Title: It Takes Two to Tango
Author: Jessie Blackwood
Pairing: Sherlock/Lestrade
Fandoms: Sherlock
Rating: AO
Disclaimer: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are not my characters, they are public domain. Anything that resembles Sherlock BBC belongs of course to Mr Moffat and Mr Gatiss and is theirs alone. The plot is mine. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is otherwise purely coincidental.
Note: I have to admit I know very little about dance, except what I have watched on film and on line. Suffice to say I love watching tango, particularly between two men. Go watch Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez in Shall We Dance if you want to see a smouldering dance routine. I could just imagine Greg surprising Sherlock with this one. So here you have my second take on what happened after the wedding reception.
Summary: Sherlock loves to dance. Greg knows this. Sometimes what you need is right in front of you.


Chapter 1: Shall We Dance?

If it hadn't been for Mrs Hudson's sharp eyes, Greg would have missed Sherlock's precipitous departure from the reception. He'd not exactly been three sheets to the wind at the time, despite having sunk a few, but his awareness had dulled to the point that Martha needed to elbow him in the ribs before he noticed, and even then it took some frantic gesturing at the fleeing figure as the tails of his jacket disappeared out the door. Even so Greg wasn't fast enough to catch him before he was out the hotel door and throwing his Belstaff over his suit and striding off across the lawn. Greg was only just in time to stop him before he reached the main road and took the opportunity to catch a cab back to Baker Street. "Sherlock, wait! Slow down, will you? I'm getting too old for this." Greg wasn’t sure if Sherlock had either heard him or was just going to ignore him because he didn’t stop at first. Greg was about to open his mouth to call again when Sherlock stopped, but kept his back to his pursuer.

"The case is over, Graham,” he said quietly. “In case you missed it all, the happy couple are in each other's arms, nobody died tonight and my job here is done. Goodnight."

"Your job is not finished, and you know what my name is, you wanker!" Sherlock paused, off balance, brows wrinkling in confusion. "Go into that mind palace or whatever you call that precious filing cabinet of a brain and look it up!"

"Of course...Greyson...? No? Gr...eg...Greg, yes, of course. My job was finished the moment I put my bow down." Greg's stare was, for once, unreadable. "Oooh, yes, of course,” Sherlock said mockingly. “You want my statement, don't you? Well, it can wait until tomorrow, you said as much earlier..." Sherlock's voice tailed away as Greg continued to stare at him. The Inspector folded his arms across his chest and shook his head firmly, his mouth a thin line of disapproval. "I...forgot...something...?" Sherlock pondered. Greg's mouth relaxed it's tension. He waited, but Sherlock looked honestly puzzled.

"You," Greg said gently, "admitted that you love to dance...oh, don't ask me how I know. I'm not that daft, despite how stupid you think I am..."

"I don't..." Sherlock bit back what he was going to say. "I mean...you're not...not stupid. Not really. Anderson is stupid, weddings are stupid, but..."

"But I'm not?" Greg laughed, a short bark of mirth that didn’t quite reach his eyes. "Thanks for that, Sunshine, but don't change the subject. You haven't had a dance, and yet you want to, am I right? You love dancing..."

"I don't know what you think you know about me, Gr...Greg, or where you think this is going, but I'm not needed in there!"

"That's where you're wrong, Sunshine." Greg watched a frown chase across Sherlock’s face, verdigris eyes searching dark brown ones. "I need you," Greg admitted softly. He waited for Sherlock to scoff and launch a scathing comment, but none came. If anything his expression was closed, uncertain. "I'd like a dance, if you're willing?" Greg offered.


“With you. In there. How about it?”

“You can’t dance…” Sherlock scoffed. “

Who told you that?”

