his eyes, smiling. Hardly.

You have a deadline for giving us dates for your visit, types Gabe. By the end of your time off. By Monday.

Alright, returns Greg. Thanks, both of you xxx

He changes the sheets on his bed; puts the old ones on to wash. Cleans the shower, and has the news on quietly in the background. Simple, quiet things.

It’s as he’s eating lunch that his phone buzzes with a text from Sherlock.

[13:13] We need to discuss the final details of the case. SH

[13:14] Nothing to do with me this week, Sherlock. You’ll have to talk to Sally. G

[13:14] Thanks for your advice about your brother. I’ve seen him. G

[13:15] There are still certain things about the case I want to discuss. And Watson informs me she would like to see you. Be at Baker Street by 17:30. SH

Greg sighs. I owe him, I suppose. Massively.

[13:16] Alright. See you later. G

*

On the Tube, Greg keeps his earphones in, his eyes down, avoiding curious glances from strangers. His bruises are beginning to turn brown and yellow at the edges, alongside the blue and purple. He knows he looks a state.

[17:04] Sorry gorgeous. Sherlock texted me to come to Baker Street. Not sure what time I’ll be back at mine. Maybe you could pick me up? xxx

As he emerges onto Baker Street, glad to escape the heat and noise of the rush-hour tube, Greg’s phone buzzes with a message.

[17:28] In fact Sherlock has also summoned me. MH

Greg snorts wryly, waiting in a crowd at the traffic lights.

[17:29] Oh god, déjà vu. What now? xxx

[17:30] Only time (and my brother) will tell. I shall certainly not allow him to waste a moment of our time off together. MH

[17:30] Just got here. See you in a bit. xxx

Mrs Hudson answers the door.

“Oh, Greg, look at you,” she cries, putting her hands on his shoulders. “Oh, you poor thing – stitches and everything –”

“Yes, yes, he looks atrocious,” calls an impatient voice from the top of the stairs. “Come up, Lestrade.”

Mrs Hudson scoffs angrily and rolls her eyes. “Sherlock Holmes, you are cruel to your friends –”

“Tea, Mrs Hudson!”

“Not your housekeeper!” she shouts up the stairs. After squeezing Greg’s shoulders, she turns to go back to her flat. “I have been doing some baking, though. Made some lovely biccies yesterday. I’ll bring them up.” She makes a shooing motion towards the stairs. “Go on. His Lordship awaits.”

Upstairs, John is reading the paper in his chair, with Rosie on his lap. Sherlock is making a pot of tea.

“Evening,” says Greg, tentatively, standing just inside the kitchen door.

John twists round to give him a quick smile. “You look a bit better than the other day. More colour in your cheeks. Or should I say colours.”

Greg can’t help a grin. “Piss off.”

John snorts a quick laugh.

Rosie shouts “Geg!” at the same time as Sherlock nods and says, “Gavin.”

Greg sighs. “Your baby knows my name better than you do.”

“Watson is extremely intelligent.”

“Why wouldn’t she be, with John as her Dad.”

Sherlock glares at him, and Greg smiles, accepting a cup of tea. Sherlock loves how clever John is. With the kind of intensity only Sherlock can manage. It’s not like he’s a genius, like Sherlock, but maybe geniuses don’t always need – he veers his thoughts away.

Greg takes a seat on the sofa, with his cup of tea. Outside, traffic rumbles; almost gridlocked, at this hour. A bus honks its horn.

“What’s this about the case?” asks Greg. “’Cause I’m signed off. Not doing anything about it ’til Monday. An’ I don’t expect you’ll want to chat to Sally.”

Sherlock hands a cup of tea to John, on his way past to stand at the window. “You might want to talk to Donovan about her suicidally bullish manner towards members of the security services.”

Greg sighs. “John mentioned. She doesn’t like people – meddling.”

Sherlock raises his eyebrows sarcastically.

Greg takes a sip of tea. “What is it, then? About the case –?”

John gives a quick half-smile, putting down his newspaper and his tea; he stands up, carrying Rosie over to Greg. “He was worried about you. We all were. He wanted to see you.”

Sherlock frowns and rolls his eyes at his partner’s back, then returns to staring out of the window. If he’s watching Greg, Rosie and John out of the corner of his eye, he tries not to let it show.

Greg hides a smile. “Alright, sweetheart?” he asks, accommodating a wriggling Rosie on his lap.

“Oocor!” she says. After a moment, she turns from Greg’s bewildered expression to look up at John.

The corner of his mouth tips up. “She wants to show you her unicorn,” he says. “Where did you leave it then, chicken?”

“Next to the bath,” says Sherlock, distantly, seemingly still absorbed in watching Baker Street.

Rosie watches Greg’s bruised face while her Dad goes to fetch the unicorn. He smiles at her, and after a few moments of seeming to decide whether this is acceptable or not, she smiles back.

John passes her the cuddly unicorn, with a rainbow horn.

“Oocor!” she says, grinning, and tentatively, holds it out to Greg.

“Oh, wow,” he says, seriously. “That’s a great unicorn. I know another little girl who’d love that, too. My niece, in France.”

She rests the unicorn on his chest, and blinks at him. “My?”

“Bientôt, ma petite.” He sees John, in the kitchen, turn slightly to glance at him.

She smiles, and holds the unicorn up close to his face.

He recoils slightly, imagining the toy against his bruises, or his broken nose. “What’s it called?” he asks.

“Lock.”

Greg grins. “Like Papa?”

She nods, enthusiastically, and at the window Sherlock rolls his eyes, pressing his lips in a suppression of a smile. It reminds Greg so forcefully of Mycroft that his chest aches.

“My brother is here,” says Sherlock, shoulders shifting in a bristling little movement. He turns swiftly away from the window and picks up his violin.

Greg’s heart sinks. “Sherlock –”

Downstairs, the door opens and shuts; Mrs Hudson follows Mycroft up the stairs, carrying a plate of biscuits.

Dark grey suit. Greg feels almost dizzy with Mycroft’s presence; his heart thumps in his chest as their eyes meet. Nonsensically, he hopes that no-one else can hear it.

“My!” cries Rosie, throwing her arms up to her uncle. Greg steadies her, a hand on her tiny back.

“Rosamund,” says Mycroft, gravely. He bends down, and his hand brushes Greg’s chest as he picks up his niece. Their gazes catch. Mycroft’s is full of something Greg can’t quite read.

“I see you are abandoning Queen and country for two – no, three days,” says Sherlock, clawing out a single screeching note on the violin. “Positively devil-may-care of you, Mycroft.” There’s both sarcasm and genuine enquiry in his voice.

Carrying Rosie – who is still clutching her unicorn – Mycroft steps over to the other window. “After a week of being stalked by a murderer at your instigation, Sherlock, I understand that Queen and country will, on this occasion, forgive my complacency.” To Rosie, he murmurs, “quelle belle licorne, hien?”

With calculated slowness, Sherlock nods to Greg. “I’d ask what’s got into you, brother, but I think that’s perfectly obvious to everyone.”

In the kitchen, John clears his throat.

“Sher…?” says Mrs Hudson. Then, “– oh.”

Sherlock and Mycroft’s gazes are locked. “Do you intend to make this a more – regular – arrangement, then?” asks Sherlock. “I’m sure our parents will be delighted.”

Mycroft says nothing. Rosie shifts in his arms and looks up at him, small fist clutched in his lapel.

Greg wants to say Sherlock, stop, but his throat feels thick and tight. Mycroft’s not saying anything – their parents, god, their parents – I’d forgotten –

Sherlock and Mycroft still don’t look away. “Because he – don’t ask me why – is in love with you,” says Sherlock, simply.

You could hear a pin drop.

Greg’s chest is tight with anger. He looks up at Mycroft, whose face is blank.

You have no right. No right to do this.

Greg has to get away, before he does something he’ll regret. He stands up. It’s a quiet, undramatic movement; but his voice is shaking when he says, “what did we say, Sherlock? Never – deduce –” and he realises, quite suddenly, that he’s definitely going to cry.

He strides past them all; and the bathroom door slams behind him with a frame-shaking crash. He locks it, fingers fumbling with the catch.

He can hear a hubbub of voices, Mrs Hudson’s shriller than the others; but he can’t hear the words, and he doesn’t care. Sitting down on the edge of the bath, he bends double, crying silently, unable even to take a breath. It feels as though his chest may crack. He wants to scream.

Everything – everything – Nick’s finger, dabbling in my blood – Mycroft’s eyes, wide with disbelief after we first kissed – Mycroft’s hands, cold and shaking at my wrists – Mycroft, afraid, not replying – and now – and now –

For fuck’s sake. For fuck’s sake – he’s not going to want this – any of this. Why the fuck does Sherlock always have to do this? Lay me bare in front of everyone we know? Why can’t I have – some privacy. Something to myself, just once.

Thanks, Sherlock. Now you’ve fucked up the one thing – the one thing –

Greg gasps a breath, heart pounding, nose and head exploding with pain. Fuck. Fuck, oh Christ –

There are tears pouring down his cheeks.

The tap at the glass door to his right makes him gasp, and then hold his breath. After a moment, it comes again.

“What.” His voice is rough, and full.

“Gregory.” Mycroft speaks in hushed tones. “This door is locked on the inside, I believe. Will you unlock it?”

Greg turns to look, drawing in a quick, uneven breath. The key is in the lock. That door lets into Sherlock’s bedroom. He looks away again, staring straight ahead, at the sink. “I need a minute, Mycroft, alright? Just – give me a minute.” Even talking makes more tears well in his eyes.

“I shall wait here.”

This is worse. The thought forms in Greg’s brain. He’s not – he’s not upset, or – or anything – he’s just calm. He’s just going to calmly explain that it’s not – that we can’t

He screws his eyes as tightly closed as he can, trying to stop the hot tears from falling again.

After a minute of deep, slow breaths, he stands up. His stomach is a lead weight. He runs cold water over his hands at the sink; presses them to his blotched, bruised face. Looks quickly away from the ugly sight.

Better face it.

His fingers are shaking as he unlocks the glass door. Mycroft stands up quickly; he had been sitting on the side of Sherlock and John’s bed. Greg avoids his eyes.

“’M’sorry,” he says, woodenly. “Shouldn’t’ve.” he gestures at the bathroom. “Pathetic.”

“Gregory.” Mycroft catches both Greg’s hands in his. Those long fingers are cold; shaking slightly. Confused, Greg looks up.

Mycroft is white-pale. His grey eyes seem to burn.

Greg’s heart misses a beat. “Myc –?”

“Gregory,” says Mycroft again. He swallows. “I am utterly, irrevocably in love with you.”

The world slides; shifts and turns, slightly, beneath Greg’s feet. “What?”

“I love you. And am in love with you. Entirely, and without question.”

There is a long moment of silence. Gently, Mycroft opens his shaking hands from around Greg’s; withdraws them.

Greg grabs them back. “Fuck. Mycroft – Myc – me too – Sherlock was – I just – never thought you’d –” he draws a shaky breath in. “Fuck. I can’t even talk –” he laughs, and only then does he realise he’s crying again. “I’m in love with you too –” and then he steps forward, reaching up to Mycroft, burying his face in his neck. “Myc – Myc –”

“Gregory, your nose,” says Mycroft, despairingly, but his voice cracks as he says it; his lips are in Greg’s hair, his arms tight around Greg’s back. “Be careful,” he murmurs, but he doesn’t let go.

“It’s not – I know it’s not been long enough,” mumbles Greg, still crying against Mycroft’s neck. He gasps in a breath. “But I – ’s’nothing I c’n – do.”

“I too. I too.” Mycroft’s hand sweeps a long, gentle arc across Greg’s back. “You are – I meant what I – you are exquisite, Gregory. And I love you.”

