"So..." Beatrice smiled at Sherlock, ignoring the chaos of having her close-living relatives, three coppers, two doctors, two Holmeses, and a landlady seated at her overcrowded dinner table. Alex and Sladsky had returned to New York that morning. "Tell me a bit about your family, Sherlock."

Sherlock choked on his food, Mycroft glared around Dimmock at him, John perked up, and Lestrade was overcome with a sense of forboding.

Sherlock covered his mouth with a napkin for a moment as he blindly wondered how to answer a question like that. "Um-... as you well know, Mycroft's the British Government, our mother was a Cold War operative and currently lives in our country home, our father disappeared, and apparently I also have an older brother who's existence I had not known about until this month." After nicely summing it up, he resumed eating.

John coughed pointedly with a glare toward Sherlock and put on his most disappointed look. Lestrade leaned his elbow on the table, to the looks of disapproval from his mother, and rested his chin on his palm, and watched the scene pan out.

Mycroft rolled his eyes with a long-suffering sigh and glared at Sherlock. "Sherlock, Father did not 'disappear', I hope you don't really believe Mummy's bedtime stories... he was clearly assassinated."

Sherlock returned the glare. "Are you talking about that fighter plane crash bogus Mummy still thinks we'd fall for?"

"Honestly brother, I expected more." Mycroft sniffed disdainfully. "He was sighted in the United States three years after the alleged crash. I'm talking about the D.C. shootings."

"Ah, of course." Sherlock hummed. "The D.C. shootings."

Eva coughed above the murmurings as she stood from her seat. "Excuse me, I think it's about time I got Darren ready for bed." And she hurried away, shrugging helplessly at Lestrade's apologetic expression.

The silence was thick enough to feel tangible on skin.

Beatrice cleared her throat. "Lovely."

"Enlightening." Lestrade agreed sarcastically under his breath around his glass of water.

"I remember I was a Cold War operative myself." Beatrice said reminiscently. "Slipped into the business just as the Cold War was thawing out."

Lestrade choked on his water. "Mum!" he exclaimed, aghast.

"What?" Beatrice shrugged coolly. "They can't hope to boast that all the eccentrics at the table come from their family." she said simply.

"My mum got bitten by a crocodile!" Dimmock piped up.

"Well, if we're bringing out the family ghouls, might as well tell you my great-uncle had catalepsy and got locked up in a morgue once." Donovan grinned tentatively.

"I got locked in the morgue, once." Molly confessed quietly. "I lost my keys."

She completely missed the topic of conversation, but nobody had the heart to call her out on it.

"So, what's this about a brother?" Paul asked curiously.

"His name's Sherrinford." John told him.

"He's an - um -..." Lestrade glanced at Donovan and Dimmock and trailed off. "... He works at an art museum." he finished lamely.

Mycroft snorted. "He certainly does." He murmured under his breath to Lestrade.

"Long lost brother, kind of." John tried and failed to explain.

"It's a Holmes thing." Sherlock said and dropped it at that.

Peter burst out laughing. "Any other interesting 'Holmes things'?"

"He keeps odd things lying around in his flat." Donovan piped in, nodding his head in Sherlock's direction. "For science."

"And, for the record, I hold a minor position in the British Government, despite how my brother exaggerates." Mycroft said to Beatrice.

"Of course." Beatrice nodded back indulgently. Mycroft smiled wincingly. "I'll say it again, I was a Cold War operative. MI5."

"How exciting." Mycroft grated out.

"I know a spook when I see one, Mister Holmes." Beatrice smirked back.

"Mum!" Lestrade exclaimed again. "Play nice."

His mother put on an innocent expression. "I am, Gregory, I am."

"So, a crocodile, huh?" That was from Paul to Dimmock.

"Got it on vacation in Australia." Dimmock grinned. "Monstrous thing, she's got a scar, but no extensive damage."

"Thank God."

"Morgues are such intreguing places to be, I should think." Mrs. Hudson smiled at Molly.

"No, not really. You get used to the dead people." Molly blustered.

Peter paused, fork poised just inches from his open mouth, and coughed, lowering it with a slightly nauseous expression. "Wow." he croaked behind a napkin.

"Your PA is just a baby compared to the ones we had back in the day." Beatrice was saying to Mycroft reprimandingly. "She's too young for the business."

"She doesn't kill anybody, Mom." Lestrade groaned back. "And they use guns these days. Perfectly safe."

"I could've told you that myself." Beatrice sniffed. "Have you seen her perfectly manicured nails? Those are not the fingertips of a killer. And I'll bet you those stilettos are only good for stabbing opponents in the eye, have you ever tried to get those stains out of clothes? Horrible!"

"Don't listen to her." Lestrade whispered, leaning over toward Mycroft. "She has always been more of a lie-smith than a spymaster."

Mycroft looked thoughtful for a moment. "I think... I need to do more research on this matter when we return to London."

Lestrade just shook his head and smiled.

"So." Lestrade prompted when he found Mycroft outside in the garden with a smoke later that evening. "Are there any other surprises I need to know about the Holmes family?"

Mycroft chuckled. "No, just Sherrinford."

"Yep, just a long lost brother." Lestrade sighed sarcastically. "Nothing serious."

"You must understand that I am not a completely honest man about the matter of my family." Mycroft sighed. "But, neither am I a dishonest one."

"Then, what are you?" Lestrade asked slowly, crossing his arms.

"Merely... not forthcoming." Mycroft decided, nodding to himself decisively.

"Sure, because that makes everything all better." Lestrade's tone was dryer than the Sahara.

