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Stolen Fruit

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Mycroft stepped out onto the porch just outside the parlour, lighting a cigarette with a practised flick of his fingers and looking out into the burgeoning dusk. It wasn’t until he heard a slightly irritated cough from behind him that he even realised that he had company, and that he was staring off to the right - in the direction of the stables.

“You should take more care not to be so obvious, brother mine.”

Mycroft turned to grace his most withering scorn on his younger brother, tilting his head back toward the brightly-lit room, where soon-to-be Doctor Watson was relating an undeniably scintillating tale to one of the ladies in attendance.

“I could easily say the same of you, Sherlock.”

Backlit as he was, Mycroft couldn’t actually see the blush high on his brother’s cheeks, but he had no doubt that it was there even as Sherlock scoffed loudly and not at all convincingly. Breathing out a heavy sigh, Mycroft waved away the unfortunate tension between them and held out his cigarette case. Sherlock took one with barely trembling fingers, waiting for his elder brother to light it for him.

Mycroft did so, surprised to see a hint of apology and perhaps even regret in his brother’s eyes in the flare of the match. Sherlock hesitated, jiggling his leg subconsciously as he stepped a bit closer, looking around and lowering his voice. “You could, you know. He is only hired help, after all. You could do what you like to him, and he would let you. Just buy him off if he raises a fuss.”

He backed away as an ice-cold fury erupted in Mycroft’s eyes. “That’s a revolting thought, brother mine, and I never want to hear the likes from you ever again. I’ll not take advantage of anyone under my care, no matter what the keepers of other houses may do. It isn’t proper.” He flung the smouldering end of his cigarette out onto the lawn, still dewy with the rain that had fallen whilst they had supped. “It isn’t kind.”

“Ah.” Mycroft shivered slightly as he thrust his hands into his pockets, his eyes once again drawn toward the outbuildings. “I see. You aren’t after naught but a quick tumble. You seek kindness in return.” Sherlock scoffed again, his voice now tinged with a measure of concern. “You’ve barely even spoken more than ten words to the man since hiring him on, and yet you’ve somehow developed...feelings. You?”

Mycroft attempted to ignore the words that were coming unbidden to his mind, crowding at the back of his tongue. ‘Are you blind? Have you not seen him?’

“I... Such feelings are unseemly, brother mine. Unnatural. I should want nothing from him. And yet...” His eyes dropped to the toes of his shoes, shined to a mirror finish not two hours past by the butler, Jackson, who acted as his valet whenever he visited the Holmes estate. Ridiculous. The whole thing was utterly ridiculous and he craved nothing more than to lie down right where he was and let everything crumble to dust around him. Mycroft shrugged helplessly as his brother moved closer to his back, breathing in the sweet aroma of the tobacco Sherlock exhaled as it swirled around his head. “I don’t know what I want.”

Sherlock hummed low, casting his nearly burnt-out end out into the darkness. “Then perhaps you should make that determination, brother mine.” He bestowed a fleeting caress on his brother’s shoulder as bright laughter burst forth from the parlour. “Before Mother Dearest auctions you off to the highest bidder.”

Mycroft shuddered and stepped out onto the grass, deliberately orienting his body to the left, in quite the opposite direction from the beguiling structure that so held his attention. “At nearly thirty years of age and as a frequently and loudly publicly avowed bachelor, I don’t believe I am in much danger from the young ladies therein. You, however... Best be on your toes, little one.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “You are barely turned twenty-seven, brother mine. Hardly the desiccated corpse that you are painting yourself as.”

“Perhaps, but even if I am not too old, I daresay that you are still the most physically appealing to that particular lot. Besides your esteemed friend, of course.” Mycroft allowed himself a quick grin at the expense of his younger brother before nodding at him congenially. “I shall have a walk before I retire. Do make my apologies, if you would be so kind.”

Sherlock murmured, “Yes, of course,” as he watched the darkness swallow his brother’s form, nothing but the starched white collar he wore betraying his path. He took in a fortifying breath before stepping back into the parlour, his spine stiffening as he looked at the delicate pale hand draped oh-so-casually over John’s arm.

He blinked rapidly at his friend’s semi-apologetic smile as his mother spoke up from her chair by the fireplace. “But where has your brother got himself off to?”

Sherlock bent slightly at the waist, plastering on a fake smile. “He begged your kind indulgence, Mother, but protested that the lamb we had for supper was a bit too rich for him. He was going to take a brief constitutional before taking to his bed.”

She frowned impressively, but realising that there was nothing to be done about it, she simply patted the settee next to her instead. “Well. Then it falls on your shoulders to entertain us for a while. Perhaps you would be kind enough to play your violin for us?”

“Oh, quite.” Sherlock smiled toothily as he imagined how he might persuade Mycroft to make up this night of horrors to him later. Somewhat surprisingly, he also found himself wishing that his elder brother would find the answers that he was seeking, and soon. It really was terribly vexing when there was a source of strife in Mycroft’s life that did not come directly from his own shenanigans.

Chapter Text

Mycroft let his mind drift as he wandered about the grounds, his feet taking him where they would and counting on his deep familiarity with his childhood home to keep him from coming to any harm. Although he wasn't entirely surprised to find that his rather circuitous path had taken him all the way around the estate and right to the small side door of the stables, he still let out an exasperated sigh when he saw light flickering from within. With the odd conversation that he’d just had with his brother buzzing through his mind, he found his curiosity simply too insistent to push aside.

Letting out a quiet breath, Mycroft slipped through the partially open door. He inhaled deeply as he stepped through, something about the warm, earthy aroma soothing his nerves. Many times as a child he had sought shelter here from the region’s occasionally capricious climate, and often a measure of comfort as well. He had almost always had something in his pockets for the horses they kept, a bit of apple or some carrots. As monstrous as they had seemed to him as a boy of seven or eight, they had always been so gentle around him, snickering softly as they nosed at his palms and oh-so-delicately accepting whatever treats he had brought them.

The oldest in the stables now had been foaled four years after Mycroft had been born. His father had often referred to the animal as his second son in jest, at least until Sherlock had been born three years later. Little more than a year after that had seen the keeper of the house dead and buried, and Mycroft, who was nothing if not extremely pragmatic from a very early age, had done what he could to fill his father’s rather heavy shoes to the initial amusement but ultimate relief of his mother.

He realised with a start that it had been a number of years since he had stepped foot in here, but as Maestro looked at him from over his gate, snorting softly, he knew that he recognised him, and his heart suddenly felt nearly a stone lighter. Mycroft smiled as he moved closer, almost giggling as the beast ducked his head down, sniffing at his pockets and giving him a reproachful if somewhat rheumy stare when it became obvious that he had come quite empty-handed.

Maestro bumped Mycroft’s shoulder companionably as he reached up to stroke his glossy chestnut neck, murmuring at him quietly. “Next time, old boy. I promise.” The animal snickered softly and leant into his caresses, his large dark eyes blinking at him serenely. Mycroft marvelled for a moment as he stroked the broad nose, pondering just how a dumb beast could look so wise.

The flicker of a lantern from the last stall on the right distracted his attention, and with a parting caress, he left his childhood friend and went to investigate. His footfalls were nearly silent on the straw-scattered ground, and he was more or less able to sneak up on his unsuspecting target, a dark-haired man sitting on a bale of sweet-smelling hay. Not that the individual in question seemed to be entirely aware of his surroundings, as he was leaning into the light cast by the lantern hanging on the wall, his attention focused entirely on the board propped across his knees, and the paper spread out on top of it.

Mycroft realised that he had a bit of charcoal in his fingers, and he watched with interest as he started to sketch the outline of a deer, his hand moving in swift, sure strokes over his canvas. It was perhaps a bit crude, but he seemed to have a remarkable talent for accurately rendering his subject in as few strokes as possible, highlighting the natural beauty and even majesty of the creature within those simple, short lines. He filled out the most rudimentary of a landscape around the deer before tossing the paper onto the ground, amongst a pile of previously discarded sketches.

Mycroft blinked as the paper fluttered to the ground, as the stable lad set up another and immediately started up a fresh sketch, this time a... Oh. A rabbit. As well as a fox lying in wait in some nearby shrubbery, it seemed. How intriguing. Steeling his nerves a bit, he stepped closer and crouched down, shuffling through the depictions of various snippets of nature, of things that had clearly been witnessed throughout his days of labour. Mycroft ignored the sudden cessation of the scratching of the charcoal as he pulled out a remarkably detailed rendition of Maestro’s head.

He cleared his throat quietly. “I had no idea that you were so talented, Lestrade.”

There was a soft laugh from behind, and Mycroft looked over his shoulder into twinkling dark eyes. Lestrade wiped his grubby fingers on his rough-hewn trousers before scrunching up his nose and scratching at it, leaving behind a smudge of charcoal. Mycroft blinked as he rather heroically resisted his urge to lick it away. “Yeah well - you din’t exactly hire me on to be an artist, did you? You hired me ta look after yer beasties.”

“And you do a fine job at it. But still.” Mycroft gestured down at the numerous sketches. “These are very impressive.” He straightened up as Lestrade stretched his legs out in front of him, pulling the cap from his head and running his fingers through his mop of dark curls. Mycroft just stood there for a moment, his mind gone somewhat blank. With the luxurious if unruly hair and the large brown eyes, the high intelligent brow and firm jawline, this man could hardly be seen as anything less than a Greek god.

He shook himself out of his fugue as Lestrade spoke. “Thank you, sir.” His voice was soft and low as he dropped his eyes demurely. “It’s just something I do to help me sleep, really.”

Mycroft frowned as he looked around again, noting the blankets neatly folded away in one corner of the stall and a small trunk standing nearby. “Surely you don’t sleep here.” He gestured vaguely, feeling a small sense of panic beginning to set in at the thought of failing any of the people under his charge, and this one in particular. “Are the servants’ quarters not adequate? Do you need some other manner of accommodation?”

Lestrade fairly leapt to his feet, reaching out rather impudently to give Mycroft’s hand a quick squeeze. His voice and his brain both sputtered to a stop as his skin prickled pleasantly, staring mindlessly as the stable lad’s cheeks went pink. “Don’t fret yerself none.” He released Mycroft’s hand and ran his through his hair again, nervously. “It’s better fer me - out here. In there I cain’t hardly ever sleep. Cain’t breathe.”

Mycroft blinked rapidly. “But when winter comes...”

“Won’t be here, will I?”

“You...what?”

Lestrade tilted his head curiously. “Movin’ on in the fall. Didn’t yer man tell you? He knew it was only a temporary berth, that I have a prospect waiting fer me elsewhere.”

“I... No. Jackson failed to inform me of that fact.”

“Reckon ‘e won’t be all that sorry to see me go anyhow.”

Mycroft felt a quick pang low in his belly, and his mouth swiftly betrayed him. “I will, though.” He coughed in an awkward attempt to cover up his slip, even as something altogether too knowing and indeed, wicked, passed over the lad’s fine features. “I am sure that you will - ahem - do very well for yourself. A-are you emigrating, then?”

“Australia. Got a cousin that sailed out a few years back, got himself a farm set up. Offered me a solid job and mebbe even a bit of land of my own a ways down the line.” He shrugged idly as he unselfconsciously dropped to his knees in the straw and started gathering up his sketches. “It’ll be a struggle, but ain’t nothing in this life all that easy. At least, nothing worth havin'.”

Mycroft’s brain swam dangerously as he looked down at Lestrade’s bent head, at the sweet slope of the nape of his neck, roughened with sun. He blinked rapidly to recover himself, taking a half-step back to prevent himself from doing anything rather forward. “A-as I said, you’ll do splendidly.”

“Thank you, sir.” The merry twinkle was back in the lad’s eyes as he offered a piece of paper to Mycroft, the portrait of Maestro that had caught his attention earlier. “Y’can keep this one, if'n you like.”

He stood and shuffled the sketches around as Mycroft accepted his gift, nodding his gratitude. “It really is quite good, Lestrade.” He smiled softly as the lad scuffed his feet awkwardly, his cheeks once again glowing rosily in the light cast from the lantern. Something caught Mycroft’s eye in the pile of paper and he unwittingly reached out for it, tilting his head as it came into clearer view. “This one - may I see it?”

Lestrade’s ears went absolutely red as he ducked his head, wordlessly plucking it from the stack and crushing the rest of them to his chest. “Yes, sir.”

Mycroft froze in place as he looked down at the profile of a man in full dinner-dress standing on a porch, smoking as his eyes gazed out into the distance. It was him, of course, the sharp angle of his nose, the cruelty of his chin and the errant curl on his forehead giving it away all too easily. But the lines on the paper showed him as something so much more elegant than he ever felt, and far more exciting as well, something wild and quick lurking under the cool exterior. This creature on the page looked as though he would have been equally as comfortable prowling amongst the trees as he was standing there in formal wear.

He was obviously a part of the higher society that could dimly be seen through the windows behind him, ladies in elegant gowns and laughing men with drinks in their hands. But he was also apart from it, solitary and still on the other side of the door, breathing in the night air and wishing he could be free. It was beautiful. He... Lestrade saw him as something beautiful.

“You f-flatter me.”

Lestrade looked up from where he had settled back onto his throne of hay and clover, smoothing out the papers that he had crumpled earlier. He shook his head gently, his eyes seeming to grow in his face. “No. No, sir, I most certainly do not.” His cheeks were still blazing shyly, but he smiled up at him boldly. “You can keep that one as well, if you like. I have others.”

Mycroft subconsciously held it to his chest with one hand, sucking in air as his heart seemed to stop and nothing more than the mere implication and then re-started itself with a hard double thump. “Thank you, Lestrade. You are most kind.”

The imp nodded genially as he polished an apple on his jacket before taking a substantial bite. Without speaking, he lobbed it gently in Mycroft’s direction, grinning at him a bit stickily as he stretched out his free hand to catch it without conscious thought. “For yer friend. And if’n you don’t mind, I think it’s time I laid my head down. Early day, don’t y’know.”

