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You are cordially invited to the wedding of
William Sherlock Scott Holmes
and
John Hamish Watson

The invitation drops onto Greg’s doormat in the middle of a nasty if fairly simple series of home invasions. He’s on his way back out when he sees it. The case is mostly long hours looking over CCTV footage and visiting pawn shops until something pings, but it’s keeping Greg late at the Yard. He wants to catch the gang before they escalate, but he hasn’t bothered to try to get Sherlock interested, knowing he’d refuse on the ground of boredom. Sherlock’s obviously spent the time productively.

He knew this was coming, sort of. Sherlock and John have been engaged for close on two years, but hadn’t made any plans to actually get married. Then two cases ago a witness made it very plain that if John wasn’t actually married then she considered him fair game. Sherlock’s epic tantrum, outburst and subsequent snit finally pushed an exasperated John into snapping that if Sherlock was so upset that he and John weren’t actually married yet then perhaps he should do something about it.

Since then, Sherlock has been damn near useless for anything other than opinions on flower arrangements and invitation fonts. Greg’s glad to see John obviously vetoed Sherlock’s preferred choice of comic sans, despite Sherlock providing John with a study showing that information is more easily retained when presented in an irritating font. The card is classy and understated, very Sherlock. Not.

Greg half expected the two of them to take a quick trip to the registry office then present it as a done deal. Instead Sherlock seems to want a big dramatic display in front of all their friends and acquaintances. That is very Sherlock.

John says he doesn’t care, so long as it doesn’t drag out for another two years.

Greg’s running late when he sees the invitation, and doesn’t bother to do more than skim it quickly as he’s tugging on his shoes. He notes the date and the request to RSVP, then promptly forgets about the whole thing.

John drops in to his office a week later while Greg is elbow deep in the arrest paperwork. Greg nods distractedly at him, glad he’s not brought Sherlock too. ‘Hey mate, what’s up?’

John sits. ‘Haven’t heard from you about the invite, figured I’d come down myself to get your answer.’

Greg tries to think of an invitation he’s received from John. He can’t remember one off the top of his head, but it was probably a text he missed, inviting him to the pub. ‘Sorry, can’t tonight. Maybe tomorrow if I get this finished.’ He gestures to the paperwork.

John gives him a funny look. ‘What are you talking about?’
Now Greg is confused. ‘Pub? What’re you on about?’

Now John looks amused. ‘Wedding? RSVP? Date to reply was yesterday.’

It comes back to him and Greg groans. ‘Sorry mate, totally forgot. Yeah, course I’ll be there. What’s the date again? I’ll put it in the calender now.’ He may have to call in a few favours, but he’s not missing this.

‘Next month, the 17th.’ Greg marks it down and turns back to John.

‘Bit quick innit? You sure you’ll get everything done in time?’

John rolls his eyes. ‘Sherlock’s obsessed. It’s not like the wedding defines the marriage, but he’s busy researching flowers and menus. First time I’ve seen him really interested in food. Who knew he had such strong views on halibut?’ Despite his words, John’s smile is fond, if a little harassed.

God save him from happy couples, Greg thinks. ‘So where is it? I can’t imagine Sherlock being content with some conference centre, an’ we’ll not all fit into Baker Street.’

‘No we won’t, not with Sherlock having invited what seems like everyone we’ve ever met. Actually, it’s in a hotel just outside London. It’s pretty posh, but Sherlock did something for the owner so we got a discount. Bit of a drive, but it’s an evening do so people can stay overnight there, or there’s a decent budget hotel down the road.’

It’ll be the budget place for him, Greg thinks. No point going all out for one night. Unless… ‘So it’s a Saturday thing, right? All in the one place?’

John nods. ‘Ceremony at six, dinner after, then people can mingle til they want to leave. Sherlock refused to have dancing.’ Greg knows John’s not much of a one for dancing either.

‘Going away after?’

‘Got Sherlock to agree to two weeks in Sussex. Some kind of beekeepers conference for three days, then the rest of the time...’ John grins widely.

So Sherlock’ll be away for two weeks, and with Greg at the hotel already it would be a shame not to take a few extra days to relax. Book a room in the nicer place, do a bit of exploring round about, maybe even a bit of hiking. Or just relax with a book. Sounds like a plan.

‘Sounds like you’ve got it sorted then mate. Send me the name of the place so I can get something booked.’

John shakes his head and stands. ‘It’s on the invitation, along with the date and everything else you need.’

Greg grins a little sheepishly. ‘Oh yeah, sorry. Anything else you need now?’

John thinks for a moment. ‘Oh, guest. Are you bringing anyone?’

Greg laughs, not particularly humorously. ‘Fat chance of that. ‘M too busy to date, and it’s not likely to change in a month. Best put me down as flying solo.’

John nods, a little wry. ‘Yeah, if I wasn’t living with him, I’d never get a chance to see Sherlock usually. But we make time for each other. Maybe you should try.’

‘What, moving in with a bloke then marrying him?’ Greg asks facetiously. ‘Think I’ll pass. Thanks for dropping by though. Guess I’ll see you about. Text me if you want a night at the pub, give you a break from place settings and cake filling.’

John gives him a tight grin. ‘Today too soon?’

 

*

 

As the date of the wedding draws closer Greg finds himself looking forward to it more and more. Well, less the wedding itself than the few days after. He’s managed to get the Saturday, Sunday and Monday off with little hassle, and the area around the hotel seems like it’ll be nice enough to spend a couple of days in.

The drive up in his rented car is not too stressful and Greg makes good time. He’s checked in by three with no problems, and after dumping his bag and suit in his room he changes into his walking boots and heads out to explore.

The air is fresh to his London-accustomed lungs and the terrain easy enough, and he makes it back to the hotel with plenty of time before the ceremony. He showers and changes, then wanders his way down. There are several other people milling about in the foyer already, some he recognises and some he doesn’t. He waves to Molly Hooper and her boyfriend, Steve something, and is about to go over to chat when his attention is diverted by a frankly stunning man coming down the stairs.

Christ. Greg’s always been partial to a nice pair of legs, and this man’s seem to stretch for miles. Add in the hint of ginger in his hair, brought out by the light from the chandelier above the staircase, and top it with the way he fills out a tailored light grey suit, and Greg can kiss goodbye to any idea of remaining coherent should the two of them ever speak.

Greg can’t decide if he’s horrified or delighted when the man strides confidently through the hall and straight to the door marked ‘Holmes-Watson Wedding.’ On the one hand, if they’re at the reception together there’s a chance they might talk and Greg could possibly, with divine intervention, impress him enough to warrant a second look. On the other hand, if he’s stuck anywhere behind the man during the ceremony itself he’ll not be able to focus on anything but the back of the man’s head.

Taking a deep breath, Greg manages to saunter more or less casually towards the room. Inside, he’s relieved to see that the man has taken a seat towards the back on the right hand side. Greg slips in on the left side, a few rows in front. If he can’t see the man he’ll be able to concentrate on the goings on at the front, which is, after all, what he’s here for.

The room begins to fill as people trickle in and find seats. Greg ends up sitting between a rugby friend of John’s, and Mrs Hudson.

Mrs Hudson proves to be an excellent deterrent against sneaking covert looks at the man. She keeps up a running commentary on the outfits people have chosen, interspaced with pleased sniffs about how happy she is that ‘the boys’ have finally got round to getting married. Greg makes agreeing noises and refrains from commenting that Sherlock and John, at thirty eight and forty two respectively, can hardly be called ‘boys.’

The ceremony begins on time and is surprisingly restrained. No enormous displays of extravagance, no horribly sappy declarations of love complete with embarrassing pet names. Not even a drunk family member shouting about how the whole thing will come to ruin. All in all, one of the better weddings Greg has attended, and he’s including his own in that.

After, the guests converge to congratulate John and Sherlock and to profess how they can’t believe it’s finally happened. John is beginning to look a little strained from receiving most of the comments, whilst Sherlock stands possessively beside him, looking proud and bored in equal measures.

Greg loses sight of the gorgeous man in the muddle of people and decides that’s probably for the best. He also decides to head through to the reception room while things are quiet. He can congratulate the happy couple later.

He finds his seat at one of the tables near the back. He recognises some of the other names and realises this must be the table of tragic singles. Sherlock must have arranged the seating plan, this sort of thing would seem like a neat solution to him. Greg heard him remark once that the only reason people go to weddings is to pressure their partner into a similar display, remind themselves of their wedding day in the hopes of re-igniting their marriage, or to have inadvisable sex with strangers. Seating all the unattached people together would seem efficient to his mind.

More evidence to prove that Sherlock assigned seats is given when Greg glances at the next table. He winces. John can’t have seen the layout; he would never have put Harry Watson and Guest beside James Morgan and Guest. Greg has met James, one of John’s army mates, once or twice. With those two seated together, if they’re very lucky things won’t descend into a drinking match followed by a brawl. Greg won’t hold out much hope though.

He tuns his attention back to his own table. The name to his right is someone from John’s surgery, if he remembers correctly. He doesn’t recognise the other name.

Mycroft Holmes.

Must be a relative of Sherlock’s. Not a close one, or he’d be up at the top table. Though knowing Sherlock, this could be his favourite uncle or something.

Greg puts this out of his mind in favour of swapping Harry’s place card with one from anther table, and does the same to the seating plan by the door. He’ll call it an extra wedding present for John.

People are beginning to trickle in now and Greg goes to take his seat. Margaret, the woman from John’s surgery, arrives not long after and the two of them make slightly awkward small talk about how nice the hotel is, wasn’t it a lovely ceremony, I’m glad they aren’t serving salmon like every other wedding.

The tables around them begin to fill, as does theirs, and Greg is slightly relieved when Margaret’s attention is caught by the man on her other side. He takes the opportunity to check his phone, not that he really thinks there’ll be anything. It’s more habit. He pushes his chair back from the table to fish his phone out of his pocket. As he though, nothing’s come in, and he’s debating how rude it would be to play a bit of solitaire while he waits for the starters when he hears a throat being cleared behind him.

‘Excuse me, could I get past please?’

Greg jumps up without looking. ‘Yeah, sorry, let me just -’ He looks up to see who he’s talking to and nearly swallows his tongue. Christ. It’s the bloke from before, even more gorgeous close too. ‘I’ll just, uh, just pull my chair in, OK?’ After a moment, when the man raises an eyebrow and nods, he realises he’s standing there waiting for permission like an idiot. Greg blushes and fumbles with his chair, managing to pull it in and sit down without causing any more damage to his facade of being a competent adult.

The man walks past him and takes the only empty seat left at the table. The one marked Mycroft Holmes, the one right next to Greg.

Of course.

Greg debates faking a work call and hiding in the foyer until the starters arrive and he can pretend to be engrossed by the food, but he’s afraid it wouldn’t pass muster with a Holmes. He resigns himself to staying quiet through dinner for fear of making an even greater fool of himself. Christ knows he hasn’t made a good impression so far, and he can’t imagine this Mycroft Holmes will want to actually talk to him.

He’s surprised, therefore, when his seating companion turns to him. ‘It seems to me that this table is made up entirely of unattached people. I would hazard a guess that Sherlock arranged the seating.’
Greg snorts. ‘Had the same thought myself. Have you heard his theory about why people go to weddings? Probably thought he was being helpful.’

A pained look flicks over Holmes’ face. ‘I have been treated to that theory. Gentle suggestions that perhaps some people genuinely wished to see their friends happy were met with derision.’

Greg rolls his eyes in response. ‘Oh yeah, Sherlock does a good line in derision. Usually I’m on the receiving end. It’s the air of surprise at your utter stupidity that makes it such a winner.’

Holmes hums. ‘Yes, and the disbelief that you could possibly disagree with him.’

Greg grins. ‘Thank God he’s got John to tell him when he’s being a bit not good.’

Holmes gives a half smile in response. ‘I thank the lord daily for the arrival of John Watson. Or rather John Holmes-Watson now.’

Greg nods in agreement. ‘Didn’t think they’d go for the double barrelled name. Never really saw either of them as the type. Mind you, I didn’t expect Sherlock to be so keen on a big wedding.’
‘Sherlock is full of surprises.’ The half smile again.

Greg snorts. ‘You can say that again. Makes my life interesting on a regular basis.’ It suddenly occurs to him that he’s not actually introduced himself. He holds his hand out to shake. ‘Greg Lestrade, pleased to meet you.’
Holmes takes his hand. ‘Ah, the famous DI Lestrade. Sherlock mentions you quite frequently. Mycroft Holmes, at your service. I imagine Sherlock has mentioned me too.’ His face holds a vaguely resigned expression.

‘Oh, once or twice.’ A small white lie. No one likes to think their friends and relatives never talk about them, even if they are friends and relatives of Sherlock. ‘Though I don’t think he mentioned what you do…?’ Nice and non-specific, ease the conversation away from Sherlock and back to Mycroft.

Holmes looks vague. ‘Oh, minor government official. Attached to the Department of Transport. Traffic and things.’ He shoots Greg a smile that seems to have a hint of conspiracy to it, as though a there’s a joke between them. ‘Nothing important.

Greg grins back. This is going surprisingly well. ‘Well, if it’s nothing important,’ he matches Holmes’ conspiratorial tone, ‘then let’s leave it be an’ talk about something more interesting.’

Holmes’ eyes drop and then sweep up Greg’s torso. ‘And what would you consider interesting to talk about, Detective Inspector?’ His voice has lowered in tune with his eyes.

Greg has a moment of surprise that a man that looks like that seems to be flirting with him, before he decides he’s probably reading too much in to it. Though if Mycroft Holmes is interested, Greg’s not going to pass up the opportunity.

‘Greg, please, Mr Holmes. An’ I’d say there’s lots of things to talk about that don’t involve work or Sherlock. For example...’ He casts around helplessly for something to say that isn’t Are you staying here too? Fancy coming back to my room? Desperate for something, anything to say to break the pause, he ends up speaking without thinking. ‘Where d’you think she got that hat?’ He points covertly to a woman seated two tables away whom Greg thinks is a relative of John’s. ‘An’ can people actually be arrested for crimes against fashion?’ He wants to smack himself in the face for making such stupid conversation, but it’s still better than not saying anything. He thinks.

Holmes seems to take the topic change in his stride, twisting slightly to see the hat in question. ‘Ah. It certainly is a… bold choice. I’m not quite certain it is legally reprehensible, though it certainly could be classed as a danger to the public. I’m not sure that colour was quite the right choice. Oh, and do please call me Mycroft.’

Greg can hardly retain his relief at the lack of judgement in Mycroft’s tone, or the fact that he seems willing to continue talking to Greg. ‘It’s the spiky bits I’m more worried about. An’ the number of bald birds that went into making the crown.’

‘Cruelty to animals? There could be something there to investigate,’ Mycroft muses, ‘but surely if we are not talking about my work, we should not be talking about yours either, and certainly not sending you off to arrest members of the wedding party.’

‘That’d make a change, not having to arrest someone. Sometimes it seems like I’m never off the clock.’ Greg realises he’s slipped back into talking about work and makes a determined effort to break away. ‘’S why I decided to take some time to relax here for a couple of days, get away from London for a bit. Are you staying here?’ He can’t quite contain his hopeful tone. It’s not quite ‘fancy coming back to my room’, but it’s closing in on it.

Mycroft shakes his head with what seems to be regret. ‘I’m afraid I could only manage a night here before I have to be back in London. It would have been nice, but perhaps some other time. Do you have plans for your time here?’

Greg tells him about the hiking boots and books he’d packed. ‘Never usually get a chance, my ex wasn’t big on the countryside, but it’s nice to see proper green every once in a while.’ Why yes, that is another hint that I’m single… ‘You a city boy or a country boy?’

Mycroft waves an elegant hand. ‘Oh, I’m an unapologetic city creature. Country is all well and good for short visits but I must admit I enjoy having the amenities a city can provide close by. Results of growing up in the country miles from the nearest town.’

Ring. He’s wearing a ring. Though it is on the wrong hand... Forcing down the slight disappointment, Greg laughs. ‘I guess that’s why I prefer getting out of the city when I can. Born an’ bred London, me. Difficult to appreciate what you’ve never missed.’

At that moment the wait staff begin serving their table. Greg chose the risotto starter and Mycroft beside him has gone for the salad. Greg takes the opportunity provided by everyone focusing on their meals to shoot occasional covert looks at Mycroft. There’s not much of a resemblance between him and Sherlock. Probably first cousins or something.

They each take a few mouthfuls before Greg speaks again. ‘Good salad?’

Mycroft nods, chewing. He swallows and takes a sip of water before replying. ‘Very nice. And your risotto?’

Greg nods, considering. ‘Not bad. Could do with a little white wine in it maybe. There’s a great place in Shepherds Bush that does risotto to die for. Really creamy without making it sickly.’
Mycroft offers his own observations about good food in London, and they go back and forth on the subject. The wait staff have come round again with wine this time, and as the discussion moves further into favourite places and things to do in London they sip their drinks and move onto the main course.

Greg knows he’s probably drinking a bit more than he really should, but it’s one night, he doesn’t have to go anywhere, his friends have just got married and he’s chatting and laughing with a man who really is stupidly attractive. And possibly married. Can’t forget that. Under the circumstances, he thinks he can be allowed a little leeway.

Mycroft is drinking too, and as the meal wears on a slight flush comes to his cheeks. It just heightens the attraction Greg’s feeling. He should probably slow down if he doesn’t want to end up doing something embarrassing.

As the plates for the main course are cleared away there’s a lull in the conversation, and Greg gets up the courage to ask. ‘So, girlfriend? Boyfriend? Stable an’ loving partnership with your dog?’

Mycroft’s sharp look tells him he’s probably not as subtle as he’d hoped. He’s about to apologise and say it’s none of his business, which technically it isn’t, when Mycroft shakes his head. ‘No to all three.’ He doesn’t elaborate, but Greg wants to be sure.

‘Not a dog person? Cats? Budgies?’ Husband? Wife? He knows he’s pushing it a bit, but so far Mycroft’s been lenient with him saying stupid things…

Mycroft takes pity on him. ‘No, it’s just me.’

Greg feels like cheering, and hopes he’s at least managing to keep the wide grin off his face. Probably not the most appropriate reaction. ‘Yeah, me too,’ he manages at last.

The conversation dies again, not uncomfortably. Greg sees Mycroft discretely checking his phone under the table and thinks about doing the same. But he is supposed to be having a couple of days off, and he’s been almost flirting with an extremely attractive man and the thought of possibly being dragged away is not appealing.

Mycroft turns back to him. ‘My apologies, a work matter.’

‘Oh.’ Greg doesn’t even bother to try and disguise his disappointment. ‘D’you have to go?’

‘Oh no, merely someone getting a little over excited. I wouldn’t want to miss dessert.’ Greg might be imagining things again, but it looked to him like Mycroft was eyeing him as he made that remark.

‘Yeah, sounds good. Hope it’ll be here soon.’ If he’s focussed on that, he can’t go imagining things, like Mycroft flirting with him.

Greg ordered the Belgian chocolate ganache tart for dessert and Mycroft ordered the fruit kebab. By now, the reception has broken down to much less formal seating arrangements. People are moving around to chat to those they know, and their table is more or less deserted. Good thing too, Greg thinks. The wine and the looks Mycroft is shooting Greg’s dessert make Greg want to feed it to him. Or take both Mycroft and the chocolate up to his room and…

Right. Definitely enough wine for him.

He nudges his plate closer to Mycroft. ‘Go on, try a bit. It’s fantastic.’

Mycroft only hesitates for a moment before he digs in. The expression he makes when the flavour reaches his tongue forces Greg to swallow. The moan he lets out a second later means Greg won’t be able to stand up for a bit. ‘Good heavens, that is truly decadent. It rather puts my fruit in the shade.’

Greg swallows again, but his voice still comes out a little hoarse. ‘You can have some more if you want. Half an’ half?’

Mycroft looks tempted. ‘I couldn’t possibly ask you to part with half of this.’

‘You can ask me to do anything.’ It takes Greg a horrified second before he realises he actually said that. Out loud. And there’s no way Mycroft missed it.

Mycroft’s eyes blaze sharp and hot in turns as he gazes at Greg, but he doesn’t say anything in response. Greg follows his lead. ‘Go on, I should probably have some fruit after that meal, you can have half of mine an’ I’ll have half of yours.’

‘Well, if you insist.’ Instead of transferring half of it to his plate at Greg expected, Mycroft takes another forkful from Greg’s plate. It becomes a strange, silent eternity as the two of them eat chocolate ganache off the same plate, not saying a word. Greg doesn’t dare look at Mycroft for fear of what he might say if he sees Mycroft licking his fork.

When the tart is gone, Mycroft transfers the fruit kebabs on to the plate. After a minute of trying to wrestle the first piece off the skewer, Greg gives up and uses his fingers. The fruit is coated in some sort of syrupy sauce and might not be as healthy as all that, but it does add to the flavour. It also means that Greg’s left licking his fingers clean at the end.

Mycroft makes a half strangled noise and Greg looks up instinctively. He finds his eyes captured by Mycroft’s and feels himself freeze with his lips around his thumb.

‘Gregory...’ Mycroft sounds sorely tested. A flush of warmth travels up Greg’s torso. Well. It would seem Mycroft is just as interested as him.

He tugs his thumb free of him mouth, the action followed intently by Mycroft’s eyes. It gives him the jolt he needs. ‘Look, this may be a bit sudden, but I’ve got a room here...’ He lets the words trail off, leaves Mycroft to reach his own conclusions.

Mycroft doesn’t say anything for a moment. His eyes scrutinise Greg from what feels like top to toe. In the end he leans forward, lowering his voice so none of their few remaining table mates can hear. Not that any of them seem interested in their conversation.

‘Gregory, I would be delighted to see your room. Might I suggest you head up first and I will meet you there?’

Christ. This is really happening. ‘Sounds like a plan. I’m in 205.’

Mycroft nods. ‘I will be there in about fifteen minutes.’

A thought hits Greg. ‘Damn. I don’t have any supplies.’ At Mycroft’s confused frown, he elaborates. ‘Condoms. Didn’t expect to need them.’

Mycroft’s expression lightens. ‘Ah. I can have some procured. I didn’t expect to need any either.’

Well, rather him than Greg asking the receptionist for condoms. Though in a place that hosts weddings, it’s probably not the first time they’ve been asked.

‘Right, well, I’ll just go say bye to Sherlock an’ John and then I’ll head up. Don’t be long.’ He winks at Mycroft and stands. There are plenty of people milling about the room and so Sherlock and John don’t notice him until he’s standing by their table. John is the first to spot him.

‘Heeeeey, Greg!’ Looks like Greg and Mycroft aren’t the only ones who’ve been drinking. Greg grins.

‘Hi John. Listen, I’m off, just wanted to say congratulations an’ have a good time in Sussex. See you in two weeks, yeah?’

John stands a little unsteadily and grabs Greg’s hand. ‘Thanks for coming mate. ‘S good of you.’ They shake hands for a little while until Greg manages to pull his hand free.

Sherlock breaks in at this point. ‘It’s not even ten yet and you’re leaving, Lestrade. You’ve obviously found someone to have sex with. So much for your complaints that single people don’t just come to weddings to ‘hook up’.’

John glares at Sherlock. ‘If Greg wants to leave early for sex he can. Anyone can leave early for sex. I want to leave early for sex. I want to take you upstairs and -’ Greg leaves at this point. He’s heard more than enough.

His room, when he reaches it, is still pretty neat. He picks up a stray pair of socks and moves his suit bag off the bed. He also takes the opportunity to have a quick drink of water and brush his teeth in the hopes of clearing his head a little. Then he stands in the middle of the room, uncertain as to what he should do next.

He’s saved from indecision by a knock on the door. He swings it open, grinning. Mycroft stands in the doorway, discrete paper bag in hand. Despite the activities of the last few hours, his suit is still perfectly unrumpled. Greg is very much looking forward to changing that.

He stands back and Mycroft enters without a word. For an electric moment neither of them moves, gazes locked. Then Greg can’t take the anticipation any longer and closes the last few steps between them, reaching as he does to take Mycroft’s face in his hands. Mycroft also moves a step forward, hands coming to rest on Greg’s waist. He lowers his head the necessary couple of inches, and just like that, they’re kissing.

It starts soft and slow, but Greg can sense the banked hunger just waiting to be unleashed. He flicks his tongue over Mycroft’s lower lip and that seems to be the trigger. The kiss turns hotter, wetter, Mycroft beginning to take charge. Not to be outdone, Greg moves his hands to push the jacket off Mycroft’s shoulders. It crumples to the floor, unheeded, and Greg begins on the waistcoat beneath.

The small buttons are more fiddly and Greg is forced to pull away regretfully to see what he’s doing. Mycroft makes a small noise as their lips part that threatens to derail Greg’s plan of getting him undressed in favour of more kissing. He perseveres with his task though, and is rewarded by the sight of Mycroft clad only in a tie, braces and fine cotton shirt. Braces, Greg thinks. Christ.

Mycroft looks a little surprised to find himself already on the way to becoming undressed. Too focused on kissing me, Greg thinks giddily. The thought drives him back to Mycroft, both of them falling back into kissing as though they had never stopped. The next time they part, Greg finds Mycroft has not only relieved him of his suit jacket but has removed his tie and begun unbuttoning his shirt too.

Greg gives a mock frown. ‘Hey, not fair I’m the only one getting undressed here.’

Mycroft’s answering smile is sly. ‘But Gregory, you started it. I was merely following your lead.’

Greg grins back at him. ‘My room, my rules. If I have to be shirtless then so d’you.’

Mycroft’s eyes turn calculating. ‘Is that so? And should I take it that if you are trouserless, then I should be too?’ Before Greg has time to think, Mycroft’s hands are on his belt buckle. He has it undone with a deft flick of his wrist and begins on Greg’s fly before Greg can say a word.

Well then. Challenge accepted.

Firstly, Greg removes Mycroft’s tie, dropping it to the floor to land on the forgotten jacket and waistcoat. He then runs a finger down the front of Mycroft’s shirt, following the line of his braces. When he reaches the top of Mycroft’s trousers he takes a moment to trace backwards and forwards along the waistband before he moves to undo the clasp. At the first touch of Greg’s fingers Mycroft’s hands stilled, leaving him holding Greg’s trousers slightly awkwardly. Greg doesn’t spare it much attention, too focused on repeating the gesture with the brace on the other side before tugging Mycroft’s shirt free. He unbuttons it from the bottom up, allowing him to draw the two sides apart like a curtain when he flicks the top button open.

Mycroft’s chest is pale and mostly hairless, the slight amount of extra padding he carries not disguising the sleek shape of muscles beneath. Good tailoring can hide a lot of sins, and Mycroft’s is excellent. Greg is a little relieved to find Mycroft imperfect beneath his suit. Greg himself is nearing fifty faster than he would like, and it’s beginning to show despite his best efforts.

Mycroft’s voice breaks in on his contemplation. ‘I believe the deal was that you had to be shirtless as well.’ The murmur of his voice renders the act more intimate as his hands move to undo the buttons on Greg’s shirt. It’s not long before the shirt is pushed to the floor, and Mycroft takes a moment to gaze at Greg’s chest. Greg feels a little self conscious as Mycroft’s eyes are drawn to his nipples, but he squashes the urge to turn away, instead turning his attention to Mycroft’s button fly.

The first brush of his fingers as he unfastens a button makes Mycroft twitch a little, the second brings a slight gasp. At the third, Greg can see why.

‘Dear me, Mr Holmes. No underwear? Must be torture when I do this.’ He rubs his hand lightly over the fabric, fingers tracing the bulge beneath, and Mycroft grabs his wrist.

‘You are playing with fire, Gregory. I think it’s time for a little turn-about.’ Still holding Greg’s wrist, his other hand slides inside Greg’s half open trousers and down to palm his cock. Greg can’t help rocking into it a little, the friction exquisite after the wait. He gives a half moan when Mycroft’s fingers tighten slightly, moving with more purpose.

He doesn’t realise his eyes have slid closed and his mouth open until Mycroft takes his hand out of Greg’s trousers. His eyes open again to find Mycroft’s face inches away and closing in. He’s being kissed again before he knows what’s happening, Mycroft devouring and Greg only able to hang on for the ride. Eventually he manages to push Mycroft back a few steps, following closely so they don’t have to stop kissing. They keep retreating until Mycroft’s legs hit the bed and he sinks down, Greg following. They end up with Mycroft seated on the bed, head tilted up, and Greg in an awkward position, bending over to keep their lips connected.

He breaks away and takes in Mycroft’s dilated pupils and uneven breathing as tugs off Mycroft’s shirt, still hanging from his shoulders, then kneels in front of him to remove his shoes and socks. Greg discarded his when he got back to the room after dinner and so all he’s wearing now is his trousers and pants. All Mycroft’s wearing is his trousers.

The thought is too tempting, and he leans forward to mouth at the bulge in Mycroft’s lap. Mycroft’s breath hitches and his legs spread. Greg finds himself asking. ‘Why aren’t you wearing pants?’

It takes a moment for Mycroft to gather his thoughts. ‘Ruins the line of the suit. Gregory...’

His name in that half pleading, half demanding tone is enough to send Greg right back to where he was before. He unfastens the last two buttons of Mycroft’s fly and parts the fabric. Mycroft’s cock peeks out and Greg takes hold of it, stroking gently as he watches Mycroft’s face.

Mycroft is staring down at him intensely, eyes burning and breathing still uneven. His voice as he speaks is a rough purr. ‘That’s it, Gregory, a little tighter. Good. Now run your fingers over the head… ah!’ He breaks off, throws his head back as Greg does as he’s told. Delighted by this break in Mycroft’s control, Greg takes his chance while Mycroft’s focus has softened to duck his head and lick up the shaft of Mycroft’s cock, tracing a vein the way he traced the braces earlier. Mycroft gives a muffled shout at that, and Greg moves to run his tongue around the edge of his foreskin, eliciting the same reaction. He’s concentrating too intently on his task, enjoying the sensation and the effect it has, and fails to notice Mycroft moving. Hands come down and grip his shoulders, pulling him up and onto the bed beside Mycroft.

Pleasure and hunger are warring on Mycroft’s face. ‘You, Gregory, are far too good at that for my self control.’ He pushes Greg down to lie on his back and finishes opening his trousers, pulling Greg’s underwear down just enough that his cock is free. Trepidation and arousal fill Greg with Mycroft’s next words. ‘I think it’s my turn to test your self control. And Gregory,’ the purr deepens, ‘I am going to make you beg.

 

*

 

They sleep late on Sunday, waking up together, eating breakfast in bed and talking about nothing, giggling like school boys and falling into a shoving match that threatens to turn into a pillow fight, but gets derailed before it can begin. At some point, Greg remembers that Mycroft was supposed to leave today. ‘What time d’ you have to go back?’ he asks, hoping the answer will be not yet.

Mycroft barely looks up from kissing across Greg’s chest. ‘I’m not leaving.’

‘But what about -’ Greg breaks off, arching as Mycroft reaches a nipple. ‘What about the traffic?’ His voice is distinctly breathy.

‘Fuck the traffic,’ Mycroft says roughly, fingers replacing his lips. ‘The country can wait.’

Greg grins helplessly at the ceiling. ‘Rather you fucked me, thanks.’

Mycroft rests his chin on Greg’s chest, smile distinctly wicked as he meets Greg’s eyes. ‘That can be arranged.’

 

*

 

Monday morning Greg wakes up pleasantly sore and extremely satisfied. He’s not had sex this fantastic for a long. Maybe ever. He turns his head to take in his bedmate and finds him awake, eyes open and limbs sprawled carelessly across the bed. He grins at Mycroft.

‘If Sherlock’s thing is crime solving, your thing must be sex. You’re just as dedicated to the cause.’

Mycroft looks both amused and mildly offended. ‘Are you calling me a slut, Detective Inspector?’

Greg laughs. ‘Not at all, Mr Holmes. Just terribly talented. Though if the shoe fits...’ He gives his best leer, hamming it up more than usual. Christ, he’s missed just having fun in bed with someone, laughing and taking his time rather than racing to the end then leaving as fast as possible.

He gives a full body stretch, arching his back, and when he looks back he finds Mycroft’s gaze fastened on his nipples once more. ‘Oi,’ he says, amused. ‘We do actually have to get up sometime today. Check out’s in -’ he fumbles for his watch on the bedside table, ‘Half an hour, Christ. I don’t think we’ve got time for another go.’

Mycroft reaches a hand out and tweaks at the nipple he was staring at earlier, and Greg finds his resolve waning. ‘Hmm,’ Mycroft’s voice is seductive, testing Greg’s resolve. ‘If we share a shower, that would save time and we could have another go.’ He gives Greg a mock innocent look. ‘In the name of the cause.’

Greg gulps. Somehow, he’s not sure it actually will save time…

He grins. ‘Come on then. Let’s see if we can make the check out time.’ He pulls Mycroft up and towards the bathroom, kissing him as he does.

They don’t quite manage to check out on time.

 

*

 

They go down to the foyer together, Greg heading to his car and Mycroft waiting for a car service. It’s a little awkward on Greg’s part. He doesn’t want this weekend to end, wants to see if Mycroft would like to meet again sometime, but he doesn’t quite know how to phrase it. In the end, as they stand there putting off saying goodbye, he decides to just go for it.

‘Listen, I know this was supposed to be just a simple thing, but it’s been fun. If you wanted to meet in London at some point, I’d be up for that.’ He hopes Mycroft can’t hear the hope in his voice, hopes he seems casually unconcerned. He’s pretty certain he hasn’t managed to pull it off.

Mycroft gives him a long look which ends in a slight smile. ‘I would like that Gregory. Text me when you have some free time, I’ll see if I can clear my schedule.’

Greg finds himself nodding for far longer than he needs to. ‘Yeah, right, I will. Um, I don’t have your number though.’

Mycroft blushes a little. ‘I took the liberty of putting my card in your jacket earlier. A little forward perhaps, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see you again.’

Greg feels absurdly pleased that Mycroft wants to see him again enough to give Greg his card sneakily. He wants to kiss Mycroft, just a quick peck, but the middle of a hotel lobby in broad daylight may not be the most discrete place. He’s not sure how out Mycroft is, how comfortable he would be with public displays like that. He confines himself to a grin and a wink. ‘You’ll definitely have the opportunity. Dinner maybe? Then go somewhere quiet.’

Mycroft seems pleased, and his tone when he agrees is edged with what Greg thinks is anticipation. They can’t stand here in the foyer all day, and with the promise of meeting again Greg feels less reluctant to say goodbye. He makes himself pick up his bags once again and turns with purpose towards the door. ‘See you soon then, Mycroft. Have a good trip back.’

‘You too Gregory.’ Greg represses a shiver at his name in Mycroft’s voice, shoots him a last smile and walks out to his car.

 

*

 

On the drive back he realises he never gave Mycroft his number, and resolves to text him when he gets home. Then he worries that’s maybe a bit soon. He goes back and forth on the subject and finally decides to wait until Tuesday at the earliest.