“I...well...it’s obvious! You don’t have the grace of a dancer for one thing, and for another I happen to know you shun those fancy Met get-togethers completely. You told me once you hated them…”

“I do, but not because I can’t dance. I hate them because of the hypocrisy, Sherlock. It’s all about being nice to people you hate every day, being civil to utter wankers, brown-nosing the higher-ups, one-upmanship between everybody, and don’t get me started on the wives. Bloody hell, they have kittens if someone wears the same colour frock, never mind the same design, and the cost? Fuck me, I felt like I needed a second mortgage every time we went. The wife had to have something new every damn time. A man of my rank is expected to go to these things. Sergeants get away with it but not Inspectors. Certainly not if you expect to climb the career ladder anyway and the wife was always on at me about promotion. Except when I got it and then it was a case of never being there for her! Damned if I did, damned if I didn’t…” Greg’s voice trailed off as he became aware that he was ranting. “Sorry, lad. Didn’t mean to go overboard…”

“No...that’s...understandable. That’s my brother’s area of expertise anyway, not mine.” Sherlock was regarding him oddly. “So you do dance, then?”

“Yes, Sherlock. I do dance. I’m not exactly Strictly material but I know my way around a dance floor.”

“I can imagine,” Sherlock muttered. “Although I doubt that your definition of dancing and mine are exactly the same. I can just see you throwing yourself about at a punk gig when you were in your twenties, or jigging about in a disco for that matter but they hardly count. I can’t imagine you doing the tango, for instance.”

“No? Ballroom or Argentine?”

“Argentine of course. Anything else is child’s play.”


“Oh please, Tango nuevo. Milonga rhythm for preference.”

“Come on then," Greg growled, voice low and more than a little seductive. "Show me what you’ve got.”

Sherlock’s back straightened and his eyes flashed. “Challenge accepted!” he purred. "You may regret your words, Greg." He watched as the man standing in front of him grinned and held out his hand. Sherlock extended a hand, placing his cold fingers into the welcome warmth of Greg's palm. “Assuming you have music?” he added, one eyebrow rising in eloquent query.

“Ah, well," Greg responded with a lopsided grin. "Maybe we have to see what we can rustle up there.”

Sherlock checked his coat back into the cloakroom and briefly devoted his considerable brainpower to wondering what he was actually doing. He had no idea where this was leading and briefly considered making a break for it, but then Greg appeared looking triumphant and he had no time left to think before he was being hauled back into the private room where the guests were mostly gyrating to something that was working overtime to offend his sensibilities. Sherlock spotted Janine in the arms of some insignificant male specimen with too much money and a small annoying dog. She waved in a way that suggested she really didn’t care and allowed Annoying Dog Man to spin her away toward the free bar. Mrs Hudson was paying far too much attention to Mr Chatterjee, and Molly was looking adoringly at Tom.

When the music finished, everything fell quiet for long enough that people began to look a bit curious.Then the first bars of Santa Maria by the Gotan Project reached his ears and Sherlock’s interest piqued. Greg had shed his jacket and rolled his sleeves up. He was standing holding a hand out, waiting, challenging. “May I?” he asked, huskily.

“You may.” Sherlock’s fingers found his and Greg drew him close into his body, unashamedly claiming him with a possessive aggression dictated by the music.

“If I lead…”

“I can follow, don’t worry.” Sherlock mocked failure, even as he set himself up to fail utterly. Brown eyes found his pale verdigris stare. Greg pulled him impossibly closer and moulded his body to Sherlock’s. Sherlock could already feel Greg's arousal, pressed hip to hip as they were. They drifted onto the dance floor, music swelling around them, through them, weaving them together. Most folks had melted away from the dance floor center, giving them room.

"Sorry, John, Mary... Didn't intend to upstage you..." Greg apologised. He saw John grin, watched Mary as she stepped close to her new husband and wove her arm through his. He saw her smile widen, eager to watch the unexpected entertainment.

" 'S okay, mate, just try not to break him," John said, chuckling.

"Well, I'll do my best but this is...um...something of a dare..."

"I don't think he was talking to you, Greg," Mary said gently, winking at him.

