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11/24/2021 03:36 PM 

The Festive Season (or a Horror of Holmes)

Summary:

"Besides," Mycroft says, "you've met Sherlock. The rest of my family is no better."

"A horror of Holmes?" Greg asks, undeniably curious about what a Holmes Christmas would be like.

"Precisely."

***

“So, Christmas Day?”

“You're truly under no obligation," Mycroft says smoothly. "I'd only wish my family upon my enemies.”

Greg remembers Mycroft's description of the day. But he also knows that as much as Mycroft rolls his eyes or scowls at Sherlock, he loves his little brother dearly. For all the condescension and the hyperbole, he suspects Mycroft loves his parents too. “I'd be happy to come.”

“You're curious,” Mycroft surmises.

“You're the one dating a copper. Curious and suspicious come with the territory.”

 

 

 

 

It's Thursday night, and Greg has an invitation to Walker's for drinks. It's nice to be included, even if he's not exactly one of the club anymore. He's still divorced, but he's not single, and he's far from being the sad bastard he was a few years ago.

Not that he's gone out of his way to tell the guys -- this crowd happily avoids talking about relationships, the ex, or any intersection of the two.

Anderson and Sanders are already there when he arrives, but there's a few others expected later.

Anderson eyes Greg nervously, cradling his almost empty glass like a security blanket. “Is the other Holmes coming?”

Greg rolls his eyes. “Not this time.” He'd asked Mycroft, but Mycroft would generally prefer to work late than be forced to socialise with the masses. As long as he doesn't have to come, Mycroft's all for Greg attending these get-togethers. He even offered a ride home when the night's over.

Greg gets a round, and they complain about the weather and the cricket. They grumble about their jobs or the latest round of efficiency targets (same outcomes with less resources, basically) and if the Rolling Stones will ever stop touring. Someone complains about the latest horror movie on Netflix and they somehow end up talking about bad Godzilla movies and how much they loved them as kids.

It's nothing important. It won't cure cancer or deliver world peace, but it's nice to have a few drinks and a few laughs.

He's definitely merry and a little too enthusiastic when he answers Mycroft's call. “Hey, what are you up to?” he says, walking to the back of the room to hear the call better.

“Some last-minute arrangements,” Mycroft says, tone too flat to show any regret. “I may need to stay in the office for a few more hours.”

“I can get a cab if you're busy.” He doesn't bother asking if Mycroft can get out of it. If Mycroft could avoid it, he wouldn't bother telling Greg about it. “Will I see you tonight?”

“Unlikely, but not impossible.”

“That's me,” Greg says brightly, “bringing the impossible into your life.” It's only after he's said it that he realises it's not as clever as it sounded in his head. He might want to have a glass of water before the next beer. “Don't mind me. I've had a few already.”

There's a pause on the line and then Mycroft cautiously says, “You do, you know.”

“Do what?”

“Bring the impossible to life.” Mycroft clears his throat. “To my life, at least.”

Greg doesn't need a mirror to know he's grinning like a fool. He can feel it on his face. “I'll text you when I'm leaving. See if you're still stuck in the office.”

“Enjoy,” Mycroft says, hanging up.

***

It's dark when Greg wakes up, dark and quiet. For a moment, he lies there with his eyes closed, trying to avoid the day for a little longer. It's been a long week of internal audits and late nights, and Greg desperately wants to hide from it for a few more minutes.

Then he hears snatches of birdsong and groans in relief. It's Saturday. Saturday: a karmic reward for a horrible week.

Warm and comfortable, Greg drifts between awake and asleep. There's a high pitched trill of birdsong outside the window, the odd stretch of silence around it. Greg's lived in London his entire adult life: he's used to waking up to traffic and noisy neighbours and the shuffle of people outside. But he's getting used to this: the warm, blanketing silence of Mycroft's house, the way birdsong seems so loud here.

Rolling over, Greg reaches out a hand. He’s hoping to find Mycroft in bed beside him, but he isn't surprised to find the bed empty. Mycroft hates exercise but hates being observed doing it even more. His solution is to rise early and get straight on the treadmill. Get it done before Greg's really awake.

That self-control is admirable. And very sexy, if you ask Greg. Greg also likes how Mycroft looks in Lycra, his long, lean legs on display, so sometimes he sneaks down to watch Mycroft anyway.

Not on a day like today, when the bags under Greg's eyes have taken over his whole face. Greg would rather have a lie-in than catch Mycroft sweaty and flushed. No matter how appealing the sight would be.

***

He doesn't emerge from bed until almost lunchtime. And that's only because Mycroft stands in the bedroom doorway, backlit with sunshine falling across the hallway carpet, holding a cup of coffee that smells fantastic.

“I've made coffee,” Mycroft says from the doorway. “You'll have to come downstairs if you want some.”

Greg groans and grumbles, but he drags himself out of bed. He pulls on a sweater and socks, does his best to navigate the stairs without opening both eyes at the same time.

He gets to the kitchen and leans both elbows on the tall wooden island in the centre of the square room. He closes his eyes and lets his forehead drop to the counter. “I was promised coffee.”

Mycroft hands over a plain, solid mug of the best coffee Greg's ever smelled. Greg takes a sip and it's the right temperature, the right amount of milk, just enough sweetness. Mycroft always makes his coffee exactly the way he likes it.

Mycroft is kind enough not to say anything until Greg empties the mug. “Much longer and you wouldn't have slept tonight.” It's not an apology because Mycroft doesn't really do those. It's an explanation.

“Thanks,” Greg says because he does appreciate it. “It's been a big week.”

“Internal audits are never pleasant,” Mycroft says, more aware of Greg's workload than his immediate supervisor. “You'll feel better after a walk. We'll have a late lunch afterwards.”

Mycroft can't help organising things, scheduling and arranging, like a cross between a super efficient robot and the world's biggest mother hen. It took a little getting used to, but once Greg recognized it for what it was -- Mycroft caring enough to pay attention, Mycroft using part of that enormous brain to anticipate what might make Greg happy -- he could accept the micromanaging. Most of it. “Sandwich first?”

“I'll make it if you want to shower.”

Greg goes to the shower, pretending it was his own idea rather than the bribery of a roast chicken sandwich.

***

Once lunch is finished, they set off across the fields. Over the rolling green hills to the left, Greg can see the white stone houses of the village, the pointed spire of the church rising above. It's a twenty-minute brisk walk through well-worn tracks, but that's not where they're headed.

Mycroft prefers wandering through pastures. He likes picking a different direction each time, leisurely rambling for hours. Like Heathcliff and his moors, Greg thinks, although Heathcliff never had the best fleece-lined wellies money could buy.

The first time Mycroft suggested a walk, there was a second pair of wellies already sitting at the back door, plain black in Greg's size. He'd put them on, amused by the unnecessary amount of thought behind them, but he'd appreciated it by the time they got back. He'd been ankle-deep in mud.

But this is the Mycroft he gets to see on weekends. The Mycroft who has two pairs of wellies, brown and green, to coordinate with his jackets when he goes walking. The Mycroft who still wears jackets and waistcoats, but they're warm, woollen checks, worn with thicker, softer shirts and corduroy trousers. Mycroft suits the quiet here, the endless green curves divided by old stone walls, the horizon as limitless as Mycroft's vast knowledge. It's old and settled and isolated, but Mycroft is so content here that Greg thinks this is what retirement might look like. Green fields and country quiet, just the two of them and days spent doing whatever they like.

Greg's getting ahead of himself. He knows it. Early days, horse before the cart, and all that.

Two years ago, he never would have imagined living outside of London. If you'd asked him where he'd be at eighty, he always figured he'd be one of those poor souls shuffling across the road as the lights changed, ignored by seas of students and business suits around him.

A year ago, he was only starting to imagine Mycroft, to think about how Mycroft would kiss and wondering what Mycroft saw in him. He wasn't imagining how easily they'd fit together. How midweek pub lunches and fancy restaurants could become as much of a staple as short phone calls and good morning texts.

They haven't moved in together, but these days, they spend more nights together than apart. Mycroft's London flat is only used for extremely late work nights or recovering from jetlag. The rest of the time, it's Greg's flat or weekends in the country. Hell, he's even updated his emergency contact details at work.

Now, he knows that Mycroft is pitifully miserable when he catches the flu. He knows that Mycroft has cold feet in winter but his fingers are delightfully cool in summer, especially when they slide over Greg's flushed skin. He knows that Mycroft likes apples and pears but not stone fruit; that he's not fussed on cheeses but can still identify the type and origin within the first bite. He knows that Mycroft has always worn his wedding ring on the wrong hand and tells people it was his grandfather's; he knows that there's a shoebox of photos of the ex at the back of Mycroft's wardrobe, dust proving it hadn't been opened in years.

(Well, until Greg found it. He couldn't resist looking inside, finding pictures of a younger Mycroft he'll never know. Happy and in love with someone else. Sometimes carefree and clearly on holiday, sometimes surrounded by someone else's friends. There were only two family photos of Christmas, clearly taken in different years, but the pose is the same. The Holmes parents in the middle, Sherlock to one side, Mycroft and his husband on the other. Greg couldn't help looking at it like a copper, seeing the stilted body language and obvious dislike. Then he put the photos back.)

He knows that Mycroft has the same ringtone set for John and Sherlock, a light waterfall of violin notes. He knows that Mycroft will watch TV with him if asked, that he's capable of reading an inch thick book of computer science or economic theory and still follow who's who in Games of Thrones.

Still, they should probably spend Christmas together before Greg thinks about retirement and happily ever after. “Do you have plans for Christmas?”

“I may have to go to my parents’ for Christmas day.” Mycroft raises a graceful hand, an uncertain gesture. “They were talking about a doing a ‘Boot Scootin Cruise’ instead but it hasn't been finalised.”

