There were a lot of things you could say about Iceland, but one thing was clear: when the island was in a bad mood, all of Europe came to a screeching halt. Ash and smoke and suddenly Europe, or at least the transportation systems, was back in the 19th century.
“Take the train from Frankfurt,” Mr Holmes had said when she called the office. “Just take the train to Paris or Brussels, then take Eurostar so you’ll be back tomorrow.”
Take the train. Ha! She’d like to see him take the train (or trains, to be accurate) from Frankfurt to London. No, she was going to stay in Frankfurt. Surely her time was better spent infiltrating Eurozone meetings and keeping an eye on the Greeks and the Germans and, of course, the French than jumping trains to get home in time for Snog Marry Avoid?
Yes, she watched Snog Marry Avoid, and she wasn’t ashamed to admit it. Well, not that ashamed, anyway.
“Gin Tonic, bitte,” she said, making eye contact with the bartender in the airport lounge. He smiled and said something incomprehensible; she flashed a smile and pretended to understand as well as she wished she did. She should really brush up on her German. Or stop pretending she spoke the language at all.
“Danke,” she said, signing the receipt for the outrageous 12 euros the drink cost. How could the prices at airport bars not be at the top of the EU Parliamentary agenda? At least the drink was strong.
She retrieved her phone from her handbag and sent a quick text.
you managed to
get drunk on
tax money yet?
I’m working on it.
Should I ask
John to record
Snog Marry Avoid
The drink almost came out her nose as she tried not to giggle. It simply wasn’t appropriate to giggle at text messages in public after the age of fifteen.
BBC iPlayer is
my friend. But
the next time
Yes, I’ll link you
Snog Marry Avoid
Stay away from
She rolled her eyes. Her boss’s brother was one of the best perks of her job. Sherlock Holmes was like coffee on a roller-coaster – energising, amusing and terrifying.
Still typing up her answer (Only in Japan. A pitcher here would plunge Britain into debt of Greek proportions.) she reached for her drink and missed by a couple of millimetres. That was just enough to knock it over completely, spilling the drink on the poor man standing next to her trying to get the bartender’s attention.
She blinked and started. He looked like Sherlock Holmes! The resemblance, even with the red hair and the freckles, was disturbing. That couldn’t be right. How strong was that drink?
“Entschuldigung,” she said and, ignoring her insane thoughts, she picked up the glass, looking for some napkins to give him. She registered that he was British by his use of profanities, and couldn’t help wondering if Sherlock would even consider that a deduction.
“I’m so sorry, sir.” She handed him some of the napkins she had found and started to wipe up the few drops that had ended up on the bar top.
“I’m- I’m sorry,” he stuttered, and blushing as if he had been the one spilling a drink all over her. “It’s just…this damn volcano. We weren’t supposed to stay here. And…and this was my only change of clothes. And it’s just…it’s….”
“I apologise,” she said, though she didn’t think it would do much difference.
“No, it’s okay…just fine. Bloody brilliant,” the man muttered, more to himself than to her, as he tried to pat his uniform dry. “This is just…just typical.”
“Let me buy you a drink,” she offered.
“Thank you, no, you don’t have to.”
She ignored him and caught the bartender’s eyes, even though the bar was crowded with irritated, volcano-grounded passengers. Dark eyelashes and a mysterious smile had their advantages: just ask Mona Lisa. With a flick of two fingers she ordered each of them a new drink.
Her phone vibrated on the bartop. She glanced at the screen. “A Friend,” it said. She opened the message as two glasses were placed in front of them.
Try not to cause
“Rough day?” she asked.
If the papers didn’t
pick up on the 2009 Nobel
Dinner, I can get away
“More like…rough life….” the man muttered, placing the soggy napkin on the bar. She finally took the time to actually look at him; the resemblance to Sherlock seemed to have disappeared at some point during the stuttering. Perhaps she had just imagined it in the first place. Pity.
Pride goes before
“It’s not your fault, I’m an accident magnet.”
“Are you sure you’ve chosen the right profession, then?” she asked, eying his pilot’s uniform with an amused, half-mocking smile.
“I- it’s not- I’ve never…. I mean it’s not like….”
