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Deeper Than Blood

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John woke up to shrill, high pitched screaming. The scream was quickly followed by a "You stop that screaming right this instant, Hamish. Your daddy is sleeping" from Sherlock. Too late, John thought tiredly as he rolled over and sat up in bed. He rubbed a hand over his eyes and tiredly looked at the clock that was on his bedside table. 7:49AM; still, pretty good these days. Most mornings Hamish didn't sleep past 6AM so John considered it a miracle that he had been able to sleep this long. But he could tell by the screaming and arguing coming from the sitting room that it was going to be a long morning.

Hamish's whiny tone called out, "I don't feel well, father" followed by a high-pitched crying sound.

"Hamish, I've asked you to put your toys away five times now. Even if you don't feel well you still have to do what you're told" Sherlock said with tried patience. John smiled a little to himself. Hamish was the only person on earth who could defy and argue with Sherlock and live to tell about it.

Hamish didn't dignify Sherlock's remark with a response; instead he started crying. Sounds of things being thrown could be heard in John's room and his smile faded away. Hamish was usually such a well behaved child; he had had his share of tantrums when he was one and two years old, but now that he was five they were not that common; if he was this whiny, he obviously didn't feel well.

John got up, stepping around toys and books that littered Hamish's side of the room; John hadn't been too keen on the idea of having to share his room with a child when Hamish had first come to live them, especially since at the time he was an infant who didn't sleep through the tonight yet. But as 221B only had two bedrooms and Sherlock had refused to share his, John had gotten used to it. John winced as his bare foot connected with a Lego; well, it wasn't too bad most of the time.

When John emerged from his bedroom and into the sitting room, he saw Sherlock standing over Hamish who had thrown himself on the floor in a very uncharacteristic tantrum. He was rolling around and kicking his feet as the scowl on Sherlock's face grew deeper. "Look, now you've woken your daddy" Sherlock said with an annoyed tone.

Hamish's head popped up from the carpet as he heard John come in the room. He climbed off the floor and ran at John, his black curls bouncing. He threw himself at John and John scooped him up into his arms. Hamish threw his arms around John's neck in a death grip as he buried his face in John's neck. "Daddy, I don't feel well." He said softly as his grip grew tighter. "Father's being mean"

John rubbed Hamish's back comfortingly as he looked at Sherlock. His hair was rumpled and his pyjamas and dressing gown wrinkled. His face was tired and annoyed and it was obvious that he had already had enough this morning. "I just asked him to pick up his toys" Sherlock said tiredly.

John looked from Sherlock to Hamish and sighed. It was a too common occurrence that he got stuck in the middle of Sherlock and Hamish's arguments, both vying for him to pick a side and he always hated it. Sherlock's wrath was hard enough to deal with and Hamish was a five year old version of his father in most every way; get on either of their bad sides and it was not a pleasant day.

"Hamish, you need to do as father asked" John said softly. "If you don't feel well, then you can lay down after you've picked up your things." He patted the boy's back before placing him down on the ground. "Okay daddy" Hamish said in a resigned tone as he slowly began to pick up his toys. When he had gathered an armful, he walked to his room to deposit them and Sherlock huffed loudly as he threw himself in his chair. "Of course, he argues with me for 20 minutes but just does what you ask the first time" Sherlock said annoyed.

John plopped down in his chair across from Sherlock, a small smile tugging on his lips. "You two are so much alike " John said. "He really is exactly like you, you know"

Sherlock rolled his eyes as he grabbed the paper and held it up, hiding behind it. John smiled as he looked at him brooding behind the paper and at the small boy who was also brooding as he continued to pick up his toys; perfect matches.

It had been quite a surprise to everyone, Hamish's existence. It had been nearly four years ago when Sherlock and John had woken one morning to find a one year old Hamish laying on their couch, wrapped in blankets with a note beside him that simply read, Sherlock, please take care of our son. There had been no other explanation of where the child had come from and even Sherlock had denied that he could have a son. He had in fact shunned the child and refused to hold him for days. John saw something strange in Sherlock's eyes that had made him question the possibility and he had deceptively taken a cheek swab from Sherlock while he'd been sleeping. John was shocked when the lab had said that Sherlock's and Hamish's DNA had matched. Sherlock was not pleased at John's deceptiveness and he had refused to answer any of John's questions as to who Hamish's mother was. Even to this day, four years later, John still didn't know who Hamish's mother was.

It had been very difficult at first; Sherlock, upon finding that Hamish was his own flesh and blood, had taken his responsibility as father very seriously. John had only suggested adoption once and Sherlock had been insistent that his child would live with him and him only. But that didn't mean that Sherlock was particularly nurturing; especially in the early days it had been John who had taken on the more mothering role. He had fed him, rocked him to sleep during the night. Sherlock hadn't once changed a dirty nappy. But Sherlock did love Hamish, that much was certain. As the child had grown, Sherlock had been more involved in his life, particularly engaging him simple experiments and sharing his love of music with him. Hamish had learned to play the violin when he was four and it was one of the great joys of parenting when he got to sit back and listen to Sherlock and Hamish play the violin in tune together. Hamish was exceptionally smart like his father; before he even went to nursery school he was able to read.

Sherlock and John had had their own share of issues with the entrance of Hamish into their lives. Naturally, everywhere they went, two men raising a child made people assume that they were gay. It wasn't something new, as people had been assuming this about them since they had moved into 221B, but it was heightened when they had added Hamish to their lives. John had given up correcting people who assumed that he and Sherlock were "together". Whatever he and Sherlock had together, it worked and he wasn't going to question it too deeply.

