What Sherlock Holmes had expected when he went down the stairs to open the door on Christmas Day was not quite what he got. He had expected one of Mycroft’s minions to stand there with a basket full of Christmas food, or something equally ridiculous, or possibly children singing carols, though it was perhaps too early. What he found, when his eyes had adjusted to the darkness outside, was a cheerfully red baby carrier, complete with baby inside.
It was -2 degrees outside, so Sherlock decided to take the baby inside while he figured out what to do. He put the carrier down on the sofa and then sat down next to it. The baby hadn’t woken, so he felt its forehead, just to make sure it was still alive. It was.
When asked later Sherlock will claim it was the shock of seeing a baby on his front steps that made him miss the envelope tucked between the baby’s blankets and the carrier. As it was, he was too distracted by looking at the baby to see it.
After a while the baby woke up and started screaming. Sherlock had been deep in contemplation, so he jumped when the baby suddenly started showing off its lung capacity. He flailed around a bit, trying to figure out what to do, before deciding on the only sensible course of action.
“John,” he yelled, and the baby started screaming louder as a consequence. Sherlock ran up the stairs to find John already in his pyjamas coming out of the room.
“Morn... Sherlock, is that a baby?” he asked.
“Yes. It seems to have woken up,” Sherlock replied. “I don’t know how to make it silent again.”
John just shook his head and went down the stairs. By the time Sherlock followed John had unwrapped the baby from the blankets and was carrying it close to his chest, bobbing it up and down in a motion Sherlock had seen many parents use. He thought the baby would get seasick from such a thing, but instead it had gone silent. He looked at it. It looked strange, weirdly proportioned, and bald.
“It was too warm, and probably hungry too. Are you going to read the letter?” John said.
“The one lying in the baby carrier, addressed to you,” John said, and Sherlock immediately snapped it up.
Normal, cheap envelope, but damn, he recognized that handwriting. He opened the letter with a sigh. After he’d read it he sat down heavily on the sofa and John snatched the letter, without disturbing the baby.
this one is yours. As I travel a lot I can’t take care of her at the moment. She no longer nurses, so she’ll be fine with substitute. I’m sure your doctor friend can help you figure out the rest. Don’t give her away, I’ll know, and I put you down as the father on her birth certificate.
Ps. Her name is Maria Elisabeth Adler-Holmes’
“This is your kid?” John asked. Sherlock sighed. “Sherlock! Is this your kid?”
“Apparently,” Sherlock said, somewhat lacking his usual sarcasm.
“I though you were married to your job.”
“I cheated,” Sherlock said, standing up and pacing around the room.
“Not that I’m not glad for your sake, but Sherlock, condoms?” John said. “A genius should be able to figure that one out.”
There was silence. Sherlock didn’t look at John.
“Apparently not,” John said. “What now?”
“Paternity test,” Sherlock said. John blinked. “I can do it in the kitchen.”
“I was more thinking food and nappies,” John said.
“Yes, yes, let me just get started on this,” Sherlock said, and took a hair off the baby’s head. She started crying again.
“Sherlock!” John said. “You can’t just do that.”
“She won’t remember it,” Sherlock said. “Now, this technique isn’t a hundred percent certain, but it’ll show if there is any need to go through with the normal tests.” He started poking around in the kitchen, while John comforted the baby.
True to his word, Sherlock came with John and Maria when they went out. John continued to carry her, since he wasn’t sure Sherlock knew how to hold her, and that he had to support her head. He also wasn’t sure Sherlock wouldn’t just forget he was holding a baby and not a plaything, and put her down somewhere. He made Sherlock carry the shopping basket though.
“How old is she?” John asked when they were in the baby food section. Sherlock frowned for a while.
“Assuming Irene carried to term, between 5 months and 27 days and 6 months and 8 days,” Sherlock said. John grimaced.
“Ok, that was disturbingly exact. Well, at least we know what to get for her. I have to read up on this when we get back, but I think we’ll go with formula for now. If I’m not mistaken we can start giving her normal food soon.” He put a box of formula powder in the basket. Sherlock and Maria were looking at each other like they were having a stare off. “Sherlock? Did you listen?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said, and John just sighed. He supposed he should be grateful that Sherlock had come at all, and that the closest shop didn’t close for such inconsequential things as Christmas.
“Can you go pick out nappies? And please don’t pick pink ones,” John said, thinking of what Harry would say. Or rather yell. She’d probably know too, without even seeing Maria, due to some freaky older sister power.
“Why would I pick something pink?” Sherlock said. “She obviously has my complexion, and pink doesn’t work with it.” John just sighed again. The baby obviously didn’t have Sherlock’s complexion, but anything that kept him away from the pink would do.
He was waiting at the checkout when Sherlock came towards him, grinning in a vaguely disturbing way. John held out his hand. Sherlock showed him the nappies he had found, with a skull and crossbones pattern. John wisely decided not to say anything, it was after all Sherlock’s kid (supposedly), and if the nappies were sufficiently interesting maybe teaching Sherlock how to change them would be easier.
Sherlock was glad to be home. Shopping wasn’t something he particularly liked, and this trip to the store had been even more unpleasant than usual. He couldn’t stop looking at the baby. His eyes were drawn to her wherever she was. He just wanted to finish his testing, and when it was clear the baby wasn’t his he could leave her with child protective services. He and Irene never had anything approaching faithfulness, and thinking that the child was his was just preposterous. Even if she did have his complexion, and hair. She did look quite like her mother though, so Sherlock was quite sure that she was Irene’s.
He left John with the baby and went into the kitchen. His experimental technique for determining relations only needed the last steps, before it would indicate through colour how likely it was that the two people were related. He just needed to add the reactive agent, and it would indicate red. He was sure of it. Any minute now. It was... blue.
Sherlock left the kitchen.
“Is she yours?” John asked. He had put the baby back in the carrier and was using his laptop to do some research.
Sherlock sat down on the sofa.
“Blue,” he said.
“It was blue. She’s mine. My baby,” Sherlock said.
“Blue? Like a pregnancy test?” John said, but Sherlock could tell he had hoped that the baby was someone else’s, just like him.
“Should I...” Sherlock started, but he had no idea what should come next. Even if they hadn’t exactly planned to celebrate Christmas they had talked about going out. That wasn’t going to happen. In fact, it was possible it wasn’t going to happen in a very long time.
A baby. His baby.
“I need to lie down for a while,” Sherlock said, and stumbled into his room.