“Yeah?”

“Our parents used to prefer travelling. The family Christmases were only enforced after Sherlock returned from the dead.”

“Well, that makes sense,” Greg says, thinking if his parents had suddenly returned from the dead, he'd make every effort to stay in touch too.

“Yes. Extended punishment for our ruse.” Mycroft continues stepping across the pasture, still graceful even as his wellies suck at the mud with each step. “Eventually, we'll be forgiven and released from the obligation.”

Mycroft sounds serious, but he’s betrayed by the quirk of his left eyebrow. He enjoys playing the misanthrope, but he deeply cares about his family. He may complain about them, but he is devoted in his own wry way.

“You’re a terror,” Greg says, nudging Mycroft’s elbow in retaliation.

“Many would agree with you,” Mycroft declares imperiously.

The wind picks up, and Greg crosses his arms against the chill. It's one of those rare days of weak winter sunshine, just enough to pretend it's still autumn. Mycroft is wrapped up in a dark burgundy scarf and soft leather gloves, but he hasn't worn his coat.

“And your Christmas plans? Did your friends decide on Dublin?”

Greg hasn't mentioned the discussion doing the rounds, but trust Mycroft to have noticed it anyway. Last year was a success, and everyone's talking about doing it again. Jules wants to go back to Scotland this year, Dave wants Ireland and Greg… well, Greg's not sure he wants to miss Mycroft's next birthday. “Nothing's decided yet. They're still finalising the leave roster so I don't know if I've got the days off yet.”

***

It's Sherlock who confirms Christmas plans. Pausing at the edge of the crime scene, holding the tape up for John to walk under, Sherlock's justifiably smug at solving the case in under twenty minutes. “Bring something sweet for Christmas.”

“What?”

“If you bring a savoury dish, Mummy will take it as a criticism of her cooking.”

Greg frowns, thinking. It takes him an embarrassingly long time to connect the dots. “What happened to the cruise?”

“It's been postponed a month,” Sherlock replies, dropping the tape and spinning on his heel after John. “Bring enough cake for Mycroft and the rest of us.”

Greg rolls his eyes at the petty jibe. It's sadly familiar but also something Sherlock says less often to Mycroft's face, and Greg hopes that's a sign of improvement. When it comes to the Holmes brothers, it's hard to tell the difference between personal growth and a new passive-aggressive tactic.

Fishing out his phone, he calls Mycroft. “Hey,” he says when it connects.

“Go ahead.” There's a quiet murmur in the background, the chink of glasses and faded sound of a string quartet. One of those fancy nights out that Mycroft endures mostly for the sake of dressing up. The man owns three tuxedos.

“When were you going to tell me I'm invited for Christmas?”

“Last minute change,” Mycroft says and then murmurs, “You'll need to excuse me.” The background noise grows quieter and quieter.

“Sherlock told me this evening,” Greg says as Mycroft finds a little slice of privacy at his fancy dinner.

“It was only confirmed today.” There's a creak of an old door and then the noise around Mycroft disappears. “He didn't need to rush to tell you.”

“What's the fun in Sherlock knowing something if he can't tell everyone else?” Sometimes Greg loves Sherlock's compulsion to share everything he knows and how he knows it; sometimes he has to remind himself that good DIs do not punch civilians. “So, Christmas Day?”

“I spoke to Mummy this afternoon. She did extend you an invitation but I told her that you might have already made plans with friends.”

“Nothing's decided yet.” Greg takes a breath, leaning on the side of the police car. “I could come with you.”

“You're truly under no obligation. I'd only wish my family upon my enemies.”

Greg remembers Mycroft's description of the day: a horror of Holmes. But he also knows that as much as Mycroft rolls his eyes or scowls at Sherlock, he loves his little brother dearly. For all the condescension and the hyperbole, he suspects Mycroft loves his parents too.

“Think about it. I mean it, I'd be happy to come.”

“You're curious,” Mycroft surmises.

“You're the one dating a copper. Curious and suspicious come with the territory.”

“If you insist,” Mycroft says graciously.

***

Despite Greg's best efforts, he catches a murder on the nineteenth and ends up working late the whole week. Right through the dinner reservations he'd made for their anniversary. He realises as he's interviewing a suspect, but it takes another hour before he steals a few minutes to call Mycroft.

“I'm sorry,” he says before Mycroft can say anything. “I know we had reservations, first anniversary, I know. I'm sorry. I'm still at the Yard but--”

“Gregory,” Mycroft interrupts firmly. “Breathe.”

Greg pulls in a slow breath and makes himself push all the air out before he talks again. He knows he has a tendency to apologise too much for his job -- he loves it, inconvenient hours and all, but there's always this guilt when it takes priority. When he follows a lead and forgets other people are relying on him. And he starts apologising, trying to avoid the fight… Not that he could ever placate Jenn by saying sorry. If it wasn't a screaming fight, it was quiet and weary, Jenn telling him not to even bother, that she hadn't expected him to show anyway.

He panics and acts out a fight he's never had with Mycroft, and that's not fair to either of them.

“I'm just calling to say I can't make it,” he tries again, calmer this time. “I wanted to, but I can't.”

“The Harrogate murders,” Mycroft says.

Greg doesn't confirm or deny. In theory, that should be confidential within the Met but Mycroft knows far more than anyone should. Greg would be concerned if it was anyone other than Mycroft. “I really did have a reservation.”

“I know,” Mycroft says lightly. “I'm at the restaurant now.”

“You are?”

“Seemed a waste to leave the table empty. I'll bring you dessert.”

“I don't know when we'll be done tonight. If we play it right, we might get a confession.”

“Then I'll leave it in your fridge.”

“Yeah?” Greg grins. This part is new: knowing Mycroft has a key to his place, that he could leave food in the fridge and might even be waiting in Greg's bed when he gets this tied up. “Any chance you'll be there too?”

“Not in your fridge,” Mycroft says primly.

***

It's after midnight when Greg gets home, cold and wishing for his gloves. He shucks off his coat and leaves it over the sofa, navigating through the living room by the hall light. Inside the fridge, he finds a carefully cling-wrapped plate on the top shelf -- the sour cherry tart, a dark pool of chocolate to one side. It looks so good he nearly pulls it out to taste, but then thinks better of it. He'll enjoy it more when he's not gritty-eyed and desperate to lie down.

He opens the bedroom door quietly, but Mycroft stirs as the light falls across the bed. He blinks sleepily at the light, hair fluffed up from the pillow. Covering his eyes with one hand, Mycroft says, “Turn the light on and get undressed.”

Greg does, pulling his clothes off as quickly as he can, and hanging his suit up before it wrinkles any further. In T-shirt and boxers, he flicks the light back off and then turns the hall light off too.

In the sudden darkness, he carefully makes his way to his side of the bed.

“One step forward, then left,” Mycroft says from the darkness. Greg follows the instructions and finds the covers pulled back for him.

He gets into bed and leans over, finding Mycroft's cheek by touch. “Happy anniversary,” he says, and kisses Mycroft's smooth cheek. “I'm sorry I couldn't make it.”

Mycroft turns his head, pressing a warm kiss to the side of Greg's jaw. He slides his lips to the edge of Greg's mouth, pausing for a kiss. “Don't be silly.”

Greg could argue it or apologise, or he could pay attention to the way Mycroft rolls towards him, to the parted lips breathing warm air against his. He can smell the champagne on Mycroft, can taste it when he licks his way past Mycroft's lips.

In the dark, in the quiet, he can hear them kissing. Can hear the sheets rustle as Mycroft moves closer, hooking a long thigh over Greg's hip. There's a hand at the back of Greg's head, holding him close as they kiss and Greg has to retaliate, sliding chilled fingers under skin-warm cotton, feeling Mycroft's stomach hitch as he jerks away.

“Your hands are freezing.”

“Says the human icicle,” Greg replies, tugging Mycroft closer and undoing the buttons on his pyjamas. “I know how cold your feet get.”

“Not as cold as that,” Mycroft says, which is an absolute lie. “And you don't mind them.”

That is true. Greg pulls his hands back, breathes on his fingers to warm them up. “There we go. Warmer already.”

This time, Mycroft doesn't flinch. Greg slides a hand up Mycroft's chest, smoothing his fingertips over chest hair and lightly dragging fingernails back down.

Mycroft's breath stutters delightfully. He still manages to say, “It's possibly too late for anything--”

Greg kisses him before he can finish that ridiculous sentence. It is late, yes, but it's their anniversary. And he knows champagne makes Mycroft randy. All good reasons to continue.

He cheats a little. Scrapes his nails down the back of Mycroft's neck, following the line of vertebrae. Mycroft groans around the kiss, thigh tightening on Greg's hip.

It's easy to roll Mycroft over, to press him into the mattress and settle between his legs.

“Gregory,” Mycroft says, wonderfully breathless as Greg lowers his mouth to Mycroft's collarbone, dragging his lips over old marks. He's discovered that Mycroft's pale skin marks easily. Mycroft loves it, squirms if Greg nips at his neck, digs fingers into Greg's shoulder and groans at the slightest scrape of teeth, but those dark red marks tend to bruise by the morning. So Greg sticks to the collarbone and lower, and tries not to suck too hard, no matter how urgently Mycroft clings to him, breathing heavily and rutting against his hip.

He can't help but feel a little bit invincible, a little bulletproof. It's a heady rush to be the one person that gets to see Mycroft like this. To know all the power and terrifying intellect at Mycroft's disposal, and know just how to touch him to make him groan. To know that he can kiss the curve of Mycroft's collarbone and make him clench at Greg's back. To slide his hand under the loose waistband of his pyjamas and know he'll find Mycroft's hard c*ck waiting for him. To know Mycroft by heat and taste and smell, by the smothered gasp Mycroft makes, by the twist of his hips as Greg starts stroking him.

