A/N the First: So this is namelesspanda's fault. I normally write for a fandom based around the TV show Chuck, which is some of the finest spy humor (and romance!) on the planet, so pulp spy fiction is kind of my wheelhouse. When namelesspanda found me because of Guide Us Home, we joked about what it would be like if Mary Crawley had some of the same qualities as Sarah Walker. Specifically: throwing knives, jumping out of airplanes, and Violet owning everything with her pimp cane. So we both set about to crafting tales and this story happened. namelesspanda's story is called The Black Widower and it's hilariously awesome. Do be sure to read that one, too.

Things may be a little confusing in this chapter, but I promise everything does get explained in time. Muhaha.


The Abbey
Chapter 1

They grabbed him on his run, which in the end, was his fault. All things considered, he should havFe been paying attention. The fact that the love of his life had dumped him was no excuse, after all: it had been over two months and honestly, he worked in counter-intelligence, he knew he had to sleep with one eye open, and preferably run with both eyes open, but they still grabbed him in the bloody daylight, on the corner by a Marks & Spencer, and it was all his own damned fault.

He took some comfort in the fact that the extraction team was at least skilled. A screech of van tires, the reek of rubber burning pavement, a prick to the neck, and he was on the floor, being whisked through the streets of London. East, he thought, they were heading east, and then the drug took over him.

He woke earlier than they anticipated, clearly, as when he clawed through the darkness, he was still lying on the floor of the van, and the team was talking over his head.

"...don't see why we need him..."

"...handle this ourselves..."

"Didja catch the Chelsea game last..."

"I tell you, no respect, we've trained just as much as anybody—"

"…young upstart…"

"…Manchester…"

Matthew categorized them as British. Northern accents, one of those counties up there, but the petulant one sounded a bit tosh on top of that. He did a mental inventory of his latest missions. Had he managed to piss somebody off in the home office? Sure, Dauphine worked autonomously most of the time, and recriminations were supposed to be dealt with inside the branch, but Dauphine, like the other freelancing agencies throughout England, did answer to headquarters, in the end. If he'd seriously displeased headquarters, they might not be willing to let Dauphine deal with him. But the trouble was, he couldn't remember anything that he'd done lately that would draw the attention of the smug bastards at Headquarters.

He decided it was better to lie quietly and gather more intel. He could make his move when he had more information. He was out of luck, though, for right at that moment the van slowed down. A boot nudged his shoulder. "C'mon, Tulkinghorn, let's go."

They knew his code name, Matthew realized. He really was in deep trouble. They shoved a hood over his head, but he listened and counted how many times they turned and his paces, in case he needed to retrace his steps. There was the beep of a security system, and a rush of air conditioning and the smell of office building, the thud of combat boots on linoleum, long hallways, and finally a small room. The acoustics alone told him it was sound-proofed.

"Sit him down," he heard an elderly voice say, and he was shoved into a chair. "Take the hood off. Do we not know how to treat our visitors anymore?"

"Sorry, mum."

The hood was yanked off, and Matthew looked up to find himself in some sort of office, sitting across the desk from a matronly woman wearing a business suit and a scowl. She glanced over him once, and Matthew had a split-second to wish he were wearing a suit instead of his running gear.

"You may go," the woman said to the men who'd dragged him in. "If we need you, we'll call."

"Should we uncuff him first?" the same one who'd spoken earlier asked.

"No need," Matthew said, and dropped the undone cuffs on the desk. "I hope you don't mind, I took the liberty myself."

"Of course you did," the woman said, and Matthew felt like a chastised schoolboy. He glanced at the desk, but there was no nameplate or anything personal at all, really. There was just a desk calendar, a pen-cup, and a few sheets of paper, neither fastidiously tidy nor messy. The paintings on the wall could have been found on any of the old estates in England, and were of nobody particularly famous. They told him nothing other than the fact that this woman intentionally revealed little about herself. In fact, the only personal thing in the office seemed to be her cane. She waited until the other men had cleared out. "Sorry for the fuss and bother, Mr. Crawley."

"Who are you? What do you want with me?"

"In time. Would you like some tea?"

"I'd rather finish my run," Matthew said.

"You'll have the chance for that later." The woman reached into a desk drawer. Matthew tensed, but she merely pulled out a file. She flicked it open. "It says here you went to Cambridge."

Matthew narrowed his eyes. "What of it?"

"Went on to practice law after respectable marks, very nice. Your records as a solicitor speak well for you, Mr. Crawley."

