Mycroft breathed deeply, inhaling the rich smell of leather in his brand new office. He’d always found that smell to be particularly calming and he allowed himself a brief moment to slouch into his chair and gaze out of the window. Ah, he thought to himself, now the real work of government can begin. He’d never been one for elected office—it seemed incredibly tedious to try and win support and be forever beholden to others. Here, however, he could be away from such loathsome concerns and actually accomplish things. Yes, as the brand new (theoretical) Deputy Head of the Government Communications Headquarters, Intelligence analysis unit, he (theoretically) had an office in Cheltenham; this office—in London, of course—befitted his (practical) role as the Head for the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism. All in all, he was pleased with his progress; he had, perhaps, hoped to be slightly further along (say, Minister for Security or thereabouts), but he was still a young man and he had time.
He was playing a long game, of course, and it would never do to make a foolish or rash move.
And he was, as always, prepared to deal with the Unusual Situation.
One of the earliest lessons in life that Mycroft had learned was this: Never be surprised. The corollary to this lesson was, of course: And if you are surprised, make sure no one notices.
Mycroft’s ability to maintain his countenance was tested on the Monday of his second week in his new job. He had just barely settled in with his morning snack of tea and a scone with clotted cream and jam when his PA—who had introduced herseslf as Helen, even though Mycroft knew this was patently false—began to buzz him. She had, in fact, got as far as saying, “Sir—“ when the doors to his office burst open and three rather young people strode purposely into his office.
He was, internally, gobsmacked, but he had long learned to school his expression to be blank when confronted with the Unusual. This was further tested when the young man in the lead smiled pleasantly at him and stretched out his hand, “Mycroft! Lovely to see you again!”
Perhaps any other man would have spluttered some nonsense about, “Who are you?” or “What are you doing?!” or even, “I’m sorry, I don’t believe we’ve met.” Some of the more enterprising men might even have pretended that they recognized the intruder, but Mycroft had seen this go wrong often enough to know better. Instead, he carefully put down his tea cup, wiped his mouth delicately, stood and took the young man’s hand, scrutinising him and his companions in the process.
The man who had offered his hand was tall and skinny, but more than that, he held himself in a way that spoke of age and knowledge; it was the posture and air of a man three or four times the age of this one. The clothing was also an interesting puzzle: the bowtie and coat said Lecturer, probably history, while the skinny pants and boots suggested hipster. The hair suggested an incredibly young man, but the eyes spoke of ages and darkness and pain; it was the eyes, in fact, which clued Mycroft in, along with the telltale glint of bright silver from the man’s top coat pocket. The fact that he had two young companions—recently married, the husband still very much in awe of his young wife and her friend, while the young woman’s loyalty and affection was clearly torn between her husband and the other—in tow merely made his deduction easier.
“Doctor,” he responded smoothly, shaking his hand.
Not that he’d needed the confirmation, but it always gave him satisfaction to know he’d been right; the Doctor provided this to him by winking at him.
He’d, of course, been briefed about the Doctor once he’d reached Level 5 clearance. By then, however, he’d already read all the classified information about him and had seen all known pictures. This face was new (and there was something about the Doctor’s build and rumoured eccentricity that put him uncomfortably in mind of Sherlock) and he made a quick mental note to ensure that the CCTV caught a clear image of it, but then he put that from his mind and focused his full attention on the alien.
“To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit, Doctor?”
The Doctor smiled at him. “Always down to business, Mycroft. Here’s what I need you to do. That new mummy that the British Museum has acquired isn’t a mummy at all . . . “
Mycroft hadn’t been there personally, of course (legwork; and besides, he felt in his new position that he was entitled to issue orders and observe rather than have to participate) but when it was all said and done—at half four the following morning—the alien that had been impersonating the mummy had been dealt with. All it was going to cost the British government was overtime for crowd control, loss of revenue from having to close the Museum slightly early and from having a few of the exhibits “under renovation” for an as-yet undecided amount of time, and repair work to Great Russell Street where some energy weapons had been unfortunately discharged.
On the plus side, though, no one had died or and the threat of alien invasion had gone for the time being. There was nothing like death or obviously evil aliens to get the media and the public to panic (or take notice); that would be avoided, thankfully. Nonetheless, Mycroft was relieved that it fell to him to approve the security budget; he shuddered to think of the tedium involved in having to issue a report and answer to others about such dull things as misappropriation of government funds.
All in all, he knew that everyone was much happier this way; his “bosses” were happily ignorant and had plausible deniability of any threat to the nation and their electorate, while he was able to ensure things were done and done right.
Regardless of the hour, he allowed himself a sigh of satisfaction for a job well-done.
The first hint that anything was wrong was a slight squeaking sound.
