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The Deadly Web

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It takes far longer than she’d like, but the papers are eventually dealt with. Anthea slowly leaks stories and has her people write steadily more erratic pieces on Kitty’s blog until the narrative becomes clear: Kitty was simply a spurned fan of Sherlock, assisting in taking him down alongside a criminal she’d never met. As much as she hates doing it, Anthea lets social media work for her- a few carefully timed tweets and a sudden deleting of one’s account says more than any press release could. 

People read between the lines.

She’d have more guilt about it if Kitty hadn’t tried what she did at the bank. Anthea would have been dead and disgraced as far as the government was concerned, with no support network and no one to turn to except Kitty. Mycroft would have been out of the way, the papers doing their jobs, and Sherlock’s position in the press was still shaky enough that no one would have believed him either.

It may well have worked, if Kitty had taken time to consider the determination of one very loyal detective inspector when it comes to the welfare of someone he cares about. Or that he’d be willing to bring in a semi-stable sniper with an equal axe to grind to see it through.

“Kitty” releases one slightly shaky request for privacy at this time, recorded by Kate just before her flight out to Switzerland, where Irene Adler is currently residing under another identity. Anthea doesn’t doubt that with Kate in hand Irene will likely relocate again, this time somewhere out of the UK’s reach. Even without Moriarty’s web after her, there are those who would prefer her to be completely out of the picture. Blackmail material stored in the brain is just as concerning as her phone, to some. 

But that is not Anthea’s problem. 

She works, and works, and works, until the day the papers finally cease mentioning Mycroft as anything but Sherlock’s brother and a very minor civil servant. They strengthen his cover through it, sending him off every day to an absolute shithole office in the far reaches of the Department of Transport, inventing a quiet position about security that justifies the papers earlier reaching but ensuring that everyone knows he’s just in charge of analyzing traffic patterns as they might relate to terrorism. It’s the sort of thing that’s easy to play off as unsung heroics, something that will gain the public’s sympathy and added pressure for the papers to leave him alone. Really, it’s the least they can do for all he’s done for them.

Mycroft seems to relish it. The last photographer to abandon his home is treated to a lengthy lecture on the exact timing of street lights and how they might effect emergency response. He’s left alone entirely after that. 

For the first time in five years, Anthea takes a long weekend.

“I found one!” Molly practically bounces on the beach, gleefully holding up a rock with the clear imprint of an ancient fossil in it. 

Anthea peers over the edge of her sunglasses. “Well done.” It’s too cold for proper sunbathing, but Anthea is still laid out on a comfy rock, albeit in a fluffy jumper. She’s bought a nice camera for the excursion and as she rolls she sneaks a quick glance through it, snapping a picture of Molly and her trophy with the rest of Dorset and the Jurassic coast in the background. “Proper scientist like you, you’ll be putting all the tourists to shame.”

“Hush,” Molly protests, but she smiles anyway, blushing lightly as she returns to hunting through stones.

They’ll be going to Corfe Castle tomorrow. A nice dinner. 

Anthea can’t think of anything more relaxing in the world.

 

***

 

“Wager.”

“No.” 

“C’mon, do it. Just for laughs.” 

“Basher, if they take away our television privileges again only one of us will be suffering. And it won’t be me.” 

Sebastian grins at Jim, who is laid out rather decadently on the bed, flipping through a magazine. A thick plastic band, glinting with a series of lights on one side, rests on one ankle. Sebastian bears a matching one. They’re the absolute finest MI-5 has to offer in prisoner security, and even Jim hasn’t figured out how to crack it yet, not that he’s been trying too hard while the bullet holes in Sebastian are still healing. Being on MI-5’s dole is almost… relaxing. The meals are decent, the accommodations fair, and each of them given suitable stimulus in the form of MI-5  “projects” to keep them from clawing through the walls. 

Though perhaps not quite enough to keep Sebastian from finding occupations for himself like sharpening up plastic spoons and devising an impromptu target out of wine corks. 

“They won’t. Have to keep up my skill set somehow if they want to make use of it.” Sebastian hasn’t been allowed out yet, only asked to consult on targets- likely directions, positions, etc, all things he can work out from maps and a limited amount intel. But they’ve been nosing around. It’s only a matter of time before they ask him to do some of the dirty work for him, albeit in what is probably a much more heavily supervised capacity than he used to. 

He’s fine with it, so long as Jim is fine with it. At least he's not bored.

