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13 December 2010 @ 01:35 pm
Fic: Time in Lieu Of [1/2]  
Title: TIme in Lieu Of
Part: 1/2

Warnings:  AU crack fic of crackness. Considerable volumes of OOC. Unintended cross over with Good Omens.

Prompt Link: http://sherlockbbc-fic.livejournal.com/4076.html?thread=10033900#t10033900
Prompt: John Watson has three siblings, not one...and together they are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Notes: This was such an utter and complete pleasure to write. I was going through a tough time and needed a laugh (yes I  laugh at my own jokes, yes I am unbearably lame) but apparently, this time, I was sufficiently funny to make other people laugh as well. Thank you so so much to everyone who commented on this fic at the Sherlock BBC Kink Meme and to the OP who thought up this incredible idea.

Length: approximately 12,000 words



---

They met every morning of the new moon in a small cafe off High Holborn. Anthea (or Xena or Medea or Alice) arranged for the security and so they were rarely accosted by the CIA, FBI, or MI6 (or the MIB, which don't exist. Of course they don't. Why would you even think such a ridiculous thing?)

They used to call themselves the Homeland Order for Rapid Societal Enlightenment; an (admittedly small) order of artisans, individuals who could work sublime materials into earthshattering art. However, that order soon deteriorated mostly due to internal power struggles, but also due to the Industrial Revolution, which destroyed artistry and replaced it with a drive for mass produced drivel and the constant push for numbers. The group reformed in pieces for a century before coming back together in 1928 after a particularly disastrous event. Now they just called themselves The Board.

Perhaps they operated more efficiently but John, who was a bit of a traditionalist at heart, certainly found it less rewarding. Time to forego even that. Personally, he was going to outsource.

By the time he managed to detangle himself from everyone in the tube station and make his way through the crowd he felt decidedly put upon and in desperate need of tea.  He entered the froufrou little cafe, ignoring the latest addition (a tiny bell that tinkled in a charmingly cloying manner) and assessed the room. It was covered in dark wooden panelling and mirrors, and minimalist modern furniture. In other words, one could not hide anywhere in the room. How very thoughtful of Anthea.  Each of the tables boasted an overpriced blue/white flower arrangement (monkshood, hydrangea and begonias nestled in cypress). Modern art in flower form. Society was going to hell and he didn't even have to raise a finger. Anthea was already there, looking splendid in a simple black suit and framed by the flowers on her right and a perfect cup of tea on her left.

"I could murder a cuppa." John gratefully sank into an overstuffed velvety chair and sighed in relief. It was so nice and quiet in the café. Mind, his expectations of nice settings had really devolved in the past few months. The criteria now consisted exclusively of: serves tea, lacks human heads that are not attached to human bodies, and lacks unidentifiable substances dripping from the tables. Wasn't humanity at large supposed to have gotten over this pursuant to the Renaissance?

"Hmm." Anthea did not stand to greet him. Instead she daintily picked up her teacup and sipped at the outrageously expensive tea she insisted on drinking. John had heard it was first digested by a cat. Ewwww. After being a soldier and living with Sherlock, Anthea still managed to find things that unsettled his stomach. Maybe this was how Mycroft was losing weight.

John sat in quiet contemplation looking over the minutes of their previous meeting and the quarterly production statements as Anthea nibbled on a biscuit and dexterously typed away at her Blackberry. She would address him eventually, undoubtedly she was following up on her latest endeavour (A virus specifically designed to crash the pentagon's computers; a red herring for her work in rerouting supplies and humanitarian aid.) Luckily, some of Anthea's artistry had survived the Industrial Revolution. There was a tricky moment for a while, with the advent of sewage systems, but Anthea had persevered. John had always known she was the cleverest of them all.

"So, how is his royal Holmes-ness? Still kidnapping hapless soldiers and stuffing them into unmarked cars?"

Anthea smirked. "Not so much these days. He is currently working on a little situation. Should have it all sorted out by lunch, he would have dealt with it in minutes but working with the Prime Minister can be so very tedious."

John sighed. "You realize that Mycroft's never going to be allowed to croak?"

Anthea snorted in amusement. How unladylike of her. "Serenity would make him go mad and Lucy won't take him. She does have some concept of self-preservation. Speaking of which, how is the domestic life?"

