Mycroft drives himself through Piccadilly as the lights of London blur past on either side. The car is a plain black Vauxhall Insignia, one he's unofficially requisitioned from the motor pool for the evening. It’s good to be behind the wheel; he’s so accustomed to being driven around that the experience feels strangely illicit, as though he were breaking bounds at school. As such, he savours every moment of his journey, even the stop and start of traffic, and the pedestrians who mistakenly think the roads belong to them.
The entrance to the – establishment – is so blandly discreet that one could walk past it every day without properly registering its existence. There’s no signage, nothing to draw attention to itself, just a key-carded glass door with a small, red-carpeted foyer beyond. The building itself is four stories of glass and Portland limestone, which could just as easily house offices behind its ornate archways and opaque, multi-paned windows. In a way, it functions as one of the satellite offices of the British government, albeit one about which the public will never learn. Inside, virtually any desire can be satisfied – at a price. In over 100 years of operation under numerous governments, the privacy of its clientele has never been breached.
Still, Mycroft has always been cautious. Only one person in service there has ever seen his face, and no one knows his real name. He pulls the car in a little way down the street from the building, and taps out a message on a phone he keeps expressly for this purpose. He trusts the boy will be waiting. Of course, Ricky isn’t actually a boy, but a twenty-nine-year-old man, and Mycroft’s personal security screening has further revealed that he’s surprisingly solvent, lives in Bedford, and that his real name is Eduardo. However, it’s upon such mutually agreed deceptions that their relationship, such as it is, is built.
Within three minutes, the glass door slides open, and Ricky emerges into the chill night air. He’s dressed in the long navy overcoat Mycroft bought for him shortly after their arrangement began, and he’s kept his thick, curly hair at the length Mycroft prefers. He has light olive skin, and an aquiline nose, but in the dark, these things matter less. Ricky strides out to the kerb, avoiding first a gaggle of women in mini-skirts, and then a grim-faced businessman. As he glances up and down the street, he’s accosted by a short, scruffily-dressed man who tugs at his arm with his other hand outstretched, clearly asking for money. Ricky shrugs him off and keeps looking. He straightens up as he finally spots Mycroft, who has turned on the interior lights to help him. As he comes more clearly into view, the sight of him sends the first frisson of anticipation down Mycroft’s spine. He chooses not to see Ricky’s smile, focusing instead on his full, cupids-bow lips, and the way his hair softly frames his angular face.
“Evening, guv,” Ricky says, as he lets himself into the car and makes himself comfortable in the passenger seat. His voice is something of a disappointment, light and cheerful, with that faux-Cockney twang that seems in the last ten years to have taken the English language hostage. “Bit chilly out – makes me glad of the coat.”
“Yes,” Mycroft says, and despite his best intentions his smile feels like a grimace.
It doesn’t seem to bother Ricky, who is almost congenitally good-natured. Perhaps he’s just had years of practice smoothing over awkward silences, and handling uncomfortable clients. Mycroft doesn’t like to think about it, but he knows that in this situation, it’s exactly what he is – a client. To Ricky, Mycroft’s intelligence, his position, mean nothing. He’s no different from the rest of them, except that he’s likely been the only one foolish enough to spend considerable amounts in grooming Ricky to his specifications, and then rewarding him accordingly. They never discuss money, of course – such things are taken care of elsewhere.
“So, how’s your day been, then?” Ricky asks, as Mycroft puts the car into drive and pulls away from the kerb.
“Busy,” Mycroft says, his standard answer. Of course, Ricky doesn’t know the half of it. It’s an endless job maintaining Britain’s place in the world, and Mycroft often feels like like a dutiful retainer tending an old Dame with an arthritic hip and a walking stick. Her best days might be behind her, but she still insists on making a good public showing, and it’s Mycroft’s job to make sure she doesn’t trip over the rug and embarrass herself. And then on top of the usual heated meetings with politicians and diplomats, there had been the frantic phone call from John interrupting his morning tea. Mycroft had needed to pull six agents abruptly from their posts in order to rescue his errant brother. Again. While it’s sometimes satisfying to hold the reins of power, most of the time Mycroft simply sees no decent alternative.
“Yeah, you look like you could use a bit of a holiday,“ Ricky says, flashing him another grin. His teeth are white and even. “Maybe you ought to take one sometime. Somewhere warm.” He pauses, as though waiting for a response, and then goes on talking. “Italy, maybe. Or Spain.”
“I’m afraid I don’t really have time for holidays.”
