It’s their third date, and things are going spectacularly well, Greg thinks. They’re out for a walk after deciding the pressure of eating with each other was proving too much, especially due to their differences in taste - Greg’s encounter with a plate of oysters at Mycroft’s favourite five-star restaurant was enough to put him off seafood for weeks, and watching Mycroft’s expression morph into painfully forced delight at his mention of ordering pizza for their second date was a nightmare in itself. That said, the conversation has always been intriguing - Greg’s certainly never bored with Mycroft around. He’s found that when they aren’t discussing cases or his brother, Mycroft is much more relaxed around him and up for a laugh, which Greg certainly hadn’t expected when the other man had invited him out to dinner - as a date rather than a meeting.
The walk was Greg’s idea, but the relief had been evident on Mycroft’s face when he’d pulled up to Greg’s flat and they'd disregarded the original plan of heading to a restaurant. Now they’re strolling through the park, coats buttoned up to their chins against the frigid January cold, but holding hands nonetheless, and it’s wonderful. Greg never had Mycroft pinned as a particularly tactile person, and certainly not one for public displays of affection, but he’d slipped his gloved hand into Greg’s a while back, flashing him a pleased smile as he did so.
They’re almost to the park exit when the sky goes dark, and within seconds the heavens have opened and it’s lashing it down. Greg looks expectantly to Mycroft, waiting for him to whip out his trusty umbrella - and realises the other man doesn’t have it with him.
“Ah, I seem to have forgotten my umbrella at your flat,” Mycroft explains hurriedly, ducking under a nearby tree for some semblance of shelter, “Apologies. Should I call for a car?” He’s shouting a little over the distant rumble of thunder, but Greg hears him over the racket and shakes his head.
“Flat’s only round the corner!” he yells back, jabbing a thumb in the direction of the exit, “Might as well run for it, get warm there!”
Mycroft looks dubious, but he allows Greg to take his hand again anyway, and then they’re jogging for the exit, narrowly avoiding newly-arisen puddles and squealing (and that’s a sound Greg never thought he’d hear from Mycroft Holmes’ mouth) when a car rushes by and soaks them both.
Greg fumbles for his keys for a second before he manages to jam them into the lock of his front door and they both stumble inside, sopping wet and giggling like teenagers. Mycroft wipes his feet on the welcome mat, as if that’s going to do any good with the state his clothes are in, and looks sheepishly at Greg.
“Perhaps a walk in January wasn’t the best idea,” he smiles, reaching out shyly to smooth Greg’s wet hair from his face, “I’ll cook next time.” At the sight of Greg’s alarmed expression, Mycroft chuckles, “Something simple. Don’t fret, Gregory. And you can choose the film.”
They end up snogging against the wall after that, a few, heated minutes in which both men nearly manage to forget about the state of their clothes, and it’s only when Greg moves to get closer to Mycroft and hears the telltale squelch in his shoes that he pulls away regretfully.
“We should dry off. Strip and I’ll toss your clothes in the dryer,” he says, “You can shower if you want, bathroom’s through there-“ He doesn’t miss Mycroft’s look of alarm, and his eyes dart in the direction Greg is pointing in before flickering back to the other man.
“My? You okay?” Greg echoes, confused. Mycroft nods once, toeing off his shoes and yanking his socks off to join them, then pads, barefoot, towards the bathroom.
Silently, Mycroft retrieves a towel for Greg to dry his hair and face off with, before disappearing into the bathroom and closing the door resolutely behind him. A few minutes later, it opens a crack and his soaked three-piece suit is thrust unceremoniously out and into a pile on the floor in the hall, with a muttered, “Thank you, Gregory. I’ll just take a shower.”
Greg decides not to question it. It is only their third date, after all - if Mycroft doesn’t feel comfortable getting his kit off just yet, that’s fine. Just because Greg’s never been particularly self-conscious doesn’t mean that other people aren’t. He dries Mycroft’s suit anyway and leaves it outside the bathroom, and when Mycroft emerges he’s once again fully dressed and ready to finish what they started in the hall.
The first time they have sex - proper sex, not just a quick fumble on the sofa or a hurried blow after dinner - Mycroft leaves his shirt on.
