America was...fine. Large, loud and a mixing pot of cultures, races, influences and food. Some of the latter was marvelous, some of it left much to be desired. In the past seven months that he'd been serving at Her Majesty's pleasure here in the former colony, Mycroft had experienced many wonderful and many tragic examples of world cuisine. He had dined at state dinners, private meals, catered affairs and in many a carefully staged photo opportunity.
His absolute favourite thing so far, however, had proved to be Southern Fried chicken. Not just any fried chicken, no. But the delicious buttermilk and spice coated bits of heaven to be found at the soul food restaurant a block from his D.C. flat. There were other delicious items but his preference was for the chicken. It was only with great personal fortitude that Mycroft resisted eating there more than once a month. That he sometimes sent his PA on a stealth mission for chicken when he was unusually stressed was a secret. Manfully, he restrained himself from personal visits to once every thirty days, regular as clockwork.
Until a particularly trying day spent running interference between the orangutan the Americans had voted into office and the especially dim example currently occupying the spot of Prime Minister. It was a day that screamed out for co fort, and Mycroft obeyed the bidding of his stomach and his soul.
It was a Friday, the beginning of summer (dear God, how did Americans bear the humidity?) and the day had been fruitless and frustrating. So Mycroft decided to indulge his need for comfort. That's what soul food was after all, comfort eating. He'd never been in on a Friday before, and was distressed at how busy the restaurant was. Mycroft's need for chicken outweighed his desire to flee and when a seat opened up at the counter, he snagged it. He was willing to rub elbows with sweaty strangers if it meant he got his food. There would be a wait, he was told, so ordered an iced tea and buttery American biscuit to hold him over.
There was a combo setting up in the corner and he frowned. Perhaps he should see if the server would amend their "no orders to go on Friday nights" rule. He had no desire to be subjected to banjo twanging and some sort of low-rent hoe-down. His mind was delightfully changed when the men began playing. A keyboardist, bass player, a fiddle and a guitar player who stepped up to the mic and stole Mycroft's heart. He was...beautiful. Incandescent. A silver-haired beauty with the rough voice of a fallen angel and a sexy smile which promised unearthly delights.
Riveted, Mycroft forgot to eat his biscuit. He did, however, drink the tea, because he was suddenly very, very thirsty.
So good was the combo, so mesmerizing the singer, that Mycroft nearly neglected to eat his chicken. But only nearly. It was heavenly and deserved proper appreciation. Mycroft devoured his succulent chicken, hot eyes on the radiant sex god. The combination was transcendent. Chicken consumed, Mycroft absent-mindedly licked his fingers clean. While he had feared the music would be akin to an aural assault, the combo had more going for them than their glorious lead singer.
Wary of being asked to vacate his seat for another patron, Mycroft ordered yet more chicken. His gluttony would be of use to succor his fraught sexual hunger. For indeed it was mighty.
The second set ended as he was enjoying the last of his food, and Mycroft clapped messy hands along with the other diners. He was asking the server for his bill when he felt a tap on his shoulder. The last thing he expected when he turned was to see the beautiful man, guitar case slung over his shoulder, smiling at him. Shoving both hands a bit bashfully in his pockets, the Sex God ducked his chin, "Uh, hi...I'm Greg." He looked up from under his fringe, "I saw you watching me and I, god, I don't normally do this, but would you...like to join me for a drink?"
Just as surprised by the man's unexpected English accent as he was by the offer, he found himself unable to answer for a moment. "I'm Mycroft," he finally said, "and I'd love to."
They talked all night.
Mycroft, it must be confessed, had a secret love of rom-coms. He was the least romantic or frivolous person one could imagine, but owned a massive collection of DVDs, as well as a bookcase groaning with vintage Mills & Boon paperbacks. In the darkest of times he has always turned to old movies and dusty books for comfort. Never did he imagine his life ever leading to being approached by a handsome stranger and courted over the course of one magical night. It was something straight out of the most Hallmark of movies and he adored it.
Greg was a musician, but only on the weekends. During the week he's a criminal justice lecturer at Georgetown. "Still not sure how it happened," he admitted, smiling at Mycroft as they ambled down the sidewalk. "I'm a cop with the Met back in London, but I was feeling burned out." Following a series of brutal homicides during which he'd nearly lost his life when confronting the serial killer his team had been chasing, Greg had been advised to take a sabbatical. An old colleague had found out he was at loose ends and offered to introduce him to someone in America who they knew was looking for a guest lecturer. "I'm only here for the rest of the summer," Greg told Mycroft, "Then it's back to the real world. How about you, what brings you to D.C.?"
Mycroft told him a mostly true, if slightly redacted, tale of how he'd come to be in America's political chopping house. "I too, will be here through the summer," he told Greg, trying not to blush. It sounded as if he were hinting that they should see one another again. Which he was , but it felt bold.