“Oh, that’s a pity. I went to Genoa a couple of years back, beautiful place…” Ricky launches into a recount of the Italian Riviera that only reaches Mycroft’s ears as a soothing wash of sound. He could just tell Ricky to be quiet, and sometimes he does, but occasionally it’s pleasant to just feel… normal. Ricky’s company may be bought and paid for, but at least he’s good at what he does. Mycroft can respect that. Between his easy-going manner and his ability to hold a one-sided conversation, he’s often able to distract Mycroft from the sheer humiliation of what he’s doing. What he can’t seem to stop himself from doing.
“So you ought to think about it, eh? It’d be nice… you could even take me with you,” Ricky concludes optimistically, and the idea jolts Mycroft out of his reverie. It’s obvious Ricky still has no idea what this is, thinks the specificity of Mycroft’s demands represent nothing more than a middle-aged man’s fussiness. The idea of going anywhere with Ricky in the harsh glare of daylight makes Mycroft shudder.
“Best be quiet now,” Mycroft says, and Ricky accepts the instruction without resentment. His easy compliance, too, is slightly disappointing.
Mycroft continues north, past Regent’s Park and towards Hampstead. There’s a place he uses for these sordid trysts, a compromise, like everything else. Ricky must have wondered why they’ve never just stayed in-house, or used an comfortable, impersonal hotel room, although he’s never asked. To Mycroft, though, the most appropriate setting for their encounters would be some filthy alleyway, reeking of urine and smoked cigarettes, lit only by the distant glow of light from the main street. An experience as much penance as pleasure. A random alleyway would be too risky, but there’s a private carpark behind some offices, a little way back from the Heath. It’s secluded, but still open to the air, and also conveniently owned by the British government. An all-access swipe card gets them through the boom gate.
It’s deserted at this hour, and will most likely stay that way. Towards the back corner, there’s a small, locked concrete shed, housing god knows what, probably a holdover from the days when the entrance was guarded by human beings. Mycroft pulls up beside it, and stops the car. He can feel Ricky’s eyes upon him as he takes a deep breath, misting the windshield slightly. Ricky’s hand comes to rest gently on his knee.
“C’mere,” Ricky says, leaning over, and the last thing Mycroft wants to do is kiss him, and yet he can never refuse. He sighs into the softness of Ricky’s lush, plump mouth, already feeling the first flush of blood suffusing his cheeks. Part desire, part humiliation. Quiet, he tells his brain, which is, unlike Ricky, slow to co-operate. Mycroft presses harder against Ricky, trying to lose himself in the scent of him, the cologne that Mycroft has demanded he wear on these occasions. It’s not quite right, the way it interacts with Ricky’s own scent and sweat, but it’s close. Close enough, together with the curl of hair that brushes Mycroft’s forehead. He shuts his eyes and pretends. Oh.
Ricky’s hand trails up his leg, stroking him, and comes to rest on the bulge at his groin. He squeezes lightly, making Mycroft bite back the moan that threatens to escape him. The windows are now thoroughly misted, the air gone clammy around them.
“Could do it here, if you like,” Ricky says, reaching for the buttons of Mycroft’s trousers, and the sound of his voice breaks the fragile spell. Mycroft could curse him, but it’s hardly his fault.
“No,” Mycroft says firmly, and opens the door. Cold air rushes in, making them both shiver, and reminding Mycroft that he has no right to sit back in the warmth and enjoy this without conscience. His impulses cannot simply be indulged as though they were harmless fantasy. He can have this much, and no more. To slip deeper into madness is unthinkable.
He gets out, and Ricky hastily follows suit, almost slamming the car door. Yellow sodium lights dot the perimeter of the car park, but leave the nearby wall of the small concrete structure in half-shadow. Mycroft rounds the car to join Ricky in the narrow strip of space beside the wall – there are only three fixed cameras in the car park, and they will appear on none of them. The bulk of the car further shields them from casual view. Here the light merely skims the outline of Ricky’s overcoat, and the edges of his hair and lips, leaving the finer points of his features in darkness. He’s beautiful.
Ricky opens his mouth as though to speak, but Mycroft forestalls him by kissing him roughly, forcing him back against the wall. In the heated silence, the thoughts and longings finally surface, merging seamlessly with the figure in front of him. I was so worried about you today, he says, without uttering a sound. He kisses Sherlock over and over, needing the solid reassurance of his body. After that phone call – I even had to ask the Lord Chancellor to repeat himself, because I hadn’t heard a word he’d said. Why do you always get yourself into such trouble?
Sherlock is pliant and passive under his hands, accepting Mycroft’s kisses and reprimands with equal grace. I tell you again, and again, but you never listen, and now there’s anger there as well, threaded through with desire. Mycroft fumbles with the buttons of his braces and waistband, and suddenly Sherlock’s hands are there to help him, warm and willing. Then Sherlock sinks to his knees, and the sight immediately sends a sharp pulse of blood to Mycroft’s erection. He presses forward into Sherlock’s mouth, which is startlingly hot and slick around his shaft. A moan finally escapes him, and he reaches out a hand to steady himself against the cold concrete as his knees threaten to buckle. His anger dissipates in the rush of longing. Sherlock. Brother mine. His thoughts slowly blur into whiteness.
