“You know, if you were less of a grump, people might actually come visit us.”
Mycroft looked up from his newspaper with a small frown creasing his brow. “Pardon me?”
Chin balanced in his hand and an elbow set on the tabletop, Greg sat across from him and sighed, “I want to have people over, Myc.” His lower lip jutted out in a forced pout. “We have all this space, and no one ever comes to stay.”
Eyebrow cocked, Mycroft folded the newspaper carefully and placed it before him, smoothing the wrinkled corners with absent hands. “Is there someone in particular that you had in mind for a visit?”
Greg rolled his eyes. “No, but it would be nice to have the option,” he snapped.
“No one is saying you can’t have visitors, Gregory.”
His hands landing on the tabletop, Greg tapped irritably at the polished wood. “No one ever wants to come by, and I know why they don’t.”
Another quirked eyebrow. “Oh? Care to illuminate?”
“Because you’re such a grump!” Greg said, grumbling across the table at him. “I said that, or weren’t you listening?”
Mycroft shrugged. “I was, but I thought I would wait for you to elaborate before I passed judgement.”
“And?” Greg looked at him with something like hopefulness in his expectant face. Mycroft shrugged again.
“And I don’t see how the two are related. Besides, this is our space, why must we fill it with people we barely tolerate?”
“You mean people you barely tolerate.” Greg’s hands rose into the air, an exasperated sigh escaping his lips. “We have this huge house! Three sitting rooms! Six bedrooms! A patio, a bbq, a goddamn gazebo. I want guests! I want friends!” His arms folded petulantly over his chest. “You’re such a grump.”
“Not sure I’m the one being a grump this morning, Gregory,” Mycroft retorted, fixing him with a sharp look. “And, if I’m the issue, then just have people over when I’m away for work. Problem solved.” He retrieved the newspaper and flipped it open, looking as if that had resolved the issue.
But Greg was not finished.
“You know that’s not what I want, and you know it.” Standing, he smacked a palm against the table. “You’re here until Sunday, and we will be hosting guests over for dinner tomorrow.”
Mycroft looked up with narrowed eyes, wondering who Gregory might invite so last minute while knowing precisely who. “You wouldn’t,” he said slowly, letting the newspaper fold over in his hands. “Gregory, I really must protest.”
Greg held up a hand, a sharp glimmer in his gaze. “Too late, Myc. I already sent the invite.” He held up his phone from under the table with a grin, and Mycroft groaned.
“Again, Gregory? You and your one-handed texting are getting on my last nerve.”
“Hush up, you big ol’ blowhard,” Greg shot back affectionately. He moved around the table to drop a kiss on Mycroft’s head, pausing to ruffle his fingers through thinning red hair. “John and Sherlock will be here tomorrow at six. I expect you to be on your best behaviour.”
“Only if John promises to be on his,” Mycroft grumbled. Greg just tousled his hair again and left his husband to glower dourly at his crumpled newspaper.
* * *
The next day, evening rushed upon him all too quickly, leaving Mycroft to wonder where the time had gone. Half an hour to six o’clock, he found himself standing at the top of the stairs to the wine cellar, frowning at Greg. “I cannot believe you expect me to make small talk with him.”
Greg cocked his head to the side and paused on the first step. “John’s a nice bloke, and I don’t know why you two can’t just get along.”
“He started it,” Mycroft muttered petulantly, and Greg barked an incredulous laugh.
“If I remember correctly, you were the one who asked him to spy on Sherlock, then insulted him, poked your nose into his business, and insinuated that he was hiding something.” Folding his arms over his chest, Greg squinted. “If anyone ‘started it,’ it was definitely you.”
Mycroft grumbled but didn’t reply. Rolling his eyes, Greg reached out to pat his arm.
“Best behaviour, Myc,” he reminded, chuckling at Mycroft’s mutinous expression. “Sherlock loves John, and so do I, and, by extension, so do you.”
“That is not how that works,” Mycroft snapped, and his husband shot him a soft, exasperated look.