They hold one another, swaying slightly as they breathe together.

At last, Greg takes a huge, wobbly breath in. “Haven’t got another of those fancy hankies, have you?” he mumbles, on a half-laugh. “’M’face is in a right state.”

Mycroft huffs a rather soggy laugh, and a moment later pushes a fine cotton handkerchief into Greg’s hand. “I have.”

Greg keeps his head bowed, wiping his eyes and nose. He pushes the hanky into his jeans pocket when he’s done, then looks up to Mycroft.

Those grey eyes are red-rimmed, but bright; and he’s smiling – beaming, really.

Greg grins. “I love you, gorgeous.”

“Gregory Lestrade, promise me faithfully that you will not move from the position in which I place you.”

Greg raises both eyebrows, and Mycroft smirks.

“Yeah, yeah, alright.”

Mycroft’s long fingers caress Greg’s cheek; curl beneath his chin. Greg’s chin is tipped up, and Mycroft kisses him, gently, for the length of a breath.

Greg makes a soft, protesting noise as Mycroft pulls away.

“You have to breathe, Gregory.”

“Who says.”

“I believe it is a matter of common consensus among all mankind.”

“Oh, well, who asked them?” Greg smiles.

Mycroft takes another kiss. Still too gentle. Greg wants to be crushed; held; broken. Made.

“Darlin’,” he murmurs. “C’n we – let’s just – go home –”

“Of course. Of course.” Mycroft takes another kiss.

There’s a knock at the bedroom door. “Er –” says John, awkwardly.

Mycroft and Greg freeze; then Greg starts to laugh, silently.

“No, Sherlock, piss off, I’m not –” hisses John.

“Mycroft, you’d better not be –” shouts Sherlock, from a distance.

Greg can’t hold it in. He starts to laugh properly, now, great gulps of air and snorts of mirth.

Mycroft presses his eyes shut and his lips tight, trying not to laugh.

“Don’t worry, Sherlock,” says Greg, loudly. “We’re not – doin’ anyth–” he dissolves into laughter again, hands gripping Mycroft’s.

Mycroft catches his eye, and has to look away quickly, mouth twitching.

Sherlock starts screeching at the violin, which only makes Greg laugh harder.

“Dear God,” says Mycroft, rolling his eyes, but his voice is shaking with amusement. “Come, Gregory. Let us go.” He winds their fingers together.

John steps back smartly as Mycroft opens the door.

“John. Brother dear,” he says, tersely. “Rosamund –”

“My?” she says, from Mrs Hudson’s arms, and Greg squeezes Mycroft’s hand.

Mycroft goes to his niece, gently stroking her cheek. “À bientôt, ma petite.”

The little girl pouts sadly, but Mycroft has taken Greg’s hand again.

Greg gives Sherlock a blinding grin on their way out of the door. “See you later. Bye Rosie – Mrs Hudson –” he calls, from the stairs.

There are snatches of violin music as they get into the car, and Greg’s not sure, but he thinks it might be the wedding march.

In the back of the discreet black sedan, Greg finds his fingers kissed, softly.

“Home,” says Mycroft, pressing a button to speak to the driver. “Thank you.”

The car draws smoothly away, and Greg doesn’t move over to his side of the seat; he just puts his arms around Mycroft, and rests his cheek on his shoulder.

“Gregory…”

“’S’rush hour, darlin’. No-one’s going anywhere fast.”

“Says the senior policeman.”

Greg grins. “’M’not senior anything, gorgeous.”

“You are. And you are wilfully putting yourself in danger.”

“Hold on tight to me, then. ’S’my best offer, I’m afraid.”

“A very attractive offer,” whispers Mycroft, into Greg’s hair. He turns a little; takes Greg’s face between both hands, and kisses him.

Greg can’t help a catch of breath, a groan, and he deepens the kiss, pressing forward. Mycroft responds – thank God – doesn’t pull away. “How long’s this going to take?” murmurs Greg. “’Cause I’m going to have to take your clothes off soon, Myc, an’ I don’t really care where that happens.”

“That depends on the traffic. Without it, fifteen minutes.”

“Fuck,” murmurs Greg, kissing Mycroft’s neck. “’F’we were in my car, I’d put the blue lights on.”

“If we were in your car, I should not be able to –” Mycroft reclaims Greg’s lips in another kiss.

“Yeah, yeah, alright,” murmurs Greg. “Fair point, well made.” He grins.

Going to his, then. Guess he doesn’t mind me seeing it.

Because he loves me.

Loves…me.

Greg craves the warm press of their bodies; wants silky-soft pale freckled skin against his own. He loosens Mycroft’s tie, opens the top couple of buttons of his shirt; nuzzles against his neck, sighing with relief and need.

“You cannot dishevel me in the car, Gregory.”

“That’s not one I’ve heard before, darlin’.” Greg grins. “Can, just have, and definitely will again,” he adds.

Mycroft smiles, cheeks tinted pink. “That is not a euphemism.”

“I don’t know, I quite like it as one.”

“I suspect you are going to prove detrimental to my reputation.”

Greg snorts. “God. Do you live on a street of nosy curtain-twitchers or something?”

Mycroft suppresses a smile. “I am sure some of the residents – many of whom have lived on the street for decades – do keep a beady eye from behind their net curtains. But I live in a very quiet block of apartments. I have seldom met any of my neighbours.”

Greg kisses Mycroft’s neck, brushing his lips softly back and forth across one slightly darker freckle. “Didn’t picture you in a flat. Thought you’d have a big house.”

Mycroft huffs amusement. “Central London is criminally expensive. But in any case, I prefer the simplicity of a flat. A large house would feel –” he gestures slightly with his left hand. “Superfluous.”

Greg nods. “After everything with…” he bites his bottom lip. He doesn’t actually even want to say her name. “The divorce an’ all that – I like my flat. It’s small but during the week I hardly see it anyway, an’ it feels – yeah, simple, like you said. Easier.”

Doesn’t feel like home. But then my house with Nas didn’t, by the end, either.

Mycroft rests his head against Greg’s. “The flat has two doubles,” he says, rather noncommittally. “All I need for when our parents come to stay.”

“What Sherlock said, about your parents –” Greg sits up, glancing to Mycroft’s expression and quickly away again. “I – you should know – ’m’not expecting you to go through some big horrible argument about me or something –”

There’s a moment of quiet, then Mycroft puts his hand on Greg’s knee. “It would depend on circumstances, I suspect,” he says, gently. “I – if you –” he takes a slightly impatient breath, sounding frustrated at his own lack of coherence. “Conditional upon your preferences, of course, I see little utility in hiding – anything. I find Sherlock’s attitude in dealing with their behaviour admirable, though I do not intend to emulate certain of the more defiant aspects of his conduct. They always give me the uncomfortable sensation that Doctor Watson is being employed in service of Sherlock’s argument with my parents.”

Greg’s heart thumps. He nods. “Yeah. I – I get it.” He’s not planning to hide anything. Christ. None of this feels real.

He wants to go through all that shit for – for me.

The car draws smoothly to a halt. Mycroft takes Greg’s hand, brushing his lips across the knuckles. “The traffic did not prove too arduous, after all.”

“Jesus Christ, Myc,” says Greg. “I should’ve guessed from the journey time but…you live in Mayfair. Bloody hell.”

Mycroft presses his lips together, a tight line. “My role is well-remunerated.”

Greg realises he’s feeling awkward about the expensive address, and regrets commenting. He smiles. “Whatever it is.”

“Quite,” agrees Mycroft, with infuriating impassivity.

Greg pinches his arse on the way out of the car, just for that. He grins at the surprised yelp this elicits, and laughs outright at the outraged raised eyebrow Mycroft presents him with as they climb the steps to the front door. “Don’t worry darlin’, that was bloody restrained compared to what I actually want to do to you.”

The tips of Mycroft’s ears are pink as they step inside.

“Thought you said this was –” Greg stops talking. Though the entrance is outwardly a single townhouse, the select block of flats clearly occupies a few of the houses on Green Street.

Mycroft nods to the receptionist. “Maria. Detective Inspector Lestrade, as arranged. If you could have his security pass sent up –”

“Of course, Mr Holmes.” She smiles. They walk towards the lifts.

“I need a security pass?” asks Greg, as the lift doors close.

Mycroft nods. “For the same reason that I am required to be armed at all times,” he says, wearily. “This is a secure building.”

Greg looks up at the top corner of the lift, where the blink of a small red light makes clear that there’s a camera. He leans against the wall and tangles his little finger with Mycroft’s. “Good. Glad it is.”

Mycroft turns to look at him; his grey eyes flick across Greg’s bruised, battered face.

Greg drops his gaze. “Sorry I – y’know. Look like this, at the moment.”

“Gregory Lestrade, I never wish to hear you apologise to me for your appearance again. I believe my opinions on the subject of your manifest attractions are now – or should be – well-known.” Mycroft deliberately catches Greg’s eye.

Greg’s breath catches in his throat. “Soppy bastard,” he murmurs, with a lopsided smile.

The lift draws to a halt and the doors open; there is only one flat door in front of them – number three.

As Mycroft locks the door behind them, Greg looks around; they’re in a hallway, painted white and relatively small. It’s clean and neat, but nothing special.

You need to stop expecting him to live in a palace, he thinks, and gets no further because Mycroft steps in close.

Long, elegant fingers bury themselves in Greg’s hair, and he finds himself backed against the wall, head cradled gently in Mycroft’s left hand. Mycroft brushes their lips together softly, but the sense of restrained need behind every movement has Greg hard in seconds.

“Kiss me, Myc. Properly.”

Mycroft freezes, eyes full of concern. “Gregory. Your painkillers – we should return to your flat –”

Greg rolls his eyes, trying to suppress a smile. “Got some in my wallet, you plonker.”

Mycroft raises an eyebrow, but the relieved smile is unmistakable. “How are you feeling? Should I make us dinner now, so that you –”

“I am feeling like you need to take me to bed right fucking now.”

“You are extremely demanding, Gregory.”

“Only ’cause I have to be. If my nose wasn’t fucked up I’d be on my knees already, Myc. Back against the wall, pulling you forward to fuck my mouth.”

“Good God,” groans Mycroft. His eyes close for a moment.

“Shitty luck for both of us,” says Greg, slipping his arms around Mycroft’s waist; allowing his hands to slide lower, fingers teasing Mycroft’s arse through his trousers. “I love it, and I never got a chance to suck you before this happened.”

Mycroft fixes him with a knowing grey gaze. “You are attempting to goad me into treating you without the level of care appropriate to your injuries. You realise that I spend a large proportion of my working life evading and countering tactics exactly such as these?”

Greg grins, squeezing Mycroft’s arse. “You’re not at work, gorgeous. You’re here, at home, and your – the bloke that’s in love with you – is lookin’ you right in the eyes, askin’ you to fuck him, hard an’ rough.” He presses up on tiptoe, biting at Mycroft’s bottom lip. “’S’what I want, gorgeous. If I thought you would, I’d tell you to have me right here, this minute.” He frowns. “Also, tell me who’s been using these tactics on you, an’ I’ll find something to arrest ’em for.”

Mycroft kisses him, hard.

His fingers still cradle Greg’s head with infinite care; he avoids Greg’s nose as much as possible. But Greg gasps as Mycroft’s tongue teases his lips open.

They bite, and gasp, and Greg groans as Mycroft crowds him against the wall, their bodies pressed tight together. They’re both hard, and Greg shifts against Mycroft; teasing, needy.

When they’re both breathless, Mycroft pulls back from the kiss, putting space between them despite the despairing moan it tears from Greg’s throat.

Mycroft takes Greg’s chin in his long fingers.

“Remain here.” It’s his terse, edge-of-displeased work voice; and Greg could almost purr.

“Yes, sir,” he says, cheekily, and he couldn’t suppress his grin if he tried.

Mycroft dips his head and nips at the soft skin of Greg’s throat. “Do as you are told, without the recalcitrant attitude.”

Greg attempts to look repentant. “Staying here.”

Never tell a Holmes they won’t do something. Or maybe – do. Depending on what you want. He grins to himself as Mycroft disappears around the corner of the corridor.

He’s warm, slightly uncomfortably so. He pushes off his shoes and socks, then peels off his jumper. He considers taking everything else off, too, but after all – better see what he’s got to say about that. He arranges his shoes tidily next to the hall table, and leans against the wall; head back, one knee up, foot flat against the plaster. Jesus Christ. Feels like being twenty again. Pretty boy, they said. They’d almost fight for me, in the clubs. I could have my pick just with a smile.

No-one like this. Never anyone like this.

When Mycroft returns, he appears silently, even though he’s still wearing his shoes. He has shed his jacket, somewhere, and is now just in trousers, waistcoat and shirtsleeves. He’s carrying a bottle of lube.

“You know what it does to me when you roll your sleeves up,” Greg grins, staring at Mycroft from beneath lazy lids.

Mycroft gives a controlled half-smile, and leans against the wall opposite Greg. “Take off your t-shirt.”

Greg does so, smiling with delight. Turns out he is in the business of wish-fulfilment. “Least these bits of me aren’t bruised.”

For a moment, Mycroft’s eyes are full of such naked, soft fondness that Greg can hardly breathe.

“Take down your trousers and underwear.”

Greg fights the urge to groan. His fingers are clumsy on his buttons and fly; he’s so hard he can barely think. With a push, his jeans and boxers fall to the floor, pooled around his feet. He spreads his legs slightly; looks to Mycroft for instruction.

“Touch yourself for me, Gregory.” Mycroft allows his eyes to wander slowly, greedily, down over Greg’s body. “Now,” he adds, sharply, as Greg hesitates.

Greg’s breath catches in his throat as he wraps his fingers around the shaft of his cock. His heart’s pounding, his mouth dry. Fuck. The way he looks at me.

Mycroft raises an eyebrow. “I am waiting.”

Greg begins, slowly, to move his hand. Every touch is electric; made so by the laser scrutiny of Mycroft’s dark grey eyes. He bites his lip, oddly shy.

Mycroft’s voice is rich with approval. “You look wonderful, Gregory. Quite spectacular.” For a few more moments, he allows his eyes to linger on Greg’s hand; then, “turn around. Place your left hand on the wall.”

Arousal aches low in Greg’s stomach. He turns, and braces himself against the wall as instructed.

Straight away, Mycroft’s right hand is at Greg’s hip; his lips skim his shoulder. Greg shivers as Mycroft murmurs in his ear, “continue to touch yourself. Do not stop.”

The quiet pop of the lube bottle cap makes Greg’s heart stutter in his chest. Fuck, Myc.

Mycroft’s right hand caresses Greg’s hip, the pad of his thumb grazing the soft flesh of his buttock. And then the hand is gone, though Mycroft’s lips brush the nape of Greg’s neck.

“Had no idea how much I love that,” mumbles Greg. “B’fore you.”

“Mmm?”

“My neck. The back of it, there. You – I didn’t know.”

He feels Mycroft smile against the nape of his neck, and can’t help smiling too, grinning stupidly at the wall, eyes closed.

Mycroft kisses his neck again, and brushes his thumb back and forth across Greg’s buttock. “You truly wish me to do this, Gregory?”

Greg’s stomach flips with lust. He turns his head, opens his eyes, knowing Mycroft needs this, needs his sincerity. “Please, darlin’.” And he hopes what he really means is obvious in his voice: thank you. Thank you for understanding exactly what I need.

Mycroft leans in, close, and they kiss, Greg’s head turned awkwardly over his shoulder. The fabric of Mycroft’s dark suit brushes against Greg’s arse, his back.

He’s still wearing all his clothes. Fucking hell. Greg’s cock throbs in his fist.

“I wish you to keep touching yourself, Gregory.” Mycroft’s voice is both gentle and commanding. “Slowly.”

Greg starts to move his hand, waiting for the next touch from Mycroft; focused on what might come.

When two of Mycroft’s fingers slip between Greg’s arsecheeks he bites his lip, trying to stay quiet; and then Mycroft’s lubed index finger is at his entrance and –

“Yes?” asks Mycroft, once more.

“Yes.” His voice is rough. “Please,” he adds, because he wants Mycroft to understand that this is right. Exactly fucking right.

The tip of Mycroft’s finger breaches him, and it’s how Greg does it for the plug but it’s somehow so much more when it’s someone else, when it’s him, and he pushes back, because he wants the next part, the part where Mycroft fucks him.

And Mycroft – thank you, yes, oh, thank you, gorgeous – takes Greg’s movement for the plea it is; slowly, but steadily, he presses his finger inside until he can go no further, and when he gives the lightest of touches to Greg’s prostate the low, insistent curl of pleasure from the friction of Greg’s hand on his cock intensifies, just a little, deepens and broadens –

It’s too much, certainly; and Greg needs more. Harder.

Now.

Mycroft’s left hand runs through Greg’s hair, soft and slow. His finger withdraws; presses back in.

Greg breathes, and relaxes, and concentrates on long fingers caressing his scalp.

When Mycroft pushes two fingers inside him, Greg gasps, fist tightening on his cock. “Fuck me,” he grits out. “You know what I want, Myc.”

Mycroft kisses his shoulder, and withdraws his fingers.

Greg leans his head on his arm against the wall, and listens to the crinkle of the condom packet, then the opening of the lube bottle once more.

Mycroft doesn’t check again. Instead, there’s the head of his cock pressing against Greg’s entrance, and his left hand on Greg’s hip.

Greg strokes his cock, anticipating pain; building pleasure.

Mycroft leans forward, pressing his clothed body close along Greg’s back. He sweeps his left hand up Greg’s side, over his shoulder, along his arm; tangles their fingers together.

Greg drops kisses along Mycroft’s forearm, senses filled with the silky brush of soft red hair against the sensitive skin of his lips.

As Mycroft presses the head of his cock slowly inside, Greg closes his teeth on the side of Mycroft’s hand, stifling a long, guttural groan.

Mycroft doesn’t make a sound, and something about that makes fire burn in Greg’s belly.

“Stop,” pants Greg. “Just – just need a minute –” he can feel moisture at the corners of his eyes. He breathes against their joined hands. “Talk to me, Myc. Talk to me. Want to hear your – voice –”

Mycroft kisses the nape of Greg’s neck. He seems to take a moment to consider. When he speaks, his voice is quiet, but full of warmth, full of pride. “You are doing so wonderfully, Gregory. So well. And you are quite extraordinarily beautiful.”

Greg’s eyes open, damp with unshed tears. He blinks, looking at their joined hands, at the wall. Fuck. The way he sounds.

“Move,” he murmurs, jaw tight. “Talk to me. And move.”

“Bite down on my hand, Gregory. And do not forget to touch yourself.”

Greg closes his eyes, resting his forehead against their knotted fingers. His erection has waned somewhat with the pain. He makes a loose fist; when he moves his hand, he’s surprised by how good it still feels.

Mycroft shifts his hips forward by just a few millimetres. “I am so proud of you, Gregory. You are doing so well.”

Oh, God. Greg’s heart skips a beat. He’s fucking praising me, and I’ve never wanted someone more in my life.

“Myc,” he groans, against their hands. “Myc – more –”

Mycroft nips gently at the place where Greg’s neck meets his shoulder, soothing it with a swirl of his tongue just after. “Do not worry, Gregory. Everything is entirely yours.”

“Oh, fuck,” whispers Greg as Mycroft presses steadily into him. “Fuck, fuck, fuck –” he tries to concentrate on breathing, relaxing. He pushes back, slightly.

“So good for me,” murmurs Mycroft. “Not far now, Gregory. Not far.”

Greg sinks his teeth into Mycroft’s hand.

Mycroft hisses. “Yes, well done darling. Keep going.”

Darling. Greg pushes back, and now Mycroft is inside him fully, and Greg takes great desperate breaths of air. “Myc,” he gasps, at last. “Tell me – again –”

“My beautiful, determined darling,” murmurs Mycroft, against Greg’s shoulder. “You have done so well.”

“God, Myc,” mumbles Greg. “Myc, I – you always know what I – an’ I love – you –”

He groans as Mycroft shifts his hips slightly, pressing into him as hard, as close as possible.

“Let me see you, Gregory. Let me see you touch yourself. Concentrate only on whether it feels good.”

Greg grips his shaft, not too tight; feels his cock fill and grow again, as he teases the foreskin back and forth over the head.

“Breathe for me, sweetheart.”

Greg gulps a breath; then concentrates. Finds a rhythm. He kisses Mycroft’s knuckles. “Call me that again, gorgeous.”

“Sweetheart?” Mycroft’s voice is soft, warm with amusement and fondness. “An old-fashioned endearment.” He presses a kiss between Greg’s shoulder blades. “How does it feel?”

“Fuck, Myc. Feels good. I – you can move, I think.”

“Soon, sweetheart.”

Greg smiles against Mycroft’s hand. This man. This man, buried all the way inside me, who calls me sweetheart. This man, still in his expensive suit, fucking me before we’ve even made it past the hall. This man, doing exactly what I wanted, and determined to make it good for me.

“Please,” whispers Greg, pressing soft kisses to the red bite marks on Mycroft’s hand. “Please…”

And, slowly, Mycroft begins to move, withdrawing by an inch; there is a long, breathless moment where Greg waits –

“Fuck,” breathes Greg slowly, as Mycroft presses back inside. “Yes – Myc –”

As Mycroft starts to thrust shallowly, his right hand caresses Greg’s hip, then brushes up his side, to his chest. Those long fingers stroke Greg’s stomach, up over his sternum, grazing with the lightest of pressures across Greg’s nipples.

Greg gasps and tightens his grip on his cock, pressing himself back against Mycroft, craving more.

Mycroft’s lips are at his shoulder, his neck, and he needs – he needs –

“Myc. Harder.” He groans. “Please, darlin’ – harder –”

And as the rhythm builds, Greg allows his cock to be pushed through the ring of his hand with every thrust. His attention focuses in on the sensation inside him, on the change of pressure, of tension, of intense, deep, resonant pleasure. Mycroft pinches lightly at Greg’s nipple, an exquisite peak of pain which heightens all the rest.

Greg gasps, suddenly and quite certainly aware that he’s on the edge, that he could fall at any moment; the tears in his eyes never went away, and now he feels them spill hot onto his cheeks.

He nuzzles at Mycroft’s hand, turns their interlaced fingers and pushes his lips against Mycroft’s palm; gasps and breathes out swear words, arching his back to try for closer, closer, yes, there

Maybe Mycroft can feel Greg’s tears, maybe not; but through the haze Greg hears words, Mycroft’s voice, warm, loving, proud, soft whispers against his neck and directly into his ear.

“Gregory – you cannot imagine how this feels – my Gregory, so beautiful, so brave – my love –”

And Greg loses the ability to think, to hear, to make sense; eyes pressed closed, he rests his forehead against the cool wall, groaning Mycroft’s name again and again into the skin of his palm as he starts to come.

He shivers through the aftershocks, eking out the last few moments of closeness and pleasure before the tipping point comes, from yes to oh god, too much. He turns his head, craning over his shoulder; and Mycroft brushes his lips across his cheek, and kisses Greg with the taste of salt between them.

