Part 2 of the fic.
London, 30th of May, 2011
«How are we today, Mr. Holmes?» A kind voice speaks, gentle hands adjusts his pillow.
“Anthea?” Mycroft opens his eyes slowly. His vision is blurred for a second, all he can see is long, dark locks of hair and a shining white smile. “Anthea.” He smiles up at the woman as if all of his worries are immediately washed away. He reaches out his big, warm hand to caress her cheek.
“No, it’s Betty.” The woman chuckles, pointing at her name badge. “Nurse Elizabeth, if you want – but everyone calls me Betty”.
Mycroft could feel his heart sink as a stone to the bottom of his chest. “Elizabeth…” he mumbles faintly as his smile fades. His vision was clearing up now. The woman was pretty, but she wasn’t Anthea. Not at all. “What day is it? What happened?”. He coughs slightly. His throat was dry.
“It’s May 30th, 2011” The nurse smiles warmly. “You’ve been here for two and a half days – sleeping most of the time.”
Mycroft clears his throat. “What happened?” He repeats kindly, really not feeling like dragging out the conversation.
“You city boys.” The nurse smiles as if she has all the knowledge and experience in the world. “You must take better care of yourselves!” She pats Mycroft’s shoulder. “There’s only so long you can go without sleeping, Mr. Holmes.”
Mycroft sighs deeply. It was true. As he had woken up and his mind still was unclear, he’d blamed the bitter coffee, but he couldn’t allow himself to be that paranoid. No one would try to poison him. He knew it hadn’t been a heart attack. Six nights without sleeping was serious enough. After going such a long time without sleep it would be considered normal to experience hallucinations of various sorts, but had Sherlock really been just a hallucination?
“So, who is she?” The nurse smiles teasingly as she straightens up by Mycroft’s bedside.
“Excuse me?” Mycroft looks up at the 30-something nurse with the too self-secure eyes.
“Anthea.” Betty smiles, clearly wanting to know more.
This Betty, Elizabeth, was deemed innocent enough by Mycroft. He took a quick glance at her, deducing she was something as rare as happily married, but also with a great heart for gossip. Nonetheless, Mycroft decided to tell her. He was certain his story never would go further than to the staff room, possibly the restrooms, to her female co-workers. “I love her.” Mycroft answers simply. “And I broke her heart. I think she is better off without me. It was for the best.”
Betty’s hand is immediately on top of Mycroft’s and she sits down again. Mycroft knew that a nurse normally wouldn’t have time for this, but he wasn’t in a position to tell her. Now he was her patient. She was his nurse. If she considered it important to sit down and listen to his stories, then so be it. “You can talk to me. I’m a nurse. It will stay between us.” She said with a soothing voice, although Mycroft could see the hunger in her eyes. He smiles faintly, taking a deep breath.
London, January 11th, 2008. [Three years earlier]
Anthea Smith. There she was, sharply dressed in her little black dress and blazer, sitting in a room with other sharply dressed, hopeful people - both men and women. Up to this point, she had only worked with women’s fashion as a saleswoman in a department store in Glasgow. Now she had recently moved to London, dreaming of starting a new life here. She wanted a more serious-sounding job.
She was waiting for her name to be called out. She was applying for a job as someone’s personal assistant. She looked at the papers again. Mycroft Holmes. It sounded like some old, white-haired, bearded man in the last chapter of his life. He had a position in the British Government. The papers didn’t specify. For her, this only meant an increased possibility to get a safe and steady job. She tapped her fingers nervously against her thigh. She really, really wanted this one. Working for some boring, senile bloke couldn’t possibly be that hard. Making copies, getting coffee, remember dates, names and make appointments. Anthea nodded discreetly to herself. Safe, but incredibly dull.
Mycroft, on his side, has always believed in learning on the job.
Currently in front of him is a stuttering, nervous excuse of what the portfolio in his hand boasted. The current position he’s hiring for have no need for at least half of what is listed, but there’s no point in hiring for a lack of confidence. Skills-wise, his personal assistant only needs to be able to read and tell the time. Basic motor functions. Personality-wise, though, is a completely different matter. Mycroft had hoped for someone who works with a detached fluidity. Professional and leave no loose ends. Of course that would have to be decided after hiring, but if anything, Mycroft values of his skill of judgement. First impressions are much more informative than most give credit for.
Nodding to the nerve-wrecked man, Mycroft informs him that he is now free to leave. Perhaps the next one.
“Anthea Smith!”, finally her name was called out by a rather plain lady walking around looking busy. The lady pointed Anthea towards a thick, wooden door saying “Mycroft Holmes” and nothing more. A seemingly important man without a title? Anthea thought no more of it at this point. Anthea stopped in front of the door, straightened her dress, made sure her necklace was in order before she quickly brushed her fingers through her hair. Head up. Straight back. There. Done. She should at least look somewhat acceptable now. She gave the door two determined knocks before she entered the room. “Miss Anthea Smith, sir.” She said as she locked the door behind her.