Even in the dark, Greg feels like he'd know Mycroft by touch alone.

Hand working Mycroft's cock, Greg starts to shuffle down the bed, slow and a little clumsy.

Mycroft tugs on his elbow. “Where are you going?”

It shouldn't be awkward to say -- I want to suck you off, I want my mouth around your cock, I want to taste you -- but it is. It's embarrassing and the words don't come out. Greg still freezes about this stuff. Not doing it, because that's surprisingly easy, but finding the right words always leaves him second-guessing himself.

“Less clean up,” Greg says, which is not exactly what he means but Mycroft's clever. He can usually work this stuff out.

“I'd rather have you near,” Mycroft says, shimmying out of his pyjama bottoms, pushing them down to his knees, pulling up one leg and then the other to get them off. Greg follows suit, pulling off his underwear and then tugging off his T-shirt for the sake of it.

Mycroft still has his arms covered, his pyjama shirt lying open across his chest. He doesn't bother undressing completely, just pulls Greg down on top of him. It's nice, skin to skin, chest to chest, Mycroft's legs bracketing his. Mycroft fumbles in the bedside drawer and retrieves tissues and lube. One gets placed beside the bed, the other is opened and squeezed onto his fingers.

The first touch to Greg's c*ck is smooth and cool, certain. Mycroft slicks his own cock, then wraps long fingers around both of them. A light squeeze and Greg's hips thrust forwards, c*ck sliding against Mycroft's.

“Yes,” Mycroft mutters against Greg's shoulder. “Again.”

Greg rocks his hips back and then thrusts again. Shallow movements, like f***ing on an easy Sunday, slow and gentle. Trapped between the soft, hot skin of Mycroft's c*ck and firm, graceful fingers. Weight held on his elbows, head held up to breathe. Mycroft's legs wrapped around him, and Mycroft panting open-mouthed against his shoulder, mumbling “Gregory,” and “Yes,” and “Please,” so f***ing polite as he screws his hips up, trying for more.

It's perfect. Even with the sweat gathering between his shoulder blades, even with Mycroft's hard, plastic buttons digging into his chest, it's perfect. It's close and it's real. Greg shifts his weight to one elbow, reaches down to tangle his hand around Mycroft's, fingers sliding over and between Mycroft's as he feels the pressure building in the base of his spine, in his balls, as he tightens his fingers and rides it out.

He comes with his hand still around both their cocks, with Mycroft panting against his shoulder, still hard, still rocking up and searching for more. Greg takes an unsteady breath and rolls off. Heart still pounding, he reaches down and gets his hand around Mycroft's cock. Hard, fast strokes to finish. Mycroft's head pressed back into the pillow, back arching up as he spills through Greg's fingers.

Afterwards, they lie there, breathing heavily in the dark. He thinks Mycroft uses Greg's T-shirt to clean them both up. Greg makes a mental note to remember to put a wash on tomorrow.

***

They make an arrest the next day and Greg spends the next two days avidly completing reports and trying to avoid active cases. Unfortunately, the Met doesn't think ‘wanting to make sure my holiday leave isn't impacted by work’ is a valid excuse when there's an open case.

Greg gets the call and attends the crime scene, waits hours for SOCO to show up, and then he gives in and calls Sherlock. Who doesn't answer, so he calls John instead.

“Hi Greg,” John says warmly, and then there's a high pitched giggle in the background, a squeal of amusement from someone very small. “Rosie says hi.”

Greg grins. “Tell her hi from me. Do you know if Sherlock's busy right now?” It's Christmas Eve. Normal people are busy but Sherlock has never been normal. “Any cases on?”

“Not right now. Why?”

“I wanted his help. Probably not interesting by his arbitrary scale, but I'd like to get this wrapped up today. If it's possible.”

“Mrs Hudson's out so I'll need to look after Rosie. I'll send him 'round on his own.”

There's a low rumble of disagreement in the background, and John hisses, “Otherwise he might not make Christmas,” and then Greg hears, “Fine, but only to make Mycroft bearable for the day.”

“Text the address,” John says cheerily. “He'll be there soon.”

That's how Greg ends up spending Christmas Eve chasing a cheating brother-in-law down a row of terraced houses in Knightsbridge. Sherlock's beside him, yelling at the suspect -- Jimmy Knowles -- about a red tie as they duck around crowds of last-minute shoppers and too keen carolers.

He keeps up with Sherlock but he's panting by the time they get Knowles cornered. (Greg suddenly appreciates spending those dull hours in the gym. He's not as rigorous about it as Mycroft but it's been motivating knowing there's someone who enjoys seeing him naked.) By the time Greg's caught his breath, the suspect is cuffed and arrested, and they're waiting for backup to come get them.

It's Christmas Eve and London is full of last-minute shoppers, traffic slowed to a frustrating crawl. Greg's advised it could be up to two hours, so he marches Knowles into the nearest pub and sits him in the corner.

“Say one thing,” he warns the guy, “and we'll spend the next two hours waiting outside.”

There's a shifty, narrow-eyed look from Sherlock to Greg, and for a minute, Greg thinks they might have to do this the hard way: freezing on a London street. Then the suspect gives a sigh and all the fight goes out of his hunched shoulders. Knowles gives the nod of a man who knows he's hit a low point and life is going to get even worse from here.

“Want a drink?” Greg asks, taking pity on him. “You'll have to drink through a straw but orange juice, water, coke?”

Knowles shakes his head and sinks further into the seat. At the other end of the table, Sherlock is typing into his phone with a sharp smile.

“Are you texting?” Greg really hopes he's texting. Lord save them from another round of twitter gloating.

“John,” Sherlock replies. “Rosie was asking for her favourite toy.”

It's so strange to see Sherlock talk about Rosie. It's even weirder to see him around her. He dotes on her. Sarcastic, unfeeling Sherlock Holmes, who has made qualified Met staff cry or threaten physical violence, and Greg's never seen him happier than trying to explain the scientific method to a toddler.

“Thanks,” Greg says. Sherlock frowns at him like he's an idiot. “For helping. I appreciate getting this sorted.”

“I wouldn't want you to miss Christmas,” Sherlock says with the kind of glee usually reserved for dead bodies.

“Is there something I should know?”

“Mycroft hasn't dated since the divorce.”

Greg hadn't known for certain but he's not surprised. Mycroft's interest in other people is amazingly limited. He can sum most people up in a glance and very few even get a second look. Greg feels a warm glow of smugness at knowing he’s an exception to that rule. “So?”

Sherlock's eyes narrow like an amused cat. “So Mummy is going to spend a lot of time asking you questions. While Mycroft spends the day attempting to run interference.”

“It won't be that bad,” Greg says, pretending he can't see the sympathetic look Knowles gives him. Suspects aren't supposed to pity the arresting officer. “It's just Christmas.”

***

Greg offers to drive on Christmas day. Mycroft had suggested taking a car but the idea of their driver sitting around all Christmas Day, alone and away from his family just for convenience, it didn't sit right with Greg. Mycroft had promised the driver would be compensated accordingly, but Greg insisted.

“It's a few hours driving country roads. I'm happy to do it.”

Mycroft had responded by hiring -- please, Lord, let it be hired, thinking Mycroft owns it is too much for Greg -- a Bentley Continental in racing green. Greg falls in love at first sight of the big silver grille. The interior is all tan leather and inlaid wood, and the motor purrs like a tiger. Greg spends the first half hour trying to keep to the speed limit, resisting the urge to floor the accelerator to see how fast this beast can go.

From the passenger seat, Mycroft spends the drive working on his phone. He occasionally glances over at Greg with the world's smarmiest smirk.

“Yes, fine, I'm loving this,” Greg says after the third time Mycroft's glanced his way. “Great Christmas present.”

“If you insist on driving,” Mycroft replies, “we should at least be comfortable.”

Comfortable, he says, like Greg’s even noticed the leather seats. He's having far too much fun shifting up a gear and increasing speed as the roads clear. He lets himself break the speed limit for a few minutes and then slows down again. The car responds like it's telepathic -- no lag in acceleration, no sudden jerk of too-sensitive brakes. It's the driving dream shown on car commercials, all smooth turns and easy handling.

Greg's enjoying every minute behind the wheel, so it's not until they're twenty minutes away that he notices Mycroft's tension. No jiggling foot or tapping fingers for Mycroft. No, his tension is all in the very straight posture, the shoulders peeled back and down, the unforgiving line of his mouth. “You okay?” Greg asks, not really expecting an honest answer.

“Of course,” Mycroft replies, forcing a smile that's almost convincing. “Take the next left.”

“Are you really okay?” Greg asks again, flicking the indicator on. Even the click of the indicator is muted and tasteful: nothing cheap or crass allowed in this car. Well, other than the driver. “Nervous?”

“It's Christmas with my family.” Mycroft turns to look out the window. “Believe me, my expectations for the day are not high.”

“Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter if they don't like me. I'm dating you, not them, and I know you like me.”

Mycroft turns away from the window with a hint of a smile. “Quite a lot.”

“See? It'll be fine, whatever happens.”

***

Mycroft's parents are reasonably ordinary. His mum is blonde and pale, heavy but still pretty. His dad is tall and lean-faced, clearly where Sherlock gets his bone structure. They're both frightfully posh, but Greg's dealt with the rich and incandescently angry; he can deal with posh and polite easily.

Mycroft introduces everyone. His parents are Siger Holmes -- “Call me Cigs, everyone does,” he says -- and Doctor Violet Holmes. (“Like the flower,” she says and Greg wonders if it’s a joke, or if she genuinely thought he needed that clarification.) Mycroft introduces him as Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade, so Greg grins and adds, “Call me Greg. Everyone does.”