“I say it does, so it does. Now,” Greg moved back to the top of the stairs and nudged Mycroft toward them. “Go get the nice wine.”
Mycroft’s eyes went wide and round. “Surely not the ‘92?”
Brows raised, Greg nodded. “Oh, yes, Mycroft. Definitely the ‘92.”
Huffing out a put-upon sigh, Mycroft scowled. “Fine. But only because I love you.”
His eyes fond, Greg grinned and smacked Mycroft’s rear with a playful hand. “Yeah, you damn well do, you sod.” His words were affectionate, his fingers bestowing a quick, cheeky grope before he turned.
“Gregory,” Mycroft puffed, his cheeks flushing brilliant red. “The lines, the lines!” He desperately smoothed his hands over his trousers, flattening out the wrinkles. Greg just winked and left Mycroft to retrieve the wine, laughing to himself.
His face still tinted pink, Mycroft cleared his throat and straightened his suit jacket before trotting down the stairs to the cellar.
* * *
The doorbell rang at 6:12 pm, Mycroft sweeping upon the entryway with a thunderous scowl. Pulling the door open, he snapped, “We said six, not twelve past!”
Sherlock, his curls looking dishevelled and recently mussed, offered a sharp, shark-like grin. “Hello, brother dear,” he purred, sweeping past and tossing his Belstaff—already off and draped over an arm—at his brother. “How are you?” Sherlock’s voice was chipper and rough, and his dress shirt was rumpled with the top button undone. Mycroft’s eyes fastened on it, his face darkening in a frown.
“Sorry to see you’ve forgotten how to dress yourself,” he snapped, cocking an eyebrow at the bruise marring the skin peeking from beneath the open shirt. Sherlock’s face glowed in response, and he fastened the button with clumsy fingers, shooting a smirk at John, who entered the house behind him.
“Oops, must have missed it while dressing,” Sherlock replied casually, his eyes glittering as John coughed and beamed down at his shoes, faint colour rising in his cheeks. “Silly me.”
Mycroft sighed, praying for patience. His gaze zeroed in on John’s mouth, taking in the bite mark standing out clearly on his bottom lip. “I’m sure,” he said sourly, turning to hang Sherlock’s coat on a hook. “Oh, please, do come in.” His voice dripping with sarcasm, he led the way deeper into the house. Sighing again, he gripped the bridge of his nose and tried to erase the mental image of Sherlock with a hickey.
“Thanks for having us over,” John said, pasting an apologetic smile on his face. “It’s, er, a nice surprise.”
“Thank Gregory,” Mycroft said drily, pouring himself a glass of wine and, with marked reluctance, two for their ‘esteemed’ guests. “It was his idea.”
“Ah.” John took his wineglass with a wince, shooting Sherlock a look that received an unconcerned shrug in response. “That… makes more sense.”
Mycroft fixed a pained smile on his face and didn’t reply. To his relief, and then immediately after, his horror, Greg appeared at the top of the stairs, singing in his rough voice something that sounded inane and vapid.
“If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.” He trotted down the stairs with a wide grin at the sight of Sherlock and John, shaking John’s hand enthusiastically when he reached the landing. “Thanks for coming!”
John smiled and nodded, replying, “Thanks for the invite,” while Sherlock just sighed. Greg’s eyes landed on him.
“Sherlock, do you own a hairbrush? Your hair looks like you were caught in a windstorm.”
To his credit, Sherlock merely smirked again and kept the truth to himself, shooting John another brazenly besotted look. Letting the moment pass, Greg clapped his hands together.
“Alright! Shall we?”
* * *
Dinner passed with a minimum of sniping. Mycroft attempted the most convincing impression of ‘best behaviour’ he could manage when Sherlock and John were obviously playing a game of thigh groping under the table.
When it was the usual time when he often chose to retire to the study for a glass of good scotch, Mycroft slunk out of view, leaving Greg and their guests to explore the grounds with not a second, but a third bottle of expensive, well-aged pinot noir.