Tuesday brings a small mountain of paperwork that seems to have been breeding on his desk since he left on Friday. Despite this, his good mood from the long weekend buoys him up. He’s so cheerful that Donovan even comments on it. ‘Good to get away from here for a bit,’ Greg answers, ‘get some rest, get out and about.’ He doesn’t feel even faintly guilty for the misdirect. New Scotland Yard is full of professionally nosy people, it doesn’t stop when they’re off the streets. If he mentions he met someone at Sherlock and John’s wedding he’ll never hear the end of it.

In the afternoon he spends five minutes composing a text to send to the number on the card, identified simply as ‘Holmes’.

Hey, it’s Greg Lestrade. I had a really good time this weekend. Forgot to give you my number and this way you can text too if you’re free. GL

There’s no reply immediately, but it is the middle of the work day and Mycroft is probably busy sorting out train times or talking to union reps, whatever he does at the Department of Transport. Greg can’t believe Mycroft, with his self assurance and air of utter control, does anything less than the high level stuff. He sets his phone aside rather than sit and stare at it, hoping for a reply, and goes back to the never ending paperwork.

He feels his phone buzz later as he’s talking to Detective Constable Ho, but he can’t check it just yet. When he does, his hopes are realised. It’s Mycroft.

Hello Gregory. Thank you for your text. I must admit I very much enjoyed our weekend too, and should I find myself free I shall certainly contact you. Pertinent to that, would you happen to have a slot free at 8 on Friday for dinner? MH

Greg checks his mental calender and curses. Friday he’s promised to have dinner with his sister. He sees Shannon little enough as it is, he doesn’t want to cancel on her.

He texts back that he can’t manage Friday, but could do Thursday. The reply when it comes says that Mycroft regrets that he’s busy on Thursday and during the weekend, but could manage next Tuesday. Greg agrees, a little disappointed that he’s going to have to wait that long to see Mycroft again. Still, it’s better than nothing.

At dinner on Friday with Shannon he gives her the outline of his weekend when she asks. She’s pleased he’s met someone and he’s going to see them again, even if she teases him for falling straight into bed with Mycroft for the whole long weekend.

Greg spends Saturday evening tidying his flat in case they end up back at his on Tuesday. He briefly wonders what Mycroft’s doing this weekend. He can’t imagine him playing Saturday football with a bunch of mates or lying around in his pants watching crap TV. He can imagine him wandering round an antiques market, or browsing a bookshop. The thought of maybe joining him one day brings a warm feeling that Greg is aware means he’s likely getting too invested too fast. It’s plans for dinner and more, not an invitation to move in.

He’s on call Sunday despite having worked Saturday already, and sod’s law has him being called in before he’s even got up in the morning. He spends the day ankle deep in river mud as he watches the SOCO lot fishing bits of body out of a storm drain. When the ME on duty takes a look, he’s told he’s missing a third of one body and has half of another body.

Monday passes much less pleasantly than the previous one as he dispatches a team with Donovan to check the other storm drains in the area while he coordinates with Thames River Police to map where the rest of the body parts could have been swept out to. He then has to try and find room in the budget for a dive team, should one be needed. In a way, it’s a blessing when Donovan calls to say they found more body parts further up the drain. The thing that stops it from properly being a blessing is the fact that they now have three left feet. Somewhere out there is another body.

He admits defeat then and texts Mycroft that he’s not going to be able to make dinner Tuesday.

 

*

 

The case swallows Greg whole for the next week. He could do with Sherlock, but he won’t interrupt the man’s honeymoon, not even for dismembered body parts, which Sherlock would probably regard as a better wedding present than the bottle of good whiskey Greg did give them. In a way, it’s nice to figure things out on his own for a change.

Mycroft doesn’t text during this time, and Greg half suspects this is another potential relationship that has been cut off by his job. When they break the case or it goes cold he’ll text again, see if Mycroft’s still interested.

They finally get a break in the case when the ME manages to reconstruct a partial tattoo on one of the arms. It leads them to a Ukrainian street gang who seem to be trying to expand onto fresh turf. Unsuccessfully, as it turns out, due to the Albanian gang already in the area who don’t take kindly to usurpers and have taken to showing their displeasure with a tile cutter.

They find the machine in question in a builders yard in Hackney, and questioning turns up two brothers, each with a suspicious tattoo and stony ‘won’t say nothing’ demeanour. CCTV footage from the traffic cameras shows the three dead men at the yard around the time of their death, and at the back entrance of the yard the security cameras are conveniently broken.

They get lucky with another traffic camera further down the street, on which two figures meeting the general descriptions of the brothers can be seen loading heavy rubbish bags into the back of a Skoda belonging to the oldest. A warrant for the car gets them blood matching the DNA of two of the bodies.

Even as Greg makes the arrest, he can see the building yard manager on the phone to someone, eyeing Greg carefully. He’s going to have to work long and hard to make sure this sticks, and even then, he’s not naive enough to think he’ll manage to arrest the higher ups who probably ordered this.

Still, he can probably manage one celebratory evening off if Mycroft’s free.

He texts Mycroft to that effect, half expecting to either have his text ignored or find that Mycroft thinks that the two of them aren’t going to work, thanks but no thanks. To his surprised pleasure he gets a return text naming a restaurant, one of the ones Greg remembers Mycroft mentioning at the wedding dinner, and the instruction to choose a night and Mycroft will make himself available, as long as it’s not tonight, tomorrow or Saturday. Greg decides Friday would probably be best, give him enough time to get most of the initial paperwork and interviews out of the way.

He keeps his fingers crossed and hopes, and Friday rolls round without a case that requires him to stay late and no text from Mycroft to cancel.

Mycroft informs Greg that he will pick him up at New Scotland Yard, and accordingly Greg is waiting outside at eight o’clock. A sleek black car pulls up, windows blacked out so Greg can’t see the interior. He isn’t completely sure it’s Mycroft in the car, but when after a moment nobody gets out or comes out of the building to meet the car, he feels it safe to assume it is for him.

He opens the back door and Mycroft is right there. Before Greg can do anything, Mycroft’s moving across to the other side of the bench seat and Greg takes this as an unspoken request to get in.

There’s a slightly awkward silence between them once the door has shut and the car pulls away. Greg doesn’t really know how to break it: despite the fact that they spent nearly two days in bed, they’ve really only met once. In the end, Greg asks what the plan is.

Mycroft swallows, looking as uncertain as Greg feels. ‘I thought we might get some dinner, and then perhaps...’

Greg finds himself nodding, certainty returning. ‘Sounds good. What kind of food is it again?’

Mycroft seems more sure of himself now. ‘Tapas? The restaurant is not far from here, and the olives are particularly good. Unless you fancy something else?’

To be honest, two weeks of no contact after a sex-filled weekend has left Greg uncomfortably aware of his prolonged dry spell and how good it felt to break it. While the idea of dinner is appealing in an an abstract way, what Greg really wants is to touch Mycroft. Any way he can, frankly.

Almost without realising, he finds his hand reaching over the seat to touch Mycroft’s. Mycroft’s eyes dart to Greg’s face for a quick look, then down to their hands, a blush highlighting his cheekbones. Greg suspects Mycroft may be feeling the same as him, desperate for contact. He risks it, picking up Mycroft’s hand and pushing himself across the seat at the same time to press his thigh against Mycroft’s. Mycroft turns to face him as he does, and Greg takes the opportunity to kiss him lightly. With a slight sigh, Mycroft kisses back. Greg deepens the contact and it’s not many minutes before they are close to panting into each other’s mouths, hands roaming and grasping, desperate to get closer, touch more, taste more. Greg finds himself pushing his hands under Mycroft’s dark suit jacket, trying to find skin but thwarted by Mycroft’s waistcoat and shirt.

He makes himself pull back, finding it difficult for a moment to remember where they are. Mycroft looks like he’s experiencing similar difficulties, which gives Greg’s ego a quick boost.

He feels rumpled, finds himself instinctively straightening his collar and running a hand through his hair. Mycroft’s eyes follow his movements, but beyond adjusting his jacket a little he makes no moves of his own.

Seeing as the last risk went so well, Greg decided to take another. ‘To be honest, ‘m not very hungry right now.’

Mycroft’s calm expression turns worried for a second before it smooths out. ‘As it happens, neither am I. Would you care to cut to the chase and simply go to bed?’

Greg grins. ‘You read my mind. Though this time I think it’s my turn to make you beg, Mr Holmes.’ He knows his grin is turning lascivious.

Mycroft’s smooth expression turns almost unbearably haughty, his nose seeming twice as long as he looks down it. ‘You can try, Detective Inspector, you can try.’

 

*

 

Two hours later finds them sitting almost naked at the kitchen table in Greg’s flat as they eat fish and chips, Mycroft having refused to eat in bed and Greg having refused to put on more than pants. A lively debate about Tolkien sprang up from a chance remark of Greg’s. He’s pleased to find Mycroft and he share some interests outside the bedroom. It gives them a better chance of this lasting beyond a few fantastic shags and some semi-decent takeaway. Not that there will necessarily be anything beyond that. Greg pushes the slightly melancholy thought away.

As Mycroft leaves, Greg pulls him in to kiss one last time. Drawing back slightly, he smiles. ‘Proper dinner next time, yeah?’ Mycroft nods wordlessly. ‘Give me a text then when you’re next free, I’ll try to keep my schedule clear.’
Easier said than done as it turns out. Firstly, Mycroft is away for some kind of conference, the end of which overlaps with the beginning of a string of sexual assault cases for Greg to investigate. By the time either of them has an evening free at all, another two and a half weeks have passed and still neither Greg nor Mycroft are free at the same time.

The only upside is the fact that the texts to schedule and reschedule dinner have moved away from simple rote queries about work into more personal messages about things not work. Tolkien to Pratchett to fantasy and books in general, film adaptations to unrelated films. Greg’s enjoying talking to Mycroft about a variety of subjects and simply remembering what it’s like to have a friendship that doesn’t revolve around work or the pub. It’s only one or two texts per day, but they manage to pack a lot in.

Finally, nearly three and a half weeks since their last evening together, they manage to make and keep plans. The tapas place from the previous dinner has been suggested, accepted and arranged, and now all Greg has to do is get through the last two hours without being called in. He makes the executive decision to leave at what would be a normal time for anyone else but seems ridiculously early for him, and goes home to change into something nicer and more casual. He also has a quick whip through of his flat to remove the worst of the dusty neglect. Now he’s nearly at the restaurant and so far his phone hasn’t rung with bad news.

The restaurant is a hole in the wall place and even from the street Greg is almost drooling from the wonderful smell. Mycroft described it as Brazilian-Spanish fusion, and Greg can’t wait to try it. It’s a case of sit where you like inside so he chooses a table near the back, facing the door so he can see when Mycroft arrives.

Mycroft doesn’t keep him waiting, arriving within five minutes and heading unerringly for Greg. Greg is struck once more by how very attractive Mycroft is, wearing a suit of charcoal grey which seems to Greg’s inexpert eye to be somehow more casual than the previous suits he’s seen Mycroft wear. Maybe it’s something to do with the cut, or perhaps the slight check to the fabric. Mycroft pulls out a chair at the table and seats himself, and Greg can imagine those long legs, legs he knows intimately, stretching out and crossing beneath the tablecloth. He’s not entirely surprised when he feels the light press of them against his own.

So far they’ve not said much to each other beyond quick greetings, but Greg already wants to pack the whole thing in and drag Mycroft back to his flat to thoroughly rumple the newly made bed. He resits the urge. Dinner first, then more. Besides, this is an opportunity to get to know Mycroft better and Greg’s not willing to pass that up.

‘Sorry we couldn’t do this sooner, work got a bit hectic. Glad we could eventually manage it.’ Greg feels a little surprised at how much he means that. If Mycroft had lost interest in the meantime, Greg thinks he would have been pretty disappointed.

‘I fully understand how work can eat up your time despite your best efforts. I myself am usually in a similar situation.’ Mycroft looks a little rueful.

‘Traffic driving you to distraction?’ Greg receives a mock-stern look in reply.

‘I do hope that was not a pun, Gregory. I am certain that, should you feel moved to make one, you could do better than that.’

Alright, Greg thinks, challenge accepted.

The waitress approaches then with menus, and they turn their attention to what to order. The menu is comprised of shared set meals, all too big for one person and served tapas style with about eight courses in total. They make a selection based on favourites, negotiating around dislikes.

Once their order has been placed, Greg sits back, fingers tapping against his water glass. ‘So how’s your week been?’

Mycroft hums. ‘Trying. Some people simple refuse to listen to reason and then come crying when things do not go as they would like. How was yours?’

Greg thinks for a moment. He could tell Mycroft about his paperwork from the case, the problems with managing a team that simultaneously reveres and resents Sherlock, whether or not he’s there. He could do that, and then Mycroft will probably ask about his case, because everybody does, but no matter how high up in the Department of Transport Mycroft is Greg can’t give him the details. Then things will either get awkward or Mycroft will be offended, or alternately he’s going to realise how difficult Greg’s job can make things, not that he hasn’t already had more than a hint.

‘To be honest, it’s been a long week that I don’t really want to rehash. I can’t imagine you want to dwell on yours either, so how about we make a deal? No talk about work tonight, just think about something else for a bit. How does that sound?’

Mycroft seems a bit taken aback, blinking a couple of times, but he also seems a little relieved if Greg’s any judge. ‘I must say, that is not an unappealing idea, Gregory. It does sometimes seem that work becomes everything. It would be nice to remember that is not the case. I agree to your deal. What would you like to talk about instead?’

Greg makes sure he thinks before he opens his mouth this time. No stupid comments about hats tonight, please. ‘Tell me about The National Gallery. At the wedding, you told me it’s one of your favourite places in London. Why’s that?’

Mycroft’s expression turns from faintly surprised to faintly pleased, and he begins to describe why he likes it so much. Greg sits back and listens, drinking in Mycroft’s presence and voice, watching as he becomes more animated, though still subtly. Not even the food arriving can break the moment, though it does pause the conversation for a few minutes. Then Mycroft returns to his description, Greg egging him on with the occasional question when it seems as though Mycroft is becoming self conscious and drawing to a halt. Each time he shows his interest it brings the same faint pleased and surprised expression to Mycroft’s face, as though he’s not really used to people taking an interest. Greg decides there and then to change that if he can. If he gets the chance.

The conversation turns naturally to somewhere Greg had mentioned, and wends its way back round to fantasy novels, where Greg admits he can’t enjoy George R.R. Martin, finding it too bloody for his tastes. Mycroft in turn admits to a fondness for young adult fantasy. ‘It gives you an escape to a world where good triumphs.’ His expression as he speaks is grimmer than Greg expected. There’s some sort of story there, and Greg realises he wants to know what it is. He wants to know all of it.

It’s a little surprising, to be honest. He’s aware that he’s interested in Mycroft, he’d have to be emotionally blind not to, but he wasn’t expecting this level of fascination. He wants to learn Mycroft’s expressions, the cause behind them. He wants to provide a comforting hand, a listening ear, be there to the point that Mycroft takes it for granted that Greg will be happy to listen to whatever he wants to talk about.

It’s scary how quickly Greg has begun feeling that way, considering they’ve only met three times.

And that has to change, Greg realises. If he wants a chance at building something with Mycroft, something real, he has to learn from his past mistakes, the lessons he learned the hard way in his marriage. He’s going to have to try to make more time for Mycroft so that he’s not working two out of three times Mycroft asks if he’s free. Though Mycroft is just as bad when Greg’s free.

Realising he’s drifted away from what Mycroft has been saying, he comes back into the conversation to find Mycroft looking worried. ‘Is everything alright, Gregory?’

Greg shakes his head to clear it. ‘Yeah, sorry, just thinking.’

A glint of humour. ‘Something I can help with?’

Greg grins in return. ‘Thanks, but I’ve been thinking for myself for a long time.’ He turns serious. ‘Look, Mycroft, I like you, an’ I know we’ve only met a few times, but I think we could have something here if we tried. I just wanted to ask what your view on this is. Are you just interested in something casual or are you looking for a relationship? No pressure, but I would like to know where we stand.’

Mycroft sits back in his seat, takes a drink of water. Greg, recognising it as the pause for thought that it is, bites his tongue to stop himself babbling.

When Mycroft speaks, his tone is cautious. ‘I too am aware that we have only met three times, and I would also agree that there is the possibility of a deeper connection than merely physical. It may be a little premature to say this, but I would like to try for a relationship that moves beyond simple sexual chemistry. Is that of interest to you?’

Greg isn’t fooled by the studied casual tone Mycroft has affected for his last question. He’s as interested in furthering this as Greg is. Greg allows his own feelings to show in his voice. ‘That sounds good to me. I’m not really interested in just a quick fling. I’m glad you can see this going somewhere.’ He pauses. ‘Really glad,’ he confesses, ‘probably more than’s reasonable.’

The look Mycroft shoots him is distinctly edged with quiet pleasure. ‘As am I, Gregory.’

 

*

 

They end up at Greg’s flat again that night, the restaurant being close-ish. Mycroft’s car service drops them of, and Greg refuses to feel intimidated by the obvious display of difference between their social stations. Enough money and self confidence to have a car on call whenever he wants, no matter the time of day. He knew Sherlock came from some sort of old money: the clothes, living situation and ingrained arrogance all clued him in to that pretty quickly. The way Mycroft acts also screams old money, but the kind that comes with expectations of behaviour and a ridged streak of manners, not Sherlock’s more carelessly coarse attitude. Different upbringings Greg would guess, Mycroft boarding school and propriety, Sherlock unstructured and what would probably be called ‘bohemian.’

Still, for all the difference in upbringings, there are some things that show the family connection. When Mycroft first steps into Greg’s flat, he makes the same sweeping glance that Sherlock does at a crime scene, taking in as he does the minutia of Greg’s life. He doesn’t, however, sneer at Greg’s Arsenal hoodie on the couch or the collection of fantasy books on his bookshelf.

Mycroft asks for a glass of water, and they stand on opposite sides of the kitchen, eyeing each other as they drink. Anticipation is building in Greg’s stomach. He doesn’t know why, but the knowledge that they’re going to make this into something more than a simple fling is incredibly arousing. Maybe it’s knowing that Mycroft, a man who could have anyone, is interested in him, a middle aged Detective Inspector with grey hair, a job that eats all his time, not as fit as he used to be and with a slightly crummy flat. It’s like the feeling at the wedding when he realised that the gorgeous man next to him actually wanted to talk, but it’s amplified now by the fact that he knows just how interesting Mycroft is.

Opposite him, Mycroft finishes his glass of water and Greg take a deep swallow to finish the last of his. They set their glasses aside in synchrony. The moment stretches, but comfortably. Finally, feeling a little foolish but mostly anticipatory, he hold out a hand to Mycroft, who takes it without a pause. He pulls Mycroft away from the counter and leans in, pressing their lips together briefly.

Mycroft is smiling as they pull back. ‘Bedroom?’ Greg suggests. He can hear a note of husky expectation in his voice, and Mycroft obviously hears it too. His eyes darken slightly and he pulls Greg back in for another, longer kiss.

‘Immediately,’ Mycroft answers, but there is no urgency in his voice. It’s softly fond, and Greg feels a swoop of happiness in his stomach. He kisses Mycroft once more then tugs his hand to get them moving towards the bedroom. Mycroft takes the lead, walking through the small space with an assurance that Greg finds almost unbearable sexy. It’s a little strange how much he likes it, Mycroft acting as though it’s his flat, but Greg can’t deny Mycroft’s self assurance is one of the things he finds most of a turn on. And the view of Mycroft’s arse is not doing anything to de-escalate the situation.

As they reach the bedroom Greg reaches out to drift his palm over the object of his focus. Mycroft turns to give him mildly reproving look over his shoulder, amusement and arousal in his gaze, and Greg grins cheekily back. ‘Just checking to see if you’re wearing underwear today.’

Mycroft’s lips quirk into a fox-like grin, a hint of tooth showing. ‘None today. The line of the suit wouldn’t have allowed for it. And,’ the grin turns more wicked, ‘as I was anticipating seeing you this evening, I thought it would be one less item to remove before I have my wicked way with you.’

Despite the line, Greg gulps at the look on Mycroft’s face. It doesn’t help that the idea of Mycroft without pants beneath his exquisite suit presses just about every button he has. It’s a minute before he can speak. ‘If you’ve gone to all that trouble, who am I to disappoint?’ He keeps his eyes locked with Mycroft’s as he sinks to his knees and reaches for Mycroft’s trouser fly. ‘Think I’ll have to check for myself though, yeah?’

Mycroft’s eyes don’t waver as Greg begins to undo the buttons, but his hands creep up to tangle his fingers into Greg’s hair, pulling lightly. ‘I expect you to make a through and dedicated examination, Detective Inspector.’

 

*

 

Greg tries his best to reduce the number of hours he works, make more time to see Mycroft. It doesn’t go terribly well. There’s still the same amount of paperwork to be done, he still has crimes to investigate, and while he could delegate to Donovan, the things he could delegate are the bits he – well, most enjoys is probably the wrong way of putting it, seeing as it’s visiting crime scenes, talking to witnesses and tracking down bits a pieces of information, and it’s frequently frustrating or disheartening or just plain dull, but it is the reason he got into police work. Not to sit behind a desk and fill out supply forms for bloody staplers.

They do text more, though Greg gets the feeling Mycroft is not entirely enamoured of the practise. He tries to keep it down to a minimum and mostly during the evening or on lunch break, but talking to Mycroft is too enjoyable to abstain completely. Mycroft always responds eventually and has initiated a fair few conversations himself, so it’s not as one-sided as all that.

A truly heroic effort on Greg’s part means he powers through enough of his backlog of paperwork that he feels justified in taking an evening off, and they manage to meet for dinner a week after the last date. The first proper date as Greg thinks of it. They also manage an afternoon the following weekend, where Mycroft takes Greg around The National Gallery and points out his favourites. Impressionist paintings are another subject Mycroft can talk knowledgeably about that Greg has no idea of, but he likes getting to watch Mycroft’s face light up as he talks about composition and symbolism.

It’s almost embarrassing how eager he feels when the chance comes to spend time with Mycroft, no matter what they’re doing together. It’s addictive, seeing him, talking to him, listening to him explain things knowledgeably without sounding condescending. The number of texts per day is creeping slowly but steadily up. His team have started to notice.

They manage to arrange lunch together in Victoria Tower Gardens one day, and the two of them end up eating mediocre sandwiches beneath Mycroft’s umbrella as London favours them with an unfortunately timed rain shower. Despite this, it’s the highlight of his day. Laughing with Mycroft about nothing, being surprised once again by the sharp sense of humour he displays.

It’s Greg’s turn to choose the location of the next date, and he decides to combine two things in one and take Mycroft to dinner then walk to one of his favourite places. It’s pretty much inevitable that they’ll end up back at Greg’s flat afterwards. So far Greg hasn’t actually seen Mycroft’s flat, for all that they’ve ended up in bed together after every date other than their lunch date. Greg mentioned it once, but Mycroft said he doesn’t really have a flat as such and tends to change between several places according to need. Greg can’t really get his head round that, but if Mycroft likes it that way…

But things are going well outside the bedroom, something that fills Greg with warm confidence. So far they’ve not spent much time together despite their best efforts, and Greg wishes it could be otherwise. Work almost inevitably gets in the way, and it worries Greg a little how much of his time has become consumed by it without him noticing. He supposes he threw himself into work after the divorce and just never emerged again. Trying to claw back some semblance of a personal life is harder than it should be, he thinks.

Mycroft is worth it though. After spending time with him, Greg feels so much lighter and more relaxed, as refreshed as he can be without a holiday. He thinks Mycroft feels the same; certainly he seems to be making an effort to spare Greg time. And the dates certainly don’t end early.

The plan is to meet at the restaurant on Friday, but at the beginning of the week Greg gets a letter from his landlady. Mrs Tanner is a lovely lady who, through shrewd investment in the 70’s, managed to buy several properties in central London before the prices skyrocketed. Now she wants to reap the rewards and sell them, using the money to travel. She’s offering Greg first refusal on buying the flat, but the ultimatum is there: either he buys it or he moves out.

This is not something Greg’s planned for. He could possibly manage to scrape together enough for a deposit on the flat, but the mortgage would be a big adjustment of his finances. And he’s not entirely sure he wants to buy this flat. It’s OK, but not really where he wants to be long term.

Looks like he’s going flat hunting then.

He spends the next few days searching online and makes time to walk past a few letting agents and have a look in their windows. It’s pretty disheartening. Apparently everybody’s turning to airbnb now, according to something he read online, and by the state of what he’s finding he can well believe it. He’s forty eight, he doesn’t want to be living in a flat share, or a horrible grotty basement flat. He left that behind a long time ago. What’s left seems to be priced so far out of his range that he wonders how his colleagues manage. Either that or it’s so far out into the suburbs that he’d have almost two hours of commute every morning.

He’s preoccupied with it when he meets Mycroft on Friday, but he tries to push it aside to focus on the meal. They try not to talk too much of work, their agreement not to focus too much on it remains an unspoken understanding between them. Beyond sweeping generalisations of their week, and the occasional pointed comment, it’s nice to pretend it doesn’t exist for a while, and despite the occasional, quickly squashed impulse to rant about things, Greg feels it’s been going pretty well. He doesn’t have much of an idea of what Mycroft does, other than attend meetings and conferences. Sounds a bit like he’s some sort of Department of Transport troubleshooter.

Tonight the conversation is meandering from sport to music to recent world events, but Greg can tell he’s not really keeping up his end of the conversation. It’s not even been a full week since the letter arrived, but he doesn’t have terribly long before he has to find a new place, and unless the property situation in London changes drastically in the next week or so, it’s not looking good. To say it’s preying on his mind would not be untrue.

He’s brought back out of his musings by Mycroft’s hand on his arm. ‘Gregory, is everything alright? You seems a little distracted tonight.’ Mycroft’s face and voice show unanimous gentle concern.

‘Sorry Mycroft, just got something on my mind. I’ll try an’ forget it for now.’ He doesn’t need to spoil the evening with his woes.

A patient look crosses Mycroft’s face. ‘Gregory, if there is anything I can help you with, you only have to ask. I hope you know this.’

Greg feels a momentary reluctance to tell Mycroft. It’s silly, he just feels that this is something he should be able to handle without it ruining their date. But if they’re working towards a solid relationship they should know about each other’s lives. Well, outside of work at least.

‘My flat’s going up for sale an’ I need to find a new place by the middle of next month. I’ve had a bit of a look but there’s not a lot out there. Don’t suppose you know anybody with a flat to let in greater London? Not too expensive, preferably.’

Mycroft’s face turns impassive, other than a brief flickering of his eyelids. Greg notices and decides this must be Mycroft’s assessing face. An edge of caution creeps across Mycroft’s expression and he shoots Greg a sideways glance as though to judge his reaction to a question that has not yet been asked.

‘What?’ Greg asks. Mycroft hesitates. ‘Go on, I promise not to fly off the handle, whatever it is.’

Mycroft takes a breath. ‘I do know someone who has property free in the greater London area, and if you were interested I’m sure you could come to some arrangement.’

An inkling of suspicion creeps is. ‘An’ just who is this person with empty property in greater London?’

Mycroft looks down, the tablecloth holding his full attention. ‘Me. I have several properties scattered around London and it would be very easy for you to use one if you should be interested.’ Greg is silent, trying to absorb this offer. Mycroft fills the pause with words. ‘I work a lot, as you well know, and of course you are under no obligation to stay in the same house as I do. You could have your own place and we could continue to meet like this.’ He pauses and Greg, still absorbing this, stays silent. Mycroft sits back in his chair. ‘I’m sorry, I’ve made things awkward. It’s too much. Feel free to forget the last few minutes.’ His expression as he resolutely does not look at Greg is worried. Greg can imagine his thoughts. I’ve cocked it up. Only Mycroft probably doesn’t say ‘cocked’, even in his head.

Greg makes to speak, interrupting Mycroft’s intake of air to start a new outpouring of babble. There’s an awkward moment where both of them pause, waiting for the other to speak, before Greg plunges ahead.

‘’S a big thing, Mycroft. I’m not sure...’ He trails of. They’ve only been dating a few months, it would put a lot of strain on the relationship to add in a landlord/tenant dynamic on top of that. But, says a treacherous little voice, you did say you wanted to see more of him. Living in the same house would let you do that. And it would put a different spin on things, living together and sharing costs rather than renting from him separately. But we’ve only know each other a couple of months! Greg protests. That’s much too fast! The little voice goes silent in a way that screams well, if you’re sure you know best...

‘I’m flattered, Mycroft,’ Greg says. He’ll let him down gently, tell it’s too soon, they don’t know each other well enough yet. ‘But I’ll only agree if you’re there too.’

‘What?’ Mycroft sounds utterly shocked. Greg’s pretty shocked too. That’s not what he was going to say. Mycroft’s face is suffused in pleasure. ‘You’re sure? You don’t think it’s too soon?’

Actually, Greg does think it’s too soon, but at the same time, he’s damned if he’s going to back out now. And the there is something… strangely appealing about the idea.

‘Possibly,’ he shrugs, ‘but how’ll we know if we don’t try? An’ this way we’d get to see each other more than one a week if we’re lucky.’ A thought hits him. ‘Where are you thinking of, anyway?’

Mycroft’s expression turns vague. ‘I have several properties around London. As I said, I work a lot and I tend to use whichever is most convenient. I’ll give you the addresses, choose whichever is most convenient for you and I’ll have my things brought in. I really have no preference.’

Greg still can’t really get his head around the thought of not having a home base, and he certainly doesn’t want to replicate Mycroft’s habit of moving around. But at the same time it’s not fair of him to force Mycroft to stay in one place. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea…

‘Y’don’t have to stay in the same place as me all the time. You can keep doing what you do, y’know, switching between places. I don’t want to cramp your style...’

Mycroft’s hand on his arm stops him. ‘Gregory, if there is the possibility of coming home and finding you there, I would be more than glad to stay at one place on a more permanent basis. To be honest, I only move around at the moment because there’s no real need to stay in one place and it doesn’t do to let the others get neglected.’

You could sell them, are the unspoken words in Greg’s head. No man needs several empty houses in central London, but the ways of the rich are strange to Greg. He lets it go.

‘What about rent?’ He’s not going to become Mycroft’s kept man. If they’re living together he’s going to pay his half of things. Actually, with the kind of places Mycroft is likely to own that might put this whole idea out of his price range. But he’s still not going to live off Mycroft.

Mycroft must see his determination to stick to this point on his face, as he makes no demure. ‘Most of the properties have been in my family for a number of years and are owned outright by the Holmes estate. Depending on where you choose there may be simply council tax and utilities to pay, which we can easily split between us. If you feel the need, you can also pay something towards the upkeep of the building, but otherwise there shouldn’t be many other expenses.’

Greg thinks that sounds suspiciously easy, but it’s something he can accept. ‘Sounds good to me. So where are they?’

The list is varied and covers most of the more expensive parts of London. Going purely for proximity to work Greg chooses the one in Bloomsbury. Well, not entirely on proximity to work. There’s a place in Pall Mall too, but Greg just can’t see himself living that close to Buckingham Palace.

Mycroft seems pleased with his choice. ‘It has lovely morning light,’ he says.

Dinner is completed in a kind of giddy excitement warring with intense relief and disbelief. It doesn’t seem quite real, that he’s going to be moving in with Mycroft. They end up skipping the after dinner walk in favour of going straight back to Greg’s, the build up of tension too much to withstand.

Once in the flat, Greg pushes Mycroft against the wall in the hallway. ‘If I’m going to be moving in with you in the next two weeks or so, we’d better give this place a proper send off.’

Mycroft smirks and a second later their positions are reversed. ‘I was thinking something similar, Gregory.’ Greg shivers. The way Mycroft says his name will never get old. Nor will the way he looks when he’s staring down at Greg with hungry eyes.

Greg shakes his head firmly. ‘No. Tonight it’s my flat, my rules. An’ I say that tonight, you’re not allowed to touch. You’re going to lie back and let me do all the work.’

Mycroft’s eyes drop to half mast. ‘Is that right, Gregory? Well in that case, I do hope you’re prepared for all that entails.’ Mycroft’s tongue darts out to wet his lower lip, and Greg can’t resist nipping the damp skin it leaves behind.

‘That is right. So get yourself into the bedroom before I start on you right here.’

Mycroft’s eyes lock onto his then dart to the bedroom door. ‘Promises, promises, Gregory. I propose that the first one to the bedroom gets to choose the position. After that, by all means, you may do all the work.’

Greg can feel the slight tensing of Mycroft’s muscles as he prepares to move. He’s not going to let Mycroft win, not tonight. Before Mycroft can do more than think of bolting for the bedroom Greg is off, and despite Mycroft’s longer legs, in the small space Greg easily retains his advantage. He also uses his sturdier bulk to prevent Mycroft pushing him aside. They reach the door to the bedroom with Greg slightly in the lead, but the momentum is such that they both end up spilling onto the bed.

Lying there, giggling helplessly beside Mycroft, Greg imagines that this is how it could be every night. Coming home to someone once more, messing around for the fun of it. He’s struck by the urge to kiss Mycroft and doesn’t bother resisting. He can feel Mycroft’s lips smiling beneath his and it makes him smile more before he breaks the kiss to simply gaze down at Mycroft, taking in his lightly flushed features and the look in his eyes that tells Greg there’s nowhere he’d rather be. He feels a rush of almost unbearable fondness. Yeah, he thinks. This could work.

 

*

 

Later that night, after Mycroft has left citing an early meeting, second thoughts begin to creep it. They barely know each other, have hardly met as has been stated before. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a new relationship. But then again, he hardly gets to see Mycroft and he wants that to change. And looking at things long term, most relationships come with the assumption that, if all goes well, at some point those involved will be moving in together. This is just… accelerating things a bit.

He turns over and punches his pillow. The whole ‘moving in together’ thing worked for Sherlock and John, he thinks. If it goes even half as well for him and Mycroft, that’s no bad thing. Best way to learn someone’s bad habits, he thinks, trying to bolster himself. And if it doesn’t go well, he’ll still be in the same situation he’s in now, flat hunting on a deadline and a budget. So the only thing he really has to lose is his relationship with Mycroft if things don’t go well. And that could crash and burn tomorrow for an entirely different reason. So all in all, this might not be such a bad thing.

The real trick, he thinks grimly, is going to be making Shannon believe that.

 

*

 

‘Are you out of your mind?!’

As Greg expected, Shannon’s not terribly impressed by the news.

‘You met him less than three months ago, you’ve had how many dates? An’ suddenly you’re moving in together? It’s too fast, Greg.’ She looks at him straight on, serious. ‘I know you’re worried about finding a place to live but you can always come stay with Rory an’ me til you find somewhere. You don’t have to go moving in with some guy you’ve hardly been dating five minutes.’

She comes to sit opposite him at the kitchen table. ‘I mean, how well do you really know him?’

