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Take What You Need

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For the third Sunday in a row the scent of bacon drifting lazily through Mycroft’s home serves as a summons to breakfast. There’s been a pleasant routine around it, waking up wrapped up with Greg and kissing each other softly- then less softly- tangling themselves up in the sheets under the scattered rays of morning light, then tidying themselves up and wandering downstairs to cook. Well, Greg cooks. Mycroft makes coffee and stays out of the way.

That morning Greg had vanished beneath the sheets just as Mycroft was hazily beginning to stir, waking him up with slow and sensual laps over his cock.

Mycroft came with his hand in Greg’s hair, sleepily murmuring his lover’s name, and Greg had whispered back that Mycroft had been overworked that week and should really go back to sleep.

Surprisingly, he did.

Lie-ins are not a normal part of Mycroft’s routine, and he’s bleary and rather confused when he comes back to himself, alone in his bed, blinking at sunlight.

His hand wanders to the other side of the bed, cold now. His eyes flick to the bathroom- dark.

Where… oh. Bacon.

The thought makes him smile. Greg is downstairs, making breakfast, letting him sleep in. It’s very… domestic. Mycroft suspects he might like domestic.

He’s been trying to acquire a key for Greg. Anthea has informed him that she doesn’t care how fond Mycroft is, protocols state that no partners to personnel of his level are to have unrestricted access to secured domiciles until the extremely thorough vetting of their paperwork is finished, and it had taken a week just to acquire all the forms involved. “They don’t like adding risk factors, sir. Be grateful that my clearance is enough to approve him for sleepovers,” she’d said smugly.

He’d gotten her back, more or less, when they’d both been called in well before dawn on Friday morning to handle a minor diplomatic emergency and she arrived wearing the same outfit as the day prior. He’d simply sighed often while feigning paternal disappointment until she caved and said she’d ask for a rush on Greg’s paperwork processing.

Mycroft finally drags himself out of his comfortable bed when he hears the whirring of his blender. A brief rinse of his person is sufficient for presentability, and a dash of cold water across his face helps remind his body that it can’t be lazy all day. He shrugs on a bathrobe and wanders downstairs in just that, still feeling the tranquil after-effects of his additional repose, feet padding softly on the stairs and straight across to the kitchen. Firmly wrapping his arms about Greg’s waist from behind in a warm embrace and resting his chin on his shoulder, he plants a kiss to Greg’s cheek.

“Good morning, Greg.”

 

*

 

Everyone at Scotland Yard thinks that Greg's in love.

He tried not letting it show - he really did. He stopped opening texts at his desk or in the car with Sally, knowing his only reaction to them is always a huge and giddy grin. He's done his best to slip out casually for lunches, trying not to bounce on his heels. When he's needed to be out the door at six for a dinner reservation at seven, he's given other excuses - and tried not to look too pleased about it.

But they're detectives - and they're good at it - and it was only a matter of time.

He's had to admit to them now that he's started seeing someone. They wanted to know all about her straightaway. Greg's given no details; he's claimed it's not serious yet.

The truth is these have been the happiest three weeks Greg can remember in years, and it shows in every inch of his face.

Sally says he looks like a new man. People give him startled smiles in the corridor, and it's only then that Greg realises he was grinning just out of habit. Work's been flying. His flat's clean and he's bought new bedding. He's not been drinking in an evening on his own. He's even started going jogging again, and he's been cooking proper meals more.

Especially when there's someone else to enjoy them with him.

As Mycroft's arms slide around his waist, happiness rises through Greg as real and palpable as warmth. It blooms into a grin; he turns his head into the little kiss.

"Good morning, beautiful..." This isn't their first good morning; the first one was said in soft moans and sighs. Sunday good mornings always are. Greg's certain he's now had more sex in five weeks than he had in the last five years.

"Your smoothie's just finished," he murmurs. "Used up your last banana... have to get you some more before Monday."

Mycroft's never taken up his offer of bacon - Greg used to make it anyway out of politeness, but he knows Mycroft has a harder time managing his weight. Mycroft's the expert on his body. He lets Mycroft make the decisions.

"Did you sleep okay?" he asks, voice soft, as he turns the bacon rashers over with the tongs.

 

*

 

“Exceptionally well, thank you.” Mycroft’s hand lingers on Greg’s back as he reaches for the blender. He has to admit there has been a marked uptick in the quality of his breakfasts since Greg started making them. His prior system was mostly strict allocations of nutrients and calories, mixing kale or beets with the fruit and hoping for the best when it came to taste. Greg has coaxed him into using blends of ingredients that are meant to go together, and even occasionally indulging in something more substantial, like avocado on toast.

“Perhaps we can stop by the supermarket after we pop in with her royal majesty.” Marmalade expects them both for lunch and lazy Sunday afternoons now, and she is a hard mistress to disappoint. “Speaking of…”

Mycroft digs through his mail- he doesn’t get much, as there is not, technically, much of a trail linking his name with this particular property. The envelope is an orange one decorated with paw prints, the return address to Cats Protection in Archway, and he smiles when he hands it over to Greg. It contains a thank-you card, hand-written and signed by the rescue staff with all the names of their current residents signed on as well, and a nice picture of Marmalade enclosed.

He’d made the donation- a fairly sizeable donation- in Marmalade’s honor.

“It’s anonymous- I don’t use my name for public charity contributions, but I thought the gesture was warranted, considering. I like the picture- we’ll need a new frame, I think, I don’t believe I have any extraneous ones laying about.”

We has been been slipping off his tongue more and more lately. We. Our.

It feels… easy. Real. Like he’s always been doing it.

He presses another kiss to Greg’s cheek and brings his smoothie over to the table. There’s a large cover spread in the newspaper on a crime ring that had been rather violently arrested several months back finally going to trial. “Is this one of yours? Looks very dramatic.”

 

*

 

"Oh, God... look at her - she's a photogenic little thing, isn't she?" Greg transfers his bacon quickly onto the bagel set aside ready, washes his greasy fingers and dries them on a tea-towel, then takes up the photograph to admire her.

Marmalade's the sort of shy, small little cat with eyes as big as her soul, and there's something of her gentle wariness in the photograph. She's clearly regarding whoever took it with some suspicion, unsure why they're pointing a box at her. It makes Greg smile just to see it.

It makes him smile even more to hear 'we'.

Three weeks - grocery shopping, photo frames and 'we'.

Bringing his breakfast over to the table, placing down a coffee beside it, Greg glances at the spread and grins a bit. "Ahh - yeah... embarrassing. Got me towards the end, have they?"

He squints over Mycroft's shoulder, scanning over the text. After years of doing this, he's gotten quick at spotting the important bit.

"There," he says, tapping with a finger at a later paragraph. 'Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade, heading the team responsible for the gang's dramatic arrests, said in a statement to the press...'

"I don't remember what I said, so don't read a word of it," Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade adds, takes a mouthful of his bagel and chews. He covers his mouth with a hand. "Something about keeping London's streets safer... usually gets them all scribbling away furiously..."

He swallows, reaches for his coffee, and regards Mycroft over the rim. His brown eyes are bright as stars this morning. With a small smile, amused and hopeful all at once, he says,

"Proud of me?"

 

*

 

“Always.” Mycroft smiles, brushing his knee fondly against Greg’s under the table, seeing as their hands are both occupied. It gives him no end of pleasure to see Greg so happy, and his own eyes glitter blue in return.

Besides, it is true- he really is always, constantly, proud of Greg.

“Though I don’t understand why they can’t be a bit more descriptive. Something like ‘absolutely gorgeous DI Lestrade’, or ‘rakishly handsome DI Lestrade’ to really give their readers the full picture,” he adds with a sly look.

He reads the rest of the article while he sips his smoothie. Greg did indeed provide some standard comments regarding the increased safety of the streets, ‘just doing our jobs’, etc. It did look a bit more dramatic than what Greg had told him at the time, but he suspected that was a combination of the paper playing it up and Greg instinctually playing it down. “Looks like a nasty group. I’m sure London’s streets are safer with them in custody.”

He ponders, considering over the taste of strawberry, pineapple, and banana. “Do you ever keep the articles you are in? I imagine you’ve had quite a few interesting cases make the papers over the years.”

 

*

 

Greg still isn't quite used to hearing that he's handsome. He grins broadly, leaning across to butt gently at Mycroft's shoulder with his nose.

"Daft about me," he says - with an unspoken, don't ever stop. "Think I've got a few major ones in a box somewhere in my flat... back when I was young. First big cases. Sally's got all the tapes of our appeals - if you ever want hours of footage of me scowling at a roomful of journalists, giving the vaguest answers I can possibly think of, just let me know. I'll have a treat for you."

He chews a mouthful of bagel for a while, considering the spread in the paper.

"They're a vicious bunch," he admits. "Never thought we'd manage it, to be honest... it seems like I've just had a bit of a productive streak lately. Things turning up at the right time. Y'know?"

He smiles as he picks up his coffee again.

"I'll be in court sorting all that out soon. You'll get to see me in my 'serious police officer' suit. Tie and everything."

 

*

 

“Oh, the tie as well? I shall have to insist on a thorough review of this very serious suit, to ensure it is up to standard. As well as any pictures of young Inspector Lestrade you may be hiding.”

Mycroft brushes his fingers fondly over Greg’s cheek and tucks back one of his ever-wild locks. He misses this sort of casual touching when he’s at work. He’ll miss it even more if Greg is stranded at court for days, where texting is frowned upon- not that Mycroft would write when he knows Greg is in court. The risk of distraction would be too great.

“How many days do trials like this usually occupy you? I’ve a trade conference near the end of the month- perhaps our busy days shall overlap.” And give us more free ones together.

There’s a reception at the end of the conference he’d like to take Greg to… assuming their paperwork clears in time. The Non-Domiciled Partnership Approval. As of yet, he hasn’t brought it up. Just in case there is a holdup.

“Maybe we can squeeze in another nice dinner before the trial starts… somewhere with praline, so you have a reward for all your hard work.”

 

*

 

Greg makes a mental note to make sure any pictures of Sergeant Greg Lestrade are definitely well hidden, lest Mycroft wish to swap him for the younger model. He'd been involved in a charity calendar once, not long after joining the force.

Christ, let's hope they all got destroyed. Otherwise Mycroft will have one in every room, permanently set to February. Greg, 24, Essex Police. What was I thinking?

"Court can be a pain, to be honest... sometimes you prepare yourself for the long haul and it's over in days, then sometimes a cut-and-dry case drags on for months... depends on the lawyers."

He gives Mycroft a reassuring smile, laying a hand gently on his lover's knee. There's something about being allowed to see Mycroft like this - just a bathrobe, eating breakfast together in the kitchen. It's a little bit like heaven.

"Shouldn't need to be around for more than a week this time," he says. "Not unless there's a major surprise. Let's go for dinner, though... I'd love that. Get cosy somewhere with candlelight."

He bites his lip, smiling, his eyes bright even to be planning this.

"Known each other a whole six weeks soon. Seems worth celebrating."

 

*

 

“It is. We are.”

Six weeks. It feels like far longer. Six months, perhaps. Six years.

Not that Mycroft needs an excuse to take Greg out and wine and dine him. He’d do it every day if they had the time.

“I’m not sure I want to give you up to the courts for a whole week, but I suppose I can make the sacrifice in the interests of justice. And a stellar dinner beforehand helps, of course.”

They’ll have to go somewhere exceptionally nice for dinner. He already has some ideas. Capra, perhaps, though it’s nearly impossible to get into on short notice. He’ll have Anthea find out if anyone there has a surplus of parking offenses that can be quietly absolved.

He finishes his smoothie and gets up to tidy the kitchen, planting a kiss on Greg’s temple, half in his hair, which smells tantalizingly like bacon from his time standing over the stove.

“We could try for a weekend away sometime after the trial’s done. Sneak off to whichever house my parents are currently not occupying. It’s a good time of year for it and close enough to make it back if either job decides they simply cannot function in our absence.”

 

*

 

Christ. A weekend away.

Greg's never heard something so appealing in his life. Just the two of them, somewhere peaceful - somewhere out of London - he had a feeling Mycroft's parents were the type to have houses in enviable places, maybe even out in the country. Fresh air, peace and quiet, each other.

God, yes.

Absolutely fucking yes.

Grinning, Greg finishes the last of his bagel. He's not sure how he got so lucky; he just hopes it won't be stopping any time soon. Nothing will get him through a miserable week at court like the thought of stealing off somewhere with Mycroft straight after.

"Are you sure your parents wouldn't mind?" he asks, resting his chin on one hand. He wonders if Mycroft would be telling his parents they'd both be there - if it would be, Greg and I.

It's still the earliest weeks, and Greg's nowhere close to revealing this to his own friends and family. That news, when it comes, will be a shock. Even Sally's never known him have a boyfriend. Even though there was a point in his life he dated other men almost exclusively, it wasn't something he shared with his family - even Andy, his twin, didn't know. Karen never knew. Those days seemed to vanish in an instant as soon as she arrived on the scene, and Greg had almost forgotten they'd ever happened. He'd ended up remembering his twenties as a youthful happy phase, blurry like a hazy summer, now long gone.

And then there was Mycroft.

It's almost thrilling, imagining Mycroft mentioning him to people - to his parents - even vaguely, even discreetly. He hopes that, in time, it'll be perfectly normal for them to mention each other. My partner, Mycroft. My partner, Greg.

It'll take some courage.

Small steps, Greg thinks, dabbing a little butter off his plate with his thumb. He licks it away. For some reason, he can imagine telling Sally first - then maybe family - working the rest out from there.

All to come. Just enjoy it for now.

 

*

 

“The greater risk would be Mummy deciding she needs to attend and… host.” The thought is not a comforting one, and his tone belies the point. He has no doubt she would be anything but attentive to Greg, the matter is more that he is disinclined to spend a weekend with her appearing round the corner with tea for Greg at the least convenient times while telling Mycroft he really ought not to have another scone.

The thought makes him crave a cigarette, and he’s been more or less off those for months, only indulging when he’s under extreme stress.

“She can be a touch intrusive.”

Perhaps they’d be better off getting a private cabin somewhere… but that was something to think on later.

“I’m sure she will like you, of course. Father too.”

At least he’s never had to worry about them caring that he’s gay- they’ll be far more shocked that he has someone he’s willing to let them meet at all. He’s otherwise kept his lovers well distanced from the efforts of his mother to ‘keep apprised’ of his life. Fortunately his security clearance level has let him claim an awful lot is simply classified, including his relationship status.

Mycroft finishes tidying the kitchen and returns to the table just to brush his finger’s over Greg’s neck. “I’m going to get dressed. Need anything from upstairs?”

 

*

 

Greg puts his coffee down at once. He turns in his chair, slips his arms around Mycroft's waist, and with a gentle but insistent tug guides him down onto Greg's lap.

"Nope," he says, fondly, and kisses the corner of Mycroft's jaw. "Seeing as you're still downstairs..."

It's good to feel playful. There was a time he never thought he would again. Every week he spends with Mycroft, he seems to lose another five years of stress. If they keep this up, he'll be twenty-one again in no time.

Running his hand along Mycroft's thigh, Greg murmurs,

"M'looking forward to meeting them, love... when you're ready. Promise I'll be good as gold." He smiles a little, soft-eyed, a thought crossing his gaze. "You - don't mind that I'm still peering around a closet door, do you? I'd shout you from the rooftops if I could. Just need a few more weeks to - "

 

*

 

“Of course I don’t mind.” Mycroft nuzzles against Greg’s chest. “Take your time.”

Not everyone has the- well, he considers it a luxury in retrospect- of absolutely knowing he was gay since about the age of twelve, and having family that didn’t mind. They’d always been far more concerned about academic brilliance than minding who their sons fancied (so long as said fancying did not interfere with school or, later, work.)

“You tell whoever you like about me when you’re ready. It’s only you and me right now. Well, and Anthea,” he adds as an afterthought. And a few other government officials. A relatively small group, considering.

He brushes his lips over Greg’s throat. “And in the meantime I have a few other places you can ‘shout me’ from. Bed, for instance. Or the couch. This chair….”

 

*

 

Greg's fingers twitch on Mycroft's thigh.

"Nnh - "

Sensitive neck; it only seems to be getting more sensitive over time. Mycroft has a particular talent for looking after his neck. It turns out that having Mycroft sitting on his lap at the same time rather amplifies the sensation. Greg stirs, tightening his arm around his lover's waist.

"S-Steady," he whispers, even as his chin lifts of his own volition for more. "Or you might not be getting dressed just yet..."

 

*

 

“Mmmm?”

Mycroft layers a few kisses just under Greg’s jaw. He really is delightfully responsive, in addition to all his thoughtful, considerate qualities.

One of his hands slips behind Greg’s head and begins toying with the shortest set of hair, brushing his fingers back and forth over them. A little shift and his hips rotate so his robe reveals just a bit more leg- any grinding over Greg’s lap is merely a fortunate byproduct.

“I suppose I could delay dressing for a bit....”

 

*

 

Nnh. Hair. The nerves on the back of Greg's neck prickle hopefully, tightening in expectation of a tug. He's dreading his next hair cut. Fingers through his hair now remind him of Mycroft - in particular, an aroused and insistent Mycroft. He's going to need to be careful, or risks being unwelcome at the barbershop in future.

Mycroft is irresistible, though - thoughts, touch, everything. As the robe shifts, offering just a little bare thigh to his fingertips, Greg stiffens and bites down on a groan. The tantalising shift of pressure across his groin releases the sound. He shivers with it, eyes closing, and his throat muscles shift beneath Mycroft's lips as he swallows.

"Christ - darlin'..."

He can feel himself growing hard already. Three weeks of intimacy, and the sensation no longer makes him nervous. It now softens all his thoughts, relaxing him; his body has learned that when he's turned on, Mycroft takes care of him. They don't need to be worried any more.

"M-Mycroft - "

 

*

 

“Greg,” Mycroft rumbles, hot breath across Greg’s throat.

His hand wraps through that lovely hair until his grip is firm, holding Greg in place while he turns his attention to an earlobe, kissing and brushing his teeth over it.

He really had been going to get dressed. Really. But Mycroft doesn’t mind the distraction one bit. These past few weeks have contained the best sex of his life, and they’re managing with the frequency of twenty-somethings. It’s a marvel he is not planning to question, nor to stop.

“You know, you took excellent care of me this morning.”

Mycroft shifts his hips again and dips his free hand in the slim gap between them, gently palming the growing hardness he could already feel against his thigh.

“I think I ought to return the favor.”

 

*

 

Greg makes a soft, urgent sound in his throat as Mycroft's hand slides over his cock. His erection is pressing at the fabric of his navy cotton nightwear already; the brush of his lover's fingers is enough to make him shake. Mycroft's touch is reassuring even as it excites him, comforting and familiar, and the gentle wet sounds at his earlobe are heaven. Mycroft seems to stimulate all of his senses without even trying. In moments like this, his lover is more than a lover - he's everything.

"I like taking care of you," he manages, and though it's phrased as a protest, his pulse is speeding. "Sunday... s'our day... I like making you feel good. You work so hard all week."

He isn't sure when his hand slipped itself beneath Mycroft's bathrobe. He just knows that Mycroft's thighs are enough to make his mouth water, and he'd spend his life stroking them like this if he could.

 

*

 

“So do you,” Mycroft murmurs softly.

Greg’s hand on his thigh and the quiet moans slipping from his lips are enough to ensure that Mycroft’s own erection has begun to take a firm interest in the proceedings, despite having been spent this morning and the previous night. It’s terribly obvious in his bathrobe, which doesn’t do a single thing to hide it- not that he wants it to.

He terribly enjoys these mornings- when Greg’s hair is still sleep-mussed and he carries the masculine scent borne in the remnants of sex and sweat. It’s comfortable. No suits as armor. No hiding.

Long fingers unlace from Greg’s hair, massaging into his scalp down to the tendons of his neck.

“What if I just slip under this table… take you in my mouth…”

Mycroft punctuates his thoughts with kisses along Greg’s neck, working very, very slowly downwards.

“Slide my fingers inside you.... Find that spot you like…. Make you scream when you come down my throat.”

He rubs the palm of his hand gently over Greg’s cock.

“Would you like that?”

 

*

 

"Oh God," Greg whispers - then again, his voice tighter, "Oh my God..." as he pushes his hips up into the gentle rubbing of his cock, heat flooding his face. Mycroft could talk him into coming, and he knows it. Part of him wants to be embarrassed how quickly his lover learned to render him this insensible. He might as well have handed Mycroft a list on their first weekend together. These things. These things turn me into goo.

Mycroft hadn't needed a list; he'd just laid his hands on Greg, and it all came pouring out.

They hadn't even been camping yet.

What a weekend that would be.

"Please," Greg whispers, his voice cracking a little. Mycroft likes 'please'. He stretches back his chin to offer more of his neck to his lover's mouth, and in his loose grey t-shirt, the edges of two rosy-pink bites can just be seen near his collarbones. It's rare for Greg to be unmarked these days. He feels oddly distressed if they heal without new ones. "I'd like that - I - want to come for you."

His chest expands against Mycroft's; joy and excitement, breathed deep.

"Your hellion," he mumbles, shivering.

 

*

 

“My hellion,” Mycroft agrees.

He nips mildly near the base of that sweetly exposed throat- he’ll have to be a bit more cognizant of precisely where he’s laying claim to Greg until the trial is over. It’s probably not a wise idea for a testifying office of the law to be obviously marked above the collar- but he’s been fairly careful about that, especially since Greg isn’t ready to tell people exactly where any such marks are coming from.

Of course, he can leave them in more intriguing spots when the opportunity arises….

He drags his teeth across that soft flesh as he shifts down, nudging Greg’s legs apart to slip between them, half under the table. His hands find the edge of soft cotton and pull gently, sliding them over Greg’s knees and down, off entirely.

Then he leans in and sets to laying a series of kisses along the inside of Greg’s thigh. When he’s just close enough that his cheek is almost brushing against Greg’s cock, he looks cheekily up and sucks down on the skin, ensuring another mark will be left there.

 

Chapter Text

Oh Jesus - just in the kitchen - just sitting here, just -

Holy fuck...

This kind of easy, comfortable sex is changing Greg. He can feel it every time Mycroft's hands slide beneath his clothes, every time his lover reaches for him like this. They're having the kind of sex that people aren't meant to have at this stage in life. It's playful, exploratory, young-love-sex - sex you have in the kitchen just because you want to, because it's Sunday and you're falling in love - sex that feels good to the soul.

As Mycroft marks his inner thigh, Greg stiffens and groans and arches a little against the chair.

"Oh - fuck..."

His thighs part, offering - opening - wanting to be obedient, even before it's asked. He can feel his temperature climbing already, and with a breathless noise of frustration he struggles out of his sleeping t-shirt, tossing it somewhere across the kitchen. He'll find it later. Right now, he needs to be naked and he needs to be touched.

One shaking hand finds the back of Mycroft's head. It curls there gently, fingers winding through his hair.

"M-Mycroft..." Greg draws in a breath, shivering again. "Mmhm. Want you. Please."

 

*

 

“So well behaved, Greg, aren’t you… asking nicely.”

Mycroft does like ‘ please’ and ‘fuck’ and Greg needing him enough to tell him so. Greg is always beautiful, but something about seeing him flushed and near begging is particularly exquisite.

His mouth turns inward, tongue flicking out to lick the base and lapping upwards. Mycroft watches Greg’s face as he finally reaches the head and wraps his mouth around it, his hands hanging on to Greg’s hips.

My turn to take care of you, hm?

My hellion- my inspector who deserves a reward for his own hard work.

My Greg.

He opens his throat and downs Greg nearly to the root in a single, steady dive.

 

*

 

It flickers briefly through Greg's mind what his CID team would think if they discovered that, at home, their DI gets told he's well-behaved - and that it takes him from nought to sixty in about three seconds.

The phrase 'good boy' hasn't yet crept its way into their bedroom conversation, but it's only a matter of time.

As Mycroft swallows him almost whole, Greg shudders from neck to ankle and lets out a cry. His voice echoes a little in the clean and modern kitchen; it leaves him mortified and flushing harder than ever. He bites down into his lip and pants, fighting to keep his sounds under control as Mycroft does this for him.

Out of everything they've done, Greg doesn't have a favourite. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of Mycroft taking him slowly from behind; some nights, just lying close together and sharing a lubed hand is heaven, cuddling and kissing and coming. But when Mycroft goes down on him, it reminds him of the first time. It reminds him of that feeling: just for me. Just for a while.

It still overwhelms him a little - Mycroft, his lover, on his knees, working just to make Greg feel good. It still seems like a miracle. It's always going to be special.

Trembling, stroking Mycroft's hair with careful fingertips, Greg gazes down and watches round-eyed. Anxious moans leave him whenever Mycroft glances up.

 

*

 

Every single sound that leaves Greg might as well be music- they ripple through Mycroft, encouraging and tempting him to do more, whatever it takes to gain more of those desperate noises. It might a remnant of some old competitive instincts, but making Greg shake and moan feels like winning, somehow.  Mycroft very much likes winning.

He has lube in one of his bathrobe pockets- there’s little vials sneaking about everywhere these days, as Mycroft is of the opinion that needing to travel to the next room, let alone up a floor to find some simply takes too long. He slicks up two of his fingers, looking up as he takes hold of one of Greg’s legs and guides it up, over his shoulder.

“You don’t have to be quiet, you know, Greg,” he says when he draws back enough for a breath, his lips brushing over the wet cock in front of him. “The whole house…” He drags his tongue down the length. “...is very soundproof.”

Soundproof and safe. For whatever makes you happy.

Mycroft smiles as he begins to tease his fingers into the cleft of Greg’s arse, stroking around the edge of the puckered hole within as he closes his mouth once more over Greg’s cock and begins to suck.

 

*

 

Greg grasps the base of the chair hard as Mycroft gently rearranges his leg. His tremor increases, as does the pitch of his faint sounds, and he listens wide-eyed to the reassurances he's given. He watches his lover's tongue slide the length of his cock with a whimper.

"Oh god..." he breathes. The nuzzle of fingertips just where he wants them makes his thighs clench with pleasurable anticipation. "Oh - fuck..." His head falls back. "Mhm - "

Shifting restlessly in the chair, he negotiates himself to give Mycroft's fingers better access to his body. Those inquisitive, searching touches make him at once so desperate to be fucked that he feels like a bending alley cat, mewling. Mycroft's warm mouth around his cock does nothing to ease the longing.

He rocks hopefully against the fingers, palpating his lower lip between his teeth as he does. Words come gasping out of him.

"Oh fuck, I need - please - inside. Please. I really need it."

 

*

 

Mycroft’s reaction to watching Greg bite his lip like that has not lessened in the time they’ve been together- it’s gotten worse. There’s a chance that if Greg does it like that in public Mycroft will need to haul him off to the nearest loo for a bit. That combined with a panted please and he’d gladly give Greg anything he asks for.

He presses one finger slowly in- they don’t need to coax and ease as much now as they did at the start, they’re having sex often enough that it isn’t necessary to be so delicate, but Mycroft likes to anyway. He likes the way Greg loses control when he’s too gentle, almost begging for something more assertive.

But he doesn’t feel inclined to be torturous about it, this time. He only dances his second finger about for a bit before that slips in too, and his fingers hook, searching for a place he’s gotten very familiar with lately.

“So good for me,” he murmurs around Greg’s cock. “Is this what you need?”

 

*

 

Greg can barely speak. Mycroft has the unique ability to make him feel like he's falling apart in seconds, and it's so easy to give in. His lover never teases him for long. He seems to know what Greg wants even before Greg does, and something about Mycroft's touch is so assured and skilful that it's breathtaking to be the focus of it.

More and more, Greg feels like a violin in the hands of a master musician. His body responds to Mycroft as if they were made for each other.

When Mycroft crooks his fingers, searching, a sensation like a pulse of pressure resounds through Greg's lower body. He stiffens and lets out a tight sound, stirring restlessly in the chair, his breath thickening as he feels the searching fingers start to rub.

"Ohh - fuck - "

Nothing should feel this good. Greg's chest heaves with the need to cry out. His cock leaks in immediate, eager response, his thighs tensing as he pushes down against Mycroft's fingers. Already he wants Mycroft to bend him over the table and keep him there as long as he likes.

It's several seconds before he realises he was asked a question. He gasps his response, pleasure wracking through his face.

"Yes - y-yes - oh fuck, so good - fuck - so good - "

 

*

 

Mycroft would be smirking if his mouth was not otherwise occupied, lapping over the leaking cock before him, tasting and sucking. He wants Greg to feel exactly as tenderly well-cared for as he himself did this morning, arching into the sheets as Greg saw to him.

He twists his fingers, starting to thrust with them, ensuring each stroke pays careful attention to Greg’s prostate. Earning those cries, those panted moans, is everything- the most obvious sign that in this, Mycroft is treating Greg well.

It’s all he wants to do.

A third finger slides in amongst the rest as his pace increases, filling Greg further. Mycroft’s own cock is hard, but he has no interest in easing that difficulty at the moment- this is all about Greg’s pleasure.

He might leave nail marks in the wood- I would never get rid of it.

Mycroft would simply like looking at the reminder of his lover’s pleasure too much.

Might need to test out the other chairs similarly… make a matching set….

 

*

 

"Fuck...!"

The extra thickness is just perfect - that heady stretch from two to three, just a little too big, a little aching, a little too full. Greg's cries tear from his throat as the fingers thrust inside him. He doesn't remember being this loud with Mycroft before. He's been vocal and eager, and plenty of both - but loud feels new, and it feels good. The kitchen around Greg rings with his panting cries and heartfelt moans, guttural sounds of enjoyment as his lover's fingers fuck him just how he likes. He can hear himself begging and it’s only turning him on even more.

Stretching, head falling back, Greg tightens his grip on the chair beneath him. It's the only way to stay connected to the planet; otherwise he’d just float away and never come back. His cock throbs with shocking flashes of enjoyment, illuminating the deeper and fuller ache of his prostate, which is starting to make him tremble. Each time his body contracts of its own volition around Mycroft's fingers, he groans from the very pit of his throat. He can’t breathe.

Someday.

Fuck - someday.

Tie me here. Cuff me. Lock me here, open like this, thighs spread for you like this, begging for you like this. Use me how you like. Tell me I'm good. Tell me I'm yours.

The thought is working so potently for Greg that he has to push it aside with a whimper, before he can start fantasizing too hard about having his wrists locked behind his lower back; about Mycroft's cock sliding in and out of his throat like this; a hand on the back of his head, that soft and erudite voice telling him he's doing well, telling him he's taking it beautifully, telling him he belongs to Mycroft...

Ohhh - fuck - holy fucking -

 

*

 

Mycroft wraps his hand tighter around Greg’s thigh, still held over his shoulder, pressing his fingers in to keep Greg’s hips steady and keep him from bucking unexpectedly straight to the back of Mycroft’s throat.

Greg is making sounds he’s never heard before.

Some of it is words- not always words that make sense- one set might have been something in the vein of “ oh fuck please make me come” , and that alone is enough to make Mycroft’s own neglected cock pulse itself to leaking. He thought he’d be more sated after this morning, but Greg is getting dangerously close to screaming.

There’s a small chance that if Greg really does scream, managing it through the broken wreck of his panted breathing, that Mycroft might immediately come.

Maybe- maybe he’d be willing to let me take him over the table, after I finish him up. So nice and open for me already….

His own cock twitches again and Mycroft moans, the vibrations passing straight on through from his throat to Greg’s cock as he opens the passage as wide as he can- Greg feels like he’s getting close, and Mycroft does like to keep his word.

Send it straight down my throat, Greg, let me take you. I love how you sound when you come- how you look-

That flushed, debauched face-

Oh, fuck-

 

*

 

Fuck - moaning -

Moaning around my cock -

Nothing should feel this good. Nothing should feel this perfect. Greg can't hear himself anymore, only feel - steady fingers just rubbing him, just right - Mycroft's mouth and his throat and his soft moans, enjoying this too, looking after Greg, tending to him, fucking him, fucking him - fucking him -

"Ohh, f-fuck - fuck - My...!"

He feels his back arch. His hips jerk within Mycroft's tight hold. Pleasure ruptures inside him in a blaze, and he comes whimpering and crying out and pleading, clenching around Mycroft's fingers, pouring down his throat. The need to writhe is too much to fight. He wants to buck and scream and sob.

Oh, fuck - fuck me forever -

Take me to bed, fuck me - keep me here -

Fuck me, fuck me -

 

*

 

Oh god-

Mycroft can only hang on as Greg comes, swallowing, sucking him through it, just curling his fingers until Greg relaxes enough and he can slowly retract them.

When he finally draws his mouth off he lays gentle kisses up Greg’s stomach until his own knees feel sturdy enough to stand.

“Greg….”

Mycroft’s hair is tousled, curls normally kept down shaken loose. For him it’s a very debauched look, especially with dark, yearning eyes peering up at Greg as Mycroft rises to kiss him and nuzzle his cheek, his neck- not to mention the aching erection that has slipped the confines of the robe and found its way to freedom, nudging against Greg as Mycroft rises.

“You are so beautiful when you come, Greg,” he breathes, hands stroking over skin that he simply cannot stop touching, soothing the aftershocks of Greg’s tumultuous orgasm.

Mine. My Greg.

One of his hands finds Greg’s hair and cards into it possessively. “I so- so desperately want to fuck you.” His teeth brush over Greg’s neck. “Would you like that?”

 

*

 

Greg's body responds to every touch, every stroke, leaning into Mycroft's hands in utter relief. The pleasure still shocking through him is indescribable, and all he wants is Mycroft close - closer than his skin - holding him, kissing him, touching him as he subsides. The urge to come has released; the urge to be intimate has only doubled. He can barely breathe.

Yours. All yours.

Your Greg.

He turns his head into the fingers raking through his hair, shivering, his mouth opening on an anxious moan - and as Mycroft's teeth stroke his neck, his chest heaves around a gasp.

"Yes - oh God, yes..." He reaches for Mycroft's body beneath the open bathrobe, running his hands in longing over his lover's skin, around his sides, pulling him close. "I want that. I need that. I need to feel you come."

Mycroft's cock is so close, so accessible - with a little twisting, shifting low in the chair and pulling Mycroft nearer, Greg manages to get his head down far enough to lick once or twice across the head, lapping up the fluid there, shivering.

"How d'you want me?" he whispers, nuzzling into Mycroft's stomach. "Anything. Anything you want."

 

*

 

A shudder ripples through Mycroft as Greg’s tongue reaches for him. He moans openly, caressing the back of Greg’s head.

Anything.”

Mycroft loves how Greg sounds when he says it- not desperate with passion, but simply… close. Intimate. It’s a new sort of beauty to Mycroft, the way they interact after one- or, more often, both- of them have come. No one leaving, no one shuffling through the motions.

It’s absolutely lovely.

He sheds his robe and lays it across the free end of the dining table with the end draping off the side- it’s a bit on the fluffy side and that should be enough for Greg to be comfortable.

“Right here.” Mycroft rises to his full height and brushes his hand tenderly over Greg’s cheek.

“Bend over for me.”

 

*

 

Greg rises from the chair. His legs are weak, and his muscles don't yet feel like his own, but he needs this. His own orgasm never seems complete without Mycroft's. He doesn't reach proper relaxation until it's both of them. It's nothing he's known before - a kind of sex where coming isn't the end - wanting to carry on afterwards, not in search of his own pleasure anymore.

The robe, to make him comfortable; the soft command; Greg's heart leaps at both, for entirely different reasons.

He settles himself on the robe - Mycroft's scent, Mycroft's body warmth - and lays his cheek flat against the table. The position feels vulnerable. He cranes his head to see Mycroft over one shoulder and reaches back with a hand, his fingers shaking.

"Want you," he mumbles. Unconscious of it, he bites his lip; his eyes are soft. "Fuck me. Want to feel you."

 

*

 

Mycroft takes Greg’s hand, presses a kiss against it as he slicks himself, eyes dark and glittering as he spies that lip bite. “You’re doing it again.”

“Hellion,” he adds fondly.

He presses in with little resistance, not with Greg so relaxed and well prepared by Mycroft’s hand. The sensation of enveloping warmth is enough to make him moan Greg’s name, accompanied by a gasp of pleasure.

As he gets fully seated, letting them both adjust to the feeling, he runs his hand up Greg’s back, reaching for once not for Greg’s hair but for his other arm, drawing that back to join the first, guiding his wrists gently to cross at the small of his back and placing one of his own firmly over them for leverage.

His first few thrusts are slow and shallow, ensuring Greg really is still comfortable after being taken to orgasm on his fingers- but he’s feeling the ache of need to chase his own pleasure and Mycroft soon picks up speed, each full push echoing the salacious slap of skin against skin throughout the kitchen.

 

*

 

"Your hellion," Greg murmurs, eyes shining in response. He shivers as Mycroft presses into him, inhaling, feeling his heart thump restlessly. In me. My lover. Sharing me. Mycroft's hand travels up his back, and he tilts his head towards the fingers that he knows love to grip his hair - the gentle catching of his arm is new. He moans a little, perfectly compliant to Mycroft's guiding, rather hoping this gets repeated at some point he'll be able to come like a fucking fountain in his lover's firm hold.

For now, he breathes deep and hums his soft encouragement.

He knows what Mycroft needs; he wants to give it. Stirring, chewing quietly at his lip, he groans to Mycroft and rests and takes, relaxed and comfortable and willing. He responds to Mycroft's sounds softly, low in his throat - even though he's come, it still feels good. It still makes his body glow.

He wants Mycroft to find his pleasure.

Five weeks of a lover's hands - Mycroft's touch, Mycroft's confident authority - and Greg's never been this comfortable with his body. He's never felt so safe, trusting himself to someone like this.

Hands flexing in Mycroft's hold, Greg swallows and lets his breath leave him in a moan. He can feel Mycroft picking up pace - he can feel the animalistic edge to his lover's movements, the urge to thrust and to fuck, and in encouragement Greg stretches and stirs.

"Fuck me... mhm... fuck me, My - I want it - fuck gorgeous, slam me - have me - fuck, fucking yes..."

 

*

 

“Oh god Greg-”

Mycroft builds his momentum with both hands- one on Greg’s wrists, the other at his hip, panting, his groans almost turned to growls as his breath tries to match the speed of his hips.

There’s something about Greg that brings this out in him, this- almost feral, possessive nature. He’d been called, by less gracious partners, “bossy” a time or two, “control-freak” at least once- but with Greg they simply seem to operate on the same wavelength, like synchronized heartbeats.

He won’t last long, not at this pace, not having already come this morning- his face is already contorting each time he bottoms out, the escalating pulse of his pleasure beginning to wrack him.

Greg’s open encouragement seems to be short-circuiting his mind. He can’t think , he can barely speak- there is only pleasure, and need, and Greg.

“Fuck- fuck - so good- so good for me, Greg, god- fuck!”

 

*

 

Oh fuck, I like loud.

Fuck, I like being held down...

Fuck, fuck - how did I waste a decade not having this? Fuck -

Greg bites into his lip, now panting against Mycroft's robe with the force of the fucking he's getting, as he realises in a rush exactly why he's not had this for ten years.

He told himself he needed to settle - needed to stop messing around with other men as if was still twenty, get married like Andy had, sort himself out.

Now he's had three weeks of Mycroft, and he feels like he's alive again.

Being held to a kitchen table and fucked feels better than years of marriage. It feels healthier. He feels safer right now, more loved right now, more real right now, than anything Karen ever gave to him. He just wants to stay right here, sensation wracking through his body as Mycroft's cock slams into him over and over, knowing that if he hadn't just come down Mycroft's throat he'd be screaming for Mycroft to please fuck him harder.

Oh, fuck - oh, god - I lived a lie - I lived a fucking lie -

I fucking belong right here...

Right here, in this second, he wants people to know. He needs it. Some of them won't understand - they'll think he's lost his mind - mid-forties, suddenly turning around to inform they all he's gay. He's gay and he belongs to a politician called Mycroft.

Andy will think he's gone fucking insane. Greg doesn't know how he'll explain - he was always like this. He just forgot. He tried to be Andy. He tried, and Karen broke him apart. Now he's finding his way back, back to who he should have been for the last ten years, and Mycroft's helping him find his way there. He's helping Greg by talking, by holding him at night, by cuddling together all evening watching films - and by fucking. The sex they're having right now is more healing than weeks with a counsellor ever was. Greg didn't need someone in a floral skirt telling him marriage was about communication. He just needed Mycroft to bend him over a table, hold him down and fuck him like he's gorgeous and he's loved.

Karen's going to find out.

It's going to happen. Knowing Karen, it'll be soon. She knows half of London - knows someone who knows someone - there'll be a waitress somewhere, a taxi driver somewhere, and they'll know someone who knows her. It's only a matter of time.

Fuck.

Let her find out. I don't care. Find out and laugh. Find it the funniest thing in the world. Let her die laughing.

Never made me feel like this.

He does. Everyday. He's not even trying.

Greg's heart seems to thud in time with Mycroft's thrusts. The feeling's intense, his body echoing - he wouldn't stop it for the world. Arching as much as he can, panting, his mouth opens and he drags at a mouthful of Mycroft's robe, biting at it, huffing. He's going to feel fucked all day. He'll be sitting at his desk tomorrow, fucked and happy and Mycroft's, and he'll be hard within seconds when he remembers.

"Fuck me like this next time," he begs, rutting back. Oh, holy fuck - more. Take me. Take more. Take all of me. "Hold me down and fuck me. Please. H-Hard. Really hard. Fuck me 'til I can't bear it. Fuck me like I'm yours."

 

*

 

Oh god- oh, Greg-

Mycroft’s heart stutters as Greg moves against him, begging, demanding to be taken like this again- it’s overwhelming to see him like this, to hear him, to have a partner that is just so joyously happy to be with him , who didn’t just hop in bed to try and curry a political favor or get a good word in for a plush MI-6 posting to Bali.

“Oh- god yes- yes, anything you want- god, Greg- anything-”

Lord, yes.

Anything. Anything you could ask for.

He can feel the edge coming- it’s intense ecstasy that he can’t escape from, then the clench of his thighs unbidden. He keeps thrusting, his hands gripping hard, a low shout escaping him as he begins to spill, buried within Greg.

His hands relax as the last few shudders ripple through him, letting go of Greg’s wrists and bending to kiss them, half in affection and half to rest his forehead on Greg’s back while his breath returns.

“Mine,” he breathes, stroking his fingers up Greg’s spine tenderly. “And I am yours.”

 

*

 

And there it is - the real rush - the real release, the real climax, the feel of sudden heat and the demanding grip of Mycroft's hands. Greg moans through it as if it's his orgasm; it feels so intense it might as well be. He pants and arches and takes it, shuddering slowly, heart beating hard as he revels in this feeling. Yours. Taking you. Enjoying it. He doesn't understand why it's comforting to feel Mycroft coming inside him, but it is. They've never once used condoms. Something would be missing.

As Mycroft releases his wrists, kisses them and breathes against Greg's back, Greg's eyes close with a rush of relief.

"Oh, god..." He stirs, stretching beneath the stroke of Mycroft's fingers. He feels feather-soft and shy and hypersensitive, like his pulse is whispering to Mycroft through every inch of his skin. Being fucked over a table shouldn't feel tender, but it does. This feels like heaven. "F-Fuck. Yours. All yours..."

He breathes in, deep, drawing Mycroft's scent from the robe into his heart.

"M-Mine." It's harder to say - harder to believe, but he's getting there. Whispering it, it becomes a little more real. "My Mycroft."

 

*

 

“Mmmm.”

Mycroft nuzzles his cheek against Greg’s back once more and tilts his hips back, withdrawing as his erection fades, hissing quietly at the sensitivity of his own cock- even departing from that tight clench feels almost too intense.

He returns almost immediately to giving his attentions fully to Greg- his touch is gentle, hands caressing over Greg’s back, up to fluff his silvery hair fondly before he unfurls his spine back to standing. His own legs feel a bit achy- too much time on the treadmill earlier this week, in all likelihood. He can’t imagine Greg’s must be any better. “Comfortable?” he breathes softly. “Not too rough?”

His eyes slide to Greg’s plate, left sitting idly on the other end of the table. Probably cold now. “Apologies- I believe I interrupted your breakfast… do you want anything else, or just a shower?”

A shower would be necessary, now, for both of them- but those have become a shared luxury, whether it’s standing together under the water or the steamy indulgence of the whirlpool bath.

 

*

 

Greg moans softly as they come apart. He stirs, inhaling, his back rising slowly under Mycroft's hands, and turns his head to look up over his shoulder. His eyes are glittering with a dark, soft peace that only comes at this depth after Mycroft's taken him.

His smile is quiet and slow, almost playful. The look says, you just fucked me, and I liked it.

"M'fine," he murmurs, and with care he rises up onto his elbows, using the leverage to ease himself back to standing. His back aches quietly; hot water will do it a world of good. "Not too rough... just perfect. Just right."

He turns to Mycroft, slowly lifting his hands to his lover's chest - resting there, feeling his heartbeat. Greg's cheeks are flushed, his gaze still sparkling, and the thought of a shower sends pleasure flickering across his face.

"Mmhm... let's get clean." He looks Mycroft in the eye, and idly bites his lip. "Buy me a brownie at the café. We'll call it second breakfast."

Mischief arises in his gaze.

"Then you can explain to Marmalade why I'm sitting down very carefully today. I'm sure she'll wonder."

 

*

 

Mycroft arches a brow, eyes glittering. “You need not bite your lip at me, hellion, I would acquire you a brownie regardless.”

He lifts one of Greg’s hands, kissing it gently, and collects the robe from the table, draping it over his arm. “I refuse to corrupt-” there is a brief hitch when his mind wants to say our cat- and Marmalade is an our, except that she still belongs to the rescue, and the cafe, and there must be others who go to visit her, if possibly not as often- “-her ladyship with salacious details, Gregory. Behave.”

He says it fondly, emphasized by leaning in to press a kiss against Greg’s lips, ruminating on how pleasing Gregory sounds out loud- he’d really only seen it previously on the file Anthea made, the one he still refuses to read- though he had asked her to make a cursory inquiry into Greg’s ex-wife that he is most definitely planning to review.

“Come, hellion. I’ll get the water on.”

 

*

 

Gregory?

Greg tries not to grin into the kiss, but it's difficult. He's not been 'Gregory' ever, even as a kid. He's not sure which he likes more: Gregory or Hellion. He likes that he's getting them both, and slips his arms around Mycroft's waist for a moment, enjoying the press of their lips.

It feels like it's going to be a good day.

A very good day.

"D'you think the barista has figured out we're together yet?" he asks, as they make their way together towards the shower, fingers weaving idly even for the short walk to the bathroom.

 

*

 

“Very likely.”

Mycroft turns on the water- hot, steam rising quickly even in the fairly generous space. He’s discovered he likes this shared washing- lathering each other, taking turns under the water. It feels... close. And it permits them to keep on touching each other, which they seem equally inclined to do as much as physically possible whenever they are together.

He smiles when he finally steps out of the water and sees them both reflected in the fogged mirror, hazy faces styling hair and brushing teeth.

This feels right. It feels like home.

 

Chapter Text

She's waiting on the couch as they arrive. She spots them coming through the window, and sits up at once with her tail bolt upright. Greg sees her give a happy 'brrrrrp' as he reaches grinning for the door.

There was a time he'd have ordered coffee first - pretended that he'd come to read the paper and relax. But they're not here to read the paper.

They're here to see Marmalade.

Greg moves across to the sofa at once, scoops her up into his arms and tips her onto her back to tickle her fuzzy tri-coloured tummy, beaming the full width of his face.

"Hello, princess..." He turns to Mycroft with her, grinning. Marmalade wriggles in his arms, trills, and reaches out her soft white paws in search of Mycroft's attention. "Were you wondering what's keeping us, hmm? Rolling in late to see you... we're unbearable, darlin', I know. What could possibly be more important than lunch with you?"

 

*

 

“Hmph.”

Mycroft quirks an eyebrow that says your deliberate mischief has been noted, Gregory. He sits on the sofa, close to Greg, making his lap available so Marmalade can pace back and forth between them, nuzzling into all four hands.

“Hello lovely,” he bends close to let Marmalade sniff his nose, which she deigns to lick once.

Once she’s had her fill of ensuring that both of her gentleman have paid suitable initial fuss to her, Mycroft gets up to order their lunches- brownie for Greg included. On the way back to the couch with their coffees he nearly trips over a bolt of black and white fur across his path- Wills is still about, and playing chase with another of the cafe’s residents.

“Sorry about him,” one of the baristas says apologetically as she watches Mycroft catch himself on a stool, sloshing a quarter of one cup to the floor for which he is swiftly offered a refill. “He’s a bit rambunctious, but all our younger patrons love his energy!”

The younger guests…. Mycroft blinks. Is she inferring that I am old?

He smiles blandly and retreats to their preferred couch that her ladyship might spread across them while their food is being prepared. She lets out a little mrrp of pleasure when both her men are in their appointed positions and appeasing her with many pets and praises.

“I believe we’ve just been categorized as “older patrons” of this establishment, Greg. I feel as though I ought to be mildly affronted, but she seems to have a point.” It is true, at least today- there are quite a lot of what appear to be university students about, fending off the perils of their coursework by spending time with cats.

 

*

 

It's hard not to admire Mycroft across the café as he goes up to order lunch. Greg's a lucky son of a bitch; he knows it. There's something a little irresistible about being allowed to see every side of Mycroft. He loves seeing his lover like this, laidback and contented on a Sunday - especially if he's already seen another side of Mycroft that day.

It's the same feeling when he meets Mycroft somewhere quiet for lunch during the week. He loves watching the 'minor politician' Mr Holmes magically transform into his Mycroft, just for a while. It feels good being trusted enough to witness that.

As Mycroft returns to their couch, Greg's grinning.

"'Older patrons', huh? I suppose we can't argue with that... they're probably glad to have a couple of people in who aren't just poor students, buying a small coffee and nursing it for three hours..."

Marmalade adds a soft 'frrrrrp', as if in total agreement, and continues kneading Mycroft's lap. Greg's found the spot near her tail that makes her back arch, her pretty tail curling and shivering.

He smiles as he watches her, his heart thumping happily.

It's maddening not to put an arm around Mycroft. Since they started sharing evenings in Mycroft's film room, the urge has become even harder to resist every Sunday. It feels natural and normal to cuddle on a couch. 'Public' is a funny sensation now.

Glancing sideways, he catches his lover's eye.

The brightness of Greg's gaze says it all.

"Wonder if they'll be doing us an OAP discount soon," he says, biting into his smile.

 

*

 

“Oh, good lord. Perhaps they will.” Mycroft shares the grin over the rim of his coffee.

He’s thought about what it might look like, if things really didn’t matter to the rest of the world… Greg probably laying across the couch, head in Mycroft’s lap, Marmalade on Greg’s chest, both having a Sunday afternoon nap while Mycroft catches up on his newspapers… it’s a warm feeling. But it’s not something Greg is ready for, let alone everyone else in the cafe.

His phone chimes- he glances at it immediately, as he always attempts to, just in case it’s a work matter.

[13:46] Samuelson’s has just barred Sherlock from their premises. Sorry sir.

The ache behind his eyes rears up almost instantly. Mycroft had greased significant wheels to get Samuelson’s Chemical Laboratory to grant Sherlock access as a consultant, and as usual he was simply throwing it away because someone probably said something mildly idiotic and Sherlock has never retained any information about how to attempt to behave like a normal human.

[13:47] Keep tabs on him. Use the CCTV if you have to. Danger period protocols. MH.

[13:47] Already on it, sir.

At least he could trust Anthea to monitor Sherlock while he was still attempting to enjoy his weekend. He puts the phone in his pocket and offers an apologetic smile to Greg as he reaches down to fluff Marmalade’s fur.

“Looks like it may be a busy… work week,” he sighs.

 

*

 

Even from their first few dates, Greg realised that Mycroft and his phone would be coming as a pair. It's not a problem; he knows the pressures of work. He knows Mycroft's position means that he's never really off-duty, and he wouldn't change it. In some ways, it's touching that Mycroft still looks apologetic about it. He doesn't need to.

"Yeah?" he murmurs, eyes soft. "All kicking off?" He rests his head on the back of the sofa, and rubs Marmalade's tummy the way he'd rub Mycroft's knee if he could - slow circles, fond. She wraps his hand with her paws. "Let me know if I can help you relax," he said. "Let me know if I can save it up for the weekend."

The corner of his mouth lifts.

Wherever I fit, darlin', I'll be there. Just say the word.

You're a big deal. I want to be a big help.

 

*

 

Just knowing you exist and wish to help is more benefit than you know, Greg.

“You need to relax as well, Greg. I shall be contented knowing a certain champion of justice is hard at work, clearing the streets of the criminal element.”

Mycroft considers, briefly, telling him about Sherlock- about the failed efforts at rehab and the cocaine-fueled manic states and the time he almost broke Mycroft’s arm while refusing to leave some decrepit flat he was theoretically ‘renting’. The overdoses and the notes.

But Greg would want to help, in all the normal sorts of ways, and Sherlock is… not susceptible to normal. Besides, he cannot bring himself to expose Sherlock to the police. Mycroft can handle him. Alone. He always has.

“I would like to have at least one film date this week, but I shall have to play what evenings I am free by ear. Otherwise… my work knows I value my weekends now, it would take a significant emergency to keep me from our usual plans.”

The country had best be on fire if they want me to give up my time with you.

 

*

 

Something small, happy and bright bubbles inside Greg's chest. It shines from his eyes, unguarded and in love. Any evening Mycroft wants, he can have - Greg will be there on the steps of Scotland Yard, waiting for the car, coat folded over his arm and a smile on his face.

"M'I on file somewhere?" he asks, playful and genuine at once. He tilts his head a little against the sofa, his gaze moving between Mycroft's eyes and his mouth. "Mr Holmes's cheeky Essex boy. Low threat level. Not bright enough to be a Russian spy. Watches too much Netflix and buys too many Pringles. Needs to tidy his flat more often."

 

*

 

Mycroft arches a playful brow, his eyes warming and his smile quirking up mischievously. “Hmm, that sounds remarkably like your file. Have you perhaps cracked our systems and read it? Perhaps you are a more dangerous spy than originally anticipated. Remind me to search you for concealed devices later.”

He likely wasn’t entirely off the mark, at least as far as Anthea’s personal notes might read. Though Mycroft imagined hers said something like ‘low corruption risk’ and ‘ensures Holmes doesn’t forget breakfast- keeper.’ She’d even upgraded from referring to Greg merely as ‘Lestrade’ or ‘that copper of yours’ to ‘how’s the silver fox today, sir?’ when she’s feeling cheeky, which is always.

The pink-haired barista brings their lunches over, Greg’s brownie on a separate plate slathered over in icing, Mycroft’s caesar salad looking ridiculously healthy by comparison. “I see Miss Marmalade has her favorite gents in. Do you two need anything?” she asks warmly.

 

*

 

It still makes Greg grin, knowing they're Marmalade's favourite people. Sometimes he worries about her when they're not there. He doesn't know which distresses him more: the thought that she seeks other people out for a cuddle and company, or the thought that she sits on her own and misses them. She seems so shy and quiet sometimes.

Especially compared with somebody else, he thinks, as the infamous Wills in his tuxedo races past after a small tabby - to the delight of nearby tables.

"Thanks, darlin'... you're a star." Greg picks up his brownie, wondering if Mycroft picked out the one with loads of icing for him or if she did.

As he's about to take a bite, a sudden thought occurs.

"Actually," he says, puts the brownie down, and slides his phone out of his back pocket. "Erm - this is a bit odd maybe, but - you wouldn't take a quick picture, would you?"

He glances sideways at Mycroft, giving him a tentative grin.

"If I get bogged down with the the trial... cheer me up... you don't mind, d'you?" His eyes shine. "The three of us, here."

Marmalade has taken an interest in Mycroft's salad - sniffing carefully towards the bowl, trying to decide if she's intrigued or revolted by the scent.

 

*

 

Mycroft’s heart swells.

He wouldn’t have considered it before Greg- that may as well have its own marker of time, B.G. for Before Greg - there are no candid photos on his phone, no familial reminders, no sentiment . No signs of weakness.

It turns out, however, that Greg is not a weakness at all. He’s a strength, a pillar, a reason to go on with all the myriad responsibilities of his job other than because I am the only one who can. Now his phone reminds him of dinner reservations, of warm texts at night, and that someone he does not employ actually wants to see him regularly, touch him, spend the night in his bed.

And it’s a step by Greg as well, who is not quite as publicly out as Mycroft is. “Of course,” he smiles. “You’ll have to send me a copy.”

I will miss seeing you as well.

He plucks up Marmalade and holds her away from his bowl, between them, like their small fluffy infant. “Pose nicely, your grace, and you may be bestowed with some chicken.”

 

*

 

Greg hands his phone to the barista with a grin. First photo. If the trial's a pain - if he can't text Mycroft as often as he'd like, can't meet him for lunch, can't just take off for coffee - at least he'll have a snap of them to get him through the week.

As she turns the phone around, getting used to the screen, Greg glances quickly around the café. Everyone's busy with what they're doing.

Christ...

Why not?

Nobody'll care.

Greg shifts close, puts his arm along Mycroft's shoulders, and grins for the camera.

Marmalade, startled by the sudden lack of petting, follows their gazes to see what they're staring at.

The shot the barista takes is perfect. The three of them look like a family; Marmalade cosy between them, Greg's face shining with happiness. The barista grins from ear-to-ear as she takes the picture.

She hands the phone back to Greg to check; he shows Mycroft at once, beaming.

"What d'you think?" he says, his eyes bright. Think we're good together, don't you?

Marmalade cranes her head up to sniff the phone.

 

*

 

Mycroft feels an alarming swell of emotion that he has to quickly quash to keep his face from cracking.

Our family photos never looked this happy.

Forced smiles all around, awkward postures- before they had ceased trying, when Sherlock started finding other things he wanted to do than pose- and he always got away with it, when Mycroft never once did.

“I think it’s lovely.” Years of political practice ensure his voice does not accidentally break on him. “You must send it to me.” He smiles at Greg, his eyes a bit glossier than usual.

I’ll get it framed- put it in the home office. Just for me to look at.

Marmalade licks the edge of the phone, decides it is not food, and settles back on Greg’s lap with an expectant look at Mycroft’s salad. “Yes, I did promise you chicken. One moment and I shall carve you a nibble.”

 

*

 

"Thanks, darlin'," Greg says to the barista. "It's perfect."

As she heads off, still grinning, Greg takes his arm from around Mycroft's shoulders and lets him sort out some chicken for Marmalade. He spends a few moments just looking at the photo, zooming in on details and trying not to imagine it framed on his desk at work. People would ask too many questions. 'He's just a friend, and that's not really our cat.' All the same, Greg wishes it could be.

Maybe someday.

He suspects he's going to be sneaking a glance at the photo five times a day during the trial.

He e-mails the photo straight to Mycroft, then locks his phone and slips it back into his pocket, reaching at last for his brownie.

Marmalade ignores his fond tickles as she waits for chicken, her green eyes locked happily on Mycroft's salad bowl. Greg slips a finger beneath her chin, circling.

We're a spoiled pair, princess, aren't we?

Dismayed by the delay, Marmalade gives a little trill and a squirm.

 

*

 

“Here you go, your grace.” Mycroft holds out a bit of chicken on his fingers, lets Marmalade lick it until she knocks it off with her tongue and chases it to the couch. He sees her hackles go up before he feels the impact of something large and fluffy against his shins.

Wills is at his feet, looking up with enormous yellow eyes. He meows like he’s only ever learned how to do it as a shout, a loud “Mrrrrow?” with a look at Marmalade’s chicken that definitely says if he is not also offered some he may steal hers.

Mycroft narrows his eyes. “I do not negotiate with terrorists, you.”

The big tom tilts his head and puts his paws on Mycroft’s knees, batting toward Marmalade, who scurries backward behind Greg’s arm. “Mrow?”

“Alright, but only so you’ll leave her alone.” Mycroft rips off a bit more chicken and tosses it, letting Wills chase it across the room and under the table of a more welcoming party to his antics. He then quietly offers Marmalade another nibble to eat off his fingers. “Apologies, princess- there’s a bit more for your troubles.”

He smiles at Greg somewhat abashedly. “It appears cats may be immune to my negotiating skills. No respect for diplomacy.”

 

*

 

Greg has Marmalade held in his arms again, ready to be lifted to safety if Wills tried another bat at her. The urge to show the tom-cat his ID and escort him to the nearest station is overwhelming.

"I really, really hope that's how all your negotiations go," he says, torn between distress for poor Marmalade and the smile he can now feel breaking through. "You tell them you won't negotiate, they shout at you, so you give them whatever they want. Is it okay if I imagine them all like that?"

He looks down at Marmalade as she eats her new piece of chicken, her round eyes fixed timidly on the table that Wills disappeared beneath. She's still a little fluffed up.

"Or are you just Mycroft's weakness, princess?" Greg murmurs. "His one vulnerability. You'll have an MI5 file soon."

 

*

 

“Perhaps she has one already. ‘Excellent agent, adept at luring in handsome men.’” Mycroft says it mildly, but Greg has hit on a subject he’s been trying to ignore- Greg is a weak spot for him. Perhaps his most vulnerable point, though Sherlock may still have him beat in that regard. It makes him nervous when he considers it, the idea that Greg might be threatened to get to him. But he has a certain reputation to work with. It’s likely that those that would consider attacking a partner to get to him would also know that Mycroft Holmes, when he decides he must take punitive action, is very, very thorough .

The major difference is he cannot unleash the full powers of the security services when someone he... cares for... is threatened by a cat.

“Marmalade is simply an alias, of course. Her true name is a very closely guarded secret.”

 

*

 

Greg laughs, his grin shining as he tickles Marmalade behind the ear, kissing the top of her head.

"Tested me for weeks, did you, darlin'?" he murmurs to her. She gives him a quiet 'brrrrp', busy finishing her chicken. "Made sure I was suitable... only the best for your Mycroft."

He looks up at his lover. His eyes dance, fingers still rumpling her fur. Our cat, he thinks. Our Sunday. Our first photo. Christ.

"When do I get a code-name?" he asks, teasing. "Or have I got one already?"

 

*

 

Mycroft’s hand slips over discreetly, petting Marmalade as well as Greg’s knuckles. He can’t resist when Greg looks that delighted, that handsome, even if they are in public.

“Hmm- perhaps you ought to pick one. Does ‘beaver’ work?” Mycroft teases back, stroking his thumb along the back of Greg’s hand, masked by cat fluff.

In truth Mycroft is fairly certain Anthea has one in mind- other than Silver Fox, though he has seen a note or two labelled S.F. - but he isn’t meant to disseminate his own code name, so Greg unfortunately cannot be privy to his guess, seeing as it relies on explaining his own. If he is correct, however, the code name is Deschampsia - hair grass- specifically a reference to Deschampsia antarctica, one of the only plants that can flower in the Antarctic.

The woman has always had a bit of a romantic streak.

“What do you think, your grace? Does he look like a beaver to you?”

 

*

 

Greg almost wants to squirm as Mycroft strokes his hand. He wishes he could sneak onto Mycroft's lap like Marmalade, present his tummy to be rubbed and just have a nap here. It'd be a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

"Not sure she sees many beavers, living in a café... I hope she doesn't, anyway."

He wonders for a moment what Marmalade thinks the two of them are called. He supposes cats don't really name things; he knows she recognises them though. He and Mycroft clearly belong to her, in her mind.

Him and his giant squid.

Grinning, gazing at Mycroft along the back of the sofa, Greg wonders if he'd have believed it two months ago. He doesn't think so. Mycroft seemed to come out of nowhere, and the world got bright and wonderful overnight.

"Think I'd sit here for days like this, you know. Shame we can't borrow her and take her home... like a library book. She'd love your film room."

 

*

 

“She would. Underfoot in the kitchen too, I would expect.” Mycroft lets out a little sigh. He has wondered what the rescue’s policies are on the cafe- do the cats have a rotation out, and then go back up for adoption? Or are they expected to be cafe cats permanently?

Only he isn’t home frequently enough, not even to manage a cat. It would be unfair to her to sit in a big empty house, even with someone from Anthea’s team coming by to feed her, when he is summoned out of the country or locked in a basement trying to smoke out rumors of some terrorist plot.