John poked at his biscuit and tea. Ever since he had started living with Sherlock food had gone from "Very interesting and lovely to indulge in" to "Dear God that is NOT a carrot so why is it in with the carrots?!!" He had foregone eating entirely. It had been a month and Sherlock had not even noticed.

"Thinking of outsource Harry's job to Sherlock."

"I suppose he never learned to avoid mixing raw meats with vegetables? Good boy! I hate modern infection control procedures." She said 'infection control' like a swear word.

"And you should see how the boy eats!" Harry's bell-like laughter filled the room as surely as the smell of her sweet perfume. "He lives off packets of sugar. Like a fruit fly. He’s kinda my hero."  She leaned over John's chair to give him a kiss on the cheek before sinking into the seat reserved for her at Anthea's side. She plucked a glass of red wine off the table.

Harry looked like every single cover of every single fashion magazine in the country. Possibly because she -was- on the cover of all of them. She swept her strawberry blond hair away from her face and shrugged bony shoulders. The whole concentration-camp-survivor look somehow managed to work for her. Being below a weight that could sustain human life certainly wasn't affecting her incredibly well publicized and obscenely well-documented modelling career. While lacking Anthea's brutal grace and efficiency she did manage to keep up her numbers without resorting to anything too obvious. Even Sherlock had not put together that “Harriet Watson” was THAT “Harriet Watson.”

And speaking of the obvious. Sebastian fidgeted in his seat. "Oh piss off." he mumbled. Anthea and Harry tittered at his discomfort. John shuffled his papers again. He signed. He really did not want to relive the pool incident but there really was no choice. Their interactions, while necessary for some operations, should (as much as possible) not include others; especially as their close presence to one another had a tendency to tip humans off. Cold shivers did that to a normal person.

Thank God Sherlock was none of that.

Seb sighed heavily.

"So, last quarter. Everyone’s numbers were good. Harry yours are up. Well done!” Harry beamed at John. She had struggled the most due to the spread of modern agriculture. “On another note, Seb, your Project kidnapped me. Strapped me to a bomb and nearly killed me. Do you realize how messy things could have gotten if he succeeded?" Anthea shuddered.  John getting shot had been unpleasant for all of them.

"But he didn't." Seb rolled his eyes and sipped at his coffee. “And in the future, I will make sure he won’t come near you. It was an oversight.”

"Anthea had to intervene."

"Again, thank you for that." Sebastian smiled winningly at Anthea. "If you need help with your little venture out east you just let me know and I'll do everything in my power to help. It really is the least I can do, by the way."

"Oh, do not worry yourself. “ Anthea pretended coquettish very well “The venture is well in hand. Also, the fruit basket was really too much, you really should not have." Anthea took a cryptic sip of her tea, eyeing Seb over her teacup. Seb grinned in response. If they were in cahoots there would be blood, and it would be their blood. John would make sure of it.

Harry scowled "No, Seb, you misunderstand. You -really- shouldn't have. I've been working on Mycroft for the past three years as a favour to Anthea and you COMPLTELY undid at least two months of my work. Really Seb, If I didn't know better I would think you are trying to introduce discord into our happy little family."

"She is quite right Seb.” Anthea intoned in a dry tone, her cute flirty manner drained away in the blink of an eye. “I am always happy to help. But all this trouble over one man?  He may be a criminal mastermind but he is an artisan. His numbers are too low.”

Ah, so the secret little smile now meant that the Terrible Two were in cahoots and Seb was about to be stabbed with his own sharp little grin. John sighed. They really did not need another falling out; the last time the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing they had accidentally ensured the development of Penicillin.

Sebastian puffed up like a pissed off goose. Squawk. Squawk. Squawk. John sighed. And they were back to this again. He slammed his hand onto the table. "Children!" The flower arrangement wilted. Everyone shut up.

Sebastian scowled dangerously and both Anthea and Harry stared at him mutinously.

John cleared his throat. "I think that Seb’s steps towards diversifying his portfolio are very admirable. There is no reason we cannot enjoy one-on-one consultations." Was this what having children was like? Probably.  Being the eldest sucked. Sebastian’s glare slowly subsided. He -was- the youngest and while an adult in every other sense he had a weakness for reacting to Anthea’s and Harry’s goading.