Greg stops himself rolling his eyes. ‘I’m forty eight, not eighteen. I’m not gonna to be taken advantage of an’ I’m not helpless. If it doesn’t work out I’ll just find a new place to rent. An’ you can say I told you so for as long as you want.’

Shannon’s still not convinced. ‘I just think it’s awfully fast. You’ve not been divorced that long an’ you’re diving right into this.’ ’Rebound’ hangs unspoken between them.

Greg tells himself she’s just trying to look after him. ‘I’ve been divorced for over two years an’ I’ve had a couple of dates since then. Look, Shan, we both work so much I hardly get to see him. Either this is going to be the slowest relationship in history, it doesn’t work out or we jump in at the deep end.’

Shannon gives him a look. ‘Hardly the slowest in history considering you slept with him after knowing him less than four hours.’

Greg does roll his eyes this time. ‘Compared to some of my relationships, that practically is slow.’ Shannon can’t repress a giggle at that, and Greg grins in response. ‘I’m a big boy, I’ll be OK. Well, unless it turns out he collects china clowns or something. Then we might have a problem.’ He can see Shannon’s still not totally convinced, but she’ll come round. ‘So how’s Rory doing with uni?’

Shannon gives him another look but allows him to change the subject. As she updates him on how well his nephew is doing he thinks that this thing with Mycroft better work out. An older brother never likes hearing a younger sister say ‘I told you so.’

 

*

 

The flat, when he goes to see it with Mycroft, doesn’t have any clowns of any sort. Or any furniture either, really. Mycroft seems vaguely surprised when he notices. ‘I really am very rarely in one place for long,’ he says apologetically. Greg looks at the single chair at the table in the kitchen, the empty lounge and the bedroom with just a bed and a night stand. This is going to have to change.

He says as much to Mycroft. ‘I can bring the stuff from my flat for a start.’ He rented the place unfurnished and this place pretty much counts as unfurnished too. He catches sight of Mycroft’s expression out of the corner of his eye. ‘What?’

Mycroft looks a little awkward. ‘I don’t wish to disparage your furnishings, but could I possibly suggest...’

‘A new couch?’ Greg finished. Mycroft nods. ‘Fair enough. Don’t know how old that one is.’ The expression Mycroft pulls at Greg’s words isn’t a patch on the horrified look he wore the first time he sat on Greg’s couch and felt the odd lumps in the cushions. He’s refused to sit on it ever since.

Mycroft is still looking a little awkward. ‘I can have a few pieces brought from other properties to fill any gaps.’ Greg imagines it; his mostly second hand and somewhat battered furniture mixed in with the antiques Mycroft probably has. It might look a bit odd, but he’s not getting rid of all his furniture, and for all that Mycroft owns the flat Greg wants this to be as close to an equal partnership as he can manage. Still…

‘What d’you have in mind?’ Greg can hear the guarded note in his voice, and Mycroft clearly picks up on it too as he rushes to explain.

‘Not much. There are the chairs that match the one already here, and I thought it might be good to have a chest of drawers each. Other than the sofa your pieces would do handily.’

Greg can accept that. His bedroom furniture wouldn’t really do for two of them sharing. And he has a suspicion that Mycroft has quite a lot of clothes. It’s a good thing there’s a built in wardrobe.

Mycroft has his blackberry out, texting someone. ‘The chairs and other things will be delivered tomorrow. When would you like to move in?’

Greg thinks. ‘Next weekend? Not much point hanging about. an’ it shouldn’t take long to pack.’

Mycroft clears his throat lightly. ‘If you would like, I can have someone come and help you pack. Save you some trouble.’

Greg shakes his head. ‘Na, I’ll be OK, thanks. Not much stuff, Mostly books an’ clothes and things. Though I might get you to lend a hand when it comes to shifting furniture.’

Mycroft nods. ‘I’ll have someone come to get your things when you are ready.’ He registers Greg’s expression. ‘What?’

‘Part of the moving in experience, shifting furniture yourself. C’mon Mycroft, it’ll be fun!’ Greg almost chokes on his laughter at the expression Mycroft shoots him in response. ‘Take it that’s a no then?’

‘Most emphatically.’ There is no room for doubt in Mycroft’s voice.
‘Aww, come on Mycroft, it’ll be fun! I’ll buy you a pizza to say thanks.’ Greg can hardly keep a straight face.

‘I’m afraid that I have never moved furniture in exchange for pizza, beer, fish and chips or anything else. I do not intend to start now.’ If anything, Mycroft sounds even firmer now.

Giving it up as a lost cause, Greg accepts the offer of someone to come and move his things. ‘Better than getting a man with a van, or trying to lump it all on the tube.’

Mycroft agrees and Greg can almost hear the relieved breath he lets out at being let off furniture duty. ‘Oh,’ he says, ‘you should probably have this.’ He holds a key out to Greg. ‘I will send you the updated security codes next week. Please don’t write them down anywhere, and if you can memorise them and delete them from your phone that would be even better.’

Greg remembers the impressive looking security system on the entrance to the building and the second keypad outside the door to the flat. It seems a little overboard to Greg, especially in Bloomsbury, but it is what it is. He nods. ‘I’ll do my best.’

Mycroft’s look is piercing. ‘Do so.’ He turns to leave the room and Greg stands there for a second, holding the key. It suddenly seems very real, even without having moved a single piece of clothing or book. He’s going to be living here, living with Mycroft. He looks around the room. It is nice, much nicer than his current flat.

Him and Mycroft. Cohabiting.

Mycroft comes back into the room. ‘Is everything alright, Gregory?’

Greg takes a long look at him. Mycroft’s lips are thin, his hair is receding, his manner can be haughty at times. He doesn’t seem to own any clothing other than suits and he works probably more hours than Greg does. Greg doesn’t know if he leaves the top off the toothpaste, if he drops his things everywhere and forgets about them, if he has to wash up straight after dinner or if he ignores the dishes until he doesn’t have any clean ones left. He doesn't know where Mycroft went to school, or if his parents are still alive.

He’s the most interesting and sexy person Greg has ever met.

‘Everything’s fine.’ On impulse he crosses to Mycroft in the doorway and kisses him firmly. ‘I think us living here is going to be great.’

Mycroft’s cheeks flush pink, and he ducks down to return Greg’s kiss. ‘I think so too.’ His voice sends a shiver down Greg’s spine, anticipation of a different kind than usual.

He may not know the answer to whether or not Mycroft has ever used a hoover, but he’s going to get the chance to find out.

Mundane as that may seem, it sounds pretty great to Greg. Mycroft just has that effect on him.

 

*

 

Work stays quiet enough for the next week that Greg can get a good start on packing. He’s not got that much, when he looks at it all gathered together in boxes. It’s a good thing the new flat’s not that spacious, it would seem horribly empty if it was. He can’t imagine Mycroft has that much more than him.

He’s not seen Sherlock much over the last month or two. When he came back from Sussex and realised Greg hadn’t called him in over a dismemberment case, he had been extremely indignant and had come to the Yard every day to check Greg didn’t have any interesting new cases he hadn’t called Sherlock in on. However he soon become bored of observing the minutia of investigation associated with closing cases when you aren’t a genius, and in the absence of any ‘interesting’ crime had taken himself back off to Baker Street and resumed his habitual harassing Greg by text for new cases. He’d called Sherlock in for a couple, one of which had been deemed too boring and the other of which had been solved with two circuits of the local park and a stop at the nearest Chinese takeaway. Then both Sherlock and John had been hired by some private client, something to do the death of her twin sister and a wildlife safari park. The two of them had vanished off to Surrey and had only recently returned, triumphant.

All this Greg knows because Sherlock is currently pacing in his office as he recounts the tale. He’s hoping the recitation lasts long enough that he can come up with some excuse to get Sherlock out of here. After he’s finished he’ll demand to know what cases Greg’s been working on, and when Greg doesn’t provide anything interesting he’ll turn on him and deduce everything he’s been doing recently. Including Mycroft.

So far he’s kept things quiet at work, not wanting to draw speculation. He’s dated a few guys in his time but not openly. His team won’t have a problem with it, non-discrimination regulations more or less demand that they don’t, but he’s not stupid enough to imagine there won’t be looks and comments and the odd joke. Mostly good natured, he hopes, but there’s probably going to be a few people who aren’t so keen. So having the fact that he’s moving in with a bloke deduced loudly in the middle of the Yard is not high on his to do list.

‘Lestrade!’ Sherlock’s stridently irritated shout breaks into his thoughts.

‘So you figured it out, left the paperwork and explanations to the local police and came home, right. Good for you. I’ll expect to hear from the Surrey police force at some point then.’ And they probably won’t be brimming over with enthusiasm for Sherlock either.

Sherlock tosses his head, ignoring Greg’s words. ‘What have you got for me then, Lestrade? And you’d better not be hiding any dismembered bodies!’

Only yours, if you go too far, Greg thinks, but keeps it to himself. ‘Sorry mate, nothing interesting happening here.’ He brightens for a moment. ‘But Gregson’s got something, a body found -’

‘Spoken to him already,’ Sherlock interrupts. ‘Boring. The mother in law poisoned the face cream. Obvious.’

Greg deflates. Damn. Nothing to distract Sherlock with then, and any moment -

‘Perhaps if you weren’t so busy with your new girlfriend, you’d have something useful for me.’ Sherlock stops for a second. ‘No, new boyfriend. When did this happen? You hadn’t met anyone last time I saw you. No, wait, you had, but it’s serious now. Very serious. Moving in together already? Rather fast, don’t you think?’

‘Hang on, you moved in with John two days after you met him! Don’t you go lecturing me about moving fast! An’ yes, thank you, it is serious.’ Greg hopes Sherlock doesn’t ask who it is, but he reflects that Sherlock’s unlikely to care. He doesn’t want him interfering, and even if Sherlock’s never mentioned Mycroft before he wouldn’t be able to resist making comments and dredging up embarrassing stories and probably dropping by unannounced like he used to do with Greg. It wasn’t until after he’d picked the flat in Bloomsbury that it clicked, how close he’s actually going to be to Sherlock. Not so close that a trip out for more milk will mean running into him, but closer than Greg would have liked, really. He hopes he can keep Sherlock from finding out his new address at least for a while.

Sherlock looks haughty. ‘That was different. And not the point. The point is that if you weren’t so busy making this ill-conceived alliance you would have something interesting for me.’

Greg doesn’t particularly appreciate his relationship with Mycroft being called an ‘ill-conceived alliance,’ but he lets it go. ‘I can’t just magic up ‘interesting’ murders for you. If you’re bored, why not go an’ speak to Dickinson in Trident -’ Sherlock’s eye roll speaks eloquently of his thought on Dickinson, gangs and Greg’s intelligence in general. Greg signs. ‘Fine. I’ll go see if there’s any cold cases you might be interested in in the archives.’ Sherlock looks eager, and Greg holds up a hand. ‘In return for which, you’ll promise not to come round here for three weeks.’ Sherlock looks like he’s going to protest, and Greg amends it with ‘Unless I call you for something interesting.’

Sherlock subsides. ‘Fine, but three cases minimum. And if they’re not interesting enough you have to find me different ones.’

Greg agrees. Anything to keep Sherlock busy and away from the topic of him moving in with Mycroft. It’s not long before he’s ushering Sherlock and John out of his office, Sherlock clutching printed copies of sufficiently interesting cases. John’s hardly said a word since they arrived, and Greg isn’t surprised to receive a text from him shortly after they leave, inviting him down the pub. Greg thinks about it then declines. He’s still got some packing to do, the never ending paperwork as well, and he wants to see if Mycroft might be free tonight.

Mycroft is free, but not until after dinner, so Greg stays at the Yard then grabs a curry on the way back to his flat. He debates taking a box with him on the tube to the new flat but decides against. If there’s going to be a moving service collecting his stuff there’s not much point putting himself out.

Mycroft’s moved in already, it would seem. The flat looks more lived in with the extra furniture and the odd personal touch. There are a several books on a bookshelf and an open laptop and empty tea cup on a coffee table in the lounge. The new couch helps brighten the room up, leaf green against the white walls.

Greg only sees this in passing, glimpsed as Mycroft breaks off kissing him hello and pulls him towards the bedroom. His eyes don’t leave Greg’s face. ‘Gregory. I know it has only been a few days but I have missed you. I find the prospect of you living here to be more attractive every day.’

Greg resists Mycroft’s tugging for a moment. ‘Me too.’ He’s a little surprised to find just how much he means this. He lean forward to kiss Mycroft briefly. ‘Me too,’ he says again. Mycroft tries to continue pulling him towards the bedroom and Greg puts a hand on his arm. ‘Sherlock came by the Yard today.’

Mycroft’s head drops back a little and he groans. ‘What did the little beast say?’

Greg can’t help but laugh a little at this display. ‘Nothing much. He figured out I was seeing someone an’ God knows how but he figured out we’re moving in together. I didn’t say much cos I know how he can be, but I was wondering what your thoughts were on how open we’re going to be.’

Mycroft doesn’t say anything for a moment. He seems more hesitant that Greg’s used to. ‘Would you mind if we kept it to ourselves for a while? I know it’s not easy to conceal things from Sherlock, but in the past he has not been terribly… helpful towards my relationships, and for the time being I rather feel that the less he knows the better.’

Greg thinks back to some of the comments and observations Sherlock’s made about his relationships over the years and has to agree. ‘That’s fine by me, I can keep him at bay with cold cases if necessary. ‘M not the kind of guy to go telling everyone my business anyway.’

Mycroft’s kiss is relieved. ‘I didn’t think you were, and I appreciate your understanding when it comes to Sherlock.’ He resumes pulling Greg towards the bedroom once more, and the topic is forgotten.

 

*

 

Greg knows he can’t put off John’s invite to the pub forever. They’re good enough mates that they get together every two weeks or so to catch up, and it feels wrong to be avoiding him. At the same time, Greg knows John’s going to have questions and he’s not sure how to tell him to mind his own business without making things awkward.

In the end he decides to wing it. He’s due to move in to the new flat this weekend and he doesn’t want to put off meeting up with John any longer. He bites the bullet and suggests meeting at the pub on Friday night.

John arrives punctually. Greg’s already there and has their usual order on the table. John sits and downs half his pint before saying anything. Greg eyes him a little worriedly. ‘You alright mate?’

John puts down his glass and nods. ‘Long week at the surgery. Chickenpox at one of the schools so two nurses and a doctor are off looking after their sick kids, and Margaret’s away on holiday too. I get the short straw since I’ve had most time off recently. Plus Sherlock’s sulking. He can’t solve one of the cases you gave him. It’s making him a right joy to live with.’

Greg grimaces. ‘Sorry for you, mate. You working the weekend too?’

John nods, drinking from his glass again. ‘Saturday, not Sunday. Rugby Sunday.’

They chat about John’s team, talk about the upcoming match he’s got scheduled. Greg’s not a great follower of rugby but he’s caught the odd game and can keep up with most of what John’s saying. Sherlock thinks rugby and football both asinine, so Greg thinks John’s glad to have someone to discuss it with over pints. Over the next couple of rounds they meander through Arsenal’s upcoming matches and wend their conversational way to recent goings on at the Yard and John’s surgery. So far they’ve not broached the subject of Sherlock’s deductions about Greg’s love life.

Eventually there’s a lull in the conversation. John breaks it. ‘So...’ he says, meaningfully.

Greg finishes his pint. Last one, he decides. ‘So.’

John gives him a look. ‘So you’re moving in with someone. And you’ve known him how long?’

‘Three months, give or take.’ He’s not going to tell John precisely when they met.

John makes a face. ‘Bit fast, isn’t it? How well do you know him? And what’s his name?’

‘I know him well enough.’ Greg wishes he didn’t feel so defensive. ‘I might not know all the ins an’ outs, but I know the basics. An’ to be honest, he works as much as I do, so the only way I’ll get to know him better is if we’re living together an’ I get to see him on a regular basis.’

John pulls a thoughtful face and finishes the last of his drink. ‘Fair enough. I mean, it seems a bit mental, but I live with Sherlock Holmes.’

And I’m going to be living with Mycroft Holmes, Greg doesn’t say. ‘Holmes-Watson now,’ he says instead.

John grins, still looking proud. ‘Yeah, he is.’ Greg deliberately doesn’t roll his eyes at him. John turns serious again. ‘If you’re sure, mate, then I hope it works out. What’s his name then?’

Greg looks down at the table, tracing his finger through the condensation rings on it. ‘I don’t want to tell you yet.’ At John’s look of surprise he continues: ‘Look, John, it’s still pretty new, an’ to be honest after some of the things Sherlock’s said in the past about people I’ve dated, I don’t really want his interference just yet. No offence, but your husband can be a bit of a prick when he wants to, an’ I don’t want him running off to make deductions.’ He risks a glance at John to see how he’s taking it.

John looks a little surprised, but doesn’t say anything for a moment. Eventually he nods. ‘I don’t think Sherlock would be that much of a prick about it but if you don’t want to tell me, OK then.’

Greg winces internally. John doesn’t seem angry, but he doesn’t seem best pleased either. ‘Look, I’ll tell you both soon enough. I just want things to be a bit further along first.’ He picks his glass up aimlessly and rolls it between his hands.

John gives him an incredulous look. ‘Further along than moving in with him?’

‘Yes?’ Greg doesn’t like how unsure he sounds. ‘Yes,’ he says again, more firmly.

John raises his eyebrows, but nods in consideration. ‘So much for you not moving in with a bloke then marrying him.’ He shoots Greg a sidelong look full of mischief.

‘Oi!’ Greg sets the glass down a little harder than he meant to. ‘No one said anything about getting married. Don’t jump the gun just yet.’

John snorts. ‘Pretty sure the next stage is marriage. Are you going to tell us his name before the ceremony or just wait til it’s read out?’

‘Ha ha, very funny. Nobody’s getting married, so you can just put that out of your head.’

John reaches for his coat and Greg does the same. ‘We’ll see. At least you’ll put his name on the invitation cards, right?’

Greg shakes his head and ignores him, relief making him feel more relaxed than he’s been all evening. For all his joking, John won’t push, and he’ll keep Sherlock from breaking into the new flat and finding Mycroft there. Probably.

 

*

 

The moving van arrives at twelve the next day. Greg’s on call, but with any luck he shouldn’t have to actually go in today. The van is about the size of a transit van, and even with all Greg’s possessions and some of his furniture it still seems largely empty. He’ll donate the left over furniture to the one of the local charity shops, not that there’s much left. There’s really only the couch, kitchen table and chairs and the bed frame to go. The white goods came with the flat and the new one has them installed already.

Unloading at the other end doesn’t take long with Greg and the two men lumping boxes up to the second floor. Mycroft stands in the doorway to the lounge, overseeing the operation, dressed as casually as Greg’s seen him yet in an Oxford shirt and sharply creased trousers. As he promised, nothing Greg can say will get him to help.

Finally the last piece of furniture is in and the men leave. Mycroft takes the closing of the door behind them as a signal to kiss Greg. ‘Hello,’ he says, lips only inches from Greg’s. His voice is warm and smooth and sends a slight shiver down Greg’s spine.

‘Hello yourself.’ Mycroft goes in for another kiss, but Greg pulls away. ‘Much as I’d like to, I still need to get all these boxes unpacked.’

They both look at the slightly sad pile in the lounge. One suitcase full of clothes, a suit bag for his court suit, two boxes of cookware and dishes, three boxes of books, DVDs and CDs, and another box of odds and ends. Even with the size of the boxes, it’s not much.

‘Hmm.’ Mycroft raises an eyebrow. ‘I’m sure it will take all evening.’

Greg snorts. ‘Yeah, well, if you don’t want it to then I should get started. Then we’ll have the rest of the afternoon free.’

Mycroft’s eyes lighten at that. ‘A valid point. Would you care for a hand?’

Greg looks at him sardonically. ‘Thought nothing could convince you to help with the moving in?’

Mycroft tilts his head back slightly and looks down his nose at Greg. ‘I suppose I could be persuaded to, with the proper inducements.’

Greg grins. ‘Alright then, inducements it is. What can I offer you?’

Mycroft’s answering smile is entirely fox like. ‘I’ll let you know when we’re finished.’

Greg suppresses a shiver. ‘Best crack on then. Don’t want to keep you waiting for your reward.’

Mycroft’s smile only sharpens. ‘That, my dear, is part of the fun.’

 

*

 

In the end, unpacking takes longer than Greg expects. Mycroft takes command of the suitcase early on, and Greg leaves him happily arranging his shirts in the chest of drawers and despairing over Greg’s packing skills. Greg retreats to the lounge and resettles his small library into the bookshelf he brought from his flat. He also takes the opportunity to check over his CDs and DVDs, making sure everything’s in the right cases. By the time he’s finished unpacking the last box it’s verging on half past six. Mycroft has finished with his clothes, and after an attempt at helping with the other boxes, has retreated to the sofa to work on his laptop.

‘Fancy a cuppa?’ Greg asks when he’s emptied the last box, flattened it and set it by the door to go down to the recycling.

‘Please,’ Mycroft replies, glancing briefly up from his laptop to meet Greg’s eyes. Greg’s struck all of a sudden by the fact that Mycroft is wearing glasses. He can’t remember seeing them before. It makes Mycroft’s usually penetrating gaze laser sharp, even with only a brief glance. Greg stands in the doorway taking them in. They’re small and gold rimmed, not in the least bit fashionable. They remind Greg a little of a pince-nez, and for some reason the sight of Mycroft wearing them hits Greg right in the chest. Warm fondness and arousal combine, and he doesn’t try to stop himself from closing the two meters between him and the couch to kiss Mycroft.

Mycroft seems a little startled but quickly kisses Greg back enthusiastically. Greg pulls back and grabs for Mycroft’s hand. ‘C’mon, time for your thanks for helping me move.’ Mycroft looks puzzled but willing and stands easily, closing his laptop and setting it aside. When he goes to do the same to his glasses, Greg halts him. ‘Bring those too.’

‘Interesting.’ Mycroft sounds amused. ‘Something you want to tell me, Gregory?’

Greg shakes his head, grinning. ‘Think I’ll let you work it out for yourself. Didn’t you say the waiting was part of the fun?’

 

*

 

They shower after, together but with nothing in mind other than convenience. And maybe a couple of kisses. Dried, dressed and moving through to the kitchen, Greg glances at the clock and finds it later than he expected. There was a bit of post-coital mutual lounging – not cuddling – and half a nap in there, but even still. Not bad for forty eight, he thinks, grinning to himself.

‘Fancy some dinner?’

Mycroft enters the room, immaculately attired once more. ‘Certainly. Just something simple perhaps.’

Greg thinks about it, and decides on quick tomato pasta sauce. He rummages in the cupboards, looking for the food that he brought from his flat. Mycroft comes to stand beside him. ‘Can I help?’ Greg considers. Mycroft has admitted he’s not much of a cook, toast and eggs more or less the limits of his repertoire. In the end Greg sets him to chopping onion and garlic and frying them in butter.

They work easily around each other, Mycroft at the stove keeping the sauce from burning whilst Greg chops and adds bits and pieces. The quiet in the kitchen, broken by the occasional query about flavour preferences from Greg, is companionable enough and perfectly comfortable. It’s not long before the sauce and pasta are ready and Greg plates it on the counter. Mycroft sorts out cutlery and water glasses, and the two of them sit at adjacent sides of the small table.

The sky outside the windows is dark, and the overhead light reflects a mirror image of the two of them onto the panes. It’s cosy in a way Greg hasn’t had in a long time, the two of them sitting there eating together.

Mycroft breaks the silence. ‘This is excellent, thank you, Gregory. Where did you learn to cook?’

Greg hesitates before answering. It’s not that he doesn’t want to tell Mycroft...

‘Neither me nor my ex were big on cooking, an’ when things started to fall apart we took a cooking class together to try an’ help us reconnect. Didn’t work, but I liked learning. Means I can make some basic stuff an’ not have to rely on take out all the time. I could probably make some of the more complicated things too, I just never seem to have the time.’

Mycroft doesn’t say anything, focusing on his meal. Greg feels his heart sink slightly. Off to a great start here. Should have left out the bit about his ex. Bit awkward to have your new… lover? boyfriend? partner? talking about their past relationship.

‘Perhaps you could teach me a little. We could try to make something together some evening.’

Greg’s heart lifts again at Mycroft’s words and he grins. ‘Sounds good. What d’you fancy making?’

Mycroft hums. ‘Something with fish perhaps?’

Greg nods. ‘I’ve got a Thai salmon an’ coconut curry recipe I’ve not tried yet. Seems simple enough an’ sounds pretty good.’

Mycroft smiles a little shyly, glancing at Greg. ‘It does sound good. If it works out you can teach me a bit more. If you want,’ he adds, sounding slightly worried.

‘I’d like that.’ Greg feels a bubble of warmth rising. He’s not the only one going into this with warring hope and trepidation, it would seem. It’s reassuring to see Mycroft not as suave as usual. If they’re both invested in this, it’s got a better chance of working. ‘An’ you’ll have to show me your famous scrambled eggs on toast one day.’

Mycroft gives the most elegant snort Greg’s ever heard. ‘Hardly famous, Gregory, and it’s not the only dish I can make. I’ll have you know I am also very accomplished at adding pesto to pasta and heating soup, and I am unparalleled at placing orders for take out.’

Greg gives his own, far less elegant snort and grins. ‘’M not too shabby in that department either. Still, got to make sure you keep your skills up. Can’t improve if you don’t keep practising.’

Mycroft smiles back at him. ‘Very true. And it would be unfair to expect you to cook all the time. Though I warn you I will likely be working late quite often so you shouldn’t rely too heavily on my ability to make pasta and pesto.’

‘Fair enough. Probably won’t be back all that early myself. Just have to see how it goes, yeah?’

Mycroft nods in reply. They’ve nearly finished the pasta and Mycroft comments again on how good the sauce is.

‘It’s a good quick one, but it’s best when you can get fresh ingredients. Cherry tomatoes are the best to use, when you can get really nice sweet ones. Now you’ve helped make it, you can cook it next time.’ Greg finishes the last few mouthfuls.

Mycroft stands and gathers the dishes. ‘As long as you are there to supervise. I suspect it may be a case of practise makes perfect.’ Greg joins him at the sink and turns on the water. ‘Oh no, I’ll do the washing up,’ Mycroft insists. ‘You did the cooking, it’s only fair.’

Greg’s not going to complain about that, even if he grins inwardly at the thought of Mycroft in washing up gloves.

Whilst Mycroft fills the sink and begins on the dishes, Greg wanders through to the lounge. Mycroft hadn’t brought a TV with the rest of the furniture but he hadn’t objected when Greg mentioned bringing his. He knows Mycroft doesn’t watch much telly, and to be honest neither does he, but he likes to be able to put the news on in the evening. At least when he’s not on it he does.

Switching on the BBC, he flops down onto the couch. It’s certainly much more comfortable than his old one. He’s not going to miss it. He doesn’t feel particularly unhappy to have been forced to move from his old flat, not with the fact that he’s moved in with Mycroft. It may be uncertain, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a bad move, so to speak.

He lets his attention drift in and out of focus on the news, the sound of water and china a background accompaniment. It stops before long and Mycroft appears in the doorway, sleeves rolled up and holding two tumblers of what looks like whiskey. He hands one to Greg.

‘Ta. D’you mind?’ Greg gestures to the TV.

‘Not at all, Gregory. It is, after all, your flat too.’ Greg sees Mycroft shoot a quick glance to his laptop, still sitting on the coffee table where he left it earlier, but he doesn’t move towards it, instead sitting beside Greg and sipping from his own glass. Greg doesn’t get the impression he’s particularity interested in the news, rather studying the room to see the changes Greg’s made. There are few personal touches of Mycroft’s, mainly books but the odd knick-knack as well. It’s nice, seeing someone else’s things mixed in with his. Makes the place seem more homely.

Mycroft gestures to the photo frame Greg put on top of the bookcase by the window. ‘Your parents and sister?’

Greg nods. ‘Yeah, an’ my nephew. Mum died when I was seven an’ Shannon was four, then it was just us and Dad. He died about eight years ago now, so it’s just Shannon an’ Rory an’ me now. What about you? Are your parents still around?’ This really feels like the sort of thing he should know already, but they’ve avoided talking about Sherlock so far and by extension the rest of Mycroft’s family. It would be too easy to complain about Sherlock to Mycroft on an almost daily basis, but the cousins don’t seem to be that close and Greg honestly wants to leave work at the door when he sees Mycroft.

Mycroft takes a sip of his drink. ‘No parents, no other family. It’s just Sherlock and me now.’ He looks a little bleak. A sore subject, it would seem. It’s a second before Greg remembers Sherlock has a brother. Apparently Mycroft and the brother don’t get on any better than Sherlock and the brother do, if Mycroft doesn’t even think of him as part of their family. It’s a little sad, but families can be like that sometimes.

Greg doesn’t say anything, takes another sip of his drink. The TV burbles on in the background, neither of them paying any attention.

Eventually he breaks the silence. ‘Plans for tomorrow?’

Mycroft shakes himself a little and looks enquiring. ‘I have some work to complete but I could handle it in the morning and we could make plans for the afternoon, if you would like?’

Greg nods. ‘I’m still technically on call, but fingers crossed I won’t be needed. Weather should be good, how about we go for a wander round the area, see what’s what? Could pick up some bits an’ pieces an’ try the Thai curry if you fancy.’

Mycroft smiles. ‘That sounds like a plan. I don’t anticipate that I will have to work much later than twelve or so, if I get an early start.’

Greg nods, glancing at the TV screen. The newsreader is handing over to the weather man and Greg decides he doesn’t need to watch the forecast. He switches it off and finishes the last of his drink, turning to Mycroft. ‘Should probably head to bed, if you’ve got an early start tomorrow. Coming?’

Mycroft nods, but seems a little hesitant. Greg looks at him questioningly. ‘Something wrong?’

Mycroft looks a little embarrassed. ‘I would certainly like to join you, but I’m afraid that, much as I would like to, I don’t think I’m quite up to another round just yet.’

Greg can’t suppress a quick chuff of laughter. ‘Don’t worry, don’t think I am either. Was just planning to brush my teeth an’ read in bed for a bit. Think you could manage that? Wildly sexy, I know.’ He grins.

Mycroft grins back. ‘What a very enticing proposition. I think I could be persuaded into it.’

He finishes the last of his drink as well and they stand together for a second before Greg pulls Mycroft into a short, whiskey flavoured kiss. ‘Go on, I’ll rinse the glasses while you’re in the bathroom, then I’ll have a turn.’

Mycroft smiles and kisses him again. ‘Wonderful idea, Gregory.’ Greg shakes his head a little at Mycroft’s warm tone as he heads to the kitchen. Not only does it seem like Mycroft’s invested in making this relationship work, it looks like Greg’s not alone in feeling slightly ridiculously giddy and affectionate either.

 

*

 

The morning light is as lovely as promised. Greg is surprised by how much he enjoys sitting at the kitchen table and eating his Weetabix with the light washing over him. The day outside is bright but blustery, and unless things change they should be fine for wandering in the afternoon.

Mycroft left before Greg woke, something he’s slightly disappointed about, but he did leave Greg a note stuck to the fridge.

Gregory,

I’m afraid I have been called in earlier than originally anticipated, but I believe I should still be finished by twelve or so. I didn’t want to wake you on your day off so I shall anticipate seeing you later, and until then I wish you a good morning.

Yours,
Mycroft

Last night was nice, despite the fact that Greg’s out of the habit of sharing a bed. Mycroft stayed over at his old flat once and they’d shared a bed for two nights after the wedding, but this feels like the first official time sleeping together. There was a bit of an awkward moment over who got the side closest to the door, but as Greg didn’t really mind that much and Mycroft clearly did it was solved fairly quickly. The only real awkwardness came from the dance of politeness as they both tried to suss out each other’s real feelings. Though he’d been careful not to obviously lay claim to that side before Greg arrived, Mycroft was equally obviously not comfortable with the idea of sleeping on the other side. Greg shakes his head as he remembers Mycroft’s carefully neutral expression. Good thing it really doesn’t matter that much to Greg.

With a free morning and no plans, Greg feels at a bit of a loose end. He would usually take the opportunity to do laundry, cleaning, shopping, all the necessary and thankless chores that fall by the wayside when work gets busy. Either that or he’d end up being called in anyway. But with a new flat already arranged and clean, and plans to go out shopping later, he takes the opportunity to relax.

He surfs the web for a bit, letting his curiosity drag him through the obscure corners of the BBC news website before an idea hits and he goes back to Google home.

‘Mycroft Holmes’ as a search term nets him very little. There’s a few articles on Sherlock that Greg can see from the summary don’t contain any reference to Mycroft, and a couple of pages on the Department of Transport website.

The information on the website is very minimal. It’s just a list of personnel in different departments with contact information and a job title. Mycroft is listed as ‘Consultant.’ Greg thought so. From what Mycroft’s said in passing it sounds like he’s a bit of a jack-of-all-trades come problem solver. Greg’s not surprised; Mycroft is just as intelligent as Sherlock, though much better socialised, and would find no difficulty in making his own job, again like Sherlock. It’s not hard to imagine really, and even if the Department of Transport is maybe not the most exciting job in the world, someone’s got to do it, and Mycroft is obviously important and well regarded there.

Greg sets his laptop aside with a sigh. A little guiltily he tries to think back to what he used to do on his days off when he was married. Work mostly, is the answer. Days off either meant trying to finish the list of chores left for him in an attempt to make up for his absence the rest of the week, or the two of them drifting sullenly around each other, doing their own things and snapping at each other occasionally as their paths collided. In the end he just started avoiding days off, treating them as another day in the office.

He doesn’t want to end up in that cycle with Mycroft. He’ll need to watch for those behaviour patterns, nip them in the bud. He refuses to accidentally drift once more into living with someone who resents him.

And when he thinks about it, he doesn’t want that from Mycroft either. He wants to spend time with him that isn’t just late at night. If Mycroft’s going to have to work weekends, maybe he can at least work from home or something, so they can spend a bit of time together. Not that Greg will always be there, policing isn’t Monday to Friday every week, but it’s a start at least. But they should try to do something together each week.

With that in mind he gets off the sofa and tries to find the recipe for the salmon curry he mentioned to Mycroft last night. He thinks it’s in one of his books, put there to keep it safe and possibly act as an impromptu bookmark.

Rifling through his books he comes across a few other recipes he’d forgotten about, things he can try with Mycroft. He’s sitting on the floor with a small pile of recipes next to him, leafing slowly through a book he’s not read in a while, when Mycroft returns. Greg looks up, catches his eyes when he enters the room and smiles in welcome. Mycroft smiles back.

‘Good afternoon Gregory. What on earth are you doing?’

‘Hey Mycroft. Was just looking for the curry recipe, an’ I found a few others we could try.’ He stands, knees cracking, and walks over to kiss Mycroft hello. ‘How was work?’
Mycroft is looking a little bemused. ‘Work was fine. I’m sorry I had to leave without seeing you, but I thought you might not appreciate being woken so early on your day off.’

