If there was one thing that Mycroft Holmes hated more than anything, it was grocery shopping.
He couldn't really choose what was worse: the noise, the loudly coloured displays or the chaotic hustle of people. He had only agreed to go with Anthea because she agreed to take the boys, also known as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, to the production of Wicked in Mycroft's place. It was a toss up which was the worst option, but Mycroft thought it was worth risking the flood of mediocre people and germs, rather than to sit beside his younger brother who had passion for throwing popped corn popcorn at the witches of the four corners of the earth.
"Ah yes, we are also running out of jellybeans," Mycroft said as he gently poked Anthea's shoulder; keeping a wary eye on a scowling baby cruising slowly past him in his trolley down the aisle. Mycroft was never one for babies. He knew, from his intelligence on the subjects, that they had a tendency to leak all sort of liquids from all sorts of places, and smelled. He was glad he was above all that, though a little part inside of him remembered how Sherlock had looked and felt as Mycroft held him for the first time. Mycroft shrugged off the feeling and stored it away as the thing babies do to lure you into a false since of security before they leak on you or become Sherlock and it's too late to trade them in.
Anthea nodded and pulled his attention away from the baby by absentmindedly taking him by his coat sleeve and leading him past the angry infant who seemed to be tracking his every move. Normally, Mycroft Holmes would have never have let anyone drag him shopping, share his jellybeans or lead him by his coat sleeve, but since he had married his best friend and companion three months ago, he didn't seemed to mind so much in the inside as he acted on the outside. He was always one for keeping up routine appearances.
"That was fun last night though, wasn't it?" Anthea asked, smiling up at him. "I think we should stay up late watching old movies and eating jellybeans more often."
Mycroft nodded and smiled. It had been a fantastic night and he had enjoyed every minute of it. "You ate all of my orange jellybeans though," he replied with mock irritation.
"Oh please," Anthea's indignant reply came from behind a biscuit display, "You ate half of my grape ones and since when have I ever stolen your jellybeans?"
Mycroft sighed sarcastically and tilted his head. "I know you remember that time clearly, but I will be kind enough to refresh your memory that's pretending to be in denial."
He twitched his shoulders and ignored her mock look of horror she threw at him as she placed two packages of chocolate biscuits in the trolly.
"Three weeks after we first met, we were paired up on a mission to Russia and we had to run. We had to hide in the trunk of an abandoned car for a whole night, and as you lay beside me, you kept slipping your hand into my pocket and you stole and ate all of my emergency jellybeans."
"And I have been stealing your jellybeans ever since." Anthea smiled up at him, her eyes sparkled at the memory. "They were lovely jellybeans, too. You know, I had never been a fan of jelly beans up till then."
"That took some nerve taking advantage of a man in the clutches of claustrophobia, and you did it on purpose," Mycroft replied, trying to look miffed at the memory.
As he grew older and he looked back on it, it was actually one of the best nights of his life but he was too angry at his partner, who then took on the role of enemy and annoyance, sedately snitched jelly beans out of his coat pocket. She had been the reason they had to hide in the greasy trunk in the first place.
Anthea laughed softly as they walked through the canned food aisle. "I remember that night. I almost cleaned out the entire house in that card game until the mob boss started the fight."
She patted Mycroft's shoulder in sympathy. "I'm sorry you had to ruin your new suit in the fight. Those sure were the good old days."
Mycroft looked down at her, frowning slightly. "Good days? Really, A? Being shot, the leg work, running all the time; nearly dying very day and wondering if you were going to make it the next. Do you really think those were good days?"
Mycroft would have never imagined that he would fall in love with the girl who become his MI6 partner and then friend. The same girl who taught him how to be human and one time threw a cup of water in his face when he went too far in his cold insults. The same girl who would tell him stupid jokes and theories to keep him awake while putting pressure on his chest to stop the bleeding as he lay in an alley. The same girl who was with him through eating disorders and the death of Sherlock, and the same girl he helped bury a beloved husband and sat by on a dirty hotel bed after a miscarriage of a hoped for 'goldfish' baby.
Anthea stopped and looked up him. He could sense her running her fingers over her wedding ring. It was one of her greatest treasures.
"Well, there were some days that were terrible, and it felt like I wouldn't make it and I thought about simply slowing down just for second and giving into death. But then a red haired man-boy with an attitude and the brain of a genius joined up thinking he could do anything, and I thought he'd be interesting to stick around and live for; just to see what he'd turn into."
His throat tightened and without even thinking about who and where he was, he kissed Anthea right beside the tinned carrots. He didn't even see Sherlock and John, gaping at them in delighted horror behind the stack of chocolate biscuits.
After they had collected their stock pile of jellybeans, they made their way to the checkout aisle. Mycroft saw the baby going down the potato aisle, but this time the baby grinned sweetly at him, showing off his single tooth with glee. Mycroft caught himself starting to smile back at the baby before he remembered who he was.
He quickly turned to head for a checkout queue, anxious to be on their way home and away from the presence annoyingly cute babies, before he noticed Anthea walking toward a photo booth.
"No…" he said slowly."You're not thinking." She smiled back at him.
"Oh come on. It will be fun."
As he came up to stand beside her, they both examined the photo booth as they would do a bomb. One held the sinking feeling of worry and the calculation of destruction, and the other was filled with excitement and the anticipation of a beautiful catastrophe that would made your bones rattle.
"Please," she begged. "If you take some pictures with me I'll...I'll go visit your parents and I'll even let your mother show me how to make those jammy dodgers you love.
Mycroft weighed his options. Both were dangerous alternatives, but he did want Anthea to be more comfortable around his parents. It would only be a minute at the least and then they could be on their way. Anthea was always the one getting sidetracked by the mundane.
He looked around nervously. Earlier he had heard a smothered giggle that sounded suspiciously familiar, but he always became paranoid when he felt his softer side get the better of him.
"Alright," he sighed, and parked the trolley beside the photo booth. His premonitions of claustrophobia and smells of banana and roses were accurate as they squeezed themselves into the booth. Anthea, wiggling with excitement, slipped the money into the slot and the camera focused on their faces, and they saw themselves on the screen in front of them; Anthea radiant and Mycroft green.
Mycroft wasn't prepared for the first picture as it caught him with a scowl and one of his eyes closed. He braced himself, closing his eyes for a second and opening them; hoping to focus on the screen before him and be composed. He didn't see when Anthea pulled out the sonogram photo and held it up in front of her, and the rest of the pictures were of Mycroft Holmes in open mouthed shock, undignified emotion and tears in his eyes.