"Thank you," Matthew said, baffled as to why this woman would have his file. "Excuse me, but what's going on?"

"A job interview," the woman said. "Do keep up."

"I don't recall applying for a job. I already have one."

"And this is a better one. You've worked for Dauphine for how long?"

"I have no—"

"Idea what I'm talking about? I expect so. No matter: Mr. Barrow, my P.I. is very thorough and I of course have spies in all of the other agencies, if you'll pardon the pun. It says here you've worked for Dauphine for nearly four years. My, my, that must take quite the sense of humor."

"I like to think I have one of those," Matthew said through gritted teeth.

The woman pursed her lips. "Yes, well, with a handle like Tulkinghorn, I expect you must. That will have to change."

"What will?" Couldn't a bloke just run in peace, Matthew wondered? He'd wanted a mind-numbing long-distance jog to help him get over the fact that Lavinia thought he found his job more important than he'd found her. He most certainly didn't want to be pushed around by an aristocratic woman with a sharp tongue, applying for a job he most certainly did not need.

"Your handle, of course. We can't have our agents at Crawley's running around calling themselves things from Dickens novels."

"What? Crawley's isn't in the—" Matthew broke off as the woman's eyes flashed a dangerous warning at him. He'd only been about to say intelligence business, but he thought better of it now. "I thought it was a bank?" he offered, lamely, instead.

The woman gave a long-suffering sigh, and he felt like a foolish schoolboy. "It is. But not all of it. Come with me."

Confused, Matthew pushed himself to his feet, ready to follow her from the room through the door behind him. But she pushed a button on her desk, a button he had not noticed before, and a panel slid open in the wall to his right. She gave him an imperious look and then they were walking together down a long, well-lit hallway, her cane tapping imperiously with every step. Matthew, feeling foolish in his trainers and his Adidas running gear, kept pace with her even as his mind whirled. Crawley's was in the spy business? But he banked with them! Surely, he would know something.

"There's much you don't understand, young Matthew, and I'm afraid I don't have time to cover all of it. But this is a job offer. If you want in, you'll come work for Crawley's, with a respectable raise from your previous salary, and a healthy benefits package. We've need of somebody with your talents for a special project."

"Doing what?" Matthew asked.

"I can't tell you that. You must decide right now: in or out?"

Matthew stared at the woman, positive that she must be absolutely mad. His bank was full of spies? Certainly, he was starting to get bored at Dauphine, where they used him for his legal knowledge more often than not, and kept him out of the field. True, the name Tulkinghorn did grate on him, as his superior really hated lawyers, but was that really enough reason to leave for a new agency, one so secret that even in all of his years of freelancing counter-intelligence, he hadn't heard of them?

He'd never run from the unknown, though. In fact, more often than not, he'd embraced it. And they had extracted him cleanly, so, felony aside, they clearly knew what they were doing.

"I'm in," he heard himself say.

The woman's lips twitched into what was almost a smile. "Excellent." She held out a hand to him. "I'm Violet Crawley. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Matthew," Matthew said, feeling odd as he shook her hand. He gave her the same smile that had gotten him past several security checkpoints in the past. "Pleasure's all mine."

"Oh, you are a charmer, aren't you? Your file didn't say anything about that."

"Erm, thank you?"

"You'll need it," Violet said, her voice cryptic now, and they continued walking until they reached a steel-reinforced door. "Let me be the first to say welcome to Crawley's, Mr. Crawley."

"Thank you," Matthew said, as Violet bent down and peered into the optical scanner.

"And more importantly, welcome to the clandestine branch of Crawley's," Violet said, and the door slid open. "We call it the Abbey."


Matthew did not have the luxury of settling in, as the minute Violet led him through the doors, it seemed as though everyone and everything in the Abbey wanted a piece of him. He was whisked off to be fitted for new gear by an agent named Molesley, a genial-enough bloke that didn't have much to say for himself. After that, the operations manager, Charlie Carson, came by to deliver the rules to Matthew in such a stern voice that Matthew immediately vowed not to take a single step out of line, as he really did not want to risk disappointing the man. A woman who introduced herself only as Mrs. Patmore had brought him food in the briefing room, while he'd sat there, still wearing his running togs, eating what had to be the most delicious meal he'd ever had.

Matthew could not believe that this was his life.

When the door opened again, admitting a man and a woman, Matthew stood up once more, though he hadn't quite finished his sandwich. "Ah, so you're the new recruit everybody's buzzing about," the man said, holding out his hand. "Robert Crawley. Delighted to meet you. And this is my wife, Cora. We run Crawley's."

