AU – Mycroft Holmes leads the grim war on terror and Sherlock is his best secret agent: cold, calculating and ruthless. He is obsessed with destroying the militant terrorists hiding deep in the disused London Underground – until one momentous day when he meets a child soldier named John.
Genre Adventure/Action, Kidfic, Espionage, Romance, Dark,
Characters Sherlock/Irene, Sherlock&John, Mycroft/Anthea, Lestrade, Sally Donovan, Anderson, Moriarty
Length 40,000+ 16 Chapters
Any other person would have mistakenly attributed sinister motives to the expression of pure joy spreading across Sherlock's face at the news that the LRA were about to blow up a nuclear power station. However, Irene had known the maddening genius for too long to actually believe he was a high-functioning sociopath.
"Of course! It's brilliant," said Sherlock, his face a picture of delight. Irene was about to smile at his childlike glee when a strange sense of foreboding overcame her. "Don't you see," continued Sherlock, his hands clasped under his chin, "this is Moriarty's scheme."
Resisting the urge to groan, Irene fixed Sherlock with a stern glare. "Moriarty is dead, Sherlock. You told me you had stopped your investigation into that madman."
Completely ignoring her, Sherlock continued to pace up and down the empty corridor as if he was in a trance. "It all fits, so explosive and yet elegant…. He's been planning this for a long time, ever since he faked his death– he's predicted our every move so far…."
Suddenly the ex-spy snapped out of his reverie and twisted around to face her. "Mycroft's office," he said abruptly, and before Irene could protest, he was dragging her down the corridor like the devil was in pursuit.
It took all of five minutes for Sherlock to pick the lock to Mycroft's study. The heavy oak door gave way under Sherlock's tender ministrations, and swung open smoothly on its well-oiled hinges. Surprisingly, Mycroft had only installed a sophisticated triple lock, without any other security measures. Inside, the room was dark, the bright afternoon sun effectively obscured by the thick velvet curtains covering all the windows. Two walls were completely covered from floor to ceiling in bookshelves, and in the dim light, Irene could just make out that most of the shelf-space was taken up with treasury files: official red boxes with gold banding around them. The broad, mahogany desk stood against the far wall like a crouching giant, its surface covered with neat stacks of paperwork bearing the official seal of government. This was the jackpot in terms of classified information, just as Sherlock had promised.
"Mycroft works from here?" asked Irene, almost forgetting to keep her voice down in case the servants were nearby.
"He likes to keep an eye on Mummy and be on hand during crises."
"She has medication-resistant schizophrenia," explained Sherlock, closing the door behind them silently. "Most of the time she's only mildly psychotic, but…."
He didn't finish the sentence, because he had spotted something on Mycroft's desk. Sherlock swooped down on it as gracefully as an eagle and plucked the piece of loose paper from the middle of a stack. Except it wasn't just any piece of loose paper, it was a large A3 sheet of drafting paper with "Thames Water" written on the heading. On closer inspection, it turned out to be part of a much larger schematic of the storm drains and large-scale water pipes underneath London. How this could be relevant to the possible secret nuclear power station was a mystery to Irene, but Sherlock appeared to be completely absorbed by the diagram.
"What exactly are you hoping to find?" whispered Irene, stepping up cautiously behind him.
"World War II archives. Mycroft's got a passion for historical documents," said Sherlock, though his mind was obviously still focused on the sheet of drafting paper.
She left him to it – there was nothing she could do when he retreated into his own mind. Instead she explored the desk, looking for any signs of yellowing paper that could indicate archives from the past. It didn't take long for her to find something promising: a battered leather box set behind the high-backed leather chair. It still had residual clumps of dust clinging to odd corners, but it had definitely been opened recently.
Inside was exactly what Irene had been looking for: war records.
"Sherlock," she hissed, bringing the box up to the desk. He placed the schematic back in its original place and rifled through the box with her. It wasn't the treasure trove she had been hoping for: just account books filled with detailed records of the food and materials brought into the secret military base in the London Underground. It was only after ten frustrating minutes that Irene stumbled upon a dirty ledger, much more frayed than the rest and marked with water stains. She instantly realised it was just not another account book, but it still took her several moments to understand exactly what had been record.
"These are Geiger-counter readings," whispered Irene. She ran her hands down the column with the time and dates – each entry was exactly 8 hours apart. Sherlock grabbed the book from her and flipped through, right to the last filled page.
December 14th 1944 13.00 Westminster Underground Station
"The readings have gone through the roof," pointed out Sherlock.
Irene analysed the records: within a matter of days, the radioactivity readings had increased from tolerable to levels almost incompatible with life.
"This is why Churchill abandoned the London Underground," continued Sherlock flatly.
"Did you know this?" asked Irene accusingly. Had he known even as he descended into the bowels of the city and deliberately put his life at risk?
"I heard stories from my grandfather. He was one of Churchill's close confidants, and almost senile by the time I bothered to listen."
"The official story –"
"Was concocted so that people wouldn't abandon London and actually turn it into a wasteland…."
"But millions and millions of people are living just metres above a radioactive leak!" cried Irene.
"Think about it, there's about ten metres of reinforced concrete between us and the highest of the Underground tunnels. That fulfils the standard modern guidelines for disposal of radioactive waste that produces gamma radiation."
"Churchill couldn't have known!" hissed Irene.
