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Taking His Time

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Mycroft paused in the foyer of his townhouse, slipping his umbrella into the stand and sliding his suit jacket off his shoulders, hanging it by the door. He started to roll up his shirtsleeves as he walked into the kitchen, the sharp click of his heels on the hardwood punctuating each of his shaky breaths. Taking a moment to collect himself, he braced his hands on the centre worktop and then began gathering ingredients from the cupboards and refrigerator.

At least he had the foresight to have gone out to purchase the necessities the night before, as it was all but guaranteed that he would be running late when it came to actually preparing the meal. But then, he knew that Gregory would most likely wind up being somewhat tardy as well. Unfortunately, their jobs would no doubt interfere with their blossoming relationship, if that was even the direction that it was headed. Leeway would no doubt have to be granted to both and from both of them at some point in the future - if there was a future for them in the first place. Mycroft shook his head slightly as he slipped a plain white apron over his head, tying it behind his back and smoothing down the front.

Mycroft’s hands trembled slightly as he uncorked the bottle of white wine, allowing it to breathe a bit as the stock simmered gently on the stove. He diced the garlic and shallots with steady hands that worked the knife almost autonomously, as he had always been quite the natural with a blade. Mycroft was clearly no stranger to the culinary arts, as he had quite the fascination with fine food from a very early age. He mentally calculated the time it would take to cook the rice as he recalled the text he had received from Gregory, begging for an additional half-hour after the previously arranged time for their date. In reality, he would most likely be at least an hour late, but Mycroft wasn’t overly concerned. He knew that he would not be stood up, not tonight of all nights.

Gregory Lestrade, here. Here, in his home, in his sanctum sanctorum... Not even Sherlock dared to step a foot in here unless he was expressly invited, knowing that to invade his brother’s privacy in such a manner would trigger Mycroft’s familial obligations to be rescinded, and post haste at that. He was a man who valued his domestic isolation, requiring a haven in which to retreat to gather his energy and bolster his strength for the minor battles he fought every day.

This was something that Gregory seemed to understand quite instinctively, which was most likely the reason for his hesitation in agreeing to this dinner at all. Of course, Mycroft’s uncharacteristic fumbling with his words and embarrassed fluster had been quite the indicator of his unease with the idea. If there was one thing that the Detective Inspector was rather good at, it was reading those subconscious (or occasionally rather glaring) cues and acting accordingly. His natural abilities had served him quite well in both his professional and personal lives for quite some time.

They had been circling around each other for - well - for years, actually. Ever since Gregory had come into his brother’s life, in fact. At first, Mycroft hadn’t really taken much notice. He had been far too preoccupied with Sherlock’s...illness, too fed-up with his shenanigans, too tired to allow himself to truly witness what his brother was putting himself through. He had lost touch with the boy that he had grown up with, that he had loved with his entire being.

In a way, Sherlock’s self-destructive behaviour had gone a long way towards ensuring that his big brother would ultimately become the fabled Ice Man, cool logic overriding all compassion, all sentiment. After all, that belonged to the losing side, and if there were a battle fought, a Holmes would always come out on top.

But Gregory had seen something in the limp, hollow shell that was his brother all those years ago, had given Sherlock something to engage his mind, to encourage him to fight his demons. As loath as Mycroft had been to acknowledge in the beginning of their association, Sherlock had flourished under Lestrade’s careful attentions and he had come to appreciate all the effort that the Detective Inspector had gone through to make his little brother resemble something almost human again.

Of course he had thanked him by having him whisked away to a lovely little spot by the side of the Thames, the long-disused warehouse dank and water-logged. Although Mycroft would not admit it, probably not even now, he had been more than a little impressed by the way Lestrade had treated the whole thing as a lark, his dark eyes twinkling merrily at him through the entirety of their terse conversation, his lips turned up at the corners in amusement.

Mycroft had tested him the same way he had tested others who had crossed his brother’s path, both for motivation (“Might we be expecting a happy announcement by the end of the week?”), and his loyalty (“I’d be happy to pay you a considerable sum if you were to keep me apprised of his actions.”) Both suggestions were slapped down quite handily, the first with a significant waggle of the shiny gold band around the third finger of Lestrade’s left hand, and the second with a single if harsh bark of laughter.

“Not that kind of copper, mate.” Mycroft remembered the swift thrill low in his belly as those dark eyes had swept over him, neatly finding the cracks in his icy armour and striking right at them. “I’d ask you what this nonsense is all about, but it’s pretty obvious. You’re family, aren’t you? I’d say...a brother? Yeah, older brother. Couldn’t protect him from himself and now you’re trying to compensate by being the big bad, making sure he’s safe. Well, you haven’t anything to worry about on my account, Mr. Holmes. I want him just as safe as you do.”

Mycroft’s stiff posture had nearly given out on him, the tip of his umbrella skidding on the shiny concrete floor of the warehouse. But Lestrade had already turned away to the open door of the car, dropping a casual wink over his shoulder as he slipped into the back seat and shut the door behind himself, putting quite the end to the impromptu interview.

