- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Canon Divergence
6 July 2009
The day after his interview with Merlin, Tony decided to have some fun until it was time for his interview with MI5. It had been years since he’d visited London and he’d decided to relax and enjoy himself, spend another day doing the tourist thing.
So far this morning he’d visited the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, bringing back good memories of visits he’d made with his mother as a child. She had been so happy to show him her hometown. He had decided to go for a walk in St. James Park before getting some lunch. He was close to the park entrance when the hair stood up on the back of his neck, and he started to feel like he was being watched. Instantly on alert, Tony looked around slowly, careful to appear casual. Instead of entering the park, Tony turned away and began walking down the street.
As he passed a public phone, it began to ring. Tony noticed a security camera turned in his direction, and as he watched, it turned away. “Someone is trying to get my attention,” he murmured to himself.
He continued walking down the street, and yet another phone rang as he passed it. He ignored that one too and wasn’t at all surprised when a couple of minutes later a black sedan pulled up next to him.
The window rolled down and a woman leaned out. “Agent DiNozzo, my employer would like to have a word with you about a job opportunity. So, if you’d be so kind, please get in.”
Tony grinned at her. “I see, so you’re kidnapping me for a job interview. Is this common practice here in England?”
The woman snorted and gave him a slight smile, softening her face. She was pretty. “I do this more often than I’d like to admit. My employer has a unique way of doing things, but I promise you’re in no danger.”
“Interesting. Tell me, was kidnapping people in the job description when you applied?”
She shrugged. “At least my job is never boring.”
Tony watched her for a moment before coming to a decision. “Well, if I have to be kidnapped, at least my abductor is attractive,” he said as he opened the door and slid into the car across from the woman. “So where are we headed? Don’t tell me an abandoned warehouse somewhere, or maybe a secret lair? You can call me Tony, by the way.”
She laughed, it was light and musical. “You can call me Astrid. And it’s nothing quite so dramatic, I assure you. I think you’ll find it very pleasant.”
Tony smiled at her. “Alright,” he settled back into the comfortable seat.
The woman turned back at her phone as it vibrated. Tony expected her to ignore him until they arrived at their destination, but much to his surprise she responded and then set it aside.
He and Astrid had a lovely chat until they reached an old building with a porter standing in front of it. Astrid’s phone vibrated again. “My employer is waiting for you inside. Ask for Mycroft Holmes at the desk, and you’ll be taken to him. I’d go with you, but as I’m not a member, I’m not allowed inside.”
Tony raised an eyebrow at her. “Okay, but I am?”
She nodded. “As a guest of a member you’ve been given temporary leave to use the facilities.”
“I see. Should I be honored?”
Astrid smirked. “I’m sure most of the members would think so.”
Tony chuckled. “I’m sure. I have to admit, this wasn’t what I was expecting to do today.”
“The boss is full of surprises. If you’re going to work for him, learn to expect the unexpected. Good luck,” she added, and Tony said goodbye and climbed the red-carpeted steps as he reached the door. He saw a discrete and tasteful sign declaring the location The Diogenes Club. Tony had an idea of what he was getting into; his Uncle Clive had belonged to a similar gentleman’s club. He’d brought Tony once as a kid.
The doorman opened the door for Tony and waved him inside with a courtly bow. The lobby was large and luxurious. A man was standing behind a large ornate desk. Tony walked over to him and asked for Mycroft Holmes.
“Of course, sir,” the man said. “I’m Everett, the majordomo here at the Diogenes. If you’ll please follow me.” He came out from behind the desk. “Mr. Holmes is waiting for you in a private meeting room.” He led Tony to a large wooden door.
“Please be aware that silence must be maintained beyond this door at all times until we reach the private meeting rooms. Our members value their privacy and the peaceful atmosphere we provide.”
“I understand,” Tony said, and he was led into a large room. His feet sank into the thick carpet, he looked around, seeing several men and a couple of women sitting in comfortable looking chairs. They were reading newspapers, and others were just sitting silently. It was an odd sight.
They walked through the room and down a long hallway until they reached another door. Mr. Anderson opened it and gestured for Tony to enter. When Tony walked in, a tall, slender man looked up from a file he was reading.
