Faint strains of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody floated down the hallway as John stepped out of the stairwell onto the second storey of Molly's building. His hand itched to give Rose's bottom a good smack for dragging him out of the flat this time of night. There was really no excuse for ignoring him or not checking in. Molly's flat was at the other end of the hall and as John came closer to the door, the music grew louder and louder. That was a bit of a surprise; John didn't take Molly for a partier or a Queen fan really. It was very evident though, as he banged on the door, that it was indeed her flat that the music was coming from, and loudly.

Inside Molly's flat, the girls were singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of their lungs while playing the Rock Band guitar (Rose) and drum set (Molly), trying to get a perfect score for the song. "We're almost there!" Rose squealed, giving up on singing along with the lyrics for a moment. That was when someone banged loudly on the door. Both Molly and Rose abruptly turned to look at the door, forgetting about their game just long enough to lose out on a perfect score.

"I'm going to see who it is," Molly said. "I'm sure it's just a neighbor upset by the noise." Putting down the drumsticks, she headed towards the door as Rose muted the game. Things were suddenly all too quiet and by the time Molly was able to look through the peephole, her heart was pounding wildly. At the sight of who was on the other side, she let out a sigh of relief before unlocking the door. "It's John!" she called back to Rose.

"John?" Rose called back, sounding confused.

"John," the man in question confirmed once Molly opened the door. "Hi Molly. Sorry to bother you so late, but I've been trying to find Rose."

"Oh, it's alright. Come in," Molly invited, making more room for him to enter. "I thought it might be a neighbor come to complain, what the banging and all."

"I hope I didn't frighten you, but the music…" John gave Molly an apologetic smile before she closed the door behind him. That was when he turned his attention to Rose, who had come to join them in the entry way.

Rose stuck the tip of her tongue out as she thought long and hard about why John was at Molly's to see her. How had he even known she was at Molly's? It appeared, however, that she was taking too long to come up with an answer as John crossed his arms over his chest and raised both eyebrows at her. "Um… Hi…" she said slowly.

If it was possible, John's eyebrows rose even further, but her look of confusion didn't disappear in response to his look. "You don't know why I'm here," he said, stating the obvious. He uncrossed his arms and tapped the watch on his wrist. "Do you know what time it is?"

Rose's eyes went wide. "Uh… um… no…"

"Oh my goodness it's past two!" Molly exclaimed, answering the question for Rose.

There was no feigning the look of shock and horror that crossed Rose's face and John realized he hadn't been ignored. In fact, it was time that had been ignored! "Yeah, past two. You're not at home, nobody's heard from you in hours. I've called and texted, but if you've been playing that game for hours, I'm not surprised you didn't hear your mobile. Were you two planning a sleepover?"

The young women traded looks with one another. "Well, you're welcome to stay if you want. I didn't know it was so late or I would've invited you before now. No wonder my hands hurt!" Molly commented. Playing the drums for three or four hours was bound to do that to a person.

"I didn't realize so much time had passed," Rose murmured, looking troubled. "Or that you were trying to reach me, John. I'm ignoring my brothers, but I wasn't purposely ignoring you. As much as I'd love to stay Molly, it seems really rude to send John home on his own after he came here looking for me. Plus I've got hours and hours of dancing to do tomorrow. Is that alright?"

"Of course!" Molly assured her. "We'll plan a proper overnight sometime. It'd be great fun! Just make sure you don't forget anything you bought today. I can't promise I'd return it to you if it was cute and might fit me," she laughed. Together they gathered Rose's things, making sure she had all of them, while John watched rather wide-eyed, wondering if Rose had bought an entire store earlier in the day.

"This everything?" John doubled checked as he began to grab boxes and bags to carry out. "Not forgetting the kitchen sink or anything like that, hm? And how is it that I come looking for you, yet it's an entire floor of Harrods that I'm leaving with in addition? Last I checked I wasn't your pack horse." His tone was gruff, but he threw Rose a teasing look that made her smile.

