"Are you sure M?"
"Yes Mr. Tanner I am sure. Why are you questioning me on this matter? Call him into my office. I would extend the invitation at his earliest convenience, but I am not in a graceful mood at the moment. I want to see him here by the end of the day. If he is out of country...tomorrow."
"Yes ma'am...I just know how...how your blood pressure reacts to dealing with him. It's worse than when you need to debrief Bond."
M quirked her eyebrow at her chief of staff. "Your concern is noted but he and I need to talk so please Mr. Tanner, call Mycroft Holmes into my office."
Tanner left her office and flipped through the file. He called the number listed and waited for an answer.
"Mr. Holmes, this is Chief of staff Tanner calling for M."
Tanner heard a sigh on the other end of the line and some papers being moved around.
"Yes...what time would her majesty like to see me?"
"By the end of the day."
"I will be there...around 6. I know how she likes to be home at that time of day, but I cannot manage earlier."
"I will let her know."
"Yes do that...I have been expecting this call. M must realize that also, and I infer that she is very displeased by the fact that you are calling me instead of her."
"Yes...well she is not in the best of moods."
"No...I can only imagine. I hope she is watching her blood pressure."
"I already mentioned that sir and I hope the two of you will behave."
"Nothing to worry yourself about Mr. Tanner. I have known M since I was a child...I would never want to see her hurt."
"That is good to hear Mr. Holmes. See you at 6."
"Yes...at 6. Goodbye Tanner."
Mycroft arrived at the appointed time and proceeded with haste into M's office. He waited by the door politely for her to look up and acknowledge him.
"Come in...don't hold up the door. I am sure the walk from the club was taxing enough for you for today."
"Yes well I was expecting this meeting. You know, you could always come to my club M. You are always welcome."
"I'm sure they would all love to see me there...they run away from me at Whitehall as it is. God forbid they see me where they escape to bitch about me."
"I have never heard a bad word...I assure you."
M's eyes flashed at him. "Flirting and false pleasantries are something you should never do Mycroft. It is not in your DNA."
"From my mothers or fathers side...you would know M."
"Your mothers...but I called you here to speak of your brother and the use of MI6's resources to get him out of Serbia."
"I accomplished that myself."
"Really...you managed that on your own?"
Mycroft was shocked, and that rarely happened. "How close attention have you been paying to my actions of late M and to what do I owe this scrutiny?"
"Agent 003 was covering your ass to get you out of the country without incident. I have been watching you and Sherlock since you were boys, and I promised your parents to alway do this. That fake death was difficult, but I understood that there must be some very severe circumstances to make you do that to your parents. I have remained behind the scenes and you obviously did not notice our assistance...as it should be."
"I had no idea that you knew M."
"Of course I knew! What the bloody hell do you think I do up here? Throw tea parties? Don't insult my intelligence, and I will not assume that you are not misappropriating MI6 funds to create your own little MI7. With your talented but far too exposed brother, Dr. John Watson, Molly Hopper, DI Lestrade and that Mrs. Hudson. That woman has always been so very...very...odd."
"M you really don't have to concern yourself with my merry band. We are all on the same side after all."
"I want weekly reports and I want you to contain...I do very seriously mean contain, all messes that your brother stumbles into without leading watching eyes back to my door. Do I makes myself clear Mycroft?"
"Yes...crystal clear M but what will I get in return M? Quid pro quo."
M raised her eyebrow as she glared at the talented but pompous ass sitting across from her.
"What is it that you want Mycroft? Be quick about it I would like to get home sometime tonight."
"Really M? Is a certain agent dropping by unannounced again this evening?"
M bristled at him, her anger rising at his baiting. "That is none of your concern and I certainly don't encourage such behaviour."
"I know...M, you have always been above board...unlike some of your predecessors who spent far too much time with the secretarial pool."
"Let us focus on the topic at hand. Your band of merry misfits are under my personal observation...which you...for all your claims of being the British government, seem to have missed. I don't know whether to be insulted by your casual misogyny, or have you sent to medical for a full work up."
Mycroft was very shocked that M had gotten one up on him. M was barely phased by the underhanded insinuation about her agent, the one with an obvious attraction towards her. It was either that or the man had a death wish.
"I never meant to insinuate that you do not know how to do your job M...I was merely.."
"Trying to knock me off balance by insinuating that I had taken an agent as a lover?"
"Well...that Bond does seem to spend a lot of time breaking into your home and for all his protests that you are an insensitive bitch...I think the man doth protest too much. I am only concerned because you are a widow now...available."