Matthew nearly choked on the sandwich he'd been hastily trying to swallow. "Honored to meet you, sir. Matthew Crawley."

"I like the name, but I suspect we won't be calling you that much longer," Robert said, a knowing smile on his face. "In fact, here's Mother now. Have you picked this man's new moniker, Mother?"

Violet Crawley entered. "I have," she said. "He's Perseus around these parts."

Matthew blinked, not displeased in the slightest. The name was leagues better than Tulkinghorn.

Robert Crawley, on the other hand, frowned. "Mother, are you sure that's wise?"

"When we started the Abbey, you agreed that I would be the one selecting the names of our agents, did you not?"

"I did, but—"

"So it's settled," Violet said. "Perseus it is."

"You do know," Robert began, but Violet glared at him. "Very well, Mother. So, Perseus, how are you finding the Abbey?"

"Oh, it's..." Surreal, Matthew thought, but he managed to compliment the Abbey well enough that he didn't embarrass himself.

Cora talked about Mrs. Patmore's cooking as though the Abbey were a restaurant rather than a super-secret spy hub, and Robert expressed gratitude with Matthew for joining the team at least twice more. "You're the only one that can handle this problem," he said, before he and Cora were called away, leaving Matthew alone with Violet once more.

"Mrs. Crawley," he began, perplexed.

"The Dowager."

"What?"

"That's my name around the Abbey. You may refer to me as the Dowager."

"Ma'am," Matthew said, clearing his throat. "Why have I been brought in? You've surely got many capable agents of your own."

"Some of the best," Violet said. "But the problem we need you to solve is...a little delicate."

"Delicate how?" Matthew asked warily.

"Delicate as in it's one of our agents causing the problem, and we need you to find her." Violet hit a button on the table, and the screen lit up, filled with a picture of a slim young woman with piercing dark eyes, sitting astride a horse that bore a blue ribbon on its bridle. "This is one of our agents. We need you to find her."

"Who is she?" Matthew asked, immediately intrigued by the superior look on the woman's face. It was the first interest, he realized, he'd taken in a woman since Lavinia had dumped him.

"Perseus," the Dowager said, turning to him, "meet your Andromeda."


It was raining in York. Matthew wondered if he turned up the collar of his coat to block some of the miserable drip down the back of his neck if he would look too much like one of those private eyes from the old movies or a 1920s gangster or something. He'd have to talk in an absurd accent and no matter how skilled he was in other areas, accents were just a hard thing for him to master. He had German and a fairly decent Eastern European accent down pat—those were the only ones he really needed, he found—but he was rubbish at everything else.

Besides, he didn't really need an accent. It was just York, after all.

He'd been given the assignment to track down Mary Crawley, alias Andromeda, three days before. The previous two days had been spent reading everything he could on his target: recruited by the Abbey straight out of Oxford—he should've known—and by all reports, the Abbey's top performer, though many of her mission logs were black-lined to death. Her academic record was as flawless as his own, though her political leanings seemed far more conservative than his. He imagined, if they'd gone to the same university, they might have ended up on the opposite sides of a debate about that one night.

But from the way it looked now, he might never meet Mary "Andromeda" Crawley, daughter of Cora and Robert. The details on her latest mission were scant at best—it had been outsourced from another agency, so there weren't many details. All they knew was that Mary Crawley had been sent to clean up a terrorist problem, and now she appeared to be in bed with Kemal Pamuk, a notorious Turkish terrorist with suspected ties to a few bombings in the south of France the year before. Documents linking Mary's name to Pamuk's had surfaced, first online, and then in the Yorkshire Observer, though the Abbey had managed to quash that one rather quickly.

By all intents and purposes, it looked like the Abbey's greatest agent had gone rogue.

Now Matthew was in York, watching his one and only lead to her whereabouts.

Anna Smith had been one of the finest assets at Crawley's, an executive assistant that had risen through the ranks until she'd landed a coveted position in the Abbey as the head of R&D. Now she lived a quiet life with a flat in York. She'd handed in her resignation the day the Abbey had officially black-listed Mary Crawley.

It was more than a little suspicious.

Matthew stayed in the shadows as he watched the diminutive Miss Smith move down the street with her black umbrella and her bag of groceries. He counted to ten in his head and then slipped after her, hands in his pockets and head down. He didn't intend to rough Anna Smith up, but she had dodged his calls. He only had a set amount of time to locate Mary Crawley; he couldn't afford the luxury of courtesy.

