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Holmes comforts (4/4)

BBC Sherlock

Rating: 12 (slash, fluff)

Spoilers: none

Previous part here

 

Occasionally Mycroft had fantasised about inviting someone back to his house, regardless of the CIA and the Service, and then seducing them. He'd wondered about possible techniques: how, after an enjoyable evening socialising, you might wind up getting someone to sleep with you. Now, he had to work out a kind of anti-seduction: how did he get a man who was prepared to have sex with him to have some enjoyable socialisation beforehand? He had to try and slow things down, get John used to pleasure, different kinds of pleasure.

"Come in," he said when John arrived, a little uncomfortable in a suit and briefcase – was that for him, he wondered, or the CIA watchers? "I thought we might have a drink and then something to eat. But first of all, would you like a look round the house?"

"That would be...nice," said John, who was obviously not at all sure of the etiquette of such occasions either. "Though I have to admit, I've seen a bit of your house already. I was wandering around at one point, the night you were ill. I'm sorry, it was probably nosy of me."

"That's fine," said Mycroft. "But I hope you didn't try and get into the locked study next to the dining room."

"No, I left that alone, Bluebeard." There were times when John let slip that he wasn't quite as uncultured as he normally appeared.

"Good. Not that you'd have able to get past the locks, but if anyone tries to get in, certain pieces of equipment need to be reset."

"That's sounds suitably sinister. But otherwise your house wasn't quite what I expected it to be."

"In what way?"

"More...normal than I expected, doesn't quite fit with your image."

"Go on," said Mycroft. It was always interesting to see how someone without the Holmes' instincts could nevertheless learn to observe and analyse. John had at least a hint of a talent for deduction, if not the speed or the vocabulary yet. "Start with my image and then say why the house doesn't fit."

"Very calculated, but very understated power, prestige, taste. In the way you dress, your manner, your office, the places you go to. You make it clear you're superior, but you're not showing off."

"Which is, of course, just a more subtle way of showing off," Mycroft replied. "People want a certain suave Machiavellian quality in someone of my profession. It persuades them, perhaps even me, that spending days pouring through paperwork on Chinese trade policy is, in fact, the next best thing to being James Bond."

"And then you use irony to undercut the whole effect of superiority, like the minor civil servant bit, which actually kinds of boosts it," John went on. "But this, the house, it's not ironic, is it? This is what you want, what you are."

"One side of me at least."

"A bit sort of ordinary. No, I'm sorry, I don't mean that. But not intended to impress, to make a statement."

"No," said Mycroft. "This place is about comfort, a relaxing bolthole from the world outside. I spent rather too much of my early life living in impressive, but very uncomfortable accommodation, so I knew what I wanted when I had somewhere of my own. But I'm forgetting my manners. Come into the living room and sit down. But I wouldn't recommend the sofa."

"Why not?" said John, with the cautiousness of someone used to Sherlock's ability to booby-trap furniture. "It looks...comfortable." He was carefully not saying "shabby", Mycroft noticed.

"It is, for me. It took me a lot of hunting to find one deep enough that when I sit on it my thighs are properly supported. But it's because it's ideal for my height, that it's less so for yours. I think you'd be better off in the rocking chair."

"I have to admit, I couldn't see you sitting in this," said John, sitting down and absent-mindedly starting to rock, "though it's surprisingly soothing."

"Sherlock finds that too."

"He comes here?"

"On occasions, it's been a refuge for him as well. When he's been...overwhelmed, particularly needed somewhere quiet, safe...clean."

"Why do you do all this for Sherlock?" John asked abruptly. "When he's so ungrateful, takes people so much for granted."

"Why do you keep on sorting out Harry, even when you disapprove of her drinking?"

"Because," said John.

"Exactly. That reminds me, I should have offered you a drink. Brandy?"

"Thanks." It had become part of the routine between them now, the routine that helped say that it was an ongoing relationship, not simply a string of one-off encounters.

"I'll get you some. And then, if you like, you can inspect my books while I make supper."

***

"Most of the books are work-related, I'm afraid," said Mycroft, when he returned from the kitchen a little later. "I have hope of eventually getting it all on a flash drive, but the Arabs in particular are very behind on e-books. The shelves of fiction on this side are probably all that would interest you."

"Comfort fiction as well," said John.

"Well spotted."