The man stood and gave a suggestion of a smile. It was just a slight turn of the lips as he stood and held out his hand. “Agent DiNozzo, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for agreeing to meet me on such short notice.”
Tony shook it. “Let’s just say you piqued my curiosity. You’re Mycroft Holmes, I take it.” Tony carefully observed his would-be employer. Holmes wore an expensive bespoke suit. It was tailored to fit him perfectly. His eyes glittered with a cold intellect. Tony’s gut told him this was not a man to trifle with, and he resolved to be careful.
Holmes’ voice broke into his thoughts. “Yes, that’s right. I’d like to talk to you about a job. Please have a seat. I apologize for my unorthodox methods.”
Tony sat down across from Mycroft at the table. The chair was plush and comfortable.
“I’ve been getting a lot of that lately. Your methods are entertaining, I’ll give you that. I assume you wanted to see what my reaction would be. You like getting people off guard and seeing what they’ll do. You also make sure you’re in control. This is your domain, and I’m supposed to be intimidated. So, did I pass your test?”
Mycroft raised his eyebrow. “Astute observations. I assure you, my motives aren’t quite so prosaic.” He didn’t answer Tony’s question.
Tony was amused despite himself. He knew he had scored a point, “Of course not. Believe it or not, your methods aren’t as unorthodox as you think. This isn’t even the first time I’ve been asked to get in a strange car this week.”
Mr. Holmes nodded. “Ah yes, I thought Merlin would be interested in you. The man has always had an unfortunate habit of trying to poach my employees.”
Tony smirked. “Well, he has good taste. Somehow, I’m not surprised the two of you know each other. I’m confused, though. What is it, exactly, that you do? You haven’t told me what agency you’re with. I’m assuming you don’t work for another private intelligence agency?”
They were interrupted by a knock on the door. A server came in pushing a cart with a coffee pot and some little sandwiches and pastries. He set the cart carefully in a corner and brought a plate filled with food and two cups of coffee to the table.
“I know you prefer coffee to tea,” Holmes said looking a little smug.
“Yes, thank you.” Tony poured himself a cup of coffee and took one of the little sandwiches. It was some sort of mousse, and it was delicious.
Once they both had coffee and food in hand. He studied Tony for a long moment, then Mr. Holmes leaned back in his chair looking relaxed. “In answer to your question, I assure you I’m a minor government employee.”
“Somehow I doubt that,” Tony said. “But I’ll play along for now. What does a minor employee in the British government want with me?”
Mr. Holmes leaned forward. “Agent DiNozzo, you sell yourself short. You have many valuable skills that I believe could be useful to me.”
Tony took another sandwich and leaned back in his chair. “In what capacity? I was a Federal Agent and a cop before that. Do you need an investigator?”
Holmes nodded. “As a matter of fact, I do. I have a puzzle on my hands, and my usual investigator is currently indisposed. If you’re willing, I have some files I’d like you to look at.”
Tony grinned. “Is this yet another a test?” It was amusing, because Merlin had given him tests as well. Both he and Mycroft Holmes had similar methods. He still didn’t know what Mycroft did, but he wouldn’t be surprised more similarities existed between the two of them. He got the feeling Holmes wouldn’t appreciate the comparison.
Holmes took a bite of a pastry with evident enjoyment. “Yes, it is. I’m not surprised you realized that. Are you willing to cooperate?”
Tony shrugged. “Sure, but first tell me more about what it is you do. You’re quite enigmatic. Merlin was far more forthcoming, and he belongs to a super-secret intelligence agency.” He wanted to see what Mycroft’s reaction would be.
Much to his surprise Holmes chuckled. “I don’t entirely approve of the Kingsman’s methods, but they do good work on occasion, and their patriotism is unquestionable. Very well, I’ll lay my cards out on the table, Tony. May I call you Tony?”
Tony stifled a snort. He noted that Mycroft identified the organization using the name of the tailor shop and filed it away. He suspected Mycroft found Merlin’s people useful more often than not, even if he wasn’t willing to admit it. “Please do. I’m genuinely curious to hear what you have to say.”
“Good, and you may call me Mycroft. I wouldn’t normally be this open with you, but I want your cooperation, and I know I must be honest with you to get it. I hope you appreciate the trust I am placing in you.”