Ah, Greg thinks, he’s worried I’m annoyed. ‘Don’t worry about it, I know how it can be.’ Though Christ knows what the Department of Transport needs a consultant for at very early on a Sunday morning. ‘Thanks for leaving a note though. Everything OK?’

Mycroft’s face has relaxed back into a slight smile. ‘Everything is fine. Simply an ill informed person panicking over the fact that they have not bothered to do the research they need. Sometimes I feel like I’m dealing with adolescents.’

Greg nods. Sounds like planning tube maintenance or something. ‘Yeah, I hate that.’

Mycroft smiles again. ‘But I am back when I estimated, and have the entire afternoon free.’ He rolls his eyes. ‘Barring any more panicked phone calls.’

Greg grins and glances at his watch. It’s only five past twelve, a bit later than he thought but not by much. ‘Well, it’s a bit early for lunch yet. Anything strike your fancy?’

Mycroft looks thoughtful. ‘We could go out for lunch. There’s a very decent cafe not far from here, and I’ve eaten there a few times whilst staying here. Does that sound appealing?’

It does actually. ‘Sounds good to me. Give me five minutes to put together a shopping list for dinner an’ get my shoes on an’ we can go.’

‘Oh, take your time. I’m going to change into something less formal before we go out. This is not a wandering around town suit.’

As far as Greg can tell, Mycroft doesn’t own any clothing other than suits. Greg has one suit he uses for weddings, funerals and court, and a few more for work. He has no idea what makes one suit, ha, suitable for wandering around town and one entirely unsuitable, but he’ll take Mycroft’s word for it. ‘Fair enough then.’ A thought hits. ‘Is this new suit going to come with pants?’

Mycroft looks faintly shocked. ‘Of course it will. I am not walking around town with no underwear on.’ Despite his expression and tone, Greg can hear a slight curl of amusement in Mycroft’s voice. He sighs.

‘Ok then, Mycroft Holmes, you go an’ put on another unfairly gorgeous suit, an’ I’ll sit here an’ pine for the thought of you in no pants.’ He flops down onto the sofa and makes a show of stretching out. ‘Maybe while I’m thinking about it I’ll make some plans for after dinner.’

Mycroft’s eyes follow him as he stretches. ‘Now who’s being unfair?’ Resolutely, he turns and leaves the room, calling back over his shoulder; ‘Don’t get too far ahead in your planning. I might have a few ideas of my own.’

 

*

 

Lunch is nice, the cafe as good as Mycroft suggested. The weather is still pleasant, the wind having died a little and they meander through the streets following interesting signs and taking turns on a whim. They find a bakery not too far away and Greg can’t resist nipping in to chose something for later. He grins at Mycroft and holds up the bag when he joins him again outside the shop. ‘Something to have with a cuppa later. Hope I got something you’ll like.’

Mycroft looks indulgent. ‘I’m sure whatever you have chosen will be enjoyable. You are a bad influence, Gregory.’

Unrepentant, Greg grins and gestures down the road. ‘Shall we?’

Their meandering eventually brings them out on to Euston Road, opposite the British Library. Greg nods to it. ‘Never been there, but I’ve always meant to.’

Mycroft looks scandalised. ‘Never been there? That is a sad lapse on your part, Gregory. It’s too late to do it justice today but the next time we both have the day off, I’m taking you for a full tour.’

Plans. Making plans for time together, Greg thinks. Off to a good start then.

They begin to make their way back, taking a different path than they did to get there. They pass a second hand bookshop that Greg looks at longingly, but decides to come back to later to browse. He turns to Mycroft and finds him studying a book in the window, his face unguarded, and Greg can recognise that expression.

‘C’mon, let’s have a look.’

Mycroft shakes his head but reaches out a hand to open the door. ‘I maintain, a bad influence.’ He’s smiling as he says it though, and Greg refuses to feel bad.

The shop is crowded with books in the best way, shelves far enough apart for two people to pass and little tables with books arranged on them by subject. Mycroft makes a bee-line for the till to talk to the assistant about the book in the window, and Greg wanders through the aisles, looking at the categories and pulling books out at random when they catch his eye. He ends up in the fantasy section, a book on the history of London’s bridges under one arm. There he finds Mycroft, already engrossed in the neighbouring sci-fi section, the book from the window in his hand. Greg nods to it. ‘What did you find?’

Mycroft shows him. ‘A biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Not one I’ve read before, but I have read a few books by the author.’

Greg shows him his own find and they both spend a happy while browsing the fantasy and sci-fi shelves, occasionally adding to their collections. After half an hour Greg has three books, Mycroft two, and they make their way to the counter to complete their purchases. As they leave the assistant tells them to come back any time, there’s always new stock. Mycroft looks interested, and Greg reckons they may become regulars. No hardship, that.

The rest of the walk back to the flat goes quickly, neither of them making much of an effort to window shop any more. Just as they turn onto their street, Greg stops and swears. ‘Forgot the things for dinner,’ he says in reply to Mycroft’s questioning look.

Mycroft looks thoughtful. ‘So we did. If I remember correctly there should be a supermarket not far away. That way, I believe.’ He points down a side street.

The supermarket is full of Sunday shoppers picking up bits and pieces for dinner, and it’s a squeeze to make it round. Mycroft looks a little uncomfortable. ‘I don’t often go shopping,’ he says when Greg asks.

‘Next time we can get stuff delivered if you want. Might be easier, what with our hours.’ Mycroft nods in agreement and Greg tried to find the bits and pieces they need as quickly as possibly. The only thing he can’t find is lemongrass and in the end he settles for picking up a fresh lemon instead. He turns to Mycroft. ‘That’s everything. Ready to go?’ The look on Mycroft’s face says he very much is.

The self service checkouts are wholly new experience for Mycroft, it would seem. His expression is horrified, and when the automated voice chastises him for an unexpected item in the bagging area, it only gets more so. Greg struggles not to laugh as he quickly scans their purchases and pays, Mycroft then leading the way out of the store with alacrity.

Back at the flat, Greg puts the food way and flicks the switch for the kettle. ‘Fancy a cuppa?’ Mycroft’s look of grateful relief is comical and Greg lets out a gentle laugh. ‘Next time we’ll get a delivery,’ he says, not bothering to hide his amusement.

Mycroft sighs. ‘I’m sorry, Gregory. I’m not much used to having to deal with this sort of thing. Usually I just have my assistant handle it, too much sensory input to make it a regular experience for me. I fear you may have to be patient with me until I get the hang of it.’

Greg can’t resist crossing the kitchen to plant a quick kiss on Mycroft’s cheek. ‘Every day with me a new experience,’ he says as he pulls back. Mycroft hums in reply, and Greg crosses the kitchen again to put together the tea.

He’s reaching for the cupboard when Mycroft comes up behind him. ‘Please, allow me.’

‘’S no trouble.’ Greg glances at Mycroft’s face. ‘What?’

Mycroft reaches for another cupboard and pulls out a teapot, milk jug, sugar bowl and cups, all matching shades of grey and pink. Greg looks at him incredulously. ‘Seriously?’

Mycroft looks prim. ‘Tea tastes better when it’s made properly.’ He looks a little defensive when Greg continues to stare. ‘You don’t have to join me, I can make you a mug if you prefer.’

Greg shakes his head. ‘No, if you’re going to all that trouble for the sake of a cup of tea it’d be silly to make a separate one. Go on then, let’s see if I can taste the difference.’

Mycroft doesn’t say anything as he warms the pot, and Greg refrains from commenting when he pulls out a cannister of loose leaf tea as well. To be honest, this seems like exactly the sort of thing Mycroft would like, fussy and overly formal. Greg goes to rummage in the cupboard the set came from. ‘D’you have matching plates too?’

Mycroft seems a little stiff as he answers. ‘Bottom cupboard, on the left.’ Sure enough, there are plates there that match the pattern on the rest of the set, grey with pale pink curlicues. It’s abstract, somehow modern and classic-seeming at the same time. The plates go on the counter next to the tea cups in their saucers and Greg fetches the bakery bag from the table where he left it. Mycroft is facing away from him, concentrating on pouring milk into the milk jug, and Greg feels a little bad. He sighs silently and crosses to stand beside him, placing the bag on the counter and a hand on Mycroft’s back. ‘Looks good, all laid out like this. You got a tray or something to carry it through on?’

Silently, Mycroft moves to pull a tray from the top of the cupboards. Greg sighs again. He’s hurt this strange man, who so frequently seems untouchable but who Greg thinks maybe hasn’t had many people who listen and don’t tease maliciously. He remembers their first dinner date and how pleased Mycroft had seemed to have someone asking about something he cared about. He needs to let Mycroft know his reaction wasn’t a criticism.

He helps put the service on the tray, setting the cakes from the bakery on the plates. There’s a fruit Danish and a slice of apple cake, Greg having noticed Mycroft seems to prefer to choose treats that have at least some healthy element to them.

Mycroft carries the tray through to the lounge and Greg follows carrying their books. With the tray on the coffee table, they both take their places on the couch, and Mycroft leans forward to give the teapot a swirl. Greg clears his throat a little.

‘Look, Mycroft, I didn’t mean to make fun of your tea set. I’ve never seen someone actually use one before but it looks nice, all set out. Better than grotty old chipped mugs and a dirty teaspoon from the Yard break room any day.’

Mycroft gives a little shudder at the thought and relaxes slightly. ‘I’m sorry, Gregory. I fear I am not used to having my habits and actions commented on. I shall try not to over-react next time.’

Greg reaches out and touches Mycroft’s hand where it rests on his leg. ‘It wasn’t a criticism, an’ you didn’t over-react. I could have phrased it better.’

Mycroft looks a bit uncomfortable. ‘You do not need to coddle me, Gregory. I am a functioning adult who has to learn to moderate my reactions if this relationship is to work.’

Greg tightens his grip a little on Mycroft’s hand, just enough to get Mycroft to look at him. ‘We both need to know where the boundaries are. ’S going to be an adjustment for both of us, an’ there’s going to be things that I do that you think are strange, or irritating, an’ vice versa. It doesn’t mean the end of the world if we don’t see eye to eye on everything. That’s what makes relationships interesting, an’ as long as there’s a certain amount of tolerance for each other’s habits it should be OK. If it’s something that really can’t be lived with we’ll need to make adjustments, but we’re not there yet.’ As long as Mycroft doesn’t turn inwards and start blaming himself for every little thing. Greg gets the impression Mycroft’s not been in many actual relationships, for all his sexual expertise.

Mycroft is still looking uncomfortable but Greg lets it go for the moment. He reaches over and picks up the teapot. ‘Think this’ll be ready yet?’

Seeming relieved to have left the subject, Mycroft lifts the lid to see the liquid inside and nods. ‘It looks brewed. I’ll pour.’

Greg agrees. ‘Fine by me. Which cake d’you want?’

Mycroft surveys them. ‘The Danish, if you don’t mind?’

‘Not at all,’ Greg assures him. It’s still a bit awkward, but the focus on tea seems to have eased things. Greg takes a sip when Mycroft hands him his cup. He blinks and sips again. ‘Blimey, that really is better from a teapot.’ Though he has a sneaking suspicion it’s less to do with the teapot and more to do with the quality of the tea leaves. Never the less, Mycroft seems pleased.

‘Every day with me a new experience. I’ll make a tea connoisseur out of you yet, Gregory.’

Grateful that the last of the tension seems to have dissipated, Greg laughs. ‘I wouldn’t go that far just yet.’

They while away the rest of the afternoon with their new books, occasionally commenting on something or other out loud. Dinner is made, the two of them working more or less harmoniously, though there is a brief dispute over just how authentically Thai it is to use Thai green curry paste from a jar as opposed to making it from scratch. In the end it’s decided that in this case the sacrifice can be made, in the face of time, effort, no raw ingredients and the prospect of going back to the supermarket.

The meal is a success, Mycroft seeming quite proud that he had a hand in making what he calls a ‘proper’ meal. ‘It was more than a hand, you did just as much as I did,’ Greg argues, and Mycroft doesn’t demure. As a final peace offering for earlier, Greg makes them both green tea in the tea set for after dinner.

Lying in bed, Mycroft’s arm around his waist and drifting towards sleep, Greg thinks that their first weekend spent together has been a success. Yes, it’s been a little awkward occasionally, and the flat’s not feeling quite like home yet, but it’ll get there. The biggest adjustment will be to sharing space with someone once more, but with Mycroft, it already feels like Greg’s known him for years.

 

*

 

Monday comes almost as a surprise. An unwelcome one. It’s been the most relaxing weekend Greg can remember in ages, discounting the weekend of John and Sherlock’s wedding, and now it’s over it seems almost to have been a dream.

Mycroft has just come out of the shower when Greg wakes, and they eat breakfast together, toast and fruit for Mycroft, cereal for Greg. Then Mycroft’s car service calls to say they’ve arrived, and fifteen minutes or so later Greg leaves to make his way to work. Jogging down the steps to the flat he hears a sound, and it takes him a moment to realise that he’s hearing himself humming. He can’t remember the last time he felt this energised going to work in the morning.

The first rush of energy carries him into the Yard and through the team meeting they have on Monday mornings. Evidently he’s not the only one to notice his improved mood. ‘Been away again?’ Donovan asks, and Greg shakes his head.

‘Good weekend,’ he grins, and leaves it at that.

After the meeting he fills out and files the change of address and next of kin paperwork, then gets on with his day. At eleven he gets a call from the Superintendent, asking Greg to come up to his office.

Greg has no idea of the reason he’s been summoned; he’s not had any particularly sensitive cases recently, Sherlock’s not been acting the arse, and Greg’s not asked for leave. God knows what this is about. He knocks.

‘Come in.’ Greg enters, and Superintendent Bennet nods to a seat in front of his desk. ‘Sit down, Greg.’

Oh God, first names; Greg wasn’t even aware Bennet knew his first name.

‘It’s come to my attention that you registered a change of address and domestic partner this morning.’ A sinking feeling starts up in Greg’s stomach. Bennet can’t really do this, penalise him for dating a man, but Greg’s heard stories from other departments and braces for the worst.

‘Yeah, that’s right.’

Bennet takes a long look at him. ‘You’re going to be living with Mycroft Holmes.’ He looks expectant.

Greg holds onto his temper. ‘Yeah, that’s right.’

A touch of awkwardness enters Bennet’s voice. ‘You are aware of who Mycroft Holmes is, I take it?’

Dread morphs into disbelief. So this is about Sherlock, and the fact that he’s moving in with Sherlock’s cousin.

‘Yeah, I’m aware.’ Greg only just restrains himself from adding obviously.

Bennet gives him another long look, then sits back. ‘Well, as long as you don’t expect anything to go differently here, that’s all fine.’

‘Right. Thanks.’ Greg waits a second, but Bennet doesn’t seem to have anything to add, so he leaves.

As he jogs down the stairs, he lets himself roll his eyes. Like I’d give Sherlock any more leeway just cos I’m living with his cousin.

 

*

 

Monday doesn’t bring anything new and Greg manages to leave for home at what is, for him, a reasonable time. He texts Mycroft as he leaves the Yard, but doesn’t get a reply until he’s nearly at the flat.

Apologies Gregory, I am unavoidably detained at work. I shall probably not manage to leave until ten or so. MH

A little disappointed but fully understanding, Greg replies.

Ok, see you when you get home. Do you want me to save you some dinner? G

Mycroft texts back that he’ll eat at work, and Greg is left with the last part of an evening to himself. He ends up making pasta and a quick sauce then watching an Arsenal match replay. The commentators are giving their post match analysis when Mycroft returns. Greg turns to look at him standing in the lounge doorway. Mycroft looks much the same as when he left in the morning, which Greg thinks is pretty impressive, considering Greg himself usually loses his tie within two hours of arriving and his shirt ends up crumpled no matter what he does.

He looks tired, Greg thinks, and pats the couch beside himself as an encouragement to sit down. Wordlessly, Mycroft complies, and Greg leans over to give him a quick kiss. ‘Hello. You look tired. Long day?’

Mycroft nods, closing his eyes for a long moment. ‘I thought this morning that it would be a simple day, and then a scheduling conflict with a colleague lead to my having to go to a meeting with little time to prepare, following which I had to instruct others as to their actions on the basis of that meeting, on top of all my other duties.’

Greg grimaces. ‘Very long day then. Did you eat?’ Mycroft nods and leans his head back on the sofa, eyes closing again. Greg stands. ‘Tell you what, I’ll make you some tea and then we can both go to bed.’

Mycroft’s look of gratitude is tempered by slight hesitation. Greg rolls his eyes. ‘You want me to do it properly, with the teapot an’ all, don’t you?’ Mycroft’s expression shows his quandary; imply Greg’s tea-making is not up to scratch or have tea made the way he wants? Greg takes pity on him and leans down to kiss him. ‘I was gonna do it that way anyway. What kind of tea d’you want?’

‘Lapsang souchong, please.’ Mycroft’s voice is as grateful as his expression.

When Greg brings the tray through with the tea set all laid out, Mycroft sits up properly to pour. ‘Would you like a cup?’

Greg eyes the steaming pot. ‘I’m OK, thanks. Bit late for me.’ And he’s not terribly keen on the smell coming from the pot either. Mycroft looks like he knows what Greg’s real reason for refusing is, but he doesn’t say anything.

The tea seems to revive Mycroft, and with cup in hand he turns to Greg. ‘And how was your day?’

Greg thinks for a second. ‘Pretty steady. Couple of leads on a case came through an’ the Super signed off on us sending one of the Sergeants to a seminar on liaising and sharing resources within the international community. Could be useful, an’ it always looks good on their record if they’re going for a promotion. Pity we can only send one of them really.’ Mycroft nods, and Greg tries to think of something else he can say. Obviously no details of ongoing investigations, and most of his day was pretty dull. He’s not going to mention his talk with the Super about moving in with Mycroft.

‘Donovan said I looked cheerful this morning,’ he offers. ‘Told her I had a good weekend.’

Mycroft looks pleased and slightly smug. ‘Any particular reason for your good weekend?’ Still smug.

‘Oh, I don’t know, I got some decent books. An’ cake! Saturday was a bit of a wash though, hardly the relaxing day I was looking forward to. I moved house an’ I didn’t even have any help.’ He affects an offended look and glances at Mycroft from beneath his eyelashes, tongue firmly in cheek.

Mycroft’s smug look is replaced by a look of outrage. ‘Excuse me, no help? I procured movers to carry things. You could have quite easily sat back and directed but you just couldn’t leave well enough alone.’

‘That’s not the point! You couldn’t even be bothered to help move your own...’ The mock argument stalls as Greg realises he doesn’t know how to describe himself. They’ve not had that conversation, which seems a little silly considering their new living situation. ‘Boyfriend’ sounds a little juvenile, ‘partner’ doesn’t quite sound right either, and ‘lover’ is just… no.

Mycroft obviously picks up on his thoughts. ‘I cannot say I am fond of the term boyfriend, at least not in relation to myself. How would partner sound to you?’

Greg wrinkles his nose, thinking about it. He’s not a massive fan of that title either, though it’s better than some of the alternatives. ‘I can live with it,’ he decides. There’s not a lot of alternatives really.

Mycroft looks knowing. ‘We don’t have to use that one either. Have you an alternative you prefer?’

Greg shakes his head. ‘It’s as good as any other. I don’t really like how it sounds but I’m not going to use boyfriend. To be honest,’ He doesn’t quite know how to say this. ‘...I tend to keep my personal life to myself. Probably won’t be going around telling everyone.’ He feels a little apprehensive. He doesn’t want Mycroft to feel that he’s ashamed, hiding him, but Greg’s just not the kind of person who goes sharing with everybody he knows.

Mycroft’s smile seems almost approving. ‘I too am reluctant to inform everybody I meet of every detail of my life. If you are not fond of the title we can leave it for the moment. There is no great hurry to formally define this, especially if we are keeping it to ourselves.’

Greg smiles and nudges Mycroft. ‘Glad that’s sorted. Or not sorted, but still glad.’ He stretches and glances at his watch. ‘Think ’m gonna head to bed. You coming?’

Mycroft holds up his tea cup. ‘I shall finish my tea then join you. Thank you for making it for me.’ His smile at Greg is almost shy, and Greg is hit once more with the thought that he wants to do nice things for Mycroft until he stops being surprised that someone cares. He leans over and kisses Mycroft once then pulls back, making a face. Lapsang souchong is apparently not a flavour he likes.

‘Do me a favour, brush your teeth before you do.’

Mycroft looks amused. ‘As you wish.’

Greg shoots him a surprised look. ‘Did you just…?’

‘Did I just what?’

‘Princess Bride? Didn’t think it would be your thing.’

Mycroft frowns. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Despite his attempt to look convincingly confused, there’s a slight tell that makes Greg think he does know the film.

‘Right then, tomorrow evening, you an’ me, we’re watching that. You’ll like it.’ Greg keeps his face as expressionless as possible, refusing to let any amusement show as he stands and walks out of the room, leaving Mycroft looking at his back with a slightly annoyed glare.

 

*

 

Princess Bride viewing ends up being postponed until Wednesday when Greg has to stay late on Tuesday to finish shuffling admin and duty rotas in order to free up Sergeant Harwell for the three day seminar on international co-operation. Mycroft kindly makes him some of the ‘famous’ scrambled eggs and toast when he finally gets back to the flat. It’s pretty good, in Greg’s opinion.

Wednesday Greg and Mycroft both make it home by nine, and Greg declares that they’re going to order a takeaway and eat it while watching the film. Mycroft seems uncertain about the prospect of eating in the lounge but Greg remains firm. ‘It’s not a proper film night if we don’t eat in front of the telly.’

Mycroft looks sly. ‘I will acquiesce to your demands, provided I get to chose the food.’

Greg shakes his head. ‘No way, that’s not how this works. The argument is part of the tradition.’

Mycroft looks resigned. ‘Alright then. I would like something spicy, possibly Indian. Is this where you insist on fish and chips?’

Greg deflates. ‘Actually, I could murder a curry too.’ He pulls a mock disappointed face. ‘It’s no fun if we both agree.’

‘No, but it is faster. I know a good place nearby, and there should be a menu around here somewhere.’

A search of the kitchen unearths a folder of takeaway menus filed alphabetically by cuisine. Greg shakes his head a little when Mycroft’s not looking. He just can’t help himself. Alphabetised, really?

The order is placed and Greg manages to convince Mycroft to share a peshwari naan with him, despite his half-hearted protests. They decide to start the film and watch it whilst waiting for the food to arrive, so Greg calls up his Netflix account.

Mycroft clearly has seen the film before, and Greg catches him mouthing along with some of the dialogue. When he notices Greg watching him out of the corner of his eye, he tries to pretend that he wasn’t, making the movement into an overly exaggerated yawn. Greg doesn’t try to hide his snigger, which grows into almost uncontrollable helpless laughter at Mycroft’s continuing exaggerated mimes of casual unconcern, offence and finally hitting Greg with a cushion before descending into snickers of laughter himself.

As the laughter winds down, Greg gives in to the urge to lean over and kiss Mycroft fondly. Pulling back, he’s aware of how easy he’s finding it to be casually affectionate towards Mycroft. That’s not been a hallmark of his previous relationships, and he wonders what it is that makes it so appealing to act like this in this one. He decides it’s probably just the rush of a new relationship after being single for a while and stuck in a resentful marriage before that. It’ll blow over, he thinks, and in the meantime makes the most of this surge in affection to lean over and kiss Mycroft again.

He’s also spent some time pondering how easily he and Mycroft have slipped into living together. It may have only been four days, but Greg expected more of an adjustment period. He expected to have to negotiate around TV choices, food decisions, who gets the bathroom first. Maybe they’re both on their best behaviour, but so far none of these issues have come up, nor any others. The living arrangement is also fulfilling it’s other purpose; he may not know where Mycroft went to school or the name of his first pet, but he still knows more about Mycroft’s personality and habits than he did a week ago. A lot more, and so far nothing off-putting.

He tears his mind back to the film, still only at the beginning, and begins to follow the story properly. It’s not long before the food arrives, Mycroft’s phone buzzing an alert to let them know the delivery driver is at the building entrance. Greg collects cutlery and plates and set the lot out on the coffee table while Mycroft goes down to fetch the food. While he’s not looking, Greg pinches a bit of Mycroft’s biriyani, and finds Mycroft’s nicked some of his korma when Greg comes back from fetching them both a beer from the kitchen. It’s nice, eating in front of an old favourite with someone who is both a friend and a romantic partner. Put like that, Greg supposes, the word isn’t so bad.

 

*

 

There’s been a murder, dispatch calls to say. Greg’s next in line for a case, so off they go, out to Shoreditch, where two bodies have been found lying in a skip. Cause of death seems pretty certain, blunt force trauma to the head. Doesn’t look like they’ll be needing Sherlock for this one.

Wellington, one of the SOCOs, calls from inside the skip. ‘Wallets and jewellery still here sir, and there’s ID too.’ She passes down the items in evidence bags and Greg pulls them out to have a quick look, gloved fingers cautious. Drivers licence, credit cards, Waterstones points card, cash and blood donor card in one, credit cards, gym membership, oyster card and cash in the other. Same last name on the credit cards. Husband and wife maybe. And one more thing, tucked in behind the cash in his wallet. ‘Fuck,’ Greg swears quietly. Donovan looks over, and Greg hold the photo out for her to see.

‘Fuck,’ she echoes, face turning grim. Greg nods. Telling a three year old Mummy and Daddy aren’t coming home is going to be brutal.

 

*

 

Greg sits at his desk, staring at the paperwork on the screen in front of him, trying to get up the motivation to begin it. Notifying the family of Mike and Julia Barnes was as difficult as it ever is. Julia’s sister Anne had been looking after Layla, their three year old daughter, and was expecting them to pick her up some time this morning. Finding Greg there when she opened the door severely changed that expectations.

Greg called her husband home from work and sat with her until he arrived. Layla, running round the lounge, didn’t understand why Auntie Anne was crying, and Greg just didn’t know how to tell her.

Leaving the house with the spare key to the Barnes’ flat and their work address, he sent Donovan over to check out the house while he went to talk to their boss. He knew that really he should be leaving this to his Sergeants, that he should be back at the Yard dealing with the paperwork, co-ordinating with forensics and the morgue, keeping an eye on the other active investigations under his purview and fielding any calls from reporters, but he ignored it. The expression on Anne Graham’s face as she looked at Layla wouldn’t leave his head, and besides that, this, this is why he got into policing, talking to people, putting together the pieces to see the whole. And, trite as it may sound, for the chance to get justice for the victims.

The manager of the restaurant where the Barnes’ worked was waiting for him when he arrived. She seemed genuinely shocked and upset. She told him that Mike was their pastry chef and Julia had just been promoted to head chef a week ago. She told him what lovely people they were and that everybody liked them. Greg nodded along sympathetically and asked if he could return later to speak to the rest of the staff, leaving with an agreement to do that.

He heaves a sigh and gets started. Eventually Donovan and the rest begin to trickle in, and she drops by to update him. ‘Nothing at the flat and the uniforms haven’t found any witnesses while canvassing.’

Greg nods. ‘SOCO said they were killed in the alley, but they haven’t found the murder weapon. Any sign of their car?’

Donovan looks curious. ‘Sure they had a car?’

‘Boss said they drove to an’ from work.’

She shakes her head. ‘No cars in the car park outside the flat, all the neighbours at work. I’ll get someone to get the description, see if it’s on the street near the scene.’ She stops for a moment. ‘Any keys found?’

‘None so far, but SOCO are still going through the skip, they might show up.’

Donovan looks sceptical, and Greg agrees.

 

*

 

The car, a five year old Vauxhall Astra, is found burned out on a patch of waste ground on Friday morning. By then it’s been determined that the Barnes’ left the restaurant at their usual time, walked to their car and were then lured into the alley where they were later found dead. The CCTV cameras show a figure in a hoodie entering the alley about five minutes before the Barnes’ show up and then exiting again after, getting into their car and driving away. It seems a bit far fetched, all this just to steal a car, but after twenty five years in the Met Greg’s seen more done for less.

Questioning the colleagues didn’t get them very far, most of them seemed to genuinely like the couple. The only one to have a problem was the second sous chef who seemed to feel that he would have been a better choice for head chef, having temporarily taken over Julia’s duties while she was on maternity leave and then been forced back into second position when she returned. There was something about his attitude that set up Greg’s hackles, and he matched the build of the person caught on CCTV. But with just a hunch and a few minutes of video there’s not enough to go on. Nothing was found on the bodies and forensics are still processing the car.

Greg gets home late on Friday, so late it’s really Saturday. Mycroft is still awake, reading glasses perched on his nose as he reviews something on his laptop. Greg slumps down beside him, rubbing his face, and Mycroft turns to him. ‘Hard day?’

‘Yeah.’ Greg doesn’t bother to stop himself yawning. ‘Sorry, but I’m gonna have to go in tomorrow too.’ So much for the British library, he thinks with a pang of regret.

Mycroft hums. ‘I know how it is. Do not worry, the British Library will be there next time we have a weekend free.’

Grateful that Mycroft’s read his mind and doesn’t seem bothered, Greg leans over for a kiss, spoiled slightly when he yawns in the middle of it. Mycroft chuckles. ‘Have you had anything to eat?’

Greg nods, stifling another yawn. It’s been two late nights and an early morning and it doesn’t seem like tomorrow will be a change. ‘Had a sandwich at work. Should probably just go to bed.’

Mycroft sets aside his laptop and stands, pulling Greg up too. For a second Greg wavers, balance shot by exhaustion, and Mycroft pulls him close, wrapping his arms around him. Greg leans into him, feels Mycroft bracing himself slightly to accept Greg’s weight. Greg buries his face in Mycroft’s neck. He can’t get Layla Barnes’ face out of his mind, blue eyes wide and wet as she looked at her aunt. He’s not usually hit this hard, but this time…

‘Come along.’ Mycroft’s voice is a warm rumble in his ear, and Greg can feel the vibrations of his chest pressed against Greg’s. ‘Come to bed.’ He pulls away from Greg, making sure as he does that Greg is standing steady, then gently chivvies him towards the bedroom. Once there he helps Greg strip off his badly crumpled suit, hanging it neatly while Greg tries to negotiate socks. He ushers Greg into the bathroom then back to the bed, where Greg sinks down gratefully, yawning once more.

‘Sorry ’m so useless,’ he mumbles around another yawn. Mycroft smiles and goes into the bathroom, returning after a few minutes to get undressed. Greg watches, half awake, the slow reveal of each layer and its subsequent removal. After what seems like years to Greg’s sleepy brain Mycroft climbs under the covers and moves over to wrap his arms around Greg once more.

‘Sleep,’ he admonishes quietly, and Greg hums and settle back into the embrace. It’s wonderful to come home to this is his last through before his brain succumbs to exhaustion.

 

*

 

In the morning he wakes to find Mycroft stirring too, jarred out of sleep by Greg’s phone alarm. Greg leans over and kisses him, close mouthed. ‘Go back to sleep,’ he murmurs, aware that Mycroft probably doesn’t have to get up this morning. Or at least not this early. Never the less, when he emerges from the shower Mycroft is sitting at the kitchen table, tea set in front of him, a cup waiting for Greg.

‘Ta,’ Greg takes a greedy gulp. ‘Needed that.’ Five hours is not enough sleep. If he’s lucky, he’ll get home earlier tonight, though he’s not holding out much hope.

He moves around the kitchen, tea in hand, putting together some kind of breakfast. ‘Want anything?’

Mycroft shakes his head. ‘Not yet. I shall have something later while I read the papers.’ Greg nods and brings his toast to the table where he sits across from Mycroft. Despite the hour and previous late night, Mycroft seems entirely awake and alert, content to watch as the sun begins to light the sky, shades of grey turning to blue with clouds lit yellow from below. The street below is as quiet as it ever gets, and the cocoon of silence is as relaxing a start as Greg could wish to what is likely to be a stressful day.

 

*

 

The report is in Greg’s inbox when he arrives back from a ten am coffee run for the team. Forensics say that the Barnes’ car was set on fire early Thursday morning, around two hours after the couple were killed. In the foot well on the passenger side a length of rebar matching the wound pattern on the Barnes’ has been found. Likely it came from the skip where they were dumped. Partial fingerprints have been found on the metal, etched onto the surface with soot and baked in place by fire. Careful application of cold water has allowed them to be lifted and run through the system where they got several hits. One of these hits is the second sous chef, who neglected to mention while interviewed his two previous arrests on drug possession charges. It’s not quite enough for an arrest warrant, but on a hunch Greg has the traffic cameras near the bus stops around the waste ground checked and then requests CCTV footage from a couple of buses. Apparently the sous chef felt comfortable enough on the bus to remove his hood, allowing the camera to get a clear shot of his face. This is enough for them to bring him in for questioning.

In the interrogation room, Craig Wilson sits silently until his lawyer arrives. Arms folded, he leans back in the chair, legs crossed. His body language is completely closed. When the lawyer arrives and questioning begins, Wilson can’t give a good explanation for being in the area that night. He refuses to allow entry to his flat, and so Greg leaves him to sit while he applies for a warrant.

The warrant comes through without too much delay, and Greg sends Donovan off to search for evidence. She returns triumphant within two hours, carrying a black hoodie smelling of smoke and a pair of jeans with suspicious brown stains smeared on them. ‘Found them in the kitchen bin.’

The clothing is sent down to forensics and Greg goes to inform Wilson and his lawyer of the discovery.

 

*

 

Greg makes it home at seven and is disappointed to find Mycroft absent. He drops down on the couch, wondering where Mycroft is. He debates texting but decides against, heaving himself up again to get a beer. On the door of the fridge is a note.

Gregory,

I have gone out to procure us some dinner. I shouldn’t be too long, and I shall bring dessert as well.

Yours,
Mycroft

Greg finds himself smiling sappily and puts a stop to it. Still, it’s nice of Mycroft to think of doing that. He wonders what dinner will be, grabbing a beer from the fridge and taking it through to lounge as he does. He flicks on the TV out of habit and it opens to the BBC news channel and a clip from the press conference he gave this afternoon. He switches it off before he can hear more than a few words. He takes a swig of beer, the contentment over finding that Mycroft is fetching dinner entirely gone. They may have caught the killer, but that’s not going to help Mike and Julia Barnes. It won’t help Layla Barnes much either, or her aunt and uncle. The look on Anne Graham’s face when he told her of the arrest was painfully grateful even as she burst into tears again. Worse still was the sound of Layla asking when Mummy was coming to get her.

He tilts he head back and closes his eyes, trying to drown out the silence in the flat and the noise in his head. He needs a distraction, he needs something, anything else to think about. He wants Mycroft.

As if summoned, he hears the sound of keys in the lock and a minute later he can feel another person in the room. He doesn’t open his eyes, and after a pause he hears the rustle of bags being set down and feels a dip in the couch as Mycroft sits.

