A/N: And so continues my parting words.
I feel like I should go through and call you all out on what wonderful people you have been, but I feeling that you may just want to read. And I can't list everyone because there are those who don't or can't leave reviews. For those, you are equally wonderful people because you chose to read and kept reading my ridiculous story. I love each and every one of you and I hope these last two chapters were not a big disappointment. If they are... I won't know what to do.
Thank you all for your support and kind words. They have meant a lot to me. And now, to the end!
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock or its characters. they belong to Mr. Mark Gatiss and Mr. Steven Moffat.
Sebastian stood on the other side of the bar pouring himself a drink. "Plan on going back to work, Anthea?"
The paper in her hands lay against the bar surface as she chewed on the pen she had used to start a crossword. "Yeah, just haven't settled on when." She folded the paper feeling that she had been through everything she needed. Life had settled, as much as it could, again. Things were still hectic, but the usual hectic that she had been conditioned to deal with. Her boss was still dependent on her and the men she was living with still caused most of the chaos in a five hundred mile radius, but she was comfortable. She had the option to go back to her new flat, the keys delivered to her by Mycroft a week ago when she went in for a mandatory checkup.
More tension had been growing between Anthea and Mycroft, but it never seemed to get in the way. She had neglected to make a decision and was still avoiding it. From what she could tell, there was no real harm being done by her being where she was. It only seemed to make those opposed to it uncomfortable. Afraid she would swap sides or leak information. The reality was that Jim never asked or pressured her. He always told her that there was nothing she already knew or would know of that he would not be able to obtain. She was company to him. No more, no less.
The subject of her pregnancy was never brought up. It remained a topic that everyone silently agreed not to discuss for the benefit of all involved. Mycroft had hinted at asking about it, but she quickly warned him against it and assured him that she was fine even though she still found herself up late wondering what would have happened if the miscarriage had not happened.
"I'm sure I could find something for you." Sebastian replied, sipping at his drink with a subtle smirk.
"I have no doubt, but you might want to be careful with your word choice." Anthea glanced at Jim who was in the sitting room reclined in a chair with his phone. His eyes had moved from the screen to narrow at the sniper. As much as Sebastian joked with her, it still seemed to get under Jim's skin somehow.
"When are you going to learn I'm only joking?" Sebastian asked, rolling his eyes and rounding the bar to stand next to her.
She turned on her seat to face Jim and watched him take a breath that was only slightly different from a regular breath. It was no longer and no deeper, but it seemed to relax whatever new tension gathered in his body. She wondered if it was something he did more often than she was privileged to see. "I don't think he has that particular sense of humor. I would have thought you knew that being as thick as thieves."
A subtle amused smile formed on Jim's face when he looked away from them. "Nice one." Sebastian commented flatly, taking a larger sip. "Still, I'm sure you'll get bored at some point. There's not much around here that would be up your alley of interest."
He was right. As much as Anthea had begun to admire what Jim did no matter how destructive or wrong it was, she could take no joy from participating. There was the option of doing what the unemployed did, but that only made her feel useless. She had been away from work for nearly a month to recover from the injuries that were taking longer to heal and she could feel the restlessness starting to crawl on her skin. "I'll figure out something."
"And in the meantime, no moving the furniture." Jim had risen from his chair and was leaning on the door frame.
Anthea sighed, running a hand through part of her hair. "I moved an end table. When are you going to let that go?"
"Here we go again..." Sebastian immediately moved away from her and to the other side of the bar to be out of range of any crossfire.
The end table had been moved when she was unable to get up as much as she wanted, so she had moved an end table next to the couch so that most of what she would need would be in reach. Jim had not taken it well, but said nothing to her until she was well enough to no longer need it. It was an ongoing fight that had not escalated past a few remarks.
"If you recall, I did put it back exactly where it was." She turned her back to the bar so she could slouch against it.
"Besides the point." Jim had walked into the kitchen and laid his phone next to the discarded paper.
"I give up." Her eyes closed, shaking her head a little wondering why she always felt the urge to defend her reasoning for moving an end table. She never won.
Sebastian's chuckle sounded from behind her. He had moved to make himself another drink. "You're finally learning, Anthea. Good for you."
Jim stood next to her as he reached over the bar to grab a bottle. "I would have thought she would pick up on it sooner." She could picture the exact expression he was wearing and when she turned to look, she was right. The strange mixture of arrogance and triumph that was still sinister. There was doubt that there was anything about him that was pure and innocent. Everything had to have just a dash of trouble. "Maybe she's not as smart as we think?" He had somehow acquired a glass and was pouring the bottle's contents into it.
