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Rare Gifts

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The PA’s name was Juliet. Mycroft had declined to give her real name, and for the moment, that was fine. They met in public, at a cafe that was not far from the government building where Mycroft kept his official offices, but he could tell she did not feel safe there. But it was not something in the great wide open that should have her feeling afraid; whatever had happened in the forest had left its mark on her, and it was a glaring neon sign that he could clearly see even twenty feet away from the cafe.

“You see her through the window, don’t you?” Molly said as they jaywalked across the street.

He nodded. “We need to convince her we’re friendly and get her to Mycroft’s office immediately.”

Molly gave him a confused look. “Is it safe there?”

Merlin assured me that when he found out we were his descendants he warded our homes and our main place of businesses. Mycroft’s office, Barts and New Scotland Yard are among three of the most warded workplaces in all of London. I don’t worry about any of you while you’re there for the most part.”

“Good to know,” she said as she hurried the last few feet across the street. She got to the door of the cafe first and opened it, and a bell jangled. Juliet looked like her heart was going to leap out of her chest. “Go order us some coffee.”

“What?” Sherlock said, surprised.

“You’ve grown as time has gone by but she’s scared out of her wits. Let me talk to her first. You know how I like my coffee. Get me some.” She nodded to the counter and then made her way towards Juliet, radiating...something. Warmth. Comfort. Security. Merlin must be giving her different lessons than he gives me, he thought to himself. He went to the counter and ordered two coffees, a mocha cappuccino with a shot of hazelnut flavour and two shots of espresso for Molly and a black coffee with two sugars for himself.

It was then he noticed the spider in the corner. It was dangling from the web it had woven there, but there was a magical shield over it. It wasn’t meant to be seen. It was meant to observe without notice. The web was intricate, far more intricate than any garden variety spider he had seen in London before.

Interesting.

He got their coffees when they were done and went to Molly and the woman, leaning close to Molly when he set hers down in front of her. “We’re being watched,” he murmured. “Left corner by the counter. The spider in the web.” Molly picked up her coffee as he moved away to take a seat, glancing at the spider, and nearly spit out her drink. “What is it?” he asked, alarmed.

“That isn’t a normal spider,” she hissed quietly. “It’s got a human torso.”

Sherlock looked again but he couldn’t see that kind of detail, just the intricate web. “We need to leave. Now,” he said, standing up and taking Juliet by the hand. She gave him a wide-eyed look. “Alley?”

“Next to the building,” Molly said, leaving her coffee on the table as she stood. “Teleport?”

Sherlock nodded. “Faster and safer.” He guided Juliet to the door, almost pulling her, and then outside and to the side of the building, only stopping when he saw a line of black spiders come out from the shadows. “Not a good idea.”

“What else can you do?” Molly asked.

“Most people know I’m different. I survived the fall from Barts. Another public spectacle won’t hurt,” he said, grabbing Molly’s hand and casting the teleportation spell. In a flash, they were in Mycroft’s office, and Sherlock did a quick scan to check them all, quickly brushing a spider off one of Juliet’s pumps. He cast a freezing spell to make it stay in place and then looked around. “I need something to trap it in.”

“Your brother is far too meticulous for his own good,” Molly said, looking around as Juliet’s eyes rolled into the back of her head and she fainted. Sherlock caught her easily and then set her in one of Mycroft’s chairs, not caring if she was particularly comfortable because he was half concentrating on the spell. “A-ha!”

“A salad dressing container?” Sherlock asked as Molly triumphantly lifted a plastic container with a sealable top from his rubbish bin. “He must have been in a hurry in Andrea didn’t empty the bin before they left.” He took the container and opened it, ignoring the smell of blueberry vinaigrette, and trapped the spider in it. Once the spider was inside he released the spell and the spider began to move again, furious at being trapped.

“What do we do now?” Molly asked, looking at Juliet.

“I think this is much more than we can handle alone,” Sherlock said, not taking his eyes off the spider. “I think we need Merlin’s help.”

“Where is he?”

“That, it seems, is the question,” Sherlock said. “He said he needed to delve into studies of an ancient text for more information on my more first vision. He needs to be made aware of this latest one as well, the one of Death on the stag, and we need him to figure out why there are spiders involved in all this.”

“And Juliet?”

Finally, he tore his eyes away. “If I knew where my brother kept smelling salts I’d fetch them, but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what happens first: Merlin eavesdropping on our conversation or her coming to. In the meantime,” he said, “I believe I owe you lunch and if we order from this phone we can put it on Her Majesty’s tab.”

Molly smiled at that. “Well, it’s a small balm for the inconvenience,” she said, reaching for the phone. “Everything from haz St Paul?”

“Make it double,” he said, sinking to the floor and crossing his legs as he continued to study the spider. It appeared there was a new player in this, or perhaps the player, and one should always acquaint themselves with their enemy. And it was not as if he didn’t have time to kill. So studying the spider it would be.