Chapter 1: The New Anthea
Disclaimer: This fan-fiction is not written for profit and no infringement of copyright is intended. Not beta read, so all mistakes are mine.
CHAPTER ONE: THE NEW ANTHEA
She walks into his office looking exactly as might be expected.
Tailored skirt-suit, low-hanging ponytail. Artfully natural-looking makeup and the sort of ramrod straight posture (she is a product of St Mary’, after all) which women of their class are expected to maintain. Mycroft notes the tiny touches of individuality (short nails, the lack of hair dye) but for the most part she would manage to pass unnoticed amongst her fellows in the Ministry. Overlooked. Underestimated.
Well, he thinks. That sets her ahead immediately.
She clears her throat in the silence, the tone of it clearly peremptory, and despite himself, he smiles.
So, she knows when and how to prompt him. Excellent.
“Shall we get on?” he says and she nods her head once, sharply.
“I certainly hope so,” she says, only to flash him a quick smile when he opens his mouth to correct her. “Forgive me, Sir,” she says, belatedly attempting politeness. “My father, General Stanley, told me that Winnie Holmes’ son would probably appreciate a sense of humour.”
The smile widens slightly.
“He also told me that having one would be essential, were I to work for you.”
The smile widens even more.
Mycroft cocks an eye at her: A pleasant way in remind him of her connections, that- And an excellent way to build rapport, were he the sort of man who falls for things like bonhomie and flirtation.
He finds he likes her more and more, God help him.
“I dare say he’s right,” he tells her. He shoots her a sharp look. “I also dare say that he was surprised when you asked about this post: my assistant is a role for which General John Stanley doubtless feels his daughter overly-qualified.”
“Oh massively, Sir.” To his surprise, her smile widens again. “Been in touch, has he?” she asks wryly, when he doesn’t answer. She shakes her head.
“Bunty- my brother, Ben- made him promise he would leave it alone,” she tells him with a shrug. “He doesn’t approve of my joining the secret service: If Daddy had his way, I’d be married in Cheltenham by now.” A slightly more wicked smile. “I am not, alas, the marrying sort, however.”
“Indeed you are not.” Mycroft gestures to her file, which notes an excellent education, a thorough grounding in modern languages and diplomacy, as well as excellent results in all her firearms tests.
It also notes that all but two of her former relationships have been with other women, one of them up-and-coming troublemaker du jour, Irene Adler.
That’s the sort of thing which gets a new recruit noticed- And not necessarily in a positive light.
She inclines her head slightly, understanding the implication without his having to be explicit.
“My tastes are my own,” she says evenly. “I don’t let them get in the way of the work, and I don’t let my hormones drive my decision-making.” She inclines her head again. “That, I believe, is something we have in common, Sir.”
Mycroft says nothing.
She sighs. “Is it a problem?” she asks and he blinks, that rarest of things: surprised. There are few who would have the gumption to ask him straight out and again, he thinks he likes her.
It’s an rare thing. to find bluntness and diplomacy in one woman.
“Why no, it’s not a problem” he says, rather more animatedly than he intended. Instantly he halts himself. “I merely wished to make you aware- Other departments might have a problem with it.” He clears his throat. “But not this one.”
“Because of your brother?”
She’s getting cheeky now.
“Because it makes no sense to have a problem with it,” he counters testily. “For the department, or my brother.” Now it’s his turn to shrug.
“Aside from the morality of it,” he says more smoothly, “forcing operatives to keep their preferences a secret merely makes our enemies’ jobs easier.”
She nods, not needing him to elaborate: Every major incident with infiltration in MI6′s history had been founded on blackmailing those afraid to have the agency discover that their interests lay in the own sex. To Mycroft’s way of thinking, continuing with such a policy would be madness. Unfortunately for him however- and those others, like the woman before him, on whom such a policy impacts- the higher ups have yet to see the wisdom in his attitude.
Even the wise, he muses, can be so very stupid sometimes.
Yet another reason why the sooner I’m in charge, the better.
Another beat of silence stretches out.
This one, though, is more comfortable. The woman opposite him allows it to stretch out, not as a dare but as an invitation: If silence is a prerequisite for the job then silence, she seems to be saying, is what he shall have.
He finds he rather likes that.