Mycroft’s dad finds it funny. His mum… is less impressed.

Mycroft had described their home as a small cottage in the Cotswolds, but it's still bigger than the terraced house in Essex where Greg grew up. Probably costs four times as much.

Greg says, “You have a lovely home,” as he's ushered inside and does his best to mean it. It's homey like Mycroft's house, lots of wood and rugs, comfortable old furniture in deep reds with embroidered cushions. Every surface is cluttered with decorations or knick-knacks, lived in and messy like Sherlock's flat.

John and Sherlock are seated on the sofa, Rosie on Sherlock's lap. She's nearly four now and has John's cranky squint when she's puzzled by something new. Right now, she's squinting at a jigsaw puzzle laid out on the coffee table.

“Hi Rosie,” Greg says, squatting down to be closer to her level. “What have you got there?”

“Puzzle,” she says, holding up the piece in her chubby little fingers. She's a bright girl but doesn't talk much around strangers or in new places. Greg only sees her rarely, so she's usually quiet for the first twenty minutes whenever he visits Baker Street.

Greg smiles, asking, “Trying to work out where it fits?”

Mycroft claims he doesn't especially like children. That he didn't particularly like them as a child and hasn't changed his mind. Yet he gives a serious nod of the head and says, “Good morning, Rosamund,” as he casually picks up a puzzle piece and slots it into the half-finished puzzle.

Rosie squints at it, then at the piece in her hand, turning it until it fits next to the piece Mycroft laid down.

“What do we say?” John prompts her gently.

Rosie looks up, all big brown eyes and dirty blonde pigtails tied with bright red baubles. “Thank you,” she says carefully, reciting her good manners, “for your conda-sending help.”

Over Rosie's head, Sherlock grins like the Grinch, gleefully spiteful. John tries to look disapproving but there's a twitch to the corner of his mouth that says he wants to laugh at Sherlock's antics.

Mycroft smiles his most smug and least warm smile. “You're most welcome, Rosamund. Do let me know if you need any further assistance.”

It's some sort of jibe because it makes Sherlock straighten, eyes narrowed. “We'll keep that generous offer in mind,” he replies sharply.

After Mycroft’s dad sinks into an old armchair with the paper and Mycroft's mum has gone back to puttering in the kitchen, Mycroft offers to give him a tour of the house. Reception rooms downstairs and bedrooms upstairs: master bedroom, Sherlock's room and guest room. “My room when I stayed here,” Mycroft adds, opening the door to a room that's bland and country-pretty, white quilted bedspread and small roses climbing the wallpaper. The bedside tables have a lamp each side and nothing else.

It's a nice guest room but it's hard to imagine a teenage boy living here. “Changed a lot since you were a kid?”

“The curtains,” Mycroft says. “That bedspread is almost as old as me.”

Mycroft likes bright, colourful flowers but he's not a pastels and florals guy. The room doesn't suit his tastes at all. “Really?”

Mycroft blinks at Greg, considering. “I left for school two months after we moved here. I only stayed here on school holidays.”

Mycroft continues, “It would have been a waste to keep a bedroom I'd barely use,” but Greg's thinking of Mycroft's house, his London flat, his club and his offices -- all of these spaces carved out and possessively claimed. He's thinking of a teenager coming home and knowing he was only a guest, knowing that home and family didn't include a space that was his.

It must show on Greg's face because Mycroft gives him a look of fond indulgence. “I was not an unhappy child. Give me quiet and a few good books and I would have felt at home anywhere.”

“Still…” Greg shrugs. “No posters? No toys stacked on shelves?”

“And no desire for them, either.”

***

While Violet cooks, Mycroft and Sherlock play a rather unique version of charades. Apparently, it's a Christmas tradition. Not celebrities or films but London locations. Not spelt out by number of words and syllables and ‘sounds like’ clues. Just the brothers taking turns to pull out a slip of paper and then stand there for a few seconds as the other says, “Piccadilly Circus,” or “Euston Station.”

For one turn, Sherlock does nothing more than put the used clue in his pocket and Mycroft says, “Queen Anne's Gate,” with bored superiority that betrays he's secretly having fun.

Sherlock pulls himself straighter, rising to the challenge, and pulls the next clue.

Mycroft looks, then blinks once, and raises a questioning eyebrow. “Really, Sherlock? Buckingham Palace?”

John, sitting on the floor with Rosie, stifles a laugh.

“Your turn,” Sherlock says, walking over to the sofa with the small bowl of folded pieces of paper. It's an odd game but they're both enjoying it. Certainly enjoying it more than Hungry Hippos, where Sherlock won and gloated, and Mycroft attempted to glare a hole right through him. Greg's glad no-one’s suggested Monopoly yet. He can't imagine that would end without squabbling.

“Have they always been like that?” Greg quietly asks Cigs.

Cigs looks up from his crossword puzzle, forehead lined in confusion. “Beg pardon,” he says. “Have who been like what?”

Greg nods over at the brothers. “Those two. Playing games no one else can understand?”

“Oh, no. My wife can usually follow them. That's where they get the brains from, you know.”

“Yeah?”

“Published mathematician,” he says with a strong note of pride. Greg likes that. “PhD and everything.”

“What about you?”

“Me?” Cigs asks. He tucks a strand of white hair behind an ear, fingers almost nervous with the gesture. “I’m not really anything.”

“I meant what did you used to do,” Greg clarifies.

“Nothing, thankfully. Family money, you know.”

Greg nods, but he doesn't know. He has no idea what's it like to only work out of choice, to have the option of doing nothing at all -- without that meaning council flats and struggling below the breadline. It's not surprising because look at Sherlock. Lives in central London, dresses in clothes so fitted they might as well be bespoke, and only takes a case if he thinks it's interesting. There's no concept of the necessity of work, of needing successive paydays to avoid poverty.

And yet there's Mycroft. Mycroft who works more hours than Greg, which is saying something, and clearly doesn't need the money. He's so brilliant that he could sit back like Sherlock, only working when the desire struck him, but instead he attends frustrating committees and works late nights when required. He puts everything he has into doing his job as well as he can.

Greg only realises he's smiling like a sap, staring at Mycroft, when Mycroft gives him a quick frown.

He turns back to Mycroft's dad. “So, Cigs, there must be a story behind that nickname.”

“An obvious one, I'm afraid.”

“Caught smoking?”

Cigs raises one white eyebrow and for a moment, Greg sees Mycroft in the gesture and the pale blue eyes. Then Cigs smiles and turns back into a friendly old man, with Sherlock's narrow face and high cheekbones. “My father was the smoker but I used to smuggle a few packs into my case at the start of every term. Hence the nickname.”

“What about Mycroft and Sherlock?” Greg asks. “Any nicknames from school?”

“Holmes,” the brothers reply in perfect, disdainful unison.

From the floor by the fireplace, John looks over Rosie's head. “That uni mate of yours, didn't he say--”

“Nicknames are used to one's face,” Sherlock says sharply.

“And they are quite unnecessary when one is already known and easily recognised,” Mycroft adds coolly.

One. Greg rubs a hand over his mouth to cover the smile. He'd heard it last year, the poshness creeping into Mycroft's voice by the end of the day. He hadn't expected to hear it so quickly.

***

In the back of his mind, Greg can almost hear Richard Attenborough narrating the day: Here we have a Holmes in his natural habitat. Notice how calmly he studies the cards in his hands before asking for a King.

They've moved to Go Fish, and Greg offered to look after Rosie so John can play as well. Cigs wandered outside for something and hasn't returned.

Greg's been to Sherlock's place for Christmas drinks and seen Sherlock enjoy himself around the people he trusts. He's seen Mycroft at home in the country, quiet but far from his chilly reserve. He's seen the brothers squabble over any excuse, taking turns to pick and unravel the other. This is a strange overlap of all of that. The brothers are still competing but the barbs are far less sharp; the teasing is almost friendly. Sherlock is having fun, grinning when he slaps a pair of cards down on the coffee table. Even Mycroft allows the occasional smile, a small pleased quirk of his lips as Sherlock relinquishes a three of clubs.

Honestly, it's fascinating. Not quite the Mycroft Greg sees when it's just the two of them -- considerate, content, amused by the absurd -- but it's far from the cold, harsh Mycroft usually shown to other people.

Greg's quite happy to keep watching but Violet wanders past and says, “If you're not doing anything, perhaps you could help me with the potatoes?”

Mycroft looks up immediately, eyes narrowed. “I'll do them,” he says, as if he's ever stepped willingly into a kitchen to help.

“But you're playing,” Greg says, stating the obvious. As soon as he hears it, he cringes, waiting for Sherlock to say something cutting and undeniable. Shrugging off Sherlock’s insults would be easier if Greg thought before he spoke.

But Sherlock doesn't say anything mean. Sherlock's too busy watching Mycroft with a smug air of schadenfreude, too satisfied by Mycroft's discomfort.

And he is uncomfortable. It's in the sudden tension in his shoulders, the stiffness to his neck, the tight grip on his cards. “Gregory is a guest,” Mycroft says firmly. “I should help.”

“Don't be silly, Mikey,” Violet says and Mycroft's chin tilts dangerously. Political coups and terrorist cells are no match for that expression, but his mother doesn't waver. “Finish your game with Sherlock. I'm sure Greg's capable of peeling a potato.”

Greg stands up, smiling reassuringly at Mycroft. He's been a copper for twenty-five years; he knows when he's being led to an interrogation. But he also knows trying to avoid it never works long-term. Best to get it done now and appear cooperative.

“I've even been known to cook them,” Greg says and there's a concerned twitch to Mycroft's eyebrow. “We'll be in the kitchen when you lot are done. Oh, and Mycroft?”