He smiled now to recall the look of pleased surprise on his PA’s face as he had turned to her in shock. “Oh, I do like this one, Mr. Holmes.”

And he had come to discover that he rather liked Gregory as well. It was terribly inconvenient at first, as he had never been the sort to entertain the idea of silly infatuations, especially when the object of said infatuation was distinctly unavailable. Mycroft didn’t like to think of himself as the sort to - pine - after someone, but then, he had never met anyone like Gregory before. Mycroft had gotten to know him a little bit beyond his professional association with Sherlock, and found himself becoming more and more enamoured of the man as time went by.

There was still that annoying gold band to contend with, though, and Lestrade had made it perfectly clear that he was not one to stray, even when it had become obvious that his wife did not hold herself to the same sterling standards. At something like the three year mark of their becoming acquainted with each other, they had fallen into a somewhat regular pattern of taking lunch together once a month or so, their schedules permitting, of course. Mycroft had endured the lacklustre rants about his dining partner’s wife and her infidelities with a remarkable amount of restraint, holding himself back from simply blurting out a harsh, “Just divorce her already, you fool!”

He instead counselled where he could, frequently proclaiming his lack of experience as reason to take his advice with a grain or perhaps a heaping bucketful of salt, but Mycroft suspected that Gregory knew what he would have to do and was simply reluctant to set it all in motion. It wasn’t easy to make such drastic changes after being with the same person for nearly two decades, especially as a forty-something-year old man who had gone prematurely grey due to his high-pressure and stress-inducing job.

But then, after one harsh deduction too many from his astoundingly rude - if clever - younger brother, that hated gold band had suddenly vanished, leaving behind a streak of white on Lestrade’s beautifully tanned skin. Over their next shared luncheon, Gregory had announced his intention to divorce, and Mycroft had allowed himself a brief, shining moment to hope. To hope, and to dream.

Rather surprisingly, it seemed that his dreams were well on their way to becoming reality, as they had begun to spend more time together, whether out to lunch or meeting for the occasional drink at Mycroft’s club, and even at Lestrade’s local a time or two. Mycroft had to endure quite the interrogation at the hands of his younger brother when Sherlock had wheedled that little nugget of information out of Gregory, demanding to know what designs his older brother had on his pet Detective Inspector.

Once he had managed to get Mycroft to admit that he had absolutely no idea what his intentions even were, that he was really quite flustered by the whole thing, that frankly he should just ignore Gregory’s inane if amusing emails and he should block his number and just forget that the man even existed, Sherlock had calmed down considerably. Mycroft had squirmed under his little brother’s intense scrutiny, his entire world turning upside down as Sherlock had laughed softly and cradled his face in both hands with uncharacteristic gentleness.

“Sentiment.” Quicksilver eyes had brightened, and Mycroft’s breath had caught in his chest at the remarkably fond expression on Sherlock’s face, something reverent and hopeful, something he had not seen since he was fourteen, and his brother a mere seven years old. “You love him, brother mine. You love him terribly.”

Mycroft had sputtered incomprehensibly for a moment before pulling away. “Ridiculous. I have no room in my life for that sort of nonsense. I have no time. I’m not in love - I simply don’t have the capacity for such a thing.” His eyes had dropped to his fingers, his nails scraping over his previously immaculate cuticles. He blinked rapidly at seeing his nervous habit from childhood coming back to the fore, quickly clutching his hands into fists to make himself stop before they started to bleed.

He had looked up again at Sherlock’s clucking tongue, frowning impressively. “I think - yes. You’re lying, brother mine. And you used to be so good at keeping things from me...”

“Take care how you taunt me, little one. You’re behaving like a child.”

Sherlock had crossed his arms over his chest in a fit of pique. “Perhaps I am, but then, so are you. You like to pretend that I’m some pawn in your overreaching games and that’s the only reason for your concern, but I know better. I’m clever, Mycroft, but you’re the smart one. You always have been. You cannot tell me that you do not love, that you are incapable of it. If not for the feelings that you claim not to have, you would have left me in the gutter to die years ago.”

Mycroft’s heart had twinged in his chest, so much so that he put a hand to it in shock. “Sherlock!”

“See?” Sherlock had smiled as though he had scored a very important point, and Mycroft had shaken his head at his shenanigans.

“He deserves more than I can offer, brother mine. I have nothing within me to give to anyone, much less a vibrant man like him.”

“Perhaps you should let him determine that for himself?”

Mycroft had narrowed his eyes and tilted his head calculatingly. “Where is this all coming from? What do you care, anyway?”

“You’re less of a pain in my arse after you’ve spent some time with him, and he’s a little more free-handed with the interesting cases. You make each other happy in your own odd little ways, and I’ve determined that if I can get him to give you the royal shagging you clearly need to clear the cobwebs out of your arse, then I will be a very happy fellow indeed.”

