Title: The Great Holmes Swap
Summary: Anthea finally agrees to date John if he can prove that living with Sherlock is much harder than coping with Mycroft, but when they switch lives, chaos, hilarity and true love ensues.
Chapter 1: Psychedelic Drugs and Renaissance Art
Pairings: Sherlock/John, Mycroft/Anthea,
Warnings: Slash, domestic scenes and too much George Clooney.
AN: Written for this prompt at the Sherlock Kink Meme. Thank you to sherlock2040
It began when another of Sherlock’s psychosis-inducing experiments accidently found its way into John’s morning tea. That particular cup of Earl Grey proved to be even more than Captain John Watson of the Northumberland Fusiliers could handle. After only three sips, John hit the floor like a proverbial sack of potatoes. What was more embarrassing than being paralysed from the waist down was being discovered several hours later by none other than Mycroft Holmes and his stunning assistant “Anthea” or “Not Anthea” as the case maybe.
Mycroft Holmes, ever the cultured gentleman, ordered two burly special agents dressed in dark suites to remove him into the waiting Bentley parked conspicuously outside the front of 221B. Mrs Hudson, who returned from her Pilate class only to see John being frog-marched out of his flat, remained admirably calm at the sight of her tenant being forcibly removed. Mycroft smiled reassuringly at the landlady and ushered his assistant out of the door before Mrs Hudson could offer them tea and biscuits. Five minutes later the viscous puddle of drool left on the carpet was the testimony to John's existence.
When John regained his senses and the use of his lower extremities, he was lying in a brightly decorated hospital room with several IV lines going into his arm and a cardiac monitor beeping way in the background. The scene was melodramatic enough for Grey’s Anatomy and the presence of a gorgeous lady beside his bed only added to the Hollywood effect.
“Possibly Anthea” was bearing down at him with a perfectly sardonic smile.
“Nice to see you back amongst the sentient, Dr Watson,” she said calmly, “Mr Holmes will be along shortly for a chat,”
“A chat?” slurred John and he hastily reached out to wipe the drool from his chin. Anthea's immaculate attire made him suddenly very conscious of his own inadequacies.
“Yes, Dr Watson, a chat,” she concluded, emphasizing the last word enough to make it sound vaguely threatening.
“I don’t want – chat,” gargled John, still not able to fully master the rudiments of speech. His mind was surprisingly clear and this made the situation all the more embarrassing. Anthea was an exotic beauty worthy of immortalising by romantic poets. He would never have a chance with her but that didn’t make the humiliating situation any easier to bear.
When he managed to get hold of Sherlock, John silently vowed to make sure the detective never solved another crime ever again.
“Really Dr Watson,” Anthea replied in her most condescending voice, “I don’t think you’re in a position to argue,”
John wished he could think of a witty reply but his mental faculties all but evapourated as the very male part of his brain registered the delicate curves of her body. She was exquisitely proportioned, a model that Michelangelo would have glorified in marble.
“I -,” he stuttered as Anthea stepped casually towards him, “I -,”
“You seem lost for words, Dr Watson,” remarked Anthea who was by now particularly hovering over John’s personal space.
He decided in that split second to ask the question he had been rehearsing for over two years, since the moment he first laid eyes on her extraordinary beauty.
“I’d like to go out with you!” he blurted. The more rational part of him was faintly relieved that sentence came out as a garbled string of odd noises but by the expression that was spreading over Anthea’s face, he knew she had understood the general meaning.
“You’d like to date me?” whispered Anthea, her smile turning practically predatory.
Under stress and devoid of any option to retreat, the military training, that had become second nature to John, kicked in. The straight talking and pragmatically military aspect of his personality calmly decided to commence a full on frontal assault.
“You are the most beautiful and cultured woman I have ever met,” replied John candidly. With focus and determination he managed to annunciate his words enough that they were at least understandable. This minor success helped to refuel his self-confidence and steady his erratic heart beat. The sweat that was prickling underneath his skin dissipated and the essential tremor in his hands subsided to barely visible twitch.
He was Captain John Watson of the Northumberland Fusiliers. He had faced down Taliban suicide bombers; this conversation was a walk in the park.
“You are amazingly intelligent, eminently brilliant in fact and even though I hardly know you, I promise I will put every ounce of my being into making you happy for the rest of your life.”
Anthea raised on finely shaped eyebrow in an expression not dissimilar to the ones worn by Mycroft during his prolonged battles with Sherlock.
“Are you proposing to me?” she asked with a note of genuine humour in her voice, “a minute ago you only wanted a date.”
A small surge of panic threatened to burst John’s new found calm; perhaps professing his undying love had been too much?
“No,” he said decisively, “I’m merely telling you how I truly feel. You hardly know me but at least give me the chance to prove myself to you.”
“Dr Watson, as much as I appreciate your heart felt if blunt confession, I hardly think we are remotely compatible. A man who can’t even manage his own flatmate does not appeal to me.”
John usually braced himself for a rejection in the same way that he braced against incoming enemy fire but the strategy completely failed to maintain his military control in this particularly situation.
“What? I can’t manage Sherlock? Do you have any idea what a complete and utter nightmare he is to live with!” demanded John.
He was angry, and frankly insulted by Anthea’s casual criticism. It was not John’s fault that a psychedelic paralytic poison had mysterious appeared in his mug overnight. No sane person could have defended against such an event and John was not going to let Sherlock push his behaviour into the paranoid-delusional spectrum of psychiatric disease.
“It hardly takes any brain power to at least check your mug before drinking,” replied Anthea haughtily, “ after all your tea had turned bright purple.”
The rational side of John had to admit he did not give the tea a second glance after pouring it out but his wounded pride was enough to make him carry on the argument.
“Tell me, do you wake up every morning and check for poisons, bombs and other death traps? Does that sound like something a sane person would do?”
