Lying in bed, eyes stuck to the ceiling in restless disquiet, Mycroft's brain had taken all the evidence into account and drawn the only possible conclusion: He was starting to fall in love with Greg Lestrade.
Which was inconvenient, to say the least.
The air in the moonlit room was filled with soft snores, in tune with the rise and fall of Greg's naked chest. He'd curled up next to Mycroft after a slow, lengthy session of fucking in which they'd engaged mere hours before, as per their... Arrangement.
It had been ages since they’d first met, brought together by Sherlock, but they hadn’t really gotten anywhere near friendship until a couple of years back, meetings often diverging into companionable conversation and even a bit of teasing that cemented the basis of their friendship. It was only a few months ago, after a difficult case in which Mycroft had needed to meddle, that they’d ended up in the Diogenes with a couple of drinks, the topic somehow diverging towards their lacking love lives. It was over their commiserating that the arrangement had been born, though Mycroft could not say what had prompted the idea.
It was this same arrangement that Mycroft was now thoroughly and inconsiderately violating, thanks to the fact that he had caught feelings for Lestrade.
Mycroft frowned to himself in the darkness.
A friends with benefits thing, they'd agreed, just to blow off some steam.
So why did he have to go ahead and ruin it by breaching the one unspoken rule that, according to his research, came with these types of contracts? Their lives were complicated enough as is. Even if Greg wanted him, which was a laughable thought in itself, them being together while one of them harbored feelings for the other was a recipe for disaster.
Mycroft couldn't afford a disaster.
A low mumble interrupted the doomed train of thoughts derailing in Mycroft's head: Greg's habit of sleep-talking, which was becoming more and more familiar with each meeting. Mycroft moved, catching the last part of a nonsensical sentence. Something about eggs... He wondered if Greg was aware of it. Most likely one of his fortunate previous partners had informed him, Mycroft thought. In the dark, Greg shifted, hand sliding closer to Mycroft and burrowing under his arm.
The little contact alone sufficed in sending a jolt through him, heart nearly jump-starting.
It is too much, he swallowed, willing his heart to slow. But not enough.
Mycroft would have to end it, he decided.
For both their sakes.
Standing at the door of Greg Lestrade's flat, Mycroft's resolve evaporated much quicker than it had formed.
"Myc!" Greg grinned when he opened the door. Even when he'd had a bad day, he greeted Mycroft the same way, managing to sound as if receiving him into his home was an unexpected but extremely pleasant surprise he couldn't believe he was getting.
Wishful thinking, Mycroft thought to himself, head dipping in thanks as Greg took his jacket.
They walked into the kitchen together, Greg already deep into a work anecdote while he fetched the two mugs they tended to use for their customary drinks. Mycroft, already well acquainted with the room, put the kettle on.
The first few times they'd met to this end, tea hadn't even been on their minds. It'd only become a habit shortly after.
As the newness of the situation eased, the slightly awkward, nervous greetings had been traded for conversation over a cup of tea or two on the couch, or a good scotch if Mycroft happened to bring one. The reasoning behind it was a good one too: Things would lead more naturally to what was supposed to be the Main Event of the Evening if they could transition from a good talk in comfy seats to a good snog—though of course they more often than not chose to move to the bedroom, both to avoid regretful back pain the next day and to have more space to get creative.
The sound of the kettle broke Mycroft's stream of thoughts and he looked up at Greg, who flashed an inquiring smile as he handed over a mug and leaned a hip on the counter.
"You seem preoccupied today," he said. "Well, more than usual, that is."
Mycroft lip quirked, taking a moment to sip the tea. When they'd first done this, he'd fixed up his own cup. After a few get-togethers, Greg started making it for him, getting it mostly right every time. The searing liquid settled his nerves, warmth expanding through his chest. He took a deep breath, taking refuge in the sensation before responding.
"Nothing important," he said, letting some tiredness seep into his words. "Would you mind if we skipped the pleasantries today?"
Greg just raised a worried eyebrow, taking his own sip. He didn't look convinced in the slightest. "Rough day?"
"Yes," Mycroft said.
Greg nodded. He still seemed concerned, but must have decided not to push.
"Couch, or stay here?" He asked.
"Here's fine." Mycroft gave an internal sigh of relief, ignoring the guilt churning in his gut.
I deserve one last time.
He tried a smile, attempting to relax his posture. He'd settled on one of the two available stools, legs expressly spread as he watched Greg take another slow drink.
Greg smiled back. They enjoyed speaking through the silence, sometimes, trying to communicate with gestures instead of words. Mycroft leaned back on the seat, raising an inviting eyebrow. Greg raised one back, sparkling. In a second he was in front of Mycroft, taking his mug in hand and depositing it behind him on the counter without breaking eye contact.