“Perhaps that is the next phase. Rental cats. Like a bike share. They could all have proper fuss at every home they visit.”

He grins back at Greg, eyes soft. “Which film would you show her first?”

 

*

 

Oh god, you're so gorgeous when you grin...

"Something with cats in it. Or something nice and quiet she can sleep through. We can stroke her, and she can get herself cosy under the blanket with us..."

It would be nice, Greg thinks. The three of them. They've not yet found a limit to how long Marmalade will sleep on them. He isn't sure there is one. He has a feeling that if they let her, she'd just cuddle with them all day - just happy, glad to have the pair of them.

It crosses his mind, quietly, that Marmalade is a rescue cat.

She's got a past - just like him. Something led to her being in a rescue centre. She'll have had an owner, once - someone who didn't want her around anymore, and it could be for a whole pile of reasons.

Now all she wants is to be hugged by two people who are gentle.

It's hard for Greg to keep the thought off his face. He looks down at her in his arms, and hooks a finger fondly around one of her white paws. She squeezes back, pink toe pads with no hint of claws.

He's never realised before that he's a rescue cat.

Looking up at Mycroft, gathering a smile, Greg hopes that the trial's going to be easy. He's getting used to having quite a lot of access to Mycroft - even just by text. It makes a big difference to his happiness.

He's sure it'll be fine.

"Feels odd," he admits, softly. "Thinking there was a time we didn't do this. Thinking you've not always been around." He hesitates, his eyes gentle as they hold Mycroft's. "Is that okay?"

 

*

 

Mycroft can see the flicker across Greg’s face- he does get emotional about Marmalade sometimes. It’s endearing, in Mycroft’s book. He cares so much. Has so much love to share.

“I think it’s probably… normal.” Mycroft is not entirely familiar with normal but he’s seen it, on occasion. He even thinks he might feel it, sometimes, when he’s with Greg.

“It feels very distant to me as well. The time… before us .” He meets Greg’s eyes fondly, holding his gaze as well as he would hold Greg himself, if they were in a better place for it. “I enjoy being an us, Greg.”

His hand finds Marmalade as he says it- she’s part of the us too, even if she can’t come home with them. She’s the one that brought them together, and that place of honor can never be revoked.

“Will you stay with me for dinner? I’m considering the merits of cooking.” There are only a few dishes Mycroft trusts himself to make well, and a majority of those are variations on pasta. He mastered them in university but even now he can’t make them without hearing his mother’s voice asking if he really needs all those carbs.

Still, he likes to cook for Greg, sometimes, even though Greg is the better chef and knows much more about getting around in the kitchen. It feels like another way to take care of Greg and show him how much Mycroft appreciates him.

“Eggplant parmesan, perhaps?”

 

*

 

Greg's heart quietly lights up. He loves domesticity. He loves that Sunday mornings became Sunday lunches, then Sunday afternoons, and now Sunday evenings.

Part of him wonders how long it'll be before leaving Mycroft at all feels completely wrong. Sleeping alone already seems a little sad. He's augmented his old ways of getting to sleep with texting Mycroft, too - sending a scruffy, sleepy selfie, messages with a few more Xs than usual, grinning in the dark like a teenager.

"Parmesan sounds amazing... I'd love that. It's a date."

It's hard not to touch Mycroft - not to just reach out and stroke his shin with a foot.

Pulling at his lip, Greg asks,

"What do we think are the chances I'll be waking up at your place tomorrow morning? Just - y'know... seeing as I'm within a single street of clean underwear and my work suit now." He eyes Mycroft fondly. "Start the working week right, maybe."

 

*

 

Almost the entire weekend with Greg.

The thought of spilling into Monday, of getting to wake up next to Greg one more time and sharing a morning coffee seems beautifully indulgent.

I don’t really wish to part with him for the week. Not yet.

“If you would like to stay the night, I would put your chances at just about a hundred percent… hellion.” Mycroft has of course noted Greg’s unconscious toying with his lip. Not that he minds, of course- it conjures a devoted smile to his own face.

“Shall we stop by yours before the grocer? Possibly acquire an additional tube of Pringles… if I recall correctly your stock at mine is nearly depleted.”

 

*

 

Greg grins. He's a simple creature, really. It's nice to be with someone who knows that.

"Heaven forbid," he says, reaches for his neglected brownie, and breaks off a small piece with icing for Mycroft. "Not sure your assistant would appreciate being summoned in the small hours, to fetch emergency Pringles for your post-coital lover... probably not in her job description."

Marmalade, sleepy, trills her agreement.

 

*

 

“No, I’m afraid it isn’t, and would likely result in a Pringles tube being thrown quite forcibly at your head.” Mycroft smiles. “I rather like your head, so let’s avoid that, shall we?”

He arches a brow as he accepts the bite of brownie. “Am I entitled to this, even after being the source of your requiring a brownie, hmm?”

Marmalade lifts a paw lazily in the direction of Mycroft’s hand, having detected food. “I’m afraid not, precious girl, no chocolate for you,” he says before popping the lot in his mouth.

 

*

 

"Only Mycroft gets chocolate," Greg tells her, fondly. "Otherwise you'll puke, won't you? Don't even know where you'd find some grass to eat near here. You'll be walking around for days, princess."

Marmalade harrumphs, squirms and stretches out her back legs, pink toe-pads spread as she shivers. Greg scruffs his fingers gently through her tummy fur.

"You're always entitled to brownie," he tells Mycroft, with a sparkle in his eyes. "And for what it's worth, I stand by my choices."

 

*

 

Watching Greg interact with Marmalade is far too adorable- Mycroft is obligated to scratch her head. She quickly nuzzles her head against him and squirms until she has made his hand into a decent pillow.

A mischievous grin crosses his lips. “I shall keep that in mind, Gregory, for the next time there are… distractions.”

His phone chimes- Anthea, again. Sherlock is at home, for now, in the den of iniquity he calls a flat. No sign of his usual dealers- or at least the ones Mycroft hadn’t already managed to get out of the way via terribly convenient timing on the part of the local drug enforcement officers. Well, that’s something.

Skimming up, he notices the time- it’s later than he thought. That happens when they’re with Marmalade, full of warm drink and lulled by her quiet purrs. “I suppose we ought to venture out soon. Almost ready, or is a second brownie required?”

 

*

 

"I don't think I'll collapse on my way around the supermarket - should be fine until tonight."

Greg looks down at Marmalade, who peers up at them both with her paws lifted and tucked, offering the slightly curled fur of her underside - as if to say, but this tummy shan't rub itself.

"Have you been adored enough yet, miss?" Greg asks, finishing off his coffee. Marmalade trills. "How about if I come back mid-week while Mycroft's busy? Will that do?"

If only you could come stay over. Just for a night... sit and watch Netflix with me. Chicken scraps for dinner. Come curl up to sleep and fill up the bed a little.

 

*

 

“And I shall endeavor to return over one of my lunch breaks,” Mycroft assures his feline mistress, fluffing her belly and giving her another round of chin-scratches that always make her close her eyes happily.

“Until then perhaps the nice baristas shall give you suitable attentions, if you deem the rest of the guests unworthy.”

He strokes his hand along Greg’s back when they’re finally on their way out, not missing the longing gaze he gives her as they walk by the window and another couple takes their place on the couch, hands extended to let Marmalade sniff warily at them from the corner cushion she has quickly retreated to.

I know, Greg. I always miss her too.



Chapter Text

Though he knew to expect a difference in a weekday morning together, Mycroft is surprised to find it is almost more intimate than their weekends. This little extra time with Greg- shuffling about in the kitchen, quietly talking over coffee, putting their suits on at the same time- it’s a far different routine than the one they have on weekends, but they still manage not to feel rushed.

It’s raining- a summer downpour- so Mycroft coaxes Greg into joining him in the car instead of taking the tube. His drivers have almost assuredly been briefed on the presence of another human in his world, and there are no awkward questions, just obedience to the instruction to head to Scotland Yard first and a gracious rolling up of the privacy screen- without being asked- so Mycroft can hold Greg’s hand in the back and kiss him gently and whisper his goodbyes behind the protection of darkly tinted windows before Greg gets out.

My inspector. My Gregory.

The car feels silent and deeply empty without him in it.

When he arrives at his own desk, Mycroft finds he cannot summon his focus as easily as he is used to- his thoughts are fondly lingering at the Met. So he indulges them with a little whimsy before he must block them out entirely, and calls an artisanal donut shop not far from Scotland Yard.

He’s not entirely sure what most of the police officers might enjoy, so he orders a variety of donuts- possibly too many, but he has the money for it- to be sent to Major Crimes anonymously with a note of good wishes for their upcoming trial. A small box is also set aside as part of the order with “For DI Lestrade” on it. This contains the items he think Greg might like the most: a maple glaze donut covered in bacon and a chocolate truffle variety filled with Nutella.

That done, he smiles to himself and sets his phone aside- he ought to have time to handle his emails, at least, before the order arrives at the Met.

 

*

 

The second Greg lets himself into the division, Sally's face opens with a startled grin. It takes him a second to realise he was grinning at her first.

"Good weekend?" she asks, as he passes by her desk.

"The best," he says. "Yours?"

She makes a noise of interest. "Not as good as yours, clearly. Dare I ask what you've been up to?"

"You can ask," Greg says, unlocking the door of his office and dropping her a wink. "Doesn't mean I'll answer."

She grins, shakes her head, and turns back to her screenful of e-mails.

Greg takes his coat off, gets himself a coffee from down the hall, and sends Mycroft a quick text at his desk - 'Amazing weekend... Miss you xx'. He then puts his phone aside and starts on the contents of his in-tray, sorting through the various reports that have arrived for him over the weekend. There's quite a few of them this week, in preparation for the trial.

It's not going to be a breezy case. It's always tricky, when big investigations come to court. As the investigating officer, Greg knows all too well that his duty is to report facts and evidence, not to persuade anybody either way about guilt or innocence. It's hard, though. His team have spent the better part of two years on the heels of the Fenton gang, slowly gathering enough evidence to swoop.

This close to conviction, it's easy to feel like all his hard work is about to pay off... or disappear into dust.

If he's lucky, the Fentons will have secured themselves a crap lawyer - or a very good one, who'll pressure them to plead guilty for shorter sentences.

If he's unlucky, they'll be stubborn - and it'll take some time to get there.

From Greg's point-of-view, his team have done all they can. Their investigation's been watertight from start to end. All he has to do is turn up on the days he's needed, give the facts as they're known, and the rest should fall into place.

It's just a question of patience.

Nearly finished prioritising his in-tray, there comes a knock on Greg's office door.

He looks up to find a bewildered Sally, standing next to a delivery driver. The young man wears a green uniform emblazoned with the logo of a nearby donut shop, and he's carrying a box probably big enough to contain Marmalade.

At Greg's startled expression, Sally raises her eyebrows.

"Delivery for DI Lestrade?" she checks.

Oh Jesus, who's gotten hold of my credit card? Greg gets warily to his feet, comes over and takes the delivery note from the driver, unfolding it quickly as Sally takes charge of the box.

Greg's eyes skim across the note. The order was placed not long after nine, and the personal message given is discreetly anonymous.

Reading it, a grin spreads across Greg's face.

Christ almighty.

He puts the delivery note aside, and the individual box labelled 'For DI Lestrade'. He's having those later, in private, when he can express his gratitude properly down the phone.

"Give us a hand, Sally," he says, hefting the larger box back into his arms. "Get the door for me."

"Why?" she says, amazed. "Who's getting - ?"

"You lot are. C'mon. It's about to be a very good Monday meeting."

 

*

 

There are cries of delight as Greg opens the box.

"What the fuck, sir!"

"No way!"

"Boss, are you serious?"

"They're not from me!" Greg hastens to specify, over the laughter and expressions of gratitude of his team. "Don't think you're getting this every Monday, or you'll be disappointed..."

"Who are they from?"

"Not the chief super, is it?"

There's more laughter. Biting into his grin, Greg pulls the top tray from the box and lays it out on the table - there are two more layers beneath.

"I, erm - might've mentioned at the weekend that we've got the trial starting. Spotted us all in the paper yesterday morning."

Greg wouldn't have thought his team could smile any wider than they already are - but they do.

"Really?" Sally says at his side, laughing. "Is this your new bird?"

'My new bird'. Greg curls his toes tight inside his shoes, feeling his heart skip and hop. Mycroft's going to love that.

"Looks like it, doesn't it?" he said. "I guess we're all being spoiled."

Universal approval of DI Lestrade's new bird is expressed immediately by the entire team. There are heartfelt words of gratitude, which Greg promises he'll pass on; delighted surprise, from those who hadn't realised there was a prospective new Mrs DI Lestrade kicking about; a few jovial heckles, which are met with laughter; and from Sally, a thump on the back with a grin.

"Getting serious, is it?" she asks, as Greg lays out the second tray and enthusiastic hands dive in.

Christ, I hope so...

"I had a good weekend," Greg says, casting her a grin. "Does that answer your question?"

Sally's eyes dance. "She's doing a good job, whoever she is. Don't think we've ever seen you this happy."

There are fond calls of agreement. Greg's heart expands inside his chest; he's pretty certain he's never been this happy. He's going to have to call Mycroft as soon as he can - he wants to hear Mycroft's voice. He wants to hear that smug smile he adores.

DS Stringer - a graduate fast-tracker called Ryan, who's been with them for about a year - is the first to ask.

"What's her name, Lestrade?" he says, as he smirks at Greg over a salted caramel donut covered in tiny fudge cubes.

Greg lowers his eyes, still grinning.

"Still private for now... just seeing how it goes." Mycroft. Mycroft. His name's Mycroft and he's gorgeous and he's everything. "Taking it easy... you know how it is. Early days."

"Bring her along to the pub one Friday," Sally says. There's enthusiastic agreement from the others. "So we can all say thank you."

Greg's heart squeezes.

Half of him can almost see it - Mycroft sitting there at his side on a Friday evening, and all of them unfazed, just happy that he's happy. They're a good team. He almost feels like he should trust them - like he's doing them a disservice by assuming they'd be uneasy with it.

Half of him can't cope with the thought of seeing shock in their faces. He imagines dropping that bomb now - right now. 'Sure, I'll bring him along next week.'

He can't bear it.

He doesn't want to see them all stumble over the pronoun. He doesn't want to see startled looks being shared around the room. He doesn't want to spend a day holed up in his office, knowing everyone's discussing him, fluttering from desk to desk like butterflies. 'Did you know...?'

Mycroft's a big deal.

Greg just isn't sure he's ready for it to be a big deal to everyone.

"I'll think about it," he says, and he realises he honestly means it. "After the trial, maybe. We'll all be ready for the pub then."

There's more laughter, and agreement, and everyone digs in.

Sally helps Greg to hand round coffee. He makes sure everyone's got a donut, and has a coffee in their hand, then starts the Monday meeting.

His 'we've got a tough few weeks ahead, guys' speech goes down even better than he'd hoped. It turns out it's easy to inspire people who are currently stuffing their faces. They're finished by half past ten, everyone off to start the week running.

Greg makes himself another coffee, boxes up the remaining donuts for the fridge, and finally settles back in his office chair with a grin.

I wonder...?

He supposes that, if not, it'll just go through to voicemail. He'd usually text at work. This isn't his usual casual chatter, though.

He picks up his office phone, dials Mycroft's number from memory, and listens to it ringing as he opens up his special box.

Oh - Christ - is that bacon?

Bloody hell, that's bacon...

He realises he's biting his lip.

The line connects with a click.

Grinning from ear-to-ear, he says, "You're bloody amazing, you know that? What exactly did I do to deserve you?"

 

*

 

“Oh, you know you don’t deserve me, darling, but I don’t fault you for trying.”  Anthea’s perched on the end of Mycroft’s desk, his phone in hand, flipping through CCTV footage of the street outside the Met on her own touchscreen. “Oooh, donuts. Well, he is getting fond, isn’t he. Are they good? Did he get you the limoncello? Love the limoncello.”

Down the hall in one of their cryptographer’s rooms, Mycroft detects a disturbance in his own office and leans out the door to peer. “Anthea!”

“Himself is on his way, handsome,” she purrs into the phone.

Mycroft does not run , per se, but he does move as swiftly as he can while maintaining his decorum in front of his other subordinates. Not Anthea, of course, who is officially undeserving of decorum. And certainly undeserving of donuts. “Out, harpy. And why are you answering my phone?”

“Knew it was him. Why don’t I ever get donuts?” She glides off the desk and stalks toward the door, adjusting her skirt to better hide her thigh holster.

“Because you are the source of my personal hell. Close the door, thank you.” Mycroft waits until his office door is firmly closed, then he lets his work self fall away a bit, a pleased smile on his lips. “Hello Gregory. Did they go over well, then?”

 

*

 

Greg has nearly bitten through his tongue, grinning, by the time his lover arrives on the line. He's definitely starting to like Anthea. She seems fond of him - he's not sure what gives him that impression, except a suspicion that if she wasn't fond of him, he'd probably know about it by now.

"Hey, gorgeous..."

His chest feels like it's doubling in size. Monday morning, and he's ready to burst into song like his life is a musical. And it's you. It's all you.

"You're too good to me, you know that? Far too good. I'm now the most popular DI in the building."

His voice is full of his grin. He gazes down at his special donuts, still unable to believe it, and tries to imagine Mycroft right now - an office somewhere - a team - the country's concerns in his hands, taking a moment to speak to Greg.

Fuck, I get to be part of you. Part of your life.

Fuck.

"Thank you," he says, feeling warmth flood his veins. "I mean it. You're... wonderful. Seriously."

 

*

 

‘Gorgeous.’ That makes Mycroft’s very soul flutter.

You are wonderful, Greg, and you deserve to be recognized for it- and you know I enjoy taking care of you. Though I hope your team already knows how wonderful you are regardless of the presence of donuts.”

Mycroft smiles, leaning back in his office chair. He heart feels full- of pride in Greg and his team, of satisfaction in giving them a bit of joy to start the week with. But mostly he is bursting with affection, all for Greg.

“Did they attempt to contain themselves, or will your entire division be dissolving into a sugar-induced nap by midday? Shall I let the local criminal element know they have a free window?”

His laptop flashes a calendar reminder at him- ten minutes until his first meeting of the day.

Ten minutes reserved for Greg.

“You must tell me about the bacon one. I found it conceptually… quite tempting.”

 

*

 

"Looking like law and order will be suspended from noon 'til three," Greg says, grinning, turning the cord of his desk phone around his thumb. "Lock your door, will you? Don't want you carried off in all the looting..."

He tilts back in his chair, stretching his feet up on the edge of the desk. He's got things to be doing - plenty - but his e-mails aren't going to self-destruct. They'll all still be there in ten minutes.

Just a little while longer.

"I suppose it's like salted caramel, isn't it? Sweet and salt..." Intrigued, Greg nudges the box a little nearer and presses his thumb into the maple glaze. He cleans it off with his tongue. "Mmnh. Well, the maple's good. I can tell you that much."

He loves that Mycroft finds things conceptually tempting.

"Might have to leave these until I'm off the phone with you," he admits, with a wry glance through the glass wall of his office. Everyone's getting on with their work. "Otherwise I'm going to get you in trouble..."

 

*

 

“Are you now.”

Mycroft knows precisely what just transpired just from the sound- he can imagine the sheen of iced sugar across Greg’s finger. He runs his tongue over his teeth and shoots another glance at the time on his computer.

Exercise a bit of self-control, Holmes, you’re at work.

At least he doesn’t really need to prep for his meeting with MI-6. They are briefing him , all he has to do is tuck all the information into the great vault of his own mind for reference should it become pertinent later.

“It is going to be like the praline, isn’t it. You know if you keep carrying on ravishing desserts and baked goods like this I may grow quite jealous.”

 

*

 

Greg bites into his grin, trying a little of the chocolate truffle topping too. He's not going to pantomime a moan - not with the two of them at work - but he already knows he's going to stop by the donut shop one Friday after work.

Mycroft is well aware of his proclivity for sweet things.

Combined with his proclivity for Mycroft, it might make for an interesting weekend.

"Yeah?" he murmurs, taking the icing casually off his thumb. "Starting to suspect you like it really." He pretends to scroll through his e-mails for the benefit of anyone passing by, not seeing a word of their contents. "Brownies, donuts... posh praline... it's almost like you enjoy watching me with this stuff."

He keeps his tone casual, checking the top report in his in-tray.

"Surprised you've not coaxed me upstairs with a pint of ice cream yet."

 

*

 

Mycroft can just make out a certain sound of shifting on the other end of the phone.

Is he… still licking it off?

No- that mental image must go immediately, or his MI-6 meeting is going to be quite uncomfortable. He inhales slowly as he listens to Greg, adjusting his collar and shifting forward in his chair to get his hand around some nice, bracing, and decidedly chaste tea.

In truth, Greg has him entirely worked out in this matter. Mycroft does like to watch him eat all the sweet indulgences he keeps from himself, and of course there’s the added benefit of the occasional taste after lingering on Gregory’s lips….

Tea. Drink your tea. Good lord.

“Ice cream, hm? Would that be with toppings or without? I am taking notes on the matter.”

 

*

 

Greg doesn't doubt it. He knows that Mycroft has been learning him like a musical instrument - figuring out which touches create sound, which sequences create music. Sometimes, when they're together, he can feel Mycroft studying him. He can sense his lover's intense focus on his body and his pleasure, and nothing in the world feels so good - all of Mycroft's mind, all his capabilities, all focused on making it feel better for Greg.

Still pretending to read his report, Greg eases the phone between his ear and his shoulder. He reaches for a pen to pretend to make notes.

"The ice cream is the topping," he remarks, softly, and gives Mycroft a moment's space to deal with that.

 

*

 

Mycroft’s mouth opens and stills there for a moment as his mind temporarily pauses, stranded on the discord between the particular nature of the images that sentence conjures and the very real fact that he is sitting behind his work desk.

When his motor control is restored, he clears his throat delicately. “I see.”

The meeting reminder flashes again on his computer. The conference room is fortunately just down the hall, but he ought to be the first one in the room- both to emphasize that MI-6 is coming to him, and as a way to mask any cheeky inspector induced trouser conditions.

“Gregory, as much as I am enjoying this revelation of your libidinous side, I am afraid I must go lest my next meeting be subjected to any... unquellable response.” Mycroft closes his laptop and unplugs it, pushing back his chair and standing to gauge the situation. It’s not that dire- his trousers are a bit tight, but nothing untoward is visible.

Good. I shall reserve time for a detailed review of everything Gregory has said… later. At home. In private.

“But trust I do plan to pick up this discussion at a later time.”

 

*

 

Greg's stomach curls happily. He's never going to get over being able to cause that reaction in Mycroft. It's still a miracle to him. You want me. You really want me.

A little flirting over the phone, and that's all it takes...

Duty calls, though. Mycroft needs to concentrate, and Greg has a trial to prepare for. There'll be time to wind each other up later.

Turning the pen between his fingers, he smiles and says, "Call me when you're done tonight. Doesn't matter if it's late... I like saying goodnight."

He knows that 'home' for Mycroft doesn't always mean 'done'; he knows that international relations don't stick to UK time-zones. There are sometimes things for Mycroft to sort out well into the evenings. It's part and parcel of the happiest relationship of Greg's life.

He wouldn't change it; he's just glad he's a part of it, too.

"Hope your meeting goes well," he murmurs, and realises he's stroking the pen as if it's the back of Mycroft's hand - gentle, steady sweeps with his thumb. "Thank you again for spoiling me... taking care of me. My team."

He bites his lip. So hard not to say it. Five weeks. Don't say it, Lestrade.

Not yet.

"I don't deserve you, Mycroft. I really don't."

 

*

 

“It’s not about deserving, Gregory, though if it were you would deserve far better than me. I like taking care of you- spoiling you. You’re a good man. The world should treat you accordingly.”

You deserve the whole world, Gregory. I would give it to you.

Mycroft refrains from saying so, however. It seems like too much. Too soon.

Which doesn’t make it any less true.

“I’ll give you a call as soon as I am home.”

There ought to be an endearment at the end. None of them feel right. There is no word that feels like enough to sum up his feelings .

“Have a good day, Greg. Try to behave.”

Hanging up feels like it takes nearly all of his energy. If he could, he would spend all day talking to Greg, either on the phone or curled up together. Perhaps this was some university phase he missed out on now manifesting itself late in full force. Mycroft only wishes he had time to indulge it more.

With a deep sigh, he pulls his work self back together, steeling his face for Anthea and sliding into the icy persona he tries to keep locked in these walls. “Are they here yet?” he asks as he strides out of his office.

Anthea bursts up from her desk to follow him. “They’re in the lobby. About to come down.”

“Very good.” He lets his quiet irritation that his job has taken him away from what he would rather be doing fuel him, leaking traces of it into his voice. A hard edge helps keep his reputation intact, and his reputation does wonders. “Let’s hope they aren’t going to be wasting our time.”

 

*

 

[11:01] Boy have I got news for you... ;) R xxx

[11:43] yeah?

[11:45] Come round later and I'll tell you :) I'm home from 7pm xxx

[12:27] can't. things going on tonight

[12:28] You'll want to know... believe me... xxx

Seen 13:10 ✓✓

 

[14:09] Promise it's good, R xxxxx

[14:31] tell me then?? lol

[14:34] Its about your ex... xxx

[14:34] what about him?

[14:35] Looks like he's over you pretty quick... xxx

[14:35] wtf?

[14:37] New girlfriend sending donuts in. Lol :P Massive box this morning. Claiming its just early days... but he was grinning on the phone straight after. Guess we know why he's been so cheerful now :) xxx

[14:38] whats her name?

[14:39] I don't know xxx

[14:39] you didn't ask???

[14:40] I did ask! He wouldn't say... playing it coy... xxx

[14:40] k

[14:41] Anywaaaay... gossip lol :) How was your day? xxx

Seen 14:41 ✓✓

 

[15:14] Hey... You mad? :| R xxx

Seen 15:33 ✓✓

 

[19:27] Okay... what've I done wrong? :( R xxxxx

Seen 21:02 ✓✓

 

[21:46] Baby :( R xxxxx

[21:49] Baby, don't be upset :( He was just a douche treated you bad. Now he's fooling someone else. Good luck to her, lol. I'll treat you better xxxxx

[21:52] you don't even know what he put me through

[21:52] now he's just showing off how happy he is

[21:53] we've only been divorced for a year

[21:53] but I should have known you wouldn't understand...

[21:54] Oh my god... Shall I come round? :( I'm sorry I upset you :( xxxxx

Seen 21:54 ✓✓

 

[22:48] Baby... I'll make it better. Promise. I'll do anything :( R xxxxx

[22:50] anything?

 

Chapter Text

On Tuesday, Mycroft manages to escape the office for a quiet lunch with Marmalade asleep on his lap and an old but carefully preserved copy of A Swiftly Tilting Planet. He’s gotten ahead of his tasks, the country is running in order, and none of their allies are doing anything particularly stupid at the moment.

He’s starting to hope that will mean he will be able to go home at a reasonable hour and invite Greg over for a movie and a fairly detailed conversation regarding desserts and preferences regarding where one eats them.

Of course that means something else has to go wrong.

 

[12:46] Sir, your brother may have slipped our watcher.

 

Mycroft shifts to ramrod straight in an instant. Marmalade sleepily shifts, eyeing him through one half-lidded eye as she grumbles.

 

[12:46] Clarify. MH.

[12:47] Lost him in King’s Cross. I’ve got someone reviewing the footage to see if it was a deliberate effort to slip the tail, and facial recognition is running to catch him wherever he pops out.

[12:48] Pull it all for me, including the route to the station. I’m heading back and I will review it myself. MH

[12:48] Of course sir.

 

Mycroft sighs and pets Marmalade for a moment, eyes closed and simply breathing, before he forces himself to lift her off his lap and put her on the fluffiest pillow the couch has. “I am sorry, your ladyship. I’ll come back soon- and Greg will be by sometime at night, maybe, hm?”

She makes a quite discontented noise, but she obviously knows Mycroft is no good as a cat bed when he’s already moving to gather his things and offering her a last little series of scratches between the ears. “Be good, yes?”

He marches back toward the office with such an obvious glower that people on the sidewalk magically part, clearing his path, and he contemplates yet again why no one will let him simply install a tracking device into one of Sherlock’s lower vertebrae.

 

*

 

Greg's halfway through a pasta bake when Andy rings.

Retraining's going well. He thinks he'll like plumbing - better than teaching, anyway. The girls are fine. Andy's wife is fine. Her school's got an OFSTED inspection coming up, so that's a pain. She'll get through it, though. She always does. Things are the same as normal, really.

And how's Greg doing?

What's new?

Andy asks as Greg negotiates his pasta bake into the oven, phone pinned to his shoulder by his ear.

Greg takes advantage of the few seconds' gap to think of something he can safely say.

All he wants to say is, Think I'm in love again, Andy.

He wants to tell his brother all about Mycroft - what he's like, how they met. What they chat about. Mycroft's house. His posh suits. The witty little things he says. The way Mycroft makes him feel - the security - the comfort - the way Mycroft seems to read him gently, watching him, making sure he's okay at every possible moment.

He wants Andy to know they spend weekends together, and meet for lunch when they can, and go to the supermarket together. He wants Andy to know there's someone he now walks around Sainsbury's with, carrying a shared basket, joking over nothing and everything like they're twenty. He wants Andy to understand how big that is. He didn't think he'd ever have it again, and now he does.

It's unsettling to keep it in his mouth.

It feels like it's not right somehow - like it means he doesn't really value what he and Mycroft have. He's acting like he's got something to be ashamed about, and he hates that.

It's Andy, though.

Andy's ten minutes older. He talks like he's ten years older. He's got the power to give Greg a 'hey, that's great, he sounds nice' - or the power to leave Greg feeling like a strange idiot who can't be trusted with his own life.

Greg isn't sure he wants to know which one it is. It's a Tuesday; he's making pasta bake. This isn't the moment to hand all his fragile new self-esteem over to his brother for inspection.

He tells Andy a bit about the trial instead - professional talk. He chats about Sally and the team, how hard they're all working.

"You've had Sally around for a while now, have you?" Andy says, and there's a note to his voice that makes Greg's forehead furrow a little.

"Few years now, yeah. Not easy, making the jump from DS to DI... sure she will some day."

Andy clicks his tongue. "You, ah... ever thought about it, Greg?"

'It'.

"No," Greg says, uncomfortable. "Work. For a start."

Andy huffs. "Bet that doesn't stop a lot of people."

"Yeah, well... there's other reasons."

"Oh yeah? What like?"

I'm having a gay awakening, Andy. And he's called Mycroft.

"S'complicated," says Greg, rubbing the side of his neck. "Got a lot going on right now. Last thing on my mind is a girlfriend."

Andy huffs again.

"Fair enough," he says. "Hope the trial goes well, anyway."

 

*

 

It’s well past dusk when CCTV finally picks up Sherlock outside Kew Gardens. Mycroft is uncertain whether he’s up to something or simply making the point that he can evade Mycroft’s net if he wants to. There’s no point in asking. Any direct interference will simply prove that he’s spying, and Sherlock will shut him out entirely- and then he really will duck the network, and there will be no finding him for weeks. Possibly months.

“We’ll get someone back on him,” Anthea reassures him. “And we’ll leave facial recognition on.”

“Very good,” Mycroft says, trying not to feel defeated. He’s never been able to control Sherlock, not even to save him from himself. If Sherlock really, truly wants to relapse, it’s only a matter of time. And if he simply wants to be a nuisance to Mycroft’s day, there doesn’t seem to be much he can do about that either.

It’s one of the only things that makes him feel truly useless.

When he gets home a quick, melancholy perusal of the fridge reminds him that he did not actually remember to eat dinner. He dithers. It’s late. Mummy advises refraining from eating late. But if he doesn’t eat he’ll probably wake up with a headache.

At least there’s food in it. Before Greg, and his newfound desire to keep things stocked on Greg’s behalf, if he became too invested in work, too distracted to even order food, he’d sometimes open it to find there was nothing in it at all.

Mycroft sighs and gets out his phone, leaning over the counter with his elbow on the marble, fingertips kneading into his temple.

 

[23:17] Still awake, Greg? MH x

[23:18] If you are I humbly request assistance determining what in my kitchen may yield an expedient dinner. MH x

 

*

 

Greg’s there within twenty minutes.

He grins as he peels the clingfilm back from a plate of pasta bake.

"It’s fine," he says - again. "Honestly, gorgeous. I made loads, and this’ll be quicker than you cooking something..."

He puts the plate into the microwave and sets it off, then moves across to a cupboard for an oven tray. He’s brought bake-at-home garlic bread - it’ll freshen the pasta up, and he can snack on it too while Mycroft has pasta.

As he lays the bread out on the tray, it crosses his mind that he’s nearly as used to Mycroft’s kitchen now as his own. It looks kinda gloomy and sad in the darkness - a little too big and empty.

Mycroft seems to have a touch of gloom, too. Any day that goes on so late will be gloomy, Greg thinks. He gets the garlic bread in the oven, gives the pasta a quick poke in the microwave and then washes his hands, drying them on a tea towel.

"There’s still one of my suits upstairs, anyway. I can just head out with you in the morning. It’s not a problem."

Hands dry, dinner on the way, he turns his attention at last to by far the most important job.

His arms go around Mycroft’s waist, loose and gentle and slow.

He gathers his lover close, nuzzling into Mycroft’s neck, and places a kiss upon his collar.

"I know you can’t tell me," he murmurs. "Secret government stuff... I’m just sorry you had a tough day. And I hope it clears up soon."

 

*

 

Mycroft sighs. He’s given up protesting the lateness of the hour and the potential interference with Greg’s schedule and accepted his fate as some manner of culinary damsel.

My knight-in-shining-armor, bearing pasta.

He buries his forehead in Greg’s shoulder, eyes closed, just feeling the sensation of being held. His own arms loop inside Greg’s, wrapping him in turn. Part of him is still surprised that he can mildly bemoan his dinner selections and Greg simply appears, solving the issue for him. He’s still not quite used to the idea that someone might make an effort to mitigate his problems, not when Mycroft’s entire life is built around the opposite.

I could tell you, this time. I should.

“I am a very fortunate man to have you, Gregory. Thank you.”

Greg provides a comfortable shield until the microwave dings and Mycroft finally forces himself out of the embrace to obtain a fork.

He’s quiet while he eats, curled into Greg’s arm on the couch. His selection for the evening is a segment from the Colin Firth Pride & Prejudice - he’s always found the linguistic structure of period films rather soothing, and the lake scene is nice as well.

“You’re certain you are not up too late?” he asks for the fifth time that evening. “You can go to bed if you like, I shall handle the cleanup.”

 

*

 

Greg smiles, pressing his nose against Mycroft's forehead. In truth, he can feel his eyes starting to lull shut. He's been stifling his yawns as best he can. It's easy to drift off a little as they sit here, feeling Mycroft close to him, knowing they'll be wrapped up in bed soon.

"Might have to go off soon... are you going to be much longer, d'you think? I don't want to leave you on your own."

 

*

 

“Go up. You need your rest. I’ll be right behind you.”

Mycroft means it, but he pulls out his phone as he’s tidying the kitchen and cannot resist the urge to review the CCTV cameras outside of Sherlock’s miserable little flat.

Just making sure he’s there. That’s all. There and alive.

It’s well past one when Mycroft finally peels himself away from the screen and lumbers upstairs, quietly getting through his teeth-brushing and the like before climbing into a pleasantly warmed bed and nestling in against Greg. He falls asleep with an arm draped over Greg’s waist and his nose buried in silvery hair.

 

*

 

Greg's not surprised to wake up before Mycroft. He kept himself conscious scrolling through his phone for as long as he could, then had to rest his eyes for a moment. The next thing he knows, he's waking up to the first touches of sunlight on Mycroft's curtains - and Mycroft is cuddled in his arms, still asleep.

The night has arranged them into a cosy spoons position, Greg tucked against Mycroft's back with an arm around him, snug as dormice. It's nice just to drift for a while and think. Reaching up to stroke Mycroft's hair, Greg realises with a small smile of surprise that they didn't actually have sex last night. They just had food, watched a film and slept.

He's not sure why it moves him, but it does.

Mycroft's alarm will be going off in a few minutes. Greg snuggles against him sleepily, and begins gently kissing at his neck.

"My...?" He rubs his stubble a little against Mycroft's jaw. "You awake?"

 

*

 

The corner of Mycroft’s lip has already begun to turn up before he is even fully conscious. He could do with being woken up with soft kisses and warm embraces more often.

“Mmm,” he acknowledges, turning his cheek up to nuzzle back. “Good morning.”

Part of him wants to have them both call off work just to lay here, just to laze against each other. Have a nap later, perhaps, so Mycroft can wake up to the gentle caresses of Greg’s hand in his hair and fond touches of beard scruff against his cheek one more time.

Sadly, he has always been too responsible for his own good.

His hand finds Greg’s thigh and gently, comfortably strokes across it, rumpling the fabric of his pyjama bottoms. “Did you get enough sleep?”

 

*

 

"Mmhm... got plenty..." Greg squeezes Mycroft gently with his wrapped arm, hand resting over Mycroft's heart. Something about pyjamas makes this feel so sleepy, so cuddly. It's nothing less than heaven.

"Always sleep better with you," he mumbles, and continues gently kissing Mycroft's neck, his lips chaste and light. "When did you turn in? Don't remember you coming to bed..."

 

*

 

“You were asleep. I didn’t wish to wake you.” Mycroft shifts, turning in to face Greg, ducking his head into the warmth of Greg’s chest and lacing their legs together under the sheets.

His traitorous political training says he should lie. It’s a simple little thing to lie about, the time one comes to bed.

Don’t lie. Not to him.

“It was later than I would have liked. I was distracted. Started looking at… work.” Mostly true would have to do, in this case. And Sherlock does essentially count as work, especially when he behaves like this. “It’s hard for me to turn off.”

He rubs his cheek over the soft fabric at Greg’s chest, feeling the muscle beneath. “Much easier with you. I could forget all about it once I had you in my arms.”

 

*

 

Greg guides his fingers fondly through the back of Mycroft's hair, separating the strands as he strokes them. He loves holding Mycroft this way - cuddled, gathered close to him within the sheets, safe and sound against his chest.

He has a feeling there's something going on for Mycroft at work right now. For all he knows, Mycroft could be going through his equivalent of preparing for a trial. Greg wishes he could be a sounding board - he wishes there was something he could offer.

Realising there is, he smiles.

He kisses the top of his lover's head, wrapping both arms around Mycroft tight.

"M'glad," he murmurs. As he breathes in, Mycroft's scent soaks him in peace and calm. It's a scent he didn't know existed two months ago. Now he only has to catch it on his clothes, on his skin, on his bedsheets, and everything in the world becomes alright. "If you ever need me... doesn't have to be a reason - anything - m'only a taxi ride away. And I don't mind. I'd always rather sleep with you than alone."

It's nice to feel a little protective - just for a while. Mycroft's given him more strength and support than anyone else in his adult life. He know he's not fixed yet - and the memory of lying to Andy still makes him feel uneasy - but he wants to give some of that support back in return. It's nice to feel strong enough to do that.

It's nice to feel needed.

"Or get your car to bring you to mine," he says, softly. "Even if I'm asleep. Just get in with me. S'fine."

 

*

 

Mycroft nods into Greg’s chest. He’s still not quite used to this intimate closeness he has with Greg, and he’s certainly not used to anyone holding him and telling him it’s alright to need something other than sex.

It’s rather affecting.

He buries his face deeper, hoping to breath through the cotton of Greg’s shirt until he’s confident that the wave of emotion won’t leak into his voice, won’t betray him by slipping across his face.

Then the alarm goes off. He huffs a sigh and rolls over, wriggling out of Greg’s lovely arms and reconstituting his traditional expression as he reaches to click it off. He can manage himself by the time he rolls back, unaware of whether Greg saw any of the cracks in his walls.

This time he faces Greg, eye to eye. “Thank you,” he murmurs, stroking long fingers over Greg’s cheek. “The same goes for you, you know. You can always come here. Or call me to you. I shall come if I can.”

 

*

 

Though Greg grins a little, his eyes are soft. They gaze into Mycroft's gently. As Mycroft strokes his cheek, his pupils swell.

"Careful," he warns, his voice fond. A small smile lifts half of his mouth. "Issuing me with that kind of invite... you'll never get rid of me."

It's been hard not asking Mycroft every single day. His lover has a life to lead, an important life, and Greg knows himself - he falls faster than other people, and falls deeper. He doesn't hold much back. There's never much to discover in him - just more love. He's not the brooding and mysterious type with trust to be won, nor layer after layer of masks to be gradually peeled away.

He feels like Mycroft might be that way to some people. He supposes it's mandatory in politics.

But for whatever reason, Mycroft's not like that with him.

Their whole connection so far has felt like this, Greg realises - comfort, trust, kindness given and kindness offered back. Even when it's Saturday night, and they're having the kind of desperate sex he's not had since his twenties, it's all trust. It's all connection. He's sharing every corner of his soul with Mycroft, and he's being given Mycroft too.

Wrapping an arm gently around Mycroft's waist, still looking into his eyes, Greg says,

"I'd do anything to make you happy. You know that? It's... all I ever want. After everything you've done for me, I just... I owe you so much."

 

*

 

“What did I say about that, hm? There is no owe. You need not be anyone you do not wish to be, nor do a thing you do not wish to do, just because you think I would want it.” Mycroft brings his lips against Greg’s forehead and presses a gentle kiss there.

“You make me quite happy as you are, Gregory.”

It’s true, of course. And in all honesty Mycroft is not entirely sure he’s been happier, not in any objective sense. Just the mere thought of Greg can feed him joy when nothing else can. Seeing him, hearing him, even getting a text is like a balm he never knew he needed.

“Why don’t we stay with each other this week. We can rotate apartments, if you like. Try and get our fill in before the trial starts and you need your focus.”

He kisses the end of Greg’s nose, dips lower to press another chaste one to his lips.

“A nice dinner this weekend… and then her majesty’s justice can borrow you, just for a bit.”

 

*

 

Greg's heart heaves against the front of his chest - he's pretty sure Mycroft will be able to feel it, see it, pressing its shape against his skin like in a cartoon. His eyes shine; his grin grows ear-to-ear. If Mycroft had ever wanted to see a look of pure joy on Greg's face, it's this one.

"I'd love that," he says. He bites his lip, glancing at Mycroft's mouth. "I'd absolutely love that. Yes. Let's do it."

He leans close to kiss Mycroft back, a longer and softer press of lips, winding his fingers into his lover's hair. His heart thunders happily through his every vein, imagining that - every night, each other, parting only to head off to work. Like we're living together, just in two places. Then dinner at the weekend.

Oh, fuck.

Fuck.

It's love.

The realisation is overwhelming. Greg's come close to it before - he's even held the word in his head, wondering, gazing at it with hope. The more time goes on, the more he's sure. This is love. This is how it starts. It's deep, open, honest love, and even though it's brand new, it feels wonderful.

Oh Jesus, it's love.

As they kiss, Greg's fingers tremor slightly in Mycroft's hair. His breath catches a little, though the kiss never falters. One ankle winds around Mycroft's shin, bringing them closer together.

Greg's pulse thumps quick and fast in every part of him, flooding him with joy and nerves. It's starting. It's happening. I want it to be you.

 

*

 

The elated look on Greg’s face warms Mycroft to his very soul.

I did not know you could grow more beautiful, Gregory.

His eyes drift to that little lip bite, and Mycroft begins to smirk. “Helli-” is all he gets out before Greg’s lips are on his, delicate and passionate all at once, drawing him in with hands in his hair. Mycroft’s hand slides to Greg’s back and up his spine, pulling him in turn as their legs lace together.

There’s a little shudder in Greg’s breath and Mycroft feels his own answer with a matching one, a sudden flutter of nerves in his belly.

Why should I be nervous?

No, his heart is probably only picking up its pace because he’s trained it too well to expect sex with kissing.

Simple biology, that’s all.

“You are going to be late to work, Inspector,” he exhales when next his lips are free enough to do so, only a hair's breadth away from Greg, fingers idly brushing gentle circles against Greg’s back. “I am going to feel rather badly if I keep distracting you from getting a decent breakfast.”

Not that he moves, of course. This is comfortable and warm and he has Greg so close… no, the only move he makes is to press his lips back in and continue the kiss, chaste despite the sense of passion behind it.

 

*

 

It's nearly ten more minutes before Greg can finally bring himself to let go of Mycroft. All he really wants is to lie here kissing all day, sharing this gentle and easy pleasure. Usually, their deeper kisses lead to sex - and while Greg can't hide his body's natural reaction, his hands make no attempt to slip beneath Mycroft's clothes. It's enjoyable just to be together. Not teenagers, he thinks. I can keep it in my pants this once.

It almost feels an intimate as sex - kissing with no hurry, no rush.

Until his phone's alarm begins to bleep, and he realises that in fact there might be rush.

"Think I can skip a shower," he murmurs, pulling himself back from Mycroft with reluctance. "I had one last night... I'll get breakfast going for us. D'you - think your driver would mind dropping me at the Yard on your way? It'll save me fighting commuters on the tube..."

 

*

 

“Of course.” Mycroft steals one last, brief kiss before forcing himself fully out of bed, every cell in his body begging him to please get back in. He did not sleep enough, it’s warm there, there’s Greg… .

“I shall be quick in the shower. Don’t want you to be late.”

Greg presents him with his smoothie as soon as he’s downstairs. Such a selfless act, Mycroft thinks, to make a breakfast entirely for someone else. He gathers everything into the dishwasher or the sink, and when the car is summoned he takes Greg’s hand in the back, affectionately stroking his thumb across Greg’s knuckles.

There is one more kiss as the car pulls up outside the yard, a dark and ominous-looking contrast to the other vehicles that appear there, the imposing exterior masking the warmth and affection within.

“I’ll see you tonight, Gregory.”

 

*

 

The thought that they're spending the week together makes saying goodbye so much easier. Greg shivers a little, cups Mycroft's face in his hands as they kiss, then slides back along the seat with reluctance.

"Sure. I'll head round to yours after work. We can make dinner together... maybe even get you some proper sleep."

His eyes shine. He's almost tempted to get hold of some massage oil - something with lavender in it - see if he can google 'how to give a proper back rub' on his lunch.

"Bye, love. See you tonight."

A last smile, a last gaze at Mycroft, and he lets himself out of the car.

He wants to watch it down the street - but knows it's probably best not to linger. It's not as if he'll see Mycroft waving through the tinted windows, either. In lieu, Greg contents himself by typing in a text as he makes his way up the stairs.

 

[08:02] Hope you have a good day :) If you cant have a good day... just have a day. I'll make it a good evening xxx

 

He hits send just as he enters the division - and is immediately distracted by the wolf whistle.

DS Stringer is sitting on the reception desk with Fiona, the administrator; he's got his arms folded, one leg cocked across the other, and he's opted for a strangely gaudy patterned tie. Greg is so distracted by the wolf-whistle that his brain skips over the handcuff pattern.

"Morning, boss," Ryan says - and the wolfish grin reminds Greg unnervingly of his twin. "Get a lift in, did you?"

It takes Greg a second to make the logic jump. "Oh... right." Bollocks. What're you doing, hanging out of windows? "Yeah. As it happens, I did."

"What was that, a jag?"

Greg frowns. "Something like that."

Ryan's eyes are far too bright. Greg doesn't like it. "Posh," Stringer remarks, and Greg immediately regrets ever teasing Mycroft with that word. "Were my eyes deceiving me, or... were those government plates?"

Greg's mouth thins. Bollocks, bollocks.

"She's got a minor role," he says, and it's the first time he's used that word: she. He's always avoided it until now. It's a lie and he hates it. "Nothing exciting."

"She's dropping you off in a jag with tinted windows," Stringer says, gleefully, "and it's nothing exciting?"

Greg decides this has gone on just far enough. He makes no comment, and frowns instead at Stringer's tie.

"Silly tie day for charity, is it? Get that off. This is Scotland Yard, not Comic Relief. We're preparing for a major trial. Turn up dressed like we are."

Stringer visibly bites his tongue. He gives Fiona a pointed look, which goes firmly ignored, then slides off her desk. He removes the tie as he wanders off across the division, and Greg watches him make some sly remark to another sergeant as he passes.

Annoyed, Greg glances back at Reception - and finds Fiona regarding him with fond sympathy. He gives her a small smile. She sighs, hands him his post, and murmurs, "His mother never told him."

"Mm?" says Greg.

She raises one eyebrow. "'Curiosity killed the cat'."

Greg huffs. "Think his mother forgot to tell him a few things," he says, and heads off to his office.

 

Chapter Text

The week flies by.

Not that Mycroft is counting, but Gregory has called him “love” seven times since Tuesday. After the first time he just stared blankly at the closed car door, his brain stuck entirely on the gap between the use of the term as a colloquial endearment and… the other way.

He’s decided it must be the former. It’s too soon for anything else, even if they do fit together like it’s something nature intended. Even if his heart swells every time he even thinks of Greg’s existence in his world.

Mycroft finds the tedious aspects of his job are much more bearable when he knows he’ll be seeing Gregory at the end of the day, even when that day’s end comes late and he’s toppling into Greg’s bed at midnight. The mornings are brighter when he wakes up and Greg is still in bed with him. Anthea has even had to remind him a time or two to be less bloody cheerful when meeting with certain foreign states, and the veneer that makes up the Iceman feels more and more like a mask he wears rather than a part of him with each passing day.

The downside is that by Friday he knows not having Greg with him every night is going to hurt. Even if it’s rational to give each other space during the trial, even if he’s certain it’s the right choice in order to make sure Gregory isn’t distracted.

It will hurt.

So the weekend must be made special in some way, to counteract that. It has taken what could be construed as bribery- vanishing away a manager’s frequent parking offenses, which he tasked Anthea with, she always enjoys that sort of negotiation- but Mycroft has acquired a reservation for Capra. The car will go round for Greg when he’s off shift and has had a chance to change and pack up whatever he wants for the weekend. Mycroft is hoping to make it to the restaurant before him, but things have been running long and there’s a chance he’ll need to go straight on from work.

At least his suits work just as well for fine dining as they do for intimidating diplomats.

“Anthea, where is the-”

“Blue folder, on your left, still waiting on Smallwood’s updates.”

“Lord. Just because she doesn’t always use her weekends….”

Anthea wandered round from her desk, smirking. “Worried we’ll miss our date, are we?”

We are not missing anything, thank you. You may keep well away from Inspector Lestrade.”

“Oooh, do you call him Inspector in b-”

“Out, please, thank you.”

She pretends to pout, but turns on her heel and reaches for the door, looking over her shoulder. “I can get you there from here in fifteen minutes. So you have until precisely 6:45pm to finish up.”

“Fifteen?” He lifts his eyes, disbelieving, and sees her smirking. Oh, no. He’s seen her drive- really drive- only a few times previously, though she was the most pleased with herself when they had to make a very hasty exit to a private airfield and she went through nearly every maneuver in the tactical driving handbook shaking their actively shooting tails while Mycroft made a concerted effort not to vomit from the sharp turns. “We’ll try to keep a bit more of a buffer than that, unless you’re looking for Gregory to arrest you.”

Her eyes glitter. “Has he ever pretended to arr-”

“Out!”

 

*



Sally's good enough to give Greg a lift home. He didn't have his car with him today - he was dropped off by Mycroft a street away, so that Ryan Stringer couldn't get another eyeful.

Saying goodbye each morning has been getting harder, not easier. Sunday afternoon's going to hurt. Greg has to be at the Central Criminal Court early on Monday, and he can't jeopardise that by waking up cuddled with his lover. He doesn't think Mycroft would permit it, either.

It means there'll be a goodbye on Sunday that's going to last a little longer - a week, if they're lucky. If they're really lucky, Greg might even be back with Mycroft on Friday night, wondering what he ever worried about.

But there'll be time apart, and Greg's not sure how he's going to take that.

This week's been wonderful.

It's strange to see it reaching its end.

"What're you doing this weekend?" Sally asks from the seat beside Greg, and it's only then that he realises he was staring at the traffic in a daze. He switches his brain back on, and gives her a half-smile.

"Dinner, tonight... got to get myself scrubbed up."

"With - ?"

Greg's heart squeezes; his smile grows a little. "With."

Sally gives him a bright-eyed glance. "Good," she says, returning her attention to the traffic lights.

Greg isn't sure why Sally's interest is comfortable, but Stringer's really isn't. There's something about the space Sally's giving him that makes him feel safe. She wants to know that it's going okay - but other than that, she's letting him keep it to himself.

It makes Greg want to tell her first. He can't - not yet. Not after seven weeks. Not right before the trial.

It'll be her first, though.

Giving a few more details doesn't seem bad. "Staying over, so we can have some time together... maybe get brunch on Sunday. Set me up for the week."

He watches Sally's hands tighten gently on the wheel. It's happiness, he realises - she's glad for him - and it startles him, in a way, that strength of feeling. Then, he supposes Sally saw him go through the divorce. She saw the whole thing blow his life apart. She nearly doubled her workload to keep things running while he was limping, fighting to keep it quiet from the chief superintendent. The guy wasn't the type to take personal circumstances as any excuse for fallen productivity.

Greg hadn't realised it affected Sally, seeing all that.

It's comforting, seeing her glad. She can see what Mycroft's doing for him. It's not just in Greg's head.

"We'll be fine next week," she says. Even the comfortable change of subject makes Greg's heart expand slightly. "Everyone's done their bit. We've got you prepared. Just stand up there, tell them the Fentons are bastards, tell the Fentons' lawyer to get in the sea, and we'll be laughing."

Greg finds himself grinning, watching the traffic sailing along beside them.

"We'll be sitting in the pub this time next week," he says. "S'going to be fine."

Ten minutes later, they pull up to a halt outside Greg's flat.

"Have a good weekend," he says, as he leans in through the passenger door. He gives his sergeant a smile. "Lots of R&R. Lots of sleep."

She raises an eyebrow at him, grinning. "You get some sleep too, yeah? At least a couple of hours."

"Ha. Yeah - thanks. See you Monday."

As he lets himself into the building, Greg waves her off along the street. She has to squeeze past a parked Citroën to get out - same model as Andy's, just a muted silver-grey. The woman sitting behind the wheel is on the phone, and couldn't give a shit. Greg hopes she's gone by the time Mycroft's car gets here.

He heads upstairs, puts the radio on for Friday night music, and gets straight into the shower.

 

*

 

Mycroft pauses before the coupe and wonders which deities he ought to pray to that Anthea does not get them both killed in this thing. Bond’s car. Of course she has Bond’s car. Not her usual work car, either, which makes him consider whether she knew there would be a timing issue and brought this one just to show off.

“Stop it, sir, and get in.”

She’s far too pleased with herself. Mycroft wonders if there are additional safety belts he can wear. “You realize this is a bit on the nose?”

Anthea arches a brow. “Frankly I’m surprised you do.”

“Just- try and make an effort at traffic laws, please.” He clutches his briefcase to his chest when he buckles in- she’ll get that home for him- and pats down his hair, which has been threatening to curl all day. Hopefully Gregory will not be too offended that he hasn’t had time to fully clean himself up from the day and only managed to put on a bit more of the Penhaligon’s Opus 1870 he keeps in his desk.  

He has to grip the door rail a time or two but they make it with a minute to spare on his reservation and only a little queasy from a few hard turns.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to pick you two up?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Pah. You’re no fun. H e would like the car, you know.” She peels off from the curb with a maneuver that he’s certain is not entirely legal. Mycroft straightens his suit before he goes in, ready with an apology for his tardiness and relatively bedraggled state, certain that Greg’s gotten there before him.

 

*

 

It's odd to be here alone.

Greg knows he's perfectly entitled to be here. He arrived in a posh car, driven by a posh driver, and he's waiting for his posh we-haven't-yet-said-boyfriend - while wearing his second poshest suit. He hopes Mycroft doesn't mind that the best has been saved for court on Monday. He's not sure whether showing up with dinner stains on his jacket would have gone down well with the judge.

All in all, Greg's welcome to be sitting here - he knows he is, and the staff have been nothing but lovely for the ten minutes he's been waiting. The server asked if he wanted to order any wine for the table. Greg took a quick glance at the prices, and decided with a flash of heat across his face that he'd better wait until Mycroft gets here. He's now sitting with tap water, trying not to notice the occasional glance from other diners.

He's sure that it's all in his mind - but it's easy to feel like he's giving away more than he realises. He worries he has little clues hanging on him like baubles on a Christmas tree, marking him out as the type who's only here on someone else's visa card. He doesn't know how to sit and pass the time alone in a posh restaurant.

Tentatively, unsure if this is allowed, Greg slides his phone from his pocket. He checks it down behind the very white table-cloth.

 

[18:52] Hi. Any chance you could have the girls this w/e?

 

Greg hesitates, biting his cheek. He's not seen his nieces in weeks - but there's one place he's going to be from now until Sunday night. It's with Mycroft, until the very last moment he has to leave. He won't cope next week without it.

 

[18:58] sorry :( Big trial starting monday... in crown court all week. Still finishing prep. Really sorry x

 

Andy's reply comes quickly, and sinks Greg's heart into his stomach.

 

[18:59] Okay.

 

Rubbing his thumb nervously across the screen, Greg wonders if he should offer some other date - anything to turn that flat 'okay' into something else - next weekend, maybe.

His grip tightens.

That'll be the weekend after the trial - and he'll want to be with Mycroft then, too.

But he's struggling to imagine a weekend where he'll be okay not seeing Mycroft.

"Shit," he mumbles. Can't deal with this now. Not this week. Not the trial weekends. He closes his messages and locks his phone, telling himself he's a bad brother - a bad uncle. He'll make up for it after the trial.

He needs Mycroft this weekend.

 

*

 

Sweat and Anthea’s creative driving have conspired, and as Mycroft makes his way into Capra the curl he normally carefully slicks back springs free. For anyone else his look is chic but relaxed, after all he’s still in a perfectly tailored suit, but for him it’s almost scandalously casual.

Probably look entirely ridiculous- should have made the reservation for later, I do know better than to trust Smallwood’s timetables.

The wait staff leads him to Greg, and the very sight of him seems to calm any anxiety Mycroft has about arriving late. His heart lifts, and he finds some of his ‘I am an important man’ confidence again as he strolls to the table.

“Gregory,” he breathes. “I’m so sorry you had to wait. I was held up.” With work is understood. It’s always with work .

There’s a brief hesitation when Mycroft tamps down the impulse to grasp Gregory’s face and kiss him senseless- it’s not quite that kind of crowd at Capra- and ops for a suitably chaste embrace instead, along with a discreet circling of his thumb along Greg’s back.

I missed you. Even for just a work day, I missed you.

Once they are seated again, Mycroft can’t resist immediately crossing one of his ankles over Gregory’s under the table. He doesn’t want to give up the contact, rules of restaurant propriety be damned.

“Have you ordered anything yet?”

 

*

 

God, there you are -

Greg doesn't even remember getting out of the chair. By the time that Mycroft gets to him, he's on his feet and his arms are reaching.

The embrace sends a glut of calm gushing through his every nerve. He can't help but hold on a little - just a moment more, just a second more, just to breathe Mycroft's scent and be held.

God.

There you are.

"It's alright," he says, and it is alright. "The car got me here a little early... m'glad you're okay. It's good to see you." Like we've been apart for weeks. Not even been twelve hours.

It's all Greg can do, as they sit down, not to reach across the table and take both of Mycroft's hands. His ankle crosses with Mycroft's at once, holding, and he realises he's breathing again. He's okay again. The sight of Mycroft makes him feel calm in a way that nothing else does, and his heart responds with soft and instinctive joy to the sound of his voice.

"Not yet... I wanted to wait for you." Smiling, a little timid, he gives Mycroft one of the menus he'd been left with to wait. His eyes shine. "You - l-look amazing... is that the same suit as this morning? It looks different..."

Christ, I want to hold your hands - I just want to hug you again. I missed you.

"You look really good," he says, hoping the heat he can feel in his cheeks isn't visible. "I - don't know what you've done, but... you smell good, too. I really missed you."

 

*

 

“I missed you too.”

Gregory is so warm, so complimenting- Mycroft has a hard time believing that he honestly thinks this work-roughed suit is a good luck, but he can see it in Greg’s eyes and the faint blush in his cheeks that it’s true.

“It’s the same- just the post-work edition, which I am glad my cologne is suitably hiding. Bit of a trying day, sadly. You look lovely yourself, Gregory- I hope your team is feeling prepared?”

Mycroft reaches for his water, making a point to brush Greg’s hand with his fingertips as he grabs it. He feels… whole, now that he’s with Greg. Complete, somehow, when earlier he was lacking.

“I am-” he breaks off as the waiter comes over, having sensed that Mycroft will be the source of the wine choice, and Mycroft orders a bottle of a rich, peppery Syrah.  “Thank you.”

He waits for the waiter to leave before he continues, stealing another swipe of his fingers over Greg’s knuckles. “I am very glad we have this weekend, Gregory. The entire week has been… wonderful, really.”

 

*

 

Andy flickers through Greg's mind; guilt heaves quietly behind his ribs.

He wouldn't change this moment for anything in the world - he needs this moment. This isn't just about hope anymore. A few nights of quietly pretending to live together, and Greg now isn't sure how he'd function without the weekend ahead of them. He doesn't even know how they're going to spend it. Part of him just wants to stay in bed, making love.

He only knows that he needs it, and that Andy would understand. They never really talked about Karen much - Andy's not the comforting type - but he must have glimpsed what Greg was going through, and some day he'll see how different things are now. He'd want Greg to be happy. He'd understand.

Surely he'd understand.

Staring across the table, Greg tries to brush his brother from his thoughts. It takes him a moment - and in the time it takes, his fingers have curled nervously with Mycroft's of their own volition.

Realising, Greg loosens his grip a little and glances at nearby tables. The colour rises in his face.

"M'glad we have the weekend, too..." he says. "I'm just - glad. Glad I've got you. R-Really glad."

He swallows a little, breathing in. Why am I upset? Why the hell does this hurt? What am I worrying about?

Reaching for his glass of water, Greg drinks to let his emotions settle. There's nothing wrong, he tells himself - they're just having dinner. It doesn't matter that the week ahead's going to be tough. There's time until then. It's not goodbye. It's just a week.

"I - might not let go of you at all until Sunday," he admits, glancing at Mycroft with a vulnerability in his eyes that he's not felt in weeks. "Hope that's okay. I'm a bit - y'know. The trial. M'just sort of..." He breathes it out, and drinks. "Man. I... need a holiday."

 

*

 

“We’ll have one,” Mycroft reassures him. “Just us.”

Greg does look a bit… frayed. Mycroft hopes his team is supporting him- he knows Greg is the sort to do all the work if he has to, even happily, but he shouldn’t need to.

He wishes he’d been able to arrive earlier and secure one of the tables in the back, but Capra was too popular to reserve specific tables and the one they’ve landed at is a bit more visible to the windows than he’d usually like, a bit too public to just hold Greg’s hand like he wants to do without Greg being… more out.

So he settles for curling his fingers back against Greg’s, hidden by a water glass.

“You don’t have to think about it at all this weekend, alright? Not it you don’t want to. We can do whatever you like.”

The corner of his lip curls up fondly, his eyes soft and earnest.

“You know I’ll take care of you.”

 

*

 

Greg visibly shudders, taking in the words like he's needed them all his life.

"I'd - r-really like that, actually. All that." His fingers stretch a little, brushing Mycroft's with quiet repressed longing. The look on his lover's face is almost too wonderful to cope with - all that fondness, all that honesty. It's amazing to be here, and he knows that he'll settle soon.

He's looking forward to getting home with Mycroft, too.

It crosses his heart, with a slight strain, that he'd like to be taken care of in bed tonight. He doesn't even know what that would involve. He doesn't even know what he'd ask for. Just skin, and sounds, and Mycroft's hands on his body. Gently fucking, maybe. Kissing. Mycroft's mouth biting softly at his neck.

Shivering again, Greg returns his water glass to his lips and finishes it.

"We're as prepared as we'll ever be," he says. He's spent days telling his team the same thing; the armour is comfortable and familiar, and saying it calms his pulse just a little. "Just a case of waiting now. Honestly, I - need to spend time with you this weekend. The trial's going to be a pain, but it's - i-it's the thought of not seeing you as much. I'm sorry if that's heavy. It's - just not going to be easy."