Mycroft had been at his desk, finishing up some loose ends before heading home for the evening when he heard a quiet, muffled squeak. His first thought was that it had been some sort of rat or mouse, but no; there were definitely other noises—all very quiet—that sounded more like cooing or purring, even.
He next thought it might be a cat, but that didn’t seem right, either. Cats, in his experience (and it was limited, particularly after Sherlock had, at the age of 7, decided to “experiment” on Spot) didn’t really coo, and he was hearing a definite cooing sound.
Frowning slightly, he took a moment to re-examine the security footage from the building and particularly the area around his office. Nothing jumped out at him as suspicious—he was in a government building, of course, which required a value for “suspicious” that was different than for any other building.
Still, nothing. He stood and moved towards one of his bookshelves, certain he heard the noise coming from that direction. The noise had seemingly ceased, even when he pressed his ear against the wall (admittedly not very dignified, but one did what one must when necessary). Mycroft glanced at his watch and saw it was after eleven, which meant the cleaning crew had already been through. He sniffed—the only audible sound of his consternation—and thought for a moment. He could spend all night chasing a ghost sound, which sounded like an unproductive way to spend the evening, or he could instruct the night guard to search. This seemed like a much more tenable solution, and he wasted no time in contacting the head guard to brief him on the situation.
He went home and gave the noise no more thought until he returned the next day. He had just reached his office when his PA—going by Cassandra this week—informed him that the night guard had managed to find the creatures and that they were in a cage on his desk. Mycroft noted the plural without a change of expression, but he was absolutely certain that the noises he’d heard the night before could have only been made by one creature. Not several.
Mycroft was very rarely wrong.
Nevertheless, he pushed open the door to his office and walked calmly to his desk, upon which sat a cage containing six…creatures. At first glance, they had the appearance of a guinea pig, but upon closer inspection Mycroft changed his mind and decided that they had the appearance of guinea pigs that had mated with a ball of yarn. There were no facial features at all and, in fact, the things in the cage were—as far as Mycroft could tell—no more than giant furballs.
There was something…cuddly about the things. They seemed to inspire the softer and fuzzier feelings, which rather disturbed Mycroft as he had only a passing acquaintance with the softer and fuzzier feelings. As a result of this, though, he was able to push them aside and walk around to his telephone. From here, he made two phone calls—one to a respected biologist whom Mycroft had worked with on more than one occasion and whose silence could be guaranteed and the other to the janitorial staff. He put the telephone down once these calls were completed, sat at his desk, and got to the work of government.
Things started to go a bit wrong later that day. He had taken lunch in his office while doing some important coordinating with the CIA when he’d heard the cooing and purring noises again, only louder this time. He had finished his call, then summoned the day guard and asked them to search for the source of the noises. It hadn’t taken them long. They’d found a great number—too many to count, but the estimate was in the vicinity of 40 to 50—in the cafeteria. What was worse, many of the workers in the cafeteria—along with those eating lunch there—had taken a liking to the ‘soothing’ noises the creatures made and felt they would make excellent pets for their children, spouses, significant others, et al.
Almost concurrent to hearing this news, Mycroft received word from his respected and trusted biologist that—as near as he could tell—the creatures were born pregnant and gave birth within 10 hours to on average 10 additional creatures. More worryingly was the fact that brain scans indicated that the cooing and purring sounds had a calming or tranquilizing effect on the human brain. Mycroft’s expert even went so far to say that it could be a survival instinct, since the rapid multiplication of the creatures indicated that they could actually be some sort of destructive force.
Without changing the tenor of his voice, he finished his discussion with the biologist and hung up the phone. It was clear that Mycroft was going to have to make some difficult decisions, which was fine because he was rather good at that.
He tried poison first.
He had considered phoning Sherlock—whose knowledge of poisons and methods of killing were greater than his own—but he quickly talked himself out of it. As much fun as it would be to order his brother to do something, he would be borrowing trouble by having Sherlock anywhere near such creatures, toxic chemicals, and/or government secrets. Instead, he pushed through orders to send everyone home, had the guards check that the entire building was clear, then called in pest control and let them get to it.
According to the exterminators, the building would have to remain clear of people for two days, so he set guards on the outside to watch for signs that any of the creatures might have survived and then worked from his flat. When he didn’t hear any word from his guards, he assumed that the problem had been dealt with and that, once the building was clear of the poison, life could return to normal.
He was wrong.
The first reports of trouble were disturbing, simply because Mycroft was so certain that he’d been successful in eradicating the pests. Apparently some had survived the initial influx of poison and had continued to breed at an alarming rate. Even more troubling was that the reports were no longer coming just from his office building, but rather from disparate parts of London. It wasn’t hard to figure that some of the government workers had ignored orders and taken the things home as pets. Well, he would have to deal with them after the crisis had past.
