Chats and a Letter
This is set around the same time as 'Shall We Talk'
Mycroft was surprised when he returned home one early evening to find Wilhelm standing across the street. Despite the chilly evening weather, Wilhelm wore no over coat. He looked like a professor who just walked out of his classroom for a bit, complete with a jacket with the elbow patches and a causal hat.
Wilhelm smiled and waved at Mycroft as he got out of his car. It had been three months since Mycroft saw the man and he wondered why he was standing across from his house.
"Something wrong, sir?" Anthea asked from the car. Mycroft looked down to her and pondered.
"No, nothing at all." He smiled. "I'll see you tomorrow."
He closed the car down and it drove away. Wilhelm crossed the street still wearing that smile.
"You certainly work late." The American remarked.
"What are you doing here?" Mycroft demanded politely.
"Came by for a chat." Wilhelm shrugged, sticking his hands in his pockets. "I decided against picking the lock and waiting for you inside. Thought that would be slightly offsetting."
"A bit." Mycroft remarked dryly. He briefly thought that Wilhelm was unable to get in because of the new security he installed, but decided against it. If Wilhelm was able to get into his gun safe in his locked desk with no signs he had done so, the man could get into anything. "You obviously wish to talk to me about something so come inside."
"Thank you." Wilhelm nodded his head touching the brim of his hat. It was an old fashion gesture that had fallen out of use since the decline of hats as a fashionable accessory for men. For anyone else the gesture would have been over the top, but for Wilhelm . . . it just suited him too well.
The two men walked inside and Mycroft kept his guard up, it would be unwise to let it down considering who he was now conversing with. He hung up his coat and umbrella before turning to watch the thief.
"How's the hand?" Wilhelm asked as he examined the art in the hallway; he asked as if it was a conversation between work colleagues, one having returned from a long absence due to illness or misadventure. It was dull, pleasant chatter – something one would not expect from the man who had done the deed to begin with.
"Fine." Mycroft said pointedly, unconsciously flexing it for an unneeded reminder that it had fully healed. He was instantly filled with annoyance at the reflex betraying a sign of weakness to the thief as he put his hands behind his back in an attempt to hide the reaction. But he put his annoyance aside as he turned his attention to the matter at hand. "What is it that you wanted to chat about?"
"You, actually." Wilhelm had moved on to another object in the hall to observe. He took off his hat and began to twirl it in his hands. Mycroft had to wonder if Wilhelm might be planning to steal something from his home with the way he was looking around. "How have you been holding up?"
"You're inquiring after my health?" Mycroft asked disbelievingly. Wilhelm was certainly an odd man and behind his mask of cold indifference, Mycroft hated to admit it, but it unnerved him.
"Yes," Wilhelm turned to face him. "So how are you?"
"Fine." Mycroft insisted, but the answer only elicited a smirk from the other man.
"The very British stiff upper lip." Wilhelm could not help but sound extremely amused. Mycorft's eyebrows raised in question causing Wilhelm to almost laugh; Enola had the same expression when she needed clarification.
"Never try to lie to a conman." Wilhelm stated in a way of explanation. "I think that we should agree not to lie to the other."
"You're proposing a truce?" Mycroft moved to his study with Wilhelm following behind him.
"We share a common interest." Wilhelm closed the study door behind him.
"Really?" Mycroft turned and smiled politely to the thief. It was the kind of smile reserved for heads of state and diplomats and did not reach his eyes.
"Yes," Wilhelm returned the smile, but with more a genuine glint in his eye. "We're both invested in the welfare of you sister. Since neither of us wish to see her hurt by our actions it is best that we do not lie to each other."
"How can I trust anything you say?" Mycroft sat at behind his desk. "Your occupation requires you to be a consummated liar."
"I could very well say the same thing about your job." Wilhelm tossed his hat on a bust near the door before taking a seat across from Mycroft. "Only with my job I don't use taxpayer's monies. But knowing your entire family has trust issues I have this."
He took out from the inside breast pocket of his jacket a jump drive and placed it on the desk within Mycroft reach. Mycroft made no move to the drive; instead he just looked at it before looking back up to Wilhelm.
"A good faith gesture," Wilhelm leaned back in his chair. "On that there is a list of some very nasty people who have been able to get into your country under your extremely, but not completely, through radar. It also includes a list of their crimes, countries with warrants for their arrests, and known aliases."
"This isn't – "
"Me using you to get rid of my competition?" Wilhelm finished for him as he brushed an invisible speck of dust from his shirt cuff. "I am a professor, and a thief. I am not, however, a murder, drug or human trafficker, or terrorist. The people on that list are those things and worse. I am fully capable of handling my competition without the help of a politician. Don't worry there isn't any viruses on it that will cause your government to shut down."
The men regarded each other; Mycroft thinking of Wilhelm's offer and Wilhelm deciphering signs of declining health in Mycroft. Having lived with Enola and have met Sherlock, he knew exactly what to look for and where.
