Original Story Title: Captcha
Original Story Link: http://noirrosaleen.livejournal.com/274034.html
Original Story Pairings: Mycroft, Anthea (gen)
Original Story Rating: PG
Original Story Warnings: N/A
Remix Story Title: The Things They Say About My Brother (After the Fall Overdub)
Remix Author: igrockspock
Remix Beta: medie
Remix Britpicker: cobweb_diamond
Remix Story Pairings: Mycroft, Anthea (gen)
Remix Story Rating: PG-13
Remix Story Warnings: Some discussion of death/grieving
Summary: After Sherlock's "suicide," Mycroft discovers internet fan pages dedicated to his brother. Anthea's there for him -- as much as he let's her be, anyway.
"The Things They Say About My Brother (After the Fall Overdub)"
Anthea deposited the small, blue box on Mr. Holmes' desk. The glittery silver ribbon looked especially out of place next to the brown leather blotter and rigidly aligned pencils.
"Happy birthday, sir," she said.
Mr. Holmes blinked, just once. No one else would have noticed.
"Did you not remember it was your birthday, sir?" she asked.
"I'll open it in private if you don't mind," he said. "Get the Russian minister on the line."
She didn't look at his face on her way out, and she didn't look like she was deliberately not looking. Instead she studied the cuff of his sleeve, just visible beneath his jacket. It had buttons. She thought of her tiny blue box and sighed -- internally, of course. A lapse of control wouldn't do.
Cuff links. What else could she have bought for the man who has everything and nothing?
At 11:57 p.m., Anthea was staring at Mr. Holmes' door, willing him to go home. It was Friday, after all, and she'd like to have a bit of a life. She slid the emory board back and forth across her nails and tried to pick a new name for herself. "Anthea" had stuck the night she picked up John Watson; she'd even begun thinking of herself that way. In private, of course. In public, she was up to 'P,' but she hadn't found a name that fit.
A strange sound erupted behind Mr. Holmes' door. Laughter, she thought. The alternative was inconceivable, even if his brother had died only a week ago. She pressed her ear against the door. Her hand lay lightly against the knob. The sound was unmistakable now: Mr. Holmes was laughing. Wildly. Hysterically, even. Steeling herself for whatever sight lay in store, she opened the door and stepped inside the office.
She rarely entered uninvited, but Mr. Holmes smiled radiantly. The effect was disconcerting, even if the smile didn't -- quite -- reach his eyes.
"Ophelia!" he exclaimed. "My dear helpmeet!"
"That was yesterday, sir." She didn't need to look at her watch to know it was after midnight. "Now it's Pandora."
"Pandora, then," he said. He looked pleased. "Come pull up a chair."
He gestured expansively toward a rather austere-looking wooden chair next to his desk. He did not often entertain visitors and lacked comfortable accommodation for them. An empty bottle of Scotch lay on its side next to his computer, and a second one -- half empty already -- sat on the corner of the blotter.
"Thank you for the cufflinks," he said. The wrapping paper lay in a smooth square on the desk, the silvery ribbon coiled on top of it. "Do tell Marcus to order me a shirt without buttons on the cuffs."
"I don't perform domestic tasks, sir. Even by delegation."
"Mmm, quite right." He shook his head. "How thoughtless of me. I shall tell him myself."
Anthea fingered the neat square of gift wrap, which was perfectly aligned with the corner of his desk.
"In some circles, it's traditional to tear wrapping paper, you know," she said, testing his mood.
"Mmm," he murmured. It wasn't a night for banter, then. He gestured toward his computer screen. "Have you seen this?"
"Seen what, sir?"
"Fan fiction," he said, articulating each syllable carefully, as if it were a word from another language. He stared at her expectantly.
"Haven't heard of it," she murmured. "Is it related to your brother's blogger?"
"I suppose that is its genesis."
"And what is it, sir?"
"Stories," he said. "Fictional stories. About my brother." His expression veered between hilarity and outrage.
Anthea leaned closer to the monitor as Mycroft scrolled past lists of stories with dizzying rapidity. He processed text much faster than even she could, and she wasn't able to read much, though she caught a few summaries: in which Sherlock Holmes is bored and takes a purity test, and Mrs. Hudson presides over a knitting circle at 221B.
"The variety is astonishing," she murmured. "I hadn't realized your brother had such a following."
He began to scroll even more rapidly, but not before Anthea caught sight of a familiar name.
"Mr. Holmes, are you perhaps trying to hide the existence of a story about yourself?"
"Stories, I'm afraid. Best have a drink before you look at any of them."
He removed a second glass from his desk drawer and filled it. It was a diversion, she knew, but it was a good one: the Scotch was smooth and peaty, and every drop of it tasted as if it had cost a month of her salary. Of course, she had seized the mouse as soon as he had reached for the bottle, and she scrolled up toward the offending story before he could stop her.
"Sir," she exclaimed, "the things they say you do with your umbrella!"
He cleared his throat, tugging uneasily at his collar. Anthea was astonished to see that his face was red, and not merely from the alcohol.
"Yes, very imaginative, and completely untrue, I assure you."
Anthea took another sip of her Scotch. Already she could feel it swirling in her head. She'd never seen Mr. Holmes look embarrassed before, and she intended to press her advantage, even if it wasn't very proper. He watched her uneasily as she scrolled higher on the page and clicked on a tab labeled "most recent entries."
I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK HOLMES, the first proclaimed in large block letters. Beneath it were posts labeled, "in shock," "devastated," and "too many feelings." Last were a series of photographs, each with the I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK HOLMES slogan spray painted onto the sides of buildings, accompanied by a stylized figure in a great coat.
"Are these real, sir?" she asked. Words, however, inadequate, seemed better than the heavy silence that had fallen over the office as soon as she had opened the page.
"Yes. They believe that they have lost someone. As if he were theirs. As if they would have liked him if they had met him."
Anthea swept her eyes over the desk, looking for clues. Rarely had she felt as off balance with Mr. Holmes as she did tonight. The tissue box on his desk, which had been full this morning, was empty and Anthea wondered if his eyes were truly red from drinking.
"Are you all right, sir?" she asked. She refused to look away from the angry grimace that twisted his face; it was the only way she knew to tell him that her question was sincere, and she wanted a real answer.
"I will be," he said slowly. "I must be." He dropped his gaze, and the sadness that had lingered in his eyes overtook his face.
"Right," Anthea said. "Work to be done." It was his refuge, she knew.
"No." He waved a hand dismissively, something she'd never seen him do when speaking of their job. "I'm the only one left to remember him, exactly as he was. Only I know the whole story."
It was true, she supposed; Dr. Watson had entered Sherlock's life only eighteen months ago. She tightened her fingers around her glass and found that she did not know the right thing to say.
"It's a good reason to go on," she said finally. "In fact, I rather admire it, Mr. Holmes."
He was silent for a very long time.
"Mycroft," he said finally. "Please."
"My name is Mycroft. I would like it if you would call me that."
His tone was impatient, just as it always was when the people around him failed to keep up. Underneath that, though, she detected the trace of embarrassment and vulnerability that had lingered around his face ever since she had entered the office this evening. She extended her hand.
"Joan." she said. She had hated it, even as a child.
"Really?" Mr. Holmes -- Mycroft -- asked.
"Yes. Truly. But I'd prefer it if you called me Anthea."
"Today?" he asked.
"No," she said. "Always. Just between us, of course."
A small smile curled around the edges of his mouth. He took her hand.
"Pleased to meet you, Anthea."
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