After Hamish had picked up his toys he climbed up into John's lap, turning the telly to the science channel before sitting back against John's chest. John put his hand on Hamish's forehead, feeling for a temperature but he felt only slightly warm; no matter, it was obvious that he didn't feel well. He wasn't a clingy or particularly affectionate child so if he was hanging on to John something was up.

John and Hamish watched telly for another hour or so while Sherlock did an experiment at the kitchen table before Sherlock's phone rang. He spoke a short while before coming into the sitting rom. "That was Lestrade" he said, "Needs us on a case. Hamish, you'll have to go and stay with Mrs. Hudson for a while"

He said it softly, but Hamish was on the offense instantly. "No" he whined, sitting up and looking at Sherlock. "Stay here father, please…." He begged, reaching out his arms toward Sherlock.

"Hamish, we have to go to work. You'll be fine with Mrs. Hudson" Sherlock insisted, not picking up on Hamish's need to be held.

Hamish stood up on the arm of the chair, putting his arms around Sherlock, making his need for affection obvious. "Father, please stay with me, I don't feel well" he begged. It was rare when Hamish was this needy and it pulled at John's heart for his sake.

"I can't" Sherlock insisted, still not picking up on Hamish's cues. "I have to go to work. Stay here and be a big boy for father"

But Hamish was past the point of listening. He pulled at Sherlock's dressing gown as he began to cry. Sherlock looked at John with a puzzled expression, obviously out of his element. It was obvious that Sherlock didn't know how to diffuse this uncomfortable situation. "I'll stay with him" John offered. He pulled at Hamish, prying his small hands off Sherlock's dressing gown as he cradled the crying boy. "You go ahead Sherlock, I'll stay here with him"

Sherlock gave him a thankful expression as he disappeared into his bedroom to change his clothes. John put his arm under Hamish and his other arm around him, pulling him close like he hadn't held him since he was an infant. He pushed Hamish's curls out of his face as he began to calm himself down. When he had stopped crying, he used the sleeve of his outer space pyjamas to wipe his tears away and he looked up at John. "Thanks for staying with me daddy" he said in a tone that melted John's heart.

….

John didn't mind having to attend to someone that was ill; as a doctor, he wouldn't have gotten far in his profession if he had. But there was something different about it when it was your own child. Even though Hamish wasn't his by blood, he loved him as deeply as he would have had he been and he hated to see him in pain. Hamish's temperature had been steadily climbing all day, peeking midday at 38.8. He'd been freezing, shaking from the cold and John had wrapped him tightly in a blanket and holding him on his lap. Hoping Hamish might go to sleep and find some relief, John turned the lights off and closed the curtains in the flat. After John got up and switched the lights off he sat back down and Hamish curled up in John's lap, laying his head against John's chest, eyes trained lazily on the astronomy program on the telly. John has always found it amusing that Hamish seemed to lean toward astronomy as he favorite science since Sherlock had always found it to be rather unimportant. The fact that his interest in the subject had increased tremendously in the past few years was not lost on John.

When Hamish's eyes finally began to droop down and stay closed, John lifted him up and carried him to their room. He lay him gently down on the bed, covering him with his blanket as Hamish stirred a little. When John turned on his stars nightlight, Hamish began to whine.

"Daddy…..my head hurts…my stomach hurts…I feel funny" Hamish complained in a small voice that made him sound younger than he was.

Sympathy stirred in him; he sat down on the edge of the bed. "Just go to sleep sweetheart" John said softly, moving his hand in small circles on Hamish's back. "I'm sure if you get some much needed sleep, you'll feel much better."

"I want father" Hamish said in a small voice. He pulled his blankie out from under his pillow and clutched it. It was a blue, tattered, stained thing that used to be decorated with blue and red boats. Sherlock despised it; he thought Hamish was much too old for it even though he was only five and rarely still held it.

"I know you do" John said. "But you know he works late sometimes and when he's on a case it's hard to know when he's going to be home"

"You think he'll tell me about the case tomorrow?" Hamish asked. John smiled; Hamish always loved to hear about Sherlock's cases. It was difficult, sometimes for him to share them because of the nature of the case but Sherlock always made an effort to tell him what he could.

"I'm sure that he will" John said with a smile.

"Daddy, if Father's not working tomorrow, you think we can go to the park? The one with the pool?" Hamish asked.

"Sure, if you're feeling better tomorrow" John said. "Maybe you can even convince father to get in the pool this time" Hamish had been a big fan of the water ever since he was a toddler and John has taken him for swimming lessons. Really, he'd done it because he was a worrier and he wanted the boy to know how to swim but ever since then it was nearly impossible to keep him out of water when it was present. Sherlock, on the other hand detested pools and refused to get in even with Hamish. He would go on and on about the germs and idiotic people in the pool but John was sure his extreme modesty had a lot to do it with it as well.

Hamish gave John a smile, his first of the day. "I hope so" he said. He closed his eyes and after a few minutes of rubbing his back John could hear his breath become even and deep. John watched him sleep for a few minutes, his black curls falling over his forehead, his pale, perfect face peaceful; he looked so much like Sherlock. John was careful to get up slowly so that he didn't wake Hamish and closed the door softly behind him.