First thing was first: dealing with the source of the problem, which was the office building where most of the creatures still inhabited. Mycroft decided that the only viable solution was to demolish the building. Yes, it would cause a headache with the red tape and budgetary concerns, but he saw few alternatives.
He worked quickly and pushed through some existing permits for demolition of the building, then ordered the army in to secure the perimeter, search and collect any personal effects in the building, and then to find the creatures and put them in one centralised location. The bombs were then laid right under the creatures, the building checked once more for any stragglers, and then the building was demolished.
Mycroft inspected the rubble, looking for any that might have survived the blast. He listened closely, but could hear none of the sounds he’d associated with the pests. Next order of business was to try and terminate the ones that had been taken out of the building originally.
Even after a week of nonstop chasing of leads and exterminating the ones they did find, they were no closer to stopping what Mycroft had privately termed Invasion by Cute, Cuddly Creatures. By this point, his options were running out. His teams had been run ragged trying to track down and destroy the little devils and they had had very little success to show for it, as new hot spots kept popping up. He’d even had to issue orders to the UK Border Agency to inspect all luggage and cargo for outgoing flights and boats lest the pests move beyond the confines of Britain. He shuddered to think how incompetent, for example, the French might be if any of the little pests made it to the Continent.
In the end, it is practically divine intervention that saves him from having a full-scale panic on his hands. His teams were floundering more and more with little sleep and little progress to show for it when he’d decided he needed some fresh air. He’d left his temporary office and taken a walk towards Hyde Park. On his way there, he’d overheard two men talking.
The first was shorter, younger, with an air of authority about him and a strong American accent—likely Midwestern, Mycroft noted automatically.
The other man was taller, slimmer, and dark-haired, and kept surreptitiously checking some sort of PDA. It was this man, Mycroft noted, who was currently speaking.
“…unknown, Captain. But the recent events which culminated in the destruction of Vulcan seem to have inspired others to attempt the same with Earth.”
“Death by tribble, eh?” the other responded, with what Mycroft could only surmise was a wry expression.
“Well, contact the ship, let them know the situation down here. We’re going to need Scotty to have those modifications done sooner rather than later. The quicker we can get every one of those damn things off this planet, the better.” This speech was rapid and low. Mycroft half expected the taller man to make some comment, but the ‘Captain’ started speaking once more. “What about their computer systems? Any progress there?”
“Negative, Captain. According to our database, the government in London at this time was spread out all over the city. We are attempting to cross-reference our information with the date to narrow down the possibilities, but we have yet to ascertain the correct location of the specific information we need.”
Well, well. This piece of information was music to Mycroft’s ears. It was the answer to his prayers (he was fairly certain of this and he made a mental note to thank whoever had answered them in the proper way when he got home. He was fairly certain he knew which one, anyway). He cleared his throat and experienced some satisfaction in seeing both men turn towards him. The younger man was clearly startled and not a little suspicious, but the older man met his gaze placidly.
Mycroft smiled carefully. “Gentlemen, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation just now. I believe I may be able to offer you my assistance…”
It turned out, much to Mycroft’s relief, that 23rd century technology was very good at tracking down pests and removing them. What would have taken ages to figure out was resolved after about four hours with the two men—Captain Kirk and Commander Spock, apparently—and whatever information that he possessed that they needed. The continuous stream of reported sightings of the creatures—tribbles—fell off and his life looked to be returning to normal.
After thanking the two and seeing them on their way—and issuing orders to his teams to keep their ears open for more reports of the damn tribbles—he pondered his options.
The business of government could get on, as per usual, but he still didn’t have an office in London to replace his old one and he was loath to end up in the country. He had been offered an opportunity in New York to work with the CIA on a new project. It had sounded exciting and he was confident that he could trust Cassandra—actually, now going by the name Penelope—to see to things in his stead.
Besides, it would give him a chance to visit Mummy and no doubt she would appreciate that. Now, if he could just convince Sherlock to join him…
He had been entirely unsuccessful in convincing Sherlock to come with him to New York, but he was not at all surprised. Sherlock could be so stubborn when he wanted to be (which, when it concerned Mycroft, was always).
So Mycroft made the trip on his own, moving in to his apartment at 55 Central Park West and getting the joint CIA-SIS project off the ground and running.
His New York office was situated in a fairly old building in Manhattan, not far from his apartment and the commute, thanks to the government-provided car, was not bad at all. All in all, he settled into his life in New York with unsurprisingly little fuss. He worked, he ate, he slept. He visited Mummy. Nothing unusual to deal with at all.