“Q-quite.” Moving as if in a dream, one hand clasping the defaced apple and the other holding his gifts to his chest, Mycroft wandered back down until he got to Maestro’s stall. The beast once again greeted him with soft snickers, his head bobbing slightly. Before handing over his treat, Mycroft rather foolishly pressed his lips to the bitten-away flesh and stole a tiny mouthful for himself. Then he watched with pleasure as Maestro crunched the rest of it all away, reaching up to stroke his velvety nose before quitting the stables and heading back to the manor.

Chapter Text

Mycroft held the small chunk of apple in his mouth as he walked, sucking on it lightly until all the sweetness had been spirited away. Only then did he chew the tasteless lump solemnly, feeling almost as though he had taken communion from a wild spirit of the forest as he swallowed.

He swiftly realised that he had been out perambulating for far longer than he had thought, as the house was utterly silent and all but dark. There was a lamp left lit by the parlour door, either by his man Jackson, or by his worrisome but occasionally surprisingly thoughtful brother. Not that it mattered much, as he would have been able to navigate by nothing more than the bright moonlight streaming through the windows, but he still took it upstairs with him, setting it down on his bureau and adjusting the flame a bit lower. Mycroft undressed in the eerie stillness, thankful that he could attend to this task on his own, and not have Jackson hovering over him obsequiously. He was a fine valet, but he seemed to abhor silence, and did have a tendency to chatter on about absolutely nothing of importance while tending to his master. Some mornings, he didn't mind so much, as it helped him to clear his mind of any lingering disquiet left from his dreams.

Tonight, however, Mycroft wanted to remember, to delve into his memories, to once again see those dark eyes twinkling up at him and to analyse what the lad's expression might have meant. He scoffed at himself in his own head, slipping a pair of pyjama bottoms over his legs, avoiding the reflected glare of his pale flesh in the small mirror over his bureau. Oh yes, what could it mean that the devilish man did all but openly leer at him lasciviously? Mycroft once again took up the sketch of himself, looking at the impossibility of it in the light of the lamp before stashing it away in his bottom drawer.

Lestrade clearly held some affection for him, if the image on that paper was an honest one. And although Mycroft could believe many things of the man, that he was rough and earthy, a quick-witted cad with a liquid tongue, he could not believe him to be deceitful. Everything about him was honest and true and real, sincerely the salt of the earth, the best that Man could offer this already overly-weary world.

Mycroft turned off the lamp and wandered over to the window, looking out onto the lawn, glistening with the light rain that was once again coming down steadily. He raised the sash and rather foolishly leant out, ducking his head so that the back of his neck was exposed to the elements. It proved helpful in cooling his overheated flesh, and Mycroft drew back with a soft sigh of relief. He shivered almost immediately and shook his head at his own folly as he once again pulled the window nearly shut, leaving enough of a gap that the gentle gusts of air rolling in and the sound of the rain trickling over the eaves below could lull him to his slumber.  

Mycroft ran his fingers through his damp hair before taking to his bed, rolling over onto his side and pulling the blankets up to his neck. He took in deep steady breaths as he attempted to draw a dark curtain over his mind, but of course he utterly failed to fall asleep. He couldn't stop thinking about Lestrade, about that solitary figure sleeping all alone on his bed of purloined straw. About how he might smell, like sweetly-scented clover and the cool night air. His touch, as brief as it had been, had left the skin of Mycroft's hand tingling in its wake. How might that touch feel on his face, his lips? What other places might he touch, and would Mycroft even be able to withstand it?

Even now he felt as though he may simply go up in flames, the heat at his core threatening to engulf him completely. He whimpered and rolled over onto his stomach, pulling the bedclothes completely over his head. Mycroft blinked into the softness of his pillow as he writhed against the mattress, muffling his low moan. It was shameful and indecent, and he hadn't done it for a number of years, at least not consciously, but he knew instinctively that it was the only thing that could quench the fire within.

So he rubbed himself against the bed, letting his mind fill with images of sun-drenched skin and dark twinkling eyes, of rough hands so gentle on his skin, of low gravelly murmurs in his ear. Sounds of benediction, of praise. Words of love and lust on lips that tasted of pilfered fruit and of his most secret places. Places that he would only share with the one who had handily stolen his heart away with nothing more than a few strokes of charcoal on a grubby piece of paper. With him. With...with...Lestrade.

Mycroft’s mouth opened as his pleasure crested, but he managed to lock his voice in his throat, emitting a mere squeak instead of the moan that truly wished to emerge. His body shuddered and shook, the sticky mess underneath him spreading through his unders. He grimaced slightly as his vision cleared, but other than a vague discomfort, he did not feel any sense of self-disgust over the act. Men were but animals, after all, and logically, certain bestial urges simply could not be denied.

Mycroft slipped from bed to fetch something to wipe up with, finding a small cloth in the washstand. He folded it up after putting it to its purpose and slipped it into the crevice between his bed frame and the wall, giggling when he pictured Jackson’s face if he happened to discover it. He would wash it himself in the morning along with his somewhat crusty self, and perhaps tuck it away for the same purpose later. Mycroft had a feeling that this would not be the last time that he would have to assuage such urges, especially if he were to happen to run into Lestrade again, with his sinful eyes and charcoal-stained fingers.

This time, when he laid his head down on the pillow, he was able to close his eyes and let his body sink into the mattress. He still saw Lestrade, but the image was soothing now instead of arousing, his eyes not full of fire, but of languid satisfaction. Mycroft smiled to think that perhaps the man himself was seeing something similar in his own crude bed. Content with this fanciful image, he fell fast asleep.

He awoke feeling slightly feverish, his brain muddled and uneasy. Jackson entered after his customary if perfunctory knock and could see right away that his master wasn't quite up to snuff. He immediately ran off to fetch the lady of the house over Mycroft’s weak protestations. After all, who better to look after a poorly man than his own mother?

Mycroft sighed as he imagined the fuss that would shortly ensue, chiding himself for being so reckless as to lay his wet head down to sleep, and with the window open, nonetheless. He debated slipping out of bed to close it before his mother arrived, but simply sitting up made his head spin somewhat alarmingly, so he sank back down and attempted to fortify himself. There was the appropriate amount of fluttering and squawking, a lecture delivered with a firm finger wagging about two inches from the tip of his nose and a stern admonishment to remain in bed the remainder of the day.

After ordering Jackson to bring his master some thin porridge and weak tea, the Holmes matriarch saw to it that the window was shut firmly and the curtains drawn. Mycroft made all the appropriate noises about obeying his mother’s edicts, but as soon as his man appeared with tray in hand, he asked him to at least pull the curtains back so that he had some light, and also asked that his valise be brought up to him.

After all, he would be returning back to the city once the holiday weekend was over, and had a number of papers that he still needed to review. This unscheduled respite would give him the opportunity to devote his attention to his work, and not feel as though he needed to be fulfilling any ridiculous social obligations to his family or to the various individuals that his mother seemed to love to entertain at every possible moment.

Jackson returned with his documents and took his tray up, pausing at the door to his room. “I say, sir... Young Lestrade had enquired after you earlier this morning. Seemed to think that perhaps you’d like to go riding.”

Mycroft shifted against the headboard, his pants somehow seeming a bit snugger than they had a moment earlier. “Ah. Yes, well, it would have been a fine day for it. But what with circumstances being as they are, I am afraid that I shall have to postpone that particular activity.”

“Yes, of course, sir. Shall I extend his offer to your brother and Mr. Watson instead, then?”

Mycroft laughed softly. “You could certainly try, Jackson, but you know how Sherlock is, and I believe he had a notion to take John down to the hives today.”

Jackson inclined his head. “Perhaps it’s just as well, sir. I know that Greenwood had intended to make some of those repairs on the roof, and that he was hoping to make use of the young man’s labours. This way he will be free to assist and the work will be completed all the quicker.”

“Yes, by all means.” Mycroft cleared his throat awkwardly as he started to rifle through his valise. “But please do pass on my gratitude to Lestrade, if you would. It was very considerate of him to make the suggestion.”

Jackson’s head tilted in a somewhat superior manner. “But that is simply his purpose, sir, as it is for all of us. To serve at the pleasure of our masters.”

Mycroft’s head swam slightly, and he sank back into his pillows. Lifting one hand weakly, he waved Jackson out and waited until the door was shut behind him before sliding that hand under the covers and pressing down on the unfortunate protuberance that had sprung up at nothing more than those innocent-seeming words. Thankfully it had been covered by his valise and a spill of papers, otherwise...

He shuddered gently and forcibly turned his mind back onto his work, as the idea of abusing himself did not seem as natural in the light of day as it did under the cover of darkness.

Chapter Text

By the time Jackson returned with a late luncheon of broth and dry toast, Mycroft had managed to review most of the papers he had been assigned, and his head was thick and muddled with superfluous words and meaningless phrases. He sighed unhappily at his man’s cheery greeting and dutifully consumed the less than appetising fodder that he was presented with.

Mycroft grumpily started to gather up his papers, tidying them away. “I feel almost as though I'm in gaol.”

Jackson laughed merrily, earning a quick scowl from his master. “I do apologise, sir. But you really are quite amusing at times.” Mycroft rolled his eyes at the blatant sycophancy being presented and then started slightly as there was a thump and an indistinct shout from somewhere above his head. “I’ll have a word with them immediately, sir. No reason to be stamping about like a herd of beasts up there.”

“No, Jackson, you will not. They’re fine. I've hardly even noticed them, to be perfectly truthful. A bit of noise is to be expected when clambering about on a roof, and I’d rather they be noisy and safe than silent and somehow bring harm to themselves.” Jackson conceded with a bit of a grim face, and Mycroft sank back down into the pillows. “I believe I'm going to see about getting some more rest, but the atmosphere in here is positively stifling. Please open that window for me.” Mycroft sighed again at the pinched look on his man’s face. “Just a bit, and I promise I won’t tell Mother. I need fresh air or I shall suffocate.”

“Of course, sir.” After cracking the window as he was bade, Jackson took care to see that the glass next to Mycroft’s bed was supplied with fresh water, and fussed over his bedclothes for a bit until his master’s head had sunk deeper into the pillows. Then he whisked the luncheon tray away and carefully shut the door behind him with a soft click.

Mycroft slept, although admittedly not well. He had never been one that took much pleasure in idleness, even when it was warranted - perhaps especially not even then. He had always firmly believed that his body should obey the impulses of his mind, and never the reverse. As he slipped into a vague dream of swarthy sun-kissed skin and bewitching deep dark eyes, he thrashed somewhat restlessly, throwing the bedclothes away from himself fitfully.

“Ah, we’ll have none of that, now.” Mycroft moaned quietly, unsure if he were asleep and still dreaming, or if that rough but oddly soothing voice truly was only inches from his ear. He cautiously opened eyes that were threatening to spill over as he felt the covers being tugged up over him again, looking up into the sweetest face that he had ever seen. “Heard ya calling out, I did.” Lestrade traced a solitary tear dripping from Mycroft’s eye, wiping it up with the back of his finger. “It’s all right, now. Everything’s all right. I know, sir... I know.”

Mycroft wanted to knock the cap off Lestrade’s fine head, desperate to bury his nose in the wild thicket of curls, to inhale the aroma of the pitch they were using to repair the roof, to simply take him into his lungs and make him a part of him forever. He blinked incomprehensibly as Lestrade continued to stroke his face lightly, the softest of bewildered smiles on his sun-kissed lips. “Might I ask your name?” He could have smacked himself for the inanity of the question, especially as Lestrade’s eyebrows turned in quizzically.

“You know my name, sir. It’s Lestrade.”

Mycroft shook his head desperately. “No, no... I mean your given name.”

“Only Greg just.”

Mycroft sighed happily even as there was an indistinct shout from beyond the window, now wide open. He could see the tines of a ladder propped up against it as Gregory looked over his shoulder in concern. “Mycroft. You must call me Mycroft.”

Lestrade turned back with another surprised if pleased smile. “Mycroft, aye. I must be getting back, they’ll be missing me. I were only meant to fetch more nails, y’see...”

Mycroft reached out to grasp his hand, cradling it to his cheek. “Gregory - come to me later. Tonight, when the house is still. I take the evening train back to the city tomorrow. Please. I must see you before then. I... I m-must...” Mycroft’s voice drifted away, his uncertain intentions getting caught in his throat.

Lestrade nodded faintly, his eyes full of hope and delight. He seemed to hesitate, and then leant in to press his lips to Mycroft’s forehead, clucking his tongue as he pulled away. “I will, as long as you get some more sleep. You’re still poorly.”

Mycroft was too dazed to protest as Lestrade pulled away from him completely, as he backed toward the window on light feet. He managed to push himself up on his elbow as Lestrade clambered out onto the windowsill, watching as he turned and gave him a saucy little wink before disappearing up the ladder. Then Mycroft took the glass of water on his bedside table and drank more than half of it down before splashing the rest directly over his face.

Poorly? No, good Lord no. He almost felt as though he could beat even the overly health-obsessed Watson in a footrace just at this moment. All lethargy had left his body as soon as those lips had touched his skin, and any heat lingering was entirely due to Lestrade’s ardently caring attentions. How was he meant to get any rest after that? Devil! Was it possible that he did not know the effect that he had on Mycroft’s nervous system?

Impossible. The man was impossible, the situation was impossible. Mycroft once again pulled the bedclothes over his head and blinked into the darkness. Should he be afraid? Should he suspect the man of some ulterior purpose, that perhaps he was looking to bring scandal to him, to the house? Mycroft was currently fairly low-ranking in his chosen branch of government, but he knew that he had been making the right contacts and that he had been noticed by the higher-ups. If this were to get out, it would absolutely ruin him and bring nothing but shame on him and the family.

Oh, his poor mother... What would she say if she knew that not only one, but that quite possibly both of her sons were inverts? And that at least one of them had foolishly acted upon their unnatural desires? Oh! Mycroft’s face blazed with shame as he contemplated, but he knew that there was no way on earth that he would be able to turn from that path now. Lestrade had touched him, had kissed him - had admitted that he knew of his filthy hopes and that he was willing to act upon them with him!