It’s not unheard of, of course - and Greg doesn’t really think much of it at first. It’s a passionate, rushed affair, anyway, starting halfway through a film that Greg’s picked out and Mycroft probably finds utterly tedious. His head is resting on Greg’s chest and midway through a boring action scene he tips his face back to meet the other man’s lips, and things escalate quickly from there. Suddenly Greg’s propped up against the back of the sofa with his trousers around his ankles, the film forgotten, and Mycroft is making obscene noises against his skin. Greg’s just about managing to comprehend the fact that he may have just reduced the great Mycroft Holmes to begging when Mycroft’s own pants join Greg’s in a pile on the floor, and Greg is met with a beautiful expanse of pale thigh.
He runs his hands everywhere he can reach, until Mycroft’s legs are curled around his back and suddenly they aren’t just innocently touching anymore - their caresses have a newfound purpose, and Greg’s balancing on a fine ledge as Mycroft groans and ruts against him as best he can with the position they’re in.
Suddenly craving more contact, Greg fumbles with the buttons of Mycroft’s shirt, only to have his hands batted away by desperate fingers. Mycroft fixes him with a glare that clearly states not now, and then, with a final cry of his own name torn from Mycroft’s mouth, Greg is seeing stars, head thrown back as he wails his ecstasy.
When he’s come down from the high, Greg glances down at his own stomach and half-heartedly attempts to wipe up the sticky mess that’s gathered there with his own discarded shirt, grunting with the exertion. Mycroft looks entirely blissful, resting his head on Greg’s shoulder and still breathing a little too heavily, and whatever Greg was going to say about his reluctance to undress is chased away by the sound of Mycroft’s first snore, muffled by Greg’s own skin, as the other man falls asleep on top of him.
Mycroft has been gone for a week, and Greg is getting restless. He misses his lover like mad, even though he spent the night at Mycroft’s place only last Sunday, curled up on the sofa together all day and snogging leisurely like they were both sixteen again.
Now, though, business in some far-off country has called Mycroft away, and although he’s been working overtime all week just to take his mind off the gaping hole which seems to have wormed its way into his chest, Greg’s efforts haven’t exactly been successful. He’s been snapping at his team, cutting Sherlock off mid-spiel, and throwing balled-up paperwork (and once, memorably, a mug of lukewarm coffee) at the walls of his office in frustration.
If they could just talk, things wouldn’t be that bad, but Mycroft’s been in and out of endless meetings with foreign secretaries and ministers, and the most Greg’s received in the last four days is a quick text from Anthea to inform him that Mycroft is still alive and that they still don’t know when they’ll be back.
Greg knew what he signed up for when they started dating - he knew their schedules were difficult and wouldn’t always align - but he didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to go days without a word from his lover. He hadn’t anticipated the dreary haze his days would take on when they were apart, and he certainly hadn’t expected the sudden emptiness that had taken over his flat. It’s ridiculous. He’s always lived there alone - since splitting with his ex-wife. It’s a bachelor pad, usually filled with empty take-away cartons and unwashed laundry, with dishes piled up at the sink. It had ceased to exist in this particular way since Mycroft had entered into his life - Greg had been keeping the place semi-tidy, at least - but now it’s relaxing back into its former state after just seven days alone. He’s a grown man, for goodness’ sake; surely he shouldn’t need to be dating someone in order to keep his own residence clean. Nevertheless, the impact Mycroft’s had on his life is massive, however much Greg resents it when they’re apart, and now it feels like he’s going crazy.
So, on the eighth day sans Mycroft, Greg is surprised when his laptop (open to finish the work that stubbornly won’t write itself) bleeps with an incoming Skype call. He’d installed it when Mycroft promised they’d keep in touch while he was away, but up until now he hasn’t put it to use, so he’s a little wary when he clicks the green ‘accept call’ button and waits for his webcam to whir into life.
The image is a little pixelated, probably due to the many thousands of miles between them, but Greg can make out a blurred hotel room where his lover is presumably seated at a desk, smiling into his own camera. Greg’s heart leaps as he raises his hand to wave shyly at Mycroft, realising he’s probably grinning like a maniac but being too happy to care.
“Mycroft,” Greg breathes, “How is everything? How’s the trip?”
“It’s going about as well as can be expected, with these things,” Mycroft sighs, although it’s a little distorted through the microphone, “I hope to be home by Wednesday, though. How are things on your end?”