Greg rolled his eyes, then turned to his dance partner. He drew them together again and spun, dragging Sherlock round with him, still moulded together, although the move effected a glide in Sherlock as old practice kicked in and his feet mirrored Greg's so closely they threatened to step on each others toes. There was a fluid grace in Sherlock that Greg lacked but revelled in, while he himself was the stable rock on which his partner could lean, supported and protected. Greg might have lacked a bit of grace but he was sure footed and balanced, and completely focused on his partner.

To the outside observer a Tango can look jerky, abrupt, maybe even aggressive. In the hands of those who participate, those who have a soul-deep understanding of the life within the dance, it can become a sensual display of smouldering passions between two people who look like they're trying to climb into each other's bodies. In the hands of these two men, nobody was left with any illusions about where they were heading.

"I have a room, Sherlock..." Greg murmured into Sherlock's ear.

The younger man turned his face to Greg, a wistful wariness in his eyes. He allowed Greg to bring him to a spinning, breathless stop, both of them panting and sweating with the exertion. Around them people were whistling and applauding, but so far as Greg was concerned, there was nobody else in the room. When Sherlock stepped away from him, he felt bereft, like some bit of him was missing that he hadn't been aware of. He watched Sherlock collect himself, then move away to the door. Greg felt his heart sink, disappointment swelling in his gut, but then Sherlock stopped, chest expanding with a deep breath. He exhaled gustily, then turned back, holding his hand out.

"Well, what are you waiting for? I thought you said something about a room?"


Chapter 2: Dancing Around Each Other

The two men reached Greg’s room and Greg’s swipe card got them through the door. They had kept their hands to themselves on the walk up, despite their arousal from the dance. Sherlock had seemed to be lost in thought, and Greg, following along behind, had shamelessly taken the time to admire his arse in those trousers.

“You are surprisingly not flat-footed, for a policeman.” The comment came out of left field and Greg frowned, surprised.

“Thanks, I think. Why is it such a surprise?”

“Well, you are hardly built like a dancer, although your body strength works well for the lead in a tango.”

Greg laughed. “Watch it, sunshine. I'm not exactly overweight.”

“No, you’re not. Sturdy would better describe you.”

“I'm not like you though. All...willowy.” Sherlock huffed and drew himself up like an angry cat. “What?” Greg asked.

“I am NOT willowy,” Sherlock spat.

“You are a beautiful man,” Greg complimented, which seemed to mollify Sherlock somewhat. "You're slim, graceful, tall, and yes, willowy."

Sherlock huffed again and glowered. "I do not resemble any tree, never mind those of the family Salicaceae, and I certainly do not bend over in a high wind!"

Greg tried to suppress his smirk. "That's not what I expected you to bend over for, no," he agreed. "I rather hoped you'd bend over for me. Look, Sherlock, you are...brilliant. John's always been right about that. I loved watching you on that dance floor, I loved being your partner. You were...are, magical, Sherlock. Incandescent even. You felt amazing."

"Thank you. I did enjoy our dance,” Sherlock admitted, still wary but a bit less brittle.

“Ah, I'm too old for you really. I don’t have your stamina.” Greg grinned good-naturedly. “Bit less than graceful.”

“What utter nonsense,” Sherlock snapped.

“Well, I don’t think my heart would agree with you. I enjoyed it though; you've no idea how good it feels to have a good dance partner.”

“I think I do, Greg. I’ve done without one for a long time. Besides, you are of average condition for your age, fit even.”

For my age…”

“Age is an illusion, as is all of time, really.” Sherlock stepped close, ignoring Greg’s personal space.

“Oh, Christ, don't start that!” Greg muttered. “Now you're going all existential.”

“Space time is more scientific than philosophical," Sherlock corrected. Greg found himself on the receiving end of that disconcertingly pale gaze. "Time, and thus by inference age, means little. I find myself aroused by our encounter on the dance floor, Graham…”

“Try again...Sherly?” Greg was on the edge of arousal himself, anticipation buoying him up, but Sherlock was pushing and wearing his patience thin.

Sherlock shook out his dark curls. “Grant?” Greg raised an eyebrow. Sherlock smirked and Greg knew he was teasing. “I want to kiss you, Gregory,” Sherlock stated softly.

“Nobody calls me Gregory, you know? Except my mum used to, when I misbehaved. Your brother calls me that as well, on the rare occasions he actually deigns to speak to me, but he’s only being pompously formal.”

“Please do not bring my brother into this conversation!” Sherlock snapped. “Very well, but Lestrade seems rather too formal,” Sherlock commented.

“You could just call me Greg, like everyone else does.”

Sherlock frowned. “Very well. May I kiss you, Greg? Or rather, would you kiss me?” Greg just stared at Sherlock, assessingly. “Yes, I should like to be kissed,” Sherlock added, as a statement of fact, as if trying to convince himself. “By you.”

“Just realised, hm?” Greg smiled

“So what are you waiting for?”

“I was hoping you would want more than that,” Greg said, reaching to loosen his shirt collar and trying to understand where Sherlock was coming from, but the man just looked annoyed.

“Why don’t you get on with it?” He leaned forward and puckered his lips.

Greg reached to lace his fingers in Sherlock’s. “It's okay, Sunshine. We've no rush,” he said gently. Sherlock puckered up again and this time Greg took advantage of it and pressed his lips firmly to Sherlock’s; a gentle pressure, testing the water, so to speak. He smiled into the kiss and felt Sherlock huff. When they broke apart after what seemed like a very brief chaste kiss, Sherlock looked thoughtful.

"Yes, satisfactory," he said. "Again."

"This isn't an experiment, Sherlock!" Greg complained.

"Of course it isn't," Sherlock agreed, sounding annoyed again. “This is a sexual encounter between two consenting adults. I would have thought that much was obvious. I don’t need to experiment, I know what happens..."

"Oh, okay," Greg replied. "That's all good then." He smiled but Sherlock continued to look concerned.

"Unless you wish to withdraw your implicit consent?" Sherlock suggested.

Greg heaved a sigh. "Sherlock, I am not withdrawing anything." He watched Sherlock's eyes flicker with devilment. "And you damn well know it, you arse! Come here!" Greg kissed him again, with more force. Sherlock returned the kiss, his eyes open, observing everything. Greg let his tongue tease over Sherlock’s lips, tasting, offering a gentle pressure to encourage the man to open his mouth and let Greg in. Sherlock copied him, tangling his tongue with Greg’s. He felt Sherlock's fingers grip his hips. Greg pulled back, a frown tugging his brows together. "Sherlock..."

"What? What's the matter now? Was it not good? Did I do anything wrong?"

"Sherlock..." Greg studied him, noting how off balance he looked. "Don't you know?" Silence greeted his question and wariness filled the man's eyes. Greg slid a hand up Sherlock's arm, stroking gently, attempting to both sooth and arouse. "Doesn't matter, you know. I don't actually mind."

"This isn't the way an encounter like this is supposed to go!" The outburst was angry, possibly, by Greg's reckoning, fuelled by insecurity, inexperience and maybe even fright too. “You’re asking too many questions!”

"Hey, hey, Lad, take it easy," Greg soothed. "I have no idea what you think you know but an encounter like this doesn’t have a script, you know. There’s no set formula, love. We take things as they come, at a speed we can both handle. We do what feels right. Stop worrying, it’s fine.”

“Pfft.” Sherlock made a dismissive noise and regarded Greg with his eyes narrowed. “I am not a 'lad' either,” he added.

“Oh yes, you are, well, you are to me,” Greg confirmed, smiling.

“You are far too concerned with your age,” Sherlock pointed out.

Greg blinked. “You think so?” He shrugged. “Well, maybe I am, but I have got fifteen years on you, sunshine.”

“Well, I find you attractive, so your age is not relevant.”

Greg huffed a chuckle at the forthright observation. “Thank you?”

“You have gone grey prematurely,” Sherlock pointed out. And whose fault was that, I wonder, Greg found himself thinking. “You have spent more time outdoors than inside and weather has lain its fingers on your face, but not adversely.”

“Okay, I get it, but.... Sherlock, this is not an encounter. That makes it sound...well, like something you pay for. It’s too planned. You don't plan these things. They happen, okay?”

“Very well, though I would be more comfortable if I were not winging it. Very well, let us resume?” Sherlock moved to get a better angle in relation to Greg and then leaned back in.

“Okay,” Greg said, stalling him. “How would you go about it then, if we weren't 'winging it', as you put it?”

“Well, we would kiss some more, manhandle each other, a little, then we talk about safe sex and then actually do it. I suppose.” He shrugged, then chuckled, but it sounded a little too brittle.

“Safe sex?” Greg’s eyebrows rose. “We talk about safe sex?”  

“Of course.”

“There's never been anything safe about you,” Greg said, prompting a flash of something... from Sherlock’s eyes and his grin was pure devilment. “But we will play it safe, love. I'm not stupid about that. We don't need to talk much about safe sex anyway, I’m sure you know all about that, considering your history…”

“We’ve been over that. I am clean.” The angry cat reared his head again. Hissing. Spitting. Fur on end. Tail bristling and body quivering.

“Good. So am I. Look, we're both adults, Sherlock.” Greg chuckled. “You can even have a safe word if you want one.” He stroked Sherlock’s arm again, teasing.

“Why would I need a safeword? I was not planning for us to engage in any BDSM…”

“Ah well, you say that now....” Greg grinned again. “Oh, fuck me... Look, Sherlock, let's get something straight right now, shall we? I am not intending this as a one night stand, unless you are. I am intending to follow this through, if you'll let me. You and me, together? See how it goes? Even if I do look like your dad!”

Sherlock regarded him, curiosity in his eyes. “Well, we're both adults, as you say. We're both... single…erm...fish.”

“...and I dunno about you but I'm lonely…” Greg paused. “What are you talking about? What do you mean, single fish?”

“No, Lestrade, do try to keep up. My safeword, it’s fish.”

“Oh, okay. Fish, right.” Greg chuckled. “Mad as a box of frogs,” he muttered, before leaning in suddenly and kissing Sherlock full on the mouth, swiftly, firmly. Sherlock responded enthusiastically this time, reciprocating eagerly.

“And you?” Sherlock asked when they broke apart, panting slightly.

“Me, what?”

“Safeword.... what is yours?”

“Mine? Do I need one?” Fingers entwined in his hair, tugging slightly.

“Who knows? I was just keeping your options open.”

Greg laughed at that one and then hummed appreciatively as Sherlock took a turn to kiss him. Greg pushed him backward until there was nowhere left to go. Breath huffed out as Sherlock’s back connected with the wall and Greg thrust a knee between his thighs. “We can talk all you want later,” he said gently. “Perhaps it's best I just show you how I feel?” He stroked Sherlock a bit more gently, hands skimming his arms. Sherlock’s eyes had gone wide but he didn’t use his safe word. “Sorry... I was a bit...forceful…? I'm feeling my way here, in more ways than one,” Greg said. “God in Heaven, but you're beautiful.”

“You really think that?” Sherlock murmured eyes intent on Greg.

“Of course I bloody do, you're gorgeous. Why? Hasn't anyone ever told you that?”

“Of course not, Why would they?” Sherlock genuinely looked surprised. “I’m a ridiculous man, Greg. People hate me, why would they offer complements?”

Greg’s eyebrows rose. “Bugger. Really? Never?”

“As I said, why would they? Anyway, enough of the past. I should like another kiss…and...to do some fondling, if I may?”

“Why would they?” Greg repeated. “Because you deserve to have someone tell you, that's why. You deserve that much, at least.”

“Well, thank you. Now you have done so,” Sherlock said, looking at him oddly.