She meets his eyes evenly. The sound of his clock ticks quietly in the background and Mycroft knows that he has seen enough to make his decision.
He hopes it is the right one: None of the others have lasted longer than a month.
“The posting begins as soon as I require it,” he tells her stiffly. “That means you’ll be leaving GCHQ this evening- I expect you to start with me on Monday, is that clear?”
She nods, showing no surprise, though she smiles a little.
It makes her face look rather lovely.
“I’ll be here, bright eyed and possibly even bushy-tailed,” she tells him. “Sir.”
Mycroft elects to treat that statement with the scepticism it deserves.
“You are more than qualified for the job,” he tells her, standing. “But then, every other person who has taken this post has been more than qualified too.
“What will see you kept on is how we work together, and how much or little I need to watch over you.” He gestures to his office. “This is my house, my kingdom: I only accept those within it whom I wish to have here, do you understand?”
She nods. “So you’re the job,” she says. “The post is immaterial.”
He shoots her a look. “That’s not how I would have put it, but yes.”
She stands, extending her hand. “Then, until Monday,” she says. “Thank you, Sir, for the opportunity.” A beat. “And thank you for being honest,” she says.
Mycroft’s not sure what to make of that.
He shakes her hand though, feels the strength of its grip. Again, he thinks that he feels rather comfortable around this person and before he starts working with her, it would behove him to understand why. He does not, however, say this.
He merely stands, walks her to the door. “Millicent,” he tells the office secretary, “Update this candidate’s security status: We’ve found ourselves a new Anthea.”
He watches the young woman walk out of his office, heads turning as she goes, and he can’t help but feel that something... important just happened here.
Chapter 2: The Gift of Giving
Disclaimer: This fanfiction is not written for profit and no infringement of copyright is intended. Not beta read, so all mistakes are mine. Thanks for their reviews go to Mouse9, Thewasp, Miz Joely, IantoLives, Westwinder, Ohgodbenny, ChiefDoctor and mayree1960, and thanks also go to all those who gave kudos. Enjoy!
CHAPTER TWO: THE GIFT OF GIVING
Mycroft doesn’t mean to get used to her, he doesn’t.
He tells himself that she’s a tool, nothing more.
But well, she seems to have a knack of making her self indispensable... And making him perfectly happy to have her that way...
Sometimes he wonders whether he should be worried about that, but he can’t bring himself to think that way for long.
Incident One: Mother’s Day
“In fairness,” Anthea points out, “you didn’t specify how exactly you wanted him brought in.”
“I was very careful- He wasn’t in the least bit harmed-”
Some more silence.
Mycroft throws in a cocked eyebrows for good measure.
“For pity’s sake, Sir,” she says in exasperation, “Did you or did you not order me to get your mother something special for Mother’s Day?”
At that Mycroft blinks. Looks at her.
“You’re blaming this on me?” And he gestures dramatically to the scene before him.
“Of course”.She crosses her arms smugly over her chest before gesturing to his little brother, Sherlock- Who is currently sitting in his front room, tied to a chair with electrical tape and barely conscious.
As if knowing he’s being discussed, the little brat raises his head groggily and demands to know where he is. He also demands a cigarette.
Had Mycroft his way, neither would be forthcoming.
Anthea, on the other hand, is apparently feeling generous. “You’re in your brother’s flat,” she helpfully explains. “The sleeping agent should wear off soon.” A disapproving cluck of her tongue. “If you weren’t so bloody caned it would have already-”
Mycroft glares at her. “There was something in his system and you still shot him?”
Anthea looks unrepentant- A common thing from her, he has learned.
He just wished he didn’t find it so damned attractive.
“He kept running away,” she says matter-of-factly. “I told him to desist and he refused, so, well...”
She shrugs, takes a small dart gun out of her handbag. Shows it to Mycroft. Upon spotting it, the still-groggy Sherlock gives it a thunderous scowl and starts swearing mutinously.
The display of vocabulary is really rather impressive.
“I had the boys over in HQ cook it up specially. It’s designed not to react to anything in his system,” Anthea is saying. “Which is just as well, considering where I found him...”
“You didn’t find me,” Sherlock grouses. “You kidnapped me.”
Anthea looks at him pityingly. “If you wanted to get away then you shouldn’t have been so slow,” she points out. “Besides, it’s not kidnapping if the government does it.”