"Is that somewhat like Mrs. Hudson not being our housekeeper and yet she feeds you and Sherlock regularly?" Rose asked, making sure to put some sass in her tone. She giggled when John merely rolled his eyes and turned to say goodbye to Molly.

"Sorry to bother you so late Molly. Hope you have a good night," John said sincerely. He waited, arms full of bags, for the girls to say goodbye.

"You too John," Molly replied with a smile. She turned to Rose and the two young women hugged one another for a moment. "Let's do this again, alright?"

Rose flashed her a bright smile. "Definitely! I'd really like that. Night Molly!" With a wave, she and John headed towards the stairwell. Despite the fact that John's hands and arms were full, Rose looped her arm through his as they walked. Neither of them said anything at all until they'd exited the building.

"We might have to walk a bit to get a cab," John commented. "Or we could take the tube. Preference? Although with all the bags, a cab might be a little bit better, yeah?"

"Good call. We might have to walk up a few blocks to find one though," Rose pointed out. "I can take some of the bags if you want. You really don't have to carry them all. I do have two perfectly good arms." She held them out in front of her as if examining them.

"'S alright. I don't mind all that much. In all seriousness, did you buy an entire store? I don't think I've ever seen you come home with so much from one shopping trip before. Should I be concerned about your finances?" John asked. The question about her finances was a sincere one, as he didn't like the idea of her being without funds.

"No, I didn't buy any of this, Mycroft did," she added, when John gave her a strange look. "I wanted to get back at him and be all 'accuse me of being a thief, fine, I'll be one then' but I'm not sure I made the point I was looking to make. And he commented on my clothes again too, in a negative way. So that motivated things too. I'm just not sure if this reads statement or…" Rose's voice ran out as she tried to think of the right word.

"Tantrum?" John filled in. "Spiteful? Willful?" He chuckled as Rose gave him some serious side-eye.

"Try and be a little less helpful," she quipped as she nudged his side with her elbow. "Though I'm sure you're channeling the words Mycroft will use. I'm somewhat surprised he hasn't hunted me down after all the money I spent." Rose paused for a moment and looked around, as if Mycroft might be watching from the shadows somewhere. It was an unsettling but very real possibility! And if he wasn't, his eyes in the city, CCTV, might be tracking her for him!

"Perhaps he's not sure how to proceed after earlier? Raise your arm, love, and get that taxi," John asked. He was relieved when the driver stopped and happily deposited Rose's purchases on her lap and in the front passenger seat before getting into the cab himself.

"Some of these purchases are for you," Rose murmured on the drive back to Baker Street. "I bought them just for you in mind. The next date night we have… My, my, won't you be surprised?" She wriggled her eyebrows at him and smiled proudly when John groaned. Rose was certain that John's head was now filled with ideas of what she might have bought that he would enjoying, running the gamut from stockings to knickers to sexy little black dresses.

"We could have a fashion show, you know," John responded. Something about Rose's look told him that she knew precisely what he was thinking—her beautiful, strong yet lithe body in various stages of undress—and blushed just a bit. "You Holmes lot are too good at reading people," he decided, giving a slight huff. "Though I'm not to blame for it. You suggestive thing you." John looked into her eyes and smiled.

"Wasn't someone just pointing out to me how late it was?" Rose asked, her eyes dancing with mischief. "Oh, right, that was you. Have you changed your position on the lateness of the hour?"

John coughed and shifted a bit in his seat. "I might be. Perhaps. How early do you have to be at the studio tomorrow?"

"I'm not due until noon. Alfred had something going on in the morning. I have just one question for you before we start thinking about fashion shows." Rose bit her lip and looked towards the front seat, to see if the driver was paying any attention to them. He didn't appear to be. "Am I in trouble?" she whispered in John's ear.