Of course, he noticed the cold spots right away but didn’t think much of them, the pitfalls of an older building with a suspect cooling system. He called the building manager and made sure to infuse his voice with the promise of reward and the threat of consequences should it not be replaced immediately.
He—along with everyone else who worked in the building—couldn’t fail to notice the shadows that seemed to move, and the voices that spoke from nowhere certainly startled a few people. But they were inherently threatening and so Mycroft let them alone under the principle that it required more legwork than was truly required.
It wasn’t until he arrived at the office one morning to find everything in chaos that he grudgingly admitted that he would have to Take Steps.
He wasn’t immediately certain what those steps might be, especially after one…entity upended the brunch intended for the CIA’s head of the Office of Collection Strategies and members of his senior staff. Mycroft himself was put out when the scones, clotted cream, and jam that he’d requested specifically had ended up with some sort of green, primordial goo on them, rendering them inedible.
Of course, there were other problems. The computers kept switching on and off, paperwork had a tendency to go scattering at a moment’s notice as if in a heavy wind, and—rather memorably—one of the SIS analysts he’d brought with him had left for lunch and returned to find that his office looked as if a bomb had gone off. It was likely that the floating apparitions screaming at his re-entrance hadn’t helped his state of mind and the poor man had been carted off to the local hospital for observation.
The fact that it was a government building—and a rather top-secret one as well—with a lot of very sensitive information lying around made evacuating and clearing the building a logistical nightmare. As a result, it was a rather weary Mycroft Holmes who was chauffeured back to his apartment building.
Before moving to New York, Mycroft had looked into the history of his building. He’d also done his best to keep abreast of politics in the States and (when a trip to New York seemed imminent) New York City itself. So he’d been aware of the so-called Ghostbusters and the court case they’d lost. He had previously felt the information to be vaguely interesting but unnecessary; however, needs must and he felt that they were the perfect solution to his problem.
It had taken very little effort to track all four of the erstwhile Ghostbusters in their new lines of work. His research suggested he approach a Doctor Raymond Stantz about his proposition. While a Doctor Peter Venkman appeared to be the de facto leader of the group, Doctor Stantz was someone he could easily manipulate.
So it was at 6 exactly that he entered a small, cramped bookstore in a part of New York that he normally wouldn’t be caught dead in. He glanced around and saw that his quarry—who appeared to be in the process of re-shelving a stack of books—glanced up at his entrance.
Mycroft quickly took in the appearance of a plump man in his late 30’s, but who looked much younger due to an air of childlike enthusiasm and an open countenance, and moved forward towards him. “Doctor Stantz?” he enquired politely.
“Yes, that’s me,” Doctor Stantz answered, a friendly smile on his face. “How can I help you?”
Only years of schooling his features and keeping his emotions in check enabled him to keep the smile from his face. “I was hoping you would ask that,” Mycroft answered. “I have a proposition for you and your Ghostbusting friends.”
“What kind of proposition, Mr…?” he asked. Mycroft was almost surprised as most men in Doctor Stantz’s position would display suspicion or weariness. Doctor Statnz was merely confused and curious. Really, it was quite fascinating to watch the combination of a certain kind of intelligence along with the guile of a goldfish in the same person.
Mycroft smiled. “Holmes. As I understand it, you and your former team had the knowledge and ability to deal with paranormal problems. The building I work in is currently experiencing a great deal of paranormal activity and I was given to understand that you might be able to help solve this problem.”
Doctor Stantz worried his lip. “Ah. Well, you see, we’re actually not able—”
“I am well aware of the legal troubles that you and your team experienced. In addition to being sued for property damage on nearly every level of government, there is a restraining order against you which strictly prohibits you from engaging in any such activities again. You also, correct me if I’m wrong Doctor Stantz, had some difficulty with the Environmental Protection Agency, specifically the containment unit that you used was considered hazardous.”
“Erm, yes.” Doctor Stantz appeared, if anything, sheepish. Mycroft smiled.
“I am in a position to…see you through these obstacles.”
It was almost comical, the way the man’s eyes lit up like a child’s on Christmas. “Really? Well, that’s great! Wait til I tell the guys!”
Mycroft watched in amusement as the man rushed around his counter for his phone. “Would you like some coffee or tea, Mr. Holmes? Oh, the guys are going to be really excited about this!”
Clearing his throat significantly, Mycroft produced a business card and handed it to the shorter man. “I’m afraid I can’t stay much longer. However, when you are ready to accept this opportunity, please contact me at this number. Good evening, Doctor Stantz.”
“Gosh. Good evening, Mr. Holmes. And thank you!”
Mycroft left the small bookstore with a small smile. Sometimes, it was almost too easy.