"Brilliant," Greg smiled, "So if I were to ask you for a second date I wouldn't have to worry I'd never see you again."
"A second date?" Mycroft asked, delight fluttering in him.
Greg stopped, lights from the passing cars gliding over him, changing the hue of his hair, "I'm clearly not doing a good job with this date of you're in any doubt." Shifting his guitar case, he stepped closer and smiled at Mycroft. "I'm gonna kiss you now. That alright?"
"Please do," Mycroft sighed, and curled his hand around Greg's bicep as they kissed. The busy world receded around them and all he was aware of was the heat and delicious taste of Greg's lips against his. The kiss didn't last long, but it settled something between them. Now, when they resumed ambling down the street, their hands were linked; Mycroft found himself unable to stop smiling. Greg, he was happy to note, seemed to be in the same boat.
"How'd you like to have a drink, chat a bit?" Greg asked, tugging lightly at Mycroft's hand. He nodded towards a narrow entry, "I know the bartender here, I can stash my guitar, buy you a beer...or whatever you fancy."
"I fancy you," Mycroft blurted and wanted to die. Greg grinned ear to ear and set his guitar case abruptly down so he could capture Mycroft's face in both his hands. This kiss was considerably hotter and went on for longer. So much so that there were a few teasing catcalls and a wolf whistle. "Get a room!" shouted a jocular American voice. "We're...causing a scene," Mycroft murmured. He didn't entirely mind. It felt fantastic to kiss Greg and for the world to see him be desired by such a very good-looking man.
"Inside," Greg suggested, and pulled a willing Mycroft through the doorway into a dark pub. It was cool, refreshing with blessed air con, and not terribly loud. A jazz pianist was playing on a tiny stage under a blue light. Tiny two top tables were crowded in the small space, most of them filled. Greg pointed him towards an empty table and returned with two beers. Thighs pressed together, the two of them sipped their pints and made easy conversation punctuated by the soft flow of the piano. Greg was not only handsome, but brave and kind and modest. There was much he didn't say, but Mycroft could read between the lines. There was no sense of him holding back, or trying to present an untrue picture. If anything he painted too modest an image of his accomplishments and honours.
Mycroft tried to be as truthful as possible without being indiscreet. As tempting as it was to pretend he was far cooler and more suave than the reality, he avoided puffing himself up.
They ordered a second round, and when the pianist took a break, the bartender came to ask if Greg would like to step in for fifteen minutes? "Thanks, mate," Greg said, gesturing at Mycroft, "but I'm on a date."
"I don't mind," he assured Greg. When Greg politely refused a second plea, Mycroft took a look at Greg's regretful face and the bartender's disappointment. "Perhaps I could accompany you?" He rashly suggested. "I play the piano...if we know a mutual song?" They did, it turned out, know several. They also, Mycroft was happy to note, played well together. Hey Jude was always a hit, Mycroft had learned at parties in his university days and it proved to be so now. The crowd seemed receptive so they played Let It Be with Greg wailing out the lyrics and Mycroft falling a bit in love with this joyful man. They bowed rather sheepishly to the enthusiastic applause and retook their seats.
"That was great," Greg enthused, gulping at his beer. He squeezed Mycroft's bare forearm (his sleeves having been rolled up due to heat and piano playing), "You're even more gorgeous when you're playing."
Mycroft swallowed his automatic objection; nothing about Greg's expression or tone suggested he was lying. He truly seemed to find Mycroft attractive. Maybe to Greg he was gorgeous. "Not nearly as beautiful as yourself when you're singing and playing so soulfully," he refuted, and basked in Greg's bashful smile.
They ended up closing the pub down, and as they lingered on the pavement after, Mycroft worked himself up to asking for his number. "I know you just ate," Greg said, "but I'm starving, fancy a bite?"
Mycroft glanced at his watch, "Good Lord, that's been ages. We left the restaurant six hours ago!"
Greg was visibly crushed." Oh," he said, deflated. " Yeah, right. Sorry...didn't mean to monopolize your night. I'm sure you're tired--"
"I'm starving as well," Mycroft said, smiling at him. "You said something about grabbing a bite to eat?"
Greg glowed, "Yeah." The all-night diner Greg knew of proved a winner. Greg ate a stack of pancakes bigger than his head, with a double order of bacon and drank endless cups of coffee. Mycroft had a burger, chips and a strawberry milkshake so cold it made his teeth ache. They stole food from one another's plates and talked for hours. Once they were full they lingered over coffee, elbows on the table, smiling into each other's eyes. It had never been so easy getting to know someone, ever.