“Solid logic, that,” Sherlock scoffs.
“Simple truth,” she responds tartly.
Sherlock sticks his tongue out in retort and Mycroft squeezes the bridge of his nose. Prays for patience- He’s getting what he terms a Sherlock Headache, right there behind his eyes-
He opens his mouth- to snap, to fire Anthea, to tell Sherlock to bugger off, he’s not sure which- but before he can he hears the sound of his flat door opening. Hears a dreaded, cheery “Yoohoo! Mikey!” followed by an equally ominous, “halloo, son, are you there?”
“Mummy!” Sherlock blurts.
“Daddy!” Mycroft mutters.
“God afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Holmes,” Anthea calls out winningly, shooting her boss a devilish smile as she walks into the hall.
Sherlock looks at his brother, his eyes a mix of hungover irritation and grudging respect as Anthea glad-hands their parents into the sitting room and takes their coats.
They sound like they’re absolutely enchanted with her.
“You’re thinking of marrying that girl right now, aren’t you?” he says sagely, looking at his brother.
“Oh, do shut up,” Mycroft tells him- Which is not the same as saying he’s wrong.
Incident Two: New Years’ Eve
In fairness, Mikey can allow that this is his fault.
After all, had he not suggested that Anthea join he and the rest of the Kingmakers’ in cabinet at the Diogenes Club, then neither he nor Anthea would currently be hanging by their heels over a fireplace, awaiting execution by a disgruntled oligarch who blamed Mycroft on his star’s descent in the Kremlin.
(As if being caught trying to seduce the Russian President’s sixteen year old daughter hadn’t done the trick all on its own).
So great is the elder Holmes’ sense of dismay at his failure to foresee this turn of events that it takes him about three seconds longer than it should have to realise that Anthea is not, in fact, helpless, and that she had somehow, at some point in the evening, managed to hide a butter-knife in her garter belt, something she is currently trying to get her hands on-
“Can I help with that?” Mycroft asks, gesturing to the knife.
Their captors’ security detail has, rather foolishly, elected to leave them alone for the moment and oh but Mikey intends to make them sorry for that.
“Can you reach me if I swing towards you, Sir?” Anthea asks, already shifting her body so that she can swing, pendulum-like, towards him.
The first time she makes contact, it knocks the wind out of him.
“I can,” Mycroft says, though he’s not entirely convinced of it. Field-work like this is not exactly his forte, after all. Nevertheless, needs must when the devil rides and so he moves until he’s swinging towards her too, his back connecting with her front.
When their bodies collide, Anthea wraps her legs awkwardly around his calves and holds him to her.
Held still, he manages to manoeuvre his hand down to take the knife from her garter belt and start sawing on her bonds.
It’s slow going; the ways in which their bodies are connected do not exactly encourage movement. Mycroft is also painfully aware that he may harm Anthea, should she jerk herself towards the knife, and he wouldn’t want that now, would he?
Eventually however, he manages to get her hands loose; she immediately kicks off her heels and lets go of her grip on him. Swings herself up so that she can grab her feet and cut the ropes stringing her up.
With a huff and a string of swear-words she gets herself free, just in time to drop to the ground and encounter the hench-man who was supposed to be watching them-
The fight is swift. Brutal.
Anthea takes his gun off him with ease, doesn’t hesitate as she pulls the trigger.
The sound of the gunshot will bring others, Mycroft knows. So does she. Nevertheless she hauls over the table at which they were latterly sitting. Cuts Mycroft free, helping him to collapse gracelessly on the floor with an ungentlemanly, “oomph!”
She grins as she helps him up- “Alright there, Sir?” - and her eyes are dancing.
Their escape is noisy, with firefights and sundry property damage, but Mycroft finds that doesn’t hold his attention. In fact, though they duck and weave and steal things and throw things, he finds he’s not interested at all.
Because all he can really concentrate on is the fact that Anthea is holding him up with all her strength, and not once does she seem to feel he’s slowing her down.
That’s a new feeling for Mycroft, and one he finds he likes.
Incident 3: Valentine’s Day
He finds the package on his desk after shes finished up for the day.
It;s from his favourite bakery in Chealsea, and its contents are so fresh that some of them are still hot.