As Mycroft expected, it was Doctor Venkman who contacted him the next morning. And perhaps even less surprising, Doctor Venkman wanted to negotiate. Of course, contrary to what Doctor Venkman might think, the terms that were agreed upon were the only ones that Mycroft had been prepared to offer and what Doctor Venkman had no doubt taken as a victory, Mycroft viewed as the only logical outcome.
These Ghostbusters would have their legal troubles cleared up, the red tape from the EPA dealt with, and a percentage of the capital they would need to re-establish their business, and Mycroft would have his place of work cleared of distracting ghosts, which would enable very important work to continue. Further, the Ghostbusters would agree to perform such a service, and any additional services, free of charge. All in all, Mycroft felt it was an equitable bargain.
So when the Ghostbusters showed up the next morning, outfitted and prepared to clear his building of pesky supernatural entities, Mycroft had them escorted in and kept tabs on their progress via video surveillance.
The entire operation took a few hours, but when it was done, Mycroft shook their hands and sent them on their way, then entered the building to inspect the damage.
It was worse than it looked onscreen. Walls were charred, holes had been blasted in a few ceilings, office supplies were haphazardly strewn over every available surface—if they hadn’t been reduced to ash, that is—and his assistant’s desk had been knocked onto its side, presumably to be used as cover. Furthermore, the kitchen was a total loss, as the refrigerator no longer functioned properly, the cabinet doors were mostly off their hinges, and any food that had been in either location no longer seemed to exist. Mycroft called in a number of clean-up squads, and then exited the building to contact his PA, now going by Andromeda.
The news was excellent. The new office building being built was running ahead of schedule and would be ready for him within a fortnight. He considered the difficulties in staying in New York—overseeing clean up in the building—and decided that the remainder of his project with the CIA could be accomplished from New York. He made plans to return in a week, which would allow him a chance to take his leave of Mummy.
The return to London was a breath of fresh air for Mycroft, though he would never admit it. While he enjoyed spending time in New York—especially as it afforded him an opportunity to visit Mummy, as well as a holiday from constantly looking after Sherlock—he could never call any place but London home.
And for a little while, things ran smoothly, if he did say so himself. There were no unusual or uncomfortable situations to deal with, foreign countries were largely behaving themselves, and even Sherlock seemed happier—according to the surveillance reports he received daily. He was still living on his own—a situation Mycroft privately felt needed to be rectified—and he still solved crimes, but he’d been clean for a few months now, which made taking care of him unobtrusively and from a distance much easier.
Of course, Mycroft was always prepared for these brief spells of normality to be brief. Thus, he was as prepared as possible for dealing with the next Unusual Situation, which arrived one Wednesday morning just before lunch and was standing right in front of his desk.
One of the lessons that had been impressed upon Mycroft in his youth was that it was impolite to stare. Mycroft learned this lesson as well as all the others—which is to say, perfectly—but he added his own addendum: it was impolite to stare unless one was staring in service for one’s job. This was not one of those times. Luckily, Mycroft managed not to stare, but it was a near thing.
The…man standing at his desk was only a man in the sense that he was vaguely humanoid—with the requisite number of legs and arms—and had a head with eyes, a nose, and a mouth. It was the addition of a prominent hunchback and numerous stitches at seemingly random places that might cause one to question his humanity.
Mycroft very carefully kept his face blank and raised an eyebrow in invitation, hoping that he would be able to gather information about how to deal with this situation without revealing anything about what he was thinking or feeling in return.
He needn’t have bothered.
“I’m thorry, thir. I theem to have gone athtray from where I meant to be. If you could pleathe direct me to Lord Vetinari’th offith, I would be much obliged.”
He blinked. It was not his usual reaction—he did do his best to not show any reaction at all—but he couldn’t help it. The sudden appearance of a…man—well, man-shaped thing—along with the appearance of that man-shaped thing and the extraordinary lisp were too much for Mycroft’s renowned inscrutability. He recovered himself quickly and reacted to the most curious part of the sentence.
“Lord Vetinari?” As a boy, Mycroft had made it one of his hobbies to memorise Burke’s Peerage. It was a hobby that had not deserted him as he’d aged. He still had a subscription and it really was incredibly useful in his line of work.
He’d never heard of anyone called Lord Vetinari. He cleared his throat and said, very carefully, “Perhaps we should start over.”
The conversation proved to be very long, but ultimately very fruitful. Mycroft discovered that the man was Igor and that he was from a place called Uberwald, that he had been a servant there, that he was remarkably helpful and deferential, and that he was singularly skilled in surgery and anatomy. There was, however, one point they kept returning to.
Mycroft sighed and did not rub the bridge of his nose. He wanted to, though. “Yes, round.”
“…No elephanth, thir?”
“…No giant turtle?”
“No. That’s just a myth.”
There was a very long pause, in which Mycroft was hopeful that the truth was beginning to sink in, but it was not to be. “You’re thure, thir?”
