Author's Note: Thanks for the awesome reviews last chapter. The pros and cons list was great to write and I'm so glad it was appreciated well. Thanks for the lovely reviews on the Myc POV too! Really! Those of you who follow me on Tumblr would remember me asking after Walter this week to see if you guys remembered anything I didn't. This is why. I'm well aware that for some reason people really like him and it's been ages since I've used him properly. I hope you like it. Please read, review, and enjoy!
Disclaimer: Clearly I don't own Sherlock. The show is the baby of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, while Sherlock Holmes itself is the creation of Arthur Conan Doyle.
The First Time Walter Found Out
They had a meeting that morning, and if Anthea took much longer in her wardrobe they were going to be late.
It wasn't real work yet. Well, it wasn't supposed to be the real government work yet. It was supposed to be all freelanced until the end of this week. However Mycroft had made an exception for one project. It was not one he was directly involved with – the responsibilities of this project never crossed his desk. It was run by a few of Mycroft's colleagues who frequented the Diogenes Club and out of some sort of sense of loyalty to the club Mycroft had agreed to come to the once a month meetings on the project and throw his two cents in, for a promise of a future favour of course. One of these men was Charles, the likable man that had been the first to inform Anthea what day Mycroft's birthday was. Another was a gentlemen who promised James he'd pledge for him should James wish to apply for membership. Those two men made Anthea forgive and forget that they weren't supposed to be doing work for the government yet either. Plus; no other member of P-A-L-L had their finger in this pie flavour of government work so it was safe to work on without fear of being noticed. They'd be too busy filling Mycroft's workload to notice anyway.
None of this mattered right now, though. Anthea couldn't care less who the meeting was with. It could be with the queen or it could be with someone from Sherlock's homeless network. It was all the same to her because if she couldn't find anything to wear she wasn't going. Stockings were no problem, and Anthea had plenty of loose fitting blouses. The problem was a skirt. The pencil ones made the small bump way too obvious. Either Anthea was getting fat in one area, had eaten a large breakfast, or was pregnant. The pleated black skirts she owned were too tight. Oh, she loved those skirts. They were so cute. She had to take a moment to mourn their loss for a few months. She promised them she'd see them again one day even if it killed her. She had an A-line one that fitted if she pulled it up a little but to her it made her look frumpy. She couldn't even remember buying it. Anthea looked at her wrap one that was always a little snug to begin with but made her look drop dead gorgeous and she sighed in exhaustion at the thought of even trying them on.
Anthea had to stop. She sat on the floor of her bedroom surrounded by discarded black and grey skirts. Mycroft would be annoyed at the mess she made if he wasn't already downstairs. That was okay. If he came up she'd start crying and that would make him awkward. So awkward and at a loss of what to do he'd probably pick them up himself as a way to comfort her. Anthea would have laughed at the thought if she didn't hate her changing body right now.
She would have to get maternity clothes soon. Or at least get those nice ones with the elastic at the top so they weren't obviously maternity clothes. Oh but then everyone would know! Anthea didn't want everyone to know yet. She didn't want people staring at work. She didn't want hushed whispers from some people and other people coming up and asking if they can touch her stomach. She'd deal with that when there was no hiding it. The only people who were allowed to know right now were friends and family that were trusted and loved. She hadn't even told Robbie yet. The strangers from work and the Club weren't allowed to know.
Anthea leaned back against the foot of the bed and took a deep breath. It was okay. It wasn't obvious, not yet. Little Margot or Will was just making a small bump right now. They were still very tiny. Anthea could hide it from others for a little while longer. She just needed to dress appropriately and maybe skirts weren't the way to go. Since she already had the thick stockings on she'd just wear a loose fitting dress. She had a nice dark blue one in her wardrobe somewhere. Mycroft liked that one. Not in the way that one expects their partner to like clothes on them, but he had always told her she looked lovely in dark blue. It also brought out his eyes when she stood with him.
So Anthea got up. She spent five minutes digging through her dress rack until she found that blue dress. She slipped it on and looked at herself in the mirror from every angle possible. It wasn't bad. Not bad at all. It was comfortable and she could easily move in it. Her little bump did change the way it hung on her but al it looked like was a little extra weight. Then again… Anthea was so used to hanging out with geniuses and people paid to get into other people's heads and lives that she was certain it might still give it away.
It was okay, though. She had a solution to that. She went to Mycroft's side of the wardrobe. She skimmed through his coats until she found the loosest long black coat she could and slid it on. Looking in the mirror it was obvious she was wearing a man's coat. It was too long and too big. It didn't matter, it disguised her bump perfectly. She really didn't mind people thinking she borrowed her boyfriend's coat. Plus, it smelt like Mycroft. It was soothing.
Anthea's phone went off, vibrating on the bed. No doubt it was Mycroft instead of yelling up the stairs.
Walter's here. Hurry. – M.H.