He opens the beautifully wrapped box to find short-bread, still-warm scones. A selection of his favourite cakes, all made in tiny, bite-sized portions and beautifully displayed.
I won’t tell anyone if you don’t, Sir, the note says. For the day that’s in it, and how much we both loath it. A.
Despite himself and the ridiculousness of the gesture, Mycroft nevertheless finds himself smiling...
Anthea comes back the next day to find a small statue of the goddess Hera on her desk. Hera Antheantus, to be exact.
She doesn’t ask who it’s from, but then she wouldn’t need to, would she?
There now, hope you enjoyed. There's more to come for this pair- Stay tuned.
Chapter 3: Interloper
Disclaimer: This fanfiction is not written for profit and no infringement of copyright is intended. Not beta read, so all mistakes are mine
It’s easier, of course, when she’s with a woman.
When Anthea is seeing a member of her own gender, Mycroft finds himself feeling happy for her. Interested, but in a distant sort of a way, in what’s going on in her life. Her taste in women may not be much better than her taste in men, but Mycroft can’t help feeling a sense of complacency when he reads the security files on Prudence. Jennifer. Casey. These women may be beautiful, they may be dangerous, but he knows that his Anthea is more than a match for them.
It’s when she’s involved with another man that Mycroft finds himself… worrying.
He knows it’s stupid- ridiculous, even- but the idea of his Anthea with another man somehow irks him.
At first he tells himself he’s imagining things: He is Mycroft Holmes, after all. The Iceman. His only weakness is his family, and one would have to be foolish indeed to tangle with them. And so he doesn’t really mind when Anthea has a brief dalliance with a German operative on loan from Interpol, nor does he object when she takes up with a strapping blond translator tasked with returning one of Denmark’s most famous Medieval manuscripts.
It’s a minor thing, a trifle, he tells himself.
This is reinforced by the fact that her next relationship, that with the policewoman Sally Donovan, is of some duration and apparently happy. (It is, of course, utmost in his mind, that his Anthea be happy).
That there might be some hypocrisy in his desire for her happiness and choosiness about how she finds it is not something on which Mycroft ever allows himself to dwell.
When she and Sally part, it’s on good terms, and she maintains an excellent working relationship with the Met, good enough to get Sherlock’s foot in the door with Sally’s guv’nor without raising much of a fuss. They even end up exchanging Christmas cards, something which is not, apparently, all that usual with one’s Goldfish.
It is in the aftermath of this breakup, however, that his Girl Friday takes up with The Italian.
And that is when matter starts to get out of hand.
Alessandro Tobas is a banker, a money man with ties to most of the major banking institutions in Europe, and plenty beyond. He is a gourmand, an art collector and a better-looking version of George Clooney, as if such a thing were possible.
Needless to say, Mycroft hates him, both on sight and on general bloody principles.
Tobas meets Anthea at an Embassy dinner where she’s helping Mycroft case a young heiress and her new husband, and as soon as they meet, sparks fly. Mycroft is aghast: Within a couple of months, they’re spending all the time together that they can and it occurs to Holmes that, the law being what it is, Anthea might actually choose to settle down with Tobas. Leave. Marry. Have a family.
The thought that she would abandon him brings an unaccountable… pang to his chest.
But he knows better than to think he can dissuade her- Just as he knows he would receive scant thanks for trying. So he keeps Schumer. Throws himself into his work. For months he fights his inherent distrust of Tobas, though that doesn’t stop him from using the full might of the British Secret Service to try and find dirt on him. He has his bank records looked at. His property portfolio. His possible ties to organized crime.
All come up empty.
Mycroft bloody hates that.
It seems that Tobas is that rarest of things, an honest rich man, and though he should be relieved by this, Mycroft is aghast to realize that he is not. He want him to be unworthy of his Girl Friday, and he wants to be able to point out as much to Anthea.
What Tobas turns out to be, however, is not a threat but an idiot. A common or garden idiot.
For though he has gained Anthea’s trust and her affection, he squanders both in a dalliance with another, an actress of some description. (Apparently she’s involved in a soap opera)
Moron that he is, Tobas is caught coming out of this other woman’s flat and kissing her on her doorstep, a photo which makes its way onto the front pages of the unseamlier tabloids as well as the internet.
By the time Mycroft see it, Anthea has already spoken to Tobas and sent him packing.