It was a good question and one that gave him considerable pause. He'd been furious when he left 221B but it had become clear that Rose hadn't purposely ignored him or stayed out so late that he had worried. Besides, if he said yes she was, he was definitely not getting a fashion show. "Don't do it again," John responded sternly. "Because you will be if it happens again. This time, I don't think it was done purposely, so we'll let it go."

A huge wave of relief rushed over Rose and she flashed John a magnificent smile. "I won't," she promise. Suddenly uncaring of the driver and what he may or may not be watching, Rose put her arms around John and kissed him fiercely, as if hungry for him. None of the soft, sweet kisses that gradually became more urgent like usual. Instead, her lips claimed his and John responded with soft sweet kisses of his own.

"Oi! Knock it off back there!" The driver called, interrupting them. "I'm not detail cleaning this car a second time this month, so keep ahold of yourselves until you get to Baker Street! Kids these days," the man grumbled. It was only when Rose and John sheepishly let go of each other that the driver realized John wasn't a 'kid' and rolled his eyes, causing Rose to dissolve into giggles.

A bit red faced, John leaned close to Rose and whispered in her ear, "I changed my mind. You are definitely in trouble."

A bemused smile played on Rose's lips. "You'll change your mind again, when you see the lingerie I bought."

"Oh it is definitely not too late for a fashion show," John decided at once.

John sat back on Rose's couch, arms crossed over his chest with a smirk on his face as he waited for Rose to pop back out of her room. This was rather unprecedented for the two of them and John was quite enjoying himself. Usually Rose was very modest, not to mention a bit self-conscious about her scars. The one from having her appendix out was barely noticeable anymore. Some small scars here and there from childhood accidents and the like remained, but were faded. Those were not the scars that made Rose self-conscious, as John well knew. It was the scar on her chest from where she'd been stabbed, and a smaller but equally prominent scar on her neck from where she'd been nicked by the blade.

Rose had always been careful to hide those scars, even around him. It distressed her to see them or have anyone else see them. Even in their most intimate moments together, snuggled in bed or snogging and petting, Rose was sensitive about them. She never undressed in front of him and if she owned any lingerie before today, John certainly hadn't seen it. He was glad to see Rose feel so confident around him, whatever had been the cause of it. Her scars certainly didn't bother him. After all, John had many of his own, not least of which was the scar from when he'd been shot. Later, John might ask why she did this now and not before, simply for curiosity's sake.

Well, John had to admit to that he was definitely enjoying the fashion show. Some of Rose's lingerie choices had been predictable- garter belts, since she wore stockings, and an obligatory polka dotted piece. In addition to polka dots, lace had abounded, along with delicate prints and silky pajama sets, with colors ranging from deep red to delicate pinks, along with a dash of greens and purples. Everything highlighted her curves to perfection and now that he'd seen her own style preferences, he could easily buy her lingerie himself on occasion and be confident he was getting it right!

"How many more sets have you got to go?" John called as she ducked into her room to change one more. He could sit there all night and watch her give him a lingerie parade, but it was getting rather late and John knew she needed some sleep before dance practice with Alfred. Their next competition was Sunday, so their final practice would be extensive.

"Just two! And this one might be my very favorite! Or at least tied for favorite." Opening her bedroom door, she revealed a plain, delicate colored pink bra and knicker set. In comparison to the others with patterns and delicate flowers, this was considerably plain. At least from the front! Rose acted as if she were walking a cat walk and made a silly model face as she circled around the room. She stopped in front of John and began to twirl to give him a good look. Rose stopped mid turn though, revealing the surprise of the little pink set. Attached to the back of her knickers was a fluffy little bunny tail. Rose wiggled her hips for him, making the tail move. "Like it?" she asked, turning to look over her shoulder. It pleased her to no end to see John grinning from ear to ear.

"I like this one. I like this one a lot," John admitted. "It's so… playful and so you. Does this mean I can call you my sexy little bunny? Because you look like one right now." He laughed when Rose's face turned bright red. "Maybe just when it's us. Come here little bunny." John crooked his finger and, when she was close enough, pulled her into his lap. His lips came down on hers, claiming them hungrily. John cupped her head with one hand, then slowly ran both hands down her back until he came to her knickers. One hand squeezed her bum gently, while the other flicked her tail, before squeezing as well.