He - oh! Devil! Wicked little fiend with his wicked little smile and those damned twinkling dark eyes... Mycroft found himself thinking that he wouldn't be at all surprised if he discovered a spiky little tail protruding from the blaggard’s backside once he got him out of those rough trousers of his. But - oh... He bit his lip in the darkness of his blankety cave and once again flipped over onto his stomach. Rather than relieving himself of his torment, he relished in it, laughing maliciously at his trapped flesh as it twitched forlornly underneath him. No, not now, not while it was still day. Not until tonight, and he would save it for - him. For... Gregory. Oh.

Chapter Text

Eventually, Mycroft did succumb to sleep, his body and mind simply overwhelmed by the swirling clash of hopeful emotions and undeniable concerns. He awoke as the evening was beginning to darken, as Jackson came to look in on him. He requested that the lamp be lit, insistent on finishing the small amount of work that he had remaining.

It was done by the time his man brought him supper, a bit of cheese being allowed him along with a small loaf of bread. Mycroft practically cheered at seeing it, causing Jackson to once again laugh at him merrily. He surprised himself by joining in, reaching out to touch the apple that had been included as an inoffensive if meagre pudding. He was left in peace to consume his paltry meal, and Mycroft lingered over the apple, nibbling off tiny pieces and sucking them dry before swallowing.

He was reading a novel of no importance, or at least feigning his interest in such, when Jackson returned to fetch the tray. Mycroft attempted to put on his most unaffected tone as he requested that a basin of extra-hot water be brought to him so he could wash up.

“I know it must seem odd, as I've barely moved all day, but I feel positively sticky!” Mycroft almost bit his tongue in mortification as his man turned a puzzled look on him.

“No, sir. Nothing you ever ask of me is odd. I’ll lay out some fresh nightclothes for you as well, and should you need assistance...”

“Ah, no. I am a grown man, I can tend to myself. Thank you for your consideration, but I am feeling much better, and the illness really wasn't all that dire to begin with.”

“Nevertheless, I’ll be just outside your door should you need me.” Jackson tipped his head toward the barely-open window. “And if you don’t mind me saying so, sir...that should most likely be shut before Lady Holmes comes to see how you’re faring. She has been rather vocal about her concern for you.”

Mycroft cracked a small smile as he imagined his brother’s no doubt overly dramatic reactions to said demonstrations of concern. “Ah. Quite right.”

Feeling ridiculously lucky to have Jackson looking out for him, Mycroft slipped from bed and closed the window firmly after taking in a healthy draught of fresh clear air. He also drew the curtains and paced rather impatiently as he waited for his impromptu bath to arrive. While he didn't think that Lestrade - er, Gregory - would mind him in his current state, he couldn't help thinking that this was a rather momentous occasion, and that it should be approached as such.

Not that he had ever believed that he would be put into such a situation, and most certainly not with another man... Mycroft’s heart fluttered in his chest as he suddenly felt that his stomach may actually rebel. He managed to stave off his queasiness by sinking back down onto the bed, covering his eyes with one arm flung over his face.

“I say, sir... Are you quite sure about being able to manage on your own?”

Mycroft nodded as he peeked out from underneath his arm, gleefully taking in the sight of a steaming pan of water along with fresh towels and oh - even a small cake of lavender-scented soap. “Quite, quite sure, yes. I am beholden to you, my good man.”

“Never you mind about that, sir. As I said, I’ll be just outside should you need me.”

Mycroft fairly leapt out of bed as he was left to his own devices, quickly stripping out of his flannel pyjamas. He once again avoided the glare of his own pale flesh in the mirror, ignoring the voice of doubt that was ringing in his ears as he ran his hands over his chest and down his soft belly, squeezing at it in disappointment. Would this awkward figure even be appealing to a man like Lestrade, who had most likely already dallied with pretty maids and also possibly young strapping lads such as himself?

God, oh God, what if it were a scheme for blackmail or something worse, what if... Mycroft paused, forcibly turning his mind back to earlier in the afternoon, when Gregory had touched him so gently, so...reverently. When he had looked at him with those deep dark eyes of his, so full of hope, so... He clutched at the washstand as his knees threatened to buckle. No, this was no scheme. However this night may go, Mycroft knew in his heart that it would be nothing less than a gift to be shared between the both of them.

He straightened his spine and started to wash, taking special care with all of the areas he thought might receive attention, singing an innocent nursery rhyme in his head to keep from prematurely exciting his flesh. After scrubbing behind his ears and along the back of his neck, Mycroft carefully wiped away any of the suds lingering on his skin and then rubbed himself down roughly with a clean towel, making his skin glow pink in the light of the gas lamp.

He bit his lip as he dressed in his cotton pyjamas, daringly foregoing any unders. Mycroft felt his cheeks heat abominably, but there was a certain wicked thrill in being practically naked, even without the promise of something even more wicked happening. Once settled back in bed with his novel, he called Jackson in to remove the evidence of his recent toilette.

And not a moment too soon, as his mother escorted herself in just two minutes later. She was dressed for dinner, of course, but not one of the more elegantly embellished gowns that she tended to don while entertaining guests. So the only attendants had most likely been his brother and his guest, who was more like family at this point anyway.

Sherlock and John had known each other since childhood, due to a chance meeting in the nearby village many years past. Recognising that young Watson was one of the truly rare individuals that could tolerate his brother’s often abominable behaviour, Mycroft had seen fit to assist in funding his schooling. He was already promising to become quite the skilled surgeon, although the recent rumours of strife elsewhere in the world had turned Watson’s head to the possibility of military service; especially since his own father had served admirably for quite a number of years himself.

Mycroft sincerely hoped that John would not volunteer for the service, although of course his own interest in the matter was selfishly tilted toward seeing Sherlock happy (and quiescent) and not necessarily out of concern for Watson’s own well-being. Although when it came right down to it, his brother’s friend was remarkably bull-headed at times, and Mycroft knew that if violence were to erupt, there was likely nothing that either he or Sherlock could say that would possibly sway John’s decision.

All of this was going through the elder Holmes’ mind as his mother rambled on incessantly about her day, about the the news she had received from the village that was of no consequence whatsoever, about the outrageous price that the butcher had charged for tomorrow’s roast, about the myriad number of things that only a lady of the manor could find to complain about. Mycroft clucked his tongue sympathetically whenever she paused for breath, a trick that his subconscious mind automatically performed so it would appear that he was actually paying attention. He did laugh a bit nastily when she informed him that Sherlock had been stung several times in his attempt to show John the hives, and Mycroft accepted his mother’s fierce swat on the arm as just punishment.

“If only he would take his time with the poor beleaguered creatures, he wouldn't startle them so. They only sting when threatened.”

Lady Holmes sighed heavily. “You and I both know that patience has never been, and never will be, one of your brother’s strongest suits.” She appraised her oldest son critically, reaching out to place the back of her hand to his forehead. “You’re much improved from this morning, I must say.” She nudged his valise with one delicate foot. “You work too hard, Mycroft. Weekends at home with your family should be spent with your family, not on interminable and rather unnecessary paperwork. Without a spouse to look after you, you’ll run yourself ragged before your time.” Mycroft shifted uneasily as his mother’s face took on an uncharacteristically solemn expression. “Are you truly so eager to precede me to the afterlife?”

“Mother!”

She silenced him with a singular look, grasping one of his hands in both of hers firmly. “I know that I failed your father in this same regard, and I do not intend to allow it to happen again. I cannot bear the thought of you following in his path, nothing but work work work until your heart cannot take it any more and it simply gives out. I understand that both you and your brother see me as nothing but frivolous at times, but it was not always so. It took your father’s death to make me realise that a body needs fun and frivolity in their lives to make it worth living. You need rest and relaxation. And you need someone in your life to remind you that these things are important. Until you find that someone, my son, I shall have to stand in their place.”

Mycroft gaped at her, utterly speechless. She patted his cheek and stood, hesitating at the foot of his bed before turning another serious look on him. “I would also have it known that there is nothing that you could ever do that I would find shame in. Your father was a remarkable man, and he gave me two remarkable and unique children. Not one day has gone by that I have not been immensely grateful for the gifts that he left for me in the forms of you and your brother. I feel in my heart that he would want you both to be just as happy as I wish for you, and that he would never stand in the way of whatever form that happiness inhabited. I...we accept you for you, and we would defend you if it became necessary.”

“Mother, I...”

Lady Holmes waved Mycroft off as he made to get out of bed, his limbs sluggish and weak with a surplus of emotion. “No. Don’t you fret, Mycroft Holmes - keep your posterior right where it is. I just...wanted you to know, that’s all. The past few weekends that you have spent here with me, you've seemed - somehow lighter and yet more weighed down at the same time. Your body and mind are not in sync, are they, my boy? One part of you has...accepted something and the other part is holding you back. Let your worries go - find what makes your heart sing, and take hold of it. Cherish it till the end of your days, for you never know if it may be taken from you ahead of its time.” Her clear gaze suddenly turned fierce as she stood at his bedroom door, her hand on the knob. “I will not stand idly by and watch you wither away. It will not happen, not so long as I have a breath of life left in me.”

Mycroft found himself giggling a little, but rather than turning flinty eyes on him, his mother seemed to relax and she breathed out a small laugh of her own. “I am hereby warned, Lady Holmes. I hear you, and I do...thank you. Sincerely. You have lightened some of my burden and have given me something to ruminate upon. Mother, I...” He blinked as he took in her posture, standing proud and straight-backed, still as beautiful as ever even well into her fourth decade. “You are an exceptional woman. Father was very lucky.”

“Yes.” She sniffed imperiously with a curt dip of her head. “Yes, he was. But then, so was I, and I’ll never find his like again. It is extremely fortuitous that I have two fine boys who will ensure that I am well taken care of in my dotage.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes even as he smiled at her fondly. “You still have several decades before that will happen. I would not be so sure about not finding love again in that considerable span of time.”

He squirmed slightly as keen blue eyes pierced into him. “And what would you know of love, then?”

Mycroft felt his cheeks heat, and he ducked his face away from her gaze. “Nothing, madam.” He looked to the drawn curtains and mumbled, “Yet,” under his breath.

He heard a low musical hum from the doorway, but kept his shamefully burning face turned away. “I shall leave you to consider, then. Goodnight, my child.”

“I wish you pleasant dreams, Mother.”

He heard the smile in her voice as she stepped out into the corridor. “Then I am quite sure that I shall have them.”

Chapter Text

Mycroft was left to ponder for only a moment before Jackson once again invaded his space, ensuring that all was well before retreating to his own room. He fussed over the bedclothes as his master stared at nothing, or rather, quite intently at the curtains pulled shut over the windows.

“Lady Holmes requested a late breakfast tomorrow morning, sir.”

“Mm? Oh. Oh, yes.”

Jackson quirked an eyebrow at the distant wistfulness in his master’s voice. “Hopefully you’ll be well enough to take it, young master.”

Mycroft smiled at his valet as he slid down into the pillows, once again picking up his novel. “I do believe that I will be just as right as rain, Jackson. You’re dismissed for the night.”

“Thank you, sir.” The valet paused in the doorway for a final glance around, making sure that everything was in its proper place before slipping out into the corridor.

Mycroft cocked his head and listened for the sound of fading footsteps before carefully climbing out of bed and reaching for the key. The lock engaged, he prowled about restlessly, shaking the last of the nerves from his limbs. Although he had indeed been plagued with worry, his mother’s visit and her surprising if vague revelations had helped to ease them considerably.

He drew the curtains back and opened the window wide, bracing his hands on the sill and leaning out. Mycroft laughed to himself as the first cool breeze stroked his face, suddenly feeling as free as a bird. He scowled briefly as he stretched out a bit further, looking down and noting light still streaming out onto the lawn from the parlour windows. He knew not to expect his visitor until the house was silent and dark, but it would hardly be proper to go down and chase his brother and his brother’s friend off to bed, especially barefoot and clad only in light pyjamas. Mycroft sincerely hoped this night wouldn't be one of the occasions when Sherlock managed to keep himself upright (if not entirely functional) for a full twenty-four hours or more.

Still. It was abundantly apparent that his watchword for the night was to be patience.

After closing the window only far enough so there was ample room for a solid finger-hold, the lamp was extinguished, and Mycroft slid between the sheets, now blessedly cool to the touch. He sat propped up against his pillows, idly fiddling with a stray thread that his fingers had encountered in their impromptu explorations. His heartbeat calmed itself as time ticked by, even as he kept his eyes on the window. Mycroft listened to the clink of glasses far below, and kept his ire in check by the considerable power of his will alone.  

Eventually, though, the darkness surrounding him overpowered his eagerness; not smothering it, but tamping it down into a small, smouldering spark. Mycroft felt himself slipping lower in the bed, powerless to keep his eyes from fluttering shut.

The sound, when it came, was so low that it permeated his consciousness only to an extent that it almost convinced him that it was nothing but a dream, and he allowed his eyes to close again. He had nearly forgotten that he was even expecting someone until the noise came again, a soft, intermittent tapping of wood against his windowsill. Mycroft pushed himself up on his elbow and looked to the window in time to see an indistinct shape looming up out of the moonlit night.

His heart thumped loudly in his chest as the sash was raised, and he found himself curling up into a ball under the bedclothes, some half-formed instinct calling to him to protect himself against the intruder. But then he blinked as he came fully awake, suddenly recalling the assignation that he had arranged earlier in the day. And as Lestrade slipped into his room as easily as breathing, he stretched out his body and held out his arms, wordlessly calling his would-be lover to him.

Gregory came to him eagerly, kicking off his boots as he knelt by the side of the bed, hurriedly jerking his overcoat off and discarding it on the floor before leaning in to press their foreheads together. Mycroft moaned as he gave into some of the wild impulses that he had entertained only in his thoughts, knocking that damnable cap off that fine head and plunging both hands into the unruly nest of dark curls. He shivered to feel damp under his fingers, trying to reconcile the coolness of it with the heat that he felt radiating from Gregory’s body.

“R-raining again?”

The head under his hands shook from side to side. “Naw. Had myself a little bathe before coming to see you. Din’t think you’d appreciate me all mucked up from the day.”

Mycroft tugged and rolled his body, pulling Lestrade up and over, grunting as the weight of his solid form settled down atop. He shuddered faintly as there was a guttural groan, and soft if hot lips grazing over his cheeks and jaw, down his neck as his head was thrown back involuntarily. “A-always appreciate you, however you w-would come to me.”