Settled in the leather wing-backed chair near the fire he had claimed as his own, Mycroft sipped at his scotch and narrowed his eyes as Sherlock and John passed by the window. Gregory was in the lead, seemingly oblivious to Sherlock and John grabbing one another’s backsides behind his back.
Sighing, Mycroft closed his eyes and tried not to listen to their voices, drifting through the cracked open windowpane.
* * *
Once their guests had bid goodnight, Mycroft completed his nightly ablutions and crawled into bed, grateful for an end to the enforced socializing. He had scarcely settled his head into the pillow when Greg rushed into the room. He flopped onto his side of the bed, still clad in his outdoor clothing—his farmer duds, as he called them—with his hair rakishly out of place.
“You’ve made me a very happy man,” he said matter-of-factly, worming his way over the sheets to Mycroft’s side.
“Have I?” Mycroft asked, tilting his head to look at the man next to him. “How so?”
“Well, for one, you didn’t bite anyone’s head off,” Greg replied, ticking up a finger. “And, two, your arse looked bloody fine in those trousers.” He tilted forward and pressed a sloppy kiss to Mycroft’s jaw that made Mycroft pull a face before subsiding into a smirk.
Mycroft hummed softly, pleased. “Of course. I had them tailored.”
“You sure did,” Greg said emphatically, wiping his hands on the sheets. Moving to sit up, he paused as Mycroft’s eyes fastened on the fabric and narrowed. “What?”
“Gregory, there is dirt in our bed.”
Greg shrugged. “I showed Sherlock and John the garden.” A full, bright grin warmed his face. “They were impressed with my big pumpkin—you should see it, Myc. It’s massive.” He wiggled his eyebrows, looking smug. “You should be very proud of your husband and his farming talent.”
“Mm, yes, I’ll be sure to tell the Queen next time she and I have tea,” Mycroft said sarcastically, earning a dark glare from Greg. “But, first—there’s still the matter of there being dirt in our bed.”
“Ah, Myc, a little dirt never hurt anyone,” Greg scoffed, and Mycroft scowled at him.
“Stop calling me that, and, for the love of all that is holy, wash under your damn fingernails next time you give in to your urge to dig in that mud puddle you call a garden.”
Greg quirked an eyebrow. “Make me,” he shot back, his tone a definite challenge. Mycroft’s eyes narrowed in response.
“I command entire armies, Gregory. Entire countries. Do you seriously think I can’t get you to wash under your fingernails?”
His eyes gleaming with defiance, Greg met Mycroft’s gaze, held it, and rubbed his dirty nails against the sheets. “I would love to see you try.”
“Go to sleep, Gregory.”
“Make me,” Greg repeated, his lips pushing out into a pout.
“That’s it.” Mycroft sat up, swinging his feet over the side of the bed as he stood. “I’m going to sleep in a guest room. Preferably one that does not have your grubby fingerprints all over it.”
“Which one!” his husband snapped, his expression filled with sly glee at the back-and-forth sniping. “There’s only five of them, how ever will you choose when they’re all so empty because I married a grump!”
Mycroft turned and glared at him, hands on his hips. “Gregory, are you a child?”
“Nope.” Greg sat up with his legs folded beneath him, the picture of innocence. “I am a full-grown man.”
“You’re also filthy,” Mycroft pointed out, still standing at the side of the bed and looking down at him. “Very dirty.”
Greg grinned, the expression lighting his eyes with mischief. “No, you are dirty,” he cooed, reaching out and grasping the front of Mycroft’s t-shirt with his grubby hands. “Such a dirty, dirty man.” Tugging, he drew Mycroft’s lips down to his, kissing him with a smirk curving his mouth. When they broke apart, Mycroft felt warmth linger in his cheeks, and Greg’s smile widened. “Still going to sleep in the guest room?”
Clearing his throat, Mycroft shook his head. His voice was rough as he replied, “I suppose you’ve convinced me to stay.” He drew himself up, trying to gather the tatters of his dignity. “You’re very persuasive.”
Smirking, Greg cocked his head back. “Oh, I know,” he replied before drawing Mycroft’s mouth back down to his.