"Well, we should be glad he got it right," muttered Sherlock.
"But John…." She wasn't quite sure why she was so concerned about his health when he was about to be obliterated by a nuclear meltdown anyway.
"He appears to be alright – he's definitely going to be infertile as an adult, but otherwise I can't see any obvious signs of malignancy."
"You looked?" whispered Irene incredulously.
"Why wouldn't I? According to John, the other members of his platoon exhibited signs consistent with lymphoma and leukaemia before they died. They call it the 'bleeding sickness'."
Irene pressed her hands against her forehead, trying to make sense of it all. Only a few hours ago, the situation had been so incredibly simple: a dirty bomb, a quick special ops strike, London is saved and everything goes back to normal. Now twist upon twist, lies upon lies had left her completely disorientated. Her mind automatically latched onto an obvious piece of information she had overlooked until now….
"Mycroft has these documents in his study. He must know about this!"
Sherlock paused for a moment, his eyes roving wildly around the room as if he was piecing images together in his mind.
"Perhaps," replied Sherlock; but a hint of uncertainty crept into his voice.
"So – why did he make us all focus on the decoy bomb?"
Sherlock thought again before answering.
"Because he couldn't confirm that the LRA would actually blow up their own power station. Up until the JIC report came out, Mycroft was still working under the twin assumptions that the bomb was real and that they were going to blow up the power station as well. Now he knows they're just going to blow up the power station, and the 'bomb' I'm making is an amusing little side show."
"It could still kill him…."
"Unlikely, if I wire it incorrectly."
Irene opened her mouth to protest and then realised it was futile. Mycroft apparently had everything planned out.
"But how did the LRA get information on his pacemaker in the first place?"
"You do realise his cardiologist is currently in the bowels of Vauxhall Cross being interrogated by MI6's finest…."
"And if it's not the cardiologist?" asked Irene. "Am I about to face his wrath?"
"He knows it's not you: he's had you under level-three active surveillance for the last ten years," said Sherlock, in what he must have thought was a reassuring voice.
"What!" It was as though fate had decided that Irene hadn't gotten her fair share of shock, and thus conspired to deliver a bumper-load of surprises all in one day.
Sherlock sighed and started to put the documents back in their original places.
"Irene, you made me an accomplice in your schemes and ruined his Bond Air project whilst you were working for Moriarty. He has forgiven you and he even trusts you, but that doesn't mean he's not watching your every move. If it makes you feel any better, he even installed cameras in my bathroom – he has videos of me singing naked in the shower."
Irene glared at Sherlock.
"That is so creepy."
Buried in disturbing thoughts of Mycroft Holmes watching her shower, Irene completely forgot to ask why the piece of drafting paper from Thames Water had been so important to him.
Afternoon tea had barely been concluded when Mrs Holmes retired upstairs to get ready for dinner, leaving Anthea, Sherlock and Irene alone in the library: a vast, long gallery divided into three separate sections by towering bookshelves that reached almost to the vaulted roof. The interior wall was completely covered from floor to ceiling with leather-bound books, some of which looked like they pre-dated the printing press. The exterior wall was exquisitely decorated with splendid Italian frescos, elegantly separated by perfectly-spaced, tall sash windows that allowed warm rays of sunshine to cascade in. Comfortable Chippendale couches and armchairs were dotted along the gallery, and about halfway down the hall was a grand piano, standing proudly as the centrepiece of the room.
"Find anything interesting?" asked Anthea as she perched on the armrest of Irene's chair.
"I'm not a great fan of classical literature," Irene muttered, showing her sister the cover of her book.
"I meant in Mycroft's office," responded Anthea lightly.
Irene held her nerve and looked back up at her sister with just the right amount of surprise and curiosity. "Mycroft has an office here?"
"Yes, dear," replied Anthea condescendingly, "the room that you and Sherlock spent nearly half an hour rifling through. Like I said: did you find anything interesting?"
Sherlock wandered over to them from the piano, his expression unreadable. "No, we found absolutely nothing – except the existence of a secret nuclear power station under London that is about to be blown up by the LRA tomorrow morning," he said impassively.
Anthea smiled at him slyly and got up from Irene's chair with languid, feline grace. Whatever those two were playing at, Irene had the sudden urge not to be within the blast radius.
"Clever boy, I thought it wouldn't take you long to figure it out. Find anything else?"
"Only what you already found when you went scouring through his office while we were walking in the garden."
Irene looked quickly from her sister to Sherlock. She had noticed signs of recent activity in Mycroft's office, such as the loose sheet of paper within the orderly stack, but she hadn't given it much thought.
"Mycroft needs your help even if he won't admit it. I assume you have no objections to leaving to assist him?" said Anthea calmly, her hawk-like eyes watching the minute reactions of Sherlock's expression. To his credit, Sherlock contained his surprise at this proposal of an unlikely alliance rather well.
"Absolutely," he breathed, looking at once uncertain and overjoyed.
"Perfect, we're breaking out after dinner, and we should arrive in time for you to visit your rebel friends."
"Well, our escape had better be damned fast: I'm expected early in the evening."
"Anthea, are you trapped here, too?" said Irene incredulously. How did her spirited sister cope with being married to a control freak like Mycroft?
"No, silly," Anthea replied with a patronising smirk, "I'm breaking you out."
"How are we going to do that?" demanded Irene – but she was met with two very cryptic smiles.