“Oh, sir...” Gregory groaned again, writhing against him fruitlessly.

“Mycroft. I'm Mycroft.” Another gentle nod, and then there was a tentative brush of lips against his, and Mycroft felt something inside him unfurl and stretch out its wings. He opened himself to Gregory’s cautious explorations, putting his trust into his hands and simply following where he was led. He was a little shocked to hear himself growl low, and then Mycroft startled himself even further by pushing at his lover’s chest, his fingers fumbling to undo his shirt, his trousers, anything and everything. “Off, off - this must all come off and right this instant!”

He bit his lip as Gregory laughed, low and quiet and utterly dirty. “Had a feelin' you might be a bit beastly once I got ya het up...” Mycroft snarled and renewed attacking Gregory’s garments, gasping in outrage as his hands were suddenly snatched up and tucked down along his sides. Strong thighs caged his arms securely as the imp atop him sat back, wiggling a delightfully firm bottom against his straining manhood, now trapped between layers of fabric. “Ooh, but that is going to be quite the treat, in’t it? Cain’t hardly wait to give it a little taste.”

“You... Ohhh...” Mycroft would steadfastly refuse to admit that he had swooned, but it did seem to take a couple of sharp taps on his cheeks to get his heart started again. “Devil.”

Gregory laughed again as he started to work on the buttons of his shirt, taking his time about it and gamely holding on as Mycroft tried to buck him off and free his arms. “Imagine you've called me that in your head a number of times lately.”

Mycroft grinned up at him as the shirt finally came off, letting his tongue come out to tickle at his lips. “Imp and blaggard featured quite prominently as well.” He tilted his head as he stared at his lover’s profile, looking more like a marble-sculpted god in the moonlight than ever before. “And beautiful.” Mycroft sighed as Gregory preened, his eyes going huge and round in his face. “Extraordinary, my goodness.” He squirmed, putting a hint of wheedling in his voice. “Gregory, please - please, I must touch you.”

Lestrade leant down for another kiss, something so heated and achingly needy that Mycroft felt every particle of his being straining toward him. Then he slid off of his body and off of the bed, calmly stripping out of his remaining clothing and standing there as bare as the day he was born. Mycroft’s mouth went utterly dry, his intellect fled. All words of praise vanished from his head, as he could only stare and mindlessly twitch his fingers in Gregory’s direction.

“And what about you, then?

Chapter Text

Mycroft shivered, his hands clutching at the bedsheets and pulling them higher. He frowned and tried to release his trembling fingers, but they simply would not obey. “Gregory... I - I d-don’t...”

“Hush, now.” Mycroft moaned quietly as that divine weight settled down over his hips again, as Gregory gently extracted his fingers from their death-grip on the sheets and pressed soft kisses to each knuckle. “It’s all right, love. Nothing you dun’t want.”

“But I want it all.”

Gregory laughed at him, bright and soft. “Mayhaps, but you dun’t really know what it even is, do you?”

“Erm.”

“Just like my first maid, you are. Unsure and nervous, but eager all the same.” Mycroft huffed with disbelief and then froze solid as Gregory deliberately guided his right hand to his bare thigh, and the other to his naked chest. “I’ll just have to show ya, just like I did her.” Mycroft swallowed thickly as the warm body under his palms shimmied slightly. “Go on, my fine gent. Touch me - I’m at your service. You’ll find there’s nothing to be afeared of.”

“I... guh.” Mycroft blinked rapidly as the moonlit shadow that was a man leant down, cupping his face with both hands and gifting him with the tenderest of kisses. His fingers convulsively tightened down on an intriguing mass of muscle before sliding just a fraction higher, resulting in a most delicious noise being uttered against his lips.

Taking Gregory’s invitation, Mycroft allowed his hands to roam, although not entirely indiscriminately. He carefully avoided anything below the navel for the moment, fearing that his heart may actually leap from his chest if he were to touch a member other than his own. Not that he wasn't extremely aware of it, especially as Gregory pressed down on him a little harder, using his grip on his face to tilt his chin up and deepening his kiss.

He - oh. Mycroft’s head swam with an overabundance of sensation even as the tips of his fingers sketched a map of his lover’s body. His skin was soft and supple, his muscles lean but firm. He boasted much less hair on his chest than Mycroft did, but what he did have tickled his palms and raised gooseflesh when it was stroked in the wrong direction.

Mycroft barely registered the sensation of deft fingers on the buttons of his pyjama top over the sound of Gregory’s pleased hum, but he became very aware as those same fingers tangled into the overgrowth that was revealed. Gregory sighed against Mycroft’s lips as his back arched involuntarily, pushing his chest into the blunt nails that were grazing over it, up and down and side to side.

“More, love. Please, let me feel you...”

Mycroft’s body surrendered before his mind was even cognisant of doing so, sinking back against the mattress, his limbs loose and compliant. Gregory ghosted a smile of gratitude over his lover’s lips, and did not hesitate to push the bedclothes away, immediately unfastening the remaining buttons and throwing Mycroft’s pyjama top wide. He ducked down to rub his cheek in the hair, earning a startled snort of laughter as he purred appreciatively.

“Mm... So lovely...”

Gregory slid his body a bit further down, taking in Mycroft’s soft gasp of surprise as his fingers grazed over his nipples. With a rakish grin and a peek of tongue from between gleaming white teeth, he deftly sucked one into his mouth. He tightened his grip with hands and thighs as Mycroft’s body jolted as though shot through with a bolt of lightning.

“Poor lad. So many new feelings, eh?” Gregory winked up at Mycroft’s wide-eyed stare. “You’re going to give me a swelled head if you keep reacting to every little touch like it’s the most amazing thing you've ever experienced.”

“Oh, but Gregory...” Mycroft swallowed as his voice cracked, not even bothering to disguise the depth of his emotions. “It is. You... You are the most incredible, the most delightful, the most wonderful...”

“Such things ya say.” Gregory sat back on his heels, tilting his head as he searched Mycroft’s face with his eyes. “You’re going to make me forget myself, y’know. The first time I laid eyes on ya, I made a vow to myself to keep hold of my heart.” He ran his hands down Mycroft’s sides, caressing and squeezing gently at his soft belly. “And even though I dishonoured myself by lurking and peeking when you was unaware, I thought I’d be able to keep to that vow.”

“What changed, then?”

“You. You comin’ to me, just last night. That look in your eye - it was like seeing myself in a mirror. I knew you wanted just as badly as I did, and well.” Gregory took up Mycroft’s hand and placed it firmly on his chest with a resigned shrug. “S’yours, now. I've gone and lost the game.”

“I don’t recall entering into any contest against you.”

Gregory smirked at him and suddenly hunkered down again, kissing and nuzzling at the flesh of his stomach. “Ain’t that just like a gentleman. Dun’t even know he’s playing, an’ he wins anyhow.” Mycroft squirmed uncomfortably, making a distressed noise in the back of his throat. Gregory noticed with a quirk of his brow and looked up at him, resting his chin in the dip of his navel. “What’s wrong, love?”

Mycroft shuddered pleasantly as he gripped one supple shoulder. “I just don’t understand how that,” he pointed derisively at his gut with his chin, “could be at all appealing, especially to someone as fine and lovely as you are.”

A distinct flash of anger crossed Lestrade’s beautiful face, twisting it into something dark and dangerous. “You stop with that nonsense right now, sir. You’re bloody beautiful, or at least the bits that I've been privileged enough to see are.” He ducked down and nipped rather viciously at a piece of the anatomy in question, almost as if in chastisement. Mycroft bit back on a sharp yelp of surprise, his eyes wide. “I’ll not hear a bad word said against you, not even from your own mouth, y’hear?” Gregory subsided with a small huff. “You’re lovely, all o’ ya.” His lips twisted up into a smirk. “Luscious and tasty, oh yes.” Mycroft gasped as that wicked tongue came out, licking slow spirals all along his belly, dipping lower in a tantalising tease before brushing upwards again. “Not that I cain’t think o’ something a mite tastier...”

Mycroft shuddered as his lover’s chin brushed against his straining cockstand, barely being restrained by nothing more than thin cotton. He trembled helplessly as Gregory continued to move his head, nosing into the soft flesh of his belly, skimming his cheek over the considerable patch of damp spreading over the crotch of Mycroft’s pyjamas, humming quiet and low as he teased unbearably.

“Gre... Gregory.

“Hm? Is there something sir requires of me?”

“T-touch me. Please.”

“Is that not what I'm doing?” Mycroft let out an aggrieved sigh, barely managing to tilt his head forward to deliver what he hoped was a devastating look. He knew he had failed by nothing more than the quivering in the body held between his legs, a clear sign of merriment being restrained. Lestrade gasped in feigned realisation, his fingers brushing against and then pressing down firmly on Mycroft’s hard member. “Oh! You mean here, sir? I say, is that quite proper?”

Mycroft growled. “Devil! Hang proper. I want your hand on me.”

Gregory gasped again, this time in faux outrage. “Sir!” He fluttered his eyelashes, fighting to hold back his characteristic cheeky grin. “Would that be an order, then?”

Mycroft attempted to slip back into his unfortunate but all too natural superiority, turning up his nose and sniffing haughtily. “It would be, and I suggest you snap to it, young Lestrade. I would take no pleasure in docking your pay for insubordination, and I am quite sure that such a thing would not be received kindly by any future prospects.”

Lestrade cast his eyes downward, his voice taking on a mock-grudging tone. “Very well, sir, if that’s to be the way of things...”

Mycroft’s stomach twisted as deft fingers started to tug on the drawstring to his bottoms, but in disgust rather than in heady anticipation. “W-wait... Stop.” Lestrade tilted his head and paused, looking up at him in confusion. “Not... Not like that, please.” He whined unhappily. “I know it was meant to be a game, but I cannot. I want it to be... I need it to be...”

“Us.” Mycroft nodded dumbly as he was caressed in capitulation, as soft kisses were pressed to his belly and sides. “You want me as a man, and not as your servant.”

“Yes. Please, Gregory.”

“Mycroft...” Thick fingers fumbled and yanked in sudden haste, all hesitance and teasing thrown aside in Gregory’s eagerness to receive his prize. Mycroft hissed out a startled breath as the cool of the room wafted over his exposed flesh, but then oh, that strong hand, so warm and so gentle... “Oh, you beauty...” Mycroft bit his lip to keep from crying out as Gregory’s breath gusted out over him, as his entire body tensed unbearably at the sensation of a firm kiss at the base of his cockstand.

Hngh. Oh, Gregory, oh...” He blinked rapidly at the low, throaty chuckle from below, curling his toes and digging his fingers into the mattress to keep himself still. His control was neatly shattered as the imp between his legs licked at him, making him sob futilely against the torment. He silently cursed the stuttering of his breath, his chest rising and falling in sharp jerky motions. “Oh Lord! Is that... Is that how it’s done?”

Mycroft cursed again as Gregory laughed, kissing and nibbling and licking still. “Oh, it is done a great many ways, my darling innocent gentleman, and I intend to show you all of them.” He hummed and caressed, sighing with contentment. “But for the moment, I want you to just lie back and let me work my magic upon you.” Gregory grasped Mycroft’s member and gave it one long, firm stroke, biting his lip as his lover gasped and trembled. “Although I'm of a mind that it won’t take long...”

“Because you are a horrible tease, you...incubus!”

“Oh, indeed? Not at all because you’re naught but a blushing maiden, unsullied and pure? Untouched by any hand, not even your own?”

Mycroft growled faintly. “I’ll have you know that I, well...just last night!”

“Abused yourself, eh? Filthy, shameful beast.” Gregory waggled his tongue up at him as he resumed his steady stroking. “As did I, so at least we've that in common. May I ask what brought it on? What got you so worked up that you were forced to disgrace yourself?”

A sudden calm came over Mycroft’s body and mind as he looked down into those twinkling dark eyes, neatly avoiding the obscene sight of his prick standing tall next to his lover’s cheek. He reached down to run his fingers through Gregory’s hair, tugging at it gently and then a bit harder as his lover’s breath caught, as his eyes went wide with delight. “Need I actually say it?”

“Aye, for I need to hear it.”

“You, my love. My head was filled with images of you, I could still hear your voice in my ears, and my body burned with an ache of loss for that which I had never had, but I allowed myself to think of the impossible, and I simply could not hold back.”

“How?” Gregory cleared his throat faintly. “How did you do it?”

Chapter Text

Mycroft smiled slowly, sensing a growing urgency in the body lying half over him. He nodded curtly, his eyes flickering over a firm backside that was undulating in the cool night air. “Much as you find yourself now - I rolled over onto my belly and rutted against the bed like an animal until I spilled in my pants.” He bestowed another not-so-gentle tug on thick curls as Gregory moaned softly. “I-I climaxed thinking of y-you.” He bit his lip as there was another firm kiss, this time at the crown of his cock. “Ungh. A-and I fell asleep to images of you as well, your face serene, your body thick and sated with pleasure. Pleasure that I had given you. That I will give you, if you were to grant me such an honour.”

“Oh. Oh yes, my love. My Mycroft... But only after I've taken my fill of this lovely instrument.” Gregory fixed his eyes on him sternly as he ran his closed lips up and down. “You must watch me,” he ordered. Mycroft nodded dumbly, forcing his eyes wide as that divine mouth opened, as that nimble tongue flickered out and over, lapping up the considerable moisture that had gathered.

They moaned almost in unison, one at the sensation, the other at the taste. But no more words were uttered as Gregory bent to his task, his eyes still upon Mycroft’s face. He smiled wickedly against the hard flesh nestled against his tongue as elegant fingers tightened in his hair. Mycroft attempted to release him, his face burning with chagrin at the thought of having hurt him. Gregory shook his head curtly, quickly reaching up to grasp Mycroft’s wrist, holding his hand firmly in place.

As Mycroft nodded shakily, he flexed his fingers, caressing and tugging, stroking and pulling. He shuddered as Gregory’s eyes fluttered in bliss, and gasped as he was rewarded with the sight of his lover fully engulfing his manhood in his mouth. Oh no, not long at all, especially with the command to watch that had been given. How was he even...and was it really as delicious as those noises seemed to warrant?