The moment their lips met, Rose's heart was racing and pounding almost violently inside her chest. The blood in her veins sang as John's lips crushed her own. She responded in kind, her lips soft, warm and moist from his kisses. She could taste tea on his lips as he undoubtedly could taste coffee on hers. As John's hands began to explore, roaming down her body, Rose began to do the same. One hand ran through his hair as the other moved slowly down his chest, letting her fingernails drag slightly. Even through his shirt, Rose could feel him respond to her touch. Suddenly emboldened, Rose began to unbutton his shirt and push it down his arms.

In a tumble of frenzied movement and shifting of clothing, John soon matched Rose's state of undress with just his pants remaining. His shirt and trousers were tossed haphazardly away from the couch. Tenderly, John laid Rose down on the sofa and leaned on his forearms above her. He began to kiss her, starting at the hollow of her neck, slowly moving downward. His lips blazed a path of heat with each kiss until he reached her breasts and paused to kiss her lips once again.

Rose whined a bit beneath him as John continued to touch and tease her. Yet despite that teasing, John's ardor was surprisingly and touchingly restrained. Unlike others she'd dated and experimented in intimacy with, John didn't rush her. He was patient and attentive, never once pressuring her to have sex with him despite the fact that they'd shared a bed for quite a while now. Rose had wondered when was the right time among the usual concerns that a virgin would have, she told herself. Yet while the questions lingered, the answers never came. Now though, Rose felt emboldened by his blatant desire for her as John's hand lingered over her skin in an almost worshipful manner. She arched her body in response to his touch as John began to caress her breast and…


The sudden shout and accompanying slam of Rose's front door hitting the sitting room wall caused both occupants on the sofa to shout and jump apart. In the process, John fell onto the floor, groaning as he landed with a rather significant thud on his bad shoulder.

"SHERLOCK!" Rose screeched, scrambling to grab the blanket off the back of her couch. She quickly covered herself up with it and turned an angry look on her brother. "Sherlock, you don't get to just burst into my flat in the middle of the night! Not any night, but especially not after today!"

Sherlock was so thrilled that Rose was home and he could make amends with her that he paid no notice the various stages of undress around him. "But Rose! You're home and I can explain," he replied, his voice wavering a bit as he saw the anger in her eyes. "I can explain everything if you'll only give me a chance."

"No," Rose said firmly. "Get out of my flat please, now. I am entitled to my space and I am not in the least bit amenable to hearing your excuses right now. You threw me under the bus and put my entire relationship with Mycroft in jeopardy. How could you do that when you know how much it's meant to me to rebuild things with him?" She was clearly no less distressed now about what had felt like a betrayal than she had been earlier. "Get out Sherlock!" Rose pointed at the door and ignored the look of devastation that crossed Sherlock's face.

They had never been at odds like this before and it made Sherlock numb with uncertainty. They were partners in crime! All the things they had done together in childhood and how close they had always been. Sherlock had been sure that Rose would listen to reason after so many hours had passed. That's why he rushed over as soon as he realized she was back at Baker Street! He had never expected to be turned away like this.

"I said get out Sherlock and I meant it. Get out of my flat. I am nowhere near ready to speak to you about what you did to me today, plus it's the middle of the bloody night. Get out!" Rose shouted. When Sherlock turned away, devastation clear from the way his face fell and his shoulders hunched, she didn't feel a sense of relief, or feel good for making Sherlock look that way. It hurt her heart, but so had his actions earlier.

"What the hell just happened?" John asked as he got up from the floor. He'd expected Sherlock to rail at him for attempting to have sex his sister. What had actually happened, blindsided and confused him. It was then that he noticed the tears gathering in Rose's eyes. "Love, are you alright?"