M flushed at the insinuation that Bond found her even remotely attractive at her age.
"Enough Mycroft! Do not try my patience further and answer me Mycroft. Will you give me updates on the domestic and international goings on of your merry band of misfits?"
"I will M. On one condition."
M looked across her desk at the smug face of Mycroft Holmes. M rested her elbows on her desk and tented her fingers, her attention intently on what Mycroft Holmes was about to say.
"What is the condition?"
"You tell me why you stopped visiting us when I was a child? You and mother were such friends...I have always wondered. Was it because you were testing Sherlock and myself for admission to this organization? Mother has always been opposed to my calling...profession."
M was not really expecting this question. She sat back in her chair, never breaking eye contact with Mycroft as she began to laugh.
"This...this is what you have been wanting to ask me all this time? I have always noticed that questioning look in your eyes whenever we meet but this...you still need mummy's approval after all this time."
Mycroft scoffed, "approval...from her is not needed. It is really just an inquiry...I have the memories of the visits...you always spoke to us as adults and listened very carefully to our answers. The gifts of puzzles and brain teasers were greatly appreciated and your visits looked forward to by the entire family and yourself, M."
"I knew you needed the stimulation...she was desperate to curb your interests...she was bloody well obsessed with normalcy."
"Why?" Mycroft leaned forward, his desperation showing but he couldn't seem to help himself. He had always wanted to know and he had never been able to deduce from her, or his parents. The desperation climbed out of confused childhood memories that couldn't fully trusted from the logical position of a mature brain.
"Shall we try this Socratically, Mycroft?"
Mycroft rolled his eyes dramatically and flopped back into his chair.
"Why would your mother feel tense whenever I came to visit?"
"Mother hates the game of spies we play."
"Yes she does but, you are wrong and I was not a spy back then...almost but not quite."
"Wrong? What do you mean wrong! She has been telling me as much for the last 20 years and every week when I am forced to speak with her at the appointed time. Mother spends half the infernal conversation lamenting my introducing Sherlock to the game."
"Why do you think this is all about you and your brother?"
"Isn't everything? She is our mother...we are her entire life."
M scoffed. "As usual...so self absorbed Mycroft. Why did she say I was not coming back...you must have asked?"
"You were moving far away."
"Yes and you know that to be a truth. I was in Hong Kong for many years but why did I not call, write, or did I?"
"If you did...she kept that information from us." Mycroft's voice faltered as he worked through her questions.
"What conversations did you overhear from your parents about me? I know you did...you were always hiding in cupboards and snooping about...that is exactly why you do what you do now."
Mycroft stared up at the ceiling, going back in his mind for the answers he sought at her direction.
"I...I remember. A lot of silence after you visited last...father was always silent but she was too. That in itself was unusual...there was a fight...mother cried...he was...father...he was angry...What happened? My father has never ever been angry with her...with anyone for that matter."
"What was my relationship with your parents?"
"You were in school with my mother and you two were friends. I assumed you were in advanced mathematics with her. I was rather surprised to find out it was not your academic path all those years ago. You being a natural strategist, I assumed maths were a great part of that."
"What do they say about assuming anything?"
"Yes..so you were not in school with her?"
M shook her head and Mycroft threw up his hands in frustration.
"Fine...if I admit I am an ass will you just tell me?"
M smiled a smile that left him cold. "I cannot tell you much...that is between you and your parents but I will tell you a bit of my part in their history."
"I'm listening." Mycroft's mobile rang and he tuned it off absently, far too intrigued by the tale that M had locked in her head.
"I was in the year under your mother. I was studying history and law as you obviously researched later. Your mother was known to be a star pupil and very pretty but so very shy. I was outgoing and very observant and she seemed to be following me around. I was dating a very handsome man by the name of Robert Holmes at the time."
M stoped to allow Mycroft time to absorb that information.
Mycroft just stared at M as the realization hit him. "You were never there to visit her...she hated you...or envied you."
M just nodded at him.
"Father...he and you...oh my god! You were there to see him! Did you love him?"
"I was happily married by then and yes I very much liked your father but your mother was beyond in love with him so I broke it off. Your father was upset...I pushed him away. I pushed him towards your mother and the rest is history."
"NO! No it is not...that does not make any sense whatsoever. Why did you come to visit at all?"
"Your father was very upset that your mother was hiding her true potential...obsessed with normalcy and being a mother...she was becoming more and more agoraphobic...so he used me...to make her do things."
"What? Do what things?"