It’s much too polite and formal to be anything close to how Greg expected this conversation would go, but he tries anyway, “Ah, things are the same as always, I suppose. But Wednesday, you said? That’s great. Fantastic. You should come to mine. I can pick you up from the airport, actually. Any idea what time you’ll be flying in? I know you’ll be tired and everything, but I’ll make dinner and then straight to bed, yeah? Have a few days’ rest.” He’s babbling and he knows it, but the fond smile lighting up Mycroft’s features is worth the embarrassment.
“That sounds wonderful, Gregory. I don’t want to trouble you, though - it’s likely we’ll be getting a late flight and arriving in the early hours. I’ll get one of my drivers to drop me at your flat; I’ll let myself in with my own key.”
“It’s no trouble, My, honestly. S’not like I’ve been sleeping much, anyway - snowed under with paperwork,” Greg explains, leaving out the and distraught with missing you, although Mycroft probably senses it anyway, “You wouldn’t believe how much I’ve missed you.”
“I miss you, too, dear. More than you know,” Mycroft sighs, “Sitting through one tedious meeting after another, all I’ve done is think of you.”
Greg chuckles at that, “Shouldn’t let me distract you too much, My - it might inadvertently cause world war three,” he points out, and sees a slow smile spread across Mycroft’s lips as his joke is delivered ten seconds after his lips move. Maybe this Skype thing isn’t all it’s built up to be.
“Oh, but you are so very distracting, Gregory.” The way Mycroft draws out the syllables of Greg’s name makes a shiver run down his spine, “In fact, thinking of what you looked like in my bed just last week has distracted me from a conference with fifteen foreign secretaries today, and who knows what repercussions it might have…”
Greg grins, “Well, we can’t have that, can we?” he teases, “Maybe I should give you a little reminder, just to tide you over until you come home…”
As he’s speaking, Greg’s fingers slowly move to the buttons of his shirt and begin undoing them, lapping up Mycroft’s appreciative noises and the sly smile on his lover’s face. He tosses the shirt to the floor and watches nearby paperwork go flying, not caring in the slightest - God, Mycroft really is a bad influence, those papers need to be done by tomorrow - and starts making quick work of his trousers.
When he’s down to his underwear, Greg slows his movements as he takes in Mycroft’s expression - he looks like he’s gone lax in his chair, watching Greg’s show with wide eyes and uninhibited affection. Greg wants to see Mycroft, too, and puts his face closer to the camera so he can get his message across clearly without Mycroft being overly distracted by the sudden state of his pants.
“C’mon, My, let me see you too. Please? I want- I want to be able to imagine having you here, underneath me, so I can put my hands in your hair and run them down your chest and hold you right here-“ he gestures close to his own chest, over where his heart would be, “-take off your shirt? Much easier to imagine, that way…”
Mycroft looks panicked for a second, and holds a finger up to the camera, “I’m sorry, love, but I have to go. Emergency meeting. I’m so very sorry. Take care of yourself - I’ll text you my flight details when I can. I love you.”
Greg’s stunned, but manages a surprised, “Love you too,” into the microphone before the video feed cuts off as Mycroft ends the call. Sitting on his living room floor clad in only his pants, Greg feels a bit pathetic as he looks on at his discarded laptop and paperwork, heaves a tired sigh, and puts his head in his hands.
If there’s one position Greg Lestrade never thought he’d find himself in, it’s this one. On his knees underneath Mycroft’s desk in the government official’s pristine office, with Mycroft’s pants unzipped and Greg’s mouth currently occupied with reducing the other man to a trembling wreck.
Sure, he’s been in a lot of strange positions in his life - trapped in a cramped supply closet on a raid gone wrong, sneaking out through the upstairs window of an old girlfriend’s house, shoes in hand, after realising she actually wasn’t so single at the time; hell, he’d even been stuck in a lift in a run-down office block once.
This, though, is one to top them all.
Greg snakes his arms up to work at Mycroft’s belt, still managing to keep concentration on what he’s doing and eliciting a pleased groan from his lover. He’s got the buckle undone and he’s about to untuck Mycroft’s shirt from his pants when his hands are batted away, and Greg lets out an offended noise. The vibrations from his throat send ripples of pleasure through Mycroft and he gasps a little, leaving Greg free to attempt to yank at his shirt once again, but there’s a hissed, “Stop it, Gregory,” from the other man. Greg stills immediately, slowly drawing his hands away and his mouth away from Mycroft’s gaping boxers.