"Not systematically organised like the other shelves, old favourites, not fashionable stuff. Nothing on war, politics, the harshness of real life. Bit of fantasy, lots of humour. And no detective fiction, of course."

"Any of it that you've read, that you enjoy?" Mycroft asked.

"I've read one or two of the Banks ones, a few Pratchetts, but I haven't kept up with him. And I never got into Jane Austen, she doesn't think much of soldiers."

"She's more positive in some of her books. And, of course, she's full of repressed English people making polite conversation to hide their unsatisfactory love life, it's no wonder I read it. But maybe not to your taste. Do you like Kipling?"

"Don't know, I've never kipled," John retorted. "OK, I know it's an old one. The thing from here that I most like is PG Wodehouse. I got into him after the TV series, but the books are better. I almost asked to borrow one or two of them the time I was here before, when you were ill."

"If you would like to do so, please take them," said Mycroft, trying to sound positive, even as he thought, Sherlock will know, Sherlock will know.

"Maybe later," said John. "You know I used to sit in Afghanistan sometimes and read these, take me away from it all."

"Some corner of a foreign field that is forever England?" said Mycroft, and suddenly it came tumbling out: "I'm sorry you had to be there, that I didn't stop it."

"Could you have done?" John looked at him in surprise.

"Not that one. If you try and stop a tank with your bare hands, you just get run over. My masters knew, know that much. It's just that they persist in their delusion that if you agree to get into the tank, you then get a say in where it goes. I've not been having much success in preventing wars this century."

"It doesn't matter," said John. "It's fine, well, not fine, but you know. It's what we do, what the army does."

Mycroft could tell that there was a wall there that he shouldn't push further for now. "But the books helped?" he asked instead.

"Yeah. You can lose yourself in Wodehouse, forget reality, enjoy being in a place where nothing can ever go seriously wrong. I guess that's always been the way. Didn't he keep on writing stuff even in a POW camp?"

"Something like that, yes."

"And of course," added John, "there's a certain weird satisfaction in reading about Bertie, who's even more hopeless with women than I am." He paused, and then suddenly smiled: "Well, maybe that was his problem, too. He should just have come out, and then he could have lived happily ever after with Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright."

"Not Catsmeat," said Mycroft firmly, "Brilliant but unsound, not really Bertie's cup of tea. Well, I can't shimmer out, but I can go and get you your supper. Our supper."

"OK," said John, as Mycroft came back in, "I was guessing larks' tongues before I came, but now I reckon shepherd's pie."

"Salmon, new potatoes, peas. I don't have a talent for fancy cooking, but the best kind of English cuisine is top-notch ingredients that you cook in the simplest way possible. And by the way, there's no need to bolt your food. Sherlock's experiments will take all evening."

"I know. He's been completely furious since he got this preprint from some Italian professor about pollen identification...and, and how did you know about that?"

"Professor Fumelli no longer allows Sherlock to know his e-mail address, following a previous incident, but I sometimes forward things of interest onto Sherlock for him. So relax, and enjoy the salmon."

***

"That was wonderful," said John, as they finished dessert, "but I am completely sticky now."

"You can't eat ripe peaches neatly," Mycroft replied, licking his lips more than strictly necessary. At some point in the future he desperately wanted to lick peach juice off John's fingers, but tonight was probably not the night for that.

"I'd better clean up," said John. "Is it OK if I use the bathroom?" There was the hint of a challenge there.

"It's fine," Mycroft said blandly. "You remember where it is, I'm sure." You could hardly get finicky with a man who'd seen you repeatedly dry retching. "I'll see you...in the bedroom then."

"You know," said John, as he entered Mycroft's bedroom a few minutes later, "the one thing in this house I really, really envy is the bath. How did you get one so huge?"

"Special order. I find most baths far too cramped for me."

 "I could probably lie full length in it. Drown in it."

"I'm sure you can swim. And the hot water system is extremely efficient. If you like hot baths, that is?"

"My mother thought that we should have a maximum ten minutes in the bathroom each. And then I've had the best part of twenty years of communal bathrooms, plus some deserts. And now there's 221B."

"I have repeatedly offered to upgrade the less satisfactory bits of your flat's plumbing."

"You know it wouldn't stay nice for more than a day."

"If you'd like a bath later, you're welcome," said Mycroft. "As hot and as long as you like. I've even got some of the soap you normally use."