He looks into Mycroft's eyes, hoping he understands - hoping it won't be easy for Mycroft, too.

 

*

 

“I know. I….”

Mycroft’s instincts loathe admitting to weakness. It’s dangerous to have them. Dangerous to him personally, and dangerous to the quality of his work. But something about Greg makes him not mind, so much, feeling a little vulnerable, and being honest about it. He has to be honest, because Greg is worth being honest.

“I feel the same. It’s going to be... quite difficult. We’ll have to- you can text me, whenever you want. I will as well. Calls at night.” Looking into Greg’s tentative eyes and discussing being apart in any way feels like Mycroft’s heart is being gently shredded. He forces himself to breathe.

One week. It’s not that long. We’ll manage.

Mycroft makes an effort at being lighthearted, otherwise they may end up simply sitting here and staring into each other’s eyes, pining before they’re even apart. “ Just let me know when you’ll be on the stand so I don’t set your phone off in the middle of it.”

It occurs to him that this will happen again. Mycroft does not go abroad regularly, but certain summits are unavoidable.

Countries away.

The thought is a blade through his insides. He shoves it aside, smile only flickering a little, saved from further consideration of his own vulnerabilities by the arrival of the waiter with the wine.

“And have you decided on your order?” The waiter is smiling in that pristine high-end-service sort of way that makes cheerfulness a porcelain veneer, but Mycroft can tell that he’s really only asking Mycroft- eyes flicking up and down once in a considering way. When the waiter’s eyes skim flick to Greg out of obligation Mycroft realizes two things immediately: one, the waiter does not think Greg belongs in this establishment; and two, in his rush to get out of the office he has not entirely managed to turn off his own internal analytics.

His eyes narrow mildly at the waiter. Twenty-six, gay, aspiring- failing- actor; does not think Greg and I are here on a date; does not find me attractive but does think I must have money and it may be worth bedding me for it.

Mycroft blinks. Oh lord, I’m old enough to qualify as “sugar daddy” material.

He clears his throat, slightly thrown both by the influx of information and the nature of it. “Let’s say the wood-fired oysters with the… bacon and horseradish to start. We’ll decide on the rest by the time those are ready, thank you.”

His eyes follow the waiter for a moment before he turns his smile warmly back to Greg. “It’s all sharing plates here, Gregory, so pick anything you like. The goat belly and the pig face- which is not what it sounds like- are particularly excellent.”

 

*

 

It's hard to hold onto distress too tightly when you're being recommended the pig face.

The surprise escapes Greg as a nervous bubble of a laugh. With it escapes some of his anxiety; the rush is an enormous relief. It shows in his face.

God, this... this is why I...

After a grateful mouthful of wine, Greg finds a smile for Mycroft at last.

"Good... I like sharing. Think we turn every place into sharing plates, don't we?"

As he looks down the menu, it all seems amazing - and while he knows that none of them think he should be here, Mycroft does. That's what matters. Mycroft stands like a shield against what people think.

Let Andy be funny with me. Let people wonder. Let them think I've gone mad.

So long as there's you.

So long as there's always you.

"Think I trust your judgement here," Greg confesses, and risks a glance around the room - elegant people, elegant surroundings. "Surprised you've not been asked to clip my lead to the railings outside and come back for me later..."

His eyes glitter across the table.

 

*

 

“I believe that would be a rather different sort of club,” Mycroft quips.

He strokes his ankle along Greg’s calf fondly, leaning forward and speaking low, just for Greg.

“I don’t care what anyone thinks, you know. They’re wrong if they don’t see how wonderful you are, and you do belong anywhere you might wish to go. I’ll take you to meet the queen if you like, just to prove it. I think she’d like you.”

I want to hold you. I wish this was our couch where I could just hold you.

Mycroft hopes Greg can see it.

A lovely dinner out doesn’t quite compare to the simple joy of being able to touch whenever- however- they want, or curl up against each other. Once they get home Mycroft might not be able to let Greg go.

The waiter comes back- they never take very long with the oysters-and sets the first course down between them. “Decided on the rest?” Only looking at Mycroft, again, voice a little softer, warmer. Flirting.

Mycroft feels a muscle in his jaw tense. Don’t be rude to the waitstaff. It never ends well. Even if he’s willfully ignoring that this is a date.

He shifts into his cooler ‘political meeting’ tone- the sort he employs when he has to be cordial to less than useful diplomats. “Let’s do the goat belly confit, the pig face, the broccoli… and the halibut. Thank you.”

 

*

 

Christ.

Tea and crumpets with Lizzie.

Greg's face twists with an irrepressible smile, his eyes shining in the candlelight. He doesn't doubt that Mycroft could. It's hard to believe now that they met in a cat café. This whole world came out of nowhere, and it feels at once so incredible and so normal that it takes his breath.

Before Greg can respond, they're joined again by the waiter.

Something about the tone sends an unsettling flicker across Greg's chest. He shifts a little, certain at once that he's being over-sensitive - the guy's just being nice. He's a waiter. He wants a decent tip. He's addressing himself to the one whose wallet obviously has the tip in it, not the one who's possibly hired by the hour.

The tone of Mycroft's reply has him thinking twice.

As the waiter walks away, Greg watches him go in silence. His eyes don't leave the man's back until he's well out of sight across the room. They then drop to the tablecloth, and stay there for a moment as Greg reaches for wine.

Drinking covers the long, silent, steadying breath he takes. Half the glass is gone by the time he puts it down again.

"How's Anthea?" he asks.

He's never asked after her before; in fact, Greg's pretty certain the woman doesn't need anyone asking after her. It's something to say to stop him thinking.

 

*

 

“Likely violating several traffic laws at the moment,” Mycroft says a bit flippantly, taking an oyster onto his plate and trying to suppress his irritation. He doesn’t realize what’s amiss until he looks up.

Oh, bollocks.

The flashes across Greg’s face are so obvious- guilt, jealousy, worry. He can almost feel his heart crumple.

Don’t look like that because of me. Please, never because of me.

“Gregory.”

His hand extends across the table.

This is a date. I don’t care who sees how much I- how fond I am of you.

“I am here with you, and you alone. You. I am all yours and only yours.”

Please take my hand. Please.

“There’s only you, Gregory.”

 

*

 

Greg's eyes widen in alarm. His hand withdraws from the table at once, shock opening his features.

Christ -

That's -

Jesus, was I - ?

His pulse kicks up as he stares at Mycroft in fast-kindling panic. He doesn't know what's worse - the thought that he was glaring daggers at the guy without realising, or the thought that that's one hell of a defensive reaction. 'There's only you.' Those words are terrifying.

Fuck.

Me. Must be me. I must've been... Jesus, he's just a waiter - was I really - am I that jealous?

I didn't think I was -

Shit, what was I doing?

He'd thought he'd just looked, taken a drink, pushed the thought aside.

Am I that much of a mess?

"S-Sorry - " Colour floods his face. The shock remains, his eyes wide and nervous as he struggles to understand what Mycroft saw in his face that needs 'there's only you' to soothe it. "I - I'm not - "

Just a waiter.

"I-I don't care. I didn't mean to - "

 

Chapter Text

The realization hits like a truck.

He wasn’t showing me anything. I analysed him.

The one thing I told myself I wouldn’t do.

Mycroft draws back, settles his hands in his lap, smoothing over creases that aren’t there. There’s a little needling of a headache coming on at the back of his skull.

“No- that’s- my fault, Gregory, it’s….”

Dammit. How to explain this in a way that does not make me sound like an insane man.

The headache twinges. He’d been left at this point before. The explanation of why sometimes he reacts before he is meant to know. Sees things that aren’t there. It’s too disturbing, usually. Abnormal. People don’t like knowing you can see through them in an instant.

He very much hopes Greg won’t be one of them.

“I employ a technique for work, very much like… cold reading, in a way. I usually turn it off in my personal life but it’s not quite shutting all the way down today. I can… understand more than I should. About the waiter and his intentions. About you. You didn’t- it’s just me, reading into things. Too much.”

It’s not you. You are normal. I am… not.

Mycroft sighs and rubs his fingers over the bridge of his nose. He might as well use it if it won’t turn itself off anyway. “Pick anyone in here and I’ll show you. Anyone at all.”

 

*

 

'Cold reading'...?

Isn't that the thing dodgy psychics do?

The concern that his miracle boyfriend is about to announce intimate knowledge of the spirit world flickers plainly over Greg's face. It goes quiet as he decides there are worse things to discover six weeks into a new relationship, but the worry doesn't quite go away. He reaches through instinct to his cufflinks, fiddling with one of them, not daring to touch the table again yet.

He glances around the nearby people. He's not sure what this is, but it seems like it's not his place to involve them. They're all just eating, pretending he's not there.

Swallowing, he meets his lover's eyes.

He supposes if Mycroft is about to start conjuring up dead relatives, he might as well conjure up some Greg would recognise.

"Me," he says.

 

*

 

Oh for fuck’s sake.

Mycroft takes a breath, chewing his lower lip. This is entirely the opposite of what he was hoping for- but he can do this. He’s not like Sherlock, spouting out everything that he sees. If he becomes aware of something… difficult… he doesn’t have to share it.

“Very well.”

He opens the floodgates.

Mycroft has seen Sherlock do this and he imagines he looks somewhat similar- eyes intense, gaze focused, though he knows he’s not as inclined to physically manifesting the process as his brother. He’s far chillier in technique, really, detached, not as furious as Sherlock’s feral processing.

“You had a donut when you arrived at work. Glazed. Someone’s birthday. The coffee maker shorted out at some point and you duct taped the wires- I hope your unit is providing a new one, as that is a fire hazard.”

His head cants, considering. So much minutiae in a day-to-day life. Much of it he knows. Some of it he shouldn’t. How long Greg lived alone before him. How often he slept on the couch before that.

“Falafel wrap for lunch. A colleague drove you home- a woman, I am guessing DS Donovan.”

“There was a phone call earlier- no, a text- you’re… mildly concerned over.”

Mycroft closes his mouth, tries to stem the tide of information. That should be sufficient. Nothing too... infringing.

His eyes refocus onto Greg’s. “It’s a large part of what I do. Professionally. Does that…?”

Help you understand or make you hate me?

 

*

 

Greg is silent for a very long time. He gazes across the table, unmoving, looking at Mycroft as if seeing him for the first time.

At last, lowering his eyes, he says,

"Andy."

He reaches for his cuff again, turning the plain silver stud there.

"Wanted me to have the girls for the weekend," he mumbles. "I - wanted to be with you. Told him no. He's - being a bit - "

Greg's eyes shut. When they open again, there's a shake to his voice.

"You're - running surveillance on me? Some kind of - k-keeping track of - "

 

*

 

“No.”

Mycroft exhales. Greg hasn’t run immediately off.

That is… promising, yes? A bit promising. I hope.

Looking at Greg’s eyes, however, he isn’t entirely sure. He doesn’t want to turn the analytics back on to find out.

“You showered and changed but you’re wearing the same shoes you did at work. There’s sugar on the edge- donut glaze. Falafel crumbs by the sole. You don’t usually get to sit and eat, so a wrap is the likely choice. Your watchband has brushed against a strong adhesive and your coat sticks to it when you get close enough- the same adhesive smells of burned coffee and a bit of powder-scent deodorant, I detected it when I first arrived. DS Donovan keeps a stick in her glove box that she’s more than likely dropped on the passenger seat a time or two while driving.”

He’s kept his hands in his lap, one set of nails quietly running along his opposite palm.

“You’ve unconsciously touched your phone five times since I arrived and it appears you are nervous it might go off. Not a happy call, then.”

Mycroft looks down. He hasn’t really touched his wine. Or the oysters.

 

*

 

God...

Christ, you're...

Greg's throat clenches. He wants to get up and hug Mycroft. He's never wanted to touch so much.

"You're a genius." His voice breaks. "A-Aren't you? You're - you're an actual..."

God. Fuck.

Greg breathes in hard.

"I'm sorry," he breathes. "I'm not jealous - not really, I'm - I j-just - I know you're here with me, I know it's just us, I know it's nothing you've done, I just... Christ, I keep having to lie about you. It's messing me up. I'm really sorry. And my - e-ex had affairs. Several."

The colour rushes across his face.

"You - probably know all that, though."

 

*

 

Mycroft’s eyes flick up, hope flooding back in, along with a hint of surprise.

“Oh- er.” Genius isn’t the usual term.

He lifts his hand out of his lap, tentatively places it back on the table.

“I don’t, really. I… try not to do that to people I… like.” He takes a breath. “I had guessed about at least one affair, however. But that was… more of an inference.”

The hand slides across, repositions the fat candle on the table to block the view, and opens to Greg.

“You don’t need to think about it as… hiding me. It’s a choice to make about privacy, and your privacy is important. No one has to know. It’s not their business.”

 

*

 

Greg reaches across the table. His fingers wrap with Mycroft's at once, holding tight even as he shakes. Mine. My boyfriend.

You've got me.

Got you, too.

"Just - s-starting to feel deceptive. M'not good at it. Never have been. Especially when it's something - " His fingers tighten; he swallows around the words. " - i-important to me. That's all."

There's a pause.

Greg tries a nervous smile, his eyes a little bright.

"That's - incredible. What you can do. I can't believe you just... look, and... you can see - " He shivers, smile widening. "J-Jesus. Always knew you were amazing."

 

*

 

Mycroft strokes with his thumb, easy, comforting circles along Greg’s hand, pushing away any thoughts of his own skill at deception....

Sherlock. His brother. My brother. Not so different with the secrets that matter.

I really ought to tell him.

“You need not tell anyone until you are ready- but I am certain when you do everyone who really cares, who wants you to be happy, will be happy for you.”

He looks a little abashed about Greg’s praising of his unique skill set, cheeks tinting red just a little. “Amazing is not… not what I normally hear regarding that. I trained myself for years just to be able to turn it off in social situations- bit awkward to know everything about everyone in a school setting, to be honest.”

Only work had ever acknowledged as a good thing. A tool . Mycroft was grateful for even that designation, when he started.

An almost shy smile rises to his lips, only a hint of his usual confidence twisting up at the edge. “I’m… sorry I didn’t bring it up earlier. I thought it might be... off-putting.”

 

*

 

Even after weeks of meeting at every chance they get, staying up half the night to make love, and texting each other so often that Greg's had to increase the monthly limit on his phone, it still tugs his heart to hear it in words that Mycroft wants Greg to like him.

Brushing his fingertips over Mycroft's wrist, easing just gently beneath his cuff, Greg holds his eyes and smiles.

Shy.

Not often I see you shy.

"You'll have to try harder," he says, softly. He watches Mycroft for a moment, his face warm with quiet wonder. "M'not put off. God, when I - when I think of all the crap I'm carrying, it's just... it's not a problem, love. I mean it."

He draws in a breath.

"M'sorry about..." He glances across the restaurant, embarrassed. He squeezes Mycroft's hand. "Did you - mean it?" His smile shines a little. "All mine. Only mine."

 

*

 

He truly means it. He’s not frightened of me.

A wave of warm affection ripples through Mycroft at the thought.

“Mmm. Yes.” Mycroft’s smile grows bolder as he looks at Greg. “There’s supposed to be a talk, isn’t there. Agreeing to that sort of thing on both sides, deciding on a label.”

His hand reciprocates the squeeze.

“I don’t want to see anyone else, Greg. Just you.” Mycroft may be new to the more emotional side of this, but that he is sure of. He has no desire to carry on with his past methods, bedding certain agents when they happen to be in the same country. “I’m… not sure of the nomenclature, but- I would like you to be my- boyfriend. Partner. Officially.”

His eyes glitter.

“Even if we’re not telling anyone yet. I still want to be able to think it.”

 

*

 

It's impossible not to grin. Greg tries to hide it for all of a second then gives up, gripping Mycroft's hand in an effort to contain the enormous bubble of joy rising in his chest.

"I'd love that. Really love that. Honestly I can't imagine being this happy with someone else. Nowhere near. I just... y-you're amazing, Mycroft. You've always been amazing."

He bites into his lip, looking down at the tablecloth.

"Been yours for a while now," he admits. "I don't mind what word feels good for you. So long as I get to be it."

Realising the food's been ignored between them for a good few minutes now, he grins a little and nudges the plate Mycroft's way.

"Help me with these oysters?" he says, fondly. "Figure we've got something worth celebrating."

 

*

 

“Indeed we do.” Mycroft takes one, lip quirking as he lifts the shell and tilts the lot into his mouth.

The waiter returns as he’s washing it down with his wine, bearing the halibut and the broccoli. “Still working on the oysters? That’s fine, we’ll just make a little room….”

Mycroft can see it just before it happens- trajectory of the waiter’s wrist, Greg’s wine glass. His own hand snaps out. He didn’t spend years training his reflexes for intelligence field work only to see some foolish child spill wine on his boyfriend.

His fingers wrap the stem just as it begins to tilt and holds it tightly, letting the wine still and the waiter realize before he slowly moves it to the side, ignoring the start of the waiter’s gasping realization to direct his words to Gregory alone. “Quite a near miss there, wasn’t it, darling? Wouldn’t want any of this on your lovely suit.”

The tone is mild but pointedly stated for the waiter’s hearing. Yes, this is a date, no, I will not be giving you my number, and yes, I know very well you did that intentionally.

The waiter is blathering an apology and Mycroft gives him his best frosty smile. “Just an accident, wasn’t it?” Accident seems to imply that if the waiter tries such a maneuver again Mycroft will ensure he has one. “Then I’m sure we are quite fine. Agreed, sweetheart?” he asks with a genuinely warm, if significantly mischievous, smile for Greg.

 

*

 

Greg's never wanted Mycroft to take him somewhere quiet quite so badly. He grins, presses his teeth into his lower lip, and reaches for his wine glass. Part of him wants to be nice; who wouldn't make a pass at Mycroft?

But there's no need for tipping wine on people - and Greg was here first - and this isn't just a date. This is dinner with his partner, and for the first time in years Greg decides he deserves a bit more respect than he's getting.

It's a new feeling; it feels good.

Keeping his eyes on the waiter, he takes a sip of wine - a rather slow sip - then says,

"No worries, mate. We all do silly things. Sure you'll get the hang of it... just need a bit more practice."

He winks.

 

*

 

Mycroft can almost see the moment the waiter gets it. It comes with a well-concealed anger, both that he’d read the table wrong and that he’d been caught out engaging in unprofessional conduct- Mycroft isn’t sure whether he’s more irritated with himself or with his diners. The man slides right back into the official slightly blank cheerful mask that is his only hope of a reasonable tip. “Terribly sorry! Your other two dishes should be ready shortly.”

He scuttles with remarkable speed away and out of view.

A sly grin creeps across Mycroft’s face.

“I think there will not be further problems there.” He arches a brow. “Do you know how terribly handsome you look when you wink like that?”

 

*

 

Greg's face crumples with a smile.

"Mycroft... be serious." He brushes his foot gently against his lover's ankle beneath the table, settling them back together. "Politest way I could think to say, 'I'm sitting here, mate'."

He doesn't want their food... interfered with. He doubts that really happens in restaurants like this, but all the same - someone who'd spill wine on him on purpose is probably the type. He hopes the guy's still hoping for a decent tip from Mycroft. He supposes that if you were a waiter looking for a rich someone to look after you, this would be the place to do it.

It makes him glad he didn't have a clue about Mycroft until Anthea broke into his flat.

He'd be daft about Mycroft if they were sitting in a Burger King right now, sharing a box meal. Posh food and candlelight are nice, but until Mycroft arrived, Greg felt as if the place had nothing for him.

Taking a fork, reaching carefully to try some of the broccoli, he gives Mycroft a small smile.

"You must get a lot of that. People seeing..." He gestures gently - the suit, the power. "M'sorry. That must be really weird."

 

*

 

“I think I’m sadly rather used to it.” He sips a bit of the wine. “When I travel for work, that version of myself is typically the only version I have for the trip… I rarely have the freedom to turn it off. Even if I am browsing a museum, what I represent- it often has to be kept up.”

Mycroft slices off a bit of the halibut for himself, the scent of the blueberry sauce that comes with it drifting across his plate. He can feel his mouth water.

“There was a point when I thought I might just… become that person. That there would be a day I would wake up and not wish to read my favorite tales, or go out and make friends with a cat.”

He smiles warmly at Greg.

“I am exceedingly glad that did not occur.”

 

*

 

Greg's eyes crinkle at the edges as he smiles. Ever since he made DI, he's been aware of the difference between power and responsibility. They're not at all the same thing. It looks like even at Mycroft's level, it's a keen balancing act of the two.

Greg can't imagine coping with that sort of pressure all the time. He's been under enough stress at the thought of having to explain to a judge that a group of known criminals committed crimes.

"I guess it's easy to do, that high-up. I mean... it's easy enough for coppers to work themselves into an early grave, and we're not running the country. Everyone can mix-up care and obsession... 'specially if you've not got a lot of other things to care about."

He tries a little piece of halibut; his expression creases with enjoyment as he tastes the sauce. Jesus. That's amazing. He picks up another little piece just to check it really was that good.

"D'you ever feel like - at our age, I mean - it's... kinda sink or swim? You look around at some of the blokes you know, and just think... 'Christ, tell me that's not me'." With a guilty glance, he adds, "Maybe it's a divorced bloke thing. I don't know. Seems like it's easy to go down like a stone at this point. I've got old school friends who were made redundant, and just seemed to give up. I feel guilty seeing them. So little you can say, though."

 

*

 

“Yes- in some ways. Redundancy tends to be slightly less of an issue in my line, but… some do give up. It can be a lot to cope with.”

Former field agents, usually ones returned with some form of injury or PTSD who didn’t know how to adapt to a life behind a desk, were the first coming to mind. They usually ended up in some distant, unimportant posting where they could pretend they still mattered.

Some of them were simply cut off by the security services. Abandoned to public life. Sink or swim.

“We often see… a lot of early burnout, as opposed to later. Less people marry in the first place, though I’d imagine the life of the longtime bachelor is not that dissimilar from the divorced… it’s easy to throw oneself into work to quiet the rest of it.”

He takes some of the broccoli onto his plate to join the halibut- there’s bleu cheese under it that is blending very intriguingly with the flavor of the wine.

“I think, at a certain point… you can’t worry about the ones who give up. They have to fend for themselves, or you risk falling down with them.”

Brothers too.

It wasn’t the first time he’d wondered if Sherlock was potentially a lost cause. But he couldn’t quite get himself to believe it. He still wanted- needed- Sherlock to be… salvageable.

 

*

 

Greg huffed, his mouth upturning in a smile.

"Easier said than done," he says. He takes a drink of wine, deciding he should probably elaborate. "Andy - wasn't great, before he quit teaching. Went through a bad patch... gave his wife a bit of a hard time. I'm still hoping the plumbing works out for him."

He took another piece of halibut.

"I did what I could to help," he said. "Came a point where I think he decided I was turning into our mum... when does checking on someone become fussing? But he got himself sorted out in the end..."

Biting the inside of his cheek, Greg added,

"I got what I deserved when the divorce kicked off. Warned me I was going off the rails... told me women don't cheat if you keep them happy."

 

*

 

“Mmm,” Mycroft says knowingly to the first part- how often has Sherlock told him to stop fussing. Or spying.

Not that it’s stopped him.

The latter bit, however, has Mycroft’s eyes narrowing slightly. I suddenly have the feeling I won’t quite like your brother.

“Rubbish. If he really believes that....” He probably has far more problems in his own marriage than you think. Mycroft shakes his head as his fingers find his wine glass and twist round the stem.   “Keeping someone happy has nothing to do with it. I’ve seen politicians ‘slip’ who had the most attentive, loving spouses they could ask for. They simply saw an opportunity and either did not think they’d be caught or did not care.”

His eyes soften, his foot curls against Greg’s fondly.

“I’m sure you did not deserve him saying that to you, no matter how much fussing you’d done.”

 

*

 

Greg smiles a little, grateful for the comforting curl of a foot around his own. God... if we were alone. He has a feeling he'd have clung to Mycroft like a baby monkey all evening if they weren't in public. Both their hearts seem to be close to the surface.

Sharing, he thinks, while we can.

Like I'm being sent to the moon for a month.

"I think he just wanted to give me a taste of my own medicine, to be honest. Maybe he thought I was interfering when he wasn't great. 'Turnabout is fair play' and all that."

Greg watches Mycroft eat a little more, his eyes fond despite the subject matter.

"Then, he's always - I don't know. Thought I'm not really capable of coping. Maybe it's an older brother thing. You'd think ten minutes wouldn't count as much of a headstart, but..."

 

*

 

Mycroft’s eyes crinkle knowingly. “Well, that I can forgive a bit. Lord knows Sherlock wishes I would mind my own business and leave his alone- and he has come up with some creative ways to express that wish- several of which were left on my doorstep and required a biohazard service for removal….”

He quiets again, merely placidly smiling as the waiter returns with the goat belly and the pig face, not quite meeting either of their eyes as he makes quick, efficient pleasantries and gets out as quickly as possible with the empty oyster dish.

The pig face is, as Mycroft indicated, not a pig’s head. It is small rounds of tender cheek meat served with crisped potatoes and an over-easy egg.

A pleased sort of hungry look crosses Mycroft’s face as he gazes at it. “I’m recommending you take a bit of that first, Gregory. I make no promises it will all be there in a few minutes.”

The confit looks appetizing as well- served with crab and lobster and a luscious looking bourbon butter sauce.

 

*

 

Greg bites down into his grin.

"That," he says, "is gammon, egg and chips. It's just posh gammon, egg and chips. Us commoners eat it all the time. It's basically the dish of the people, My. I'll make it properly for you one weekend - and I hope you give me that look as I hand you the plate."

He demonstrates the traditional eating of gammon, egg and chips by piercing the egg carefully with his fork, selecting a crisped potato and dipping it in the runny yolk. He makes sure it's properly coated, smiling - then glances up at Mycroft, his dark eyes soft and full of fondness.

I know it's a nice place, the look says. I know this isn't what people do in nice places. But you brought me. Everyone'll just have to cope.

He offers the potato out for Mycroft to eat from his fork.

 

*

 

Mycroft feels his teeth close over the inside of his lower lip, smirking. “Hellion,” he says fondly, taking the potato off the fork as gracefully as he can manage.

“It’s an entirely different cut of meat, you know. I shall look forward to seeing how yours compares.” His tongue flicks over his lip, tidying up any stray egg. “Go on, have some yourself, before I ravish it like you and one of your desserts.”

He carves off a potion of the goat belly, dipping a section of lobster in the butter, and sets that on his plate alongside a bit of the remaining broccoli. His grin grows a bit mischievous as he tries the goat.

“You should be aware….” he begins coyly, twirling a bit of goat in the butter that’s made it onto his plate. “That they have an excellent chocolate pavlova here.”

“But I’ve also stocked some fudge ice cream at home.”

He smiles and takes a bite, licking the butter off his fork.

 

*

 

Greg's eyes flicker automatically to the brief glimpse of Mycroft's tongue. The promise of pavlova, along with that tantalising little grin, rather tightens his stomach - but it's the promise of fudge ice cream at home that melts the sensation a little lower into his body.

He pauses, his eyes locked on Mycroft's smile - watching the second flash of that inviting pink tongue.

Greg then gives a very slight shift in his chair. He picks up his glass of wine and finishes it, with what he hopes is admirable composure. The colour has distinctly risen in his cheeks.

"That sounds really nice," he manages. "All the - that. Sure." His brain reboots a few more systems. "The food's amazing here, so - whatever you'd like, gorgeous. I'm happy with anything."

He leans forward to try the lobster - new. He's heard it's sweeter than crab. Anything in bourbon butter is going to be good though, especially when alternative uses for the bourbon butter are now running for his mind. Even just intentional eye contact from Mycroft is enough to get him hot under the collar; suggestive remarks are something of an instant knock-out.

 

*

 

Mycroft smiles to himself.

Fair play for bringing up the topic first while I was at work, Gregory.

The concept had been haunting him in his idle moments since then. It’s been a wonder that he hasn’t needed several cold showers a day each time the thought has crossed his mind. Besides, Mycroft does like how Greg looks when he blushes. Even if he does intend to keep up the pretense that he was not suggesting anything lewd at all. Until they get home, that is.

Merely dessert options. At least as far as everyone else here is concerned.

“I think they outdid themselves on the confit. This is excellent.” He takes a generous portion of the pig face next, grinning slyly at Greg. Even with his analytical skills finally tamping down, he can still read that speculative look over the butter clear as day.

“How do you like the lobster?”

 

*

 

Greg smiles, his eyes bright and the colour still high in his cheeks.

"It's really good... never had it before. All of this is amazing. Think I like it here..."

It's good to realise he's relaxing properly at last. It's more natural just stroking Mycroft's ankle with his toes, a gentle motion that feels like when they're in Mycroft's film-room on the couch together. His suit seems to fit him better. He's not so aware of his cufflinks, his posh shoes. They're just having dinner, and it's good to be together.

He glances up as he tries some of the confit, moving it over to his plate. One eyebrow lifts a little.

"Even if I have to fight the staff for you," he adds, amused.

 

*

 

“We can fend them off together.”

Mycroft returns the rub of his ankle with soft, discreet touches- his foot, his hand reaching across the table. Warm. Comfortable.

They’re both contented and happy by the time they leave, one of Mycroft’s dark cars pulling up to the curb, Mycroft ushering Greg in first and holding the door while saying something about chivalry they both laugh at.

Neither of them notice the person sitting in a dark car across the street, the headlights kicking on only after their own car pulls away.

Several car lengths back by the time it turns around to follow, even Mycroft’s trained driver doesn’t realize they have a tail home.

 

Chapter Text

As their car pulls away into the night, and Mycroft attends to unlocking the front door, Greg takes a quiet glance along the street. There's nobody around. They spent the journey home holding hands, gazing at each other rather softly along the backseat, and there's something he's been wanting to do all night.

Stepping up close to Mycroft's back, and sneaking an arm around his waist, Greg gently nuzzles into the side of his neck.

"Hey," he murmurs. His arm tightens a little. "I had a wonderful evening... thank you."

He brushes his lips against Mycroft's neck - a slow, soft stroke of contact.

"Kinda want to go to bed early... missed you all day. Thought about you."

 

*

 

“Mmm. Indeed?” Mycroft’s voice pitches lower as he instinctively tilts his neck open to allow Greg better access. “Any thoughts in particular?”

The door cannot open fast enough. The outer one clicks in, swinging shut behind them as he reaches for the inside security door. A car goes by outside as Mycroft turns to look at Greg, lights flashing briefly on the foyer mirror. He gets the second door open almost blindly, running his hand over Greg’s waist as they pass through into the darkened first floor.

He doesn’t bother with the lights, they won’t spend any time there anyway.

It’s just a matter of making it to the stairs first.

His hand slides to Greg’s tie and pulls him close, cheeks touching, his nose brushing Greg’s ear, the scent of Greg- his shower fragrances, his aftershave- comfortable and familiar.

“Early bed sounds perfectly lovely to me….”

 

*

 

Greg shivers slowly in Mycroft’s arms, releasing the very last flicker of nerves left after the restaurant. Alone. Safe. Just us. His arms go around Mycroft’s waist beneath his jacket, stroking the back of his waistcoat. As their bodies press through clothes, Greg can feel himself melting a little already - their perfect, flickering heat never needs much encouragement to grow.

“Thinking about right now,” he whispers, closing his eyes to their surroundings. He doesn’t care what’s around them. He just wants Mycroft. “Being on our own. Knowing we’ve got all night. Knowing - ”

His fingers flex a little on Mycroft’s lower back.

“Knowing we’ll be close soon. Skin. Knowing it’ll feel good. Knowing I can touch you, knowing I can kiss you, move your hands on me - just - knowing you’re here - ”

 

*

 

Mycroft wraps his arms more tightly around Greg, gently stroking in little circles where his fingers press against the fabric. “I’m here.” Mycroft’s lips turn inward, he presses a soft kiss to Greg’s cheekbone. “I’m here.”

He nuzzles in, brushing his lips across Greg’s ear and down his neck.

“Come upstairs with me. We can light a few candles… you can kiss me as much as you like… get out of our suits….”

His hand idly wanders up from the space between Greg’s shoulder blades to the start of the fine silver hairs at his neck.

“Or do I need to lure you with the promise of ice cream?”

 

*

 

The feel of having his skin stroked with his own clothing, those gentle circles through the fabric, causes a sharp increase in Greg’s pulse. No matter how frenzied they sometimes get, no matter how playful, Mycroft’s desire is always somehow soothing. It’s okay. I can feel this. You want me to have this. You want me to want you.

The promise of candles, kisses - then fingers through his hair, and Greg shakes even at that, tilting his head in something rather like willing obedience, letting Mycroft take hold of his hair if he wants to.

Swallowing and moaning at the same time cuts the sound into a whimper. His fingers curl on Mycroft’s back; heat flashes across his face.

“S-Shit. My. Don’t tease me. You know I - ”

Oh, fuck. Fuck, let me lick it from your fingers. I’ll do anything.

“C-Can we - go upstairs now?” he begs, his voice breathy, feeling his trousers already tightening across the zip.

 

*

 

Mycroft loves how Greg looks in this half-light, the blue of the night and the moon-dark room playing so well through his hair and making his eyes look nearly black.

And begging. Christ.

He runs his hand up just enough to get a grip, pulling mildly and pressing his lips along the bottom of Greg’s jaw.

“Yes,” he murmurs, untangling them enough to move, dragging his hand fondly across Greg’s cheek.

There’s a brief pause in the kitchen to retrieve the ice cream from the freezer and a spoon to get it started with. That goes on the nightstand, set aside for a while as Mycroft takes Greg’s cheeks in his hands and kisses him deeply.

“I haven’t… played… with ice cream before, Gregory. You’ll be the first.” His hands drop to Greg’s shirt, slowly slide to his hips, then around to his arse as Mycroft keeps kissing him.

“You’ll have to show me. I promise I take very diligent notes.”

 

*

 

Greg shudders softly, leaning into his lover’s mouth. Just kissing Mycroft, feeling those gently possessive hands upon his arse, has him aching already. His heart thumps slowly somewhere beneath his belt.

“Have to let it melt quite a while,” he whispers - and in a moment of mischief catches Mycroft’s lower lip between his teeth. The tug is gentle and puppyish; it’s accompanied by hopeful fingers slipping open the bottom button of Mycroft’s waistcoat. “Mnnh... then lie down... let me put it where I’m allowed to kiss you. Clean it off for you. Maybe - ”

Christ. Blushing. Three buttons open on Mycroft’s waistcoat.

“M-Maybe - while we fuck, just - f-feeding it to each other. Fingers. Kissing. Going slow and just... tasting for a while...”

Greg’s pupils are as big as small coins as he glances up from Mycroft’s final button.

“Is that okay?”

 

*

 

A pulse of want ripples out from Mycroft’s groin, his trousers beginning to tighten. He hands tense, cupping the smooth curve beneath them firmly.

My, aren’t we eager.

Eager is a deliciously tempting look on Greg. Mycroft smiles, the predatory grin reflecting back at him in the dark pools of Gregory’s eyes. He doesn’t think he’s seen Gregory quite this worked up before. At least not with his clothes still on.

“Of course.” He slips his coat and waistcoat from his shoulders, kissing Greg’s mouth, his jaw, his neck. “Hang these up for me? I have an idea about... melting….” He also has an idea about something else he is well aware Greg might like- just in case, when Greg’s back is turned he slips his belt off and tucks it between the bed and nightstand.

The candles are relocated next to the ice cream and lit, accelerating the process. Mycroft idly reclines across the sheets, slowly undoing the top button of his shirt, watching Greg with a particularly pleased sort of grin.

Takes time to melt, doesn’t it? I can enjoy that.

His eyes glitter darkly. “Take your coat off, Gregory. Then your waistcoat. Slowly.”

 

*

 

Turning around from the wardrobe, finding Mycroft relaxing on the bed and watching him with that almost predatory smile, Greg’s heart nearly stops. It restarts with a lurch when the command is given - and a command it is.

Oh.

Fuck.

The colour rises at once in Greg’s face. He’s never felt his clothing become transparent in an instant before.

Oh Christ. I belong to you.

At the thought, longing twists Greg’s heart. Want to show you that I do.

Staying where he is by the wardrobe, and holding Mycroft’s gaze, Greg lifts both hands slowly to his lapels. He draws his black coat back, carefully, and lets his shoulders bulk forward a little to ease it down his upper arms. When the coat comes free, he glances tentatively at a nearby chair and drapes it over the back - then takes a step or two nearer to the bed.

The waistcoat buttons feel far more intimate. This isn’t just taking off his coat; this is undressing for Mycroft’s pleasure.

His fingers shake a little as he starts on the buttons, his eyes low and soft and almost timid. God, want to feel you looking at me. At my body. He’s never felt so comfortable in his own skin as he has these last few weeks. Mycroft’s care makes him feel wanted.

Button by button, he works his way carefully from top to bottom, dark eyes checking softly to see if he’s doing this right.

 

*

 

Good god he’s handsome.

Mycroft does not think he’ll ever quite get used to it. The dim light of the candles is catching the sheen of Greg’s hair and the way he keeps glancing up, soft and sweetly obedient…

Christ. Mycroft swallows but keeps his face in the same Cheshire-grin, swiping his tongue across his lower lip rather deliberately as Greg reaches the end of his buttons. His eyes skim over the inspector’s form, the hug of his trousers, drinking it all in, top to bottom and back to Greg’s submissive, dark eyes.

“Good boy,” he says low.

Mycroft wants to touch, but he is also becoming a very fervent fan of how well Greg can put on a show for him. How fortunate that he is strategic enough to manage both.

“Come here.”

When Greg is close enough Mycroft guides him by his tie to straddle over his own lap. He rests his hands on Greg’s thighs, thumbs grazing the fabric in long circles as he leans back into the pillows, the very image of a man at leisure.

“Continue with the tie and shirt.”

 

*

 

“Oh fuck - ” Greg breathes at ‘good boy’, then blushes desperately as he realises the words were audible. Mycroft doesn’t seem to mind though. The frantic thud of Greg’s pulse softens a little, reading his lover’s face and realising it’s alright - he’s being given this - it’s okay to react.

When he’s told to come here, he comes here.

As he straddles Mycroft, a tremor begins in Greg’s thighs. He bites his lip without thought, filled at once with memories of the sex they’ve had this way - Mycroft relaxing, resting, letting Greg show him he’s adored. Fuck. Mine. Touching. ‘Good boy’. His desperate erection is now impossible to hide, uncomfortably constricted into his trousers.

Slowly, gazing down at Mycroft, he slips open his tie.

He knows he should feel embarrassed, how obviously his hands are shaking. He can’t. He just wants to obey. He feels half his age. As he pulls the tie away cautiously, his collar upturned around his neck, he leaves the length of silk draped across Mycroft’s chest, almost like an offering - laid with love for the approval of a higher power.

Nexthis shirt, and every downwards button gives more skin, more of himself, and he keeps his eyes on Mycroft for every moment. When the buttons are loose, and his cuffs as well, Greg has to close his eyes for half a moment as he pulls the shirt back from his shoulders. It feels as if he’s slipping away far more than clothing. He’s drawing back layers of himself, giving Mycroft the vulnerability beneath, and it’s making him so hard he can barely think any more. The swathes of skin across his uncovered torso ache for his lover’s touch.

Shyly he lets the shirt fall behind him on the bed, pooled across Mycroft’s knees.

Bare-chested, his gaze fragile and intensely aroused, he places his hands flat on Mycroft’s pectorals. It’s where they always come to rest when he rides Mycroft.

He then waits, longing quietly, hoping for more. He’s about to break the zip of his trousers, but he doesn’t care. He wants to know where this is leading.

He doesn’t really remember ever wanting anything so much.

 

*

 

Mycroft’s hands reach up, brushing feather-light over Greg’s skin.

“Beautiful.” A finger traces the letters of his name. “Mine.”

The control- and Mycroft does like control , no one could make it in his position if they didn’t- is lovely enough. He feels as though Gregory is making a gift of himself with every shuddering, eager, vulnerable movement. But the real beauty of it is trust . Greg’s willingness to simply place his trust in Mycroft’s words, in his intentions, is its own kind of heady rush.

His own erection has started to press against his trousers, but if either of them want to make it to the indulgent, chocolatey portion of the evening he is going to have to ignore that for now.

So many options.

Mycroft is going to have to make a list, at some point, of all the things he’d like to do with Greg in bed. But tonight it feels most right that he should give a portion of the same trust Gregory always shows in him back.

“You may undo my buttons.”

His fingers stroke down.

“Take my tie off.”

A single finger reaches the notable hardness in Greg’s trousers and draws a line down it firmly, following the path of the zipper.

“So long as this stays closed.”

The finger slides back up.

“You can touch me however you like until the last button is open.”

 

*

 

Greg groans with frustration and the faintest flutter of relief, exhaling only as Mycroft’s touch moves away from his cock.

No words in this world will ever sound as sweet as, touch me however you like. Greg’s first touch is to lean down, shy but comfortable in the knowledge that he’s allowed - and he kisses Mycroft gently, softly, slowly.

He’s shivering a little as their lips come apart. With care, and a glance of anxious love, he undoes Mycroft’s tie for him. He’s as careful with the fabric as he’d be with Mycroft’s body, unwinding it slowly, loosening it from his lover’s collar and sliding it free, laying it at last with his own.

Another gentle kiss, another moment of soft affection, and Greg reaches for Mycroft’s top button.

He works slowly, pausing halfway just to gently stroke Mycroft’s chest and his arms and his sides through the fabric. Mycroft’s body is endlessly reassuring to feel. Greg has a feeling it always will be. He leans close again, drops his head and kisses Mycroft’s neck, stroking the skin with tender brushes of his mouth, gently parting buttons as he does his best to make this feel good.

 

*

 

It will probably never cease to amaze Mycroft how tender Greg is, how… he’d call it loving, if the word had already passed between them, but it hasn’t. The gentle touches are heavenly- he lets a little moan escape when Greg’s mouth passes over his throat.

His hands skim over Greg’s back, the contact feeling soft and smooth and electrifying all at once. One dips to the curve of Greg’s arse, the other rises to lace into his hair- not pulling, not impeding Greg’s setting of the pace, just making his presence known.

When he feels Greg still, he looks down to see that the last button is undone and Gregory is looking at him expectantly. Anxiously. Perhaps both.

“Very good.”

His hand closes in Gregory’s hair and pulls mildly, tilting his throat up just enough for Mycroft to lick a stripe across it.

“Ready for your reward? Let’s see if it is ready for you.”

A quick peek in the ice cream says it is still mostly chilled, but the top layer has been melted a bit by the heat of the candles. Mycroft drags a finger across it, brings it to his own mouth, and licks it thoughtfully, keeping his eyes on Greg.

“Needs more time, I think. But a taste might tide you over for now.”

Another swipe of his finger brings the cool chocolate to Gregory’s mouth.

 

*

 

Greg’s head tilts obediently into Mycroft’s hold, offering his throat with loving and hopeful obedience; he watches dark-eyed as the ice cream is tested. The sight of Mycroft’s tongue flicking over his own fingers is impossibly arousing. Greg’s thighs squeeze very gently in response.

As the ice cream is offered, his pupils blow.

Trembling he leans forward to take it, eyelids fluttering shut as he gathers Mycroft’s fingers inside his mouth. It’s good ice cream. The taste makes him moan a little, fighting to keep the sound small and dignified. He concentrates on cleaning the ice cream away, wrapping Mycroft’s fingers slowly with his tongue, giving them the same care and attention he usually pays his lover’s cock. Some of the motions are the same: the curl and the soft flicks that Mycroft’s frenulum seems to like; the slow spread of a flat, wide tongue, soothing down; the meandering side-to-side sweep on the way back up. He sucks Mycroft’s fingers as if with time he might be able to make Mycroft come from this.

Outside of his senses, lost in the feeling of tending to his lover's fingers, Greg’s hips begin to rock slowly - gentle and needy pushes of his aching cock against Mycroft’s, searching for relief and pleasure.

He shudders as he finds it, fighting back another moan.

 

*

 

This is… maddeningly arousing. Mycroft feels a majority of his expansive reserves of self-control vanish as soon as Greg’s tongue begins to lap and suck. The rest are very nearly depleted by the friction of both their cocks rubbing, equally trapped in their trousers.

His eyes flutter a moment, briefly lost to the feeling before he pulls himself back together with a long breath.

“Mmm. Very good, Gregory.”

When his eyes fully open again they are blown far wider, dark and hungry.

“Take my trousers off. Get them and the shirts off the bed… we don’t want them in range of any… mess.”

He licks his lip.

“Then you may take yours off.”

The corner of his lip swings up into a predatory sort of grin.

“Give me a show.”

 

*

 

Oh. Christ.

Christ, this is getting -

Greg realises he doesn't care. He likes this, whatever it is, wherever it's going. He likes the way Mycroft's looking at him and he likes the feeling it produces in his stomach. He likes 'Gregory'. He likes it a lot. He thought he liked it when it was being used to tease him, and now it's being breathed as praise, he likes it even more.

'A show'.

Greg's never stripped for anyone in his life.

First time for everything, he supposes, as his heart flutters behind his ribs.

Mycroft, first.

He eases back a little to open the catch of Mycroft's trousers. With his hands this close, he wants to touch - cup Mycroft, rub him, stroke him through the taut fabric - but the desire to follow instructions is stronger right now than the desire to please himself. Greg eases down the zip with care, loosening the material, then climbs off Mycroft's thighs. It seems easiest to do this standing by the bed.

Leaning down, he places a single kiss on Mycroft's stomach - then says, tentatively,

"Can you... lift your hips for me?"

When he can, he slides Mycroft's trousers down. He removes them carefully, along with Mycroft's socks, and gathers all the shed clothing off the bed, moving it out of reach.

Now a show, he thinks, and the traditional image of a male stripper flickers through his head. Strutting and swaggering and dancing.

That's not really what he has to show Mycroft.

Standing by the bed, realising what he does want to show, the corner of Greg's mouth lifts - the smile is tiny and shy. He glances down at his own body, at the bulge of his cock, and reaches for the button.

It's actually hard to undo, his cock pulling the fabric so tight. He can barely think. Fuck... fuck. Reaching down, gripping and squeezing himself just for a moment's relief, he snaps open the button and nervously lowers the zipper, shaking at the loosened pressure.

"It - r-really works for me. When you're like this."

It seems important to say; even though his voice shakes, Greg looks Mycroft in the eye.

"You don't know how safe it makes me feel. Like this." He slides his thumbs nervously beneath the waistband of his trousers, and as he starts to pull them down, he closes his eyes with a rush. "F-Fuck. I - w-want more. Of this. Feeling like this."

Stepping out of trousers is never going to be graceful - Greg does it almost apologetically, kneeling down with care and gazing up into Mycroft's eyes, pulling off his socks at the same time. Rising in just his boxers, his fingers curl with the need to grip himself for relief again.

"You look really good," he almost whimpers, shaking, and strokes a hand across the side of his own neck, back into his hair. "You look really good just - just lying there... oh god, I'd do anything right now. Anything for you. You know I would."

 

*

 

“I know, Gregory,” Mycroft says softly, but no less secure and controlled- at least on the surface- for the quiet nature of his tone.

Inside, he’s almost overwhelmed with affection. He feels so protective of Greg’s gentle, subservient nature that he could scream, his heart is so full.

He beckons Greg to nestle in beside him, bends his head to brush his lips over Greg’s neck, whispering, “You can touch.” His hand wraps tenderly around the back of Greg’s head, finding his hair again. It’s indulgent, perhaps, but Mycroft would worship his hair if he could figure out how best to manage it.

“I’m glad you like it. I’m glad you want to tell me that you like it. If you want more… or less… or different… you know you only have to tell me, yes?” His mouth open, he lets his teeth drag along the soft skin. “I want it all to feel safe.”

His other hand drifts lower, skimming the line where the boxers meet Greg’s waist.

“I think you’re beautiful all the time, you know, Gregory.” The grip in Greg’s hair tightens. “So many would be jealous of just this, but taken along with the rest of you….”

The hand at Greg’s waist slips into the boxers. Fingertips find the firmness of Greg’s cock and stroke the head, granting some relief in friction but not enough to really sate the need Greg must be feeling.

“If you’re to eat while I’m…” His teeth find Greg’s earlobe. “...fucking you… perhaps I ought to sate my own hunger first, hm?”

He shoulders Greg over and begins to kiss his way lower, his fingers drawing the band of Greg’s boxers down to finally free his cock.

 

*

 

'You can touch.'

'I want it all to feel safe.'

'I think you're beautiful all the time.'

Greg's heart is breaking.

He can feel it taking flame even as it shatters. He's never felt this loved as someone touches him. The gentle words and the stroking and the murmurs are desperately exciting, wrapping him somehow in a safety that makes him want to cry. My partner. My boyfriend. The covers are soft against his back; the gentle pull of his waistband makes him whimper. His cock bobs free, and he's so hard it feels like he's burning even as some part of his soul sobs in relief. Oh fuck. Touch me. Speak to me. Take me. Sleep with me. Wake up with me.

Stirring, gazing down his body as he pants, Greg realises with a flood of emotion that there won't be anyone after Mycroft.

He won't cope without this. Nobody will adore him like this, make him feel safe like this, treat him kindly and make him want to cry with joy in bed. An attractive young waiter wanted Mycroft; Mycroft wanted Greg.

Oh, god. You're my happy ending.

It's you.

He's going to belong to Mycroft, for good - and this week apart is nothing more than a blink. He won't ever let this end. It came out of nowhere when he thought his life was over, and now he has everything. He's never been this happy. They could be like this forever.

Shaking, overcome with emotion and desire at once, Greg lets a sob of need leave his lips. It's a plea - but not a plea for Mycroft to hurry or take pity or bring him relief. It's the sound of his heart whimpering more - endless more, Mycroft's choice of more, more teasing, more touching, more words, more candlelight, more comfort, more safety, more love, more all of it.

Panting, his hips rise in tentative hope towards Mycroft's mouth. He tightens his fingers in the covers behind him, screwing the fabric gently within his grasp, biting into his lip so hard it whitens.

 

*

 

Mycroft’s mouth opens slightly. The noise Greg has made doesn’t just run through to his cock, like a typical moan, but feels like it has driven through to his soul. He instinctually makes soothing passes of his hands in broad swipes over Greg’s hips to settle him- settle himself.

I’ve got you. I’ll take care of you.

He kisses gently along the vee of Greg’s waist until he hits the patch of hair there, brushing the coarseness over his own chin as he moves his lips to Greg’s cock. Warm breath huffs against it for a moment, savoring the anticipation.

When he closes his lips over it they’re open, tongue stroking from the base up in sloppy kisses, lapping up the sweat, the precum, every taste that makes up Greg.

Mine. Mine to enjoy.

He sets up a slow rhythm, unconsciously dipping his own hips against the bed with every bob. This is just about enjoyment, not making either of them come. Not yet. The night is long. They have ample time.

 

Chapter Text

Greg's chest heaves; his eyes flutter shut. Mycroft's bedroom ceiling vanishes in a blur.

Nothing should ever feel this good.

Pleasure, warm and soft, laps its way through his body with each slow bob. He knows what it feels like when Mycroft wants him to come, and he knows what it feels like when that time is nowhere in sight - this is just pleasure, just feeling, and Mycroft's mouth is wet and easy and as his lips slide lower Greg moans from the very depths of his throat. The sound cuts into a whimper; the instinct to stretch is overwhelming. Though Greg doesn't understand it he does it, obeying the softer urges of his body and reaching his arms up over his head, letting his shoulders bulk, his back arching from the bed a little, thigh muscles slowly clenching.

Pressure and heat squeeze low in his abdomen; the feeling makes him shiver.

"Mmhm - " He digs his teeth into his lower lip, lets go of it with a gasp and grips onto fistfuls of the pillow above his head. "Myc... s-shit - "

Something about being cared for this way - just being given pleasure - that slow rhythm, encouraging him to settle and relax, and the feelings ripple deliciously just below his skin. It's impossibly good.

Releasing one hand from the pillow, his wrist shaking, Greg reaches down his body to find Mycroft - to pet his hair, timidly, fingers brushing in rhythm as he trembles.

"Oh fuck," he whispers, and aches with another stretch, squirming against the bed. "F-Fuck... Myc... M-Myc, I..."

 

*

 

Feeling Greg shake under him is wonderfully arousing. Mycroft quietly nudges his own cock, still sheathed in his pants, against the bed to reduce the tension of it. He has a feeling he knows what Greg might be searching for- it may be the perfect opportunity to let him relax and just feel. That may be the best Mycroft can offer him, with a potential week of stress ahead.

“Do you require something to pull against, beautiful?”

He’d been considering his belt, earlier tucked away, if the matter came up- but that doesn’t seem right, not with how well-cared for he wants Greg to feel. Leather feels too… aggressive. They can try a taste of rough some other time.

Mycroft’s hand drags along the inside of Greg’s thigh as he reaches over to the chair most of their belongings have ended up in. Both ties should suit. Silks. Soft and smooth. He can press them in the morning.

“Hmmm?” He unfurls them, climbing back up, straddling over Greg’s waist and smiling.

“Put your wrists where they’ll be comfortable, Gregory.”

 

*

 

‘Beautiful’. Greg’s pupils swell desperately as Mycroft comes to straddle him, as he realises what’s being offered. He glances up at the headboard, where a decorative slat offers itself to his anxious gaze.

Stirring, colour deepening in his face, Greg lifts both wrists close to it. His breath thickens as he watches Mycroft, hyper-aware of the fragile skin of his underarms, all down his sides, all bare and offered, all his body trembling as he gazes at his lover.

“Like when you call me that,” he admits, softly. His eyes shine. “You’re the only one.”

 

*

 

“It’s true. Objectively. You are tremendously beautiful.” Mycroft smiles fondly and a bit possessively. “But it rather pleases me that it is mine to call you.”

The process is done carefully and delicately- Mycroft ensuring that the wrap of silk about Greg’s wrists and the slat is in no way uncomfortable. He wants Greg to enjoy this. The knots are not overly binding- if Greg truly wished to free himself, he likely could- but they are secure enough to let him tug.

He lets his fingers, his lips, brush lightly over Greg’s arms, shifting down until he reaches Greg’s lips and can kiss him- gentle at first, then a bit deeper.

“Comfortable?” His pupils dance in the flickering light of the candle, hand reaching lower to the place their cocks are trapped between them and wrapping Gregory, giving one long, slow stroke.

“Shall I continue?”

 

*

 

As Mycroft kisses him, a shiver spreads through Greg's chest. He flexes his wrists within the ties, aching as they hold him firm, and lets out a soft muffled sound against his lover's mouth. The feeling is intoxicating - lying here tied to Mycroft's bed, naked and shivering in the candlelight, open to his lover's kisses and his touches.

Perfectly, beautifully safe.

"Comfy," he whispers, his voice faint, gazing up into those gorgeously darkened grey eyes. His expression flickers as Mycroft strokes him, tightening. Pleasure courses across his face; his wrists pull gently at their ties. "Y-Yours. Belong to you. Please."

His hips buck up gently, desperate for more stroking - more touching - more of Mycroft's mouth. He's never felt this worked up before. His heart is beating itself apart.

"Please," he whimpers again, pulling, as his breaths come quick and deep. "Please, Myc - "

 

*

 

Greg bucking into his hand, arched and tied, must rank quite near the top of his archive of arousing images of Greg Mycroft is developing in his mind. He encircles Greg’s cock more firmly, giving him more to press against.

“I’ve got you. My Gregory.”

Mycroft dips into another deep, passionate kiss, starting his hand into a slow rhythm along Greg’s cock. When he eventually breaks it he shifts down, pressing a kiss to Greg’s throat, hands trailing down and briefly toying with his nipples. Nudging the candles away from the ice cream- it seems to be progressing well enough now- Mycroft swipes a pair of fingers through it, taking only one lick for himself and giving the rest to Greg.

“There you go, beautiful.”

The rest of him glides lower, kissing down until he reaches Greg’s cock. This time he starts from the top with long, slow laps of his tongue, teasing the frenulum.

All for you. I want you to feel it in every nerve.

 

*

 

Greg's sounds are muffled around Mycroft's fingers - high and desperate sounds, wracked with a pleasure that comes from deep beneath the bone. Comfort and need and enjoyment and relief burn through him at once, boiling through his blood, and the onslaught of sensation is almost too much to handle.

Mycroft's fingers in his mouth are the focus that makes it alright. He concentrates on cleaning them, licking them, doing a good job. He's not sure if he'll ever stop shaking again, if he'll ever come hard enough to relieve this pressure - but right now, he doesn't want to come. He doesn't want it to be over. He wants to feel like this forever, burning up, safe and shining with pleasure in his lover's hands.

He wants to give back to Mycroft, too.

He can't right now - tied right now, tied and sucking on Mycroft's fingers with the desperate attention he wants to give Mycroft's cock, panting himself into pieces as Mycroft laps at him slowly - but he realises this is about giving. Giving Mycroft what he's feeling. Letting his lover see what this is doing to him, see it changing him, fucking transforming him, breaking him open with excitement and flooding him with it.

His hips lift in slow and trembling thrusts, in rhythm with Mycroft's gentle licking, agitated but not chasing yet. Pulling at his ties, a strangely comforting relief aches through Greg's muscles - secure, he thinks - held - and he realises at once that if Mycroft doesn't take him like this before he comes, he's not going to live. He needs to pull and writhe and gasp as Mycroft fucks him. He needs to know what that feels like, tied here for his lover's enjoyment, and the thought is so arousing that he struggles to breathe for a second.

He forces himself to double his efforts around Mycroft's fingers, panting and anxiously spreading his thighs apart.

 

*

 

Mycroft can sense the shift, feel the widening spread of Greg’s thighs. He smiles as he licks a stripe up the length of Greg’s cock and slowly pulls his fingers from that sweet, needy mouth, dragging one against Greg’s lower lip.

“Do you need me inside you, beautiful? In you and letting you taste?”

His own cock strains at the thought. The idea of taking Gregory while he was in some way restrained had factored into his fantasies since the first time the word handcuffs had been brought up. Not that he’s needed to fantasize much lately, not with Greg sharing a bed with him nearly every night.

“Do you want my fingers first, Gregory?” He lets his hand slide over Greg’s thigh and down to stroke over Greg’s balls and behind to the soft tightness of his perineum.

“Or just me?”

 

*

 

Greg's senses blitz for several seconds into nothing. The rush of arousal is too much, too good, and his back arches in desperation from the bed. Need aches across his face; before he's even spoken, his answer is clear.

"Please - "

The sound is an untempered sob. His knuckles blanch as he heaves at his ties. Panting, pulling his legs up in submission, he grips the slat in the headboard and fights to slow his heart down, too aroused to cope a second longer.

"I-In me - please - j-just you - "

He likes Mycroft's fingers - he likes when Mycroft takes the time to relax him, settle him, excite him - but right now, he doesn't need those things. He just needs Mycroft.

They've been making love for weeks now. This week, he's had his lover inside him almost every night. Lube, taking it slow, and Mycroft's cock has become familiar and easy to take - and Greg is now prepared to beg for it.

"Please, My - please - please just - "

 

*

 

Begging. For me. Mycroft has to inhale deeply, once, to force his mind back into his own control. Lord.

Typically he’d reach for the lube, but his own need and Greg’s desperate pleading inspire him to resort to faster measures. After all, he’s already permitted ice cream in his bed (unthinkable, before), because he knew Greg would like it. He can allow something else… messy… as well.

He uses his own spit to slick himself, still entering slowly- he’s almost always cautious on the first push- getting himself fully seated with steady pressure. Tilting forward, he presses Greg’s legs up so he can both better reach the ice cream and have a greater vantage of Greg’s face.

“There you go. Can you feel how hard I am for you?”

One long draw back, almost all the way out, and he dips forward again to bring himself all the way back in.

“I enjoy it immensely when you ask for me so nicely, Gregory.”

He reaches for the ice cream and curls two fingers into the mess of it, catching some of the fudge ripples and bringing it to Greg’s lips.

“You deserve a reward for being so good for me.”

 

*

 

As Mycroft breaches his body, Greg cries out - but none of it is pain. The brief bite of discomfort is nothing to the feel of his lover taking him raw, just pushing inside him restless and slow, pressing his legs up and filling him. He wrenches at the ties and whimpers, panting at full pelt to try calming himself. He's never been taken this way - never been wound so tight - never given someone his body like this.

Mycroft's voice calms him and ignites his blood all at once.

'There you go.'

Full. Soothed.

"S-Shit..." Greg can barely speak for shaking. "Fuck - oh fuck, I feel you - "

Hard for me. In me.

Buried in me.

Nothing in this world will ever feel better than squeezing around his lover's cock, taking two fingers of chocolate ice cream into his mouth, and hearing he's been good for Mycroft. Nothing will ever come close.

It's not kinky - it can't be.

Kinky isn't meant to be comforting... is it? If this is kinky, it feels like being utterly loved and safe and cherished. Nothing could be less kinky than being warm and candlelit in his lover's bed, full of his lover's cock, given something to pull against for relief while lapping away the taste of cream and chocolate.

And nobody needs to know.

Nobody needs to know that he belongs here, whimpering as Mycroft moves inside him. Nobody needs to know that he feels happier and more emotionally secure licking Mycroft's fingers than any other friend or lover has ever made him feel. Nobody needs to know that he wants the rest of his life to be like this. It's just the two of them. It's everything.

As Mycroft's fingers slip out of his mouth, Greg shudders and swallows and his eyes flutter open, dark and soft, his pupils swollen, his gaze overwhelmed with utter love.

"You feel good," he gasps. His grip tightens on his bindings. "Oh fuck. You feel so good. T-Take me. Fuck me. I want you. I want you so much."

 

*

 

‘Take me.’

If any words are going to kill Mycroft, it may be those two. He feels so hard, so connected to Greg as he’s sheathed within, that he might spontaneously combust out of sheer pleasure- and that’s before he gets a good look at Greg’s eyes.

He’s never seen that expression of- devotion?- on anyone before, not directed at him. It makes him feel something he can’t quite put his finger on, something deep. A connection he’s never had.

It feels wonderful.

“Oh, Gregory,” he moans, full of care and affection. “You have me.”

He begins to snap his hips forward with a slower pace, steady enough that he can keep his hand steady enough to bestow another round of ice cream upon Greg. When his hand is clean again he speeds up, leaning farther forward and kissing along the line of Greg’s neck, down to the space by Greg’s collarbone that already bears one of his marks, a few days old and faded.

It could use refreshing.

The way he bites is still possessive, but tender. Greg will carry this mark through the trial, through their brief week apart that still somehow feels like he’s being sent off to war. Mycroft knows he’ll be soothed, when the quiet of their forced separation bothers him, by the thought of Greg still carrying this reminder with him. He thinks it will probably be cherished by Gregory as well.

Caring was never supposed to be a part of his life, but he’s glad it is. He cares. A great deal.

He hopes Greg can feel it.

 

*

 

Bitten - bitten and taken.

Pleasure and comfort blur with just a little pain, and it's Mycroft's pain. It's why it feels so satisfying it seems to burn. Greg arches as he feels the bite, panting, the muscles bulking under his arms as he pulls just to feel the restraints.

His head drops back into the pillows; his throat bobs as he swallows.

Oh god.

He'll treasure the bite like a tattoo - as if he had Mycroft's name written into his skin, his lover's comfort, his lover's protection, safe there under his clothes. It doesn't matter how stressful it gets. It doesn't matter how hard the defence counsel hammer him. At the start of it there's Mycroft, and at the end of it there'll be Mycroft too.

Oh fuck... oh god...

It's so good just to take - just pull and breathe and moan. He feels like a deep bowl slowly filling, his own echo deepening, the pressure in his groin growing heavy and tight and full. His cock throbs between them, utterly ignored, and all he wants is more biting.

"All of me - f-fuck, all of me - filling me - "

The words are fractured, whimpered, broken. He's hardly conscious of saying them; it's the overflowing of his soul.

"Yours, yours - fuck - m-more - Myc - Myc, M-Myc - "

 

*

 

“Mine-”

The sounds pouring out of Greg make Mycroft very nearly growl in response. Wet heat and friction have been having their way with him, and his mind responds instinctively to the request for more .

