A/N: I originally meant for this to be a very brief drabble to go into the one-shot collection (i.e. Measured in Feet) but it ended up getting bigger than expected and it's too Mycroft centric to pass as a John/Sherlock anyway. So... enjoy! Reviews are massively appreciated.
Word Count: 3,205
Pairing(s): Mycroft/Lestrade, John/Sherlock, Anthea/her BlackBerry, Sherlock/Lestrade bromance, implications of platonic!Mycroft/Anthea if you squint, and extensive family feels.
Warning(s): Is a drabble. Contains inexcusable amounts of fluff, mentions of sex, non-interference OCs, cruel!Mummy, timely character death, suicide, mentions of homophobia, Mrs. Hudson, and Journey songs. Also, John is that in-law.
/EDIT: Wow, somehow I manged to, like the stupid American that I am, put Thanksgiving in a British-show fic. Sorry to anybody who read before the lovely (although a bit prickly) GummiBehr pointed out my error. I'll just change it to Christmas dinner and call it a day, although I won't be fixing the pumpkin pie because pumpkin pie is delicious. That is all.
Thicker Than Blood
The Holmes family is both very large and very, very small.
On the outside, the biological Holmes clan is massive - too big to fail, one wealthier and more successful than the next. They are almost all above-average height, intelligence, and arrogance, and the family tree is so riddled with psychological disorders it's amazing they function at all.
Well, if functioning is the word for it. Which, in all honesty, it isn't - they are there for each other in the Political Connections way and in the If You Get Bad Press I Get Bad Press fashion, but they are hardly tight-knit. They meet twice a year habitually - once for Anita Holmes's - better known as Mummy - Christmas party and once for a family reunion in Paris which is, frankly, little more than a head count to see which of the slightly more alienated Holmes have died without notice. There are weddings and the like, of course, but Mycroft's interest in the (usually arranged) marriages is very low. He's a busy man, after all, what with the Government needing to be run and a little brother to fret over.
There are, of course, advantages to having a massive clan for a family; Sherlock certainly didn't need a flat share. He lives a low lifestyle entirely by choice and could easily spend eternity travelling the world duty-free if he wished. But then, if the thought of living easy of his family's money hadn't appealed to Sherlock it had absolutely repulsed Mycroft, who was now singularly more powerful than most of the Holmes clan combined, much to the agony - and terror - of those relatives he liked less than others.
And to be honest, if Mycroft agreed with Sherlock on anything, it was that most of the Holmes family was just the same as most everybody-else - detestable, animalistic, and stupid. Mycroft had been the discreet culprit in many a family scandal - cutting his destructive, abusive uncle off from family funds, bending the will of many a poorly influenced cousin, protecting his brother from the crushing social expectations. Similarly, he found himself a reluctant addition to the family to begin with - had he not had the power that he did, he would have been redacted from family affairs even quicker than his brother. The Holmes clan are a traditionalist bunch and, well, Mycroft hadn't ever been able to hide his homosexuality even if Sherlock hadn't announced it at his 14th birthday dinner, not to mention his other, ahem, quirks. Sans politics, Mycroft would have declared the same proverbial fuck all Sherlock had, angry Mummy or no angry Mummy. But there is that, politics, so Mycroft stays mingled and forces a pretty smile for every powerful aunt and uncle he simply must visit.
So, no: the Holmes family on the large scale is less than satisfactory.
On the less conventional level, however, there lies the Holmes family of central London, which prided itself on being small, bizarre, and unconventional. It is also perfect.
It's hard, perhaps, to imagine a family dinner like this one, but a few years ago Sherlock had started the Christmas dinner tradition out of the blue and it stuck. It is, again, hard to imagine, but if you care to indulge, a portrait: Mycroft sees it clearly.
Sherlock, the most obvious member of Mycroft's unconventional little family; his brother by blood. Yet he's somehow unexpected as well - he never wanted to have dinner with anyone before, least of all Mycroft. After all, this wasthe same man who, as a child, had gone to the hospital to visit his injured brother just to inform him that, had Mycroft died, he would have worn pink to his funeral. Yet there he was, leaning across the table - "Pass the pie, would you, Myc? Or are you going to eat the whole thing yourself?" – and nearly knocking over several cups in the process. Sherlock's expression is stubborn and crooked as usual but softer now, warmer, the cold gray eyes of a dimly lit childhood now bright and alive and, (darest say?) loving. It's amazing to see, unbelievable even, and it shocks Mycroft every time he sees it even though it's been years since the shift began and several years of Christmas Dinners have passed.
Mycroft blames The Husband. That is, John Watson; he's grinning ear to ear and looking at Sherlock like he's Everything even though Everything is currently talking through a mouthful of cranberry stuffing. "Look at him, all skin and bones; I can't get him to eat like this at home. Are you rubbing off on him, Mycroft?" Admittedly, yes - John is THAT in-law, the type that constant makes joking jabs and rubs you the wrong way (Mycroft knows he does the same to John, of course), but still Mycroft cannot disapprove of him because, well, John and Sherlock are soul mates. It's a frank sort of thing. And, anyway, it's been years since kidnapping and fake suicides and their bitter clashing has become near-brotherly banter now.
Well, that, and John is somewhat responsible for the hand currently resting on Mycroft's thigh under the table. Greg is chatting with the girl across the table but it's obvious his attention is half on Mycroft, throwing him affectionate glances. Mycroft watches him right back because, well, he's basically the perfect man. He doesn't mind him leaving the country at random intervals, he's sympathetic towards rather than disturbed by his emotional blockage, he loves Mycroft's crazy little brother almost as much as Mycroft does, and when Mycroft is on his third piece of pumpkin pie Lestrade gives John a pointed look and says something about love handles which, although Mycroft doesn't catch it, still makes him blush. Ah, yes - good sex and all the sweets he wants; the relationship is flawless. Sherlock very nearly face plants in the pie in an effort to smack Lestrade, scandalized.
Mrs. Hudson is there, of course, looking not a bit scandalized and instead tutting away and picking at her food. She's getting older, but she's still the main chess piece in this operation and jumps out of her chair to give each guest seconds, thirds, every time the plates and cups go empty there is suddenly more. John is concerned for her health occasionally; Sherlock is firmly convinced she will live forever. Mycroft simply smiles at her and wishes she'd been their mother. Then again, now, he supposed she was; it's a slow thing for Mycroft but Mrs. Hudson marked him as hers almost immediately ("Family is all we have, Mycroft!") and it's hard not to love the woman who always invites you for tea and scones, even if she scolds you for bullying your little brother.
Anthea is there - of course she is, as she never leaves Mycroft's side. She says very little to anyone except, to the surprise of even the man himself, Lestrade. The two of them get on like long-lost siblings, discussing world news and sports and television shows that Mycroft wasn't even aware of a mile a minute and are often caught crouched over game controllers on Anthea's free days, playing whatever game they can get their hands on weeks before release. Mrs. Hudson is especially fond of her as well, although the affection is only reluctantly returned for a while as she always insists on taking Anthea's BlackBerry away during dinner after the first time she was caught texting under the table. John is oddly comfortable with her despite their first meeting and they have a friendly understanding of each other; because of this Sherlock is inherently wary of her until Anthea coolly informs him that she's a lesbian. At this announcement Lestrade curses and tosses a fiver at John - "Fuck, you win again! Why is your gaydar so accurate on everyone but yourself?" "Hey, I'm not gay; I'm just married to a man. Don't go spreading rumors, Greg."
They're not sure how it happens but somehow this is it - the family that matters. A small set of people who have little in the means of family (or, for John and Greg, once had but long lost) and really shouldn't fit together but, somehow, they do. It isn't much different now on a day to day basis - Sherlock and Mycroft still bicker, John and Mycroft still rub each other the wrong way, Anthea still doesn't say much, Greg and Sherlock still have unresolved tension of the bromance variety, Mycroft still flinches when Mrs. Hudson hugs him, Greg and John still go out for drinks to complain about their men, Sherlock continues to cause unwarranted amounts of trouble, and Mycroft is still a bit of a creeper, but perhaps that's the way it's supposed to be.
So yes: this is the family, the family that counts.
It's the family that comes to the discreet Homes-Lestrade wedding. Discreet because politics, discreet because Lestrade wants a small wedding, discreet because the big Holmes clan is not invited. John, ever THAT in-law, gives a speech that is equal parts touching and humiliating. Mrs. Hudson cries.