Holmes comes into his office to ind her nursing a glass of his best scotch, sitting in his chair with the curtains drawn
Though her makeup is perfect and her suit immaculate, Mycroft nevertheless can see that she has recently been crying. It hurts him to see it.
He walks over to her, takes the scotch from her. Glowers down at her from his greater height, arms crossed sternly over his chest. She looks up at him: There’s pain in her gaze and it makes his heart, feeble, black organ that it is, twist to see it.
Suddenly she looks awfully, awfully young to him.
“Did you know?” She asks quietly and he shakes his head. Leans over and tops up her glass before handing it back to her.
“If I had known,” he says, “I would have told you.”
She looks at him, hard. “Did you arrange the girl?” She asks and at that too, he shakes his head.
“Do you honestly think I’m capable of pulling off such a feat without the great Agent Anthea spotting my fingerprints all over it?”
He even tries to smile at her.
He had meant the statement to be a joke, but now he’s looking at her he realizes that some tiny, young, rarely seen part of Anthea had wanted it to be a plot. Had wanted him to be responsible.
Again he feeels that odd twist of affection which only comes to him around her.
He knows the name of this feeling, though he tells himself that he does not.
So with careful deliberation he leans over, plucks another glass from his desk drawer before pouring himself a drink. Clinking his glass to hers.
“I could arrange for an accident,” he points out conversationally, and to his relief, she laughs.
“Don’t tempt me,” she says darkly, drinking more of her scotch-
She’ll never know it, but Mycroft Holmes will see to it that Alessandro Tobas is stopped and searched at every airport he goes through for the rest of his life.
The rest. Of His. Life.
It’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but for his Anthea, it’s the least he can do.
Chapter 4: Home Fires
The years pass- Some, it seems, faster than others.
Magnussen weighs in, only to be fought off once. Twice. By the third time, Mycroft gets the impression he's starting to annoy the other man, something which makes his black little heart rather glad.
One must have one's hobbies, after all.
His darling brother Sherlock gets and remains clean, a minor miracle. He manages to find himself a house and a life too, and even- bless!-friends (though the less said about the way Sherlock looks at one Molly Hooper, specialist registrar, when he thinks nobody's looking, the better.)
There are cases. Adventures.
He and Anthea continue to work well together.
And if she's more circumspect with her heart these days, and he less circumspect with his confidence in her, well, Mycroft thinks he can live with that.
Where she's concerned, he finds he can live with just about anything.
So they continue to work, continue to serve together. When Moriarty makes his play, she's there. When Magnussen tries for the last time to best him, Anthea is by his side. Holding things together, even as Sherlock cocks up his own life so spectacularly, let alone that of his parents' and the Watsons'. She's there at Mary Watson's funeral; She's there in his stead at Rosie Watson's christening. She even helps Mycroft with baby brother's rehabilitation after Culverton Smith, a solid, dependable voice of reason on the rare occasions when she and Sherlock interact. She is Mycroft's constant, dear to him as his own shadow. Closer to him even than his kin.
And unlike his family, Athea always, always manages to make things better.
And so it is not, perhaps, overly surprising that Mycroft reacts as he does when Eurus begins acting out. For if his darling sister were ever so leave her prison, Mycroft isn't sure he could guarantee his Anthea's safety, never mind his own.
So when a woman tries chatting Anthea up in one of London's less conspicuous gay bars, it alarms him. Though pretty and charming- "Just my type," according to the young agent- she nevertheless sets Anthea's alarms off and his Girl Friday sensibly fakes an emergency. Retreats to the ladies and calls it in.
By the time Anthea's managed to get herself to a safe distance, the mystery woman is gone- For a time.
But she reappears, in several guises over the years. An unusually chatty and helpful woman turns up in Molly Hooper's yoga class, a new home help turns up for Mrs. Hudson though she didn't request one and now, why now they're thick as thieves… A woman on a bus makes eyes at John Watson, and soon, despite his wife and his new baby, the idiot is trading text messages with her…
In each case, Mycroft suspects Eurus (in fact, he doubts anyone else could get even half this done.) And yet he can't see how she's doing it- The duty logs, the security cameras, all show his sister remains secured on Sherrinford. He would know, he is sure, if she were getting out- Wouldn't he?
Of course, by the time he figures out the answer to that, Eurus and her games on Sherrinford have nearly claimed he and their family whole.