“I do, actually. I think I can guess a little of what you do, and I know it’s important.”
Mycroft nodded. “My official position in the government really is a minor one. Unofficially, I work as a facilitator. My goal is to keep Britain safe, and I use any resources available to me to ensure that. I work with MI5 and Scotland Yard for the most part.”
That was intriguing. “And those in power listen to you?” he asked. Though he thought he knew the answer.
“Oh yes, the Prime Minister has found my counsel quite useful on occasion,” Mycroft said in an apparent attempt to sound humble. It failed miserably. Tony suspected that was a hell of an understatement. He suspected that Mycroft Holmes had more power than any one man should. What on Earth could he want with Tony?
“I afraid I’m a little confused. A man of your talents surely has every resource available to him. You said you have all of MI5 at your disposal, after all.”
Mycroft steepled his fingers together. “Yes, that is true, but I’m always on the lookout for exceptional talent. You have quite the knack for both criminal investigations and analyzing intelligence. Both skills are of interest to me. I know you had an interview with MI5 yesterday. I confess I was hoping you’d take the job, it would have made things easier for me.”
“You mean you wouldn’t have had to reveal yourself, at least not right away.”
Mycroft nodded, not seeming at all bothered by the accusation. “Yes, quite. As an MI5 employee, you would technically work for me.”
Tony took a sip of his coffee before answering. “I see. I haven’t made any decisions about my future yet. Right now, I’m exploring my options.”
Mycroft frowned and threw him a disapproving look. “Yes, I know. You’ve had many offers. There are many people interested in procuring your services, but I think you’ll find I have a lot to offer you.”
Tony shrugged. “Yeah, I didn’t expect to have so many choices. It’s been a little surprising for me, but what can I say? It’s nice to be wanted.” And to have so many options open to him. He was going to make sure he found the right fit this time.
“Yes, I’m sure it is,” Mycroft said dryly. “I thought it would be best to make an offer of my own. I think you would find working for me quite satisfying, and I promise you will be well compensated.”
Tony had no doubt. “What exactly is your offer?”
Mycroft reached for the file he’d set aside and held it out to Tony.
Inside there was an employment contract that outlined Mycroft’s offer. Tony whistled softly. Generous was an understatement. The proposal included a substantial salary increase, an apartment, and a car.
Tony set the file down slowly. “This is quite generous. Your offer is more tempting than I expected, I can’t deny that. I’m curious to see where this is going next.”
Mycroft nodded. “I’m glad I have your attention.”
Tony took another sip of his coffee. “You do. You said there was something you wanted me to look at. I’m guessing it has something to do with a criminal investigation rather than intelligence analysis,” Tony prompted. He was curious to know what exactly Mycroft wanted him to see.
Mycroft seemed surprised for a moment before he schooled his features. Tony hid a smile behind his coffee cup. He didn’t think that Mycroft was caught off guard very often.
“What makes you say that?” Mycroft asked.
“You might want me to work for you, but I’m not employed yet. You won’t want me to see anything too sensitive. What if I turn you down? I for one, have no desire to see anything that might get me imprisoned or killed.”
Mycroft nodded. “Yes, that is true. I was able to provide you with clearance to see what I’m about to show you. Still, I trust you will be discreet?”
He wasn’t offended by the question. “Of course, you have my word.”
Their eyes met and held for a long moment. Mycroft looked away first. “Somehow I find it easy to believe you. Very well, then.” Mycroft picked up a briefcase from where it was sitting beside him on the floor, pulling out a small stack of folders from it and setting them in front of Tony.
“These are a series of crimes that have taken place in London over the last year. I’d like you to take a look at each one and give me your thoughts.”
Tony looked at the stack of files in surprise and then nodded. “Alright. How long do I have?”
“Let’s say three hours. I know it might not seem like much time, but I only need your initial thoughts and impressions.”
“Alright, I’ll get to work.”
“I look forward to your report,” Mycroft said and left the room.
Alone Tony took a deep breath. Then he picked up the first file. It took him about an hour to read all the files. In truth there wasn’t that much to read, they were quite thin. They were all robberies, two private homes, two banks, and one pharmaceutical lab. He took notes on each one, and then he sat quietly deep in thought for some time.