It's the family that shows up at Mycroft's doorstep when Lestrade gets shot and it's the family who comforts a quickly melting ice man while Gregory is on critical care and, then, bed rest. Sherlock actually sprints to the hospital on foot when he gets the news and, after quickly groping an unconscious Lestrade to check for various reassuring vital signs, throwing his arms around his brother in an aberrantly emotional, very brief embrace. They're careful to never mention any of it again. Anthea cries.
It's the family that coos and cries over the son they adopt. "Playing Mummy for real now, Mycroft?" Sherlock said, but he looks overwhelmed to the point of near tears when Lestrade hands him his nephew. John is actually more reserved about the ordeal than Sherlock at first - he's not related, after all, so playing uncle isn't necessarily obligatory or welcome. But Mycroft is, in fact, a glowing "mother" and is quick to insist that they are both the god parents and honestly-John-what-is-with-you-playing-and-stupid? John immediately vows to be the Cool Uncle (a quick and miserable failure) and turns out to be the Reliable Uncle instead; that's OK. The baby is perfect in Mycroft's arms. Lestrade cries.
It's the family that shows up for Christmas the year that Mycroft says screw-you to Mummy's party. Their son, Cadmon, (the odd name was actually Greg's insistence), eight at the time, was especially pleased with Mrs. Hudson's gift, a small drum set. Mycroft, who had to put up with the noise, less pleased. Anthea, being the unspoken third-parent, coddled Cadmon almost as much as Greg; the three of them build snow forts and ambush the Holmes brothers with snowballs. John comes to Sherlock's rescue; Mycroft gets pummeled. Hot chocolate is made. Nobody cries.
It's the family that is silent for a day when Mrs. Hudson passes away unexpectedly, in her sleep. She had known it was coming but, a strong believer of The Time for Everyone hadn't told a soul. Everybody cries, but none as hard as Sherlock; he doesn't bother hiding it anymore past burying his face in John's jumper.
It's the family that, the night after Mrs. Hudson's death, finds a note on the floor of 221A that says only, "I love you all, but also I'm older than a few of you combined. You can mourn when you're dead. -Eliza Hudson." It's also the family that laughs despite themselves when Sherlock says, quietly, "Her first name was Eliza? Really... Oh..."
It's the family Mycroft tells Mummy about when he calls her. He asks her to be a part of his son's life because with Mrs. Hudson passing away he fears Cadmon will grow up not ever knowing her and, really, he loves her and cares about her opinion. Mummy says he must not, considering he turned his baby brother gay just like him and he knows her opinion on that, and then hangs up. Lestrade hugs him. Sherlock dryly points out that he's not gay; he's asexual with an asterisk. John calls her a very rude name and takes the job of telling Cadmon about his grandma. Cadmon cuts him off and informs him that he remembers Mrs. Hudson very well, thankyouverymuch. Mycroft cries but feels little sadness.
It's the family that shows up to be especially embarrassing at Cadmon's high school graduation, waving hats and cat calling. Lestrade is extra wary of Cadmon's girlfriend, mostly because she's very tall and dark and decidedly Holmes like and this is his baby boy, damn it, just who was this Jamie. But Jamie sticks around even though Cadmon has a weird uncle who knew her life story at a glance and a second uncle who stares at the first uncle like he's God or something and also wears cardigans; even though the woman she initially assumes is his mother turns out to be Anthea, mum's assistant and doting lesbian aunt; even though his "mum" is very clearly a man who somehow seems to know exactly where they are all of the time and a casually protective (and startlingly attractive, ahem) gray-haired daddy who looks at her as if she's just waiting to break Cadmon's poor delicate heart.
She doesn't, and the little family shows up at Cadmon and Jamie's wedding, too. Lestrade gives a touching speech and decides he is no longer suspicious and he really loved her all along. Mycroft is equal parts intimidating and approving and conspiratorially slips her the family recipe for red velvet cake. Sherlock just kind of looks at her, doing his very best to be polite while John is at his hip. Anthea is the one with the especially embarrassing speech, which is followed by a good natured hoot from Jamie even though she said her first impression of Jamie was 'oh, God, Cadmon has the crazy genius fetish too.' The man who walks Jamie down the aisle looks at Mycroft and Lestrade in a way that suggests homophobia for about two seconds before he laughs and says, "Well, damn, the way they talked about'cha I assumed you were a lady!" before hugging a very confused Lestrade (who had previously looked smugly at Mycroft in assumption). Cadmon, who had taken on absolutely zero of the sociopathic tendencies of the Holmes clan but all of the dark beauty (despite adoption - perhaps magic?) looks at Jamie like she's a goddess and Jamie mirrors it ruthlessly. Mycroft cries when he thinks only Lestrade can see because damn it, that's his baby boy and he'll cry if he wants. John might have cried a bit too but shut up, he was drunk.
It's the family that comes to Greg's retirement party. Sherlock, who will die before he even thinks the word "retire," seems almost sad to see the DI go, but then, they're getting older. John just seems vaguely jealous. Additionally it turns out getting whiskey in Mycroft is a bad thing, because he can't sing karaoke to save his dear life. Hilarious, especially seeing as he's getting white haired and chubby in places he hadn't been before; Lestrade still looks at him like he's an angel. Eventually Sherlock and Lestrade sing karaoke too - Don't Stop Believing being the only song they both know, apparently - which is a moment of bizarre bro-bonding and humiliation. John cries from laughter.
It's the family that Gregory tells Mycroft about every evening as they lay in bed together, old and worn and curled in each others arms. Because Mycroft's beautiful mind is slipping despite all odds; the dulling of his mind is bitter. He can't quite remember it all: forgets Jamie's name, misplaces his umbrella, forgets that he's retired now, too, because he's old, so old his hair is gray, and he's skinner than he's ever been because cake somehow just isn't appealing anymore. Greg, who is just as healthy and lucid from the day he was born to the day he dies, feels no resentment and reminds him every time. No one treats Mycroft different - when Mycroft forgets Sherlock is married, Sherlock calls him a fat moron; when Mycroft gets thinner, John doesn't dodge the topic any more than he would with Sherlock and tells him he's underweight God Damn It; Cadmon laughs good naturedly whenever Mycroft asks him when he's going to introduce his girlfriend; Anthea comes running to the response to urgent texts despite knowing the Job is long over. On top of it Gregory and Mycroft defy every odd and never grow too old for romance and intimacy, even if it has faded from breaking beds and bruising love handles to roses on the pillow and quiet nights walking down London streets, umbrella twirling above their heads. Still, sometimes, when he thinks Gregory won't notice, Mycroft locks himself in the bathroom and cries.
Certainly it's the only family on Mycroft's gray old mind when he's on his death bed. It isn't supposed to be, really, a death bed, but it will be; Gregory passed away two nights before from a stroke that somehow - oh, the guilt, the fucking guilt - Mycroft slept through. Living without him, letting his mind deteriorate in some fancy assisted living quarters all alone... Well. Sherlock is sad, devastated even, but he understands and he comes to Mycroft's bedside knowing he's the only one who will know before it's done. The only one who won't argue. They talk aimlessly all night - they chat about relatives and crime scenes, argue about hidden cameras, bicker about cake consumption and being far too old to be serving jail time, chuckle over old memories. It's fitting, Mycroft thinks, that his baby brother will be his last memory as he was Sherlock's. The thank yous never come, nor the I love yous, not even goodbyes, but Sherlock stays with him and holds his hand and, really, it doesn't need to be said. When the sun comes up Mycroft takes the poison (painless, silent, and undetectable) and Sherlock stares at his brother until he's not his brother anymore. Then, he calls John. Everybody left cries, but few are surprised.
It's the family that shows up to Mycroft's funeral. None of the Holmes clan attends, more or less because they weren't invited. Cadmon, lost and angry, but understanding, clings to Anthea and sobs; she keeps a stiff lip for him. Jamie, who had become something of a daughter to Mycroft, is respectfully silent. John makes half hearted jokes during his speech, because he's that in law - "We'd better watch it guys; he doesn't need cameras to watch us anymore." Nobody present believes in God, but it doesn't matter - Sherlock recites some prayer in Latin because it sounds pretty and Mycroft was always just a bit traditional. Sally and Anderson sit near the back looking solemn; they hadn't made it to Greg's funeral, so it's only fitting they show for this one. It's raining when they go to the graveyard and, most fitting of all perhaps, this prompts a parade of black umbrellas. It's a somber affair but an oddly comforting one, too - old age does that to death, makes it softer, kinder, and the funeral is a peaceful one. Sherlock, true to his word, wears bright pink.
Reviews would be superb.
Also, as a side note, I really want to write a story where Mummy Holmes isn't an awful human being (I have a bad habit of always writing destructive parenting figures) but it was neccesary for this story, I suppose. Hmm.