“Yes, your portfolio has already informed me.” Mycroft replies lightly, running his eyes over his new candidate. “Please, have a seat.” Nodding towards the empty chair opposite him, Mycroft leans slightly forward, resting his chin on his woven hands. “Now, tell me something I don’t already know.”
This man looked nothing at all like the old, senile man she had pictured, Anthea thought. This one was much younger, and his voice was much softer. But despite considering herself just a regular girl from Glasgow, she knew people. She looked at him, his gentle eyes. This one was a man who had seen it all. She walks politely over and sits down in the chair, gently placing one leg over the other leaning slightly forward in her chair to show her active interest in the conversation. She was determined not to answer gibberish. What the papers didn’t tell… They already had told him most of her handy abilities. So what did he mean? “Daughter of a military officer, dedicated to fashion, loves excitement, not easily frightened, good with gadgets.” She finishes her sentence with a twist of humour and a polite smile.
Mycroft raise a brow, not easily frightened indeed. Sensible, one of the few who doesn’t treat interviews as interrogations. “You also prefer to be an active participant in a conversation, good.”
“Of course I do, I’m Scottish.” Anthea smiles at him, letting out a bit more of her otherwise hidden Scottish accent with a humorous chuckle. That little curl hanging down his forehead made him look like a poet. Anthea wondered if he was a sensitive man? Most men are, but most men hide it. But perhaps he had some artistic sensitivity? Music or paintings?
Humming, Mycroft runs his eyes over her features. “What did you expect when you applied for this rather… vague position?”
“I was hoping it would be something a bit out of the ordinary, to be honest. I mean - vague position - British Government. Not even your title is specified. Of course I am prepared to take care of the usual documents, get you your fancy cup of coffee and run around in heels and skirts, looking good at all times. But I have absolutely no problem with that.” She rests her hands on her knee.
Mycroft nods, letting the briefest of smiles cross his lips. A spirited character but with a sense of time and place, an appreciation to the importance of public image… or perhaps just another vain soul - but he has no problem with that. Letting her speak her mind, Mycroft could tell that she’s already starting to wonder about him, too. “Very good, Miss Anthea Smith… a very exotic first name to go with a devastatingly common surname?”
“Yes.” She nods. “I have absolutely no explanation for that.” She pauses. “My name… Is that of importance?”
“Importance is only there when people start noticing it.” Mycroft answers . “Some change their name for a purpose of attention, some don’t. Many gets attached to a single name it becomes their dictator.” Chuckling slightly, Mycroft leans back. “But I ramble. Your turn.”
She liked his chuckle. It was nice hearing him share his point of view with her. She could see the brilliance and intelligence shine in his eyes for a brief second there, before he let it fade away again. This man was anything but an idiot. “Mycroft Holmes…” She pauses as she smiles at him, letting her eyes run over him for a brief second. “You’re a mysterious man. Am I being too bold if I’m asking you about your position in the Government?”
“You are free to choose your own questions.” Mycroft answers, the way she boldly says his name spikes an interest in him. He wants to know if she’s interested in the right things or not. “If a position dictates my actions, then I have none.”
She nods thoughtfully. “Well, for instance I would like to know about travelling - which is not a problem either - I’m single, without kids. Do you work much outside of Britain? Or do you perhaps travel a lot within Britain? What you do /exactly/ is none of my business. I would just do as you tell me to.” She smiles modestly. The thought of travel excited her.
“Both. Most travels are down within Europe, pre-scheduled at least three days before departure - and if you are to take up this position, that is one of the many things you will be in charge of organizing.” Mycroft nods, the excitement in her eyes almost endearing. “But you are also required to be able to leave within an hour’s notice.”
“Sounds interesting.” She smiles. “That would mean in the middle of the night as well.” Most people would’ve just sighed at the thought, but she thought it sounded mysterious - exciting. Like a secret adventure. “I take it you’re an important man.” Anthea nods solemnly.
“Importance is only there when people start noticing it.” Mycroft chuckles at her bold words. “And the trick is to learn how to hide in plain sight.”
It was more than obvious that this was a big, shining “YES”, from his words. “I guess they would notice if you stopped doing what you do.” Anthea chuckles lightly.
“Perhaps. But that’s the road we would not want to travel unprepared.” Mycroft hums.
“I agree.” She still had no clue what he was doing, but her instincts told her it was something big. Very big, and very important. National security? Oh, sounded like one of those secret agent movies she loved so much. Exciting!
“Any more inquiries?” Mycroft looks at her, the energy radiating from the young woman in front of him was rather…contagious
“How do you take your coffee and tea?” Anthea smirks slightly.
