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Fic for literate_wench: The Least Part of the Work
Title: The Least Part of the Work
Recipient: [profile] literate_wench
Author: [personal profile] disassembly_rsn
Characters/Pairings: Mycroft Holmes, new!C (Mycroft Holmes's boss)
Rating: PG
Warnings: none
Summary: Mycroft's initial meetings with his new superior, and his instruction in the latter's plans for reorganization.
Fandoms: BBC Sherlock, A Study in Emerald

Rumours had been running rife throughout the Service's rank and file for a month before those above them deigned to make an official announcement. It was not, after all, as though any of them would be elevated to head the Service should any - reorganization - take place; while it was a peculiarity of their work that it was unsuited to those of royal or even noble blood, although it must of course be directed and guided by one of suitable rank.

In other words, upon the retirement of C - so-called, as humans were unable to pronounce his true name - another of their non-human masters would be appointed to the post, even though on this occasion it required appointing someone entirely outside the Service, physically unable to perform field work, and possibly psychologically unsuited to analyze it adequately.

Such were the paradoxes of intelligence work - and, in particular, counter-terrorism work - under the rule of the Great Old Ones.

"His lordship will see you now."

Mycroft Holmes paused before the door, straightened infinitesimally as he drew in a deep breath, then exhaled before stepping into the lower lighting of the office. As his eyes adjusted, he automatically assessed the appearance of the - being - before him.

Two - no, three - visible tentacles - bulging eyes - blink rate once per minute - characteristics of the Deep One strain. So - low lighting not entirely an affectation, although the blink rate and lack of tentacular development indicate a significant admixture of human blood, and subsequent delay of physical maturation.

One of those above us, but young.

Ambitious, or he wouldn't bother with the Service at all.

Mycroft bowed his head, adjusting his posture to a more subservient note than usual as he greeted his new superior in this all-important initial private meeting. Ah, that struck the right note - his tentacles relaxed a bit, he's more confident, now. But despite its significance - receiving orders directly from C was, after all, a signal to the rest of the Service that Mycroft's responsibility for its finances had been affirmed by their new master - the words of the conversation held the least fraction of Mycroft's attention.

Left standing - he isn't concerned with attempting to put me at ease as part of forming our working relationship. Acknowledging my "extraordinary skill" with figures in the same breath as my "lack of ambition" - not the most tactful handling of a subordinate ever seen in this office, which is saying something, after 2003... Of course, ambition in one not of the blood royal isn't a desirable characteristic...

The new C repeated the points made to his direct subordinates in the staff meeting the previous afternoon - how uninspired, wants to impress Her Majesty at year's end with his skills at reform, as though we haven't heard it all before - although shifting his emphasis toward toward reforming the handling of the budget, in particular, and requiring a report from Mycroft providing more explicit detail of the operations budget than the executive summary C had so far been provided.

Not experienced at mimicking human body language cues, and possibly unskilled at reading them? Ah, of course - both.

Ambitious, and lacking key skills in human communication.

I can work with this.

On Friday - after days of living on a mixture of caffeine tablets with his usual diet pills - Mycroft submitted his report on the financial structure of Operations to the new C.

Then the waiting began. He would be summoned into C's presence, eventually - surely - to clarify the details of expenditure. He can't be that overconfident.

Or is he just a slow reader? Possibly I should have included another graph of - no, that would have been too obvious.

A week passed.

Then a meeting announcement arrived in his inbox on Tuesday evening - for a meeting the following morning. No, not gifted at handling his subordinates. To be held in the executive conference room - more suited to a lengthy presentation and discussion - ahem, report - than C's office.


Fifteen minutes after the meeting, Nigel Allen of Operations caught up Mycroft on the way to lunch.

"I'll join you. I want to discuss today's little fiasco - and don't tell me your report had nothing to do with it."

Memos had flowed from C's office, indicating a shift in hiring policy - increased emphasis on hiring ex-military personnel, wrapped up in suitably patriotic padding. I wonder what sort of first impression Allen made on C? Impressive record, of course, but no sense of discretion about reining in his aggressive instincts in the face of perceived attack. That characteristic was of great value in the field, naturally, as it disarmed suspicion that anyone so evidently lacking in respect for his betters could possibly be a servant of Her Majesty's government, but it was a terrible disadvantage in one positioned so that he had to deal with those betters on a daily basis.

Dear me, what an unwise decision his promotion from the field to the office was. But he had such an exemplary record, of course... Tsk, tsk. One of those decisions that looked good on paper...

As they sat in the dining room, well away from any possible listeners, Allen abruptly came to the point, without any social formalities.

"What the hell do you think the field operatives are going to do, Mycroft? Spend their time collecting receipts for their expense reports like a lot of bankers?"

Mycroft raised his eyebrows. "C didn't care for the policy - the old policy - of setting a fixed amount of funds for lodging and meals per city, regardless of actual expense. He pointed out, quite correctly, that that could lead to unnecessary expenditure." He sighed, giving quite a credible impression of one resigned to the possibly unwise decision of a superior - one who in no way contributed to that decision.

"That led to quite a searching analysis - he really is extremely thorough - of Operations expenditures in general. As you're aware, he wasn't impressed by the current rather open-handed policy, and its lack of documentation -"

Allen rolled his eyes. "So my people are meant to ask every man-jack they can bribe information out of for a bloody receipt? Or every pub full of disaffected workers when the op has to stand a round? Bloody Hell, Mycroft. I'm not going to train those kids to go out and get themselves killed for the sake of anybody's year-end bonus."

"I'm sure we can come to some arrangement on the precise documentation - but there will have to be documentation, I'm afraid."

"You're a bastard, Mycroft Holmes."

Mycroft - who of course had no experience of fieldwork, and had the résumé to prove it, should anyone wonder during a performance review - nevertheless found himself picturing an intelligence operation as redesigned by C. Those spit-and-polish youngsters, devoted to queen and country - now handicapped by an expenses policy more suited to the Inland Revenue at tax-time.

If that doesn't make them stand out when trying to pick up information in a pub, nothing will.

He smiled at the ship in a bottle on his desk, where another man might have kept pictures of his family.

Yes, we can work with this.

...but the pay is the least part of the work. From time to time, God causes men to be born - and thou art one of them - who have a lust to go abroad at the risk of their lives and discover news - today it may be of far-off things, tomorrow of some hidden mountain, and the next day of some near-by men who have done a foolishness against the State.
- Kim by Rudyard Kipling


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Disassembly of Reason

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