Mycroft groaned as quietly as he was able, stuffing his free hand into his mouth and biting down hard. The sensation was quite unlike anything he had ever experienced, so hot and tight and wet, the suction and the motion swiftly setting his head to spinning alarmingly. His hips jerked upward as Gregory sank down on him, and Mycroft was mortified to hear his lover choke on him. He hurriedly pulled on Gregory’s hair again, his motion insistent rather than playful, but the man stubbornly refused to relinquish his prize.

He instead tapped on Mycroft’s side, stretching one broad hand to grasp at his hip and pulling upwards. Understanding immediately that Gregory wanted him to violate his mouth, Mycroft hesitated only a moment more, until those dark eyes narrowed slightly, delivering the final command. Eyes wide, still watching as his slick member slid in and out, Mycroft gave in to his baser urges, bouncing his bottom gently against the mattress and pushing up into that nimble wet heat.

Gregory moaned around him, making Mycroft’s rhythm stutter, and then the misbegotten creature had the audacity to hum low in his chest. Mycroft barely managed to whisper out a warning before his hips locked, his legs pushing up hard and deep. Through the haze of blood rushing through his ears and something else rushing from his prick, he was vaguely aware of Gregory choking again, but he couldn't withdraw, no matter how hard he tried.

His vision went white as his body spasmed through its release, waves of pure bliss washing over and through. Mycroft lolled heavily on the pillows as his skin prickled with heat, a sheen of sweat suddenly breaking out over his chest and belly. He was barely aware of a truly obscene picture unfolding below his navel, Gregory sucking and licking and swallowing everything down with a low groan of delight. His softened member was subjected to a curious inspection, a gentle prodding as it wilted down to its usual quiescent state. Mycroft broke out into horrified giggles as Gregory growled faintly and sucked it back into his mouth, making the oddest noises he had yet to hear outside of a bestiary.

“Om nomnom... Slpppffmmmrrrff...”

Mycroft tugged upwards with fingers that felt thick and useless, and Gregory followed his silent edict eagerly, settling down at his side and turning into him. He immediately leant in for a kiss, and although there was a prim and proper part of Mycroft that wanted to shy away, he swiftly found himself chasing the remnants of his own taste on his lover’s tongue, savouring the bittersweet salty tang.

“Gregory, oh my love...”

Mycroft was pulled unceremoniously down over his lover’s prone form as one hand was swiftly captured, being led down and between their bodies, and he did not hesitate to grasp firmly, to stroke and stoke the fires of his lover’s ardour. His heart did indeed leap in his chest as his fingers touched and caressed, not in shock and disgrace, but with an overwhelming eagerness, mirroring that which he felt in the body undulating against his.

“Oh, oh yes... Knew those elegant hands of yours would feel so good on me, oh please, Mycroft...”

Mycroft tightened his grip and quickly set to work sucking at Gregory’s collarbone, shivering slightly as hot breath gusted out over his cheek with each of his quiet if impassioned pleas. He barely felt the clutch of hot hands on his arse and on his arm, his entire being focused on bringing his lover to his climax, desperate to feel his seed spilling over his fingers.

“Harder, oh please. Mark me, love. Make me feel it for days to come. Oh oh ohhh...”

Mycroft bit down viciously and sucked hard, his head swimming with a dearth of air as Gregory’s fine form jerked underneath him, his cries of pleasure being muffled into his hair. Gregory clung to him limply as he shuddered through his paroxysm, coating his lover’s hand with his hot spend and striping his belly in equal measure. Mycroft came up off his neck as he whimpered softly, looking down at his trembling body in astonishment.

He carefully unwound his fingers from Gregory’s member, completely spent if still rosy and heavy with promise. Holding his hand up for scrutiny, he turned it this way and that, watching the way his lover’s release glistened in the moonlight, thick and pearly. Before he could allow his prudishness to banish the idea from his mind, Mycroft tentatively licked at it, trying to shut out Gregory’s low moan of desire as he processed the sensation. His immediate reaction was to scrunch up his nose, shaking his head as his lover laughed at him softly. But he persisted, taking another taste and holding it on his tongue for a while longer. 

“It’s...sweeter than I would have imagined.”

Gregory chuckled again, rolling away slightly to dig into the pockets of his discarded trousers, coming up with a well-worn handkerchief and using it to wipe away the remnants from his lovely flat belly and also from between Mycroft’s digits. He tossed it onto the floor after it had served its purpose, turning to press his burning cheeks into Mycroft’s chest.

“I may or may not partake of some of the fruit meant for your fine horses upon occasion.”

“Blaggard.” Lord, but he loved the sound of Gregory’s laughter in the dark, soft and open and oh so wicked. Mycroft hummed as his face was captured, as gentle kisses were fluttered over his temple and cheeks before Gregory found his lips, sweet nothings being muttered into his open mouth along with dirty flickers of a nimble tongue. He allowed his hands to wander as they kissed, coming back time and time again to the centre of his lover’s pleasure, stroking his thick prick with the lightest of touches.

The warmth of another hand covered his, pressing down firmly, Gregory’s hips rising off the mattress to meet their combined touch. “Careful there, love, or I might have to make another mess.”

“Oh yes, Gregory... I...” Mycroft blushed in the dark, slipping one knee between his lover’s strong thighs. “I’ll lick it up, make you clean again.”

Gregory groaned in his ear, rolling so that their bodies were flush against one another. “And just who is the devil now?”

Mycroft blinked as he was embraced and caressed, his heartbeat calming itself and his body sinking deeper into the mattress. “I suppose... Since we’re apt to spend our afterlives in Hell anyway, I might as well accept the inevitable.”

Gregory scoffed loudly and then bit his lip as Mycroft immediately shushed him, his dark eyes wide with chagrin but full of a righteous fire at the same time. “Hell? Oh, so some crusty old vicar says we’re gonna burn, and we just up and accept that as our fate? Sod ‘im and sod any ol’ arsehole who thinks they’re allowed to pass judgement on the likes of you and me.”

“But… Gregory, my dear - once we shed our earthly bodies, we will be judged, and we will be found lacking. We... What we just did is unnatural, and is frowned upon in the eyes of the Lord.”

“Pah. Even if that’s true, and s’not, by the bye... Even so, I’d rather live my life and love the way I see fit here on Earth than prance about up in the clouds once I’m dead and gone. So what if I end up with my arse being toasted by Lucifer ‘imself. At least I’ll find myself in fine company.” Mycroft practically choked trying to hold back on his giggles, warmth filling his chest at the sensation of Gregory’s lips quirking up against his throat. His luscious curls tickled at his nose as he shook his head, pulling away slightly to look up at him. “S’not unnatural. It’s love, it’s you and me, and it’s as natural as breathing. Did any of it feel wrong in the moment? Does it feel wrong now?”

Mycroft shook his head, clutching his lover’s body closer to him. “No. It feels wonderful. You feel wonderful. My Gregory.”

“My Mycroft.” Gregory pulled away, reaching down for the bedclothes and jerking them up and over with a decisive motion. He laid back against the pillows and carelessly tugged at Mycroft’s body until he was draped half-over him, settling his head against his shoulder and stroking his arm aimlessly. “Mine, yes. As I'm yours.” Gregory hummed quietly as Mycroft sighed into his breastbone. “And I s’pose if we’re to burn, we’ll at least do it together.”

Mycroft tightened his hold, wiping away the traitorous tears as they fell, listening to his lover’s steady heartbeat until his eyes grew so heavy that he could no longer hold them open.

Chapter Text

They slept, although it was somewhat fitfully, neither of them quite certain how to align their bodies in the rather narrow bed. Their unconscious forms seemed to come to some kind of understanding in the depths of the night though, as neither of them ended up in danger of losing their place next to the other.

Mycroft woke to the sensation of a body stirring against his back, smiling as he felt warm breath gusting over his neck. He ran his fingers down the arm that was tucked securely around his middle, bringing Gregory’s hand closer to his face for a careful inspection. The light had changed from the dim, almost magical, phosphorescence that the moon emitted to something warmer, more golden in hue. The sun was rising, which meant that their time together was nearly at an end.

Mycroft mourned silently that they had not been just a bit more active in the night, although he could not easily recall sleeping as soundly as he apparently had with his lover in his bed. His body was loose and limber, his mind free and clear of any worrying distractions. If only he possessed the ability to freeze this moment in time, to keep Gregory here with him forever. He kissed the tips of the broad fingers held tightly in his, turning his head slightly to accept a warm if bristly buss on the cheek.

Gregory seemed to feel his reticence, and simply hummed quietly, tucking himself in impossibly closer. Mycroft wriggled into his welcoming warmth, not at all surprised to find something rather stiff poking into the small of his back persistently. He tilted his hips back, giggling quietly into the palm of Gregory’s hand as his lover buried his burning face between his shoulder blades.

“Sorry, love, so sorry...”

“No need to be, my love. My body is yours to use as you will.” Mycroft hissed quietly as Gregory’s hand clutched at his chest, tugging on the over-abundance of hair. “Truly.”

Mycroft gasped as the covers were abruptly kicked off unceremoniously, his bare flesh prickling in the cool of the room. There was a fumbling from behind and then his eyes nearly rolled out of his head at the sensation of hot, hard flesh throbbing between his legs. He tightened the muscles in his thighs without conscious thought, smiling smugly as his lover moaned softly into his shoulder.

“Is... Hngh. Is that door locked?” Mycroft nodded wildly, eager to be put to his purpose. He squirmed as teeth grazed at his flesh, as Gregory moaned again and began to move against him. A swift welter of heat rolled through his chest and down his spine at his lover’s softly-spoken words, quite at odds with the vigour of the thrusting between his legs. “Oh, but your skin, your body, so soft and creamy... My lovely, beautiful man...” Mycroft’s breath caught as a rough hand tugged at him just as insistently, his body jolting with an almost overpowering surge of pleasure. “So perfect, just look at you... God, but no-one else will ever turn my head, never ever again.”

“M-mine.”

Gregory groaned in his ear, his movements increasing exponentially, the heat between Mycroft’s legs going damp and slick. “Yes, yes...yours, now and forever, oh oh ohhh...”

Mycroft grimaced slightly as his skin was flooded with his lover’s spend, chasing his own pleasure as Gregory panted behind him, his hand simply flying over his stiff member. It was scant moments before he felt his bollocks pulling up, and he hissed a soft warning, only to be completely overcome as Gregory pushed himself up to watch from over his shoulder.

“Oh God, yes, just look at you, you divine filthy creature...”

Mycroft’s body stiffened as his pleasure crested, pulsing out of him in three sharp jolts, coating his lover’s fingers. He went limp as he was released, allowing himself to be turned over onto his back, his own fingers twitching against his sides as he blankly watched the imp perched at his side blithely licking up the mess on his hand.

Gregory’s dark eyes glinted as his tongue darted out, making quite a show for Mycroft’s utterly embarrassed but nonetheless fascinated enjoyment. He demurred faintly as Gregory made as if to duck down low, that wicked and nimble instrument at the ready to attack his nethers. Thankfully the devil was at least a considerate one, and he accepted the cloth that was tossed at him to attend to matters of cleanliness instead. Once that was discarded, he sat back on his heels, surveying the form that trembled under his rapt attention.

Mycroft jumped slightly as rough hands swiped from thigh to belly and higher, broad fingers tangling into his chest hair. Gregory’s face held such a sincere and pleased fascination that he found himself stretching and luxuriating in that gaze, an unbecoming pride filling his head.

“Didn't know the ginger went quite this deep, love.” Gregory clucked his tongue in frank admiration. “Bet you glow like copper in the sun.” His head tilted as a thought seemed to strike him. “Come for a bathe, won’t you? Later today - let me see you full in the light, with water in your hair.” His hands stroked and soothed, caressing and moulding the flesh of Mycroft’s belly. “Oh, but I do love how soft and round you are...”

“I... Gregory, I do not think I will be able... What with my illness yesterday, my mother will be expecting me to spend additional time with her, I am sure.”

Gregory nodded as he shrugged, his expression a little sad, but understanding. “Ah. Next time, then.”

“Per-perhaps.”

A gentle smile quirked at one corner of his lips, and then vanished as there was the sound of bells in the distance. “Shite.” Gregory leant over to press his cheek into Mycroft’s stomach, heaving a hefty sigh out over his skin. “It’s gone six, I must go.”

Mycroft reached for him without thinking, holding one shoulder fast as he plunged the other into the wild mass of curls, his fingers tightening and tugging. “No, you mustn't. Stay with me, Gregory. Stay. We've a late breakfast.”

Gregory scoffed as he turned his head to look up at him, not entirely unkindly. “Oh, we do, do we? And what about your beasties, then? Do they know there’s a late breakfast? Who’s going to tend to them while I attend table with you, hm? As if the rest of the house wouldn't go into a stark raving fit at the sight of me by your side. I know where I'm not welcome.”

Mycroft sniffled as his hands were gently removed, rolling over onto his side to watch as Gregory resolutely climbed out of bed to don his clothing. “But you would be! It is my house, after all.”

His lover turned an incredulous but amused look on him. “T’isn’t. It’s Jackson’s house, and you dun’t know the kind of hell he’d put me through if he had even the faintest inkling of our feelin’s fer each other. He and the rest of the staff. I’d be shunned, treated like a criminal. And the rumours - oh love... Once word got to the village, how long before it got round to London-town? We’d both be ruined, mebbe even jailed.”

Mycroft bit his lip as Gregory sat on the edge of the mattress to shove his feet into his boots, reaching out to touch his thigh tentatively. His lover immediately bent down to put their foreheads together, sharing breath with him as he caressed his hair. “Stay.”

Gregory pulled away with a huff. “Hadn't we just been over all that?”

“No, no... I - I mean...” Mycroft took in a deep breath, sitting up and taking Gregory’s hand. “I mean in the fall. Give over emigrating, stay here with me. We’ll... We’ll find a way to make it work.”