They just stood there silently for a prolonged moment.

Mycroft sucked in a lungful of smoke an blew it out. "My father - Siger Holmes - he is a-... sore spot in our family. We don't talk about him... ever." he said finally.

Lestrade spared him a glance and returned to staring at the abused rhododendron he had tackled Alex into the other day. It was all tilted to one side, now. "Did I ever tell you about my dad?" he asked suddenly.

Mycroft blinked. "You've mentioned him a few times in passing, but you've never really spoken about him."

"Oh. Well he's, um-..." Lestrade gestured at nothing in particular. "How should I say...? Sick." Mycroft looked at him sideways. "He has - uh - brain problems, lives in a medical facility. On good days he can come out and play with Darren, who just adores him, but on some really bad days he doesn't even remember me or Maisie. Sometimes he thinks I'm still seven years old and freaks out when he finds out I'm a cop, keeps asking if his son is in trouble or something." Lestrade shook his head with a bitter smile. "I never know what to say to him when he asks me that. I don't visit him alot."

They lapsed into silence again.

"And, well, you know about my mum now." Lestrade continued. "And she can't talk alot about her past as a Secret Service agent. I don't know a whole lot about my parents' pasts. And I don't need to, necessarily. I like them how they are now... except Dad's brain problems. That I can definitely do without."

Lestrade heard a sigh and saw a cloud of smoke out of the corner of his eye. "My mother met Father in Dublin, both dabbled in British Intelligence... well, what I really mean is, Mother was a young lady of social importance because of her family and moved in only the most informed circles of society, and Father was a Holmes."

"Let me guess, he held a minor position in the British Government?" Lestrade asked with a smile.

Mycroft returned it. "Yes, he did." He crushed his smoked cigarette out and stuffed the butt back into the pack. "But then he slipped up. When I was fifteen years old father was, shall we say, caught in the wrong place, in the wrong time, with the wrong people. Things went south, he faked his death, and disappeared."

"I'm beginning to see a pattern with you Holmeses." Lestrade grunted.

"But unlike Sherlock, he left with no intention of returning and he never did." Mycroft sighed. "He lived out the rest of his life in the United States and died of unnatural causes. He turned up dead in Washington D.C. I believe his past simply caught up to him."

"And you don't talk about him."

"Mummy believes he left to protect us... he just didn't run fast enough." Mycroft shook his head grimly. "Or far enough."

"I'm sorry." Lestrade murmured.

"Don't be." Mycroft replied.

"Just... be careful, you know?" Lestrade told him, slightly awkwardly. "What happened once can happen again."

"Believe me, I've learned from his mistakes." Mycroft assured him. "And, in all honesty, I'm more afraid of your mother than I am of anything out there."

Lestrade snorted out a laugh. "Try growing up with her."

"Evidence of her nurturing is no doubt evident in your survival amongst Holmeses." Mycroft teased.

"I thank God for her everyday." Lestrade grinned back.

"You Holmeses..." John sighed in exasperation, rubbing his temples after Sherlock finished telling him about his father. "Your family is all bonkers." They had just gotten back to their hotel with the rest of the group.

"Well, that's just how things are." Sherlock shrugged. "And then Mummy went and told us that Father was living in America for a witness protection program and that one day he'd come back. I guess she held on hope that he would."

John blinked and looked at Sherlock. There was something wry and bitter in his voice. Something that sounded like knowing.

The consulting detective and his flatmate were sharing a hotel room and Sherlock was lounged on the double bed, legs crossed, fiddling with his phone, not looking at John.

A tell that his expression would alter from its apathic mold if he did.

"You knew...?" John said, more a statement than a question. "You knew that Mycroft was lying when he told me to tell you that Irene Adler was in the witness protection program."

"It's Mycroft." Sherlock shrugged. "And we are Holmeses. Mother lied to us to save us from knowing about his death. Mycroft would use the same excuse for similar reasons, wouldn't he?"

"She's dead." John told him.

Sherlock finally lowered his phone and looked at his boyfriend disdainfully. "John, do you really think Mycroft would warn me that she would die, and not expect me to do anything about it?"

It took the ex-army medic a few moments to let the implications settle in. "You mean she's-...?"

"Alive." Sherlock replied simply.

"And Mycroft-..."

"Practically gave me permission to interfere with the execution." Sherlock shrugged. "How could I resist?"

"B-but... why?" John questioned curiously.

Sherlock smiled. "Because he could."

"Admit it." Lestrade grinned over at Mycroft. "You're just a big softie."

"Hardly." Mycroft sniffed. "I could always use favors from Sherlock."

"You let him save her."

"He was fond of her." Mycroft waved him off casually. "It doesn't happen very often. I suppose, for that reason alone, she was worth saving."

"Softie." Lestrade jibed.

"Reasonable." Mycroft returned coolly.

He smoothed over a painful memory with the existence of a greater, better one. Not that he'd admit it in a million years. Lestrade smiled slowly. "You're a good older brother, Mycroft."

"Let me know if Sherlock agrees." Mycroft said to him seriously. "National Security Protocol requires me to evacuate the city for safety reasons."

Lestrade snorted. "Sure."

"Oh, I'm very serious, Gregory."

"We'll see, won't we?"

"Hm, No. It'll never happen." Mycroft smiled.

"Darn it."

A/N: Let's face it, Mycroft knows Sherlock saved Irene because she caused alot of trouble for him and the British Government. He wouldn't just send her out somewhere in the Middle East to be executed and not have proof of it succeeding. He'd hear about it... and then not do anything? Yep, he planned it.