He steals a kiss, muffling the spill of Greg’s words for a moment, and slides his lips down the opposite collarbone.

Matched set.

His teeth drag over the bone and he sucks another mark there, even darker than the first. “Mine, Greg-”

The unfurling coil of pleasure within him is begging for him to chase it, yearning to just let go to the sound of his own name, panted and desperate. He draws back, wrapping his hands about Greg’s waist and pulling, using the pressure of the ties to pound harder- faster- deeper.

“Greg- I’m yours, Greg- you- you’re mine-”

 

*

 

Oh, holy shit - yes - yes -

Yes - yours -

Fuck -

A little rough; a little harder, faster. Greg twists at his ties and takes the pounding, panting through his teeth, his body tight and arched and shaking as the pace picks up. Nothing could possibly make this feel better. Nothing could pull him closer to Mycroft in this moment. Sobs of enjoyment gasp from his mouth as he pleads; sweat glistens on his forehead. His heart is about to smash itself apart.

Oh fuck, so good - so deep - fuck -

A sudden tightening low in his groin makes him jerk in Mycroft's grasp. Heat flashes across his face.

"Oh - oh, fuck - "

Greg hauls at his ties, every muscle clenching, his eyes flying wide as he struggles to shy back from the feeling of Mycroft driving into his prostate. Unbearable pleasure courses through his face. He's never come from this - but he's about to.

The pitch of his voice rises in panic and shock.

"Stop - Myc - stop or I'll come - "

 

*

 

Stop is the word that makes Mycroft immediately still, a hard brake on his current pace and a rising anxiety clenching his heart. There’s a long, desperate second of panic that he’s somehow hurt Greg before his mind processes the second half of the sentence.

Ah. Yes. Breathe- breathe. You didn’t hurt him.

His hands travel soothingly over Greg’s waist, up to his chest, caressing and calming- calming both of them, really. The escalating pleasure he’d felt in his groin has been tamped down by the burst of fear he’d felt, and he finds it doesn’t take him long to recollect his speech into something coherent.

“You don’t want to come yet, beautiful?”

Hands travelling in long, looping circles, Mycroft feels his own heartbeat diminish a little, and an idea takes shape in his mind. The edge of his lip turns up in a little smile.

“Tell me what you’d like, Gregory. Do you want to come now, and we can learn how soon you can find a second round? Or do you want to find out how long you can wait?”

 

*

 

As Mycroft stills, it gives Greg the second he desperately needs to breathe and moan and clamp down. He feels like electricity is firing beneath his skin; like the slightest touch will snap him in two. Everything is pounding. The need to come is ferocious and desperate and Mycroft’s soft beguiling murmur drags him right back to the brink again.

His eyes shut tight. Even the smile feels like it’s enough to break him.

“Fuck,” he whispers, breathing hard, trying to calm himself. “Fuck, fuck, fuck...”

He can’t even think about either of those options. He can’t imagine them for so much as a second, or it'll be all over. His entire body trembles; he can still feel Mycroft inside him. The slow calming circles on his chest help to drag his mind away from that fact.

Breathing in time with the slow strokes, trying to focus on his lungs and not on anything below his waist, Greg shudders against his ties. He forces the words to come.

“I want what you want.” It doesn’t seem to translate properly from his heart to his mouth; he doesn’t mean it as apathy or indecision. His features crease as he tries to put it into better words. “I - I like... oh, shit. I like you in charge. I - want to please you.”

Daring to open his eyes, the deep brown depths gaze up at Mycroft in longing. Christ, please understand.

"Want to be good for you," he whispers, weak.

 

*

 

Mycroft bites back a moan. “You do please me. Oh, Greg, you do.” His hands circle back down to Greg’s waist until his palms meet Greg’s hip bones.

“You are so good for me.” His thumbs swipe up and down the line of the bone, following the same slow, soothing pattern.

Wants me in charge. To please me. Lord. Somewhere there is a deity to whom I owe an offering.

It’s almost more power than he knows what to do with.

Almost.

He inhales, steadying himself, and swipes a finger through the now-quite-liquidated ice cream. “This is for you- let’s get you steadied, lovely,” he purrs as he offers it to Greg.

He waits a span, letting Greg lick and suck his finger, until he’s sure Greg’s heart has slowed enough that he isn’t at risk of tipping over the edge simply from what Mycroft plans to say next.

“I am going to keep fucking you, Gregory. And I’m not going to tell you whether I wish to come fast or slow. But you are not to come until I give you permission, and that will not be until after I do.”

His finger strokes tenderly across Greg’s lower lip.

“Understood?”

 

*

 

Greg lifts his head to the offer of ice cream, shivering. He laps gently at the taste, slow and careful strokes of his tongue, holding Mycroft's gaze as he does. The eye contact is somehow comforting. It's something to concentrate on, other than the frantic sensitivity of his skin.

And Mycroft's calm, tender authority helps.

Greg listens, soft-eyed; he breathes it in. He squeezes the ties gently within his hands, adjusting his grip and shifting on the bed, settling, crossing his ankles over Mycroft's lower back - gathering his lover in a little closer. He understands. He'll give Mycroft control, even over this.

His heart heaves as their eyes meet.

Three words rise into his mouth.

The moment before he says them, Greg realises with a lurch what he was about to do - what he was about to whisper, as soft and easy as if they say it every night, every time they make love.

The realisation flashes in his eyes.

He stiffens a little, gazing at Mycroft - his mouth still open.

After a few seconds of panic, the words are swallowed. They slide back down Greg's throat, settling somewhere safe around his heart. He breathes out again.

It takes effort to remember what Mycroft was saying in the first place.

"I understand," he whispers, shaking. He's still staring into Mycroft's eyes. Shock has soothed some of the colour in his cheeks, and the pounding need to come has cooled at least. Jesus. Fuck. "This is - r-really working for me. You being like this. Just so you know..."

Fuck.

Close.

 

*

 

There is a moment, gazing into Greg’s eyes, where he looks blissful and beautiful. Serene.

But when he opens his mouth, there’s a sharp shift. Something… nervous. Surprised?

What was that?

No - Mycroft isn’t going to analyze, he’s already made that error today and he won’t repeat it. Perhaps Greg is simply nervous about ceding this kind of control, even though he says he enjoys it. Mycroft wouldn’t begrudge him that- or anything, really. He’ll be gentle. “I’m glad. And you’ll tell me if you dislike anything at all, yes?”

He waits for an affirmative, his hands tracing another soothing pattern over Greg’s skin, drifting until he can casually run one finger up the length of Greg’s cock, testing how well Greg has regained his self-control in the lull.

“Good boy.”

With that, he slowly begins to rock his hips once more.

 

*

 

Greg's gaze flickers as Mycroft runs a finger along his cock - the sensation is intense, but he can cope with it. The emotional shock of almost whispering 'I love you' mid-sex is enough to have rescued him from the brink entirely, and as Mycroft begins to move in him, the pleasure is soft and almost fuzzy. Greg's eyes close for a moment, just to feel - to settle - and with another slow outbreath, he releases the last of the panic.

What would you have said...?

Something in him is certain he'd have heard it breathed back; something else is just as certain they'd now be having a desperately awkward conversation. It's only been seven weeks. They've only just said 'boyfriend'.

It felt natural because this moment is intense - because right now, in this moment, nothing else really exists except Mycroft and the bed. It felt right because next week there won't be this. Greg will be missing Mycroft instead.

It doesn't mean it would have been the right thing to say.

Think. Next week. Plenty of time to think. Think about if we're ready.

For now, just...

This.

As Mycroft rocks, Greg's efforts to soften the pleasure are visible in his face. He slows his breathing, keeps his eyes on Mycroft's and rocks back where he can, unconsciously biting his lip when the rhythm deepens into his body. It's easier to hold onto himself, concentrating on Mycroft - watching his lover's face.

This is about taking, not coming. It's about feeling.

"Yours," he murmurs. A shiver travels over his skin. "Mhm... yours. Tied." Pulling tightens the muscles in his arms as he moans. "Yours to have. Yours to take..."

 

*

 

“Mine,” Mycroft breathes. Listening to Greg- watching him bite his lip- is trying his own control. If he did not know better he might think Greg was testing Mycroft’s resolve deliberately.

But he has no idea how beautiful he looks, does he, taut across my bed. How his voice sounds.

There is a chance, were they reversed, that Greg could drive Mycroft over the edge by simply speaking and biting his lip.

It might be something to try, one day.

“Do you know how easily you affect me, Gregory? Can you feel it?” Mycroft lets his fingers just barely brush over Greg’s cock, lingering on the head. “I want you to feel it, while I’m taking you.”

He varies his pace in an effort to keep them both off balance. So slow that his own body is screaming for more, and just fast enough to make them both pant. Sometimes he strokes Greg a time or two, occasionally he reaches up to run a finger in a light circle over Greg’s nipple. He even varies in position, tilting forward and pressing Greg’s thighs down so he can kiss Greg’s mouth and neck and throat, or rocking all the way back on his own knees, lifting Greg’s hips onto his thighs, stretching him along the bed.

There’s no chasing of pleasure, not yet- Mycroft plans to test them both.

“How are you faring, beautiful? Still comfortable?”

 

Chapter Text

There's something wildly exhilarating about being pulled up onto Mycroft's thighs, stretched out with even less accessible movement than before. Greg moans a little and twists, panting as he finds a way to encircle Mycroft's waist with his legs. His lover's thrusts feel faultless; only the variation in pace is keeping him from spiralling back to the brink. The last stroke of his cock was met with a tight twitch and a breathed plea not to, knowing he's been dangerously close to climax once already.

The truth is that being bound like this, held here for Mycroft to enjoy, is always going to have him halfway to coming.

It works for him on an almost fundamental level. The feeling of pulling at the ties and stretching seems to ache through his body each time in waves, and this doesn't feel like just sex. This is becoming transcendent.

Mycroft's soft words evoke a little shiver and a moan. Greg's eyes focus out of their fogged and pleasured haze, blinking as he looks down the bed. He pants slightly as Mycroft continues to move.

"M'fine - I... m-maybe lube soon?" He doesn't know how long Mycroft's planning on keeping him here. Part of him thinks it might only be minutes; part of him doesn't expect to be freed from the headboard before midnight. He hopes it's long enough to be worth reaching for the lube.

Realising it's important to say, his face pulls with humour. His eyes glitter.

"I want to keep going. M'okay. I - kinda want to see h-how long we..." He flushes. "You're gonna take that as a challenge though - and maybe I don't know what I'm letting myself in for..."

 

*

 

Mycroft hums thoughtfully, repositioning and reaching for the lube. He wants Gregory to be comfortable, after all, especially if they’re going to press on… and Mycroft does like a bit of a challenge.

“Lube is a good idea, Gregory. I want you to remain comfortable.”

Withdrawing to put it on, however, is almost painful- Mycroft is beginning to wonder whether he’s inadvertently opted to test his own resolve more than Greg’s. He positively aches against his own touch, which must remain fairly clinical or he’ll risk spoiling his own game- but his caresses to slick Greg are soft and tender, extremely gentle when it comes to ensuring both ease and safety.

“If it becomes too much, all you have to do is say the word. But otherwise….”

His mouth falls open with a quiet moan as he reenters, the wet pressure almost immediately too much. A shiver runs through him as he tamps down the threatening crest, hands hanging on to Greg’s hips almost desperately until the urge passes.

“Otherwise I am happy to explore both of our limits on duration. And-”

He rolls his hips slowly, shallowly pressing in and out.

“-endurance.”

 

*

 

"Oh Jesus - fuck - "

Why does lube make this a million times better?

Greg forces himself to breathe, to concentrate on Mycroft's hands tight at his hips, and his own wrists twisting against silk, rather than on the sensation of his lover easing slickly just a little inside him. Something about lube makes this so much more arousing. Mycroft has accidentally just taken them up to advanced level - though the increase in comfort is welcome, too.

It takes a minute or two before the initial surge of oh fuck yes has softened, and Greg can look Mycroft in the eye without fearing his orgasm will be triggered by a single smirk.

"Y-You okay?" he breathes.

Fuck. He's fighting it too. It's good for him. Greg's heart grips tightly in his chest, watching the man he loves work to balance them both between pleasure and what they can bear.

"Oh god - oh god, you look - " Greg shudders, tugging at his ties. The urge to touch Mycroft is overwhelming; stroke his arms, stroke his chest, cup his face and pull him close, whisper to him to go deep, to fuck his hellion how he likes, to have him.

The restraints hold Greg fast. He whimpers and pulls, excited even by the frustration, his muscles tightening and his back arching as he stretches.

"F-Fuck - Mycroft - " He screws his head back into the pillow, panting, squeezing with purpose around his lover's cock. "Oh, fuck - fuck, you're inside me - fuck - f-fuck me all night - fuck me 'til you're finished with me - please - don't ever go - "

 

*

 

“Fu- uck-”

Between Greg’s raw, lewd voice and the sudden increase in tightness around his cock, Mycroft almost loses himself right there. “Nnngh- Greg- if you do that again- it will definitely not be all night-”

He stills, hands sliding up and down on Greg’s thighs, calming, but not quite calming enough. A few efforts at deeper passes and he’s right back on the line, straining his breath to keep himself there.

“You feel- incredible-”

Another long breath, another slow sequence of thrusts. It’s not going to be that long before his body caves for him, forcing him to chase the urge if it doesn’t just leap directly over the line. He doesn’t think he minds- he has Greg, looking beautiful and blissful and urging him on-

Fuck.

“Gregory... I think- it’ll have to be soon-” He inhales shakily. “I don’t think I can- hold off much longer-”

 

*

 

Greg shivers in response, lifting his head from the pillow to gaze at Mycroft along his own body. It's addictive seeing Mycroft like this, right on the verge of letting go. All that authority, all that control - and even though he's tied to Mycroft's bed, even though he's receiving the fucking of his life, even though he belongs heart and soul to his lover, Greg knows he has a soft and quiet power here. He's the only one who sees Mycroft like this. He's the only one who gets to be this close.

It's an incredible sensation.

Stirring, flexing against his ties, Greg keeps his eyes on Mycroft as he squeezes again. He can't reach Mycroft, can't touch him - but he can still help his lover come.

"I don't want to leave the bed tomorrow," he whispers, his eyes glittering in the candlelight. "Just want to worship you. Treat you like a king. Ride you like we'll never stop."

Slowly, with utter purpose, he presses his teeth into his lower lip and rolls it through.

"Mycroft," he breathes, and it's a plea. "Mycroft, please. Make me yours. Fuck me like we need it."

 

*

 

Oh-

A shudder glides through him.

Mycroft doesn’t know what precisely spells the end for him- it could be Greg’s pleas, his gentle squeezing, or that utterly damnable way he bites his lip. Whichever it is, Mycroft is very aware he has no power here. He is entirely at Greg’s mercy.

Yours- oh, god, entirely yours-

He can feel the pressure building- there’s no stopping it now- he tilts forward so he can reach Greg’s face, kissing him as it builds, the pace of his hips increasing in time with his own heart. There’s no word for how he feels- or if there is, he doesn’t know it- so intimately secure, so contented. “Greg-”

The tension is rising so fast he has trouble forcing himself to speak. He slides a hand between them, reaching for Greg’s cock.

“Come with me- Gregory-”

“Come for me-”

 

*

 

Greg arches up into the kiss, shuddering, and as the pace increases he moans frantically against his lover's mouth.

"Fuck," he gasps, digging his fingers into the ties. His expression wracks with desperation. "Fuck - yes - yes, do it - oh god, fucking do it - "

Mycroft's hand wraps around his cock; Greg's body convulses. He drags at his bonds and twists and the gasps at once kick up into cries, fragments of words, pleas, howled things that make little sense outside of his own heart. He's so close to breaking apart that he can hardly breathe. Pleasure screams just beneath the surface of his skin, hotter and brighter and sharper, and as he feels it suddenly swell, all he can do is wrench at his ties and sob.

"Fuck - fuckfuckfuck - now Myc now - "

 

*

 

The sound that rips out of Mycroft is positively feral. He’s not sure he could emulate it if he tried. One arm wraps under Greg, the other stays on his cock, pulling them through as the world breaks apart around them.

The tremor that cascades through him feels like it’s setting every nerve on fire with overwhelming feeling and all he can do is hang on as it erupts. Some of the words he’s making are an effort at Greg’s name, but he cannot claim any knowledge of the rest.

His head falls to Greg’s shoulder as he comes, shuddering with every pulse and still buried in his beautiful lover.

“Greg-”

This is absolutely the hardest he has ever come in his life.

“Oh god, Greg-”

 

*

 

Greg's body pushes itself upwards from the bed, taut as a bowstring as he comes. He can't wrap his arms around Mycroft; he wraps his legs instead, tight, ankles locking with each other over Mycroft's lower back.

He needs to feel this. He needs every second of it. His own orgasm is ripping him apart, leaving him a shaking wreck, but through it he can feel Mycroft moaning and flooding inside him - and that rush of coming together, sharing this, as close as two humans can ever be, is so intense that he feels tears sting across his eyes as he gasps.

Fuck, you understand. I know you do. You know all of me.

Like you know everything she did to me. You know it hurt. You know everything I need to make it alright.

You know me. You really know me.

Fuck.

Fuck, I'm in love with you.

After the lightning strikes of pleasure, emotion comes rolling in like thunder. The intensity of his climax is matched by a surge of sudden breathtaking distress. Even before Greg has finished shaking, even as another wave of fluid wells from his cock and drips down onto his stomach, pain and relief and joy and love are cracking him open along his fault-lines - and fighting it is too much. He can't breathe his way through it, not this time; not tied like this, taken care of like this, loved like this. It's too close. It hits him with the force of a train.

"Fuck - "

The tears in his voice are audible; he bites back another sound, mortified and overwhelmed. Shit. Shit, no - oh, Christ - come on -

Pushing his face against his arm, trying to wipe away the tears before they're seen, Greg breathes and grips hard at the ties. It's fine. Christ, it's fine. Let it go. Breathe it out.

Don't do this to him.

 

*

 

Heart still racing, Mycroft slowly lands back into reality as the blinding haze of his orgasm retreats. “Dear lord… that was….” He turns his face inward to press a kiss to Greg’s cheek. “Incredible….”

Except Greg is turned away from him. His mind takes a moment to process the issue- fast as it is, even that mighty organ cannot immediately rebound from the transcendent force of a hard climax. The sound he thinks he hears scarcely sounds like Greg- he wouldn’t think it was if he wasn’t pressed to Greg’s chest when he heard it.

Is he…?

“Greg?”

He presses up, a sickly sort of nervous adrenaline flushing over the pleasant waves of endorphins.

It gets worse when he gets a glimpse of Greg’s face, clearly trying to hide from him. The bitter, self-deprecating voice that lives in the back of his mind is tripping over itself to supply the reason.

Your fault. Obviously.

You’ve hurt him.

Mycroft very gently uncouples them, heart feeling like it may be breaking. His throat burns, suddenly. He unbinds Greg’s wrists, fingers shaking. Even the thought that he might have done anything to bring Gregory pain feels like a knife through his soul.

Whatever happened was preventable, if you were only paying better attention.

Really, were you that focused on your own pleasure?

Pathetic.

He breathes.

“Gregory, sweetheart? Are you… alright?”

 

*

 

As Greg’s wrists come free from the headboard, it seems to loosen some other band of emotion too. He shakes with another flush of tears, wraps his arms around Mycroft’s torso and holds onto him, breathing slowly, turning his face against his lover’s cheek.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers, his voice thick. He grips onto Mycroft more tightly, his heart still pounding, trying to surface from the crap he’s now drowning in. “S-Shit, I’m sorry - I - I just get - ”

Don’t go. Don’t go, don’t go. Please don’t go.

“ - e-emotional - fuck, I’m sorry - it’s not you. It’s not you, I promise. Holy fuck. Please don’t think it’s you.”

He’s not sure he could hold Mycroft any more tightly - nor could this moment be any more mortifying.

“I’m really sorry - Christ, I’m a mess. I’m so sorry - ”

 

*

 

Mycroft is entirely frozen for a long moment as his mind tries to process. Greg is clinging onto him, crying, hanging on tight- crying on him-

There is no comparable barometer in his experiences for the correct response.

He says this is not me. Air pushes into his lungs and out again- he tries not to make it sound like a whimper of relief. So… if I am not the cause…. One hand finds Greg’s hair and pets, the other circling around to wrap Greg in. Soothing.

“It’s- fine.” Mycroft has no idea what is happening, but he certainly does not want Greg to feel worse owing to his own confusion.

“I’ve got you. You simply- hang on as tightly as you need to.”

He swallows, shakily.

“Is there… anything I can do?”

 

*

 

Greg curls into Mycroft with relief, trembling as his hair is stroked. His heart's still beating hard, but he can feel it slowing. The emotion is so intense that hiding it, swallowing it, seems deceptive - and Mycroft's position, Greg wouldn’t believe an ‘I’m fine’. He doesn’t expect Mycroft to believe it either.

With a deep breath, he tries to pick his way through the words like they’re land mines.

“I’m... k-kinda starting to - erm... th-this is getting big for me. Really big. Really big. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I can’t - I just can’t - ”

Pressing his fingers into Mycroft’s back, he buries his face against his shoulder and breathes for a second, shaking with it.

“You - you don’t know - what it means. How kind you are. How good you are to me. How well you treat me. I - I’ve - n-not had - and - things before were... shit - they were - ”

He swallows, hard.

“Holy fuck,” he whispers. “I’m so sorry - Jesus, Myc. I’m sorry. That was just - intense. I don’t know where this has come from. I’m - Christ, i-ignore me. Crying all over you. I’m a bloody mess.”

 

*

 

Kindness? This is about… behaving decently?

He makes a mental note- again- to ask Anthea to work up a file on Greg’s ex-wife. The depth of that situation may be a bit graver than he’d previously estimated, and he’s confident Anthea will be able to give some insight into the matter so long as he can bring it up… delicately.

“That’s alright- you, ah….”

Mycroft’s mind churns, formulating and discarding responses.

Too harsh, too presumptive, too trite…. Simple. Simple is best.

“You don’t need to apologize, Greg. You do deserve to be treated well. Everyone should treat you well.”

Emotions, particularly strong emotions, have never quite been Mycroft’s area. He’s been professionally advised by a former MI-6 psychologist that his coping mechanisms are extremely questionable and his tendency to lock down his own strong feelings behind a wall of tight control is not healthy. When it comes to others, he isn’t typically in a position to be privy to real ones. Most of the others in his position are as tightly contained as he is.

He very much hopes his limited experience in this realm is enough to be useful.

“I am not going to ignore you. Take your time. Would a bit of very melty ice cream help? Or perhaps a hot bath?”

 

*

 

The honest, small and simple words feel like a bubble, gently breaking the surface.

Greg makes a sound that is at once both sob, outbreath and mortified laugh. He hugs Mycroft tighter still around the shoulders, closing his eyes to cope with this moment. My partner. Comforting him, even when he's such an idiot that intense sex breaks open his emotions; saying gentle things that are true.

"Holy shit," Greg whispers, and his voice is warming. Embarrassment begins to replace the distress. "You mean the world to me. Christ, you're... you're wonderful... it's like you turned up in my life and everything just..."

His hands brush Mycroft's bare back - slowly, just feeling him, his comforting weight.

"M'sorry, love," he says at last, calming as he strokes his lover's skin. "I didn't mean to shock you... I get - argh. Weepy, sometimes. When it's intense. I'm just... h-honestly? I'm - kinda realising what you mean to me... and it's a relief, and..."

He draws back a little to gaze up at Mycroft, nervous, his brown eyes soft as he moves a hand to stroke his lover's face.

"M'gonna miss you," he whispers. "It's - one damn week, but I feel like - "

 

*

 

“I know. It feels… far longer.” Mycroft’s fingers brush back and forth in soothing lines. “I’m going to miss you too.”

He’s not quite sure what to do with the broad swath of Greg’s soul he feels as though he’s just been given. He knew Greg cared for him, of course- and Greg did warn him that he falls easily- but Mycroft didn’t really know, did he, what that meant.

It’s possible he still doesn’t. He doesn’t really have the experience to know. All he can do is give all the care and affection to Greg that he has.

“As long as all that intensity comes from a- good place, and not- I don’t want to cause you any pain, you know.” He presses a gentle kiss to Greg’s forehead. “So long as it is good, I won’t be shocked.”

He shifts, easing down onto his shoulder. “I suppose if you- think it would be more distracting to be apart than together….”

That’s not how it works in his own world- there’s a reason when absolute focus is required every single person on his team can isolate themselves instantly. But his world is not Gregory’s.

“I simply… do not wish to be the source of any complications to your work.”

 

*

 

Greg stirs gently onto his side, settling face-to-face with Mycroft. He wraps an arm with care around his lover's waist, and presses a quiet kiss against his jaw. He needs to be close in this moment. It feels almost like they're connected still. Something of Mycroft is still inside him, looking after him.

The comfort of bare skin is very soothing.

"I'm turning this trial into a bigger deal than it is," he murmurs, drawing a breath. "It'll be over in a flash... this time next week we'll probably be here, laughing about it. All the fuss we made."

He rests his chin on Mycroft's shoulder, tracing a gentle pattern with a fingertip at the nape of his neck.

He's quiet for a moment, thinking.

"You've never caused me pain. Not once." That bit's the most important, he thinks. If that's all he can say, he needs to say that bit.

Squeezing Mycroft gently, he nuzzles into his neck.

"You know when something good comes along," he murmurs, "and it's - it's just - suddenly you realise how bad things were? You didn't know. You needed that second point of reference before you could see it properly. And suddenly you're - you're just wondering how you..."

His voice fades out.

He lets his eyes close. "M'lucky," he mumbles. "Really lucky. M'glad you're here."

 

*

 

“I am very lucky as well, Greg.” He strokes through the silvery hair softly, caressing Greg’s path to sleep. Mycroft has certainly been on the other end of this treatment- let Greg be the one who gets the additional rest, this time. Mycroft can take care of him.

“You are also ‘something good’ for me, Gregory,” he murmurs, soft and low, almost turning melodic as a favourite passage comes to mind.  “In the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”

He waits until Greg’s breathing has grown more regular and presses another quiet kiss against his forehead, whispering. “I shall just tidy us up, sweetheart. Stay right there.”

The flannels are easy warmed until water. He gets Greg cleaned first and, with some creative maneuvering, carefully tucked into the sheets with his pajama bottoms set on the bedside table in case he wakes up and wants them.

Mycroft casts a skeptical eye at the warm remains of the ice cream. Do people typically just put it back in the freezer? It doesn’t seem terribly sanitary to eat, after hands have been in it, but… it’s not as though in his house there’s any worry about confusing the normal ice cream with the sex ice cream.

That dealt with, and apparently carrying energy to spare, he hangs up the remainders of both of their scattered apparel, Greg’s suit in the closet next to his own.

When he climbs into bed, everything orderly around them and the candles properly put out, he draws The Silmarillion out from his nightstand. He does love Tolkien, but that one is dense and dry enough that it never takes long before his eyelids begin to waver….

 

Chapter Text

"Weird," Greg said, holding the café door for Mycroft. It was Sunday; it was around their usual time. The sofa in the window was waiting for them, but there was no sign of Marmalade waiting upon it. "Are we a bit late, d'you think?"

He glanced at his watch as he slid his wallet from inside his jacket. They'd been later than this before, and all they'd had was a 'brrrrrrp!' of disapproval as they finally rolled in.

"Maybe she's sleeping in the back..." He smiled a little. "What can I get you? I was going to have a raspberry muffin, if you wanted to steal a piece..."

 

*

 

“A small piece, thank you.” Mycroft looks over the options- he has not been on the treadmill as much this week, but all the sex has to count for something. “And a chocolate croissant for me. A small bit of indulgence.” At least it isn’t cake, and he’ll have time this week to make up for some of his fitness backsliding.

Snacks and coffee ready, they migrate to their sofa. Still no Marmalade.

“I don’t suppose she’s found another couple she’d like to set up….” Mycroft begins studying the other tables, checking to see whether she’s in some other gent’s lap.

A loud “Mrow!” erupts from the area at his feet. Wills sits there, yellow eyes wide, staring at him. He’d been around the side, batting at something under the couch.

Mycroft lifts a brow. “Not you. Shoo.”

“Mrow?” Wills stands up on his back legs, paws on the table, to inspect what the humans are eating.

“No. Shoo.”

The big tom rocks back on his haunches to make the jump up and Mycroft is quick with a blocking hand. “None of that. Go pester someone else.”

Wills hardly looks put out, but he wheels about, enormous fluffy tail in the air. “Mrrrrrrrrow.”

It’s only after he’s well across the cafe that Mycroft feels another brush of fabric by his shoes, and Marmalade slips out from the small space under the couch, keeping low to the floor. “Oh! Greg-”

He reaches for her and she shies away, needing to sniff him before she’ll permit him to pick her up. “Come up here with us, darling girl. Were you hiding from that villainous creature?”

 

*

 

"Oh! Jesus - "

Greg's heart nearly twists itself in two.

"Marmalade - "

Christ... how much time does she now spend cowering under a sofa?

He's worried at once. Even as Marmalade finally comes a little nearer, allowing Mycroft to pick her up and lift her between them, Greg's pulse is quick and hard in his throat.

He doesn't think twice about putting his arm along the back of the sofa, leaning close to Mycroft so she's shielded on more sides. He reaches to stroke her carefully, running the backs of his fingers over her head.

Marmalade trembles a little, but doesn't make a sound. Her wide green eyes are watching across the café, as if she's waiting to take cover again at any moment.

Greg glances up at Mycroft, slightly pale.

For a moment he's wordless, trying not to think.

"Should we - ask?" he says.

 

*

 

“Yes- yes, I think so….”

Mycroft skims the room again, fingers very gently joining Greg’s in soothing Marmalade. Wills is occupied by bothering a couple with a young child who keeps trying to slip him food, but he also does not want to get up and unsettle their sweet little charge any further.

He settles for catching one of the barista’s eyes, waving her over.

“Refills, gents?”

“No, thank you- Marmalade here was under the couch when we arrived, and she seems a bit- well, terrified- of Wills. Is that… is that being dealt with?”

“Well, really that’s more of a question for the rescue staff. I’ve seen her get under there before- I think she likes it because Wills is too big to manage it, so he can’t reach her under there. Her safe spot, like.”

Mycroft looks at Greg out of the corner of his eye. “It does not seem like she thinks it’s very safe….”

 

*

 

Oh, christ - christ, has nobody -

In an effort to calm his heart, Greg tries to tell himself this isn't a big deal. It's just a personality clash - Wills is more boisterous, Marmalade more shy - it's not that she's...

He looks down at the small cat now sheltering against them. She's not settling like she normally does. She's still waiting, nervous even though Wills has gone off to find someone more fun to fill his time.

She knows he'll be back at some point.

Oh Jesus.

Christ, how much of a fuss can we actually make about this before we're not welcome?

The thought that he won't be here throughout next week, busy with the trial, kicks Greg's pulse up another notch. Marmalade will be missing one of her human protectors. However much grief Wills is giving her now, he'll be able to give her more.

Regarding Mycroft anxiously, he tries to think of what to do.

"I've - got a bad feeling," he admits. "Big lump probably doesn't even realise he's upsetting her... or doesn't care - but - I-I've not seen her like this."

Carefully he runs a hand down Marmalade's back, feeling the arch of her spine beneath her fur - then gently down her side.

"Myc, she's - skinny. I swear she's lost a bit of weight. Is he stealing her food?"

 

*

 

“Er.” The barista appears a bit thrown by the amount of concern. “Well they’re all free fed, really- bunch of bowls everywhere, and we refill them all the time so they’re never empty. Just eat until they’re full.”

“Is there a number you can give me for someone at the rescue to speak with? I’m sure they’re keeping an eye, but I do like to be certain.”

The barista wanders off to locate a business card, and Mycroft lets Marmalade sniff him once more before slipping the crook of his finger under her chin.

“I’ll investigate while you are occupied, Gregory. I’m sure they do not keep as close an eye as they could, but they must be able to do something.”

The words are meant to be just as soothing to Greg as his gentle strokes are to Marmalade.

“Don’t worry. I shall keep an eye on her.”

 

*

 

Quiet, Greg looks down at Marmalade. He watches her face as Mycroft strokes her, not quite trusting his mouth to say anything else.

He doesn't want to be that person, fussing about a cat who isn't even theirs, worrying for her when it's not really any of his business.

But for a long time, Marmalade was the only real reason he'd had to feel good about the world. Caring about her had given him back his first scraps of purpose and emotional security. He'd had to get up, get dressed, get fresh air to come and see her, and it had helped him more than he realised at the time.

Without Marmalade, there wouldn't have been the confidence to speak to Mycroft.

As Greg gazes at her, he feels his heart twist with discomfort.

He forces himself to swallow it.

Fretting. Fussing.

None of my business.

Reaching for his coffee, guarded, Greg takes a long drink and looks away across the café. As he does, he becomes suddenly aware of what his protective instincts have done without him noticing - and retrieves his other arm from around Mycroft. He sits forward a little, wraps both hands around his mug instead and blows across the surface to cool it, focused now on watching other people. He wants to help soothe Marmalade, stroke her, but he suspects he's made too much of this already.

The tension in his shoulders is still visible.

 

*

 

The barista comes and goes, handing off a business card to Mycroft that he secures in his wallet. Greg’s shift in posture hasn’t gone unnoticed- for a moment Mycroft had forgotten that they still need to hide at all.

He runs his hand over Marmalade where she sits between them, stroking her at the same time he lets his fingers brush against the side of Greg’s thigh reassuringly.

You are allowed to care, beautiful.

I care too. About both of you.

“I’ll ask them what their veterinary schedule looks like- she might be due for a checkup.” One he’ll pay for, if he must press the issue.

Greg still seems far too closed off. It hurts Mycroft to see him shut down so quickly- hurts more that Marmalade’s shuddering does not seem to be abating. But this has always been Mycroft’s place, to hold everything together when it threatens to tear at the seams.

“Why don’t you let her sit in your lap for a bit? You can tell her about how Wills is a shoo-in for cat jail.”

 

*

 

Greg's heart thuds. He knows Mycroft is trying to soften him, settle him. They've been here a grand total of five minutes, and he's managed to accuse the place of neglecting their cats. Christ, man, it's a cat café. They know how to look after cats.

He looks down, his fingers gating together with discomfort.

C'mon, dickhead. You won't see either of them for a week.

Plenty of time to mope tomorrow.

His shoulders rise with the breath he draws. He shifts, still uneasy in his expression, and without a word he sits himself back.

As Marmalade is transferred to his lap, he feels his pulse kick up like she's a frightened child. The strength of the response reels its way through his shoddy defensive walls; it shuts out his senses for a second.

He puts his arms around her, hiding the slight shake of his fingers in her fur. His exhale is audible.

"S'okay, princess..." His voice comes soft, low, and infinitely gentle. "All alright, darlin'. No worries..."

He can't cope with the thought she was waiting for them. He tries to keep it off his face, out of his voice, stroking her slowly as he murmurs at the pitch of a purr.

"F'you want to sleep for a little while... s'okay... watch for you. Stay 'til you're alright."

Christ, this week. Of all weeks.

Can't even come to check on you.

As he strokes her, waiting apprehensively for her to settle, Greg risks a nervous lift of his eyes.

The look he gives Mycroft is at once fragile, guarded, and very visibly guilty.

I know I over-reacted. I know I'm wound up. I'm not - meaning to -

 

*

 

“I think your suspicions are accurate, Greg. She is a bit thinner.”

The look Mycroft gives Greg in turn is as calming and affirming as he can manage.

You are right to be worried. Let me help.

Mycroft turns his own arm out over the back of the couch, assuming Greg’s usual relaxed posture.  “They may not know she’s so bothered by him. The baristas aren’t really here to watch them, other than the basics- I’m not even sure I’ve seen staff from the actual rescue.”

His fingers surreptitiously brush the back of Greg’s neck. “I’ll work out who to speak to about it, and what can be done, and we’ll check on her again this weekend, together, yes? And I’ll be here every time I can slip free from work.”

We’ll be fine. All three of us.

It’s only one week.

“Look, I think she’s comfy now. Her preferred lap, hm? Suppose you’ll have to settle for mine this week, your grace.”

 

*

 

Christ.

Christ, you - you make everything alright.

Mycroft's calm is like warm water over a sore contracting muscle. Greg breathes and goes quiet to listen, knowing he needs this, feeling the words somehow both ease and justify his worries at once - letting him have them, then taking them gently out of his hands.

By the time Mycroft finishes, his pulse is still raised - just now with gratitude and relief. He doesn't quite remember when his eyes closed.

"Thank you." As Marmalade settles against his chest, lying down, he feels his heart lie down with her - and it's the easiest thing in the world to rest his head back against Mycroft's arm. It would feel unnatural in this moment not to do it.

He leans a little closer, breathing out, and passes his fingers quietly through Marmalade's fur. Not for the first time, he feels it - the three of them - some odd and wonderful little glimpse of a family.

"Thank you," he says again, and opens his eyes, gazing sideways at Mycroft along his arm. The tiniest first lift of a smile crosses his mouth. "M'sorry. Just - f-fuck this week. Feel like I'm waiting for something bad to happen."

His throat shifts around a quiet swallow.

"Want you both to be alright," he murmurs. "It - didn't matter when I was on my own. Work. Stress. Didn't have anything else. Now I... I suppose I've got my own world to care about..."

His eyes hold Mycroft's.

That's you, by the way. The world. You and her.

 

*

 

Oh, beautiful. I know. Mine as well.

He smiles fondly, but there’s a tiny flicker of worry in Mycroft that he firmly keeps from his face. What will happen when he has to travel? Will Greg be like this? The thought is concerning… but he does not need to worry about that yet. And besides, he’d been travelling less and less, every year.

“You don’t need to worry about us. I shall keep Miss Marmalade in good hands.” A little twist turns up the corner of his lip. “And you are familiar with some of my own security measures, even if the place will be much lonelier without you there.”

But I will tell Anthea why the house is quieter.

Anthea, despite her teasing, has expressed her preference for Greg staying over, though Mycroft thinks she is a bit more fond of Greg than her “ eh, he’s alright. You know if anyone got in he’d tear them to pieces before I even made it up the stairs ” would indicate.

He lets his fingers quietly, secretly graze Greg’s arm. “Is it something with the trial that’s… bothering you? I thought everything seemed to be in hand.”

 

*

 

Greg's pupils swell slightly at the stroke. He finds himself strangely unafraid. Maybe it's because this feels like a place of their own, and has been for weeks; maybe it's because everyone else is paying so little attention to them. Maybe he knows that these are the last few hours together, and he doesn't want to spend them acting like they've never touched.

He holds Mycroft's gaze, still gently smoothing Marmalade's fur.

"M'just a fuss pot," he says, and tries a smile. A moment later, a rather fuller answer is given. "Whole team's spent years trying to get the bastards put away... all comes down to me, standing there in my suit. Have to hope I do my team proud. Have to hope they've done me proud, too."

Even in his nerves, Greg's eyes are bright. It feels good just to look at Mycroft this close in public. It feels good to look at him like a boyfriend.

"D'you ever feel like... things are so good, you're scared for them?" he says. His eyes linger on Mycroft's lips. "Like you're not really allowed. Like you're tempting fate."

 

*

 

“Does it help at all if I tell you I think you’re very handsome in your suit?”

Mycroft smiles easily. He likes the way Greg is looking at him, the marked change in ease. The comfort. There is a sense of intimacy, even in this. As though they are stronger together.

“I’m afraid I’m not much for fate or the tempting thereof… but I know what you mean. Too many wins in a row… people begin to say there’s no such thing as coincidence. That you must be rigging the game, so they make an effort to tear you down, just to prove you are fallible.”

Usually, when such things were said about Mycroft, they were right. He does rig the games, so to speak. That’s what he’s paid for. He’s good at it. But those rules do not apply in his personal life.

“But if you don’t take the time to be happy about things when you can, when will you?”

His other hand slips in and lays a long stroke along Marmalade’s back.

“I am quite happy with our good fortune, as it happens. We’re allowed to enjoy it.”

 

*

 

Greg's heart strains quietly.

He searches Mycroft's eyes, one and then the other, a small smile playing across his mouth. A look of bone-deep relief settles on his features.

"You make everything easy," he says. He means every word. He's had the impression for some time that Mycroft is the man summoned when something, somewhere, has gone catastrophically wrong. When someone else has fucked up on a scale that fuck-ups aren't allowed to happen, it's Mycroft who clears up the mess.

Greg doesn't know how he does it; he knows that even if Mycroft told him, in precise and accurate detail, he probably wouldn't understand half of it.

He's glad, though.

He's in safe hands. Mycroft sees his nerves and responds with calm and confidence, and it's desperately reassuring. It feels healthy. It's... wonderful.

Pausing, Greg glances once again at his boyfriend's lips.

"Think I prefer your way of seeing things, you know." His eyes shine. "Think I'll try it for a while."

He leans up, and presses a single gentle kiss to the corner of Mycroft's mouth.

His fingers curl in Marmalade's fur. It feels like the world breathes in.

When Greg eases back, opening his eyes, it's all still there - same couch, same café, same people chatting over the same cups of coffee, and nobody cares in the slightest. Nobody has even noticed.

Quiet, leaping joy fills Greg's gaze.

He grins at Mycroft, bites his lip, and waits for the verdict.

 

*

 

For an act so small, it’s the first time Mycroft thinks he really knows what Greg means when he says this is big. He knows what it means to be able to kiss, even soft and gentle and chaste, in public. What it means for Greg to have the courage to try.

With me. Trying with me.

He doesn’t know why us in public should feel so different than us in private, but it does. It feels wonderful that he might be able to simply hold Greg’s hand when he wants to.

His heart swells.

All mine, you beautiful, sweet man.

Mycroft’s smile goes straight to his eyes. He lets the hand over the back of the couch slowly wrap Greg’s shoulders. “I like it on you, personally. But I may be biased, seeing as I like you already.”

He looks down to see that Marmalade is sneaking a quiet look up at them from her spot snuggled down into Greg’s chest. “Mrrp?” she asks softly.

“Yes dear, this is your fault. I trust you are pleased with yourself.”

 

*

 

Christ, let me watch you smile forever.

The little feline sound between them tugs at Greg's heart. He looks down to find her peering up, and he smiles wider than ever.

"Hey, princess..." He slips a finger beneath her chin, tickling gently, and her green eyes close in peace. It's a relief to see. "If I ordered a bacon sandwich, will you help keep an eye out for the thug?" he asks, glancing up at Mycroft. "Kinda want to spoil her a bit. And... well... m'not in any rush to leave."

 

*

 

“Of course.”

Mycroft relocates Marmalade into his own lap, and though she seems huffy about being moved when she was just getting ready to properly nap, she accepts the transfer. “You’ll like the results, darling, promise.”

When Greg is up, Mycroft finds himself people watching a bit, keeping an eye out for where exactly Wills has gotten to. Nowhere good, in all likelihood.

His eye pauses on a reflection through the door- there’s someone getting into a car across the street.

The car looks familiar… but then, what cars don’t these days.

A quick survey of his mental reserves says it’s not related to anything on his own security, not tied to any current threats. Still, he makes a mental note of the model to run by Anthea later.

She’ll let him know if it’s anything to be concerned about.

 

*

 

When the bacon sandwich arrives, Greg eats it slowly - though in truth, very little of it is eaten by him. He opens up the bread and pulls off small pieces of bacon at a time, giving them to Marmalade to eat one-by-one. There's no sign of Wills, but the big idiot can appear without warning - and Greg doesn't want to risk Marmalade being upset again. She's settled herself very happily on Mycroft's lap, watching with round green eyes each time Greg finds her another piece of bacon. The sight of the two of them like this is going to get him through this week.

They stay for twice as often as they normally would. Tables come and go around them; they keep buying drinks and snacks, making sure they're still welcome. Marmalade alternates between their laps, between napping and cuddles, and as the afternoon goes by she seems more chatty. Her eyes are brighter; she sprawls herself across them both to sleep stretched out.

At last, Greg notices that Mycroft is getting more texts - Sunday afternoon - the working week is looming. They normally would have said goodbye by now. Mycroft would be home, getting ready for Monday, and it looks like people are used to having access to him.

Greg could do with tending to some laundry - cooking a big meal he can portion out for the freezer - checking with Sally that the team have everything they'll need in his absence.

A lull in conversation comes. Greg glances up at Mycroft, trailing his fingers through Marmalade's tummy fur.

They've not had to say goodbye for a while. It's been 'see you after work'.

Now there's a chance it's 'see you next week'.

Greg's throat squeezes a little. He covers it with a smile, telling himself in a year this won't matter at all. It'll probably seem funny. 'D'you remember how much we worried?'

"M'I going to have to give you back to the nation soon?" he asks, his voice soft.

 

*

 

“Just for a little while.”

Mycroft smiles thinly. “It seems there are still a few people I need to convince regarding the use of my allotted weekends.”

His hand slips through Marmalade’s fur and onto Greg’s knee. Does this happen all the time, when people care? They care so much it hurts to be apart? That even the thought is painful? It seems like an odd mechanism, really, but he supposes the exchange is the intense, blissful happiness that comes with being together.

“You can text me, of course. Whenever you like. Let me know how it’s progressing.” He smiles gently. “I’ll answer quick as I can.”

“And you never know… they could summon you early and you could be done with your part by Tuesday.”

His hand squeezes Greg’s knee.

“One can hope.”

 

*

 

Greg's heart expands at the very thought. It'll probably happen, he thinks - all the fuss he's made, all the pre-emptive pining - there's a chance this is going to be the most hilariously anti-climatic week of his life. Wednesday evening, he'll be feeding Mycroft strawberries in the film-room, watching something together as he rubs his lover's feet under the blanket.

This'll be fine. All of it. This week will fly, Myc'll look after Marmalade, and a week from now I'll be a certified idiot.

Reaching down he lays his hand on top of Mycroft's, quietly weaving their fingers together. Though it feels like he's blushing at once, it feels good.

"I'm going to try and lock my phone away when I'm in court," he says. "Just... better safe than sorry. If I get caught sending sloppy texts when I should be paying attention..."

He smiles a little, glancing down at their joined hands.

"How about I ring you before bed? Even just five minutes every night, just to... hear your voice." His eyes shine. "We managed to go forty-five years without seeing each other, once. Sure we can manage another week."

 

*

 

“That sounds perfect. Though I should hope we get a bit longer than five minutes.”

Their hands are warm together, comfortable and… loving. Would that be the right term? He’s certainly never been in anything that could be described as love before, so there is no barometer of comparison. There is a significant fondness, however, between himself and Gregory. And Gregory is quite important to him.

Perhaps that is the crux of it. Even if he doesn’t know what precisely to call it, Greg matters. A great deal.

“Why don’t I walk you home, when we go. I’ll come up for a minute and we can take our leave properly.”

 

*

 

"I'd like that," Greg says. He smiles, rubbing the back of Mycroft's hand with his thumb. He loves watching his lover think. He likes knowing that there are inner worlds being explored he couldn't even imagine.

"Shall we head out sooner, rather than later?" His eyes glitter. "Let you answer all these people who think they need you. Otherwise, I'm going to sit here until the café closes with you both. They'll have to turn the lights out and lock us all in."

 

*

 

“I don’t know that I would complain… though they might, when Anthea breaks in and carries me off to work in the morning.”

Mycroft fluffs Marmalade’s belly fur, gaining a mildly disgruntled brrp for the disturbance of her nap. The hand holding Greg’s squeezes gently.

“I am ready whenever you are.”

 

*

 

"Sure - let's do this." Greg pulls in a breath, gathering Marmalade gently up into his arms. She's as relaxed and cosy as a ragdoll again, and it hurts to think they're about to walk away from her. You'll forgive me, darlin'. Extra bacon next week. Make a fuss of you.

"C'mere, princess. You're not gonna see me for a few days... you get Mycroft all to yourself for a while..."

He rests her against his chest, stroking his fingers through her fur, and closes his eyes for just a second.

Christ.

Probably not normal what you mean to me.

If she was his cat, maybe it'd be normal. She'd be spoiled to hell - he knows that much. He'd probably have a baby book full of pictures of her. Special cushions everywhere. Special combs for her fur.

Pressing a little kiss to the top of her head, and receiving a 'brrrrp' for his trouble, Greg transfers her gently to a cushion.

"Don't let that arsehole push you around, princess."

 

*

 

Mycroft feels a small pang that it’s not quite reasonable for them to walk out together holding hands. He’d like to hold Greg’s hand the entire way to the flat.

“If he persists in being a troublemaker, I’ll send Anthea in to instruct her in self-defense. She has a particular fondness for putting unruly young men in their place,” he quips.

He fluffs her once more on the cushion she’s been moved to. “I’ll be back soon, your grace, and I’ll tell you all about what Gregory has been up to.”

Rising, he puts his coat over his arm- it’s a warm evening- and holds the door open for Greg. “After you, my dear.”

 

Chapter Text

Greg's always very aware of his hands when he's walking somewhere with Mycroft. He never quite knows what to do with them - jeans, coat, by his sides. None of it ever feels right.

Today he opts for coat, and lots of eye contact - shy sideways smiles, walking a little closer together than just friends or acquaintances.

"You're sweet to walk me home," he says, as they walk up the steps to his block of flats. "Modern gentleman. Or are you just hoping to raid my DVDs for the week?"

 

*

 

Mycroft huffs a laugh. “Well I am always in the market for a good film. But- I simply wished to bid you farewell properly.”

Walking together like this, Mycroft wonders how many people can see as clearly as he sees. Can they tell how he and Greg feel for one another? Do any of them care? Mycroft doesn’t see why they should- he never did, not walking around in the mundane world that exists outside of political games and needing to leverage someone’s beloved mistress against their cooperation.

It doesn’t matter, of course. The only thing that does is himself, and Greg, and the space between them that seems to be diminishing the closer they draw to Greg’s flat.

He matches Greg’s eyes contact, eyes glittering. “It wouldn’t feel right to see you off without a kiss.”

 

*

 

"Yeah?" Greg bites into his lip as he fishes in his pocket for keys, then leans against the front door to unlock it. "I'll admit a handshake would feel like short change at this stage..."

Upstairs, he pulls off his coat through habit and tosses it over the back of the sofa, dropping his keys onto the kitchen counter close by. His flat is as tiny and cramped as it ever was - one of those London mouseholes where the concept of separate rooms was jettisoned at an early stage. He's discovered he can get things into the kitchen bin by throwing them straight from the bed.

Turning to Mycroft, he feels his throat tighten a little. At first, he only thinks it - then decides with a smile just to say it.

"Christ, I don't want you to go."

He steps close, wraps his arms around Mycroft's waist, and rests his forehead against his shoulder - pulling his scent in deep with a breath.

"I - loved this week. You know that? Being with you. Coming home to you."

 

*

 

Home. Yes, that’s part of it. Greg has begun to feel like a part of the things Mycroft’s mind has designated as home.

It is going to be a lonely building without him.

“I did as well.” He presses a kiss through Greg’s hair. “And I do not particularly wish to go. But- in the true tragedy of adulthood, I fear we must be responsible.

Slipping his hand into his coat, he pulls out a slim, small book. “I did think you might be in need of some levity, however, and I understand that with trials there is often quite a lot of sitting and waiting to be called… so if you find yourself in need of locating your mind elsewhere, this might suit.”

It’s a copy of The Hobbit .

“I think you’ve a bit of hobbit in you, as it happens… breakfast, second breakfast, a copious reserve of snacks at the ready….”

 

*

 

Greg grins as he takes the book, admiring the front cover fondly. He thinks he read it in school, back at the start of the stone age - those early stories that all blur into one.

He has a feeling he'll be reading it to himself in Mycroft's voice.

"Life's never all that bad when you've got a snack lined up," he says, in a tone that carries the weight of great wisdom. "When was the last time you heard of something bad happening to someone eating a snack? It just doesn't happen. Best way to fend off all kinds of disaster..."

He kisses the corner of Mycroft's jaw, glowing quietly.

"Thank you, gorgeous. I'll let you know how I get on with it... wish I had something to lend you, too..."

He smiles, eyes sparkling as an idea occurs.

Slipping from Mycroft's arms, he moves the few steps needed to reach the bed. He takes hold of something tucked beneath the pillow, and brings it over.

It's a vintage Buzzcocks t-shirt - prized - one of his favourites to sleep in.

He hands it to Mycroft with a slow hug, and a kiss to the side of his neck.

"Should smell of me," he murmurs. "You can have it near you at night. I'll - be missing you like mad. Wishing you were here."

 

*

 

“Thank you.” Mycroft’s lips find a span of skin by Greg’s ear and his arm wraps Greg’s waist. “I shall take excellent care of it.”

He lingers there a long time, taking in the feeling of Greg- his scent, the soft touch of his hair against Mycroft’s cheek, the warm feeling of their bodies pressed together, simply embracing. “I ought to go,” he breathes eventually. “Or I shall be too tempted not to. And you need your sleep.”

Pulling back regretfully, he takes Greg’s cheeks in hand and kisses him, soft and slow.

“I shall miss you too, beautiful.”

 

*

 

Greg's heart pulls against his ribs. He follows Mycroft's lips as they move to ease away, kissing him again. He pushes his fingers through his lover's hair.

"Christ," he manages against Mycroft's mouth, shaking. "This - this is..."

His eyes close as he inhales. He kisses Mycroft again, telling himself it's the last one - the very last one - but the thought of seeing the door close behind Myc as he goes is too much. He needs to delay it, needs to keep batting it away from them like a slowly sinking balloon.

One more kiss.

One more.

"You know I can't sleep without - " he mumbles, and he knows it's a transparent delaying tactic. He knows it's obvious. He knows Mycroft knows, and he doesn't care. "Stay a little while. Just - ten minutes. Twenty. By Wednesday you'll give anything for twenty minutes."

His hands grip gently at Mycroft's back, one just beneath each shoulder blade.

"Have them now," he says. "'Bid me farewell properly'." He catches Mycroft's mouth in another hopeful kiss, pressing their bodies close.

 

*

 

“Gregory,” is all Mycroft gets out before his mouth is enveloped again. His hands wrap around Greg’s waist, gently stroking through the fabric.

“Are you,” he has to dodge the next one to finish speaking, slipping his lips around to Greg’s ear, “certain it will not be too much of a distraction?”

It wouldn’t be for Mycroft, certainly, but he isn’t the one who might have to sit in court tomorrow and try not to think about the night before. And Greg does have a certain… effect on him, especially when he seems a bit needy. He can already feel his body itching to respond. His nose nuzzles against Greg’s neck.

“Tell me what you’d like. You know I’d give you anything you asked for.”

 

*

 

Greg lets his eyes lull shut, hot curls of comfort rising through his shoulders as Mycroft nuzzles into his neck. The murmur in his ear elicits a little shiver; it takes him a moment to speak.

"Come to bed. Just for a while. Just... slow and easy. Help us both sleep."

He breathes in, stroking his mouth over Mycroft's neck - a slow and open brush of contact as his hands glide their way down, easing to the sides of Mycroft's hips.

"Come fuck," he murmurs, stepping back towards the bed, coaxing Mycroft with his eyes to come too. "Let me look after you. Want you to be lazy... just lie there. Lie down and watch me ride you. Let me show you what I'm gonna miss."

 

*

 

For all of Mycroft’s copious willpower and self-control, this will not be a time he plans to exert it. “Are you sure you don’t have that backwards? I believe you’ll be showing me what I am going to miss….”

He follows easily, grasping on to Greg’s shirt and reaching for the buttons. His own shoes are toed off- he really ought to stop doing that, it cannot be good for the laces, but it is efficient- and he draws close enough to brush his lips over Greg’s throat.

A pleased tremor of arousal ripples through him as his fingers begin to part Greg’s shirt and feel along the luscious skin beneath.

“So long as I can still touch you…. You know I have a terrible time keeping my hands from you.”

 

*

 

Oh god, yes... fuck - come here -

"Touch me everywhere," Greg breathes, almost squirming as Mycroft's hands pass over his skin. "Anywhere you like. All yours. All of me. Always."

He pulls them gently down onto the bed, reaching up to kiss his lover at once. He climbs onto Mycroft's lap and starts relieving him of layers, shivering, longing for skin contact and soon. He doesn't fight the soft moan that rises up in his throat. This doesn't feel like it's about flirting and seducing and circling each other. This is, I'm in love with you, and I want you to know, and I want to fuck one last time. Sex will take the sharp edge off goodbye, soften it until the hormones rush away.

Sadness will come.

First, so will Mycroft.

The headboard of Greg's bed has handy brass peaks at either corner. They make an excellent place to temporarily hang a jacket, while the waistcoat will have to take its chances tossed over a nearby chair. The tie simply slips to the floor like a weary satin snake. As he finally finds his way down to shirt buttons, Greg shivers and starts working on them quickly, brushing slow kisses across his lover's lips - never sealing, never lingering, just teasing his own mouth back a little each time.

"Sometimes I daydream about meeting you over lunch," he murmurs. "When we have a normal week again... just... coming here, going to yours - somewhere - somewhere quiet - just to fuck, just to... fucking feel you in me for a while... send you back to your posh office with a gleam in your eye..."

 

*

 

“That…” Mycroft breaks off into a groan as Greg’s disrobing rocks his hips against the growing hardness in his trousers. “...can probably be arranged.”

It doesn’t take long to get them down to skin- that dance is practiced now, there’s no awkward shuffling with trousers and socks. “Maybe I’ll borrow a car… very tinted windows, you know. Very soundproof.”

As soon as he can, his hands pass over Gregory, memorizing every inch of flesh, and finally catching Greg’s cheeks in his hands and pulling him down for a deeper kiss. His cock is achingly hard by that point, pressing against Greg’s thigh, and he moans against Greg’s mouth for every slight shift that gives him friction.

“Oh, god, Greg-”

 

*

 

"M'here, gorgeous..." Shivering, Greg gives Mycroft his mouth to kiss for long and indulgent moments. M'here, baby. Kiss me. M'right here for you to have. He can feel Mycroft hard for him, wanting him, and for a second it blows his thoughts away in a rush of wild joy - so comfortable, so happy, that even quick and restless sex has come back into his life. He can pull his lover into bed to fuck goodbye. He's not even recreating his twenties now - he's surpassing them, and in the courtroom tomorrow he'll be remembering this feeling. He'll be remembering what really matters.

As the kiss breaks, he reaches for two things - a pillow, dragging it down the bed to slip beneath Mycroft's head as he lays back; the bedside drawer, for warming lube.

"Comfy?" he whispers, straddling Mycroft's thighs. He leans down to kiss his lover's nose as he floods his palm with the clear and runny oil. He wraps his hand around Mycroft's cock to spread it, taking care to coat without too much rhythmic stroking. "Fuck, darlin'... you're so hard... how could I have let you go off like this? All worked up..."

His dark eyes flash, soft and wild, and he strokes his tongue over Mycroft's lower lip.

"What're the chances we're having bedtime phone sex by Wednesday?"

 

*

 

“Mmm, I believe you are responsible for any working up that has taken place, hellion.” Mycroft hisses as Greg’s hand wraps his cock and spreads the oil over it. He’s let himself fall into his arousal easily, no games or torturous waits during a nice dinner to get in his way.

It’s a pleasant, relaxed sort of need, and he doesn’t even feel inclined to assert himself the way he usually does, with a bite or by pinning Greg down. He’s simply content to have Greg. Just Greg.

“Fairly likely....”

He runs his hand through Greg’s hair softly, like he cherishes every strand.

“I’ll have to make you come… over the phone… so you get a good night’s rest….” His eyes are dark and eager. “I’ll remind you what I would be doing to you, if I were here….”

 

*

 

Greg's breath catches as Mycroft strokes his hair. He'll never get over Mycroft playing with his hair, pulling it, petting it - nobody even seemed to notice he had hair before Mycroft. Now it's the first thing his lover reaches for, and it seems to wire an instant thrill of pleasure to his groin.

"Fuck," he breathes, eyes melting shut, and his hand begins to stroke in rhythm of its own volition - pulling slowly, fisting Mycroft's cock at the pace he wants to fuck. "How is that turning me on so much? You're here, making me fantasise about when you're not here..."

He leans down to kiss his lover, shivering as he grips Mycroft's cock at the base. Their lips part only with a groan from Greg. He shifts to sit upright, one hand grasping Mycroft's cock, the other steadying himself in the middle of his lover's chest.

Guiding Mycroft to his entrance, he lets their bodies nuzzle - the lightest and gentlest pressure, just so Mycroft can feel the ring of muscle contract, resist him, then slowly start to yield as Greg breathes.

"Looking forward to having you talk me to come," he murmurs, gazing down. His eyes glitter, sex-soft and full of longing. His expression tightens as he begins to sink, breaching, stretching, and his fingers tense on Mycroft's chest. "Mmh - fuck - fuck, yes..."

 

*

 

Mycroft arcs into an open-mouthed groan as Greg slides down over him. In this particular position he’s always reminded exactly how glorious Greg looks when he’s uninhibited, setting the pace and using Mycroft entirely for his own pleasure. If he went for tattoos, Mycroft could easily mark out the fingerprints of the usual position of Greg’s hands on his chest.

His hands drift to Greg’s waist, just touching, not guiding, savoring the feeling of warming skin and the first glisten of sweat, enjoying the view and the intensity of being absolutely enveloped.

“Mmm, just talk?” he asks when he’s caught his breath. “Should I see if I can do it on words alone? You wouldn’t be able to touch yourself.... Not unless I said….”

 

*

 

The gentle wrap of Mycroft's hands at Greg's waist help to soothe him through the stretch. Something about the urgency of a quick and restless fuck is really working for him - but the familiarity of his lover is what makes this easy. Nothing in this world is as relaxing as Mycroft's presence. His voice sends little sparks of pleasure dancing down Greg's spine, tumbling from his ears down to where he can feel Mycroft aching inside him.

It's utter heaven.

Groaning low and soft in his throat, trembling, Greg rests halfway to adjust. He pants the words out.

"Might come just... thinking about you talking... making me listen... just... lying here, hard... desperate..."

Shifting, splaying his hands on Mycroft's chest, he breathes in and pushes onwards. He twitches with the inevitable little bite of pain, rolls his head back and swallows and lets the last of his weight finally slide down, settling into place.

With another quiet groan, he bears down around Mycroft's cock. His panting slows.

"Fuck... I fucking belong like this, full of you... you know that?... I... I love having you like this... fuck... fuck, you feel - fuck..."

 

*

 

Mycroft’s hands twitch on Greg’s hips, unable to entirely resist a physical reaction to their coupling. “Yes,” he groans in response.

“Have me. However you like, Gregory.”

His eyes are dark pools, the grey-blue of a dusk ocean, deep with need. Hands trailing up and down Greg’s thighs, soothing both of them, Mycroft resists the urge to either thrust up or fist Greg’s cock and stroke.

It’s Greg’s turn to run things, like this. Mycroft is willing to be entirely at his mercy- which is an odd thought, truth be told, because Mycroft typically favors his own assertive side when it comes to sex because he- as he’s told himself, as well as been told a time or two- can’t stand the thought of not being in control, but it isn’t just that. It’s his training. Years and years of being told that letting his guard down entirely, as people often do during sex, is too much of a risk.

But there is something about Greg- a deeper trust, perhaps, than Mycroft previously knew existed.

He would give Greg anything. Any way he wanted.

“Have me,” he breathes quietly, open to all of Greg’s desires.

 

*

 

'Have me. However you like, Gregory.'

The slow strokes along his thighs. That soothing voice. Mycroft's gaze, needy, though his body beneath Greg feels relaxed and at ease.

God. Let me fuck you forever.

Greg starts to move almost at once - lazy, settling and shallow rolls of his hips. The feeling it causes floods his face. His mouth opens, and a moment later a moan rises from him, soft and weak. He doesn't speed up or deepen his movements - just keeps rocking, repeating the feeling, over and over enjoying the sensation of Mycroft pushing through him.

Oh, fuck. Good. Fuck...

How the fuck did I cope without this?

It's not just sex. He missed sex so much more than he realised, missed the simple joy of knowing someone wanted to be this close to him - but it's more than that. It's this stage of sex, when it's easy and it's love, when pleasure is something you've gotten good at sharing.

'Have me.'

Mycroft just resting here, comfortable, letting him have this - letting Greg ride him and feel good and come - just because he wants to. Because they have twenty minutes. Because it helps him sleep.

It's perfect.

Mycroft's cock feels like heaven, rubbing just where he needs. His nerves are rioting inside him. Steady, slow - no thoughts of coming yet - just pleasure warming, swelling and rising, taking his time to let it build for them both.

His body relaxes more and more as they fuck, until he can let Mycroft slide deep and easy without resistance. Greg's moans grow tight. It feels like the pleasure is soaking him, and he resists the urge to close his eyes with the intensity of it. He wants to watch Mycroft. He needs to know this is good for him, too.

As the lazy enjoyment starts to become an eager ache, Greg shifts with a quiet groan. He leans back a little, one hand bracing on Mycroft's thigh behind him, the other reaching up to restlessly sweep back his hair.

He rocks a little harder, biting into a gasp. Precome shines at the tip of his cock; a tremor passes through his thighs.

"Oh, fuck - " His fact twists. "Ohh - "

 

*

 

As Gregory slow-fucks him, Mycroft realizes he must do something with his hands or he’ll be unable to resist the urge to grasp Greg more firmly, to interfere with the languorous pace. He stretches them up, wrapping his fingers around Greg’s headboard, knuckles whitening and toes curling every time Greg takes him fully.

The position does something to open his expression- he’s freer with his moans, the deep yearning in his eyes- and with his praise.

“Yes- god, Greg- just like that- perfect, you are perfect-”

By the time Greg is leaning back, even the sight of the hand in his lovely silver hair makes Mycroft moan. “Oh, beautiful -”

He unwraps his hands and slides them back to Greg’s thighs, skimming them up to his waist. “May I help you, Gregory? Shall I give you my hands, or do you want to- ah-” he breaks off into a groan because he’s certain that’s Greg’s prostate being pressed against him, and oh , the thought of that-

“Do you want- to- to come from just- riding me?”

 

*

 

Oh, Jesus -

The suggestion alone is nearly enough to make it reality. Greg whimpers, his head falling back, rocking hard and slow now at this perfect angle, reaching back to brace both hands on Mycroft's thighs. It's easier to move this way. It feels good with Mycroft's hands at his waist, his cock ignored and jutting between them.

"Fuck - I w-want you - ohh - y-you - "

Words. Fuck, words. Here somewhere.

"Want to c-come just your cock..." The sound of it begged by his own mouth makes Greg's thighs clench in a shock of pleasure. He gasps with it, grinding, panting, working himself down harder to chase the feeling now. "Want to - f-fuck - come - all you, just you..."

Have you. Get off on just you. Everything I need from you.

Everything.

Fucking everything.

Gazing down at Mycroft, his eyes wild and soft and desperate, Greg grits his teeth and starts to buck, driving himself down against his lover's cock in urgency.

"Fuck, fuck - want to come - want to come all over you - fuck ..."

His body contracts; he barely hears himself cry out. Pleasure is burning through his senses, frying everything in its path but the blistering, heaving, whimpering need to find relief.

"Talk to me - Myc - t-talk to me, please - make me come - fuck Myc, fuck, make me come..."

 

*

 

Mycroft feels the moisture evaporate from his mouth the second he sees Greg’s reaction. For a moment he’s only capable of watching, of feeling as Greg rides him- but that’s nearly too much, nearly puts him over the edge to the sound of Greg’s cries.

“Greg-” he gasps, dragging the words from his lungs like a drowning man seeking oxygen.

His eyes meet Greg’s, and the connection feels electrically intense. The two of them are in their own small corner of the universe, where everything feels right and Greg is free to use Mycroft however he wants for his own pleasure. For Mycroft’s pleasure as well.

All he has to do is feel and things are perfect .

“Come on me, Greg- mark me with it- make me yours , beautiful-”

He’s close. Oh god so close. But this is what he applies his copious control to- just hanging on, so Greg can better use him in turn.

“You’re so good to me, Greg- riding me- so good- show me- show me how much- how good- come for me, Gregory-”

 

*

 

'Show me how much. How good.'

Greg writhes, his face convulsing with the longing to come. As he pants with effort, fucking himself in desperation on Mycroft's cock and pleading for relief in almost guttural whimpers, he feels the pressure start to burn through his groin. It's almost so intense as to be frightening. Mycroft's hands at his waist, and Mycroft's voice, are the threads that still tie him to the bed - here, just the two of them, slow-fucking for comfort, Mycroft's cock rubbing and pushing and filling and stretching and the sensation is too much, too good, good, good -

'Come for me, Gregory.'

In the end, it's not a chase. It's not clawing towards something. It's being caught. Greg exhales, letting the burning shock through him and blow him apart, giving in completely to the feeling of Mycroft grinding into his prostate over and over, screwing pleasure deeper and deeper into his body, deeper than it feels like it can possibly go. As he starts to howl, he realises the urgent throbbing of his cock is aching over into climax, and he's coming, and he drives himself down to have Mycroft buried in him as he breaks. He breaks hard. He can feel himself shouting, gasping, crying, moaning the fucking building down as he heaves around Mycroft's cock and comes in stripes across his lover's chest, his fingers digging into Mycroft's thighs, his entire body taut and shaking. He comes like he'll never have the chance again.

Woven into his howls are fragments of Mycroft's name, obscenity and prayer, love and pleas and panting - and it ends with a final cry that aches into a sob.

Greg can't breathe.

He's still ringing with it, every nerve searing with it, his whole body pounding and burning and reeling with it as he sways.

 

*

 

The sound alone would have done it. Mycroft has never heard anything like that before, and Greg has not been quiet, especially not at Mycroft’s house, but this… this is spectacular. This is howled for likely half the building to hear, this sound that feels like Greg is expelling his soul.

Grinding down on Mycroft’s cock as he lets it out merely guarantees that Mycroft loses all of his lingering control over his orgasm.

For one gasped breath it feels like the room freezes. Greg is open-mouthed over him, fingers pressing hard enough to bruise his thighs, and Mycroft is clenching his hands down as well, curling in, all wrapped in a single shared shout-

And then he feels the wave break.

Mycroft is fairly certain it’s Greg’s name he’s shouting, Greg and fuck and god , but that’s only if any of it is coherent. He pulses deep within Greg even as he’s coated, feeling like he’s been transported by the sheer force of Greg’s orgasm into having a fairly intense one himself.

His head falls back, muscles relaxing, well spent and sweating. “God.” His hands are still at Greg’s waist, gently stroking now even before he’s fully aware of the motion, bringing him back to Earth from wherever Greg sent him. Wherever Greg still is.

“Come back to me, Greg.” His thumbs shift in small, gliding circles. “I’ve got you.”

 

*

 

"Ohh - fuck - "

Greg's voice doesn't sound to him like his own. The sheer aching relief leaves his mouth in a noise like despair. He's exhausted, every breath pulled from him as a gasp, his body boneless and his thighs trembling as he slumps.

He lets himself slide forwards onto Mycroft, struggling to support his own weight and not caring one bit about the mess between them. He wants to kiss. He needs to lie down. He needs to feel as much of Mycroft's skin pressed against him as he can find, and as he reaches for his lover's mouth, cupping his face and kissing him in exhaustion, he can feel himself still coming - still echoing with it, shaking, his cock still weakly expelling the last of his orgasm.

Shock pulses through his system.

As they kiss, and he slips his tongue into Mycroft's mouth, he feels Mycroft ease gently from his body. He whimpers a little, exhaling in a rush.

Their mouths part with a soft and breathy sound.

Greg stretches, shivering.

"Fuck me up," he gasps, pressing his forehead to Mycroft's. He stares into his lover's eyes, his cheeks still flushed, his body still trembling. He looks almost wild with shock. "That was - J-Jesus, I've never... n-not like that. Not with anyone. I - I didn't know I could..."

His gaze aches.

"Fuck," he breathes, and breaks into a shock laugh.

 

*

 

As Greg lays over him Mycroft encircles him in an embrace, holding him while he shudders through the last of it, kissing, feeling the twitching pulse of Greg’s cock against his stomach even as his own hardness recedes.

“I have never,” Mycroft says, meeting Greg’s gaze with fond amusement, “seen anything like that.”

His hand drifts to Greg’s cheek, cupping it lovingly.

“You were beautiful. Incredibly beautiful.”

He’s still beautiful, of course, flushed and sex-shocked. Mycroft can’t help but kiss him again, thanking all the blessings of his genetics for his spectacular memory- no recording required for him to encase this in the most secure vault he has. He caresses Greg’s spine softly.

“Do you- feel alright? That was extremely intense. Utterly gorgeous, but intense.” Mycroft smiles, fond and gentle, his eyes warm. “I think you gave me everything you had in you, lovely.”

 

*

 

Greg's eyes flutter shut for a moment, leaning with exhausted joy into Mycroft's hand at his cheek. The stroking along his spine feels like perfection; it sends calm melting through his skin.

"I'm f-fine," he whispers, and his eyes shine. He gazes down at Mycroft, his expression lost in utter love. "I feel... f-fucking amazing, frankly... that was... Jesus. Wow."

His chest heaves gently, struggling to hold in the hugeness of this - all of this - everything that makes up this moment. Christ, let me feel this forever... let this be my life. Please.

Greg's gaze drifts from Mycroft's eyes to his mouth, then back.

"Give you it all again, if you asked." His teeth press gently into his lip. "I don't wanna keep anything from you. Ever. M'yours, Myc. I mean it."

Holy shit. Holy shit, you.

You.

You, you, you.

 

*

 

“Mine.”

Mycroft brushes his thumb down to Greg’s lip, right where he’s so recently bitten it, feeling extremely fond and tender. Greg brings that out of him, makes his heart feel full and his soul sated.

“Hellion.”

He pulls gently, bringing Greg’s face down to meet his for another kiss.

“I am yours as well, you know. Entirely and exclusively yours.”

There are things he wishes he didn’t have to keep from Greg, so that he could share as openly and expressively as his… partner. Boyfriend. Lover. Work, for one, and everything to do with it… and Sherlock. But this is the lot he’s chosen, and it is a secretive one, no matter his own wishes on the matter.

“And your boyfriend requires nothing more of you at this moment than that you have a long shower and attain a good night’s rest.”

 

*

 

Entirely and exclusively mine.

My boyfriend.

Greg grins, almost lazily, and steals another slow kiss from Mycroft's mouth. His eyes ease shut; he takes his time to enjoy Mycroft's taste, savouring the stroke of his lips. Liquid relaxation oozes through his veins.

"I have a feeling I'll sleep well," he murmurs at last, and with a gentle wince he stretches. He eases himself off Mycroft's body, carefully moving his weight to the side. "Hang here a second... made a mess of you..."

He brings a dampened towel from the bathroom to help clean Mycroft up, stroking away the evidence of their sex.

Cleaning progresses tenderly to dressing - Greg helps Mycroft on with his layers, distracting him now and then with kissing and gentle nuzzling. He does the buttons of Mycroft's shirt and waistcoat for him; he smoothes the collar of his jacket into place.

Sending you out into the world again, gorgeous. Mine. My Mycroft.

Sex has left Greg lazy and at peace - a kiss goodbye, he thinks, a hot shower, and maybe a very early night. Nothing would be more wonderful.

When Mycroft is fully dressed, Greg wraps himself in a navy dressing gown and ties the sash, then leans up onto his toes to slip his arms around his lover's neck.

"I'll come down with you," he hums between kisses. "See you off at the door... is your car nearly here?"

He cards his fingers gently through Mycroft's hair.

"Thank you for staying a little longer, love... hope I made it worth it for you."

 

*

 

“You did. You do. Every moment I spend with you is worth it.” Mycroft has felt the buzz of his phone- the car is downstairs. Just one more kiss- perhaps one more….

Lord, it’s not like you’re going overseas. We’ll be across town. Goodness.

Mycroft reins in his desire to simply climb back into Greg’s bed and stay there. He instead gently folds the Buzzcocks shirt over his arm and turns with a steadying breath for the door and the stairs beyond.

“Now, assure me you will attempt to eat actual meals, and not simply bags of crisps, while you are waiting to be summoned? I will send someone over with lunch if you need it.”

One final kiss is stolen at the bottom of the stairs, before the door is opened.

“I shall look forward to your calls. Or texts. Whatever you have time for.”

He smiles fondly, his hand cupped about Greg’s cheek, thumb brushing over his lip.

“Sleep well, Gregory. I shall see you soon.”

 

*

 

One week. Just a week.

Greg's still high from sex - he knows it's the only reason he's made it down to the door. It's the only reason he's smiling in this moment, his eyes bright, his arms around Mycroft fondly and gently and not in desperation.

"You too, gorgeous... have a good week. I hope it's productive."

He gazes up into Mycroft's eyes, then reaches up on his bare toes for one more kiss.

As they part, he nearly says it - he feels it rise into his mouth again, as easy and natural as a sunny day. I love you. It's not a shock this time; instead, warmth spreads through his chest. This isn't the moment he wants to say those words for the first time, not when Mycroft is walking away from him and they're doing well to be brave.

He says them in his mind instead, breathing them as he wraps his arms around Mycroft for one last hug.

He hopes some part of Myc can feel them.

"Thanks for the book," he says, softly, and decides one of them needs to be brave. As he lets Mycroft go, he reaches for the door and twists the handle. Here we go. Pining week, commence. "Will there be a quiz next weekend I should revise for, or - "

As the door begins to open, someone outside seems to shove it further. Greg glances at it in surprise, standing back - but as it swings wide, there's nobody there: just the street, the houses opposite, and Mycroft's car waiting patiently on the pavement.

Then something rushes past Greg's ankles with a desperate 'brrrrrrp!' , bolts for the stairs and streaks up them at speed.

Greg recognises her as she turns the top of the stairs.

"Oh! Jesus - "

He reels around from Mycroft, and goes to get after Marmalade - but the sudden lunge after exhaustive sex is a bad move.

Greg staggers, jerks with pain and grabs at once for the banister, leaning against it as he pants.

"Myc - she's - "

Marmalade can now be heard calling from the floor above. It's her familiar, follow me please.

"How - how the hell did she - "

 

*

 

“I don’t know-“ Mycroft grasps Greg’s shoulder, steadying him and tacitly telling him with a glance not to injure himself before he jogs up the stairs after Marmalade.

“Young lady, we are going to have a very stern chat about this….”

He circles up, locating Marmalade sitting and flicking her tail just outside of Greg’s flat. Here, she chirps at him.

“Sweetheart. You live at the cafe. We’ll have to take you back.”

Mycroft approaches slowly, extending his hand as he crouches. She rubs her face on it, circles him, and returns to press a paw against the slightly ajar door. He reaches for her just as she slinks inside.

He rises and goes inside to find her already attempting to make herself comfortable on Greg’s bed. Come here. Pet me. “Marmalade. This is breaking and entering. You don’t wish to go to cat jail with Wills, do you?”

 

*

 

Marmalade watches him come closer with rounded eyes, her tail sweeping very gently from side to side. The attempts to catch her have been noted. She trills, a placating sound as she begins to knead hopefully at Greg's duvet - then at the first reach of hands, darts between them and vanishes under the bed.

Greg arrives a few moments later. Spotting the lack of Marmalade, and Mycroft's position by the bed, he gives his lover a weary look.

"Let me see what I've got," he says, moving over to the fridge.

A slice of ham attracts some interest. It also attracts a single quick paw, which snags and pulls it away under the bed. It is then eaten out of their reach with a rumbling purr.

Opening a tin of tuna, and squeezing the excess brine into the sink, Greg brings it towards the bed and sits down on the floor several feet away.

He winces a little as he settles cross-legged on the carpet.

"When she comes out," he murmurs, glancing up at Mycroft, "be quick."

He scrapes his thumb quietly up and down the ridged side of the can.

"Princess," he says, his voice gentle. "We're not mad. Come have some tuna."

There's a wary pause.

A dusty calico head emerges, regarding Greg with uncertainty from beneath a flopped corner of his duvet.

Greg smiles at her, tapping the tin.

"C'mon," he says. "This is for you."

Stealthily she begins to creep forwards, her green gaze fixed with hope upon the tuna.

 

*

 

Mycroft crouches, ready to spring- as much as his suit permits. He waits for her highness to emerge fully and approach the can. Field operative training is still useful for something, it seems.

When she is nearly at the can, he swoops in and plucks her up into his arms. She squirms, disgruntledly clawing at his arm for getting in the way of her tuna, but the suit prevents her from getting very far through.

“My apologies, darling. Gregory may give you a bit of tuna, but then you must go directly back.”

He looks somewhat apologetically toward Greg as Marmalade glares up, chittering at him for his betrayal.

“I can take her in the car. Are you alright? You look… a bit pained.”

 

*

 

“M’fine,” Greg says, with a small and tired smile. “Just sore.” He gets to his feet with some care, comes close and takes a small pinch of tuna into his palm, holding it out to Marmalade.

She wriggles in Mycroft’s arms to reach, then begins quickly scarfing her reward.

Greg watches her, his gaze rather muted.

The rasp of her tongue tugs at his heart. It takes him a few moments to put his finger on why he’s now unsettled. As he adds a second pinch of tuna to his hand, he nervously meets Mycroft’s eyes.

“She must’ve followed us...” he says. “Waited out there.”

Marmalade is fervently licking each small scrap of fish from between his fingers, her eyes closed in contentment.

Greg’s chest tightens. He decides just to say it.

“If she was happy there, she’d stay there.”

 

*

 

Mycroft lets out a sigh. Well. He’s not wrong.

“She isn’t ours, Gregory.” Much as we might indulge in feeling otherwise. He fluffs Marmalade’s fur as best he can while still keeping a firm hold on her. “And if I recall correctly, none of the cafe cats are up for adoption. They want that to be their permanent home.”

He steps closer to Greg and presses a kiss to his cheek, wishing he had a way to hold both partner and cat without the latter escaping.

“I know it’s not ideal. But I will speak to the shelter staff about it- and the cafe staff as well, so they know they’ve had an escape. There must be a way to improve her situation there- some way to better encourage Wills to leave her alone, at least. She was perfectly fine before he insisted on bothering her all the time.”

His shoulder rubs against Greg’s, his cheek falls to rest on it. It’s the closest he can manage to an embrace.

Don’t worry. You have other things to focus on.

“I’ll take care of her, Greg.”

 

*

 

For a few fleeting moments, Greg listens to the beguiling whisper in the back of his mind - the one that says if the café don't even realise she's gotten out, they're not watching her properly; the voice that tells him she could get out again, and go wandering the streets of London by herself, lost and hungry and cold; the little whisper that tells him she's a quiet cat who likes to sleep, and his flat is cosy and peaceful.

It's all visible on his face - as is the moment when he shuts it away, closes his eyes, and decides to trust Mycroft more than himself.

"Fine," he says. The quiet feels uneasy. "You're right. She... she was fine before - "

He leans close to Mycroft, reaching to tickle quietly under her chin.

Marmalade - well aware which of the two hearts in the room is softer to her wishes right now - gives him a round-eyed look that might as well be a knife wound.

"Y-You can't stay, princess." Greg's throat tightens. I know you want to. "You're fine there. You're just - making a fuss."

He looks up at Mycroft, pale.

"Can you take her now, please? Before I think any more."

 

*

 

There is a pang in Mycroft’s heart when he realizes he cannot ease Greg’s mind, not truly, not even with all the promises of action that he can offer.

Oh, why did you have to break out now, little one?

He presses one more kiss to Greg’s cheek, soft, trying to be comforting.

“Alright, your ladyship. Back to your manor with you. I’m sure you’ve worried someone sick.”

Separating himself from Greg is now so much harder than it was mere minutes ago, but Mycroft forces a smile through it. They have a course of action. Greg will focus on the trial, and Mycroft will manage Miss Marmalade. And that’s all there is to it, and they’ll be fine. Mycroft can practically run a country from his bedroom, if needed, he can certainly handle one possibly oblivious feline shelter.

“Good night, Gregory.”

He offers one final, fond look as he leaves, though he wishes it could be more, and the walk down the steps feels somber, even with Marmalade irritatedly squirming. Put me down. The driver’s face flickers in surprise when he realizes what Mycroft is holding. “We’ve one stop before we get home, Thomas, thank you. I hope you’re not allergic.”

 

Chapter Text

When Greg looks back, he'll hate himself a little for being bored on Monday and Tuesday.

His bedtime conversations with Mycroft both nights are fond and sleepy and easy. Greg's forgotten how dull it is waiting around in court, trying to look attentive, but he's holding up well. He tells Mycroft small and amusing details of his long days, little moments he would normally have texted. There's not much to say about the trial just yet; things are grinding into motion. The defence lawyer has taken a few good chunks out of people, but it's to be expected. The Fentons have hired someone worth the money. It doesn't matter; the evidence is against them.

There's only so much a lawyer can twist the truth.

And the stress of waiting for the trial is over, at least. Now that it's underway, there's a strange energy carrying Greg through.

"Eleanor thinks it'll be my twirl in the witness box tomorrow," he tells Mycroft on Tuesday, nestled in bed just past ten. The lawyer for the prosecution has been very good so far. Eleanor knows her stuff, and Greg has reassured Mycroft he's in safe hands. "If all goes well, and they don't want to call me back... might even be back in the office by Friday."

Then back to you for the weekend.

It's been hard not texting Mycroft. It's been hard working late both evenings with Sally, catching up on everything he's missed while he's at court, and it's been hard knowing they can't just meet at lunch to share an hour together.

All in all, though, Greg has nothing much to complain about.

Until Wednesday.

Eleanor has him prepped, fuelled with coffee and ready in his best suit for ten. Apparently they want to speak to him first, and Greg's more than fine with that.

"Done by three, d'you think?" he says, as she walks with him towards the courtroom.

"If all goes to plan," Eleanor replies, with a smile. "There's a lot to get through, but everything's in order. I'm quietly confident."

"That'll do." At the door, Greg pauses for a second. "Would you hang onto something for me?" he asks, reaching into his jacket and discreetly removing a copy of The Hobbit. "I don't want it falling out halfway through my evidence."

Eleanor hides her smile, tucking the book away inside her briefcase. "I didn't realise you're a Tolkienite, inspector."

"I'm not," Greg says, with a grin. "New to it. My b-... rother got me it. Keep me busy while I'm waiting."

"Very kind of him," she notes.

"Yeah... yeah, he is." People are taking their seats; Greg draws in a breath. "Looks like we're on."

"So it does." Her eyes shine. "Break a leg."

 

*

 

Greg leaves the courtroom three hours later, white in the face and damp down his back with stale sweat. He can hardly see the people he's passing; he can barely hear their voices.

Eleanor steers him at once into a sideroom. Without a word she closes the door.

"This isn't necessarily a disaster," she says, and Greg puts his hands across his face. He resists the urge to lie face down on the floor, or curl up beneath a table and never come out.

"Shit. Shit, shit - "

"Inspector, please sit down. I need to understand where the error lies."

"So do I. Christ. Shit. I don't understand how - "

"From what I can see, there's a gap in the evidence log. Everything was correctly recorded at the scene. It was correctly recorded into storage. The paperwork covering the time in between is unaccounted for. You and I both know procedure has been followed, but without those records, the possibility for contamination leaves our case open to - "

"I know. I know. I thought we had it. I thought we had everything."

"Did your team check?"

"Yes. Everything. All checked."

"Clearly that can't be true, otherwise we - "

"Something's gone wrong. Somewhere. Someone's not pulled their weight. Christ - Christ, but everyone's been - "

"I need you to contact them," Eleanor says, as calm and forceful as a mountainside, "and find out who was responsible for the omitted paperwork. If we need more time, I can request it in the hour's break. Otherwise this entire case could fall apart."

As she hands him his mobile phone from inside her briefcase, Greg is shaking.

Half an hour later, the afternoon's session is adjourned on the request of the prosecution. The confusion over the police evidence needs to be clarified. Questioning will recommence tomorrow morning at ten.

Greg hits Scotland Yard like a hurricane.

It takes three hours, digging back through several years of evidence, before the errors start to appear. All of them have cropped up within the last year - corners cut, forms half-completed, records copied haphazardly without being updated. It's red tape, and it's basic, and it all points in one direction.

Greg sends Sally to deal with Ryan Stringer.

He's too worried he'll throttle the brainless little twat with his bare hands.

They can still turn it around - if Eleanor can buy them a few days, and if they work like dogs. Everything has to be redone. The gaps can't be papered over. They need to prove it all again from the ground up, weeks of work, months of investigation, all of it undermined by a few cocky half-finished forms.

By the time Greg leaves the office, it's nearly seven.

He's not eaten all day. He's just smoked, mainlined coffee, sworn, and kissed goodbye to next week. They'll be working the entire weekend. If they're unlucky, they'll be working the one after that. Eleanor can rearrange things to give them time, but Greg's not in a position to skip out of here Friday evening and stroll back in on Monday - not when his team have caused this much trouble.

As he stumbles into his car, he realises Eleanor still has his copy of The Hobbit.

He rests his forehead against the steering wheel in silence for several minutes, trying not to think - trying not to process this is real. It's happening. He'll be working his team around the clock until this is over, or he can explain to his bosses how an investigation they've been running for years collapsed in upon itself like a sandcastle.

And if the Fentons get back on the streets, Greg doesn't care to think how long it'll take to bring them down again.

Fuck.

Jesus fuck. God damn it.

His phone finds its way into his hand. He's scrolled through and dialled the number before he can even think. He needs to go home and work - needs to focus - needs to start rearranging all his duty rotas for the next two weeks, and authorise all the overtime Scotland Yard has at its disposal.

But this might be the last time for days. Weeks.

One hour. Just one hour.

Just to -

Jesus, I just need to -

Holding the phone to his ear, he shakes in silence against the wheel and waits, trying to keep his breathing steady.

 

*

 

Mycroft’s Monday and Tuesday are occupied with tasks that, as Anthea reminds him, used to be matters he dealt with on the weekend, and it’s not until Wednesday that he feels as though he’s working on anything useful. “I’m not criticizing, sir, but I do think you will need to reorganize your schedule if you would like more regular weekends.”

She’s right, of course, she’s nearly always right, but he still frowns at her. “If I could have more weeknights, the weekends might become negotiable. Where is my paperwork to ensure Gregory may be allotted a key? You did have it rushed, did you not?”

“Mmm….” That is the sort of mm that guarantees he’s not going to like the next sentence. “There is a small hitch.”

His brow arches in a fashion that usually gets diplomats to start offering concessions immediately. “Define ‘hitch’.”

“I am handling it.” The statement brokers no argument. She puts his daily schedule of meetings in front of him, one circled just after lunch. “Someone from the cat rescue is expecting your call at one.”

“Thank you. And do let me know if there is anything I can do to alleviate this hitch.

She nods and departs with a practiced blank face. Sadly, Anthea is one of those intelligence-services-trained individuals whom he cannot read. When she wishes to blank herself, she is blank.

It is always concerning when she does it to him, but there must be a reason. He won’t press. Yet.

At one on the nose he rings the shelter, prepared to gently inquire as to Marmalade’s health and overall level of happiness at the cafe, and if anything might be done to improve it. He’s halfway through what he considers to be a very diplomatic listing of his concerns about Wills when the woman- Sheila- cuts him off.

“Mr. Holmes, we do understand your concerns- frankly, a lot of non-cat-owners grow worried about cats because they just don’t have the experience to know otherwise.”

Mycroft blinks. “I don’t-“

“What you may not understand is that the cats in the cafe are all considered special cases, hm? We don’t put them up for adoption because we do not yet see them as adoptable. Now, little Marmalade in particular, she’s just in need of a bit more socialization. She’s in a tough phase, sure, but once she lets the other cats in more, she’ll be in a much better place. Wills is actually great for that! His special need is extra stimulation- he does best in an environment with a lot of other cats, and really you ought to be looking at it as him helping her. Drawing her out of her shell.”

Mycroft’s fingers are rubbing the bridge of his nose long before the woman ceases speaking. “And her reduction in weight?”

“With all due respect sir, cats are light little creatures- it’s very difficult to notice a weight change without a scale.”

Is she telling me we imagined it?

It’s the most condescended to he’s been in years. No wonder Wills ignores him. “Are you telling me you are unwilling to check on her at all?”

Sheila sighs. “We do check on them regularly sir, and the next time we do so I’ll make sure to give her a very close look-over, just for you.”

That does not sound very promising, but apparently she is as immune to his seriousness as the cats. With a terse farewell he cuts the call before he’s inclined to send her name over to Anthea for a small amount of inconveniencing.

The rest of the day is spent in a state of mild irritation, and he’s still at the office just before seven when his cell phone rings.

He is early. Good? Hopefully good.

It would be a great boon indeed to hear Greg’s voice and know perhaps his own worries have been alleviated. His heart beats fondly, shunting his annoyance to the side.

“Gregory? This is earlier than I thought I would be hearing from you.”

 

*

 

Fuck.

The words won't come.

Greg can't cope with what he needs to say - There's a major problem. I don't know when I'll see you. He can't let it leave his mouth. Mycroft sounds so calm, and he can't bring himself to fuck things up so completely.

Pushing a hand back through his hair, tightening his fingers in it, Greg finds the small pricks of pain are enough to focus. He holds onto them, his eyes screwed shut.

"S-Sorry," he manages. "You're - w-work."

He audibly swallows.

"Are you - busy? With someone?"

 

*

 

“Ah- no, just catching up on a few things.”

He can already tell from Greg’s tone this is not going to be anything good.

What happened? He was expecting to be potentially finished today, and with all the work he’s put in….

Mycroft gets up and goes to shut the door to his office, making eye contact with Anthea, who is also still lurking at her own desk. Her brow burrows slightly- she must be reading his own look as the door shuts. When he sits again he leans back in his chair, steeling himself just a little. He won’t tell Greg about the call with the rescue, he decides, not when he’s already upset.

“What’s wrong, darling?”

 

*

 

'Darling' breaks Greg. The worry and misery boil up through his chest in a rush, and before he knows what he's doing, it's pouring out of him in distress. He tells the steering wheel, close to tears, his throat gripping tight as he tries to breathe.

" - h-huge problems with the bloody evidence - member of my team - cutting corners. Only just found out. Didn't know. Defence tore me into pieces. We've got to go through it again. All of it. Every piece. Prosecution's bought us time, but - "

As he reaches the part which hurts the most, Greg's hand twists again in his hair.

" - just - going to take time - a lot of time - into next week. Maybe longer. Flat out. F-Fuck. I - I don't know when I'll get to - "

 

*

 

Mycroft desperately wishes this was a chat in person, so he could wrap his arms around Greg and soothe him. He tries to channel that desire into his voice.

“Gregory. Breathe, lovely.” He waits until he hears a shaky inhale on the other end of the line. “You and I know that you did everything in your power to make this easy for the prosecution, and I’m sure your team will be most efficient in locking it down once more. You are going to be fine. You will get through this, and I will be waiting for you when you are done, alright?”

It is… not ideal, certainly. Mycroft can handle the waiting, of course. He’s a patient man. What bothers him most is how hurt Greg seems by all of this.

“We can still call at night- you do need sleep. Or I can text you when I am going to sleep, if you must stay late.” Or overnight.

Mycroft knows what those can be like. He’s certainly done it enough himself.

“Now- I am guessing you have not eaten? Are you still at work, should I have something sent round for you?”

 

*

 

"J-Just leaving. Got the laptop with me... th-things to do at home..."

Greg takes another long breath, trying to pull the calm and strength of Mycroft's voice deeper into his veins. It's a rush, realising - right now he needs his lover's voice more than he needs home, food, shower, sleep. The thought of Mycroft's arms around him, fingers brushing through his hair, evokes a longing so sharp it cuts his breath for a second.

The feeling is powerful enough to make him ask.

He knows Mycroft's busy. He knows there's a hundred important things need his attention on any given day. Once, Greg wouldn't have dared even put himself on that list - let alone ahead of all the rest. Things have changed, though.

"Can I - s-see you?" Greg's throat works around the words. "Just - f-for an hour. Half an hour. Ten minutes. I'm - I-I just want to be near you for a bit. I'm a mess. I'm sorry. I'm a mess and you make it all okay."

 

*

 

“Yes.”

He answers without even bothering to look at his schedule- the rest of his tasks tonight can be moved to tomorrow. Or… Mycroft’s eyes narrow as he actually flips the tab open and notices that his morning has been rather drastically rearranged.

Mossad? Why is Mossad on for three hours?

He shoots a glare out at the source of the meeting where she should be sitting on the other side of the wall and frowns.

Does not matter. Gregory tonight.

“Give me… a few minutes to have the car sent, and I shall bring a takeaway with me, yes?” There is an Italian place nearby Anthea frequents that always seems fairly quick, he ought to be able to find something there.

Quick fingers type out the request to Anthea from his laptop via their internal network as he keeps the phone at his ear.

101: Acquire the car, please. MH

113: Sir, you may have noticed we have an additional meeting tomorrow. Preparations are required.

101: Then I shall return later and finish preparations. MH

101: Did AS arrange it? MH

113: Yes. Twenty minutes ago.

Mycroft mentally moves finding a way to quietly dissuade Alicia Smallwood from springing things on him higher on his mental priority list.

101: Fine. Place an order for that Italian place you enjoy. One meat lasagna, one eggplant. To go. Quickly. MH

113: Done.

“I shall stay as long as you wish, Gregory.” Mycroft purses his lips. Seeing as Greg does sound a bit more upset than usual…. “Are you- do you wish for me to pick you up?”

 

*

 

Greg's heart contracts, hard. Takeaway - the car - Mycroft's quiet home, Mycroft's arms, Mycroft's bed.

Shit. Shit, no - no, I have to work -

I can't just -

Or -

"I-If I - bring my laptop, and just - sit and work near you, would that be...? I know you're busy. I know you've got stuff to do. I just don't know when I'll s-see you again, and I - I've got to finish all this, but - f-fuck, I need you."

 

*

 

Oh, lord, Gregory. That little phrase, “ I need you” , rends him to his soul. His protective instincts flare, wanting to shred whatever has caused Gregory such distress, be it incompetence or paperwork.

“Perfectly fine. We shall both of us be productive.”

101: Amending. I will be taking my laptop home and will finish the remainder from there. MH

113: Actually working?

101: Yes. MH

113: I’m coming.

Mycroft frowns at his phone, but he having Anthea in more-or-less arm’s reach will be useful, should any issues arise.

113: Don’t worry, I’ll sit in the front.

“Shall we meet you in the parking lot?”

 

*

 

Greg inhales, pressing the heel of his hand against his eyes. The relief is so intense his shoulders are shaking. He knows it's the weirdest request in the world - can we please meet up, so we can sit and work separately? - but the thought of having Mycroft near to him is all he can process right now. He won't be alright until then.

"S-Sure - I'll wait near the entrance..."

Swallowing quietly, taking his laptop bag and bag from the passenger seat beside him, Greg opens up the door of the car. He'll smoke while he waits. The night air will help calm him down.

"'We'?" he checks, a little nervous. He's not sure if Anthea's going to approve of him so much once she's seen him like this, a pale and needy emotional wreck.

 

*

 

“Mmm. Anthea lives- quite nearby, actually. We shall be dropping her off. But she will stay up with the driver.” A statement made with a pointed gaze as the woman in question opens the door to his office. She rolls her eyes and gives him a nod indicating the car is outside.

Mycroft slides his laptop and several files into his briefcase. “We are going to the car now, Gregory. Be there in… ten minutes or so.”

“Fifteen,” Anthea quietly corrects. “Traffic.”

“Fifteen minutes, Anthea says.” They march past security, Anthea logging the files each of them are removing from the premises, and out to the car with little hassle.

“Would you like me to remain on the line until we reach you, Gregory?”

 

*

 

Greg's breath audibly cracks. "I don't deserve you." There comes the soft schick of a lighter, and a rustle as the phone is pinned between Greg's shoulder and his ear for a moment. He lights the cigarette with it in his mouth, struggling to keep his hand steady enough. "I'll never deserve you."

Fifteen minutes is time for nicotine and Mycroft's voice to restore some measure of calm to Greg's system - enough for him to relate the details of the day's miseries. He tells Mycroft about his mauling by the defence lawyer, trying to keep himself together as he was accused of incompetence and negligence, the Fenton brothers smirking at him across the court. He admits he's not eaten since breakfast. He doesn't see how he'll be getting home before ten PM until next week at the earliest. Weeks of work have been obliterated - and his trust in his team. He'll have to check it all personally. He can't go back to Eleanor, saying he thinks it's now fine. He needs to know this time.

It's going to run him into the ground. It's going to hurt.

By the time the car pulls into the car park, the whole story has been told and Greg's never been so desperate to see someone in his entire life. He crushes his cigarette underfoot and walks over at once, dropping his phone into his coat pocket. There's no need for the driver to get the door for him. In truth, he's not willing to wait.

He climbs numbly into the back seat, shaking - and at the sight of Mycroft, his expression floods with distress.

"F-Fuck - thank you - "

He wants to hug. He wants to be held - but he's painfully aware they're not alone. His hands reach out and it feels like it's alright to put them on Mycroft's arms, nervously touching his coat sleeves, unable to bear not being in contact in this moment.

"Thank you," he manages again, voice breaking a little. "M-Missed you. I really missed you."

 

*

 

“It’s alright-”

Mycroft shoots a very specific glare into the rearview until Thomas catches it and lifts the privacy screen, the little bit of Anthea’s lip he can see shifting into a smirk before he loses sight of it entirely.

“Come here, darling.” He gently wraps Greg up in an embrace, pulling him close. It’s a notable benefit of his dark government cars- the windows are extremely opaque. He strokes Greg’s hair, tucking him against Mycroft’s chest, the tomato and herb scent of their carryout drifting through the car and mingling with the tempting scent of nicotine in Greg’s hair. That he understands- Mycroft smokes infrequently, but there are causes for it. Primarily of the familial variety. “I missed you too.”

He simply holds Greg for a while as the car moves, muttering soothing phrases toward him until he ceases shaking.

“I think, in the interests of health, we shall ban talk of work while we eat, hm? We shall get some food in you and your mind clear before you jump back in.” He presses a kiss to Greg’s forehead. “However, in deference to the needs of stress, I shall suggest we eat on the roof, as you can smoke freely there.”

 

*

 

As Mycroft's arms go around him, Greg feels something snap behind his ribs. He pulls himself closely into the warmth of Mycroft's body, shaking as he nestles into place, and the wave of relief and comfort that rolls through him is enough to seal his throat. He couldn't speak if he tried. For a little while, there's nothing else in the world except Mycroft's voice, his arms, and the quiet rumble of the car all around them. Greg has never felt so broken and so safe in a single moment.

Mycroft's calm, focused response to stress is desperately reassuring. Greg can't imagine the kinds of international disasters he's had to deal with, might be dealing with even now - it probably makes this level of crisis seem pathetic and inconsequential. Mycroft doesn't treat it like it is, though. The soft guiding back to calm, back to coping, is everything Greg needs. He lets it sink through him, soaking it in as his breathing grows more measured.

"M'sorry," he manages at last, and his voice is roughened with exhaustion. "It's - the thought I won't see you. Hit me like a train. If this had happened six months ago I wouldn't care. Work's work. Get the job done. It takes what it takes. I just... Jesus, I just..."

The rush of calm after distress brings honesty in its wake, and it heaves at the inside of his chest.

"You're so important. I'm - f-fuck - I'm happy when I'm with you. Everything's alright when we're with each other. Y-You don't know what that means to me. Nobody makes me feel like you."

 

*

 

“You don’t need to be sorry.”

Mycroft brushes an errant lock of hair from Greg’s forehead to join the other haphazard spikes above it. No doubt it had been orderly this morning, but hands passing through it have ruffled it since. He expects that someone- and he has a fairly good idea who- made Greg feel he ought to apologize for having emotions at all. For needing.

Well, too bad for her.

Mycroft may not be entirely excellent about managing his own emotions (Mummy had encouraged him to feel whatever his mind needed, briefly, and then immediately move on), but he is quite good at dealing with those of others. It’s part of his job, after all, but more importantly this is Greg. Greg, whom Mycroft regards as the pinnacle of honest, just men.

Greg, who is his.

Mycroft’s fingers trail up and down Greg’s back gently. “Greg, I am glad I can make you feel happy. I want you to be able to turn to me when you wish your mood to be improved. When you need to know that you are important to me as well. That is… the idea behind romance. To show one another that we care.”

Or so I have inferred from poetry.

He has of late been inclined to agree with the notion. Mycroft could not, so many weeks ago, have imagined that he would drop everything at even the suggestion of trouble and run to anyone’s side to comfort them. He did not honestly think there would ever be any such person in his life. Not even Sherlock actually seeks him out for aid. It’s almost a sort of burning feeling, when he thinks about Greg, and being with Greg, and bringing him joy. A smolder that has become a fiercer sort of flame.

Perhaps there is a way to express the matter more clearly.

“Gregory, I-”

The car stops, the sudden change a jolt through the otherwise comfortable air. He unwraps himself from Greg slowly, pressing a kiss to his temple just as the door opens and Anthea dangles the bag of carryout at them.

“You two will want this.”

Mycroft snatches it from her as he ushers Greg out of the car and toward the house. “Shoo, nosy.”

“Alright with me. I’ve got a cannoli out of this, ta. See you early!” She winks at Greg as she vanishes around a slim path beside the house, hard to notice behind a discreet, dark gate.

Mycroft opens the front door and holds it for Greg. “Let’s get these on some plates before she decides to come up and steal a few bites.”

 

Chapter Text

Greg finally hits send at a few minutes to eleven. As he does, he has a sense of the impossible being achieved. He watches the new rotas vanish on their way to Sally, along with entire zip files of paperwork that four hours ago made him want to curl up in despair.

If he'd gone home alone to his flat, and tried to do this, it wouldn't be done. It would have been impossible. His eyes are aching. His focus is unravelling in his hands, but he's finished everything that's urgent. If he can manage another hour, he can even get Sally a headstart on some of the organising for tomorrow. It means they can be off the block at nine, tasks all ready to assign, everything heading in the right direction. There'll even be time for him to sleep.

Quietly he shifts his laptop to the coffee table. He leans over on the couch, places a gentle kiss to Mycroft's shoulder and murmurs,

"Just making us tea. Won't be long."

He knows his way around the kitchen even in the darkness now. As the kettle boils, his sleepy brain moves him automatically to the right cupboard for mugs, the right cupboard for tea bags, the drawer where the teaspoons are kept. Tea produces itself; the quiet clinking of the spoon jogs Greg's brain from its tired daze.

As he carries tea back to the lounge, something about the simplicity of the moment sinks deep. It's the sight of Mycroft sitting on the sofa in the lamplight, surrounded by files and papers, half-covered in a blanket that marks out a Greg-shaped gap on the sofa beside him.

They've worked peacefully beside each other all evening.

Greg didn't know people could even be like this together. He didn't know sitting with someone on separate laptops could feel as relaxing as watching a film. Their ties lie discarded on the coffee table together, and the sight of Mycroft's socked feet is still killing him gently.

As he places Mycroft's mug down, and turns the handle for him, Greg gives his partner a glance of quiet warmth over his reading glasses.

"Are you getting stuff done?" he asks, in a tired but peaceful murmur. Has this been alright for you?

 

*

 

“Mmmm. Nearly there.” Mycroft finished his meeting prep not long ago and has moved on to studying a bit of Hebrew in case the Mossad agents he would be meeting with enjoy a few side conversations.

It’s more than he expected. He thought he’d be up and pushing through the requisite prep in the morning, having kept Greg in his arms the whole evening. Yet, other than the few matters he cannot bring home or show in front of others for security reasons… he’s been efficient.

It helps that Greg knows enough not to pry about specifics.

On the other hand, it means he has to deal with the sight of Greg looking delightfully studious in reading glasses which make him look… likely far more dignified and fetching than he’s aware.

“I may finish this tea and then warm up the bed for you, if that’s alright.”

 

*

 

Greg smiles, unconsciously slipping into the first hint of a lip bite. "Good," he murmurs, and settles back on the sofa beside Mycroft, rearranging the blanket back over them. "I... was thinking of pushing on a bit, but..."

I can work tomorrow.

Can't be with you tomorrow.

He's done what he needed to do. The thought of getting warm in bed together is more than he can resist right now, and in the morning he'll thank himself more for an hour with Mycroft than another hour's work. He'll have the team with him tomorrow. He doesn't need to feel like he's alone. With the exception of Ryan bloody Stringer, he can rely on them all - and they'll get through.

Coping, he realises, as he rests his head on Mycroft's shoulder. He holds his tea against his chest. Trusting them all again.

Mycroft's presence shuts off his panic mode. It cancels all the crap, resets the system and leaves him functioning again, calm again, feeling better about the whole bloody world.

As the quiet gathers around them, Greg lets his eyes close for a moment. Warmth spreads slowly through his chest.

"D'you - want to go away somewhere? After the trial." He looks up at Mycroft from his shoulder, his gaze soft. "Something to look forward to. Couple of nights somewhere quiet, maybe."

 

*

 

“Lake house.”

Mycroft leans down to kiss Greg’s forehead. He could get it on short notice- extremely short notice, if needed- and that might actually work out better for ensuring his parents are not present.

His hand curls up, stroking through the back of Greg’s hair. “As soon as the verdict comes down I will put in for a few days leave.” Maybe by then he’ll have sorted out… a better way to show Greg the depth of the feelings he is experiencing.

Of course, if he could get the damnable papers acknowledging Greg’s presence in his life approved, he could get Greg a key and matters of time and busyness would be less of an issue. Greg could simply come over whenever he finishes his duties, even if that is late, and get in bed with him. Or already be in bed when Mycroft gets home.

Is it too soon for all of that? Wouldn’t that simply be living together?

He wishes he had someone to ask who has actual experience in this realm.

“It has a nice view of the water… boats for rent, if you’d enjoy that. We could go out and just… float.”

 

*

 

Greg's eyes close with quiet pleasure as he's stroked. When Mycroft's fingers run through his hair, it sometimes leaves him feeling almost feline - just longing to be petted and touched. These soft and easy touches will never lose their wonder.

"I'd love that..." He doesn't remember the last time he was out on a boat. When he was a teenager, maybe, messing about with friends.

He's already imagining the two of them just floating under the open sky, a picnic hamper ready for when they want it - kissing, talking softly, letting the hours drift by.

"That sounds perfect." He'll make sure tomorrow that his bosses know - the second they don't need him anymore in court, he's gone. "Just you and me for a while. Sleep late. Go for walks together."

 

*

 

“The kitchen is very expansive as well. You can teach me how to make a proper brunch.”

Mycroft’s eyes glitter in the lamplight.

“And there’s a lovely view of the stars from the deck at night. Sherlock and I used to watch them from the yard if Mummy and Daddy were entertaining.”

More specifically, Sherlock had been instructed to either keep to his room and keep quiet or go make a nuisance of himself outside, as his behavior was never suitable for guests. Mycroft’s was, but someone had to watch Sherlock. More often, he simply laid on the grass by the water listening to his brother tear around until he either ran out of energy or ended up in the lake.

The last time it had happened, Sherlock broke his leg trying to leap from a tree into the water, having insufficiently gauged the depth in the dark. He was put on a startling amount of painkillers to make him cease screaming.

Later, when Sherlock had been forcibly pulled from university to come down from a lengthy heroin binge, Mummy had told Mycroft if he’d simply been more watchful when Sherlock had his break he never would have gotten a dependence.

As with everything else, all of Sherlock’s problems remain his fault.

It’s a wonder, after all that, that he still thinks of the lake house fondly. Perhaps it’s because he was most likely to be left alone there.

He realizes that he must have been silent for a bit, simply stroking Greg’s hair- but Greg is comfortable. Perhaps he hasn’t noticed. Mycroft takes a long sip of his tea.

“I think you’ll like it there,” he finishes quietly.

 

*

 

Mycroft's voice stirs Greg from his thoughts. He's trying to imagine what it's like to sit next to a brother and stargaze together. He and Andy were close when they were little. They wanted to dress the same, do the same, be the same - then there came a point when they were about eleven, moving up to secondary school, and Andy seemed to decide being a twin was weird and embarrassing. He didn't want to be seen with Greg any more. People pointed them out and made a fuss, and Andy hated it. By year nine, he wouldn't even walk to school with Greg.

Thirty years later, and Greg's had weeks to tell him. Andy, there's someone I've met. He's important. But those words are no closer to being spoken than they ever were.

As his lover speaks, Greg lifts his head.

He finds Mycroft's jaw close to his lips, and quietly kisses it.

"I can't wait," he murmurs. Stargaze with me. Lie down in grass somewhere with me. Make this all just a memory. "I'll - hold onto it... it'll get me through."

He takes a drink of tea, rubbing his thumb against the side of the mug.

"Thank you for this," he says, softly. "Letting me be here. Settling me down again. Means a lot to me." His eyes brighten as he glances at Mycroft over his tea. "My hero."

 

*

 

“I think only one of us is likely to engage in acts of heroism, and it is not me.”

He would like to be Greg’s hero, of course. But Mycroft is more inclined to see all he does for crown and country as duty, no matter how dramatic the circumstances. Greg is the one that actually goes out and deals with the dregs of humanity in person.

Mycroft lets his lips rest against Greg’s temple for a moment, deeply fond.

“You are welcome here whenever you like. For heroics or otherwise.” He inhales, filling himself with the scents of Greg’s shampoo, his hair, all the little things that come out after a long, trying day. Pulling back only after a thorough nuzzle, he returns to sipping his tea.

“Now, did you wish to do any other work tonight, or shall we take this tea upstairs?”

 

*

 

There'll be time to work tomorrow - plenty of time. Greg's done what was needed of him for now. The rest, he can pick up in the morning.

"No more work," he mumbles, takes a drink, then carefully pushes the blanket off his lap. "Eleven o'clock seems like enough. Probably need a good night's sleep more than I need to keep working."

Upstairs, there's not a lot Greg needs to do to get ready for bed. He uses the bathroom briefly then gets undressed while waiting for Mycroft, leaving his clothes folded on the usual corner chair. He's settling into bed before a poke at his temple reminds him he's still got his reading glasses on. He tuts at himself and removes them, folds them and tosses them onto the chair with his clothes, then finishes the last of his tea.

When Mycroft returns from the bathroom Greg rests against the pillows, waiting for him, bare-chested and rather dark-eyed. There's a softness to the expression that doesn't quite temper the warmth in it. Beneath the sheets, he hasn't bothered with pyjamas.

He stirs a little, unaware that the movement is reminiscent of someone else they both know.

Come here, please.

 

*

 

Chest hair.

There is a slight pause in Mycroft’s stride as he takes in the sight in his bed. Right. Yes. Gregory did not go home, he doesn’t have pajamas, and he’s looking at Mycroft with a sort of feline want.

He sets his mug- tea finished and since replaced with water- down on the nightstand and climbs in, eyes flicking up with an amused, warm glow when his hand connects with skin under the sheets, sliding around Greg’s waist and drawing him close.

They really ought to behave. Both of them have early mornings. However….

“Do you… require anything… to help you sleep? Gregory?”

 

*

 

Greg's pupils swell as he settles close to Mycroft beneath the sheets. His gaze flickers to Mycroft's mouth for a moment, then returns to his eyes, his expression soft and just a little shy.

A hopeful hand rests itself on Mycroft's chest; fingertips toy with his topmost button.

"Turn my head off for me?" he murmurs. He wraps an ankle gently around Mycroft's calf, toes sliding up to curl against the back of his knee. "I - want you. Want to touch you. Feel you."

His eyes shine as he leans close, brushing his mouth against Mycroft's - a soft and hopeful stroke of contact.

"Is that alright?" he hums, pressing his erection gently into his lover's stomach.

 

*

 

Fuck.

Mycroft wonders if Greg’s manner of politely, shyly requesting sex will still be this arousing when he’s sixty. It’s immediately followed by mental query regarding the assumption that of course Greg would still be with him when he’s sixty.

He elects not to overthink it.

“Always,” he breathes in response, his fingers curving in a possessive instinct against Greg’s back, the motion gently rocking Greg’s cock against Mycroft’s shirt.

Their lips meet, the kiss heated but not desperate. Mycroft nips at Greg’s lower lip, then slides his mouth along Greg’s jaw and down to his throat.

“Touch me however you like, Gregory.” He drags his teeth- Greg’s reaction to that is always delectable, and Mycroft is not far off from fully hard himself.  One hand dips to Greg’s arse, and then the back of his thigh, pulling his leg across Mycroft’s hip, where it’s grazed by his own growing erection.

“What is best for you? Shall I give you my mouth? My hands?” His pawing hand slides back and skims the crease of Greg’s arse. “My fingers?”

“Or simply my cock?”

 

*

 

Oh fuck - oh, fuck -

Something about being made to choose, coaxed to tell Mycroft what he wants, is working for Greg on a deep and almost desperate level. The ghost of a bite at his neck has already wrecked his ability to think. He moans a little, the sound cutting as he swallows, and nudges his cock forwards in hazy search of friction.

At last, with a small shiver, he whispers,

"I - w-want to go down on you. I want you in my mouth. Want to do well for you." Heat rises in his face as he winds his fingers through the back of Mycroft's hair. "K-Kinda want to be fucked, too. Always want to be fucked when you're near me."

 

*

 

Mycroft lets out a groan somewhere in the vicinity of Greg’s collarbone, the fingers in his hair setting every nerve alight- not to mention what I want you in my mouth does to his cock.

“Mm. Sounds as though I am quite dangerous to be around.”

His brow lifts with a confident, cocky grin.

“I don’t suppose that’s an arrestable offense? Distracting an inspector from his cases with very illicit thoughts….”

Long fingers drag up Greg’s back until they reach Greg’s hair and pull, at the same time pushing him down, making sure Greg’s cock is thoroughly rubbed by the press of his thigh.

“Go on then. Show me how good you are- but no letting me come, Gregory. Not until I fuck you.”

 

*

 

Oh christ. Greg realises he's aching a little already at the thought, having his hair pulled and his body open for Mycroft to finish. His cock twitches against Mycroft's thigh and he shivers again. His fingers reach restlessly for buttons.

As he pulls them open, he paints love and longing across Mycroft's body beneath - his fingers gently stroking, brushing the warm pale skin, his mouth trailing open-mouthed and heated kisses as more and more of Mycroft's chest comes within his reach. He lingers where freckles are, nuzzling and adoring them, and when he has the pyjama shirt open he strokes it aside. The tip of his nose drifts to Mycroft's nipples.

He treats them gently, almost reverently - soft little licks, fingers skimming Mycroft's sides in long strokes as he does. When he can't cope with the fervent pulse of his own cock any longer, he lets one long stroke lengthen and slip down, fingers shaking a little as he touches Mycroft's cock through the fabric of his pyjama bottoms. It's not teasing; it's just first touches, letting himself, and his breath audibly tightens feeling Mycroft hard for him. He wraps Mycroft within the fabric and just strokes for a while, leaning up to kiss at Mycroft's neck as a tremor slowly passes through his own shoulders.

Fuck, I get to do this. I get to touch you.

I make you hard. You want me. You want me to please you.

It's never going to stop being a miracle.

Kissing Mycroft's stomach, taking the waistband of his pyjamas and easing them down, feels like a reward. Greg's breath hitches as he frees his lover's cock from its confines, unable to resist leaning close and stroking with his mouth, shivering, his tongue flashing gently along the shaft as his fingers brush. Forcing himself to focus, he removes his lover's clothing from each ankle and drops them out of the bed, kissing his way back up until he comes to Mycroft's cock again.

Fuck - f-fuck, you feel good -

He meant just to lap at the head, but the rush of excitement and longing it evokes is too much to bear. He finds himself sliding Mycroft into his mouth at once, swallowing him, shaking and muffling a frantic moan. Mycroft has always felt perfect in his mouth, ever since their first night. Something about sucking Mycroft's cock makes him feel like everything in the whole world is fine, like he doesn't need to concern himself with anything anymore. He just needs to tend to Mycroft - taking him in deeper, rubbing with his tongue in the way Mycroft likes, working to relax his throat so his lover can have more of him.

Doing this isn't just arousing.

It's satisfying in a way he doesn't remember sex with other people ever being.

As he works Mycroft's cock, he's careful to vary the rhythm. He doesn't want to end this. He wants Mycroft to have as much pleasure as he likes, without risk of being nudged over the edge. He keeps his lips wet and his movements slow and with purpose, dark eyes flicking up the bed to check he's doing well. His gaze each time is fogged with longing; just being allowed to do this is exciting him. He strokes Mycroft's stomach and thighs with his fingertips, little touches that are fond, and he fights the urge to thrust himself against the bed for friction.

He wants Mycroft's pleasure more right now.

He'll have his when he's been good.

Holy shit.

Holy fuck, I need this.

 

*

 

Oh dear lord.

Gregory is quite skilled at this. Mycroft might also venture to say that each time he’s somehow managed to get even better . By the time Greg swallows him whole Mycroft is arching against the sheets, once hand in Greg’s hair and the other clutching at bunched fabric. Even looking at him is a dangerous proposition. He looks so earnestly happy, so aroused simply by lavishing Mycroft’s cock.

It takes an inordinate amount of self-control not to give in to the sweet, lapping heat already enveloping him. His cock certainly wants him to quit stalling and just fuck Greg’s mouth already.

“Oh, god, Gregory-”

He’s free with his moaning, punctuating each particularly tantalizing change in rhythm, each brush against the back of Greg’s throat. The pleasure in him is steadily growing, yet just as he wished Greg is not giving him enough of a steady pace to come.

“You’re perfect, Greg- utterly perfect- your mouth-

Fingers curl in Greg’s hair- not too controlling, as Mycroft has no intention of interfering with this level of perfection.

“So good- good for me, aren’t you? Just- ah- just perfect for me-”

 

*

 

A soft, thickened rumble from around Mycroft's cock offers Greg's assent. His head tilts a little into Mycroft's hand, nudging, fond and obedient and endlessly willing. His eyes close over with a fresh surge of love.

He can't bear the thought of pulling back to speak. He doesn't want to take the sensation away from Mycroft for even a moment. Instead he tries to say the words with his hands and his mouth, winding them around his lover's cock with his tongue, showing Mycroft instead of telling him. Love you. Want you. Want you to be happy, want you to feel good, want it to feel perfect.

Proud it's me.

Stay here all night for you. Give up all my sleep for you.

Gently Greg stirs, shifting on the bed to pin his aching cock beneath his belly. He can't cope feeling it throbbing untouched in the air. The press of soft sheets is enough to settle the urge. As he eases back a little, wrapping his fingers in a cosy sleeve around Mycroft's cock and letting the rhythm come for just a minute, he lavishes his tongue in tiny circles against his lover's frenulum. It's starting to feel like he's pleading to be fucked but not allowed to use words to do it, and the thought alone is enough to make him moan and shiver.

He gazes up the bed again, hopeful and soft, his eyes big and his hair scruffed on end.

Yours. All yours. Whenever you want me.

 

*

 

“Y-es-”

Mycroft chances another look down, and their eyes meet. If he had a photograph of Gregory looking like that, dishevelled and needy and just his tongue along the edge of Mycroft’s cock, he’d get it printed lifesize and hang it above the bed.

And then never sleep again.

“Come up, beautiful. Ride me- take what you need-”

He lets go of Greg’s hair to stretch for the nightstand and the lube, stirring to stroke the liquid over his cock, and- simply because he can- reaching around Greg as they draw closer together to run a slick finger between his cheeks and stroke a circle at his entrance, pressing just enough to tease.

When Greg is in place Mycroft wraps his hands around Greg’s waist and guides him down, shuddering as his cock breaches the hole it always seems perfectly sized for. His abdominals are straining but he holds himself up so he can kiss along the lines of Greg’s chest as he enters.

“Mine,” he breathes softly, his face warm with arousal and affection, briefly lost to simply feeling every nerve that connects them light up.

Show me. Show me what you need and I’ll give it to you.

Anything.

Everything.

 

*

 

"Oh, Jesus - fuck - yours - "

This moment will never fail to take Greg's breath. It doesn't matter how many times they fuck, how familiar his body becomes with Mycroft's cock coaxing inside him. This is always going to feel intense. He loves Mycroft's hands at his waist; he loves the gentle kisses across his chest. Everything is pounding.

"F-Fuck," he whispers. As he sinks the last couple of inches, obedient to the gentle pull of Mycroft's hands, his face tightens. "Oh, fuck - Myc - I - I need to - "

He can't wait. He needs to fuck, now, and he knows Mycroft will understand. He starts to move at once, panting a little as pain and pleasure mingle in the first few pushes, shivering through Greg in soft spikes that flood colour across his cheeks.

"Myc," he gasps, fucking slowly through it. The slick, snug slide of Mycroft's cock is perfect. It shows in his face. "S-Shit - Myc - "

 

*

 

Mycroft has to sink back to the sheets as Greg starts to move, trailing his hands down Greg’s athletic thighs. He rests on one elbow so he can wrap his lube-slicked hand around Greg’s cock, letting the rhythm his lover is setting fuck through his fist.

“So good, aren’t you, beautiful. Fucking yourself on me.”

He adds this to his mental snapshots- Greg, eyes fluttered closed, lips parted, hair sex-scruffed, and muscles tensing as he slides up Mycroft’s cock, the peak of his pattern before he sinks down once more.

Lord, you’re lovely.

His face tenses as Greg’s pace increases, the feeling of pleasure longed for not only for the sake of an orgasm, but for what he knows it can do for Greg’s state of mind.

That’s it. You don’t need to think. I’ve got you.

Very slowly, Mycroft begins to shift his hand in counterpoint to Greg’s rhythm, fisting his cock in lengthy, tender strokes.

“Good- good boy, Gregory.”

 

*

 

If there's anything guaranteed to make Greg moan, it's 'good boy'.

Even now, whitening his lower lip between his teeth and half-delirious with the feeling of Mycroft nudging into his prostate over and over, he knows that on some level it's ridiculous. He's in his forties. He's a bloody police officer, and he's at least believed to be competent at it - enough to testify in court on behalf of an entire team.

Maybe that's why I like it.

Panting, Greg screws his hips down and holds Mycroft deep, grinding in small and urgent circles.

He's not made the realisation until now. Something about being this way with Mycroft makes him feel safe. It takes him away from all that - it means it doesn't matter. He doesn't have to be courageous and strong and steadfast right now. He can just be 'good boy', and the relief it brings him is off the chart.

As the pressure on his prostate sharpens, Greg exhales with a tremor and returns to fucking himself slowly on Mycroft's cock again, thighs straining with the ecstatic effort of steady up and down. Being allowed to use Mycroft's body for his own pleasure like this is making him vocal, but softly so. His moans are tight and drawn-out, pulled from somewhere deeper.

My treat. My reward.

Holy shit, how did I not know I liked it like this?

As Greg takes Mycroft deep again, for another trembling minute of screwing slow against his cock like a prostate massager, the answer comes obviously to him.

Never had the chance to find out.

He's never trusted anybody to fuck him like this before. He's never felt this safe in someone's hands - and after everything that happened, it's a miracle he does.

The pleasure aching in his prostate is white and intense, building pressure deep in his back and his stomach and his balls. Another few cycles of steady fucking then grinding, and thought begins to fizzle away in its entirety. There's just the sweat on his lower back, the feeling of his hands planted firm on Mycroft's chest, the oh-so-close stroking of his cock and the deep involuntary contractions of his body that rise trembling from his core. He's close to coming, lost in a river of sounds that blur freely from desperate contentment to frantic need, and words flow through it like fallen leaves - Mycroft's name, gasps of pleasure, pleas, bitten fragments of how it feels, how deep, how big, how much.

And then there's the swiftly approaching point of no return, and the pleasure that comes pounding and without mercy - and all Greg knows is the urge to fuck hard and chase it, gasping, whimpering, pleasure ripping him open - and in the rush he doesn't realise what escapes the thin and fragile barrier between thought and sound.

" - f-fuck - oh fuck, I love you - fuck - h-harder - harder, please, fuck - "

 

*

 

“Oh, fuck, yes- use me, Gregory-”

Mycroft can scarcely handle the way Greg takes off him, grinding, his expression blissful. His own muttered chorus of words- endearments, Greg’s name, the most sinful forms of praying- mixed with his lover’s in the usual incoherent gasping moans of sex. His mind is well off, the few cells that do work devoting themselves entirely to the motion of his hand on Greg’s cock.

