Bitter Mint and Chocolate : Chapter 3

Wordcount: 2,145
Rating/Warnings/Genre: PG-13, Cursing & Violence, Urban Fantasy/MuseFic
Summary: Jru waltzes her way into the story, Eighth meets up with not-Sherlock and not-John, and the fictives hammer out the basics of a plot!

NOTE: This is a MuseFic in which the Writer, the Muse, and her fictives work to create the rough draft of a story (or just worldbuild). There will be spoilers for the story being drafted, which will most likely contain plot holes, retcons, and other inconsistencies.

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~*~*~*~

Of Boredom and Bad Guys

The temporary safe haven is boring and ancient, a nondescript row house lost in a glut of repetitive normalcy. Eighth blends into the background with practiced ease, but hasn’t been outside since he arrived two days ago.

The inside is decorated in hand-me-down furniture, slightly outdated and well-worn, but hidden in the walls are the best security systems his brothers could build. Wrapped up tight in a figurative (and literal) Faraday cage, Eighth’s hidden but cut off from the world.

Roughly every five minutes he has to remind himself that it is possible to exist without the internet.

At least this time Mycroft has left him plenty of things to occupy his mind. From complex wooden puzzles and broken electronics to a small library of his favorite topics, it’s obvious his older brother had put some effort into his peace offerings. So Eighth plays nice and doesn’t rebuild the toaster to explode. Again.

***

“So what’s the point of this POV section, just more world-building?” Eighth was busy trying to figure out the limits of the interdimensional sofa’s powers by requesting increasingly esoteric objects. “I’m assuming we’re introducing Sherlock and John, or their variants.”

“We need to move the plot forward,” objected the Muse. “Do your family bonding, but do it while figuring out what’s going on. Even if we’re going to trim the world-building out later, it would help to have an idea of where we’re going for this story.”

“The overarching theme is Eighth finding a stable(ish) home and family with pseudo-siblings James and Alec, but it’s just a giant string of intertwined stories.” The Writer looked at the endless whiteboard with a frown. “It’s more a TV series than a book, so I’m not sure where to find a breaking point to consider the first part ‘done’.”

“So the pilot would stop where the Agency captures Eighth, setting up the following stories about the three of them working together.” John picked up a whiteboard marker and started trying to sort out what needed to stay. “But that’s not a very good end, is it– there’s no resolution, no actual ‘story’.”

“Well, if this is going to be a mission-centered type of series, then the current mission is the rogue werewolf– wait, is that a cat?” The Writer looked over at Eighth with alarm as he handed off the kitten to Alec. “Bad sofa!”

The sofa gave a vaguely apologetic shrug and spawned Alec the cat toy he’d been scrounging for.

“Mine now,” said Alec with a happy feral grin as the kitten went into murder mode after the toy.

“Why do you have a cat?”

“Because the rules state very clearly that we can’t have pets and we’re all about… bending the rules.” James gave a smug smile from behind his tea. “We’re not normal wolves and Control knows that, so we ‘forget’ the rules sometimes to remind them.”

“That doesn’t really make sense in the story,” the Writer objected but was outvoted. “Alright, fine, but you don’t have that sort of leverage yet so I’ll tuck it away for a later plotline.” The Writer added a cat-shaped doodle into the mess of ‘Things That Might Be Interesting Later’.

“Back to the rogue werewolf then?”

“Right.”

There was a long pause.

“All I have is that she wasn’t captured on purpose but the group she’s working for has contingency plans. There was a small bit about them wanting someone on the inside and that they would rescue her.” The Writer frowned at her notes. “So I suppose we should figure out her story first.”

“One fictive, coming up!” The Muse snapped her fingers and the vaguest outline of a character popped into being.

“Hey! I could have walked,” the werewolf objected and glanced down at her nebulous self. “Wait, you put that little thought into who I was?”

The Writer shrugged.

“Fine, fine, my nickname’s Jru, which means puppy in Arabic per Google. I don’t know my real name. I’m in my early twenties, orphan of unknown middle-eastern descent, and turn into a dusty-brown Arabian wolf.”

Jru started to solidify as she shooed Alec down the sofa a bit so she could sit. He scooped up the kitten with a grin and moved over. The sofa also helpfully expanded and she gave it a fond pat.

“I’m a street kid adopted into the group I work for that includes two other wolves. Oldest wolf is Donal who is really old. He appears to be in his seventies, but no one’s brave enough to ask. The other is a slightly younger female, Yusra, mid-fifties. We’re werewolf liberationists, in the sense that we find wolves and free them to join our group. Doesn’t always work, but it means there’s less on the other side to worry about.”

“We’re based out of the US, but travel a lot, so I’m not sure it really matters. Think of us as Torchwood, only with less horrible Americanization. And more espionage.”

She looked over at the Writer. “Got enough or want me to stop?”

“What. The. Heck.” The Writer looked at her notes. And her whiteboard. And Bond.

“Hey, don’t look at me,” James shrugged, “this time it’s not my fault.”

“So what were you stealing?” Eighth asked as Jru dug up a bottle of bubble tea from between the interdimensional cushions. “And doesn’t it bother you that James and Alex killed off a half-dozen of your friends?”

“A) Those weren’t my friends and b) it was information on the Agency. I may possibly have snuck into the black SUV’s heist and made off with the digital goods.” She grinned with slightly too sharp teeth. 

“We caught her and a small team initially, when the others died in the fight we’d assumed it was bad luck on their part,” said Alec, somewhat impressed. “Especially when the other part of their groups gave chase.”

“But why try and rescue her then?” objected Bond. “Trying to get the data back wasn’t worth the fight in the tunnel, there must have been something else.”

“That’s for Sherlock to work out,” the Writer grinned and got back to work.

***

Four days into his exile his middle brother shows up, best-friend/bodyguard in tow. 

“You aren’t supposed to be here,” Eighth says when the security system alerts him of a friendly entrance but doesn’t bother to look up from the half-melted laptop he’s disassembling. Sherlock always finds him no matter how hard Mycroft tries to keep him away, so it was only a matter of time. 

At least he can trust John to make sure they weren’t followed or identified.

“Well you aren’t supposed to be here either,” said Sherlock as he headed into the kitchen to make tea. “Why can’t you just hide like a good little fox and stop scaring the chickens?” 

“Glad you’re safe,” said John ignoring Sherlock. “That was a pretty nasty accident–“

“Not an accident,” interrupted Sherlock from the other room.

“Yes, the gunfire and werewolves did give that bit away.” Eighth rolled his eyes. 

“Either way, it’s too bad about the cover but at least you’re unhurt and err–” John stumbled trying to find polite phrasing.

“Un-kidnapped?” offered Eighth.

“Yes, I suppose.” John seemed a bit at a loss for what to say next and then remembered he was holding a bag of food. “Oh! Right, here, figured you might want something not from a tin. Should only be a few more days, but still.”

Eighth took the bag with an honest smile and tore into the takeaway. He’d inherited none of his father’s cooking skills and John knew Eighth had been getting desperate.

“Any luck figuring out the not-an-accident then?” Eighth asked between mouthfuls of food. “I’d assumed we’re dealing with something outside the usual.”

“We don’t do this often enough to have a usual.” Sherlock sniffed dismissively as he brought out the tea. Over the years he’d made an art of frustrated tea drinking. “But Mycroft’s found nothing. I’ve found nothing.”

That made Eighth pause. It was rare for anything on the lighter side of the law to slip past Mycroft and rarer still for Sherlock’s extensive network of criminal contacts to come up empty as well.

“Mycroft said there was more than one group looking for me.” Eighth resumed eating with less enthusiasm. “Even if we assume the Agency is scrubbing things as fast as they find them, there should be something. They aren’t that good.”

“Which means the other group– or groups might be.” John grabbed a cup and sat down on one of the shabby chairs. “Or, happy thought, they’re too small and too new to be on anyone’s radar.”

“We know the tunnel fight was over stolen Agency information and was between two Agency wolves an unknown group. They’ve captured a wolf who was working with the unknowns, but she appears to be from a third group.” Sherlock sipped his tea grumpily.

“You’ve deduced she’s from a third party,” John pointed out and Sherlock’s eyes narrowed. “I still don’t buy that, why would anyone work with a strange wolf, and for a cat burglar job?”

“Which is why it’s obvious they didn’t know she was a wolf and slightly less obvious that she was working for someone else.”

“No way they’d be taking an unknown to break into the Agency–

“What Sherlock means,” Eighth interrupted as they began to descend into their normal friendly bickering, “is that Group B knew Group A well enough to successfully sneak a wolf into the flock. And that Group B was willing to risk the wolf berserking early and ruining everything rather than letting Group A get their hands on the information. So what was Group A after that has Group B so concerned and why would Group A try and rescue the wolf once they knew what she was?”

There was an uncomfortable pause as Sherlock’s frown deepened and John made the face he always did when he was the bearer of bad news.

“They weren’t trying to rescue her so much as kidnap her,” John offered, but he’d only answered one of the questions.

Sherlock,” said Eighth.

“They stole the roster of inactive sinks,” John said when Sherlock still refused to answer. “Or tried to, Mycroft says the chatter indicated the wolf still had it when she was booked.”

Not every sink was actively working for the Agency, some were too weak, too young, too old– but the Agency kept close tabs on all of them. Keeping himself off that list –off any list– was something Eighth had spent his whole life quietly obsessing about. Now he’d gone and hung a neon sign over the tunnel that he existed (at least in the abstract) to two new groups that were apparently very interested.

The only thing worse was that sinks were only useful for a small handful of things, most of them highly unethical, but primarily controlling werewolves.

“So I’m going into hiding then.”

“At least until we know who they are and what they can do,” Sherlock confirmed, finding his tea suddenly captivating. “We can’t risk you.”

If he’s been someone else Eighth might have believed that brotherly love was the only reason for his impending exile. But he knew Sherlock– knew Mycroft, and just how big of a threat he was to both of them.

 ***

“So you’ve gone and made Sherlock some sort of mob boss?” The Muse gave her Writer a look. It was not a particularly impressed look. “I know we started out planning on playing fast and loose with canon, but that’s a bit much.”

“Think of it as a more active interest in controlling my surroundings,” Sherlock said as he and John wandered in from the story mists. “I don’t think it’s too out of character to take my interest in knowing things to the next logical step.”

“You’re supposed to be a good guy,” the Muse countered.

Sherlock shrugged and summoned a chair beside Bond. “I don’t tell the criminals to do things, I tell them not to do things.”

Bond tipped his drink in greeting and showed him how to wrangle up a cuppa.

“It’s easier to control known elements,” pointed out John as he looked over the plotting doodles on the Endless Whiteboard. “We let them do a little bit of bad to prevent a much larger bad from moving in.”

“I haven’t got your voice nailed down quite yet,” the Writer apologized absentmindedly as she started marshaling some of the plot bunnies into a militia. “I was aiming for slightly awkward, but ruthless BAMF when needed.”

“A what now?”

“Bad Ass Mother–nevermind, I don’t swear, go Google it or something.” The Writer stepped back from her small army with a slightly evil grin. “Oh, this next bit is going to be fun.”

The Muse sighed and went to find herself a stronger drink.

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