The knock at the door makes them both jump, and then Greg starts, silently, to giggle.

Mycroft bites his lip, rolls his eyes, and breathes, “the godforsaken security pass.”

“Jus’ leave it. They’ll come back.”

“If I do not answer the door, they will attempt to contact me by other means, and will eventually alert my security team.”

“Fuck’s sake, Mycroft Holmes,” giggles Greg. He grits his teeth as Mycroft slowly withdraws, then gathers up his clothes and grabs the lube.

Mycroft winces, zipping up his trousers and straightening his waistcoat. There’s another knock.

“One moment,” says Mycroft, loudly. His cheeks are flushed high with arousal; his hair is in disarray.

Greg laughs quietly and steps in close, tidying Mycroft’s hair as best he can. “You look fucking gorgeous, Myc, but you do look –”

“As though I was having sex one minute ago?” whispers Mycroft, rolling his eyes.

“Er –” Greg stares obviously at the clear bulge in Mycroft’s trousers. “Well –”

“Go away, Gregory,” hisses Mycroft, attempting to suppress a smile. “Absolutely away.”

Greg snorts a laugh, and hurries away down the corridor. He finds himself in a large, light living room with long windows onto the street. Hurriedly, he pulls on his boxers, jeans and t-shirt, then takes a seat on the sofa.

It’s a beautiful room, with a fireplace and white panelled walls. The decor is tasteful, and the furniture gives the impression of refined expense. Still, it feels rather empty; a little unused. He hears Mycroft answer the door and accept the security pass in cool, clipped tones. Greg grins. Had time to calm down, darlin’?

The front door closes, but Mycroft does not join him in the living room as quickly as Greg had expected. After a minute or so, he hears the toilet flush, and water run.

When Mycroft appears in the doorway, the colour has faded slightly from his cheeks. He crosses to the sofa and takes a seat next to Greg; hands him a card. It has the same picture on it as Greg’s work ID.

Greg grins. For a moment he’s not sure what to say; and then he just leans in, and kisses Mycroft. “Thanks,” he says, at last.

Mycroft lays his hand along the side of Greg’s face; strokes his thumb across Greg’s cheek. He takes another kiss. “Should I make dinner?” he asks, softly.

“Not what I want to do right now, darlin’,” murmurs Greg. “You get the curtains, I’ll get the light.”

It doesn’t take him long to find the right light switch; and he’s back on the sofa by the time Mycroft turns his back to the now-curtained windows.

“C’mere,” smiles Greg, holding out his hand.

Mycroft hesitates, just a moment, and Greg watches him grow hard again. Arousal burns fierce and hot in Greg’s chest. Fuck. I do that to him.

Greg draws Mycroft down onto the sofa; presses him against the back cushions, and nuzzles at his neck. Mycroft’s pulse flutters beneath his lips. Greg kisses it, reverently.

Mycroft’s hands slip beneath Greg’s t-shirt, sweeping across his back. Greg revels in it. One-handed, he reaches between them and slowly undoes the buttons of Mycroft’s trousers; draws down the zip. Through soft cotton, he runs his fingers along the hard, straining length of Mycroft’s cock. Then without delay, he pushes the boxers down, out of his way.

Greg has to roll away for a moment to reach the lube, and Mycroft’s discontented sigh makes him smile. “’M’back,” he murmurs, against the corner of Mycroft’s mouth. “Not goin’ away again.”

He warms a generous amount of lube in his palm. When he takes Mycroft’s cock in hand and begins to stroke it slowly, he watches the flutter of eyelashes against flushed pink cheeks.

“D’you know how good you made me feel, darlin’?” he murmurs, watching Mycroft’s breath catch; watching him control himself, with an effort. “Were you close, gorgeous?”

Mycroft hesitates; “yes,” he gasps, at last. “But I wanted –”

“I know,” smiles Greg, pressing his forehead against Mycroft’s. “I know. You wanted to make me feel good, darlin’, and you did – God, you did, Myc –” He takes a kiss, long and slow. “Open your eyes for me.”

Mycroft blinks his eyes open, and Greg smiles into their grey depths. “Hi, you.”

Mycroft stifles a groan. “Gregory –”

“I c’n feel how close you are,” murmurs Greg. “So hard for me.” Mycroft’s cock throbs in his grip. He likes this. Me talking. He speeds up his movements, tightens his grip. Mycroft gasps and thrusts his hips, very slightly.

Greg brushes his lips along Mycroft’s jaw, and teasingly across his lips, not quite giving in to a kiss. “I love you,” he whispers, looking Mycroft directly in the eye. “I love you, Mycroft.”

Mycroft’s groan is suppressed, held back in his throat, and his eyes close as he begins to shake. Greg strokes him through it, hard and fast slowing to tender, long caresses. Come soaks into both Mycroft’s waistcoat and Greg’s t-shirt.

They breathe together, without words; and when Mycroft opens his eyes again, they smile, and kiss.

*

Greg wakes, quite suddenly, with grey morning light filtering through the curtains. For a moment he can’t work out why he’s woken – it’s a different bed, yeah, but Mycroft’s here, curled around him, breathing deep and slow – and then he hears his phone vibrate on the bedside table next to him.

He grabs it, quickly, a reflex after so many years; it doesn’t even register that it’s probably not work.

It’s the other chat group he has with his family, the one including Aude and Léa as well as Anne-Sophie and Gabe.

Are you awake, Uncle Greg? Aude had typed. We want to talk to you.

Aude! Your uncle will be sleeping. Anne-Sophie’s message pops up as Greg opens the chat.

It’s alright, I’m up, replies Greg. Give me a couple of minutes, then you can call.

Slowly, he eases away from Mycroft, smiling at the sleepy murmur the other man gives. He pulls on his jeans and the shirt Mycroft had lent him yesterday evening, then pads into the living room, carrying his phone. He opens the curtains and settles on the sofa, tucking his feet up under him. The large room is chilly at this time in the morning. His phone starts to vibrate with a video call.

“Alright?” he grins as the cacophonous greetings of his family, in a mixture of English and French, pour from the phone’s speakers. He turns the volume down a bit.

“Uncle Greg!” shouts Léa. “Did you like the cards?”

“I did, poppet, they were beautiful. Thank you. Both of you.”

“Did you like Paddington?” asks Aude, excitedly.

“Yeah, brilliant. Thanks for suggestin’ it.” He smiles, watching her wriggle with happiness.

“’Ow are you feeling?” asks Anne-Sophie, scanning his bruised face.

“Honestly, I’m fine, thanks,” says Greg, trying to suppress a grin. He feels fucking fantastic, really. Achy, yeah. But not in the way they might expect. “How are you lot?”

“We had Nutella for breakfast,” says Léa.

Greg laughs. “Excellent.”

“We will go to the market soon,” says Aude. “And Maman says we can go to the bookshop.”

“Sounds like a good plan. You enjoying your holidays?”

“Yes. We miss you though.”

“I know. I’ll visit soon, I promise.”

“’E has a deadline, les filles. ’E has to tell us soon when ’e will come.”

“Where are you?” asks Gabe, and Greg hesitates just a moment too long.

“Er –” he says, caught off guard.

“That is not your apartment,” says Gabe, with a mischievous half-smile.

“Maybe you should be the detective,” returns Greg, lightly.

“Your apartment does not ’ave panels,” says Gabe, grinning as Greg rolls his eyes.

“Yeah, I’m – well, I’ve been –” Greg’s heart pounds. Why am I nervous? “Seeing someone. New, I mean. An’ I’m – there.”

Anne-Sophie’s eyebrows rise. “That is good news,” she says, but she looks cautious all the same. “’Ow did you meet?”

“Through a – work thing,” says Greg, slowly.

“She is also in the police?”

Greg takes a breath. “Actually, no – he’s – he works for the government.”

There’s a half-moment, a pause so short it could be the signal flickering, and adrenaline courses down Greg’s spine. He closes his eyes.

When he opens them, he meets Mycroft’s grey gaze. Standing in the doorway, he’s wearing Greg’s jumper and the same trousers he’d had on yesterday. His eyes are wide with surprise, his cheeks flushed lightly pink.

“Is he handsome?” asks Aude, at the same moment as her sister notices Greg’s averted gaze.

“Il est là?” she shrieks, forgetting to use English in her excitement. “Il est là!” she informs her family, in a loud, hissing whisper.

Greg’s heart lurches in his chest. “Yeah, yeah, he’s here poppet.” He can’t look away from Mycroft’s ruffled expression. “An’ yeah. He’s really handsome.”

“Il s’ap–” Aude pauses, and corrects herself. “What is his name, Uncle Greg?”

“Mycroft.”

“Very British,” says Gabe, with a grin.

Greg looks at them, and then up at Mycroft again. He smiles. “Yeah. Yeah, he is. Very British.”

Mycroft leans against the doorframe, and smiles rather uncertainly.

Greg wants, desperately, to take his hand, or kiss him. Something. Maybe I should’ve checked with him if he was okay with them knowing.

“Will ’e come with you when you visit?” asks Anne-Sophie. “’E is very welcome.”

“I –” Greg hesitates. “I – I’m not sure – he’s always got a lot of pressure at work –”

Anne-Sophie nods. She still looks wary. “Well you must tell ’im ’e is welcome any time.”

“Thanks. That’s – thanks, An-So,” mumbles Greg, giving her a smile. He’d spoken to her and Gabe a lot, after the divorce; and he knows they’re protective of him.

“We can meet him now?” asks Aude, excitedly.

“I –” Greg looks up at Mycroft, rather helplessly. “I dunno if –”

Mycroft bites his bottom lip; then he draws himself up, back straight, chin high, and starts to cross the room.

Greg makes space on the sofa, heart racing. “Yeah. Yeah, he’s – here. An’ he c’n speak French, alright, scamps? So don’t say anything you don’t want him to understand.”

Chapter Text

“Oh my god, Myc, we have to try this one.” Greg points to the menu. “The ‘Nellie Kuh’. It’s got ginger and lime in.”

“It sounds hideously sticky.”

“No! It’s ginger, it says it’s spicy.”

“Ginger…and ginger syrup.”

“You’re my ginger syrup.”

“You are drunk, Lestrade.”

“So are you, Holmes.”

“I believe you have made me drink more in the past month than I have in five years.”

“Made you, hmm? An’ anyway, I’ve been totally sober for two and a half weeks, with my painkillers.”

“That merely serves to show how much we have consumed in how short a time.”

“Oh shut up, husband. We’re celebratin’ – me getting my nose back to normal. Well, prob'ly a bit wonky, but in working order, anyway.”

“And perfectly delightful it is, husband dear.”

“I love drunk you.”

Mycroft leans close and murmurs into Greg’s ear, “I love every you.”

“Soppy.”

“Appallingly.”

“Happy?”

“Terribly. And you?”

“Oh god, yes. After this ginger cocktail that we’re definitely having because we’re celebrating my nose and I say so – let’s go home?” He locks gazes with Mycroft and lowers his voice. “I need to take you to bed and celebrate the fact I can breathe properly again in a few diff’rent ways.”

Mycroft raises one eyebrow, and signals to the waiter. “Two Nellie Kuhs. Quickly, please.”

*

“Hey, no, let me use my security pass.” Greg knocks Mycroft’s hand playfully away from the scanner in the lift. “’M’still enjoying it.”

Mycroft smiles indulgently, and leans back against the wall. “Ludicrous man.”

“Hmmph,” huffs Greg, pressing close, pushing Mycroft back against the mirrored wall. He kisses his neck, nuzzling at soft skin, making a discontented noise when he encounters the stiff, fastened collar. “Can’t wait to get all this off you.”

Mycroft’s arms steal round his waist. His lips place a kiss softly in Greg’s hair. “Sweetheart,” he whispers.