The final blow having been struck, Sherlock had swept out of Mycroft’s office in a twirl of tweed, leaving his brother to sit in stunned silence, his mouth gaping open rather like a fish out of water. As vulgar as the statement had been, it had planted rather pleasant but extremely distracting thoughts into Mycroft’s brain, and so when Gregory had suggested a proper sit-down dinner, he had accepted without allowing himself the time to concoct a reasonable refusal.  

Gregory had always behaved like a proper gentleman around him, even when it became clear that they were in fact 'seeing each other'. But after a couple of months of circular discussions that seemed to lead nowhere, he was obviously rather frustrated with the lack of stated limits in the burgeoning relationship. Mycroft understood that he was trying to respect his boundaries, and he also knew that Gregory wasn’t even entirely sure if he was truly all that interested in the first place. After all, he had never been a demonstrative man, and since Mycroft had never had anyone that he was even interested in demonstrating with in the first place, he was completely at a loss as how to behave around him.

It had taken a frank and rather blunt admission of Gregory’s feelings for him for Mycroft to allow himself to reluctantly admit to the same, a swift welter of heat racing up his spine as his faltering words brought a genuine and astonishingly beautiful smile to that lovely face. After that, things had progressed a bit more smoothly, although they were still moving at a pace that was designed to make Mycroft comfortable with the idea of being with anyone at all.

He was still uncomfortable with overt displays, and so Gregory would hold himself back if they happened to be in the public eye, simply knocking their legs together under the dinner table, or perhaps leaning close enough in the booth at the pub to allow him to feel the corona of his body heat and to breathe in the light spice of his cologne. This transitioned to sweet if sultry kisses in the shadow of Mycroft’s ever-present umbrella in solitary doorways or alleys, their faces hidden, but their bodies pressed together as one as they leant against the brickwork. Gregory would run his thumb over Mycroft's furiously pink cheeks and call him ‘innocent’ with the cheekiest of his grins, and he simply could not find it in himself to disagree.

Although Mycroft had proved that he wasn’t entirely pure in the next step of their growing intimacy, heavy snogging sessions in the back of his ostentatious town car. His driver would already have the partition up as he came to retrieve them from dinner, the theatre or the cinema, barely able to conceal his smirk as Gregory would waggle his eyebrows at him conspiratorially.

George would roll his eyes and say, “Home the long way again, sirs?” and practically break down into hysterical laughter as they both blushed before diving into the back seat, ties already loosened. Mycroft could swear that he was able to hear the almost childish giggles from the driver's seat even over the heady sound of Gregory’s breath in his ear, but then all of his senses would be quite overloaded, smell and taste and oh, the feel of blunt nails in his hair, grasping at the back of his neck and oh oh oh yes...

The last time that they had been able to steal away some extended time for themselves, George had simply taken them on a long and meandering tour of the city, not that either of them had paid one bit of attention to the scenery. When they had finally arrived back at Gregory’s flat, they had both been shamefully dishevelled and aroused almost beyond reason.

Mycroft flushed hotly as he recalled the image of his would-be lover perched over his thighs, his tie pulled to the side and shirt wide open. Bestowing one last filthy kiss and grinding up against his hardness languidly, he had nibbled on Mycroft’s ear and whispered, “Now I am going to go up to my dreary little flat, and I am going to wank myself absolutely cross-eyed.” He had pulled away slightly, his thumbs running up his cheekbones as he cradled his face, his eyes shifting from something dark and hungry to soft and adoring. “Unless you’d like to join me?”   

His heart absolutely hammering in his chest, Mycroft had taken in a breath and let it out with a tiny shake of his head. “Gregory, I...”

Although there had been the briefest of flashes of something forlorn and perhaps a bit frustrated in his expression, Gregory had just smiled gently and pressed a loving kiss to his forehead. “Perhaps next time, then.”

And then he had slid off of Mycroft’s knees and out of the car, boldly walking up to the door of his building with his shirt completely undone, giving him a cheeky little wink as he disappeared inside. With salacious thoughts of what his Detective Inspector might be up to at just that moment running on a constant loop in his head, Mycroft had been in near agony the entire ride back to his townhouse. George wisely offered up no further comment as he placidly held the car door for him, watching with care as he wobbled his way to his front door.

After Mycroft had relieved his own tension in an embarrassingly short amount of time, he found himself able to think clearly again, and he had determined that he was ready for more. But it would have to be in his space, and on his terms. Gregory had already demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would be perfectly fine with this, but of course Mycroft couldn’t help but fret over the most minor of details, his mind spinning out all kinds of rather implausible scenarios until he had eventually fallen asleep out of pure mental exhaustion.

Apparently his subconscious mind had come to some sort of a satisfactory conclusion on its own in the depths of the night, as he woke with a firm conviction to bring Gregory in closer, to open himself up to him. And so on the next of their dates, over a shared plate of spicy Thai noodles, Mycroft had suggested that Gregory come over to his for dinner a fortnight or so later.

