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The Food of Love

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Link to 00!Aaron: https://archiveofourown.org/works/14800244

Art by IDreamofAvalon that inspired this story: https://archiveofourown.org/collections/Every_Fandom_Reverse_Bang_2020/works/29054910

 

 

Tony took a bite of the perfectly prepared beef wellington, letting the flavors explode in his mouth as his senses were overwhelmed by the delicately prepared dish. He closed his eyes so he could experience those flavors to their fullest. Tony felt the smile form as he opened his eyes to look at his dining partner, who had the tiniest smile and a glint of amusement in their eyes.

“I take it, Anthony, that you are enjoying your meal.” Mycroft Holmes, oldest brother of the Holmes siblings, and Tony’s oft accompanied dining companion, spoke with amusement in his voice.

“This is amazing. I mean, I’ve had beef wellington before. But, the wild Japanese mushrooms, the white miso instead of mustard, the soy sauce marinade, the delicate homemade pastry, and the wagyu beef marry together perfectly. I don’t think I’ve ever hand anything as exquisite as this.”

“I am pleased that you’re enjoying your meal.”

Tony took a sip of the Japanese red wine that had been paired with the meal and made pleasure sounds as he relaxed even more. The dinner, and the company, were just what he needed after the last few weeks at Q-Branch. Tony felt murderous towards Bond’s abrupt departure from MI6 and his partner Alec Trevelyan.

“Thank you, My. I needed this night out. I’m glad you talked me into it.”

Mycroft was giving him a look that Tony wasn’t sure he was comprehending properly. There was something Mycroft was considering, but Tony wouldn’t push. He would wait for whatever it was that Mycroft wanted to discuss.

“I am rather happy that you accepted my invitation. I know how rocky things are at the moment with MI6 and Bond’s rather unceremonious departure, but if I know Mallory he will get things back on track. One being, Bond’s replacement. I wonder if the appointment of Nomi as the next 007 was rather quick on Mallory’s part.” Mycroft took a long drink of his wine before taking a bite of his own meal.

“She’s actually refreshing after the chaos of Bond. I know both Aaron and Ashcroft are still pissed off at the way Bond left, but we can’t dwell on whatever it is that went through his mind. Personally, I think retirement was a good thing, I just don’t understand his attachment to Madelaine Swann.”

“You know as well as I do that this man who took on the mantle of James Bond was not as brash when it came to seduction as his predecessors. Though the last few missions his discretion, and those whom he seduced, he lost his edge. You cannot dwell on the mental health of the man. I know your cousins were friends of his, but Bond has made his choice, and frankly, SIS is most likely better off with him being retired.”

Tony took a sip of wine before taking a bite of the vegetable side that came with his wellington, getting his thoughts in order before he spoke once more.

“I know. I hate to say it, but you’re probably right, My. Now, I don’t want to talk about Bond anymore. How’s Sherlock and Arrietty?”

The Mycroft glare was something to behold, and Tony often enjoyed pushing his friend just so he could be subject to it. Tony could admit that he could be a bit of a masochist. It was the only explanation for his friendship teetering on something more that had been going on with Mycroft Holmes and himself since they met when Tony was fourteen and Mycroft was sixteen at the all-boys boarding school Tony had been carted off to by his father. It was there he had also met one of his cousins who insisted on Tony coming home for the holidays. 

That fateful winter break was where Tony’s life completely changed. His Paddington relatives had time to get to know Tony and realize he was nothing like Anthony DiNozzo Sr. and welcomed him into the family. George Paddington took painstaking moves to get custody of Tony after he heard about Senior’s treatment of his son.

“Where did you go, Anthony?”

Tony looked up at Mycroft, as he tilted his head taking a moment to get his thoughts together.

“I was thinking when we met at boarding school and how Uncle George fought for me just a few short months later. Did you think our friendship would last this long?” Tony had an idea of what their relationship was, he just didn’t know how to voice it in a way Mycroft wouldn’t get offended.