John spent the next couple of hours cleaning around the flat. He washed some well overdo dishes, cleared the kitchen table as much as he could without disturbing Sherlock's experiments and emptied the rubbish bins. He was just sitting down at his laptop to check his blog when he heard Hamish's voice calling out for him from the bedroom. John walked down the hallway and opened the bedroom door. He peered into the room to see Hamish sitting up in bed, whimpering. John came into the room, switching the lamp on beside Hamish's bed. He could see then that Hamish had vomit on the bed and down the front of his pyjamas shirt.

"Does your stomach hurt?" John asked, leaning down beside him.

"No" Hamish said, looking slightly confused. " I woke up and my head really hurt. My stomach felt queasy for a little bit and then I got sick. I feel much better now….but it's gross. Get it off of me" he held his hands in front of him, looking at the vomit with apparent disgust.

"It's okay, we'll get you cleaned up" John said.

"I still want to go to the pool tomorrow" Hamish said with some defiance and finality. It was the same tone Sherlock used when he demanded he was going to do something. "I really felt bad but now I feel okay. My stomach doesn't hurt at all."

John put his hand to Hamish's forehead and he felt cooler than earlier; might have just been a 24 hour bug. John hoped that it was. "Well, if you don't feel bad and your fever is gone tomorrow, we'll go to the pool" John tentatively promised "I don't want to go if you're feeling sick at all."

"I'm sure I'll be fine, daddy. After all, you said that maybe I just needed sleep." Hamish said with extreme positivity, nodding strongly. John smiled a little bit; it was sure a ringing claim for someone that was still covered in vomit.

"Yes, I did say that" John agreed. "Well, let's get you cleaned up and get some fluids into you."

He helped Hamish out of bed and walked with him to the bathroom, helping him out of his dirty clothes. He took a wet cloth and wiped him down before walking back to the bedroom and helping him into clean pyjamas. Hamish, reluctantly, drank a cup of water and was cleaning his teeth while John cleaned up his bed when there was the sound of footsteps on the stairs.

"Father!" Hamish said with excitement as dropped his toothbrush into the sink ran toward the sound of Sherlock coming up the stairs. John finished the sheets before walking into the sitting room. Sherlock and Hamish were sitting on the couch; Sherlock still had his coat on and Hamish was sitting next to him, cross legged and wide eyed. "Did you catch him? The criminal? Was it a hard case?" Hamish asked with excitement, putting his elbows on his knees and leaning his face into his hands.

"It was actually quite easy" Sherlock said with a mischievous grin. "The criminal was quite careless and left footprints behind. It was not difficult to determine his shoe size and, that his shoes were a very specific type, one that the victim's butler was known to wear. When we interviewed the man he refused to let us see his shoes. Of course, we obtained a warrant and were able to search the man's flat. We not only found the shoes but found traces of the victim's blood on them. No getting away from that one"

"You caught him in one day" Hamish said with excitement, his little fists balled up in exclamation. "He really was foolish wasn't he?" He bounced up and down on the couch and despite John's hesitation that he shouldn't be so excited about something so morbid, he was just happy that he seemed to be feeling better. John watched the adorable exchange from a distance; Sherlock was not a conventional parent, but he was the perfect father for Hamish.

"Yes, he really was. But then again, most criminals are" Sherlock said. "They get caught in their wrong doing and even become confident that they'll never get caught."

"And then you show them they're no good at all" Hamish said, raising his hands in excitement.

Sherlock smiled. "Exactly" he said, pride showing on his face. While Sherlock and Hamish butted heads a lot because they were so alike, it was obvious that Hamish was Sherlock's number one fan.

"Here, I took some photos you can see of the crime scene" Sherlock said, giving Hamish a gleeful grin as he fished his mobile from his pocket.

"Really!?" Hamish exclaimed, jumping on the couch with his knees.

That's when John felt the need to step in; while Hamish was born with morbid fascinations, John didn't want to actually encourage them too much. "Uh…do you think that's such a good idea?" John asked, walking into the room and sitting on the edge of the couch next to Sherlock. Sherlock turned and gave him a smile.

"Don't worry, Daddy" he emphasized the word the way he did when Sherlock thought he was worrying too much. "They don't break The Rules"

John had made up The Rules a few years ago when Hamish had already begun showing interest in Sherlock's work. It was natural that a child want to know everything about what their father (or in their case fathers) did for work but when said father solved crimes, you had to be careful. John had created rules about what Sherlock should show and tell Hamish. Among the rules was no picture of dead bodies, grotesque images of bodies or in-depth descriptions of crime.

John still held his breath as Sherlock showed Hamish the pictures on his phone. "Here's the footprint I used to make the deductions about the murder's shoe" Sherlock explained. "Here's his shoes…..see the bit of blood there?"

"Cool!" Hamish enthused. John resisted the temptation to say something. It was only a bit of blood after all…..

"Are you feeling better, Hamish?" Sherlock asked after a moment, handing Hamish his phone to keep, seeing he was still interested in the photos. "Did Daddy take good care of you today?"

"I feel okay now" Hamish declared matter of factly. "I felt really bad but then I threw up and now I'm better."

"You've been vomiting?" Sherlock asked with slight alarm.

"Just once" Hamish said, looking like he realized shouldn't have said anything. "But Daddy said I could still go to the pool tomorrow"

Sherlock looked over at John with a critical gaze. "You think going to the pool is wise if he's ill?" he asked, raising his eyebrow.

"Well," John said, quick to step in and diffuse the misunderstanding. "I said that if he's feeling alright and he doesn't have a fever we can go. I think it was just a 24 hour thing. Been going around the school."

Hamish looked at Sherlock with eager, wide eyes. "Can we, Father?" he asked.