Gregory had frozen with his fork halfway to his mouth as Mycroft had awkwardly fumbled his way through his invitation, stuttering uneasily as those gorgeous dark eyes zeroed in on his lips. He had remained in that awkward position for such a long time that Mycroft had felt compelled to begin his oration anew, this time with much more conviction, but with his gaze firmly fixed on his water glass. The soft clink of Gregory’s cutlery against his plate had shaken him from his daze, and the warmth of a broad hand closing over his had started Mycroft’s heart to beating once again.

“I would be honoured, Mycroft. Truly.”

The relief that had swept through him had left him nearly as limp as the noodles wrapped around Gregory’s fork, and again those eyes caught his, speaking silent volumes. Mycroft had no difficulty reading the intent behind those beautiful orbs, taken aback by how intrinsically Gregory seemed to understand him. He knew what it would mean to be allowed entrance to Mycroft’s home, to his sanctuary; he knew the energy that had been expended in simply coming to the decision to open himself up to him. Gregory knew that it was all but a declaration of love, and he didn’t bother to stifle the same emotion shining forth in his eyes, as bright as a beacon to Mycroft’s searching gaze.

Unfortunately, they hadn’t been able to discuss the finer details that night, as Gregory had received a call from Donovan just as their final course was served. He had left with a hurried kiss on the cheek and a murmured, “Call me,” leaving Mycroft to linger over the plate of fried bananas, idly swirling his fork through the dregs of the chocolate sauce.

He had almost purchased some last night in a small fit of whimsy, but although he fully intended to have Gregory in his bed at some point in the evening, perhaps that sort of - advanced - manoeuvre could be saved for a future date. Mycroft blinked back into awareness to find that his main dish was nearly cooked through, his body operating independently as his mind had travelled over the past few months. He was a little surprised to find the bottle of wine only half-full, but there was no doubt where the missing liquid had gone, as his cheeks were pleasantly warm, and his brain was buzzing gently.

He looked down at the risotto that he was stirring at a steady pace, judging the consistency to be just about done, but the colour a bit lacklustre. Mycroft shook his head and reached for the small bottle to his left, finding the cap a little stickier than when he had opened it earlier. He again mentally calculated the time that Gregory would arrive, deciding that he would wait to sear the scallops until his guest was already seated, knowing that it wouldn’t take that long, and blast it all to hell why wouldn’t this cap budge?

The cap loosened just as there was a jarringly sharp knock at the front door, and Mycroft’s hands jerked in startled surprise. Although he somehow managed to keep the bottle from completely upending, the contents splashed liberally over his fingers and splattered the front of his previously pristine apron. Closing his eyes and taking in a deep breath, Mycroft let it out on a fluid string of curses in several different languages, keeping his tone as even as he could in an attempt to retain his calm.

He could see now the direction that this evening was headed in, and it was not an auspicious one. Of course his estimation of Gregory’s arrival was incorrect - he should have accounted for his paramour’s trademark sprightliness and his anticipation to begin the next stage of their - courtship. The second knock seemed more cautious, perhaps a little unsure, and although Mycroft did briefly consider simply retreating upstairs to perhaps hide under the bed, he instead screwed the lid back on the bottle and dropped it in the sink to hopefully contain any additional mess. Snatching up a nearby dish towel, he hastily wiped his hands down as best he could before tossing it in the sink as well, taking a clean one with him to the door. He used it to turn the handle, mentally bracing himself for the laughter that would surely follow.

The first thing that he noticed was that Gregory had brought him flowers. They were a bit thin and ragged, most likely the dregs of the inventory, as it was rather late in the evening and the shops were no doubt about to close. But there they were, in Gregory’s hand, still bright and cheerful. He had obviously attempted to spruce himself up at some point, taking that sadly ancient electric shaver that he kept in his office desk to his chin, and switching out his shirt. His lovely silver hair was still damp from the wet finger-combing he had given it, and Mycroft’s nose twitched as the faint aroma of his cologne wafted over him.

As tempted as he was to call the whole thing off, Gregory was standing there before him, clearly eager to see him as there was a hopeful light in his eyes, so he stood aside and let him in. He stepped inside somewhat cautiously, his eyes trained on the splatters of squid ink on Mycroft’s fingers, over his apron and the dish cloth that he was clutching to his middle.

“All right there, love?”

Mycroft bit his tongue viciously to stem the incipient wobbling of his chin as he wordlessly nodded toward the pan on the stove. Gregory placed his paper-wrapped bundle of flowers on the centre worktop and quickly shucked off his mackintosh, casually tossing it on top of one of the bar stools. Mycroft blinked at it for a moment, struck by how incongruous and yet how right it looked, as though it simply belonged there.

He joined Gregory at the stove as he took up the wooden spoon, stirring at the black mass slowly. Mycroft allowed himself to feel a bit of pride as the aroma drifted up, something earthy and bright, with the lightest touches of sea salt spray lingering in the air. “Risotto?”

Mycroft nodded. “It’s a simple enough dish to make, and this particular version can be rather...”

“Dramatic.”

Mycroft huffed out a resigned breath as he rolled his eyes. “Perhaps, but I wanted to...”