He settled between Mycroft's legs, occupying his every molecule of air.
As one hand settled atop his thigh, the other went to his cheek, in a slow caress.
Greg's finger then slid down underneath his cashmere tie, pretending to admire the fabric. "Let me relieve you of this," he said, low and soft, and the way his eyes glittered told Mycroft he wasn't just speaking about the tie. "It looks like it's on a bit tight, love."
He worked the fabric with torturous slowness, his proximity contributing to the rising pulse pounding through Mycroft’s veins, singing with each quivering breath.
As he finally slid off the tie, Mycroft swallowed, tongue fleeting out of its own accord.
"Thank you," he breathed out.
And he tugged Greg to him, taking what he needed.
Rough hands on his thighs, his hips, pulling him to meet Greg over and over again. The sighs of both frustration and relief at the friction provoked by the frantic movement, combined with the kisses, desperate and needy, as if it were going to be the last time they'd be able to do this.
It was, Mycroft thought an hour after, wide awake in the dark of the cool room.
His thoughts had been tumbling down a steep hill since they'd finished, replaying the moments over and over as if to etch them permanently into his brain.
The memory of it would have to suffice to hold him together for the next few months, as he got the Detective Inspector out of his system. It would be painful at first: a habit to be broken, an addiction to get over. But Mycroft was nothing if not resilient. Greg, meanwhile, would surely get over it in a short space of time.
I should have accepted this would happen. It was inevitable, from the very beginning.
Greg gave a particularly loud snore right then. It resonated through Mycroft; for some reason his eyes felt wet, the sound carving into his chest. He turned his head, admiring Greg's features: Soft in his sleep, unknowing. It would be the last time they'd lay side by side like this, content and satisfied in the peace of the moonlit darkness, and Mycroft wanted to make sure he captured every second of it.
Greg shifted, mumbling something.
I might even miss the sleep-talking, Mycroft reflected, melancholy swelling in him as he turned so he could hear better.
What will be the last thing I hear you say, dear Gregory?
Greg mumbled some more, though Mycroft could not understand much. He scooted closer, prompting a pleased noise from Greg, who's arm snaked around him, pulling him closer. Mycroft's eyes fluttered to a close and he allowed his head to cloud over, relishing in the heartbeat under his cheek, the feel of their legs tangling together.
Thank you, he thought through the fog, wishing he could say more, that Greg could hear him.
"M'crof..." Greg mumbled as if responding.
Mycroft's heart squeezed.
"Yes...?" He murmured back, the warmth of his surroundings like a cocoon as he drifted off.
Through the haze he almost didn't hear Greg, sighing one last thing.
Mycroft wakes to an empty bed, shaking, the last words he'd heard pounding through every crevice of his brain until it was about to burst.
Wishful thinking, no more.
He makes his shower cold and short, making sure he's thoroughly awake by the time he's done. His fingers feel like butter as he works his shirt buttons in. When he leaves the room he finds Greg cooking breakfast, humming a familiar song.
Mycroft just stops at the kitchen door and watches, chest buzzing.
Greg's hopping slightly to the beat of the song as he flips around the contents of the pan one last time before plating, adding extra pepper to one of the dishes. He knows how Mycroft likes it and adjusts the recipes accordingly; their differing tastes have never stopped him from making breakfast for the both of them.
He's made breakfast for us every single time I've stayed, Mycroft’s heart pulses. For me.
When Greg finally turns around and spots Mycroft, his face lights up brighter than the sun. "Hi, darlin'," he says, a soft smile lifting his features as he takes off his apron. Then he's in Mycroft's arms, nuzzling into the crook of his neck with a sigh of relief as if being away from him had taken every ounce of energy he possessed.
It fires off every nerve in Mycroft's body at once, yet soothes him just the same.
"Hello," he says, breathing him in.
"I made us eggs," Greg says when they finally pull apart, intertwining their hands. "Come eat on the sofa with me?" His eyes are shining with unspoken affection, and Mycroft can’t help but nod.
He still desires my company, despite spending all night together.
It quivers in his mind, restless.
They eat in-between low, muted conversation, side by side on the sofa, and Mycroft can't help but note every instance of Greg's smile, his fond looks. He sits with his legs up, plate resting on crossed legs, facing Mycroft and giving him his full attention. When the plates are empty and forgotten on the table and Mycroft's recounting whatever random short anecdote he can make his brain muster, Greg seems to unknowingly lean in, face resting on his hand as he grins and adds a little joke here and there.
