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Love in a Time of Pandemic

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The window rattled with the force of Sherlock's bellow. "Once I get out of here, Mycroft, I am going to make you pay!"

Mycroft, who stood on the other side of the window, sighed wearily, and dropped the tools he'd used to bar his little brother from opening any of the casements in the suite. "I have no doubt you will."

"I swear it!"

"No need. I will eagerly anticipate your retribution. As for now, however, as your friend Dr Hooper has requested, you're in quarantine due to exposure to her." It was going to prove an expensive dinner date, at least in terms of time.

He stepped back and surveyed the country house. Sherlock had come down to the house on the pretext that Mycroft was ill (a gratifying response, to be sure), and Mycroft had trapped him in a suite in the older wing, well supplied with refrigerator, food, microwave, tea kettle, wifi, laptop, Sherlock's childhood violin….

A shout of rage from inside informed Mycroft that Sherlock had discovered the chimney was blocked up. Looking at his Patek Phillippe watch, he counted 65 seconds before the second explosion of rage, which meant that Sherlock had also discovered Mycroft had blocked the dumbwaiter.

Sometimes it was exhausting to be Sherlock's keeper.

Luckily, Mycroft thought as he went around the corner of the house away from Sherlock's noise, his resignation from the British Government when that shock-haired nincompoop had taken Number 10 meant that he had ample time to be exhausted.

He went up the steps to the French windows into his study, and went inside. There he sank into his armchair and gazed unseeingly into the fire he'd built that morning.

Of course he had other work to be done – just because he'd resigned from the official job didn't mean that his various unofficial oversight duties had ceased. He'd had a lengthy argument with Lady Smallwood just that morning, in fact, over the use of blackmail to stop idiot Ministers doing idiot things. (He had won.) But he was tired, and he was lonely, since Anthea was self-quarantining in London after a trip to Paris and a conference with one of her contacts. Ten more days to go without her.

The buzz of his phone in his pocket roused him. Pulling it out, he said without looking at the screen, "He's contained, John."

"Willingly?" Dr Watson said.

"I wouldn't go that far."

"Right. Right, okay. Rosie and Mrs Hudson have tested negative, as have I, so I'll be there tomorrow to help you with him."

"I am grateful for all assistance," Mycroft said, and the hell of it was that he meant it.

After they had strategized regarding John's trip to the country – this included getting Detective Inspector Lestrade to cough up a case or two Sherlock could solve long-distance – Mycroft hung up. Then, his phone still in his hand, he leaned his head back against the armchair and closed his eyes.

He'd checked on his parents at their home via telephone. He'd videochatted with the new director of Eurus's facility, warning her about his sister's penchant for exploiting tragedy in order to make her escape. Sherlock was safe for the moment. He could afford to sit here for a moment and long (in the privacy of his own head and home) for his partner, from whom he no longer liked to be apart. He would just have to try to keep from sliding into self-pity –

"Darling, you look wrecked."

For a breath he thought he was hallucinating Anthea's voice, but then he caught the trail of her perfume. He opened his eyes to see her standing right in front of him.

She smiled and drifted her fingers through his hair. "I called in a favor and a test, darling. I'm negative for the virus. So I came to rally around you, and clearly not a moment too soon."

"Anthea," he said huskily, and, heedless of all rules about social distancing, tumbled her into his lap. "I'm clear as well," he told her, just before he bent her back over his arm and kissed her for days and days of isolation he'd endured.

"Mycroft, really," she said against his mouth, laughing.

He felt all kinds of better. She was a miracle cure.