“I find you very attractive,” Greg admitted, allowing his hands to do some roaming, fondling as requested. “All of you.”

“Your attractiveness increased for me because of our dance,” Sherlock admitted.


“Yes, you provoked a very strong reaction.” Sherlock leaned closer and Greg felt the unmistakable line of Lock’s erection against his thigh.

“Very strong, hm?”

Sherlock tentatively fondled Greg’s rear, the fabric of the man’s dress trousers pulled taut across his hips. “Yes,” he agreed, pulling Greg tighter against him. He slid a hand back around and down Greg’s chest, and kissed him again. “Of course,” Sherlock added, “dancing has been part of human mating rituals for centuries. It has been known to fuel passion."

“Yes it has. Dancing is intimate.”

“And as you said, Greg, we are both lonely.” Sherlock’s eyes clouded briefly.

Greg frowned but nodded. “Yes, we are.” He stroked up Sherlock’s back until his hand reached the unruly locks “And you're right,” he added.

“I usually am…”

“Shut up, you arse. I was going to say that your observation was correct, I am bothered about my age…I have no wish to stay lonely and at my age it gets more difficult to find a partner, never mind attract one.”

“I don't care what your age is,” Sherlock said. "You should stop worrying because I am definitely attracted to you."

“Good, that's good…Okay, well, now we've established a mutual appreciation, shall we carry on? Or do you want the safe sex talk now?” Sherlock leaned in and nipped Greg’s ear, eliciting a yelp. “Ow, that hurt,” Greg said, rubbing his ear and checking for blood.

“Deserved,” Sherlock retorted. “You’re teasing. Not to mention that you are wasting time!” He leaned back in and nibbled down Greg’s neck, a bit more confidently this time. Sherlock was obviously getting off on doing so and Greg moaned appreciatively, knowing the noise might arouse the man even more. “Oooh,” he breathed, allowing both hands to stroke Greg’s ribs and down to his arse.

“Too many clothes, love,” Greg observed, doing his own bit of nibbling down Sherlock’s pale expanse of neck. He felt the man shiver and press closer, nimble fingers attempting to unbutton Greg’s shirt.

“You looked very nice today,” Sherlock said, unexpectedly. He rubbed against Greg’s hip like a cat.

“So did you,” Greg replied, his voice a soft murmur. He bit gently down on Sherlock’s collarbone, eliciting a soft groan.

“John deserved my best, I felt,” Sherlock replied breathlessly, sounding a bit shy.

“So, you deserved his best too. It cuts both ways, Love.”

“But it was his day, his and Mary’s. He performed very well, didn't forget his lines..."

"It wasn't a Royal Shakespeare performance, Lock."

Sherlock smirked. "No, it most definitely wasn't," he agreed. "I find I am glad we saved his old colleague,” he added, busying himself removing Greg’s cufflinks and pulling at his shirt sleeves to get the garment off. “I am glad he and Mary are...happy.”

Greg reached around the back of Sherlock’s neck and gripped him firmly, feeling Sherlock freeze in place. Greg gazed into the pale eyes. “I’m proud of you, lad.” He punctuated the words with a gentle squeeze of his fingers. “No matter what happens between us now, I want you to know that. You are...a good man, Sherlock. You’ve come a long way since I first knew you.”

“You know...you have a beautiful smile, Greg.”

“Thank you. I try. You’re not so bad yourself, though.” Sherlock preened at the words of praise, and Greg chuckled, stroking. He shrugged off his shirt and stood there, watching Sherlock drink in the sight before him.

“Beautiful…” Greg watched as Sherlock cocked his head on one side, his eyes narrowing, giving him a sly look. “You still have too many clothes on, inspector…” he purred, the soft baritone voice going straight to Greg’s cock. The man was gaining confidence, and with it, a new freedom.

“Yes, I do, sooo? You going to finish what you started?” Between them, they removed shoes and socks, revealing Sherlock’s long elegant toes. He caught Greg looking and blushed. Greg regarded him fondly. “You look... sweet, when you blush.” Sherlock promptly blushed more and turned away, undoing his zipper with a whisper. “Cute too.”

