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Not Much of a Target

Chapter Text

“I’ll be needing the-“

“I already forwarded you the file, sir. And the rest of the staff has been filled in on the latest,” Anthea stated calmly.

“Ah, excellent. And now that security is restored, I suppose I should be heading-“

“I took the liberty of sending out for dinner. It’ll be waiting for you at home, along with a fresh pot of tea.”

Mycroft smiled. “It seems you’ve thought of everything, as usual.”

Anthea gestured to the waiting car and Mycroft only briefly glanced back at the rest of them before following her to get inside.

Sherlock, Molly, and the Watsons stood nearby, some of them not paying much attention to the elder Holmes and his exit. Molly though, adjusted the shock blanket around her shoulders and nudged Mary.

“Um, I dunno if I’m the only one to ever say this, and maybe it’ll sound crazy…but don’t they seem kind of perfect together? Mycroft and Anthea, I mean.”

Mary snorted. “Please! They’re practically a married couple already! Maybe you’re the first one to say it out loud, but you’re certainly not the first to think it.”

Molly’s eye brightened at hearing she wasn’t alone. “Do you think he’d ever- I mean, would either of them even be interested? And even if they were, I can hardly imagine Mycroft making a move. It took Sherlock years, so I can’t imagine what it’ll take for Mycroft!”

“Oh I’m pretty sure they’re both interested, beneath that all-business exterior they keep all the time. I can spot those sort of things. And I think it could actually happen,” Mary said with a little smirk. “But it’s possible Mycroft needs just a little…push.”

Sherlock turned from his conversation with John. “Why do I keep hearing my brother’s name? What are you two talking about?”

“Oh I think I’ll let Molly fill you,” Mary replied with a little wink, then took John’s hand. “Now that we’re done with the case we’ve got to get home to Rosie and finally let the sitter go, but I definitely think we should continue this conversation soon.”

“I agree!” Molly grinned, leaning on Sherlock’s arm as he frowned in confusion. “I think we’ve got some brainstorming to do!”

“I don’t understand, what is going on?!” Sherlock demanded, his voice rising.

John clapped a hand on his friend’s shoulder as he and Mary began to walk away. “How’s it feel, mate?”

Chapter Text

“So, Sherlock, about that...thing.”


Molly walked around the lab table to give him a little nudge. “Oh c’mon, you don’t even know what I was going to say!”

Sherlock sighed but maintained his focus on the microscope lenses. “If you start by asking about ‘that...thing,’ then that probably means you’re nervous to actually say what it is you’re asking about. If that’s the case, it’s probably something I’ll want to say no to. May as well save you the trouble of further description.”

“But, Sherlock, this is something I kind of need your help with. I don’t know if we could do it without you.”

This prompted him to finally look away from the microscope and focus on his girlfriend. 


“Well, yes,” she admitted. “I mean Mary and I.”

Sherlock started chuckled wryly. “Wait a moment, are you talking about this recent stupidity with Mycroft and Anthea?”

“It’s not stupidity!”

“It is.”

“It’s not!” Molly paused, giving him a little glare before adding, “Was it stupidity with us?”

Sherlock did a nervous little double take. “N-no! No of course not. That’s completely different.”

“It absolutely is not. Why doesn’t your brother deserve to be happy too? Why should he carry on alone forever?”

“He doesn’t even fully understand that he’s lonely, Molly. And he thinks of everyone around him as intellectually far beneath him.” Sherlock leaned forward to peer into the microscope again. “So I find it highly unlikely he’d be interested in a date .”

“You do realize you’re saying date like it’s a dirty word, right?” 

“Yes, because that’s precisely how my brother looks at it.”

Molly paused, considering the whole scenario for a moment. 

“But aside from the formality of dating, don’t you think they work well together?”

“Working well together is not the same as romantic attachment.”

“But the one can lead to the other. I dunno, I don’t think you’d ever have looked twice at me if we didn’t start out at least working well together. I feel like nobody is so constantly in sync with your brother the way that Anthea is. That’s gotta count for something in his mind...and heart!”

“I doubt he sees it that way.”

Molly wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her chin on his shoulder. “But I need you to find out if he does. Even just a little bit. Maybe such a little bit that even he doesn’t realize it himself! If anyone can figure that out, it’s you.”

“You’re attempting flattery now?”

“Listen, this is all we really need from you. To deduce him just a bit. Mary is going to see Anthea today, trying to do the same with her. Just to be sure. I mean, we wouldn’t want to try anything unless we’re really sure they’re both feeling something for each other already. Please?” She bit her lip, waiting for his response and finally feeling him let out a little sigh.


“Really?!” Molly squeezed him tighter, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Thanks so much, this will be a big help! I’m going to text Mary and let her know.”

Sherlock shook his head as she stepped away. “If you two are this bored you should really just start solving crimes!”

Mary took the slip and thanked the clerk at the cleaners before peering over to her left with a friendly smile at the woman next to her.

“Anthea? Hi!”

“Oh, Mary, hello.” The chic brunette removed her sunglasses and returned the grin.

“How funny, running into you here.” Mary clicked her teeth. “It’s been ages, hasn’t it?”

“It has.” She took the shirts handed to her from across the counter, gesturing to them with a smirk. “He keeps me rather busy.”

“Oh I remember,” Mary laughed. “Well listen, since I happen to be running into you like this, maybe you’d like to grab a coffee? Before, y’know, he phones you again and you’ve got to be off!”

Anthea laughed as well. “Sure, I’d like that. You can come in my car, don’t bother with a cab.”

A few minutes later the two women were ordering their coffee and pastries at a little shop down the street. Anthea was quick to take out her card. 

“Oh no, don’t you dare!” Mary countered. “I invited you.”

“No, I insist,” Anthea replied with a little wink. “Coffee is on the British Government.”

“Well...when you put it that way, you’ll get no argument from me.” 

They took a seat by the window, sipping the hot liquid before Mary jumped right in.

“Gosh, how long has it been? I mean, since you started working for Mycroft?”

Anthea looked off, thinking for a moment. “Actually, it’s going on ten years now.”

Mary’s jaw dropped. “That’s a long time. I first met you and Mycroft, what? About seven years ago? Back when I was hired for some work .” 

“By the way,” Anthea added, something changing in her expression. “Good for you. For coming out on the other side, I mean. You’ve got a lovely life now. Not everyone who’s spent time in such a field can say so.”

Mary shrugged. “I never used to believe I’d be where I am today. I still don’t quite believe it.  But I can say I’m happy. More so than I ever thought I’d be to have a rather normal life. Everything I knew was far from normal for so many years.” She paused, then leaned forward a touch. “What about you? Do you ever get a bit of normalcy?”

Anthea leaned back in her chair, her pristinely manicured fingers still wrapped around the coffee cup.

“I get time off occasionally. Mr Holmes likes for me to stay reachable, of course,” she added with a little eye roll. “Brilliant as he is, the man can’t do a thing on his own!”

Mary smiled softly and turned the dial up a notch.

“But you don’t mind, do you? Being there for him for whatever he needs.”

Anthea looked over at her, through her dark lashes.

“No. No, I usually don’t mind. To be quite honest, I tend to worry about him when I’m not working.” She paused, hesitating. “He’s not- he’s not quite as unbreakable as people think. He carries a lot on his shoulders, and I think he worries about how well he’s doing with it all. I’d never want him to feel that he’ it alone.”

“Well, you’re an awfully thoughtful employee!” Mary took a sip of coffee. “That’s got to earn a nice bonus check.”

“Oh no, that’s not why I do it,” Anthea countered with a little laugh. “I just...I genuinely care about him.”

Mary’s brow shot up. 

“No no,” Anthea instantly added, a touch of pink shading her lovely complexion. “There’s never been anything like that between us, of course.”

“Oh, of course,” Mary agreed. “I can see you and Mycroft are both very professional. Now that you mention it though, are you seeing anyone else?”

Anthea shook her head. “I haven’t got the time for a boyfriend. I tried a few times over the years but it never went far. They never could understand my dedication to the job. And they tended to compete with it.”

“But naturally they’d lose a competition like that. That job is where your heart is,” Mary stated simply.

Anthea looked for a split second like she was going to disagree, come back with some sort of counterpoint. But then she bit her lip and smiled.

“Yes. Yes, I suppose that’s true.”

“ never want more?” Mary questioned cautiously. “More than just the job?”

Anthea drew a breath, holding it as she looked off in the distance again, then back at Mary.

“Strange as it may seem to other people, the job does make me happy. So I suppose for’s enough.”

Mary grinned, feeling pretty confident that what she’d heard was also enough. So she decided to move the conversation on, and lighten the mood just a bit. 

“Well that’s lovely. I’m just so glad to catch up and hear you’re doing well!” She reached in her bag for her mobile. “And now, before our borrowed time is up, I’m afraid I’ve got to be the annoying mum and show you the latest pictures of my baby girl.”

“Finally,” Anthea said, excitedly scooting her chair closer. “I was beginning to think I’d have to ask!”

Chapter Text

“Thought I’d bring you the latest.”

Sherlock dropped a file on Mycroft’s desk with a little thud.

The elder Holmes leaned back, peering up at his younger brother.

“You usually text,” he replied simply. 

“Yes, and then you respond with a phone call.” Sherlock took a seat. “Seeing as I can’t avoid a conversation either way, I thought I’d drop by. I was in the area.”

Mycroft picked up the file with a raised brow, thumbing through for a moment.

“Things seem to be going well, considering,” he commented, his eyes still on the pages.

“Sherrinford really isn’t all that bad as long as you’re not imprisoned and fighting for your own life. You should come along again. It’s been months since you came with us,” Sherlock suggested, watching his reaction closely. “It’s hardly necessary for you to stay away.”

“Probably for the best,” Mycroft countered, shutting the file and setting it down with a tight smile. “I don’t imagine my presence would improve anything, and the lack of it certainly does no harm.”

Sherlock shrugged. “Mummy wanted me to at least ask...but she thought you’d say as much.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes. 

“I’ve told him he should go as well.”

Sherlock spun round at the voice that suddenly entered the room, seeing Anthea stroll in with a cup of tea. He hated to admit it, but this was turning into the perfect time to fulfill Molly’s recent request for inside information. 

“Just made a pot,” she said softly, handing it over to Mycroft. “Thought you might need it.”

“Correct, as usual,” Mycroft replied, smiling up at her briefly.

“You’ll be needing a car later?”

“In about two more hours, yes. You?”

Sherlock’s eyes darted back and forth between them. How often did a boss ask his assistant when she’d be needing a car?

“About that same time, sir,” Anthea confirmed. “I should be wrapping things up soon.”

“Well then,” Mycroft replied, taking only a split second to tip his head in thought. “No sense asking for a second car. You’re welcome to share mine. We can stop by your flat first.”

Sherlock very consciously resisted the urge to let his jaw fall to the ground. Were they always like this?

“Thank you, sir.” Anthea smiled warmly before turning to go, Mycroft’s eyes staying on her the whole time. 

Sherlock began to feel like his presence had been forgotten completely. It was admittedly fascinating.

“Oh, Anthea? Don’t forget I’ll be requiring your presence next Wednesday at the out of town-“

“Meeting next week? Yes, sir, I’ve made arrangements to attend. And I’ve got everything scheduled with the private jet.”

Mycroft smiled, nothing like the smiles Sherlock was used to seeing. No hint of sarcasm or disdain. Just a real,

“Perfect. Thank you, Anthea.”

When Anthea exited the room, prompting Mycroft to finally shift his gaze back to his brother. Sherlock had his fingers poised against his lips, staring back with narrowed eyes.

“What?” Mycroft hissed.

“Nothing at all,” Sherlock was quick to reply, clearing his throat and standing from the chair. “Best be on my way. Picking up some takeaway before I get to Molly’s.”

“Ah yes, and how is... that going?”

Sherlock snorted out a little laugh. “Far better than you make it sound when asking about it.”

“Well then. My congratulations,” Mycroft sneered.

Was this sort of reaction really disgust? Sherlock began to wonder. Or was this perhaps a bit of well disguised...jealousy? It was a possibility he may not ever have considered, had he not been privy to the theories of Molly and Mary, and then witnessed this scene between the two people in question.

Sherlock gave his brother a little smirk, deciding to push the envelope just a touch. 

“It’s incredibly, actually, to be more specific,” he added. “Better than I ever could have imagined. Certainly better than you can imagine, I’m sure.”

He watched as Mycroft’s jaw clenched and his eyes hardened just slightly.