Jim lifts a brow, pointedly spreading his legs. “I have something else you can keep up.”

The improvised blade thunks pleasingly into its target. Sebastian grins smugly. “Do you now.”

The little flat they’ve been given- because it is more flat than prison cell, even if it’s one they can’t leave- has surveillance everywhere. 

Sebastian imagines anyone with even a touch of squeamishness about sex had been let off watching those cameras after the first three days. Neither he nor Jim have ever been shy about performing with an audience, and if they know who’s on duty sometimes they play it up just for fun. 

He strides over to the bed and crawls over his lover, pressing their bodies together as his teeth find Jim’s neck. “We are going to get out of here, aren’t we, boss?” he whispers as Jim arches against him.

“Mm.” Jim answers him back, pulling Sebastian’s ear between his teeth with equal abandon. “Eventually.” He rolls Sebastian over, pinning him and grinning that mad grin Sebastian will never fall out of love with. “There’s no rush.”

 

***

 

Kitty. Lefty. She wonders when the two became so split in her mind. 

And now she’s neither. 

Curious.

She’d seen Andrew once before she was transferred, quaking in the bowels of some MI-5 black site prison. He can’t be released, not when he’d abused his clearance as he had. He’d cried, quite a lot. 

It’s just a pity she couldn’t study his suffering. There’s always so much to learn in watching people crumble.

The cell they’ve given her in this new prison doesn’t have much in the way of privacy. Translucent plastic, somewhere far enough off shore that no one will come looking for her. No devotee of her blog will find her here. She has to commend the ingenuity of it. It’s pure isolation. 

But she is allowed certain classic books, and a television set behind a wall that only plays calming, vapid shows. It might be more interesting if she was particularly inclined to discussions of baking or food. Still, it is something to watch. People to learn from. The guards, even the other prisoners behind their plastic walls, they can all serve a purpose to her. It will be useful. She’ll figure out where she went wrong first. What error she made that caused all her plans to collapse around her. What element she overlooked.

Then she’ll figure out how to fix it. 

Of course she will.

All she has is time.

 

***

 

“So… what’re you calling it then?” Greg leans over his pint, watching John, who’s been more or less blushing since Sherlock’s name was even mentioned. “Cause it kind of sounds like a sex holiday.”

“It’s just a holiday, you prat.” 

“Right. I mean, posh hotel, nice Mediterranean beach- are you getting some of those little swim shorts? Is Sherlock getting some of those little swim shorts?”

John kicks him in the shin from his stool and Greg holds his hands up in defeat, laughing. “There may be swimming, it may be nude, and I will tell you about it in very exacting detail if you keep this up.”

“Fine, fine, I concede. But I am happy for you.”

A sly smile creeps up John’s lip. “There also might be a case there.”

“There’s- no, tell me he’s not using your holiday time for a case, John.” Greg shakes his head, downing another swig. Trust Sherlock to be physically incapable of ever slowing down. He’s been trying not to nose in too much, just as he suspects John and Sherlock have been more respectful than they might be of intruding on him and Mycroft, but that’s just a bridge too far. “Do you need someone to explain to him what a holiday actually looks like?”

“No- actually, I’m… kind of pleased.” John glances down, grinning with red-tinged ears into his beer. Greg just barely manages not to bark a laugh out loud.

Oh my god, he’s actually into it. He wonders if Sherlock knows how lucky he is, having managed to pull the one man in London who thinks running after his wild antics on cases is actually endearing. Good god. 

“As long as it’s your sort of holiday too, then. Keep in mind you can always punt him into the sea if you need him to slow down.”

“I will, yeah. Cheers to holidays.” Their glasses clink. “And how’s work?”

Greg’s been back at the Met for a week now, his suspension cleared from his record and the Chief Supervisor suspiciously absent from any conversation about it. Most of them have been remarkably contrite about Crawford, but no one wants to admit that he’d been among them for so without any of them noticing, not that Greg blames any of them for that. He hadn’t noticed either.  It doesn’t matter now, anyway. Crawford’s not a problem any longer.

“S’’good. Donovan’s taken on terrifying the rookies with a nice fervor. Think she’s letting me play good cop for a bit. Oh, and you won’t fucking believe this. She and Anderson are on the outs again, and she said she might give Mike Stamford a ring and ask him to dinner. Apparently they’ve been talking since he helped her after she was tased. She says Mike’s a decent bloke, and also, you know, not married to someone else, so-”

“Oh my god.” John looks delightedly incredulous. “That’s bloody perfect. Wow, yeah. Let me know when she does, cause I’m going to have to get him round for a pint or nine.”

“Absolutely.” Greg holds his glass up. “To luck in love?”

“To luck in love, mate, absolutely.”

 

***

 

Mycroft hears the door open and close as he’s stirring the vegetables and he can’t help but smile. Greg hasn’t slept his own flat in ages, but it still sends a pleasant thrill through Mycroft every time he arrives for the night. Coming home to me. “Hello, love.”

“Myc.” Greg slips in behind him, wrapping his arms about Mycroft’s waist and making him grin further as his neck is thoroughly kissed. “What’re you making?”

“Seafood stir-fry. Something nice and healthy, considering someone ran off with three of our croissants this morning.”

“They’re good croissants!” Greg kisses his cheek and shifts to set the table as Mycroft shakes his head. It’s been odd, seeing Greg off to work for his long hours while Mycroft himself has been, officially, working a very boring desk job for the exact prescribed hours necessary each day. Which doesn’t mean he hasn’t been working, really, just that it’s been narrowed down to simple things he can accomplish without a trace of his presence anywhere near it as a few of those political forces who think they have a say in such things yell at each other about their previous ignorance of what he does in the first place. 

He’s been bringing in books to pass the time, and watching films and television he’d never had the time for. At home he has time to cook real meals. He feels more relaxed than he has in years. 

They’ll be having him ease back into his real job soon enough, of course. No one with clearance of his level can truly stay out of the game for long. The media has settled, Smallwood will get the politics settled soon enough, and then he’ll be back in. But this time, people will know him. That’s the trade-off. They’ll figure out some way of giving him an official, public promotion that matches with what the media’s been told, he’ll return to his real office

In the meantime, he’s enjoying what time he has been given.

“How’s John?” he asks as they sit down, stripping off the grip-assistance brace he’s still wearing after a bit of additional surgery ended up being required to sort the last few damaged ligaments in his dominant hand. It’s healing well, but quite slowly. Fortunately, now he has the time to be patient with it.

“Good. He and Sherlock are going to Italy for a case. Or holiday. Both.”

Mycroft nods. Of course he is aware already, because Sherlock charged the hotel to Mycroft’s card, but that isn’t exactly new. “That sounds exciting.”

“I suppose that’s what they like. I thought Sherlock was being rude about John’s holiday time at first, but then I thought about how wild he’d be without anything to do, and, well. Yeah. I think a case is probably the right idea.”

“No doubt. I’ll see if I can drop a hint to the local constabulary that neither of them are to be arrested for anything foolish.”

Greg glances up over his fork, a flicker of concern crossing his face. “Are you- back in working with the foreign operative types already?”

“Not yet, but I will be. And those connections never really vanish.”

“Right. Guess I’m just- gettin’ used to you being home more.”

Mycroft reads between the lines, skimming the worry on Greg’s face. “Gregory, are you… concerned about the ramifications of my hours increasing again?”

“Well… yeah, a little.” He sighs, scruffing a hand through his hair. “F’you can get called in any hour, and I can- s’just hard to keep things- you know. Consistent.”

“Greg.” Mycroft reaches his hand across the table and claims Greg’s, drawing in a breath to ask what he’d been thinking of asking since the day he brought Greg home to recover from his concussion. “You are my constancy, no matter the hour or what work requires of us. I would like it very much if you would consider living here a… permanent arrangement.” He watches Greg’s face shift in a surprise and feels compelled to elaborate, just in case. “I have greatly looked forward to your return here each day, and I imagine I shall feel the same if I can come home to you. Knowing we shall both arrive at the same place, the same bed- that is enough.”

Greg mouth works, then he huffs a laugh and grins, his eyes glittering. “Yeah? You don’t mind me trodding all over your posh things?”

“I’d prefer if you thought of them as your posh things as well, my love.” Mycroft squeezes his hand, smirking mischievously. “Except perhaps the projector. You can have that when you can safely figure out the controls.”

“That was one time! Git.” Greg smiles and squeezes his hand back. “I love you, you know.”

Mycroft smiles, a happy fluttering feeling in his belly. “I love you too, Gregory.”

“Good.” Greg draws Mycroft’s hand to his lips, and Mycroft can feel the warmth of his kiss. It’s the same warmth he’ll find in bed later, and the same he’ll wake up to tomorrow. And so on.

Always and forever.

 

 

FIN