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Working practices

BBC Sherlock

Rating: 12 (preslash, implied femslash)

Summary: Anthea's job gives her 'lots of free time'. There are other perks as well. Inspired by Bloom84's The Instigator and sort of a prequel to it (though the timelines may not quite fit).

Anthea did wonder sometimes why most people persisted in assuming she was straight. Perhaps it was because she wore makeup and had good legs. But you'd have thought that her notorious indifference towards all the men she had to deal with as Mycroft's PA would have been recognised as indifference towards men.

Mycroft had spotted it at once, of course. At the job interview, he'd said towards the end, leaning back in his chair. "I think you'll be ideal for the post. Of course we'll need to run a few further checks on your background. You're not in a civil partnership, I know, but is there any...significant woman in your life at the moment?"

She'd broken up with Cynthia more than two years ago, and nobody in Whitehall knew they'd been together in the first place. Or so she'd thought.

"Is it a problem that I'm a lesbian?" she'd asked, because it was as well to know in advance. She was getting fed up with having to hide her orientation at work. "I thought that the Security  Service didn't worry about that kind of thing any more?"

"No problem at all for the Service, as long as we all know where we are," Mycroft replied smiling. "And I personally have no problem either, just in case you wonder. Some of my best friends at college were lesbians. We used to frequent the same clubs."

Ah, thought Anthea, so it was still true what they used to say about MI5, that they were a load of secretive buggers.

"In fact," Mycroft went on, "it might even be easier in certain respects. My last assistant had many good qualities, but I was rather disappointed by her approach to police liaison."

"Really?" said Anthea, and wondered what that was all about.


By police liaison, she realised, fairly soon, what Mycroft meant was talking to Detective Inspector Lestrade. The last PA had apparently made rather an embarrassing scene over Lestrade at one point, and had to be seconded. To St Helena, for some reason. Mycroft might be incapable of making any advances towards Lestrade himself, which Anthea found distinctly peculiar, but he wasn't going to let anyone he didn't trust too near the silver-haired object of his unrequited lust. Well, supposedly unrequited lust. Personally, Anthea was coming to suspect that Lestrade's main interest in any of Mycroft's PAs was that they were his link to Mycroft. She was going to have to do something at some point. Men could be so inefficient and obtuse:  they needed organising.

Take John Watson, for example. Still obliviously chasing after women, and not realising what Sherlock was imagining doing with him, to him. If Dr Watson wasn't so aggravatingly prone to trying it on with Anthea every time he met her, almost reflexively, she could explain a few things to him. Though she suspected she'd have to draw diagrams.

So she was not pleased when on this morning's agenda the last item was "Watson surveillance". Especially since that had all been arranged in meticulous detail several weeks ago.

"I'm sorry, Anthea, I should have been more specific," Mycroft smiled apologetically at her. "I'm afraid the scope of the surveillance needs to be extended yet again. Dr Watson has a sister, Harriet."

"Yeah. I believe she's currently trying to drink London dry of London dry gin, after breaking up with her partner, " she replied. It was always disappointing when that sort of thing happened, she vaguely felt it was letting the side down. Or perhaps that was true equality, when gays could have marriages that failed just as messily as straight people?

"It is, in fact, Clara Watson I wanted the surveillance on," Mycroft replied. "She changed her name by deed poll just before the split up, and still hasn't changed it back. So I wanted to check what her feelings were towards Harriet Watson now. Obviously, if she is reconciled with her, that would have a knock on effect on Dr Watson's state of mind, and hence, indirectly, on my brother."

"What level of surveillance did you want?"

"The problem is," said Mycroft, looking down at her thoughtfully, "that we're rather overcommitted on this year's budget. So I wondered whether you could do me an extraordinary favour?"

"Of course, sir."

"Wait till you hear it. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, would be to encounter Ms Watson socially, get talking to her, and see if you can discover whether she is still pining for her ex. I think she'd respond well to a sympathetic ear. And a woman's touch, I feel, is needed on these occasions."

"I quite understand, sir. Do you know where she hangs out, where I might be able to meet her?"

"I believe she is quite often found at the Candy Bar in Soho. I'll provide you with some pictures, of course, so you'll be able to recognise her."

"That'd be helpful. Perhaps in a selection of different outfits, so I know what the dress code is for the Candy Bar?"

"Certainly. Thank you so much for dealing with this, Anthea. It's been lurking on my to do list for a while. Do have a good weekend."


Anthea made it into Mycroft's office on Monday morning on time, which she thought was extremely impressive under the circumstances.

"You were asking about surveillance of Clara Watson, sir? I happened to run across her at the Candy Bar on Friday evening."

"Ah, good," Mycroft replied. "Were you able to get any useful data?"