“Yes?” Mycroft asks carefully, still looking uneasy.

“Ask for sevens,” Greg says, nodding at Sherlock's hand.

***

It's the easy questions first: how long have you known Mycroft (years), how did you meet (Sherlock) and how long have you been seeing each other (about a year now). Simple intelligence gathering and things she probably already knew.

But if it's an interrogation, at least he's not stuck in an uncomfortable plastic chair, leaning on a Formica table. No, he's standing by the sink, peeling a large bowl of potatoes while Christmas carols play quietly in the background. Greg can smell the turkey roasting in the oven and the earthy spices of a Christmas pudding steaming away. It’s warm and homey, like something out of a kids’ Christmas movie.

On the other end of the bench, Violet chops a pumpkin with a cleaver. A cleaver the length of Greg's forearm. She says her wrists are weak these days and it's easier to use a bigger knife. Greg can't help seeing it as unspoken intimidation, something that works all the better for being unacknowledged.

Pity there’s no acceptable way for Greg to use that tactic in an interview room. Professionalism and Standards might have something to say about that.

“So you were seeing each other last Christmas?” Violet asks, tone light as she forces the cleaver through half a pumpkin. There’s a clunk as she hits the chopping board.

Greg keeps his eyes on the potato peeler in his hand. He knows this game: give them just a hint of information and wait for the suspect to incriminate themselves. The correct response is to be friendly and open, and only confirm what’s already known. “Just started, yeah.”

“And you enjoyed your Christmas,” she asks, “with your friends?”

“Yeah, it was great. Hired a house on Airbnb and spent a week up in Scotland.” Greg turns and smiles, and Violet gives him a friendly smile in return. “It was good to catch up. You know what it's like. You mean to see people, but months slip by and suddenly you haven't seen friends in years.”

“I suppose you wouldn't have much time,” Violet says, “given your job. Sherlock makes it sound very...”

“Busy?”

“Dangerous,” Violet says with a hard thunk on the chopping board. “Joining the police seems like a very dangerous profession.”

Greg's first thought is that Sherlock is in no position to call other people's choices dangerous. His second is remembering John telling him how he met Mycroft, how Sherlock called him the most dangerous man he'd ever met. And that said to a man who'd seen active combat. Right now, Greg is Violet's least dangerous guest, not counting Rosie.

But to someone's mum, working for the police probably sounds more dangerous than a doctor or a bureaucrat. “It's not as dangerous as it seems. There's a lot of paperwork and interviewing people. Honestly, most of the job is talking to people and recording what's said, and watching hours of CCTV footage. Not as exciting as it looks on the telly.”

“Hmm,” Violet says and falls into the scheming silence that makes Greg worry when Sherlock goes quiet at crime scenes. It's usually only a matter of minutes before he spins off, running after a lead he won't tell anyone else.

If she's anything like Sherlock, there's only a small window to keep control of the situation. Greg lays down the peeler and she mirrors him, setting the cleaver down as well.

“Look,” Greg says, “we don't know each other well and I'm sure you're curious about me. But I'm curious too, so how about we trade questions? Ask me anything, and we'll trade answers.”

Everything about Violet Holmes is soft and rounded. Pale blonde hair pulled up into a gentle chignon, pretty face and round blue eyes, the fat under her chin and the curving of her shoulders. But her nod is sharp and certain. “You have a deal.”

Greg picks up the peeler -- the potatoes won't peel themselves -- and says, “Ladies first.”

Violet doesn't pull any punches. “Why did you get divorced?”

“Short story: she cheated.”

“And the long story?”

“That's a second question,” Greg says, “but I worked too much, couldn't be what she wanted, and eventually she found that with someone else. There were a lot of years where we kept trying to make it work, and it didn't but it took a long time to let go of what we once had.”

It sounds easy, summed up like that. Sounds a lot less confusing than it felt to live through, heartbreak condensed into a simple story. In the end, it hadn't been the betrayal or the humiliation that ended it; he'd just been tired. Bone deep tired of trying and failing and hearing the effort it took both of them to be civil. Tired of how hard it was and how miserable and uncomfortable they both were. He didn't think getting divorced would make him happy, but at least he'd be able to relax.

When he looks over at Violet, she's watching him closely. He remembers Cigs saying the brothers got their brains from her. For a moment, Greg hopes that's not true. “My turn?”

“That's the deal,” Violet says carefully.

Greg wants to ask about Mycroft. He wants to ask how the divorce happened, and why. He wants to ask how many times the ex came to a Holmes Christmas and why the photos were so awkward and what excuse did he use to avoid the other years. He wants to lever this opportunity into usable information, force his way into understanding Mycroft's personal history. But this isn't a case. This isn't background for an open file. If Mycroft wanted him to know, he'd tell Greg.

Finding it out like this… That's how you ruin good things.

So instead, Greg asks, “Did Mycroft really play Lady Bracknell in high school? John swears he did, but Mycroft won't confirm or deny it.”

For the first time, Violet smiles at him and looks like she actually means it. “He certainly did. He was very good, although a little too tall to be convincing. Lady Bracknell should not be three inches taller than everyone else on stage.”

***

All in all, it's going well by the time the vegetables are roasting. Greg's been quizzed on his career prospects (the honest truth: he doesn't play politics well enough to rise any higher but he's happy where he is) and financial situation (“I rent in London,” he says because he's not discussing retirement funds with a virtual stranger). He's kept his own questions fairly benign: Mycroft's favourite childhood toy (“An old stuffed bear with mismatched eyes,” Violet says. “He insisted on sewing a new matching pair before he gave it to Sherlock.”) and favourite food as a kid (anything with sugar, apparently).

Then Violet asks, “How did you fall in love with my son?”

Greg blurts out the first answer that comes to mind. “Slowly.” It was slow and steady, like Mycroft himself. He's not a personality built for sudden declarations and changes of heart -- Mycroft is considered and dependable, and even changing his mind is a slow shift by degrees. “We were spending time together and then… He's fascinating. Different from anyone, from everyone else. Once you spend some time alone with him, once you see that, it's…”

Greg shrugs but Violet doesn't make it easy. She doesn't fill in the gap. She leaves the silence until Greg shrugs again and tries to explain.

“We spent more time together and there was a spark, and I don't know. I don't know how. I'm just glad it happened.”

Greg finds some peace peeling a carrot, trying to phrase a question that Mycroft couldn't answer. That Mycroft wouldn’t consider worth knowing. “How did you know Mycroft was gay? Did he tell you?”

“He didn't need to. It was quite obvious,” Violet says fondly. “He never had any interest in girls. Barely any interest in people, but certainly no interest in girls. There was a local girl, lived ten minutes walk from here, had a hopeless crush on him. In summer holidays, she'd walk past every few days, trying to get Mikey's attention and he never noticed her. Too busy reading or running after Sherlock.”

“So it wasn't a surprise when he brought a boy home?”

“That's a second question,” Violet says as Mycroft walks into the kitchen. “Have you considered living with a man? How different it will be after being married to a woman?”

“Mummy!” Mycroft says, horrified eyes wide. “You can't ask that.”

“Yes, I can,” Violet replies cheerily, ignoring Mycroft's glare. “Greg's agreed to answer.”

“Ignore my mother,” Mycroft tells Greg, stepping between the two of them as if Greg needs to be sheltered. It's simultaneously rude and chivalrous, which is Mycroft all over. “She's clearly forgotten the basic etiquette of hosting.”

“Not everything has to be done by rules,” Sherlock says, stopping at the table and picking at the plate of gingerbread snowmen and reindeer. He breaks a top hat off one and a leg off another.

Mycroft keeps his back to Sherlock and Violet, watching Greg's face closely.

“I agreed,” Greg says gently because Mycroft's worried and if they were alone, he'd reach out and squeeze Mycroft's hand. Remind him that he's fine. But Mycroft dislikes public displays of affection. In his childhood home, surrounded by family members who keep calling him ‘Mikey' and ignoring the way it makes him scowl, it seems like a bad idea to touch.

“Perhaps I should show you the garden,” Mycroft says. “Sherlock could take over helping.”

“Sounds good. Thanks, Sherlock,” Greg calls out, stepping away from the bench before Sherlock can complain too loudly.

***

There's a small stretch of lawn, enough that they can stand on the other side and not fear being overheard. “I really did agree,” Greg says, “but I still appreciate the rescue. Your mum is a force to be reckoned with.”

“We drove,” Mycroft says. It's a strange non sequitur.

“I remember. I did the driving.”

Mycroft shakes his head. “We can leave whenever you wish. Since we drove here and aren't dependant on train times back to London.”

“I'm fine.” There's no one around them, so Greg reaches out and wraps his fingers around Mycroft's wrist. Just a light brush but enough to remind Mycroft that he's here. “A few nosey questions for your kid's new boyfriend, that's par for the course. What family gatherings are all about.”

Mycroft doesn't look convinced. He walks quietly, shoulders back, spine straight and a resigned discomfort in his expression. It's not a big enough garden to justify being out too long, but they wander up to the far end and spend a few minutes staring at neat lines of broccoli and cabbages.

“If it makes a difference,” Greg says, “I think she really is just worried about you. She wants you to be happy.”

“While the sentiment is admirable, it's so steeped in ignorance as to be worthless,” Mycroft says, voice dripping with condescension.

Greg pulls a face at the tone. He gets it: if he was as clever as Sherlock, let alone Mycroft, he'd probably be arrogant and impatient with the rest of the world. But it's not an attractive trait and he doesn't like hearing it directed at Mycroft's own family. “Her heart's in the right place.”

“Good intentions have never weighed much.”