“I believe we have the kind of friendship that is built on something real, Anthony. We respect each other greatly and do our best never to lie, or needlessly hurt each other. In fact, you are at times painfully honest with me. Especially in matters that pertain to my often irritating siblings. You don’t let me get away with the same shit I put them through.” Mycroft’s devilish smile had Tony laughing before he took another bite of the most excellent wellington.

“And you are brutally honest with me as well, My. Would you like to come to Sunday dinner? Auntie is cooking this time. I think there’s going to be some big announcement. She only cooks on special occasions and let me tell you, her roast dinners are a thing of beauty and some of the best food you’ll put in your mouth.”

Mycroft blushed a little at Tony’s lamenting over his Aunt Olivia’s cooking. 

“I would be honored to come to Sunday dinner. Thank you, Tony.”

Tony felt something shift inside of him knowing that Mycroft was going to be at the family dinner. Of course, it wasn’t unusual to find the man at the Paddington table for meals, but somehow this one seemed to matter more than those other times. Tony had felt their relationship slowly changing over the last year, ever since the incident with a dangerous computer code written by a group of intellects led by Dr. Spencer Reid, who had been working at MI6 since the resolution of those incidents.

“Are you almost ready to go? I believe we have a little time before the opera begins.”

Tony finished the last few bites of dinner and smiled. “Ready whenever you are.”

__________

The opera was sumptuous. Il Barbiere Di Siviglia happened to be one of Tony’s favorites and the production Mycroft took him to was an especially sumptuous version. Tony had the advantage that he could speak Italian fluently. He insisted on learning as many of the romance languages as he could. Italian, French, Latin, and Spanish he could speak and write thoroughly. It’s why Q often put him with the agents that were multilingual. Tony loved the Italian operas the best because they spoke to that side of his heritage.

At intermission, Tony and Mycroft made their way to the lobby to get a drink.

“Mycroft. Tony. We didn’t expect to run into you.” Tony heard from behind him as they waited in line to get to the bar. Turning around he saw John Watson standing next to Sherlock.

“John, how are you?” 

“Good, good. How are you both enjoying the Opera?”

Tony felt his face flush in pleasure as he thought about how much he was enjoying himself. “I love it. This is a particularly good production. Paulo Szot is amazing as Figaro.”

“I admit I have to look at the performance portfolio to be able to follow along, but I am quite enjoying myself. I never was exposed to opera until I moved in with Sherlock.”

At the mention of his name, Sherlock turned to see Tony and Mycroft.

“Brother, Anthony. I shouldn’t be surprised to see you both here.”

“Sherlock. Have you spoken with Mummy lately? She keeps bothering me about the fact you and Arrietty haven’t talked with her for quite some time.”

Sherlock let out a put upon sigh which made Tony chuckle under his breath before he spoke once more. 

“You might as well give in, Sherlock. You know he’ll resort to kidnapping you again and making you call. As for your sister, where even is she?” 

“Fine. I’ll call Mummy tomorrow. And our dear sister is somewhere in the middle of South America on some dig. She is supposed to call to let me know when she is coming home.”

“That girl is going to be the death of us.” Mycroft sighed.

Tony was surprised at the civility the brother’s were showing each other. Usually at the start of any conversation one never knew if they were going to resort to sniping at each other, or head into an all-out argument. Fortunately, they were in a highly public place, so they were keeping their heads.

“I did not see you in our box.”

“Oh, we were a bit late. You both were so focused I don’t think you heard us.”

Tony nodded and turned back to look to see that they had made it to the bar. He ordered for both himself and Mycroft, along with the box of truffles that were available. A few moments later he was being handed the drinks and the chocolates. Moving to a standing table near the bar, Tony set the drinks down and opened the truffles. When Mycroft made his way over, he lifted a brow at the sounds Tony was making.

“What? It’s chocolate, My. Have a piece.” The brandy Tony had gotten for himself paired excellently with the truffles. And when Mycroft made an involuntary noise, Tony knew he had chosen well.