“Yes, thankfully I can’t imagine,” Mycroft retorted stubbornly, straightening up in his chair with a little sniff. 

“Well, anyway,” Sherlock said with a little clap of his hands and a grin, “As I said, best be off. Good evening!”

Sherlock Holmes exited his brother’s office that day with a completely different impression than he’d ever had before. He couldn’t say whether he’d been blind to all of this for quite a while or if there had been a more recent shift in his brother’s dynamic with Anthea. Either way, there was something there he’d never before taken note of.

Sherlock smiled to himself while waving down a cab. He didn’t relish the idea of admitting his interest in this pursuit to Molly and Mary, but he couldn’t help being drawn to the intrigue. Especially if it afforded the opportunity to prove his brother wrong. And the more he thought about it, Mycroft had made it all too easy.

The wheels started turning as Sherlock made his way to Molly’s flat, and by the time he got there he couldn’t wait to share his plan.

“Ok, hang on, this is far too good!” Mary exclaimed, moving about her kitchen while keeping the phone somewhat focused on her. “We might actually be able to pull this off.”

“It’s all thanks to the consulting matchmaker!” Molly laughed, while settling into her sofa.

Sherlock groaned across the room where he was fiddling with the fireplace. “Never mind, I don’t want to help anymore.”

“Now he’s pouting,” Molly whispered over FaceTime before looking back at him. “Ok fine, no cute nicknames. We’re gonna need you to help with this!”

“The only thing we still need is the return flight details,” Mary said, propping the phone on her counter as she set the coffee maker for the next morning. “What do you think? Can we manage to get his driver to play along?”

“No no, I would hardly trust any of those idiots,” Sherlock interjected, sitting down next to Molly and leaning over into view of the call. “I’ll use one of my homeless network and we’ll just tell his usual driver he’s been swapped. Simple enough.”

“Won’t Mycroft realize it’s not one of his men?” Mary questioned.

Sherlock waved a hand dismissively. “I can disguise Wiggins enough that Mycroft won’t notice. He’s not in the habit of closely examining his driver before getting in the back of the car. After an out of town meeting he’ll be thinking of nothing else but getting home to put his feet up. He’ll never be the wiser.”

“You’re awfully good at this.” Molly swooped in, catching his lips in a kiss. 

Sherlock’s sudden participation in this little project was more than a little attractive. Of course his brilliant mind with the capacity for intricate planning was always pretty sexy to her, but this particular occasion made him a lovely combination of adorable and sexy.

“As you can see, John still hasn’t quite learned to cope with you two kissing yet,” Mary sniggered, angling the phone to show John in the background, very obviously averting his gaze.

“It is possible my mind will just literally explode if both Sherlock and Mycroft end up in committed romantic relationship, and I have to witness it on a regular basis!” John called out.

“And they say I’m the drama queen,” Sherlock huffed.

“I’ll text Anthea tomorrow,” Mary volunteered. “We’ve been chatty recently so if I ask her to get some lunch next Wednesday she’ll naturally explain that she’s going to be away for the day for work. I can ask more questions casually without raising any suspicion.”

“Yes, I imagine that’ll be no trouble at all for you, Mrs. Watson,” Sherlock said with a wink. 

“Thanks, Mary,” Molly said with a smile. “Let us know what you find out!”

“Ok, night night, you two!”

Molly hung up and set her mobile on the side table. No sooner had she done that than she felt herself being tugged over, snug against Sherlock.

“Oh…well, hi,” she giggled, his very light stubble tickling her jaw line as he made his way to that little spot just below her ear.

“If Mycroft doesn’t see sense after this and still chooses to be alone, he’s a bloody moron,” Sherlock mumbled against her skin. 

“Mm,” Molly agreed, threading her fingers lazily through his hair. “But remember, you didn’t always see it either. You used to want to be alone.”

Sherlock lifted his head to meet her gaze. “No, not really. But I thought I deserved to be,” he said softly. “Pretty sure that’s exactly how my brother feels.”

Molly gave him a warm smile, caressing his cheek. “Well then...let’s prove him wrong.”

Chapter Text

“Perhaps you’d like to know that Donald from security is planning to ask you to have coffee today.”

Anthea stopped in her tracks as she walked down the hall, turning to face her boss at the sound of his voice. He leaned in the doorway, calmly sipping his cup of tea.

She tried not to react too obviously, but this did rather stand out. It wasn’t often Mycroft took to commenting on her personal life or on anyone personally connected to her. Oh she knew he was likely making deductions left and right. But it wasn’t often that he voiced them. In fact, it seemed painfully obvious to her that he purposely refrained from personal chatter. 

“Are there no international crisis to be dealt with this morning then?” Anthea asked with a little smirk. “You must be terribly bored to be monitoring my dating habits...or should I say, lack thereof.”

Mycroft cleared his throat. “It takes precious little effort to deduce. Donald is pitifully obvious. He’s glanced out in the hallway and towards your desk three times already, obviously considering paying you a visit. But each time he’s seen you on the phone or typing and chosen to wait. Since he’s only been here a year he still imagines he has some sort of a chance.”

Anthea narrowed her eyes. “And you think he’s wrong? You think he doesn’t have a chance?”

“He obviously doesn’t.”

Anthea’s heels made soft little clicking noises as she stepped closer to him. The fact that he was speaking out in this way made her a touch bolder than she would normally be.

“But you see, sir, when interest in general seems to be tends to begin exploring even the less obvious options.”

His expression shifted, perhaps even fell a little.

“I can’t help thinking it unwise to lower one’s standards,” he replied before visibly clenching his jaw.

Anthea flashed him a wide smile. “Oh I would make sure to stick to a certain standard of course. Which, in this case, becomes rather simple. I imagine there are no better people than those under your employment...sir.”

Before he could attempt a comeback, she spoke again.

“Our flight to and from the meeting tomorrow is confirmed, by the way. We’ll be departing at ten AM and flying back at about ten PM. Is that to your liking?”

Mycroft opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again, as if rethinking whatever it was he was initially about to say.

“Yes, thank you, Anthea,” he replied simply.

She gave him a quick smile, turning on her heels and continuing the way she’d been heading, making it a point not to look back. Despite that, she was willing to put money on the fact that his eyes remained on her the whole time.

Perhaps she’d never have the things she often wished for with Mycroft Holmes, but at the very least she hoped to make him occasionally wish for the very same things.

“You’re sure he won’t try to do anything unexpected?” Molly questioned as she helped adjust the black suit on one of Sherlock’s homeless network. 

“Absolutely sure, yes,” Sherlock insisted. “He knows the location. If the car stops in that area and at that time of night, he’ll know there’s nowhere for them to go and that there’s absolutely nothing to do but wait.”

“Should I be feeling bad? I’m starting to feel bad,” Molly muttered, mostly to herself.

“Why?” He frowned, clearly feeling no hint of guilt. “It’s not going to hurt them. We’re not locking them in a cell or throwing them in a ditch or tying them up!”

“Don’t forget,” Mary added, “We’re bugging the driver and the car. If anything goes wrong we’ll know pretty quickly. We’re not going to torture them or scare them. And ultimately, there’s not going to be anything wrong with the car so they technically can drive away.”

“Yeah I suppose. Hopefully it all goes the way we want and they don’t completely ignore each other!”

”We could always try some of the other ideas I had. Just as an extra little push,” Sherlock said with a little smirk.

“I don’t think we should try any of those kind of ideas,” Molly warned. “We want to encourage them to get together, not to die of heart attacks together!”

“Matchmaking could be loads more fun if I were in charge,” Sherlock said with an eye roll.

Sherlock double checked the mic on his friend and the one that would be planted in the vehicle, went over the exact route and location, and the plan was set in motion.

For better or worse, Mycroft and Anthea had a very long night ahead of them.

“I’m exhausted,” Anthea commented as they walked to the car on the air strip. “I should have just booked us rooms in Paris.”

Mycroft nearly tripped over his own feet, even the mention of such an arrangement making his brain short circuit a bit. There had been one time a couple of years back when they were out of town and had to stay over unexpectedly, which resulted in a shared hotel room. It was one of the most trying nights Mycroft could recall. He didn’t relish the idea of reliving that experience. Better to have a long day and get home late. Much safer that way.

He slid into the car after her, admitting to himself that he too was exhausted. How she managed to look so absolutely radiant while being exhausted, he had no idea. 

