"HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO and a bottow o' wum! HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO an' a bottow o' wum! HO HO HO HO HO HO AND A BOTTOW O' WUUUUUMMM! HO HO –"


"Cwoftyyyyyyyyyy! You said bwoody! Mummy said not to say bwoody! Bwoody bwoody bwoody bwoody! Cwofty bwo-"

Mycroft sat up and nearly shouted, "Sherlock! Shut up!" He lowered his voice to a hiss. "Quiet. Don't tell Mummy I said that."

"Why not?" Sherlock opened his eyes wide.

"You know bloody well why not!"

Sherlock giggled into the blanket he had been dragging behind him. Mycroft lay back down on the sofa.

Sherlock started giggling more. And more. And even more.

"Stop it, Sherly."

Sherlock giggled even more loudly.

"Why are you here?" Mycroft did not open his eyes

Sherlock stopped and looked around the room for information. His gaze fell onto the long toy sword in his hand. He smiled.

"I'm Bwack Dog Biwy Bones Ben Gunn Shewly the piwate! HO HO HO HO!"

Mycroft rolled his eyes under closed lids.

"Bwing me my wum!"

Mycroft sighed loudly.


Mycroft yelled and jumped off the sofa as a wooden sword thwacked his hand. "SHERLOCK!"



"Why not?"

"Pirates are boring."

"You awe bowing!"

"I'm not boring. I'm bored. There is a very big difference." And he stomped away to his room, and locked the door behind him.

Then put a chair under the handle. Better safe than sorry.

"As my personal assistant you would be responsible for…"

Sherlock was lying on his bed with his hands beneath his head. "I didn't think you were an idiot, Mycroft."

Mycroft grimaced. "No, I'm not. Do you know what your other options are?"

Sherlock shrugged.

"Then let me enlighten you." He pulled a little notebook from his pocket. "Stocking shelves. Requires nothing but a strong back and willingness to work at night. The latter shouldn't be a problem for you. And people will always need food, so you would always be in demand. Ah! But I am forgetting that incident… They won't hire you at Tesco's. Maybe Sainsbury's, then. In the meantime…" He flicked through several pages. "Here. McDonald's needs a cook. My understanding is that it requires a lot of picking up of food, putting it in a microwave oven and pressing buttons. Greasy… But there are always laundrettes and showers. And the best part is that this particular McDonald's is only a short tube ride from Mummy's house. You wouldn't need to waste money on a flat. I'm sure she'd take you in."

Mycroft stared hard at him. Sherlock had closed his eyes while Mycroft was speaking.

When Sherlock kept his eyes firmly closed, Mycroft turned back to the notebook. "There was one more that I found this morning. I'm sure of it. Ah yes – there is always – I know you won't like this, but desperate times and the rest – you could always become a window cleaner."

"I'd rather clean windows than be your slave."

"I am well aware of that, Sherlock – which is why I am surprised that you allowed this to happen."

Sherlock lay completely still.

"I spoke to Dr. Garvie." Mycroft gave a sympathetic smile. "He said…"

Sherlock rolled over with his face to the wall and his back to his brother.

"Mummy could…" he began gently.


"Sherlock." His voice was pleading. "You don't even need to ask her. I know people – about people. I could get you back in."

"You think that I couldn't have hidden it so no one would find it?"

"Fine," Mycroft hissed. "Why didn't you?"

"It was too easy."

Mycroft rolled his eyes. "Then I take it that you do not want to complete your studies, and find better opportunities than the ones I just mentioned?"

"Your reasoning is impeccable."

"And why not?"


"And tell our man in the UN that we don't want this one investigated."

"Yes, sir. Shall I give him a reason?"


She sent the text and then looked up.


She read from her Blackberry. "We have confirmation that the ship's crew was not Somalian, though the ship was launched from the Somali coast. There is no connection as yet to any known terrorist organizations. As of now the only clear evidence we have is the report from the Italian troops pursuing the boats when they blew up. Crews are salvaging now."

"Make sure all evidence from the salvage comes directly to me."

"Yes, sir." More typing.

"What other information do you have about the pirates themselves?"

"The pursuers estimate twenty-five on four boats. Sixteen bodies have been retrieved. As of yet none have been identified, however, one of the Italian crew took some photographs."

Anthea handed a manila folder to Mycroft. He looked briefly at the report that she had just read to him, and then turned to the pictures.

There were fourteen pictures in all. Most were fuzzy. They showed sun-browned, but very Western European men. One might have been a woman. They were all holding weapons or operating their boats. There were very few clear faces. Hopefully the bodies would provide more information.

There was one, though, that nearly faced the camera. He was thin, with a dirty cloth wrapped around his head, and a patch over one eye.

Mycroft placed the picture back in the file with the rest, and hoped that Anthea had not seen his near-smirk.

"That's all for now. Thank you."

She walked away, already typing into her phone.

Mycroft took one second to smile properly before schooling his face into an irritated scowl and picking up his mobile.

It was difficult to help someone stay dead, but it was hardly ever boring.