Title: Semper Semper.
Author's Note: I've been working on this fic for the past two weeks whilst on Holiday. It's an I-missed-you present to the Sherlock Fandom and I'm really hoping it's recieved well. I've gone with something different; instead of going with someone we know all about, I wanted to be able to explore the untapped potential for a character we know almost nothing about - Anthea. I have so many headcanons about her and because we haven't a clue about her background, I have the chance to experiment and build up a whole past for her.
I am.. really pleased with it, so I hope I do the fandom proud.
People say in the moment you face Death, you see your life flash across his glazed, lifeless eyes.
Athena Stone has faced Death no fewer than thirty-six times during the meagre twenty-eight years she has walked on the shell of the Earth. She can therefore attest to the falseness of this statement. Of course, she no longer goes by that name: the memory of her parents’ expectations hangs over it, a crushing weight on her shoulders - the abandoned cobwebs of love and hope sticking to the letters that make up the old Greek name.
Athena, She thinks bitterly as she taps out a message to her boss, fingers flying over the keys of her BlackBerry. “The Goddess of Wisdom, ha!”
Once, she clung to the name; a life jacket that kept her afloat after the death of her parents, one of the few things she had left of them. But eventually it had grown too heavy, becoming more of a burden than a safety blanket. And she wasn’t the only member of her family struggling to live up to theit birth-name. Her brother Artemis Stone, named for the God of the hunt, was supposed to be strong and powerful. In reality he was as far from this as possible: his heartbeat fading as he lay comatose at Kings’ College Hospital, London.
“Still,” She thought, smiling at the reply she recieved, “At least I have a Holmes.”
She had been twenty-one and full of dreams when she had met Mycroft Holmes one night. It had been a fleeting encounter; he had simply asked her for the time, a smile on his thin lips as he leaned his head a little out of the car window.
From then, it had been no more than a week or so later before she had opened the door to the little post box belonging to number 26 (a small yet comfortable studio apartment, on which she had spent over half the small amount of money left in her hands under the terms of her parents' will) to find a very official letter nestled amongst the cheap, sticky flyers for pizza places and catalogues for clothes she neither needed nor wanted.
She hadn't thought the meeting and letter to be connected at the time - in fact, she had forgotten the encounter with Mycroft Holmes (a name she only learnt later) during the blurr of shifts; after all, she was working two jobs and due to the lack of sleep, faces were things she forgot within a few hours.
She had picked it up cautiously, her fingers curling over the edges of the cream envelope after the stroking across the red wax seal that held its contents in. Athena, as she was known then, had tucked a strangd of hair behind her ear, frowned as she had picked her way up the stairs to ber flat and collapsed onto the sofa, worrying her lip until a bead of blood burst from beneath the surface as she worked up the courage to read the inside.
She had taken a deep breath, pressed the heel of her hands against her eyes until colours exploded behind the lids and stayed like that until she had stopped trembling. A brief glance at the clock on the wall informed her that the time was 6:30pm - forty-five minutes in which to get ready. She could do this, couldn't she?
The future her chuckled at the memory.
Before, she had been nothing but a scared young woman; the husk of the person she would later turn out to be - the person she was now. She hummed and brought up the live video feed from 221B, Baker Street. Keeping an eye on Sherlock Holmes and John Watson was a job delegated to her after Mycroft had unwittingly tuned into the image of his younger brother, on his knees, with his companion's cock in his mouth. He had been scarred; She had secretly been hoping to catch a similar scenario.
"Nothing going on today then," she murmured, shutting off the feed before updating Mycroft on the situation, her mind already wandering back to the half-finished memory of their meeting.
She had been ready by five-past-seven; hair washed and piled into a haphazard updo that was unfurling at the edges and yet, strangely, still looked okay. A form fitting dress in a grey colour adorned her slender frame and a liquorice red belt hugged her mid-section, giving the impression of someone professional and confident, even if inside she was anything but.
Draining her glass of wine, she breathed deeply and made her way down to the lobby, strangling the straps of her bag nervously as she waited.
The car had been bang on time, lights winking at her as they reflected across its sleek, black body. She later learned that everything Mycroft Holmes did was on a strict schedule; everything was executed at an exact time - sometimes even down to the second - with no room for mistakes, but at the time it had been both intimidating and impressive.