"I thought we couldn’t afford to spend time doing one-on-one consultations." Harry frowned. Her pretty face shattered by the expression.

"Right. That is what I wanted to talk about today. "

Anthea raised an eyebrow before slipping her BlackBerry into her purse and turning her full attention to John. It was kind of creepy.

"I'm taking a vacation." John continued.

"WHAT?! You can't do that!" Harriet's shout seemed to summarize the general consensus of everyone else at the table.

"Why not?"

"John. Do not be ridiculous.” Anthea’s words were clipped. “Think of what the shareholders will say, let alone the CEO.  They are never going to go for this, you are their top producer!  I mean, just look at the past century: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, motor vehicles (you were the first to realize how masterfully they would collide)." Anthea looked like she might be suffering from a heart attack herself.

"Nope. I'm taking the next century off. Anthea, you can run the meetings. Just send me the minutes."

Harry turned to Sebastian. "This is why I drink. This. Right here."

Sebastian looked like he had just swallowed a lemon. "John, if this is due to the stress that I inadvertently caused you over the pool, I am so so sorry. So sorry. I’ll make it up to you in any way I can. I can drop the Tower of London on Jim, will that make you stay?”

“Seb, that is very sweet, but really unnecessary. It’s just a vacation.”

“You can’t vacation. We’ll get pulverized if you leave! Do you know why I’m diversifying? It’s because organized conflict is going down. A century ago, I had empires beating the shit out of one another all over the world. Today I’m left with one maybe two reliable continents and even that’ll soon be sorted.  I’m not even going to get into the bullshit with immunization.” Sebastian paused so everyone could have a moment of respectful silence for Anthea’s loss.

"Well, I have a theory."

"A theory?  Lovely. Will this theory save the Board from complete ruin?" Anthea sounded incredulous.

"I don't think we have stakeholders anymore. I frankly don't think anyone cares. When was the last time anyone reviewed your numbers?" John eyed his compatriots. Three blank stares greeted him in return.

Sebastian leaned back in his chair, his arms crossed over his chest. "So you think we have been left to what, babysit an abandoned toy that is no longer interesting?"

"Exactly. I mean look at us; We’re smart enough and powerful enough to rule everything, but the desire to rule was carefully bred out of us. Other than Harry (whose relationship suffered complications) all we do is obsessively follow a handful of intelligent humans because that is all we have left, because our natural leadership has abandoned us. So bullocks it. I'm taking a vacation. See what I can do when half my consciousness is not taken up with scheming and counting the dead. I'm outsourcing my entire operation back to the humans, maybe to China. Possibly to Coca-Cola."

Anthea looked horrified and a bit like she might cry (which was the most frightening thing that John had ever seen in his admittedly long life).  "But I love my job!"

Both Sebastian and Harry nodded in agreement.

"So keep doing it. Or don't do it. I don't care. Call me in a hundred years. Tell you what; I’ll still organize the Christmas parties so we don’t get another incident like 1717." Everyone eyed Anthea.

“As I understood it, taking my work home (even during Christmas) was perfectly acceptable.”

“It was a flood, Anthea. You took a flood home.” Sebastian sounded mildly shell shocked. John couldn’t tell if it was because of his announcement or because Sebastian was having a flashback to the flash flood.

“And now we all live here in London and are happy. Let us continue talking about John please.”

The meeting broke up solemnly.  Harry glared at John for the remainder of the hour and John had a feeling that he was going to be very very sorry for pissing her off. But he did what he had to do. He thought about taking the tube back home. Oh fuck it. He was on vacation. He leaned back and flopped onto his bed as if he had never left. Maybe he could sleep in. Maybe he could use his free time to see what Sherlock was doing. What a brilliant idea!

---

On coming down the stairs he found Sherlock elbow deep in something that smelled like the morgue but had the consistency of jelly. John debated how much he actually wanted to know what –this- experiment was about and decided that he really didn’t.  He really really didn’t. It was a mistake. He should have asked immediately. Allowing Sherlock to verbally worship himself was an excellent distraction technique. In a moment of staggering strangeness Sherlock stopped what was doing and sniffed at the air. “Ozone? “

Right. John had hadn’t crossed space in a pretty long time and had forgotten about that. He wondered whether saying he got hit by lightning and leaving it at that would work. Instead he stared pointedly at Sherlock’s pool of death gelatine. “Corpse jam?”  Sherlock scowled before appearing to turn back to his experiment. But John could tell that the frightening intellect had now been turned at him. At how he got home so quickly. At why he smelled of ozone. Right, vacation did not allow for sloppiness around Sherlock.
 
The first week in December and one week into his vacation, what he should have done was organize the Christmas party. Instead he realized with dawning horror that by removing himself from The Board he had become the de facto third party and therefore everyone’s bloody shrink. Predictably, Harry was first.
 
He had been debating between going to surgery or selling a stupid vase he had picked up in Egypt in what was now known as 2408 BC. On the one hand, he had no interest in taking human life but even less interest in dealing with snot nosed children and the vase would pay the rent for a VERY long time; on the other hand Sherlock’s suspicion would probably get John killed (even if he was fairly sure that was impossible). Harry arrived in their living room with the sharp and sweet smell of ozone overlaying her perfume. She looked slightly debauched and obviously just off a runway, judging by the RIDICULOUS makeup and hair. John sighed; they were not supposed to use crossing space for day to day travel. But monkey see monkey do.

Actually, they were not supposed to be doing a lot of things for fear of the normals finding out. Suspicion made “naturally caused” mass murder more difficult. Although, in the 90s they had entertained outing themselves to bring about terror and chaos but on realizing that they couldn’t start the end of days without The Command and not wanting to look stupid when nothing happened in a century (and then being forced to take part in daytime talk shows), they had abstained.

Harry eyed the apartment for a moment. Her lips trembled. She then burst into theatrical tears. “I can’t do it. I’m going to kill myself.” It was all very well done. John contemplated clapping.

John signed. “You can’t kill yourself.” She –really- couldn’t.  Even if she tried “Don’t you like your body anymore? Do you want a new one?” He tried to sound comforting. Harry warbled, picked up the newspaper and started to eat it. Back to this again. John sighed. Well, as long as it calmed her enough that she didn’t devolve to stress-induced glass eating everything would be fine.

She was upset over Clara.  They had served as an interesting study in what happened when a Board member had no one to follow. “I could follow you.” She whispered quietly. John felt a cold clammy feeling take hold of his chest and squeeze. Painfully. Slowly. They both shuddered. “Or not.” She would follow him when The Command came and not a second sooner.

John tried to compromise, to cheer up his eccentric sibling before she did something stupid.  “Why don’t we do something fun? Do you want to get sushi?” If he remembered correctly the last diet was all sushi. Maybe it would stop her from trying to eat the rest of section B of the New York Times.

His attempt failed spectacularly. Harry looked close to tears again. “I can’t eat sushi, I’m on an all carb diet! God John you can be so stupid!”  [1]

Sherlock chose that moment to walk through the door cheerfully dragging a few body parts with him. Harry’s eyes lit up. She dropped the newspaper behind the couch and sat up straighter than before. The whole hero worship thing was getting a bit out of hand.  HARRY, IF YOU WANT SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T EAT, GO HANG OUT WITH A SUPER MODEL. I’M TRYING TO GET HIM INTO HEALTHY HABITS NOT WORSE ONES. [2]

Harry shuddered, John had been told that his ‘inside voice’ sounded like the agonized screams of a million damned, forsaken to the river of souls. It had once been an effective tool against his siblings, before they all got used to it.

Harry rolled her eyes in John’s direction.  :God John, don’t be an idiot. Super models are almost too stupid to function.:

She was already standing to meet Sherlock who had frozen at the tableau that greeted him (namely John and a woman that he had never met having a staring competition over the coffee table). She smoothed her hands over her makeup free face, her hair in a blond ponytail down her back. Her soft cardigan and skinny jeans made her look less like a catwalk model and more like a university student home for the holidays.

‘Oh m’God, Sherlock Holmes. Hi. I’m Harry, John’s sister.”

Sherlock raised an eyebrow at John. The expression seemed to read ‘THAT Harriet Watson?’