They could spend hours here, Mycroft thinks, just talking and laughing at things.
That doesn't seem customary for our initial arrangement.
Mycroft smiles to himself.
They have their empty breakfast plates in hand as they walk into the kitchen, together.
"Were you aware that you talk in your sleep?" He asks, as casual as he can make it.
There’s a brief stutter in Greg’s step, barely noticeable before he responds.
"Ah. Yeah. It's been a good while since someone's complained about it though," Greg chuckles lightly, but when he’s setting the plate down in the sink it clashes down, betraying his unsteady hand. He remains facing away for a moment, visibly taking a weak breath before finally turning around. There’s a flush to his neck, and he has to clear his throat before he continues. "Sorry. It usually takes me a few months of, um, getting comfortable with someone before it sort of just... Kicks in."
Something unfurls in Mycroft's chest at the confirmation.
You’re comfortable with me, his insides bubble. "It was not intended as a complaint," he elects to say.
"Mhm. Right," Greg grins, still a bit flushed. A fond look crosses his face—it seems he can't help his actions when he leans in, kissing Mycroft's cheek right there. "Did I say anything weird?" He asks. Mycroft's expression shifts, then. "I hope there was no yelling," Greg says. "Not looking to get professionally smothered for interrupting the British Government's beauty sleep."
Mycroft huffs, eyes rolling in amusement.
"No yelling, no. Though why you'd think I'd hire someone for something I can do myself..."
Greg twinkles. "No homicide in my house!"
His expression makes Mycroft’s heart rush and he begs it to still, now full-on smiling.
"If you must know," he says solemnly, sighing for show, "you were mumbling all about how you thought Sherlock would be 'a better lay' than I." Greg's disbelieving laughter morphs into giggles, and Mycroft sniffs. "Some appalling words were used. Frankly, I'd no idea you knew of such exotic sexual acts—"
Greg's eyes are like plates as his giggles fill the room and Mycroft can't keep up the joke, face splitting into a pleased little grin. He's soaring, insides swelling in pride like a hot air balloon at the response he’s elicited.
"You bloody liar," Greg beams, wiping a little tear out the corner of his eye.
They're leaning against the counter as the laughter quiets down, shoulders brushing.
The muted sunlight filters through the window, surrounding them. The tie Mycroft arrived in is still on the counter, where it’d been forgotten the previous night. Greg takes it, running it through his fingers before holding it up.
"Mycroft," he says, meeting his eyes.
For a moment, they gaze at each other. After a beat, Mycroft tilts his head, blinking in confirmation.
The slide of the tie around his neck feeds the thickening atmosphere, growing between them. Greg’s handling it with slow, precise movements, each little accidental brush of his hands against Mycroft’s chest sending static jolting through. From this close Mycroft can't help but admire him, his eyelashes fluttering as he’s working the fabric, the low thrumming of the air as he looks up at Mycroft and swallows thickly, as if thrilled to find him staring back.
He’s sliding up the knot then gazing at his work before his eyes slip back up to Mycroft's in a magnetic pull.
He’s opening his mouth and there are words building up in his chest; Mycroft can see them running through his eyes then discarding them, pulling them back, discarding them again, undecided and clawing at his brain for the right ones.
His hands are shaking on Mycroft's shoulders, breath stuttering...
Then he’s crumbling, enveloping Mycroft into a crushing hug.
He can feel Greg's fingers tangling into his hair, soothing up into it, heart beating like a nervous drum pounding through them both and scattering the butterflies in his chest.
"Mycroft," Greg says again, hesitating.
“I think I…”
Love you, his every atom yells.
It's as if Mycroft's heard the words loud and clear because they flutter and burst in him, shooting shivers all the way through and leaving him dizzy, flustered, and overflowing with glee. His arms tighten around Greg seeking contact, demanding it, fingers tangling in the fabric of his shirt in reassurance for both of them.
"I, too," Mycroft finally breathes out, overwhelmed that he's even allowed to say it.
Whatever was knotted in Mycroft’s chest has melted, wrapping them both in a tingling warmth. They just shake in relief as they move, Greg’s relieved laughter just puffing in the crook of his neck. He’s started humming again, the same song from earlier. Mycroft can feel his giddiness as they rock to the rhythm of it, dancing off the high with slow steps to the familiar tune.
In their sway, Mycroft's brain works, taking the new evidence into account. It runs it all through, one, two, three times.
This time, however, Mycroft doesn't need it to. He already knows the verdict: He's in love with Greg Lestrade.
And he's fortunate, to say the least, because Greg Lestrade definitely loves him back.