"Is that all, Mycroft?" John demanded, giggling, "Surely you've got some exotic stuff of your own? Essence of Russian spy, or something like that."

"I like the way you smell," said Mycroft, and didn't add: And Sherlock knows what I smell like.

After the sex, which was so much more enjoyable in a comfortable bed, as Mycroft had expected, John went and had his bath. And re-emerged, to Mycroft's surprise, in pyjamas, looking rather small and vulnerable, as if he'd shrunk in the wash.

"I know you said an evening," John said, "But I wondered if you'd be OK with a sleepover?"

"I have always wanted to sleep with you, John," said Mycroft. "Why don't you come to bed now?"

***

 Mycroft hadn't expected John's nightmares, and it took him a few disconcerting moments as he woke up to work out who was thrashing around in his bed. Then he got his arms around John, who murmured "sher, sher, sher" and woke up abruptly. And Mycroft stroked his hair, and replied 'sh, sh, sh', in what he hoped was a comforting way, and neither of them mentioned whose name John had been about to call.

***

When Mycroft woke next, it was half past six in the morning, and John was dressing rapidly, his nervousness obviously back.

"Better head off," John muttered. "Sorry I can't stay for breakfast."

"Have you got a shift?" asked Mycroft, wishing he'd checked beforehand.

"No, it's just I need to do things, get back to Baker Street as soon as possible."

"I'll get a car to come round," Mycroft said. "Easiest thing for you." It was rash, but it might get him quarter of an hour more with John.

"I'm not sure you can claim me on expenses," said John, "the CIA might disapprove."

"A private car, completely Anthea-free."

"Thanks. You've, it's been really good, last night. Thank you for having me," said John, whom stress was obviously rapidly driving back into childhood etiquette.

Mycroft smiled: "It's been lovely having you. I'll phone for the car, and then you should come here and give me a nice goodbye hug."

They managed twelve and a half minutes before the car arrived.

***

Two hours later, Mycroft's phone rang at the work. The private line, the other private line. And John's voice, halfway between pleased and worried, said: "Sherlock sort of guessed about us, so I told him. Not about the registered interest bit, but that we were seeing one another. I hope that's OK?"

Mycroft made reassuring noises for several minutes, and after he'd hung up, came very near to swearing. Sherlock knew now, did he? Oh, help.


Continued by Sacrifices.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
et_cetera55
Oct. 24th, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC)
Yay for fluff! It was lovely to see John start to relax a little around Mycroft.

I loved the Wodehouse references. (In fact I love all of the authors Mycroft seems to have on his shelf!)

and didn't add: And Sherlock knows what I smell like. seems like an ominous pointer to the next section... looking forward to it.
marysutherland
Oct. 26th, 2010 07:53 am (UTC)
I cheated a bit and had Mycroft mostly have stuff that I like. Though he's probably keener on Iain M. Banks's Culture novels than I am, what with all the ruthless defence of hedonism. I see him as GSV Who Needs Gravitas When You've Got An Umbrella. In Discworld terms he's Lord Vetinari suddenly having to cope with turning morally into Samuel Vimes.
et_cetera55
Oct. 26th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
Lol! I was actually rereading Unseen Academicals recently and thought of Mycroft when reading the sections with Vetinari!
fengirl88
Oct. 24th, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
this was lovely! I know it's all going to go wrong now and am bracing myself for that, but so glad you gave them this part. loved Mycroft's firmness about the unsuitability of Catsmeat P-P, also his desire to lick peach juice off John's fingers. very nice. also can just see J in pyjamas looking as if he's shrunk in the wash - *pang*.
marysutherland
Oct. 26th, 2010 07:57 am (UTC)
Mycroft will get to contemplate combining John and fruit again, but by that point peaches won't be in season, unfortunately. But I wanted one really enjoyable bit of not purely sexual pleasure for the pair of them before the going gets rough. As for the pyjamas, I mostly try and resist making John cute, but occasionally I succumb.
ungalad
Nov. 26th, 2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
Ohnonononono this was adorable, until, you know, it broke my heart. Mycroft's reluctance of Sherlock finding out, John calling out his name during a nightmare. D: And now Sherlock's gonna try to 'steal' John and afhkññdyh. Gonna read the next one.
darthhellokitty
Nov. 27th, 2010 08:34 am (UTC)
Oh, god, cannot click "next" fast enough!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )