|"Perhaps you'd prefer this armchair?"|
"Fire when ready," replied Sherlock.
"Why didn't you tell me any of this before now?" asked Mycroft.
"Our paths have not crossed very often recently," said Sherlock, "and the subject has never come up. But even if it had, would you have been ready to listen?"
"No," admitted Mycroft. "Probably not."
"Question two?" prompted Sherlock.
"What to do next," said Mycroft.
"In what sense?" asked his brother.
"With my life!" replied Mycroft. "If you are right, I have assisted in the commission of horrible crimes -- unwittingly, perhaps, but horrible nonetheless. What's done is done, and surely it cannot be undone, and yet -- yet there must be some way that I can make amends."
"You're serious?" asked Sherlock.
"Never more so," replied Mycroft.
"Then I must congratulate you," said Sherlock. "Many people lack the courage, the integrity, the strength of character to admit that they've been lied to, and that they've believed the lies they've been told."
"How long have you known me?" asked Mycroft.
"Practically forever," replied his brother.
"Then you should know," continued Mycroft, "that no congratulations are required. Like you, Sherlock, I am a man of logic and reason. If I have promoted murderous lies -- and it appears that I have done so -- I am compelled to do whatever I can to reverse the damage I have done."
"Most of the damage is probably irreversible," said Sherlock, "but if you throw your efforts onto the side of truth and justice, you may yet do some good."
"But how?" replied Mycroft. "I'm a man of habit, structure, and regular routine. My entire adult life has revolved around my job, which I no longer have. Not that I would want it back, but I do need something to replace it.
"Certainly, I wish to work for truth and justice, but, as you say, I am an analyst. I am not by nature a gatherer of intelligence. I am accustomed to working as part of a team, classifying, organizing, and even synthesizing information. But the information needs to come from somewhere. I can't do that part myself."
"As I have told Watson," said Sherlock, "you would have been a better detective than I am, if you had the energy to quit your armchair and do the necessary leg-work. But if you could apply your skills in a situation where incoming data were evaluated on the basis of truth, or lack thereof, rather than for political value, you could hardly avoid becoming a valuable asset."
"But to whom?" pressed Mycroft. "Where? To be honest, I would be more inclined to celebrate my new-found freedom if I were as confident of my prospects as you seem to be."
"Ah, Mycroft," replied his brother, "your problem may be far less serious than you think. Men with your powers of deduction are exceedingly rare, and always in demand, somewhere or other. I happen to know of a position which has recently become available and which would suit you very well."
"Truly?" asked Mycroft.
"Yes indeed," replied Sherlock. "You are far better qualified than any other candidate, or potential candidate, so the only real question would be whether you wanted the job."
"Salary?" asked Mycroft.
"Adequate, if not exactly generous," replied Sherlock.
"Far more flexible than you would require."
"Mostly sitting, reading, and thinking. Some talking. Maybe a bit of writing now and then."
"Excellent. Working conditions?"
"As comfortable as you could hope for. Are you happy on the couch? Perhaps you'd prefer this armchair? Would you like some more fruit, or some more tea?"
"Are you serious?" asked Mycroft.
"Absolutely," replied Sherlock. "We need the help. You need the work. You'd be perfect for the job, and it would be perfect for you. You would work here, with Watson and myself, or alone if we happen to be away."
"May I have some time to think about it?" asked Mycroft.
"Yes, of course," replied Sherlock. "Take all the time you need."
"All right," said Mycroft. "I've thought about it. When can I start?"