Sherlock shot John a dirty look before turning to Hamish again. "We'll see how you're feeling in the morning, okay? If you're feeling good we can go"

"Yeah!" Hamish said in excitement, clapping his hands.

"But you should probably get some sleep, then" Sherlock said. "Come on, I'll go tuck you in"

"Okay" Hamish relented, looking tired but trying to not look tired. John watched Sherlock ad Hamish walked towards the bedroom. A few minutes later, Sherlock emerged from the bedroom, taking off his coat and jacket before sitting down in his chair across from John. "The pool, really, John?" Sherlock asked almost immediately, disgust on his face. "Why did you promise him the pool?"

John smiled at the obvious repulsion on Sherlock's face. "Because despite sharing your DNA, he loves the pool. He asked to go and I said it'd be fine if he was feeling okay"

Sherlock shook his head with a slight snicker. "He's got you wrapped around his little fingers, you know that?" he asked.

"Yeah looks whose talking" John said with a huff.

"I'm not the one that promised to take him to the awful pool" Sherlock said. "Do you have any idea the amount of bacteria found in pool water?"

John just smiled. "You know he's going to ask you to swim with him" he said off handily.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Doesn't he always?" he asked. "Doesn't mean I will"

"Come on, Sherlock" John prodded. "Ease up a little…..it'll mean so much to him."

Sherlock scowled. "Don't bother, John. I'm perfectly fine watching him from the side of the pool. You're the one that got him into this habit…..you can swim with him."

"I got him into this "habit" because I wanted him to know how to swim. I didn't want him to fall into a pool one day and drown" John said defensively.

"Ooh, ease off mummy" Sherlock said with a small snicker.

John chose to ignore the mummy comment. It was no secret that of the two of them, he was definitely the mothering one of the two. Someone had to do it, but he didn't want to even be close to being called such. "Excuse me for looking out for his well-being" John said calmly.

Sherlock looked at John calmly for a few moments. "How was he today? Was he difficult to deal with?" he asked.

John sighed. "He's just a boy and he just didn't feel well. Watched telly and slept most of the day. He did throw up but I think he'll be okay. He heals quickly and he's obviously already much improved from this morning."

There was silence for a long time before Sherlock said, "Thank you for staying with him"

Sherlock rarely said thank you for anything, and John was slightly surprised. "It's no big deal" John said.

"I know you would have rather been at the crime scene than at home taking care of domestics" Sherlock said, still not looking at John.

"I really don't mind it" John said. And for the most part he didn't. Sure, tracking down a killer would be more interesting than staying at home cleaning up vomit but he loved Hamish like he was his own and he had calmed down a lot since Hamish's arrival.

"I mind it" Sherlock said quietly. By the time that John looked up to ask him what he meant by that, Sherlock was disappearing out of the room and toward his room, leaving John confused.

 

Let me know what you think of our little family so far :) Let me know if you'd like to see more! Thanks for reading!

Chapter Text

The next morning John was woken forcefully and abruptly by his bed moving underneath him. Expecting some of Sherlock's strange antics, John barked, "Sherlock, what are you doing?" as he rubbed his tired eyes.

When he opened his eyes, he saw that it wasn't Sherlock doing an experiment on him or trying to rouse him for a crime scene. Hamish was jumping up and down on the bed, already clad in his swimming trunks. "It's not Father, it's me silly!" Hamish teased, laughing.

John sat up in bed, struggling to do so with Hamish's jumping; he was obviously feeling better. "Hamish, stop jumping on the bed" John asked calmly and Hamish gave a forceful jump up before letting himself land on the bed on his knees.

"I'm ready to go to the pool!" Hamish said in excitement. John glanced at the clock; 8:00 wasn't quite pool weather yet.

John felt Hamish's forehead; he didn't have a fever. "I guess you're feeling better" John said with a smile.

"Oh , yes, much better!" Hamish said. "I'm not sick at all and I'm all ready to go! Father's up too, he says we can go when you're up. So…..you're up now!"

John pushed back the covers and sat up over the side of the bed; Sherlock was likely up because he hadn't slept all night. John would have preferred a later start to his Sunday morning but Hamish's excitement was infectious. "Alright, alright, I am up" John relented. "But, you have to eat breakfast before we go."

"Aww…..do I have to?" Hamish whined. He shared his father's reluctance with eating. Most of time he was too excited with whatever he was doing to want to waste time eating. He'd always been on the small side and every bite was a struggle.

"Yes, you have to" John insisted. "You have to have breakfast. You have to eat a little something at least. It won't take too much of your swim time, I promise" John gave Hamish a small smile.

Hamish huffed. "Okay…fine…"he relented. He was disappointed for one second before he jumped up and ran for the sitting room. "I'm going to help Father with his experiment while I wait!"

Hamish was out of the room before John could ask exactly what kind of experiment Sherlock was conducting. John dressed quickly, putting his swimsuit on under his clothes, eager to get to the kitchen before the experiment, whatever it was, could get out of hand.

John could hear the suspicious sounds of chaos coming from the kitchen as he got closer, a strange smell filling the room. John walked into the kitchen to see Sherlock standing in front of the microwave, Hamish standing on a chair so he could see inside. Both had aprons and goggles on and John could only guess what "experiment" they were doing. They didn't notice John at first and he watched something explode inside the microwave loudly and Sherlock and Hamish exchange a cry of triumph.