“Impress me.”

Gregory twinkled at him unfairly as Mycroft frowned deeply. “Is it your intention to complete all of my spoken thoughts this evening?”

He shivered as Gregory chuckled at him, breathy and low. Mycroft found that his dismay at making rather a mess of himself and of their dinner was being elbowed out of the way by the sudden realisation that the man he had been longing for was standing in his kitchen, barely an arm’s length away. He shivered again as Gregory shifted just that much closer, looking at him from under his dark lashes.

“In’t that what couples do?”

Mycroft sighed even as he swayed towards his heat. “Gregory, I have no earthly idea. You know very well that this is an anomaly in my usual behaviour.” He twisted the dish towel between his hands, clinging to it as if it were a lifeline. “I fear that I’m floundering quite badly.”

“I think you’re doing brilliantly.”

“If you are attempting to placate me, I must say that it’s...”

“Working?”

Mycroft felt his lips turn up into a faint smile as Gregory smirked at him, waggling his eyebrows in an infuriatingly endearing manner. “Perhaps.”

He cocked his head as Gregory turned the gas on the stove off and put the lid on the pan of risotto. “This’ll keep, yeah?” Mycroft was about to retort that it would quickly turn into a gluey mass of black goop, but the words died in his throat at the look in Gregory’s eyes, and he nodded mutely instead. “Good. Then you can take me on a little tour.”

Mycroft relinquished his hold on his stained dish towel as Gregory carefully tugged on one clean corner, watching as it went into the sink with its brother. With a meaningful circle of a meaty forefinger, Gregory directed him to turn, and his breath caught as he felt the ties on his apron being worked loose. Mycroft ducked his head as it was carefully removed, Gregory delicately handling the edges as he folded it and tossed it in with the rest of the ink-stained rubbish.

Mycroft stood meekly as he endured a swift inspection, holding his hands away from his body at an awkward angle. While he didn’t think that any of the stain on his skin would transfer, he was quite definitely hyper-aware of it. Gregory tutted quietly and took hold of a shirtsleeve, tugging him in the direction of the stairs.

“I can't quite believe it, but it appears that your clothes have somehow survived completely intact. Come on, then. I think the first room I need to see is the bathroom, so we can get you washed up.”

Mycroft paused and tilted his head down the hallway past the stairs. “There is a small toilet opposite my study that houses a perfectly serviceable sink.” He swallowed as Gregory turned to look at him, already on the first step with his foot poised to climb the second. His body reacted before his mind could catch up properly, and he trotted up the stairs briskly, with Gregory hot on his heels.

He paused at the top, gesturing futilely off to the left with his besmirched fingertips. “Guest room.” Gregory nodded curtly, his eyes never leaving his face. Mycroft swallowed thickly and took a few steps down the hall, this time looking off to the right to the open door of his bedroom. “And, um.”

This time Gregory stepped up close and surveyed the space within, his lips parting slightly as he looked at the king-sized bed. Although Mycroft was expecting him to make some kind of saucy innuendo, he instead looked back at him, his eyes distantly sad. “You sleep in that enormous thing all alone?”

Mycroft blinked rapidly, trying to process what seemed to be a rather obvious question. “Of course I do, Gregory. I have not shared a bed with anyone since Sherlock was three years old.”

Gregory’s shoulders dropped as he cooed quietly. “Aw. I bet you two were adorable.”

“Erm.” Mycroft flapped his hands. “While I would argue that Sherlock was always the more aesthetically pleasing of the two of us, I am sure that you would posit some objection.”

“To which you would object, even if you wouldn’t say so directly to my face.” Gregory reached up to curl Mycroft’s forelock around his forefinger, chuckling softly as the redhead froze solid. “I wonder what it will take for you to finally believe me when I tell you how beautiful you are.”

Without leaving him the time to formulate a response, Gregory once again took hold of a shirtsleeve and tugged, leading Mycroft back across the hall to the bathroom. He whistled low at the large walk-in shower, looking at the multiple shower-heads with something like avarice, and - anticipation. Mycroft blinked as his shirtsleeves were pushed up a bit higher and he was turned toward the sink, a bar of soap suddenly in his hands as Gregory turned on the taps for him.

He scrubbed silently, all too aware of the warmth of the man standing at his back and slightly to the side, feeling his gaze in the bathroom mirror like a tangible thing. He grunted faintly with irritation as the suds began to rinse away clear rather than grey, realising that he had washed away all of the ink that he could, and yet his fingers were still noticeably stained. Mycroft twisted the taps shut a little more forcibly than strictly necessary, bracing his hands on the edge of the sink.

His stiff posture melted slightly as he felt a hand on his shoulder, as Gregory leant his cheek his upper arm. “It’s all right, love.” Mycroft met his eyes in the mirror, ignoring his own disappointed and resigned expression. “You know that I’m already yours, yeah? I don’t need to be wooed with dramatic flairs and fancy dishes. I’m a realist, not a romantic.”