When Anna ducked into an alley, he followed—and found himself shoved up against a brick wall by somebody much taller than Anna Smith.

He immediately moved to resist, but the man who'd grabbed him had had training, too. Matthew was shoved back into the wall once more.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" the man demanded.

Matthew blinked as he recognized John Bates, the executive assistant of Robert Crawley. "Bates? What are you doing here?"

"Better question is what are you doing here," Bates said, not loosening his grip at all. "Why are you following Anna?"

"I wanted to—"

"John." A quiet voice came from across the alley and both men looked over to see that Anna had sneaked up on the both of them, still holding her umbrella. "Let him go. He means me no harm."

John Bates glowered, but let go of Matthew, letting the other man slide down the wall until he was on his feet once more.

"That's true, isn't it?" Anna asked, turning that bland stare on Matthew. Matthew discovered it was twice as effective as Carson's stare; he simply couldn't look into that calm face and lie. "You don't mean to hurt me. You just want to talk to me. About Mary."

"Yes. I suspect you may know where she is."

Anna continued to stare at him. "You're the new agent. From the Abbey."

"Matthew Crawley," Matthew said, holding his hand out. Though Bates's glare deepened, Anna crossed the alley and shook his hand. "Code name Perseus."

Anna seemed amused by that. "Of course. Would you like to come up? I'll put some coffee on, we can all dry off."

"Anna," Bates said. Matthew glanced at him warily; he'd heard that the other man had hurt his leg on a mission in the 80s with Robert Crawley, but it certainly hadn't slowed him down any.

"It's fine."

She had a second story walk-up in what seemed to be a pleasant building. Matthew felt Bates's glare on him the whole time they walked down the hall. "Miss Smith, do you know where Mary is?"

"No," she said, as she unlocked her door.

"If you did, would you tell me?"

"No, I don't think I would." Anna let both men into her flat.

"At least you're honest," Matthew said. He looked around; it was a cozy little flat, much smaller than he would have expected, given the salary she had been making at Crawley's. There was a writing desk in the corner, and on top of that a series of framed pictures. Matthew immediately moved over to this and picked up one, of Anna and Mary. Mary was obviously holding the camera, and they were squished together so they could both fit in the picture, broad grins on their faces. Behind them was the Eiffel Tower. "You were more than colleagues with Mary Crawley."

"Yes. We were friends at university, and she's my dearest friend now. She got me the position at Crawley's."

"And yet you've no idea where she is now?"

"None whatsoever." Anna put the kettle on and fixed him with a look. "Do you even know why you're looking for her?"

The frankness in her stare made Matthew uncomfortable as he set the picture down. "I was assigned to it."

"And you always do as you're told," Anna said, making it almost a question.

"I follow orders," Matthew said.

"Then you won't find her. More so, you shouldn't."

"If Mary is involved in—"

"She's not," Anna said. "And it's wrong of the Abbey to turn on her as they have and send new agents out to hunt her down. No offense."

"Do you have evidence of her innocence?"

"I shouldn't need evidence, and neither should the Abbey," Anna said. "How do you take your tea?"


It took time for her to take the bait, but what he'd read in Mary and Anna's files proved true: they simply couldn't go for long without contacting each other. The call came in the night after he'd sat through tea with John Bates and Anna Smith, on Anna's landline. He'd been dozing by his equipment, as there didn't seem to be much on the telly but mindless reality shows and period pieces that he had no interest in. When the equipment beeped, the screens flashing to show an unknown number, he jolted upright.

"Took you long enough," he said, cracking his knuckles before he started typing.

Anna picked up. "Hello?"

"It's me." The voice on the other end was lovely, Matthew reflected, cool and reserved. She hadn't bothered to alter it, so the software immediately identified it as Agent Crawley, code name Andromeda. Was that ego, Matthew wondered, or simply sloppiness?

"Oh, thank God, you're safe," Anna said, and it sounded like she might be crossing herself.

"For now."

"Where are you? Do you need me to come—"

"No, I'm fine. Stay where you are, please. Don't come looking for me."

"But Mary—"

"Is there any news from the Abbey? Have they lifted your suspension?"

Suspension? Matthew's hands, fiddling with the knobs on the equipment, stilled. Every report he'd read had said that Anna had resigned.

"No luck yet. Mary…"

'What is it?"

"They've hired somebody new. He's tasked with tracking you down and bringing you in."