“My? Did I… do something wrong?” Greg whispers, only to have Mycroft shush him, sliding one hand under the desk to clasp Greg’s own in- what? Reassurance? Comfort?
There’s the sound of the office door opening and a hushed, “Sorry, sir, are you busy?” in a woman’s voice, and Greg realises it’s probably Anthea, and that’s he’s stuffed under Mycroft’s desk with his lover’s cock shoved in his face, and he can feel a blush climbing the whole way up his neck when Mycroft doesn’t tell her to piss off.
“Ah, Anthea - not busy. Was there something you needed?”
"Just- the prime minister is on the phone, sir. Shall I put him through?"
"Of course." A pause, "If that's all...?"
Anthea's footsteps are still confident and sure as they stride away, and there's a click of the door closing and a brief clearing of Mycroft's throat. Greg's about to crawl out from under the desk just as he hears his lover pick up the phone and speak loudly into the receiver, "I was told there was something you wanted, prime minister?" and Greg slumps back against the back of the desk, heaving a muted sigh, resigned to being huddled up by Mycroft's feet for the foreseeable.
It's three in the morning. Three in the bloody morning, and Greg's still awake. He's pinned that fact to a possible three reasons - it's the middle of July and therefore boiling hot despite the air conditioning in Mycroft's - their, now, he supposes - house; he's still unused to the unfamiliar bedroom and its strange pockets of light seeping in from cracks in the blinds since moving in three weeks ago; and Mycroft isn't home.
It's not unusual for his lover to be missing in the middle of the night, not with the demands of Mycroft's job, of course - but this time is different, because Greg knows he isn't at the office. He called there a few hours ago to drop off some sandwiches in case Mycroft hadn't had time for lunch, only to be met with a grumpy secretary who informed him that Mr. Holmes had been called away.
He knows Mycroft wouldn't willingly leave the country without at least texting first, so Greg's narrowed it down to some sort of meeting away from his own office, a Sherlock-related disaster (although that's unlikely - John, at least, would have called Greg with any news) or Mycroft's been kidnapped.
And, as the minutes drag by, that option becomes increasingly likely.
Half past three, and Greg hears a door slamming downstairs and shuffling footsteps making their way into the kitchen. He's on high alert, reaching for something - anything - to fend off the intruder, his fingers coming to rest on the bedside lamp. He yanks it free from the wall socket and creeps stealthily out of bed, padding silently onto the landing, certain that whoever came for Mycroft has now come for him.
Greg makes it down the stairs without a sound, thankful for Mycroft's expensive carpeting that muffles any potential creaking of the floorboards. When he reaches the downstairs hallway, Greg pauses to glance into the kitchen, which is glowing with light. Why would the kidnapper turn on all the lights-?
Greg releases a breath he wasn't aware he'd been holding at the sight of Mycroft leaning against the kitchen island, loosening his grip on the lamp. His outfit is crumpled - jacket tossed on the counter, shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows, tie askew. Greg hovers in the doorway, a question on his lips - because even when Mycroft has worked all through the night, he's still impeccably dressed when he gets home - and wonders whether to voice it or leave his lover to- whatever he’s up to.
Mycroft turns around before he can decide to do either, his gaze meeting Greg's across the kitchen. He straightens up, clears his throat and walks unsteadily across to his lover, frowning slightly.
"My? You okay?" Greg reaches out to steady him, abandoning the lamp completely on the counter and easing the younger man into a bar stool, "What's going on?"
Mycroft just blinks up at him, dazed. Greg doesn't have the slightest clue about Mycroft's prior whereabouts, but judging from the state of his clothes he hasn't been in some prim meeting.
"Have you been... Mycroft, have you been in a fight?" Greg wonders, taking in the slight swelling of his lover's right eye as he peers closer, the way he winces as he shifts in his seat.
"Excellent observation, Gregory," Mycroft mutters, and Greg tries his best not to be hurt by his harsh tone. It's harder than it sounds - it's rare for Mycroft to be so scathing around him, so Greg's only ever experienced his derision secondhand. Still, the man's hurt, and exhausted, by the looks of it, so Greg doesn't push.