“Yeah, but--”

“They don't know me,” Mycroft says, talking over Greg in a way he never does. Mycroft is a man of reserved patience; he rarely sees the need to directly interrupt. Greg stops walking and looks at him, waits for Mycroft to find the words he wants. Mycroft adjusts the lengths of his cuffs, long fingers sly and graceful. “While they care, they don’t know me well enough to understand what makes me happy. Their opinions on the matter are unimportant.”

Greg nods. Thinks about it for a moment. He said something similar on the drive over here, but he suspects Mycroft means something else. “So you don’t care if they don’t like me?” Greg asks, feeling for the truth.

“You are very likeable,” Mycroft says with a comforting certainty. “Trust me, they already like you.”

Greg doesn’t want to be the guy who worries about that, but he’s still relieved to hear it. He also knows that expression on Mycroft’s face: calm on the surface, the slightly narrowed eyes betraying the calculations going on inside that skull, the look that gives away nothing while Mycroft decides how much truth should be told. Left alone, Mycroft will probably err on the side of discretion rather than honesty.

“So what is it?” Greg asks. “If you’re not worried about them liking me, what are you worried about?”

“Nothing significant.” It’s an answer that’s only reassuring if Greg ignores that scale of Mycroft’s job. Insignificant covers everything that doesn’t require an armed response or end in a financial collapse.

“Try again.”

There’s a quick quirk to Mycroft’s mouth, there and gone again. “They were predisposed to like you. Mummy has always been of the opinion that I didn’t make enough effort to maintain my marriage. She never particularly liked my choice of husband, but she dislikes my single status even more. You are easily the best option of the three.”

“Because I’m so likeable?”

“Because you like Sherlock.”

Greg frowns and plays that back. “What does Sherlock have to do with… any of it?” He can’t help thinking of those few Christmas photos, Sherlock and Mycroft’s ex at each extreme, standing as far apart as they could. Must have been some bad blood there. Easy to imagine, given it’s Sherlock. “God, what did Sherlock say to him?”

“A few too many personal deductions,” Mycroft says wryly. “A few too many calls in the middle of the night.”

Greg chuckles at the thought of how relentless Sherlock can be; it's why ‘try not to punch him’ is the advice he gives to new DIs. But back in the day, when Sherlock was all skin and bones and manic twitching, Greg made a few of those midnight calls himself and Mycroft always showed up alone. Stalked down hospital corridors, umbrella in hand, and sat in those uncomfortable chairs at Sherlock’s bedside, and there was never anyone with him.

“Jeremy had valid points,” Mycroft says slowly, carefully, tone too measured to be as unfeeling as it sounds. “I was ineffective. I couldn’t stop Sherlock from using or seeking out danger, and every time I would run to A&E, tame as a trained poodle.”

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KNIGHTHOOD.

 

It sounds like a specific phrase, someone else’s words parroted back at him. Something nasty said in the heat of a fight and never forgotten by Mycroft’s remarkable memory. Greg can’t say anything to make that better, but there are some things he knows. “You can’t do it for them. You can’t get an addict clean, they’ve got to decide to do that themselves. All you can do is be there, and still be there when they get through it.”

“You can also give an addict motivation, a good reason to abstain from their habit. Something I was unable to do but you did.”

“I just kicked him off a few crime scenes when he was high,” Greg says, uncomfortable. He didn’t do anything amazing. Sherlock did the hard work. “And called for an ambulance a few times.”

“You gave him your word and you kept it.” Mycroft speaks like it’s a small feat of wonder, a rare and amazing act. “You may take such integrity for granted, Gregory, but it is something I treasure.”

It’s an odd compliment, but Greg’s moved by it. “Thanks,” he says gruffly, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Christmas is… complicated,” Mycroft says finally, and Greg thinks he gets it. There’s a lot of memories, some of them good and some of them bad, but it’s all mixed together with too much food and people all around you and new hopes and old regrets. For Mycroft, who values calm and distance, it’s probably uncomfortable no matter how much he loves his family.

Still, at a certain point, it’s just silly to stand around in the cold air. “Once more into the breach?” Greg suggests.

“We can leave at any time,” Mycroft reminds them both, nodding and turning back to the house.

***

Back inside, Sherlock is setting the table for lunch with cutlery and brightly red placemats. Mycroft steps over to the sideboard and pulls out a stack of plates. He follows behind Sherlock, setting down a plate and correcting Sherlock’s haphazard placement of the knives and forks. With each setting, Sherlock’s placement grows more askew, until the knives and forks are crossed like the bones on a pirate flag.

Greg's about to intervene when Mycroft glances over at him, an amused glint in his eye. Greg grins back, shaking his head at Sherlock's antics.

Violet brings out red napkins and name cards in fancy script. It’s an interesting choice of seating, Greg thinks. Rosie at the end of the table, John and Violet to either side of her. Sherlock’s next to John and Mycroft’s next along, and it leaves Greg caught between Mycroft’s parents. He could talk across the table to Mycroft, but no way to say anything that wouldn’t be overheard by the rest of his family. Greg forces himself to smile as Sherlock leans close to John, murmuring something to him.

Across the table, Mycroft’s smile is polished and polite, and probably just as forced as Greg’s. He reaches for the bottle of pinot noir on the table, pausing before he pours himself a glass. “Wine?”

“Not when I’m driving that beauty home,” Greg says, pouring water for himself.

“Papa?” Mycroft asks his father, and Greg nearly chokes on his water. Of course. Mummy and Papa. Of course. He should have expected it, honestly, but he’s seen Mycroft intimidate CTC officers and reporters alike. Hearing him say ‘Papa’ in all earnestness -- like the Little Prince brought to life -- is hilarious.

Greg knows his poker face isn’t good enough to hide his amusement, but at least he manages not to laugh when Mycroft and Sherlock give him identical looks of disdain.

***

The meal itself goes fairly well. The food is well cooked and the shared bottles of wine help everyone relax. It helps that Cigs mentions the Bentley outside and Greg gets to spend the next hour talking about favourite cars he’s seen on Top Gear. Sherlock and John are deep in a discussion of something involving wide hand gestures, and Rosie has a rapt audience in Violet.

The only person not chatting away is Mycroft, who is sitting back in his chair, wine glass held in long, elegant fingers as he surveys the room. Every so often Greg glances over at him, just to check, and Mycroft gives him a slow, fond blink in reply. Sometimes, he even gets a nod in acknowledgement.

Greg keeps talking to Cigs but he keeps thinking of what Mycroft said. That he didn’t make enough effort to maintain his marriage. It seems… unfair.

Greg knows he isn't Mycroft's only priority, but that's okay. He has a vague idea of the stakes Mycroft juggles and he wouldn't want to be more important than other people's lives. But it's a lie to say Mycroft doesn't try: he notices things, he arranges, he makes life as easy as he can. Perhaps it's small things like always getting Greg's coffee exactly how he likes it, or picking up takeout when he knows Greg's been swamped with cases and court prep all day. Sometimes it's the careful way he'll wake Greg when he's fallen asleep in front of the telly, leading him to bed with hushed words and a guiding hand on his lower back.

They're small things, fitted around the hours Mycroft spends at his various offices, but they're important. Greg will take those little mundane kindnesses over big romantic gestures any day. A roomful of roses would leave Greg searching for enough vases to fit them all; being whisked away to Paris for the weekend sounds tiring. But those little things make life easier and give Greg a reason to smile, even on the bad days.

They go from talking about cars to road trips to holiday plans, and Cigs talks about the line dancing cruise with the enthused fervour of Sherlock discussing a fresh murder. It's a little unsettling to hear that eagerness about steps and turns, but it's more unsettling that Greg's become used to that level of gusto only applying to dead bodies.

It seems highly convenient that when he glances over to Mycroft for help, Mycroft fishes his phone out of his jacket pocket and excuses himself to return a call.

“Mycroft said you were looking at a cruise this year,” Greg says, trying to drag the conversation back to a topic where he can at least fake some interest. “The timing didn’t work out?”

“I wanted to go this year, but my wife thought it best to meet you.” Cigs glances down the table at Violet, currently fussing over Rosie and her vegetables. “She's probably right. She usually is.”

Given the friendly interrogation in the kitchen, Greg's not surprised Violet was the one who wanted to vet him. Still, it's good to know that Mycroft has someone who worries about his happiness rather than his productivity, even if Mycroft doesn't appreciate it.

“You know,” Cigs says, “our annual family Christmas isn't a long-standing tradition. We used to only make an effort every few years.”

“What changed?” Greg asks as if Mycroft hasn't already told him the answer. He knows it was Sherlock's return from the dead, but that doesn't mean their dad wants to mention that at Christmas. Personally, Greg's just as happy not to remember those two years of guilt and disbelief, those crime scenes where he kept wanting Sherlock to stride in and cause a ruckus or those nights at the pub with John, where they'd both fake smiles and try to talk about anything other than Sherlock. If there's one thing Greg knows it's that for all Sherlock dislikes and annoys people, he left a big hole in a lot of lives.

“Lettie doesn’t like the idea of the boys spending Christmas alone. After Sherlock returned,” Cigs gives him a raised eyebrow, head tilted in a way that is eerily familiar, “and Mikey finally admitted he was divorced, we insisted they come here.”

“Finally admitted?” Greg echoes although he can imagine it too easily. Mycroft would have happily kept that secret for as long as he possibly could. Greg would put money down that Mycroft only acknowledged it after Sherlock blurted it out to their parents.

One brother who doesn’t want to share anything personal; one brother who’s greatest joy is proving how clever he is by sharing other people’s secrets. Sometimes, it’s amazing they get along at all.

“He's always been a bit touchy,” Cigs says, nodding as Mycroft walks back into the room. “And what about you? Any holidays planned?”

