Author's Note: Sorry about the horribly long wait everybody. Thanks so much to everyone still loyal to this series! For anyone just now watching the second season, message me with thoughts, I'm very interested. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this latest-short-installment.
Gwen sat erect on the couch, unable to sleep despite the late hour. John and Sherlock were already both fast asleep in their respective bedrooms, but Gwen remained conscious downstairs. John had offered for her to move up into his room with him but she had delicately refused, unable to take that step just yet, as nice as it sounded.
Gazing at the wall, Gwen hardly noticed the flash of car headlights outside the window, and she certainly thought nothing of it- at least until her phone vibrated on the table where it lay. Picking it up, Gwen saw that the number was withheld. The text read:
I look forward to meeting you.
A smile twitched onto her face as she quickly understood, her gaze immediately snapping to the window through which she could barely make out the headlights below. Standing abruptly, Gwen tucked her phone into the pocket of her pajama pants and swiftly made her way out of the 221B flat.
Waiting just outside the door was a sleek black car. The passenger door swung open from the inside and Gwen got in without hesitation. Sitting there was a tan woman with black wavy hair and styled nails on the fingers that clutched a phone in front of her face.
The woman flashed Gwen a polite closed-lip smile as Gwen entered the vehicle, but then turned back to her mobile. Feeling no particular desire to make conversation, Gwen contented herself to stare out the darkened window as the car rolled smoothly down the streets. When they came to a halt some twenty minutes later, the woman turned to Gwen, finally acknowledging her presence with words.
"Just go on out and into the building there, the door's been left open. He said you wouldn't need to be escorted in, so you'll just be going on your own."
"Great, thanks," replied Gwen emotionlessly. The woman gave another smile, even throwing in a small wave as Gwen opened the door and began to step out.
"Bye! Good luck," said the woman in a subdued but cheery manner. Gwen merely nodded and swung the door shut behind her, heading straight into the building as directed.
The building itself was dark (understandably, given the time of night), but Gwen sensed it was more than that. The building was no longer in use, though this hadn't been the case for long because it was still in tip-top shape. Most notably, the building was quite clearly an elementary school. Gwen scanned her memory for any recently closed-up elementary schools, but she didn't really keep track of such things. Her ignorance prickled her as it always did, and she knew that upon arriving home she'd have to do extensive research on the subject just to feel satisfied.
The doorway through which she had entered led straight into what appeared to be the main hallway, and Gwen immediately spotted the figure about halfway down said hallway, so she made her way to him.
Mycroft Holmes looked just how she'd pictured him in her mind. His tall lanky figure similar to that of Sherlock, the same dark hair (though kept differently), and the same self-assured air. He was dressed in a nice suit and tie, something much more formal than Sherlock would wear by choice. He stood clutching an umbrella in his right hand, leaning against it like a cane.
"I was almost becoming insulted by your lack of interest in me," said Gwen loudly. A smirk played on Mycroft's lips.
"Yes, it is certainly regrettable that this face-to-face meeting is so long overdue. I'm afraid these past few months have found me somewhat... busy."
As "busy" passed Mycroft's lips, Gwen could not help but to chuckle at the obvious understatement in his words.
"I have, of course, already observed you... on the cameras. You are a very... important person, Miss...?"
Gwen sensed the trick in his words. Smiling innocently, she replied,
"Just call me Gwen, and I'll call you Mycroft."
Mycroft smirked again, apparently pleased that she hadn't given him a last name. They both knew that even if she had it would have been false, but even a false name can be telling about the person that chose it.
"As you wish. Now as you may imagine, I was somewhat... taken aback, I suppose you could say, when my brother rashly decided to allow you to live at 221B Baker Street. Sherlock seems to have changed quite a lot recently, as a matter of fact. He's become more... trusting, and perhaps- no, almost undoubtedly, also become more sentimental, a sure sign of vulnerability. First there was Dr. Watson, and now you."
Mycroft paused, observing the young woman. She held her silence. Allowing no thoughts to flicker across his face, he continued.
"I worry about him."
"So I hear."
"And though I overcame my misgivings about Dr. Watson, I find this harder to do in regards to you. What is it that you want from Sherlock?"