"Just tell me what happened," he murmurs, crouching so his face is closer to the other man's. Mycroft turns away to avoid Greg's gaze, appearing- what? Guilty?
"I was called away from a meeting to sort out one of my brother's... messes. Fieldwork. Dreary," he mutters, shrugging slightly. No doubt he expects Greg to brush it off as an ordinary occurrence.
"Fieldwork that involved you getting into a fight?" he asks, frowning. He knows Mycroft abhors anything that can't be resolved within the comfort of his own office, so it isn't surprising that he seems to have been forced into the situation - he's aware of how much he cares for Sherlock, however strange he might be about showing it.
"The assailant attempted to flee. There was a scuffle. He pulled a knife." At Greg's look of alarm, Mycroft rolls his eyes, "It's merely a flesh wound, Gregory. You should go back to bed. I'll join you shortly."
Greg's pulling away immediately, searching for any hint of the 'flesh wound' that Mycroft almost certainly understated. His eyes flicker down his lover's body until they come to rest on a patch of blood he didn't notice - how could he not have noticed? - on Mycroft's shirt, over his abdomen.
“Go back to bed?!” Greg splutters, astonished that a man this clever can be so unbelievably dense at times, “Mycroft, you might need stitches, you should’ve gone straight to the hospital-“
"I am fine, Gregory. As I keep telling you, it's a flesh wound, nothing more. I'm more than capable of patching myself up," Mycroft insists, taking one of Greg's hands in his in what Greg assumes is an attempt at a placating gesture.
"Let me see," Greg says, leaning forward to work the hem of his lover's shirt out of his trousers. He doesn't trust Mycroft's own judgement, especially not in the state he's in, and he had basic first aid training when he first started with the police. He expects Mycroft's protests of being fine, as he expects the incredulous glare he receives when he reaches for Mycroft's belt - what he hasn't accounted for are the firm hands gripping his wrists and pushing them away.
"Gregory, stop, I am fine. It's barely a scratch. Leave it," Mycroft's tone leaves no room for disagreement, but Greg disagrees nonetheless.
"I'm not going to leave it, My. You're hurt. Just let me sort it for you, then we can go to bed. There's no point in you hurting yourself more trying to bend over to see it properly. Just let me see," Greg murmurs gently.
But Mycroft's already pulling away, scraping the kitchen stool back and getting to his feet. Greg isn't about to let him go, but it's obvious his current tactics aren't getting him anywhere - he'll have to try something else, then. If Mycroft refuses to go to the hospital or even let Greg see - there's nothing else for it.
“Fine,” he mutters, not missing the sceptical glance Mycroft throws his way, “If you won’t let me help, and the hospital’s obviously out, then I’ll call John. Let him decide whether it warrants stitches or not.”
“You’re willing to drag Doctor Watson out of bed at half past three in the morning to inspect what is merely a flesh wound, Gregory?” Mycroft’s eyebrows are raised in what Greg takes as a challenge.
“I’m not bluffing, My. Either you let me see, or I call him. Sherlock usually keeps him up half the night playing his violin anyway,” he adds as an afterthought. He reaches over to fish the phone from its cradle, holds it threateningly in front of him, “So are you going to lift up your shirt?”
The shake of Mycroft’s head makes Greg’s heart sink; and, although at one point the whole charade might possibly have been a bluff, anger - honest to God anger, because they’ve been together for over a year and if Mycroft still doesn’t trust him now then he’s probably never going to - drives him to punch the digits of John’s mobile number in with enough force to break the damn phone in half.
The fact that Greg was indeed correct - Mycroft needed five stitches in his lower abdomen due to a wound caused by a sawback blade stretching around to his side - doesn’t even make him feel smug, by the time he and Mycroft are safely tucked away in bed. He’s still burning with anger, because he was forcibly ejected from the room while John (grumbling about being woken so early in the morning, which earned Greg an I told you so glance from his lover) looked Mycroft over. He waited in the lounge, practically seething with anger that he barely managed to contain until John had left again, after being forced to promise he’d say nothing of the whole affair to Sherlock, who wasn’t to know that Mycroft had been fixing his slip-ups again. Now Mycroft, stitched and bandaged and grumpy, is lying beside him, and Greg still can’t sleep, on account of him being too bloody pissed off.