“Gregory. You brought me flowers.”

Mycroft smiled as Gregory’s cheeks bloomed brightly. “Ah, they’re rubbish. I meant to go out earlier and get something nicer, but I just...” He sighed heavily, and Mycroft’s amusement turned to concern as he slumped against him, his eyes closing wearily as he nuzzled into his arm briefly. “I just couldn’t. Too many people making bad decisions, too much paperwork, not enough time in the day. And today of all days - why couldn’t the world just work with me for once?”   

“I understand that all too well, my dear. And I do appreciate the effort that you took to bring them to me.”

“And I appreciate your effort at making a lovely dinner for us. I truly do.” Mycroft turned slightly as Gregory slipped his arms around his middle and pushed his cheek into his shoulder. “But I just want to be with you right now. Maybe later we can order a pizza.” Mycroft huffed out a quiet laugh as Gregory’s eyes twinkled up at him. “Much, much later. For now, I think we both deserve a bit of relaxation and maybe even some pampering.”

He frowned as he felt fingers at the buttons of his waistcoat, but there was still enough of the wine in his system to keep him from objecting outright, simply whispering, “Gregory?”

“I got you, love. Trust me?”

Mycroft’s stomach twisted, but the uncomfortable sensation faded almost immediately at the adoring and protective look in Gregory’s eyes. He did have him, and he knew that he would never harm him deliberately. He could trust in Gregory Lestrade. Mycroft sighed wonderingly and raised ink-stained fingers to caress his lover’s cheek, letting the steel in his spine soften as he gave himself over. “I do trust you. With everything in me.”

“Hngh.” The low grunt of desire was accentuated with a soft fluttering of dark eyelashes, and Mycroft swayed on his feet. Gregory’s arm quickly encircled his waist and he held him steady for a moment. “Got you.”

Mycroft took in a deep breath and closed his eyes, letting the low, gravelly tone of Gregory’s voice wash over him. ‘Yes. Yes, you do.’

He kept his eyes closed and his limbs loose, simply moving as he was directed, allowing the layers of his clothing, his armour, to be stripped from his body. Gregory was mostly silent as he worked, small hums of appreciation breaking through now and again, bestowing light, almost tickling touches along Mycroft’s bare clavicle, over the ladder of his ribs. Still he kept himself in the dark, even as the warmth of his lover’s body faded, as he listened to the rustling of Gregory’s clothing being shed in its turn.

When that aura of heat returned, it was pressed all along the front of his body, and Mycroft shivered with sheer delight at the sensation of skin against skin. He hissed out a sharp warning as Gregory wriggled his belly against his erection, angling his groin away from that enticingly warm softness. Mycroft bit his lip at the genuinely delighted chuckle that followed, feeling his cheeks heat abominably.

“It’s okay, love. There’s a whole night ahead of us, and I’m not sure I’m going to last all that long myself. Been wanting to touch you like this for so many months... Unf.” Gregory’s heady moan was punctuated with long, broad sweeps of his hands over Mycroft’s backside, a greedy and eager squeeze that once again had him holding his breath to try and prolong the inevitable.

A rather mortifying squeak was pushed from his throat as Gregory dug his nails into the meat of his arse, as he pulled him in closer and sucked at his neck. “W-while I do ap-appreciate the sentiment, my dear, I - oh Lord - I would hope to maintain control for more than a mere few seconds!”

Gregory chuckled throatily, a sound that Mycroft thought rather unsporting, especially because they were pressed together so tightly that he could feel it vibrating in his own chest. “That why you have your eyes screwed shut like that? Afraid one look at my dazzling countenance will simply overwhelm you and you’ll pop off without warning?”

Mycroft frowned and tilted his head. “Well, of course. Your face is distracting enough, I have no idea what might happen to me upon seeing the rest of you.”

“Mycroft.” Gregory’s voice was low and breathy in his ear. “You impossible vixen.” He took one of Mycroft’s hands from his shoulder where it had settled, placing it in the curve of his lower back. “Perhaps you should just feel instead, yeah?”

“Gregory - you do realise that I’ve never... I mean, I haven’t...”

He let his trembling fingers drift lower as he felt Gregory’s forehead drop into the cradle of his neck and shoulder. “Yeah, I know. Are you sure you want it to be me?”

Mycroft spread his fingers wide and cupped a gloriously firm arse-cheek, heaving out a shuddering breath. “Oh yes - it couldn't possibly be anyone else. And I want it to be tonight.”

“Nghk.” Mycroft sputtered out a laugh as Gregory simply manhandled him toward the shower, growling under his breath. “Tart.” There was a pause as he opened the glass door, as he carefully manoeuvred them both inside. “Hm. Might have to ask you to open those stunning eyes of yours, beautiful. I have no idea how to work this thing.”

Mycroft blindly rolled his eyes, but he gently disengaged from Gregory’s embrace, cautiously blinking a few times as he turned toward the main tap. He grunted softly as his lover persistently reattached himself to his back, winding strong arms around his middle and pushing his hardness into the cleft of his arse. “Oh Lord...”