Greg pulls back a little; looks up at him, eyes soft. “Darlin’.”

The lift opens; Greg rests his hands gently on Mycroft’s hips as he unlocks the flat door.

They hang up their coats, and Greg silently enjoys the sight of his coat alongside Mycroft’s.

“I must take a quick shower, Gregory.” Mycroft sheds his suit jacket with an elegant shrug.

“You don’t need to,” murmurs Greg, stepping in close.

Mycroft smiles. “Nonetheless. You were able to return home earlier, but I have not had that chance. Wait for me in our bedroom?”

Our bedroom. Greg’s heart thrills with it. I know we’re not officially living together, but – we’ve hardly been apart. So.

“Alright. Might get started without you, though, if you take too long.” They move slowly along the corridor, touching, pausing to kiss.

“Is that intended as a threat, or a promise?”

“Have I told you I love your filthy mind?”

“Regularly.”

“Oh, good,” smiles Greg, steering Mycroft through the bedroom door.

“You will have to release me, Gregory, if I am to take that shower.”

“I don’t like it, Holmes. I really don’t.”

“I know, husband. All the same.” Mycroft kisses him, slowly, stroking a hand softly through Greg’s hair. He breaks away, and carefully hangs up his jacket; tips his wrists to take out his cufflinks; begins to loosen his tie.

Greg takes a seat on the edge of the bed, watching him with a smile.

Mycroft hesitates, then smiles in return. “You plan to remain there, watching?”

Greg grins. “Could I?”

“If you so wish.”

Greg stands up, and comes to draw Mycroft’s tie from around his neck; begins undoing one shirt button at a time. “So – to be clear – I’m not allowed to suck you until after you’ve had a shower?”

Mycroft presses his lips together in an attempt to suppress a smile. “You are an appalling tease, Gregory.”

“I am not,” grins Greg. “I’m just telling you exactly what I want to do. And will do, soon as I can. You’re the one delayin’ things.” He slips the last button undone, and allows his fingers to wander down, following the hard line of Mycroft’s cock in his smart work trousers. “Oh, fuck, you feel good.”

Mycroft’s breath catches. “I am going to use the shower.”

Greg pushes the shirt from Mycroft’s shoulders, and smiles softly up at him. He strokes the pad of his thumb across the silver ring on its chain, resting in the centre of Mycroft’s chest. “Go on then, gorgeous.”

“I shall be quick.”

“Better be.”

Mycroft’s grey eyes narrow amusedly, and he steps away, closing the bathroom door behind him.

Sighing, Greg peels off his socks and jumper, then settles himself against the headboard of the large bed. He reads the news on his phone, eventually gravitating to the sport when everything else is too bloody depressing.

When Mycroft emerges, he’s got a large white towel wrapped around his hips. His skin’s a little flushed, his cheeks pink.

Strange. He looks almost shy. He can be tentative about initiating sex, as though he doesn’t quite yet trust that his advances will be welcome. But this time… Greg stands up and walks towards him, puts his hands on Mycroft’s face.

“Finally,” he murmurs, with a smile, giving Mycroft a soft, chaste kiss. “You okay gorgeous?”

Mycroft nods, and Greg pulls him closer, quietly enjoying the feel of bare skin against his own clothed body.

“Go and sit against the headboard,” he murmurs. It’s not an order, just a suggestion, but as he works his fingers into the towel to remove it, he feels Mycroft shiver, slightly.

Mycroft obeys, entirely naked, eyes wide. He looks vulnerable, and suddenly rather young.

Quickly, Greg climbs onto the bed; kisses him, hand stroking through shower-damp hair. Settling himself on his tummy between Mycroft’s legs, he grins up. “You know how much I’ve been looking forward to this.”

Mycroft gives a quick huff of amusement; a slightly wry smile. “You might have mentioned it, yes.”

Greg laughs, and sucks a gentle bite into Mycroft’s thigh. He’s pleased to see the way Mycroft’s cock fills and twitches, hardening against his stomach. Still. Why are you nervous, gorgeous? What’s going on?

Greg kisses slowly up the inside of Mycroft’s left thigh, then switches his attention to the right; fingers brushing soft circles into the pale skin of Mycroft’s hips.

He carefully ignores Mycroft’s cock until it’s fully hard. At last, he hums his satisfaction, placing a soft kiss on the head, running his lips – dry and chaste for now – slowly down the shaft. He nuzzles at Mycroft’s balls, kisses which elicit a quickly-stifled gasp. Interesting. Likes that.

Greg’s hard as hell in his trousers, and briefly regrets not getting undressed; but there’s also a sweet pleasure in this, in having his lover naked and at his mercy. He smiles, making eye contact; licks his right hand, and wraps it around the base of Mycroft’s cock.

He watches the anticipatory hitch in his breath; the quick rise-and-fall of that pale chest. And then he wraps his lips around the head of Mycroft’s cock, swirls his tongue, exploring, sinking his head, taking more until eventually his lips meet his hand.

Oh, fuck. This was always my favourite. And I think it still is.

He looks up, deliberately making eye contact as he flattens his tongue against the shaft, as he sucks slightly.

Mycroft gasps, a knowing look in his eye that says: I see that you are teasing me, and it’s working anyway.

Greg grins around Mycroft’s cock, and gently begins to move his hand and mouth together. He keeps it loose and slow for now, finding his way, noting what makes Mycroft press his lips tight against noises of pleasure, what makes his eyelids flicker briefly shut. When Greg runs the tip of his tongue lazily up to the frenulum, Mycroft almost groans; Greg has to resist the urge to grind down against the mattress.

Greg builds a rhythm, slowly; interspersing moving his hand and head together with times where he simply explores, sucking and licking, taking Mycroft as deep as he can before backing off. He takes Mycroft’s hand and places it gently on his own head.

Eventually, Mycroft whispers “Gregory,” on a gasp. “Gregory – a moment –”

Greg smiles, and lets him go; taking Mycroft’s hand, he wraps it where his own had been, around the base of his cock. Then he nuzzles lower, kissing, licking and finally sucking Mycroft’s balls, and below them to his perineum. He loved it when I ended up that hand job with my thumb here. Let’s see. He gives an experimental lick, then another; Mycroft gives a soft, growling groan, seemingly struggling to breathe.

Looking up, Greg enjoys the sight of Mycroft, flushed and gasping, bottom lip bitten red, hair drying every which way, hand on his own cock. Greg can’t suppress a groan of his own, thrusting once against the mattress, just to relieve some of the tension, the desperation of his own hardness.

Gently, Greg puts his own hand over Mycroft’s, urging him to move, to touch himself. Mycroft’s expression is one of helpless need. He does so.

Slowly, Greg pushes up to kneel in front of him.

“Trust me with somethin’?”

“Of course – Gregory,” murmurs Mycroft, eyes bright.

“I’ve been wantin’ to try something but with my nose all messed up –” Greg shrugs. “Turn over for me?” He grabs a pillow and places it partway down the bed. “C’mere.”

Slowly, Mycroft moves, watching him and biting at his bottom lip. Greg smoothes his hands across Mycroft’s sides, his back; helps him lie down, cock pressed into the pillow. His hips are slightly raised.

Greg leans over, kisses Mycroft’s shoulders, his ear; murmurs, “d'you know how good you felt in my mouth? Can you feel how hard I am?” He presses his clothed cock against Mycroft’s buttocks, kissing Mycroft’s neck. Mycroft moves, pressing back against Greg’s hardness, and Greg grins. “Sucking you off gets me like that, darlin’.”

He begins to trail kisses down Mycroft’s spine.

“Gregory…” Mycroft sounds distracted, a little anxious. “What are you –”

Greg slips his arms around Mycroft’s waist; hugs him tight. “I’d love to rim you, gorgeous. If you’ll let me. If you want that.”

He feels Mycroft’s quick intake of breath; then the other man turns over, tugging at Greg’s hands, pulling him up to lie next to him. “Gregory, I – should doubtless have spoken about this earlier but –” he bites his lip.

Greg puts a hand on Mycroft’s chest. “Darlin’?” he presses their foreheads together. “You know I’d never pressure you – if it’s not something you –”

“No,” Mycroft half-shakes his head, still flushed. “I – I wish you to penetrate me.”

Greg could almost laugh at the awkward wording; but he looks at Mycroft’s bothered expression, at the way his fingers twitch nervously on the duvet between them.

“I’m – not sure,” he says, honestly. “We’ve been drinking, an’ that’s not what you’d usually –”

Mycroft’s brows draw together in a slight frown; not annoyance, but frustration, perhaps. “Dutch courage is a factor, I am sure,” he says quietly. “But do I seem inebriated to you? I assure you I am not. I have been thinking about this for some time, Gregory. I do not usually – it is true. But that has been more due to a lack of trust in my partners than any dislike for the act itself. I wish to experience this with you, and perhaps to make it a more regular part of our lovemaking, if that is also your wish.”

Greg knows his surprise is showing on his face. His heart thumps almost painfully in his chest. He trusts me. And I should know that – I do – but hearing it like this…

He leans in, and kisses Mycroft gently on the lips. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Gregory. More than I can say.”

You say it in a lot of ways, darlin’. Whether you know it or not.

“I want to make it good for you though, gorgeous. Is now –” he shrugs. “Are you sure you want this right now? We don’t have to rush anything.”

“Yes.” Mycroft’s eyes are dark, pupils wide. “Please.”

“Fuck. Right, okay.” Greg smiles softly, then takes a breath. “Means a lot that you trust me like this, Myc.”

Mycroft kisses him, quite suddenly and deeply, and they roll together, cocks pressing hard against one another through a layer of fabric.

Greg hums into the kiss, arms tight around Mycroft’s waist. “D'you want me to try – what I was going to?” he asks, nuzzling Mycroft’s jaw. “Some people aren’t into it, so no pressure. But it’s a good way to relax for – for the other stuff.”

“If you are happy to do so,” says Mycroft, quietly, and he sounds so carefully courteous that Greg can’t help smiling, and kissing him again.

Mycroft’s quick flick of a smile shows that he’s understood the meaning behind Greg’s fond grin. Those long fingers stroke his cheek.

“You should certainly have mentioned that it is something you enjoy, Gregory,” he murmurs. “I should have been happy to oblige.”

Greg grins and nudges their foreheads together. “Bit cheeky when I couldn’t reciprocate.”

“Nonsense,” returns Mycroft softly.

“So – you’ve done this before?” asks Greg. He adds quickly, “I know it sounds like a stupid question, but not everyone’s up for – y'know, whatever, and it’d be good to know before –”

Mycroft’s eyes are full of warmth. “Gregory,” he murmurs. “I appreciate you asking. Do not be apprehensive.” He bites his bottom lip. “When younger, I had one or two experiences which suggested to me that to – receive during penetrative sex necessitated a particularly submissive attitude. It has proved a pervasive impression, despite the fact that I do not – apply it to my partners.” He frowns, slightly, and blinks. “Illogical, no doubt. I – I do not view you as submissive during penetrative sex, except on those occasions when you make it entirely clear that you wish to be.”

Greg can’t help a quick half-smile. God forbid he might be illogical about anything. Not like that’s just – human. Holmeses. “Don’t worry, I get what you mean.”

“Nevertheless, the few – sexual encounters I have had in recent years have not been based upon trust or mutual understanding. I should never have allowed them to – whereas with you –” he hesitates. “With you, I feel no such imbalance. No such lack of trust.” He pauses, grey eyes dark.

“Myc,” says Greg, gently. “I’d never force you to be – y'know, submissive, if you’re not into it. An’ you know I like to have fun with that for me, but it’s not – er, what goes in where that does that –”

Mycroft half-shakes his head. “With you, Gregory, I have no concerns on that score. It does not signify.”