"Where is Enola?" Mycroft asked; he still had not taken the jump drive.
"Elle is in Marseille." Wilhelm supplied. "She's with my wife and friends, helping a small museum retrieve some stolen items. Elle's in good hands – Arsène is quite capable – "
"I hope you're not referring to Arsène Lupin the French 'gentleman thief'?" Mycroft asked quite suddenly almost sitting straighter in his chair.
"You know him?"
"Sherlock mentioned the name in a case he worked a few years ago."
"Ah yes, Arsène did mention that when we were working together last." Wilhelm smiled. "Your brother was the only one who almost caught him."
"Enola's with him?" Mycroft could not really believe what he was hearing. As much as he did not like the Lehrers for bring Enola into the criminal world, he much less like the fact she was cohorting with the only thief to have eluded Sherlock – which was saying something. He found this to be unacceptable for his sister to be in such company. First Moriarty and now Lupin; he wondered how many other big name criminals Enola personally knew and worked with.
"They're very good friends." Wilhelm remarked causally. Seeing the subtle signs of worry in Mycroft's face he almost smirked. "Well, who do you think taught her to steal so well?"
"I was under the assumption that you did." Mycroft leaned by in his chair relaxing a tad. He was already making plans to find out more about Arsène Lupin as soon as possible.
"Amelia and I taught her the basics," Wilhelm smiled at the memory. "But for the finesse and charm, that was all Arsène."
"Finesse and charm?" These were not quite the words Mycroft would have used to describe his sister; but then again he had not much opportunity to become better acquainted with her since she reappeared.
"Stealing is not just about putting on black and repelling down the sides of buildings. Not every operation calls for brute force; you of all people should know this." Wilhelm chuckled as he glanced at his watch. "I should get going. Have to see a man about a dog. You still have my contact information if you ever just want to talk."
"About what?" Mycroft was a bit taken aback by the offer and was even confused by it.
Wilhelm spread his hands out as if presenting an invisible object to Mycroft as he stood. "Anything at all. You look stressed; do try to take it easy at some point."
The thief grabbed his hat and nodded to the politician before putting it on. Instead of heading straight to the study door Wilhelm made his way to a chess board that was set up by a window. A gift from Siger left to Mycroft for when he graduated from school. Wilhelm considered the board before moving a white pawn.
"Your move," Wilhelm smiled and left.
Mycroft waited until he hears the front door closed before he allowed himself to relax. Wilhelm was not that far off when he remarked that Mycroft looked stressed, he was indeed stressed. There was a backlash in his department shortly after the discovery that Moriarty's code was false. He gained some grim satisfaction of pointing out to his superiors that his brother's life was pointlessly wasted and that they were played.
The following day Mycroft had tech go over the jump drive to see what was on it; as Wilhelm had said there were no viruses and it did contain quite an extensive list of terrorist currently within Great Britain. Mycroft put the list to good use.
When he returned to his home that night and before he retired to bed, Mycroft made a detour to his study and moved a black pawn knowing that Wilhelm would show up again at some point. It, also, would not do for Mycroft to be outdone by this man.
Wilhelm did reappear at random intervals over the next six months, always pleasant, always smiling. The two men talk about various things; Wilhelm, Mycroft was surprised to discover, was well versed in many things from philosophy to history to political science. At the end of each visit another move was made on the chess board. Oddly enough, Mycroft found himself looking forward to the visits.
They never ran out of anything to talk about. Wilhelm never pried into the goings on of Mycroft's work with the claim that politics bore him. Mycroft did, however, pry into Wilhelm's work whenever he was not asking about Enola. Wilhelm never talked of his thievery or much of Enola, but of his legitimate occupations.
"Criminal profiling?" Out of all things Mycroft expected from Wilhelm that was never on the list. Currently, the two men were enjoying an after dinner drink at a club that Wilhelm had gained membership in years before as a thank you for services rendered. Mycroft did not inquire as to what those services were.
"Yes, for most Federal Agencies," Wilhelm shrugged. "I did not do it for long, but I'm considered an expert in the field and every so often I give a lecture on it to new and rising agents and the local police force."
"How did come to your current occupation from that?"
"I had a friend in desperate need of help but was unable to do anything because the law prevented him." Wilhelm causally explained. "My wife had always had a knack for it and I learned enough from my work as a profiler to do something about it. And before you ask, my friend lost his home in some mortgage creditor scam. The details are rather boring, but at the same time you almost wanted to shoot the scum bags. Actually, come to think about it, I think my wife did shoot one of them; not fatally of course."
"Of course," Mycroft remarked drily as his phone began to vibrate. He looked at the text and sighed.
"Duty calls this late?" Wilhelm asked taking a sip from his drink.
"The sun never sets on the British Empire." Mycroft said as he put the phone away. "Knight to D-5."