Mycroft grit his teeth, knowing that his mental and physical fatigue was weakening his normally stronger willpower. This sort of scenario did nothing to make things easier for him. The sooner they were dropped at their respective homes, the better.

“Anthea’s address first, please,” Mycroft instructed the driver through the small window.

“Thank you,” she said as the wheels began rolling, giving him a smile before leaning her head back against the seat.

The road back from the private airfield was long and winding. Mycroft preferred the privacy and lack of traffic to make life miserable, but the tradeoff was the distance. At the moment it felt like more of an inconvenience. 

Especially as he glanced over beside him to Anthea’s black stocking covered thighs peeking out from under her skirt. He dearly wished there was light and any sort of visible scenery to focus on outside.

About halfway through the drive, just as Mycroft began to feel like he might doze off, he felt the car pull to the side of the road.

“What’s going on?” he questioned, scooting forward in his seat.

“Sorry, sir, some trouble with the car. Let me just pop out for a moment and take a look.”

Mycroft and Anthea exchanged a concerned look as the driver stepped out and disappeared underneath the hood of the car for a number of minutes.

“Right, let’s try it now,” he announced, finally climbing back in and turning the key.

The engine didn’t even turn over.


“What do you mean by hmm ?!” Mycroft demanded. “What exactly is the problem?” 

“Seems it’s the battery,” the driver explained. “Probably just needs to be replaced.”

Anthea took out her mobile, turning it to show to Mycroft. “There’s no service. None at all.”

Mycroft sighed heavily. “And what do you plan to do about this battery problem?”

“Well…” The driver paused. “It’ll take me a while, but I’ll have to walk to get help if we can’t phone anyone. Probably best to walk the rest of the way to town instead of back to the airfield. As soon as I get there or get somewhere there’s service, I’ll get some help and come back. Probably best if you two just sit tight.”

“We can’t just sit here!” 

“If you prefer to go as well, that’s alright, I don’t mind staying behind,” Anthea commented. “But I can’t possibly walk any distance. I brought nothing but heels!”

Mycroft took one look at her and instantly changed his tune. No, he didn’t want to sit here possibly for hours, waiting on this idiot driver to come back for them. But even more than that, he didn’t want to leave her here by herself. Perhaps this truly was the only option.

“Just go and be quick about it, please,” he instructed the driver sternly.

“Will do, sir!” The driver tipped his hat and hopped out of the vehicle, beginning his brisk walk away from the car and down the dark road.

After a moment of darkened silence, Anthea spoke again.

“ are those Paris hotel rooms sounding now?”

Mycroft leaned forward, elbows on his knees and fingers raking through his hair. Yes, those hotel rooms sounded much preferable at the moment. Somewhere he could shut a door, not have to focus on the sound of her voice, the smell of her hair…

He made the mistake of lifting his head again and glancing over at her.

...and the way her eye sparked back at him in the darkened car.

Chapter Text

“This isn’t going to get too weird is it?” Molly asked with a small grimace.

“Believe me,” Sherlock replied over his shoulder from his laptop, “I have even less desire than you do to listen to my brother’s relationship with Anthea...progress. If things take any sort of uncomfortable turn, we shut down surveillance immediately.”

“Yep, definitely,” she agreed with a nod.

“Did I miss anything?” Mary asked, returning to the room with a bowl of crisps.

“Nope,” Sherlock said, increasing the volume on his laptop. “But the driver just left, so we’ll need to give it some time. My brother is not so easily moved!”

“Yeah but I have a feeling about this,” Mary said between crunches. “I think this is what’ll finally get him. He has feelings, she’s gorgeous, they’re alone in a dark car, and he’s still just a man after all!”

“Oh shh shh, they’re talking again!” Molly waved at the two of them and the room fell silent…

Mycroft glanced over, noting the way she moved her palm up and down her arm. She was clearly getting chilly with the car turned off.

He immediately scooted forward, shrugging off his suit jacket.

“No, please, I’m perfectly-“

“Don’t argue,” Mycroft insisted, handing the garment over which she finally took. “We have no idea how much longer that idiot driver is going to be, so there’s no sense in you freezing while we wait. I’m perfectly comfortable.”

Anthea slipped her arms into the expensive jacket and the sound of the silky lining moving against her skin made poor Mycroft squirm a bit in his seat. 