"I need to change my locks," she whispered, blinking away the hot tears in her eyes.

"Love, let's be serious, it's Sherlock. There is no lock he cannot pick if he wants to get in somewhere," he pointed out gently. "Do you want to talk about what happened between you two today?" He wasn't very surprised when Rose shook her head and suddenly appeared quite tired. "Come on, let's go sleep in the cupcake you call a bedroom," John suggested, his voice heavy with resignation. Nothing ruined the idea of having sex like your girlfriend's brother walking into the room! Especially when it would've been their first time together. "You need sleep for practice tomorrow and I need sleep in general." He pressed a kiss to Rose's forehead and stood her up on her feet, then swept her into his arms. "May I carry you off to bed, my darling girl?"

What could have been the resurgence of a romantic moment after Sherlock's rude interruption was thwarted when Rose yawned in response. "Sorry," she said, offering the apology rather sheepishly. "Yes, you may carry me off, to bed or anywhere at all. Always."

Smiling softly at her words, John kissed her nose before carrying her off to bed.

Late Saturday evening, Mycroft was putting the finishing touches on his dinner when he heard the front door of the townhouse open and close. "Come through to the kitchen Anthea!" he called out. Mycroft was expecting his PA to drop off a somewhat time sensitive package, yet it was not Anthea he saw out of the corner of his eye. It was Rose, peeking somewhat hesitantly around the corner and into the kitchen. Mycroft turned his full attention to her, his ever observant eyes denoting every detail of her facial expression, chosen wardrobe and hair style for the day… and the somewhat anxious look in her eyes. Truthfully, Mycroft hadn't intended to confront Rose about the spending, which he'd been aware of the previous evening. Caution her about doing it again, yes, but confront her, no; not after yesterday's fiasco.

Silence reined between the siblings for a moment as they felt out how to best approach one another. Rose was the first to break the silence. "I brought pie," she said quietly, holding out her offering. It was Mycroft's favorite, peach with pecan streusel topping.

Mycroft quirked an eyebrow. "Trying to bribe me, sister mine?" The look she gave him in response to that question was full of feigned outrage.

"Of course not!" Rose declared, her voice firmer and a bit louder now. She could feel her face began to grow heated when Mycroft chose not to respond verbally, but merely lifted both brows. "Okay, maybe," she conceded.

"In any case, I'm amenable to such a bribe. There's enough dinner for two if you're interested?" He indicated a roast chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy.

Rose peered a little closer at the food. It looked okay and smelled okay, but this was Mycroft they were talking about.

"Sister mine, I am hardly going to choose poison if I intended to do away with you. For one thing, how would I ever get that past Sherlock?" Mycroft queried. "That would be the first thing he checked for if you expired after having dinner with me."

"That's all well and good, but I recall a Christmas where you nearly set the house on fire and we had to call desperately for somewhere willing to deliver a Christmas dinner," Rose pointed out. "It looks safe enough though. Make sure the appliances are off, will you? Just in case." She gave him a mischievous grin while depositing the pie on the kitchen counter.

"Set the table then. I ought to make you work for your meal just a bit. That's good parenting, hm? To teach responsibility, or so books told me," Mycroft commented, carrying the food to the table.

"Says the man with a housekeeper," Rose giggled. "But you've seen my flat a few times at least, it's well kept. So is B to an extent, and it's definitely not Sherlock keeping that place in reasonable order. John lives in terror of being poisoned," she admitted. "And I can't really blame him." As she set a plate at Mycroft's place, Rose removed a small pile of papers and bank notes from her pocket to sit beside it.

"The books said nothing about silly siblings and car theft, which presents a much greater conundrum, in my eyes, than are you or are you not able to complete household chores." It was the elephant in the room and they might as well address it. Sighing heavily, Mycroft took his seat and eyed the pile near his plate, eyes narrowed. "Do I dare to enquire?" He lifted his eyes from the table to give Rose his full attention. He could examine it later, after all.