And the worst thing is that the great Mycroft Holmes will have found out he is powerless to stop her.
The house is in darkness when Mycroft finally makes it back from Sherrinford.
It's as quiet as the grave as he staggers inside and finally, finally allows himself to sag against the door, the exhaustion of the last few hours catching up with him. The dread of what tomorrow will bring churning in his chest.
He will have to tell his parents what he did to his sister, and the thought of it brings a sense of pain so strong, it's less discomfort than a white wall of oblivion.
With a kind of distracted horror, he realizes that his hands are shaking.
His breath, too, seems to be coming rather fast and he wonders distractedly when that started.
In the darkness his phone sounds, the team charged with dropping Sherlock off informing him that while Doctor Watson has been secured in his home, Brother Dearest insisted he be left at Molly Hooper's flat- And Christ only knows, Mycroft muses, what havoc he will cause there-
A light pops on in front of him and immediately he grabs for the first weapon which comes to hand- A vase.
It takes a split second longer than it should to recognize the familiar outline of Anthea, her gun drawn though she is in her bare feet.
When she sees him, she holds her free hand out in a steadying gesture. "Stand down, sir," she says quietly. "I checked- The house is secured." She moves forward and in the low light he can see that she's rolled up her shirt-sleeves, her waist coat unbuttoned and her trousers wrinkled from sitting for hours at a time.
She steps up to him, into his space.
She's a great deal closer than normally anyone gets, to him, and despite the fact that he knows he shouldn't', in that moment all Mycroft can feel is a great wave of relief, that she's there.
"I knew you'd require someone familiar with the house to secure it," she says softly, her voice soothing. Soft. In the low light of the evening, her eyes are pools of brown and Mycroft chides himself for so, so asinine a thought.
She has eyes, he reminds himself sharply. All women have eyes. Men too.
And yet, a voice whispers within him, how many women have eyes as beautiful as hers?
At the thought he shakes his head, angry at himself. He's feeling overly emotional because of the day, he tells himself. Nothing more. He cannot allow it to be anything more. The image of his younger brother, tearing that coffin apart this afternoon, rises behind his eyes and he pushes it forcefully away. Anthea looks at him askance and he snaps out some moronic response, something which (judging by the look on her face) she doesn't buy, not at all. Rather she takes him by his elbow- in that terribly no-nonsense way she has- and begins towing him towards his massive, empty monstrosity of a kitchen.
"There's food in here, Sir," she tells him. "You haven't eaten- Hastings told me."
Hastings- Who had taken point on the team that rushed to Musgrove. In the rush, it hadn't occurred to Mycroft to wonder why it wasn't Anthea, he had merely trusted that she had found something more useful to do- And judging by the way the house was torn apart, she had. The job he'd been dreading, having to recheck his home since whatever team had been sent couldn't possibly be as good as him, was no longer on the table.
He breathes a sigh of relief. Allows himself to be seated at his kitchen counter, allows himself to be handed a cup of tea and a plate of his favorite biscuits.
It doesn't even occur to him to object, but then, when does he need to, with Anthea?
She watches him in that calm, sensible way she has, a cup of tea at her elbow, and for the first time since he set foot on Sherrinford Island, he allows himself to breathe easily. To relax.
Why is it he only ever seems to relax around her?
"You'll sleep here?" He doesn't remember deciding to say the words, but Anthea nods anyway.
"Of course, Sir," she say. "I must admit, I'd rather be here tonight I-" She clears her throat and in the low light, Mycroft could swear she's blushing. "I would want to be certain you're alright," she says gruffly. The blush gets a little worse, though Mycroft doesn't understand it. "Besides, someone will have to check your dressings tomorrow, and it would be better if t was someone whom you know-"
"Quite." Now Mycroft is blushing too, and damn it all, he doesn't know why.
A ghost of a smile flits over her face when she notices, and he turns his most imperious look on her. It makes her smile widen and before he knows it, his matches it. Something moves between them, something… soft… and without a word she takes her teacup. Clinks it to his.
"I'm glad you survived, Sir," she says softly. "Chin chin."
Abruptly the moment is broken.
Mycroft straightens his spine. Pulls back.
Enough of this weakness, this childishness, he tells himself sternly.