A moment later, John and Sherlock joined them for the rest of the intermission. It was rather pleasant and Tony enjoyed the conversation. He always suspected that the Holmes brothers cared more for each other than they liked to admit.

After the Opera was over, Mycroft and Tony shared a taxi. Tony’s flat wasn’t all that far from Mycroft’s place on Pall Mall. Before Mycroft exited the taxi, he reached over and laid a hand on Tony’s cheek.

“As always, Anthony, I had a wonderful time. If I do not see you before Sunday afternoon, have a pleasant weekend.”

“Thank you, My.” Tony had to check himself as he noticed his breathing deepened and his heart rate picked up at Mycroft’s touch. It was the first time that Mycroft had touched him in any way that could be considered intimate. Tony began to think that Mycroft was possibly feeling the same way he was.

“Good night, Anthony.”

“Good night, Mycroft.”

Tony departed in the taxi a moment later. He lived within walking distance of the new SIS building, but he didn’t need to go in the office that Saturday, but he thought about taking a drive out to his family’s estate to see who might be around. He had some projects pending at work, but they would, for once, wait until Monday morning. 

As Tony shed his clothes to take his shower he thought once again about his relationship with Mycroft and the years they’ve known each other. He found that he anticipated these subtle changes taking place, but he also wasn’t sure what he wanted his relationship with Mycroft to be. He hoped that he could figure it out soon.

__________

Sunday came and Tony was already at the Paddington manor. He opted to stay in his rooms overnight and spend time with his Aunt and Uncle. Grabbing some movies from his collection he kept there, he made his way down to the theatre he had talked Uncle George to put in a little after Tony had been made George and Olivia’s ward. There had been updates over the years, and it was one of Tony’s favorite places at the mansion.

“What’s on for today?” Aaron asked as he plopped down next to Tony with Edward on his other side. Tony side-eyed both his cousins and wondered what was going on.

“I have Tales of Ugetsu, Yojimbo, and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Warrior. Why?”

“No reason. Thought we would join you, dear cousin.”

Tony narrowed his eyes as he looked towards Edward. 

“Fine. But no talking. I want to watch movies until Auntie calls us for dinner. And, do you two know what the big announcement is?”

“Possibly. But I have been sworn to silence.” Aaron smiled as he leaned back in his chair. “We had Polly make us some snacks when we heard you were going to be in here.”

“You, Aaron, are a genius. It’s why you’re my favorite.”

“Hey!” Edward tried to look put-out, but Tony knew there was no heat to back it up. 

“Shut-up, Eddie. We’re watching movies.”

Tony just smirked as he pressed play on the remote, which dimmed the lights and brought the screen up. The first movie began to play, and much to Tony’s surprise his cousin’s stayed to watch. 

When the first movie finished a cart was brought in with a variety of finger foods and a cooler with waters, sodas, and ales. As they each dished up some of the food, Tony grabbed water, he knew when he sat down the questions were going to start.

“So, you and Mycroft have been having dinner more often together.” Edward took a bite of one of the pastry bites and had a shit-eating grin on his face.

“And you’ve been leaving headquarters to go to the Home Office for lunch.” Aaron popped a mini muffin in his mouth as he leaned back, taking a drink of his ale.

“Would you two mind your own business?”

“Nope.”

“Not a chance.”

Tony rolled his eyes as he pressed play on the next movie.

“We like each other’s company. Okay?”

“Sure.”

“Right.”

“You two are terrible. Just watch the movie. Okay?”

Another 2 hours went by, his cousins had stayed through that movie as well.

“All right. Just so you don’t ask me a million questions and butt into my personal life. I don’t know what’s going on, but yes our relationship is changing, I just don’t know how. Okay, you can go now and leave me alone.”

“Nah. I want to see the last movie.”

“Me too. I don’t often get this much free time.”