"What are you two doing?" John asked, a slight laugh on his voice

Hamish jumped off the chair and ran to John, his black curls bouncing. "The eyeballs exploded, Daddy!" he said, taking his hand and jumping excitedly.

John had to laugh; there was a sentence he should have never expected to hear but in this family it didn't surprise him. "So…..no using the microwave today then?" John asked in jest. He scooped Hamish up into his arms.

"You can't use the microwave because it's covered in eye bits, duh!" Hamish said with a laugh. His blue eyes sparkled with excitement. John had to admit that it wasn't as bad as he had expected to find.

"Oh, well, of course" John said with an important nod. "Cereal it is, then."

John poured Hamish a bowl of cereal which he began to eat so quickly there was no way he could taste it; John knew he had no enthusiasm for the actual food, he simply wanted to be done with breakfast so they could leave.

"So, does that experiment conform to The Rules?" John asked with a raised eyebrow in Sherlock's direction as he began to eat his own breakfast.

Sherlock, sipping his tea but not eating breakfast himself, smiled. "They weren't human eyes" he said in humorous defense.

"Oh, well, of course that makes all the difference" John said dryly but he couldn't help but smile a bit. John looked over at Hamish, sitting in his swim trunks, his goggles still on; he was too adorable for his own good.

"Father…will you swim with me when we are at the pool today?" Hamish asked hopefully.

Sherlock glanced up from his tea. "I don't swim, Hamish. You know that" he said, raising his eyebrow knowingly.

Hamish looked deflated for a second but recovered quickly. "Alright…" he looked over John. "Daddy, wanna race me when he we get there?"

John smiled. "I would love to."

….

It wasn't even noon yet and the day was already boiling as they made their way through the park to the pool. John shed his t-shirt as soon as got out of the cab, sweating profusely from the beating overhead sun; summer had definitely arrived early this year. John didn't know how Sherlock, clad in usual trousers and t-shirt, wasn't burning alive in the heat.

When they reached the poolside, Hamish took off for the pool instantly. "Hey, Hamish…..shallow end only until I get there!" John called off as he ran for the water. Hamish turned briefly to nod in his direction before jumping into the pool. Because of the beauty of the day, the pool was very full. John and Sherlock found an empty spot by the pool and set their things down. Sherlock sat down close to the edge of the pool, watching Hamish swimming a few feet away. "He was disappointed that you wouldn't swim with him" John said sitting down on the towel beside Sherlock and giving Sherlock a sideways glance.

John couldn't see Sherlock's eyes under his sunglasses but he was sure that he must have rolled his eyes. "Oh, please John….he's used to it by now. He knows I don't swim. I shouldn't even let Hamish swim in this cesspool….likely to make him sick"

"Oh yeah he looks really sick" John joked as Hamish did a cannon ball into the pool. He stood up. "You have fun sitting here and baking in the sun I'm going in the pool"

John joined Hamish in the pool, Hamish quickly paddling toward the deep end of the pool now that John was there. He raced John from one end of the pool to the next until John thought his arms would fall off. Finally he had to admit defeat. "You win" John said, pulling up and siting on the edge of the pool. "I must surely pull out of this race" he said with mock seriousness.

"Yes!" Hamish said in victory, his face lighting up. "I win again." He climbed up the pool ladder and sat on the pool's edge beside John. He kicked his little feet in the water and looked at John. "Father must be hot" he said glancing his way; Sherlock noticed and gave then a wave.

"Yeah, I agree…..the day is definitely hot. He should have listened to you" John said. "He'd be much more comfortable in the water."

Hamish got a mischievous look on his face. "You should push him in, Daddy" he said, snickering behind his hands.

John huffed; Sherlock would kill him for that. "Ah, I don't think Father would be too happy with me if I did that" he said looking at Sherlock.

Hamish laughed. "But it would be so much fun" he said. "Then he'd have to swim!"

John smiled. "Yes, he wouldn't have much of choice" he said with his own little laugh. After a few moments of sitting and watching others swim, Hamish looked up at John and asked. "Daddy, do you love Father?"

John was alarmed by the quick turn this conversation had taken from joking to seriousness. John was taken aback by the question. He looked over at Hamish quickly, his porcelain face looking up at him with all the seriousness of a 5 -year- old's world. "I care about Father a lot" John said, glad Sherlock wasn't in earshot of their conversation. "Why do you ask?"

Hamish looked serious as his thought. "Well, at school the other kids asked me why I had two daddies. I told them that was stupid because I only had one daddy, which is you, and then I have Father. They said that wasn't right because I'm supposed to have a mummy and daddy who love each other"

John felt panic bells ring in his head; he knew one day questions like these would come, he just didn't expect them so soon. He didn't want to divert Hamish's concern and attention but he did want to steer him away from asking about his mum. John himself didn't have the answers to that though he didn't want Hamish knowing that. One day, Sherlock was going to have to answer that question. "Well, they are wrong" John said. "You don't have to have a mummy and daddy. Some kids only have a mum, or only have a dad. And some kids, like you, are really lucky because they have two dads"

Hamish gave a little giggle. "The other kids said you're like a mum because you take me to school and pack my lunch like mums do. I told them that was stupid"

John laughed; yes, in their arraignment it definitely appeared that John was the mum. He could just picture Hamish, with his know it all attitude, telling the other kids off. Like father, like son. "That was pretty silly of them" John said.

Hamish stopped his giggling after a while and looked serious again. "Daddy, if you love Father, how come you don't hug him and kiss him?"