This space was too enclosed, his senses too amplified. It seemed to him like he was absolutely drowning in her. There was almost nothing he could do or focus on that would completely allow him to escape. 

“I feel the meeting today went well,” Mycroft said, mostly out of desperation.

“Mm, I agree. I’ll send out a follow up email tomorrow.”

“Yes, excellent idea.”

He racked his brain, trying to think of something else to bring up. Preferably something work related, perhaps in depth and complicated…

“You were right about Donald in security, by the way.”

Mycroft’s brow lifted in undeniable interest.

“Was I? So he did finally ask. Was it coffee or drinks? I had initially believed coffee, but upon further consideration I came to realize that Donald is the type of man who assumes a nighttime outing involving drinks will lead to something more.”

No it wasn’t the safest topic, but at least he was able to pick out something to analyze and deduce in a more clinical way, in an attempt to remove the personal aspect.

“Well done, yes,” Anthea confirmed with a smirk. “It was drinks.”

Mycroft shifted his gaze. “And when is that?”

“When is what?”

“The drinks with Donald.”

Anthea stared back at him, narrowing her keen eyes. “You know I didn’t say yes.”

“How should I know that?” he attempted.

She tipped her head, and although he wasn’t looking directly at her, he could feel her eyes locked onto him. 

“You just know...for a million different reasons, I’m sure,” she said softly. “Maybe some you don’t care to admit.”

Mycroft felt his chest tighten instantly.

“I think you know that despite anything I said yesterday, I wouldn’t want to say yes,” she added. “Not to him.”

“I see.” He swallowed thickly, the sound deafening in his own ears. “Well I would venture to say that is his loss.”

Anthea let out a short laugh. “Is that a compliment?”

Mycroft shrugged. “Is that a surprise? I should think you were aware that I hold you in very high regard. Nobody has worked for me longer than you have.”

She laughed again. “My my, you do know how to talk to a woman.”

He sighed, realizing that things were going in a direction he wouldn’t be able to fully control.

“Anthea, how else would I talk to- that is, you know I try to keep things...professional at all times.”

“You mean like that time in Venice three years ago?”

Mycroft’s eyes shot to hers at the mention of that all too prominent memory which still felt like yesterday. He could still remember exactly what her lips tasted like.

“That was-“

“If you’re about to say it was a mistake, I’d rather you didn’t. I think I’m already well aware of how you feel without you saying it aloud,” she cut in, crossing one leg over the other and readjusting her skirt. 

His expression fell, ashamed that he was about to say just that. But he didn’t mean it, not for a moment. In his heart of hearts, which he did actually have, it was something he thought of often and fondly. 

Mycroft did historically avoid leg work, but on that one occasion they’d been caught in a bit of a tight spot. A bullet grazed his arm and he had to be patched up back at their hotel when all was said and done. 

He could still remember how close she sat on his bed, how her hands works quickly and skillfully. And he very distinctly remembered the way one of her hands unexpectedly came to rest instead on his face. He hadn’t had time to think clearly before her lips met his. Because it took him by surprise, he gave into it, fully reciprocating and even deepening her kiss while sliding his hand around the back of her neck. 

It was over quickly, Anthea pulling away with a blush on her cheeks as she tucked her hair neatly behind her ears. She’d muttered something about him needing rest and that she’d see him in the morning. Mycroft knew he’d let her down the moment she stood from his bed and walked out. 

The subject was never brought up again, not by either of them. And as the days and weeks turned into months and years, it became easier and easier for him to pretend things were better this way, and that she’d likely forgotten all about it anyway. 

“I don’t look back on it as a mistake.”

Mycroft heard the words come out as if they were without his permission. But he wasn’t sorry, not really.

She paused for a long moment before clearing her throat. “Y’know someone sort of asked me about us recently. I lied when I assured them there had never been anything between us that wasn’t professional. I think I wanted to believe that’s how it was. It would certainly be easier...less confusing.”

That cut him deep.

“I have never wanted to confuse you, which is why I have always made it my aim to draw a line and stay very clearly behind it. So if my behavior in Venice-“

“I’m not blaming you, really. It was me, after all. I do know where you stand and if there has been any confusion it was the result of my own impulsive actions. I’m...sorry I brought it up. I’m just tired and I want to get home.”