Gregory’s eyebrows came together as a swift wave of anger washed over him, and Mycroft shrank away slightly. “You daft? Give over a real chance to make somethin’ of myself and stay on as your kept man, play at being your lovin’ wife or summat?”

“But Gregory, what does it matter? You and I, we’re meant to be together. I need you.”

Gregory sniffed, standing abruptly and patting his clothing down carefully. “As well as I need you, but that ain’t no reason to lose all sense. I got a place waitin’ fer me in Australia, I got a chance.” He turned suddenly keen eyes on Mycroft as he threw his legs over the edge of the mattress, his eyes filling with remorse. “And come to that, why couldn't ya come with me, hm?”

Mycroft blinked rapidly, his mouth dropping open. “But my family, my position...”

“And just what does your position matter, then? Why’re yer prospects more important than mine? I'm naught but your bit of rough, that it? Even after sharing with you, you dun’t see me as nothing more than your hired man... Expect me to just roll over and let you do what you like, take what you like. Well, I’ll have none of it. I’ll have you know I'm a respectable sort, Mr. Holmes. Ain’t never come to no gentleman before, and doubt I’ll ever do the same again, if this is the thanks I'm likely to get.”

Mycroft stood and followed as Gregory passed to the window, one hand outstretched in a weak attempt to curtail him from leaving. He turned back abruptly, his lovely face set and determined, but quite proud. “I ain’t ashamed of what we done, and neither should you be.” His large dark eyes blinked slowly, a bit of moisture forming as something inside him seemed to capitulate, his lovely obstinate expression going soft around the edges. “Just...go back to bed. You can rest for a while yet.” He took Mycroft’s hand and kissed it fiercely before holding it to his cheek, flinging it away from himself as he climbed out onto the windowsill.

“Gregory...”

Gregory’s eyes met his for a brief moment, something so solemn and deep in them that Mycroft reeled. Then he shook his head definitively and started stomping down the ladder, leaving Mycroft standing in the middle of his room, stark naked and shivering.

A particularly violent shudder left him searching for his nightclothes in the destruction of his bed, and he slipped them on with trembling fingers. Mycroft’s body seemed to go numb as his mind cleared of all thought, barely even registering that the ladder that had delivered his lover to him had been whisked away. He simply shut the window and drew the curtains, shuffling over to the door to turn the key in the lock so Jackson would not be suspicious when he came to wake him as per his usual.

Then he slipped back into bed, determined to at least follow Gregory’s last edict to him, to get some more sleep, although the mattress was suddenly much larger and much colder than it had been just moments before. Something broke in him as he turned his cheek into the pillow where Gregory’s head had lain, and he cried bitter if silent tears for a very long time before dropping into darkness.

Chapter Text

It was Mycroft’s regular habit to wake a good twenty minutes or so before Jackson would come in to rouse him, using that brief allotment of peace and quiet to clear his mind of any lingering cobwebs and to outline his plans for the day. This morning, however, he startled awake at the sound of a loud rap at his bedroom door, his eyes flying open and then squinting against even the dimmest of light. They widened exponentially upon catching sight of Gregory’s - no, Lestrade’s - rather soiled handkerchief discarded on the floor. Fumbling the covers away, he reached out to snatch at it, crumpling it in his fist and grimacing at the crunchiness of it against his skin.

Mycroft rolled slightly as Jackson came in with a fresh pitcher of water for the wash stand, blinking resentfully up at him as he drew the curtains aside with a sharp jerk. He made a noise of distress and pulled the sheet over his head as Jackson chuckled quietly. “I must say, sir, there are times that you and your brother are remarkably similar in your behaviours.”

Mycroft peeked one eye out from his impromptu shelter and narrowed it meaningfully before slowly pushing his body up into a sitting position, propping himself up amongst his pillows. “Never. Jackson, I am never to hear you say anything of that sort ever again.”

His man smiled at him indulgently, shaking his head as he went to the wardrobe and started laying out Mycroft’s travel clothes. “Something a little lighter for the day, sir?”

Mycroft waved his hand, sinking back slightly. “I am quite sure that whatever you choose will be perfectly suitable. I’ll be damned if I'm going to wear that thick tweed all day long, though.”

Jackson quirked an eyebrow, looking his master over carefully. Although he often was a rather cranky sort, he was usually better about concealing it, quite unlike his younger brother. “Are you quite all right, then? Not feeling poorly any more?”

Mycroft shook his head and waved his hands erratically. “Fine, fine. I'm bloody well fine.”

Ah. “Bad dreams again.”

It was a statement, not a question, and Mycroft sighed as he conceded with a tiny nod. How bothersome and observant servants could be, especially those who had been with you nearly from birth. “Not...” He hesitated slightly, all too aware of the possibility of letting far too much slip, but feeling the urge to somehow clarify it in his own mind. “Not at first, no. It was a wonderful dream, all of my dearest wishes coming true. But then it went all wrong, somehow... I'm not even sure how it happened - it just went all to Hell.”

“Not entirely unlike life, sir. Do try not to let it upset you too much.” Jackson reached out to tentatively pat the lump that was Mycroft’s foot under the bedclothes. “Dreams can be deciphered in many ways, young master. I understand that many see them as portents, as events that are inescapable. Me...well, I tend to view them as a primer of sorts. You say that it all went wrong, yes?” Mycroft nodded mutely. “So determine how, and then you can ensure that it doesn't happen again if you run into the same situation in your waking life. You've a remarkable mind, Master Holmes. I am quite sure that your answer lies within.”

Mycroft blinked rapidly as Jackson took his leave, firmly shutting the door behind him and leaving him to his rather tumultuous thoughts. Mycroft clambered out of bed and washed, his movements rather abrupt and mechanical. He soaked Lestrade’s discarded handkerchief in the basin when he was done, gently rubbing it against the palm of his hand to scrub out the evidence of their time together. Mycroft pondered momentarily as he ran his fingers over the faded initials that had been embroidered into the fabric goodness only knows how long ago. ‘TML’.

His gut twisted slightly. Gregory’s father, perhaps? Wringing out the excess moisture, Mycroft spread the handkerchief out to dry, determined to somehow return it to its rightful owner, even if Lestrade might reject his overture of kindness. Would he, though? Mycroft swallowed hard against the thickness of impending tears in his throat, forcing them back down. Even if Gregory wanted nothing more to do with him, he was sure that Lestrade would still perform his duties admirably, and would not be so petty as to outright refuse to see him.  

Mycroft sighed as he donned his clothing, comfortable if plain trousers and shirt, along with a lightweight jumper to protect against the vague chill of the early spring morning. He sat on the edge of the bed to put on his socks and shoes, simply sitting there for a long while afterwards, staring out the window. Some part of him almost believed that it had been nothing more than a dream, but catching sight of that handkerchief made the reality of it settle firmly into his brain again.

Rising to his feet, he took up the wisp of fabric and folded it, carefully tucking it into his pocket. Then he lifted his head and walked out of the sanctuary of his room, attempting to leave his melancholy state of mind behind. He pushed aside thoughts of his lustful adventure, determined to at least give his mother a measure of his undivided attention. After her surprising if touching revelations of the night before, it was the very least that he could offer her before he had to return to his job in the city.

She smiled brightly upon seeing him, and Mycroft kissed her on the cheek as he passed behind her chair to take his seat at the head of the table. He raised an eyebrow at the empty chairs on the opposite end, and Lady Holmes simply shrugged and rolled her eyes. “Up late doing goodness only knows what kind of experiments, I suppose.” She sighed, an exhalation not of dismay, but of unexpected contentment. “And after all, they still have only a few days of leisure allotted them before returning to University.”

Mycroft nodded curtly, sipping at his tea. “Watson is due to sit for his exams soon, isn't he?”

“Your brother is nearly beside himself with worry.”

Despite the lingering disquiet in his head, Mycroft surprised himself by smiling in faint approval. Sherlock being concerned with anyone’s welfare beyond his own was quite a novel concept, and he found that he rather liked it. There had been a number of occasions in John and Sherlock’s more boisterous youth together during which Mycroft had almost regretted fostering their relationship, but perhaps his foresight was now beginning to pay off. Watson very well may be the making of his dearest brother - or his undoing.

He tried to ignore his mother’s stark appraisal of his profile, calmly dipping his toast into his eggs and raising an eyebrow as she passed over the platter of bacon. “Do have some. Your colour is much better, but you’re doing yourself no favours by imitating an ascetic.”

Mycroft nearly choked on his tea, a wild riot of sinful memories from the night before abruptly crowding into his mind. Lady Holmes sat back in astonishment as her son went beetroot-red and buried his face in his napkin to stifle his involuntary outburst. She nearly smirked as he peeked out at her cautiously, but she instead swallowed down her mirth and turned her head as if she wasn't paying him the least bit of attention, nibbling at the remainder of her own rasher.

Mycroft sighed quietly as he attempted to compose himself behind the flimsy cover of his napkin, once again locking those vivid recollections away into the treasure chest in his Mind Palace. However he would live his life from this moment forward, he knew that the one thing he absolutely could never be was some form of ascetic. Even if he could lock down his cravings for the warmth of another man at his side, attempt to live as celibate as any priest, there was no denying the needs of his overly-demanding stomach, no matter how hard he might try. Mycroft took a rasher of bacon as his mother had commanded, biting into the crisp salt-sweet of the meat and humming low as his eyes fluttered shut in pleasure.

Lady Holmes smiled indulgently and watched with a careful eye as her eldest cleaned his plate obediently. From there they retired to the parlour as Jackson and the maid cleared away the breakfast things, although she did request that a couple of fully-laden plates were to be set aside for her sluggard of a younger son and his equally indolent friend. Mycroft drifted toward the pianoforte as his mother settled down in her customary seat, picking up the embroidery that she had started the night before. She tapped her foot to whatever music happened to trickle through her son’s fingers, shaking her head fondly as he switched from one piece to another in completely random and yet seamless patterns.

It was all mechanically perfect, of course, but she felt as though something was lacking, perhaps the usual passionate energy that her Mycroft had in spades, but tended to hold back on in his daily life. His music was the only time that he seemed to feel free enough to let that restraint go, to fully express his emotions as raw and as deeply as they truly delved. Lady Holmes tilted her head and let her needlework settle into her lap as she watched his fingers trip elegantly if soullessly over the keys.

Mycroft took notice as one piece came to a finish, his cheeks going a delicate shade of pink under her scrutiny. Shaking it off, he stood and came to her side, picking up one of the handkerchiefs that she had already finished, running his fingers over his initials. ‘MSVH’.

“You do lovely work, madam.”

“Thank you, my son.” She watched with no small amount of pride as Mycroft folded the fabric and tucked it away in his pocket. “I hope you’ll forgive my assumptions, but I thought that you could probably use some extras for your home in the city.”

“Indeed. One can never have too many handkerchiefs.” Mycroft fingered the material residing in his other pocket, bending down to grant his mother a tender kiss on the cheek before going to the bookshelves and selecting a tome. He sat down nearby, intending to read as Lady Holmes continued to toil, the two of them finding solace in simply spending time together.

But of course he could not focus on the words, so meaningless compared to the strife that continued to pound at the back of his mind, the disastrous ending to a night of wonders. What he had shared with Jackson earlier in the day had been true, but greatly appended. Of course he knew when his dream had gone all wrong, and of course he knew why. It was nothing less than his own hateful superiority rearing its ugly head, his absolute certainty that his way was the right way, and why couldn't others simply understand and accept that? It most likely did not help that in the vast majority of his social interactions, people often did give way to his logical arguments and would concede with hardly a struggle.

But Lestrade... Not only had he stood up for himself, he had done so with a fierce but quiet dignity about him that had made him all the more beautiful to Mycroft’s eyes. He had been wrong, he knew he had, but he hadn't even been allowed the opportunity to plead his case, nor to make any concessions of his own. With an entire fortnight in the city looming ahead of him, Mycroft knew that he must find a way to at least speak with his would-be lover or else he might go mad with his loss, after having just found him at all.

Even without having any previous knowledge of - romantic - relationships to draw from, he understood that if he left things as they were now, whatever could have been would be irrevocably lost. He had to find a way to make it right, he had to... Mycroft's spine straightened as he came to a conclusion. He simply had to see him.

Chapter Text

Mycroft ignored his mother’s tiny smirk as he huffed impatiently and stood, slotting his unread book back into place and pacing briefly. He paused once more at the pianoforte, looking at the small bowl of fruit that had been placed atop. He picked up an apple and turned it over in his hands, fascinated with the way the red skin seemed to glow in the afternoon light. He raised it to his mouth, pressing his lips to it and inhaling its sweet aroma.

“Don’t spoil your appetite, dear.”

Mycroft startled slightly, a little mortified to realise that he had completely lost his sense of spatial awareness. He blinked at his mother and clutched the apple to his chest. “Pardon?”

She smiled up at him fondly. “I could hardly send you off without a proper supper, now could I? I asked Cook to have the roast ready at four, since you’ll be leaving by six.” Lady Holmes sniffed as she bent her head back to her needlepoint. “I also firmly instructed your brother to be present and on his best behaviour, so if I am forced to send Jackson out to find him I shall be very put out.”

Mycroft snorted quietly and stole a glance at his watch, blanching as a low-grade panic began to build in his chest. There was only a little over a half-hour before said supper, and he knew that he wouldn't get a chance to get away afterwards, so he simply had to go now. He coughed self-consciously and turned the apple in his hand, gesturing with it broadly. “Oh, I wasn't going to eat it anyway, there’s a horrible blemish on one side.” Mycroft cleared his throat and glanced at his mother obliquely, pleased that her attention was still focused on her fingers. “It should probably go to the horses before it spoils completely.”

“Yes, dear. Just do hurry.”

Lady Holmes held in her uncharitable laughter as her eldest son hastened to the door and then away, still clutching at that apple as though it were the most precious thing in the world. He really was a terribly sweet boy, if a bit naïve about certain things. She started on a fresh handkerchief as she turned the power of her own not-inconsiderable intellect to the task of how to instruct her son in the matters of the heart without making it seem as though she were even aware of his internal struggles. Not that she hadn't been extremely aware from the very beginning, when Jackson had first brought young Lestrade to his master for his approval in hiring the new stable lad.