Except. Something about it had jarred him. Something Greg said, something innocuous….

Wait.

What?

His mind kicks on, plays the fragment back, hazy and discordant against the pounding of skin on skin.

“Fuck, I love you.”

“I love you.”

Mycroft’s hand hitches in its rhythm. Some part of him had known- suspected, really, but more or less known- judging by the signs he was used to seeing from the outside. He simply had not quite let himself believe he was seeing it himself. Not so quickly.

Somehow, hearing the words aloud, even panted and stilted, makes it very real.

It makes them very honest.

He loves me.

Loves ME.

Him, Mycroft Holmes, called Antarctica. Called the Iceman. Called all manner of names under the sun reserved for people who have mercilessly treated their enemies without spilling a drop of blood and left those that witnessed it terrified and shaken.

Greg Lestrade loves him.

He doesn’t even realize for a moment that the feeling of blinding, hot pleasure isn’t a rush of endorphins at the concept of being loved.

It’s his orgasm, cresting sudden and hard.

His hand strangles the sheets, his hips thrusting up instinctively.

“Oh, fuck - Greg- Greg - use me, use- wring me fucking dry- take me, take- take-”

A cry erupts from his chest as the well of pleasure overflows and takes Mycroft with it in a deep pulse.

“Greg!”

 

*

 

" - oh god, fuck - come in me - come in me - yes - "

Mycroft's orgasm is the breaker for Greg's. He's getting good at holding himself just there, right on the edge, waiting for the sight and sound of Mycroft calling in ecstasy to sweep them both away. Giving in is easy. He throws his head back as the pressure sharpens and starts to crack itself apart in beautiful stinging hot sparks, driving himself down to come on Mycroft's cock. It feels like his lover's climax flows out from Mycroft and straight into Greg, flooding upwards through his body in a rush of wringing relief. As it wracks him in its throes, Greg's back arches and he pants, his face twisted tight, his cock striping Mycroft's stomach and chest.

His groans grow slowly ragged. The shake in his thighs eases to a deep, aching shudder; bliss hums its gentle tone through his every muscle.

"Fuck," he whispers, swallowing. He stirs weakly on top of Mycroft and leans down to kiss him, still panting softly. "Fuck me up, come here..."

His hands cup and cradle Mycroft's face as their mouths meld. He can feel his pulse thundering in every stretch of his skin.

"You okay?" he breathes as they part, grinning. His eyes shine from their very depths as he gazes down at Mycroft, biting into his lip. "Good for you?"

 

*

 

Mycroft is still coming back to himself when Greg’s mouth lands on his. By the time he opens his eyes it’s too late to keep them from looking just a bit more damp than usual.

“Mmmm,” he responds, not quite trusting himself to speak. He cups Greg’s face and pulls him back down, using the kiss to try and order his thoughts.

One: Greg loves me.

Two: My own feelings in response to this knowledge are… unexpectedly strong.

Perhaps he should have expected that. Serious relationships had not really been his area until Greg. A few had been longer in duration, but not… emotionally expressive. He feels as though… he ought to do something, regarding the strength of his feeling.

Something- something to show him I care?

The orgasm likely is not helping him keep his mind together on this. No- he’ll need time to process this after his body is clear of any distracting hormones.

“Good,” he manages when they break apart again. “Very good.”

He glances down at the mess between them, lifting a brow, smiling with shining eyes. Tasks have always been easier for him to speak about than feelings, clear outlines of what must be done. He can latch on to those while he works out the rest.

“Shall we have a quick bath?”

 

*

 

Greg's heart pulls gently as he spots a little emotion in his lover's eyes. Not often it's you tearing up after sex, darlin'... normally bloody me. He kisses Mycroft with care, stroking his cheek with a thumb and giving him time to breathe it out, knowing hormones take their toll sometimes.

S'okay, sweetheart... right here.

He supposes this is another 'last time' before he's taken away from Mycroft. There's only calm now for Greg - calm and comfort - but his own distress came earlier. Maybe you're gonna miss me, love.

As they come apart, the little smile and the raised eyebrow make Greg's pulse skip.

"You're gorgeous," he hums, the words honest and easy - then: "Yeah... a bath would be amazing. I've made a mess of you again..."

As he stirs, easing Mycroft from his body, his gaze flickers and he groans.

"H-Holy shit. You get better every time..."

 

*

 

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Mycroft smiles, inhaling to get past the rush of overstimulated sensation when Greg ends their coupling.

That it also soothes the flight of his emotional response is an added benefit.

“I believe I do not mind terribly when you make a mess of me.”

He shifts up, kissing Greg’s cheek. “I’ll start the water.”

In the bathroom, water steaming into the tub, Mycroft takes a look at himself in the mirror. Sex has disheveled him. Hair out of order, his bloody curls trying to escape… further down, the softness that will never quite leave his stomach earns a narrow eye.

But Greg loves me.

And I….

That’s the crux of the matter. There is no rulebook on what love feels like, only that people- and Mycroft has questioned on more than one occasion if he actually qualifies as people - know when they know. Which is no help at all, considering he has no points of comparison on the subject.

Do I love him? He tries it out in his mind, considering the mirror. I love-

In his reverie he almost misses the tub getting too close to full for both of them to actually sit in it. His hand snaps to the tap and he clears his throat.

“Water’s ready.”

 

*

 

There comes the quiet creak of the bed, and then the soft pad of footsteps across the carpet.

Greg appears in the bathroom door, looking thoroughly post-coital - dark eyes, hair on end, a shine of sweat across his collarbones, with the slower gait of someone feeling the ache of sex.

He moves to Mycroft, slips his arms around his waist for a moment's gentle hug, then takes both his hands.

"Feel like I'm going to sleep well," he murmurs, as they settle together in the water. He gathers Mycroft against his chest, presses a kiss to his forehead, and reaches quietly for a wash-cloth. "Few hours ago, didn't think I'd sleep at all... thank you, love. I mean it. I owe you a lot."

 

*

 

“Love.”

Mycroft just barely restrains the noise his throat wants to make, comfortably relaxing against Greg’s chest, his fingers idly stroking the luscious thighs that were so recently spread over him.

“I want you to call me, you know. When you feel like that. I know it will not always be possible… but I like… being there for you.” He smiles. “It’s not a matter of owing, it’s simply….”

Love.

Oh, bollocks.

Affection and greater, slightly panicked fondness seep through him like it’s being absorbed through the water. Only his skill in maintaining a neutral face prevents it from slipping through in his expression… much.

“I am sure I shall have some trying days as well,” he finishes.

He buries it in the tub, hides it behind the need to clean himself up, quietly smiling at Greg while his brain chatters at him. Is this love, this overwhelming… comforting, protective desire?

Love you I might love you I love-

It’s a burbling pattern in the back of his mind as they drift to sleep, wrapped in blankets with their legs tangled together.

Love you.

 

Chapter Text

Sally makes sure she's waiting outside with takeout coffees ("Grande, thanks...") for when he gets there.

It's eight AM when the car rolls up. All the rumours she's heard are right: it's a seriously slinky car, government plates gleaming at the back, and it cruises to a halt beside the pavement with almost nonchalant ease.

Whoever the boss has bagged, he's bagged a big deal.

Sally's imagining proper stockings and dark red lips. She tries not to imagine it when she's with Greg, obviously - and she tries not to be jealous - but it makes her smile all the same. It looks like the boss has done well for himself, and Sally's glad he's being looked after properly.

This time.

It's a minute or two before the door opens. When it does Greg emerges only halfway, still leaning into the car - a last kiss, from the look of things; a lingering goodbye. Ever dutiful, Sally slides her eyes down to the pavement. She takes an idle sip of her coffee. She'd love a glance at the next Mrs Lestrade, but she couldn't make much out from this angle anyway. God knows the man's earned some privacy.

When she hears the door slam, and the engine take off again, she lifts her eyes from her coffee.

He approaches, hands deep in his coat pockets. He's quiet. His shoulders are low, his expression grey. Doesn't want to leave her. Jesus. My heart.

As Greg reaches his sergeant, Sally tries a half-smile and hands over the coffee.

"Extra shot," she says. "Thought you could use it. What time did you finish last night?"

He smiles a little in return, pulling the lid from his coffee. "Not too bad... figured I'd rather sleep properly last night and work hard today, than not sleep and pass out on my desk by ten."

"Smart," she says. She takes a sip of coffee, watching the thoughts refusing to settle behind his eyes. "Hey... m'sorry."

"Oh - no, it's... these things happen." He frowns a little. "When you work with Ryan bloody Stringer, anyway..."

"He's rung in 'sick'. Miraculous flu."

"Good," Greg grunts. "At least we won't have to time checking everything he does. He's more harm than help. Best place for him right now is far away from me."

As they cross the entrance hall towards the lift, Sally pulls her phone from her pocket to scroll through the list she made last night.

"I've got tasks ready to dole out," she said. "Prioritised it all. Thought we could start fast and furious, burn through what we can while we're running hot... might have to drive people pretty hard for a few days."

"S'fine. Everyone knows we're in the shit."

"Shall I be bad boss, brandishing the whip?" she says, as the lift doors close. "You can be good boss, shoulder to cry on. Promising people time-off when it's over. Between us, we can push and pull them through this."

"Sure. You're always better at bad boss than I am." He gives her a grateful glance over his coffee, drinking. "Speaking of time-off... when this is done, I - kinda need a few days."

With her. "No worries, boss. Thought you would."

"It's just - y'know - early days. Things're going well. Could've done without all this crap."

Sally takes a sip of coffee. She decides that showing the man some support is worth the risk of over-familiarity. "It's fine, sir. As soon as you're done in court, we'll get you back to her. I can take over for a few days."

Though he responds with a smile, there's something just a little halting about it - like his thoughts have caught on a snag somewhere.

"Thanks," he says, and the gratitude is sincere. "Appreciate it."

Sally nods, tells herself to back out of his personal life, and takes a drink. They've got a hell of a week ahead of them. The boss doesn't need people poking about in his private business. "Not a problem."

 

*

 

It's nearly ten PM when the troops are let go for the night. Sally's hounded them like a rottweiler all day, but it's paid off. They've made a solid start. She's glad she got things prioritised in advance. They're ahead of the game a little because of it, and things are running slick and smooth, each finished task being swapped for a new one straightaway. It helps being able to dish them out fast and clean from her list.

The team are clearly in it for the long haul. The boss has spent the last half hour doing the rounds of the division with personal thank yous and 'attaboys', and everyone has a tired but happy glow about them as they shuffle out of the division on mass. They're making the DI proud; he's making sure they know he's proud.

It's going to be fine, Sally thinks. It's going to hurt like hell by Monday, but it'll be fine.

As she's letting herself into her car, thinking vaguely of Thai food on the way home, she glances across the car park and spots the boss sitting behind the wheel of his BMW. He's on the phone, exhausted but smiling, leaning against the wheel with the engine cold. Checking in, she thinks.

Thirteen hours since he said goodbye to her, and he wants to hear her voice. He'd rather sit here in the car park to say goodnight than risk driving home and miss her. He's not been texting today. She's got him concentrating, Sally thinks - she knows it's important - she's supporting him through this, not competing with it.

It's hard to imagine a bigger difference.

Halfway home, Sally's still smiling about it.

And she bets he's still sitting there in the car park.

 

*

 

Thursday has set the pattern that Friday and Saturday follow. They hit the ground running every morning, all of them, and they leave the building no earlier than nine. While Sally's chasing from the rear, Greg's leading from the front.

On Saturday morning, he's there first in his jeans and a jumper with breakfast bagels for them all, and they're allowed the radio on while they work to keep things cheerful. At six o'clock, he orders pizza. There's an hour's break to eat, everyone weary but laughing and bonding together, and the boss heads off to his office for a while. He shuts the door; from Sally's desk, through the blinds, he can be seen on the phone. He's got his feet drawn beneath him in the chair, his head resting against the back, an arm around himself, and he's talking softly with his eyes closed. The man's exhausted.

It's all he wants to do, in every spare moment he gets - hear her voice.

Sally knew it was getting big.

But it's looking like it's big.

They've not been together long. It's been two months maybe, and already he's a new man. Sally remembers how he was, back when he was married. She remembers the way a single lunchtime phone call could drain the life out of him.

Now half an hour on the phone can restore him to life.

When he leaves his office again, the smile is back. He's finding some upbeat music on the radio and telling them all they'll do another couple of hours, then call it quits. They'll be home by half nine.

At half ten, Sally puts her head around his door.

He's working by the glow of his desk lamp. Everyone else is long gone, so the reading glasses have come out - it means his eyes are tired. He's still working though, double-checking a pile of papers. The stack he's already completed is taller than his coffee mug.

"Hey," she says, and he glances up. His eyes crinkle at the edges with his smile.

"You heading off?" he says. "Go on, Donovan. Get out of here. You should've gone with the others."

"Are you staying?" She eyes the stack of papers. "Those can wait 'til the morning, you know... we're miles ahead of where we should be. You can afford to clock off."

He smiles again, and for the first time she realises there's something just a little flat about it. He's working so as not to think.

"I'm on a roll," he says, and adds his signature to another paper. It slides from one pile to the other. "Might as well keep at it."

Sally adds a few things together, comes to a conclusion, and chances it.

"You'd - normally be seeing your girl this time, wouldn't you?"

His expression doesn't change one bit. He signs another paper, and it's to give him time to cope with something.

"Yeah," he says at last. "We'd be together."

Sally's trying to find some words of regret, some comfort for him, when to her surprise he speaks again.

"Sundays are - hers." It looks like it hurts for him to say. His mouth's hollow around the words. "Go to a café near my flat for lunch together. Just... sit and talk. Spend time." Another page flaps from one pile to the other, his eyes down, his pen still moving in his hand. "It's funny. How quick you start to need someone."

Sally's throat tightens. Jesus. He's not looking at her, working like they're not having this conversation, and she wonders how tired and weak he must feel beneath the mask for this to be coming out through the cracks. Greg doesn't talk about home. He never has. He keeps it in, keeps his head down and keeps going.

But he's hurting, and it's showing.

Pushing her hands into the pockets of her jacket, Sally makes a decision.

"We're ahead, sir. Even further, now you've done two more hours." She wraps her fingers around her security pass in her pocket, squeezing it. "You could take the two hours tomorrow, maybe. Step out for a breather."

Though he huffs, his hand falters in its signature. "Not while everyone else is working."

Sally shrugs. "Send them off early tomorrow," she says. "Reward them for working so hard. Means they'll be back on Monday, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and you can go get lunch. Easy."

He pauses. "You're certain we're ahead?"

"By miles." Sally gives him a smile. "Definitely more than two hours. Seriously, Greg... it'll do you good."

Part of him is still uncertain. She can see it in his eyes, but he's breaking like dry twigs under the chance to see her for a while. "If you're sure, Sally..."

"Sure. You need to rest, same as the others."

"I'll come here first." He's reaching for the top drawer of his desk, where his phone is kept. "Do a few hours, then nip out."

"Sounds good."

He hesitates, wary. "You're - definitely sure that - ?"

"Sure I'm sure, boss." She smiles, stepping backwards out of his office. "Ring your girl," she says. "And don't stay here all night to make up for it. Right?"

His eyes glint. "Right."

"I mean it, sir. I'm 'bad boss' this week. If I have to order you around too, I will."

Greg visibly inhales, the corners of his mouth curving in a smile. Gratitude shines from his eyes.

"Thanks, Sally," he murmurs.

Sally's heart gives a quiet tug. "S'fine, sir." She pauses. "Tell her thanks from me. She's making your life easier. Makes my life easier, too. G'night."

She leaves, so he doesn't have to reply.

Halfway across London, a mobile phone lights up in the darkness.

 

Gregory Calling...

 

*

 

Mycroft’s week is not going quite as smoothly as he would like, but he has no intention of letting Gregory know that. Thursday and Friday are taken up by Mossad, and negotiating their request (demand) for certain pieces of intelligence that they know the security services have because their excellent friends at the CIA have said the surveillance in question was carried out by an MI-6 unit.

He’d already sent Anthea to make a veiled and vague threat to his CIA contact regarding setting the UK up to deal with Mossad simply because someone in the US didn’t feel like it.

Of course, he has to personally review everything they’re giving Mossad before they hand it over. It takes ages, but more importantly it derails the work he had previously had on his plate.

He’ll be working all day Saturday as well.

If Greg is not available, he’ll likely go in Sunday as well. Mycroft has been making time whenever Greg calls- Anthea has been helping, on the basis that Mycroft needs breaks he would not otherwise take, and Greg’s calls at least count for giving his mind a brief rest.

Mossad leaves Friday afternoon, late. Anthea tosses Mycroft from the office unceremoniously, ordering him to go pet that cat he likes while he eats dinner. He’s not inclined to argue- and it’s likely he’ll be in the office for most of the evening anyway, so a break is in order.

Marmalade is under the couch again when he arrives, but he knows to look for her there this time, drawing her out with a bit of grilled chicken off his salad. “Yes, I know, your grace. Gregory gives you more interesting treats. Bacon is always more interesting. But chicken is better for you, isn’t it? Mmmhm. Come on up- yes, just one lap today. I promise to keep one hand free for petting while I eat.” She sits on him, flicking her tail and staring at the other end of the couch like she’s waiting for Greg.

“Yes, I know. Me too. More chicken?” She’s still thin. And her coat needs a brushing- Mycroft finger combs what he can, pulling out some stray tufts threatening to start matting.

Wills is quick to appear once he realizes snacks are being given out, circling Mycroft’s legs as Marmalade quivers in his lap. Mycroft glares. “You, young man. Go away. Shoo.”

The big tom yowls and puts his paws up in Mycroft’s knee only to be met with a quick swat from Marmalade. He drops and yowls again, electing to lie across Mycroft’s shoes. He lifts a brow. “Very good girl.”

She’s still shaking in his lap, however, so he’s not sure if this really indicates any progress, but he tries to lavish praise on her for standing up for herself.

When he leaves, he gives her a large bit of chicken he’s reserved, then tosses a bit further away for Wills so he won’t pester Marmalade when she has hers. Yet as he’s heading for the door, he can already see Wills running back, enormous fluffy tail in the air. He leaps for the couch, Marmalade jumps down, and there’s a brief tussle before she dives under the couch once more.

Mycroft sighs and heads back to work.

 

*

 

Saturday is a whirlwind morning- possible terrorist threat at the level that necessitates Mycroft’s personal involvement. He spends much of the early afternoon looking over surveillance footage and analysis as it comes in.

He identifies the likely target and the flat in which the associated weaponry is being stored by 3pm.

Anthea lurks in his doorway around 7pm, arms crossed. “Go home.”

“Anthea, really- everything this week has put me terribly behind-”

“And you can work on it tomorrow morning in bed.” Her heels click against the floor as she steps closer. “You are not obligated to work yourself to the bone simply because your boytoy is busy.”

Mycroft furrows his brow. “I am not-”

“You are distracting yourself. Quite successfully, so well done there, but go home .” She lifts a brow, waiting for him to lean back, resigned, in his chair, before she comes in and starts loading a briefcase with files. “The car is already out front.”

At home, he entertains some thoughts of doing his work in front of a film with his sad excuse for a dinner- he might be getting a bit spoiled on Greg’s cooking, and his own in turn seems extremely lacking, particularly when he doesn’t have the energy to do anything complex. But he’s skipped lunch… several times… this week, so he can do something quick such as pasta without worrying about the carbs as much.

He eats while vaguely glancing over the files as the Lord of the Rings plays in the background. That always relaxes him a bit. He just needs to read this next bit… and the next….

The quiet sound of his mobile going off snaps Mycroft off the couch, red indentations of the arm of the sofa on his face. How long had he been out? The film is still playing, but that movie is long -

He takes a quick sip of water to clear any sleep from his voice before reaches for the phone.

“Hello, Gregory. Have you finally escaped for the night?”

 

*

 

The sound of Mycroft's voice closes Greg's eyes. He smiles, rubbing his fingers into the knot at the back of his neck, and lets the office around him fall away into nothing. It doesn't matter where he is. He's here with Mycroft.

"Still at work," he murmurs. "Only me left. How come you're still awake?"

He wouldn't normally have rung this late, but the chance of seeing Mycroft tomorrow is... not something he can bear to miss.

 

*

 

“Mmm. I wasn’t, actually. Must have tipped over on the couch. Probably drooled on the pillows. I’m sure you’d be amused.”

Mycroft stretches, shouldering the phone to tidy his dinner things that had not yet made it back to the kitchen.

“You aren’t sleeping in your office, again, are you?”

Not that Mycroft can criticize- he’s certainly done it himself, but he does allow that he’s far more protective of Gregory and his needs than he is of himself.

 

*

 

Greg's heart warms at the protective tone, even as he bites his lip. In truth, he'd been planning it. 'What's the point of driving home?' has been in his head most nights this week, and when there's nothing to do there but miss Mycroft, his office has been pretty preferable. Part of his brain is working on a basis of, the more I work, the faster it's done.

He knows it's irrational.

It's easy to be irrational away from Mycroft's good sense.

"Heading off soon... thought I'd try and catch you before I left." God, please don't be working. Please don't have arranged something because I'm busy. Please. "I've been semi-ordered to have a couple hours off tomorrow. We're making good progress, and my sergeant thinks it'll do me good to have a breather..."

He knows Mycroft will know what he's asking already. He turns the cord of his deskphone around his thumb, hoping against hope, his heart in his throat.

"I couldn't stay more than two hours," he adds, nervous. "If my team are in on their weekend, I feel like I should be too. But - well, I'm going to give them two hours at the end of the day... just having mine early, so - "

So I can catch you.

Please.

"Might be nice," he finishes, audibly unbreathing.

 

*

 

Mycroft smiles, turning off the film and drifting upstairs to relax in bed with Greg’s voice in his ear. Obviously he won’t be getting anything else done tonight. The files go in his safe as he listens. The nervous hope in Greg’s voice is obvious.

Oh, my love.

He’ll have to remember to slip something nice to Greg’s sergeant. The woman seems quite sensible, from everything Mycroft has heard about her.

“Lunch with her majesty? You know I can’t resist. Noon or so?”

 

*

 

Oh god. God, yes.

The two of them. The café. Marmalade on his lap, Mycroft at his side, and Greg doesn't care for a second what the world thinks - he's going to have his head rested on Mycroft's shoulder the entire time. He'll hold Mycroft's hand if he wants. Hell, he'll handfeed Mycroft bits of brownie. They're going to be the happiest two hours of his week, and he'll be making the most of them.

Two hours with the man I love.

He's felt like shit, lying to Sally. His 'girl'. Like there's anything about Mycroft to be ashamed of.

One more late night, and maybe he'll just tell her - just get it over with. Right now the thought of Mycroft makes his heart feel like it's ripping its way out of his chest, flying out across the city to get to where he's meant to be. He can't keep this any longer. He just can't. He doesn't know why it matters, but it does. He needs people to know. He can't cope that they all think he's got a fancy girlfriend. It's a lie. He doesn't want to live like that.

Not when just the thought of two hours with Mycroft makes him happier than he was on his wedding day - happier than any day after that.

"Noon," he murmurs, and finds himself grinning alone in the darkness of his office, his heart thumping softly in his chest. "I can't wait to see you. I've... J-Jesus, I've missed you like hell..."

I love you. I love you, and when this is over, I'm gonna tell you. I'm gonna tell everyone. Everyone who'll listen to me.

Changed my damn life.

Greg's throat thickens with the thought. He's powerless to fight it, too weak to try - and so he doesn't keep it from his voice. He lets Mycroft hear it.

"You're so important to me. Everyday I don't get to see you, I realise it more."

 

*

 

“Gregory….”

Mycroft is fingering the sheets on the side of the bed that would typically be Greg’s, imagining the warmth that should be there, lingering like Greg has only got out of bed for a moment.

The thought makes him smile, when he has Greg’s voice to accompany it.

“I’ve missed you as well. I… cherish every moment we are able to spend together.”

He’s looking forward to proving how important Gregory is to him when they’ve the chance to get away without work interfering. Greg is going to be pampered and spoiled with every lavish thing Mycroft can think of until he cannot stand it any further.

Show you that I love you.

Perhaps then he’ll have the courage to say it.

“I am greatly looking forward to seeing you more regularly again,” he breathes, the emotion in Greg’s voice enough to affect Mycroft as well. “Merely thinking about you… especially at night… is not the same.”

 

*

 

"God..." Greg's heart is about to beat its way out of his chest. There's something about the way Mycroft puts things - accurate, precise - truthful. He doesn't say less than he means, and he doesn't say more than he means, and it's so reassuring that Greg has to close his eyes. It's the only way he can cope with the intensity of the feeling now flooding through him.

"I wish I was with you. Just - hold you. Kiss you goodnight."

Fuck... fuck, I get to see you tomorrow...

"Keep catching your smell on my clothes," Greg mumbles, his eyes still shut. "My bed. Knocks me for six. Just lying there in the dark, missing you out of my mind. I won't sleep, first night we're together again. Won't let go of you."

He realises he's rubbing the telephone cord between his fingers. It's the longing for touch, for the image so close and real in his mind that he wants to stroke it: Mycroft's hair, Mycroft's back, Mycroft's mouth beneath his own.

"Are you in bed, love?" Greg hesitates, biting his lip. "I should let you sleep."

 

*

 

“Mmm. I don’t know, Gregory. I think I am fairly good at tiring you out.”

Mycroft splays onto Greg’s side of the bed, inhaling close to the pillow. He finds it comforting, really. But he knows Greg will not be alone in a bit of clinging when they do get to share a bed once more.

“I am in bed. I am considering requisitioning your pillow for my personal use.”

He hesitates. Gregory did indicate he is still at work, however… Mycroft knows how he likes to get to sleep. And Mycroft has nothing keeping himself from being a bit naughty, assuming Greg is actually intending to rest tonight.

“Are you going to sleep, Gregory?”

 

*

 

My pillow.

Jesus.

"Probably best if I drive home before I sleep," Greg says, with a small smile - but he's caught that note in Mycroft's voice. He discards his pen atop his stack of papers, leans back in his chair with a creak, and reaches up to rub his neck. "Seeing as that won't be for a while... is there something on your mind?"

 

*

 

“Good,” Mycroft purrs, pleased that Greg is in fact going to go home and sleep in a bed.

“I was merely considering… mmm, what we might be up to if you were here.”

He hadn’t changed into his pajamas yet- Mycroft smiles as he sets the phone on the bed and flips it to speakerphone. The privacy of his home when it comes to matters of sound is a wonderful thing indeed.

Traces of cloth rustling, possibly even the buttons opening on his shirt, might be obvious.

Mycroft makes particularly sure that the sound of his zipper descending is.

“I suppose it would do me no good at all to fall asleep in my suit. You’d make sure I got out of it.”

 

*

 

Smiling, pulling at his lower lip, Greg gets out of his chair.

"Couldn't crumple that pretty suit of yours," he says, strolls to the open door, and takes a glance around the empty division. They're long gone, all of them, computer screens black in the darkness. He can relax now he's certain. He closes the door just to be safe. "I'd make sure we had every piece of that off you... get you comfortable. Lie you down, let you relax after your long day."

His chair creaks as he sits down again, then gives a squeak of the hinge as he tilts it back enough to get his feet up on the desk.

One hand on the phone, he slides the other neatly beneath himself. The plan is to keep it wedged there where it can't cause any trouble.

At least I'll be wide awake for the drive home.

"Maybe rub your legs and feet for you," he says, closing his eyes to make it real - Mycroft resting in that big bed across town, relaxing, letting Greg tend to him. "Can't promise I wouldn't start kissing them, though. You know I love your legs. Your freckles. 'Specially the ones on your inner thighs."

 

*

 

“You do, that’s quite true. And you know what that does to me… your mouth is quite a dangerous weapon, Gregory.”

Mycroft ghosts his hands over his legs, mimicking the spots Greg would touch and sliding his pants and trousers down in the same go. They’re kicked off somewhere near the end of the bed- he’ll hang them up later. For now, there are indulgences to partake in at the sound of Greg’s voice, and thankfully his phone makes it very nearly impossible for anyone to interfere with the call.

Thank goodness the same precautions for discreet negotiations with foreign powers apply to a bit of phone sex.

“I’d have to have my fingers in your hair, of course… I simply can’t resist. Just a little pull, since you’ve been treating me so nicely… behaving so well for me.”

 

*

 

"Mm hmm?" Even the thought of Mycroft pulling his hair is enough to send a shiver coursing down the back of Greg's neck. He can imagine it perfectly, those long and slender fingers curling and gripping and just negotiating him where he's wanted. It's enough to heat his blood a little. "Never knew I liked that until you. S'pose there's a few things I didn't realise I liked so much until you."

He primes the words in his mouth for a moment, smiling, letting his voice ebb a little low.

"First time I sucked your cock I could've cried. Feeling you fuck my mouth. So desperate to feel you come I'd have stayed there all night."

His fingers twitch slightly beneath him, hand pinned flat to the chair.

"Kinda wish I was there right now, doing my best for you. Keep my mouth wet for you. Go slow. Let you hold me there as long as you like."

 

*

 

Fuck.

Mycroft’s hand bats at the nightstand, taking a second to come up with the lube. A little noise, halfway between a sigh and a gasp, escapes him when he spreads it over his cock, thinking of Greg’s mouth, his soft lips, his tongue….

“Mmm. And would you like that, Gregory? If I… fucked your mouth?”

His thumb flicks over the slit and then he most definitely whimpers, fully hard and precum dripping. Greg’s voice- especially that low tone, the one Mycroft feels is reserved just for him- really ought to be registered as a weapon. Or at least noted on Mycroft’s file as an egregious personal weakness.

“I do like to see you enjoying yourself, you know. I’d ask you to bring your hips up to me… maybe lick your cock and slide my fingers in you….”

 

*

 

"Christ," Greg breathes, shifting, closing his eyes and focusing on his hand flat against the chair, not the ache now straining at his zipper. "Yes, gorgeous... I'd like that. I'd lose my mind. Feeling you fuck my mouth and suck my cock and fuck me with your fingers, all at once. All of me. Using me. Making me feel it, making me take it."

Jesus, Jesus - fuck -

"God, I want you... I want you so much. Touch yourself, sweetheart. Let me hear it. Please."

He digs his fingers into his chair, breathing in.

"Fuck, if I could swallow you whole right now - pull you into my throat - if you were here, My... making me kneel for you, suck you. Pinning me to the desk. Reminding me who I belong to."

 

*

 

“Oh, fuck-”

This is not how Mycroft usually masturbates, when he does indulge- not that he’s had to lately. Greg has been quite fulfilling. He supposes it’s still down to Greg that he’s arcing on the sheets, thrusting into his own hand like he’s fucking his lover- his love- his mouth, Greg kneeling for him- or, god, taking him in New Scotland Yard, right over his desk-

“God, Gregory- mine-”

His panting must be audible, he doesn’t know if the sound of his steady lube-slicked rutting will be as clear, even as his hand picks up speed.

Part of him realizes Greg must not be indulging on his side- he’s simply doing this for Mycroft’s benefit.

You lovely man. All for me.

I love you.

He lets out a little cry of need. It’s unexpected- he isn’t used to relinquishing any of his control, but something about this particular scenario, Greg bringing him off over the phone, inspires a want normally filled by very different means in person.

“Greg- tell me to come, Gregory- you have to tell me- I’m so close, beautiful-”

 

*

 

Fuck me up. That little cry. Greg bites into his lip and breathes himself through it, his heart pounding. He doesn't know if Mycroft realises how bloody beautiful he sounds right now. Without sight, without touch, there's just Mycroft's voice and it's wrecking Greg.

Mine.

Fuck. Mine. Look after you, gorgeous. Help you come, make it feel good, even now, even when we're -

When I can't -

Right now, if they were skin-to-skin, every fragment of his focus would be wrapped around making Mycroft come. He only has his voice to do it. He lets it fill with desperation, with longing and with reassurance, breathing into the phone as if the sound alone can stroke Mycroft's skin.

"Oh gorgeous, you sound so fucking good - come for me - come for me right now - come all over for me, love, let me hear you, show me - come, sweetheart. Come to pieces for me."

 

*

 

Mycroft does not just break, he shatters.

He’s not aware of how loud he is- his incoherent, guttural shout followed by segments of Greg’s name and panted endearments, one hand pumping him through it and the other white-knuckled, gripping the slats of the headboard.

“Oh Greg- love- yes-”

When he is fully spent his arm falls limply to the pillow, sticky, jagged lines of white all over his belly. “God,” he breathes, shaking.

He’s wrecked. Debauched.

And Greg did not even need to lay a hand on him.

Fuck.

“Gregory, you are amazing.” His voice is rough and sex-hazed. “I do not believe I tell you that often enough.”

 

*

 

Greg's laugh is soft and full of love.

"Yeah? M'not going to stop you telling me... that's for sure..."

Half an hour from now, he's going to be replaying every gorgeous moment of that to himself - over, and over, and over again. He's never heard anything so spectacular in his life. His heart's beating as fast and hard as if he's just come himself.

"D'you know how fucking beautiful you sound when you come?" he murmurs, and pulls at his lower lip. "I could listen to that every night of my life... you're just... fuck, the things you do to me..."

Lying there spent, he thinks - sprawled across that big deep bed he misses more than anything. My gorgeous Mycroft, my partner. My guy. Coming down, all messy and breathless.

It crosses his mind, with a quiet thump of his heart, that his own erection is a whole lot easier to ignore than he'd thought it would be. He's hard as hell, but it's like it doesn't matter. When he's finally home and in bed, he'll be reaching for the bedside drawer and remembering all those beautiful sounds he's just heard - but that's later.

This is now, and he doesn't just want phone sex.

He wants phone afterglow, too.

Smiling at the thought, he lets his voice soften to its most tender tones.

"Wish I was there, love," he murmurs. "Wish I could go get a warm cloth for you, clean you up... kiss you. Stroke your back while you settle."

 

*

 

“Every night of my life.” Mycroft would not argue with that, he realizes. Not at all. Love. Forever. He thinks he might be getting the concept now.

“Mmm. That sounds lovely.”

He should actually get started on cleanup, actually, or he’s going to be asleep with the phone still beside him and his own mess all over the sheets. Mycroft eases himself up, slowly, and takes the phone with him into the bathroom to tidy himself.

“You’re going to be back here soon enough… and I am going to return the favor, Gregory.”

The cloth feels soft, damp against his skin- relaxing. He’s tired. He hadn’t realized how tired- he never does, really. Mycroft only really relaxes with Greg. Even over the phone.

“I don’t know that we’ll even leave the lake house,” he sighs sleepily as he gets his suit hung up. Pajamas are a step too far for his remaining energy- he simply slides back between the sheets nude. “Might want to keep you in bed the entire time. Bed and nice meals.”

 

*

 

"Keep me there," Greg murmurs, pulling his arm through the sleeve of his coat. "We'll sleep, eat and make love. It's all we'll need. So long as we're together, Myc, I'll be happy."

He's not even going to take his laptop home tonight. He needs his sleep. The trial will be here in the morning, waiting for him, a few hours of work and then Mycroft - Marmalade - a deep breath of normality.

As he switches out the light of his office, locking the door with his phone tucked against his shoulder, Greg says,

"Silver lining of all this mess... all the overtime... made me realise how good things are, in normal circumstances."

 

*

 

“Mmmm. Very good indeed.”

He pauses. Mycroft is not really given to effusiveness, but he’s comfortable and relaxed and… in love.

“I am looking forward to having you back, Gregory. I am no less fond when we are apart, however… I enjoy having you in my arms far more.”

Mycroft has the phone set on Greg’s pillow. If he closes his eyes it’s almost as if Greg is in the room, except for the sound of rustling fabric and a gentle metallic click that is not his own door.

“Finally going home, lovely? I’m glad. You need your sleep.”

 

*

 

Greg smiles as he makes his way through the division, heading at last for the lift and the car park. The office is dark around him, quiet and still.

"Calling it a night," he says. "I'm flagging. If I leave it much longer, I won't be fit to drive... end up paying for a taxi..."

He fishes his car keys from his pocket ready, turning them quietly in his hand as he approaches the lift.

"You sound like you need your sleep too, love. Shall we say 'see you tomorrow' then?" He grins as he gets into the lift, pressing the button for the car park. "D'you want me to give you three rings when I'm in? Or shall I just let you sleep?"

 

*

 

“Mm. Three rings, please. I like knowing you are in safely.”

Mycroft smiles fondly, turning his cheek against the pillow, facing the phone like it’s Gregory beside him in the bed. If this were Anthea, or anyone else in his employ, he would ask for a simple text. But Greg likes three rings, and Mycroft likes the thought behind it.

“I shall see you tomorrow. Noon. Miss Marmalade shall be thrilled, I don’t order any bacon for her. I am sure you can make up for the deficit.”

He chews the inside of his lip, restraining to urge for tiredness to spill his feelings across the line.

I love you.

“Good night, Gregory. Drive safely.”

 

*

 

"I'll be there, darlin'. Might be a couple minutes late if I hit lunchtime traffic... time for you to get her ladyship excited about her bacon."

Just the thought of it - walking in, seeing them both there - is enough to stretch Greg's heart at the seams. Tomorrow afternoon, he's going to be burning through his work in a blaze of renewed joy.

And if it goes well, and it doesn't cut into their productivity too much... it might be something he can do again. He might be able to snag a couple hours off one night next week, and spend them with Mycroft.

It makes him smile. Not home - not laundry - not the gym, not lying in front of the TV, not anything else in the world. Just Mycroft.

It's all he wants.

"Can't wait to see you, gorgeous..."

The words are right there in his mouth. It'd be the easiest thing in the world just to say them. I love you.

He's stopped by the thought of an awkward conversation hanging over tomorrow.

If he's going to be told to slow down, he doesn't want it to be tonight - and not on the phone.

"Goodnight, Myc," he murmurs, instead. "Sleep tight."

 

Chapter Text

Sunday dawns brightly, the sun casting a long line of warmth across Mycroft’s bed. Normally he wakes early, even on days he’s not working, but he’s managed a bit of a lie-in today, comfortable and quiet.

All thanks to Gregory, I expect.

The spirit of leisure continues through an indulgently long shower, a small bite of breakfast, and his read of the morning paper. The Sunday paper always gives him a good idea of what to expect during the week- Mossad are already moving on the intelligence he gave them, albeit a bit more publicly than he’d prefer. That may cause him some problems with Smallwood in the next week or so as her agents grumble about not being able to use the material themselves.

Not today. If she calls today I am hanging up.

He puts on one of his more casual suits for the cafe, yet a handsome one. Greg always makes him feel more attractive, but it’s nice to dress the part as well.

The walk will be pleasant- it’s quite a long walk, but he enjoys it. He can always call the car later if the storm the papers have warned him to expect arrives early, and he sends a text to Anthea indicating his plans- the cafe has already been on her team’s security allowance list for months, and his route when walking there is well documented. She’s never alarmed if his GPS signal happens to end up in Greg’s apartment afterwards either, not since the first instance.

Their couch is waiting for him when he arrives just before noon. Mycroft takes the liberty of ordering both of their usual coffees while he waits for Greg, and dangles his fingers down over the arm while he waits for his to cool.

“Are you under there, your ladyship? Your faithful servant of bacon should be here shortly.”

He is rewarded with a brush of a wet nose against his fingers and a quiet “brrp?”

“Yes, I think your archenemy is otherwise occupied.” Wills is indeed- a group of middle-aged women have hold of him and are passing him around like an infant, and he surprisingly does not seem to mind. “Come on out, dear.”

She wriggles out slowly and circles Mycroft’s shoes quietly, keeping her body low to the ground as she looks about. No enemy sighted, she leaps up onto Mycroft’s lap and looks pointedly to the empty space of the sofa, mewing her query.

Where is the other one?

“Soon, dearest, he’ll be here soon. And if you are very good I believe there will be bacon in it for you.”

Apparently deeming this acceptable, she circles Mycroft’s lap and sits, eyes on the door. His own gaze flicks to the cafe’s clock. 12:05. Well, he did say to allot for traffic.

Fingers ruffling Marmalade’s fur, he extracts his phone from his pocket and skims his email. That should kill the few minutes until Gregory arrives….

 

*

 

[12:03] where the hell are all these people going on a sunday???

[12:04] be there soon... xxx

A few minutes later, the café door opens with a cheerful ring of the bell - and though Marmalade stirs, no 'brrrp' is emitted. It isn't Greg. The woman who hurries into the café doesn't seem particularly glad to be here, a little out of breath and wearing an expression of worry, handbag swinging wildly from the arm of her pale grey leather jacket.

Her face turns straight to the couch; distress crosses her features.

"Excuse me," she says at once as she comes over, mortified to be inconveniencing a stranger. She's a pretty forty-five, well-kept and well-spoken, and the hand with which she sweeps back a ruffled curl of auburn hair has an engagement and wedding ring pride of place. "I'm so sorry - oh god, she's so comfy on you too - I don't suppose you've seen a mobile phone? I was getting in my car, and I realised it wasn't in my... I was sitting here about ten minutes ago. I'm so sorry. It's pink, with a - "

The nervous hand gesture suggests a phone charm.

"I'm sorry... do you mind if I have a look?" she says. "I only got the damn thing last week, it's new..."

 

*

 

[12:06] Her grace is being very patient, don’t worry. She has been assured of bacon, however.

Mycroft is about to settle into responding to an email from Anthea when the woman approaches and British politeness asserts itself. He tucks his phone into his inside suit pocket and wraps his arms about Marmalade, tucking her to his chest.

“I have not, but you are very welcome to look,” he says as he rises.

Marmalade issues a grumble of dissent at being moved, flicking her tail as her pretty eyes skim over the woman who has invaded her domain. Mycroft quietly shushes her.

“If it’s not there it may be at the counter,” he offers helpfully. “I expect the baristas maintain some manner of lost and found.”

 

*



"God, thank you - so sorry - "

She begins a thorough search of the sofa, hunting down beside each arm and lifting the cushions, sighing as no phone appears.

"You know when you've just put something down for a second - "

She kneels down to peer beneath, squinting.

" - and you just hope someone's not come along, and gone off with it - god - "

Reaching underneath, searching, she gives Mycroft a look of embarrassed despair.

"I'm not a klutz. Honestly. I'm so sorry to kick you out of your seat like this, when you were just - "

Her expression flashes with sudden hope - then creases as she pulls it out to check, and it's just a discarded teaspoon.

She sighs.

"Have you - been here long, can I ask? I'm just thinking... if someone else was here, and they've..."

 

*

 

“Oh- no, I likely arrived just after you departed. Ten minutes or so.”

Marmalade squirms, discontented with this position, and when Mycroft puts her down she jumps up to the window behind the couch, watching the proceeds with her eyes just peering over the backrest.

“I would check with the baristas- if someone saw it, they might have turned it in.”

He folds his hands in front of himself, quite patient- this is part and parcel of interacting with regular people, and he’s become well versed in having tepid conversations with strangers when he feels like interacting with the wider scope of humanity beyond the bulletproof glass that encases the rest of his life.

Still. Something is just wriggling at him, like a flicker in his peripheral vision. Something… off.

“Any luck?”

 

*

 

"I'd love to have your faith in people," she says, almost fondly, then withdraws her arm with a sigh. "No, I... I don't know if it's... maybe it's right at the back, though? Can't reach in this jacket. It's not my day."

She shrugs off her handbag, drops it on the sofa where Mycroft was sitting, and has one more try.

"Nope," she says in the end, sighs again and straightens up, quickly brushing off her knees. "D'you mind just - ? I'll ask the staff... god, I'm meant to be somewhere - "

Before he can mount any protest to guardianship of her handbag, she strides away towards the counter.

Marmalade eyes Mycroft from behind the couch, her green gaze uneasy.

The stranger has no qualms in stepping confidently to the head of the queue, requesting assistance - the gentleman who was waiting to be served makes no objection. The situation is explained. The barista fetches the duty manager, who in turn fetches a long stick with a plastic scoop tied to the end.

" - for when their toys go underneath," he's explaining to her as they return to the sofas, and he's smiling. "Not a problem. Sure it's under there. Let's have a look..."

As he gets down on his knees to start fishing for her phone, the woman waits beside Mycroft. She covers her face with her hands, mortified.

"God, I'm causing such a fuss - I bet your coffee's going cold, isn't it? I'm so sorry. You just wanted some alone time, and I've come barrelling in to spoil it..."

 

*

 

“I’m sure it’s fine, those cups are quite heat-retentive.” Mycroft moves his coffee and the one for Greg to an adjacent table, however, unwilling to risk the young man’s rear hitting the coffee table and spilling either of them. “My date is running late, so it’s really no trouble. I know how bereft I would be without my own phone.”

The off feeling lingers. Mycroft smiles blandly, debating the matter in his mind. He strongly dislikes analyzing strangers when work is not involved, but on the off chance his feeling is security-related….

He takes a sip of his mocha as he switches his modes and lets the stimuli in.

The university students three tables over are trying to work out how to cheat an exam without being caught. The barista scraping along the floor in front of him has recently taken a date to the beach and discovered in interest of a personal nature in feet. The middle-aged woman at the counter has been debating asking out the pink-haired barista for a month, worried she’s too old.

But this woman in front him is… blank. Entirely blank.

Interesting.

He’s run into blank people before. Spies. Certain types of psychopaths. And a few average, ordinary people.

The trait they have in common is lies . Specifically, the volume of them- and more importantly, that they believe them. Spies do it by training. The average person who does it… is just the sort to willfully mislead themselves, in anything from does that outfit look nice on me to sure I’m free tomorrow and of course we can afford that .

So. She might be entirely harmless.

“I don’t suppose one of the cats has run off with it?”

 

*

 

She laughs, casting him a brief look of dread. "They'll be digging it out of a litter box, you mean? Serves me right for not keeping an eye on it, I suppose... this is just so typical of me..."

She watches with falling hope as a huge array of toys are swept out from beneath the couch - crinkly mice, smooth round balls, twirly snakes with bells attached. Marmalade eyes a fabric bird covered in bright yellow feathers with some interest, but it's not enough to persuade her to get off the windowsill. Her tail is sweeping very slowly from side to side, unsure of this interruption to her routine. She keeps checking the street outside, her pupils thinning at passing cars.

"Please tell me it's not a first date," the woman says, glancing up at Mycroft again. Her eyes crinkle at the edges as she smiles. "If you're hoping to impress someone, and she arrives to find me making a nuisance..."

 

*

 

“Oh- not a first date, no.”

This is… actually quite baffling.

His mind doesn’t know what to do with the void of information.  She seems, for all the usual signals, perfectly normal, but that is creating a cognitive dissonance with his inability to see anything at all beneath the surface.

At least I know she isn’t a spy. None of them have ever taken me for heterosexual.

It’s going to give him a headache. He takes a long sip of mocha to stave it off, and already thinks he’s going to need a second halfway through lunch.

Speaking of… traffic must be a nightmare. Yet it would be rude to glance at his phone when clearly this whole matter of this woman and her misplaced gadget will be solved so soon. Probably before Gregory even gets in the door.

“I don’t think he’ll mind.”

 

*

 

She cringes a little with her apparent mistake.

"Yikes... really not my day. I'm sorry."

Other cats are taking interest in the hoard being uncovered from beneath the sofa. A couple have strayed over to see what's on offer, and in the window, Marmalade has gone distinctly still as she watches them.

The woman gives Mycroft a tentative glance, trying to offer friendship. "I don't suppose he's any good at tracking down mobile phones, your boyfriend?"

In the window, with a quick glance over her shoulder at the street, Marmalade finally spots something she wants. She lets out a shrill little sound, stands up at once and her tail fluffs, gazing through the window as a familiar figure appears.

Greg's spotted her too. He grins from ear-to-ear, comes to the glass and gives her a wiggle of his fingers through the window. Marmalade trills, batting at him. Greg reaches a hand for the door.

"Please tell me that's him..." the woman says, her eyes shining as she smiles sideways at Mycroft.

 

*

 

“Only when he’s at work, otherwise his ends up in the couch as well.”

Mycroft glances down as Wills curls around his leg, eyeing some of the sparkly little balls. He debates whether he can extricate himself from standing in a sea of cat toys before this becomes some manner of squabble included various pointy bits and his own trousers.

He doesn’t glance up until the woman draws his eye to the door. His warm, fond smile would give him away, even if all he offers her is a quiet “Indeed.”

The coffee cups are still hot- Mycroft decides he ought to stay still, seeing as Wills is sat on one of his shoes, but he offers Greg’s toward him as his beautiful lover comes through the door.

“Took the liberty of acquiring yours. Hope you don’t mind, we’ve been relocated by a search and rescue mission for a wayward phone….”

 

*

 

It's been days.

All Greg sees is Mycroft. He's spent every second of the traffic in agony, waiting for this moment, looking forward to that smile. He's here, and if someone's favourite catnip mouse is being saved from under the sofa, he doesn't care.

"Sorry I'm late, gorgeous. In the end I ditched the taxi and walked the - "

His hand's an inch from the coffee cup as he glances at the woman they're standing with. In the end, it's a miracle he hadn't taken it already - he'd have dropped it.

The look that floods his face is one of horror.

As if doused with sudden ice water, his grin is instantly gone. He steps back, his hand snapping away, and as his mouth opens he turns his panicked stare to Mycroft.

What -

Why are you -

Words won't come. He looks as if the world has caved around him.

Beside Mycroft, Karen smothers her smile. She does it slowly, passing her tongue between her teeth, and gives her ex-husband a look she's been waiting to give him for weeks.

"Introduce us, Greg. Don't be rude."

 

*

 

Mycroft is still holding out the cup, smiling, when everything on Greg’s face shifts. He follows the line from Greg’s eyes to the woman. His senses are still attuned, he can see every ripple of emotional. Fear. Panic.

Betrayal?

“Gregory?”

She knows his name.

Mycroft reassesses.

One could get a job offer at certain security agencies with that sort of gamesmanship. He adds psychopath back on to his list of possible causal factors for her blank state. Even with the shift in her mask, Mycroft still cannot read her.

But he can guess.

Worse, he can read Greg perfectly.

“Gregory-”

 

*

 

Greg doesn't look at Mycroft. He can't. He can't move his eyes from her face.

"What are you doing here?" he manages, and he meant it to be brave. He meant it to sound angry. It's not. It doesn't even sound like his voice, and the air is suddenly gone from the room.

Karen smiles at him, cosy.

"Dropped in for coffee," she says, light as air. "Left my phone behind, can you believe? Klutz that I am. Got chatting to your boyfriend."

Greg's expression wracks.

"Karen - " He can't breathe. "It's - it's not like that - "

Her smile widens. She reaches a hand out for her bag, slips it over her shoulder, twists the inner clasp and from inside without looking she withdraws a pink mobile phone. The hanging charm glitters as she unlocks it with her thumb.

Her eyes flicker to Mycroft, catching in his gaze.

She couldn't be happier in this moment. Everything in the world is wonderful. No amount of money, no promise of love, could make this day more perfect for her than it's just become.

"Found it," she soothes. "Silly me. Thanks for helping, gorgeous."

Greg croaks. "Karen - "

Karen drops Mycroft a wink, turns without another word, and strolls out through the door. As she strides past the window, she's flashing through screens on her phone - then holding it up to her ear, her smile curling.

At the sight, Greg reels. He nearly drops. He grabs for the back of a nearby chair, rights himself and races after her, banging through the door, shouting, "KAREN!"

Heads snap round in alarm. The manager, still crouching by the couch, stares up at Mycroft with the greatest concern.

Marmalade, releasing a shrill cry, bolts towards the door.

 

*

 

“It’s not like that.”

Mycroft is moving before his brain even starts to acknowledge the circumstances, Marmalade scooped up and sealed against the outside by the closed door. This is how he works. Problem solving. Crisis averted.

“It’s not like that.”

He gently places her back on the couch. The coffees are still hot. Greg’s is full, Mycroft’s a quarter empty. He won’t be able to finish it. The concept of chocolate is already turning to chalk in his mouth. Inhaling feels like blades in his lungs.

“Brrp?”

Mycroft can’t look at her. He can barely touch her- one pass, a soothing ruffle of her fur is all he can manage. Wills must assume he’s giving her food again- his enormous frame leaps onto the couch and like a flash Marmalade is over the side and under it.

Safer down there, isn’t it. Dark. No one can see you.

“It’s not like that.”

It’s the angriest he’s ever seen Greg, and Mycroft can’t let himself feel anything at all. Not while he’s still in public, eyes embarrassingly threatening to water.

He won’t be chasing after them. Causing a scene. Not him. Not a physical embodiment of the British Government.

He pulls his phone from his coat and opens a text to Anthea.

[12:17] Car. Now.

[12:18] Please.

He forces a thin, stiff smile at the manager and walks out with some semblance of his dignity, the opposite direction of- them. There’s a corner store nearby- his driver will find him there. That’s the point of the GPS tracker in his phone, after all.

Cigarettes are required. And a lighter.

His hand is shaking.

“It’s not like that.”

He could stop it- if this was work, he would stop it.

It’s not work.

The storm that had been threatening breaks, a clap of thunder and the steady start of rain that promises a wet afternoon.

It feels like too much energy to open to his umbrella.

Anthea pulls up in her Aston Martin before his cigarette is even halfway down. She must have violated quite a few traffic laws to make that time. He doesn’t make eye contact.

“Fucking hell,” she murmurs. “Get in. Even let you smoke this once.”

He does, window cracked and letting in the spray of the rain, saying nothing even though she keeps glancing at him in concern.

“Do you want-”

“No,” he answers tiredly as she pulls up in front of his house. “Thank you. That will be all.”

She watches him go in, alone, and revs the engine to whip around to the garage, frowning.

There’s CCTV to watch, and she has a feeling she’s not going to like it.

 

*

 

Mycroft makes his way up the stairs like he’s going to his own execution. The kitchen must be avoided- the film room- the dining set-

He can see the stack of papers on the dining table. Anthea must have brought them up while he was out. Authorization for Non-Domiciled Partner.

Mycroft inhales a trembling breath and keeps moving.

There is too much Greg in his house.

I love you.

“It’s not like that.”

I loved you.

He marches past the bathroom, the bed, spaces he doesn’t know how he will face again, to a door in the corner. Just past the nightstand, for easy access in an emergency.

Or when he can’t bear to be anywhere else in his own home.

The panic room is small and windowless, meant to last far longer than usual, in case of larger scale attacks on the city. There’s a cot, the safe he uses for work items, a small writing desk that folds down from the wall. A tiny bathroom. A wall phone. Anthea keeps it stocked with bottled water, protein bars, and the like. Security monitors are tucked into one wall, displaying the house.

Mycroft turns them off.

The door is closed and sealed with a heavy metallic noise, shutting out the noise of the world beyond.

Soundproof. Silent.

No cellular service.

Mine, a very small voice in his head pleads. The responding memory of “yours” is too much to bear.

He turns off the light.

Only then, safe in his little dark room, does he let himself start to weep.

 

Chapter Text

[12:31] Hey :( can you answer please?? xxx

[12:32] That was Karen

[12:32] That was my ex

[12:36] She's going to tell everyone about us, what did you tell her??

[12:37] Myc :( xxx

[12:49] Hey sorry to keep on but can you please pick up? xxx

[12:55] Myc I'm not kidding with this, I cant find her and she will have called half of london by now, can you please answer your phone xxx

[12:58] I'm not angry w/you, I need to know what she knows xxx

[13:11] Mycroft, you dont know her, you dont know what she does

[13:11] She will literally be calling everyone i ever met to tell them I'm gay

[13:12] This is because I left. she thought I'd just always put up with what she did to me but I left and she cant cope with it

[13:12] she drove all my friends away

[13:13] She told them things, she makes things up, she makes up what she wants and people believe her, thats what she does

[13:13] Everybody left me

[13:13] Everybody

[13:14] you dont understand how lonely I was, you dont understand she left me with nobody, nothing, she ripped my life apart to punish me one last time

[13:15] And right now she's realised I'm trying to be happy

[13:15] and she's going to do it all again, please pick up :(

[13:26] I just had a call from a guy i've not spoken to in 3 years asking me how i am and "whats new", can you please answer your phone???

[13:39] myc are you angry? :(

[13:40] I had to try and catch her and reason with her :( i thought I could stop her, I didnt realise you would be gone when I got back

[13:56] mycroft :(

[13:59] please

 

*

 

Somewhere in the silence, there's a knock on Greg's office door.

He lifts his head from his hands; Sally lets herself in. Her expression shifts as she takes a look at him, and he knows he's a mess. He knows the room reeks of smoke. He's not breathed in hours, and he wants to turn his phone off - texts from casual acquaintances, all cheerful, all smiley, none of them saying the word but Greg knows just why they're here - but he has to keep it on in case Mycroft replies.

Everything has gone wrong.

"What time is it?" he manages, and Sally gently bites her cheek. She closes the door behind her.

"Coming up to seven." She takes a moment to summon up the courage. "As 'bad boss', I want you to go home please."

"It's only seven. I took two hours off to - " Greg's throat closes for a second. "I'm not going home. Does everyone else want to go?"

"I sent them fifteen minutes ago." She draws in a breath, holding up a stack of papers. "You... mis-signed the first batch of these. You put your name on the wrong sheet and you miscategorised them all as Type 4. Raj has redone them all, but it took him an hour."

Greg puts his head back into his hands.

"Sorry - "

"Doesn't matter," she says. "Just... I don't think you're in a fit state to work anymore today. I think you should clock off, go home, get some rest."

"I've set us back an hour, Sally, I'm not going to - "

"Sir," she interrupts, and the tone of her voice isn't arguing on this. "With due respect, you're... clearly having a bad day. I'm asking you to draw a line under it, go home and get some sleep. Or sort out whatever's gone wrong. Whatever helps. Come in early tomorrow if you want. Just please get your coat on."

She sees him all the way to his car.

"Hope you feel better soon," she says through the open door, reaches in and takes his laptop out of the footwell. "Take care of yourself tonight. Alright?" She pulls the shoulder strap over her head. "I'll hang onto this so you can sleep. Have a good night, sir."

She shuts the door for him, turns and heads back towards the lift.

Greg drives home in total silence, staring at the traffic ahead of him. He feels like a ghost - not really here. He can still see her face. He can hear her saying the word 'boyfriend', hear her calling Mycroft 'gorgeous'. He can't stop hearing it.

Held at the lights near roadworks, Greg reaches numbly for his phone. He knows he shouldn't do it will driving, even at lights. He has to try one last time though.

 

[19:23] I'm sorry... I know you're angry :( I know I ran out of there after her, I know I should have stayed with you and told you

[19:24] I've never told you about her, what she did when we were together, what she does when she wants to hurt people. Thats my fault. Honestly you wouldnt believe half of it but I should have told you

[19:25] I should have warned you

[19:25] I'm sorry

[19:25] please talk to me xxxxx

 

He pulls up outside his flat, numb, and gets himself out of the car. He'll try to cook something, try to eat it, try to shower. He needs to be back at work in one piece tomorrow, smiling, strong, ready to lead from the front, but he can't stop thinking.

He's halfway up the steps before he even realises she's there.

She's waiting for him beside the door. As he lifts his eyes to the sound of her voice, he knows at once she's been waiting for hours - and his heart clenches into rock inside his chest.

Her fur is wet from the rain. She's tired.

Marmalade trills at him, rising wearily to her feet. She rubs her cheek against the door.

As they lie on his bed in the dark together, and he slowly rubs her dry with a towel, his phone lights up and begins to ring.

For all of a second, his heart knows who it must be. This two needs another person to make it into a three, and need is the word - and as he reaches for the phone, his spirits soaring - make it right, make it alright, say sorry, make it okay - Greg's eye snags on the name on the screen.

 

Andy Calling...

 

His heart falls.

It keeps on falling, silent and cold, spinning down to rock bottom.

Shaking, Greg presses the button to answer. "A-Andy?"

There's a long pause.

"S'me," says a voice, so like his own, and nothing else.

Greg doesn't speak. He doesn't breathe.

"I, uh... just ran into Karen," Andy says, and Greg closes his eyes. Marmalade butts her nose beneath his chin.

He wraps his arm around her, his heart pounding in his mouth.

Fuck, I wish you were here. I wish you were lying here. It shouldn't be like this. You should be here.

"You - ran into her?" This is worse than Greg realises. "In Colchester? She - she drove to - "

"Said she was visiting a friend for day." Andy's building himself up to something. He's not happy, and he's not comfortable. "Starts going on at me about 'the elephant in the room' and how I shouldn't feel bad for her because she's glad for you. Glad you're figuring things out at last. Says you're..."

His voice cuts. His jaw works around words he doesn't want to say.

"What's going on?" he demands at last, and Greg buries his fingers in Marmalade's fur.

Have to tell him. Tell him I love you while you hate me and you're not here. Wish you were here.

"Mycroft," leaves his mouth. He swallows, realising it has to be more than that. "He's - called Mycroft, Andy. He's - h-he's important. We've been - "

Andy breathes.

"Look. This is... I know you've had a rough couple of years. Honestly, Greg, you've been all over the place. Divorce can't be easy and - maybe I should've kept a closer eye on you, got you back here, I don't know - but - you're falling apart. What're you doing to yourself?"

"Andy, I'm - he - makes me happy."

"Jesus Christ."

"No - Andy - you don't understand, this isn't some sort of - "

" - suddenly decide you're gay? What the fuck? Greg - you're - "

" - not suddenly decided - Jesus, this - there we - b-before Karen - "

" - not going to believe that. Not for a second. Greg, if you carry on like this, people're going to - "

" - like I'm having a breakdown! I'm not! It's - "

" - sounds like a breakdown to me - "

" - fucking Christ, Andy! I'm not telling you I'm - "

" - what Mum would think? What Dad would think? Did you? And what am I meant to tell the girls?"

Fuck. Fuck.

"Nothing!" Greg bites at him, and realises he's shaking with panic and rage and distress. "Would you tell them I had a new girlfriend? No! They're not even eight, Andy, they don't need to know! If they meet him at some point and ask, I'll tell - "

Andy makes a noise that Greg doesn't like.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Greg snaps, and Andy's starting to shout.

"You think you're going to be parading your mental breakdown in front of my kids, do you? Uncle Greg in a glittery stetson and speedos? With his 'boyfriend'? For fuck's sake. I knew you were going off the rails, Greg, but - Jesus, I didn't realise you were this bad."

This is going all wrong. Greg knows it. There should be a quiet pub somewhere halfway to Colchester, somewhere that serves Sunday lunches, and they should all be there - Andy, Andy's wife Lizzie, Mycroft - a quiet corner table - a gentle, "This is important to me," and a glance at Andy's wife for her help, and it might have taken Andy a couple of weeks to make his peace, but he'd have made it. He'd see the two of them together. He'd see Mycroft is gentle and respectful, and Greg is happy, and no matter if they've grown apart over the years, Andy's always said he wants Greg to be happy.

Now they're yelling at each other down the phone, and Greg can feel his phone in his hand still vibrating with texts he's getting - texts from people who didn't give two fucks that he was alone, never answered his tentative invites for a drink, just took Karen's side of the story and that was that. Suddenly they want to know how he is. Suddenly he's not just Greg Who Left Karen. He's now Greg who left Karen then went mental and gay, and he should have known.

He should have known.

The last two minutes of their argument is just shouting. They might as well be fifteen again, screaming at each other from different floors of the house. At last, it's Marmalade's sound of distress which breaks the last of Greg's heart into pieces.

He tells Andy he'll do whatever the fuck he wants, jabs the button to end the call and throws the phone across the room. It hits the wall with a worrying crack, and drops into a pile of old clothes.

Greg curls into himself in misery. He pulls his arms over his head. He pants, crying, shaking, and the room fills with silence he can't bear.

Somewhere in the grief, there comes a plaintive mew - and the little press of a damp nose against his hand.

Greg wraps her in his arms.

You're not going back.

He doesn't care. It's all falling apart. There was nothing before Marmalade. He has a feeling there'll be nothing after Marmalade, too. Karen still owns him, and she'll cripple him as much as she likes, and nothing's changed.

Here they are, just like it was before he started thinking he could be happy - the two of them.

Marmalade's not going back to the café.

Greg cries as he holds her, stroking her fur.

Screw the rescue. I'll rescue you.

This was always going to happen. Mycroft made him feel so safe that Karen started to seem like an old legend in his mind, a monster made from shadows and echoes. He shouldn't have forgotten. In one move she's now outed him, punished him and driven the person he loves away.

She did it without blinking. Ten minutes, a few phone calls.

She didn't even need to try.

Two months.

Greg pushes his fingers through Marmalade's fur, stroking her. She doesn't seem to care he's shaking. She's happy now she's here, purring slowly in the warmth, and if this is the love he's allowed in his life, so be it.

You're not going back. You can stay here with me. I'll look after you.

Greg's throat tightens. Fresh tears rise.

Like he looked after me.

 

*

 

It’s dark when Mycroft emerges. Or- perhaps artificially so. Someone has been up to close all the curtains. That’s fine. He doesn’t really care what time it is.

A post-it, lit only in the glow of his clock, simply says Guest Room.

His laptop has been brought to the nightstand, and an electric kettle put on the dresser. A cup, several bags of various teas he likes, and a packet of very plain biscuits are set out beside the kettle. The lamps are set to a soft glow only.

Functioning mechanically, he plugs his phone in. As the screen lights he can see the plethora of texts.

Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg….

Anthea.

 

[19:46] Read them. All of them. Then call him. A

[19:47] I will bring you dinner if you call him. A

 

He sighs. The woman has roundabout ways of checking for signs of life. Better to respond before she slips into the house again and springs on him while he’s sleeping.

 

[20:15] I am not hungry, and bribery of a civil servant is illegal. MH

[20:16] Don’t care. Call him. A.

 

He purses his lips, suspecting she’s gotten into the internal cameras again. Fine. It’s not as though he needs privacy now… or ever again….

The thought twists at him.

Well. Reading the texts… shouldn’t be that hard. It’s just texts.

He opens the first like he’s defusing a bomb.

 

*

 

[20:31] Gregory, I fear the fault lies with me. I had the chance to be better prepared to protect you from her and in that I failed you.

[20:33] I could not in good conscience remain at the cafe.

[20:33] I am sorry. MH

 

[20:35] That doesn’t count as calling. A

 

[20:36] what have you got to be sorry for?? :(

[20:36] I should have warned you, I told you nothing

[20:37] I just wanted it all to go away

[20:37] I’m so sorry xxxxx

 

[20:39] I suspected she was a problem, and I have the ability to look into people. Minutely. I did not do so. Ergo, my error. MH

[20:40] You do not need to apologise for her actions. MH

 

[20:41] Neither do you :((( You didnt know she pulls tricks like that, did you?

[20:42] she drove to colchester

[20:42] drove there to tell Andy

[20:43] Telling everyone I ever knew. Andy saying I’m having a breakdown, saying I’m losing it

[20:43] Marmalade lives here now

 

[20:45] Bisexuality is not a breakdown. MH

[20:45] Did she escape again? MH

 

[20:46] CALL HIM. A.

 

[20:46] she came to find me. She was wet in the rain, I’m not taking her back

[20:46] I’m so sorry for all this. I get that you will run a mile

[20:47] I just want you to know you are amazing and I’m sorry xxxxx

 

I am not running- Mycroft starts. Stops. Narrows his eyes at his phone.

Not running.

Except he did, sort of, run.

“It’s not like that.”

But apparently he wasn’t running from anything important. Nothing like that.

Why does anyone bother with emotions? This is ridiculous, this illogical mess of-

“Alright. That’s it.” He’s been so engrossed in staring at his phone that he hadn’t even heard Anthea come up. “You’re getting in the car, we are going to your boyfriend’s, you are going to talk, and you’re inviting him and that cat he stole back here.”

“He won’t want to-”

“I am not requesting.” Hmm. The last time he had heard that tone from her she had a man’s arm behind his back and a gun to his head. “Up. Walk.”

Mycroft suspects she isn’t entirely above marching him out of the flat at gunpoint, so he rises with a long-suffering sigh. “Shall I put my arms behind my head?”

“Oh, we still have a sense of humor, do we? Get in the car.”

He keeps staring at the messages as they drive. Should he text a warning? Something? Nothing quite comes to mind- and then they’re outside Greg’s flat, and Anthea’s letting him in without buzzing- apparently she has her own keys.

Unsurprising, really.

“Now. Do I need to march you up there?”

Mycroft frowns. “No.”

“Good. Don’t you dare come down here until you’ve actually spoken to him.”

He hesitantly goes through the door, catching a bit of his own reflection in the glass. He looks a mess. His hair has been disordered by rain and lying on it, and now it’s half-poofed and curling. His suit is disheveled.

At least I’ll look the part for when this ends horribly and he tosses me from the premises.

Walking up the stairs and down the hall feels like it takes a year off his life. He closes his eyes outside of Greg’s door.

Right. Emotions. Just- think of it as a negotiation.

Mycroft raises a hand and knocks. Cognizant that Greg might be expecting some manner of onslaught, he clears his throat.

“Gregory. It’s me.”

 

*

 

For the first few minutes, Greg watches the open message window in a pale and anxious panic. Mycroft doesn't seem to be responding. He's seen it, but nothing is coming through - and Greg doesn't know what to do. Should he add more? Should he try to explain? But then he scrolls back with his thumb, his throat thickening as he gazes in distress at his own river of longing and pleas and kisses that go unreturned, and he realises what he's seeing.

Clipped, short facts. Regret.

'I am sorry.'

'I have the ability to look into people. I did not do so.'

'My error.'

Gazing, fingers shaking around the phone, Greg puts himself in Mycroft's head for a moment - government - security services - he doesn't even know. A house with two safe rooms. A date who hides a previous marriage, then a boyfriend who hides the details of it - with an ex-wife who -

Fuck -

He'd almost forgotten Karen did things like this. At first, when she was just starting to turn on him, he tried to tell friends about the weird things she was suddenly doing - the traps she seemed to set - the games - he remembers the pained expressions it earned him. They all thought he was exaggerating, making her out to be insane. Trying to paint her as twisted.

It reached the point he told himself he was paranoid, and it was the only explanation. He was seeing things, remembering things wrong - and he was a bastard for assuming she was doing this shit on purpose. Why would she have married him, just to torture him? It didn't make sense. It still doesn't, but he knows now it was real.

For the last two months of his life, it felt like she was gone.

She wasn't. She was only waiting, watching, letting him get free enough that it hurt more when she caught him again.

His gorgeous miracle boyfriend. Smart, and funny, and kind. Hands which loved him, arms which made him feel safe.

As he cradles Marmalade to his chest, watching his empty inbox fade to black, Greg closes his eyes. Heat stings across them.

Don't blame you, gorgeous.

I'd run, if I could.

It might have been only seconds before the knock on the door. It might have been hours. Greg doesn't feel the time passing. Instead it seems to hang around him in the air, aching, piercing, and all he knows is the quiet brush of Marmalade's fur through his fingers. As half his heart bleeds and grieves and cries, the other heart is trying to work out where he can get the things she needs - litter boxes and cat food and a dish for her to drink from. He doesn't know how to care for her. He'll just have to try.

When the knock finally comes, his thoughts fly at once to Karen.

It's locked.

It's locked. She can't - she can't get into -

Then he hears the voice, and his heart breaks.

It's a moment before anything can be heard from the hall. There comes the squeak of a door from inside the flat, and tentative footsteps padding to the entrance. There's another pause, then the rattle of the key in the lock.

When the door finally opens, Greg appears nervously in the gap.

He's a mess. He's been crying for some time, eyes red and still shining, and the combination of crumpled work-shirt, pyjama bottoms and bare feet shows every fragment of the vulnerability he feels. In his arms, Marmalade is still a little damp from the rain. Her fur has dried into soft and unruly tufts.

As she spots Mycroft, she trills a little greeting.

Greg's not sure why it starts him crying again. His planned 'hi, come in' escapes him as a gasped sob.

"Oh, fuck - I'm sorry - "

Tears well in his eyes.

"I'm s-sorry - I-I'm sorry I'm - "

 

*

 

Mycroft had been planning on saying something rational, but as soon as he actually sees Greg- hears him sob out his apologies- whatever it was goes directly out the window. The urge to hold Greg, tell him that it will be okay, stroke him until he’s calm is far too strong.

He steps forward and pulls Greg and Marmalade against his chest. She starts purring almost immediately at getting contact with both her humans at the same time.

“Gregory,” he breathes somewhere in the vicinity of Greg’s hair. “She is not your fault.”

Somewhere there is an MI-5 crisis response trainer he owes a significant amount of baked goods to for ensuring his own emotions- such as they are- are always secondary when someone else is faring poorly. It’s so much easier that way.

“Come on, let’s- let’s just sit down. Get you a tissue. I’ll put the kettle on.”

 

*

 

Greg curls into Mycroft's embrace as if he's never been held before in his life. His own arms tighten around Marmalade and he cries, trying to stroke her to calm his breathing, shaking with the force of his distress. It feels somehow like they're one person, and Marmalade is their heart. Her purring is its pulse.

"Don't," he sobs, as he feels something break. All the pain and the fear and the panic come flooding out through the crack, and his shoulders convulse as he buries his face against Mycroft's neck. "Please. Don't let me go. Don't leave me. Please."

 

*

 

“Alright.”

Mycroft breathes. Even shaking and sobbing, Greg still smells like home somehow. He kicks the door closed with one foot blindly and gently starts nudging Greg toward the sofa.

“I am here, Greg. And I do not plan on leaving unless you wish to come with me. Yes? Anthea is waiting outside if you’d like to go to mine. I know it’s… possible people may know to visit you here. If you’d like to avoid that….”

He lets the short hair by Greg’s ear rub along his chin, and caresses the line with his cheek.

Mine.

“It’s not like that.”

Shut up.

“Or I shall stay with you here.”

 

*

 

Greg's hardly even aware of them moving until he's being guided gently onto the sofa. He only settles to sit when it's clear that Mycroft is going to sit with him, and he returns the quiet nuzzles with tearful longing.

"I can't leave Marmalade," he says, if it weren't clear enough already from the way he's cradling her to his chest. "I - I want... just - t-talk - make things okay - "

It's almost impossible to think. He feels nearly ill with distress, and the utter lack of colour in his face is testament to it.

"S-Shit, I want to - h-home with you - but I won't go without Marmalade."

Marmalade, still nestled contentedly in his arms, puts out a paw between them. Her pink toes fan; they press against the knot of Mycroft's tie, not a whisper of claw.

Pet me, please. You too.

 

*

 

“She shall come with us,” Mycroft says as he hooks a finger under Marmalade’s chin.

And we shall speak about the merits of a detective engaging in cat thievery later.

“But we shall wait until you- feel more comfortable.”

As irked as he is over Greg’s setting him aside in front of his ex- and he remains irked by it, despite his calm veneer- his protective nature is far more dominant over his actions. Setting his own hurt aside, what he really wants to do is drop Karen out of a plane into the ocean. Without a parachute. That seems like it would be best for all involved.

And he’s only met her once.

Good god, she had years with him.

He’s still wrapped about Greg, steadying him, gently stroking soothing circles along his back. “Just breathe, love. I’ve got you.”

 

*

 

As his lover begins to stroke his back, a palpable shiver runs down Greg's spine. He turns into Mycroft's body, tucking closer, then nervously brings his feet up on the sofa too. He's never wanted someone to stay wrapped around him so badly. He just wants to be cuddled like this forevermore, the three of them.

"I'm sorry."

The words are beating in him like a second heartbeat. They will be for a while.

"I... f-fuck, when I - "

The memory is enough to leave him reeling in silence for a second, breathless. Seeing her there, standing beside Mycroft - smiling - her eyes glinting at him, got you, and the realisation that she must have been watching them, closing in on them, all this time...

"Sh-She's - I - I don't think she's - "

Normal. Healthy.

Good.

"She is at first. When she wants to be. She's - she's fine, and - a-and then you start noticing... things she does. Things that don't - make sense. And you start - "

A little panic skitters through his heart. He swallows tightly, breathes, and pushes his face against Mycroft's shoulder.

"I-I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry - "

 

*

 

“It isn’t your fault, Gregory. She is- most certainly… a dangerous force.”

Mycroft shifts his arm to include Greg’s legs as well, peering downward as Marmalade readjusts, still purring and flexing her paw against his tie.

“Not that I have a terrible amount of experience, but I am given to understand that level of obsession with one’s ex-husband is quite unhealthy,” he quips dryly.

Marmalade gets another series of chin rubs, then he switches to stroking Greg’s hair. He hopes she understands- Greg needs it more, at the moment.

And, somewhat selfishly, he knows he’ll want the contact when he says the other thing, the thing he knows Anthea already knows about and will actually toss him out of the car and into the Thames if he doesn’t bring up.

“I did not… leave… because of her. Not exactly. I- was ashamed. That I had been speaking with her and couldn’t see her for- what she is. And she hurt you, and that- And… I thought you were ashamed of me as well.”

 

*

 

"She kept my name," Greg mumbles, sounding almost lost. He watches quietly as Mycroft rubs Marmalade's chin. "Said it's her name now as much as mine. Kept everything she could. Anything I wanted to take. Didn't have the strength to fight for any of it, in the end... I just had to go."

As Mycroft's fingers stroke through his hair, his eyes close.

He's about to tell Mycroft, nobody sees her for what she is. He's about to take a breath and try to show Mycroft the things that became normal after a while, the things he forced his brain to dismiss because they were so strange he started doubting his senses.

Then Mycroft finishes, and he looks up.

His eyes fill quietly once more. These aren't the flashing tears of fright; they're calm, guilty tears.

"Should've told everyone," Greg whispers. "Yesterday. Last week. Month ago. All those times I've thought about it... ringing Andy, telling him there's - someone. Someone I can't stop thinking about."

He searches Mycroft's eyes, swallowing.

"Could've told them, and I didn't. I kept telling myself to wait for a better time. Carried on acting like I'm ashamed of you, and m'not."

His voice breaks.

"M'ashamed of me. She - g-got in my skull. Put what she wanted there. She does it to other people, too. I didn't want her to realise I - I'm a-all in with you. I panicked. I'm s-sorry. I can't be brave when she's there, Mycroft. She rips it out of me. I told A-Andy - told him you're important. Told him you make me happy. I told him and he just - "

As his breath cuts, he curls into Mycroft and breathes in hard, forcing down the panic rising.

"F-Fuck," he gasps, burying his fingers in Marmalade's fur. She stirs sleepily, mewing. "She's told everyone like it's shameful. It's not. She makes it that way. That's what she does. She makes things what she wants. I don't know how to - fuck - y-you're everything to me - "

 

*

 

“You are out. You are in no way obligated to continue speaking with her. She can only take what you allow her to have.” Mycroft realizes he’s parroting, more or less, a psychologist he once saw.

He didn’t listen, himself, but that doesn’t mean the logic is unsound.

“I don’t care if she thinks it’s shameful. I, personally, feel being a serial adulterer is fairly shameful,” a touch of venom slides into his voice at that, but Mycroft quickly shoves it back down. Comforting, he’s meant to be comforting.  “-but to each their own.”

“And if your brother agrees with her, well. I have it on fairly good authority that he’s quite handsome, but that’s no promise of wisdom.”

His hand strokes through silvery locks, up and down. Calming. Mycroft inhales a calming breath of his own.

“I-” Love you. “You are. Everything. To me as well.”

 

*

 

Greg almost drinks Mycroft's words, gazing at him with an expression of utter trust. His eyes flicker to Mycroft's lips, then back up, as a little colour rises in his face.

"Guess she just hurried ahead what I wanted anyway. Telling people about you. About us."

Calm is starting to filter through his veins, soothed on its way by Mycroft's fingers through his hair. He can feel his heart beating again. He can feel himself breathing.

"This is... I mean, what we have - it's - y-you don't know how comforting it is for me. How safe you make me feel. Everything seems to settle into place when I'm with you. Everything feels like it should."

Please understand. Please, please.

"If I took this as a starting gun," he says, his pupils swollen as he looks into Mycroft's eyes, "and told people about you... are you ready for that? I know we've not been together long yet, but I - I guess I want us to be. And I don't ever want you to think I'm ashamed of you. Never again."

He tries a nervous smile.

"You're my best friend. You make me happier than I ever thought I'd be."

 

*

 

“I don’t mind. Tell whomever you like.”

Everyone in Mycroft’s world knows he is gay, or they are deluding themselves. His immediate coworkers and superiors know he is dating- who is not a concern except as it relates to security checks. His family, on the other hand….

I can worry about that later.

Mycroft’s hand slides forward, his thumb lovingly stroking the line of Greg’s cheek. “Would it help if I hand delivered some donuts this time?”

He leans forward and presses a very gentle, chaste kiss to Greg’s lips. “I want you to feel safe.” Another kiss. “I want you to feel protected.” Another. “I want you to feel happy.”

And loved. I want you to feel loved.

Marmalade, sensing a shift in the proximity of her humans- and adjusting accordingly for the change in her make-shift bed, wriggles onto her back, belly fluff up. Pets for me?

Mycroft can’t help but grin. “Demanding. Cheeky girl.”

When he looks back at Greg, his eyes are glittering with warmth and affection. “Come home with me? Both of you?”

 

*

 

Greg's heart thumps with happiness as he watches Mycroft grin. He can't remember ever seeing a more perfect sight.

"God - yes. Please." He presses his lips to Mycroft's jaw, a little nervous still. Their bond has taken its first serious shock. It's in need of love, care and quiet time together, and safe surroundings are the first step.

Gently Greg shifts, easing Marmalade into Mycroft's arms.

"Sit with My, princess... I need to get my things, okay?"

Marmalade trills, batting at his fingers as he stands up from the sofa.

"I promise," Greg says, leans down to kiss her between the ears, and kisses Mycroft too on his way back up, fingers brushing his lover's jaw. "I - "

Love you.

The skip is soft. Those words feel like the most natural thing in the world to his heart. Only so long before I blurt them out without realising. Greg closes his eyes, covering the pause with another gentle kiss.

" - won't be a minute," he finishes softly, and steps away to find his overnight bag. "I've - got some tinned tuna we can take for - "

 

*

 

“I can send someone to retrieve a- box and such. Supplies.”

Despite the fact that this cat is purloined.

Tuna makes him think, however. Mycroft had not actually eaten lunch. Or dinner. And he suspects Greg hadn’t made an effort at meals either. “And- I’ll order dinner for us as well. Whatever you like.”

He strokes Marmalade carefully as Greg gets ready. Fortunately she is the sort of cat who doesn’t mind being held.

Hopefully she won’t mind being held in a car either.

“Anthea’s downstairs. Don’t, ah- don’t be alarmed by her choice in vehicle. It’s personal, not a- not a work option.” He grins wryly. “She’s informed me that you will probably enjoy it and I’m to sit in the back so you can have the proper experience.”

 

*

 

"I'll be in the back, too," Greg says, smiling as he adds two tins of tuna to the bag now full of his clothing. "I want to sit with you and Marmalade... I don't want to let either of you go for a second. But I'm sure Anthea's fancy car is very fancy. She should meet my sergeant some time."

When he has everything he needs for the night, and for his day at work tomorrow, he approaches the sofa carefully and kneels down.

"C'mere, baby girl... we're going to My's house now. You'll have to be good in the car."

Marmalade is warm and sleepy as he gathers her gently into his arms, emitting a disgruntled 'brrrrrp' at all this moving.

"I know, princess. But we'll be safer there."

He gives Mycroft the key to lock the door after them, holding Marmalade secure against his chest. She's quite happy to be carried. She surveys the darkened hallway with a sleepy expression from Greg's arms, padding a little at his jumper.

As they walk down the stairs together, Greg glances up at his lover. Guilty humour touches his eyes.

"If she happened to run away from the café," he says, "on the same day that I happened to find a stray cat on my doorstep who looks a lot like her, it's not a kidnapping. That's just the way the universe works sometimes."

 

*

 

“Gregory,” Mycroft intones in a mildly chastising but amused tone. “You represent the law and you cannot abduct a cat. Even if she is willing. Which reminds me- I did speak to the rescue about her, and the indication is that the woman I spoke with thinks I am being a bit overdramatic, and that the shelter does not believe Marmalade is adoptable. So, perhaps, if we manage to convince them she would be in good hands with the right people….”

They exit the building to find the Aston Martin pulled up directly outside, passenger seat shoved forward so someone can actually climb into the back. Anthea is leaning against it, phone in hand, looking more or less like she peeled herself directly out of a Bond film.

Her face is impassive on the surface, but Mycroft can see a flicker of relief as well as a note of surprise when her eyes skim over the cat.

A brief effort at luring Greg into the front seat with the promise of speeds that definitely exceed London regulations is ended with a resigned sigh. “Bloody fantastic car absolutely wasted on the pair of you. Don’t know why I bother.”

“When you’re done whinging,” Mycroft says charmingly from the back, one hand tucking Marmalade to his chest and the other around Greg’s shoulders, “we’ll need a few things for the cat.”

Anthea casts a mock glare into the rearview. “Do I look like a delivery service?”

“As it happens….”

“In an Aston Martin?”

“You do always brag about the speed with which you can get around the city.”

 

Chapter Text

Marmalade is thrilled by the sudden increase in her status.

She stays close to them both at all times, occasionally wandering a short distance to wind herself around a chair leg and thereby mark it as her own, but the plethora of cosy places to sit is met with a series of delighted trills. Yes, nice. This will do very well.

She's impatient for a while until they finally settle down with dinner, then springs up between them on the couch at once.

Greg smiles, sliding his plate onto the arm of the couch so she can wheedle onto his lap.

"And that's that, princess - mm?"

Marmalade circles a few times, dusting her tail beneath his nose, then settles down and reaches out a paw to Mycroft's leg. "Brrrrrp?"

Greg wonders briefly, if Mycroft hadn't come to fetch him, whether the little cat would have slowly led him street-by-street across London, coaxing him with 'brrrrrps' and insistent trills, until she found wherever Mycroft was and made them sit down together.

He gives Mycroft a fond and tentative glance, his eyes soft.

"She knows what she wants in life, at least."

Think I do, too.

 

*

 

“Indeed.”

Mycroft scoots closer until his thigh is touching Greg’s and Marmalade can arrange herself as she likes between them. There is still a voice in his head screaming in hurt, but it’s quieter now. And he’d rather have this comfortable feeling with his lover than prod that wound in hopes of it healing faster.

“Perhaps she is wiser than us mere mortals.”

A warm lap- laps- for a bed and some food, and she is perfectly content. Anthea had already brought up some essentials for her overnight stay- and Mycroft does intend to be insistent that it is overnight , though he expects he will receive some argument about that from sources other than the feline houseguest herself.

Already quite at home, aren’t you?

“Ah- I nearly forgot.” Mycroft gently adjusts her royal fluffiness and goes to the dining room to obtain a thick file and a pen. He sets them down in front of Greg and pulls out a small envelope from within, tilting a key and swipe card onto the table.

“You have been approved, my dear, for your own access to the house. There’s, ah- quite a lot of forms to sign indicating that you will not either attempt to access classified documents or grant anyone else entry, but...”

He smiles warmly and puts his hand on Greg’s thigh, touching him and the sleepy cat simultaneously. “You can always come over now. Whenever you like. Even if I am not here.”

Whenever you need to feel safe.

 

*

 

Oh my god.

That's -

You're -

"Myc..." It's a mark of the day's troubles that Greg doubts his senses for a second. He must have misunderstood somehow. Mycroft can't be giving him a key. It's a key for somewhere else, for some other building - some other place - and if he reacts like this is really happening, Mycroft will hastily and awkwardly correct him, and this bloody awful day will somehow get even worse.

This can't be real.

"Mycroft, you - "

'Whenever you like. Even if I am not here.'

Greg looks up into his lover's eyes, his food forgotten entirely.

Oh god.

Maybe you don't know it's a big deal to do this, maybe it's just - convenient for you that I - maybe -

Oh god, you want me to be here.

Even after today.

"Myc," he breathes, and he reaches for Mycroft's face. He strokes both hands around his jaw. "Myc - "

As he pulls Mycroft closer to kiss, Marmalade gives a displeased little squirm between them. Her trill barely registers in Greg's hearing.

Tell Sally.

Tomorrow.

All of them. I'll tell them.

Holy shit.

 

*

 

Greg’s inability to articulate, followed by such a passionate kiss, is surprising to Mycroft. For a second, based on the shock Greg was exhibiting, he’d thought he had overstepped.

The reality seems to be quite the opposite.

“Gregory,” he murmurs just before their lips meet.

He smiles into it, wrapping his arms around Greg’s waist. Marmalade decides she would rather not be squished by the humans and jumps over Mycroft and up to the top of the backrest, where she will still be in range of attention and can nap without risk of being squeezed unintentionally.

Mycroft hardly notices.

I want you with me all the time, love.

Where I can keep you safe from her.

Mine. My Gregory.

“Your acceptance is noted, but you will still need to sign the papers,” he says once there is space to breathe again. “Or Anthea will be rather wroth with me.”

 

*

 

"I'll sign them," Greg promises, easing onto Mycroft's lap. He steals another fervent kiss, then wraps his arms around his lover's neck and draws him close for a hug, holding tight, fingers threading through Mycroft's hair. "Of course I will. Christ, I - I'm just so moved you'd - "

His chest expands with his breath, shaking a little as he releases it.

"You're gonna have to set ground rules, okay? Otherwise you'll never get rid of me. I know you need time just to work. S-Seriously, I..."

Oh fuck.

Fuck, say it. Done with not saying things.

"I will basically live here, if you don't watch me. So - just tell me when I need to make myself scarce for a while, and I will. You know how I feel about you. You know I'm crazy about you."

His arms tighten a little as he presses his cheek to Mycroft's.

"I hope you know, anyway... God, a-after all the crap today - and you still want me to... Myc, I..."

 

*

 

I know. I know how you feel.

I don’t mind.

I feel it too.

“I will tell you, but I don’t think I shall need to. I like having you here, Gregory.”

And I would rather have you here, when an apex predator has you in her sights.

Mycroft turns his lips inward, pressing another kiss to Greg’s cheek. “I want you here. I’m sure it will take some adjustment- I have not had anything even close to a flatmate in some time- but I want you near me.”

I love you.

He’s not sure how deeply to describe his feelings- film and literature have given him some idea that there is a perfect time to say it, some perfect moment when you’re certain. Actually feeling those emotions is new.

“Stay with me. As much as you wish. As much as you can stand. We’ll simply… have to work out how not to be distracting from each other’s jobs.”

 

*

 

Greg feels his eyes close of their own volition. He brushes his fingers slowly through Mycroft's hair, as he listens to the words being said in his ear - perfect, precise, honest words. Seeing Karen today has made him realise how reassuring Mycroft's quiet clarity truly is.

'I want you here.'

'I want you near me.'

Shuddering a little, Greg brushes his lips against Mycroft's neck. He holds them there a moment, a gentle press of contact, feeling his heart drumming with quiet urgency inside his chest.

"I want to be near you," he says, breathing in. Mycroft's scent soaks his senses with calm and contentment. "Everyday, if I can. Feel like I belong with you... like days without you are wasted days. It's not a case of how much I can 'stand'. You're my partner. I want to be with you."

He kisses Mycroft's neck again.

"We can make it work," he whispers. "I... guess it's not much different to now, really. If you need to do things, I can entertain myself. I'll just be doing it a few rooms away, rather than streets away. And I'll be there in bed for when you're tired."

 

*

 

My partner.

Yes.

“I have a home office…. we’ll find a balance.”

The idea of Greg waiting for him in bed, there to hold and murmur sweet things to him after a long day is almost overwhelming. Mycroft flushes with the intensity of the emotion, the brush of Greg’s lips on his neck only heightening the sensation.

“I think,” he breathes, mustering his courage.

“I am beginning to understand what you mean when you say you… fall.”

 

*

 

God.

"Yeah?" Greg doesn't want to let him go. He doesn't want to get off Mycroft's lap, ever. It feels like just sitting here like this, cuddling until time gently comes to an end, would be fine. The peace flooding through him is almost unreal.

"If you want to fall, gorgeous... i-it's safe. M'here." His throat thickens. "Catch you. Look after you. Honestly, I... I could be like this forever."

A memory stirs in the depths of his heart.

"Keep our beaver dam nice for you," he says, and his voice cracks a little. His arms tighten as he hugs Mycroft. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I panicked. I hate that I did that. You don't know how many hours of my life I spend, remembering times I should have told her, should have just ripped back at her, but - Christ, I - "

He closes his eyes, breathing in.

"I will now." Greg shakes as he realises, winding his fingers through Mycroft's hair. "God. You're wonderful. You're wonderful, and I'm yours. I won't let her pull anymore crap like that. Not now you're here. You don't deserve to take that, and I'll remember I'm yours. Not hers. I'm yours. F-Fuck, I'm sorry - "

 

*

 

“Shh. I know. I forgive you.”

Marmalade seems to have decided this ongoing human cuddle is acceptable, and lays her chin on her paws to watch the proceedings with lazy, sleepy eyes.

Mycroft wraps his arms around Greg a little tighter.

“She- had the better of me as well. I did not- correctly anticipate that I even had a button to be pressed that well, nor the results of it.” His fingers curl in, needing Greg’s warmth. “I apologize for leaving you. I should have stayed.”

He kisses Greg’s cheek, letting a gentle smile come through.

“I’m sure she’s expecting that we’re both broken hearted, weeping on our own. I don’t know that ‘ripping back at her’ is necessary- that we’re still together, together tonight especially, is more than enough proof that her game did not work.”

A nuzzle, an inhale, and Mycroft tries to keep his mind in the realm of the average person instead of looking at Karen’s actions like those of a foreign operative.

“The only part that gives me pause is how she found the cafe in the first place. I don’t suppose you have reason to bring her up on a stalking charge?”

 

*

 

"I'm not sure how we'd prove it," Greg says, with quiet regret. "She must've been watching us for a while. Waiting until she could - ... Jesus, I'm sorry I kept this from you. I didn't realise she was still taking an interest in me."

He pulls back a little to cup Mycroft's face in his hands, looking into his lover's eyes - those blue-grey eyes have never regarded him with anything but kindness.

A small smile softens Greg's expression. He runs the pad of his thumb over Mycroft's lower lip, watching, then meets his partner's gaze once more.

"S'fine," he says, and lets go of a worry he hadn't realised he was carrying. "Let her watch. She'll see me happy and proud of you. Coming home to you. Doing all I can to make your life feel as good as you make mine."

 

*

 

“Isn’t that an adage? The best revenge is living well?”

Mycroft kisses Greg’s thumb, since it is conveniently in range anyway. He is starting to have ideas on other ways they could make each other feel good… but he doesn’t wish either of them to pass out from lack of nutrition.

“Eat a bit more, hellion. Before it gets cold.”

He lifts a purposeful eyebrow.

“We can take the cuddling upstairs when we’re done.”

 


 

Outside New Scotland Yard, an Aston Martin pulls up just as Sally Donovan is finally leaving for the night. Anthea has done her research- her hair and makeup have been smoothed out, but she’s stepping out of the car in a leather jacket and high heeled pumps that balance it somewhere between fun and professional, with a dash of sexy thrown it. Donovan does not seem to be the type to respond to the “I am authority” look like Lestrade apparently does.

Please let this be the right call.

She doesn’t know what Mycroft will do if this inquiry backfires spectacularly on both of them. If it turns out that all her gut instincts are written off as paranoia or jealousy.

Anthea refuses to believe that is the case.

“Sergeant Donovan? I wonder if I might have a moment of your time.”

 

*

 

Sally's head is halfway across London as she lets herself out of work. Her thoughts are already sinking into a hot bath with a glass of wine, maybe even a book - something easy to wind herself down after today. It's been a rough one. She's not sure what state the boss will be in tomorrow, and there's not a lot she can do about it at this stage.

She vaguely notes the Aston Martin as it pulls up. Pretty. Fishing in her pocket for her phone, she wonders about calling a taxi. Home's not far away. She intended to walk, but a taxi will be quicker - and if she's going to get a taxi any night, it might as well be this one...

Then a voice calls her name, and Sally glances up.

Yikes.

Pretty.

She keeps it off her face. The expression she gives instead is an inquiring professional blink, slightly guarded in the way police officers all learn to be. She lowers the phone, in the universal gesture for, okay I'm listening, and wonders quietly to herself if something rather interesting is about happen.

 

*

 

Anthea smiles as the phone lowers- the friendly iteration, not the I will rip off your cock version she’s perfected for the times she’s mistaken for Mycroft’s secretary- and steps closer, choosing a spot where the station’s CCTV won’t catch her lips movements very well.

This had better not be paranoia.

“Sergeant Donovan, I am employed by a- friend- of Inspector Lestrade’s.”

She strides another few paces forward, heels clicking on the pavement. Donovan is better looking than her file photo had let on, even exhausted. The trial must be wrecking the entire team, not just Lestrade. Anthea makes a mental note to encourage Mycroft to send them donuts again. Or at least some better quality coffee.

“I wonder if I might ask you a few questions... about Karen Lestrade.”

 

*

 

A friend of -

Wait -

As a suspicion dawns, then clicks into place, not a flicker of it shows on Sally's face. She's spent too many hours sitting in interview rooms to give away surprise that easily.

Jesus Christ, boss...

Punching above your weight, aren't you?

She's even more gorgeous than Sally imagined - well-spoken, well-dressed - a bloody Aston Martin. She looks clever. She looks she probably wears matching lingerie just for the office, and she's still polite and respectful, and Sally's heart seems to double over in her chest as she looks at Anthea.

It's not jealousy.

She's too happy for Greg to feel something so petty. Jesus, look at you. No wonder he's smiling all the time. It's a strange aching joy she feels, a quiet gladness for them both. There's nothing more wonderful in the world than two good people falling in love.

And then that name is mentioned - and Sally makes a few more deductions, her eyes dulling quietly.

Normally she wouldn't want to interfere. Christ, how can she keep silent though? It'd be deceptive to smile and say nothing.

She holds Greg's girlfriend's gaze.

You want the best for him. I want the best for him.

We can do something about that, right?

With a breath, she says, "Crawled out from under the rock, has she?" She tries a tentative smile. "I wondered what upset him today. He - couldn't cope all afternoon. Had to send him home."

 

*

 

“So I gathered.”

This is a good sign- Donovan was not on Karen’s call list, she doesn’t know what had upset Lestrade sufficiently to make him incapable of work. And she doesn’t seem surprised by the insinuation that Karen caused it.

All according to plan, for once.

“I’ve seen jealous exes a time or two- had a few myself, even- but I must confess this is a new level for me. I’m simply hoping for a bit of… insight.”

Anthea smiles and nods to the car. “Might I give you a lift and we can chat?”

She meanders around the car in a slow stroll that she knows makes her ass look great, trailing her fingers along the hood, then opens the passenger door and gestures invitingly.

I know an appreciative look when I see one, thank you, love. No harm in indulging.

It’s not as though Juliette would mind- in their positions, exclusivity is hardly an asset, not to mention how much time they spend in different countries. Monogamy has never even been on the table.

Her heels click as she walks back around to the driver’s side, leaning against it while Donovan debates.

Come on, you know you want to gossip. Get your claws out.

 

*

 

In the end, it's the memory of Greg's face when he came back from lunch that gets Sally into the car. She's not seen him look like that in a long time. She'd hoped she wouldn't have to see him like that ever again.

And it's just a chat, after all.

Whatever happened today, Sally figures, she can't screw it up any worse by accident than Karen clearly has on purpose.

As she gets in the car, she tries not to whimper at the sheer bloody beauty of the interior. Shine a light, sir. You're a lucky man. There's something about beautiful women with beautiful cars.

There's something she realises she wants to say right now, before anything else is said.

"He's - been happy recently. Really happy. Like he's a new person, if I'm honest. I don't want to cause any second thoughts about him. You won't find a better man."

 

*

 

Anthea does not restrain her small huff of laughter. “Oh, I’m not- no, sorry- I’m employed by the other besotted idiot in question, and I believe my afternoon was spent doing a similar amount of damage control as yourself.”

She reaches for the stick, smirking as the engine begins to purr. Best to keep clear of pronouns until Lestrade has a chance to tell Donovan himself. Good thing idiot is gender-neutral.

“You’ll be pleased to know they are… in an improved state at the moment. Just ran them up some carryout.” She winks at Donovan. “Joys of being a PA.”

It’s good to hear that Lestrade’s team has noticed his joy. The man seems far more free with it than Mycroft, though Anthea has worked for him for long enough that she can see some improvement, not the least of which is a renewed commitment to remembering to both eat and sleep. Certain higher ups are less thrilled that Mycroft is not available at every possible second to assist whatever matter has just come across their desks, but she’s being doing a damn fine job in deflecting those so he can have a sliver of peace in his day.

“I don’t believe you need to worry about second thoughts- however, I do want to be prepared for any other surprises the former Mrs. Lestrade might have to offer. Especially when she realises that her efforts today were perhaps not as successful as she hoped.”

 

*

 

Jesus - so - you're her assistant?

Sally was already marvelling at the thought Greg had bagged this girl.

Now it turns out there's someone out in the world whose assistant drives an Aston Martin - and Greg is having takeaway food with her right now. It's a relief to hear they're together, and things are better. Sally almost wants to text, tell Greg to come in later tomorrow - but there's no way of doing it without explaining, "I met your girlfriend's hot PA."

Who the hell are you actually dating, boss?

Pulling at her lip a little, Sally says,

"I - don't know what she did today, but..." She inhales. "I mean, I don't know a lot in general. He's... pretty private. We all are. Easier to work together, if it all stays at home where it belongs."

She glances down at her bag in her lap, knowing she's not really being honest here.

"Things creep through, though. Especially things like her." She shifts a little, supposing she needs to start somewhere. "Karen was - part of our office team for a while. Temporary receptionist. It's where she met Greg. Everyone thought she was great."

She glances out of the window, watching the traffic for a moment.

"She's good at that."

 

*

 

“Mm. Think I know the type.”

Anthea casts a sideways glance at Donovan. She’s not telling the whole of it- but that’s alright, as Anthea is also being deliberately vague herself. And she doesn’t want to risk telling her too much- both I and your boss’s lover work in a very clandestine part of an already clandestine set of agencies, and I spent several hours today running through CCTV footage of both your office and my employer’s home while attempting to determine the best course of action is probably overkill.

The CCTV from the cafe had been the most frustrating to look through. Karen hardly appeared to be doing much at all, and the angles were shite on getting a good view of the dialogue.

She’d be nosing around Mycroft later for more specifics on that, once he’d had a chance to fully calm down.

“You weren’t fooled by her, though, were you?” Anthea offers in a praising tone- of course Sergeant Donovan would be smart enough to see through the likes of Karen. Bit of flattery to the ego never hurts. “Not for long, at least.”

 

*

 

"No, she had me fooled well enough. For ages, actually."

Sally's not going to claim anything else. There's no game of cleverness to be played with Karen - the woman is in a league of her own. The memories all have a touch of, 'Did that really happen?' They're like reflections from water, hazy and flickering, distorting what's really there beneath the surface.

Sally takes a few seconds to put it into words that don't sound utterly mental.

That's how she works. It sounds so unbelievable.

"Long story short," she supposes, watching the traffic with quiet eyes. "She dated a few people around the division. Good-looking woman, friendly. Chatty. At some point she decided she wanted the boss, and they started dating. All seemed to be going great. He was happy. Then one day, she..."

God, did she though? Am I remembering it wrong?

"Sort of warned me off him. Said she'd noticed the way I look at him. Tried telling her I'm not interested in - Greg, but she just..."

It's hard to express it. The change in her face; the division's smiling and chirpy receptionist, suddenly cold and hard, blocking Sally's exit from the office Karen had asked her into. There's still nothing Sally can isolate in the memory that told her she was in danger. It was just an instinct. It was something about the way Karen didn't look away from her, not for a second.

"I don't know where she got it from," Sally adds, uneasy. "I explained to her. Told her I was with someone. Told her she honestly had nothing to worry about, but it was just... weird. It was like she'd decided I was after him, and that was that. It was the truth now. Like she was... creating it, making me - part of it - I don't know. Regardless of what I said."

There comes a few moments' silence. Sally breathes in, settling herself a little.

"Tried to keep my distance," she says. "Reassure her. Y'know? Just... stepped back from being friendly with him. Some women are funny about it. Can't imagine a man and a woman spending that much time together without trying each other out. It was just so weird that I thought I must have done something to freak her out, so... I thought... fine, I'll try to..."

She shook her head.

"Anyway. She left Scotland Yard eventually, and then Greg told me they were moving in together... year or so passed. He - didn't seem that happy anymore. Sorry. It's just a fact. I see him everyday, and I saw him changing. He got quiet on Fridays. He didn't come to the pub anymore. He'd turn up some mornings shattered and unhappy, but he just didn't talk about home. He was hiding something."

She glanced across at Anthea, a little wary.

"Then - there was a retirement party... the old DCI. Greg had turned up bad that morning, and we had a rough shift, so... by the time we got to the pub after work, he was ready to drink. He put away quite a bit. Then about nine, he sat down and just - started talking to me. I don't think he even remembers. If she'd not cornered me that one time, I wouldn't have listened to him for more than a minute... I'd have told him he was drunk, sent him home in a taxi, but... holy shit, the things he was saying... scary stuff. Unreal. Like - not normal stuff."

 

*

 

Gaslighting.

Anthea knows spies who are excellent at it, who can make people think they’ve already given over classified information so they don’t mind talking about it again. It’s wonderful for the security services, when it works.

When it happens in a relationship, however….

“And he married her anyway.”

She’ll make a subtle suggestion that perhaps therapy is a good idea. There are discreet people she can put Greg in touch with, and NSY wouldn’t even have to know about it. Nor Mycroft, if Greg didn’t want him to. Anthea can reroute the funds through other channels.

“I almost hate to ask, but do you remember any of the specifics? Anything you think she might be able to do again, even without them living together?”

 

*

 

Sally thinks about it for a while, rubbing her thumb over the fastening of her bag.

"He said she kept hinting she was pregnant, then she'd say it was just a mistake... she'd done it several times. The last time, he tried to ask her if she was sure. She went mental, screaming about how he could doubt her. Then she claimed she lost it, 'cause of stress. She used to read all his texts... said he'd only care if he was keeping secrets from her."

Sally presses her tongue into her cheek, remembering. He'd been so drunk that night, so broken. It all just came pouring out of him. She'd listened for over an hour, wishing she wasn't hearing what she was hearing.

"She'd told him she'd figured out the code he and I used," she says, "to talk about her... pretending we were talking about work things..."

She hadn't dared to text Greg after that, ever. She sent e-mails, even for short things. Even now she hesitated before sending him a message.

"She took his bank cards out of his wallet and kept hold of them. Got angry if he asked for them, demanding to know him who he was spending money on. Apparently he got home one night and she started screaming at him about a lipstick stain she'd found on his workshirt. Showed him it from the laundry. He'd not been near anybody, didn't understand how it got there, but she just kept screaming at him, threatening to burn the house down. Later he found the same colour lipstick, open on her dressing table. She used to show him knickers she'd apparently found in his car that weren't hers. Then he'd find the tags for them hidden in the kitchen bin. He asked her once if she'd done it, and she told him he was turning paranoid because of work, seeing everyone as a criminal. Said the job was driving him mental. Told him he talked about murder in his sleep."

Sally shakes her head, breathing in deeply.

"Sorry," she mumbles. "I guess I'm telling you she lies. Just for... fun? I don't know. She has a lot of friends. Apparently she used to threaten to tell them things, private things about him. Tell everyone he was a pervert and he was losing his mind."

Looking up at Anthea, Sally hesitates.

"Whatever she's said this time, just... tell your boss not to believe it. Not a word of it. The woman's a mess, alright? And she's a clever mess. She was leaving death threats on my windscreen at one point. Weird phone calls at two AM for weeks, asking if I was on my own. I knew it was her, but I never caught her."

 

*

 

A checklist is forming in Anthea’s mind- it’s easier to plan than to actually try and process the sheer level of fuckery she’s apparently dealing with. First, steps will be taken to ensure Greg’s financial holdings are secure, and no one can access them except him. Fortunately his phone and email had already had certain precautions added, as a standard part of the “dating Mycroft Holmes” package, so even if he hadn’t done the smart thing and changed his passcodes she shouldn’t be able to get in to those accounts now.

The second involves making a much more in-depth file on Karen Lestrade than she previously had. Anthea had made an inquiry, of course, but on paper the woman is fairly innocuous.

Clearly that is not the case.

There’d be more steps- she’ll be abusing the hell out of her CCTV privileges.

It’s enough to start with.

She exhales. “Alright. Thank you. That’s… a lot.”

Anthea pulls slowly onto Sally’s street, chewing the inside of her lip.

“Listen- I expect it will behoove us if we can keep any- mess- as far off our bosses as possible.” She glides to the side of the road, braking and plucking a business card from her breast pocket. Anthea, a phone number and an email. No business is listed. “Give me a call if you- see anything, would you? And I’ll buzz you for the same.”

 

*

 

"Yeah... yeah, of course. I'll let you know."

Sally looks down at the card, noting the lack of a surname - the lack of a company name - the lack of most things, in fact.

Jesus.

"I want to help," she says, and tries a smile. "I just... maybe don't want Greg to know I'm helping. Does that make sense? He has enough to deal with, without worrying people are all over his private life." She glances down at the card again, a little amused. "But I guess you'll understand that."

As she steps out of the car, she holds the door for a moment.

"Thanks for the lift. I'm kinda glad you're around... you seem like you can handle yourself." The smile might not have reached her mouth, but it's in her eyes. "Is Greg's girlfriend like you?"

 

*

 

Handle myself, Mycroft, half of a MI division….

Anthea smiles wryly, letting out a little heh of laughter. “Mmm, only in a few ways. We’re similar at work, but… probably not anywhere else. I’m the only one with a proper appreciation for decent vehicles, for instance.”

Oh, you’re going to have fun when Greg tells you.

Donovan’s proved she’s damn useful too. Good head on her shoulders. Anthea does like a woman with a low tolerance for bollocks, and it almost seems like Donovan’s got even less patience for it than Anthea does.

“You seem like you have things under control on this end as well, Sergeant.” She grins charmingly across the seats, extending her hand. “Happy to be working with you.”

 

*

 

Sally takes her hand. It's a tidy and professional grip, the handshake of someone who has to radiate competence and assurity in every single decision - or get eaten alive.

"You too," she says as she lets go, and takes one last look at the elegant and beautiful Anthea in her elegant and beautiful car. It's not been the most cheerful conversation of her life, but she feels better for it.

She doesn't think they've seen the last of Karen Lestrade, not by a long shot - but at least she's not the only one seeing it now.

"I'm fine with 'Sally', by the way. Not a work matter, after all." She winks. "Thanks again."

She closes the door of the car, fishes her keys from her pocket and heads up the steps to her flat, lost in thought.

It's only as she sinks back into her bath an hour later, holding a glass of red wine, that she realises: she never told Anthea her address.

Smiling a little, Sally takes a long drink.

What the hell have you got me into, sir?

 

*

 

“Cheers, Sally.”

As Anthea drives home, smiling with the satisfaction of setting a plan in motion, her Aston Martin whips by the large windows of a restaurant where there’s a phone ringing and a tired hostess feigning enthusiasm to get through the last of the dinner crowd.

“Thank you for calling Les- yes ma’am.”

“A fraudulent charge? Let me- no, of course we keep all of our credit card receipts. What was the night?”

“Alright, and the name on the card?”

“Oh- well, yes, I know some men do use a false name when they’re- oh, no, please don’t cry- er, do you remember the time you left, or anything you ordered?”

“Yes, the praline is very good- oh, the oysters. Crab? Okay- and the card would be under a man’s name, right? Well- no, it’s just a name I’ve never heard before, I suppose-”

“It’s 'Mycroft'. Mycroft Holmes.”

“Yes, glad I could- wait, didn’t you say something about a fraudulent charge? Do you-”

“Hello?”

 

Chapter Text

"You heard about the boss?"

Sally doesn't look up from her e-mails. The lift at Scotland Yard is the slowest contraption ever put together by human hands, and sharing it with Ryan Stringer is uncomfortable enough without him now trying to gossip.

"What's to hear?" she says, projecting 'there's nothing' with every fragment of her being.

Stringer's never been good at subtle signals.

He's never been good at blatant signals, either.

"Thought you'd have heard," he remarks, surprised, sliding his hands deep into the pockets of his trousers. "Thought he'd have told you first."

Sally presses her teeth into the side of her tongue. She had an e-mail from the DI early this morning - a brief update on the trial, and a quick plan for the day ahead. He sounded perfectly normal. There's nothing else she needs to know.

Suspecting a response of any kind will encourage Stringer, Sally concentrates on her e-mails and says nothing.

They're nearly at the top floor when he says, coolly,

"Doesn't bother me, of course. I just hope people don't give him shit for it. Last thing he needs right now."

Sally pauses, her eyes stuttering to a halt. "Shit for what?" she says, and looks up at him sharply. "Is this something you've been told in confidence? Because you're still on thin ice, Stringer. I don't know who's been putting things about - but if the DI wants you to know something, he'll tell you directly. Right?"

Stringer raises an eyebrow at her, slowly.

"Just looking out for him. That's all."

"Lestrade doesn't need you looking out for him," she says, flatly. "He's your boss. Right? Look out for yourself. Maybe then you won't cause us weeks of extra work."

Stringer shrugs, utterly unremorseful.

"Suit yourself," he says. "Everybody'll know soon anyway. It's not like I'm the only one who's found out."

"People are gossiping, are they?"

"They will be," Stringer says, looking down at his pointed shoes. He sticks his tongue into his cheek. "Just wish I could trust that people'll be good about it. Doubt it, though. This place."

Jesus, man, you get under my skin.

"Put it out of your mind," Sally mutters, slipping her phone into her pocket as the lift jolts to a stop. The doors grind painfully open. "Concentrate on your job, Stringer. I shouldn't have to tell you that."

He turns his eyes briefly to the ceiling, but lapses into silence all the same.

Prick. All flash and no bang, Stringer. That's you.

A frosty silence accompanies them to the doors of the division. Sally doesn't care. Let him sulk. She'll be warning Greg first thing that Stringer doesn't have his mind on the job any more than he did before he fucked up the trial, and they'll need to check every piece of paper the feckless liability touches.

They've got a job to do. There's no time for this crap.

Then Sally reaches for the door, and Stringer goes in for the kill.

"Still, who knew?" he says. "The boss... gay."

What?

Sally doesn't have time to stop. She's already opening the door. She's not sure she heard Stringer right, but before she can think they're inside the division.

There's a small crowd gathered around a box on reception: fresh breakfast bagels and take-out coffee. The team are chatting, smiling and laughing as they eat.

Heads turn towards Sally and Stringer as they arrive. Still reeling, it takes her a second to process the scene - and when she does, it's Greg's face which stands out to her.

He looks like a different man to last night. He's bright-eyed, smiling, still wearing his coat. There's a stranger beside him, a man whose face Sally doesn't know.

Catching sight of her, Greg visibly inhales.

It seems to strengthen his smile; he holds out a coffee.

"Morning," he says. Sally takes the cup from him, dazed. "Breakfast. You're all being spoiled again. Coffee, Ryan? Good to see you back. Grab a bagel."

He glances up at the man beside him.

"This is Sally," he says to the unfamiliar man, "my sergeant... Sally, this is - Mycroft."

Greg meets Sally's eyes. Behind his smile, there's fear in his gaze. She sees it as clear as day.

"My partner," he adds, and her heart breaks open in an instant. "Breakfast's on him."

Sally doesn't blink. She doesn't pause.

With Stringer still beside her, she thrusts out her hand.

"Mycroft," she says, and her smile fills her eyes. Her grip is firm; she's never been so happy to welcome someone in all her life. "Great to meet you finally. So you're the reason he's been in such a good mood?"

Behind her, the smile slides from Ryan Stringer's face.

 

*

 

“Mm, I’m not sure I can take all the credit. I’ve heard quite a lot of lovely things about how well you’ve been handling the team while Greg’s been busy at court, Sally. Thank you for that.”

Mycroft matches the handshake- a weak handshake is never a good impression, nor is crushing your companion’s hand- politics has taught him to always equal the pressure.

The expression on the officer behind her does not go unnoticed- but Mycroft will think further on that later, for now he’s not planning to be anything but warm and generous. Anthea recommended his “diplomacy” suit for the purpose, which is more of a traditional business suit, not too posh and not too intimidating.

When his hand is freed, he returns it to the small of Greg’s back, comfortable and easy. This is, on the whole, going fairly well. There’d been a few odd looks, of course, but the police are just as old-boys-club sometimes as politicians and Mycroft really only has an advantage there because he’s been out for so long that most people don’t care who he’s sleeping with so long as his division remains well-run.

His thumb strokes along Greg’s spine.

This is a brave thing Greg is doing. Extremely brave, especially at his age, and especially with a demon for an ex-wife.

Mycroft wants to be sure Greg is fully comfortable and confident before he leaves. Just in case.

“With all the extra time you’ve been putting in, I thought a little recognition of all your hard work was in order, though I have been admonished not to put you all too much off the canteen coffee,” he says with a polished, pleasant smile.

 

*

 

There's laughter in response, and there are smiles.

Greg hears himself cracking a joke about the finer things in life - more laughter. It's hard not to feel like he's on some panicked auto-socialise setting, but he seems to be covering it up well enough. His heart's been on the point of rupture ever since he stepped through the door with Mycroft, carrying the box of bagels. He's starting to get used to the thundering of his pulse and the feeling that the walls are squeezing in.

The thumb gently rubbing the small of his back is the thread which ties him to himself. Without it, he might just have washed away by now.

Some people are finding this a more comfortable situation than others. Greg knows it - and it's fine. He was ready for it. Those closest to the desk are the happiest ones, chatting away, trying to reassure him how unbothered they are - then, like a target board, the level of comfort ebbs from green to red as the outer rings of the gathering are reached.

Nobody's openly hostile, of course. Nobody wants to be seen as a judgemental prick by everyone else. He's going to be discussed today, and he'll have to make his peace with that - but the bulk of his team seem to be like Sally, looks of surprise flashing quickly into acceptance and friendliness.

It's like being surrounded by a little bubble of warmth, standing here.

And at least he got the chance.

However terrifying this is, he's done it his way: breezy, with breakfast, and Mycroft at his side - as casually as if they all knew anyway - as if there's nothing to notice. Greg didn't get that option with his family. He didn't get that option with his friends.

At least I got this one.

"Have another bagel if you want, guys. There's plenty. We'll have a general update in about fifteen minutes, make sure everybody knows what they're dealing with for the day... conference room one, alright? Have your breakfast first, though."

Turning to Mycroft, Greg gives him a smile.

"D'you want to take some for your office?" he asks.

His tone is warm and cheerful, as light as the cream cheese on the bagels. Only the cling of his eyes hints at anything else going on under the surface, their gaze very bright and intense. It's a look that, to the knowing, says, I am scared out of my fucking skin right now.

"Anthea might like one. Smoked salmon, maybe? She seems like a smoked salmon kind of girl."

 

*

 

“I think she might like that. In fact, I shall even take one for myself.”

Mycroft’s thumb presses just a bit more firmly into Greg’s back, meeting his lover’s gaze with warm, steadying strength.

You’re going to be fine, love. See? This is fine. Everything is under control.

He peels off Greg to make up the bagels- the full lox package for Anthea, a far lighter version for himself, and a veg one for Thomas, since he’d be able to smell the others in the car.

As he does so he keeps up a smile, idly chatting and shooting Greg fond looks that also mean steady on.

When he’s adding the capers to Anthea’s portion he hears a comment from outside the core of the circle.

“...can’t believe that he’s gay. D’you think it’s like, some kind of midlife crisis, maybe?”

Mycroft chances a brief glance over his shoulder. Ryan, wasn’t it? He can’t tell if Greg heard it, but he’s guessing from Sally’s expression that she did.

He puts on a wide, diplomatic smile, eyes glittering her way. “Busy day today, I imagine. I’m amazed at how much Greg has told me you take charge of, especially with cases like this.”

Take care of him, will you. Please. He needs it.

 

*

 

Ryan Stringer, if I could afford a hitman, you would have hours to live.

Sally finds herself pulled from her thoughts by the smile suddenly coming her way. It still causes her heart to jump a little - a boyfriend, not a girlfriend - but she'll deal with her shock later, if there's anything to deal with.

Right now, what matters is making sure every single member of this team understands that DI Lestrade's personal life is going to be respected around here.

And if they don't know how to do it, she'll damn well show them.

"Never more than we can handle," she says, with a smile. "Not when everybody pulls their weight, anyway. I'm happy to take what strain I can off the boss."

She reaches for a box, holding it for Mycroft to put the bagels in safely.

"Greg's the one who'll be taking the stand and explaining it all. Least I can do is make sure he's got what he needs this time."

Everything he needs.

Including you.

"We've got a good team," she adds, with a smile to Mycroft. They'll be nice or they'll answer to me. "Not many DIs lead from the front. We're lucky."

 

*

 

“So am I,” Mycroft says with a quietly serious look.

Thank you.

Thank you for keeping him sane.

He takes the box from Sally and slides back into place beside Greg, his hand returning instinctually to its prior position, grounding them both together.

“I’m sure I ought to get out of your hair, and off to my office.” Mycroft smiles around the gathered group but mostly at Greg. Always, the core of his fondness is reserved for Greg.

“Bureaucracy waits for no man. I’m sure my desk is already piled up.”

His thumb strokes firmly, matching the glittering warmth of his eyes.

You will be fine.

I love you.

“Text me if you’ve time around lunch? I want to be sure I haven’t started any coffee related riots in your canteen.”

They’d also agreed that Mycroft would attempt to go and visit Marmalade over lunch, barring any national crises. Fortunately for Mycroft, he was able to make a convincing argument that a DI in the middle of a major trial should probably not risk getting brought up on charges of theft.

Marmalade had been rather wroth about it, of course, and Mycroft’s suit is doing a fair job of covering several scratch marks on his arms from getting her into a carrier (seeing as someone refused to assist.)

When the trial’s over, he promised Gregory, they’d look into adopting her. Properly and legally.

Until then she really must stay at the cafe.

“It’s been lovely to meet you all and finally put faces to names. Thank you for letting me intrude for a bit, I know you’re all terribly busy.”

 

*

 

The gathered group are warm with their goodbyes, and offer gratitude again for breakfast. Mycroft's hand is shaken by a few people, all of whom are likely to find the DI treating them rather well over the coming months. Some people on the peripherals are just watching, while others are drifting away.

"You okay to start directing people to the conference room?" Greg asks Sally discreetly, who gives him a nod.

"Sure. It'll take me a few minutes."

"Good. I'll - be back."

"No rush," she says, having a sip of coffee. "Take your time."

Greg holds the door to the division as they leave. It's a security regulation that he escort Mycroft off the premises. The fact it'll give them a few minutes alone together is also welcome.

He says nothing as they make their way towards the lift, carrying Mycroft's umbrella for him and trying not to imagine the conversation now breaking out back in the office. Better if I don't know. Sally will be ring-fencing it at least. He can't stop seeing her face as she reached for Mycroft's hand - an expression of equal parts 'holy shit' and 'this is absolutely fine'.

As he presses the button for the lift, he risks a pale glance upwards. The peppy smile is gone, as is the sturdy cheerfulness which had no room in it for nerves.

He waits for the verdict, unspeaking, searching his lover's expression.

 

*

 

Mycroft keeps his hand at Greg’s back, guiding and steadying until the lift opens, spilling out a pair of uniformed officers, and they step in to relative privacy.

There, he lets his hand slide until he can grasp Greg’s in his, fingers laced together.

“Something like this, Greg, and you suddenly have a good sense of who has your back.” He squeezes gently. “I like Sally. She cares about you.”

A small step, and Mycroft shifts closer, shoulders touching as the lift grinds slowly down.

“How do you feel, love?”

 

*

 

"I like Sally, too..."

Greg's never realised it so much before. No fuss, no nonsense, just straight in - calm and practical Sally - and part of it will be keeping the team in order, and he knows it. She'll smooth this news over for the good of the trial.

The thought makes him feel briefly guilty, dropping this bomb when they need the team to pull together - he could have timed it better.

No.

I couldn't.

Karen would have found a way. She got to Andy within hours of finding out. She drove to fucking Colchester to make sure. She'd have found her way into Scotland Yard, too - and soon. It might be years since she worked there, but she's still got some friends kicking about. Greg's sure of it.

And now when she arrives with her news, she'll find it's over and done with. Whatever she was planning to tell them about Mycroft, she'll have to make it fit with the graceful, friendly and polite man who turned up with breakfast for them all, made a perfect impression and couldn't have been nicer.

It feels a little scary, trying to beat Karen at her own game.

But if anyone can do it, Mycroft will.

Leaning into Mycroft, tangling their fingers carefully, Greg lets himself breathe for the first time since they got here.

"A bit of everything," he admits. He glances down, the corner of his mouth pulling. "I wish I could tell you I'm relieved. I am, it's just... there's more to it than that."

He looks up at Mycroft, hesitant.

"Is that alright? S-Sorry. Should've done this twenty years ago."

 

*

 

Mycroft presses a chaste kiss to Greg’s temple. “Feel however you need to. My feelings about you have not changed one iota.”

It’s a complicated feeling, and no doubt some of the less sympathetic on Greg’s team will be making comments. Some might even request a transfer. But at least they’ve come far enough that Greg’s job isn’t at risk, and some of the team even seemed excited for him.

“Twenty years ago I am afraid I was too often overseas to sweep you off your feet, so we’ll let that pass.”

And you were being pursued by a demon in human form. That will put anyone off discussing their sexuality.

“Just remember to breathe. Text me if you need to. I’m here for you.”

 

*

 

"God."

Greg's never wanted to wrap his arms around Mycroft so much. The possibility the lift could stop and open at any moment is all that keeps him standing where he is. He grips Mycroft's hand rather tightly, and takes a few moments just to breathe in.

"Hoping they'll all get their heads down," he says, unsettled. "Just get on and work, let it drift out of their minds..."

He drops his gaze to his shoes.

"Could've done without this. This week." He closes his eyes, closing the thought. "Doesn't matter," he murmurs, almost to himself. "It's happening. Just have to deal with it. When the trial's over, things will be easier. When Andy's talking to me again, it'll be easier."

 

*

 

“As far as you are concerned, treat it like a normal week. The trial is priority, you are also in a relationship that makes you happy. That is all that should concern your subordinates.”

If he could, Mycroft would take Greg home and find something very calming to put on the projector. Alas that they both actually enjoy their jobs.

As far as the matter of Gregory’s brother is concerned, Mycroft quietly thinks if this is how Andy behaves Greg is probably far better off not speaking to his more idiotic reflection.

Then again, Mycroft is not the most sensible when it comes to his own family either.

“Don’t worry about Andy. If you can. You wouldn’t normally be chatting with him much while you’ve so much to do, would you? Just think of it as that. You are merely busy, that’s why.”

“We can come back to him when you aren’t getting hit on all fronts.”

 

*

 

By the time Mycroft finishes, he’s being given a small and bright-eyed sideways smile. The Greg who joins him at the weekends has returned a little, and he’s marvelling as ever at his partner’s capacity for thoroughly sensible advice.

He doesn’t know why it’s amusing him. It’s just incredible the effect Mycroft has. His lover has a spectacular talent for anti-drama, as honed and remarkable as Karen's talent for creating it ever was, and the difference between them is almost breathtaking.

Greg wouldn’t have believed it, three months ago.

“Thank you,” he says. His hand tightens. “I don’t know what you’re still doing here with me. I mean it. I don’t know why you haven’t run for the hills.”

The lift jolts to a gentle stop.

Their fingers disengage as the doors open. The reception area appears, bright and busy with the traffic of the day just beginning. A cluster of people are waiting to enter the lift.

As they step out, Greg’s hand appears on Mycroft’s back - ensuring they aren’t parted in the crowd.

He keeps it there as they cross reception. Mine. He tells himself he’d see a girlfriend to her car like this, and he’ll see his boyfriend out this way too.

In a strange way, things can’t get any worse. The division know now. His family know. Karen - and anyone connected with her - have no shots left to fire.