After a time, he helps Sherlock to his feet and kisses him again, more softly this time, tasting himself on Sherlock’s lips. Sherlock then turns him to face the wall, and Mycroft tugs at his overcoat, pulling it off and tossing it aside. Sherlock quickly unbuttons his own trousers and pushes them to his ankles. He wears nothing else beneath. Mycroft’s hands come around to encircle Sherlock’s waist, and move further up his chest as his cock slides against the cleft of Sherlock’s bare buttocks. Despite the frigid air, both of them are glowing with heat.
When he can bear it no longer, Mycroft puts on a condom with trembling hands, and Sherlock shifts so he’s slightly bent over, hands against the wall. Mycroft nudges gently against his opening, which is already slick with lube, and then pushes inside him in a single thrust. Sherlock gives a small gasp, but otherwise remains silent. As Mycroft slowly builds his rhythm, Sherlock pushes back against him, silently urging him on. One of Sherlock’s hands wraps around his own cock as Mycroft pounds into him, harder now.
“Come for me,” Mycroft whispers, and Sherlock’s hand obediently moves faster on his cock. Moments later, his entire body shudders, and he gives a strangled cry. Mycroft thrusts into him a few more times and then clutches desperately at his hips in the dizzying rush of pleasure. Oh, god, Sherlock.
He stands there in the shadows, breathing hard, until the fantasy dissolves and fades away. It’s cold. Mycroft pulls out slowly, and disposes of the condom in a nearby bin as Ricky pulls his trousers up, puts his overcoat back on. He stands quietly and waits for Mycroft to speak.
“Thank you,” Mycroft says, a little awkwardly. He tips Ricky £50 with the understanding that he’ll make his own way home, as always.
Ricky smiles his bright smile, and pockets the note with murmured thanks. “Took me a while, but I worked it out,” he adds conversationally. “I’m like that detective bloke, aren’t I? From the papers.”
Mycroft stares at him. The realisation is unpleasant, but manageable. As far as he can tell, Ricky doesn’t know who he is. Will likely never know. But it might still be time to start preparing… alternatives. Just in case.
“It’s all right,” Ricky says, misunderstanding. “No harm in a little fantasy, is there? And he’s a pretty good-looking bloke, so I’m flattered. Not to mention I’ve had myself a fair few new clients since you bought me this coat, so thanks for that.”
Mycroft inclines his head graciously. Just go. Ricky hesitates. His hand reaches out uncertainly, and then comes to rest on Mycroft’s arm.
“Look, I know you think I’m just another rent boy on the make – and you’re right, I am – but you’ve always been a gentleman to me, and I appreciate it. I meant it about that holiday. Even if you don’t want me along.” He presses a small kiss to Mycroft’s mouth. “On the house,” he says, and winks.
Mycroft watches him walk away.
He returns to the car, his thoughts in an uncharacteristically tangled mess, and slumps behind the wheel. Too late, he realises that he’s not alone.
“Well, that was entertaining,” an all-too-familiar voice says, in a tone that implies it was anything but.
Fuck. Mycroft whirls around in his seat, gathering the threads of his dignity. When cornered, a strong attack is always preferable to a cowering defence. “Aren’t you supposed to be at home, recuperating?” he asks, as haughtily as he can. Despite himself, he scans Sherlock’s face quickly in the yellow half-light. He looks unscathed, save for a little bruising along the jawline. Relief does little to diminish his anger.
“Oh, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” Sherlock says, his voice tight. “Did you enjoy yourself, brother mine?”
Mycroft’s cheeks flush, but he refuses to rise to the bait. “What in god’s name are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“I mean, how did you ever–“
“–learn what you were getting up to in your precious spare time? Easy. I didn’t.”
Mycroft’s jaw clenches in exasperation. “Sherlock…”
“You might have cameras,” Sherlock begins, “but I have people. Imagine my surprise a few weeks back, when one of my homeless network called me in a flap. He said he’d seen me coming out of a building in Piccadilly, only when he came up closer to see what I was up to, turned out it wasn’t me at all. Gave him one hell of a fright. He thought he was going mad.”
“And was he?”
“Shut up, Mycroft. I assured him that I was nowhere near the area at the time, and paid him a visit the next day just to show him that I was still me. He was adamant that from a distance, at night, the man was my double. That sounded very suspicious, as you can imagine. I paid him for the information, with the promise of more for calling me should he show up again. And a substantial bonus if he could manage to plant a tracking chip on the supposed imposter.”