"Go outside her comfort zone and publish something...travel. Allow you two boys to be challenged and intrigued by someone outside your very limited circle."
"So you are saying that my father would just call you up and flirt with you to manipulate my genius mother?"
"But you were married...how could you...M... really I thought more of you than…this."
"What! I was no longer attracted to your father! I was his friend, one who understood his problem. If he did flirt, and I do not consider us speaking as friends flirting, the act benefited your family. Robert saw the problem of having three geniuses in the family who needed nudging in the right direction once in a while."
"M...you minx. Whatever did your husband say?"
"Nigel...oh he understood. He met both your parents in university, after I stopped dating your father and started dating him."
"You were directing us to this life all along weren't you M. You and of all unlikely people, my father...the normal one."
"Yes well, it's the normal one that thought you needed to focus those brains of yours on problems for the greater good of this country. And I for one agreed with my old lover."
M added that last bit because she loved pushing the very arrogant Mycroft uncomfortably onto his ass, on occasion.
"Argh...really! That visual imagery was not necessary, and maybe you should focus on 007 and not aim that disarming gaze of yours back towards my father."
"Your father and I...were so very long ago and it was short lived...passionate but short lived. He needed stability I could not provide but your mother could. My intervention was no longer needed once you grew up. Your mother still dislikes me to this very day, I am sure of it. However; if you could, the next time you do speak with them, send Robert all my love."
Mycroft stood and smirked at M. "You are far more dangerous than I ever gave you credit for M. You are right...people underestimate you because you are female. Idiotic of me, I will completely admit now and I will never make the same mistake again."
"Thank you Mycroft. You and I will have a much more productive work relationship now, with all of this ancient history out of the way. I will expect your first report by next Friday and if you or Sherlock need me. You know where I am."
"Yes...I know your address...much like that Bond. What would he say if I was there one night when he broke in? I wonder?"
"Mycroft...don't push your luck with my 00's."
"They don't all intrude on your privacy like Bond do they?"
M rolled her eyes, "no thank god...one is enough and you know that anyway. My greatest problem at this moment, are two Holmes men wandering about the city, inciting chaos that I am not suppose to get involved with."
"I for one try to guide us away from the chaos. I apologize if you have had to use your vast knowledge and powers to oversee things that I have overlooked. Sharing information from time to time will benefit both of us."
"Yes it will. Just think of me as family...an aunt perhaps. You as well as I would love to see the look on your mother's face if you called me that."
"This has been illuminating M. I do wish you would come to my club once in a while to stir the pot. When certain blow hards are there speaking about you out of turn."
"If they didn't speak negatively about me I would not be doing my job well enough."
"I think you should come visit on the next family holiday that I may be forced to attend. It would be of great interest to me to watch the dynamic now that you are a widow."
"That is very cruel to do to them. I can assure you that your father...was easily swayed and attracted to smart women. He does love her more than he did me, and I never regretted setting them up...even with all the problems their progeny have created for me."
"Still I will call you to be my date to the next visit. Do consider it a favour to me as well a massively interesting social experiment."
"I don't think you referring to me as a date will fool them at all Mycroft."
"What about if I extended the invitation to your daughter. She seemed a lovely woman...recently divorced if I am not mistaken."
"You and I both know you are rarely mistaken Mycroft, but then again when it comes to me and my family...you had better step carefully. We do tend to get under the skin of Holmes men."
M observed the blush creeping up Mycroft's cheeks. He had been watching her daughter for years, because he fancied her slightly since they met once years ago when Judi was nineteen."
"Yes. Goodbye M...I will give your love to my parents and I will not tell Sherlock of this at all."
"As you wish. Send me the reports I asked for promptly or I will have to call you in again...or surprise the members of your club after all."
Mycroft grabbed his umbrella and made his way to the office door. He had always respected M and now even more so. Of all the people he dealt with in this business...she was the most unflappable and stubbornly steadfast.
Even with that dangerous young agent that she was so obviously soft on at her disposal, she had always given Mycroft and Sherlock free reign to do what they need to. However, his reports would be sadly lacking in substance and details, as he saw fit.
M knew this. She would not be M if she did not. Calling him in this evening sent a signal to any that were watching their movements that she made an attempt to control him.
That in itself, was enough to give M a plausible excuse if the Prime Minister ever made the mistake of questioning Mycroft's actions concerning Sherlock.
There were things afoot that Mycroft may need M for. Sherlock gets too far lost some times and having connections in high places was how Mycroft got them all by. Therefore, Sherlock and John were free to continue solving crimes no one else could.