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Surveillance Level 3, Active

By Ishtar

Author Notes:

This has not been beta'd or Brit-picked.   It came crashing into my head at dinner one night and demanded to be written.

The night John Watson shoots a cabbie to save the life of Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft Holmes puts them both under surveillance Level 3, active. This requires not only the routing of the feed from the CCTV cameras on Baker Street to one of Mycroft’s underlings and monitoring of where they go outside the flat (easy in the case of John, very difficult in the case of Sherlock), but also the installation of cameras and microphones inside the flat. It isn’t that Mycroft thinks John might harm his little brother, or that he thinks either man would say or do the least thing seditious (the usual reason people get put on the surveillance level 3, active list). It's just that he worries.

Therefore, on the first opportunity they have after John has finished moving his (few, paltry) belongings into the flat, Mycroft’s agents infiltrate the place and plant discreet cameras in the main living areas and the bedrooms (but not the full bath in the main level of the flat or the half bath attached to John’s room – Mycroft’s worrying does have limits). A microphone is placed under Sherlock’s desk in the sitting room, as that is the area where most interaction between them and any visitors is likely to take place.

Within an hour after returning to the flat, Sherlock finds and smashes both cameras in the sitting room, the one in the kitchen, and the one in his bedroom.

(Begin transmission)


SUBJECT J. WATSON: What on earth are you doing under there, Sherlock?

SUBJECT S. HOLMES: We’ve got bugs.

SUBJECT J. WATSON: I’ll run down and get some spray then.

SUBJECT S. HOLMES: Not that kind of bug, John. Oh there you are, you little … *zzzt*

(End transmission)

The last camera, the one in John’s bedroom, is destroyed a few minutes later.

A week later, Mycroft’s agents try again. This time, they are much more careful about not disturbing anything, not even dust, while they are in the flat, and manage to hide the cameras where they are much harder to find, although they don’t get ideal coverage of the areas to be watched.

Due to the general level of chaos in Sherlock’s decorating style (and the sudden delivery of a number of boxes of books which obstruct the views), this round of bugs goes unnoticed for several days. John is a much neater man, by inclination and by training, than Sherlock is. There is almost no clutter in his bedroom, and therefore fewer places to hide a camera, at least not where it would do any good. On the other hand, he is not (yet) paranoid enough to do regular sweeps of his room. He finds the camera the first time he has a chance to relax after being kidnapped and held hostage, and treats the tiny bit of plastic and electronics as if it is responsible for all the frustrations of the past few days.

The rest of them don’t last much longer.

Mycroft’s people become ever sneakier in the placement of the cameras. They give up the microphone after John spends an interminable week reading his medical texts into it. (This drives Sherlock out of the flat in less than fifteen minutes, but John is nothing if not patient. Besides, he has to revise for his medical license renewal.)

The cameras in the first floor of the flat are simply destroyed as soon as they are noticed. A camera that appears in the foyer is replaced with one of their own; Sherlock feels that a little advance warning might help the next time a kidnapper shows up on their doorstep.

The cameras in John’s bedroom vanish after he starts doing rude pantomimes to them.

The cameras in Sherlock’s bedroom are discontinued because he so rarely uses it and the camera budget must be cut somewhere.

The discovery of a camera in Mrs. Hudson’s flat results in the invasion of Mycroft’s office by both Sherlock and John, during which they intimate that if Mycroft doesn’t want the broken bits of his cameras shoved someplace very tender, he’ll recall all surveillance on the landlady. This is promptly done, and Mrs. Hudson never finds out about it.

When the building across the street from the flat explodes, it blows out the cameras in the sitting room, but not the one in the kitchen, and seeing Sherlock stumble unharmed into view after being knocked flat by the blast is the only thing that prevents Mycroft from swamping Baker Street with agents. Still, Mycroft has to find an excuse to come the next morning to see for himself that his brother is all right.

The cameras are replaced before the windows of 221B are.

The Irene Adler affair makes Mycroft regret that he can’t recruit her for his own team. Not once, but three times, she manages to get into the flat – twice into Sherlock’s bedroom. The coverage of said bedroom is reinstated after the second time.

Sherlock plants his own cameras in the sitting room and sends Mycroft videos of his own agents, along with critiques of their tradecraft.

While planning the Moriarty campaign, Sherlock agrees that some sort of surveillance in the flat is needed for the time being, but if he simply stops destroying cameras, John will probably notice. They agree on the placement of cameras to be retained, and cameras to be destroyed. When Moriarty’s people come in to place their own camera, Sherlock knows exactly where it is, and lets it stay until they’re closing in on the end game, when he “discovers” it in front of John and Lestrade so they know what’s happening.

Afterwards, John doesn’t bother looking for cameras any more.

He moves out, and dust gathers, and surveillance is discontinued.

Two years is a lot of dust.

