There were down-sides to this job, he thought as he gazed briefly at the ceiling. Shepherding dignitaries around wasn't normally one of them, it was more of a medium-side, a moderate-side... tedious but tolerable. Today he'd got one who made him want to shove glass shards under his fingernails.
He'd been forced to tag along to any number of brain-witheringly boring events and now this. This was just about the worst he could think of, he could barely sit still! He was fighting the urge to tear at what was left of his hair, scream and throw chairs about, just to relieve the tedium. He felt.. My god, I feel just like Sherlock.
Well there was a thought. He stared at his phone, the trecherous thing. He really shouldn't do this. He really shouldn't. No, he really, really shouldn't. It would only end in tears, it really would.
It definitely wouldn't be boring....
Then the master of ceremonies called out again and he started dialling.
[18:45 Mycroft Holmes] Trapped in bingo palace. Send help.
[18:52 SH] How does that happen?
[18:55 Mycroft Holmes] A hazard of babysitting duchesses.
[18:56 SH] Drew the short straw, did you?
[18:57 Mycroft Holmes] Alas.
[19:03 SH] I rather imagine your face looks somewhat like this
Mycroft's lips twitched as the image of a sad-looking Persian kitten peered mournfully over the rim of a pet basket. He flipped to the front-facing camera on his phone and took a quick snap of himself then sent it. Then he waited, expecting.... yup, the side-by-side comparison of his dour expression and that of the kitten.
[19:07 Mycroft Holmes] It appears to be an accurate assessment.
He had to bite his lip to keep the smirk under control as the next anticipated action of his brother came to fruition: His face, Photoshopped onto the kitten's body, peering over the rim of the pet bed.
[19:10 Mycroft Holmes] Amusing.
[19:11 SH] I assumed that's why you texted me.
[19:14 Mycroft Holmes] Indeed. Unfortunately, it appears that the kittens are attracting the attention of elderly onlookers who keep wishing to peer over my shoulder.
Mycroft had to choke back an outright laugh at the next image to appear on his phone, an image of a large bird-eating spider, holding a bird and captioned "Is can be hug tiem nao?" The nosy old biddy who'd been cooing at the kitten peeked over his shoulder and shrieked.
[19:18 Mycroft Holmes] Capital! A screech of satisfactory intensity.
He smirked as Sherlock sent an animated image of a maraca spider waving its ridiculous legs and captioned "Yay!"
[19:20 Mycroft Holmes] Why do you have a forlorn kitten on your phone?
[19:21 SH] Molly keeps sending them to me.
[19:21 Mycroft Holmes] Ah.
[19:21 SH] She believes they'll cheer me up.
[19:22 Mycroft Holmes] And do they?
[19:22 SH] No, not really.
[19:27 Mycroft Holmes] And an overly-curious 8 year old just splashed a dauber across my suit. There's 900 pounds I shan't see again.
[19:29 SH] Ouch. One of the bespoke ones?
[19:29 Mycroft Holmes] Unfortunately. There had been an itinerary but her Grace had other ideas.
[19:30 SH] I believe the current vernacular phrase is "Sucks to be you."
[19:30 Mycroft Holmes] At present, I cannot disagree.
[19:34 Mycroft Holmes] Since I am forced to remain here with nothing else to occupy my attention and you appear to be in an unexpectedly amicable mood, I shall ask how you are spending your evening?
[19:37 SH] John's out with yet another date so I'm using the opportunity to get in some time studying the contents of mosquito stomaches. The diversity of DNA is really rather surprising considering the size. Humans like to believe otherwise, but really, the top of the food chain is occupied by mosquitoes.
[19:38 Mycroft Holmes] And the bottom by line dancers.
[19:38 SH] That's self-evident.
[19:39 Mycroft Holmes] Mosquitos have captured your interest now, have they?
[19:40 SH] Not really. I was bored and it beats bingo ;-)
[19:40 Mycroft Holmes] Once again, I am unable to disagree.
[19:43 SH] How badly do you want to get out of there?
[19:43 Mycroft Holmes] Desperately. Why?
[19:44 SH] Because I've just stabbed myself with the scalpel.
Mycroft blinked as an image of Sherlock's finger, sporting a cut with a thin ribbon of blood, appeared on his phone.
[19:46 Mycroft Holmes] Best you treat that right away. Mosquitos are well known for carrying blood-borne diseases.
[19:46 SH] Don't be silly. I used a fresh one. Bring band-aids, we're down to the Hello Kitty ones that Molly brought over last spring.
Mycroft paused to consider that. Well, firstly the horror of Hello Kitty band-aids on men like Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. But then he considered the offer. He reeeeeeeally wanted out of this place, but.. visit Sherlock? Without John there as a buffer between them? They got on each other's nerves badly enough as it was!
Still... If there was one thing they both agreed on, it was that bingo halls were a level of Hell. And his little brother had just stabbed himself deliberately, to give Mycroft the excuse. But he had a job to do, he had been entrusted with entertaining the duchess, he knew where his duty lay.....
"Under the I, 37!"
"I'm terribly sorry, Your Grace, but I've just been informed that my little brother has been stabbed and lies injured and bleeding. I must attend him right away."
"Oh my goodness!!! Of course you must go, Mr. Holmes, I wouldn't have it otherwise! Mr. James and Mr. MacIsaac will be able to handle things just fine, I'm sure. Off you go, don't waste another second! Family first, you know!"
"Kind of you to understand, Your Grace."
Mycroft grabbed his coat and beat a hasty retreat, feeling guilty and bratty and oh so very free! As he stepped out into the cool London evening, his phone chimed.
[20:01 SH] Would you mind picking up some curry or something? Anything, really. I've just realized what the beeping was, it was the smoke alarm.
As the image of some badly charred chops downloaded onto his phone, Mycroft began to laugh.