“Sweet.” Mycroft answers. “The ratios depending on what type of beans and leaves you’re talking about.”
The subject instantly makes her interested. She was like that of nature. She could talk about almost anything - even if she had nothing but a normal amount of healthy, common knowledge. “Hmm… What about Indonesian java coffee? How many sugars? I can navigate from that one.” She frowns slightly in solemn interest.
“I enjoy the Mocha-Java blend and its derivatives.” Mycroft nods. “One part mocha coffee to two parts Indonesian Java Arabica coffee. Only a touch of sugar in this one, though.” He adds. “The Mocha helps.”
Anthea nods at the elegant figure in front of her. She really liked that little curl hanging down his forehead. It was cute. He really looked like a poet. If he wore a thick old-fashioned dressing gown and slippers in private it would be perfect. She would love to see him smoke a pipe at some point. He looked like the type to smoke. She smiles. “I don’t think I have any further questions. You?”
“Regardless of the time era, your favourite artist? ” Mycroft asks. “And when I say artist, I do mean it in every sense of the word.”
“Oh… That’s a really hard one.” Anthea immediately starts thinking of composers. Painters, architects and sculptors were just too hard. She knew she looked like the kind of woman that would go clubbing, listening to the latest hits on her ipod - but truth was she had grown up on the countryside with a very artistic mother. Classical music and various jazz had filled the rooms of the small house she had spent her childhood in. She thinks for a moment. “Wagner is nice… but sometimes a bit too pompous.” She mumbles. “I think I’ll have to say Bull or Grieg. Perhaps Prokofiev.” She chuckles over the fact that she gave him three answers. “You know what? This is too hard!”
“Three answers are better than one, and you fared well.” Mycroft chuckles, amused by her reaction. “I will save my thoughts on Wagner for later. You are now free to leave.”
She nods and straightens her dress as she gets up from the chair, reaching out her hand to give him a proper handshake. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Holmes.»
“The pleasure is all mine.” He gets up to shake her hand, a gentle but firm touch.
“I hope I’ll see you again.” She smiles back at him, noticing how small her hand was in his.
“As do I.” Mycroft hums, releasing her hand. “Even if for the sake of Wagner.”
Anthea chuckles. “I would be happy to give him another chance.” She smiles as she takes a step back. “Have a nice day!” She turns around to leave.
Mycroft smiles as she leaves, waiting for a moment before he buzzes the intercom. “Have Henrietta interview the rest of them.” He pauses for a while, adding” And place Anthea Smith on the top of the pile when you send over the paperwork for the passed applicants.”
Prague, March 8th 2008.
Anthea had been under Mycroft’s employ for about three months, and it’s been a long time since she realized that it would be anything but boring. He would often give her requests rather out of the ordinary, which allowed her to really use her wits and creativity, something her boss seemed to appreciate in his own gentle way.
Mycroft was a firm but considerate boss. It didn’t take him long to deduce Anthea’s preferences and taste. He would discreetly place a small box of Lindt chocolates on Anthea’s desk whenever she had “her time of the month”, and he “coincidentally” invited her out for a friendly lunch the day after Anthea had broken up with her new boyfriend (after finding out he was nothing but a player). Anthea was sparkling compared to his previous , and he wanted to do whatever he could to keep her. He wouldn’t even admit to himself that it was a bit more than just that.
Now, a project he had going in Prague was in a desperate crisis, and he and Anthea had to go immediately. It had only taken Anthea minutes to book both plane and hotel rooms for them both. A car ride, and a few airport longue drinks later, Anthea and Mycroft found themselves seated in two first class seats 30 000 feet above the ground. Whether the drinks were to blame, or simply the company, neither of them knew – but they both started to open up to each other. Anthea told about her upbringing up in Glasgow, about her previous relationships, and why she had chosen to put her Scottish accent away. Mycroft told her about himself; growing up as an older brother, the experience of losing his father when he was only a teenager, and his strong mother. They both looked at each other in a different light after that flight.
Unfortunately, they both had to part at the airport. Anthea was trusted to take care of the bookings, while Mycroft had an emergency meeting to attend. They would meet again in a few hours. Anthea swallows heavily as she receives a phone call from the hotel. There had been a terrible mix-up One of their rooms had been given away.
- bookaddictang reblogged this from cumberqueen
- princessjimmoriarty likes this
- rosedelsol reblogged this from cumberqueen and added:
- signorpirelli likes this
- mirenva reblogged this from cumberqueen
- mirenva likes this
- biancaicaras likes this
- laurenafenetecumberbatch reblogged this from cumberqueen
- eachandeverydimension likes this
- laufeystan likes this
- shilanes likes this
- assbutts-of-assgard reblogged this from cumberqueen
- sanctifiedandfree likes this
- the-bifurcatedmind likes this
- accio-who-lock likes this
- cumberqueen posted this