“My?” he whispers into the darkened room. It’s just past 4:30, and judging by the sound of his breathing, Mycroft might indeed already be asleep.
“Yes, Gregory?” his lover replies softly. Greg sneaks a hand up to stroke through Mycroft’s hair - being angry during this conversation probably won’t be helpful, and touching the other man calms him a little.
“Why do you never let me see you naked?” Greg asks, feeling foolish even as he speaks the words. It’s true, though - Mycroft has never once been fully undressed in Greg’s presence; he wears pyjamas to bed, leaves at least his shirt on during sex, and although Greg’s asked what must be a thousand times, Mycroft always refuses his offers to shower together.
“Don’t be absurd, Gregory. I’m not sure many of our usual positions would work if my trousers remained on,” Mycroft hums, easing the blush further up Greg’s neck.
“You know what I mean,” Greg mutters, “We’ve been together for more than a year and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen your chest.”
“Of course you have,” Mycroft mumbles - lying, then, “Why does it matter, anyway, Gregory? Is glimpsing my chest so important to you that you’re willing to lose sleep over it?”
“Well, I’d be willing to let it go if it was just a casual aversion to-“ Greg cuts himself off, because he isn’t sure how to complete that sentence, “-if you just didn’t want to take off your shirt, fine. But when it’s something serious - if you’re seriously hurt, My, and for whatever reason you won’t let me see - then I think this is something we need to discuss.”
“It wasn’t serious,” Mycroft protests, shifting a little on the bed to better glimpse Greg’s expression. His wince at catching the bandages tells Greg otherwise, but he doesn’t voice it.
“You might have been bleeding out for all I knew, love,” Greg mutters, “And you’ve gotten yourself five stitches so it obviously wasn’t ‘just a scratch’.” He sighs, unsure if this is even the right time to be having this conversation, “I just wish you’d talk to me. If there’s something bothering you, I wish you’d just come out and say it, rather than-“
“Must we discuss this, Gregory? I do not feel comfortable exposing myself more than necessary - that’s all. There’s no ulterior motive,” Mycroft interrupts. His voice is icy, but his arm is still curled protectively around Greg’s waist; a silent assertion of his unwavering affection, even when he disagrees completely with Greg’s lack of tact surrounding this particular topic.
“You don’t feel comfortable. Not even with me,” Greg echoes, making Mycroft flinch. He doesn’t have the words to explain that while he loves Gregory with all of his heart and would do damn near anything for the man - this is something that makes his stomach clench and his heart race.
“Of course I’m comfortable with you, darling,” he tries anyway, because Gregory deserves an explanation, at least, “I just fail to see why my midsection is causing such a problem.”
“Are you hiding something from me?" Greg blurts, only half unintentionally, "Do you have a secret tattoo that you don't want me knowing about?"
Mycroft chuckles at that, raising one eyebrow incredulously at his partner, "Honestly, Gregory, do I look like the sort of man who would be spontaneous enough to invest in a spur-of-the-moment body modification?"
"I don't know, My, I've known you to be pretty spontaneous in the past..." Greg flashes him a grin, and Mycroft relaxes a little - Greg isn't irreversibly angry with him yet, then, "Besides, we've all done things in our twenties that we'd rather not admit." Greg thinks to his own tattoo, by his left hip - a drunken mistake one night as a young, impressionable PC - of something that looks like a cross between some kind of exotic bird and a rear end. Mycroft had seen that - he'd called it endearing, and Greg had laughed and called him insane, and Mycroft had done a wonderful job of making Greg forget all about his tattoo - and his own name, for that matter - with his incredible mouth.
"I don't have a tattoo, Gregory," Mycroft sighs softly, wishing it were only that simple. He watches Greg's expression carefully in the pale glow of moonlight stretching across their bedroom, waiting for him to draw away and tell Mycroft that he's tired of his games and secrecy and lies.
Greg doesn't move - he simply lies there, allowing Mycroft's watchful gaze to travel over him, and reaches with gentle fingers to pull Mycroft in for a chaste kiss.
"We don't have to talk about this tonight," Greg whispers, "But just promise that if something's bothering you, or that if you're ever hurt again- you'll open up to me, yeah? There's nothing you could say to make me stop loving you, My."