“Ah,” Mycroft says. He remembers Ricky emerging from the building, and the way a panhandler had seemingly sprung from nowhere to accost him, tugging insistently at Ricky’s arm. That damned coat. He must have slipped it into a pocket.
“And imagine my even greater surprise,” Sherlock continues implacably, “when my double turns out to be fucking my brother.” He pauses. “Or rather, the other way around.”
There’s a long, fraught silence.
“It’s really none of your business,” Mycroft says at last. “Get out. Go home.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I appear not to be one of your little flunkies who has to do whatever you say. I saw you. You paid him.” Sherlock pauses, but Mycroft refuses to explain, to justify. “You paid him to be me. Why would you do that?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“No,” Sherlock says, and Mycroft is horrified by the tell-tale hitch in his voice. “You always said…” and it’s obvious the memories evoke the same humiliation in him that Mycroft feels now, “when I wanted… you refused. You said that you wouldn’t, ever. That you were appalled by the very thought of–”
“Yes,” Mycroft says gently.
“I always thought you meant that I wasn’t good enough. For you. But you let him…”
“Don’t be stupid, Sherlock. The entire point is that he’s not – you.”
“What difference does it make?”
“It makes a great deal of difference - it’s a business arrangement, nothing more. I don’t have to worry about his welfare. I needn’t ever fear that I coerced him. And you must be aware that anything between us – it would be illegal.”
“As far as excuses go, those are irrelevant, inapplicable, and idiotic.”
Mycroft manages a half-smile. “Nevertheless.”
Sherlock’s eyes burn in his pale face and Mycroft is suddenly glad of the width of the seat back between them. “When I saw you with him – I imagined it was me.”
The air in the car is suddenly too warm as he feels Sherlock shifting slightly on the leather of the back seat. There’s the soft rustle of cloth and the slide of his zip. Mycroft hastily turns away, stares sightlessly through the windscreen, but he knows without seeing that Sherlock is touching himself, right there behind him. He can’t suppress the images that spring unbidden into his mind.
“Sherlock – for god’s sake.” The words seem to stick in his throat. He can't stay. He can't leave.
“I used to wish you’d make me do something… like that,” Sherlock says, his breath catching lightly. “Order me to get on my knees and suck you off. And I wouldn’t want to, but you’d insist, and I’d have no choice.”
“Please. Don’t do this,” Mycroft says, but now he can hear it, the slick, obscene noises of Sherlock’s hand moving on himself. His own cock twitches traitorously in response. Sherlock’s free hand comes down on his shoulder, making him gasp. He shuts his eyes tight and tries to tune Sherlock out as best he can.
“I’d suck you until you told me to stop. Then you’d force me down on the bed, and fuck me.” Sherlock’s voice is increasingly strained, breathless. “You’d know it was wrong, but you couldn’t help yourself. But by then I wouldn’t fight you any more. By then I’d just – oh – I’d tell you I wanted you to, I’d tell you to fuck me harder…”
Mycroft can feel the heavy gusts of Sherlock’s breathing along the side of his neck, the occasional brush of his curls. Then Sherlock’s hand tightens convulsively on his shoulder, and Mycroft instinctively brings a hand up across his chest to cover it. His cock aches all over again, and he trembles with longing as Sherlock comes in soft, stifled gasps. Mycroft already knows the memory will forever haunt him, which is perhaps Sherlock’s intention.
“Mycroft,” Sherlock says, still panting. “Please.”
“I’m sorry, Sherlock.” Mycroft squeezes his hand, then lets it go, feels it slip from his shoulder. He opens his eyes and stares straight ahead, studiously avoiding the sight of Sherlock in the rearview mirror. “You know I can’t.”
There’s a long silence as Sherlock collects himself, and Mycroft wills his erection to subside. He’ll never forget the smell, either, the sharp, metallic musk that cuts through the close air. A small, distant part of his mind reminds him that he’ll have to wipe down the back seat before returning the car. He waits, but Sherlock does not respond to his apology.
“I’ll drive you back to Baker Street,” Mycroft says at last.
There’s a sharp, indrawn breath, and then Sherlock’s voice is suddenly soft and vicious in his ear. “Fuck you. I hate you.” There’s a rush of cold air, and then he’s gone. The slam of the door makes the entire car shake.
Mycroft does not look back. Instead, he slowly raises both hands to the steering wheel, and then rests his head upon them. Ricky was right, in part. He does need a holiday, but not just from his job. He needs a holiday from his life. But there will always be things he can’t have, much as he might want them, and that’s simply the way things are. After a long moment, he straightens up, squares his shoulders, and starts the car. He'll return it first thing tomorrow. Meanwhile, there's still a pile of work at home to be got through before he can even think of sleeping tonight. Enough self-indulgence – it’s time to get on.