“You’re thertain, thir, that it’th round and not…”
Mycroft took a closer look at…Igor and noticed that the man appeared almost at a loss, as if his entire conception of the world had been overturned. Mycroft allowed that this was, quite literally, the case. And then his mind could not help but think, Interested in science, but only a particular kind of science. For obvious reasons will have problems integrating socially. Hmmm…
“How would you feel about being an assistant to a mad scientist with a penchant for being around various body parts?” Mycroft asked carefully and was gratified to see something like enthusiasm in…Igor’s body language.
“That thoundth lovely, thir!”
Mycroft smiled indulgently. “It would only be a temporary solution, of course, until I could find you something more permanent…”
It was two weeks before Sherlock appeared in Mycroft’s office. This was not at all a surprise. Also not a surprise was the fact that Sherlock burst in without an appointment and with a decided dramatic flair.
“Mycroft,” he growled, “I don’t want an assistant.”
“Nonsense,” Mycroft answered calmly without looking up from some very important paperwork. “It’s clear that you need one as you’ve alienated everyone on the Met’s forensics team.”
Sherlock huffed at him and dropped into a chair. He then proceeded to slouch in such a way that clearly broadcast his resentment with the world in general and his brother in particular. “I’m perfectly capable of finding my own assistant if I did, in fact, need one. Which I don’t.”
Mycroft didn’t deign to respond to such a childish and quite frankly illogical statement.
There was a long pause—as Mycroft was aware that, if his brother was still in the room, it was only a matter of time before he would feel compelled to speak again. He was, as usual, correct.
“He keeps stealing my experiments,” Sherlock finally said. The sulking was very clear in his tone of voice. “He steals them before they’re finished and then hordes them,” Sherlock continued, clearly affronted by this behaviour. Mycroft was certain that it wasn’t the hoarding that bothered Sherlock, but rather that it occurred before the experiments were complete. “And he breathes funny,” said as if it were a capital crime, “and that lisp is distracting me from thinking.”
Mycroft finally pushed his papers aside and glanced at his brother. “It’s only temporary, Sherlock, and I thought you could do with someone who would share some of your interests.”
Sherlock scowled at Mycroft—and Mycroft privately thought that it was quite sad that Sherlock hadn’t seemed to mature emotionally beyond the age of nine—and then waved his hand dismissively at Mycroft as though his quite reasonable remarks had been very unreasonable. “He’s interested in putting people back together via surgery rather than running experiments.” Sherlock had a way of making something that should actually be laudable sound foolish or criminal. Possibly both.
“That may be,” Mycroft began, “but he can appreciate some of your more…eccentric quirks better than most.”
Sherlock frowned, as though he’d never considered that he had anything so mundane as quirks.
Mycroft continued before allowing Sherlock to speak again, “It’s only temporary, Sherlock, and I’m sure he has…useful traits.”
The fact that Sherlock merely pouted at him suggested that Mycroft was right and Sherlock didn’t want to admit it.
“It won’t be much longer, anyway. We’re arranging a situation for him in Romania, but it’s taking some time to organise.”
Sherlock scowled and left without another word. Mycroft allowed himself a small smile. The situation wasn’t dealt with, by any means, but it would be soon.
It had been three weeks since Mycroft had spoken to Sherlock and, on the whole, things were progressing satisfactorily on every front of Mycroft’s life: he’d authorised three covert operations in different parts of the world; he’d helped broker a new anti-terrorism treaty, and he’d lost five pounds, largely because his PA—who was going by the name Calypso for some reason—was deliberately withholding the clotted cream from his breakfast. The only area he’d been unable to satisfactorily resolve was the situation with Igor. He had near hourly texts from Sherlock complaining about one thing or another:
I insists on candles. Ruining experiments. SH
I complains about lack of thunderstorms. SH
I stitched head from Barts onto different torso. DO SOMETHING. SH
And while Mycroft was always amused by annoying Sherlock, the fact was that the situation was wearing him down. He had something he very much wanted Sherlock to work on for him, but he was unable to coerce him while Igor remained. He was very unimpressed with his contacts in Romania for dragging their feet.
He was not working on that problem, though, when the next unusual situation presented itself at half five on a Monday evening. He had relocated to the Prime Minister’s office to work on a speech that the Prime Minister was to give to Parliament upon his return from a goodwill tour of the United States, when he heard the sound of a cough. He blinked, then looked towards where the sound had come from and saw a grubby painting of an ugly man in a silver wig in a corner of the room.
Mycroft moved over to investigate the painting.
“To the Prime Minister of the Muggles. Matter of some importance to discuss if you have time. Please respond. Sincerely, Special Assistant Weasley.”