But then Sherlock is back, though John is not, and Mycroft’s poor beleaguered staff is back to watching the shenanigans at 221B. Most of which, unfortunately, devolve into endless wedding planning, and the staff is planning on chipping in for a professional to do the job instead of watching Sherlock go to pieces over it, when a transferee from MI-5 recognizes John’s fiancée as a former CIA wet works specialist who went “off the reservation”, as the Americans put it, five years ago, and now the fox is definitely in the henhouse. Mycroft considers making John a widower before he even gets married, but discreet inquiries to the Americans reveal that they’re just as happy that she’s retired quietly, so he decides to let the wedding proceed, though with an upgrade in surveillance to Level 2, active.

Apparently, John Watson going on a sex holiday is good enough reason for Sherlock to lose what little is left of his sanity and go on one, too. Janine Palmer, a friend of Mary’s, a good enough friend to be her Maid of Honor, in fact, is suddenly seen everywhere with Sherlock. They go out to dinner. They go to the movies. They go back to 221B and don’t come out again until the next morning, and all cameras are carefully and routinely crushed. This doesn’t stop Mycroft from running a background check on her (that is the whole point of this, after all) and what he finds makes his blood run cold.

Mycroft doesn’t interfere, though. It’s patently obvious what Sherlock is up to, here. He even agrees with it, in theory. But in practice he can’t ever admit it, and decides to go with maintaining plausible deniability, up to and including ordering Sherlock (and John) (in perfect lip-reading range of a newly-placed camera in the kitchen of 221B) not to get involved with Janine’s employer. He even allows himself to be manhandled by his own brother. Which is probably better than being manhandled by John, since he’s fairly sure John knows exactly how to break an elbow.

Sherlock is shot (inconveniently outside 221B and off-camera) but brings John and Mary back to the flat for the final scene of what he probably thinks of as an “intervention”, and it is a snap judgment on the part of the Anthea of the day that sends a paramedic team, which gets there a minute and a half ahead of the one Sherlock called. The minute and a half interval turns out to be vital.

Sherlock is in hospital for six more weeks. John moves back into the flat. Mary is nowhere to be seen. When Sherlock returns, for a brief period it’s almost like old times, though the stomping of cameras is now sort of perfunctory.

Then after Christmas Sherlock is gone again, probably for good, and both John and Mary are back, having made up their differences, and even the skull is looking a bit confused by the changes of residents, when somebody pretending to be Jim Moriarty decides that all the internets are his.

After that’s all over, Baker Street gets a makeover.

The downstairs flat, 221C, becomes the official office of Holmes & Watson Investigations, which almost immediately begins to make money with Sherlock and John doing the work and Mary making sure people actually pay them for it now (just how she manages to achieve this, Mycroft doesn’t want to know – he’s content as long as no bodies turn up).

Sherlock does all his experiments down there now, and any cameras that appear are relocated and used to monitor his experiments. The more scientifically-inclined of Mycroft's staff post comments and suggestions on Sherlock's blog.

The second room upstairs, which has been used as a junk room by Mrs. Hudson and her tenants for the past few years, is cleaned out and gets a makeover and by the time the fourth tenant arrives at 221B it has been decorated in pink bunnies and is ready for her. Complete with camera pointed directly at the cot. Mary hasn’t officially been read in on the secret of the cameras, but given her prior occupation, she spots it in less than ten seconds and takes it as a sign of respect for her professional skills that the “boys” didn’t feel the need to tell her. She places her rocking chair just beneath it, in the only spot in the room that cannot be seen by whoever might be monitoring, and nurses baby Amanda there.

Sherlock carefully aims the sitting room camera directly at the baby’s downstairs cot (along the wall where the sofa used to be, beneath the smiley face).

No other cameras are tolerated anywhere in the flat, especially not in the Watsons' bedroom.

It’s a good month before Mycroft realizes his surveillance efforts have been suborned and turned into a baby monitor.

He realizes this when he sees one of the surveillance specialists, a burly African with a shaved scalp and a gold earring, taking his coffee break at his desk with a soppy smile on his face. The window he has open shows baby Amanda batting like a kitten at the mobile hanging just out of her reach. In fact, all of his staff have icons on their desktops labeled “221Babycam”, and they pop in and out a couple of times a day … each … in order to check on the little one. They even have the CCTV feed linked to the babycam for when Mary and/or John take her out for a walk in her stroller. He would object, but his staff are simultaneously the most relaxed and the most efficient that he’s ever seen them.

A month after that, he’s visiting the office of MI-5 when he sees a familiar screen. One of the top domestic counter-terrorism agents and (honestly!) one of MI-6’s top assassins are raptly watching Amanda having a bath.

It’s more than a little disturbing. He returns to the office and instructs an end to the surveillance of 221B. All of it, inside and outside.

There is resistance. There are complaints. His tea is oversteeped.

He recognizes a white mutiny when he sees one, and acquiesces. The surveillance is reinstated.

Amanda Watson is officially the second-best protected baby in England. Unofficially, probably the first.


Author Notes:

Teeny tiny HP and 007 references if you squint at the end, there.