***

By the late afternoon, Greg’s glad to leave. It’s one part spending too much time surrounded by someone else’s family and two parts getting to drive the Bentley again. They’re sent away with Tupperware containers of roast and pudding, despite the way Mycroft grimaces about it.

“It’s just the two of us,” Violet says, pushing the containers into Mycroft’s hands. “We don’t want to be eating Christmas food for a week.”

“You could give it to Sherlock,” Mycroft suggests, brightly helpful and insincere.

“She did,” John says, holding up three Tupperware containers of his own. “Thanks, by the way.”

Mycroft takes the Tupperware containers. He pointedly doesn’t say thank you.

“Thanks for having me,” Greg says instead. “It was lovely to meet you.”

“You too, dear. Drop those containers back any time, we’re usually home,” Violet says, explaining Mycroft’s aversion to leftovers. It’s an obligation for another visit.

“We’ll return them by courier,” Mycroft says firmly. Then he steps forward and kisses his mother on the cheek, murmuring, “Do take care,” so softly that Greg barely catches it.

***

Mycroft doesn't say much during the ride home. After a day surrounded by people, Greg isn't surprised that Mycroft's sitting quietly, staring out at the drizzling rain.

Greg turns the radio on. He flicks past Wham's Last Christmas to instrumental jazz to a chattering radio host, and then to Last Christmas playing on another station. He turns the radio off again. After four hours of Christmas tunes, he'd rather listen to the engine and the asphalt under their tyres than hear any more Christmas music.

“Too much Christmas cheer?” Mycroft murmurs from the passenger seat.

“A little, yeah.” Greg glances away from the road, catches Mycroft sleepy-eyed and a little flushed from those glasses of red wine. “But it was a good day.”

“It could have been much worse,” Mycroft agrees. He shifts, slouching a little on the seat. Greg won't be surprised if he falls asleep on the way home. “I will entirely understand if you make arrangements to see your friends next year.”

“They're already talking about it. Couldn't decide on a place this year so everyone ended up with family instead. Jules said her grandkids yelled the house down. So next year, Dublin.” Greg flicks the wipers off as the rain clears. “We could both go.”

“Not to Ireland,” Mycroft says firmly. “That won't be feasible for at least three years.”

“Somewhere else?”

Mycroft is quiet for a moment. He takes a slow, serious breath and says, “I'd prefer to go to my parents’ if invited. They would expect me to attend.”

“And you'd want to go. It's Christmas,” Greg teases him. “You're allowed to say you love your family.”

“That's a vile rumour and no one would believe you,” Mycroft says coldly and Greg chuckles.

“But you'd consider it? If your parents decide to book a cruise instead?”

“If that happens,” Mycroft allows calmly, “and it was not in Ireland or Spain, yes, I would suffer your friends as you have suffered my parents.”

The only reason Greg doesn't roll his eyes is because he wants to keep watching the road. “I'm not going to drag you there kicking and screaming.”

Mycroft sniffs in disdain. “I think you might be confusing me for my brother.”

Greg shakes his head and turns his attention back to the road.

***

They're sitting on Mycroft's sofa, watching the Doctor Who Christmas special and drinking a glass of red wine. Well, Greg is. Mycroft has the reading lamp shining over his shoulder and a thick leather-bound book open on his lap. It's not even in English.

It's quiet and cosy, and as the credit roll, Greg flicks channels, finds an old repeat of the Vicar of Dibley. It feels familiar so he's probably seen it before.

“Did you mean it?” Greg asks, thinking of Mycroft's plans for next Christmas. “Next Christmas?”

“Yes,” Mycroft replies immediately, glancing up from his book. “Of course.”

“Yeah, but next Christmas…” Greg waves a hand in the air, not even sure what he wants to ask. He knows Mycroft might make false promises at work but he's always shared his opinions with Greg, in plain and definite words.

Greg tries to imagine Mycroft sitting down for Christmas dinner with Jules and Dave and their other halves. Tries to imagine him sipping whiskey while they take shots during the Queen’s speech, or playing “Never Have I” when they've all had too much to have any sense of embarrassment.

Last year, everyone else was in bed by ten, and it had just been the three of them around the fire, singing Christmas carols and forgetting the lyrics. Or coming up with dirty versions of them. It was silly and fun, and while he'd like to share that with Mycroft, he doubts Mycroft would enjoy it.

He's seen Mycroft around strangers. He's not sure he wants that quiet, unobtrusive politeness at Christmas. He wants this: Mycroft in worn-in green tweed, long legs casually crossed as he reaches for the wine glass. Mycroft in cufflinks and pocket watch, every button done up, tie neatly knotted and as comfortable as Greg's ever seen him.

“Ireland really is out of the question,” Mycroft says, watching Greg for a moment before turning back to his book.

Greg shrugs. “Maybe just the two of us.”

He's fond of Mycroft's frown. The way his lips flatten and pull down, the bewildered lines that form between his drawn eyebrows, the way that Mycroft's expressions are quick and then gone, as fast and fleeting as his thoughts. “That's unnecessary. I have no desire to make your Christmas unsociable.”

Smiling, Greg shakes his head. Here they are, both trying to compromise around each other. He leans across the sofa, cups a hand around Mycroft's smooth cheek, and kisses him. It's a slow hello of a kiss, a kiss that has time to remember how soft Mycroft's lips are, to find the hint of shortbread amongst the taste of wine.

Greg pulls back, enough to breathe, enough to look Mycroft in the eye as Mycroft blinks them open.

“Oh,” he says softly, just a little breathless. He licks his bottom lip.

Greg grins when Mycroft glances down at his mouth. “Bed?”

“It's a little early,” Mycroft says and Greg can see the instant he realises what he's said, the way his eyes widen in mortification. “Which is rather the point.”

Greg has to kiss him again, but this time there's nothing slow or cautious about it. Mycroft even drops the book on his lap to get two hands on Greg's shoulders, to pull him closer as Greg catches Mycroft's lower lip between his teeth.

It gets the reaction Greg was hoping for. A low, soft moan from Mycroft, fingers digging in and holding tight.

“Bed,” Greg reminds him, standing up before he's tempted to kiss Mycroft again. He stretches out his neck and says, “You head up and I'll make sure everything's locked.”

***

He likes that Mycroft's already in bed when he gets upstairs. The bedroom is fastidiously neat, as per Mycroft's habit and preference, except for the royal blue pyjamas artfully draped over the armchair in the far corner. Mycroft is lying in the middle of the bed with the bedside lamp casting a soft yellow light. He has the covers pulled up to his pale shoulders, and he rolls his eyes when Greg hooks a thumb at the pyjamas.

“What happened to no clothes left lying around the bedroom?”

“I may want them later.”

“Yeah?” Greg pulls his sweater and shirt off, throwing them in the hamper in the ensuite. It had been a compromise: if clothes couldn't be left on any available surface, then Greg needed somewhere to put them that wasn't the other end of the house. This is why his flat in London now has a laundry hamper as well. “Planning on getting dressed straight away?”

“I might.” Mycroft pauses as Greg pulls off his jeans and pants, but he recovers quickly. “It entirely depends on what happens next.”

Mycroft dislikes clutter in his bedroom. Books, phones and notebooks are all banished into drawers, only taken out when needed; anything Greg leaves on his side of the bed will be swept out of sight if Greg doesn't remove them when he gets dressed the next morning.

The bedside tables to either side of Mycroft's bed usually have nothing more than a lamp sitting on the precise centre of the wooden surface. Greg gets into bed, noticing the lube and foil condom wrapper sitting in the lamp’s circle of light.

It was one of those conversations that Greg had found awkward and horrifying, and it only worked because Mycroft could discuss his preferences in the same tone he used to discuss his favourite blend of tea. While Greg had been stumbling over, “Well, I've never, you know. Either way,” Mycroft had been far more precise. He'd had experience in both roles, he'd said calmly, and found his preference depended on the specifics of the situation and the practicalities of the next day.

The one thing he had insisted on was condoms. Greg had been confused (“You know I'm clean. We both are.”) until Mycroft explained: “The act itself is enjoyable. The mess left afterwards is not.”

Since then, Greg's tried it for himself and discovered that he kind of likes the mess and the dirty, used feeling after being fucked. If you ask him, there's something sexy and a little forbidden about it. But Mycroft knows his own opinions on the matter -- unnecessary and unpleasant -- so it's become a sign between them. A sign of what Mycroft wants tonight.

“Unless you have an objection,” Mycroft says when Greg looks away from the bedside table.

“No,” Greg says, pushing back the covers to see a little more of Mycroft. Pale skin, prone to freckles and sunburn. Dark curls of chest hair across a lean chest. He drags his fingers across Mycroft's stomach, letting his nails catch over the hard curve of hip bone. “No objections here.”

He pushes the sheet down further, digging his fingers into the tight muscles of Mycroft's thighs, letting himself look and waiting for Mycroft's patience to break. One more slow brush of hand up Mycroft's side, one more leisurely slide back down, and Mycroft tsks and leans up to kiss Greg.

Hungry kisses. Determined kisses. Hands pushing through Greg's hair, too short right now to give any purchase. Tugging him down until he's lying over Mycroft, elbows caging him in.

“Better?” Greg asks, laughing a little.

Mycroft hooks one long leg around Greg's hip, ankle hooked around Greg's thigh. “It's a start,” Mycroft says imperiously and Greg ducks down to bite Mycroft's collarbone, to suck a mark there while Mycroft groans and squirms against him.

He pushes Mycroft's hands away and kisses lower. Presses his mouth right above Mycroft's heart, leaves an extra kiss for its steady beat. He rubs his cheek against soft chest hair, kissing any skin he can reach.