"Good move," Wilhelm remarked as he pulled out a thick envelope and handed it to Mycroft.
"What is this?" Mycroft took the envelope and examined it. His name was written across the front in a handwriting he did not recognize. He would have said that the handwriting looked like his mother's, but on closer inspection it was not.
"A letter from Elle," Wilhelm took another sip, finishing his drink. "She felt that she could better explain her actions to you in the written word rather than in speech. She told me it explains everything."
"Everything?" Mycroft slipped the letter into his briefcase.
"Elle added that you would know what she was talking about." Wilhelm offered. "I have no idea what she wrote."
Mycroft was about to say something but Wilhelm's phone vibrated. The thief looked at the text and laughed.
"My wife wishes me to inform you that you need to sleep more and to stop having all nighters." Wilhelm smiled as he glanced up to Mycroft.
"How could she possibly know that?" Mycroft asked as Wilhelm stood.
"She is a most perceptive woman." The two men made their way out to the street. "Not in the same as you, but she has a gift."
They bid each other good night and went their separate ways. Once Mycroft handled the crisis at the office he went home utterly exhausted. Instead of going to sleep his curiosity got the better of him and he read Enola's letter.
It did indeed explain everything; the reasons behind her actions as a child until she ran away. The part of the letter that most intruded him was her explanation of why she did not return home. Explaining that when she left she had no real plan other than getting away from her unhappy situation. She did not blame any one person in the Holmes family for her leaving; instead she explained that they all contributed to her departure, even Siger though he had been dead for many years at that point. Falling into the company of the Lehrers was a happy accident. Wilhelm and Amelia instantly began treating her like a daughter giving her the affection and proper discipline needed in raising a child. There were many occasions that Wilhelm offered to bring her home saying it was her choice to stay with them or not. She discovered as time past that she was home with the Lehrers.
Enola stayed with the Lehrers because they became her parents and the people she worked closely with, who she referred to as her 'crew', became very quirky siblings. Even with this new family she found both he and Sherlock were still her brothers and nothing would ever change that. Enola both feared and loved her brothers, but she was discovering since their re-acquaintance her fear of them was becoming less. She cited that perhaps this was an increase in maturity on all their parts but more likely it was the fact that she was not treated as a failure by her new family thus she was able to grow into her own person without the fear of disappointing someone.
She ended the letter saying she looked forward to the day that she no longer had any fear of Mycroft and Sherlock. A day, she hoped, was fast approaching.
She signed the letter sincerely as his sister, no name.
Mycroft folded the letter and returned it to the envelope. Enola was still ignorant of Mycroft's involvement in Sherlock's downfall; at least she was when she wrote the letter. Mycroft found himself gladly thankful for this; it would be foolish to presume that if Enola knew of his actions she would not retaliate in some way. Most likely she would disappear again and this time, there would be no chance to find her again. That was something he did not want at all. The first time she was gone he was, of course, upset and worried; he would never admit how much it effected him. Six months after she left Mycroft and Sherlock got into a heated discussion over her. Sherlock accused his brother for not trying to do anything to find her and that he was the one doing all the work. Mycroft was doing all he could to find her, using what resources he could spare to located their wayward sister.
"You don't care." Sherlock spat at him .
"Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock." He said calmly to his brother. Mycroft could not afford to become to emotional; when one became emotional one missed vital clues.
It was the last discussion the brothers had over their sisters. She was never talked of again until she reentered both their lives again, almost a completely different person and talking.
Of course Sherlock learnt of his involvement in Moriarty's smearing campaign. Mycroft was not surprised. The two brothers had a very long phone conversation about month ago on the subject. Apparently Enola was friends with a computer hacker who would, on occasions when he got bored and wanted to practice, would hack into high security files of government. The hacker's favorite item to get into was the personal interoffice emails – evidently their read like a soap opera and were great fun.
It was understandable that Sherlock was upset by Mycroft's actions, but oddly enough he understood them. They came to an odd agreement not to discuss it; the past was the past and nothing could change it. They also agreed to be a bit more cordial to each other, especially when in the presence of others. Mycroft noticed that Sherlock was making quite an effort not to give him any verbal jabs. They never wanted the 'divide and conquer' tactic to work on them again. They also wanted to slowly bring Enola out of the criminal world and get her established in a safe legal life. It would not due to have her playing the wild card as much as she did.
It did not escape Mycroft's attention Sherlock's use of the name 'Elle' in their conversation. From what he could gleam this conversation with his brother and the many he had with Wilhelm his younger siblings appeared to have developed a fledgling sibling bond. Something that both gladden and irked him. With this new bond it would make it easier to pull Enola out of her criminal lifestyle, but it also made Mycroft feel a bit isolated from her.
Mycroft safely tucked the letter away with his other important documents and looked at the time. He could get a few hours of rest easily before he had to return to the office. There would be more time to ponder all this at a later time.
So he took Amelia's advice and slept.