‘Gregory?’ Mycroft’s voice is hesitant. Greg rolls his head towards him and opens his eyes, focusing on Mycroft’s face after a second.

‘’M here.’

Compassion is in full force on Mycroft’s face. ‘It did not go well?’ he asks delicately.

Greg is silent for a moment. ‘We got him, an’ we’ll probably get a conviction. It’s just…’ He looks away and takes a drink of beer. ‘Doesn’t do much for the kid, both parents gone. At least she’s got her aunt and uncle.’

‘Gregory, it may not bring her parents back, but you have made sure he will be pay for the misery he has caused. And perhaps when she is older it will bring her some comfort to know that.’

‘Yeah, maybe.’ Greg forces himself to smile. ‘So what did you get us for dinner?’

Mycroft isn’t fooled for a second. ‘You do not have to feel that everything will be alright tonight, or even tomorrow. But she still has a family who love her and they will remind her that her parents loved her too. It will be difficult for a long time, but it will not be impossible.’

Greg nods silently and Mycroft reaches of to put a hand on his knee for a moment. Then his voice turns brisk. ‘I have pizza with green pepper and prosciutto for you and one with olives and feta for me. And pistachio ice cream for after.’

Greg looks at him and feels a small, tired smile emerge. ‘Thanks, that sounds fantastic. Really great, Mycroft.’

Mycroft, busily sorting out the food, looks quickly over his shoulder and shoots him a sharply pleased look. ‘I assure you, Gregory, it was no hardship. You deserve something good.’ He hands Greg a pizza box.

The smell that wafts up when Greg opens the lid reminds him that he forgot lunch. He inhales deeply and picks up a piece. He’s eaten two slices before he realises, and forces himself to slow down as he eats the next one. He turns to Mycroft, who’s taking almost dainty bites of his own pizza. ‘An’ how was your day?’

Mycroft swallows his mouthful. ‘Largely uneventful. I read the papers this morning, answered some emails and made some calls, took a quick walk and then relaxed with a book for the rest of the afternoon. All in all, a very sedate day.’

Greg nods. ‘What book are you reading now?’ Reaching out his free hand, Mycroft picks up a hardbound book from the coffee table and hands it over. Greg flips open the front cover and blinks. ‘Poetry?’

Mycroft nods. ‘It’s a saga spanning three time periods about a man seeking redemption for the betrayal of his friends. It’s simple but still beautifully written.’

Greg turns a couple of pages, taking care not to get grease on it. ‘I like the illustrations.’ He reads a little, nodding his head in time with the meter of the poem. ‘Looks good. Might borrow it when you’re finished.’

Mycroft smiles. ‘Feel free to borrow any book of mine. If you want recommendations I can suggest some you might enjoy.’

Greg nods in reply, taking another bite of pizza and setting the book safely on the table, and they eat in silence for a few minutes. Greg can feel his energy levels ebbing. In the end he pushes away the last half of his pizza and closes his eyes. He hears Mycroft moving his own pizza box then feels a hand on his shoulder. ‘Come here.’ Mycroft’s voice is unbearably soft as he pulls Greg into his side. Greg slumps against him gratefully, taking refuge in his nearness.

‘Sorry,’ Greg mumbles. ‘Too tired for anything tonight. Don’t think I could even manage a film.’

Mycroft’s voice is a pleasant buzz against his ear. ‘You are under no obligation to do more than sit here, or perhaps go to bed if that appeals. Whatever you wish, Gregory.’
Greg hums. ‘Can’t go to sleep yet, ‘ll wake up too early. Not really that sleepy either, just tired.’ Mycroft hums in assent, and Greg smiles. ‘You have a nice voice. ‘S very… it has… can’t think of the word. Sounds good though.’

‘Thank you.’ Mycroft sounds both amused and bemused. ‘When Sherlock was a lot younger, he used to like me to read to him sometimes. If he could be persuaded to sit still long enough.’ There’s a trace of fondness for his cousin in his voice, the kind of fondness Greg feels when he thinks about a younger Shannon.

Greg smiles at the thought. ‘Bet you did the voices an’ all. Never do things half way.’

‘Indeed.’ Mycroft sounds like he’s trying not to smile. ‘My pirate voice was highly prized.’

Greg’s eyes pop open as he dissolves into laughter. ‘Oh, I bet you were fantastic at being a pirate.’ He can just imagine a younger Mycroft tolerantly reading pirate stories to his young cousin. He thinks fondly back to his own childhood. ‘Mum was fantastic at voices, an’ Dad wasn’t bad either. I always thought it was a shame that Shannon never really remembered Mum reading to her when she was little. She read me the whole of ‘The Hobbit’ when I had chicken pox. ‘S still one of my favourites. Good comfort reading when I need cheering up.’

Mycroft moves slightly beside him. ‘Do you have a copy here? It seems to me that you would not be amiss in seeking a little comfort tonight.’

Regretfully, Greg shakes his head. ‘I do, but I doubt I could focus on the words right now. Eyes are too tired from paperwork. Could do with an audiobook or something.’ He can feel a change in Mycroft’s breathing pattern, minute twitches as muscles contract. He tilts his head up to see Mycroft’s face. ‘What?’

Mycroft clears his throat slightly. ‘If you wish, I could read it to you.’ Mycroft is attempting to sound unconcerned, but the uncertainty is peeking through.

Greg raises his head to look at Mycroft properly. ‘Seriously?’

Mycroft looks away. ‘It was just a suggestion, forget I said anything.’

Greg reaches out a hand to turn Mycroft’s face back towards him. Mycroft moves reluctantly. Looking him in the eye, Greg speaks. ‘Mycroft, if you’d be willing to be an amazingly indulgent partner an’ read The Hobbit to me, that would be wonderful. You’ve no idea how much I’d appreciate that.’

Mycroft still looks a little uncertain as he scans Greg’s face, before his expression relaxes. ‘If you are certain, I would be happy to do so.’

Greg uses the hand still resting on Mycroft’s head to pull him down into a kiss. ‘Yes. Please.’

Mycroft nods. ‘Very well. Do you have a copy?’ Greg point to the bookshelf on the far wall and Mycroft gets up to find it. He sits back down and Greg shamelessly retakes his position, burrowing into Mycroft’s side. Mycroft places his free arm around him and opens the book, laying it as flat as he can against his leg. Clearing his throat, he begins, and Greg lets the well remembered and well loved words wash over him.

‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit...’

 

*

 

Sunday, Greg sleeps in, knowing full well that Monday is going to bring a snowstorm of paperwork from the case they just closed and from the other cases in his workload, the ones that have been slowly developing while he’s been focussed on the Barnes’ murder.

Mycroft is in the lounge with the door closed when Greg eventually gets up, and he can hear him talking on the phone. He leaves him be, heading to the kitchen to put on some toast. He also pulls down Mycroft’s favourite tea set, the green and yellow one patterned with branches and apples. He sets the tea to steeping, and when it’s ready he pours a cup and takes it to the living room, knocking on the door and leaving it on the floor before he returns to the kitchen. It’s a couple of minutes before he hears the lounge door opening and then closing again. This is not the first time they’ve enacted this scene; when Mycroft makes calls at home he frequently takes them into another room for privacy, and he sometimes doesn’t return for over an hour. Greg respects the unspoken request not to be disturbed, other than when it comes to tea and, once or twice, a sandwich.

He finishes his breakfast and considers if there’s anything that needs to be done, putting on laundry accordingly. The day stretches out before him, currently lacking any further responsibilities. It’s a nice, if fleeting, feeling.

Making a decision, he goes to get dressed, throwing on jeans and a soft sweater. They have food in the flat but Greg fancies some kind of thick soup and they don’t have the ingredients. He quickly writes a note to tell Mycroft where he’s off to then heads out.

Tescos isn’t as horrific as it can be on a Sunday. He finds some decent leeks, and there are potatoes at home. On a whim he picks up some fresh bread too, and a good sharp smoked cheddar.

At home he puts on some music, using his phone as the stereo is in the lounge along with Mycroft. He chops and sautés, singing along gently with Joe Strummer, and doesn’t hear Mycroft come in until he appears beside him, taking the lid off the pot. ‘Soup?’

‘Mmm. An’ bread and cheese. Fancied something warm for lunch. Should make enough for dinner tomorrow too.’

‘Very good. Can I do anything to help?’ Mycroft gives the onions and potatoes a quick stir.

Greg shakes his head. ‘Not much left to do, just gonna put the leeks in an’ let it simmer for a bit. It’ll need ‘bout half an hour.’

Mycroft hums. ‘What shall we do for half an hour then to occupy ourselves?’ The look he shoots Greg is hopeful.

Greg shakes his head. ‘Much as I’d like to, I don’t want this to burn. Maybe later.’

Mycroft looks confused. ‘Surely we can pause long enough to give the soup a stir. It wouldn’t be hard to pick up again from where we left off.’

Greg feels a bit taken aback. ‘It may be simple enough for you, but I don’t place much confidence in my ability to think about soup in that situation. An’ I probably couldn’t bring myself to care anyway.’ Mycroft’s look of confusion deepens then clears. He begins to laugh and Greg is now the one left feeling confused. ‘What?’

‘Gregory Lestrade, get your mind out of the gutter. I was suggesting reading some more of The Hobbit.’

It takes a second, then Greg’s laughing as well. ‘Oh Christ, really got the wrong end of the stick there.’

‘Didn’t you just.’ Mycroft is still laughing. ‘Not that I would be adverse, but I too fear that soup would not be high on my list of priorities. It would be a shame to waste your hard work.’

Greg nods, laughter winding down. ‘Yeah, ‘s definitely safer to stick to The Hobbit. For now anyway. You sure you want to keep reading to me?’

Mycroft blushes a little pink. ‘I enjoyed it very much, it gives a different perspective to the words.’ He looks abashed.

Greg leans over and kisses him. ‘You were great at it, an’ if you want to continue ’m not gonna try and talk you out of it. Let me just get this finished first.’

Mycroft nods. ‘I shall refresh the tea. Would you care for some?’

‘Yeah, thanks, that would be great. Shouldn’t be much longer here.’ He finishes stripping the outer layers off the leeks and begins chopping them while Mycroft prepares the tea. It’s not long before they’re finished their respective tasks and they settle on to the couch in the lounge. Mycroft finds his place in the book with ease, and Greg leans back and listens to Bilbo’s adventures in the Misty Mountains.

 

*

 

Monday, after the wonderfully relaxation of Sunday, brings a fresh paperwork hell. There’s plenty of paperwork from Saturday still to do, and Sergeant Harwell has been working a lead on a burglary case that seems to be bearing fruit. The morning meeting covers all that’s going on and allows Greg to feel like he’s got a handle on things, at least for the moment.

The feeling doesn’t last long.

By lunchtime all Greg wants is an Ibuprofen and a nap. Or possibly more coffee. It won’t help the headache, but it will at least keep him awake to deal with the rest of the paperwork and the meeting he has later with the Detective Chief Inspector and the Superintendent, and the other DIs in his division.

He makes it through the meeting by gritting his teeth and trying not to listen to Gregson. Coming out, he takes one look at the pile of paperwork still to do and decides to call it a day. He can hardly think and the tube is going to be an absolute joy to navigate. Normally he’d walk, but he doesn’t think he could make it like this.

He makes it home somehow and collapses onto the couch. He’s not sure how long he’s there before Mycroft arrives home, and he’s not interested enough to find out. Mycroft takes one look at him and coaxes him to stand, steering him to the bedroom, stripping off his clothes and guiding him under the covers. He disappears for a minute then returns with a glass of water and two tablets. He then leaves Greg alone in the dark, and Greg gratefully drops off to sleep.

By the time he wakes again it’s almost ten. He’s only slept a few hours but he’s refreshed enough to actually feel hungry. The headache has retreated, and he makes his way to the kitchen on more or less steady feet. Mycroft is sitting at the table, files spread out around him, but he clears them up and stands as Greg enters.

‘How are you feeling?’ Mycroft keeps his voice low, which Greg is glad of.

‘Bit better. Could do with something to eat now.’

‘Soup?’ Mycroft stands and goes to the fridge, and Greg sinks down at the table, pushing the files to the other end. Mycroft returns and picks them up, taking them through to the other room while the soup heats.

When the food is in front of him, Greg can only manage about half the bowl. Still, it’s better than nothing and it’ll help to combat the headache. He makes his way through to the bathroom to brush his teeth before shuffling back to bed. Mycroft joins him again, this time getting undressed and into bed himself.

‘Sorry ‘bout this,’ Greg mumbles. ‘You don’t have to come to bed yet, you won’t wake me.’

Mycroft turns to face him. ‘I have an early morning,’ he murmurs. ‘I would be going to sleep about now anyway. Don’t worry about it.’ He leans forward to kiss Greg gently then settles back onto his pillow. Greg mirrors him, the comfort of being in bed with Mycroft soon overwhelming him and sending him back to sleep.

 

*

 

When he wakes, Mycroft is gone. A note on the fridge informs him Mycroft has a work related dinner tonight and won’t be back til late. Greg makes sure to drink plenty of water during the day, and uses the fact that Mycroft’s not home to stay late and get through more of the paperwork than seemed likely.

Mycroft’s dinner on Tuesday seems to mark the start of an epidemic. Wednesday brings another, and though Thursday they mange to eat together, Friday Mycroft has to attend some kind of party and Saturday heralds a lunch meeting that runs into an afternoon meeting and eventually a dinner engagement.

Greg begins staying later at the office to avoid the quiet of the flat. He can hardly believe how, after less than two weeks, he’s already used to having someone around in the evenings. He would have expected the transition period to be greater, to find it awkward to spend this much time with someone so quickly after beginning dating.

Instead it feels as though he’s known Mycroft for years. OK, there may have been one or two little snags (Greg leaving teacups in the lounge, Mycroft forgetting to replace the loo roll) but they have been negotiated easily enough. Having Mycroft around feels natural, which is why it’s such a disappointment when they can hardly see each other.

Greg understands the demands of a difficult job, and he’s not going to pretend that the extra time in the evenings doesn’t make it easier to complete paperwork, but on the whole he’d rather if jobs didn’t intrude on personal time. If things stay separate, as much as they can be kept so, then it’s easier for him to relax at home. However, he made his peace with things not working out like that years ago and doesn’t resent Mycroft bringing his own work home.

So he continues to work late and spend his evenings with Mycroft, who is working even later. No wonder they didn’t manage many dates, Greg thinks.

Sunday Mycroft is tired enough to sleep in til nine, and even though it’s only been two weeks, Greg can tell this is an unusual occurrence. He wakes up before Mycroft but doesn’t move other than to reach for his book. As he reads, he glances occasionally at Mycroft’s sleeping face, lax and shadowed in the low light. In sleep, Mycroft’s mouth seems softer, lips slightly parted as gentle snores emanate from him. The morning light through the curtains creates hollows where full daylight would be more harsh, showing the bones of Mycroft’s face and making him seem both older and younger. Greg wants to take a photo, stop time so he can remember this moment with Mycroft peaceably asleep while Greg looks on.

It doesn’t last. Mycroft blinks himself awake and finds Greg watching, book held flat against the covers. His smile as he focuses almost makes Greg catch his breath. Happiness, the kind of surprised, genuine happiness that Greg always wants to see on Mycroft’s face. He doesn’t bother to resist the urge to lean over and kiss Mycroft and feel the smile against his lips. He pulls back, but only a little way, their noses bumping slightly. ‘Good morning.’

‘Good morning to you too.’ Mycroft’s voice is as happy as his smile, and Greg responds to it with a smile of his own.

‘What’s got you in such a good mood?’ He doesn’t bother pulling back, the space between them keeping the moment quiet and intimate.

‘I wake up to a handsome man in my bed and nothing pressing requiring my attention for the next few hours. What more could I wish for?’

Greg drops his head to kiss Mycroft again, then leans down further to whisper directly into his ear. ‘Give me a couple of minutes, then we’ll see if you can think of anything else you might want.’ Before Mycroft has finished shivering from Greg’s breath in his ear, Greg has rolled out of bed and is making his way to the bathroom. He takes the opportunity to brush his teeth while he’s there, and when he finishes he opens the bathroom door to find Mycroft waiting outside, clad only in pyjama bottoms. Greg gives Mycroft’s chest an appreciative once over and a quick leer. Mycroft’s eyes mirror his. ‘Don’t be too long. I’ll be waiting in the bedroom.’ Greg winks and moves out of the way, Mycroft passing him to enter the bathroom. As he does, he places a hand on Greg’s lower back, a hand that trails down to thoroughly if quickly grope Greg’s arse. Greg gives Mycroft a mock indignant look over his shoulder. ‘Don’t start something you’re not willing to finish.’

Mycroft’s expression is haughty, but his eyes are hungry. ‘My dear Gregory,’ he purrs, sending goosebumps across Greg’s skin, ‘do not for one moment think I am not willing to finish this. In the hallway, if you are not back in bed by the time I’m out of the bathroom.’ He closes the door and Greg grins broadly at the wood before making his way back to bed, stretching out beneath the covers to await Mycroft’s arrival with anticipation and a hand on his cock.

 

*

 

Spending the day in bed seems like an enticing prospect, but Greg had a thought on Friday. A little Googling on Friday night and crossed fingers that neither of them has to work leaves him with a tentative plan. Putting together lunch in the kitchen, he suggests it to Mycroft.

‘I had a look the other day an’ there’s a new exhibition of Impressionist painters on at the National Gallery. Fancy going to see it this afternoon?’

Mycroft turns from the fridge to look at him. ‘I saw that on their list of events. It did look appealing, but do you really want to spend your day off at the Gallery? I’m sure there’s something you would prefer to do.’ His expression and tone are mostly bland with a hint of questioning, but something around the corner of his eyes hints at wistfulness.

Greg shakes his head. ‘You’ve had a long week, you deserve to do something nice. An’ I had a good time when we went before, with you explaining stuff. It’s different when you really know what the artist was trying to show, an’ you’re good at explaining all the techniques.’

Mycroft still looks a little uncertain but Greg can tell how close he is to being persuaded. ‘It’ll be good for me, gettin’ some culture, don’tcha know.’ He affects a posh accent, teasing, and Mycroft looks both amused and horrified.

‘I do hope that wasn’t supposed to be an impression of me, Gregory. I do not sound like that.’

Greg grins at the way Mycroft has forgotten his uncertainty. ‘Nah, ‘s the city boys who get picked up on a Friday night, for drunk driving usually. The number of times I’ve been called an ill-educated oaf...’

Mycroft rolls his eyes. ‘The number of them who seem to believe an expensive education equates to an understanding of culture and the right to do as they please is astounding. I deal with far too many of them as well and the only reason they do not act towards me in that manner is that they hope to get something out of me.’

They fall into a discussion that lasts through lunch and allows Greg to guide Mycroft through getting ready and out the door, so that they’re halfway to the street before Mycroft remembers his earlier worries. He looks at Greg sternly. ‘You distracted and tricked me.’

Greg rolls his eyes. ‘Oh, poor you, being tricked into going to do something you wanted to do. ‘M sure you’ll live.’

The walk to the Gallery doesn’t take long and they are soon strolling through the rooms, Greg looking at Mycroft’s rapt face more than the paintings.

It’s late afternoon when they leave, and Mycroft is walking around almost as though he’s in a dream, Greg thinks. His eyes are far away, as if he’s still inside the Gallery, living among the paintings. He looks hungry in a completely different way than he did looking at Greg this morning.

They walk in comfortable silence back to the flat, arms brushing occasionally. It’s not until they get in the door that Greg asks. ‘Have you ever tried painting?’

Mycroft looks surprised. ‘No, never. My family is known more for musical talents than artistic, and it was not encouraged during my schooling.’

Greg can imagine that, young Mycroft being told art was a waste of time, not suitable for a boy to be interested in. It was very much that way at the London Comprehensive Greg went to; music was the only creative thing that boys could enjoy without being labelled a fag, and even then, it had to be the right kind of music. Knowing kids, Greg can’t believe Mycroft’s school was any better.

‘Maybe you should try,’ he says, bringing himself out of his thoughts. ‘You’re pretty observant an' you know a lot about technique an’ composition.’

Taking off his coat, Mycroft laughs. ‘There is more to it that simply understanding the construction, and I can’t remember ever having done more than drawing as a child. I doubt it would be an easy skill to pick up without training.’

Greg shrugs. ‘Y’never know til you try. Could be something you’d enjoy.’

Mycroft gives a non-committal hum and changes the subject. ‘Anything you fancy doing this evening?’

Greg vows to suggest Mycroft try art again at another time, but leaves it for now. ‘Nah, nothing much. Don’t think there’s anything on telly, but we could watch a film or something. You got any thoughts?’ He wanders through to the kitchen to put the kettle on.

Mycroft follows. ‘A colleague mentioned a documentary on Roman Britain that I might enjoy. Apparently it’s on the BBC website. If you are interested, we could watch that.’

‘Could be good, sure. Which colleague was this?’ Mycroft so rarely talks about work, it’s unusual for him to even say this much.

Mycroft is busy fetching down a tea set, this one red and black. ‘My assistant, Anthea. She has a MA in history and occasionally mentions something she thinks would interest me.’ The kettle boils and Mycroft pours the water into the teapot. Looking in the fridge for milk, he comments: ‘We don’t have much food. What do you fancy for dinner?’

It takes Greg a couple of seconds to shift mental track, still a little surprised as he is about both the casual mention of someone Mycroft works with and the fact that Mycroft has an assistant. ‘Dunno, not really hungry yet.’ Working late so often, he’s used to eating later, at his desk or when he comes home. He thinks, and can’t remember what they actually have in the fridge.

Mycroft, when asked, shrugs and returns to look. ‘Cheese, two onions, a jar of pesto, milk and orange juice. I don’t believe we have any pasta, though, so I think we may have to have take away.’ His eyes are full of humour. ‘I think I would be right in assuming you ordered in last night?’

Greg shrugs. ‘Stayed at the office when you texted to say it was going to go on all evening. Ended up getting a sandwich from M&S on the way home.’

Mycroft looks a little apologetic. ‘I’m sorry I have been home so little this week. It was not by design.’

Greg shakes his head. ‘Don’t worry about it, I know how it is. I wasn’t home any more than you were or I’d’ve had stuff delivered. We can get some in tomorrow. Can’t be bothered tonight, an’ I fancy Italian.’

Mycroft nods and fetches the take away folder, flipping through to ‘I’. Out of curiosity Greg asks, ‘Have you tried every take away place in that folder?’

Mycroft glances up, looking a bit sheepish. ‘I must admit that I have. Some more than others, but I tend to vary my preferences.’

Food ordered, they make their way to the lounge where Greg pulls up BBC iplayer while Mycroft pours tea. Sitting back on the couch, Greg lets the day wash over him. It’s been a good day, he feels, spending time with Mycroft, seeing things in him that he otherwise might not have seen. Even the mundane domestic parts have been good, discussions and decisions made without recriminations or annoyance entering it. So far this whole living together things is going well. He’s seeing more of Mycroft, learning more, and as far as he’s aware neither of them feels the relationship is beginning to dull or fracture.

He brings his legs up onto the couch, stretching out and leaning against Mycroft at the same time. Mycroft in turn shifts, resettling himself with an arm round Greg’s shoulders and legs stretched under the coffee table. The room is warm and smells of tea from the fragrant steam issuing from the teapot, and Greg honestly can’t think of anywhere he’d rather be.

 

*

 

Monday brings a recurrence of paperwork, Sergeant Harwell having broken the burglary case over the weekend. Greg’s delighted, obviously, but wishes it meant a little less work for him, less staying late and missing Mycroft. By the time he makes it home he’s famished. Mycroft is working on his laptop, phone clamped to one ear, and he gives Greg a brief distracted smile as Greg closes the lounge door to give him privacy as he frowns at his laptop screen. By the time he’s finished the call, Greg is already in bed with a book, almost ready to go to sleep. Mycroft slips between the covers, apologetic. ‘Diplomacy,’ he sighs, kissing Greg’s shoulder. ‘It would be so much quicker if everybody just said what they mean.’

Greg nods, closing his book and turning to kiss Mycroft properly. ‘Know what you mean. Sometimes think Sherlock’s got the right of it, telling people they’re idiots all the time.’

Mycroft rolls his eyes. ‘Heaven forfend Sherlock be considered a good role model. International relations would be set back years.’

Greg snorts, able to picture that all too well. ‘Dunno about international relations, but he definitely makes things unnecessarily difficult for himself with his attitude. Probably best to stick to diplomacy.’

Mycroft gives a mock disappointed sigh. ‘If I must. The sacrifices I make on behalf of Britain.’

Greg smirks. ‘As a member of the British public, I feel it’s my duty to show my appreciation of all your hard work.’ He lets his hand slip under the covers.

Mycroft smirks back. ‘And what form would your appreciation take, I wonder?’

Greg is only too happy to demonstrate.

 

*

 

Tuesday night brings a new case, a stabbing outside a pub in Peckham, and Greg is called away from the stir fry he and Mycroft cooked and the promise of a quiet evening in to stand in the cold wind, waiting for SOCO and interviewing a bunch of people who swear they saw nothing.

The victim is in surgery and expected to pull through, but isn’t going to be conscious enough to answer questions for a few days. Greg makes the notification to his wife then heads back to the Yard to begin co-ordinating everything.

He manages to make it home by three, collapsing into bed with a heartfelt sigh and dozing off with enough time to get a couple of hours sleep before his alarm goes off and he has to go right back to the office.

The day drags on into the evening, the only bright spot that the victim came through surgery with no complications and is expected to make a full recovery. That bright spot is contrasted by the interviews with his friends and family as well as the witnesses from the night before. Nobody can think of any reason for the stabbing, and the pub wasn’t rowdy enough for it to really have been a drunken fight. With very little to go on and the pub’s CCTV having be broken for months, there’s little they can do until the victim is up to giving a statement.

Greg ends up staying late for the next couple of nights anyway, going over statements and trying to find gaps in the stories. On Friday they finally manage to interview the victim, Sol Khan, who definitely seems to be hiding something. He claims not to have seen who attacked him, but Greg’s not convinced. He goes back to the Yard with a renewed conviction that one of the witnesses knows something.

He gets home late on Friday, and though he’s tired he can’t get his brain to switch off. He lies in bed beside Mycroft, completely unable to drop off despite the calm sound of Mycroft breathing rhythmically and peacefully, and eventually gets up and makes himself a cup of tea.

He takes his mug through to the lounge; without Mycroft there to tut and look pained he’s just bunged a teabag into the first mug he got his hands on. Taking a sip, he makes a face. After drinking Mycroft’s robust and flavourful brews, PG tips tastes more tannic than he remembers. Thank god Mycroft’s not one for coffee or he’d ruin Greg’s ability to drink the shite brewed at the Yard.

Rubbing his face, he settles back onto the couch and flicks the TV on, hitting mute as he does. Mycroft’s been working hard and doesn’t need Greg’s insomnia keeping him up. The screen shows some kind of discussion show, dull, and Greg ends up flicking through the channels mindlessly. Nothing catches his attention and in the end he slumps down and zones out on some kind of house hunting program, tea sitting mostly untouched beside him as he goes back over the people he’s spoken to in the last week.

The swish of the door opening jerks him from his thoughts, and he looks round to find Mycroft standing in the doorway, wrapped in a dressing gown. ‘Sorry,’ Greg murmurs. ‘Didn’t mean to wake you.’

Mycroft shakes his head. ‘It is of no matter. Can’t sleep?’ He comes to sit next to Greg, gaze taking in the mug of tea and subsequently ignoring it with a sniff.

Greg sighs. ‘Too much in my head. Couldn’t get to sleep, an’ I didn’t want to keep you up. You should go back to bed, I’ll probably join you soon.’

Mycroft doesn’t move. ‘Do you wish to talk about it?’

Greg both does and doesn’t, wants to get an outside perspective and forget about the whole thing. But it doesn’t really matter what he wants, he can’t discuss an ongoing investigation with a civilian. ‘Nah, ‘s OK, just want to forget for a bit. Gotta get some sleep too, need to go back into the office tomorrow.’ He looks apologetically at Mycroft. ‘Sorry.’

Mycroft shrugs. ‘It is what it is. Can I help take your mind off it at all?’

Greg shakes his head ruefully. ‘Don’t think anything’ll work right now. Don’t worry about it, go back to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.’

Mycroft is still not moving, ignoring his words. ‘If it would help, I could read some more of The Hobbit to you?’

Greg smiles, affection welling up. ‘I don’t want to keep you up. You’ve had a long week.’

Mycroft stands and moves to the bookcase, retrieving the book from where it was tucked after their last reading session. ‘That’s not a no,’ he says as he does. ‘I am awake now too and I would be quite happy to do this.’ He returns to the couch, settling back down beside Greg. ‘It may help clear your mind so you can get some rest.’ He opens the book without meeting any further protests from Greg and begins reading.

The familiar words and the sound of Mycroft’s voice acts as oil on troubled waters, and it’s not long before Greg finds his mind drifting with Gandalf’s story to Beorn, interspaced with the arrivals of the Dwarves. By the time Mycroft reaches the Dwarves’ song, Greg is yawning and it’s not long after that that Mycroft closes the book and holds out a hand to Greg. ‘Do you think you could sleep now?’

Greg nods, yawning again. ‘Yeah, reckon I could.’ He leans over to kiss Mycroft briefly. ‘Thank you.’

Mycroft nods. ‘It was my pleasure.’ They both stand, Greg blinking as the room sways slightly, and make their way out of the room, down the hall and into the bedroom. In their absence the bed has cooled slightly, but there is still enough residual warmth to welcome them back. It’s not long before Greg drops into sleep, Mycroft’s breathing beside him once more rhythmic and peaceful.

 

*

 

Greg spends most of the weekend at the office. Mycroft had something come up Saturday evening that meant he had to spend Sunday at work, and Greg takes the opportunity to catch up on some of the other work that’s been piling up waiting for him. He emerges from the paperwork mountain, catches sight of the time, swears and packs up hurriedly. Mycroft said he would probably be finished by five, and Greg intended to be home by then so they could make dinner together.

He rushes home, stopping quickly at Tesco to grab the bits and pieces he promised to pick up, and makes it home only forty minutes later than he meant to. The flat seems quieter than he expected when he gets there, and in the kitchen he finds a note on the fridge.

Gregory,

I apologise, but I am required to go to an evening function tonight. It is a small gathering but I anticipate that it will go on for some time. I am only home to change and will eat out. I am sorry about the change in plans, but I hope you have a relaxing evening none the less.

Yours,
Mycroft

Below it is a second note, written in a slightly more hurried hand.

Gregory, I appear to be missing a significant portion of my underwear. Have you seen it? M

Disappointed by the change in plans, Greg pulls out his phone.

Hey, sorry to hear you’re out. Hope you aren’t back too late. Dinner will keep for another nigh. Have a good time. G x

He tries not to feel hurt that Mycroft hasn’t asked if he’d like to go to one of these evening functions he has so many of. Greg went to one or two of Vicky’s, back before she decided she’d prefer to have a PE teacher on her arm, and though they were boring and full of people he didn’t know, it was part of how things worked.

It’s probably different with Mycroft’s job, he thinks. Department of Transport high up, it’s probably hobnobbing with other high ups and Ministers, not Francis from marketing and Diana from accounts. And he might not be fully out to his colleagues anyway. Silly to be hurt. Still though.

A reply from Mycroft takes a while to come, and Greg has started putting together a quick dinner by the time it does.

Gregory, I do apologise for the abrupt change in plans. I hope you have a good evening, and it shall certainly be better than mine is shaping up to be. Overdone canapés and warm white wine surrounded by self-important oafs. I shall be thinking of you. MH

Grinning at the thought of Mycroft’s disgust at the offered delights, Greg texts back.

Sorry to hear that. It’ll just be me and the footie here, so you’re not missing much. G x

He’s settled in front of a replay of yesterday’s Arsenal vs Chelsea match by the time Mycroft replies.

Even that sounds appealing in comparison to this. Have you any insight into the other note I left you? MH

Biting his tongue lightly, Greg messages back innocently.

No idea, sorry. Does that mean you’re not wearing any tonight? G x

The reply this time is almost instantaneous.

I managed to find a pair after a considerable search. Are you certain you don’t know anything? MH

Still projecting innocence as hard as he can, Greg replies.

Shame, I was enjoying the visual. Just have to take them off myself when you get home. Don’t stay out too late. G x

Mycroft’s message takes long enough this time that Greg gets fully sucked into the match and almost forgets his phone. When it buzzes he has to make a grab for it to stop it sliding off the couch.

Not terribly helpful, Gregory, sending messages like that in the middle of a drinks party. I too hope this doesn’t drag on. MH

I’ll have imagined a lot more by the time you get back. Want me to send you the preview? G x

Mycroft’s reply makes Greg laugh out loud.

Absolutely not, Gregory Lestrade, I am in the middle of a room full of colleagues, I will not be forced to excuse myself due to your licentious messaging. MH

Greg debates upping the stakes but decides against it. If Mycroft thinks that’s dirty, Greg’s definition will blow his mind. Instead he sends a last text then returns his full attention to the TV.

Best leave it there then, I could send you a lot worse. You’ll just have to wait and see what I have in store for you when you get home. G x

Mycroft doesn’t respond and Greg leaves him be. The match ends nil nil, which Greg knew already, and he doesn’t bother watching the commentary that followed. Instead he wanders through to the bedroom to fetch his current book, flicking desultorily through to find his place. It was recommended to him by John, but so far it’s not really grabbing him.

He’s pleased enough to set it aside when he hears Mycroft’s key in the front door. When Mycroft appears in the doorway Greg is actually speechless for a moment, overcome with a sudden surge of lust. Christ. Mycroft in formal wear is even more gorgeous than in the suit he wore to Sherlock and John’s wedding.

The length of his legs and the slenderness of his waist are emphasised by the cut of the jacket where it nips in at the waist. He’s forgone his usual waistcoat, and the visible expanse of plain white shirt front is thin enough that it seems as if he could almost get a glimpse of Mycroft’s skin shadowed beneath. The bow tie and high collar to the shirt just draw attention to the long expanse of his neck, which Greg knows from experience is wonderfully sensitive and can reduce Mycroft to incoherence if Greg bites gently in just the right place. Greg’s perusal is halted when he reaches Mycroft’s face and meets his eyes, currently watching Greg’s reaction, hawk-like.

Greg stands, drawn upwards by the blue-grey gaze locked onto him. He finally finds his voice. ‘Bloody hell.’ Even to his ears, he sounds a little hoarse.

Mycroft looks amused. ‘I take it you like this suit?’

‘Christ Mycroft, if I liked it any more you’d’ve given me a heart attack.’ He tugs at Mycroft’s hand, pulling him forward, wanting to kiss him but reluctant to take his eyes off the suit.

Mycroft takes charge, pulling him in close to speak into his ear. ‘I believe you had some ideas about how this might go?’

Greg can hardly remember what he was doing five minutes ago, let alone anything before then. ‘Huh?’