Greg gets distracted mouthing along where Mycroft's hip meets his thigh. He's never been a fan of running but he likes what it does to Mycroft's body. The hard muscles of his legs; the high, tight curve of arse. Mycroft probably knows from how often Greg runs his hands over them, much as Greg knows how much Mycroft loves being kissed there. He's wrung the most desperate noises out of Mycroft with a hand on his cock and the creamy skin of Mycroft's inner thigh between his teeth.

It works tonight. Makes Mycroft throw his head back and groan, makes him twist and pant out Greg's name. Makes Mycroft curl up and fumble for the lube, pushing it into Greg's hands with a demanding, “Now, Gregory.”

There's nothing hotter than Mycroft flushed and short of breath, hair unkempt and clinging to his forehead, too desperate to ask nicely.

“Come here,” Greg says, kneeling and pushing the covers away.

Mycroft blinks at him and then pushes himself up. He's coordinated enough to pick up the dropped lube on the way, to hand it over as he settles on Greg's lap.

Greg slides a hand along that long stretch of spine, presses his lips to the side of Mycroft's neck. “Aren't you clever,” Greg murmurs warmly because Mycroft is. Clever in the big, fancy, world-protecting way; in the sharp, competitive, faster-than-Sherlock way; and like this, in those smaller bouts of mind reading and kind omniscience that make life easier than it should be.

“Thank you for your validation.” Sarcasm doesn't work as well when Mycroft's still a little breathless, when they're pressed together skin to skin, arms wrapped around each other's backs. Still, Mycroft tries. “Should I expect a written recommendation?”

The nice thing about sitting with Mycroft straddling Greg's lap is that it leaves Greg's hands free. Free to explore the muscles of his back, to follow them down to squeeze a handful of Mycroft's arse. Mycroft makes an impatient sound so Greg opens the lube, squeezes some on his fingers.

At the first brush over his crack, Mycroft's breath catches, and then he drops his forehead to Greg's shoulder, back bowing gracefully as he relaxes. He keeps his arms wrapped around Greg for balance, lets his legs spread wider as Greg slides fingers over that hot skin.

He presses in slowly, cautiously, waiting for Mycroft to tell him to wait. He keeps a hand on Mycroft's lower back, feeling for sudden tension, for too much or too fast, but Mycroft takes two fingers easily. Gives a contented sigh when Greg's fingers are buried inside him, an approving nod when Greg slides his fingers out and back in, wondering if he should add more lube.

“Do you want more--” Greg starts but Mycroft cuts him off with a fast kiss.

“Another finger,” Mycroft orders, breath warm against Greg's mouth. “Now.”

Mycroft orders. He's demanding and certain. He knows what he wants. Makes it easy for Greg to give it to him, to push a third finger inside, to curl his fingers and rub against that tight, hot skin until Mycroft's rocking back to meet him, hard cock rubbing along Greg's stomach as he works his hips back to chase Greg's hand.

He's not surprised by the tap on his shoulder, Mycroft pressing his knees into Greg's sides as he says, “Enough, Gregory.” Greg can't resist fishing for another kiss, catching Mycroft's soft mouth and feeling Mycroft melt into it, his hips still shifting back to welcome Greg's fingers. When he pulls back, it's gratifying to see Mycroft's eyes are soft and unfocused.

Mycroft shuffles off his lap -- pity, if you ask Greg -- and Greg rolls over to get the condom from the bedside table. The foil crinkles in his hands, and he ruefully thinks there's no sexy way to put a condom on. It's Mycroft's choice, so of course the packaging is a discreet dark check, nothing so crass or brazen as a logo or bold brand name. Nothing Greg's ever seen on a chemist shelf, but it rolls on the same.

He adds a bit more lube and then wipes his hands clean on a tissue. Lying back, he crooks a finger at Mycroft with a hopeful smile.

Mycroft raises an eyebrow and says, “Yes,” as if that was some sort of discussion. But he comes closer, close enough to kiss, and then swings a leg over Greg, sitting above him.

Greg nods, realising what the yes meant. The yes meant Mycroft wants to be on top, wants to have his hand around Greg's cock, guiding him in; wants to be in control of how hard and how fast they go.

Greg rubs his hands along Mycroft's legs, just a slow, grounding touch as Mycroft eases himself down, pausing every few breaths with his face screwed up tight. He'll take a measured breath, eyes closed to the world around him, and then start moving again.

Greg only has one job here -- to stay still -- but it's hard when Mycroft feels so good around him, tight and hot, clenching around him and relaxing as he eases down.

Mycroft bottoms out with his head hanging low, that errant curl falling over his forehead. The one that makes Mycroft frown if he sees it in the mirror, makes him mutter about receding hairlines never quite receding enough. Greg reaches up and brushes it back.

The smile he gets in reply is one Mycroft never shows to the outside world. It's too tremulous, too awestruck, too vulnerable. It makes something catch in Greg's chest, makes him want to do something stupid like blurt out “I love you” -- no one believes that in the middle of sex -- but he bites the words back.

Mycroft's mind reading abilities must be working overtime because there's something in Greg's expression that makes his eyes widen, that almost makes him look bashful as he says, “I know.”

Greg grins and curves a hand around Mycroft's smooth cheek. “No mind reading in bed.”

“I make no promises.”

Greg's saved from replying when Mycroft starts to move. Slowly at first, still adjusting to Greg's cock inside him, and then he finds a rhythm. Leans back and braces his hands on Greg's legs, arches his back and finds the angle he wants.

It's a wonderful sight. Mycroft riding Greg, sliding slowly on his cock, eyes nearly closed as he focuses on sensation and pleasure. Greg needs to touch, sliding hands over Mycroft's shoulders, his biceps, the solid strength of him. Dragging fingers over Mycroft's thighs and curling around his hips.

When he scratches his nails down Mycroft's chest, Mycroft hisses and hitches his hips higher, slamming back down on Greg's cock. Greg gets his feet flat on the bed to thrust up, to meet Mycroft's movements.

Mycroft bites his lip, chest hair darkening with sweat. Moving harder and faster to chase sensations. Greg's getting close, digging his fingers in to slow Mycroft down, but Mycroft's face is drawn tight in frustration, stuck on that plateau between feeling good and needing more. He could reach down to Mycroft's cock, wrap his hand around and stroke, but Greg knows he won't last like this, not with Mycroft riding him so desperately.

He also knows Mycroft likes being the little spoon, likes Greg curled up behind and around him. So he pushes Mycroft up and rolls over. There's a silent negotiation to get them both lying on their sides, Mycroft in front of him. To push back inside Mycroft, pulling him back to get the angle right, to thrust in a little deeper.

It's not a good position for hard and fast, for rutting like desperate teenagers. Like this, Greg has to slow down, take his time with Mycroft. It's all slow, easy slides, mouth on the back of Mycroft's neck and arm around his chest.

He remembers the first time he held Mycroft like this, the first time they fell asleep together. He remembers the first time he wrapped his hand around Mycroft's cock, Mycroft patient and welcoming.

“Feeling sentimental?” Mycroft asks softly. He twists his head back, presses his forehead to Greg's. Clearly, Greg isn't the only one thinking of that night.

But he's had almost a year now. Long enough to know how to reach for Mycroft, to know the quickest way to get Mycroft hot and bothered is to keep his hand a little loose, make it just a little bit of a tease. When he wraps a hand around Mycroft's cock now, he knows what he's doing. He knows how to make Mycroft clench a hand in his hair, how to turn Mycroft's heavy breathing into a litany of “Yes, yes, please, Gregory”.

When Mycroft goes still for a moment -- open mouth panting against Greg's cheek -- Greg knows to keep fucking him through it, to give him that last little push over the edge.

He lies there for a moment, still frustratingly hard, face buried in Mycroft's shoulder. As soon as Mycroft relaxes, he pulls out slowly.

Mycroft murmurs something that Greg doesn't catch. “What?”

Mycroft sighs. “Finish,” He says clearly. When Greg doesn't move, Mycroft grabs a tissue, wipes the mess off his skin and then rolls onto his stomach, legs wide apart. “You should finish,” he says again and it still takes an embarrassingly long time for Greg to parse his meaning.

Mycroft is lying there, the pale curve of his arse on display, and most of Greg's blood is in his cock right now. No wonder his brain isn't working.

He lies between Mycroft's legs, lines his cock up and pushes in. One long thrust that makes Mycroft sigh, that punches a groan out of Greg and makes his toes curl. He's not trying to make this last, not thinking about anything but how good it feels to drive deep inside Mycroft, the taste of Mycroft's skin beneath his tongue, the smell of sex and sweat on both of them. Mycroft's eyes are closed, bottom lip caught on his teeth as he breathes in time with Greg's thrusts. He's gorgeous and Greg's the one who gets to have him, gets to work his cock in fast and deep, chase his own pleasure until it builds in his balls and wipes out all other thought.

Afterwards, they're both wrecked, sprawled on the bed with only a sheet over them. The duvets are balled up on a far corner of the bed. Greg has no idea when that happened.

In the end, he's the one who has to get up -- the only place a used condom belongs is in a bin -- so he uses a wet wipe and brings one back for Mycroft.

“How gallant,” Mycroft says. It only sounds like an insult if you don't know him.

“Do you want your pyjamas?”

Greg can't help feeling smug when Mycroft burrows into the pillow, saying, “Get into bed.”

“Sure you don't want them?”

“You are not amusing,” Mycroft grumbles in reply.

Greg smothers his chuckle against Mycroft's freckled shoulder, but Mycroft probably feels the vibration of his chest. Greg's not sure how this became his life -- well fed from a family Christmas, a little buzzed from drinks by the fire, laughing with someone he loves in his arms -- but he's thankful it is.

Posted on Nov 24th 2021 - 3:39 PM

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