You're not Sherlock, you know where this leads.
"I'll brief you tomorrow," he says firmly. "For tonight, I should rest. Goodnight, Anthea."
He inclines his head sharply. Gets to his feet and turns towards the kitchen door.
"Goodnight, Sir," she says and there's something unreadable in her eyes. Something that makes his heart, pathetic, unnecessary thing that it is, beat a little faster. Again Mycroft pushes the thought away. "Sleep well-"
Mycroft makes his way from the kitchen, and it feels like he's been put to flight.
Gets into his large, opulent, entirely unnecessary bed.
It feels like being marooned in a desert.
He expects sleep to come quickly, given the last forty eight hours, but as he stares up at the ceiling seems that it will not. All that does come is regret. Worry. Aches of mind, body and heart.
The clock ticks beside his bed. The wind whispers against his window.
But when the door to his room opens, when he sees her silhouette behind it, he doesn't call out.
When she comes in and gets into the bed beside him, he does nothing but lie there and let her wrap her arms around him.
He can feel her warmth, smell her perfume, and that's why he falls asleep.
Chapter 5: Penelope At Rest
The final one! Thanks to everyone who read, reviewed and hopefully enjoyed. Now, back to the Iceman and his Girl Friday...
This fanfiction is not written for profit, and no infringement of copyright is intended. Not beta read, so all mistakes are mine. Enjoy!
PENELOPE AT REST
She’s still there when Mycroft opens his eyes the next morning.
Resplendent, tousled of hair and sleepy of eye, Anthea lies across from him. She’s wearing a vest and a pair of his pajama bottoms, pulled in at the waist as tightly as the drawstring will allow, the bottoms rolled up.
The sight of this does something…. odd to him.
The’ve both kicked off the bedcovers in the night, and he can see that both his feet and hers are bare, his toes nestled beneath her arches for warmth. Her hair is spread out against his pillow, gorgeous in the early afternoon sunlight, and when she looks at him her lips curl up into a crooked smile. She looks…. She looks devastating. Beautiful. Forbidden.
Such things have always been forbidden, for Mycroft.
“Good afternoon, Sir,” she says softly.
Mycroft stares at her like a simpleton.
“You survived,” she continues, dryly. “I shan’t have to shoot your sister: Huzzah.”
At that, he blinks. “Eurus is... Eurus is an asset,” he says, never feeling so much like a parrot in his life. That has always been what Rudy told him, the justification for treating his sister- Rudy’s niece- as they had. Eurus was an asset, a tool, something to be honed and used. Contained. Justified.
Said now, looking at Anthea, that sounds nonsensical.
The young woman’s voice turns to steel. “I don’t care whose asset she supposedly is,” she says quietly. “Had she succeeded in killing you then nobody would have kept me from her- Not our superiors, not anyone.” An odd, sharp twist of her lips. “The only person who could have stopped me would have been dead, after all.”
Mycroft looks at her, nonplussed. “But why would you do something so foolish and throw away your career?” He’s always known that Anthea can be impulsive, prone to thinking with organs other than her brain when in pursuit of pleasure, but the thought that she would jettison all she’s built for a petty bit of revenge? And for him, of all people?
That seems ridiculous.
The expression on her face though, that doesn’t look ridiculous. Rather it looks vulpine, feral, the look of a hunter through and through.
It would make any other man shiver.
“She would have killed someone dear to me,” she says softly. “For that, she would have deserved to die.” Her tone brooks no disagreement. Those sharp, bright eyes find his. “Ask your brother,” she says, “if you don’t believe me.
He would understand.”
He grimaces. “So you’ve seen the footage from Sherrinford.”
“Of course.” She nods and at this, Mycroft does balk. He had, of course, suspected his brother’s feelings for his little mouse of a pathologist: Sherlock did not keep people as close as he kept Hooper unless he had some sort of fondness for them. But even he had been surprised by the ferocity of Sherlock’s reaction to the coffin. In all his life, Mycroft had never seen his brother so incensed.
Had Eurus been in the room with them, he doubts even he could have saved her.
Anthea is observing him carefully though, her gaze now turned watchful. Waiting. It makes him feel like a specimen under a microscope, and that is a rare experience, indeed, for him. “What?” He snaps distractedly, and at the word a slow smile curls her lip, as if something she’s been wondering about has been confirmed for her.