John groaned internally; this was not at all where he wanted this conversation going. The answer to that was a fine line between attraction and friendship and he couldn't explain that to Hamish. "You don't always have to hug and kiss someone when you love them" John said cautiously, hoping Hamish would accept the vague answer.

"So you do love him?" Hamish asked.

John paused; did he? Their relationship lines had blurred so much other the years. They'd never once expressed interest in each other, but they were a family. John saw Sherlock no longer as a friend of flat mate but an irreplaceable member of his family. Did he love him? Yes. Was it the same kind of love that people always assumed? No.

John smiled. "Of course I love him" he said, bringing a smile to Hamish's face.

…..

Hamish stayed in the water as long as John would allow, only coming out when John told him he had to eat lunch. He ate quickly, talking a mile a minute between bites, jumping up the second that he was finished. "Father, come watch me jump into the pool" Hamish said as he grabbed Sherlock's hand and pulled him up. John continued to sit on the towel by the pool, watching Sherlock and Hamish walk to the pool's edge. John's smile turned to an agape wide-mouthed look when he watched Hamish give Sherlock a little push when he got close to the edge. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough that Sherlock lost his balance and went over the edge, clothes and all.

John was waiting for Sherlock to explode, to start yelling at Hamish for doing it. But to his immense surprise, when Sherlock's head bobbed out from the water, he simply reached out and grabbed Hamish, the two laughing as Sherlock tickled him, holding him tightly so that he couldn't get away, splashing water everywhere.

John laughed at the sight, silently contemplating Hamish's complex question. He did love Sherlock; he had in some form or other for a long time, not that he'd admit that to anyone. For the first time, John found himself wondering if Sherlock felt love for him in some way. There had been a time that John would have said that he felt Sherlock incapable of love; Hamish had changed that. While Sherlock would always be a brand all his own, being Hamish's father had softened him a lot. Sherlock loved Hamish with all of his being. But how did things stand between the two of them? Days like this, where he and Sherlock spent the day with Hamish were so delightfully domestic. John wanted it to always be like this. It had been years since the idea of marrying and moving out of 221B had occurred to him; it would feel like abandoning his family. He didn't want to leave Sherlock and Hamish.

Pushing the uncomfortable thoughts out of his head and focusing on easier territory, John got up and walked over to where Sherlock and Hamish were battling in the water. Sherlock was good humored about the whole issue; he was laughing, Hamish perched on his shoulders as Sherlock bobbed up and down in the water. Well, that was the difference between him and Hamish; when Hamish pushed Sherlock in the water it was cute but if John did it, he'd have been murdered in his sleep.

"Well, look at you two" John said, jumping into the pool next to them. Hamish was giggling, looking down at John from the heights of Sherlock's shoulders.

"Father's swimming now!" Hamish said cheekily. Sherlock rolled his eyes but he was smiling.

"Oh yeah? Well look at who's going into the water!" Sherlock said with enthusiasm as he turned Hamish off of his shoulders and into the water with one swift movement. He bobbed up quickly, laughing along with John.

"Oh look, Daddy's next!" Sherlock said, swimming at John in an effort to dunk him down, Hamish laughing hysterically all the while. It was the perfect day and John was sure he was happy with his little family just as it was, blurred lines and all.

…..

They returned to 221B that evening as the sun was going down. Hamish would have stayed there all night, had they let him but John had insisted they leave early; after all, he had school in the morning. Hamish didn't even make it three minutes into the drive before he passed out between the two of them, leaning heavily on Sherlock.

When they arrived home, John scooped Hamish into his arms and carried him up to his flat. "I'll put Hamish to bed. I'm sure you want to change first" John said with a slight smirk. Sherlock's clothes, now cold and wet, clung heavily to him.

Sherlock scowled at him but John knew it was only half serious. "I bet you encouraged him to push me" he said sourly.

"Actually, that was all his idea" John said proudly, patting the sleeping Hamish's back. "Wanted me to do it but I told it wasn't a good idea. But don't even pretend you didn't enjoy yourself once you were in the water. You loved it…..and Hamish loved every minute of it."

"If I catch some odd skin condition, I'll blame you" Sherlock said sarcastically, before retreating down the hallway to change clothes.

John carried Hamish to their room, setting him down on his bed. He was so tired that he didn't even wake up as John changed him out of his wet bathing suit and put him in his pyjamas. John tucked the blankets around him, marveling at just how young Hamish looked when he was asleep. He was so mature sometimes that it was easy to forget just how young he still was. Feeling sentimental, John tucked Hamish's blankie into his arms before leaning down and giving him a kiss on the forehead.

Once John had changed his clothes, he went to the kitchen, grabbed a beer and went into the sitting room. Sherlock was already there, sitting cross legged on the couch, flipping through the channels on the telly with such speed there was no way he could have told what was on the programs. John took the seat next to him, sipping his drink slowly. He tried to hand one to Sherlock who of course turned it down.

"Come on, you're not working a case" John pushed.

"Can't stand the stuff…don't like what it does to my mind whether I'm on a case or not" Sherlock said, still flipping through the channels.

After several minutes of racing channels, John cut into the silence. "Hamish asked about his mother today" he said abruptly. He had never seen Sherlock loose his cool this much or this quickly.

"What!?" he asked, dropping the remote with a loud thud on the table, whipping around on John. His face notably paled; it had been a long time since John had brought it up.

"I guess the kids at school are starting to ask him why he has two daddies and no mummy" John said delicately, watching Sherlock on the verge of hyperventilation.

"Ignorant little monsters" Sherlock said, frowning. "What business do they have asking him questions like that? Stirring up doubt in him when things are fine"

"You know" John said carefully. "Hamish is a smart boy. One day he's going to ask you directly who his mum is; might even happen soon. Then what are you going to say?"

Sherlock jumped up off of the couch, his face a hard mask. "I'm not discussing this with you" he said firmly.

"Oh, Sherlock…who hurt you so badly?" John asked. He hadn't meant to voice the words to come out verbally but they had and their effect was noticeable. Sherlock didn't have chance, one night stands with women; until Hamish had come along John wasn't even sure that he had sex at all. Sherlock didn't give into normal carnal urges; not even The Woman had managed to entice him with all of her charm while she'd been around. It was obvious that whoever Hamish's mother was, she was important to Sherlock and she had obviously abandoned not only him but her very own child. Sherlock's insistence to not talk about it showed how deeply he was hurt.

"I don't need your sympathy" Sherlock spat, lashing out out of hurt, John knew. "I don't talk about her because she doesn't matter. She's not important. We are all Hamish needs. I'm not discussing this."

As Sherlock walked out of the room, John said, "You don't have to tell me who she is. Maybe you don't think you owe me that. But she's the woman who gave birth to Hamish and eventually he'll deserve to know."

Sherlock turned and gave John a hard look. "I know" he said before sweeping out of the room, his dressing gown billowing out around him.

 

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!

Chapter Text

The next morning John woke one precious moment before his alarm went off. Bothered by the conversation the night before and Sherlock's giving him the cold shoulder the rest of the night, it had taken John far too long to go to sleep. Sometime during the night Hamish had climbed out of his bed and into John's; he lay like a warm little ball curled up next to John, soft and safe. Sherlock would have killed John if he knew John still let Hamish sleep with him. John couldn't help it; pretty soon Hamish would be too old to want to do it anymore and John wanted to hold onto him while he was still partly a baby.

When the alarm blared through the bedroom, Hamish immediately sat up, switched the clock off and jumped out of bed. "Morning daddy!" Hamish said with the enthusiasm of someone that had been up for hours instead of seconds.

"Morning Hamish" John said sleepily, trying to wake up, just barely gathering the strength to sit up. When he had, he could see that Hamish had already put most of uniform on and was gathering his things into his backpack. John had to smile at the excitement and energy of his five year old; he wished he had half of it.

"Come on….are you going to stay in bed all day?" Hamish asked with an excited smile on his face, having thrown on the last of his clothing. Despite John's worries about how Hamish would do in school, he loved it. Hamish was so far ahead of his peers intellectually that John was worried that he wouldn't fit in. But Hamish didn't seem to have any of his father's issues with getting along with others. Hamish could be crassly honest at times but his social grace was over all better than Sherlock's was so he still had several friends at school.

John smiled. "Why don't you go see if your father is still here while your old man gets dressed?" he asked good humoredly as he swung his legs over the side of the bed, giving Hamish's hair a ruffle.

Hamish ducked out of the way of John's hand, laughing. "Okay!" he said before taking out of the room. John was still sliding into his jumper when Hamish hopped back into the room, holding a note and eating a biscuit.

"Father is on a crime scene…he says for you to join him when you drop me off. He'll send the address to your mobile" Hamish said importantly as he read the note with the expertise that still surprised John. All pretenses of maturity were dashed a second later when Hamish grinned at John with chocolate all the way around his mouth. "And he bought my favorite biscuits….left them right by the note" he said sneakily.

Of course he did; chocolate at 6:30 was just what Hamish needed, John thought sarcastically. "How about we have some real food with the biscuits?"

Despite having convinced Hamish to eat some eggs and toast alongside the horrible biscuits Sherlock had bought, he was still bouncing down the sidewalk an hour later when they walked together to school.

"Who built the Ark?

Noah, Noah,

Who built the ark?

Brother Noah built the ark.

Old man Noah build the Ark,

He build it out of hickory bark.

He build it long, both wide and tall.

With plenty of room for the large and small!"

John smiled as he listened to Hamish sing at the top of his lungs; like his father, he was blessed with talent in all things music, including singing. Hamish was playing Noah in his class's production of Noah's Ark in a few days and he had been singing the songs non-stop ever since. Sherlock, who would normally roll his eyes at anything religion related, had joined in with him nearly every time.

"Daddy, you know what animal is super cool?" Hamish asked, changing his train of thought from the song quickly. He looked up at John with wild eyed wonder, tugging on his hand.

"What animal is super cool?" John asked with genuine curiosity.

"Seahorses!" Hamish said, "You know boy horses have babies!?"

John smiled softly; he could see where this train of thought was going. John knew it was only natural for Hamish to have such curiosity about the mother/father issue at his age. He had a feeling the day for Sherlock to have to tell Hamish about his mother was quickly approaching. "They do?" he asked in awe, making Hamish grin.

"Well….."Hamish said, looking up at John with an air of superiority. "They don't get pregnant like ladies but the mummy seahorse gives her eggs to the boy seahorse to carry in his belly until they hatch. I like them because they are like you."

John stopped abruptly, making Hamish eye him strangely. "What do you mean?" he asked.

Hamish looked at him with deeply serious but innocently childish gaze. At times like this John could see that Hamish's eyes were not Sherlock's. They must have been the one defining character he shared with his mother. "You're like a seahorse" Hamish said. He looked off, sad for a moment before he smiled. "I know I had a mum…..everyone had to have had a mum" he explained. "Father looks so sad about it so I don't ask him. But…"Hamish looked shyly down. "But my mummy isn't around. You've carried me around since I was a baby, like a daddy seahorse."