Mycroft raised an eyebrow, and then cleared his throat. “Certainly.”
He wasn’t entirely sure what he expected in response, but bright green flames bursting into existence in the fireplace, followed by a quickly rotating figure was not it. He was only slightly reassured when the figure resolved itself into the shape of a tall, skinny red-headed man. The man stepped calmly out of the fireplace and brushed himself off, then caught a glimpse of Mycroft and frowned uncertainly. “You’re not the Prime Minister, are you?”
Mycroft coolly looked the man over. He was about Sherlock’s age, likely came from a large family, and had an incredibly serious disposition. Married with children, no doubt, but not entirely happy about it. Not unhappy, but it was clear from the way he held himself that he felt he was missing out.
“Not exactly,” he answered eventually. “However, I may still be able to help you,” he continued as he moved closer towards the younger man.
He furrowed his brow, clearly thinking this over. In the meantime, Mycroft took another moment to get a sense of the man. He was not unattractive and was likely a repressed bisexual, given the way his eyes were unconsciously flickering over Mycroft’s shoulders and hips. “What’s your security clearance?” he asked after a moment.
Mycroft raised his eyebrow. “Level 6.”
The younger man relaxed slightly. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to discuss the matter with you.” He held out his hand. “Forgive my manners. I’m Special Assistant to the Minister for Magic Percy Weasley.”
Smiling slightly, Mycroft took his hand and shook it firmly. “Mycroft Holmes.”
“Mr. Holmes. What do you know of magic?”
Rather than answering the question with what he knew—which was quite a lot—he instead smiled mischievously. “Why don’t you brief me?”
He still hadn’t let go of the other man’s hand.
“Squibs,” Mycroft said slowly, several hours later.
Special Assistant to the Minister for Magic Weasley—Percy—nodded, his face still slightly flushed though his demeanor was all business. “Yes. One of the Minister’s main policy objectives is to give Squibs—that is, people who can’t do magic who have magical parents—expanded rights and opportunities. As such, he started a training school for squibs to help them better integrate into the Muggle world. The next step is to place them in the Muggle world while also giving them support. Naturally, I was hoping to discuss this with the Prime Minister as we’ll need his government’s support and assistance.”
Mycroft smiled at the man. “It’s lucky for you I was here instead.”
Percy raised an eyebrow at this, so Mycroft explained. “I can get this done much quicker and more efficiently than the PM. Of course…” Mycroft trailed off thoughtfully and looked over at the other man. Percy seemed to sense that there was something of a catch because his spine straightened and his muscles tensed ever so slightly. “There is something you can do for me in return.”
The redhead flushed and Mycroft chuckled indulgently. “No, no, my dear boy. That was a pleasure, not a price. What I refer to is an…unusual situation that has recently become rather untenable. You may be able to help me and, in exchange, I would gladly help you.”
Percy regarded Mycroft solemnly for a moment. “I’m listening.”
Have sent car round. Bring I. Situation being resolved. MH
Took long enough. Will have to replace experiments and move to new flat. You’re paying. SH
If you insist. I have a case for you. MH
I’m busy. Replacing experiments. Remember? SH
Don’t be such a child. Get in the car. We will discuss the job in my office. MH
A week later, after he’d settled Igor in his new life—and he’d heard that Igor very much appreciated the weather and culture of Romania along with his ability to be useful to the dragon tamers at the preserve—he found a square package waiting for him on his desk. Mycroft raised an eyebrow, unused to such packages finding their way through his screening process, but then he noticed the heavy parchment paper that bound it, along with the very specific way it was addressed.
He opened it carefully to find that it contained a clay pot which held some green powder along with a note that had one line of instructions:
Throw into fire. Keep your arms and legs tucked in and step out at the grate. 7:30.
Mycroft smiled and stretched slightly. It looked like he had a date for the evening.
It’d been two months since the situation with Igor had been settled and Mycroft’s life was progressing rather smoothly. He’d been “promoted”—that is, he’d accumulated more power and a raise; his job title hadn’t changed any—he’d settled one war and started another, and he’d lost ten pounds. Having a semi-regular sex life certainly didn’t hurt. He had to grudgingly admit, however, that Anthea banning most fats from his diet and insisting that he stick to a workout regime—for his own good, apparently—had probably played a part as well.
All in all, Mycroft couldn’t complain about how his life had been going, although he had noticed the lack of Unusual Situations to deal with. In fact, about the only Unusual Situation he’d noticed lately was that Sherlock had managed to not only find himself a flatmate, but one who actually seemed to like him and want to spend time with him. Mycroft had been, quite frankly, astounded. He hadn’t given any indication of it to anyone, but he’d doubted for years that Sherlock would ever be able to find someone who could and would be a true friend and yet it looked as though he’d found one in Doctor Watson.