Well, that was to be expected, Matthew thought. He could only hope that they didn't have a way of giving Mary his photograph—

"Tall bloke, from Manchester." Anna proceeded to analytically list exactly what he looked like, his accent, and even the scar on the left side of his jaw. By the end of her list, Matthew was rubbing his forehead with one hand, actively cringing. There was simply no way he'd be able to sneak up on Mary now. He felt as though Anna had painted a picture with words alone and had handed it right to Mary. And good lord, the woman had an eye for detail. "And he's handsome, too."

Matthew sat up straighter.

On the other end of the line, Mary let out a deep laugh. The decryption software had almost placed a lock on her signal. "Trying to set us up?"

"Well, he's really not hard on the eyes, and this business won't go on forever…"

"I'm not coming back to the Abbey. Not after what they did."

"It doesn't hurt to keep your options open."

Matthew shook his head, positive he wasn't hearing this. There was no way that Anna Smith was attempting to set Mary up with the man responsible for locating her. It was simply impossible.

"Yes, I'll do that," Mary said, and there was an undercurrent of sarcasm to her words. He wondered why her signal was taking so long to locate. "In between the running and the spying and the double-talk, that's a wonderful time to have a romance with a perfect stranger. Especially one who's likely convinced I'm a terrorist."

"Even you need to see to matters of the heart, Mary."

"Haven't you heard? I don't have a heart. Everyone knows that."

Anna chuckled. "Sure you don't," she said, and the subject appeared to be dropped. The decryption software finally beeped: Mary was in Brazil, in Sao Paolo. Matthew plugged the coordinates into the Abbey's secure network, calling satellites online. If Mary was in Brazil, he'd have a reading within minutes. "How much longer will this take, Mary? How much longer are you going to run?"

"As long as I have to. I'd best get off the line soon. Are you truly well?"

"I'm fine."

"And that Mr. Bates of yours?"

"He hates being in London all the time, but it doesn't make any sense for both of us to give up our positions at Crawley's. He sends his love. And Sybil does as well. Everybody in R&D, too."

"I notice Edith isn't on that list."

Matthew frowned. Sybil and Edith, he'd met. They were operatives like himself, though Sybil seemed awful young for it. If Anna was speaking truthfully, Sybil's warmth toward him on his first day at the Abbey made no sense. His job was to bring Mary in, and if she was on Mary's side…

"You know Edith loves you, too," Anna said. "In her own way."

"I'd best go."

"Will you call again?"

"When I can," Mary Crawley promised her friend, and hung up.

Matthew shook his head—what a strange conversation—and continued to refresh the screen. The satellites had located the coordinates easily, now it was just a matter of waiting for the picture to load. He got up and grabbed a glass of water and another packet of crisps while he put on the coffee. It looked like he would be burning through the night once more, and likely on a flight to South America the next morning.

The picture came up: a little street café in the center of the city. Tables were crowded with the lunch rush. He scanned the crowd, looking for any sign that Mary Crawley was at any of the tables.

A flash of white on one of the tables—empty, oddly enough—caught his eye. He repositioned the satellite to get a better look, zooming in. It was a note, he saw, written in English.

Eavesdropping is rudeM. Crawley.

"Oh, hell," Matthew said.

"It really is, you know," said a voice behind him, and Matthew whirled, gun already out.

Mary Crawley didn't flick a single eyelash at that. She was standing in the doorway to his kitchen, leaning one slim shoulder against the doorjamb, her arms crossed over her chest. Though she wore dark clothes, she wasn't dressed for breaking and entering. She was likely armed to the teeth and twice as dangerous as he was, and she looked like a bloody university student out for a night on the town.

He gaped at her.

"Matthew Crawley, I presume," she said. "That wasn't very polite of you to spy on my friend."

"How the hell did you get in here?" he asked, blinking at her.

"Through the door. Sorry I didn't knock. I wasn't feeling very polite myself." Her smile turned feral. "I'm not much for politeness in general, actually. Your security's top-notch. Molesley's work?"

"I'm not answering that," Matthew said, though it was.

"Carson's is better. He taught me everything I know." Mary inspected her fingernails and flicked an imaginary piece of dust off of her sleeve. "You can put the gun down, you know."

"I'm good, I think."

"What's the matter, Matthew?" Her eyes flashed both amusement and challenge. "Afraid?"

"Not in the slightest, but I'll hold onto my gun just the same."

"Suit yourself." Mary crossed the room and dropped onto the couch, propping her feet up on his coffee table.