Once the glass was full to his liking, he set the bottle down, but she reached the glass before he could. "You don't want to play that game, James." She tasted the drink and was slightly surprised to find out it was brandy instead of whiskey.
Jim took the glass from her grip and sipped at it before handing it back. "I think it would be fun. It would give us something to do when we're bored."
"When you're bored." She corrected quickly. There was never a reason for her not to be entertained in this house. Confinement was another matter.
"Technicality." He propped himself on the bar stool next to hers reaching over to drag the paper over. It unfolded and was flipped through until he found current affairs.
Anthea had left her seat and started for the fridge leaving the glass behind. It was always full of food, but she still found herself not wanting anything in it. She did, however, find something to settle for. Leftovers from something Jim had made the night before that did not end up ruined.
Sebastian had finished off his second drink. "Well, I'll let you two quibble over end tables and boredom. I have some recon work to do." He slipped by her easily, but winked at her in the process. She returned it as she fished out the leftover food onto a plate. Since the hospital it had become a sort of display of affection. One that was safe from Jim's wrath.
"You didn't develop a taste for snipers during your time at the hospital, did you?" Jim asked without looking up from the paper.
She laughed softly, sliding the plate into the microwave. "Would you be jealous?"
"No, I just don't want to have to find a new one." He sounded slightly tense under the relaxed tone.
"So, jealous." An exasperated sigh came from behind her. "Alright, not jealous just inconvenienced." The microwave beeped once at the end of its time and she withdrew the plate. It had been awhile since Jim had cooked anything. She had been doing most of it and was relieved when she found him over the stove the previous night.
After finding a fork and returning to her seat, she picked at her meal. "You should cook more." She could not tell what sauce he used, but she knew it brought out every other flavor. "And learn not to forget that you are cooking."
"You think so?" It was not really a question. He was half distracted by whatever he was reading.
"Yes, you're an excellent chef." She looked at him from the corner of her eye knowing that any compliment he got would gain her a moment of attention.
Jim angled his head toward her slightly and he watched her. There was no telling what he was thinking, but it was not the first time he had randomly started to watch her. It no longer made her anxious. She stuck a few pieces of food with her fork and offered it to him. He let a real smile slip out, one that reached his eyes; however, it did not last long. As soon as his mouth closed around the food it vanished.
Now it was her turn to watch him. She had never seen that smile before. Every other one that she had seen always had something hiding behind it. People assumed that he could not feel a positive emotion or if he did he could not express it, but she just witnessed it. Perhaps the rarest thing on the planet. She did her best to lock that image away regardless of how things turned out. It was not long before she realized that her chest was swelling with a familiar feeling of subtle adoration and she knew it had leaked onto her face because he was studying her. The first instinct was to look away, but she made herself stay. What did it matter now?
His jaw tightened seeming like he had figured out what she was thinking. A moment passed before the tension released in his face and he turned back to the paper. "Don't expect me to say it. Ever."
Anthea returned to her food. "You expect me to?" She felt him look at her again before she saw it. Her focus stayed on her food refusing to participate in whatever silent conversation that could happen. He soon looked away from her again.
Time went by and neither of them said anything. He continued to read whatever article in the paper that had his interest. She was able to eat her food with an odd sense of peace settling over her. It made her feel relieved and happy. So much in fact that she started to hum a tune her mother had always lulled her to sleep with. When she cleared the plate of food, she picked it up, and carried it to the sink for it to be washed.
Jim had moved quietly. Too quietly because she jumped a little when he carefully took hold of her wrist before sliding his hand into hers. He took a step away from her and pulled on her arm beckoning her to follow him. There was no reason not to, so she followed without question into the sitting room where he stopped in front of the couch and gestured for her to take a seat at the end closest to her. Letting go of his hand, she sat down and made herself comfortable. She looked up at him and in one fluid movement he was lying on the couch with his head resting easily in her lap. He had his head tilted toward her and was looking at the area of her stomach where the stiches had been.
His eyes soon moved to her face. "Hum the tune again."
Anthea felt like laughing because that was going to be one of the few most polite demands she would ever hear from him, but she kept it inside and started to hum again. As soon as she did, his eyes had closed and he looked vulnerable. Instead of dwelling on it, she gently combed her fingers through his hair, humming softly, and watching him slowly fall asleep.
A/N: Well, there you have it. Thank you all again.
P.S. I am considering doing prompts. Little one-shots for anyone that has something they would like to read. So, if you think of anything please to let me know via private message or my tumblr. - cleverspinster.