As Unusual Situations went, however, it required very little effort and so his mind was occupied with more important things one Friday evening when he heard his name.
Mycroft glanced up and was rather surprised to see a regal looking woman with dark hair and sharp grey eyes sitting on the other side of his desk. “Mummy,” he said, after a very slight hesitation. She smiled briefly at him, no doubt knowing that she was an unexpected guest in the office of her son.
“You are looking well.”
“Thank you, Mummy.” He paused for a moment, glancing at her. “I’m surprised to see you here.”
She inclined her head in acknowledgement, and then focused her piercing gaze on him. “I wanted to speak to you about Sherlock.”
Mycroft nodded, not at all surprised. Sherlock often caused their mother no small amount of worry, especially given how many risks he took in his chosen occupation and how he tended to view his physical body as little more than transport. It wasn’t healthy, even for someone of his capabilities. It was on the tip of his tongue to wonder what Sherlock had done this time to garner their mother’s attention, but he stopped himself. No doubt she would inform him in due course.
“He seems to have found himself a flatmate and friend.”
Mycroft hadn’t expected that at all and nearly gave his surprise away. No doubt it didn’t matter because she had very probably picked up on it. He recovered quickly, however, and replied carefully, “Yes. Doctor John Watson. I’ve spoken to him myself.” It was a mark of his surprise that he stated the obvious.
Mummy nodded and remained silent for a moment, clearly thinking. “Doctor John Watson is no ordinary mortal.”
Mycroft raised both eyebrows as Doctor Watson had appeared to be normal, ordinary, and boring in every respect during their brief conversation. The only thing which had made him truly stand out in Mycroft’s considered opinion was the depth of loyalty he’d shown Sherlock in the very short time they’d known each other.
Though Mummy likely discerned every thought and flicker of emotion that he experienced, he nonetheless gave voice to his disbelief. “Truly?”
“Yes. At the very least, he can see through the Mist.”
Mycroft hadn’t thought to test this during their meeting, given the general ordinariness of the man, but he had been planning to in the near future, given his seeming commitment to Sherlock. After all, if he was going to put himself in harm’s way, it wouldn’t do for him to be absolutely blind.
This in and of itself, however, shouldn’t have given Mummy any concern. In fact, in Mycroft’s view, it should have been positively necessary in any…companion of Sherlock’s. The fact that she was here to discuss it led him to believe there was more that she wasn’t telling him. “There’s more.”
She smiled approvingly at him, but only for a moment before her countenance turned serious again. “You did not visit Long Island when you were last in New York.”
It was not a question, but Mycroft answered it regardless. “No. It seemed unnecessary. My understanding was that the Oracle was in Manhattan. I attempted to make contact whilst I was there, but was unable to.”
“She was visiting friends, I believe. Given her age and her station in life, she moves around quite a bit. It is no surprise that you were unable to reach her.”
“Has there been a prophecy?”
“Yes, although the meaning is still unclear.” Mummy paused and Mycroft felt some concern for Sherlock and his new friend. If the prophecy was about them…well, it didn’t bear thinking about. Prophecies were usually never good. “You’ve always kept a close watch on Sherlock and I think it would be logical to continue to do so. You know how little he seems to watch after himself.”
Mycroft nodded with a small sigh. Sherlock wouldn’t like it, but then he never did when it came to what he seemed to feel was unwarranted intrusion into his life. “What does this have to do with John Watson, Mummy?”
She pursed her lips slightly. “He is very loyal and he will, in all likelihood, be a great friend to Sherlock. However, there is some danger in their friendship. Their friendship may cause them to make illogical decisions.” Her gaze focused on Mycroft and he had the familiar sensation of being a bug under a microscope. Mummy usually never turned that look on him unless she was deadly serious. “I trust I can count on you to make sure that any such decisions do not interfere with justice and the greater good.”
He had made this promise to so many people in the past—Mummy included—that he had no trouble solemnly swearing to do so again. He saw his mother relax and she smiled slightly at him, reminding him of childhood visits with her—his hand in hers—and how they would spend hours viewing architectural wonders. “You have always been a good son, Mycroft.” He would never admit it to anyone—not even Sherlock—but hearing Mummy praise him was what he always strove for.
“Thank you, Mummy,” he responded quietly.
She reached over to pat his hand lightly. “Give my regards to Sherlock.”
She smiled another fond smile at him and disappeared in a small flash of bright white light. Mycroft sighed and glanced down at the paperwork he’d been working on before his mother’s visit. He then turned away from it and started making phone calls. He was going to have to upgrade Sherlock—and Doctor Watson’s—security yet again. He just hoped that the two of them would be able to deal with the monsters that would no doubt come their way.