Anthea merely smiled back at him with very attractive arrogance,
“Dr Watson, I wake up every morning and organise the British Government. I think managing to stay alive with Sherlock is rather trivial in comparison.”
John immediately realised who she had been referring to as “the British Government” but it was rather disconcerting to have his morbid fears confirmed. Mycroft Holmes apparently did control the United Kingdom.
“It’s an entirely different matter!” complained John, “Your boss doesn’t leave biohazardous waste in your private space.”
“No,” countered Anthea, “he does however start World Wars. Which Holmes do you think is more difficult to manage?”
“Well Sherlock,” continued John stubbornly, “likes to play chicken with criminal masterminds. Has Mycroft ever faked his death for 18 months and then wandered in off the street again demanding milk?”
Anthea performed the classy feminine equivalent of rolling her eyes in response to that particular question.
“Mycroft gets kidnapped more often than I have manicures, and besides you don’t have to deal with his dieting.”
John was about to comment that Mycroft’s dieting seemed to be paying off extremely well but then he realised just why the cake-loving bureaucrat had been losing weight. Despite this, John wasn’t ready to concede the argument.
“Sherlock plays the violin at four in the morning and he steals my food, not to mention the decomposing body parts in the fridge!”
Anthea pursed her lips into the most adorable pout John had ever seen.
“Mycroft watches George Clooney films repeatedly and he makes me do it with him.”
“How’s that even a bad thing?” asked John, “George Clooney is a brilliant actor and he plays a wide variety of deep and interesting characters.”
“Well,” snapped Anthea, “if you think my life is so easy, why don’t you try it for a week?”
John didn’t believe that Anthea was being serious; the challenging tone in her voice was simply a bluff intended to end the surreal contest of which Holmes Brother was worse. However, the more John thought about her proposal that more attractive it began to sound. The shocked expression on Anthea’s face when he called her bluff would be entirely worth doing just that. She would never actually agree to swap her upper-class life for his sordid existence, so John would inevitably win the argument by default.
“Fine! I will try out your life for a week,” said John smile sweetly.
The anticipated capitulation didn’t occur; instead Anthea smiled back at him with a distinctly evil glint in her eyes.
“What?” gasped John.
He was completely flabbergasted, the situation had spiralled out of his control and he could see from the smug expression on Anthea’s face this was exactly how she had planned it.
“Are backing out already? I knew you couldn’t handle the pressure but arguments aside, I’m giving you a Sherlock free holiday with five star accommodation, surely you would appreciate that.”
The devilish woman did have a point. The proposal would give John the chance to escape from Sherlock and their death-trap laden flat. Anthea looked to be very well off, certainly wealthier than John could ever hope to be, so perhaps stepping into her life would be a luxurious experience. He could picture himself curled up on a ridiculously expensive couch surrounded by scented candles and listening to soothing classical music. He would be able to enjoy the peace and quiet everyone else took for granted; it was an offer he simply couldn't refuse. However, like any seasoned card player, John would wait for the opportune moment to reveal his hand.
“Of course I’m not backing down” said John casually, “I just don’t think you’ll be able to convince Sherlock or your boss to go along with this crazy scheme.”
John expected Anthea to at least pause for thought but she simply pulled out her blackberry and started typing away rapidly. After several seconds, Anthea slipped it back into her pocket and smirked down at John with dark humour.
“It’s all been arranged; you’ll be paid my usual salary and be given all the benefits I get as a matter of course. Mycroft’s coming to pick you up in ten minutes.”
John stared at her with utter astonishment; how could Anthea just command her boss to change his assistant with one text?
“The goldfish out of water look doesn’t suite you,” continued Anthea smoothly, “and don’t worry about Sherlock, he probably won’t even notice you’re gone.”
That’s quite true, thought John, and also rather depressing.
Anthea left swiftly afterwards, and John cursed himself for not reminding her he would still like to have a date. His romantic overtures had been all but buried under their silly feud. Once again Sherlock Holmes had managed to ruin John’s love life without even making an appearance.
He was left alone in the quiet hospital room, wondering how he was going to explain to Sarah that he would not be going into work this week because he had just become PA to the British Government. John suddenly hoped that Anthea was just playing a very nasty practical joke on him in retaliation for his clumsy attempts at seduction.
However, his hopes were utterly dashed when Mycroft Holmes came strolling into the room, jovially swinging his black umbrella.
“John,” he said with great humour, “I see you’ve just been co-opted into becoming Jane for week.”
“Jane?” asked John in completely confusion.
“Oh, you really didn’t think her name was actually Anthea, did you?” replied Mycroft with condescending smugness.
“Er – no?” supplied John, not quite sure how he was supposed to react.
“Good,” drawled Mycroft in a low soothing tone that sounded vaguely sinister, much like the man himself. “Don’t worry about your belongings; I’ll have them sent over to my apartment this afternoon.”
John knew that he was overusing that particular word but there didn’t seem to any other alternatives in the English language to expression his ever increasing surprise.
“Well you did agree to practically swap lives with Jane,” said Mycroft, sounding terribly reasonable.
“Anthea lives with you?” asked John, trying to keep the incredulous disgust out of his voice. It appeared that Anthea or rather Jane, had forgot to mention that part of her arrangement with Mycroft.
“For professional reasons,” replied Mycroft, his steely gaze preventing John from furthering any inappropriate thoughts.
John truly wanted to believe him, he was still utterly fixated on the stunning woman who had swept into his life with the force of a tornado and turned it upside down.
“Er – okay?”
His well honed sense of self preservation applauded his acquiescence. After all, how terrible could one week as Mycroft's "live-in" PA be?
“Well, Dr Watson, I think we shall have a very interesting time,” concluded Mycroft, looking disturbingly smug.