She sniffled quietly as she recalled the moment that their eyes had met, the instant connection that they had made that had reminded her so strongly of the first time she had seen Siger Holmes across a crowded dance floor. They had migrated together as though drawn magnetically, and had rarely been parted from that day forward. And although her heart had soared when she had recognised that look in her son’s eyes, it had also been squeezed almost brutally with the knowledge that he could never be as free and as open with his love as she had been with hers.

So she would do what she could to encourage him, but never overtly, for in the days in which they lived, even family blood was no guarantee that one would not be betrayed. And although just the idea that her son would be forced to keep something like this from her made her tremble with sorrow and loss, she could not blame him for his secrecy. If there was one thing that the Holmes family was exceedingly skilled at, it was holding secrets as though their hearts were iron cages.

So she would allow Mycroft to keep his secrets locked away, and do her best to ensure that he was kept safe and happy for as long as possible. After all, that was not only a mother’s duty, but her greatest pleasure as well. She set aside her needlework for the moment, taking a glance out of the parlour door before going to check on the progress of the roast. The stables were some distance away, but she could clearly see the vibrant dark red of Mycroft’s hair as he dithered outside the structure, pacing to and fro.

Raising her eyes to the heavens, she prayed for a bit of divine intervention and then left him to it, knowing that it was now all up to him.

If she were to ask Mycroft about his reluctance, he would claim that it was merely his attempt to calm his overwrought heart, as he had nearly run all the way to his destination. Not that he would admit to such a thing, oh no. Time, time - there was so little time! Mycroft clenched his fists and was surprised when his nails bit into the flesh of the apple, having forgotten that it was there at all. He gaped stupidly at the tiny half-moons marring the surface before giving in and taking a bite, letting the juice run down his chin a bit and carelessly wiping it away with the back of his hand.

Then he straightened his shoulders and strode into the stables, blinking against the sudden loss of light. He heard Maestro’s soft snort of greeting and migrated in that direction, shuffling his feet until his sight had cleared. His childhood friend lifted his nose eagerly as he approached, and Mycroft held the desecrated apple out on his flat palm, smiling as it was serenely crunched away. He kept his head turned toward the great beast as he heard footsteps approaching, his cheeks burning with delight and shame in equal measure.

“Here now. What you doin’ out in here in th’ muck? Ain’t you got a train to catch?”

“Not for a couple of hours yet. I w-wanted to... Needed to - um.” Mycroft’s blush grew ever deeper, absolutely mortified that his natural gift for eloquent speech seemed to have abandoned him. Still he kept his face turned even as Lestrade moved closer, terrified of simply falling to his knees at the sight of him. He plunged his hand into his pocket and pulled out the handkerchief, thrusting it in the stable lad’s direction. “I believe this is yours.”

“Ah. Wondered where that’d got to.” Lestrade’s voice was thick as treacle, so close to his ear that Mycroft swooned a bit, leaning up against Maestro’s strong presence to keep from buckling completely. Warm, hefty fingers caressed his ever-so-briefly as the wisp of fabric was retrieved and tucked away. “I do thank you, sir.”

Mycroft sobbed as his resolve broke, shaking his head wildly as he groped for him, falling eagerly if blindly into a firm embrace. “No, no. Mycroft. I'm Mycroft.”

“Aye.” He let his forehead fall into the crook of Gregory’s neck, sniffling as he was rocked gently. “Aye, that you are. My Mycroft.” He obediently moved his feet as Lestrade tugged at his body, leading him away from the open door and toward the stall that he had commandeered as his own. “Come now, you know we shouldn't.”

“I had to. I just had to...” Mycroft shook his head as his face was pulled from the warmth of its shelter, still afraid to open his eyes. Rough but gentle kisses were pressed to his cheeks, and he blinked rapidly, looking into deep, dark eyes so full of love and understanding that he simply melted. To hell with position or pride, to hell with everything that wasn't this man, standing so strong before him as he sank to his knees on the straw-scattered ground. “I'm sorry. I am so so sorry, my love.”

Gregory’s own balance seemed to wobble as he looked down on him and he abruptly sat down on his sweet-smelling bale of hay, spreading his legs invitingly as Mycroft shuffled forward, wrapping his arms around his middle and resting his head on his thigh. “I was wrong to say the things I did, so very wrong and cruel and I only hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.” His body shivered with delight as Gregory ran his fingers through his hair, solemnly listening to his lover as the apologies spilled from his lips. “You are just as important as me if not more so, and you deserve to be treated with respect and care. I couldn't leave things as they were, couldn't let you think that I truly felt that way, couldn't bear to live knowing you were angry with me...”

“Shh. Just hush now. I ain’t angry, not no more.” Gregory’s fingers traced the trail of tears down his cheeks, his face lighting up as he dug in his pocket and took up his father’s handkerchief, using it to delicately wipe up the moisture. “I was a bit at first, I’ll grant ya that, but then I had a bit of a think about it and realised that you said those things without thinking about it proper-like and that yer used to gettin’ yer way and all. Couldn't hardly stay mad at you anyhow.” Gregory took him by the chin and lifted his face, kissing him on the lips softly. “Love you too much fer that.” His eyes went a bit stern around the edges as Mycroft gasped quietly. “Dun’t mean you've won either, so don’t go off all half-cocked or nuthin’.”

“No, Gregory, no. We have still have time to discuss, to plan for our future. I w-would, you know. I would go with you if you truly wanted me to. I - I love you too, and I cannot fathom a life from this point forward without you in it. I want you by my side, my love. And I am willing to do whatever you ask of me to make that happen.”

Mycroft blinked up at him sincerely as Gregory’s grip on his chin tightened, his eyes searching his face and seeming satisfied with what he saw there. He laughed softly, and it was just as glorious a thing as it had been in the moonlight, dark and full of wicked promise. “My creamy, ginger love in the wilds of Australia. You’d toast right to a crisp.”

Mycroft blushed heartily, squirming under his lover’s scrutiny. “Doesn't matter. You’d be there to take care of me, and I would persevere.” He stuck his chin up a bit higher. “I can be quite obstinate, you know.”

Another quiet laugh, strong teeth gleaming white between pink lips. “Dun’t surprise me in th’ least, naw.” Mycroft preened silently as Gregory caressed him, suddenly sitting back and putting a hand to his shoulder, pushing him away gently. “As pretty a picture as you are down there, mayhaps you should be movin’ on, yeah?”

Mycroft felt his lips quirk up and he let his eyes wander up and down a bit before fixing them on Gregory’s face, taking in the almost desperate look in his eyes and the pink blooming on his cheeks. “Pretty, you say?”

Chapter Text

“As if you've nary a clue what yer doin’ ta me...”

“None at all. As you said just last night, I am unsullied and pure.” Mycroft licked his lips and fixed his gaze a bit lower. “At least I was, before I let you put your sinful hands on me.”

“My darling innocent lad...” Gregory squirmed as Mycroft looked up at him, making his eyes as round and as sweet as he possibly could. The resulting snicker that burst from his lover’s lips only encouraged him, and he ducked his head a little lower, boldly nosing into the crotch of his rough-hewn trousers and inhaling deeply. “Ohhh, you little...devil.” Mycroft laughed in his turn, making sure that the heavy pulse of his breath wafted over the nethers that he suddenly very much had a mind to see in the light, to touch and to...taste. Gregory trembled against him, his fingers clutching tight to one shoulder, the other digging into the bale of hay. “Are ya sure there’s time? Yer mother - she won’t be missin’ you?”

Mycroft’s eyes flickered off to the side as he nodded. “There’s time yet, my love. Hours.”

“I’ll have you know that I know yer fibbin’, but since you've already got me wrought up to a point where it won’t take but a moment...” Mycroft’s cheeks burned with equal parts shame and eagerness as his lover’s fingers fumbled at the catch of his trousers, his breath quickening in his chest. It stilled in astonishment as the full scope of Mycroft’s personal mission became apparent to him, as he took in his first real view of his lover’s member, standing proudly erect and rather - oh - thick.

“I...um. Oh my.”

Gregory’s cheeks bloomed ever brighter with a wholly-deserved pride, his grin faltering as he took in Mycroft’s uncertain expression. He traced over his cheek and along his jaw with one finger, hooking it under his chin and bringing his face up for a gentle kiss. “I honestly dun’t expect it, y’know. Yer hand’ll suit me just fine, my pretty poppet.”

Mycroft frowned and took in a deep breath even as his let his fingers dance up and down delicately, looking up at his lover with hard determination in his eyes and sticking out his chin stubbornly. “But I want to. I want to know your body in the same way that you have known mine.”

Gregory shivered out a tiny growl. “And do believe me when I say that I want very much the same thing. But.” He wrapped his hand around the hand wrapped around him, tightening their combined grips and stroking firmly. “Oh my sweet... Ngh. There’s no time for lessons just now.” He huffed and squirmed as his lover’s intense grey stare focused on the head of his cock, dark pink and pearly with moisture as it popped out of the circle of their entwined fingers. “L-later. Later, when you come back to me, we’ll steal away as much time as we can and then oh, my lovely gentleman, then I’ll lay myself out for you and we’ll learn so many new things together, yeah?”

Mycroft nodded as if in a daze, licking his lips and shuffling ever closer. His eyes darted up to meet his lover’s, so dark and deep that he almost felt them pulling him in. Gregory’s mouth fell open as he looked down on him, something in his expression softening and quickening all at the same moment. Mycroft blinked rapidly, knowing that if he did not at least ask, that his mind would worry and fret over it the entire fortnight that he would be stuck alone in the city.

“Am I not allowed to have even a little taste of you, my love?”

“Fuck.” The word was so curtly and yet so softly spoken that Mycroft wasn't entirely sure he had heard it at all, but his initial shock was washed away as Gregory nodded almost desperately. “Yes, yes, have your taste, but hurry and be cautious, I'm nearly...”

Mycroft quickly leant forward and flickered his tongue over that enticingly firm roundness, humming low at the sensation of silky-smooth but hot and hard flesh. There was the briefest moments of shocked stillness in the air around them before Gregory cursed again, his body stiffening and his hips pushing up hard. Without conscious thought, Mycroft opened his mouth wide and sank down on that glorious member as deeply as he could, his lips pushing against knuckles as he stubbornly fought for more. Almost instinctively, he sucked hard, and was rewarded with a long groan from up above and the oddest sensation of pulsing flesh against his tongue, and then the bittersweet essence of his lover’s semen absolutely flooded his senses.

He pulled off and coughed discreetly as Gregory thrashed momentarily, looking up from underneath tear-soaked lashes to watch as he threw his head back in ecstasy and disbelief. After Mycroft had regained some of his breath, he tilted his head and gently shook off his lover’s fingers, calmly bending back down to tidy his person in the same manner that Gregory had done for him the night before, licking up all visible evidence and swallowing it down.

“In-innocent, my... My arse.” Gregory’s eyes were heavy and dark with satisfaction, his cheeks a glorious pink, his pulse visible in the strong lines of his neck. Mycroft smiled boldly, allowing the unbecoming pride to fill his chest and spill over into his expression before ducking his face, hiding the embarrassed shame that no doubt flared up in his eyes. “Here now... None o’ that.” Mycroft blinked away the tears threatening to fall as Gregory once again dabbed at his eyes with his handkerchief, taking it to his chin with a tiny smirk. “Missed a bit, my love.”

This time, Mycroft did pull away, burying his face in Gregory’s fine thigh and shaking his head from side to side. When his lover managed to extract him from his hiding place, it was to find him giggling quite madly, his face distorted with mirth. “Obscene oh Lord, but I am so wicked...” Gregory tugged him firmly up into his lap, cradling his bum to keep him in place as he exorcised whatever demon was in his head with heady laughter. “I... I don’t even know who I am any more.”

“You are my Mycroft, and you are no different than you were yesterday morn. You loved me even then, dun’t you think I din't know it. The only thing that has changed is that you now know that you are loved in return, and that this beautiful body is meant for more than just hauling around that incredible mind of yers.” Gregory fixed him with a stern look as Mycroft’s hilarity trickled off into quiet hiccoughs, as he nodded mutely. He calmly took up the hand that was fiddling with the buttons on his shirt, folding his handkerchief into it and holding it to Mycroft’s chest. “I want you to keep this, to remember me by. I think that maybe that funny little head of yers likes to get a bit tricksy with ya from time to time, yeah? You’re gonna need a token, a reminder that what passed between us was no dream, that it was all real and honest and true.” Mycroft’s mouth opened soundlessly, his traitorous eyes leaking once again as he put it to his nose. “Just so, my love. Ya hold tight to it, and think of me and you and all the moments we've yet to share together.”

“Oh, my Gregory, I...”  

“I know, Mycroft. I know. Now, before I send you back out there...” Mycroft let out a loud gasp of shock and stifled his pained cry into his newly-won token of affection as Gregory’s fingers traced over the bulge in his trousers with the barest of touches. “Just as I thought - poor lad.” Mycroft moaned as he was freed, as his lover instantly set to work on relieving his agony. He panted through the thin fabric as Gregory’s hand tightened and squeezed and stroked in a varied but somehow steady rhythm. “Sweet thing. So intent on pleasuring me that your own need went unnoticed. Not by me, though. I’ll never neglect you, my love. Want to look after you, to take care of you. Want to make you feel so good, oh yes...”

Mycroft nodded wildly, moving his hips in quick, short jerks, desperately chasing his own pleasure as Gregory’s dark eyes shifted over his face, eagerly devouring every minute shift of his expression. He wanted to hide away his shame, his wickedness, but at the same time not, desiring to give his lover every bit of him that he could ever need or desire. He moaned around the fabric still stuffed into his mouth, his eyes rolling back in bliss.

Unbidden, Mycroft’s face fell into Gregory’s shoulder as the first shudders began to rock through his spine, but his head was abruptly yanked back by the hair, something in his lover’s regard going feral and hungry. “No. Don’t you dare. Not here, not out in the light - I want to see you. Need to see everything of you, my love.” He shook him curtly but not brutally, the sharp shock of almost-pain sending Mycroft hurtling over the edge and making his body seize with tremors.