“You can’t predict how you’ll feel when we’re actually – if it’s something that’s bothered you in the past –”

Mycroft’s eyelashes flutter against his cheeks. “You are right, of course, though you have always, thus far, made me feel entirely safe.”

Greg’s heart trips over itself, loud in his chest.

“This first time, I should appreciate – facing you,” says Mycroft, quietly. He doesn’t look up, or meet Greg’s eyes.

“Myc, darlin’,” murmurs Greg, kissing the tip of Mycroft’s nose. “Look at me.”

Slowly, Mycroft raises his gaze.

“You are safe with me. Always. I’d never make you do anything you didn’t want. I’m not going to get carried away or push you or hurt you or –”

“I know.” Mycroft sounds both entirely certain and terribly vulnerable.

“Oh, darlin’.”

“I believe I have concerned you further, rather than allaying your fears about my readiness.”

Greg grins. “Nah. I trust you. As long as it’s what you really want.” He runs his lips softly across Mycroft’s cheek. “Last time you did this – did he make you come? Make you feel good?”

Very slowly, Mycroft shakes his head. “Not – particularly.”

Greg suppresses the urge to frown, to ask why, and kisses the corner of Mycroft’s mouth. He takes a breath. “If you want to do this now, we’ll take it slowly, okay? Don’t – don’t feel like you have to ask to face me, or whatever. You control everythin’ about this, alright? The only thing I want is for you to tell me what feels good. An’ if it’s not working for you, we’ll stop, that second, no questions asked.”

Mycroft nods, grey eyes both cautious and full of trust.

Greg bites his lip a moment. “I just – I want you to know, darlin’, there’s no… hierarchy, for me, alright? There’s nothing in my head that puts being inside you above anything else. Makin’ you feel good is the number one thing that’ll get me off. Just – keep that in your big gorgeous brain, yeah?” he smiles and presses their foreheads together.

Mycroft’s gaze is piercing; and after a moment, he nods, rather wonderingly.

“’Course, it’ll help if you’re close to coming anyway,” grins Greg cheekily. “Talking of which – when was the last time you got rimmed?”

The slight flush that spreads across Mycroft’s cheeks makes Greg want to groan. How can he be so confident and so bloody shy at the same time?

“Many years ago,” murmurs Mycroft, chin tucked, eyelashes lowered.

“An’ you like it,” whispers Greg, kissing Mycroft’s earlobe, “yeah?”

“I found it most –” Mycroft glances up, blush deepening. He can’t help a huff of amusement when Greg catches his eye. “Yes.”

Greg hums his satisfaction, kissing Mycroft with a smile. “Alright then.” He hugs Mycroft close a moment. “Want me to get undressed?”

Might help him feel like I’m not so in charge.

Mycroft tips his head; then shakes it, slightly. “No. No need.”

“Should I be offended?” asks Greg, with a grin.

Mycroft rolls his eyes. “It – pleases me. I have nothing against feeling under your control, Gregory.”

Greg looks at him, and he knows his own smile must be unbearably soppy. “Ridiculous man.”

“Undoubtedly.”

“C'mere.”

“I am quite firmly in your arms already.”

“Yeah, an’ now I want you out of my arms and under my tongue.”

“Lestrade, you are incorrigibly filthy.”

“I don’t think you mind.”

“As it happens, you are correct, but –”

Greg huffs a laugh. “On thin ice, am I?”

“Precisely.”

“Let me know when I’ve gone too far.”

“I shall.”

“You c’n punish me for it.”

“Gregory Lestrade.”

Greg giggles and nuzzles his lips under Mycroft’s chin, kissing his neck, licking and nipping gently until the other man shivers, hard against Greg’s thigh.

“Y’see, you claim not to like me talkin’ filth –”

Mycroft bites Greg’s shoulder, none too gently; but Greg can feel him smile.

“Turn over, you. Get back on y’pillow.”

Mycroft shifts; Greg strokes his hand slowly along his spine as he settles, then leans over him to kiss his freckled shoulders.

“Gregory…”

“Shut up. I love them.”

“I cannot understand you.”

Greg wraps his arms around Mycroft’s chest and presses kisses between his shoulderblades. “We’ve been through this. You and your freckles turn me on. Get used to it.”

“How.”

“They’re gorgeous. I love them.”

“You are not making sense.”

“You say you like my old-man hair.”

“Detective Inspector, we have already had cause to speak about these derogatory comments –”

“Ha. Then shut up about your freckles.”

“Infuriating man.”

Greg grins, and kisses the base of Mycroft’s spine. “Prob’ly. But you still love me, so.”

Mycroft shivers, slightly.

Greg smoothes a hand across his left buttock, allowing his nails to whisper across the tender skin. He shifts, settling himself on his knees between Mycroft’s legs. “You comfortable, darlin’?”

“Yes.” There is a slight breathlessness in Mycroft’s voice, though he tries to hide it. Greg lavishes more kisses at the base of his spine, allowing his hands to spread, his thumbs to move inwards.

“Talk t’me, alright, Myc?” he murmurs, between kisses. “’F’you want to come like this instead, tell me. Or tell me when to stop. Whatever feels good. I just want to know, alright?”

He feels Mycroft nod, and then he feels the deep, gasping breath Mycroft takes as Greg begins to pull his buttocks apart, to kiss lower.

So many years since I last did this. Greg’s heart is pounding, his cock throbbing in his trousers. He takes it slow: soft, brushing kisses, not using his tongue yet. He’s surprised by the noises Mycroft’s making already, breathing shakily, low, light catches of a moan in his throat.

Greg licks, just the tip of his tongue, a tease –

Mycroft’s breath gathers into a gasp; and he goes silent, clamping down on the noise.

Greg restrains a grin. Alright then, gorgeous, let’s see how we go. He licks more firmly this time, long and slow, and Mycroft tenses, still silent.

Greg brushes his lips across the tight ring of muscle. “You’ve gone so quiet, darlin’,” he murmurs, smiling. “You alright?”

Mycroft takes a breath, slow and controlled. “Quite – alright, thank you Gregory,” he says, with that delicately sardonic edge. “As I suspect you well know.”

Greg grins. “Might do. Might do. Be nice to hear you though. Not that watching you try an’ stay in control isn’t sexy as hell –”

“‘Hot’?”

Greg laughs, and digs his fingernails into Mycroft’s buttock. He licks, relentlessly, swirling his tongue, not stopping.

Mycroft hisses between his teeth, then groans softly; his thighs tense, but Greg sees his shoulders soften, his back dip a little. He rests his forehead on the back of his wrist.

He’s relaxing into it. Greg hums softly, happily, as he licks again; and a shiver of pure, unadulterated enjoyment ripples up Mycroft’s spine.

Oh god, I love seeing him like this. He’s like a cat, when he relaxes; I’d never’ve guessed, before all this, that he could sink into it so completely. There’s a tight, swelling bubble of emotion in Greg’s chest; he feels hot, aching with arousal. He focuses on me, on pleasing me, with every bit of that ridiculous genius brain. He slows his tongue, and strokes Mycroft’s buttock softly with his fingertips.

“Gregory,” murmurs Mycroft, but it doesn’t seem like a plea for attention; it’s quiet, almost a whisper, spoken in the space between his wrist and the duvet cover.

Beautiful. It’s the only word on Greg’s mind, just now; and he allows arousal to thrill through his stomach, up his spine, the heady high of taking Mycroft to a place of private bliss.

“Oh,” whispers Mycroft, when the tip of Greg’s tongue dips inside, just a little. “Oh –” His thighs are shaking, tensed.

Greg brushes his lips back and forth across the slowly-relaxing ring of muscle. “Gorgeous for me, Myc. So gorgeous.”

Mycroft clears his throat, raises his head slightly. He sounds a little dazed when he says, “I wonder if…”

“Anythin’, darlin’.”

“Your finger…”

“’Course. Want to turn over now, or –”

“Perhaps if – just a little longer –”

Greg nips a kiss into Mycroft’s pale, pert buttock. “Darlin’. Remember, you’re in charge of this. Anything you want, got it?”

The only answer he gets is a melting sigh.

He moves his hands, begins to touch softly with the pad of his index finger. Mycroft gives a soft whisper of a groan, low in his throat.

Slowly, Greg focuses in; teases Mycroft’s entrance with his fingertips, alternating the light brushing touches with licking and kissing. Greg’s lost in it, and it’s not until Mycroft moans quietly that he realises he’s been winding him closer, tighter, for a while –

“Gregory – please – I do not believe that I can – that I shall –”

“’Course, darlin’. ’M’sorry.”

Mycroft gives a slightly incredulous-sounding huff of laughter. “Do not – apologise,” he gasps. “You are –” his words die away in a moan as Greg places the tip of his index finger softly over his entrance.

“Hang on.” Quickly, Greg stands up and fetches the lube from the drawer. He settles back into position, kissing and licking at Mycroft as he opens the lube, spreads plenty on his finger.

“Yes?”

“Yes. Please.”

Greg’s cock throbs against the mattress, against the zip of his trousers. Please. He presses his finger inside, just a couple of centimetres.

Mycroft is silent, breathing fast.

Greg kisses his buttock, lavishing gentle attention on the tender freckled flesh. “You okay, darlin’?”

“Oh, god,” murmurs Mycroft, in a rush. “Please, Gregory. More.”

Greg’s heart thumps. Slowly, surely, he presses inside; knowing that to keep going makes it easier in the long run. Mycroft is breathing regularly, deeply, deliberately. He has done this before, thinks Greg, relieved. Who the hell was the inconsiderate prick he was with last time, then, if he didn’t make him feel good?

Best not to ask about that now. Concentrate on making him feel safe. Good. Mine.

When his index finger is in as far as it will go, Greg dips his head and laves long, soft strokes of his tongue lower to Mycroft’s perineum.

Mycroft is still breathing, still adjusting, and Greg allows him time; concentrates on building another sensation, a distraction.

“Mmm,” moans Mycroft at last, and Greg can’t help a smile; his voice is warm and soft. He sounds relaxed.

“Yeah?” murmurs Greg. “Alright?”

“Mmm,” confirms Mycroft, blissfully. “Yes. Can – could you –”

“Time to move?” asks Greg.

“Yes.” Mycroft’s hips rock a little against the pillow.

Fuck, thinks Greg. Fucking hell. He’s not actually quite in control of himself, is he?

“’Course, darlin’.”

It’s a slow movement at first: tentative, careful, and it’s decades since he last did this to anyone else. Curious, cautious, he crooks his finger; after a few moments Mycroft’s breath catches.

“Okay?”

“Mmm.” His voice sounds muffled, now, and Greg suspects he’s biting into his wrist.

“Good enough to keep going?”

“Yes…” Mycroft’s voice is breathy.

He was right to ask. He’s enjoying it.

He wants to do this, with me.

It still feels almost impossible that he is trusted so completely by this man.

He likes me talking.

“D'you do this to yourself, darlin’?” he asks softly, building a rhythm with his hand. “Those long gorgeous fingers…”

Mycroft takes a breath; shifts his hips again. “Rarely. But – yes.”

“Mmm.” Greg allows the pad of his finger to graze slightly harder across Mycroft’s prostate. “Now there’s somethin’ I’d pay to see.”

“No charge, Gregory.”

Greg chuckles, feeling the tension that runs tight through Mycroft’s body. “No? Very kind.”

“I –” Mycroft shivers slightly. “I need more. You.”

Greg bites gently at Mycroft’s buttock. “Just a little bit more, darlin’. Bit longer. Got to make sure you’re ready.”