The detective huffed. “I am no more cute than I am willowy,” he growled, but he wiggled his bum inadvertently, the gesture cute enough to make Greg smile.

“You're as cute as a switchblade, love,” Greg said with a grin, and Sherlock ducked his head and hid his smile.

“I will concede that I am adorable. I have had it on good authority.”

“Your mum told you, didn't she? When you were six?”

“More recently, but yes, mummy is given to fits of sentiment of that nature.”

“And Mum is always right.”

“On the matter of thermodynamics, possibly, but my father is the more correct when it comes to our suitability to be named adorable or not. He at least retains a modicum of sense and objectivity when it comes to these things.”

“Mary.” Greg fiddled with his phone, pulling up a playlist. He hit the play button and some gentle jazz music filled the room.

“I beg your pardon?”

“My safe word. Nothing would induce me to say her name unless in dire emergency, how’s that?”

Sherlock chuckled. “Prefect, and somewhat ironic” he said and resumed his exploration of Greg’s body, undoing his belt and tugging his trousers down. Greg stepped out of his trousers and then pulled Sherlock flush against him, skin to skin, hand in the small of his back, other hand gripping Sherlock’s fingers. He drew his partner into a dance, and Sherlock fell into the gentle rhythm easily. The two men moved sensuously, almost making love as they swayed together. Greg took the lead and drew Sherlock to the bed, tumbling down onto it, dragging Sherlock with him until the man was resting on top. He pulled until Sherlock was lying with his cock aligned with Greg’s, the friction delicious on both of them. Greg bucked his hips up and Sherlock moaned appreciatively, adjusting his body to take his weight on his hands. Greg ran a hand through the unruly dark curls and watched Sherlock’s eyes go dark and predatory. He tugged him down for a heated kiss and Sherlock thrust back, hips meeting Greg’s thrust for thrust.

Eventually there was no more talk, both men were panting, sweating with exertion, passion fuelling their movements. Hands gripped hard enough to bruise, bodies undulating against each other, until neither man could take it any more. With a shout, Greg came forcefully enough to see stars and Sherlock followed him over soon after, his own voice loud in the comparative quiet of the hotel room.

For a long while they lay there in a stupor, reveling in the endorphin high, and then Greg struggled up and went to clean up in the en suite. He brought a warm flannel and a towel and cleaned Sherlock up gently. Then he dragged the covers over them both, spooning behind Sherlock, nuzzling and nibbling his neck lazily. Sherlock, unexpectedly, turned to face Greg and snuggled close in the circle of his arms, head on Greg’s chest listening to the steady heart rate. The two men eventually fell asleep, entwined in each other, a tangle of limbs and harmonious breathing.

Just before he drifted off, Greg considered that while this had been a long time coming, right then he couldn’t bring himself to care about the outcome. Greg had quite a few regrets in his life, and while he had no idea what would happen next, whether anything permanent would blossom from their partnership, at least missing his chance with this amazing man would not now be one of them. He dropped a soft kiss on the top of Sherlock’s head and let himself drift into slumber.

“The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing.
It's full of charts and facts, some figures,
And instructions for dancing,
But I,
I love it when you read to me.
And you, You can read me anything.”

Peter Gabriel The Book of Love


Chapter 3: Slow Dancing

The only light comes from the fire, flames dancing in the grate, casting leaping shadows over the room's two occupants. Hardly any light from the streetlights penetrates the floor length curtains over the windows in 221b and the lights are all off. The occupants are naked, skin to skin, slow dancing while Peter Gabriel’s Book of Love fills the room with wistful longing. Greg is holding sherlock close, face pressed to his neck, breathing in his scent, while Sherlock is content to sway, hands on Greg's hips, not really dancing but moving in time with the melody. He is listening intently to the lyrics, committing the whole scene to his mind palace.