She looked at the time and raised her eyebrows in surprised. How long had she spent mourning her skirts? A look around the room gave her a rough estimate of how long it took her to find something to wear, but not the sulking on the floor time. Anthea shook her head at herself as she typed her response.
Ready. Be there soon. – A x.
She searched for her handbag and shoved her phone into it. Her briefcase would be in the dedicated Anthea space room Mycroft had given her. She'd gotten it together and left it in there last night.
Mycroft was already outside. He was waiting by the town car talking to Walter. They were both looking very professional but one can't help but not the smile on Walter's aged face. He must have missed Mycroft. It was only then that Anthea realised how much she had also missed Walter. To some he might just be a driver and body guard for Mycroft but when you see the same faces every day the friendly ones start to become important. Anthea hadn't seen Walter in close to a month. All the times she could have used him to exchange glances in the rear view mirror when Mycroft said something weird, or stupid, or above them. She even missed the usual 'good morning, Miss James' he would offer her as he held a door open for her.
"Walter!" Anthea called out as she approached the car, earning the attention of both men. Mycroft looked Anthea up and down, looking alarmed that she'd taken his coat.
"Anthea." Walter grinned, this being one of the rare times he used her real name. He outstretched his arms and Anthea went straight for the embrace. He was a bit like James when he hugged. The big bear arms that encapsulated you and could probably hold you there if they felt like it. If he noticed a change in her weight then Walter was too much of a gentlemen to say so. He let go of her and took a step back.
"How are you, Walter?" Anthea asked, her fondness for him oozing from her tone and facial expression.
"Good, thank you, Miss James." He bowed his head as he answered. "I was getting a little bored." He joked. Anthea cocked her head to the side and let air escape from her mouth as a single laugh.
"Us too." She said to him.
"Anthea." Mycroft's calm voice interrupted the conversation. "Are you wearing my coat?" Anthea shrugged bashfully.
"Nothing would fit me. I thought one of your jackets might make me feel better and disguise things." She gestured lazily to her general lower half. Mycroft, not believing her, looked at her sternly.
"Everything?" He questioned.
"The bedroom floor looks like the scene of a skirt massacre." She stated flatly. "Don't go in there until I can hide the bodies." Mycroft rolled his eyes while Walter was watching them carefully.
"I honestly don't care about a little mess, my dear. As long as you weren't feeling sick, I can cope with a little haberdashery homicide." Anthea giggled at his words, and Mycroft did his best not to smirk at her reaction.
"Pardon me, sir." Walter said to Mycroft. He turned back to Anthea. His face was nervous and excited at the same time. Ah yes… Mycroft and Anthea were so used to talking so freely around Walter that Anthea hadn't even considered that she shouldn't say anything. Habits. Surely Mycroft would have known better but maybe he just figured that Walter would find out sooner or later and he might as well rip the Band-Aid off now. "Are you…?" Anthea flapped her arms out to her side and back. She smiled, exhaled and shook her head. Then she began nodding.
"I am." She laughed. "I am."
"Miss James!" Walter exclaimed. He came forward and hugged her once again. Anthea was getting used to this kind of reaction. She couldn't stop laughing as she hugged Walter back. "I can't believe it." He let go of her and stepped back. The ex-agent's face was full of awe.
"I know, me either." She said. Walter was looking at her the way the Holmes parents had looked at her, and of course he was. It made sense. Mycroft and she had both been in their early or mid-twenties when they met Walter. If Mycroft was kid then Anthea wasn't far off a similar view in his head. They were kids to him and he'd seen them grow up and create a baby of their own. No wonder her was so in awe. He was a real friend, she really needed to see that.
"I'm so happy for you." He said.
"Thank you, Walter." Anthea took the words graciously. The grey haired man turned to Mycroft with a more serious expression. Mycroft himself was doing his best not to appear awkward in the situation.
"And kid," He began. "Are you…" He hesitated, trailing off. He was looking Mycroft dead in the eyes. The genius pursed his lips and took a moment to think.
"No." He faked his half smile. "Anything but okay." He had obviously deduced the rest of Walter's question. "But you're welcome to say what you want to say. I don't mind." Walter's shoulders relaxed.
"Congratulations, sir." Walter held his hand out waiting to be shook. Mycroft looked at his hand first and then took it, the two men shaking hands. Yup, Walter was pleased to see the kid having a kid. How cute.
"Thank you, Walter." Mycroft sighed. It didn't sound exasperated or annoyed, so that was good. Walter patted Mycroft's shoulder.
"Let me take you two to lunch after your meeting." He said to Mycroft and then turned to Anthea. "It's my gift it Miss James." Anthea rolled her eyes but couldn't remove the smile off her face.
"Walter, no." Mycroft clicked his tongue. "It's not necessary."
"I'd like to, sir." His faithful driver insisted.
"Out of the three of us here who makes the most money?" Mycroft scolded. "I do not need to be treated to lunch by a man who works for me." It might seem harsh sounding to the outside but Walter and Anthea knew that was Mycroft's way of kindly insisting it wasn't necessary.
"Maybe Myc can pay?" Anthea offered, chewing on her bottom lip.
"No. I really want to." Walter said. "Only to one of your usual café's, sir. It'll cost nothing." Mycroft looked at Anthea. Anthea said nothing, only widened her eyes. It was up to him, not her.
"Only because you've had a month of being paid without actually having to work." Mycroft said. Walter held back a laugh as he looked jovially to Anthea. She rolled her eyes again.
"Thank you, sir." Walter said. He pulled open the car door for the two government workers. Mycroft gestured for Anthea to enter the car first.
Only at meetings at the Diogenes Club would you ever seen Anthea and Mycroft staying back. Normal locations and they'd be out the door as soon as it was over. However, you could not walk and talk here. Hell, they didn't even like Anthea walking with the way her heels clicked. So while others left Anthea and Mycroft stayed back to have a quick discussion about the meetings, make notes, and on days other than today plan what they had to do next.
After the usual little debrief Anthea and Mycroft were ready to go. All the chairs around the desk were tucked in, Mycroft had his umbrella and briefcase, and Anthea hand all her items. There was just one little thing Anthea wanted to talk about in place of the day's plans.
"Myc." Anthea kept her voice low. She didn't know why she was suddenly contentious of the rules of this place but she suspected it was a mixture of having not been here in a while and the fact that she'd broken a whole lot of rules when they'd conceived her child her. Maybe she was making up for all that bad behaviour. Mycroft's steel eyes landed on her face, her cue that she had his attention. "With Walter earlier…" She began.
"Yes?" Mycroft prompted with a curt nod.
"When he asked or was going to ask something and you told him to say congratulations anyway," Mycroft hummed at her words. "Why did you let him say it?" She was more than a little curious. He had let his parents flip out about it but only because they were his parents. Walter had given him an opportunity to say he didn't want to talk about it but Mycroft hadn't taken it. It was interesting behaviour on behalf of the genius. Mycroft licked his lips, sniffed, and half smiled as he looked down at the floor. He was choosing his words, Anthea knew that by the way he was counting the marks on the carpet. He looked up again, the half of a smile still on his face.
"Anthea, you know that Walter rarely speaks unless prompted to." He began. Anthea nodded twice quickly. "And if he feels a need to express something he always asks for permission first."
"I figured it was agent training." Anthea brought a single shoulder up to her ear in a half shrug.
"It's beyond that." Mycroft said not in a dismissive way like he might to someone else but rather gently. "The amount of words Walter says to me in a month is equal to what James can say to me in an hour, and even James asks permission to give his opinion on delicate subjects." Anthea chewed on the inside of her lip as she considered this. It was very true. James was an excellent agent and yet he could talk all day unless you asked about something classified.
"So?" Anthea asked. "What is it, then?" Mycroft got that look on his face, that reminiscent look normally reserved for his siblings and better days.
"Walter has known me for a very long time." Mycroft said. "He doesn't say anything he doesn't think I can handle." Anthea blinked she jutted out her bottom lip.
"Oh." She chirped. Mycroft chuckled.
"Does that make sense?" He asked her.
"I think so." Anthea replied in the same high tone as her 'oh'. So Walter thought Mycroft could handle the congratulations? What did that mean? That Mycroft was coming around? That he was ready for people to talk to him about his child? He was making some progress. He hadn't said anything directly to Anthea… So maybe it just meant that he was trying to come around? It was hard to say but it was absolutely a good sign.
"Shall we go, then?" Mycroft gestured to the door. Anthea nodded, scooping up the last of her things. She then crinkled her nose.
"I'm going to ask Walter to take us to that diner near my old flat." She said. Mycroft groaned and dramatically lowered his posture as he reached the door.
"No!" He practically whined. "I won't let it happen."
"All I have to do is tell him how great their barbeque cheeseburgers are and it'll be two against one." Anthea spoke in singsong, walking up to meet Mycroft at the door. His hand was on the handle but he did not pull it open yet, he still had more to say. The genius held a finger up in-between their faces.
"Unless I threaten to fire you both." He said. Anthea snickered.
"You can't afford to lose us both at the same time." She called his bluff.
"Try me." Mycroft smiled like a dangerous predictor.
"Okay." Anthea squared off her shoulders. "I will."
Anthea rose an eyebrow.
Mycroft rolled his eyes.
Mycroft opened the door and gestured for Anthea to leave first. She nodded in appreciation and proudly walked past him. She was going to get to go to her old diner.
Author's Note: So how was it? I'm generally pretty pleased with it. Not an important chapter in the scheme of things but some good character development none-the-less. Let me know all your thoughts. Thanks to our guest reviewers; SO GOOD, Guests x2, and MinaCarlyle. Thanks to all of you for reading! I hope to see you in five days!
Oh! If you haven't checked out my Eurus and Mycroft kidlock one shot please do! I'm really proud of it. It's called The Health Risks of Sleeping. I know a whole bunch of you have.