Summary: While I was *meant* to be powering through Nanowrimo, I got involved with the Johnlock Party over on Tumblr. One failed Wrimo and a weeks worth of brilliant prompts and the heady rush of deadlines later, and a fair number of short fics were the result, most of which I'm going to be posting in the next couple of days =) Congratulations to Team Orange/Mycroft who came first, and a pat on the back to any fellow members of Team Green/Anthea for coming a respectable third!
This fic was written from the time I got home from work and realised the first prompt had been up all day, to three minutes before the deadline at 12 GMT, so half an hour =) Please forgive the slight lack of quality this might portray.
Prompt 1: Team Mascot
She chooses her name well, she thinks. It's not her own of course, her real name a precious thing like a photograph in a locket, closed up inside her head. She wears Anthea like a dress, takes it out of the wardrobe from between rows of trousers and pencil skirts and the name of Morrigan that she only wore once but has since hated and stowed away, smoothing down creases of wear and tear. Slipping into it like a suit of flesh, an invisible zip at the back trailing up from her heel to her scalp.
She has been Minerva before. She ties her hair up for Minerva, straightens it sleek and carefully applies eye-liner and earrings like raindrops from her ears. Minerva is smooth and aloof, accentuated legs that are reminiscent of ballroom dancing, her body moulded out of co-ordinated greys and blacks, a hint of forest green in the belt around her waist. Minerva attends benefits and galas, ever at the elbow of her employer, smiling on cue, shaking hands and making up small talk like cocktails. She enjoys being Minerva.
Constance is one she happily doesn't wear often. She is sharp-eyed, a constant frown and a strict dulled expression that gives away nothing. Constance is a shield, a barrier, a blank slate on which to draw something apologetic. Constance attends funerals, starless, cold as a dead sun; delivers news to the families of those fallen in their duty. It is Constance dials for an ambulance, fingers moving so fast across the keys they do not have time to tremble, when Sherlock Holmes overdoses, and for the first time her employer blooms terribly under her neutral gaze into something a little more human, fallible, liable to fall.
Constance would be able to hold him up, but she's not sure Anthea would have the strength.
Sophia is for special occasions. A distraction, an enticement. She wears a skirt just a little too short to be decent, kitten-heels, giggles high-pitched, an idiotic mouth that rambles inanities, hanging on Mycroft's arm. Sophia is part of an act, yet another part to play, another mask. They two are actors of the finest calibre, delivering rehearsed lines and improv with the intonations and depth of false emotions of a true Thespian. Her employer acting the push-over bureaucrat, her the assistant he is clearly sleeping with, leaning over him one too many times while showing off cleavage that draws the eyes of their mark. Sophia is full of surprises, she finds when she slips into that skin, that name, in control, full of pretence, dull speech hiding a sharp tongue like glass, a penknife slipped down her garter that she only ever has had to use once when the mission turned into a firefight. Rarely worn, Sophia, but such an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
Oh, but Anthea – she revels in Anthea. Anthea is teasing and playful, equipped with a Blackberry and a hive of data and communication at her fingertips. She is light speed, unpredictable, a mix-and-match of perfectly tailored qualities. Anthea is efficient, discreet, swift. She taps out a message, makes a quick phone call, and all the strings are then untangled, the path unimpeded for Mr Holmes to again walk down smoothly.
He relies on her, as a PA, as a confidante, even as a friend. She knows what facet of her personality he needs and when. Anthea is not the strongest, but she is always strong enough. Anthea is the closest she can be to acting herself, and sometimes she dresses in Anthea to remember once more what her own laugh sounds like, remember her own eyes glancing back at her. Anthea is as near to honesty that she is ever likely to achieve in this line of work.
Yes, she thinks, as she slides back into the car after dropping off the curious army doctor back at Baker Street. Being Anthea was a good choice.