His mouth fell open on a garbled string of nonsense words as he released, the sodden fabric of Gregory’s handkerchief dropping to his chest. Mycroft panted quietly as the ring of his lover’s fingers loosened, as he spread the slick all around and gently caressed his overwrought flesh back into quiescence. “Gregory, oh oh ohhh...

“Oh, but you are such a glorious thing when you come undone.” Gregory brought him in for a deep, rough kiss by his grip on his hair, thrusting his tongue into his mouth with such heady abandon that Mycroft was sure he felt his spent flesh twitching with renewed interest. The fingers in his hair slowly gentled, smoothing down his locks and tracing over the back of his neck as they withdrew from one another reluctantly. “Every day, Mycroft. If we could be together the way we deserve to be, I would do that to you every morn and every night. Love to see that light in yer eyes.”

“We will find a way, my love. I promise you.”

“I've no doubt of it.” Mycroft’s heart tripped in his chest as Gregory’s fond smile went a bit wicked around the edges. “Just needed to find the proper motivation n’all.” Mycroft giggled as he sat back slightly, shaking his head at his lover’s cheeky manner. He blushed abominably as he looked down, noting the mess still residing on Gregory’s fingers and his own exposed member. Gregory nodded at the fabric once again clutched in Mycroft’s left fist. “Gonna have to ask to borrow that back for a moment, love.”

Mycroft shook his head. “You shan’t have it - it’s mine now.” He reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out the handkerchief that his mother had given to him earlier. “Do allow me...” Gregory watched with a small smile as Mycroft industriously wiped them both clean, folding up the linen square when he was done and tucking it into the breast pocket of his lover’s overcoat. He put his palm to Gregory’s chest and held it there for a long moment, wishing that his own token could have been something more, somehow.

But then in the next moment, Gregory’s hand covered his, and Mycroft realised that it was perfect - like for like. He didn't need to impress his paramour with his largesse, or try to woo him away from a more pleasing prospect. All he had to do was offer his affection, and bask in it in his turn. He had a lover - they had exchanged favours, and had made promises to one another. What did it matter that they could not share the happiness of their love with others? They had each other, and that was all that mattered.

He blinked somewhat languidly back into awareness as he felt a soft caress down below, looking down as Gregory’s finger stroked him once more. Mycroft felt his cheeks bloom with renewed heat as he took in the obscene but oddly comforting sight of both of their naked members nestled together. “Um.”

Gregory chuckled brightly. “Look quite cosy, dun’t they?” Mycroft took in breath on a sharp gasp as his lover slid one finger underneath his flaccid prick and bounced it gently. “All fat and happy.”

“Gregory, are you but a child?” Try as hard as he might, Mycroft could not hide the mirth in his own voice, unsure as to whether he was going to break out into hysterical giggles again or perhaps copy his lover’s touch. Of course, that would most likely start the both of them off again, and he really should...

“Mycroft!”

The lovers froze as one as the call came from the open door of the stables, Sherlock’s strident tone echoing off the wooden slats of the stalls.

Chapter Text

“Mycroft! If you don’t come out, I shall be forced to come in to find you, and you had better be in a decent state!”

Gregory hissed into his lover’s collarbone, as Mycroft had tightened his hold on him almost instinctively at the first ring of Sherlock’s voice. They fought together briefly but silently, the stable lad attempting to push away his persistent rider and finding it nigh on impossible. “Damnation, but you stick harder than a tick on a hound! Geroff!”

“Shan’t. You’re mine, and I intend to hold you for as long as I’m able.” Mycroft’s voice was breathless and low as he struggled to keep his arms looped around his lover’s neck. “I shan’t let you go, it’s only Sherlock, Sherlock that’s all, and he knows anyhow.” Gregory stopped pushing and pulled his head back slightly, raising a questioning eyebrow. Mycroft swallowed and dithered momentarily, clearing his throat. “He is...as we are. It hasn’t been discussed all that openly, of course, but he is aware of my...feelings for you.”

Gregory’s eyes softened. “Is he now?” His hand once more slipped between them, his fingers tickling along Mycroft’s exposed flesh. “Even if that were truth, and even if we could trust him to keep his gob shut, this is hardly proper, my fine gentleman. Shouldn’t we at least cover ourselves?”

Mycroft’s cheeks bloomed with heat as he bit his lip and shook his head, pressing ever closer, sheltering themselves from anyone’s sight. “No. Hang what’s right and proper. I want to feel your beautiful body against mine for as long as possible, my love.”

Gregory grumbled quietly, but pulled his overcoat out from between them and attempted to drape it strategically around his lover’s form as there was a deliberate shuffling from the door of the stall. He squawked into Mycroft’s ear as his face was abruptly pulled down into his shoulder, mumbling, “Dirty little tart,” under his breath.

“Ah. There you are, brother mine. And not at all decent. What a surprise.” Mycroft growled as he pulled Gregory even closer, cutting a sideways but no less devastating glare in his brother’s direction. “Dear me. You must allow your young man a breath of air, unless you’d rather place him in an early grave?”

Mycroft scowled as he loosened his grip ever so slightly, reaching up to pet Gregory’s hair as he tilted his head back against the wood of the stall, his chest heaving for breath. “I do beg your forgiveness, my love. I get a trifle - possessive - over the things that I truly cherish.”

Sherlock snorted as he leant against the stall door, his face impassive but his eyes betraying his pleasure at seeing his brother in such a compromised state. “Such as the stuffed rabbit that Mother insisted you were growing too old for at the age of...eleven, was it? She tried to pass it along to me, I believe. But it mysteriously vanished, did it not?”

Mycroft tried to ignore the merry twinkle in both his brother’s and his lover’s eyes as he fidgeted uneasily. Gregory pinched his chin in thumb and forefinger as Mycroft tried to look away from the both of them. “That so, love? Whatever became of your poor Mr. Bun, then?”

“I haven’t the slightest idea. The blasted thing just disappeared.” He looked up at Gregory from under his lashes, striving to look utterly innocent. His façade shattered at the quirk of one dark eyebrow, and he shuddered from top to toe before opening his mouth and letting it all fall out in one short breath. “I put him in a box and put him in the ground, I buried him here behind the stables because he was mine only mine and no-one else shall have him ever again he will be mine forever and that’s all there is to it.”

His lover blinked at him incredulously as Sherlock snorted laughter out through his nose. “Selfish prat. I knew it must have been something like that...”

Gregory put a thumb to Mycroft’s trembling lower lip and tugged on it gently. “I only hope that if you should choose to put me in a box someday, you’ll remember to leave me a little air and perhaps some water. And I would beg you not to dig too deeply, my love.”

Mycroft stared at him in horror. “Gregory!”

His lover smiled softly and rubbed at the furrow between his brows. “Joke, love. Just a joke. Please try not to look so devastated, my sweet innocent maid.” He tilted their foreheads together, knocking at him gently. “Silly thing, burying your favourite toy like that.” Mycroft whimpered quietly as his face was stroked, as they moved closer, their eyes slipping closed in anticipation...

“A-hem!”

“Shite!” Both Mycroft and Gregory rubbed their foreheads to curtail the possibility of lovely goose-eggs popping up as a result of the solid collision they had suffered at Sherlock’s interruption. Well-timed though it was, it earned the younger Holmes quite the pair of murderous scowls.

He held up his hands as if in surrender and took a small step backward. “As fascinating as it would be to observe your mating rituals, I have no desire either to go blind or to be plagued with those remembrances for the remainder of my days on this earth.”

“Fine. Then begone with you and let us mate in peace!” Gregory broke out into uproarious laughter and Mycroft tightened his hold to prevent being thrown clear. “Go away and tell Mother that I will be with you anon.”

Sherlock turned an almost apologetic look in his brother’s direction. “I am afraid that I cannot. She instructed me quite firmly to take you by the ear if necessary.”

“Pah. As if you could.”

Sherlock licked his lips and bobbed his head in a vaguely downward direction, his eyes glancing between the two men and then shying away. “You’re hardly in any position - or condition - to run from me, brother mine.”

Mycroft’s chest began to puff up. “Why you little...”

His voice came to a quivering halt as there was the barest brush of lips against his. Gregory caressed his face gently, kissing him soft and sweet once, twice more. “You’d best go, love. Yer mum only wants to spend some time with her boys before ya get on that train, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Go, and let yer mind be at peace. We’ve said what we needed to say to each other. You’ll write to me, and we’ll say so much more and then we’ll be back together before ya even know it.”

“No.”

Mycroft growled again at the interruption, but he stopped short at the look on his brother’s face. “Explain quickly, little one.”

“You mustn’t write to him - not directly. It will look suspicious, don’t you see? Write to me, and place your private correspondence inside. I will see that he receives it with no interference from Jackson.”

Mycroft blinked slowly. “I... That thought had not occurred to me.” He turned back to Gregory. “Would he interfere, do you think?”

“Hah. Steam it open and read the lot, most like.” He tilted his head in Sherlock’s direction gratefully. “Thank you, lad.” Gregory’s eyes narrowed slightly as he looked over the younger Holmes, his lips turning up in a grin as he turned just as pink as did his own Holmes. “Ya spend a bit o’ time around that lot, dun’t ya? Like to listen to them gossip like a bunch of old fishwives?”

“I often find their conversations to be...illuminating. And yes, salaciousness does seem to be their stock and trade. They already consider you to be quite the queer one, seeing as how you choose to sleep out here with the beasts.”

Gregory sniffed as Mycroft’s long fingers combed through his hair. “I like the noise the horses make - they soothe me in the dark. Cain’t stand the nattering and complainin’ they get up to in the house. And the liberties some try to take in the dead of night, Lawd.”

Mycroft’s nostrils flared as his body went absolutely rigid. “Who? I shall have them dismissed immediately.”

Gregory rolled his eyes as Sherlock snorted again. “Hush, love. You know I shan’t tell you, and no doubt your inquisitive little brother already knows.”

“Oh yes, quite the reputation that one has.” Sherlock smirked as his brother’s lover put a finger to his lips and cut his eyes to Mycroft surreptitiously. Sherlock nodded his agreement in the face of silent but quite dire threats from his older brother, knowing that if he gave in, it would most likely result in a scorched-earth campaign that would leave the house completely unstaffed. He dithered as the stable lad tried to calm Mycroft, running his thumbs over his cheeks soothingly. “Brother, we really must…” He took another small step back as his brother snarled at him, baring his teeth in an appallingly feral display. “She will follow me out here herself, you know!”

“Love, oh my love... My Mycroft. You know that he’s right. You must go.” Gregory took up Mycroft’s left hand and kissed the knuckles that were still clutching the wreck of his threadbare handkerchief tight. “I’ll still be with you.”

Mycroft fought against the sobs rising in his chest, his stiff posture wilting as one slipped past his defences. “Sh-Sherlock...a moment. P-please.”

“I’ll be right outside, brother. Don’t dally.” Sherlock winced as he turned away, the sound of his brother’s agony tearing at his heart.

Gregory kissed away his lover’s tears as they fell, his own heart clenching painfully as he fought to keep a gentle, placid expression on his face. “You must go, my love. You must.”

Mycroft nodded helplessly, and then shook his head fiercely. “But I’ve only just found you! How can it be right and proper to enjoy the pleasure you’ve given me and then to turn my back on you? I am a fickle creature, and unfit for you to bestow your affection upon.”

Greg smiled in spite of his own distress. “Nah, you ain’t. I’ve had my share of tumbles, and I can tell ya right now that this is more - this is real and true. You’ve got my heart, and I’ve got yours. You cain’t give it away to no-one else, cause it’s mine now.”

“Mycroft!”

“Hell and damnation.” Mycroft pushed himself to his feet suddenly, fumbling at the fastenings for his trousers. He let out a shocked gasp for breath as Gregory darted forward to press a hard kiss to the root of all his troubles.

“There. And that’s so he’ll remember me as well.”

“Oh, believe you me, he’ll never forget.”

Gregory smirked as he stood and made himself decent, quickly taking hold of Mycroft’s shoulders and pushing him toward the door to the stables. Sherlock stood just outside, pulling on the last of a slim cigarette. He rolled his eyes as the stable lad pushed his brother at him unceremoniously, but he did not hesitate to take hold of his arm in a firm grip to ensure that he could not wander back into temptation.

He turned away politely as the lovers shared one last kiss, and then began the arduous task of physically pulling his brother back toward the main house. He dithered even as he tugged at his burden, wanting to give him the time and privacy he needed to compose himself but at the same time desperate to be relieved of the weight of his sorrow. If this was what it meant to have your affections unambiguously returned, then perhaps it would be better never to reveal his own feelings...

Sherlock pulled his brother to a stop a respectable distance away from the house, only sighing quietly as Mycroft’s cloudy grey eyes turned once more toward the stables. Lestrade had already retreated back into the dim shelter of the structure, but both of the brothers could sense that he was still watching, somehow. With a firm tap on one damp cheek, Sherlock regained his brother’s attention and set about attempting to make him look a bit more respectable.

He gently but firmly pried the wilted handkerchief out of Mycroft’s hand only to give it a quick snap, folding it and carefully tucking it into his brother’s trouser pocket. Mycroft huffed a quiet breath into Sherlock’s face, but he stood still and accepted his little brother’s minute adjustments to his person, brushing down his jumper and straightening his hair. His lip quivered as he fought the urge to turn back once again, but with Sherlock taking him by the shoulders and delivering a stern look, his melancholic humours suddenly turned quite giddy, and he found himself giggling helplessly.

“I cannot believe I forced you to witness all that, my God. What you must think of me.”

Sherlock blinked and returned his brother’s open grin. “Well, yes. I do think you’re a fool, and quite the indecent beast, but from my understanding of things, that’s what love does to a man.” Mycroft sobered slightly as his brother patted his cheek gently. “I am - happy - for you, brother dearest. Coarse and crude as he is, I do believe that Lestrade will be good for you. He will assist you in keeping your feet firmly on the ground where they belong.”

Mycroft bit his lip bashfully, and Sherlock felt a quick pang in his chest at the openness of his brother’s expression. “Do you truly believe so, Sherlock? Do you...approve?”