Sunday 14th June
[AS 15:12] How is he...? x
Greg stroked Mycroft's hair as he replied with one hand, listening to the slow and easy breaths against his collarbones. Beads of sunshine glimmered in the gap between the curtains; everything was peaceful and still. Somewhere beyond these walls, London and the wider world continued as if everything were normal, but not in here.
In this bubble of safety, nothing stirred.
[GL 15:13] Still asleep. Think he needs it xx
[GL 15:13] He does this sometimes. Just wipes out, goes into offline mode xx
[AS 15:14] Yes I know. He's always needed time to process. Not the best at handling his feelings x
Greg's heart tugged. The therapist who can't handle his feelings. He wondered quietly if that was part of why Mycroft did it. He'd become a specialist in managing other people's emotions, hoping it excused him from having to look too hard at his own. Other people always first. Everyone's needs discussed but yours.
Greg placed a silent kiss upon Mycroft's forehead, texting Ananya back.
[GL 15:14] What do I do to help him through this? xx
[GL 15:14] Seriously. Tell me what to say xx
[GL 15:14] I really really need to get this right xx
It took a little while for her to reply. Greg spent the time watching Mycroft sleep, letting thoughts swirl and drift in his mind, unattached to the world and unimportant.
[AS 15:17] It doesn't matter what you say. Just don't leave x
That easy, Greg thought with a lift of his pulse.
Alright. I can do that.
He laid his phone aside, gathering Mycroft close beneath the sheets, and let his gaze trail the folds of the curtains as he thought. This time yesterday, they'd probably been lying just like this, settled in the shadow of an oak tree somewhere. He'd been enjoying this same quiet feeling of wholeness, untainted by any knowledge of what was to come.
What would I have done, he wondered. if I'd known?
He didn't have to think long to decide.
He'd have put Mycroft in the car and driven away, taken Ananya with them too, driven until the road ran out beneath them. He'd have rung Paul from a phone box in John o' Groats and told him to start the paperwork for every injunction and restraining order available under British law. She'd lied her way into a locked room in a random hotel in the middle of the night. The boundary between unsettling and terrifying had been so much closer and thinner than Greg thought, and he wished to god that he'd trusted it was coming. It made his stomach grip, thinking that she'd always been capable of the things she'd done last night. She'd always had that cunning and that violence in her. She'd just chosen not to use it until now.
She could be capable of worse.
He was starting to wonder if he'd ever really known her. More and more, he felt like a child who'd been drawn in by a sort of glove puppet, coaxed closer and closer with a smile until it was too late. It was enough to spill shivers down his spine.
Greg looked down into Mycroft's sleeping face, his heart pounding at the thought.
You were in there alone with her. Locked in with her. Christ, she could've...
He shut his eyes. He pressed his lips to Mycroft's forehead, holding them there.
She didn't, he told himself. She didn't and she won't. He tucked the sheets around Mycroft's shoulders, wanting to keep him warm as he slept.
Another hour passed, a haze of silently-offered love and half-dreams.
At the point of contemplating a text to Paul, Greg felt Mycroft stir inside his arms. He looked down, watching with hope, and got to witness the moment that his lover re-entered the world. Mycroft's face tightened a little, shivering. He drew a weary breath and gave a blink, trying to understand where he was.
As his sleepy eyes focused, they focused on Greg's face.
Stroking Mycroft's cheek, Greg offered them a smile. "Hello, you."
Mycroft winced a little. He leant into Greg's hand, closing his eyes again, and made a noise of quiet discomfort.
"Headache?" Greg asked.
Mycroft didn't move. "Mmh."
Greg scooted down the bed, gathering Mycroft's forehead to rest against his own. His first instinct was to speak—promise solutions and comforts, paracetamol and water. As Mycroft relaxed with a breath into the silence, Greg thought again. He stirred a little, leaning just close enough to offer a kiss.
After a moment's pause Mycroft took it, quietly pressing his lips to Greg's. Something in the air seemed to change. Something softened, releasing a long-held breath. Greg laid still and quiet, letting Mycroft take as many gentle kisses as he wanted from his mouth, neither pushing nor withdrawing—simply giving.
Tentatively, Mycroft put an arm around Greg's waist.
That's alright, love. You can do that. Greg leant into Mycroft's hold, barely moving. M'here.
Mycroft gently paused.
"I'm afraid," he said, so quietly Greg almost didn't hear it.