"Oh yeah. She's coping with the break-up pretty well, feels she needs to move on, start dating again."

"Good. I thought that was the case, but it's always useful to get a second informed opinion. From a different perspective, that is. But I hope you haven't been too busy over the weekend, you're looking rather worn out.  I do worry sometimes that I'm over-working you, and we wouldn't want to breach the EU working time directives, would we? So I think you ought to have a few days off in lieu."

"Thank you, sir."

"And have you had this quarter's clothing allowance yet? You know I like to see my staff looking smart at all times."

"I haven't had a chance to do any shopping recently."

"Well, if you need any little extras, the office account at Zara still has some credit, I believe. And after all the fuss we had in getting it, it would seem a shame to have anything left in the budget at the year's end. Looks untidy."

"I'll sort that out for you, sir."

"Thank you, Anthea. I do like to keep my staff happy, you know. A happy office is an effective office."

"Oh, yes," she replied, smiling. "And teamwork is terribly important."

Sequel: Do you want to know a secret?


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 10th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
Mycroft, you scamp!!! WTF? I am well and truly shocked--and tickled--by his pimping Anthea out like that. And exiling the former assistant--well done--she deserved it. And rewarding A with a new outfit--nice touch, My. Very pimplike.
What excellent teammwork, though, and of course it's all covered properly in the name of taking care of Sherlock. Love Anthea's thought process throughout and her irritation at Watson's advances--please--a ficlet in which she actually does draw him a diagram would be --just delightfully cracky. Like the fact that you're in the process of getting all the girls paired off happily . . . let's see . . . Sally/Ella, Anthea/Clara, Molly/Harry . . . did you have someone with Mrs. Hudson yet? She does have that huge crush on Lestrade, but perhaps someone else could turn her head.
Loved the fic!
Feb. 10th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
I think Mycroft would consider it setting up Anthea up on a date rather than pimping her out - it's just that he has rather unusual ideas on how you organise such things. And Anthea wouldn't have to draw diagrams, of course, for John - she'd just have to show him the right surveillance camera footage of Sherlock's behaviour.

Someone's already done Mrs Hudson/Mrs Turner (and someone else has done a really good Mrs Hudson/Sherlock fic). I don't have enough of a feel for her character at the moment to do her. I've got something in draft slashing the Pink Lady, though that's rather sad. One of the few other female characters I haven't slashed is Sarah, but I think she'd be very tricky to do. The other characters I've done are either canonically lesbian (Clara and Harry), not known (Ella and Anthea) or could have reasons why they've got fed up with men (Sally and Molly). I've seen Sarah done well as asexual, but I find it hard to imagine her as a closeted lesbian (consciously or unconsciously - I think she'd have worked out about herself and come out), and I'm not sure I could do her well as bisexual.
Feb. 10th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
yes--of course, helpful!Mycroft was just being helpful and filling a void in Anthea's life. I was just kidding about the pimping. . . .
You've created plenty of character happiness for all the ladies so far--you should be proud. Agree on Sarah. And I have to say, in truth, I just have always assumed Mrs. H. has a string of broken-hearted male lovers, one of whom she left her no-good husband for, so . . . all's well. Bests.
Feb. 10th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
yeah--that's me in that anon comment!
I switched browsers and wasn't logged in. oops.
Feb. 10th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
Very nice to see this. Good times for Clara always make me happy.
Feb. 12th, 2011 09:53 am (UTC)
It's just occurred to me, however, that if both Mycroft and Anthea are preoccupied with love, who are we left with running the country? MI5's librarians can't do all the extra work, the cataloguing backlog would get too big.
Feb. 17th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
How good of Mycroft to furnish Anthea with clothes, time off, and a date! :-)
Feb. 18th, 2011 11:32 am (UTC)
When I was offered a job by MI5, they said they paid 10% above the market rate, but they didn't mention any of the other perks.
Feb. 18th, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
Mycroft's er, protective gestures towards Lestrade are hilarious and have scarily comedic potential. Of course I also love cunning!Anthea!
Feb. 18th, 2011 11:34 am (UTC)
Well it was Blooms84 who came up with this version of cunning!Anthea. Though I'm a little more ambivalent towards her - I think she really cares about Mycroft, but can be fairly heartless towards other people.
Feb. 18th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC)
Dear Mycroft,

Please fix it so you set me up with Anthea next?

Much love,

Feb. 18th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)
Dear Shrew,

Anthea was last seen with Sally Donovan, so you may be out of luck.
Mar. 3rd, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
Literally chortled out loud at this. Seriously. Admiring this Mycroft and certainly Anthea... wonderful. I can't come up with much as I'm busy grinning like a daffy fool.

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )