So sorry about the mega long wait guys. RL has just decided to remind of its existance by being a right brat and throwing a tantrum (hmmm... who does that sound like?). But, for now at least, I'm back - I would like to re-assert my assurances that I WILL finish this story - and with no further ado, the next parts :)

The day that followed was absolute hell.

Although international politics was habitually stressful, complicated (occasionally, even for Mycroft) and more often than not, downright frustrating, it did enjoy the sole benefit of Mycroft's intervention on ever being necessary when matters got really juicy, therefore making it, more or less, interesting thus moderately bearable work.

Domestic politics however, was thankless and soul crushing labour of which Mycroft was, regrettably, called in to handle all the time. The grasping little critters simply refused to let him be.

And though this charityhe indulged in for the mayor and his merry band of imbeciles was, admittedly, far better for his cover as 'modest minor government official Mr. Holmes – you know, the scary bloke with the umbrella and weird Christian name... no the other one, yeah him' than jet setting around the globe all year around, and it was certainly best for raising the boys, now it was just him, and of course for keeping an eye on Sherlock – Mycroft (who was by no means above just a smidgen of pettiness) did resent doing it, just a little.

This particular call out didn't stray from the norm in the slightest.

The Mayor had somehow managed to create, and then promptly bury himself in yet another mess that would have surely resulted in his forced resignation if it weren't for Mycroft and Dominique's timely intervention. It wasn't a complicated matter, merely a big and exceedingly tedious one that took them all day to clear up and resulted in their hatching an alarmingly thorough plot to have the Mayor, his advisors and the haughty admin officer responsible for the deplorable filing system they were forced to contend with, murdered without leaving a shred evidence. They had had to stop after an hour or so... the temptation had been rapidly becoming too hard to resist.

Suffice it to say that by the time they were through, Mycroft had three hour of daylight left to enjoy, felt about three decades older than he ought to have, and around five more than he was.

"Bloody hell Mycroft. You look like Death warmed up."

Clearly, he didn't appear all that dissimilar to how he felt.

"Thank you Doctor Watson," he drawled, a tired, although he liked to think, still sardonic smile tugging at the corners of his lips, "That's the second comparison to a Zombie I've received in as many days."

"Perhaps you should start taking notice," John scoffed, leading the way up stairs to 221B.

Mycroft chuckled.

"Yes, well, no rest for the wicked I suppose."

"Then I dare say you must hardly sleep at all," Sherlock drawled from the sofa on which he was elegantly sprawled (if one can sprawl elegantly that is) the second they walked through the door.

John threw a put-upon glance over his shoulder at Mycroft and instructed him to make himself at home before settling down on the coffee-table himself, muttering all the while about pots and kettles calling each other names.

"So what, pray tell, is at the root of this visit?" Sherlock asked, languidly rolling his head from one shoulder to the other, so to apathetically stare at Mycroft all the better, "You only come by when you want something."

"You have a very broad definition of my wanting something," Mycroft pointed out, "In most people's eyes, coming by to ensure for one's self that one's brother's injuries are healing well, or that he's spirits are up, or to check that he's not: out of food, forgotten to pay the bills, is in the midst of provoking an entire police department into committing assault, en masse, against his person, etc – isn't quite the entirely selfish act that you seem convinced it is."

Sherlock snorted.

"You're just doing it to put yourmind at ease," he retorted.

Mycroft rolled his eyes. John did too.

"You know that's not true."

"It certainly is."

""You're being ridiculously childish."

"Well, you've got to keep in mind that you aredealing with a child."

Mycroft twisted around in his seat to find one Gregory Lestrade, looking quite at home leaning in the doorway with his hands stuffed in his pockets and an amused grin spread across his face.

With a huff, Sherlock flopped over onto his side and curled up into a ball, facing the back of the sofa so that his back was to the rest of the room, making it clear to all who cared (and there weren't many) that he was not happy with the proceedings in the slightest.

Mycroft, John and Lestrade, naturally, took no notice.

"Alright Mycroft?" Lestrade asked, walking over to join the group, commandeering a chair from the kitchen table before doing so.

Mycroft smiled.

"Considerably, thank you very much," he smoothly replied, "And yourself?"

"Well enough," Lestrade chuckled, settling down beside him, "Enjoying the day off, I'll tell you that. Nothing to do but eat, sleep and bug these two."

A day off with nothing to do. Mycroft feared he might have actually been salivating at the mere thought of it.

Fortunately, John inadvertently covered for him by, whilst glancing suspiciously between them, asking, "You two know each other then?"

Apparently Sherlock had decided that he'd spent just about enough time out of the limelight, as indicated by his promptly drawling, before either Mycroft or Lestrade could reply, "Of course they know each other. The two biggest pains in my-"

"Language Sherlock."

"-how could they not? The conspiring-"



Mycroft sniffed reproachfully.

Lestrade, rolling his eyes, turned to John and asked, "Mind if I nick a beer off you mate?"

"Only if you fetch me one too," John called as Lestrade all but fled to the refuge of the kitchen, "This evening's going to require alcohol, I can tell already."

"How plebeian," Sherlock drawled, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself John."

Holding out his arms in a rather martyr-like fashion and grinning ear to ear, John laughed to nobody in particular, "I rest my case."

Smirking, Mycroft leaned forward, tapped his brother's hip sharply with the tip of his umbrella, and announced, "I warn you Brother-Mine, my suspicions as to the origin of some of Alfie's less than desirable behaviour are quickly being confirmed."

Sherlock, at last, sat up and properly joined the conversation, smirking smugly and muttering something about protégés under his breath.

Mycroft rolled his eyes as Lestrade returned with the beers, tossing one to John, another at Sherlock and dropping a fourth into Mycroft's lap.

"To answer your question John," the detective replied, picking up the can from where Mycroft had placed on the edge of the coffee table, opening it and pushing it back into his hands, "Yes, we know each other. Have done for about five-"

"Almost six," Mycroft interjected, struggling down a placating sip of beer, grimacing in a rather undignified manner, before putting it back down on the coffee table.

Lestrade grinned.

"As the man says, going on six years."

"The police force aiding and abetting the government," Sherlock mused, stuffing his own can down in between the sofa cushions in order to avoid suffering the same fate as Mycroft, "Quick John, fetch your gun. We have the beginnings of a fascist Britain sitting in our very living room."

"You want me to shoot your brother?" John scoffed.

""For the best of the nation John," Sherlock earnestly replied, "Queen and Country and... all that. I'm told it's important."

"Funny," John murmured, "I was told it was quaint."

"And dull," Mycroft remarked.

"That was then, this is now," Sherlock cried, "John! The gun!"

John, predictably, made no move to follow that particular order.

However mere logic had never gotten in the way of Sherlock and his sulking before, and it certainly didn't this time either. With his arms crossed tight over his chest, and a scowl on his face, he huffed, informed John that he was a traitor of the realm, before turning back to Mycroft and snapping once more, "So, what do you want?"

Mycroft sighed. This wasn't going to go down well when he was in a mood, even by 'Sherlock standards'. However he had a job to do and he, Mycroft, was nothing if not thorough and profession. As such he braced himself for the inevitable, (although, ultimately futile) rebuttal, and pressed on.

"I have a-"

"Not interested," Sherlock immediately announced.

Closing his eyes, Mycroft continued, "-case for you that-"

"I said I wasn't interested."

"-is of great importance, not only to England-"

"Don't try to appeal to John," Sherlock snapped, "I and we are not interested.

"-but Britain as a whole," Mycroft grumbled.

"Once more, I'm not interested," Sherlock announced, snatching up the violin that had been resting precariously on a pile of his newspaper clippings.

Mycroft winced pre-emptively but carried on nonetheless.

"I've handled all the paperwork for you-"

"Not for me," Sherlock snapped, jabbing his bow in Mycroft direction, "For you. Because I'm not involved, because I. Am. Not. Interested."

"I just need you to do some legwork," Mycroft sighed, "It's not even a considerable amount. I'll pay you handsomely for it."

"Not handsomely enough to change my mind," Sherlock all but sang.

"You've not got a case!" Mycroft cried.

"Precisely," Sherlock retorted, "I'm bored enough already."

"I rarely ask you for anything Sherlock!"

"And I ask you for nothing. Follow my example Brother, learn from it."

"Sherlock it would take you half a day, at most."

"Get one of your pet Gorillas to do it then," Sherlock replied, waving his hand dismissively.

Rolling his eyes, Mycroft replied with forced calm, "I need this down quickly, quietly and efficiently."

Sherlock nodded solemnly.

"I see why the Gorillas are out."


"Why don't you do it if it's so important?" Sherlock snapped.

"I can't," Mycroft argued, "I already have my hands full."

"You've got the day off tomorrow!"

"No, I'm not working tomorrow," Mycroft corrected, "Which you'd know, if you were even remotely self-sufficient and had a full-time job like the rest of the world, is certainly not the same thing as a day off."

Sherlock rolled his eyes.

"Here we go," he sighed.

"First, City Hall is likely to call me in again in the morning, on top of that I have meetings with accountants, solicitors, my landlord, my bank – I have to do the grocery shopping and I need to clean up the flat because lord knows there's no other time to do it- need I go on?"

"Oh please do," Sherlock sarcastically replied with a roll of his eyes, "I have all day."

"Which is exactlymy point!" Mycroft cried.

"Oh would you please stop feeling sorry for yourself."

"You're one to talk," Mycroft muttered.

Just as the 'domestic dispute' between brothers looked just about ready to get ugly (or rather, uglier) Lestrade heaved a loud sigh and announced, "If you want to work any of my cases for the next month or so Sherlock, I suggest you help your brother out."

Sherlock scowled.

"What's it to you Lestrade?" he snapped.

Lestrade shrugged.

"Think of it as... a display of patriotism."

Sherlock sniffed.


"You do customarily introduce him as The British Government (TM)-"

"And the Secret Service," John added innocently.

"Oh and the CIA as well," Lestrade chuckled, ticking the supposed credentials off on his fingers, "If I didn't know better mate, I'd say you had a rather high opinion of your brother."

"Oh please," Sherlock scoffed.

"The condition still stands," Lestrade announced, taking a swig of his beer, "No cases until you act like a good brother for once."

To all appearances, Sherlock remained unmoved and utterly mutinous.

Mycroft sighed.

"I won't ask you for another favour for a month," he announced, "Unless it's an absolute emergency... by your standards even."

Sherlock frowned.

"Two months," he snapped.

"A month and a half."

"A month and three weeks."

"Deal," Mycroft sighed, holding out his hand for Sherlock to shake. Sherlock ignored it, although Mycroft didn't really expect anything less. He let it drop.

"Sherlock you're being rude again," John hissed.

Sherlock hummed in acknowledgement.

"I know. It was intentional."

"Sherlock!" John and Lestrade grumbled in reproach.

Sherlock rolled his eyes.

Mycroft chuckled.

"I appreciate the effort gentlemen, but I believe that's just about as civil as my brother gets... with any real sincerity at least."

"What a depressing thought," Lestrade murmured.

Sherlock shrugged.


All present rolled their eyes, but it was Mycroft who spoke.

"Brother-Mine. You are a narcissist. A misanthrope and occasionally, simply a pest... but you are not a sociopath. I wish you would desist using that erroneous self-diagnosis as a party trick-"

"I don't use it as a party trick!"

"An excuse then. People tend to get the wrong impression."

"I don't care what-"

"Yes that much is clear," Mycroft drawled, effectively cutting Sherlock off mid-rant. And though that feat is as gratifying an accomplishment as any individual who counted themselves one of Sherlock Holmes' motley crew (like Mycroft reluctantly did) could hope for – the fallout was not all that dissimilar to that of an atomic bomb being dropped on top of an petrol refinery, conveniently located beside a dynamite manufacturer at the exact moment a truck containing nothing but fireworks drove by... or to put it simply, explosive.

As such, Mycroft did the wise thing, and fled.

"Gentlemen," he said, standing swiftly from his seat and grabbing his umbrella and coat, "It's been a pleasure, but I'm afraid I must be off. Thank you all for you assistance, recent and impending," he glanced at Sherlock, who was beginning to turn an alarming (yet satisfying) shade of purple, "Do enjoy your evening."

Lestrade clapped him on the back as he left (read: fled). John shouted instructions for him to 'bloody eat something and get some sleep!'. Sherlock lobbed his unto then abandoned can of beer at the door after him.

All in all, it went better than Mycroft could have hoped.

Most children Mycroft had gone to school with used to dread the drive back to campus at the start of term. He believed that this was a common opinion amongst his fellow boarders, past and present.

Mycroft though, had never really cared all that much about it. He hadn't liked school, not in the slightest. It was dull, strict and lonely. But he hadn't hated it so much that the mere drive back was an anxiety-ridden experience.

No – what he really used to dread, what used to tie his stomach in knots for days beforehand, was the drive back home. He used to feel really guilty about it. It wasn't like his parents beat him, or did anything really, to deserve that sort of reaction, and yet in spite of that, the mere thought of returning would, without fail, make him feel sick to his stomach.

The presenting of the report cards, in particular, caused many a sleepless nights. It was always the same. Oh how brilliant Sherrinford was doing at Oxford, we'd always know you'd do well love. And Sherlock too, he'd improved so much this year, we're so proud of you darling. And Mycroft did quite well again this year. Well done dear, but nobody's talked to you about advancing a year or two yet? No? Pity – perhaps next year sweetheart, if you try a little harder.

The mere memory of it still made him feel about three inches tall.

And then of course there was always that feeling of... not being entirely wanted there. That's not to say he wasn't welcome. He received just as many hugs and kisses as either of his brother's on arrival, it was just, nobody was really excited to see him.

You see, everyone was always thrilled to have Sherlock home, because he was just so entertaining with his theatrical re-enactments of events that had occurred throughout the year, and his derisive character studies and impersonations of the teachers, his peers, the ground-staff and all the relationships therein, never failed to entice a chuckle out of even the most stoic of relatives.

And then of course it was a relief to have him safe at home as he always had such trouble with the bullying and boredom of the school yard. No parent likes to see their child suffer. Certainly – Sherlock's return was always an anticipated and celebrated affair.

Likewise, Sherrinford's presence was a rare and therefore cherished thing. As such, he too was welcomed with open arms. Mother would hug him whenever they passed one another during his visits, as they were usually annual occasions, and father was constantly inviting him into 'The Office' for Brandy and a chat – man to man, 'Just for us grownups baby-brother' Sherrinford would say.

Mycroft couldn't contend with that. There was nothing that he could have done at school that his brothers hadn't already done first and better.

More often than not he'd just stay in his room, finish off his assignments and homework, get a head start for the year to come, and hope that somebody might come in and ask why he hadn't been about the house more. They never did.

Almost 30 years later and the drive back up to Buckinghamshire still made him feel ill.

Having said that, Mycroft much preferred the sedate welcome of his parents to the... intense experience that was his Sister-In-Law manning the front door.

"Mycroft darling!" she cried, flinging herself forward into Mycroft's arms, wrapping her own tight around his neck and refusing to let go, effectively suffocating him via strangulation and asphyxiation both.

He was quite convinced that she did not in fact need oxygen to breathe like the rest of the human race did, having systematically weaned herself off of the habit by applying an increasing amount of perfume throughout the years to the point where Mycroft was only half certain that she was not bathing in the substance. Suffice it to say he, who was not similarly blessed, was more than a little dizzy upon release.

"Oh those boys! Those boys!" she cried, pecking his cheek once, twice, three times, before finally (mercifully) stepping back so Mycroft could at least enjoy the illusion of personal space. "Those boys Mycroft!"

"They didn't behave themselves?" Mycroft asked, frowning.

"Didn't behave themselves?" Lydia trilled, slapping his chest reproachfully, "They were little angels love. Little angels."

Mycroft obligingly smiled in reply, although it was somewhat tight around the edges. Battology had always irritated him.

"More than enjoyed it sweetheart!" she replied, "We had a ball!"

"Oh that's good to hear," Mycroft replied, the tight smile becoming a touch more genuine.

She launched herself back at him again. He was just able to suppress his dismayed groan.

"Oh they are so lovely dear," she gushed, "Really, absolutely adorable. And so polite too."

"Yes, they are good boys," Mycroft murmured, although somewhat breathlessly.

"You must be itching to see them darling," she cried, before frowning and amending, "Although, I suppose you're used to spending time away from them aren't you? What with that demanding job of yours?"

Mycroft frowned.

"I still miss them," he insisted. Why did he insist? Why did he feel he needed to?

Lydia sighed.

"Oh and they miss you too darling," she replied, "The poor things have just been so grateful for our attention, the twins in particular. You'd think they were starved of affection sweetheart."

"They're not starved of affection," Mycroft assured through gritted teeth.

Lydia, as ever, didn't take the hint.

"Perhaps not by your standards sweetheart. But children need hugs and kisses and constant attention and... well, forgive me but – you're such a standoff-ish man Mycroft, aren't you? You don't really go for those sorts of things."

Mycroft's hand was starting to hurt where he was attempting to splinter the wood of his umbrella handle using brute strength alone.

Lydia still hadn't noticed. Perhaps it was because he was still smiling. It was probably because he was still smiling. Funny, he'd not noticed. Well old habits die hard. Best keep up the act now though.

Tilting his head slightly in acknowledgment (and still smiling) he assured his Sister-In-Law that he, "Always makes an exception for my sons in regards to that particular rule."

Lydia smiled, although Mycroft could tell she remained unconvinced. Quite frankly he didn't care how convinced she was. What he did care about was the fact that they'd still not moved from where she'd stopped before the staircase.

"So, where are the boys?" he gently asked, hoping to prod the conversation back on track.

Thankfully it worked.

"Oh this way love," Lydia cried, grabbing his hand once more (was that really necessary? He wasn't going to get lost. He grew up in the damn house for pity's sake) and leading him out to the backyard.

"Sherrinford's teaching them to play croquet," she explained, "I'd have never imagined he was so good with children."

"Croquet? Really?" Mycroft chuckled.

Lydia frowned.

"Yes. Really. There's nothing wrong with that is there?"

Mycroft laughed louder.

"I wouldn't give the twins mallets if my life depended on it," he replied, "In fact, one's life could well depend on that very decision. When was the last time you checked on Sherrinford?"

"Sherrinford is perfectly capable of handling the situation," she insisted primly, "He has such a way with them you see. It's quite lovely to watch."

Mycroft glanced heavenwards.

"I'm sure it is."

Finally, they reached the yard.

Mycroft frowned.

To be honest, in spite of all of Lydia's assurances to the contrary, he had been expecting a scene of complete carnage. The twins using their mallets as war hammers – possibly sporting blue face paint (god only knows where they find it) and claiming a Scottish heritage they don't have, ignoring all lectures regarding historical inaccuracies as the screamed at the top of their lungs that "You'll never take our FREEDOM!" (He blamed Sherlock's apathetic approach to babysitting for that particular habit) whilst Basil snuck off to retrieve his current book from whatever nook or cranny he'd stowed it away in, leaving his soon to be broken Uncle to the mercy of his brothers.

It had happened before. Mycroft was just grateful that he had never been particularly fond of golf to begin with, before the life ban and all. And the nightmares had lessened in frequency and severity over the years too.

The scene he wasmet with however, was far more unsettling that Braveheart re-enactments, abandonment and Avunculicide could ever hope to be. It probably shouldn't have been, but it was.

The boys… were doing exactly as they were told. They, well the twins, were gathered around Sherrinford, obediently and quietly watching as he demonstrated for them whilst Basil sat on the stone wall that separated the yard from the rest of the property's fields, dividing his attention between his novel and the cow that had lumbered up beside him. And there were no war cries or paint, no quiet abandonment in the midst of nightmare inducing anarchy – it, they… were behaving, co-operating… it was highly unsettling.

Had they been brainwashed? Were they ill? Or maybe-

"Ah Mycroft!" Sherrinford called, waving him over, "There you are."

"Daddy!" Harry and Alfie cried, sprinting across the lawn and all but tackling Mycroft to the ground in their enthusiasm.

Well at least that hadn't changed.

Chuckling fondly Mycroft crouched down so he was eye level with the pair and hugged each of them properly.

"I gather you had an enjoyable weekend," he laughed, affectively pushing away all his unease to dwell upon later.

Harry hummed approvingly, whilst he attached himself to Mycroft's side and refused to be moved.

"Uncle Sherrinford's just teaching us the rules at the moment," he announced.

"Then he's teaching us how to cheat," Alfie piped, grinning impishly.

Mycroft scoffed, stood with Harry still clinging determinedly to his side (thank goodness he inherited his mother's small stature) and turned to face his brother, quirking an amused brow.

"I'm shocked," he drawled.

"Well you oughtn't be," Sherrinford replied with a smirk, "I taught you all the tricks back when we were kids, didn't I?"

"I was taught?" Mycroft asked, "I distinctly remember picking those tricks up myself after being conned out of year's worth of pocket money, sweets, toys, my bedroom that one time…"

Sherrinford laughed.

"Yes, well – you learned didn't you," he gasped between chuckles, utterly unrepentant.

Shaking his head, Mycroft murmured, "Yes, I suppose I did," before turning to the boys, hugging Basil who'd, with a parting pat of the cow, made his way over as well, and asking, "Are you three packed and ready to go?"

"Do we have to?" Alfie whined, crossing his arms over his chest, "We were having fun here."

Well… that hurt a little more than Mycroft had been expecting.

He glanced over at Sherrinford who merely quirked a bemused brow before setting off to gather the now abandoned Croquet equipment, providing Mycroft and the boys with a little privacy.

Oddly considerate that.

Sighing, Mycroft dropped down to his knees before Alfie (although Harry's persisting to cling to him had made the task slightly more difficult than it needed to have been), stooping lower still until he finally succeeded in catching the boy's reluctant eye.

He smiled apologetically.

"I'm afraid we do have to leave, yes. You've got school tomorrow. And I've got work."

Alfie scowled.

"You've always 'got work'," he muttered bitterly.

Mycroft winced.

"I know I do Alfie. I'm sorry. I wish I could spend more time at home with you three, but just right now… there's nothing I can do about it son."

"Sure there isn't," Alfie grumbled.

"Alfred," Mycroft murmured, gently lifting the boys head with a crooked finger beneath his chin, "This isn't forever alright. I am trying to sort things out for us that's all – and it's going to take us time."

"Whatever," Alfie muttered.

Basil frowned down at his younger brother.

"What's wrong with you?" he asked, "You're being ridiculous."


"I'm not being ridiculous," Alfie hissed, "I'm just saying."

"Saying what?" Basil snapped.

Alfie shrugged.

"No come on. Saying what?" Basil growled, "You don't want to go home – is that it?"

"Basil," Mycroft warned again.

Alfie stuffed his hands moodily in his pockets and snapped, "I didn't say that."

"Well what are you saying? Because that's what it sounds like."

"I just-"

"Just what?"

"...I don't know."

"No you don't, do you?" Basil snapped, "Then perhaps you shouldn't open your mouth again until you do, because you're coming off as a traitorous little-"

"Alright that's enough," Mycroft called, "Basil, he didn't mean any harm. You know that."

"You don't need to mean harm to cause it," Basil grumbled, glaring pointedly at his younger brother who glared mutinously back (although he did spare Mycroft one guilty glance.)

Frowning, Mycroft turned to Alfie and murmured, "Alfie, I'm sorry, but we have to go soon, so could you and Harry please go fetch you bags. Basil, you stay here."

With one last fierce scowl at his big brother, and with fists balled at his side, Alfie stalked inside, closely followed by a reluctant Harry.

Basil stuffed his hands into his pockets, and turned to Mycroft.

"Basil... was that really necessary?"

Basil frowned down at the tips of his shoes..

"You're cross with me?"

"No, I'm not," Mycroft sighed, "That could have been much better handled though. I expect better from you."

Basil sniffed.

"He's being disloyal."

"Basil he's eight," Mycroft laughed incredulously, "His motivations may be a little selfish, but nothing more evil than that."

"He wasbeing selfish though," Basil argued, "He needs to lear-"

"Basil... do you trust me?"

Basil blinked.


"Do you trust me?" Mycroft repeated, tilting his head slightly to the side.

"I – yes, of course I do. You know I do."

Mycroft smiled.

"I'm glad to hear it. Now – seeing as you trust me, how about you let me do some of the parenting here, alright?"

Basil shifted from foot to foot.

"I'm just trying to help," he ground out.

"I know you are," Mycroft replied, "And I appreciate it. But you've got to let me do my job once in a while. Especially in regards to your brothers 'needing to learn' things. Alright?"

Basil sighed.


"Thank you," Mycroft sighed, ruffling his son's hair, "Now please go inside and fetch your bags and your brothers, apologise for snapping at Alfie, and come meet me by the car, and you're helping me clean the dishes tonight, alright?"

With a one final dutiful nod, Basil straightened his coat, spun on his heel and headed inside as well.

Mycroft smiled.

"That looked heated," Sherrinford called from the other side of the yard, "Everything alright?"

"Yes," Mycroft replied as he stood once more, and crossed the yard to join his brother and help him with the remaining equipment, "Nothing to worry about I assure you. Just the usual."

"The usual?"

Mycroft laughed.

"Basil playing dad. Alfie doing everything in his power to thwart his efforts. Harry and I watching from the sidelines. The usual."

Sherrinford chuckled.

"I see."

Mycroft sighed.

"You don't look any better rested," Sherrinford pointed out.

Mycroft shrugged.

"Emergency at work. I was stuck in City Hall until six yesterday – and then called back in until eleven this morning."

"Mycroft," Sherrinford scolded.

"I can hardly be held accountable for the incompetence of the Mayor and his office," Mycroft retorted, "At least the boys got to enjoy themselves this weekend. Thank you for that by the way. I really do appreciate it, and I'd say they do to."

Sherrinford smiled.

"It was a pleasure. They're great kids."

Mycroft smiled back.

"Thank you."

"We would love to have them again at some point," Sherrinford announced, "I dare say Lydia's grown rather attached-" Mycroft laughed, "And I've quite enjoyed spending time with them myself."

Mycroft smiled, and ignored the uneasy feeling once more.

"I'd have to talk it over with the boys first," he replied.

"Of course," Sherrinford replied, "Well it's a standing offer. So whenever you need some time to yourself. Give Lydia and I a call, alright?"

"Yes, alright," said Mycroft, glancing up at his older brother briefly, "Thank you Sherrinford."