“Not a very strong family resemblance.”

“Nah, none of us look alike.” John might have tried to put Harry out of his misery for that sentence alone. The insinuation of multiple siblings would undoubtedly lead to an uncomfortable interrogation in the very near future. The other reason he was going to have to put Harry down was for the smouldering look she was shooting at Sherlock. Only Sherlock’s insistence at ignoring it completely saved her from a messy dismemberment.

GET YOUR OWN PROJECT HARRY. GO CRAWL BACK TO CLARA.

Sherlock’s eyes were darting between the two as if he was aware of the silent communication, before he casually walked into the kitchen and slung the pack of body parts carelessly into the fridge. On top of the cheese. John was glad he didn’t eat anymore because that would have put him off for sure.

Sherlock leaned against the doorframe and eyed them both. “I didn’t know John had other siblings.”

Apparently that put two and two together in Harry’s mind and she paled.  :Fuck. Sorry John.:

LIE.

“Siblings? No. Only Johnny and me. I, like, totally meant that we don’t look like my parents.”  The lie was almost perfect, except for the slightly nervous giggle she installed at the end of the sentence.  “Sooooo, are those arms? On the cheese I mean.  Like, dismembered arms.”

Sherlock looked a bit sheepish.

“Because if those are actual arms then I will have to, you know, scream and cry, and like totally get my brother the fuck out of the flat with the crazy in it.” She tittered nervously at the end of the sentence.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

:Misdirection.:

MISDIRECTION? John wasn’t sure how but apparently the cries of a million damned could sound incredulous.

“Arms? No. Ridiculous.” Sherlock looked a bit edgy. He repositioned himself to block the entry into the kitchen. Luckily, he recovered himself quickly “Salami. Obviously.”

PLEASE LEAVE.

:This is fun!:

PLEASE LEAVE NOW OR I WILL HURT YOU.

“Ha, right.” She clapped her hands together in a strange nervous twitch. “Gotta go, left the kettle on and all that.” She pulled on her coat, tossing John’s at him with vicious force. “Nice to meet you Sherlock. Come help me find a cab, John.”

I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS POSSIBLE TO BE LESS SOCIALY ADEPT THAN SHERLOCK. EVERY DAY A NEW PIECE OF KNOWLEDGE.

:Shut it, Party Planner.:
 
They walked along Baker Street until they were sure no one was observing them and Harry simply disappeared from existence with an impish wave. John sighed and walked slowly back to the flat.


It really was a small miracle that people didn’t figure them out more often than they did with stunts like Harry disappearing and appearing, Seb’s unfailing aim, and Anthea’s uncanny ability to know when anyone anywhere was doing anything that related to destruction. Of course, when someone inevitably put two and two together there were the usual fall backs. John had a feeling he soon would be implementing one on Sherlock if he didn’t stop stumbling in on them.

As the two eldest, John and Anthea spent so much time watching over Harry and Seb, that they rarely had sufficient time to both pretend to be normal and spend time enjoying each other’s company. John partially blamed Anthea for it. Within a few days of the three of them being written into scripture, Althea decided that watching over more than one form of disaster affected her efficiency and split in half. It had felt…weird. And suddenly there were four. Seb was still angry that the split simply made Harry Anthea’s twin as opposed to his younger sister. He –did- love to lord over people. John was still bitter that he now had two mildly erratic siblings to deal with. Anthea was content like a cat with all the cream and canaries she could handle. Harry was Harry.

So, John and Anthea were discussing the more admirable aspects of one of her more insidious plans, all completely done behind Mycroft’s back (of course), over a cuppa and biscuits when Sherlock walked into the living room; having returned exactly three days early from a case that was supposed to take four days. John sometimes hated the man’s brilliance. Sherlock eyed the two of them speculatively.

“Why are you here?”

Anthea seemed to panic for a moment, because: A) Sherlock would not buy the ‘Mycroft has a case for you’ excuse as Mycroft antagonized his brother in person and B) She had not arranged a gruesome murder that could call Sherlock away and the only entity who could arrange for one so quickly was on vacation.

“Umm, we are dating.”

John nearly dropped his biscuit. “What?”

Sherlock looked as incredulous as John sounded.