"Why do you assume that I want anything? Perhaps I just enjoy his company." Mycroft raised his eyebrows.
"I must admit, I find that story a bit hard to swallow. No, you are not sentimental enough for that to ring true. Neither is my brother, which brings me to conclude that you are both using the other and I believe I can guess in what ways, but I thought it was only polite to allow you the chance to give, let's say... your side of the story."
"I assure you, I'd be much more interested to hear your observations," replied Gwen with mock politeness. Or at least, Mycroft was fairly sure that it was mock. Gwen was particularly good at keeping a straight face. It was her own brand of humor, though usually she was her only intended audience.
"I believe that you aspire to be like my brother, and so you have determined the way to best accomplish this goal is by studying him at close distance, like a bug under a microscope."
"Now that's hardly a fair comparison to make, calling your brother a bug."
"Quite true, for I do not think of my brother in such a way."
Here Gwen observed a noticeable shift in Mycroft's features. What had been polite banter was morphing into restrained threatening. She could see the seriousness spelled out in his face, the deathly serious look that promised severe pain or death for anyone foolish enough to cross him.
"It is you that I think sees him in this way. But let me warn you, my brother possesses abilities beyond your capacity of reckoning and he shall never be the bug that you may step on. I have observed you, and while it is true that you yourself possess some of the finer qualities shared by my brother and myself, you are not as clever as you think you are. Should you ever think of betraying Sherlock in any way possible, it will be a dear mistake, that I can guarantee. Before you have time to blink, Sherlock will turn the tables on you and you will be the bug, to be squashed at whim. And this is a kindness which my brother will obliviously afford you. However... If you should think to cross my brother, or bring harm to him in any manner, my punishment for you will be much more... deliberate. Do you fully understand me?"
Mycroft's words spun tauntingly in her head, jabbing her harshly and burning her with their threats. Not as clever as she thought? Treating Sherlock like a bug? Even through her whirling thoughts, Gwen could not help an internal chuckle in appreciation of Mycroft's impressive gift of understatement. The term "deliberate" did not sound threatening, but the way it slid through his teeth made it clear what he meant, and she did not even want to imagine the horrors he would be willing to permit done upon her.
Masking these fears and insecurities, Gwen gave a tight smile.
"Then it's a good thing I don't plan on crossing Sherlock in any way. I'm only too grateful for the opportunity he has given me to share close quarters with him; I have no plans to ruin that ideal situation."
"Good..." Mycroft drew the word out, smiling even as his head tilted back to examine the young woman in front of him. "For now I will leave you to your own devices; but heed this warning: everything you think we do not know about you, be assured... we do. Tread carefully."
With these last words of warning, Mycroft swung his umbrella up and strutted away towards the back of the school. Frozen in place behind him was Gwen.
His words had sent chills up her spine, and her heart was hammering painfully in her chest. What had he meant? Was he merely trying to scare her, what with him being the "Big Brother" and all that (in more ways than one)? Or did he truly know the secret which she had been struggling so hard to keep hidden. And if he did, did that mean that Sherlock also knew? A part of her couldn't believe that Sherlock could possibly know such a thing and do nothing about it, but stranger things had happened, and Sherlock never ceased to surprise her.
Clenching her jaw, Gwen determined that there was nothing she could do, either way. In the back of her mind she stored her paranoia of being murdered by Mycroft or his men without warning some random day, and she instead focused on getting back home. With stiff movements, she made her way back to the front of the school, finding Mycroft's escort waiting for her.
The black car drove her back to 221B in silence. Getting out, Gwen made no response to the last "goodbye" given to her by the nameless tan face.
Up the stairs she tromped, as quietly as she could, so that neither John nor Sherlock would ever have to know about her meet with Mycroft. This was something she also wanted to keep a secret.
Gwen tried to lie down and calm her nerves, but her eyes continually shifted towards the window, positive that a bullet would come crashing through the glass at any moment and into her skull.
But it didn't.
Her restlessness becoming too much to bear, she jumped to her feet and walked quickly to her suitcase, throwing open the lid. From inside she drew out a small knife, one very familiar to her by now.
She took a step back, and rolled up her sleeves.