Mycroft dips his head to bite gently at Greg’s jawline, and Greg catches his breath as another flood or arousal hits him. ‘Maybe,’ Mycroft murmurs, ‘I have a few ideas of my own to advance.’

‘Advance away,’ Greg manages to croak. His eyes slide closed at the feel of Mycroft’s breath against his skin and he can’t focus on anything else, so it comes as a surprise when he feels Mycroft pulling back. He opens his eyes again to see Mycroft in front on him, wicked smirk on his lips and hands on his bow tie.

‘Since you seem to be enjoying this suit so much, you may help me get out of it. And then, if you have treated it properly and done exactly as I ask, you may choose your reward.’ Greg’s nodding almost before Mycroft has finished speaking. ‘Good,’ Mycroft continues. ‘In that case, you may start with my shoes.’

Greg’s kneeling almost before he realises, and above him, Mycroft’s smirk widens. ‘Very good...’

 

*

 

They make it to bed later, tired but grinning, unable to stop touching. Both of them have carpet burn and Greg has a line of red marks leading down his chest.

Greg rolls over, closer to Mycroft, close enough to kiss him. Mycroft looks relaxed all over, skin still damp from the quick shower they shared. The room is cool enough that they’re going to come out in goosebumps soon, and Greg pre-empts that by pulling the covers over them. Beneath the duvet their legs tangle, Greg with an arm thrown across Mycroft, heads almost close enough to rest on the same pillow.

‘’M glad we did this.’ The words are out before Greg realises.

Mycroft picks up on his meaning immediately. ‘As am I.’ He hesitates. ‘I am not naturally a sociable person, and moving in with someone so soon after meeting them could have backfired horribly. The fact that it has worked as well as it has is both unexpected and wonderful.’ He kisses Greg. ‘I’m so very glad we were seated together at the wedding.’

‘Me too,’ is all Greg can think to say, but it contains so much he doesn’t know how to say.

It contains I love you.

 

*

 

The start of the working week, and Greg is back at re-interviewing witnesses, taking again to Khan and his wife. Kahn is still hiding something and it frustrates Greg that he can’t get him to open up. He ends up staying late almost every night, finishing things he should have been doing during the day. He thinks about calling Sherlock in but he knows Sherlock’s classifications of crime well enough to know he’ll probably declare it boring. The odds are, with the way Kahn’s not speaking, that it was a friend or family member, and Greg has a hunch it’s due to something Kahn did.

He goes back to speak to Kahn’s best friend, the one who called the ambulance seconds after the stabbing happened. Kahn’s friend, Miles Fraser, works at a graphic design company and he agrees to take his break when Greg shows up. When Greg asks if Kahn has had problems with anyone in his family, Fraser’s eyes flicker. Greg presses him but he won’t say anything.

Midweek, Greg calls Donovan into his office. ‘Any luck with Kahn’s phone records?’

She shakes her head. ‘Can’t get a warrant. No luck with any of the cameras on the other businesses either.’

Greg sighs. ‘Fraser knows something but he’s not saying. I don’t know how much further we can get with this one.’

Donovan looks calculating for a moment. ‘Has anyone spoken to his wife?’

Greg nods. ‘Silva did the initial interview and I spoke to the two of them, but she didn’t know anything.’

Donovan hums. ‘I’ll try speaking to her again tomorrow. You never know.’

Greg waves her off and turns his attention back to his desk. He’s got the final signatures to do for Harwell’s burglary case, a series of jewellery thefts from galleries, not particularly high end stuff, two assaults and a hit and run on a motorcyclist to be dealt with, and the duty rotas for the next week, requests for time off to process for DCs Kowalczyk and Benson, and the court date for a case from six months ago is fast approaching. It’s one Sherlock was involved in too, so everything has to be gone over once more, double checking nothing’s been missed out or compromised and that they’ve not prejudiced the investigation by focusing too quickly on one suspect. It was all checked at the time, but he’s learned that it’s best to double check when it concerns Sherlock.

He sighs and pulls the first lot of paperwork towards him, fishing his phone out at he does. Better text Mycroft that he’s not going to be home for a while.

 

*

 

Donovan’s reinterview of Sheila Kahn ends in a spectacular meltdown where she sobs on Donovan’s shoulder, literally, and confesses that she thinks her husband has been having an affair. When pressed, she confides that she thinks he’s sleeping with his sister in law, the wife of Sheila Kahn’s brother.

When Donovan goes to speak to Marianne Weir, the sister in law, she beats Sheila Kahn there by only a few minutes, and then has to physically hold them apart after Sheila marches in and slaps Marianne’s face.

The two of them get some time to cool down in separate interview rooms at the Yard, and though Marianne denies any involvement with Kahn, everybody can tell she’s lying. Greg pulls Harwell off the hit and run to go and speak to Mr Weir, who is furious when he finds his wife is being questioned but doesn’t seem surprised to hear she has been having an affair with his brother in law. When asked for his whereabouts at the time of the stabbing he becomes furious once more but can’t give a convincing alibi.

They take him in for questioning and go back to speak to Sol Kahn. His wife makes it there first. When they pull up outside the house, Greg can hear the screaming argument from the street.

Both Kahn’s are taken in to be questioned again. Sol Kahn is pale and angry, home from hospital for two days and now in a police station. With everything on the table, he admits to having had an affair with Marianne Weir and that it was Philip Weir who stabbed him.

It’s been a full day and it’s not over yet. He texts Mycroft. He’s not going to be home any time soon.

 

*

 

Friday and Saturday combines paperwork for the stabbing and going over CCTV for the hit and run. Sunday morning, Greg sleeps til eight, then gets up to go back in to the office.

‘’M really sorry,’ he says to Mycroft over breakfast. ‘I know I’ve not been home much this week but there’s this court date coming up an’ I need to go over some things.’ So far this week, he’s only made it home before Mycroft once, and that night Mycroft didn’t come back til the small hours.

Mycroft nods. ‘Very well. Don’t work too hard.’ He kisses Greg goodbye as he leaves, and Greg feels a pang of remorse. This should be their time together. They still haven’t managed to get to the British library. So much for ‘next free weekend.’

 

*

 

They track down the hit and run driver on Wednesday, a seventeen year old who’d ‘borrowed’ his Mum’s car. Greg almost feels bad arresting him, he’s so obviously guilt stricken, but it’s tempered by the fact that it’s been over a week and the motorcyclist is still in hospital. And the fact that the kid didn’t bother to stop and call an ambulance.

The paperwork on this means that Greg stays late for the third time that week. When he gets home, Mycroft is there, and Greg wishes he could be there first for once. It’s not a competition, but he got the impression the other day that Mycroft’s having a hard week. It would be good to get home in time to make him some dinner, give him the support that he’s been giving Greg.

He’s not thinking about his revelation from two weeks ago. He’s got too much on right now to think about Mycroft and love in the same sentence. It’s too soon to say it anyway.

He’s not hiding.

 

*

 

Thursday night, Greg gets home even later than usual to find Mycroft waiting. ‘Hey, sorry I’m back so late, paperwork crisis. This bloody court case. Hope you’ve eaten, I’m starving, didn’t get a chance to stop.’ He registers Mycroft’s expression. ‘Something wrong?’

Mycroft is silent a moment before speaking. ‘Gregory, I know your job is important to you and that it requires a great level of dedication, but this is the third night you have come home after eleven and for the last two weeks you have hardy been home before then. You didn’t have any real time off last weekend either. Surely this is excessive?’

There’s a cold, tight feeling in the pit of Greg’s stomach. Warning flag, he thinks. He makes sure there is no trace of irritation in his voice as he speaks. ‘Not really, no. I’ve got four cases active at the moment, another three probably about to go cold, I’ve got duty assignments to work out, upcoming court cases to look over, requestion forms, warrant requests an’ information requests are nearly constantly coming across my desk. I have to deal with the press an’ the Super an’ all the other little things that crop up, an’ all that takes time an’ paperwork. So I’m sorry, but how much time I spend at work is not excessive.’ If by the end a little bit of irritation is creeping in, he ignores it.

Mycroft looks frustrated. ‘I am not unaware of the demands on your time, but surely you could bring some of it home? After all, I do, and therefore surely you could too?’ His voice calms. ‘I wish to see you, Gregory, and that was, after all, the intention behind moving in together, was it not?’ There’s a touch of bitterness to his next words. ‘There’s really not much point if you are simply going to stay at work avoiding me.’

The coldness in his stomach is spreading and his throat feels tight. ‘I’m not avoiding you,’ he manages to get out. ‘I want to see you, spend time with you, but I still have to do my job.’

Mycroft’s lips tighten. ‘And you could not bring paperwork home with you?’

Greg wishes he could, but no matter how high up in the Department of Transport Mycroft is, he’s not authorised to see confidential Met files. Not all of it is confidential. You could do duty assignments and the like at home. Admin would be fine, surely? He sighs. ‘I’ll see what I can do. I might be able to manage some of it.’

Mycroft’s eyes flash. ‘I wouldn’t want to put you out.’ He stands and stalks out of the room. Greg winces. Possibly could have sounded a little more enthusiastic there. It’s been a long day though, he’s tired and hungry and he’s going to have to do it all again tomorrow. He slopes through to the kitchen, where Mycroft is putting a plate in the microwave.

‘I brought Chinese for dinner. It will be ready in a few minutes.’ Mycroft’s voice is still annoyed, even as he fetches cutlery and a water glass for Greg. His movements slow as Greg puts his arms around him.

‘I’m sorry, I’ll try an’ do better about bringing things home. I just always feel that when I’m home, I want to spend time with you, not be distracted by work.’

Mycroft stills. ‘I feel the same, but I would prefer to have you here with paperwork than at the Yard with it.’ He turns in Greg’s arms. ‘If I have to share you with work then at least that way I can still see you.’ His inflection says that this should be obvious.

Greg leans up and kisses Mycroft gently. ‘Ok, I’ll see what I can do. Thank you for getting dinner.’ He kisses Mycroft again then releases him as the microwave pings.

He eats at the kitchen table and Mycroft goes back to the sitting room. Still annoyed, Greg thinks resignedly. Usually if one one them is eating late the other will sit with them. They haven’t managed to actually cook together much, despite Greg’s offer to improve Mycroft’s range.

Finishing up, Greg quickly washes his plate before going to find Mycroft. He’s sitting in the lounge, book open in his lap. Greg gestures to the TV. ‘D’you mind?’

Mutely, Mycroft shakes his head and Greg switches it on, keeping the volume low. He’s too tired to stay up much later, he’ll probably go to bed after the headlines.

Beside him, Mycroft turns a page of his book. Greg is aware of him sitting there, the fact that they aren’t touching at all. They’re not usually all over each other but there is at least some contact between them. Sitting so separately feels strange, and he finds himself focusing more on Mycroft than he is on the TV.

It’s not long before Mycroft finishes the chapter he’s reading and gets up to prepare for bed. Greg is still in the lounge when Mycroft has finished in the bathroom, though he’s switched the TV off. He’s not sure where he’s going to end up sleeping. When Vicky wanted him to know he’d done wrong and was sleeping on the couch, she made damn sure he knew it, but with Mycroft it’s uncertain. He’s still dithering while he brushes his teeth, and again when he comes out of the bathroom. In the end he goes back to the lounge. Minutes later, Mycroft appears in the doorway. ‘Gregory.’ His voice is quiet. ‘Come to bed.’ He sounds more tired than anything else.

Greg stands and makes his way through to the bedroom. ‘Sorry.’ He keeps his voice equally low. ‘Wasn’t sure if you’d want...’ He trails off. Mycroft doesn’t reply.

They get in to bed, Greg lying on his side as is his custom, facing the wall. Mycroft, across from him, lies still. Then Greg feels the bed moving and Mycroft’s arms are wrapping around him. He squeezes the arm round his waist and Mycroft drops a small kiss on his shoulder. ‘I would always rather sleep with you than apart.’ His voice in the dark has a confessional tone.

Greg moves back against Mycroft. ‘Me too. Always.’ He squeezes the arm again and it tightens in response.

 

*

 

Morning finds the truce still in effect, and they have a pleasant if quiet breakfast together. Greg leaves for work with the feeling that the storm has blow over, at least for the moment. The Yard is quiet, winding down on a Friday afternoon. In the end, Greg abandons the last of his paperwork to sit in his office and breed over the weekend. Come Monday he’s sure it will have doubled in size, but it’s worth it not to risk re-starting his argument with Mycroft. He picks up some chicken, broccoli and new potatoes on the way home, intending to cook as a peace offering.

He doesn't expect to find Mycroft in the flat when he returns, as Mycroft usually doesn’t make it home til eight at the earliest, but to his surprise he finds him at in the flat. He’s in the kitchen, stereo on low as he stirs something on the stove. He looks surprised to see Greg, and Greg realises with a pang that this really is the first time he’s been home this early in weeks.

He comes to stand beside Mycroft. ‘What are you making?’

‘Pasta and pesto. I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting you home, I’ve only made enough for one.’

Greg doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t know how to reply to that.

Mycroft turns to him swiftly. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. It wasn’t intended as a slight. I’ll put some more on.’

Greg nods and goes to set the table, putting the chicken and broccoli in the fridge. He can cook it tomorrow.

Mycroft puts more pasta on to boil, and they stand awkwardly as they wait. In the end Greg takes it on himself to break the silent stalemate. They could be here all evening otherwise.

‘Sorry, should have texted to say I was on my way.’

Mycroft makes an aimless gesture. ‘It’s fine, I could have texted you or waited. I missed lunch though, so I…’ He trails off and motions to the pasta pan.

‘Busy day at work?’ Greg tries to inject some interest into his query but is aware that it falls closer to a rote question. He turns to fetch cheese from the fridge to grate, and Mycroft sets the grater on the counter for him before leaning against the edge nearby.

‘Back to back meetings then a long phone call that could really have been dealt with by somebody else, but that through the caller’s inflated sense of self importance was relegated to my problem.’ Mycroft turns to stir the pasta and fetch a colander, setting it in the sink. It dawns on Greg that this is the first really uncomfortable silence they’ve had, when neither of them has any idea what to say. It’s not an experience he wants to prolong.

Mycroft drains the pasta and mixes in the pesto.

Greg finishes grating the cheese.

Mycroft speaks before Greg can think of anything to say. ‘I saw you bought food for dinner. Will it keep for tomorrow?’ He plates the food and brings it to the table. They both sit.

Greg nods. ‘’S just chicken an’ vegetables. Thought I might so some kind of marinade. We have lemons, don’t we?’ Inane statement. He can see them in the fruit bowl from where he sits.

Mycroft nods, keeping his attention on his food. ‘And some herbs too, should you wish.’

Greg nods and they lapse back into silence. Frustratingly, Greg can’t think of a way to break it.

Mycroft is still focussing on his dinner plate when he next speaks. ‘I have to go away on Monday for a short while. I don’t anticipate it to be more than a few days, perhaps a week. I’m sorry for the short notice but I was asked to participate rather at the last minute.’

Greg swallows his mouthful. ‘Oh, Ok.’ He hesitates. ‘So where are you off to?’

Mycroft still isn’t looking at him. ‘Brussels, and then I may be required to make a short pit stop on the way home.’

Greg notes the continuing awkwardness with a sinking heart. Another flag. ‘All Europe traffic conference?’ He asks, slightly flippantly.

Mycroft shoots him an irritated look for a second before his face smooths back to bland neutrality. ‘Indeed,’ is all he says.

The rest of the dinner is eaten in silence, and Greg is forcibly reminded of the later days of his marriage. He also remembers the vow he made to cut back on his hours, make time for Mycroft, spend time together so they don’t drift apart. Last night’s almost fight has made him guiltily aware that he’s maybe not been trying hard enough so far. He’s not so set in his ways that things can’t change, he decides determinedly.

Well then. If he’s only got two days to repair things with Mycroft before he leaves for a week, he’d better get cracking. Though not go overboard. He’s also aware that this was part of the cycle in his marriage, over compensation for lack of attention, and he doesn’t want to get mired into that pattern. That way lies resentment and one-upmanship. Low key and genuine, that’s the way.

He gets up to clear the plates. ‘D’you have to work this weekend?’

Mycroft shakes his head. ‘I have several documents to review and a few phone calls to make, but I can dispense with that quickly. Are you on call?’ His voice holds a slightly wary note,

‘Nope. Free as a bird til Monday.’ Greg injects a breezy, unconcerned note in return, and thanks whatever scheduling deity that made it so. If he’d had to beg favours from Gregson to cover him he would have, but Gregson can be a right prat when he wants to and would probably have made Greg jump through hoops. The rest of the paperwork for the court case can definitely wait, he decides firmly.

Mycroft looks a little more relaxed when Greg risks a quick glance at him. ‘I don’t suppose you would care to do something?’ Mycroft’s tone is still cautious.

‘What d’you have in mind?’ Greg vows that even if Mycroft suggests Madame Tussauds Greg will agree with a grin and no suggestion of how much he dislikes the wax figures.

‘Nothing drastic. I thought after the long week we have both had, you might enjoy simply staying in together. Perhaps a quick expedition to the book shop?’

Greg turns round properly, leaning back against the counter and restraining himself from beaming at Mycroft. ‘That sounds perfect, love.’ The endearment slips out before he can stop it and he has a second of qualm, but it doesn’t seem like Mycroft has registered it. ‘Maybe go out to dinner tomorrow?’

Mycroft seems equally pleased. ‘A delightful proposition. Might I suggest the tapas place we visited before?’

Remembering the last time they ate there, and what came after, Greg can feel a wicked grin spreading. ‘Only if you promise to wear the same suit as last time.’

It takes Mycroft a second, then he too is grinning. ‘It would be my absolute pleasure.’

Mine too, Greg thinks.

 

*

 

Saturday starts lazily with tea and chopped fruit in bed. Mycroft insists on proper cutlery despite Greg’s attempts to persuade him otherwise, and Greg will always cherish the memory of Mycroft sitting up in bed, shirtless and wearing his glasses as he attempts to read a book and eat a bowl of fruit at the same time, frowning as the bowl wobbles on his knee and threatens to tip onto the duvet. Beside him, Greg is restraining himself to one task at a time, setting aside his empty bowl before reaching for his tea cup and book.

Mycroft, it would seem, is not as unaware of the appreciative looks Greg’s been shooting him as he appears, though he doesn’t seem to have guessed the intent behind them. Eventually he sighs. ‘Gregory, if you have something on you mind, spit it out.’ His focus doesn’t waver from the page he’s reading.

Greg sets his book aside, tea cup balanced carefully on top of it, and lies down next to Mycroft. At Mycroft’s questioning look, Greg smirks. ‘Spitting it out wasn’t exactly what I had in mind...’

He ducks under the covers before Mycroft’s snort registers, and as he begins to edge down Mycroft’s pyjamas, the snort turns into a laughing exclamation. ‘Gregory!’ The laugh quickly turns to a moan as Greg keeps going.

‘Oh! Gregory...’

 

*

 

The laziness continues as they meander through their morning ablutions, and Greg sets to making them a proper cooked breakfast, guarding the stove mock-jealously and leaving a laughing Mycroft on toast duty. The contrast between the uncertainty of last night and the comfortable familiarity of their interaction this morning is marked, and Greg is immensely relieved that things have been repaired after Thursday’s fight.

They eat in the kitchen then leave the dishes in the sink to do later, before settling onto the couch. Mycroft pulls out his laptop and Greg opens a book on Roman Britain someone at the Yard lent him. The soft sounds of keys tapping doesn’t intrude on Greg’s concentration, and the book is absorbing enough that it’s a bit of a shock to surface as Mycroft puts away his laptop and find it’s gone twelve. He could easily have brought work home on his own laptop to do at the same time, is the unwelcome thought that drifts in. He pushes it aside. He can feel guilty or he can make an effort to change. There’s not much point doing both.

‘Finished?’

‘For now.’ Mycroft removes his glasses and Greg feels a slight sting of disappointment; Mycroft really does look good wearing them. ‘What are you reading?’ Mycroft asks.

Greg shows him the book and gives a brief summary of its contents. ‘I mentioned that documentary from the other week an’ Simpson from forensics said I might enjoy it.’

‘And are you?’ Mycroft asks, swinging his legs up onto the couch to lie alongside Greg’s. The sight of it gives Greg a warm feeling: the first couple of weeks, Mycroft had frowned when Greg did that, but now he has embraced the idea wholeheartedly. Seeing him relaxing like this is a high point to Greg’s day.

‘Yeah, ‘s good. The writing’s a bit flowery in places but you still get the sense it could be a pretty grim existence.’ He puts the book down on the coffee table and, without thinking, pulls Mycroft’s right foot into his lap, rubbing at the arch as he brings his thoughts together. ‘It’s all very well, the archaeologists talking about the wonderful mosaics they find, but it wasn’t all orgies an’ peeled grapes for most people. An’ then there’s the people who lived in the area before the Romans decided to come and stay.’

His train of thought is derailed by the sound Mycroft makes as Greg rubs his thumbs around the ball of his foot. He glances up from absent mindedly watching his hands to see Mycroft, eyes closed, leaning bonelessly against the arm of the couch. Smiling, Greg continues his actions, putting more emphasis and thought into what he’s doing. He used to do this for Vicky long ago, and he did it a few times for Shannon when he was staying with her in the middle of his divorce. It’s a very different feeling, doing it for Mycroft than it is for his sister.

Mycroft makes the sound again, a sort of purring growl as Greg moves to work on his heel. Greg swallows a grin, keeps his voice even as he speaks. ‘Been on your feet a lot this week?’

‘Mmm. No more than usual. But feel free to continue anyway.’

This time Greg doesn’t bother to hide his smile at Mycroft’s tone. He sounds half asleep, and Greg is unable to stop himself comparing it to how Mycroft sounds just after sex.

He keeps silent on that thought, finishing with Mycroft’s right foot and moving onto the left, eliciting more of the happy sounds. When he finishes, Mycroft has trouble keeping his eyes open for a minute or two as he tries to focus on Greg. ‘Would you like me to reciprocate?’ His voice sounds as lax as his body looks. Regretfully, Greg shakes his head.

‘Too ticklish, doesn’t work for me. But I would be up for trading foot rubs for you reading to me.’
Mycroft looks shyly pleased. ‘You truly enjoy that?’

Greg rolls his eyes fondly. ‘What more can I say to convince you? I’ve only been asking for it whenever I can for the last few weeks.’

Mycroft’s expression doesn’t waver. ‘I would be delighted to read some more to you. But not just yet. Lunch first?’ He makes to get up, but Greg stalls him with a hand on his leg.

‘Stay there, I’ll make it, I fancy cheese on toast. Interested?’

Mycroft looks pleased and surprised. ‘Foot rubs and cheese on toast? What’s brought this on?’ He stops for a second and a pained look flashes across his face. ‘Gregory, please don’t think I am still unhappy with you about your work hours. I do understand the necessity of your job and you do not have to feel guilty or ‘make it up to me’.’ Mycroft looks worried now.

Greg leans over and kisses him. It’s the only thing he can do. He can’t speak for a moment, gratitude, relief and love mixing in his chest and stopping any words. Gratitude that Mycroft is willing to say what he means as opposed to making Greg guess, relief that Mycroft is as worried about making a mess of this as Greg is. The love is for Mycroft, just as he is, uncertain about some things and yet so confident in others, happy to have Greg making him cheese on toast as if it’s something completely unexpected. It hurts somewhat too, how little Mycroft seems to expect, not specifically from Greg but just in general.

‘It’s not making it up to you. It just sounded like you’ve had a long week an’ I thought you might enjoy a bit of pampering. I -’ love ‘- like you very much, Mycroft, an’ if you want cheese on toast an’ a foot rub I’m more than happy to provide.’ He gets up quickly, leaving Mycroft looking not a little astonished, and makes his way to the kitchen where he leans against the counter and breaths for a moment. This acceptance of his feelings is quicker than expected.

Mechanically, he begins to assemble the bits and pieces for cheese on toast, trying not to get too far ahead of himself. He’s been aware, almost from the first time he met Mycroft, that he’s possibly moving faster than he should be based on the length of their acquaintance. Falling in to bed together for a weekend within hours of meeting, moving in together within months of starting to date. Falling in love was perhaps inevitable, but Greg still feels he should have held out for longer.

But faced with the wonderful unlikeliness of Mycroft and all that he entails, Greg’s meagre defences have collapsed like paper. For all that he’s been hiding for the last two weeks, and yes, he admits with hindsight that he was, seeing Mycroft every evening has still been the best part of Greg’s day. Ultimately, really he’s only been delaying the inevitable and making himself miserable along the way by sort-of avoiding Mycroft and not simply accepting his own feelings.

But even still, it’s too early to say it out loud. He should wait a bit first, not rush this stage of the relationship at least. Get used to the idea in his head first, then when the time is right and Greg hasn’t been neglecting Mycroft in the vain hope that he can slow his inevitable fall, he can tell Mycroft. Hopefully Mycroft will feel the same way.

Greg is recalled from his thoughts by the smell of burning cheese, swears and makes a grab for the oven gloves, pulling out the slightly too crispy slices of cheese on toast and setting them on the counter. A second later Mycroft enters the kitchen looking curious.

‘Everything alright?’

Greg smiles sheepishly. ‘Yeah, sorry, got lost in thought. Should still be edible though.’

Mycroft glances at the mildly charred offerings and smiles, wide and completely happy. ‘I’m sure it will be delicious, Gregory.’

Still no need to rush, Greg tells himself sternly.

 

*

 

The ‘quick’ trip to the second hand bookshop ends up taking most of the afternoon, not unexpected considering their wide fields of interest when it comes to reading material. Mycroft is rendered ecstatic by the discovery of a tatty volume of Poe, apparently identical in appearance to a copy he has as a child. Greg can’t stop himself giving Mycroft a bit of a funny look at his idea of ideal childhood literature.

Greg finds an art book of Medieval European churches, and the photos of some of the stained glass windows are excellent. Confirmed atheist though he may be, he’s still impressed by the skill and care that went into the delicately painted images.

They wander back to the flat eventually, and Greg steers them down the side street that has the bakery on it, the one they found the first day together in the flat. When Mycroft raises an eyebrow Greg just smiles, saying nothing of his thoughts for later.

The suggested dinner out has been moved to Sunday, so Greg gets started on marinading the chicken while Mycroft makes them tea, using the blue and gold tea set that Greg’s noticed he uses when he’s most relaxed. Red and black when he’s tired, grey and pink for a simple afternoon cuppa, green and yellow for good moods or when he’s feeling uncertain, blue and gold for relaxed. The fact that he can chart Mycroft’s mood through his choice of tea set always sends a little thrill through Greg.

With the chicken in the fridge and the tea made they decamp through to the lounge, where they drink tea for half an hour and discuss purchases before Mycroft has to go and make phone calls. He shuts himself in the bedroom, laptop in tow, and Greg takes the opportunity to stretch out on the couch and try to finish his book on Roman Britain. The murmur of Mycroft’s voice can be heard faintly through the wall, and when it rises sharply in annoyance Greg gets up to put on some music, just low enough to drown out the conversation.

Mycroft returns not long after, looking frustrated. ‘Why people cannot listen to -’ he stops, frowning in concentration. ‘Gregory, what on earth are you listening to?’

Greg blinks at him. ‘D’you not like it? I’ll switch it off.’

Mycroft seems distracted. ‘It’s not that I don’t like it… Gregory, I can’t help but notice you are listening to opera.’

Greg widens his eyes in mock surprise. ‘No, really? I thought it sounded a bit odd. Here was me meaning to put on the top forty.’

Mycroft winces and rolls his eyes at the same time. ‘Oh yes, very droll. I’m just a little surprised. You have never mentioned a fondness for opera.’

‘Well, there’s still a few things you don’t know about me,’ Greg says cheekily. His smile softens, turning reminiscent. ‘Actually, my Dad was a fan, he took Shannon an’ me a few times. It’s amazing to see live an’ the singers are really impressive. Listening at home’s not the same, ‘s not got the same intensity, but it’s still got some good tunes. Just hope I don’t try an’ sing along.’

Mycroft looks mildly surprised as he comes to join Greg on the couch. ‘Why should I hope that?’

Greg pulls a face. ‘’M not the best singer in the world, shall we say. Add in the fact that I don’t actually know what they’re singing most of the time an’ it doesn’t come out particularly musical. Or recognisable.’

Mycroft’s look of surprise grows stronger. ‘You have a lovely speaking voice and yet you don’t sing well?’

Greg smiles up at him. ‘It’s nice of you to say so love, but my voice hasn’t been helped by thirty years of smoking, and three years off the ciggies hasn’t done much to change that.’

Once more, his endearment slides under the radar as Mycroft’s look of surprise changes to a frown. ‘Gregory Lestrade, you were smoking at fifteen?!’

Greg rolls his eyes. ‘Everybody did. C’mon Mycroft, I know you still smoke sometimes, don’t pretend you didn’t have your first one a year or two before it was strictly legal.’

Mycroft looks prim. ‘I’ll have you know, Detective Inspector, that I had my first cigarette at university.’ He pauses and his prim look turns sly. ‘Though I may have liberated the odd cigar from my father before then.’

Greg doesn’t stop himself from rolling his eyes again, this time fondly. ‘Of course you did, you teenage hooligan. Smoking cigars, reading Poe til all hours…’ He shakes his head mock sorrowfully.

Mycroft doesn’t respond, and his expression is uncertain. ‘Gregory, if the fact that I still smoke bothers you, I can try to stop.’ His face turns pained for a moment. ‘Though I don’t promise to go cold turkey, not when I have to deal with some people on a regular basis.’

Greg shakes his head. ‘I’m not going to pretend it’s not a bit tempting when you come home smelling of smoke, but I’ve made it three years so far an’ I’m not likely to pack it in now. I’m also not going to pretend I wouldn’t prefer not to have you putting tar into your lungs, though Christ knows that’s a bit hypocritical of me to say. But I’m not going to say you have to stop smoking, cold turkey or otherwise.’

Mycroft nods briskly. ‘Duly noted. I shall think on it. I suppose if you have made the effort to do so, I could consider it. I want you to be around for a long time yet and I think you feel the same.’ Despite the statement of his words there is a slightly questioning note to Mycroft’s voice, and Greg makes haste to reassure him.

‘Yeah, I want you around for a while. Definitely. Long as you’ll put up with me.’ That’s as much as Greg dares to say at this point, as much as he can hint without giving away his feelings. Still too soon.

Mycroft nods firmly. ‘That is settled then.’

Greg feels like he’s missed a step. ‘What’s settled?’

‘I shall try to stop smoking.’ Mycroft looks resolute. ‘If you can do it after smoking since childhood, I can do no less.’

‘Oi! I ’ave not been ‘smoking since childhood,’ you cheeky bastard!’ Despite his indignant words, Greg can’t help laughing a little at the smug look on Mycroft’s face.

‘Very well.’ Mycroft’s face and voice are all angelic benevolence, a look slightly spoiled by the smirk peeking through. ‘Not since childhood. But certainly far longer than you should have. What made you stop?’ His voice now is simple curiosity.

Greg feels his face turn grim. ‘When Sherlock came to see me after coming back from the dead, the first thing he said to me was that those things would kill me.’ Greg smiles reminiscently. ‘Called him a bastard too. An’ well, it felt pretty good, him showing up when I thought he was gone for good. Then he dragged me into one of his mad things, an’ I ended up in the Thames, then I caught a cough which turned into pneumonia. Was in hospital for a week, an’ they said I was lucky my lungs weren’t any worse or I’d’ve been in for a lot longer. I realised then that while the laws of everything don’t seem to apply to Sherlock Holmes, an’ he might be able to come back from the dead, I’d have a lot harder time of it. Didn’t want to see him come back just to pack it in myself. So I quit, an’ other than the patches I’ve been off them ever since.’

Mycroft’s lips purse. ‘I took up smoking again when Sherlock ‘died.’ It was not a stress free time.’ He pauses, then asks carefully, ‘I don’t think I saw you at the funeral?’

Greg is silent a moment. It’s not his fondest memory. ‘Yeah, well, that’s cos I didn’t go.’ His voice is rough. ‘Didn’t really feel I had the right, what with arresting him an’ all. Got suspended for a bit over the whole thing actually, spent the day drunk.’ Not his finest hour, but thinking he’d contributed to the death of his friend had left him pretty low.

‘Gregory.’ Mycroft’s voice is intense. ‘You were not to blame for Sherlock’s fall, literally or metaphorically. He had attracted the attention of a dangerous man who would stop at nothing to see him brought down. You were manipulated and forced into compliance.’ He stares at Greg, unblinking, and Greg, unable to look away, nods.

‘Yeah, I know that now. Looking back I can see how a lot of people played right into Moriarty’s hands. But it was still my choice, my actions, an’ betraying a friend like that...’ He has to look away, blink to stop tears rising.

Mycroft takes Greg’s hands in his, rubbing gently. ‘You were not to blame. You tried to help as best you could and your career suffered. You might have lost your job, but you still tried. There is no reason to still be carrying around guilt.’

Greg smiles, but it’s forced. ‘’S not as easy as that. I think a part of me will always feel that way, always regret what I did. The fact that he came back doesn’t get rid of the fact that he had to go in the first place.’ Needing a moment, he pulls his hands out of Mycroft’s clasp and stands. ‘’M going to check on the dinner, get started with the rest of it.’ He turns and leaves before Mycroft can say anything, taking the opportunity to stuff his emotions back down. His hands are trembling a little as he takes the chicken out of the fridge, but he forces himself to calm, slow down and steady. By the time he hears Mycroft’s footsteps in the hall he’s got himself more or less back under control.

Mycroft doesn’t resume the conversation, instead coming up behind Greg and wrapping him in a hug. He kisses Greg’s cheek and nuzzles against his stubble briefly before pulling away.

‘Can I do anything?’ Greg is grateful for Mycroft’s tone of helpful interest, the unconcerned manner he is affecting. Greg point to the potatoes.

‘You can chop those in half. I’ll get the broccoli done an’ then when the potatoes are boiling we’ll put the chicken on.’ His voice is still a bit husky but it evens out by the end of his sentence. Mycroft fetches a knife and a chopping board and begins prepping the potatoes. They work in silence for a few minutes before Mycroft clears his throat.

‘It occurs to me that if you enjoy opera, you might enjoy going to see a performance at the Royal Opera House some time.’

Greg nods, his focus on the broccoli. ‘Yeah, that would be good. Not sure when we could get tickets for. That’s assuming you want to come too.’

There is quiet amusement in Mycroft’s voice as he speaks. ‘Gregory, I have season tickets to the Royal Opera House. I am an avid lover of opera. I would be delighted to go with you. Indeed, as they are my tickets, I should be a little insulted not to be asked.’

Greg puts down his knife and turns slowly round. ‘You have season tickets to the Royal Opera House? An’ you didn’t tell me?

Mycroft looks a little miffed. ‘Well, I do apologise, but I didn’t know until today that you were an opera aficionado. Excuse me for not guessing that beneath your rough, tough exterior, a heart beats only for the sound of women singing overly dramatic tragic songs and then dying for love. Had I but known, I would have wooed you with a performance of Tristan und Isolde.