She slid into the interior slowly, crossing her ankles and staring at the floor before realizing that she, unfortunately, wasn't alone. A pale, gaunt man with impossible cheekbones sat opposite her with a scowl, his unruly brown hair sticking up at odd angles. Smudges of purple outlined the bottom of his eyes, and she fought the urge to wince when she saw the puncture marks littering his forearms - the marks of a junkie. Sherlock Holmes had glared at her with half-dead eyes, his mouth set in a grimace.
"You have absolutely no idea where you're going or what you're getting into, do you?" His voice was deep and chocolate-y, laced with undertones of venom as his face rearranged itself into a smirk. "Summoned by the mysterious 'MH'."
She had frowned at him then. It's none of your business, thank you very much. So kindly fuck off.
"He's my arch enemy; my business is, unfortunately, his business. Likewise, his business is mine." He paused for a moment, inspecting his nails boredly. "Sherlock Holmes. You'll meet Mycroft soon enough. I would wish you luck, or some other dull sentimental drivel, but I have reason enough to believe you don't need it. Even if you were fired from your job at PC World yesterday." Her eyes had widened to the size of saucers then, and she had leant forwards towards him, cradling her jaw with a hand.
"How on Earth did you know that?" Athena had gasped, her eyes searching Sherlock's for an answer. He merely closed his eyes and smiled once, waving a hand as if to fend off her question. When he spoke again, it was only to tell her that they had arrived.
The meeting place had been as she expected; acres of steel and glasswork that loomed above her - a reminder that this was the place of those placed far higher in society than a woman who spent her days toiling over broken hard-drives and freeing laptops of various viruses.
Sherlock had just strolled in as if he owned the place, his chin up and eyes narrowed - daring people to have a go - the smirk reappearing on his face as she shuffled along timidly behind, following him into the lift.
"He's an odd sort for a druggie," she had thought, watching him quietly as they hit each floor, the doors dinging mechanically each time. One, two, three.. floor six. Stop. Get out. Follow Sherlock some more. "He seems like he should be wearing suits and dining in posh restaurants, not shooting up cocaine from some back alley dealer.
Room 1286, however, had not been as she had imagined. It was relatively small and made up of three plain concrete walls, with the fourth made of a thick panel of glass that allowed the occupant to overlook the whole of London. In front of this sat a dark mahogany desk where various pieces of paper were stacked neatly, and in turn two comfortable looking armchairs in a blue colour sat in front of this. It was into one of these armchairs that Sherlock had fallen back into.
No.. he hadn't fallen. He had sprawled
all over it, his long legs draped over one of the arms. She decided in that moment, as she too took her seat, that this man - this impossible man - didn't use furniture like normal human beings.
"Sherlock. Ms Stone," a voice behind her had said in a clipped British tone before the face of Mycroft Holmes came into view as he took his place behind the desk.
"You!" She had gasped, eyes wide as she pressed back into the seat, fingers clutching the arms so tightly her knuckles went white.
After she had gotten over the initial shock and finished staring at Mycroft with bug eyes and an open mouth, the meeting went by in a haze of security checks, personal questions; records of her job, family history, relationships, hospitalizations and qualifications (which were, for the supposed 'Goddess of Wisdom', very few) were brought up and examined, and she found herself feeling more and more confused before Sherlock had interrupted and told her loudly (and in a voice that implied she was an idiot) that his brother was propositioning her for a job as his Personal Assistant. She would get around £19,000 a year, including taxes and excluding bonuses and overtime, as well as dental and health plans and holidays; it was a good deal, and she knew she would be stupid not to take it, so she had agreed.
"Your name will have to be changed," Mycroft had said, studying her carefully. "This job will be dangerous. You will, most probably, face Death and we need to protect your remaining family and your past from those who will try to get to me through you." She had decided right then that she liked Anthea. Sherlock had helped with the surname; Eston, a play on her original name.
Mycroft had dealt with the legal documentation and within a few days she had a new birth certificate, drivers' license and passport; all traces of Athena Stone disappeared, and in their place Anthea Eston was born.
Now, she sat in the back of the cab, running her fingers over the inscription on her BlackBerry, a gift to help her with work from the elder of the Holmes brothers. 'A&E' was all it said; a personal joke between her and Mycroft. Anthea Eston; AE; A&E. She chuckled to herself, remembering the coincidence - most of those that came up against her ended up in Accident & Emergency. Her phone buzzed in her hand and she sighed.
"Time to save the country again," Anthea murmured, stepping from the cab and into the London drizzle once more.