“Just don’t fill up or Auntie will be mad.” Aaron popped one of the pastry bites in his mouth as he spoke.

“You guys are terrible, you know that, right?”

“Yup.”

Tony just shook his head and concentrated on the last movie. He knew when that one was done, Sunday dinner would be ready.

“Whelp, this has been fun. But we’d better get out there or Auntie will have our hides.”

Tony took the cart back to the kitchen and thanked Polly for her hard work. Olivia then shooed him away and told him dinner would be put on the table shortly. 

The doorbell rang as he left the kitchen, and seeing no one around, he went to go answer it. Tony’s Aunt and Uncle had given their butler the weekend off, which everyone agreed the man needed the time to himself. When he opened the door, Mycroft was there. He was shocked to see the man in a pair of jeans with a casual button-down and a tailored sports jacket. 

“Mycroft. You look good.” Tony smiled as his friend walked inside handing over a holder of six wines. 

“I was talked into dressing more casual. I have been told more than once by my secretary that Sunday dinners are not formal and I needed to rethink my wardrobe.”

“Tell Anthea that I owe her an outrageously expensive present. It suits you My.” Tony smiled wide as he closed the door behind Mycroft. “Come on, we’re having drinks and canapes in the library.”

Tony took a chance and reached his hand out to take Mycroft's. When the other man’s hand curled with his, Tony kept his expression even, but inside he was elated. They made their way to the library to join the others in some pre-dinner drinks and conversation.

________

When dinner was announced, everyone and their partners made their way to the main dining room where a veritable feast was laid out for them. On the main table was a roast leg of lamb, several roasted guinea fowls, a prime roast, and farm-raised chickens. The sideboard had a cauliflower cheese dish with panko crumbs, Brussels sprouts with bacon, cranberry, and parmesan cheese. Deep bowls of luxuriously soft and supple mashed potatoes, mashed celeriac with warm spices, heirloom tomato salad, and more. 

It was enough food to feed an army. As everyone made a line to pile their plates with portions of the side foods, they then sat down and waited for the carving of the meats. Tony almost laughed as Aunt Olivia brought out two beautifully golden-crusted Beef Wellingtons.

“Seems you will get to have your favorite meal twice in a weekend, Anthony.” Mycroft teased making Tony blush.

“Auntie’s is fabulous. I don’t believe you’ve ever had it.”

“Not as of to date. But I look forward to everything on display. This must be quite the occasion with so much fare to partake of.”

“Yeah, I have no idea what’s going on. But, Aaron seems to know something.”

“You know, he and Mallory have been together almost as long as we have known each other.”

Tony looked over at his cousin, who was smiling at something his partner, Gareth Mallory, was telling him. Tony was just happy his cousin was still as in love as he was when he and Mallory made their relationship known.

“You know, I think you’re right.” Tony took a bite of the mashed potatoes and practically moaned at the flavor. When the Yorkshire puddings with gravy were passed around, Tony didn’t hesitate to take one and pour a generous serving of the gravy inside and out. He loved dipping the bites of meat inside, then when the gravy was gone, eating the soaked bread on its own.

“These are most excellent. I am ashamed to admit that they are far superior to Mummy’s Yorkshire puddings. But I hope you never tell her that.”

Tony laughed as he shook his head. “I promise that I won’t tell your Mother that you think my Aunt is the better cook. Besides, I think Auntie would be upset if your Mum refused an invitation to one of Auntie’s teas.”

“Yes. She always anticipates an invitation. She claims your Aunt is rather entertaining, and from the times I’ve spent here, I can attest that it is quite true.”

“Mycroft. You don’t have to be so formal all of the time you know. Relax a little, it’ll do you good.”

Tony didn’t even try to stifle the chuckle that escaped at the look Mycroft was giving him.

“I do not know how to be any other way, Anthony.”

“For one, you can call me Tony like I’ve asked you to a million times. For another, dammit man use a contraction once in a while. I can guarantee that it won’t kill you.”