As dawn neared they grew a little sleepy, but each was unwilling to call it a night. Trying to shake off the effects of the late hour and their full stomachs, Mycroft proposed a walk along the Potomac. Despite spending so much time together they neither one ran out of things to say, often their words tumbled over each other, eager to spill all. As the sun rose, they sat on the steps of the Washington Monument, holding hands as if it were second nature. The air was beginning to come alive with the sounds of early morning traffic and birdsong. Eventually they fell silent, and after a few minutes Greg let his head come to rest on Mycroft's shoulder. Tenderly he brushed his hand over Greg's hair. "Tired?"
"Yeah," Greg admitted reluctantly. "'m not ready for the night to end."
"I confess to feeling the same," Mycroft sighed, letting his head rest on Greg's. "But I can scarcely keep my eyes open."
Greg was wistful, "Wish you could come back to mine." Mycroft's breath hitched as the possibility dazzled him. He'd wanted to suggest something similar bit been afraid of how it would come across. "Just to sleep!" Greg blurted, sitting up, face red, "I don't expect anything more--not yet. I mean! I mean…I'd, well, like to know you'd be there in the morning. Make you breakfast."
Mycroft couldn't cease smiling. "It sounds lovely," he agreed.
And it was.
What happened after the perfect first date? Surely nothing can live up to the magic they experienced.
This chapter is a gift for Lady_Cleo, who asked about what happened after their date.
Greg woke first, aware that he'd slept wonderfully, and that his arms were currently full of warm, sleepy Mycroft. Nuzzling the flyaway curl on Mycroft's forehead, he whispered, "Hey, you awake?"
"Mmm," Mycroft hummed, letting his hand rub softly down Greg's t-shirt clad back. "I was just dreaming about the most wonderful man."
Greg's grin was wider than the bed they were lying in. "Oh? Anyone I know?"
"Handsome, dark, tall...well, tallish."
Mycroft shook with laughter, and Greg pretended to grapple with him. They tussled, both beaming, until Mycroft had him pinned (Greg didn't put up much of a fight), and they stared at one another, breathless.
"I had a wonderful night with you," Greg whispered.
"The most wonderful night of my life," Mycroft agreed, dropping his face until he could brush his nose lightly against the tip of Greg's. "I woke at some point and I almost couldn't sleep again, I was so happy."
"Aw, Mycroft..." Greg framed his face in his hands and kissed him softly. They'd fallen asleep on his bed watching Sixteen Candles, both exhausted from their emotional and eventful night. He'd never had such a chaste first night with someone, and his heart threatened to burst from his chest.
They lingered in bed, hugging and kissing, until Greg's bladder finally lured him from bed. Mycroft yawned, and Greg leaned over to press a kiss on his forehead, "Why don't you try to catch some more sleep, and I'll make us breakfast?"
His studio was not really equipped for privacy, but Greg was quiet and methodical as he moved around the kitchenette, preparing breakfast. He'd just done the shopping a few days before, and his fridge was well-stocked. He was quite pleased with the final results; there were even fresh strawberries and mint leaves to garnish the plate with, and he brewed coffee and poured orange juice, wishing he had a tray.
Mycroft was delighted when he began ferrying food and beverages to the bed, "What's this?"
"Grilled brie and Nutella sandwiches," Greg said proudly, handing him a napkin and fork as well. "I'm afraid I don't drink tea, but I have coffee and juice.
Mycroft blinked drowsily, "I'll take coffee to start." He took a bite and a positively indecent noise escaped, "Oh my Lord."
"Good?" Greg asked breathlessly.
"Incredible," Mycroft shook his head, eyes wondering. "Am I asleep and dreaming? Are you real?"
"This," Greg said huskily, leaning over to kiss him, "is very real...the realest thing I've ever known."
Mycroft pulled him back by the neck of his t-shirt when he would have pulled away, "I'm not sure what I've done to deserve you, but I shall thank the universe properly later."
Following breakfast, they lazed about the house, until Greg suggested they walk down the block to the parking lot of a nearby church where there was a farmer's market. "Maybe get something fresh for dinner...I'd like to cook for you again."
"I'm glad we're walking," Mycroft said ruefully, combing his hair, "at this rate I'll gain ten pounds before Monday."
"You're perfect," Greg vowed, kissing him again, because he just couldn't help it.
It was all perfect--a perfect weekend. They didn't tire of one another's company. Not then, and not for the next four months they were both in D.C. When politicos were being impossible, Mycroft would stretch out on the sofa, his head in Greg's lap, as Greg read aloud from Mycroft's huge collection of Mills & Boon paperbacks. At first he'd been a bit embarrassed about his love for the silly romances, but Greg thought it was adorable, as he seemed to think everything about Mycroft was.
It didn't end there. When they were back in London the romance remained perfect in every way. It was truly a model romance; even Anthea admitted it.