“Take a breath, Captain,” she said, nodding in the direction of the glasses, “Drink something. Not like you’re going to fly anywhere tonight anyway.”
“Yes. Yes…. I…. Thank you.”
The man looked (and sounded) more confident and visibly straightened up when she addressed him as Captain. She smiled and turned back to her phone.
Your quoting the
Bible is scary.
Would a different
suit you better?
“So, um, why are you …. I mean, where are you, were you, I- I mean if-“
“London,” she answered, still texting. Better to put him out of the misery of having to complete a sentence than force him to stutter his way through she figured.
You and religion
don't mix well.
“Going home to a, a boyfriend?”
“No.” She met his eyes with a smirk, making him blush again. It was adorable how he did that. She wondered if Sherlock ever blushed.
“Oh, oh I see, I um, I’m not going home to a boyfriend either. Not that I’d want to, go home to a boyfriend. I’m a man. Not that wanting to go home to a boyfriend if you are a man is wrong or, or, I mean, because it’s not. It’s fine. I just don’t. Want to. I like women. I…. Oh, God….”
He turned away from her, looking like he wanted nothing more than to sink through the floor and disappear. She supressed a giggle and ignored her phone’s new text.
“Breathe,” she encouraged, and wondered if he’d get a stroke if she touched his hand. That would be cruel. Or incredibly funny.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered, and emptied half of his drink.
“Should we start again?” she suggested, offering her hand. “My name’s…Anthea.”
“My name’s Captain, no, that’s not my name…. I am the Captain, a Captain, my name is Martin. Crieff.” He kept her hand in his. He was trying not to look at her cleavage, which was obviously distracting him tremendously. Good, that was what it was there for.
“Nice to meet you, Captain Crieff,” she smiled, wiggling her hand free from his.
“Oh, God, sorry.”
She smiled and shook her head as she glanced at her phone. Upon seeing she had four texts from Sherlock, an idea popped into her head.
“May I take a picture of your thumb?”
“My what? Why?” Martin – no, she decided to call him Captain Crieff, it seemed to do such good things to his posture – looked startled.
“Your thumb. The left one,” she said, opening the camera on her phone.
“I work for the government,” she said, reaching for his wrist. She took the picture before he could ask about the logic in that, and sent the picture before he had recovered from her touch.
“What? Which government? What do you want with my thumb?”
Go for it.
She smiled at the message and turned her attention back to Captain Crieff. “Our government.”
“The, the British government?”
“Her Majesty’s Government, yes. That’s why I’m here. Euro crisis, lots of fun.”
“Why would the government care about my thumb?”
“Would you believe me if I said it was a matter of national security?”
“National…? What? No.”
“I have a friend who claims he can identify a pilot by his left thumb,” she finally admitted. The explanation did not seem to put him at ease.
“You sent a picture of my thumb to your friend?”
“Yes,” she smiled. “Unfortunately he’s as good as he thinks he is.”
“He could tell I was a pilot just by looking at a picture of my thumb?” Captain Crieff looked stunned. “Most people can’t even tell when they meet me. I mean, you could, that I was a captain even, but people mostly just…they-”
“People are idiots,” she interrupted, before he rambled himself into a corner again. He blushed and looked down at his wet uniform.
“Yes, yes they are,” he muttered.
Shut up, Sherlock.
I’m very busy.
“We should get you out of that uniform, Captain Crieff,” she said.
“Um…. I…. um…don’t have any…. It’s….”
“I know,” she said, “You didn’t bring a change of clothes because you didn’t plan on getting stuck here.”
“Yes, exactly, so, I can’t get out of…ehm…” – she looked up and gave him a telling glare – “Oh. OH! I-I-I…. Yes! I mean, yes. We should- it’s a….yes.”
Use a condom.
She dropped the phone into her handbag with a smile and stood, deliberately leaning too close to him. She could hear how his breath got stuck in his throat.
“Well, eh, yes um….where shall we, um, go?”
“Oh, I know places,” she said, and she led him out of the bar.
Half an hour later, Captain Crieff’s uniform shared a pile with a black skirt suit on the floor of a hotel room that Mycroft Holmes would reluctantly have to pay for.