Greg snorts. ‘Alright, alright, I’ll let you off the hook. Rough, tough exterior, yeah?’ He leers at Mycroft, who rolls his eyes but smiles at the same time.

‘Focus on the dinner, Gregory. You may show me your rough, tough side later.’

‘I’ll hold you to that,’ Greg promises, before another thought hits and he snorts. ‘Wooed? Really?’

‘Be quiet,’ Mycroft mutters, looking haughty and a little red.

 

*

 

Later, in bed, Greg’s mind returns to an earlier conversation, and he pauses in his reading and turns to Mycroft. ‘Are you sure about giving up smoking? You didn’t think about it for very long.’

Mycroft looks at him from over his glasses. ‘I am sure. Really, it is high time I did. I went without them for years and it was only relatively recently that I began again. It is, as you say, not terribly conducive to good health, and on top of that, it’s not exactly de rigueur to stop high level meetings for a smoke break.’

Greg laughs. ‘If anyone could manage it, you could.’ Mycroft is almost always impressively self-assured, Greg can’t imagine he’d have any trouble telling off any junior ministers or transport officials who dare to raise an eyebrow.

Mycroft looks smug. ‘That’s as may be, but in my line of work you have to take every advantage you can get, and distracting yourself with nicotine cravings is hardly helpful.’

The cut-throat world of transport consultancy, Greg thinks with a private smile. He knows himself how vicious internal politics can be and he can’t imagine it’s any easier at Mycroft’s end of things.

‘Oh well, anything to give you the edge. Seriously though, don’t feel that I’m pressuring you into it.’

Mycroft lowers his book and raises his eyebrows. ‘Honestly Gregory, the number of times you have asked if I’m sure, anyone would think you didn’t want me to stop smoking. I assure you, I am doing this entirely of my own free will.’ He raises his book again in a pointed manner.

Greg rolls his eyes. ‘Twice. I’ve asked you twice if you’re sure. But fine, have it your own way.’ He yawns and turns back to his book. ‘’S not as if I’m trying to be considerate of your feelings or anything.’

‘Gregory!’ Mycroft exclaims in laughing exasperation. His tone softens. ‘I appreciate your concern, but I am fully capable of making my feelings known when necessary.’

With studied non-concern, Greg keeps his focus on his book. ‘’Course you are,’ he says off-handedly. ‘Can’t think of anyone more open with their feelings.’ He keeps his voice casual and his eyes on the page. The next second he shrieks, Mycroft’s fingers suddenly tickling his ribs. ‘Ok, Ok, I’m sorry!’

Mycroft continues tickling for a couple of seconds more before pulling back. ‘And I hope you remember that, next time you feel like being cheeky.’ He sniffs and turns back to his book, but Greg can see the corner of his mouth fighting not to curl into a smile.

Panting lightly, Greg lies flat on his back. ‘That wasn’t very nice. I gave you a foot rub earlier an’ this is how you pay me back.’

‘You said it yourself, Gregory. Anything to get an edge.’

Mycroft sounds utterly unconcerned about reprisals, Greg thinks glumly. He rolls over and looks up at Mycroft. ‘Bet you’re not ticklish either.’

‘Not at all.’ Mycroft has the decency to sound vaguely apologetic, and he puts his book aside to give Greg his full attention. ‘Despite many attempts by Sherlock I am utterly impervious to tickling.’

‘Ah well.’ Greg picks his book up from the bed beside him and puts it on the night stand. ‘You make up for it in other ways.’ He smiles at Mycroft.

Mycroft’s answering smile is soft. ‘I am very glad you think so.’

 

*

 

Sunday starts much the same way as Saturday, but with pancakes at the kitchen table instead of fruit in bed. Experience has taught them that golden syrup and bedsheets don’t mix well. After breakfast Mycroft shuts himself in the lounge to work, and Greg rouses himself out of his state of relaxation long enough to put on a wash and give the kitchen a clean. Mycroft emerges before he’s finished and stands in the doorway, looking uncertain. Greg sends him to hoover the lounge and Mycroft sets to with an air of bemused willing. Greg guesses he left all the cleaning to a service before he began living with Greg. The sight of Mycroft in a waistcoat and rolled up shirt sleeves wielding a hoover brings a mix of amusement and affection to Greg’s chest.

After lunch, Greg asks if Mycroft has any more work to do.

‘Nothing more today, unless something come up unexpectedly. I must pack for tomorrow, but that is all. Do you have any thoughts?’

Greg shrugs. ‘’S not very nice outside. Was thinking about putting on Young Frankenstein.

‘Gregory, it is the middle of the afternoon! We are not lazing around and watching films.’ Mycroft’s voice is firm.

‘Why not? We don’t have anything needing done, we’re not going out to dinner til seven, an’ I’ve not seen it in ages.’

‘Surely there is something else to be done?’ Mycroft’s words are certain, but he looks torn.

Greg shrugs again. ‘Well, you could always clean the bathroom if you feel you absolutely can’t do something nice on your day off before you go away for a week, but other than that...’

‘You make a good argument.’ Mycroft hesitates for a moment. ‘Very well then. But let us not make a habit of it.’

‘If you say so.’ Greg has no intention of following Mycroft’s directions on that subject. ‘Have you seen it?’

‘Once or twice.’ Mycroft takes his customary seat on the sofa, and looks at Greg in surprise when he joins him at the same end as opposed to taking his usual place.

‘Great. Then we don’t have to pay any attention to it.’

Mycroft looks confused. ‘If you don’t intend to watch it, why did you want to put it on?’

Patiently, Greg elaborates. ‘It’s a light hearted film we both know well enough to dip in an’ out of.’ When Mycroft still looks confused, he puts it plainly. ‘It’s an excuse to sit an’ cuddle for an hour or two, maybe snog a bit.’

Understanding dawns on Mycroft’s face. ‘In that case, I am perfectly willing. Excellent idea.’ They arrange themselves on the couch, stretched out and entwined. As the film starts, Greg reaches up to kiss Mycroft gently.

‘Perfect way to spend an afternoon,’ He comments contentedly as they pull apart.

Mycroft hums in mirrored contentment. ‘I couldn’t agree more.’

 

*

 

The film is mostly ignored as they talk quietly about nothing much, and when it finishes they remain where they are, happy to chat and spend time doing little. It’s not until Greg catches sight of his watch that he breaks the spell.

‘C’mon, you’ve got to pack before you get yourself all dressed up for dinner. You promised to wear the same suit. Without underwear.’ He’s not going to let Mycroft forget that part.

Mycroft stands, looking tolerantly amused. ‘I remember. The lack of underwear will be made easier by the fact that I still seem to have a dearth of it. You haven’t perhaps come across any?’

Greg busies himself with straightening the couch cushions. ‘Nope, not seen them. Sure they haven’t fallen down the back of the drawer?’

Mycroft gives him a suspicious look, but Greg adopts his most blankly helpful look, the one that he uses for the Superintendent and Sherlock when he’s being particularly obnoxious, and Mycroft lets it go with nothing more than a non-committal hum.

Greg digs out one of his few smart non-court shirts and a pair of jeans that he’s had for a while and are nicely worn in. He’s vain enough to give his arse a quick peruse in the mirror: yup, the jeans still fit nicely. He’s not even near Mycroft’s league sartorially, but he can scrub up well enough.

Mycroft, when he emerges, look fantastic, of course. Greg can’t resist a quick whistle. ‘Looking very nice.’ He waggles his eyebrows, and Mycroft rolls his eyes in amusement.

‘Thank you. May I say that you look rather splendid yourself.’ Mycroft’s eyes take the same path Greg’s did in the mirror, and Greg feels entirely justified in his earlier vanity.

We could just stay in... Greg pushes the thought away and pick up his keys. ‘Shall we?’

‘After you,’ Mycroft murmurs, eyes still on Greg’s arse.

 

*

 

The restaurant is as nice as Greg remembers, and the menu has changed to present an entirely new set of difficult choices. The choose a variety and take their time, continuing their earlier meandering conversation as though no time has elapsed. Despite the prospect of Mycroft’s departure tomorrow, the atmosphere between them holds no hint of melancholy. They both decline to have dessert, and when they emerge from the restaurant two hours after they entered, the weather has cleared up enough to make it a clear if crisp night.

‘Shall we walk for a while?’ Mycroft asks, and Greg agrees. It’s too far to make it all the way back to the flat, but they wend their way through the streets for a mile or so before catching a cab.

Back at the flat, still cool from the walk, Greg suggest tea. ‘Lovely,’ Mycroft agrees, and Greg goes to put the kettle on and get out the tea set while Mycroft is busy taking off his beautifully polished oxfords and hanging up his overcoat.

Fetching milk for the tea, Greg spots the box from the bakery they visited yesterday. He forgot all about it after their conversation about Sherlock, but it’ll make a perfect end to tonight’s meal. He brings it out and sets it on the table by the tea set. When Mycroft comes through he spots it immediately.

‘Oh, I had forgotten about that.’ He frowns at the cheesecake, sitting innocently on a plate. ‘Are you not planning on sharing?’ The lone fork is also encompassed in his stare.

Greg grins. ‘Tonight, I’m planning to realise something I’ve been imagining since we met.’

‘And that involves eating all the cheesecake? I hardly think that’s very fair.’ Mycroft looks quite put out at the threatened lack of cheesecake.

‘Nope. It involves feeding the cheesecake to you. An’ me too, though possibly not in a particularly conventional way.’

‘And this is your fantasy?’ Mycroft couldn’t possibly sound more dubious if he tried.

‘Mmm. You an’ that chocolate ganache. The noise you made when you first tried it, God, Mycroft, should’ve been illegal.’

For some reason, Mycroft turns a delicate shade of pink. ‘Ah yes. The chocolate ganache. If I may make a small confession...’ He trails off, and Greg has a moment of foreboding.

‘What?’

Mycroft looks uncomfortable. ‘I, ah, may have been playing up my reactions to it. In order to gauge if you were truly interested.’

It takes Greg a second, but then he laughs. ‘Really? I thought the hints I was dropping could be seen from space. The thoughts I was having about you an’ that ganache especially...’

‘Yes, well.’ Mycroft’s discomfort seems to be easing. ‘I was hoping you would make he first move. It can be a bit… off putting when I show interest sometimes.’

Greg has to kiss him. ‘I don’t find you off putting at all. I-’ love ‘like you very much.’ Mycroft looks at him, and for a second, Greg thinks he sees his feelings reflected in Mycroft’s eyes.

‘I am so very glad you feel that way,’ Mycroft says quietly.

Greg feels his heart turn over in his chest. It is too soon to tell him, it’s it?

 

*

 

Lying together later, cheesecake consumed and the bed cleaned up, Greg has a thought. ‘Y’won’t mind if I text you while you’re away?’

Greg feels Mycroft shift sleepily behind him. ‘No, I don’t mind. In fact I would be delighted to hear from you, but I warn you that I may not have much of a chance to respond. It will be a busy period.’

Greg nods against the pillow. ‘’K, ‘m warned. Don’t work too hard though, love.’ The endearment slips out again, and Mycroft still doesn’t seem to notice it. Greg’s not sure whether to be relieved or not. It really is too soon to tell Mycroft he loves him, even with the fact that they moved in together so quickly. Especially with that fact. No reason to rush the whole relationship. Plenty of time to tell him when he gets back, Greg thinks as he drifts off.

 

*

 

Greg wakes to find Mycroft almost fully dressed, waistcoat, jacket and pocket square laid out ready to go, choosing cufflinks for the day. He pushes himself upright and reaches out a hand. ‘Here, I’ll do that.’

Mycroft pauses for a moment then hands the cufflinks over without a word. Greg gently takes his wrist in hand, thumb softly rubbing the pale skin stretched over the jut of bone. He draws the fabric of the cuff together before slotting the shaft of the first cufflink through and flicking it into the locked position. He releases Mycroft’s left wrist and takes hold of the right, raising it to his mouth for a second to place a gentle kiss to the skin before covering it over with fabric. When he releases Mycroft’s wrist he keeps hold of his hand, rubbing his thumb over the knuckles before lifting it again and placing another kiss on the skin he’s just rubbed. ‘Have a good day. Have a good trip.’

Mycroft watches him with an inscrutable expression. ‘I will do my best.’ He breaks the moment, turning to pick up his waistcoat. Greg watches the fine cotton of Mycroft’s shirt pull taught against his back, hinting at the skin beneath, before it’s covered by the next layer. He waits as Mycroft finishes putting on his armour and turns to leave the room, making it half way to the door before he turns back, moving swiftly to the bed and cupping Greg's face, tilting it up to kiss him firmly. ‘Have a good day too,’ Mycroft murmurs against Greg's lips before he pulls back and leaves the room.

Greg flops back against the pillows, glances at the bedside clock. It’s not long before he has to get up and start his day. Might as well get up a little early since he’s awake, get a head start on it.

He lies there a little longer, wallowing in the warm, relaxed feeling. It’s a shame he couldn’t have had a quick breakfast with Mycroft, he’ll miss that start to his day while Mycroft’s away, but at least he got to see him before he left.

He rolls out of bed, ambling through to the shower. The bathroom still holds a faint trace of steam and the scent of Mycroft’s shampoo from his earlier shower, and Greg inhales the smell. It’s only for a few days, Mycroft will probably be back by the weekend, but he’s still going to miss him. He’s so used to having him there on a day to day basis, even after a short time, that it will seem strange not to see him.

He gets under the spray, humming slightly. In a way it’s odd to be so cheerful the day his lover leaves, but the weekend was good. Very good. After the rocky preceding week, the simple closeness and time spent together was both welcome and re-affirming.

He’s still humming when he sets out for work.

 

*

 

Wednesday. Pub with John. In the spirit of his renewed resolve to cut back his hours at the Yard, Greg accepts John’s invitation and calls it a practise run for when Mycroft gets back.

‘Are you ever going to tell me anything about your new mystery bloke?’ John shoots him a look over the top of his glass.

Greg swallows his mouthful and sighs internally. He probably should give John something, he’s been good about not pushing for information and has managed remarkably well at keeping Sherlock off Greg’s back.

‘He’s tall, got dark hair, kinda reddish, he’s smart an’ dresses nice.’ John’s giving him a bit of a funny look but Greg ploughs on. ‘He reads a lot, fantasy an’ sci-fi mostly, an’ he won’t admit it but he’s got a thing for bad sci-fi films.’ Coming home late one evening and finding Mycroft working with Lavalantula on in the background will never not be funny. Especially Mycroft’s attempts to convince Greg that ‘it just happened to be on’. ‘He actually likes cricket, Christ knows why, but he sometimes listens to the test match while he’s working.’ Greg’s spent more than one evening reading, sitting at one end of the sofa with Mycroft doing the same at the other end, working on his laptop whist test match special replays witter on in the background.

Greg takes another swallow of his drink. ‘I’m teaching him to cook, more or less. We’re both getting better at it.’

The strange look has gone and now John’s just looking bemused. ‘Sounds decent enough, I guess. Not the kind of person I would have thought you’d go for, really.’ He laughs a little. ‘For a minute there at the start, I thought you were talking about Mycroft.’ John laughs again.

Greg hides his reaction in his drink, finishing the pint. ‘Fancy another?’ He leaves the table before hearing John’s reply. At the bar, it’s a minute before he can catch the bartender’s attention, and he uses the time to calm his reaction to John’s words. Hearing John saying Mycroft’s name was a bit of a jolt. He didn’t think John would guess from so little information. He hasn’t really, but it’s probably only a matter of time now.

He heads back to the table with the drinks. John’s looking a bit awkward. ‘Look mate, I didn’t mean it about… I don’t care what your type is…’ He stops, blows out a breath, obviously unsure how to say whatever it is. ‘Look, I won’t push you about this bloke of yours. It looks like he’s making you happy, and while it would be good to meet him some time, there’s no hurry, right?’

Relieved, Greg nods. ‘Right. All in good time, yeah?’ They both sip their drinks in silence for a moment, letting the conversation die. John sets his glass down first.

‘So. Football.’

Greg sets his glass down too and they happily fall back into the tried and tested topic of the Premier League.

 

*

 

By Thursday, Greg’s beginning to get a bit worried. Despite Mycroft’s promise to text, so far almost all Greg’s messages to him have gone unanswered. He had a brief line on Tuesday night, a reply to Greg’s query about how the conference is going, but it was vague and didn’t encourage a follow up. His text on Wednesday was similar, and contained no reply to Greg’s admission of missing Mycroft. Probably just busy, Greg reassures himself. International delegation, important meetings, lots of things to get done. Silly to feel so unsettled.

Friday he sends a quick text to see if Mycroft has any idea of when he’ll be back. When there’s no reply by eight, he sends it again, even though he can see that Mycroft’s seen his last message. When he finally gives up and goes to bed at eleven there’s still no reply, nor is there one when he wakes again.

It’s pretty alarming. Mycroft frequently doesn’t reply to Greg’s texts right away, but he always replies sooner or later. Not to hear at all is unusual.

He waits until twelve to call. He’s at work: not wanting to sit at home and worry on his own, he thought a distraction might help. So far he’s not managed to achieve much. Everything seems to take much longer to read today.

It’s one o’clock in Brussels, and Mycroft should be on a lunch break. Greg leans on his desk and makes the call, listening to it ring at the other end. It isn’t answered. It clicks over to Mycroft’s generic voicemail message. Greg swallows.

‘Hi, it’s me, just wanted to see how you’re doing, an’ if you’ve got any idea when you might be home. I’m at work but give me a ring if you want.’ He pauses. ‘I miss you. Flat feels too empty. Come back soon, yeah?’ He hits the end button, putting the phone back down on his desk and trying not to feel pathetic. He shakes himself and stands up, deciding to go and get a sandwich and a coffee, have an early lunch.

He’s sitting in the park near the Yard when his phone rings. He juggles his coffee and sandwich whilst he tries to get it out before the caller rings off. He just manages, pressing accept and thinking as he does that he doesn’t recognise the number.

It’s a woman’s voice on the other end. ‘Detective Inspector Lestrade, I am calling on behalf of Mr Holmes. Is there a problem?’ She sounds cool.

Startled, Greg replies. ‘Uh, no? No problem. I was just wondering when Mycroft’s coming home. Wait, it is Mycroft you’re talking about?’

‘Yes, Detective Inspector. I am his assistant.’ She sounds amused now.

‘Oh, right.’ Blankly, Greg wracks his brains to see if Mycroft’s said anything, and he manages to dredge up: ‘Anthea, right? Are you in Brussels too?’

Her voice is cool once more. ‘I am in London, attending to Mr Holmes’ business here. Can I pass on a message?’

Greg deflates. ‘No, just… ask him to text when he can. Unless you know when he might be back?’

‘I’m afraid Mr Holmes’ schedule is uncertain at the moment. I will pass on your message.’ She hangs up before he can say anything else.

‘Right,’ he says blankly. He looks at the sandwich and coffee, cold now from the breeze. He’s lost his appetite anyway.

 

*

 

The rest of the day is useless, Greg can’t concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes. Mycroft is probably fine, but why isn’t he replying to Greg’s messages? Is he still annoyed from the fight they had before Mycroft left? Is he giving Greg a taste of his own medicine, burying himself in work and avoiding him? Mycroft doesn’t seem like the type, Greg thinks, not when everything had seemed fine.

There’s no word from Mycroft Saturday evening, but on Sunday Greg is woken by his phone ringing. It’s Mycroft. He scrambles to answer it. ‘Mycroft!’

‘Hello Gregory.’ Mycroft’s voice is warm, and Greg feels his fears that Mycroft is still angry receding. ‘I am sorry not to have been in contact, I’m afraid things have been a little busier than anticipated.’

‘Oh.’ Greg can hear the disappointment in his own voice. He tries to remove it. ‘Does that mean you’re not going to be home soon?’

‘I’m afraid my business here has been extended. I’m not sure when I will be home.’ Mycroft’s voice is regretful, and Greg’s disappointment grows.

‘Can’t be helped, I guess.’ He forces his voice to remain upbeat. ‘Hope you’re not working too hard. Have you seen any of Brussels?’

‘Unfortunately I did not have a chance. I was in back to back meetings, very boring. How has your week been?’

Greg fills him in. It doesn’t take long. Recounting it now, it seems like he hardly did a thing, but he must have done something. The absence of Mycroft in his day to day life feels so much bigger than it really is. ‘So where are you now if you’re not in Brussels?’ He finishes with.

‘Oh, travelling about. It’s all a bit unsettled.’ Mycroft’s voice is unconcerned, and he hurries on to ask about Greg’s plans for Sunday.

Greg lets it go. ‘Going to have lunch with Shannon an’ Rory. Was actually going to ask if you wanted to come too, but maybe next time.’ It would be good to have them both over for dinner sometime, actually.

‘I would be delighted to meet your sister and nephew. We should invite them to dinner when I return.’ Mycroft sounds genuinely interested in the proposition.

Greg smiles. ‘Was going to suggest that myself. I’ll invite them today.’

Mycroft’s voice is cautious. ‘I wouldn’t suggest a date too soon, I wouldn’t want to miss it.’

‘Yeah.’ Greg’s mood sinks again at the reminder. ‘Not in the next week or two, anyway.’

‘Probably best to wait to set a date until I return.’ There is a clatter on the other end of the line, and Greg hears Mycroft’s voice, muffled as though the phone is being pressed against his suit. His voice returns clear after a minute. ‘I am sorry Gregory, I have to go. I will speak to you soon.’

‘Yeah, OK. Don’t work too hard.’ Greg can’t make his voice sound enthusiastic.

In reply, Mycroft’s voice softens. ‘I shall be back as soon as I can, my dear. Until then.’ The call ends, and Greg is left with alone in a silent flat with a returning sense of unease.

 

*

 

Lunch is good, and Rory talks a lot about his new girlfriend. Shannon and Greg share amused eye rolls over his enthusiasm, but Greg’s glad he is sounding enthusiastic. Starting uni, Rory found it a bit difficult fitting in, not being the most socially inclined of people, but he’s made a few friends now and is beginning to enjoy it more.

Whilst he’s doing the washing up, Shannon asks him about Mycroft. ‘He’s fine,’ Greg says, concentrating on a bit of baked on potato. ‘He’s away for work at the moment, should be back sometime this week.’ The potato comes away and he rinses the pan. ‘Actually, I wanted to see if you an’ Rory wanted to meet him, maybe come round for dinner one night?’

Shannon raises her eyes to the ceiling. ‘Finally! You’ve only been living with him, what, two months? An’ now we finally get to meet him?’

‘Yeah, yeah.’ Greg has to grin. ‘I’ve been busy, alright? I’ll give you a ring when he gets back, set something up.’

‘Sure, let us know.’ Shannon leans over and gives him a sideways hug. ‘’M really pleased it’s working out,’ she says quietly.

‘Thanks,’ Greg replies, equally quietly. Then Rory comes in, demanding they play a board game, and the afternoon descends into a competition of ‘who can cheat the most without getting caught’ under the guise of playing Monopoly.

The flat seems even quieter when he gets home. He switches on the news and leaves it running in the background whilst he cooks some pasta, then he ends up half watching an old spaghetti western before deciding he’s not following it enough and going to bed. His goodnight text to Mycroft garners no response. It seems a long time since last Sunday night.

 

*

 

The court case begins on Tuesday, and Greg spends a lot of time sitting waiting to be called, thinking about Mycroft. He feels ridiculously sappy, going over past conversations in his head and trying to think up things the two of them could do when Mycroft gets back. His thoughts don’t add to the vague feeling of unease, but nor do they detract from it.

By Wednesday Greg has had one text from Mycroft. On Thursday he tries phoning and gets nowhere, not even a return call from Mycroft’s assistant. He’s beginning to get seriously worried. In the end, he caves and calls the number Anthea called from. The person who picks up is not Anthea, but promises to pass a message on. There’s been no reply by the time court wraps up on Friday afternoon. A satisfying result, but at the same time Greg can’t fully join in with the rest of the team’s cheer. He declines the pub, heading home instead. He’s not fit for company at the moment.

He’s been home about an hour when his phone rings. His heart leaps, then falls when he digs it out to see the caller ID. The number is the same one Mycroft’s assistant called him on last time.

Anthea informs him that Mr Holmes is very busy and will call when he can. She also indicates that repeated attempts to contact Mr Holmes will not be welcomed. Greg loses his temper at that.

‘Look, it’s been two weeks, an’ Mycroft’s not replying to me. I don’t even know where he is! I don’t believe he can’t spare thirty seconds to send a quick text saying he’s OK.’ He calms himself. ‘I just want to speak to him, hear he’s OK for myself. I care about him, alright?’ It fees odd to be speaking like this to a total stranger, but if it gets him any closer to Mycroft...

‘Mr Holmes is in a series of very important meetings and negotiations. He has little time to himself I’m afraid.’ She pauses, and when she returns, he voice is lower and sounds more reassuring. ‘He’s tired, he’s working very hard but he’s fine, Detective Inspector. He will get in contact again when he can.’ She hangs up, and Greg stays where he is, sitting on the couch. It almost feels like his days pre-divorce, sitting at home, wondering where the other person is. He’s not keen on the feeling.

 

*

 

That night he has a nightmare. He wakes up thrashing, sweat soaking through the t-shirt he wore to bed. He doesn’t remember what he was dreaming, just a sense of loss and fear. He rolls over to stare at Mycroft’s empty side of the bed. It feels vast without him in it. Not so long ago, having the whole bed to himself was normal. Now it seems utterly alien and unfriendly.

He stays where he is, every part of him wishing Mycroft was there. Eventually he rolls out of bed and goes to make himself a cup of tea, hands reaching for the red and black tea set without thought. When he realises, he’s already half way through making the pot, so he continues, though it feels odd making it for one.

He ends up on the couch, watching a house hunting program and sipping tea, wishing Mycroft was there to read to him. He ends up falling asleep there, waking in the morning to a crick in his neck and a breakfast news show talking about the upcoming Summit between North and South Korea.

 

*

 

After a weekend spent on his own and still no word from Mycroft, Greg is starting to get both annoyed and fearful. Why is Mycroft ignoring him? Is it something Greg did? Was he working too much, not spending enough time with Mycroft? Is Mycroft sick of the long hours and the fact that Greg can’t really talk about his day? Does he just not know how to tell Greg he’s finished with him? He used to stay in different houses every few days; is he bored of always being in the same place, always seeing Greg?

And really, he can’t text once? Not at all?

Greg can’t sleep Sunday night, too much going round in his head. He even thinks about asking Sherlock, but nothing he’s heard Mycroft say indicates that the cousins speak regularly. Sherlock probably has even less idea than Greg does.

His inability to sleep continues the next night. He finds himself dropping off for short periods then waking up, heart pounding from some imagined noise. He’s useless at work all day, Donovan having to ask him things several times before he manages to reply. Eventually she brings herself to ask in he’s alright.

‘Trouble sleeping,’ he relies, and gets a sympathetic nod. All police officers get periods like that sometimes.

On Tuesday night he doesn’t even bother trying to go to bed, instead lying on the couch with a blanket. The bed feels too big, too empty, maybe sleeping on the couch will help. He hates the helpless feeling but there’s nothing he can do. He can’t believe he’s gone so quickly from thinking about telling Mycroft that he loves him to wondering if he’ll ever see him again.

Around him, the flat feels too cold and too quiet. For all that Mycroft owns it, it feels like a mix of the two of them, books and knick-knacks jumbled together, the odd photo. As his mind wanders, Greg wonders whether Mycroft has more properties like this, dotted around the place, full of abandoned lovers who haven’t been told it’s over. He imagines waiting for weeks, months, with nothing beyond the odd text from Mycroft, hoping that this will be the day he comes back.

No.

Greg’s got more self respect than that. If Mycroft doesn’t come back, he’ll take himself off again. He’s not going to sit here and wait forever.

But that begs the question, how long will he wait?

 

*

 

Sleeping on the couch allows him to get a couple of hours unbroken rest. He stick to the pattern, catching a few hours at a time before lying awake once more, questions and anxieties going round in his head. By Saturday, when Shannon calls, he’s stopped bothering to text Mycroft at all. Getting no response is too depressing.

Shannon wants to know when they should come round for dinner. Greg can’t think of a way to tell her it doesn’t look like that’s going to be happening any time soon. He fobs her off, saying he’s busy at work. She buys that excuse, for the moment at least, but Greg knows he’s going to have to make a decision one way or another soon enough. This limbo of uncertainty can’t continue.

 

*

 

On Thursday, at a crime scene, his text alert goes off. He’s in the middle of talking to DC Kowalczyk and doesn’t check immediately, then Harwell comes up with a possible witness and he forgets for a bit.

When he does remember to check, he almost drops his phone in surprise. The text is from Mycroft.

Home tonight, should be arriving 8pm. Shall I pick up dinner? I’ve missed you. MH

He can’t think for a long moment, can’t process what he’s seeing. He doesn’t know how to respond, hundreds of things he wants to say, nothing he can right at this moment.

‘Sir!’ Harwell calls from beside one of the SOCO lot, and Greg puts his phone back into his pocket without replying. He can’t deal with this right now, he has work to do.

By seven he can’t think of anything else. He’s still at work but he’s not achieved anything for the last half hour. In the end Donovan sticks her head round the door. ‘Sir, you look terrible. Go home, try to get some sleep.’ Her voice is sympathetic but firm. Greg nods, rising to his feet.

‘Yeah, OK. See you tomorrow.’ He doesn’t bother to do more than switch off his computer and grab his coat. It takes him a few seconds to figure out how to put it on under the watchful eye of Donovan.

‘Sir,’ she says hesitantly. ‘Is everything OK? At home?’ Greg can’t be bothered to do more than nod, and she purses her lips. ‘Maybe you should take tomorrow off, get some rest.’

Greg shrugs. ‘Maybe. We’ll see.’ He moves past her, closing the door behind him, and Donovan watches him go, shaking her head.

The walk back to the flat does nothing to clear his head, and he still doesn’t know what he’s going to do, going to say, when he gets in the front door. The flat is as he left it this morning, and he feels a slight sense of relief, somewhere under the numb feeling, that he’s got here before Mycroft.

He stands in the kitchen doorway, dithering over what to do. Usually he’d make himself a cup of tea, stick the telly on for some noise, keep it on while he finished up non-confidential paperwork on his laptop. For all that the situation with Mycroft is uncertain, Greg’s been faithfully keeping his resolution to cut his hours physically at work. If the worst comes to the worst it’ll give him a better starting point for his next relationship, he thinks fatalistically.

He considers getting a beer, a glass of whiskey, but ultimately decides alcohol is the last thing he needs. Keeping a clear head will be much more to his advantage.

He wanders aimlessly through to the lounge then back to the kitchen, pulling out a chair and sinking into it. It’s only when he goes to sit down that he realises he still has his coat on. He slings it over the back of the chair next to him and goes back to staring vacantly into space, trying desperately to think of what he’s going to say to Mycroft when he arrives. Nothing’s coming to him, and it’s not until he hears Mycroft’s key in the door and his footsteps coming down the hall that he know what he’s going to say.

‘Where the fuck have you been?’

Mycroft looks shocked by this outburst. He also, to Greg’s expert eye, looks exhausted, deep down weary in a way Greg’s not seen on Mycroft before but recognises all too well from the mirror after a difficult case.

‘Hello to you too.’ Mycroft sounds peeved and a little upset to be greeted this way, but Greg can’t bring himself to feel sorry.

‘You’ve not said a word to me for over two weeks, not even to say hello or tell me where you are, an’ now you come swanning back an’ have the nerve to tell me you’ve missed me? An’ asking about dinner plans, Christ Mycroft, what the hell are you playing at?’

Now Mycroft looks properly irritated. ‘I apologise if I was not in daily contact, but I was involved in high level business and I was unable to access my phone for much of the time. Please excuse me if I was not telling you of my lunch plans from the middle of a communications blackout.’ His voice is frosty and formal in a way that Greg has rarely heard.

Greg can’t believe this excuse. ‘I’m sorry, high level business? Communications blackout? What, top secret plans for new European rail links, was it?’ He can hear the harsh sarcasm in his voice and doesn’t bother to moderate it. He doesn’t believe a word of this.

Mycroft jerks his head back, frustration writ large on his face. ‘For God’s sake Gregory, can we dispense with this ridiculous farce! You know very well what my job entails and that you cannot know all the details. Why is this suddenly a problem?’

‘It’s a problem because you’re lying to me! For Christ’s sake Mycroft, you work for the Department of Transport! That’s hardly top secret stuff there. If you’re going to go to all the trouble of making up excuses for not speaking to me, at least try to make it a little believable!’ He can’t quite keep the hurt out of his voice, but anger is still overshadowing it. He glares at Mycroft, searching for any hint of remorse or discomfort at being caught in such an obvious lie, but Mycroft’s face is suddenly blank.

‘What do you think my job involves then, if not ‘top secret stuff’?’ Mycroft’s voice is as blank as his face, but Greg is too frustrated to reason why.

‘I dunno, something to to with unions and getting rail links approved. I’m guessing here, ‘cos you’ve never actually said, but that doesn’t matter right now. What does matter is the fact that you vanished on me for four weeks an’ hardly bothered to say a word!’ By the end of this, he’s imparting his words with all the worry, fear and anger of the past few weeks. They come out louder than he intended.

A look of dawning realisation begins to creep across Mycroft’s face. ‘Gregory, what relation is Sherlock to me?’

Baffled by the abrupt change in subject, Greg answers without his previous anger. ‘I dunno, first or second cousin, you never said. What has that to do with anything?’

Now Greg can’t read Mycroft’s expression, though it’s no longer blank. There are too many emotions on his face for an instant before he shuts it down once more and resumes his former blank look. ‘Gregory, Sherlock is my younger brother.’

It takes a few seconds for Mycroft’s words to process, then shock blasts all Greg’s other emotion clear away. ‘You’re Sherlock’s brother? I’ve been sleeping with Sherlock’s brother? I’ve been living with Sherlock’s brother? Christ. I suppose I’m lucky I’ve not woken up to you experimenting on me.’ Realising his words, he feels himself blushing a deep red. Truth be told, there have been a few occasions that now looking back… Like the handcuffs. And the syrup…

If Greg didn’t know better he’d say Mycroft’s look is apprehensive. ‘This is shocking to you? You’ve been living with me for the better part of three months.’

Greg groans in reply. ‘Christ, I’ve been sleeping with the British Government for six months. I’ve been hiding the British Government’s underwear.’

Mycroft’s gaze sharpens. ‘I knew it was you! Why on earth have you been doing that?’

Greg looks away sheepishly. ‘I liked the thought of you going commando beneath your posh suits.’ His eyes snap back to Mycroft. ‘This doesn’t change the fact that you lied to me for six months!’

Mycroft huffs. ‘I did not lie. I thought you were fully aware of the situation. How many people do you think are called Mycroft, even in my family?’