Tony was startled when Mycroft entered the room again. He hadn’t realized how much time had gone by.
Mycroft came into the room and sat down. “Well, what do you think?”
Tony got up and poured himself a glass of water from the tray. He took a long drink and stretched his stiff muscles. Mycroft said nothing, but he was watching Tony with an air of anticipation.
Tony had a few thoughts, though there really wasn’t much evidence to go on. “First of all, I think it’s clear each of these crimes were committed by the same person or group.”
Mycroft raised one eyebrow. “Interesting. What makes you say that? These robberies are in different areas of London. They were committed during different times of the day. Different types of items were taken from each one, and there is no evidence to suggest they are connected in any way. In fact, they are being treated as five separate crimes by Scotland Yard.”
Tony sat back down in his chair. He ticked off his points on his fingers. “That’s all true, but if you look closer there are similarities. Each of these robberies was expertly executed, and the robbers got away clean, and they left absolutely no evidence behind. None. No fingerprints, no hair, no trash, nothing. Also, the cameras and security systems were all disabled either by someone who hacked into the system, or on site using a stolen access code.
“In each case, the robber or robbers knew exactly what they were looking for, and they got in and out quickly and cleanly. In all cases, even the home invasions, the thefts weren’t even noticed for several hours or even days after the fact. It’s pretty impressive.”
Mycroft steepled his fingers together again. Tony guessed he did that when he was thinking. “Yes, I see your point. The lack of evidence is evidence in of itself. It tells its own story. That’s a curious notion. Anything else?”
Tony shook his head. “No, I don’t have any concrete evidence. There isn’t much here.” Tony indicated the files. “Maybe if I’d seen the original crime scenes, I might have been able to offer more insight but as things stand that’s all I’ve got.” He stacked the files up again.
Mycroft tapped his fingers on the table. “Don’t worry, I’m not at all disappointed I assure you. You have made connections that no one besides myself has so far. Tell me, if you saw the work of this person or group again, would you recognize it?”
“Yes, I believe I would,” Tony said. “I would be able to come up with more if I had more time and information.”
Suddenly Mycroft gave him a bright smile that reached his eyes. Tony stared, struck by the way the smile changed Mycroft’s whole face and made him seem much more approachable. “Excellent. I am happy to hear it. I’m glad to see my faith in you is justified.”
“Is this the kind of work I’ll be doing for you? Acting as a private investigator, but you’d be my only client?”
“No. You would be working directly for me, but I’m sure we can come up with some sort of title for you. Frankly, Tony, I am looking for someone to help me. Someone I can trust. I am extremely busy and cannot attend to every problem myself. I’ll send you out to gather information and perform investigations, or I’ll ask you to analyze intelligence reports and then sort them in order of importance for me. There would also be a great deal of traveling involved. I keep a close eye on global events.”
Tony had to admit it sounded exciting. “That wouldn’t be a problem.” Astrid was right; the job wouldn’t ever be boring. He was surprised to find he was considering it. He’d expected to cast this offer aside and be done with it. Mycroft Holmes wasn’t likable, but Tony did find him admirable. He thought they could learn to get along.
“Do you accept?” Mycroft asked insistently.
Tony chuckled. The man wasn’t patient, and he was used to getting his way. “I am intrigued by your offer, but I can’t give you an answer now. I still have others I need to talk to, and I’m not going to rush into anything.
Mycroft sighed. “I may not be happy at having to wait, but I must admit your approach is sensible. Very well. I will be patient.” He held out the file with the contract he had offered Tony. “Take this with you. My contact information is inside as well. I look forward to hearing from you.”
Tony grinned. “I assume I don’t need to give you my own contact info.”
Mycroft gave him an unimpressed look and didn’t deign to answer. Instead, he said, “There is a car waiting for you outside. Astrid will take you wherever you want to go. If you have any questions about what it’s like to work for me, you may ask her.”
Tony stood, and they shook hands. “I will,” he promised. “It’s been a… thought-provoking afternoon. I’m glad you decided to kidnap me,” Tony added with a wink and was rewarded with another look of stern disapproval. Needling Mycroft would be fun, Tony thought. With a final nod, he walked out the door. He couldn’t wait to see what happened next.