In the heart of that carefully built construct is a room that looks not unlike the one they now occupy. In the center of that room is a strongbox reminiscent of child's idea of a pirate's treasure chest; classic arched lid, iron straps with prominent rivets, and an oversized padlock. As in the old fairytale, it's the place where Sherlock keeps his heart, his most vivid and precious memories. It's where he stores the memory of receiving a Red Setter puppy for his ninth birthday. That was the first time he laid eyes on Redbeard. In that chest he can find the only time a teacher gave him a gold star. It was for his primary school picture of a big red dog with a wide smile. In that chest he can find remnants of the heady days of summers spent playing pirates with Mycroft and Redbeard in the treehouse, before Croffy went all stuffy and grown up. The first time he laid eyes on John Watson in the lab at Bart's nestles in there right next to the sight of Irene Adler sleeping in his bed, the only time he ever saw her vulnerability. So too is the only memory he has of being a baby, a random moment stored for a reason long since deleted, even if the memory itself was kept. He is swaddled and cuddled and warm in his mother's arms, sated on milk and sleepily content. It's the only time he can ever recall feeling safe, secure, loved, with no worries, no danger, no mind palace, no desperate need to appease his racing engine of a brain with The Work.

This present moment, held firmly in Greg's embrace, Sherlock is definitely not bored. He is naked to Greg’s gaze and touch with the promise of mutual physical pleasure hanging in the air. He has given his body over to the music and to his partner's strength and experience and care. It reminds him of that moment in his mother's arms, safe and secure. So it gets firmly committed to memory, and locked in the pirate's strongbox along with all the rest.

Greg lifts his head to gaze into Sherlock's eyes, luminous in the flickering light and shifting shadows. The fire’s warmth plays on his back as he holds Sherlock to him. He strokes his fingers over smooth skin, mapping the contours of muscle and bone and sinew beneath the too-fragile surface of his lover's body. Greg commits this memory to his own version of Sherlock’s mind palace, although his is more like a dusty over-stuffed filing cabinet in a crappy back office lit with a single light bulb with no shade. The wallpaper is peeling and the paint is drab and the window is cracked and the whole place looks like it could do with a bit of TLC, but it accurately reflects how Greg feels about his life. He feels a bit dog-eared and careworn and overdue a bit—possibly a lot—of TLC, but who knows, now he might find some. Although he has a hard time imagining Sherlock as a caregiver as he strokes his hands over the younger, fitter, sexier man’s skin. Somehow, though, Greg doesn't feel quite as old as he used to.

His hands feel clumsy sometimes; big hands that have slapped cuffs on violent criminals and, back in the day, wielded baton and riot shield against the picket lines. He's done stuff with those hands that he's not proud of, picket lines included. He’s landed a few hard punches with them, not to mention signing off on hundreds of police reports and other bits of paperwork—his divorce papers come to mind—committing his signature to so many documents that if he ever gets to be famous his autograph will be worth zip. Yet he knows he can also hold a baby safe in those hands, can hold a child's trusting hand in his in safety and security. He is a protector, even if he was a shite husband. He can hold Sherlock safe with no qualms at all and Sherlock seems to revel in that.

It's a dance in the dark, finding their way through whatever it is they have between them. Despite it being a bit like trying to navigate through muddy floodwater after a drought; all those eddies and undercurrents swirling uneasily over ground that has been parched too long to clearly know what to do with such a surfeit of riches. Neither man is sure of his ground, and both complicate matters by overthinking. Nevertheless, it is the music that guides and grounds, the familiar steps of the dance that will keep them on track. Sherlock with his mind palace and Greg with his dusty filing cabinet will somehow find their path through the minefield of sentiment and those memories will sustain them along their way, wherever that way may lead.

“The book of love has music in it,
In fact that's where music comes from.
Some of it is just transcendental,
Some of it’s just really dumb.
But I,
I love it when you give me things.
And you, you ought to give me wedding rings.”

The Book of Love
Peter Gabriel