“Yes, Mycroft. I agree with Tony. You can loosen your tie, so to speak, every once and a while.” Mallory chimed in a moment later. He was sitting next to Mycroft with Aaron sitting next to Mallory.

“I do not know what you mean.” Mycroft sniffed, but Tony saw the amused glint in his eyes.

“You know perfectly well what I mean. You just enjoy the little mind games you like to play.”

“Maybe. But, it keeps those around me on their toes.”

Tony laughed as he leaned back in his chair and shook his head. He turned to his left to see Spencer, who was a fixture at Paddington Manor ever since he had to be brought to England for his own safety. He appeared nervous.

“Hey, Spence, you okay?”

Spencer swung his head towards Tony so they could look at each other as they spoke.

“Yeah, yeah, why?”

Aaron had a far too amused smile on his face.

“You’re jittery, Spencer.”

“I am?” Spencer’s voice raised almost an octave as he looked around the table. That was the point when Ashcroft stood and tapped his glass to get everyone’s attention.

“Let me start by saying that Auntie, you have gone above and beyond this afternoon. Everything on this table is beyond delicious.” There were applause and praises from around the table. Olivia laughed and waved Ashcroft on. “There is a reason for this sumptuous feast. Spencer?” Ashcroft smiled wide as Spencer stood up and took Ashcroft’s hand. “I have asked Dr. Spencer Reid to marry me, and he has graciously answered yes.” Ashcroft took a box out of his jacket pocket and opened it up. “This was not ready for when I asked the question, so I give this to you now, Spencer.” The ring was slid onto Spencer’s finger. The table broke out in another round of applause and words of congratulations.

Tony turned to see Mycroft and the soft look on his face as he watched the betrothed couple kiss, then Spencer returned the gesture to a surprised Ashcroft as a ring was bestowed on his finger.

Then Aaron stood, with his wine glass in hand.

“Spencer. We certainly had a roller-coaster relationship, and I never begrudged you your anger towards me. However, in the year that you’ve been with us as part of the Paddington family, you’ve become a dear friend. The way you love Jack, and have kept him in your heart makes me glad you came even if the circumstances were not ideal.

“I’ve watched you and Ashcroft grow as a couple and I know he will give you all of the things I could not. Both of you deserve to be happy, I’m just glad you’re going to be happy together.” Aaron smiled and made a quick toast to which everyone took a drink to.

Tony once more looked over at Mycroft who in an unguarded moment had a soft, warm look to his face. No one outside of Mycroft’s circle would know that the man could look like that.

When all of the impromptu speeches were done, and everyone sat back down, the food was taken away and plates of cake were passed around. It was a decadent chocolate fudge cake with the shiniest layer of ganache Tony had ever seen. When Spencer looked blissed out after one bit, Tony took his own bite.

“Dear God. I believe your Aunt Olivia is trying to kill us with indulgence. This has to be the single best bite of dessert I’ve ever put in my mouth.”

Tony was shocked seeing Mycroft eat the cake. The man hardly indulged in sweets. It was good to see him relaxing as much as he was.

“Fancy a game of billiards after we’re done?” Tony asked as he finished off his cake. People were already leaving the table, Ash had already pulled Spencer away, and only Aaron and Mallory were left.

“I would be delighted.” 

“Aaron, Gareth, want to join us?”

“We have plans to take Jack out for a while to give Ash some alone time.”

“Okay, it looks like just the two of us.”

Mycroft smiled as he stood from the table and followed behind Tony. After asking one of the kitchen staff to have some coffee ready for him and Mycroft, Tony went straight to the game room.

The next couple of hours were enlightening indeed. Mycroft had grown bold and began to touch Tony on the hips, sometimes the arm, and once a quick pat on the ass. Tony watched Mycroft and began to wonder where their relationship was heading. He knew they needed to talk about it, but Tony wanted to give it some time to play out. He would approach the subject with Mycroft when he knew what his own feelings towards his oldest friend were.