Mycroft lets out a breath he wasn't aware he'd been holding, and shifts quickly into a sitting position. Best to rip the plaster off quickly, then. If Greg's so intent on seeing Mycroft's pale, plumper-than-average torso, then so be it.
"My? What are you doing?" Greg's alarm is evident as soon as Mycroft pulls away from his lover's touch, but Mycroft ignores it. Ignores too his little brother's voice echoing through his mind - been midnight snacking again, Mycroft? Not been able to avoid the cakes lately, brother dear? How's the diet? - and yanks off the grey pyjama t-shirt he's wearing to reveal his bare chest. He waits for a chuckle from Greg, a lighthearted I see why you cover up now, My, anything to let him know that the treadmill sessions and rigorous dieting haven't been doing their jobs; but he gets none of these reactions. Instead, Gregory reaches out a hand and splays his fingers across the spot where Mycroft's heart would be.
"Why were you hiding from me?" is all he can coax from Greg's mouth as his lover traces his fingertips along Mycroft's collarbone and down his side.
Mycroft scoffs, startling both Gregory and himself in the quiet room, "Isn't that obvious, Gregory, darling? I'm not very much to look at." He doesn't add the fact that without clothes to cover himself, he feels more than just naked - he feels vulnerable, exposed. And past lovers haven't helped matters - those who wanted to exploit him for power or wealth or status, two of whom managed to crawl their way into his heart - usually so well protected - and still be gone the next day, taking a chunk of Mycroft's own self along with them, it seemed.
He knows, logically, of course, that the mere removal of his shirt doesn't mean he will become instantly vulnerable - it just means he's one step closer. He also knows that Gregory isn't the type of person to use Mycroft for a brief period of time before deciding he has what he wants, and leaving the other man alone again. He knows that, logically, all Gregory needs to do is ask, and Mycroft will give him all that he has in his power to give. But he also knows, that after handing Gregory what he perceives as being the biggest part of himself; his trust, completely and utterly; and trust is not a thing to be easily gambled with in Mycroft's world - he knows that Gregory will not exploit that trust.
That doesn't excuse the fact that logic is easily overpowered by sentiment.
He mulls this all over as he watches Greg's face with an amazed look on his own, and then Gregory says in a broken whisper, "You're beautiful, love. How could you ever think otherwise?”
Mycroft watches distantly as Greg peppers kisses along his collarbone and down the planes of his chest; and lower, to the soft flesh of Mycroft’s belly. Mycroft is startled to find that he's trembling slightly, and he doesn't quite manage to stop himself sucking in a sharp breath of air as Greg's lips ghost across his hips.
"You're biased," he manages to gasp out, making Greg frown a little before a shocked little chuckle escapes him.
"Not biased," he says, reaching up to meet Mycroft's lips once more, "Not blind, either, like you must be." Like all those others who must have hurt you, Greg doesn't say, but he's thinking it, and with each kiss he reaffirms this - that Mycroft is loved, and beautiful, and safe in his arms.
He'd considered a lot of things before broaching the subject of Mycroft's reluctance to be fully naked with him, but not once had the idea of Mycroft Holmes being insecure about something crossed his mind. The man was the definition of omnipotence, the king of impeccably cut suits and exquisite appearances - the cars, the grand house, the downright power of it all; but, Greg supposes, it makes a certain amount of cruel sense for Mycroft to put up those kind of walls. A façade, one which he can drop now, for Greg.
"I love you," Greg murmurs against Mycroft's chest. He feels the other man stiffen for a brief second; a gesture which would have been undetectable if Greg didn't know him as well as he does. Mycroft relaxes again in an instant, and rearranges their bodies a little so he's curled up to Greg's side, his face burrowed in his neck.
"And I you, Gregory," Mycroft whispers. And I trust you, completely, remains unspoken, but the words seem to hover between them anyway, and Greg smiles, feeling Mycroft's expression mirror his own against his skin.
And this, Mycroft thinks, this is what love feels like. Nothing like the brief liaisons of before - but this. Curled in Greg's arms wearing nothing but a pair of boxers, he feels more secure than he has since he was a child. Love is security and honesty and comfort, a perfect balance between the three, and he treasures it, preserves this moment even though he knows he doesn't need to - Greg is in it for the long run.
They fall asleep like that, together, with matching, blissful smiles on their faces. Mycroft (and Greg, for that matter) can really think of nothing better.