“You asked me on a date, John. You took me to a café. We are now at your place. We are dating.” Anthea managed to make it all sound so plausible. But dating Anthea, who was basically a piece of himself that had been carved off, it was a bit eww. He put down the cookie. Anthea had done it again. Giving up part of her job to Harry didn’t mean she couldn’t still be exceptional at it.

Sherlock lips twitched a bit before he walked into the kitchen, calling over his shoulder. “Wrong.”

John’s mobile informed him of a new text message. He eyed it distrustfully.

Blocked Number: We have to tell them.
NO.
Anthea shivered.
Blocked Number: Yes. Before they figure it out themselves and are insufferable. The whole “Oh , the diet is keeping you looking young” will not work for long!
TELL MYCROFT. NOONE ELSE.
Anthea was starting to look visibly angry. Which was a look she reserved for continents that were about to be covered by ten meters of water. She took a savage bite of her biscuit.
Blocked Number: Mycroft will not agree unless Sherlock is with him.
IF WE TELL MYCROFT AND SHERLOCK, BOTH HARRY AND SEB WILL COERCE US INTO TELLING CLARA AND JIM.CAST YOUR MIND TO FUTURE FAMILY REUNIONS WITH THE HOLMES BROTHERS, JIM, SEB, HARRY AND CLARA.   

Anthea put down the biscuit, her stomach turned by the thought. John mentally cheered at his mini victory.
Blocked number: Oh God. What have I done? Fuck The Command. Let’s kill everyone.

Sherlock walked back into the living room and eyed them both. Anthea, faced with the twin of the cool stare that regularly unnerved her at the office made her excuses and nearly ran out the door. John braced himself for an unpleasant interrogation. Instead, Sherlock merely plopped onto the couch, picked up his laptop and proceeded to browse news sites in his perpetual quest for interesting murders. John waited for the other shoe to drop for an hour while flipping through the news and reading up on Sebastian’s latest antics. The boy really did love his job, and in a few more centuries he would be a mastermind to rival even Anthea.

He finally relaxed into his chair, updating his blog and responding to Harry’s comments. They were getting more cryptic by the minute.  John sighed, he was going to have to speak with her again about subtlety, and wasn’t he supposed to be on vacation? In the background he could hear the familiar beep of Sherlock checking phone messages. It took him another second to realize he was checking the messages on John’s mobile.

Usually John didn’t panic. Things could get a LOT worse, he should know, he had often been the cause of ‘a lot worse.’ That said. He did panic. The sharp smell of ozone filled the air and Sherlock dropped the mobile with a cry of surprise. The phone was dead. Deader than dead. Never to be revived. Sherlock was shaking the feeling back into his hand.

“Sherlock, you alright?” John did not have to pretend the concern. “What the hell was that?”

Sherlock eyed him speculatively “An electric discharge.” He wiggled his fingers. Then sniffed the air. “Strange.  A discharge strong enough to react with oxygen should have done a lot more damage.”

John realized his heart was beating frantically and that he was beginning to flush nervously. Next body, he was going to get something that didn’t have these problems. He looked up at Sherlock. He might also get something taller. “Maybe something’s wrong with the flat’s electrical? I’ll tell Mrs. Hudson to get it checked.”

Sherlock eyed him speculatively.  “What was Mycroft’s assistant doing here?”

“We are…” John collected his thought. Oh for God’s sake, he was a millennia old entity he could bloody well lie and do it convincingly, so why was he so tongue tied?! “…we are planning a surprise Christmas party for Mycroft, and we were going to surprise you into going.”

Sherlock’s lips twitched as he mimicked. “’What have I done? Fuck The Command. Let’s kill everyone.’” He raised an eyebrow. “How does that constitute Christmas party planning?”

John shifted uneasily from foot to foot. “It isn’t going very well.”

Sherlock smirked. “Apparently. Although I am a bit curious as to how –you- were responding to her. Texting was a very clever way to not tip me off. At first I thought you had erased your outgoing messages but forgot the incoming messages. Which is unusual but not impossible. But then realized I realized you hadn’t deleted anything. I don’t think you know how to.”

John licked his lips. “I, uh, used sign language.”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes, and proceeded to demonstrate his excellent grasp of International Sign. John’s fidgeting stopped. Smug fucking bastard. But John had been around before the Tower of Babel, so fuck him.