‘Sherlock never told me his brother’s name. Your name,’ Greg corrects, ‘All I knew was that his brother was insanely powerful an’ they didn’t get on. I hardly expected to meet him at the singles table at his wedding. An’ you told me you worked in the Department of Transport! A minor position! That hardly equated to ‘insanely powerful’. I thought the best you could do was maybe get me out of a parking ticket.’ Greg’s feeling properly angry once more, not helped by the foolishness he also feels. Christ, these Holmes brothers.

‘Gregory, you are over-reacting. Does it really matter what I do and how I am related to Sherlock?’

‘I am not over-reacting! An’ it’s not about that, it’s about the fact that I’ve been living with someone who’s been lying to me for the last six months!’

‘I was not lying to you! I thought you knew and were just continuing the joke from the wedding!’

It was never a joke! I genuinely thought that’s who you were! Now I find out you’re some dodgy secret government official pulling strings in Whitehall an’ buggering off all over the world at the drop of a hat! Christ knows what you’ve been up to, an’ here I am, worried half sick about you vanishing an’ me being told nothing, thinking you got sick of me an’ my job an’ didn’t know how to tell me. I bet you’ve been laughing up your sleeve about how funny this is the whole time!’ They’ve both been getting louder once more, voices ringing off the tiles and walls. When Mycroft doesn’t respond to Greg’s last accusation, the ringing silence replaces their previously ringing words.

Mycroft is quiet for a long moment. ‘Where does this leave us, then?’ The contrast of his steady, emotionless voice against Greg’s angered half-shouts is marked.

Greg looks at him but can’t get a read from him at all. He sighs, anger draining away. ‘I don’t know. I need some time to think. I’m going to go an’ stay with Shannon for a bit,’ he decides. ‘I’ll let you know.’ Mycroft doesn’t reply, and Greg walks out of the room to pack a bag, anger gone completely as the hurt, embarrassment and disbelief rise to take its place.

As he reaches the door, Mycroft speaks. ‘Gregory.’ His voice is still largely emotionless, but there’s a hint of pleading beneath it. ‘Everything I told you is true. Other than my job and my relationship to Sherlock, I have never lied to you or mislead you, not even by omission.’

Greg pauses for a second, listening. He nods jerkily to show he’s heard, then continues out of the room. Behind him he can hear to scrape of a chair as it’s pulled out and he can imagine Mycroft sitting in it, but he banishes the thought from his brain. He’s hurt, that’s the biggest feeling right now, hurt and embarrassment and shock and a thousand other emotions he can’t untangle.

He arrives on Shannon’s doorstep, bag in hand, and when she opens the door she takes one look at him and hauls him into a hug. ‘Oh Jesus, what happened to you?’

Greg explains, and she very kindly doesn’t say ‘I told you so.’ She gets him some blankets for the couch, makes him some cheese on toast and when he says he just wants to go to sleep, she lets him go without protest.

Work the next day gives him too much time to think. His temper has cooled completely now, and he’s beginning to wonder if he did over-react a bit. In the end, he calls John. ‘Fancy a pint?’

John arrives at the pub looking cheerful. ‘Honeymoon still not worn off yet?’ Greg observes a little sourly. If John had just said something, he and Mycroft might have avoided this misunderstanding.

He sighs. It’s unfair to blame John.

Still.

‘Why didn’t you tell me that I’d gone an’ shacked up with Sherlock’s brother?’

John chokes on his pint. ‘You’ve shacked up with Mycroft? Bloody hell.’ He looks down at his soaked shirt. ‘You’ve got a hell of a way of breaking the news. And what d’you mean, ‘why didn’t I tell you’? You’d think that would be something you could work out for yourself.’ He takes a look at Greg’s face and blows out a long breath. ‘Ok, why don’t you start at the beginning?’

Greg does, telling him about meeting at the wedding, and his assumption that Mycroft was a cousin of Sherlock’s. ‘He told me he worked for the Department of Transport,’ Greg grouses. John looks at him as though it should be obvious.

‘That’s his cover? He can’t very well go about telling everyone he meets he’s the British Government, can he?’

‘Well I hardly expected to meet the British Government at a friend’s wedding! It seemed perfectly reasonable to meet some who worked for the Department of Transport.’

‘And you never thought that Sherlock’s brother, one of the only people in the world called ‘Mycroft’, might be at his wedding?’

‘I didn’t know his name, did I? Sherlock always referred to him as ‘my interfering brother.’ Come to think of it,’ Greg reflects, ‘I didn’t even know he had a brother until almost three years after I met him. I didn’t think they were close; I hardly expected to see him at the wedding.’ He thinks Sherlock also described his brother as ‘gargantuan.’ Whatever else Mycroft may be, overweight he is not.

John frowns. ‘Hang on, didn’t he send you to Baskerville? Surely you spoke to him then?’

Greg grimaces, thinking back, the memory surfacing with little difficulty.

He’s only been back in his flat an hour when his phone rings, called from an unknown number. Greg winces. He’s not even unpacked yet and already they’re summoning him back to work. He sighs and accepts the call. ‘DI Lestrade.’

‘Detective Inspector Lestrade, I am calling on behalf of Mr Holmes.’ The voice on the other end does not seem very friendly.

‘Christ,’ Greg sighs again. ‘Can he not keep out of trouble for one week? What’s Sherlock been up to this time?’

‘You misunderstand.’ The voice doesn’t sound any happier. ‘I am calling on behalf of the other Mr Holmes.’

It takes a moment for that to connect. ‘Oh, the brother, right.’

‘Precisely. Detective Inspector, Mr Holmes feels that his brother may be about to get in over his head. He has -’

‘Hang on, which Mr Holmes are you talking about? Sherlock or – what’s your one’s name? And what’s yours?’

A short silence, then the voice returns. ‘You do not have clearance to know Mr Holmes’ first name.’ The voice is incredibly sure of itself, and equally sure of Greg’s status as a person of lesser importance.

Greg grits his teeth and presses on. ‘Look, be sensible, I could just ask Sherlock his brother’s name.’

The voice returns, even more sure of itself. ‘That would be a very unwise move to make, Detective Inspector. Mr Holmes takes his privacy very seriously, and would not look kindly on anybody making enquiries.’

‘Fine, whatever.’ Greg doesn’t bother masking the exasperation and disgust in his voice. ‘What does this very private person want? Am I actually authorised to know?’

The voice ignores his sarcasm. ‘Mr Holmes would like you to go to Dartmoor and persuade his brother to return to London. He is attempting to get involved with matters that do not concern him, and the Military Police -’

‘Hang on, Military Police? I’ve got no jurisdiction there. Wouldn’t someone else be a better choice? I won’t be able to do much.’

‘Mr Holmes acknowledges your previous success in mediating between his brother and other officials, as well as reining in some of his brother wilder notions, and feels you would be the best person for the job.’

‘So I’m supposed to drop everything to run errands for someone who can’t even be bothered to tell me his name, let alone speak to me in person. Thanks but no thanks, mate.’

‘Detective Inspector.’ The voice sounds incredibly cold now. ‘I don’t think you understand your position. You can either go to Dartmoor, or Mr Holmes will have you suspended, without pay, for as long as he sees fit. Possibly permanently.’

‘Hang on, he can’t do that -’

‘Would you like to test that hypothesis, Detective Inspector?’ The voice sounds unbelievably smug. No stranger to the world of internal politics and favours owed, Greg fumes and acquiesces.

Sherlock, when Greg arrives in Dartmoor, is predictably irritated to see him. ‘I suppose my brother sent you.’

Still angry about the threats that got him out here, Greg’s in no mood to deal with a pissy Sherlock. ‘Yes, your brother sent me, an’ you can tell him from me that next time I won’t just do what he says, an’ he can go ahead and have me suspended.’

Sherlock frowns at him but dismisses his words. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, I never speak to him if I can help it. You’ll have to tell him yourself. But since you’re here, you can make yourself useful.’

Greg brings himself back to the present. ‘No, I never spoke to him directly. Just got told to get my arse down to Dartmoor an’ not ask questions.’

John shrugs. ‘Well, there’s not much I can do for you, mate. You know him better than I do, well, mostly, and it’s you who’s been living with him, so it’s you who has to decide what comes next.’

Greg glowers at John. ‘Some bloody help you are.’

John looks at him patiently. ‘The way I see it, either you can forgive him, get past this and carry on, or you can’t and you find a new place to live.’ He looks away. ‘If I can forgive Sherlock for lying to me for two years about being dead, then lying by accident about his job should be manageable.’

‘It’s not the same,’ is all Greg can manage in response, though there is some sense in John’s words. But once bitten twice shy and all that. His last serious relationship collapsed because one party was telling a constant stream of lies to the other, and to be in that situation again is too much. Maybe it’s his own fault for jumping in so quickly and not having got to know Mycroft fully beforehand, but if they hadn’t, Greg fully believes the relationship would have died long ago from neglect.

‘It’s your choice.’ John’s voice brings Greg back from his wandering thoughts. ‘But if it’s worth anything, the last couple of months you’ve seemed happier than I’ve seen you, well, pretty much ever.’

Greg has to agree there; other than whilst Mycroft was away, he’s not been that happy in a long while. But can it really work if Mycroft’s going to be keeping secrets all the time?

 

*

He spends the next two days buried in work, despite it being the weekend, trying simultaneously not to think about Mycroft and to think of his next move. He can’t stay on Shannon’s couch forever, the flat is really too small for the three of them. He’s not been back to the flat he shares with Mycroft since he walked out Thursday night.

Shannon wants him to talk to Mycroft but Greg’s not quite there yet. His pride is still wounded, as much as anything, stung by the fact that he didn’t notice that he was living with the British Government, or so Sherlock says. But it’s the hurt and anger left over from the almost three weeks of no contact that is the real reason he’s keeping away.

He gets a call on the third day, Monday, dispatch sending him to a body found near in a shopping district, ears, eyelids and lips cut off. Greg doesn’t bother waiting to get to the scene before he calls Sherlock. He has a split second of hesitation about calling but he pushes it aside. His working relationship with Sherlock has nothing to do with his personal relationship with Mycroft, and he’s not going to let one intrude on the other at this point. He’s never seen Mycroft at a crime scene anyway, and as he’s not heard anything from him in three days, Mycroft’s hardly likely to suddenly show up now.

 

*

 

Sod’s law, of course this is the first time Mycroft comes to a crime scene. Well, not so much sod’s law as the fact that they technically have unfinished business, Greg thinks. He knows who it is the instant the black car pulls up, but he’s still not ready to see Mycroft so he keeps his back resolutely turned and his gaze focused firmly on the SOCOs bustling about. Or mostly. He can still see him in the corner of his eye.

Sherlock, crouched by the building wall examining mud or dust or God knows what, immediately stands and stalks over to Mycroft. Watching them interact for the first time, he suddenly gets the family resemblance more strongly. It’s the way they hold themselves, the way Sherlock is absolutely used to being the bratty younger brother, getting away with murder, and Mycroft the long suffering older brother. It’s also the first time Greg realises how open Mycroft’s body language is when he’s talking to Greg. Talking to Sherlock, every expression, every muscle twitch is removed or carefully controlled.

Mycroft says something and makes a gesture Greg can’t interpret, and Sherlock whirls round to flounce back to what he was doing. A moment later Greg sees a figure in his peripheral vision as Mycroft comes to stand beside him.

Neither says anything for a long moment. Eventually Mycroft sighs, breaking the impasse. ‘Have you thought yet?’

Greg still doesn’t look at him. ‘I’ve thought. I’m still thinking. It’s a lot to take in, Mycroft.’

Mycroft’s stance hardly changes, but Greg can sense the wish to fidget. ‘As I said before, I have never intentionally lied to you. Other than in the case of state secrets.’

Greg swings round to face him, and he can feel the immediate prickle as the eyes of every person on the crime scene surreptitiously turn to watch their conversation. He stalls his impulse to snap at them, or at Mycroft, instead jerking his head to a nearby alleyway.

Once out of sight of the crime scene, Greg turns to Mycroft. ‘You may not have lied to me, apart from about state secrets, but the fact that I didn’t even know there were state secrets to be lied about is pretty hard to swallow.’ The anger’s back. He thought he had moved past that portion, but apparently not.

Mycroft looks vaguely impatient. ‘I’m sorry if you feel that this omission greatly affects our relationship, but the truth is that nothing has really changed. You still would not know what it is I do day to day, I would still lie when it came to state secrets, and we would continue to have a mutually beneficial intimate relationship. Other than you realising my official capacity and my actual job have little in common, nothing will have changed. I’m surprised you didn’t notice the discrepancy, to be honest.’ Mycroft’s tone turns from snappishly annoyed and mildly condescending to sharply regretful as he realises his words. ‘Ah, I’m sorry, Gregory, I did not mean...’

Greg doesn’t look at him. ‘Yeah, I know I’m not an all seeing Holmes. Stupid me, thinking a bloke I met at a wedding actually did the job he said he did. How could I not see you did more than talk to union reps an’ plan which bit of the country was going to get new trains. It should have been obvious from your tie, or your car, or your sodding fountain pen. It must have been unbearable, waiting for me to catch on, so slow compared to you. I dunno how you managed.’

Greg can almost feel Mycroft’s pained exhale, the wince as he squeezes his eyes closed. ‘I am sorry, Gregory. I do not think you stupid. I should have realised earlier that you didn’t know, but in my defence, our agreement not to talk about work and the enjoyment I gained from being in your company, being seen as ordinary by someone, kept me as in the dark as you. I truly regret that you found out like this, that we had this misunderstanding and you feel that you cannot trust what I say, but I never deliberately mislead you. Being with you has been the single most pleasurable period of my life, and if, when you are finished thinking, if you find it in yourself to give us another chance, you will find me willing to try to mend this. Do you think this might be on the cards?’

The anger has drained out of Greg once more at Mycroft’s words, and he stares at the brick wall of the alley as he processes what Mycroft is saying. The hurt, the embarrassment still hasn’t left, and he refuses to show Mycroft his thoughts right now. The silence stretches out as Greg struggles to find something to say. He’s not dismissing it out of hand, but he still needs time to think.

Mycroft apparently takes his silence to be a negative answer. He turns away from Greg slightly, facing back out of the alley. ‘I understand. I shan't keep you, you have a crime scene to oversee. If you let me know when you will be by to pick up your things -’ He breaks off as Greg, still not looking at him, grabs Mycroft’s arm.

‘I’m still thinking, OK? It’s not a yes, not right now, but it’s not a no either. Just give me a few days, OK?’ Greg blows out a breath. ‘It’s a lot to take in, it’s going to take me a bit to figure out, but it’s not a no. Just give me some time, OK?’

Mycroft pauses, and Greg risks a slight glance back at him in time to see him swallow and give a tiny nod, before he tugs his arm free from Greg’s grasp and strides out of the alley, back to the waiting car. Greg takes a moment before he follows. He’s bought himself some time, but he’s not entirely sure it’s going to help.

 

*

 

It takes another three days before Greg makes the journey to the flat he used to (will again?) share with Mycroft. He’s tired; the case he was working on when Mycroft came to talk to him exploded and concluded in two fast paced days, as tends to be the case when working with Sherlock. Greg spent the previous evening crouched in a boarded up corner shop, waiting for Sherlock’s signal to spring the trap. Today he started on the mountain of paperwork required to cross all the T’s, make sure all the evidence can be seen by people other than Sherlock, ensure that they get a conviction when the time comes. His mind has been filled with things to do from morning til evening, and he’s hardly thought about Mycroft at all. Well, not very much.

Still, the change of focus has allowed his mind to work through his feelings, thoughts and fears, and he now feels ready to talk to Mycroft without losing his direction. However, thinking about it, he probably should have texted to see if Mycroft is home and willing to speak to him before just showing up. Too late now.

Greg hears footsteps from inside the flat and a second later Mycroft opens the door and blinks to find Greg on the doorstep. ‘Why did you ring the bell? Did you forget your key?’

Greg resists the urge to shuffle his feet like a schoolboy. ‘I didn’t, but… wasn’t sure how pleased you’d be to see me. Didn’t want to come barging in.’

Mycroft gives a slight nod and moves back so Greg can enter. It’s only been a week, but it still feels odd to be back in the flat. He kicks off his shoes on autopilot, then realises what he’s done. It would be strange to put them back on so quickly so he just has to go with it, taking off his coat too. ‘Look, can we talk?’

Mycroft’s eyes are cautious as he nods again. ‘Shall we go into the sitting room? Would you like some tea?’

Greg nods, and Mycroft pauses a moment to study him before heading to the kitchen. Greg makes his way to the lounge. The room is exactly as he last saw it, down to the pile of DVDs by the TV and his Arsenal hoodie on the back of the couch. Doesn’t look like Mycroft’s been in here much.

Mycroft returns with a tray. It’s the first clear sign Greg’s seen that Mycroft is finding this as awkward as Greg. He’s brought out his favourite tea set and all the bits and pieces.

The ritual poring of the tea seems to do nothing to help steady Mycroft. Greg can see his apprehension in every move, the way he’s fallen back into the ingrained measured performance of the tea ceremony. Watching him does nothing to calm Greg either. It’s going to be a difficult conversation no matter what, and seeing Mycroft armour himself mentally before they begin is not helping.

When they both have cups and the appropriate amount of milk and sugar has been added to each, Greg sits back on the couch. Mycroft, at the other end, mimics his posture. Neither speaks for a long moment.

‘I’m sorry.’ The words are out before Greg has time to process. ‘I’m sorry that I over-reacted an’ went storming off like a tit instead of talking to you.’ Greg realises he’s been staring at his tea and forces himself to look up and meet Mycroft’s eyes. ‘I shouldn’t have done that, an’ I shouldn’t have then let pride an’ anger stop me from talking to you for a week.’

Mycroft’s eyes are shuttered and closed off, but Greg still gets a feeling of surprise radiating from him. He pauses to let Mycroft speak, but Mycroft is in his ‘gathering all the facts’ mode and doesn’t say anything. Greg pushes on. ‘I was upset that you didn’t tell me you were going to be away for so long, an’ that you didn’t text or call for three weeks, an’ I’m still a bit upset about that, but I’m sorry that I lost it over your job.’ He cracks out a humourless half laugh. ‘I should have guessed really, the signs were all there, an’ when they were pointed out to me it just hit me how stupid I’d been. On top of the insecurity over not having heard from you, it was a bit much. But there was no call to go off on you, it wasn’t your fault I got the wrong end of the stick, an’ I’m sorry that I did.’ He winds to a halt, and as the silence extends, he just hopes Mycroft will accept his apology.

Mycroft’s stiff nod is slow in coming. ‘Very well, I accept your apology. I must say that I feel I in turn could have handled things better myself. I was too quick to dismiss your concerns in the hopes of making an easy reconciliation.’ He swallows and looks to his tea, struggling for a moment. ‘I missed you immeasurably, and I wanted only to put it behind us and return to normal.’

Seeing Mycroft putting himself in a more vulnerable position by lowering his defences and admitting to missing Greg helps abate the last lingering remnants of Greg’s anger. Mycroft isn’t usually particularly open with his feelings, but if he’s willing to admit that he was in the wrong too, that helps Greg believe they may be able to fix this.

‘I missed you too, Mycroft.’ Greg can’t help it if his voice is a little gruff at the admission. He sighs. ‘But that’s not really the problem. Well, it’s part of it, but not all of it. An’ it’s not the fact that I mistook your job.’

‘Then what is the problem?’ Mycroft sets his tea cup aside and stares directly into Greg’s eyes. ‘Gregory, really, what has changed? I still cannot talk about the specifics of my job, and our hours of work will remain the same. The only different will be that you understand why I don’t talk about what it is I do all day.’ He pauses and appears to be struggling for words again. ‘The most important part, the part that is you and I reading on the sofa at the end of the day, eating dinner together and arguing about who’s turn it is to do the washing up and whether or not necromancy could ever be used for good purposes -’ Greg smiles involuntarily at the memory of that argument, ridiculous as it was ‘- that part will remain the same.’

Greg nods. ‘Yeah, I think I’m starting to get that now.’ He sighs. ‘It’s just, my last relationship ended up crashing an’ burning because one person thought it was OK to keep secrets an’ tell lies to the other. I don’t want this one to go the same way.’

Mycroft is silent for a moment. ‘You are talking about your ex wife, are you not?’ He continues without waiting for Greg’s confirmation. ‘I assume she is the one who kept the secrets and told the lies. But you were happily married for seven years before you began experiencing problems, and as she did not work for the Metropolitan Police, I also assume that during that time you did not speak to her of the precise details of your work. It was only later, when you began working longer hours, that things began to deteriorate. How is this situation different?’

Greg nods slowly. ‘I do get that, that there’s a difference between personal an’ professional secrets. But where they collide, then what happens? You vanished, Mycroft. Completely. I had no idea where you where, if you were OK or even alive. You didn’t contact me at all, an’ yeah, I know, there was a communications black out, but you could have had your assistant drop me a line. And what about next time? Is it going to be the same story, and I’m left sitting here wondering when or if you’ll be back?’ He has to swallow a lump in his throat at that thought.

Mycroft looks discomforted. ‘I realise, with hindsight, that I could have handled that better. My only excuse is that I am unused to people waiting for me on a personal level. In the future I will do my best to get word to you, one way or another. But I rarely do fieldwork any more, any travel I do is almost always for meetings. There is very little risk on these trips.’

Both of them are silent, thinking. Greg can see Mycroft’s point, and he wants to acknowledge it, to say fine, I accept that, we can carry on as we were before and believe Mycroft’s assurances, but he can’t quite get there. Part of him is still waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it did all through his marriage, despite the fact that it would seem to many as though it already has.

Mycroft is still quiet, and to Greg’s somewhat expert eye it looks as though he’s trying to work something out. ‘My people contacted you to go to Dartmoor on my behalf. Did they not mention my name at all?’

The change in topic hardly throws Greg, having already had this from John. ‘I was told I wasn’t authorised to know your name an’ that if I asked around I’d be suspended without pay.’ The ghost of long forgotten resentment rises again, but Greg squashes it quickly. That’s over and done, not part of this conversation at all.

Mycroft closes his eyes, looking pained. ‘Ah. That was just after I had returned from some fieldwork that did not go particularity well. I fear my team may have been a little… over-zealous in their desire to protect me and avoid possible… reprisals.’

Knowing what he knows now, Greg can read between the lines of that statement. ‘Were you in hospital? Is that why you couldn’t go to Dartmoor?’ Even though it’s long in the past, he can help the flicker of worry that rises at the thought of Mycroft hurt.

‘Only briefly, my dear.’ Greg must not have hidden the worry too well if Mycroft can see it. ‘It took me a little while to fully recuperate, but I was able to go home in short order.’

Knowing what he knows now, Greg can read between the lines of that statement too. ‘Back to work, you mean.’ Mycroft nods.

‘Unfortunately it was not a time in which I could afford to be absent for many days, or to show any weakness. This may also have played into the treatment you received from my staff.’

Any lingering resentment dies under the worry Greg’s still feeling. ‘But you’re OK now, right? No permanent damage?’
The smile he receives is one of his favourites of Mycroft’s, the warm, affectionate one with a hint of surprised happiness. ‘I’m fine now, Gregory. It was a long while ago. Nothing to worry about.’

Greg reaches over and squeezes Mycroft’s hand, the first time they’ve touched since Greg arrived. ‘Good.’ He leaves it at that, and leaves his hand where it is. After a moment, Mycroft’s hand twists round to take his and squeeze it back.

The moment is broken by the sound of Greg’s stomach rumbling. ‘Sorry,’ he says, a little embarrassed. ‘Forgot to have dinner.’

Mycroft lets go of his hand. ‘I have not yet eaten. Would you like to join me?’

Greg agrees, texting Shannon quickly to let her know what he’s up to. Her reply is cautiously encouraging. She’s been telling him for the last few days to talk to Mycroft, but at the same time she can’t help reminding him not to move too quickly. Again.

Mycroft begins the preparation for making omelettes, one of the basics Greg taught him. The silence in the kitchen is a little awkward, but not drastically so. Mycroft asks about the court case Greg was preparing for before he left, and Greg tells him bits and pieces. When he stops himself, Mycroft shoots him a slightly exasperated look. ‘Gregory, I could find this information out myself with one phone call. I have access to state secrets. I think you can give me the full details, should you wish so.’

Greg has to stop himself giving a sarcastic answer. ‘Suppose.’ He’s silent for a moment before beginning to speak again, filling in the details he left out before. It’s unusual, talking this freely to someone who’s not a colleague. It’ll take some getting used to, knowing that I can talk about it to him. He doesn’t examine that thought and the idea behind it that he will be talking to Mycroft about work.

The omelettes are soon ready and they eat at the kitchen table. It feels very right to be doing this, sitting talking to Mycroft once more. Like coming in the door and putting on an old jumper; comfortable and familiar, it says absolutely you are home.

The leave the plates in the sink and wander back to the lounge. Mycroft makes a face at the tepid tea still left out and returns to the kitchen to make a fresh pot. When he comes back they sort out cups once more, mirroring Greg’s arrival not that long ago, but their positions on the couch and more comfortable body language speaks volumes about the change in attitude.

They sip tea for a while before Mycroft asks the question. ‘So where does this leave us?’

Greg doesn’t know, and he says as much. ‘The way I see it, there’s three options. One, we end this now and go our separate ways.’ Mycroft’s face goes blank at that suggestion, and Greg thinks Mycroft likes the idea as little as he himself does. He forges on. ‘Two, I move out an’ we go back to dating, see if we can do things at a slower pace.’ Mycroft’s expression doesn’t change. ‘Or three, we go back to the way things were before.’

Mycroft nods in consideration. ‘ And do you have a strong partiality for any particular option?’ He’s giving nothing away, and Greg has never before appreciated just how non-verbally communicative Mycroft usually is with him.

‘Well, let’s talk through them. Number one, ending this completely. Can’t say I’m too keen on that. Other than this last week, I’d say we’ve been doing pretty well together. I like you a lot, an’ I think throwing this away cos of a misunderstanding and the possibility of further problems down the line would be short sighted.’ He waits to see if Mycroft wants to add anything, but no response is forthcoming so he carries on. ‘Two, me moving out. On the one hand, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to step back a little, re-evaluate how things are going an’ what we want. Some space to deal with the changes. On the other hand, neither of our work situations are going to change. I’m still going to be working long hours, you’re still going to be all over the place, schedule wise. The original reason for us moving in together, the fact that we never saw each other, that still stands.’

Mycroft breaks in. ‘I cannot see either of our schedules changing any time soon. We may end up inadvertently talking a step back, moving from a satisfying emotional and physical relationship to a hurried and sporadic series of meetings based mostly around sex.

Well then. That gives Greg a pretty strong idea as to how Mycroft wants this conversation to end. Never the less, he pushes on. ‘Option three, we carry on as before. Again, on the one hand, neither of our work schedules are going to change, so being in close proximity will mean we’re able to deal with this quickly, and less chance of drifting apart. On the other hand, we might end up glossing over it in order to ‘fix things’, an’ end up having problems later on.’

Mycroft nods. ‘I see your point, but as you said, throwing this away because of possible future problems seems short sighted. Surely if we both go into this with an understanding of where we need to exert caution, we can stop them before they begin.’

Greg sighs. He sees Mycroft’s point, he has to, but he can’t stop himself from worrying. Truthfully, in his heart of hearts, he wants things back they way they were before. Now the feelings of foolishness and anger have died down, he can admit it to himself. He misses coming home to someone who’s there for him, misses chatting at the end of the day, misses going to sleep and waking up with someone. No, not with someone. With Mycroft. He misses Mycroft.

There’s still some lingering hurt, but he’s rational enough to know the reason for Mycroft’s actions. As Mycroft said, he’s not used to having someone waiting for him on a personal level. And as Greg’s observed throughout his association with Mycroft, Mycroft is not used to having people care about him. Not calling Greg while he was away, that was probably an oversight brought on by inexperience.

On top of this, Greg is aware that his own behaviour in the past month or so has not been the absolute ideal. Hiding from his feelings in work? Surely he should be past that by now.

In a sudden moment of understanding, he wonders if Mycroft stayed away for the same reason. Before he can talk himself out of it, he speaks. ‘You know just before you went away, when I kept staying late at work?’

‘For paperwork, yes. I realise now why you felt you could not bring it home, but I assure you Gregory, that I -’

Greg stops him before he can continue. ‘’M not talking about that. Really, if I’d thought about it even then I could have done as you suggested an’ brought some of the non confidential stuff home. But that’s not what I wanted to say.’ He takes a breath. ‘There was another reason I was staying late.’

Hurt flashes over Mycroft’s face, there and gone in a fraction of a second before he locks down his expression. Greg sees it however, and pushes on quickly. ‘It’s not a bad thing, well, I shouldn’t have really done it, but -’ He breaks off, reorders his thoughts. ‘Look, part of the reason I did it was because I didn’t want to admit something to myself an’ I thought if I stayed away from you, it might go away.’

Mycroft’s expression is still blank, and Greg doesn’t know if he’s making things better or worse. Still, only way is forward now, so he carries on. ‘ Well, not actually go away. Maybe slow down for a bit. There’s something I’ve been wanting to tell you for a while, about how I feel about you, an’ I thought it was too soon. It is too soon, even though we moved in together quickly, we don’t need to rush everything. So I kind of… hid. At work. Hoping I could figure out what to do. But instead I hurt you, an’ it didn’t help, cos that weekend I just started feeling it more.’ He finishes, unsure if he’s got his point across.

Mycroft looks confused. ‘Gregory, what are you trying to say to me?’

Greg takes a deep breath and rushes it out before he can change his mind. ‘Was tryin’ to say that I love you, Mycroft Holmes.’

Mycroft’s expression id stunned. ‘...Ah,’ he says at last.

Now Greg is holding his breath, teetering on a knife edge of uncertainty as he waits for Mycroft to speak. It could fall either way.

‘You love me. And because of this, you hid at work and made me think that perhaps you were no longer interested in me.’ Mycroft is giving little away as he speaks.

Relief and apprehension wash through Greg. Mycroft understands what he’s trying to say. ‘Yes. I did. I was scared of how fast I was moving, so I stopped talking to you… ‘M sorry it happened, an’ that you thought I was sick of you. ‘M definitely not.’ Now it’s come to it, he can’t actually bring himself to ask Mycroft if he feels the same, if he avoided Greg for the same reasons. He waits, hoping and dreading.

‘And you are wondering, no doubt, if I feel the same.’ At Mycroft’s words, his tone giving nothing away, Greg feels his heart sink. It’s fine, not yet doesn’t necessarily mean not ever.

‘’S fine if you don’t,’ he hurries to reassure Mycroft. ‘There’s no pressure. I just thought, since we’re being honest and trying to decide where we go, I should let you know where I stand.’

Mycroft doesn’t speak for a long moment. When he does, his voice is quiet and hesitant. ‘I have never been the most demonstrative of people. My family was not one to encourage displays of emotion. I fear, in my adult life, that this has lead to my inability to form connections on a personal level beyond the physical. You are the first person in a long time with whom I have had a proper relationship, and I find that I am more than somewhat out of practise. As I said before, I am not used to having someone waiting at home for me. That, however, is only part of the reason I did not contact you. I think you have guessed that I, too, was hiding from my feelings towards you. When you started coming home later, I was upset and hurt, and I am unused to having to manage that. I worried that your emotions were not as deeply engaged as my own, and I pulled back in order to shore up my defences and protect my heart. Unfortunately, moderation is not my strong suit,’ here Mycroft looks depreciative, ‘and I took it too far, hurting you in the process.’

Greg feels the beginnings of a smile try to break onto his face, and he controls it. ‘So we both worried we were moving too fast, both tried to pull back and accidentally hurt the other, and both feel bad about that and want the relationship to continue.’

Mycroft looks thoughtful. ‘I think that sums it up. So, once again, where does this leave us?’

Greg lets the smile break fully onto his face. ‘I think, Mr Holmes, that the solution is obvious.’ Mycroft looks questioning, and Greg continues. ‘Let’s move in together.’ He feels buoyant. It’s not a declaration, not yet, still too soon, but it’s on the way.

Mycroft looks wary. ‘Are you certain, Gregory? We moved fast the first time, and there are still issues to be resolved. Are you certain you do not want to take more time to evaluate things?’

Greg tries to get his smile under control. ‘Yeah, there are, but I think we can work on them better if we’re seeing each other daily. We need to improve our communication, an’ it’s difficult to do that if we’re only seeing each other once or twice a week at most. An’, well, someone told me I’ve been looking happier recently than I have in a long time, an’ it’s true. Being with you has been the best thing that’s happened to me for ages. Maybe we did move a bit fast, but I don’t want to throw it away for someone else’s idea of what should be an appropriate amount of time. If you want to step back, re-evaluate, then we will, an’ we’ll sort this out. But I’m not giving up any time soon.’

‘Well then.’ A smile is beginning to grow on Mycroft’s face too, and Greg’s heart gives a couple of extra hard beats at the sight. ‘If there is the possibility of coming home and finding you there, how can I refuse?’

 

*

 

Greg keys this week’s code into the pad by the door then unlocks it with his key. Shutting it behind him and toeing off his shoes, he calls out. ‘Mycroft? You home?’

Mycroft emerges from the kitchen, sleeves rolled up. ‘I am indeed. Hello Gregory, how was your day?’

Greg delays answering in favour of kissing Mycroft hello. ‘Good,’ he says as he pulls back. ‘Caught the bastard who’s been spray painting hate speech all over Brixton. Hopefully we’ve got enough to make something stick. How was yours?’

Mycroft leans in for his own kiss. ‘Fair. Though there is a situation I have my eye on that may mean I have to go back to the office later.’

They move through to the kitchen where Mycroft has leftover curry from the freezer heating up. Greg fetches them both a beer, and they chat about the smaller points of their respective days.

In the six months since they decided to carry on with the relationship, there have been ups and downs. Mycroft occasionally withholds too much, and Greg has had to learn that just because Mycroft is keeping secrets, it doesn’t mean they affect their private lives. But ultimately they are still talking, sharing things and learning to trust each other. The last two months have been pretty smooth, and Greg can’t imagine either of them falling back into the place where they feel they have to hide their emotions. ‘I love you’ is a phrase used sparingly in their home, but the little gestures between them show it just as clearly.

As they sit down to dinner, Greg can’t help but think how grateful he is to have Mycroft there in his life every day. If they hadn’t been seated beside each other at Sherlock and John’s wedding, he would have missed out on meeting this wonderful man. Though the progression of their relationship may have been faster than conventional, it has grown strong and deep in the short time, and Greg believes it will only become more so.

His mind drifts to the small box and the contents within, hidden in his desk at work, the one place Mycroft is guaranteed not to find it. He wonders what Mycroft would say if he asked. Not yet though.

As Mycroft begins to tell him about an outdoor concert in one of the parks this weekend, his face lighting up in enthusiasm, Greg brings his thoughts back, shutting out the stray musing for the moment.

It is too soon, isn’t it?