"I was really angry and hurt yesterday, so I went on a spending spree. I spent your money because I could and I think, somewhere along the way, that I was sticking it to you by doing that. The point got rather lost though," Rose admitted, her face growing red. "Turned more into being self-indulgent than making a statement. After practice today I returned a good portion of the things I bought. Those receipts are proof of your card being credited. The pounds are to cover the costs of the things I kept, and a couple things I couldn't return."

That was an expected turn of events and surprise flashed briefly across Mycroft's face. It dawned on him that the way he responded now in the face of such a gesture would be key to repairing the hurt he caused the day before. "Thank you," he replied quietly. "I hope you haven't bankrupted yourself by doing this. May I ask you something?" Mycroft was attempting to tread lightly into what felt like uncharted territory. When Rose nodded, he carefully posed his question. "What was your point? You said you had one, but it got lost. I suppose you don't have to answer if you'd rather not, but I find that I am rather curious."

She fell silent for a long moment. "I'm going to start some coffee for myself. Would you like some?" Rose moved past him towards the coffeemaker. It seemed to Mycroft that there would be no response to his question, at least of a verbal nature. Rose's quiet was significant in and of itself. Just as he gave up on the question and attempted to find something else to say, Rose decided to give an answer.

"You more or less called me a thief, Mycroft. Accused me of stealing from you and threw my past mistakes in my face when I pled innocence in the actual thieving of your car. Since you seemed so convinced of my guilt, I thought I'd show you what a real thief is like and go on a spending spree. I wanted to buy all sorts of things that would be expensive and ultimately annoy you, as most of my wardrobe seems to," Rose explained, her voice soft yet full of tension. "It ended up morphing into what amounts to a pity party with a dash of tantrum and I didn't really feel the least bit better for it. The only bright side really was that I invited Molly Hooper to go shopping with me and we got on famously. I think we're going to be good friends. Bit of a silver lining that."

Opening a cupboard, Rose stood up on her tiptoes, trying to reach a mug for the coffee. How and why they ended up on the top shelf she didn't know, but it was distinctly unhelpful!

Seeing her difficulty, Mycroft came to stand beside her, easily taking a mug from the shelf. He took a second, for himself, and they stood that way for a moment; mugs in hand, unable to look in each other's eyes. Finally, he took the mugs and set them aside so he could wrap his arms around Rose. "I'm sorry," he murmured, holding her tightly. "I'm sorry that I jumped to a conclusion and refused to believe you when you were telling the truth. It infuriated me, seeing you and Sherlock giggling in the car as if it were a lark. I should have taken a breath and really thought about it. After all the work we've done to put ourselves back together… I should have known better and I'm sorry."

Nestling against Mycroft as he held her close, Rose turned her face into his chest and began to cry. They were tears of hurting, but even more so tears of relief. That relief washed over her in waves as Mycroft continued to hold her close. What she had expected was to be ordered to the study and have to not only answer for spending his money, but also for the car. Rose had wanted to believe that he would know she was being truthful and apologize but her reaction made it clear that she hadn't been sure that was really how he would respond.

Mycroft sighed heavily, silently bemoaning the damage her tears would do to his dress shirt, and held Rose that much tighter. "That's really not how you're supposed to respond," he pointed out. "You're not supposed to cry. That is the very opposite of what I hoped the outcome to my words would be." As usual, her tears cut him like a knife. Knowing he was responsible for causing them only amplified that pain. "I meant, or at least hoped, those words would be comforting and meaningful. It's not easy for me to admit failure, especially when it comes to you, but that is just what I did. How have I made you cry now?" Mycroft was truly confused and so he paused, hoping Rose would respond. Yet, there was nothing to be heard but her tears. "How can I make it stop? Now that I've made you cry, even without meaning to do so, how can I make it better?"