Stepping out into sunlight together, Greg holds the door for Mycroft.

“So you’re going to collect Marmalade at lunchtime, right?” he says, as they pass through. “Bring her home, get her settled? I’ll order a nice collar off eBay for her. Green, maybe. Match her eyes.”

He’s trying not to smile, and failing. Last night’s incident of cat theft is already on its way to becoming an anecdote.

 

*

 

Mycroft lets out a low huff of laughter.

“I will visit , if I am not held up. But I will see if the cafe carries any of their adoption applications.”

His car appears as though by magic, pulling up seconds after they exit the building. Thomas is like Anthea that way, except with vehicles instead of turning up behind him in a meeting with a spare pen.

He lets Greg get the door for him, sliding in and pausing, uncertain if Greg is quite ready to go so far as to kiss him here, of all places.

“Come over tonight. If you want. If the day isn’t too long.”

A smile lifts the corners of his mouth, his eyes glittering hopefully.

 

*

 

Christ, look at you. The gentle thud of Greg's heart visibly crosses his face; his smile rises in response to Mycroft's.

"You sure?" he says, hovering with a hand on the door. "It could be kinda late... but I'd rather crawl in next to you, than crawl into my bed alone. If you're asleep, I'll let you sleep."

God, just to... just wrap around you, cuddle you...

Even if you're gone in the morning when I get up, at least we were together. At least I had you in my arms for a while.

Jesus.

Jesus, they all know. It's real. You're mine.

Pulse quick and fast, Greg makes his decision. Less than twenty-four hours ago, his mental ex-wife started outing him to everyone he knows. She didn't realise it, but it was a favour.

It means he can now do this.

Greg leans into the car, cups Mycroft's face in one hand, and without hesitation he presses their lips together.

It's not a peck; the contact is neither quick nor glancing. He kisses Mycroft like it matters, soft and slow, letting it linger as his fingers brush back through his boyfriend's hair.

Your key on my keyring. Be there with you tonight, curled around you. I'm in love with you.

I'm in love with you, and you're fucking worth it.

"Have a good day," he murmurs, their lips still in contact - and steals another gentler kiss. "See you tonight." I love you. "You mean the world to me."

 

*

 

Something about this- the bravery of it, the comfortable passion- makes Mycroft flush mildly, his affection outweighing his need for self-control.

And my traitorous ginger genes are not helping either.

“I’m sure,” he breathes back, the air hot between them. “I will be thinking of you all day.”

I love you.

Mycroft steals another kiss of his own.

“Have a lovely day being the great sword of British justice.”

It’s hard to break apart from Greg, harder still to imagine that he’s going to have to go in and work after this, and it’s Monday, and Smallwood will be nosing around asking why he wasn’t available to answer whatever inane question she had at five in the morning when she likes to get up and start bothering her coworkers.

Far more worth it, to be here with you.

“See you tonight.”

 

*

 

"Bye, darlin'..." Greg smiles, nuzzles close for one last kiss, and leaves it with a gentle tug of Mycroft's lower lip. "I'll think about you, too."

It's hell to close the door, then hell to watch the car drive away. At least I can now. He doesn't have to pretend that there's nothing going on. He can take half a minute to stand here, hands in his pockets, and watch the car out of sight. My partner. Open. Honest.

Biting his lip, Greg lets himself back into the building. He heads up to Major Crime in the lift again, taking the opportunity to send a quick text. He might not get another chance until the afternoon.

As he spots a text waiting for him already, he smiles.

Spotting an unknown number, his face falls.

 

[08:02] so. you never actually cared for me at all :) nice to know :)

 

Greg pauses, looking down at the message. His thumb stays exactly where it is on the keypad.

In the time it takes the lift to make its painfully slow way up through the building, he has mentally composed and then discarded three separate responses. All of them are about Andy. He doesn't care about the rest - friends who'd ditched him anyway, friends he lost over a year ago - people who can disapprove all they want. They'd cut him off anyway. What's to lose?

It's Andy that hurts.

Why? he wants to ask her. What d'you get out of this? What is it you want?

As the lift doors open, the question answers itself in his mind. Response. Response is what she wants. If the biggest response Karen can get from someone is love, she wants that. If she's got it, she wants hate instead. If she gets that, she wants fear and grief and regret.

Nothing here for you, he thinks, archiving the message, noting the number and then blocking it. He's not stupid enough to delete it. He'll tell Mycroft later, keep a record, but he's not going to respond. I'm boring now, Karen. I'm dull. I don't play.

He slips his phone into his pocket, steps back into the division and finds it nearly empty. It looks like Sally has everybody gathered in the conference room. Good. This is the part where they all forget the news of the day and get on with the job. It's the part where Greg walks in, updates them all on progress, answers questions, assigns tasks for the day, gives everyone a pat on the back and sets them going. He's got a male partner, but he's their boss - and this is a normal week.

Picking up a coffee, and stepping into his office for his notes, Greg realises there's someone lingering by the pigeon holes.

Ryan Stringer is sorting rather idly through his post - stationery catalogues, HR notices, memos that were sent out months ago.

Greg bites his tongue. He retrieves his file, locks his office and says,

"Heading to the briefing, Ryan? Or are you not joining us?"

"Just checking my post," Stringer says, sliding it all back into the pigeon hole. Huh. Not that important then, was it? Who knew. "So... that was your boyfriend?"

Greg wonders for a second why it's easy to be sharp at Stringer. He supposes he's had enough practice by now.

"The guy with his arm around me? Yep."

"Thought you had a girlfriend," Stringer says, eyeing him with unpleasant interest.

"No," says Greg, frowning. "He's definitely a bloke. I've checked. Done with your post, are you? Then let's go. We've got work to do."

As they're reaching the open door together, Stringer says casually,

"Weren't you married though, sir? Not that long ago."

Greg's not sure why it raises the hair on the back of his neck. He bites the inside of his cheek, and tells himself if this is the most grief he gets, he'll be lucky.

"Glad you're in an attentive mood today, Ryan. Maybe you'll even pay attention to your bloody paperwork this time, huh?"

 

Chapter Text

Although the hour is not unreasonably late, as far as the start of a traditional business day is concerned, Mycroft is treated to more than a few surprised looks as he traipses into the office.

Far more concerning is the almost nervous look Anthea gives him as he approaches her desk… and the open door to his own office. He lifts a silent eyebrow in her direction as he drops off her bagel and she makes a very apologetic, shrugging gesture, which gives him enough of an idea to guess who is inside. An inhale of the cool below-ground air is enough to steel him for it.

“Lady Smallwood,” he says as he steps into the room, half-expecting to see the blonde woman behind his desk- but more alarmingly, she is standing, and she’s brought back up. “Sir Edwin. My, are the forces gathering? You know I do respond to phone calls.”

“We weren’t sure these days, Holmes.” Edwin smiles thinly. “I’m told your schedule has grown somewhat lax of late. No more weekends on, coming into the office past dawn….”

“Heads of house are allotted the freedom to set their own hours, Edwin, as you know.”

“...and you’ve registered a partner.”

Mycroft feels a fairly large segment of his heart clench, and he struggles for a moment to keep it from his face. “Yes.”

“I have to say, we are a bit surprised, Mycroft.”  Alicia doesn’t bother with a smile- she rarely does. “So soon. And with such a rush on the formal paperwork. Not that we are worried, but your judgement in past matters has been-”

“Once. I made one error in judgement, and it was corrected.” He has to tamp down the anger that they would even bring that up. The frosty nature of his work persona rises from the very soles of his shoes as he shunts all his own emotions aside. “Please do get to the point.”

“We think it might be best, given past… issues… if your recreational surveillance privileges are set on hold. At least until we’re all confident that you have enough time in your day to attend to matters of state.”

Mycroft’s voice could freeze blood. “You’re rescinding my discretionary authority?”

“It’s only temporary, Holmes, don’t get your knickers in a twist.” Sir Edwin’s lip twists wryly. “Play with your CCTV all you like- as long as it’s for work.”

“We’ll also be taking this.” Alicia holds up a thick file. Mycroft can just see the name Karen Lestrade along the side. “Not really becoming to spy on your lover’s ex, you know. Unless she’s a potential security risk, in which case he shouldn’t have been approved, hm?” Her eyes narrow. “Is she a risk, Mycroft?”

There is only one answer to that question which will let him have Gregory in his bed tonight. Nothing else is an option. “No.”

“Good. Then you don’t need this.” She cradles the file and heads for the door, Edwin at her heels.

“Carry on, Holmes,” the older man intones as they leave, departing his lair for the grander halls of Parliament.

To her credit, Anthea waits for him to call her before she comes, granting him a precious few minutes with his forehead in his hands, trying to stave off the imminent headache.

“I’m so sorry- I already had the file on your desk, and-”

“It’s fine.” He sighs. “How much can you rebuild?”

“I’m not eidetic, sir, and I kept the original off the computers, but- enough.”

“That was the right decision- especially if Edwin is prying. I know it will take longer to manage it- I’m sorry, but we’ll keep this off the servers.” His fingers find the bridge of his nose and pinch.

Anthea fidgets, which is never a good sign. “There’s… one more issue, sir.”

Of course there is. “Out with it.”

“When they pulled the discretionary access, they also revoked surveillance from your brother.”

Mycroft’s eyes flick up. “You’re kidding.”

“He is ‘non-operational’, and therefore not a part of work.”

“Christ.” He sinks back into his chair. How long would it take Sherlock to realize he was entirely free from interference? Would he jump straight back into the heroin, or try something more creative this time? “Can you-”

“I’ve already gotten in touch with one of our retired assets, but there’s only so much we can do if he breaks the tail.”

His head goes back in his hands. Sherlock on the run, Sherlock in a drug den- Sherlock overdosing, again- Sherlock floating dead in the Thames-

“Sir? Breathe- I need you to breathe for me. It’s okay. Breathe.”

God, how long has it been since he’s had a panic attack at work. Years? Sherlock’s last overdose, probably- and this one will be your fault too, just like if Karen rips Greg to pieces while you’ve got your hands tied-

No, shut up-

It’s only by sheer force of will that he stops himself from shaking and forces his throat to make sensible words and not simply scream, ignoring the tight feeling in his chest that he rationally knows is not actually a heart attack, even if his brain is not entirely convinced. It’s all in your head, Mycroft, he hears in his mother’s voice. You needn’t be so sensitive. Work. He must focus on the work. “What do we have today?”

“Call with China, then the roundtable to discuss the security for the trade conference- MI-5 has moved that to lunch-” Mycroft groans audibly. “-the catering will probably be garbage, as usual, but there will be catering.”

He makes it through the day on willpower alone, forcing down a rather sad salad and tea as MI-5 wanks on and on about their needs and their risks to the extent that Mycroft very nearly asks aloud why his division is needed at all, if MI-5 has everything so well in hand.

Anthea tosses him out for a quick dinner before even more evening appointments and he’s able to text Greg to check in and visit Marmalade, if only briefly. She still seems miffed at her unconsentual return to the cafe and refuses to even sit on Mycroft’s lap, though she does sit next to him and permits a fair degree of fuss and several slivers of chicken as he attempts to make up for it, glaring the entire time. “I know. I know- I just don’t wish Gregory to be a thief, and we can agree on that, can’t we? I’m working on it, I promise.”

She only offers him a skeptical “brrp” in reply.

By the time he gets home it’s well after dark, and he feels exhausted in his soul.

A bath. A bath and Gregory.

A glass of whiskey comes to the bath with him, lingering on the side of the tub as he slides into the warm water.

Gregory is all he really needs, those strong arms cradled around him all night, perhaps even... though that is a selfish impulse, isn’t it. Gregory had likely had an even more trying day than himself, and Mycroft ought to be thinking of what he can do to ensure his brave, honorable detective is very well cared for. Mycroft’s own desires ought to come second.

He’ll be here soon. Just be patient.

 

*

 

It's the first day Greg's been glad of the trial. It gives him a reason to be in his office working flat out all day, and it gives everyone a reason to keep their heads down. It also gives him a reason to stay a little later than the rest of them, so he doesn't need to make pained conversation on the way down to the car park.

He knows he's been discussed today. He doesn't know what's been said - good or bad, it doesn't matter. He just wants the time to go past until it's no longer interesting. There's a strange sudden comfort in being invisible, tucked away in his office with things to sign and papers to check.

It's not exactly been a good day. It's not been a bad day, either.

It's just been a day.

He calls it a night at nine, gets the tube as close to Mycroft as he can, then walks the rest of the way. As he reaches the street, he fishes his keys from inside his coat. First time. It's hard not to think of it as coming home. Christ, I mustn't just... move in slowly. He's got to have space. Only been seeing each other a couple of months.

This feels good, though - fitting the key in the lock.

It feels good closing the door behind him, hanging his coat up, noticing the umbrella resting in its stand. Myc is home. Greg checks his watch as he makes his way upstairs, his tread quiet and careful. It's not late-late; there might be a chance.

Stepping into Mycroft's bedroom, he notes no Mycroft in the bed - and a light coming from inside the bathroom.

As he appears in the doorway, his face softens into a smile. His eyes shine, moved by this simple quiet moment.

"Hey," he murmurs. "Only me."

 

*

 

“Gregory,” Mycroft breathes with a palpable note of relief. Part of him considers leaping out of the tub to clasp his arms about his lover and bury his face against Greg’s chest, but the sensible side of him wins out over any dramatics and potential for slip-on-floor-related injury.

“I missed you today.”

His voice gives him away more than he thinks- exhaustion and a hint of pain left from his headache and clenching his jaw all day to keep his emotions in check. Even his eyes look tired and worn, despite the warmth and fondness that also rises to them as soon as Greg is in his view.

The tumbler of whiskey is mostly depleted, but he lifts the glass in an offering of what is left from the now lukewarm tub.

“How was the rest of your day?”

Greg may not want to speak in specifics- and that is fine, though Mycroft wants to be clear he is here to support Greg in any fashion required after the steps he’s been forced to take. And, in deference to his own needs, he would like a bit of a cuddle, which will require coming out of the tub.

Long, pale fingers rise from the water and reach for a towel.

“Did you have a proper dinner? I had some of those quick microwave meals laid in, just in case….”

 

*

 

Greg's not been a detective for this much of his life to miss some obvious signs here.

He downs the whiskey quietly and puts the tumbler to one side. He takes a towel from the heated rail, opens it and approaches the bath for Mycroft to step into.

As he does, Greg wraps him up in it - slowly, gently, and places a kiss on his temple. Mycroft smells clean and warm. He feels good in Greg's arms, soft and damp, and there's a moment of cosy quiet between them.

"What the hell's she done?" Greg murmurs. There's a low note to his voice that suggests a line has now been crossed, regardless of specifics. His arms tighten. "Are you alright?"

 

*

 

“Not her,” Mycroft murmurs with a half-smile, both for Gregory’s concern and the dark hilarity of Karen becoming the obvious cause of any ills in their lives.

“Work.”

He lets the impulse that he had earlier carry him, leaving damp streaks in Greg’s work shirt as he nuzzles into it. Greg never expects him to discuss his work ills, but in this case he can speak to the gist of the manner fairly freely, and in terms that will not violate any classified issues.

“Our hierarchy is complex, but effectively my superiors revoked- certain projects I feel strongly about. To prove some sort of petty point, I imagine.”

He doesn’t imagine. He knows.

The point is that he’s always been expected to be married to his work, and work, it turns out, is something of a jealous partner. But he’s not going to tell Gregory that, not his Gregory.

“I was… caught somewhat off guard.”

 

*

 

It's not often Greg hears Mycroft talk about work. He's reassured just to know it's not Karen, she's not done - something, some horrific... he doesn't know what. From the look of Mycroft, it's not all that reassuring. It's a serious matter, and it's been preying on his mind.

There's no advice Greg can offer - these things are beyond him, he's sure - but he has arms, and he's happy just to hold Mycroft in them.

He nuzzles gently into his lover's hair, stroking the wet strands back from his forehead. Kissing Mycroft's hairline, he hums.

"M'sorry to hear that, love... sure you'll find some way to punish them for it." He smiles a little, moving his free hand slowly up and down Mycroft's back - rubbing him dry and stroking him at once. "I guess we've been distracted lately. Neither of us is firing on all cylinders. They'll be sorry when you're back on-guard."

Brushing his nose through Mycroft's hair, he draws his lover's scent deep with a breath. His fingers curl against Mycroft's back.

"Mhm. Glad I got here before you went to bed."

 

*

 

“As am I.”

The soft touches and kisses are doing wonders for Mycroft already. His hands fall to Greg’s hips, stroking along the line where his trousers meet his shirt.

He doesn’t want to think about work now. Nor Sherlock. His mind has been screaming at him all day, and only Greg’s touch has done anything to really calm it.

“Help me forget for a while?”

Stepping closer, he turns his face up to press his lips against Greg’s throat, sliding up to his jaw gently. Mycroft doesn’t have the energy to be demanding, not now. This is a soft, quiet request.

“I don’t want to think any more.” He lifts his head more, meeting Greg’s gaze with gentle, needy eyes.

“I don’t want to be capable of thought any more.”

 

*

 

"Darlin'..."

Greg's pulse quickens at the look in Mycroft's eyes. He doesn't remember ever seeing Mycroft like that before - so often it's Greg in need, Greg vulnerable, Greg reaching for the things only his lover can give him.

It feels... good, to be needed.

God.

You're mine. You're mine to look after. You're mine, and you need me.

He can't look away from Mycroft's eyes. They're more beautiful than he's ever seen them. Right now, he needs to see them close in pleasure and relief - he needs to be what his lover needs.

Without breaking Mycroft's gaze, he cups his face in both hands. His hold is gentle, firm enough to relax into, as he backs Mycroft slowly against the bathroom wall.

As his back makes contact, Greg leans in.

The first kiss is gentle, barely a breath - a stroke of lips almost too light to be felt - then a longer, slower press, Mycroft's face still cradled in his hands. The caress of Greg's lips says, let me. Relax for me.

Safe with me.

 

*

 

Crowded against the bathroom wall, Mycroft feels steadied by the brace of the wall against his back and Gregory’s warmth on his front. His lips part permissively, letting Greg take the lead.

The bathroom is warm and comfortable, so Mycroft feels hardly any chill against the few remaining damp bits of skin as his towel slides from his shoulders and down to pin in the small of his back. He reaches out with deft fingers for the buttons of Greg’s shirt.

Skin. Need your skin.

His cock senses the actions above and begins to thicken with interest, his pupils darkening in corresponding desire.

“Gregory...” he breathes when his lips are briefly unoccupied.

I love you.

 

*

 

God... say my name like that forever...

Greg lets his fingers trail downwards, tender - shoulders, arms, slowly down Mycroft's sides to curl at his waist. His lover's skin feels pristinely soft from the bath. He feels strokeable. It's heating Greg's blood a little, being clothed while Mycroft is naked - though the fingers now working their way through his shirt buttons are more than welcome.

"Mhm?" he murmurs, his gentle grip sliding lower to Mycroft's hips. His thumbs stroke along the soft V just beneath Mycroft's stomach, brushing the intimate skin with care. "Right here, darlin'... all yours..."

He lets his hips press forwards, nuzzling his hardening cock into the top of Mycroft's thigh.

"Want you," he whispers, and licks at Mycroft's lower lip. "Hands, sweetheart? Mouth?"

He lets his voice ease low in his throat, soft.

"Lay you down and ride you, maybe?" he says, stealing a slow kiss - lazy, easy, his hips rocking forwards again. "Or...?"

 

*

 

Oh, god, all of it.

That low voice is deadly. Mycroft shudders, weaker than usual to his lover’s tender affections and the press of Greg’s own desire against him. All mine. My Gregory.

“Mouth,” he murmurs, his hands parting Greg’s shirt and caressing down the supple chest beneath.

“And….”

He presses his lower lip between his teeth. It’s not something he normally needs, but Mycroft wants to utterly lose himself in Greg- everywhere. One hand slips down and catches Greg’s, guiding it behind him until the tips of Greg’s fingers are along the cleft of his arse.

Even the gentle brush is enough to blow his pupils wider.

“Would you…?”

 

*

 

"Fuck, yes," Greg whispers, his eyes growing dark. He watches that little lip bite with the greatest of interest, cupping Mycroft's arse as he does. The squeeze he gives is gentle and possessive at the same time. He can feel his pulse picking up, his cock filling, and the thought of being trusted like that is enough to blitz the world outside this house into nothing. Want to be that for you. Take care of you. Crowd out the stress for you.

"Shall we take you to bed then, sweetheart?" he hums, and with reluctance steps back. He catches hold of Mycroft's hand, tangling their fingers as he tugs Mycroft towards the bathroom door. "Let's get you comfortable..."

Through in the other room, he guides Mycroft to the bed.

"Lie down," he whispers. "I'll get the lights."

Bedside lamp only, he thinks. Soft, sleepy. This is Mycroft's sanctuary. When they're here, he wants it to feel like there's nothing wrong in the universe. He switches out the main lights, turns on the lamp and then leans down to kiss Mycroft, working his way out of his shirt as he does. The fabric is cast to the floor without the slightest care. He'll wear the creases tomorrow with pride.

As he climbs onto the bed, negotiating himself between Mycroft's legs, Greg keeps their lips in contact. His kisses are slow and settling, his tongue easing its way into Mycroft's mouth. One gentle hand coaxes it way up the outside of Mycroft's thigh from knee to hip, fingers skimming and stroking.

"You want me inside you, darlin'?" he whispers between kisses. He keeps his voice low and lulling, enjoying the effect it's had so far. "Want to lie back and feel me fill you... soothe you... nuzzle open these pretty thighs, and look after you..."

 

*

 

Delicately stroking fingers are so close, but neither easing nor encouraging the ache of need beginning to spread through Mycroft’s core. It makes Mycroft want to squirm to tip the scales one way or the other, but he restrains himself- while he’s still capable of doing so.

Despite that, a little whimper escapes him when Greg’s voice lists out what he’s offering to do. What Mycroft wants of him.

“Yes,” he kisses back a bit more demandingly, Greg’s presence in his bed already steadying his mind.

“You take care of me so well, lovely….”

His hand rakes through Greg’s hair, another down the length of his spine, holding his lover, reminding himself of the feel of his skin, the scent of him after a long work day, all masculine and his .

I love you.

“I need you.”

 

*

 

"You've got me," Greg breathes, and lets Mycroft pull him closer, their bare chests pressed together as they kiss. Having Mycroft beneath him is driving his pulse through the ceiling. It's addictive, feeling wanted; it's incredible, feeling needed.

"Relax you first, mm?" he murmurs, steals one last kiss from Mycroft's lips, then leans down to his lover's collarbones - nuzzling, stroking, tracing with his mouth. "Tell me if you want me to change anything, love. This is all for you. I want to make it just right."

Shoulders and chest, thoroughly loved - pausing to flick softly with his tongue at Mycroft's nipples, just peaking them, then following the scatter of freckles down to his belly.

Fuck, I love your tummy. He's never figured out how to put it into words - he knows Mycroft watches his waistline, worries about his body, and he doesn't want to cause pain with some clumsy attempt at love. Love you just as you are, love your softness, love you like this... none of it sounds right. Instead of words he tells Mycroft with his mouth, brushing loving kisses amidst the slow sweep of his hands. As he reaches the little dip just beneath Mycroft's stomach, stroking the pretty milk-white skin with his tongue, he's so hard he has to reach down and undo his belt just for comfort.

He bypasses Mycroft's cock for now in favour of his inner thighs, nuzzling and whispering soft little things against them - words of affection, words of praise, painting gentle stripes with his tongue and then blowing across them until goosebumps rise.

This night isn't about teasing, though. There will be other nights for that.

When he turns his attention to Mycroft's cock, Greg doesn't withhold what he can give. He lowers his head and laves a slow and flat-tongued lick from root to tip up the underside, gazing dark-eyed towards the pillows as he does.

"Love doing this for you," he murmurs, wraps Mycroft slowly in one hand and begins a loose and easy stroke, lapping just beneath the head.

 

*

 

“Mmmhmmm.”

Mycroft sinks into the sheets, shuddering for each puff of breath across his skin and leaving one hand to ground him in Greg’s hair. It’s relaxing to refrain from ordering, from bossing , to simply let go.

Even if he has to make something of a conscious effort to do so. His mind is not an easy thing to shut down.

His lips part and he groans freely, savoring the slow, wet strokes along his cock.

“Oh, love….”

Love this. Love you.

It remains amazing how enjoyable Greg finds giving him pleasure. It’s something he enjoys himself, of course- few things bring him greater joy than having Greg writhing beneath him- but it’s never quite ceased to surprise him that anyone else might want to offer such affections to him.

He didn’t miss the shuffle of fabric that indicates Greg has made some adjustments to his trousers- Mycroft will assist him with that later, he will - just after he….

“Ah- Gregory- that feels wonderful-”

 

*

 

"Mhm?" Greg lets his eyes close, better to concentrate on what he's doing. He murmurs the words against Mycroft's cock, interspersing them with light strokes of his lips and little flashes of his tongue. "Just easy... just slow..."

No driving to come, he thinks, no chasing - just pleasure. More and more with Mycroft, he's realising that sex can be as comforting as a back rub. Especially on nights like this, it's not about pushing towards an expected goal.

It's about resting, soaking in pleasure like a warm bath.

As he swirls his tongue around the head of Mycroft's cock, a shudder of enjoyment courses its way down Greg's back. His breathing audibly hitches, then eases with a quiet moan.

Relax, darlin'. Relax and breathe.

I'll stay here half the night if you want me to.

Mycroft feels, as ever, like heaven sliding into his mouth - thick, firm and full, satisfying to rub his tongue against, and watching up the bed is all the reward Greg could need right now. Just let me watch you have your cock sucked, love. Just let me see. Let me watch this feel good. He keeps every bob of his head languid, and the swirling of his tongue is loose and easy in its patterns - no rhythm yet, no rush.

The rhythm comes instead in the careful stroking of his fingers, up and down Mycroft's stomach in time with his breath.

Feel yourself breathing, sweetheart? All the thoughts flowing away?

Breathe them out for me.

Let me give you something else. I'll stay right here as long as you need me.

 

*

 

Mycroft’s hand releases Gregory’s hair and falls to the bed, gently twisting the sheets without any real urgency or desperation, simply the urge to feel. He doesn’t need to guide Greg, as his lover is doing a fantastic job all on his own.

Relaxing is typically such a challenge for him, unless it involves a book, but Gregory makes it easy. His mouth open, he lets every gasp and groan slip past freely, responsive to every stroke and engulfing bob. Shudders ripple through him, light tilts of his hips punctuating Greg’s passes over his most sensitive points, but he doesn’t thrust up fully.

“Oh- yes, just like- that-”

It furthers his enjoyment to know how much Gregory likes this too, hearing it in his breathing, seeing it when he chances a glance downward and sees those beautiful dark eyes gazing up at him with such fondness.

My Gregory. Oh, my love.

His thighs part further subconsciously, opening himself to his beloved’s further ministrations, toes curling into the soft sheets.

“Oh, god, yes- oh, Gregory….”

 

*

 

A low, warm shiver of longing passes through Greg's abdomen as he feels Mycroft's thighs part. He knows that instinct. He's felt it fifty times for Mycroft now - opening, trusting. Hoping. The gentle shift hits him with a rush of feeling, his pulse speeding wildly. Mycroft wants to be fucked.

He lowers a hand from his lover's stomach, and for a little while just strokes his inner thighs, playing gentle patterns across the soft skin. It's desperately soothing just to lie here with Mycroft like this, indulging them both in this feeling of closeness.

After long minutes, he slides Mycroft's cock with care from his mouth. He swallows around the stretch of his throat, voice thick.

"Darlin'?" His tongue swipes slowly across the underside of Mycroft's cock, just beneath the head, little lapping motions in between words. His fingertips cosy behind Mycroft's balls as he speaks, stroking here for the first time, testing how this feels between them. "Do you like fingers? Relax you first?"

 

Chapter Text

Oh, god.

A flutter of nerves rushes through Mycroft, muscles twitching an instinctual response to the new contact before he can convince them to relax, to just feel, to enjoy.

It’s been too long. It’s going to hurt.

There’d been a few toys, of course, from time to time, even after he’d more or less abandoned the idea of letting in a human partner. There was too much risk in being seen as vulnerable, or weak, or pliable- the inherent dangers it could bring when his partners all lurked in his work circles.

But this is Gregory. Gregory would never hurt him.

“Yes, just- slow, love. I don’t- I haven’t-”

Not in an age. But god, he wants this- wants Greg to hold him, fill him, make him forget that anything exists outside of this bed.

He exhales a long breath, evening his voice.

“Give me one to start, beautiful.”

 

*

 

Greg trails gentle kisses up Mycroft's body as he rises.

"Slow," he whispers, reaching Mycroft's lips. He kisses them as he reaches for the lube on the bedside, palming it discreetly, taking a moment just to settle them both to this familiar pleasure - the brush of lips, the stroke of bedtime stubble.

Their mouths part, softly; he rubs the side of his nose against Mycroft's.

"Tell me if I go wrong... I want to learn. Learn how to look after you." As he murmurs, he reaches down with a hand to loosen his own trousers - parting the clasp, easing down the zip. He's hard as hell and his boxers are damp. He can't think about nuzzling inside Mycroft, can't even imagine that, or he won't be able to cope.

"Comfy like this?" he says, softly. He opens the cap of the lube with his thumb, squeezes a little across his fingers and rubs them together. He reaches first for Mycroft's cock - a few long slow strokes, his mouth curving. "D'you remember our first night here? First time we fucked?"

His fingers ease downwards, brushing over the ring of muscle so snug it doesn't feel like an opening. Gently he rubs instead, just spreading the lube and stroking for now, accustoming them both to this new feeling.

"Thought I was going to erupt, feeling you push inside me. Feeling you that close. Feeling you move in me."

He tests, carefully - the gentlest press of his fingertip, breathing in as he does.

 

*

 

A low, strained moan escapes. Mycroft doesn’t remember the breach feeling this good before, even when he was young and everything was slow and fumbling and every sensation was heightened by the sheer novelty of it.

This is Greg.

Greg is so much better than any of that.

His twenty year old self would never have believed that love would make everything better. He didn’t believe in it, not then.

More fool I.

“Mmmm,” he breathily gets out in agreement, settling into it, his body adjusting to the delicate press.

“You were beautiful.”

Mycroft tilts his hips slowly, pulling his knees up farther along the bed, giving Greg a better angle and a flushed, loving look through lidded, dark eyes.

“Still beautiful.”

 

*

 

Greg's pupils swell as Mycroft stirs; he watches his lover make himself comfortable. Talking is easing the intensity of this moment, and he finds himself glad of it. He's not done this for a long time. Back then, sex was sex - it was fun, frivolous and difficult to get wrong.

It's different now.

Mycroft is warm inside, and so tight that as Greg settles his finger he doesn't attempt to move at all - just holds still, and waits, and with his other hand stroke Mycroft's stomach.

Holy hell... look at you.

That expression. It kicks Greg's heart into double-time at once. He can't look away from those eyes, all that trust and affection - the vulnerability of this position - the realisation of what their bond is becoming.

"So are you," he whispers, as his eyes shine bright and soft. He leans down to kiss the pale skin over Mycroft's heart, then gently along his stomach, then lets his lips linger at the tip of his lover's cock, eyes lifting up the bed to check how this is received. "D'you know how much you mean to me? How much I want to see you happy?"

He slides his tongue in soft, wet, flat strokes over the underside of Mycroft's cock for a little while, holding eye contact where it's given. At the point he himself would be relaxing, he gently tests withdrawing his finger a little and easing back inside. The movement is slow, done with the utmost care, and accompanied by the lazy wrapping of his lips around Mycroft's cock, sliding just the head into his mouth so he can swirl around it with his tongue.

 

*

 

“You’re very good at making me happy.”

A contented sigh slides into a pleased moan, his hands bunching the sheets.

Yes- I want your fingers, I want all of you-

The animal part of Mycroft’s brain wants to rut back already, but this is not about fulfilling his most base instincts, it’s about giving himself over and letting Greg sweep him off to pleasure in every possible way.

The dual points of contact- the smooth heat of Greg’s mouth and the mild burn further down are almost overwhelming. His mind is still trying to process, but already the strains of his work day feel distant. Alicia and Edwin cannot weasel their way into managing his bedroom. Today, that is Gregory’s job.

His tongue flicks out, moistening his lips as he chances another glance down- the sight of that lush silver hair between his thighs will never get old.

For a few heartbeats he just feels it, the slow, steady in-out of Greg’s finger, letting himself relax into it like it’s part of him.

“More,” he breathes quietly.

 

*

 

Greg gives a soft hum around Mycroft's cock, low and gentle. As he continues to suck he lets his finger ease free from Mycroft's body, taking his time to withdraw. With care, he then gently slips two fingers against his lover's entrance.

He remembers the first few times Mycroft took him like this. It was in his nature - and still is - that the little flickers of pain were a curious comfort, knowing he was taking them for Mycroft, soothed somehow by the ache of sex. Just knowing his lover wanted him was enough to make him crave the discomfort.

This isn't quite the same. This moment is woven from two months of trust and affection, and today's exhaustion with the outside world. He wants this to be as easy for Mycroft as it can be, and he knows his fingers are thick. It's going to take longer to relax. That's alright.

As he introduces two fingers to his lover's body, he does it so slowly he's barely moving. His focus stays on Mycroft's cock, drawing the patterns with his tongue that he knows his partner likes, trying to distract him with curls of more comfortable pleasure. He keeps his eyes up the bed and watches for any flicker of distress.

Two fingers finally deep, Greg holds them still - holds and just concentrates on oral, making it good, making this about the enthusiastic mouth around Mycroft's cock and not the intrusion into his body. Mycroft feels so snug around his fingers that he almost can't imagine pushing his cock through such pressure. Heat rolls in waves up and down his naked back as he works, waiting, watching with love, his eyes dark and his gaze gentle.

His first cautious movement is to curl his fingers ever so slightly, searching for somewhere that will make this start to feel a little more worthwhile.

 

*

 

Mycroft is being washed away on sensation, even the discomfort of the initial feeling of too-full becoming soothing after a while. He stirs, legs shifting restlessly as that luscious mouth works on him, those fingers searching for-

He gasps, sharp with surprise.

Oh lord fuck-

It’s as though his mind actually stalls, a shutdown procedure initiated on all the parts of him that never really turn off, they just wait and watch and absorb until required to spit all the knowledge they have back into the world. For a brief moment, all the static is entirely and completely silent.

Holy god in heaven.

Even when he’d received more often and had hooking fingers and curved toys to manage the reach, stroking his prostate had never managed that.

Then again, he’d likely not really been relaxed any of those times, never entirely comfortable. He’d always had to be so wary of any potential security risks, even naked and bent over….

Trust. He trusts Gregory implicitly. Completely.

That seems to have changed things entirely.

Eyes fluttering, Mycroft realizes he’s looking at the ceiling, once he remembers how sight works. Looking down the bed with a baffled sort of neediness, his cheeks flushing, his lips curl into a blissful smile.

“Again- do that again-”

 

*

 

Holy fuck, this is hot.

Greg's never seen Mycroft look at him like that. He's never seen anyone look at him like that. The thought flashes through his mind that Mycroft might be looking at him like that a short time from now, blushing not from Greg's fingers but from the rhythmic sliding of his cock, and in an instant he's the closest to coming in his trousers he's been since the age of fifteen.

Holding Mycroft's gaze, even now a little submissive with the desire to please, Greg steals his fingers slowly back across the gland he's found - light, easy and careful, just mapping its shape without pressing. He wants to remember. He wants to do this right. This isn't a quick fumble; this is Mycroft's body, and it's close enough to sacred.

When he has the shape, he starts to experiment. The movements of his mouth now slow to nearly nothing, just bathing Mycroft's cock in gentle heat as he starts to explore what Mycroft likes. He tries circling steadily, pressing just shy of where he's needed; he tries a gentle padding with his fingers, three firmer rubs and then a count of three to rest and breathe; he tries a light and swift and almost tickling tap, sustaining it until Mycroft can't seem to cope anymore, then sliding back to stroking soothingly nearby.

Exploring Mycroft this way feels so desperately enjoyable it almost hurts. It's everything, realising he's trusted enough to do this - and realising he's comfortable enough to relax and play. While the almost painful throb of his cock is impossible to ignore, it's lost somewhere on the edge of Greg's focus.

He doesn't want it to be relieved.

He doesn't want pleasure; he doesn't want a thing to distract him from what this is doing to Mycroft.

 

*

 

Mycroft’s mind is sparking with pleasure and there’s hardly a coherent thought left other than yes yes please more. The changing patterns almost have him writhing in Greg’s hands, pants and moans and, occasionally, words of praise, when he can actually form them.

“Ah- yes, perfect, ther-nnnnn- Greg!”

The way the pressure is building from this feels far more blindingly delicious than simply giving friction to his cock. Perhaps too delicious….

“Greg’ry- need you now or I’m coming from- ohhh, from this-“

One tiny part of his brain awakens long enough to make a note that at some point he will be having Greg finger-fuck him into oblivion, but at the moment the few other brain cells he can still rub together have remembered how pleasingly thick Greg is in his mouth, and how nice that might feel now that he’s- oh, lord, he’s-

Fuck me, fuck me now, oh fuck make me scream for you-

He doesn’t even realize his thoughts are half-shared in a panted whisper out loud.

 

*

 

Fuck -

Fuck, fuck -

I can't just watch this anymore -

Greg pulls his mouth from Mycroft's cock, withdraws his fingers gently and pants as he reaches down to get rid of his trousers and boxers. He gets himself out of them quickly, half-certain he feels a seam rip as he wrenches one ankle free. It doesn't matter.

On your back. Like this. Let me watch you -

Fuck, watch you scream -

He pushes close to Mycroft, shaking, easing an arm with care beneath each of Mycroft's knees - helping to push his thighs apart, make this easy, make this good.

When he looks back, Greg will take it as a testament to his care for Mycroft that he's lucid enough to reach quickly for the lube, slathering his cock in a new handful. Don't want to hurt you. Not for the world. Not now. Not when you want me so bad.

"Breathe, darlin'..." he whispers, as he leans low to kiss Mycroft's mouth. He reaches down, guiding his cock into place. His pulse speeds out of control as he feels himself dip into the softened ring of muscle, nuzzling through, starting to coax inside, fuck - fuck fuck fuck -

Ohh, fuck -

Tight -

So tight that 'slow' isn't a choice, but there'd be no other way. He wants to hear Mycroft scream for him more than he wants to continue breathing right now, but they're taking this slow. First time. First time I fuck you. First time I'm inside you.

"Take me, sweetheart," he whispers, shoulders shaking, voice perfectly steady. He kisses Mycroft's mouth with a strained, soft groan. "Take, love... breathe... take me in you..."

 

*

 

Mycroft is whimpering, heels hooked behind Greg’s hips and eyes instinctually watering from the bliss-burn of the stretch, whimpering against Gregory’s mouth.

He only breathes because he’s reminded to do so, lungs shakily expanding, muscles trying to contract and forced by will and desire the other way. It’s slow, so slow, but this feeling of unification is so different than being on the other end. His mind feels feral, animal instincts wanting Greg deep and deeper and thrusting but he’s still sliding in, so steady and thick.

Full- full of Greg-

My Gregory-

Mine-

Hands wrapped about Greg’s back, Mycroft is grasping hard- there may be traces of nail marks tomorrow, evidence of how badly Mycroft needs something to hang on to. The lube helps, slickly easing between them, but it’s still so much.

“Greg- oh, god, Gregory- you feel-”

“Oh, fuck-”

 

*

 

"Fuck..." Greg echoes, shuddering, and pushes his cheek against Mycroft's. The nuzzle is gentle, feral, full of care and protective longing, and it brings his mouth to Mycroft's ear. He knows how this feels - he knows that almost frightening intensity, that feeling of too big, too full - he wants to soothe it.

"M'here, darlin'... hang onto me... dig into me and hold tight..."

Heart thumping hard, he brushes his tongue against Mycroft's ear.

"You're doing beautifully for me," he whispers, and presses slowly those last few inches, easing himself into that slick and squeezing heat so good it cuts his breath, burning through his blood, in you, inside you, buried in you. "Oh darlin', you feel good... so gorgeous underneath me... my Mycroft..."

As he comes to rest as deep in Mycroft's body as he can go, as close as their skin will permit, Greg exhales a long breath and lets his eyes fall shut, overwhelmed by this feeling. Together. Mine. Trusting me.

"There, love..." he murmurs, nuzzling. "All in you... deep in you..."

 

*

 

Mycroft exhales a sob, trembling in Greg’s arms until he can finally relax into the sheer fullness of it. He clings tightly enough that Greg wouldn’t be able to move if he wanted, leaving finger-shaped, bruising marks along his lover’s back, reminders of how deeply intertwined they are.

“Gregory- you’re so- oh, fuck-”

He buries his face against Greg’s shoulder.

The gentle words in his ear ease him, and eventually he’s capable of relaxing his hands and bringing them to Greg’s cheeks, pulling him close and kissing him deeply between deep, shaky breaths.

He can feel himself adapt, desire and need starting to win out again over the burning, too-full pain. Experimentally, he rolls his hips just a little, feeling the lube-assisted slide of flesh deep within.

Oh god yes-

A quick nip and Mycroft catches Greg’s lower lip between his teeth, holding it for a moment before he lets his lover go only to kiss him once again more forcefully.

“Go ahead, Gregory,” he breathes when they come up again for air.

“Fuck me.”

 

*

 

Trembling for me. Relaxing for me.

This feels so intimate it's hard to remember to breathe. The meld of their mouths, their bodies, draws Greg into some other state of being - some perfect place without thought or worry, without other people in it, without anything except Mycroft and his breathing and this feeling of being inside each other.

The emotions it evokes are deeply primal. In this moment, Greg would fight for Mycroft without a second thought. He would rain fire down on anything that tried to harm him. It feels like it's not possible to love Mycroft more intently, more powerfully, than he does in this moment.

He holds Mycroft's eyes, breath tight and slow, pupils huge, their lips a breath away from each other.

"You're everything to me," he whispers.

Watching Mycroft's face, he gently withdraws just a little way. He takes his time about it, careful, resting as much of his weight on his forearms as he can.

Easing back in, pleasure visibly flickers through his gaze. His cheeks flush with colour.

"Fuck..." he whispers, the edge of a whimper, and slowly rocks again - a little deeper this time, a little more firmly, and the smooth squeeze of Mycroft's muscles around his cock makes him gasp. His hands slip beneath Mycroft's shoulders and curl there, holding him. He catches Mycroft's mouth with a tight groan, shaking, unable to hide the sheer scorching pleasure that even these gentle first thrusts are causing him.

Oh fuck, oh fuck - I love you - fuck -

It's been so long. He'd forgotten it feels good to fuck, to thrust, to feel fingers digging into his back, to slide his tongue inside a lover's mouth at the same time as his cock slides into their body.

Holy shit, you're mine -

Deeper, firmer, a more definite push each time, and Greg's moans grow laboured against Mycroft's mouth. It's impossible to hold them back. This feels good in a way he already knows is going to wreck him.

Mine burns through his blood with every thrust of his hips, every panting gasp. Mine, mine, mine.

 

*

 

Oh lord yes, Gregory-

Mycroft is lost in his lover’s eyes, lost in his own feelings of loving devotion, watching the change in expression in Greg’s eyes as they come together with each panting thrust. It’s slow fucking, but never tentative.

He’s quite vocal himself, little hisses and groans at first, then more open cries as Greg reaches his deepest points with firmer pushes. It is extremely intense, especially after so long, but Mycroft feels so cared for, so loved, staring into Greg’s eyes as his own water a bit with the sheer emotion of the act. All he can hear is their breathing, all he can smell is the last traces of Greg’s aftershave from the morning and the musky tang of sweat.

“Yes, Gregory- just like that- more-”

Work and everything outside can burn. Nothing can take this sense of intimacy from him.

He shifts his ankles up further, til he can brace a bit on Greg’s hips and tilt his own pelvis further, angling so Greg has a better line on his-

Mycroft’s pupils blow immediately wide. His lips part with surprise even though this is exactly where he intended Greg to reach- something about this method of stimulation takes him immediately far past rational understanding.

“Oh fuck god yes hnnnnn-”

 

*

 

Fuck. Even the look of surprise sends a sharp spike of heat through Greg's abdomen. Rendering Mycroft incoherent is the most perfect pleasure on this planet. Greg bites his lip, shivering, and with their foreheads pressed together he concentrates on smooth and deep and rhythmic strokes, over and over, just there, right there where Mycroft needs it.

Brushing his mouth along Mycroft's jaw in an open and soft and restless kiss, Greg eases his way to his lover's ear. They're alone, but it still seems right to whisper this.

"You're so fucking beautiful." Greg's breath catches in his throat. He shudders, nuzzling his face against Mycroft's neck, and as he kisses there his teeth gently ply the soft skin. "You f-feel so good. So fucking good. I want to fuck you all night. I don't want to let you sleep. Just keep you here, work for you, give you this, make it good. You are amazing."

 

*

 

Mycroft would let him. Who needs sleep, or work, or even to leave the bed when he has this pure, unadulterated sensation of pleasure igniting every nerve in his body. Gregory may as well be some sort of benevolent deity, bestowing the gift of his cock on Mycroft, for all the coherency Mycroft’s mortal frame has with his prostate so earnestly targeted.

The words whispered in his ear are only adding to the effect, and he moans, his cock twitching as Greg’s teeth mingle with his kisses. He cants his head, opening his neck further to his lover’s ministrations, each cry and moan breathed into silver-grey hair.

“Yes,” he breathes, one of the few remaining words that he can get out properly. His hands drift over Greg’s clavicle down to his pecs, simply feeling, keeping the sense of touch between them strong.

“Keep me- Greg’ry-”

 

*

 

Something about nuzzling into Mycroft's neck, kissing and biting softly as they fuck - the instinctive sounds he's making for Greg - the brush of his hands, just to touch, just to feel, just affection as enjoyment rises for them both... Greg can't isolate any one sensation that makes this feel so intense. This is a symphony of pleasure.

And you're under me, moaning.

Moaning for my cock.

"Mm hmm?" Greg shivers, tongue flashing at Mycroft's earlobe. "Keep you hot all night, darlin'? Just keep building you, cooling you - fuck you until you can't bear not to come - "

Slowing the grinding of his pelvis, he noses along the slope of Mycroft's neck, dipping beneath where his shirt collar will lie. Something in him wants to mark where people will see; but this isn't lust. This is love. Mycroft's privacy matters more.

Just for me to see. Just for us to know. Just for us. Just to remind you, feel me on top of you again, fucking you -

The bite is gentle but firm, tight into the muscle of Mycroft's shoulder. Greg holds it for a few moments of long and deep and almost hard thrusts, loving and rough at once, biting, holding, marking, mine, all mine -

 

*

 

Mycroft cries out loud , fingers clamping down into Greg’s skin.  There may be bruises, for which he will apologize when he’s more cognizant of himself. It’s not that the act hurts- there is still a low burn, but not enough to impede his pleasure- it’s the feeling of being taken , of opening himself to Gregory further, of being marked and possessed and owned.

He’ll know the mark is there, later. He’ll think of it whenever he’s obligated to think of Alicia or Edwin, smug in their joint ability to try and force him into line, force him to give up some of his time with his love. He’ll think of it when he’s pondering what to do with Karen, and what sort of damage he’ll have to head off next.

They can try, all of them. But Greg is his.

They cannot reach him here.

Moaning when Gregory eases his pace, letting Mycroft come back to himself a little, he stirs as the sparks of pleasure in his mind quiet enough to speak.

“I’d stay like this forever for you, beautiful. All night… all day… let you take me all you like… make me scream for you… make me come just from your brilliant cock....”

 

*

 

Greg's eyes burn, glittering and dark. He strokes his mouth over Mycroft's, half a kiss, as soft as a breath.

"Yours," he murmurs. "Whenever you want it. Whenever you want me, want my body. Any of me." As he speaks, his lips brush Mycroft's with every word. Some of them become kisses, lingering. "All of me."

He trails his fingertips up Mycroft's side, stroking, flexing at his waist, then catches one arm and very gently raises it above Mycroft's head.

"I want to make your life good... you know that?" He caresses the seam of Mycroft's lips with his tongue, sex settling into easy and slow and shallow as he takes hold of Mycroft's other arm, raising it up to join the first on the pillow. "I want to make everything easy for you," he whispers, and knots their fingers together slowly, gripping Mycroft's hands, pinning them above his head. "I want to support you. If that's by laying you down, fucking you so deep you can't think - riding you until we break your bed - sucking your cock until there's nothing left in you - I'll do that. You make me feel like a god. I was broken. You are everything that matters to me."

Their eyes are locked as he deepens the thrusts of his cock once more, slow still but firm now, hard, fucking Mycroft like he means it, like he wants to see it, watching Mycroft's face as he tightens his grip on his beautiful slender wrists.

"Let to watch you come," he murmurs, biting his lip. "Want to feel it."

 

*

 

“Oh, god- Greg-”

It’s a terrifyingly vulnerable feeling, being held down like this. Mycroft has never once let anyone pin him, not since entering the security services. Especially not since he ascended to his current post. He can do whatever he likes to his partners, of course, but for himself- no handcuffs, no restraints, no positions he couldn’t break out of if he needed to- and yes, there had been an assessment course to determine what that meant. There’s too much risk- and no one wanted to be the idiot that let themselves get handcuffed and then found themselves dragged off to some Siberian interrogation site.

The grip on his wrists tightens and he finds he instinctively strains against it and- oh god he’s strong. Mycroft couldn’t break the hold if he wanted to, but he knows Greg would let him go in an instant if he asked.

He doesn’t want to ask.

This is extremely arousing.

Mycroft tilts his head up, licking the span of lip caught in Gregory’s teeth.

“Hellion.” He kisses back as deep as he can, panting as the thrusts come harder. “My hellion- come for you- come for that lovely cock-”

He stirs restlessly against his lover’s grip, letting the waves of escalating pleasure rock him, fingers flexing against the pillow and back arching.

“M’close, Gregory-”

 

*

 

Panting. Arching for me. Fuck - fuck -

"Your hellion," Greg breathes, and keeps Mycroft pinned right there, just where they both need, driving his hips now in deep and steady thrusts over and over, building, surrendering himself to his body's rising urge to fuck fast. "Yours, all yours - fucking you - filling you - "

He wishes he had another hand. He wants to reach down and stroke Mycroft, help him, coax him that last little bit of the way - but he doesn't want to let go. This feels too good to let go. It feels too right. Want you to give to me. Want you to belong to me. He wishes he could feel Mycroft clawing down his back again, but he knows at once there'll be another time. There'll be a thousand other times.

He has a feeling they've both discovered something tonight.

As the pace picks up, pleasure rising fast, it becomes harder to keep the breath and the control needed to kiss. It's difficult to focus on anything but the slick slam of their bodies, Mycroft's heat, his sounds, the way he struggles in Greg's hold. In the end kissing is abandoned for simply panting together, moaning, and Greg can feel the pressure in his abdomen twisting towards breaking point with each desperate gasp of pleasure.

Nothing in this world is as arousing to witness as Mycroft close to coming. He can't fight it much longer. He needs to see Mycroft moan, hear him cry out, feel him writhe - feel him tighten -

"Darlin' - d-darlin', I can't - I c-can't hold much more - "

 

*

 

You won’t have to.

Mycroft can feel it- the tidal pull that drags him past speech, past anything but an open-mouthed cry, the heat of Greg’s breath on his lips, mingling with his own pants-

His thighs tighten, drawing Greg’s hips down as close as he can get him, as deep as he can manage.

Mine. My Greg, my Gregory, all mine- oh, god- Greg-

It’s blinding, this- nothing like coming any other way, overwhelming and fulfilling and explosive. He shakes with it, clenching down around the thickness of his love, arms straining in their hold.

He shouts Gregory’s name as he comes, striping them both, bucking gently as his knees lock around Greg’s back and hold.

“Nnnnf- yes- fuck-”

 

*

 

Greg buries deep as Mycroft comes - as deep as he can be, as close as they can ever reach, turning his face into Mycroft's neck and holding onto his wrists tight. Fuck. Oh fuck, come for me. Come for me, love. Show me. Every cry is perfect, every tremor perfect. He feels Mycroft clench and his breath cuts in a gasp, just a little more, just a tiny bit more, and a few gentle thrusts is enough to rupture the pressure.

Fucking you while you come. Coming in you, deep in you.

Oh, fuck. Mine. I love you. Mine.

His muscles bulk. He pushes closer, tighter, panting into Mycroft's neck as pleasure rolls and burns across his skin. The rush is incredible. He can't breathe.

"Fuck," he moans, "fuck, ohh fuck - "

He can feel himself coming, flooding, all the pleasure pouring through him. Mycroft's body is warm and beautiful. Somewhere in the rush he must have let go of Mycroft's wrists - his arms are circling Mycroft instead, holding him, wrapping tight around him.

"Fuck, fuck... fuck..." His mouth drags along Mycroft's neck, kissing his gorgeous hot skin, breathless and desperate. "M-Mine - "

 

*

 

“Yours, love, all yours….”

Mycroft is limp from the force of his own orgasm, fully relaxed as Greg holds him through the final thrusts, one hand left where Greg put it and the other drifting lazily through silver hair.

He’s never been so content.

The rush of liquid heat and the feeling of Gregory pulsing inside him elicits a moan, overstimulated as he is, but it’s a happy one. They’re a mess. Come sticks between them, sweat and the particular scents of sex, but they’re wrapped about each other with no sign of moving, even after the last aftershocks finish.

They breathe together, lips brushing over skin and yielding to long kisses, each of them softening slowly. Mycroft can feel his mind restarting, but there’s a calm to it now. All of the worry he’d been letting build up is gone, and now he’s laying sated with his love, stroking Gregory’s hair with deep affection.

Now if only cleanup was so simple….

“I suppose I shouldn’t have drained the bath.”

 

*

 

No feeling in the world compares to this - lying with Mycroft, sated and spent, messy with each other, shivering as his hair is gently stroked. There's something animal about the scent of sweat and come. It leaves Greg almost wanting to purr. He wants to rumble and kiss and mark Mycroft a little more, bite into his neck, lick him clean, bring him things to eat.

Fuck... this feels amazing...

"I'll run us a shower," he murmurs, and stirs gently on top of Mycroft, reaching down to wrap a hand around his cock - ease himself out - shuddering slowly as he does. "Fuck, gorgeous... th-that was..."

He looks into Mycroft's eyes, his pupils huge. His gaze flickers to Mycroft's mouth.

"Tell me that was alright," he begs, softly. "Promise me I didn't - get too much."

 

*

 

A low hiss is the only sign of discomfort as Gregory eases from him. Mycroft will be sore tomorrow, but it is well worth it. He will savor feeling every single inch that Gregory drove into him.

“You were perfect,” he says languidly, tracing his finger over Greg’s lips. They’re slightly reddened from- well, everything- and bring out the warmth of his eyes beautifully.

“I think I rather like you a little… assertive.”

His fingers drift down, cupping Greg’s chin and pulling him down again for another long kiss.

“I might even encourage you to keep that up… from time to time.”

 

*

 

Greg's eyes shine. He tilts his head a little, kissing Mycroft's fingers as they touch his lips, and leans down when he's coaxed to do so, feeling like his heart is glowing.

"Been a while since I felt assertive," he admits, his voice soft. He steals another gentle kiss from Mycroft's mouth. "Weird that I need to feel - safe, to..."

He's not sure how to put it into words. Allowed to be assertive. It doesn't really make sense. Mycroft knows him, knows all his wounds, and something about that makes him feel safe enough to play and feel. There's something responsive about it, too - seeing Mycroft in need draws his strength to the fore. You've always been what I need. I want to be what you need, too.

Realising, Greg smiles quietly against Mycroft's mouth. His eyes sparkle as he gazes at his lover.

"M'here for you," he murmurs. "I mean it." He bites his lip. "Lately, I've... just felt better. Knowing there's you and me, no matter what. You make me feel amazing - like I really mean something. S'all I ever want."

 

*

 

“You do mean something. Something important. To me especially.” Mycroft softly kisses Greg again, right where he’s toying that damnable lower lip in his teeth.

Hellion.

“And you are amazing. Anyone who disagrees may proceed directly into the sea.”

Gregory is a wonder. Mycroft has never had someone he could truly trust with his body like this- he trusts Anthea with his life, of course, but that was never a scenario that was ever going to turn romantic.  

He’d trust Greg with anything.

Anything.

His fingers trace over Greg’s cheek, caressing the shape of the bone like he had the greatest prize in the world in his hands. In a way, he does.

I love you, you beautiful hellion.

“I am here for you as well, Gregory. Whatever you need. I want you to feel- how you want to feel.”

 

*

 

God.

God almighty.

The hitch in Greg's pulse is impossible to ignore. He almost can't breathe from the look on Mycroft's face - that expression of utter adoration, the murmured words that he knows beyond all doubt come straight from the heart. Mycroft's affection is as soothing and comforting as a hot bath.

This doesn't feel like the usual fuzzy softness of afterglow, though. This is something else.

Breathing in, Greg keeps his eyes on Mycroft's.

"H-Hey. I... I'd always wanna show you something like this before I tell you, but... it's only a matter of time before it slips out."

His heart heaves against his ribs as he speaks, begging him to stop - pleading with him to keep going.

"Honestly I've come close a few times. I'd rather s-say it now - even if you're not there yet - even if - I just - i-it doesn't matter, if you're not. It's alright. I just need you to know what you are to me."

He hesitates, his gaze flickering to Mycroft's lips, then anxiously back to his eyes.

"I know you mean it," he says, throat tightening. "When you say you want me to feel how I want to feel... s-so - I - hope it's okay that I..."

Jesus - Jesus, Jesus -

"I'm - f-falling in love with you. Kinda hard. You mean the world to me. I'd give anything to make you happy - anything. I wouldn't even have to think about it. Whatever it is, I... I don't care about it half as much as I care about you."

Fuck, don't cry. Don't think about it. Don't even think about it.

"M'sorry if that - m-makes things weird. I just know I'm going to blurt it out soon. And I'd rather tell you now, w-when we're - when we can - "

 

*

 

Oh.

Mycroft’s heart rate picks up, sensing where Greg might be going before his mind, still pleasantly quiet, has caught up.

He’s so nervous- it’s endearing, really, and perhaps a little terrifying, because he knew, but now he really knows - and that is different, somehow. More important. It takes a lot for Mycroft to simply let him speak, not to cut him off and hold him and tell him it’s okay, he doesn’t have to stutter through this, he knows-

But he also knows how important it is to Greg to say it. And to be truly heard in return.

He knew he’d want to say it at some point- he’s been thinking it, been feeling it, but Mycroft does not have a great deal of… emotional experience… to draw from. It makes him nervous, thinking he might ever misstep with Gregory’s heart.  Knowing that he’s being trusted with so very, very much, and has the freedom to trust in turn.

Mycroft makes it until Greg is tipping over into apologizing for his feelings before he really must interject.

“Gregory.”

Deep breath. Gregory is being brave. I must be brave as well.

His thumb strokes over Greg’s cheek once more, as Mycroft gathers his personal stores of self-confidence.

“I love you too.”

 

*

 

"Holy shit - "

Greg feels something break inside his chest - something that then seems to flood his every vein with warmth and relief, and the breath he lets out is the deepest he's ever held. It leaves him trembling with the force of it. Before tears can rise up in his eyes, he leans down and kisses Mycroft, cupping his lover's face. His heart feels like it's about to leap out of him and fly away.

"Fuck," he whimpers, as their lips come apart. He rubs their noses together, his fingertips still shaking. "F-Fuck, you love me too..."

He wants to go to the lakehouse - now. He wants to already be there. He wants to be there right now, lying in the grass and looking at the stars together, knowing they love each other.

This is it.

Holy shit. This is it. This is everything.

As he strokes Mycroft's cheek, gazing down into his eyes, Greg remembers that three months ago he thought he'd be alone. He'd just be Greg, quietly getting by in his tiny flat, going round the corner to a cat café for company.

Now he's in love, and this is everything.

Suddenly, keeping the tears back doesn't seem all that important. He lets the shine gloss over his eyes; he lets Mycroft see it. He's shaking as he strokes Mycroft's lips with his thumb.

"D-D'you mean it?" he whispers. "Please - "

 

*

 

Mycroft presses a kiss against Greg’s thumb.

“Yes.”

He cards his fingers through Greg’s hair, soothing his lover’s- his love’s- shaking.

“I do.”

The book of Shakespearean sonnets he’d gotten out when he first thought, perhaps, yes, I love him, and I must work out how to tell him , still lingers on the lower shelf of his nightstand. He’d thought of some more dramatic gesture, something worthy of the man he loves, something that would toss aside the years of telling himself he would simply never fall in love at all. Poetry at dinner. At a museum.

This is better.

They are dirty, sweaty, covered in each other, but this is theirs and theirs alone. The private nature of it makes it more purely, unquestionable, a moment for just for them.

He kisses Greg again- he doesn’t mind if Greg cries, he knows Gregory is more emotive. As long as they’re happy tears, love.

These are, he’s sure.

“I love you.”

 

*

 

Greg's smile shines along with his tears.

"I love you too," he whispers, and his voice breaks a little. He leans down, kissing those beautiful lips he's just stroked - closing his eyes, the better to remember this moment. The man I love. The man I'll love for good.

Everybody at the Yard met Mycroft today. It makes Greg's heart flutter in the back of his throat to realise it. It seems unreal, that that was only this morning - that there's nothing hidden anymore.

They're going to need a shower soon. They've both had long days, and the rush of hormones after sex will be tipping into sleepiness before they know it. It's so impossible to end this moment, though. Greg wants to stay in it forever, just here, kissing gently. He's never felt so safe.

As he pulls back from Mycroft's lips, there's a moment of tender quiet.

Greg nuzzles at his nose.

"Want to run the shower for you, but - don't want to leave you..." The bathroom is only feet away; it still seems like another country. "Don't know how I'll let go of you tomorrow."

 

*

 

“I suppose we shall both have to persevere through the occasional temporary absence.”

Mycroft would bring Greg to work with him in a heartbeat, if that mean they would not be parted, but he imagines both the security services and New Scotland Yard would frown on it.

He does hope Greg is feeling more confident in himself by the next time Mycroft is summoned abroad. He’d hate to think of Greg so lonely without him. Though, if they are very lucky, the matter of acquiring a certain small, regal feline will have been dealt with by then, so she at least will ensure Gregory is kept in good spirits.

“Why don’t you help me up, then, and I shall continue to love you in the shower, and then continue to love you in bed, and perhaps even continue to love you over breakfast.”

 

*

 

It's impossible not to smile.

"Seems fair," Greg murmurs. With care he eases himself out of bed, lifting the last of his weight from Mycroft gently and taking a moment to find his feet. When he's stable, he holds out his arms to his lover. "Here, gorgeous. Go slow."

In the shower, Mycroft needs do no more than stand and lean against Greg, and let Greg wash him tenderly.

"Let me look after you," Greg murmurs, one arm wrapping around Mycroft, the other gently soaping his chest and stomach with the cloth. "Feel like we're going to sleep well, darlin'... we've both earned it, too..."

When they're clean Greg takes a warm towel from the side and dries Mycroft first, then himself. He guides Mycroft lovingly back to bed, lays him down and turns the lights out, then settles in beside him with a gentle shifting of sheets.

Peace falls across the room. Greg nestles into Mycroft - arms encircling, legs wrapping, gentle kisses pressed to Mycroft's cheek.

"Thank you for my key, love," he murmurs. "S'making a big difference... just - knowing we can be together."

 

*

 

“I like having you here. Having us here.”

Mycroft’s voice is sleepy and contented. His mind has remained pleasantly calm, and he feels very pampered by his lover’s careful attentions, warmed by their comfortable embrace.

Today was hard. But we are fine now.

Tomorrow, he’ll go and speak to the shelter. In person, this time. In his battle suit. He’s quite sure they’ll have a harder time pushing him aside when he’s in his full work armor. He’ll fill out whatever forms they like, but Marmalade will be coming home with them, and soon.

No is no longer an acceptable answer, not with Gregory’s love buoying him.

I’ll bring her home too. Everything will be fine now.

“Goodnight, love.”

 

The End