Mycroft leaned forward on his knees, loosening his tie a bit. He felt like he was about to explode, though not so much due to being overheated. It was as if something inside was bubbling up and couldn’t be kept down any longer. She wasn’t making this easy.

“You don’t know where I stand.”


He turned to face her. “You just said you know where I stand, and I’m correcting you. You don’t. You never have because I made sure of it.”

The look in her eyes became too intense and Mycroft found himself needing to look elsewhere again.

“When my department hired you nearly ten years ago,” he went on, “the first thing I thought was that you were the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I knew your qualifications on paper and also quickly learned first hand that you were brilliant and perfect for the job. But I admit that it was quite often that I caught myself thinking that nothing compared to the simple joy of seeing your face every day.”

His words were met with silence, and he didn’t quite have the courage to look at her again yet, so he kept talking.

“What further caught me off guard, even before Venice, was the fact that you seemed to...enjoy my company as well. I didn’t understand it, and still don’t quite frankly, but I did begin to realize that there was at least some level of attraction for both of us. That was when I decided I had to be especially cautious.”

“Because you don’t believe in relationships ,” she commented, a bite in her tone.

“No, because I don’t believe in hurting you ,” he replied, finally looking her in the eyes again. “I know who I am, who my family is, what this job is, and what happens when feelings are allowed to run wild. That is far from a fairytale.”

Life is far from a fairytale,” Anthea shot back. “But what we all want- no, what we all need is just a little taste of the fairytale in between all the drudgery and stress and horror that is real life.”

He hesitated, unsure for a moment how to respond to that.

“Are you trying to tell me that you’ve actually wanted me all these years but just held back because you thought you were being kind ?” she asked, a sudden aggression in her voice.

Mycroft wasn’t sure whether she was about to lunge over and attack him...or do something else.

“Would you like to know what a fairytale feels like?” Anthea asked, throwing his jacket off her shoulders and scooting over closer. “It’s sitting on the edge of a creaky bed in Venice with your hands in my hair and your lips on mine, even knowing that it probably wasn’t going to lead to anything. That was absolute perfection in the moment, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I wasn’t sitting there wishing for something better. It wasn’t perfect because everything around us was, it was perfect because it was us.

Oh God , he thought, staring back at her wide eyed. He felt himself losing control in that same way he had years ago.

“Tell me you don’t want me anymore or show me that you do . Because I simply won’t accept anything in between anymore,” Anthea proclaimed, her chin sticking out just a touch in something like defiance.

Mycroft wasn’t caught off guard this time as she watched and waited, only inches away from him. He didn’t have the excuse of having no choice in the matter. In fact, he didn’t want that this time. He realized that it was time to make a conscious decision and act on it without reservation. 

The speed with which Mycroft’s lips were pressed to hers and his hands were back in the smooth warmth of her hair surprised even him. But in a very good way of course. Only then did he fully comprehend how much he’d been wanting this feeling again.

“I don’t want to let you go,” Mycroft managed between kisses.

“Don’t you dare stop!” 

“I mean the job,” he clarified, a little crack in his voice as she tugged his tie loose and opened his shirt collar, moving her lips to the side of his neck.

Sir ,” Anthea purred, pausing to look up at him for a moment in a way that made him melt. “If I haven’t proven to you by now that I can very effectively multitask and be professional whenever needed, I may begin questioning your brilliant observation skills.”

“Point taken,” Mycroft muttered quickly before crashing his lips into hers again.

“That’s it, I’m shutting it down!” Sherlock bellowed, closing his laptop before getting up and walking away from the desk.

Molly and Mary were too busy screaming and exchanging high fives to really notice his little shudder of disgust.

“I can’t believe we pulled this off!” Molly exclaimed. “I’ll be honest, I didn't think it would actually work.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so pleased with the results of a covert mission,” Mary laughed.

“I should hope so,” Sherlock called from the kitchen, “Seeing as this is probably the only one that didn’t end in horrific violence!”

But secretly of course, as he put the kettle on for tea, he was more than a little pleased. Sherlock, having already learned the value of romantic attachment, knew the impact it could have. He knew perhaps more than anyone that it would change his brother’s life for the better. 

Then Sherlock smiled, laughing softly to himself as he poured the water once it boiled. Because if nothing else, Mycroft was about to have significantly less free time to use the British government’s surveillance on him.