Rose didn't respond, except to hold on to him that much tighter. "Sherlock confessed the whole of it," Mycroft continued on, letting her cry as much as she needed too. "He was devastated that his panic had ended with my accusing you and was more than a little afraid that I would cane him for pulling such nonsense. I did in fact do so and he very much deserved it. I didn't reach out to you last night because I wanted you to have your space, at least for a little while. Was that a mistake? Should I have gone after you at once?"

When she shook her head no, Mycroft felt a bit of relief and finally fished in his pocket for a handkerchief. "Dry your tears," he urged, pressing the handkerchief into her hand. "Before you ruin my shirt and my tailor refuses to forgive me." The little joke earned him a tiny smile in response. Then, something in his peripheral vision caught his attention,

"Lilibet! I did not make chicken for your sole delight! Bloody cat, get away from my dinner!" Mycroft scolded his little ginger kitty. The creature in question jumped down from the counter and pranced towards him. "Go away Cat," he grumbled, only to have Lilibet purr as she rubbed up against her legs. "This damn cat lives for chicken. She's been watching me out here since I started cooking, clearly waiting for her opportunity to snatch it." He rolled his eyes a bit before pressing a kiss to Rose's head. "Get your coffee and go sit while I put dinner on the table before she eats it."

For several minutes, neither Holmes sibling had much to say. They were far too focused on eating. Rose broke the relative silence first asking, "Are you coming to my competition tomorrow? It's classic ballroom, none of that Latin I know you object to."

"I have cleared my schedule in order to do so, yes," Mycroft assured her. "So barring a national disaster, I will be there to cheer you on."

"Will you play nicely with John as well? He's going to be there and he's important to me. I don't want you picking petty fights with him." Rose gave her brother a pointed look, only to receive an eye roll in response.

"Have you and Sherlock spoken at all?" Mycroft asked. "I was alarmed at how distraught he was after you left. Hurting you far outweighed the caning, I could tell."

"Not really, no. He burst into my flat last night at about 330am and I told him to leave. I didn't venture into B this morning before I left. I really don't know what to say to Sherlock right now. Eventually it will come to me, or I'll simply miss him enough to be willing to talk." Sighing, Rose decided it was time to change the subject. "I'm not taking Anthea's dinner am I? I'd feel badly if I am."

Mycroft's eyebrows instantly went skyward. "Anthea's dinner? What are you talking about?"

"When I came in you thought I was Anthea and you told me to come through to the kitchen. Were you expecting her?" Rose questioned. She grinned mischievously at how uncomfortable this made her brother. It was so rarely that she could discomfort him in this way!

"Anthea is due to drop off some materials for my review no later than ten tonight. I thought perhaps she had finished early and let herself in. She does have the code for just such a reason, as have most of my PAs. The trustworthy ones at any rate." There were a few Mycroft wouldn't have trusted a pencil with, let alone the code to the townhouse!

Rose couldn't resist smirking at her big brother. "So you were making dinner for two because…"

"Because then I have lunch tomorrow," Mycroft retorted as he pinned her with a dark look. "What is it with speculations? First Her Majesty and now you! Change the subject now, sister mine. I'm not lonely. Besides, I have Cat and I have you plaguing me with your presence on a fairly regular basis these days. I do not have time to be lonely."

As if responding to being called 'Cat' rather than Lilibet, the kitty in question leapt onto the table and promptly attempted to steal some chicken from Rose's plate. Before Mycroft could warn her not to, Rose offered the kitten a piece of her chicken. Mycroft sighed heavily, rolling his eyes at her actions. "Yes, do encourage her to misbehave, thank you very much. Though why I expect any different from you, I have no idea," he grumbled good-naturedly. "The women in my life are all against me and Lilibet is the latest recruit. Whatever did I do to deserve this? Tell me that," Mycroft challenged, jabbing a fork in her direction.

Lilibet, always ready for more chicken, leapt at his fork and wrestled the chicken from it before running off with her ill-gotten gains, leaving one disgruntled owner and one giggly young lady in her wake.

A/N: Very much overdue, but better late than never (I hope)!