This was just reaching levels of absurdity beyond even his comprehension. "What are you doing here? You do know I'm assigned to bring you in, right?"

"I'm aware."

"So you've come to turn yourself in, is that it?"

"Oh, no, nothing of the sort." Mary shuddered, rolling her eyes. "I told Anna I'm not going back to the Abbey, and especially not dragged in by some interloper. No offense."

"None taken," he said automatically.

"Oh, a gentleman, too," Mary said. "Anna didn't mention that."

"Well, she certainly mentioned everything else," Matthew said, annoyed now. "If you're not here to turn yourself in, what are you doing here? Pretty foolish of you to walk right into my apartment when you know I've been assigned to track you down and bring you in. Or do you want to get caught, is that it?"

"You seem awfully confident you're going to succeed."

"You're sitting on my couch and eating my crisps. I haven't had such an easy assignment since primary school."

Mary brushed her hands off. "I beg to differ. And you asked why I'm here, well, it's obvious, isn't it? I wanted to get to know the man my father picked to track me down."

"What? You're not looking forward to the big happy family reunion?"

"There's a reason they call him the Earl downstairs, you know," Mary said, rolling her eyes once more. "Anyway, now that I've gotten your measure, I'd best be on my way. No need to get up. I'll see myself out."

"I don't think so—"

Mary threw a knife. Later on, Matthew would wonder how she'd moved so fast: he certainly didn't see it. One second, she was sitting languidly on his couch and the next, a knife had sprouted dead center in the middle of his computer monitor. He ducked for cover as that exploded in a shower of sparks. And out of the corner of his eye, he saw Mary sprint for his balcony.

He shoved himself to his feet, but she clearly knew how to use those long legs of hers. By the time he burst through the balcony door, the balcony outside was completely empty. He gave a ripe oath, looking over the ledge, but she was nowhere to be found. Instinct made him look up—right as the heel of her boot disappeared over the top of his building. He tucked the gun in the back of his trousers and began to climb, grateful for once that he'd picked a flat with textured exterior walls. He hadn't free-climbed in years, but it came back to him, just like riding a bicycle, so that he hauled himself over the lip of his building less than thirty seconds later.

She'd crossed the roof in that time; he landed too loudly, and she looked up, meeting his gaze for a split second.

"Don't move!" He sprinted across, pulling his gun from his waistline as he did so.

This time she did pull a gun on him. "Stay back!"

They stood like that, twenty feet apart, guns trained on each other, breathing hard for a good ten seconds before one of them broke. Surprisingly, it was Mary: she began to smile, and then to laugh. "Oh, this is completely ridiculous," she said.

"Don't move," Matthew repeated. He had a half-wall to his right, where there was a sort of community garden for the building. If he needed to, he'd have cover, while Mary had none. "Put your gun down."

"After you, of course."

"No thanks."

"So what now, then? Are we to stand here like partners in a duel, waiting for the sun to rise?" The mockery in her tone made him swallow hard. "Just let me go. You've no idea what's truly going on here."

"I know enough," Matthew lied, as he was starting to get the impression that things at the Abbey really weren't what they seemed.

She scoffed. "You know nothing, Matthew Crawley."

"Put the gun down."

"I think not," Mary said. Her gaze flicked down to his gun and back up to his face, her expression growing unreadable. "What do they call you? At the Abbey?"

Matthew stayed silent.

"It's not a secret. I can just call Anna and ask her, you know."

She had a point, Matthew knew, as the evening had more than proved. It cost him nothing to admit his handle. "Perseus."

Mary fell quiet at that one, and it was impossible to read her face in the dark, but he sensed more than saw her disquiet. Clearly she was up on her Greek mythology. Finally, she cleared her throat. "Tell me, Perseus, how did they bring you in? Ring you up, invite you over?"

"Grabbed me with a van, actually," Matthew said, smiling a little at the humiliating memory.

Mary nodded. "Good. All I needed to know. Toodles," she said, and before Matthew could stop her, she jumped onto the lip of the roof and leapt off.

Matthew cursed again—he hadn't seen a harness—and sprinted forward. Was the woman absolutely mad? There were at least six stories and the nearest building was too far away. There was simply no way she could—

He looked over the edge just as Mary Crawley glided away through the night on a wing-suit.

She really had come prepared. The next day, he received a card in the mail from Anna. It said, simply, I hope she didn't rough you up too much. And that was when that Matthew Crawley discovered that he really, really needed to step up his game.


A/N the Second: Next chapter, what does Mary think of all of this? It should be fun!