Maybe, Mycroft can’t help but think, it has. The notion makes him feel exposed. Peculiar.
For some reason, his heart has begun to thud in his chest.
Anthea must be happy with her lot though. For with slow, practiced ease she leans over until Mycroft has no choice but to lie back down or have her smack into him. Still smiling, she shifts, moves until her face is inches from his, her hair hanging down around them. Her breasts press warmly against his chest. One of her hands is above his head, pressing into his pillow, while the other is right at his side, digging into his mattress...
Despite himself, Mycroft finds himself holding his breath, which is utterly, unspeakably ridiculous.
“Sir...” she says softly, her voice husky, and to his horror he feels... Good God, he feels himself becoming hard.
Pressed together as they now are, the bedclothes kicked away, he’s certain that Anthea can feel it too.
The thought is absolutely mortifying.
If she does feel anything untoward, however, she gives no indication of it. Rather she continues to stare down at him, her eyes smouldering and wicked and familiar. That curling smile still at her lip.
Slowly, she lowers her head until she’s mere inches from him and though he thinks she’s going to kiss him she doesn’t. Rather, she strokes her nose gently along his. Their breath mingling together. His skin tingling where it meets hers. She hums in her throat at the sensation and he has to bite his lip to keep from saying something absurd.
He’s so hard it’s beginning to become uncomfortable.
Trying to keep calm- trying to maintain control- Mycroft catalogues, as he always does, the physical facts of his surroundings: The faint sounds of traffic outside. The soft breathing of Anthea, the hard breathing of himself. The ticking of the clock beside his bed, the only thing he took with him from his childhood home, the only thing to survive the fire as Musgrove. His pajamas are scratchy, warmed from sleep but not softened by laundering. The bedsheets he can feel between his fingers- he’s fisted them in his hands- are silk. Heavy. Expensive. Just like everything else in his life is silken and heavy and expensive. But not her, his mind whispers. Not her, not your Anthea.
“Anthea, I...” he tries to find the words, truly he does, but there aren’t any.
For once his mind is unutterably, mercilessly blank.
There’s only he, and she, and this bed and this moment, and the possibility of what they’re about to do together- And he has to allow that whatever they do, they’ll do it together-
“Sir,” she says again, her voice quiet. “Do you remember by other name? My real name?”
He blinks up at her. “Your name before you became the new Anthea, you mean?”
She nods and smiles. It’s absolutely beautiful.
“It’s Penelope.” He frowns, unsure where this is going but willing to play along. “Penelope Jane DeCours- Named for your late mother.”
At the words, her smile widens. Softens. Suddenly, it’s not a siren in his bed, it’s his friend. His partner. His Girl Friday. “Say it again,” she murmurs. “Please, say it again...”
“Penelope,” he says. “You’re- Penelope, Penelope, Penelope-“
It’s on the third repetition that she kisses him.
Mycroft stills for a second, surprised and overwhelmed. He has a rush of physical stimuli- her weight, her heat, the softness of her kiss, the way she feels against his palms, and it’s this which informs him he’s decided to join in this kissing business. It goes on for second, or maybe hours or lifetimes, he can’t be sure, and then suddenly they’ve parted and he’s panting in air. Staring up at her.
To his combined mortification and delight, he can feel the heat of her arse against his fingers. His palms. She makes the most delightful handful as she grins brightly down at him.
“I knew you’d be good at that,” she says softly.
“I’m glad one of us did.”
The words come without his thinking about them and despite himself, he laughs. She joins him and oh, but that feels right.
“This will cause problems,” he says and she nods.
She’s still smiling.
“It will,” she says gravely. “And yet we both know we’ll still do it, don’t we?”
“Yes,” Mycroft says, without even having to think about it. “Yes we will. Yes.”
And then he lets himself get lost in her kisses, and their kisses, and the laughter and softness and newness of this thing that should be terrifying but is somehow comforting instead.
Two days later, he’ll emerge from his mansion to a new world, his Penelope at his side. His lapses of judgement, of understanding and of duty open for everyone to see. His heart, tattered thing that it is, on display.
His parents will rail and his superiors balk, but somehow he will survive it.
He has, after all, the person he wants at his side, and that, in the end, is all that matters to him.
To his surprise, most of the people who know him agree.