Mycroft presses his hips down into the pillow, arching his back slightly; then pushes back against Greg’s hand. “Hurry.”

Greg laughs, and bites properly this time. “Orderin’ me around, Mycroft Holmes?”

“Out of desperation, merely,” gasps Mycroft. “Since you appear determined to render me a wreck.” Greg can hear the smile in his voice.

“Don’t want you in pain tomorrow, gorgeous. Or regretting it tonight, come to that.”

“I cannot imagine myself doing so,” murmurs Mycroft. He takes a breath, hesitates a moment. “Perhaps I might – turn over, at this juncture?” There’s a raw kind of vulnerability in his voice that makes Greg’s chest hurt.

Greg hums his assent, brushing his lips along the inside of Mycroft’s right thigh. “On your back, mister.” Slowly, he withdraws his finger.

As Mycroft shifts over, Greg smiles. “Give me a second, alright?” he pads into the bathroom, and uses antibacterial mouthwash; brushes his teeth quickly. My toothbrush alongside his. When he returns, Mycroft looks a little self-conscious. Greg jumps onto the bed and kneels over him, smiling down into those dark grey eyes. “Wanted to be able to kiss you.” He nuzzles Mycroft’s jaw. “Hi, you.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes, slightly, a fond smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Then do so.”

It becomes a frantic, breathless kiss, and they’re pressed together before Greg knows it, hard against one another through his clothes –

Mycroft’s hands slip beneath Greg’s shirt, greedily exploring skin, finally pulling the fabric up and away.

“Oi,” murmurs Greg at last. “C'mere.” He kneels up, stroking Mycroft’s right hip. Slowly, he teases the tips of his fingers along the back of Mycroft’s thigh, behind his knee – presses his leg up a little, opening him wide. It’s a vulnerable position, and he sees a flash of shy unease in the widening of Mycroft’s eyes, the tightening of his lips.

Greg bends and kisses Mycroft’s knee; and as he does so, allows his first two fingers to brush softly across Mycroft’s entrance.

“Can’t tell you what you look like, gorgeous,” he murmurs. “Dumb old copper like me hasn’t got the words. Better than I could’ve ever imagined though, alright? A thousand times better’n I deserve.”

“Never refer to yourself in such a manner again in my hearing, Lestrade,” says Mycroft sharply, and his self-consciousness is gone. “You are neither stupid nor old.” He gasps as Greg allows his fingers to lie a little heavier, to touch a little more insistently. “Two, if you insist, Gregory. But quickly.”

“Bossy.”

“Desperate.”

“I think I might like makin’ you desperate.”

“You are impossible, Clément.”

Greg grins. “Unfair advantage. You’ll have to tell me yours at some point.”

“Simply fuck me, Gregory, and I shall tell you anything you desire.” The corner of his mouth tips up in a smile as he says it.

“Good thing I’m not a foreign spy, isn’t it?”

“Gregory.”

Greg laughs, and leans down to kiss him again, supporting himself on his right hand. As they kiss, he presses two fingers slowly inside, still shocked at the tightness. How the fuck am I going to hold on for him, when he feels like this?

Mycroft gasps into the kiss, and for a moment Greg’s afraid he’s hurt him; but when he pulls back, Mycroft’s eyes are heavy-lidded with pleasure. “Move, please,” he bites out; and there’s unadulterated need in his tone.

Greg doesn’t tease him this time; he crooks his fingers, and when Mycroft’s expression melts into one of soft-edged desperation, he begins to rock them back and forth, never fully withdrawing.

“Oh –” murmurs Mycroft at last. “I am ready. More than ready.”

Greg kisses the inside of Mycroft’s knee again, strokes his palm along his thigh. “Sure, darlin’?”

“Entirely.” It’s meant to be Mycroft’s crisp, decisive tone, but instead he sounds breathless. It makes Greg’s stomach drop away.

“One second, alright?” he murmurs, gently withdrawing his fingers. “Just – condom –”

He’s surprised to find himself shaking a little as he opens his fly. Mycroft sits up and takes the condom from him, grey eyes fierce, full of curiosity and affection.

He can see how much I want this.

I hope he can.

Greg warms lube in his hand for a moment, then slicks himself carefully; Mycroft’s thighs are pale and soft, his legs open wide – for me

Every touch is dangerously electric. Greg takes a breath, smiling down at Mycroft; guides Mycroft’s leg gently over his shoulder and kisses the inside of his knee again.

He begins to press inside as they kiss, stifling a groan at the tightness. A small moan from Mycroft makes Greg pull back, panting. “Darlin’?”

“Keep going,” he gasps. “Slowly. Do not stop.”

Greg eases forward, trying not to show how much it is costing him in self-control. Supporting himself on his hands, he kisses Mycroft’s neck, brushes his lips along it; nuzzles and nips at his earlobe. He hides the way his breath catches in kisses and licks to the dip at the base of Mycroft’s throat.

I wonder if…

“Beautiful,” he murmurs, looking down into Mycroft’s eyes. “You are so bloody beautiful.”

Mycroft’s jaw is tight; he’s breathing hard, but regularly. “Gregory…” he murmurs, eyes soft. “Thank you.”

Greg almost laughs. “God, darlin’ – Christ, don’t thank me. You’re clever an’ gorgeous an’ you make me so fucking happy, and for some reason you want me –” he kisses Mycroft again. “I love you,” he murmurs, and at last he’s fully seated.

Mycroft takes a long, slow breath, his face against Greg’s neck. For a few moments, they breathe together.

“You okay?” whispers Greg.

“Mmm.” Mycroft hums against Greg’s neck; takes another breath. “Adjusting.”

Greg smiles into Mycroft’s hair. “No hurry, beautiful.” Every sensation is heightened; the brush of Mycroft’s hair against his cheek, his lips, feels desperately intense.

It’s Mycroft’s breathing that changes first: from deliberate and careful, it shifts into a shallower, softer, slower rhythm.

Greg leans back, supporting himself on his hands; looks down at Mycroft, and smiles. “Hi.”

“Hello.” Mycroft’s voice is low, quiet.

“How d’you feel?”

“Mmm.” Mycroft stretches slightly, shifting his hips, arching his back. “I – Gregory.” He takes a breath. “You are inside me.”

Greg almost wants to laugh; but his chest is full, heavy with love and need and the kind of wonder that has suddenly brought him, he realises, close to the edge of tears. “I am.”

Mycroft presses his forehead to Greg’s. “I fear I shall make only the most obvious remarks just now, Gregory.”

Greg grins, throat tight with emotion. “God forbid.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes, over-bright. “You are making fun of me.”

“Yep.” Greg kisses him, softly, and then a little harder. “I am, darlin’. Forgive me?”

“Never.” Mycroft shifts his hips again. They both gasp, lips brushing.

“Shall I move?” whispers Greg. “You ready?”

“Please. Slowly.”

Greg smoothes his hand through Mycroft’s hair. “’Course, darlin’. ’Course slowly. Anythin’, remember?”

Mycroft nods, pressing his cheek against Greg’s. “I remember.”

Greg shifts on his elbows, keeping Mycroft’s pale skin in contact with his own. With care, he rolls his hips, pressing in close.

“Mmm.” Mycroft takes a breath, eyes fluttering closed. “Again,” he adds, softly.

Greg moves, withdrawing a tiny amount. He presses his lips together, stifling a gasp at the tightness. Not about me. He kisses the corner of Mycroft’s mouth.

Mycroft’s eyelashes flutter against his cheeks, and his eyes open. He’s flushed.

Fuck. Is this making him – shy?

“Again.” He blinks. “It feels – good.”

You shouldn’t be sounding so surprised about that, darlin’. Whoever you last did this with really was a selfish prick, wasn’t he?

Slowly, Greg moves again; keeps moving, gently, until there’s a rhythm. Mycroft breathes in time to it, now, and stretches for a kiss.

It spins out between them, growing steadily deeper and needier.

“I want…” Greg takes a breath, keeping control. “Let me make it better for you?”

Mycroft huffs a soft, laughing groan against Greg’s cheek. “I have no idea whether –”

Greg kisses and nips at Mycroft’s earlobe. “There’s no pressure, darlin’. No pressure here at all. I want to try’n make you feel the best, alright? Same way you always do for me.”

Mycroft nods. “Yes. Yes.”

“You got experience of coming like this?” asks Greg, nuzzling at Mycroft’s jaw. “Anything you know works?”

Mycroft hesitates. “Only – alone.”

Greg nods, kissing the corner of Mycroft’s mouth. “Let’s move. See if anything changes.” Slowly, he pushes himself up, separating them a little. He kneels, and slips his hand under Mycroft’s left thigh. “Up? ’S’that alright?”

With a slight flush, Mycroft nods.

Greg can see it: the flash of self-consciousness, of vulnerability. He guides Mycroft’s left leg over his shoulder, too, then leans down as close as he can. “Tell me when…”

It’s easy, though, to tell. Mycroft’s breath catches as Greg rolls his hips. He groans a gasp. “Greg–”

“Yeah, gorgeous?”

“I –” Mycroft takes a breath. “Could you – slowly –”

Greg can’t help grinning. There you go, darlin’. He starts to move, withdrawing slowly, pushing back in with infinite care. They aren’t quite close enough to kiss, any more; but Greg watches as Mycroft’s expression changes, as his eyelashes flutter, as he flushes again.

“Oh,” whispers Mycroft softly, eyes closed.

Greg bites his bottom lip, holding to the thread of pain; fuck, it’s too much, this is definitely too much –

“Oh,” murmurs Mycroft again. “Oh – faster – if –”

“Anything.” Greg presses as close as he can, still not near enough to kiss; rocks back and forth, drawing out, pressing back in with more insistence.

“That feels quite – extraordinary,” gasps Mycroft.

“Good.” Greg tries to ignore how close he is, how easy it would be to speed up, to let the tightness and warmth and need overwhelm him.

“Gregory, I – faster –”

“Like this, yeah? Here?”

“Oh, god, yes – please –”

Please? Greg bites his bottom lip again, suppressing a smile. Mycroft Holmes, saying please. Fuck. Don’t think about that too closely –

“Open your eyes, gorgeous.” Greg watches as Mycroft’s eyes blink open.

He’s flushed, breathing hard, rolling his hips to meet Greg’s thrusts.

“Bet you’ve got no idea how you look, Myc,” murmurs Greg. “You look fucking incredible.”

Mycroft groans, under his breath. “Gregory – I – need to – I am –”

The swell of emotion in Greg’s chest is almost too much. He grins, hoping against hope that Mycroft can’t see the tears that sting and threaten behind his eyes. “Tell me what you need.”

Mycroft moans. “I need – more.”

Greg shifts; reaches between them. The angle’s awkward and they’re pressed tight together in a tangle of limbs, but the moment he wraps his fingers around Mycroft’s cock the other man groans, tension running through him like live electricity.

Greg teases him, just a little; makes a loose fist, holding back, forcing Mycroft to roll his hips in the search for friction.

Mycroft’s eyes fix on Greg’s, part plea, part frustratedly knowing amusement. “Gregory Clément Lestrade.”

“Oui, mon amour?”

“T’es sadique.”

“Je te tourmente un peu, c'est vrai.”

“Bah.” Mycroft props himself up on his elbows; takes a kiss, biting at Greg’s bottom lip.

Greg wraps his hand more firmly around Mycroft’s cock and begins to stroke in time with his long, slow thrusts.

“Oh,” groans Mycroft, allowing his head to fall back a little. “Gregory – yes – please –”

Greg groans a huff of laughter against Mycroft’s jaw. “Don’t say please, gorgeous. Not now.”

Mycroft’s expression breaks into a smile; he looks at Greg, watching him, attention laser-sharp despite his heaving chest, his flushed cheeks. “Yes?” he asks, an edge of vulnerability alongside his arousal.

