"All right, kids, listen up: we've got a job."
Mrs. Hudson immediately commanded the attention of everyone in the room. Standing amongst a crowd of murderers, arsonists, and thieves, the little old lady in the purple support hose was the single person not a one of them would dare to cross. She was the Head Honcho, the Big Boss—the woman who could put money in your pocket or a nail file in your jugular, depending on how well you were able to follow her rules.
They called her "Mrs." because she told them to, but no one could imagine her being anyone's wife.
Sherlock was the first one to respond. He'd spent the whole morning edgy, pacing the back room of the Chinese restaurant that provided a legitimate face to their "enterprise." Mrs. Hudson had cut him off from his cigarette habit just a week before, and boredom and nicotine withdrawal were not a pleasant combination in an evil genius. She was right to do it, of course—cigarettes were messy, and left too much evidence behind: the smell, the ash—the DNA on the butts. But Sherlock was a special pet of Mrs. Hudson's, and not used to following the same rules as the rest of the crew; on top of the pain of withdrawal and the agony of boredom, he was just plain sulking.
His foul mood added an edge to his voice as he turned to face his boss. "So what is it?" he snapped. "Who's the mark?" Mrs. Hudson caught his tone, and pursed her lips; everyone knew what the pursed lips meant: she was not pleased.
Sherlock ducked his head and chewed on a fingernail, a signal of submission. "I mean," he said, more calmly this time, "what do you need us to do?"
She gave him a sweet smile, and patted his mop of dark curls. "I have a special challenge for you all: I think it's time we paid a visit to our friend Moriarty."
The room erupted in an uproar at the sound of his name. The noise crested and crashed with one sharp look from their leader. She raised a single eyebrow in challenge. "Objections?"
The crew stood around looking at each for a long moment before Donovan got up the courage to speak. Despite her slender appearance, she played the part of enforcer in the group: she wasn't squeamish about jumping the gun, either literally or metaphorically. "What do we want to bother with him for? Got the Freak locked up last time..."
"That was only overnight," Watson offered, smiling: "for loitering."
"I wasn't supposed to be doing surveillance on that job! That's supposed to be Lestrade's responsibility…"
Instead of answering the accusation, the older man offered him a wink. "Come on now, it wasn't so bad…I'll bet the boys loved those pretty cheekbones of yours…"
The rest of the room snickered and jeered, and Sherlock made a move toward a vial of acid left out from a recent experiment—Mrs. Hudson put a stop to their antics with the raise of her hand. The room quieted instantly. "He's been a thorn in our side long enough. If he wants to play detective, let him do it somewhere else—London is ours, and it's time we let him know."
It was Donovan who spoke first again. "How're we gonna do that?"
"No need to fret, my dear; plans are forming. In the meantime, there's legwork to be done. Donnie, Mr. Moriarty recently fired his chauffeur; I need you to track him down for a little 'conversation'."
"Right, boss," she said around a grin.
"Sherlock, darling, we're going to need one of your mixtures—the new driver is going to be taken ill, and Lestrade, you're going to take his place. Molly, dear…" The mousy brunette in question nearly jumped out of her chair; she acknowledged her name with a squeak. "Get on the computer and see what you can find out about the rest of the staff. Doctor—why, you're the lucky one today! You're going to be taking out Mr. Moriarty's secretary."
"Oh, and exactly where am I taking her?"
"HIM, darling," she tutted; "it's 2010, love: try to keep up!"
The rest of the group smiled, throwing playful taunts his way; the rancor of the previous jabs was gone, however. Mrs. Hudson treated them all to a smile. "My darlings," she beamed, all sweetness and light, before her expression changed. "Let's get that son of a bitch!"