“I don’t want a sandwich. Yes this does seem suspicious. No, it is you who is the Berk.”

Sherlock’s face lit up.  His hands didn’t stop weaving words.

“Yes, you really are the Berk….I learned it when I was at uni I thought it would be an interesting language to take…Anthea reads sign faster than she can sign.” He relaxed a bit. This could work. He could do this.

“Very good John. I underestimated you. You lie very well. Please understand that I will figure this out…and then, yes, I will be completely insufferable.”

“I. What?”

“I switched sign languages twice.”

“And it’s fine for the great Sherlock Holmes to know multiple sign languages but not me? You really are in love with yourself.” John could pretend affronted very well. All he had to do was think of Seb; with that he stalked out of the living room.  He could feel Sherlock’s stare burning into his shoulder blades.


---
Seb had always been the most attractive entity of all of them, and his bodies always reflected that. Currently he wore the chiselled good looks of a Hollywood actor, and the scar on his left cheek (the moron had chased a wounded tiger down a pipe) only accentuated his bright green eyes and the tilt of his lips. He was the paragon of male good looks. Not that his bodies were always male, for one particularly memorable event he had been a woman, Helen. Sebastian drew people to him like moths to flame; All the better to eventually burn them. He could see why Seb and Jim were drawn together, they both liked to set things on fire.

The few times John’s body was female he had not been especially beautiful, not like Seb’s Helen was, not coolly stunning like Anthea, or artistically eccentric like Harry. He had been comfortable. He gave off warmth nearly as effectively as the mildly unsettling feeling that was inherent in all of them. Maybe in John the two cancelled each other out. Out of all of them, he was the only one who did not draw undue notice. He was usually appreciative of it but lately all it did was ensure that he would be the one to sort out everyone else’s shit.

“John. The situation is a bit not good.” He had left them alone for two weeks now and already everything was bollocks up.

“Not good number wise? Not good because MI6 has its suspicions? How not good?” He really needed to get them to stop showing up at Baker Street; at least Seb had the good sense to walk up the stairs like the normal human being he most certainly wasn’t.

“I think Jim knows.” Seb fidgeted.

Lovely, at this point only Clara didn’t suspect and with her admittedly impressive computer skills she might still catch up to the fact that none of them had ever been born.
John’s new mobile rang, startling both of them.

Blocked number: I told you we might as well tell them.

OR WE CAN MAKE THEM ALL FORGET.
Seb winced.

Blocked number: Does strange things to their brains when you do that too often.

“You did the forgetting thing at Sherlock didn’t you? that is why he is so weird! It explains so much.”

John sighed. I DID NOTHING TO SHERLOCK’S BRAIN. ANTHEA, WE CAN’T TELL THEM.

Blocked number: Boo.

Seb looked between John’s phone and John, he didn’t actually need to see the texts to know what they said. He grinned. “Why don’t we tell them and if we don’t like the results we forgetty-thingy them?”

Harriet’s voice shattered through all their minds like a crisp winter wind. :Seb that is fucking brilliant! When did you grow a brain?:

“I will have you all know that out of all of us, I am the tactical mastermind.”

Blocked number: Very good Seb. I’m still not fond of doing that to Mycroft’s brain.

I AM NOT FOND OF DOING THAT TO EITHER OF THE HOLMES BUT IF THEY BECOME DUMBER THEN IT DEALS WITH THE POST-MORTUM PLACEMENT PROBLEM.

Blocked number: Excellent. We will invite them to the Christmas party. John, since they eat do not forget to order catering.

John rose to open the window, it might have been five below but the smell of ozone was overpowering. That and the flat had started to feel a bit creepy (okay, very creepy. A bit like a giant poisonous spider convention might feel). When he turned around to ask Seb if he needed anything else, he found both himself and Seb on the receiving end of a look usually reserved for corpses. Or rather, a look Sherlock reserved for corpses, which is to say it was extreme curiosity as opposed to ‘yuck.’
 
“Who are you? I mean, other than an ex-military sniper who was most recently stationed in Afghanistan and who enjoys big game hunting on the side. Obviously.”

Part 2 >>