Greg presses his forehead against Mycroft’s temple, breathing hard. “Oh, fuck, Myc – you feel – you look –” he groans; laughs. “I’m fucking incoherent, alright? ’S’that tell you?” Pushing their foreheads together, he looks deep into Mycroft’s grey eyes. “You’re perfect.”

A flicker of disbelief in Mycroft’s eyes. “Hardly that.”

“Don’t you dare,” growls Greg. “Perfect for me. I am so in love with you, darlin’. So in love with you.”

Mycroft shivers, arching his back, pressing up to meet Greg’s thrusts.

And Greg can’t wait any longer; he tightens his hand, increasing the pace of the strokes to Mycroft’s cock. “Fuck,” he murmurs, against Mycroft’s jaw. “Fuck, Myc, darlin’ –”

Mycroft’s nails are tight on Greg’s back, his shoulder, urging him closer. “Please –” he breathes, “– please –”

“Come for me, darlin’,” groans Greg. “Keep your eyes open for me. I want to watch you.”

Mycroft cries out. “Harder,” he gasps. “Oh – oh – yes, Gregory – Greg –” he goes taut, silent, lips moving softly as he starts to come. Greg feels wet heat between their stomachs, on his hand; gasps a breath, resisting his own pleasure, setting it determinedly aside.

He keeps moving, slower, gentler; when the tension ebbs from Mycroft’s muscles, Greg lets go of his cock and reaches for the base of the condom, taking the opportunity to withdraw before it has the chance to get uncomfortable for Myc.

Quickly, he slips off the condom and drops it next to the bed.

Mycroft has gone pliant, sleepy-eyed with pleasure. He turns to Greg’s chest, kissing softly at his skin. “Sweetheart,” he whispers, wrapping long fingers around Greg’s cock. They’re slick; and with a shock of arousal Greg realises Mycroft’s pulling him off with his own come.

“Fuck,” he murmurs as Mycroft’s lips find his nipple, kissing and sucking, tongue drawing out a fine thread of pleasure. He arches his back, thrusting into Mycroft’s hand. “Fucking hell, I’m close, Myc, so fucking close –”

His words die away in a moan when Mycroft moves down the bed and takes him in his mouth; he must be tasting himself on me – Greg holds himself still, resisting the urge to thrust, but Mycroft’s long fingers find his hipbones, guide him closer, into warm, tight, glorious heat

“Darlin’ –” Greg cries a warning that would have been too late if it were needed; he’s shaking, coming, desperate tension breaking at last as Mycroft licks him, sucks him, hand and lips and tongue together.

Greg only knows he’s saying Mycroft’s name, over and over; words of love mixed with breathless noises.

After a while, he runs his palm across the soft, muscled planes of Mycroft’s shoulders; enjoying the simple, thoughtless tactility of skin against skin.

Mycroft kisses his stomach, holding him close.

“I love you,” murmurs Greg, touching his chin, catching his eye.

“I love you.” Mycroft’s eyes are a deep, steely grey. “More than I can adequately express,” he adds, against Greg’s hipbone. He follows the words with a kiss to the skin beneath his lips.

Greg runs his hand through Mycroft’s hair. “Felt good?”

Mycroft smiles, a grin even he can’t suppress. “You need to ask?”

Oh God, I love him like this. Satisfied. Playful.

“Got to check. All part of the service, see.”

Mycroft presses his lips together; amusement and warmth dancing in his eyes. “Service.”

Greg snorts. “Serve and protect. You know that.”

Mycroft nips softly at Greg’s stomach. “You did not want to –” he hesitates, “– come inside me?”

“Not this time,” says Greg, still tangling his fingers through Mycroft’s hair. “Just wanted to know you were okay, for this one. ’S’that alright?”

Mycroft just gives him a look, bright with love and trust; and Greg takes a breath, heart squeezing in a chest tight with emotion.

Yeah. That’s alright.

*

“Thanks for this,” says John, handing Greg Rosie’s overnight bag. “Sherlock’s parked on a double yellow downstairs, so I won’t be a minute.”

Greg slings the bag over his shoulder, and watches as John hugs and kisses Rosie. “Be good for Greg and Uncle Mycroft, alright?” murmurs John, kissing her temple. “We’ll see you tomorrow,” he adds to Greg, holding Rosie out.

Greg settles the little girl on his hip, and nods at John. “No worries. Just text us.”

“How’s it going?” asks John, lowering his voice, flicking his gaze beyond Greg.

Greg gives him a quick, conspiratorial smile. “It’s…going.”

John huffs a quiet laugh. “Right. Well, good luck with that. She’s had her dinner, and if you could try and get her to bed soon – already way past her bedtime –”

“Ta. Will do. See you tomorrow.”

“Bye bye love,” says John, leaning across the threshold to kiss Rosie’s head once more.

The little girl’s bottom lip wobbles slightly as Greg shuts the door behind her dad. She turns her head, as if she might be able to call him back.

“Let’s go an’ see Uncle My, hmm?” asks Greg, hugging her close. She brightens at that, leaning back to look up at him. He grins. “Yeah, that’s right poppet. I know who’s the big hit for you in this house.”

In the living room, there’s a chorus of welcome. Violet and Edward descend on Greg, scooping Rosie up, cooing over her.

Mycroft remains seated on the sofa, expression impassive.

Wonder what they were talking to him about, while I was gone. Greg goes to join him, sitting next to him; close, but not quite touching.

“So long since we’ve seen our beautiful granddaughter,” coos Violet, stroking Rosie’s cheek. “Isn’t it, darling? Yes – and walking now, we’ve seen the videos –”

She puts Rosie down, and watches her. Like she’s waiting for her to perform, thinks Greg.

Rosie stands up and totters, top-speed, to Mycroft. Her small hands land on his knees. “My,” she says, bouncing slightly with happiness.

Greg can’t help his huge grin. God, I love watching Mycroft with her. His face is a picture.

Outwardly calm and reserved, Mycroft is glowing with the kind of love and affection that Greg recognises so well. He reaches down to answer the plea of his niece’s outstretched arms; settles her in his lap.

Greg bends to the overnight bag, and finds her unicorn; passes it to her. She smiles and waves it triumphantly. Greg laughs, and shifts closer on the sofa, tucking himself along Mycroft’s side.

“Is that a unicorn?” asks Edward.

“Mmm,” says Greg, with a quick smile. “All the rage now. Most popular birthday cake at kids’ parties right now, apparently. My niece is obsessed.”

“Your niece?” asks Violet, as though surprised that Greg has family.

“Yeah. They live in France,” he returns. He turns to look at Mycroft. “We’re visiting ’em soon, actually.”

Mycroft gives him a quick half-smile. Rosie takes the opportunity to hit him squarely on the nose with the unicorn, and Greg snorts a laugh.

Rosie giggles, leaning over to put her head on Greg’s stomach, the rest of her lying across Mycroft. Both Greg and Mycroft reach out to steady her at the same time, hands together on her small back. Neither of them move away.

“So meeting each other’s families is the order of the day,” says Violet, tightly.

“Oh, they’ve already been introduced,” smiles Greg. “We Skype quite a lot. Helps that he’s so good at French, ’f’course.” He strokes Rosie’s hair. “Right, littl’un, we’re under strict instructions from your dads to get you to bed.”

“We can take her,” says Violet quickly. “We need to get a good night, up early tomorrow to get tickets for Phantom. We’ll get some for you too, of course?” It’s barely a question.

Greg smiles. “That’s really kind,” he says, briskly. “’Fraid musicals aren’t really my thing though.” He looks to Mycroft. “You’ve been wantin’ to get to that exhibition at the Portrait Gallery, haven’t you darlin’? We could all have lunch there, then you guys c’n get to your matinee on time.”

Violet blinks; opens her mouth and closes it again. “Oh. Very well,” she says, at last. Stepping forward, she makes as if to take Rosie from Mycroft’s arms.

“Her cot is set up in our room,” says Mycroft, quietly. “There is no need for you to take her.”

Greg smiles down at the little girl. “She knows the drill, now, don’t you poppet? Off to sleep, no fuss.”

“’addin’on?” asks Rosie, looking between the two men.

“Naturally, Rosamund,” says Mycroft, gravely.

Greg stands up, Rosie’s bag over his shoulder. “Mycroft’s Paddington voice is a thing of beauty,” he says, grinning at Violet and Edward. “The Hard Stare’s terrifying. I’m all the background Londoners.”

“And Mrs Bird,” murmurs Mycroft, standing up, still holding Rosie. “I believe we will also retire once Rosamund is asleep.”

Violet descends on Rosie, kissing her, fussing over her, offering to take her.

“She has her routine,” says Mycroft, at last. “Goodnight Mother, Father.” He walks away towards their bedroom.

Greg nods to the Holmeses. “Sleep well, an’ good luck with the tickets in the mornin’.” He saunters off, following Mycroft.

Shutting the door gently behind himself, he watches Mycroft turning on the soft nightlight next to the cot. Greg puts the bag down on their bed, and walks across to slip his arm around Mycroft’s waist, drop a kiss on his shoulder.

For a moment, Mycroft turns to him; his eyes are tired, darkly-circled.

He’s hardly slept, with this weekend coming up.

Greg kisses him, gently, placing his hand on Rosie’s back. “You’re so good with this one,” he murmurs. “She loves you. So do I.”

Mycroft keeps his eyes closed a moment longer; takes a breath, slowly. “I love you. Both.”

Greg feels Rosie’s fist bunch in his jumper. “’addin’on?” she asks.

Mycroft’s expression breaks into a gentle smile. He rests his forehead against Greg’s. “Of course, ma chérie.”

When she sleeps, they leave the nightlight on. Mycroft’s movements, changing into his pyjamas, are slow and tired.

In the middle of the bed, they roll together; Greg wraps his arms around Mycroft’s shoulders, his waist, and pulls him close. “You’re goin’ to sleep well tonight, alright darlin’?” he says, with a smile. “’F’she cries, you leave that to me.”

Mycroft sighs, eyelids heavy. “I should not have been so apprehensive.”

Greg shakes his head. “Don’t be silly. ’S’stressfull, family stuff. But we’ve got a day off tomorrow. Portraits an’ Rosie, an’ afternoon tea, if you want.” He grins. “While they’re at the musical.”

Mycroft huffs a slightly incredulous laugh. “You are, without doubt, my hero.”

Greg kisses him, soft and slow. “There’s somethin’…” his chest is tight. He whispers, quiet in the hush of night, the rise and fall of Rosie’s regular breaths. He takes hold of the chain around Mycroft’s neck; pulls until he can gather the silver ring into his palm. ’S’too soon, now, we’re just startin’, but I – I want you to know, alright? This – this feels real to me.” He brushes the ring with the pad of his thumb. “One day, if I ask, will you – would you put it back on?” he fights back the tightness in his throat, the sting behind his eyes.

Mycroft’s eyelashes flutter. “Yes,” he says, without hesitation.

“Or – well, a ring, anyway,” says Greg. His voice is shaking, heart pounding. “Maybe not this one.” He smiles. “Platinum. Or gold.”

“I am quite sure they could be made with a thread of silver.” Mycroft’s eyes are bright and liquid in the soft glow of the nightlight.

Greg nods, and presses a kiss to Mycroft’s ring on its chain; leans in, and brushes their lips together. “Sleep well, gorgeous.”

They settle, with Mycroft’s hand in the centre of Greg’s chest; his knees pressed into the back of Greg’s.

“Sweetheart,” murmurs Mycroft. There’s a kiss, too, to the nape of Greg’s neck.

Darlin’. Greg smiles as he falls asleep.