“Yeah. I hear ya, babe.”

Mycroft snorted as he adjusted the temperature of the water. “Babe? Truly?”

Gregory chuckled behind him, nibbling at his shoulder and rubbing his face into his back. “Oh, you’re gonna get all kinds of new names, love. Best get used to it.”

Mycroft flushed hotly, bracing himself against the shower wall as Gregory shoved him under the spray, as he ground into him. “S-such as?”

“Depends on what we’re doing, dun’t it? I might call you pet, or my pretty dove. Baby or, uh...sweetcheeks!”

“Gregory, that’s positively ridiculous.”

Mycroft subconsciously spread his legs as the man plastered to his back reached down to drag his nails along his inner thigh, his moan echoing through the tiled cubicle. “You won’t think so once I’m buried deep inside you, will you, pet? Hm? No, because then you’ll be my darling slut, my sweet whore.” Gregory grunted with the effort of holding him up as Mycroft’s knees suddenly buckled, nearly giving out on him completely. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Can’t wait until I use you, can you?”

“Gregory, Gregory, please...”

Knowing that he was all but undone already, Gregory turned Mycroft around and pulled him down into a fierce kiss, panting softly as he pulled back to look at him properly. “Christ, but you’re lovely.” He greedily ran his hands all over Mycroft’s torso, slicking back his hair as the water threatened to run into his eyes. “So lovely, and mine.” His eyes suddenly hardened into something commanding, making Mycroft’s breath stutter in his chest with delight. “I want to hear you say it, Mycroft.”

“Yours.” The word was breathy, almost nonexistent as Mycroft pushed it out of his lungs, but it was clearly enough for Gregory, as he moved in to kiss him again, his hand closing around his lover’s stiff prick and stroking it lightly.

Mycroft’s body jerked hard at the barest of his touches, and Gregory cradled his face with his free hand as he looked deep into his eyes. “It’s all right, love. I’m here, and I’ve got you. It’s okay to let go.” He emphasised his words with a quick twist of his wrist, pumping at him firmly and rhythmically.

“Yes, Gregory, oh yes...” Mycroft slumped against the wall of the cubicle, simply swimming in the pleasure of his lover’s grasp, clutching at Gregory’s arse as he rubbed against his hip almost frantically. And then it wasn’t long, no, not long at all before that trembling hot crescendo began to build in his lower spine, especially as Gregory growled like a feral beast in his ear, triggering his release.

Mycroft came with a low, shuddering cry, his shoulders pushing against the tiled wall as his eyes rolled back in his head. He painted thick stripes over Gregory’s fingers, his belly trembling with every sharp jerk of his cock. He opened dazed eyes and stared fixedly as Gregory pushed away from him slightly, sweeping up his come with eager fingers and using the slickness of it to ease his own furious wanking.

“Gregory, oh but you are magnificent...”

“Like what you see, hm?” Gregory groaned quietly, panting softly with every thrust into the circle of his fist.

Mycroft nodded mutely, still feeling a trifle weak from his own orgasm, the first at anyone else’s hand. Although the sight truly was a glorious one, Gregory’s body held as tense as a thrumming wire, the water flowing over his beautifully tanned skin, he unexpectedly found that he wanted more. Whether it was the hormones flooding his system, or flashes of previously imagined scenarios that were spurring him on, he didn’t know and he frankly did not care. All inhibitions vanished as he took Gregory by the shoulder and spun him around, pushing him to the shower wall.

His air left him on a soft huff, and his hand faltered, but only for a moment as Mycroft smoothly went to his knees in front of him. Gregory’s eyes widened and his groan reverberated through the cubicle as he resumed his frenzied stroking, his spine twisting as Mycroft whimpered quietly. “Please, Gregory. Oh, please...”

Gregory cursed as Mycroft opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue, his breath coming in quick short gasps as he started to come almost immediately. He eagerly painted Mycroft’s tongue and chin in nearly equal measure, his own knees threatening to fold underneath him as his lover licked his lips and shuffled closer, taking everything that he gave him, including the last drops that he milked out, stroking firmly from root to tip.

He ran his fingers through Mycroft’s wet hair as he settled back on his heels, blinking up at him languidly. “Good God. You’re quite the apt pupil, aren’t you?”

Mycroft preened under his awed if loving gaze, grimacing slightly as the mess on his cheeks started to congeal. “Naturally. I am a very quick study.” He blushed as Gregory tilted his head meaningfully. “Of course, it could also have something to do with the extraordinary amount of porn I’ve been consuming since we started seeing each other.”

“A-ha!” Gregory laughed quietly, reaching down to tug him back to his feet and peppering soft, gentle kisses all over his face and chest. “Saw a few things that intrigued you, and you decided to start off with a facial, hm?”

Mycroft bit his lip. “Bit much?”

“No!” Gregory breathed out another soft if emphatic laugh. “No, not at all.” Mycroft’s lips twisted with amusement and intrigue as his lover’s cheeks went scarlet. “That’s actually one of my - mhm - things, so...”

“I’d gathered as much from your rather abrupt denouement, my dear.”

Gregory cleared his throat with an embarrassed cough. “Whatever your dirty little mind comes up with, I am so there and willing to oblige. I just don’t want you to be uncomfortable - I don’t want you pushing through your own limits too quickly.” He stroked Mycroft’s cheekbones with his thumbs, pulling his head down and nuzzling into his temple. “I’ll say it again, and I want you to take it to heart. I’m yours. You don’t have to try and impress me, all right?”

“I understand, and I truly appreciate it. But I don’t think you have to worry about that. I’ve made myself wait too long, and you... I trust you, Gregory, and I am willing to follow wherever you may lead.” Mycroft leant against the wall, his head spinning slightly. “In truth, I am rather eager for it.”

“Uh-oh...” Gregory twinkled at him as he put a hand to Mycroft’s cheek, wiping at a streak of come. “Have I created a monster?”

Mycroft snorted inelegantly, stretching his arms over his head and slumping back down again as his head continued to spin. “A raging cock-monster, oh yes.” His eyes widened as he heard his own words as if from someone else’s mouth, clapping a hand over it as Gregory broke down into startled giggles.

“Just how much of that wine did you drink, anyhow?”

“Oh, you saw that, did you?”

Gregory raised a surprisingly imperious eyebrow. “Both you and your blasted irritation of a brother seem to forget that I actually am a detective. I do notice things, I just don’t feel compelled to comment on each and every one of my observations.”

“No, you have decidedly more tact. And although I did drink a bit more than I should have, I believe that I’m experiencing an entirely different kind of intoxication.” Mycroft sank a bit lower against the wall, his head feeling too heavy for his neck. “Hm. Perhaps we should have saved this particular activity for a horizontal surface.”

Gregory fiddled with the taps before reaching for a flannel and a pleasantly citrusy bodywash. “Oh, I don’t know about that. I wouldn’t get to do this to you in bed.” He began to rub Mycroft down with the sudsy cloth, humming low as his lover swayed into his careful attentions. “Oh yes, gonna love pampering you, my sweet.”

Mycroft tried to shake off his flustered blush, aiming a lopsided smile in Gregory’s direction. “And once I retain control of my limbs, I will certainly do the same for you.”

“Heh.” Gregory quickly soaped up his own body before pulling Mycroft to him, rubbing their slippery torsos together. “Going to give me a swelled head if you keep on like that.” He shuffled them under the main spray, both of them sighing in bliss as the hot water pounded at them from all sides. “Hell’s bells. I could get used to this.”

Mycroft turned a pensive look on him, biting his lip hard. “Gregory...”

“No, no... We’ll work it out later. Time. We have time.”

“Yes. Yes, we do.”

They spent the rest of their time in the shower in silence, trading soft kisses and meaningful caresses until they were both swaying somewhat dangerously on their feet. Gregory finally allowed Mycroft beyond the reach of his arms, watching as he wrapped himself up in a fluffy robe and started to gather up their clothing.

He padded across the hall with a towel slung low over his hips, leaning against the doorway and watching as Mycroft methodically hung everything up, including his shirt and trousers, tucking it all away neatly in the wardrobe.

“So I’m staying the night, then?”

Mycroft turned toward him abruptly, his face stricken, his stomach dropping. “Oh! I should have asked, shouldn't I? I mean, I was hoping - but if you’d rather...”

Gregory smiled brightly and shed his towel on the spot, flopping down onto the fluffy down coverlet with a long groan. He grumbled quietly as Mycroft reached out to stroke his leg, running his fingers down and along his instep until he giggled sleepily and pulled away. In this manner he was able to get Gregory to roll along the mattress until he was able to pull the covers down and then he enticed his lump of a man to snuggle underneath.

Mycroft pondered momentarily, debating whether to don pyjamas or even just a pair of boxers, but Gregory was openly admiring him in the moonlight streaming through the window, so he simply shrugged out of the robe and came to him. He laid down on his back, knowing that he was holding himself too stiffly, but seemingly unable to get his spine to bend.

Gregory reached out to trail his fingers down his arm, his voice warm and low, sleep crowding around the edges of his throat. “First sleepover, hm?”

Mycroft nodded, looking over at the shadow of his lover’s profile. “I’m sorry. I don’t know quite what to do.”

“Shh...” Gregory tugged on his hand gently. “You’ll figure it out. C’mere.”

Mycroft turned into his warmth gratefully, finding it almost shamefully easy to tuck himself into his chest, to wrap an arm around Gregory's waist. He let out his breath on a long, wondering sigh.

“That’s it. There’s my lovely pet.”

Mycroft blushed hotly, but nuzzled into the sparse hair of his lover’s chest anyhow. “Gregory?”

“Hm?”

“Happy birthday, my love.”

Gregory grunted softly, his lips turning up against Mycroft’s temple as his arm tightened around him. “Best present ever.”