Greg nodded, listening.
Mycroft took another minute to speak.
"I want to be together," he said. "Truly together. For a very long time. I should have told you. When it seemed like we were on course to..."
He swallowed something, shivering.
"I want her to die," he said.
Greg couldn't condemn him for it. He'd spent the entire night trying not to imagine that moment for Mycroft: looking up from bed, expecting to see the person who loved him, but finding the person who could ruin him. Greg wasn't going to tell him how to feel about that.
Mycroft searched his eyes, watching him listen.
"I want her to cease to exist," he said again, meaning it, "so that you and I can live one life."
Greg let this sit for a moment. He gave a single, quiet nod.
"I can't make her die," he murmured. "I can still get you that, though."
Mycroft's gaze shuttered with distress.
"Please say you understand," he whispered. "Tell me you realise the extent of... of what I want between us. Greg, I..."
"I understand." Greg cupped Mycroft's cheek in one hand. "Can you see us sharing a surname one day?"
Mycroft didn't move, staring.
Greg prepared a breath.
"Darlin', I don't want to just assume stuff," he murmured. "I want us to drive this thing together in a direction we both want. I don't mean soon. Just some day."
Mycroft's gaze ached, breaking under the weight of some thought. "You can't imagine what you mean to me."
You're gonna make me say it, aren't you?
"Myc," Greg whispered, stroking a thumb across his cheek. "Are you all in here? 'Cause I'm all in."
Shivering, Mycroft nodded.
He looked into Greg's eyes for a long moment, gathering the courage to speak.
"I love you with a force I've never felt," he said. "I want as much of you as I can have."
Faltering, he glanced down between their chests.
"Typical of me," he said. "Far too honest, far too late."
Greg nudged their noses together, waiting to speak until Mycroft had looked up at him again.
"Never too honest," he murmured. "Never too late."
Mycroft's gaze held onto him, wordless.
"Can I tell you something?" Greg asked.
Mycroft nodded, mute.
"Once I met you," Greg said, "going home to her felt like cheating on you. Something just blew open in my head. It's like I came into existence."
He hesitated, stroking Mycroft's cheek.
"Came back into existence," he murmured. "Like I'd put myself in storage years ago. Waiting for something. Then we met, and suddenly everything all started making sense. Every stupid thing I'd ever done began to look like the right thing after all. Led me somewhere. Got me where I'm really meant to be."
He watched Mycroft's eyes gloss over, so in love with their shine that it hurt.
"You're my best friend," he whispered. "We're bigger than this."
Mycroft's expression broke. He wrapped his arms around Greg, hands gathering in the back of his pyjamas, and pressed his cheek to Greg's.
"I need to cry for a while," he said. "With you. I need to hold you. Is that alright?"
"Yes," Greg murmured. "'Course it's alright..." He ran his fingertips gently between Mycroft's shoulders, a steady up and down. "What's going through your head, love?"
Mycroft took some time to reply, holding Greg without speaking as he rubbed the fabric of Greg's shirt. A quiet tear rolled down the side of Greg's neck.
"Rage," he said softly.
Greg hesitated. He remembered rage; he'd seen more than his fair share of it. It had never looked like this though.
"Who're you raging at?" he asked.
Mycroft's second silence was even longer.
"God," he said in the end. "Who does not exist. I wish he did, so I could rage at him."
"Yeah? What would you say?"
Mycroft huffed, weak. "That his derisive sense of humour appalls me. That it is in keeping with his universe to guide the one man I'll want most in all my life along the only path which forbids me to have him."
Greg listened, brushing his fingers up and down Mycroft's back.
"I want to rage at you," Mycroft said, "for coming to me along the path. But it wasn't your fault."
He drew a shaking breath.
"I'd like to rage at myself for my choices," he said, "but I made them in good faith. I'd like to rage at my profession for their excellent and worthy safeguards, which I now want to have waived aside to fit my purposes. Every bone in my body wants to scream. I want to stand outside in the street and howl. 'Damn it, it's different'. Why did it have to be this way?"
Greg placed a quiet kiss against his shoulder. "What stage is this?"
"Is it denial, or bargaining, or—?"
Mycroft gave another huff.
"Largely anger," he mumbled. "Though I've never been especially good at that one."
He sighed, brushing his tears against Greg's cheek.
"A historic and outdated framework," he said. "And widely misunderstood. Though in fact, you're surprisingly apt in this case."
Mycroft pulled in a slow breath.
"The five stages of grief," he murmured, reaching up to rub his eyes, "are properly known as the Kübler-Ross model. The public usually apply them to processing the loss of a loved one. Kübler-Ross actually formulated the theory in response to her work with terminally ill patients. What we call the five stages of grief are in fact the five stages of grief for ourselves."
Greg bit the side of his tongue, preparing this with care.
"Darlin'," he said gently. "You're not dying."
Mycroft conceded, exhaling into his palms.
"No," he said. "But it is still loss."
Greg supposed he couldn't argue with that. "Did you say they don't follow that model anymore?"
"It... has some merits. Certainly enough to stick in the popular imagination."
Mycroft brushed back his hair with both hands, wearily trying to tidy himself.
"Human emotions tend to defy ideas of linear stages," he said. "Imagine the five muddy puddles of grief, perhaps. We stumble between denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance, sometimes avoiding them, sometimes falling into the same one twenty times."
Tired, he settled back into Greg's arms.
"I am currently sprawled facedown across all five," he sighed, tucking himself beneath Greg's chin. "Splashing vaguely as I attempt to get up."
Greg stroked a hand over his hair, relieved that Mycroft couldn't see his smile. He didn't want to find it funny.
"Take your time," he said, his voice soft. He put a kiss on top of Mycroft's head as their legs entwined. "Nobody needs you to get up, beautiful. You're fine just where you are."
Huffing, Mycroft lapsed into quiet.
A short time passed, thoughts stirring and settling as they held each other. Mycroft's hand brushed gently beneath the hem of Greg's t-shirt, stole upwards and rested against his bare back.
Nice to cuddle, Greg thought, closing his eyes. It felt healing. Mycroft's breaths came slow and easy, the bed as safe and warm around them as it had ever been. In the next few days, things were going to change.
But this never would.
"Greg?" Mycroft mumbled at last, somewhere safe beneath Greg's chin.
"Mm?" Greg gave him another tiny kiss. "M'awake, gorgeous."
Mycroft's fingers stirred gently against his back. A moment passed, something held.
"I love you," Mycroft said quietly.
Greg had a feeling he'd just been supplied with the second of two thoughts. He smiled, tilting his head to dot kisses on Mycroft's temple.
"What just got cherry-picked?" he asked.
Mycroft turned his head against Greg's collarbones, mumbling. "Oh, god."
"Something worrying you? Better out than in."
"No, nothing." That sounded true, at least for the moment. Mycroft settled again, hugging Greg around the chest. "I'm just glad you're here."
Greg's smile grew, more in love with him by the second.
"Something you want, then?" he said. "Something your gallant boyfriend can fetch to bed for you? Is it tea?"
"'kay, so... we've established you want something, but it's not tea. Something else in the flat. Can't take too long to narrow this down. How much stuff can there be in here?"
Mycroft pushed his forehead against Greg's shoulder, audibly trying not to smile. "Greg."
"Is it coffee?" Greg said. "Toast? D'you want... socks, maybe?"
"Not socks, then. A lightbulb? Toothpaste?"
"Yes," Mycroft said, now trembling with repressed amusement, and curled his fingers against Greg's bare back. "Please bring me a large scoop of washing powder. I can't cope another moment without some."
"Right," Greg said. "Bio or non-bio?"
Mycroft tucked himself back beneath Greg's chin, making no comment.
Grinning, Greg nuzzled into his hair.
"Or are you gonna spit it out?" he murmured. He ran a hand down Mycroft's back. "Can't be that mortifying."
"Mhm." Mycroft stirred, toes brushing against Greg's ankle. "Just my aberrant mind."
"'Scuse you," Greg said. "Some of us are in love with that mind."
He felt Mycroft smile against his neck. Mycroft's chest then expanded in his arms, gathering courage.
"Strange urge to make love," he confessed at last. "I'm... fragile. A warped need for comfort."
He let out his breath.
"In truth, a hot drink might be reassuring," he mumbled.
Even the words, make love, washed Greg with a deep and familiar quiet. Something in his stomach seemed to stir, lifting its sleepy head, responding softly to the call it had heard.
He brushed his fingers over the back of Mycroft's neck, gentling his voice.
"It's not warped," he said. "It's... darlin', if you want to feel like everything's still okay..."
He paused, pressing another small kiss against Mycroft's hair.
"Want to stop thinking for a while?" he murmured.
Mycroft nodded, stirring. His arm gathered tighter around Greg's back.
"Then we can make love," Greg said softly. "Why not, beautiful? Nothing else we need to do. And if it'll comfort you..."
He wrapped his fingers around the back of Mycroft's neck.
"How about you kiss me?" he whispered. "See where it takes us."
Shivering slightly, Mycroft raised his head.
They'd had slow and easy sex before, but never quite like this. There was something almost liberating about it. She found us. Fuck it, let's make love. For the longest time, kissing and petting each other felt just perfect, face to face on their sides and half-tangled in the sheets. Mycroft's quiet, breathy shivers were all Greg wanted in the world. He played with Greg's cock almost shyly, too busy kissing him to build any pattern or rhythm, and the feeling pulled Greg's stomach into warm and happy knots. Nothing mattered. By the time Mycroft reached towards the bedside for lube, Greg didn't mind at all what they did with it.
Mycroft wanted to be on his front. He padded into the pillows, huffed and gently stretched as Greg eased inside him, taking things slowly, inch by pressing inch. Mycroft's teeth sank down into his lower lip.
"Mm hmm?" Greg checked. He felt a shudder pass beneath his hands, spilling down the length of Mycroft's naked back.
"Mmhm." Mycroft shunted back a little, inhaling. "Please."
Greg raised an eyebrow. "Already?"
"Not in fact my first time," Mycroft said, casting him an amused glance over one shoulder.
Greg tried to wipe the smile off his face.
"I know," he said, "but... s'been a while since we..."
"If you must abandon me for days on end," Mycroft said, arching his lower back, "I will take care of matters myself. With aid if necessary."
"Ah. I've not been missed, have I?"
"You have. Very much. Hence why I've had to resort to lesser substitutes."
"Which one?" Greg asked.
Mycroft flushed, turning his cheek against the pillow. "The rocker. So I could ride it."
Greg lowered his weight gently, resting his forearms either side of Mycroft's torso. "That one's not as big as me, is it?"
"It's not as chatty as you either," Mycroft remarked, earning himself a laugh. His eyes glittered with a smile. "I'm teasing. Please keep talking. I've missed you inside me."
Grinning, Greg nuzzled at the back of Mycroft's neck.
"Nice and slow?" he murmured.
Mycroft inhaled with another hopeful arch.
"Is it strange we're doing this?" he asked. His breath hitched as Greg tested their angle. His expression slackened, his mouth dropping open. "Oh."
Greg's heart sped. He ran a hand down Mycroft's side, taking hold at the curve of his hip.
"It's not strange, darlin'," he said. "Not if it's what you need."
Mycroft swallowed thickly.
"Fuck me," he breathed. "Fuck me like we'll be alright."
Closing his eyes, concentrating Greg let the world shrink for just a few seconds to this feeling: pushing rhythmically into heat, slick and tight and soft, open for him, offered, his lover's body trembling with enjoyment underneath him. It didn't matter how many times Mycroft wanted him like this. It would always feel like a miracle. His bones ached with it, every inch of his skin alive and every thread of his focus wrapped around Mycroft—Mycroft's warmth, Mycroft's sounds, the scent of Mycroft's sweat.
As Mycroft stretched a little, groaning under his breath, Greg leant down to kiss and bite the back of his neck.
Mycroft gasped at the first gentle graze of his teeth.
"Fuck," he let out, his body tightening. He flattened his hands to the mattress either side of his head. "H-hold me down. Have me. Please."
His heart pounding, Greg shifted his weight. He reached for Mycroft's hands, pinning him into place, and let their fingers intertwine. As he drove himself deeper, slow and hard, Mycroft choked out his name and arched for more.
Greg kept on, nuzzling into the back of his neck.
Today of all days, Helen deserved a fucking migraine.
They only strayed from the bedroom once the evening had rolled in. They made a simple meal together, pasta and sauce, and ate it side by side at the kitchen counter, talking quietly about things that didn't matter. Sex had put a little colour back into Mycroft's face. He looked tired still, but far more like himself.
Afterwards, as Mycroft spent a few minutes typing on his phone, Greg moved the dirty plates to the sink to wash them up. Mycroft's spider plant was looking dry in its pot on the windowsill, tiny spiderlings drooping in the midsummer heat.
Greg gave it a drink of water from a wine glass, glad of the small things in life.
"Have you heard from Ananya?" he asked, watching the liquid soak into the soil.
Mycroft let out a breath.
"Yes," he murmured. "She's... checking on me. She had the hotel print a full invoice for my bill. She's said that she'll pass it along."
Greg glanced around from the windowsill, interested. "Why?"
Mycroft looked up from his phone.
"Some small proof," he said. "I paid for a room at the hotel on the night in question. Unnecessary if I'd planned to share yours."
Greg thought about it, piecing things together.
"You paid for Ananya's room?" he said at last. "Did you guys just share the first night?"
Mycroft nodded quietly. "Topped and tailed."
"Then... you left it to her for Saturday night?"
"Yes. But the booking was entirely in my name." Mycroft paused, glancing back down at this phone. "It seems a very small and insubstantial piece of evidence, but..."
Greg's chest filled.
You're doing it, he thought. You're going to try.
"They always seem small," he said, "until you add them up. Little things like that are what usually gets someone convicted. Tiny, throwaway things. A bus ticket, a few text messages... it's never smoking guns and bloody handprints."
Mycroft moved something around his mouth, visibly trying to take this to heart.
"You alright?" Greg asked gently.
"We're ultimately attempting to prove the untrue," Mycroft said. "It seems quite a mountain to climb."
Greg offered him a smile.
"One step at a time," he suggested, reaching for the kettle. "Keep our heads. Take all the help we get offered."
When full, he placed the kettle back into its cradle, switched it on, and padded quietly across the kitchen. He wrapped his arms around Mycroft's shoulders from behind, hugging him.
Mycroft relaxed back into his hold. Eyes closing, he laid a hand on top of Greg's to hold him there.
"So you'll fight her with me?" Greg murmured in his ear. "You'll make her work for it?"
"Appeasement is hardly an option," he remarked. "Nor, it seems, is freezing and hoping that her vision's based on movement."
Greg couldn't fight his smile. "How're you feeling?"
"Horrendous." Mycroft tilted his head, resting his cheek against Greg's. "Humiliated," he added with a sigh. "Mortified and empty. Half my soul wants to hurl itself from the roof. The other half wonders if I have any ice cream in. This... should not be happening to us, Greg."
Hugging him, Greg kissed his cheek.
"I'm sorry she's done this," he said. "I mean it. I'm sorry for whatever else she does."
"Mm." Stirring, Mycroft slipped his fingers beneath Greg's. He lifted Greg's hand to kiss his knuckles. "Please be here while she does it to me."
The kettle began to boil, clicking off.
Greg ignored it, stroking the pad of his thumb beneath Mycroft's chin.
"I will," he said. "No matter what it is. Whatever comes for you, it'll come through me first. And no matter what happens, through all this stupid mess, there'll still be me. We'll still have days like this. Quiet days where all we need is a bed and each other, and the world can wait outside."
Their fingers curled together as there came a moment's pause.
"What if we lose, Greg?" Mycroft asked. "What if this doesn't end well?"
Greg closed his eyes. "You can sleep beneath my bridge, darlin'. Share my cardboard box."
Mycroft drew a breath. "Then I suppose it's impossible to fail."
Greg hummed, tightening his hug.
"Suppose it is," he said. "Can't fail the bit that really matters."
[PC 21:04] Hi Greg, just checking up on you. Hope you're alright. Quick update, nothing bad.
[PC 21:04] Called in a favour from a mate in street teams. We've tracked Helen down. Good news, she's back at her place in London and lying low. Probably expecting an arrest for assault at any second.
[PC 21:05] We're keeping her under surveillance for a couple days for you. Its off the record. Can't keep anything unofficial going for longer than that but... its a bit of breathing room hey?
[PC 21:06] Got a slot in my diary for you tuesday morning. Come see me. We'll make some plans to keep you & loved ones safe.
[PC 21:06] Hope you're still in one piece. Know this weekends been a shitter.
[PC 21:08] But just hold on, you'll make it through. Got good people around you and these things never last forever.
[PC 21:09] Ring whenever yeah? Anything you need, day or night.
[PC 21:09] Ananya says she can restart your sessions if you need them. Off the record, no cost.
[PC 21:10] And remember it'll be okay in the end. If its not okay its not the end.
[PC 21:10] See you tuesday morning. We'll get the real fight going.
[PC 21:10] Take care of yourself & your guy.
[PC 21:11] Paul x