John felt a twinge of love deep in his heart. In another second, he had scooped Hamish into his arms, squeezing him tightly. "Daddy…what are you doing?" Hamish asked with a laugh, surprised by the sudden display of affection.

John still held on despite Hamish's protests. "I just love you so much"

….

John stood in the door of Hamish's classroom, watching him as he put his things in his cubby and then went to sit at his table. He began to chat animatedly with the other students sitting with him as he began his work and John was eager to get to his own work with Sherlock. He was almost out the door when Hamish's teacher, Mrs. Abbey stopped him.

"Dr. Watson" she greeted him with a warm smile, "Before you leave, is there any way I could possibly schedule a meeting with you and your…."she paused, stuck on trying to phrase what Sherlock was to John. Good luck with that… "I'd like to schedule a meeting with you and Hamish's father. Could I possibly meet with you both tomorrow? Right before the play?"

"I hope he's not in trouble" John said, looking at Hamish passing a cup of crayons to the girl sitting next to him. He couldn't imagine Hamish getting into trouble. He knew that every parent thought that but with Hamish it was surely true.

Mrs. Abbey shook her head, smiling. "Oh no, nothing like that" she said enthusiastically. "Hamish is really a delight to have in class. I'd just like to discuss his academic progress"

John felt his worry dissipate; surely there was no problem there. Hamish shared Sherlock's intellectual abilities. "Oh, alright" John said, relieved. "Well I'll have to check with his dad. But he's coming to the play so there shouldn't be a problem with that."

Mrs. Abbey grinned. "Sounds great. We'll see you then."

….

John was at a loss, watching Sherlock examine the floor closely for signs of…whatever it was like that Sherlock looked for. This time, there was no body to examine and John found himself merely watching Sherlock use his magnifier to look at the filthy, molded floor.

They'd been called on a drugs bust; not Sherlock's usual case but the Lestrade had been on the case looking for this particular drug ring for months and wanted Sherlock's deductive powers to solve it. The flat they ended up in was the worst in human misery; rat infested, termite ridden and smelling of human waste. The drug lords were long gone but Sherlock was picking the place apart detail by detail to figure out where they were going next.

John was shamelessly watching Sherlock working when he heard a small cry somewhere distantly. Wanting to make himself useful, John wandered through the flat again, making sure they hadn't missed something. When the crying sound got louder, John followed it through the bedroom and out onto a balcony. To his immense surprise, John saw a small baby girl sitting in a baby swing, now screaming at the top of her lungs. She was filthy, covered in insect bites, her nappy long overdue for a change; it pulled at his very heart strings. He silently wanted the blood of whoever had been in such a hurry to get out and continue their life of drugs that they had left her behind.

"Aww….come here, love" John said in a soothing voice. He pulled her out of the swing and began to rock her. She gradually calmed as John bounced her up and down; here was a way he could make himself useful. He held her close to him, singing her lullabies until she was silent; her little eyes drifted down as she fought sleep. He'd just started cooing "All Though the Night" one of his favorites to sing to Hamish when he was a baby, when Sherlock stepped onto the balcony.

"Oh dear god…..John…..who let you have a baby?"

When John turned around, Sherlock was looking at him in exasperation. "What'd you mean?" he asked. He looked down at the little wide eyes staring up at him and felt that thing…That little stirring inside his chest when he held little ones. Maybe he was a daddy seahorse.

"Nobody let me have a baby" John said with a laugh. "I found her out here. Poor thing…..she's going to have a rough time." John brushed her baby soft hair out of her face.

"Well, don't get any ideas" Sherlock cautioned, looking at the baby as if she was an alien.

John laughed. "What kind of ideas?" he asked.

Sherlock gave John a knowing scowl. "John….really" he said tiredly. "Every time you get your hands on someone's baby, you get the crazy impression that we should have a baby together"

John felt his cheeks flush. "No I don't" he said guilty, bouncing the baby as she started to whine again.

"Honestly John….."Sherlock said. He looked annoyed but John was sure there was a touch of admiration there. "I know your pattern. You spend time around a baby; dig up all of Hamish's old bodysuits, trying to find that 'baby' scent. Then you start saying, how nice it would be to have a baby around again and shouldn't we just get one. I think you have an overabundance of estrogen in your system."

John blushed deeper; he did do that. Having Hamish around had triggered a paternal side in him he'd never known before. With Hamish growing bigger every day, he felt some pull sometimes to have a baby around again. While the idea had once seemed preposterous, having a baby with Sherlock seemed almost logical. They had already done it once, why not do it again? John coughed nervously; maybe he was mental.

"I don't do that" John lied defensively.

"Oh, really?" Sherlock asked with an upraised eyebrow. He held out his arms. "Then hand her to me."

John pulled the baby closer instinctively. "Why?" he asked. He watched Sherlock's face grew to a wide, genuine smile.

"That's what I thought" he said, turning to go back into the house. He ducked his head out of the door one last time, giving John a wink that made him falter. "We're not getting a baby" he said firmly but the seriousness was broken by his wide grin.

….

It had been a long day; Sherlock had spent hours in the lab while John had taken the baby to the hospital. He'd hated having to leave her and the idea that anyone could abandon a baby had weighed on him. They'd looked so tired upon bringing Hamish home, Mrs. Hudson had insisted they go out for dinner, 'just the two of them'. John had been so weary that he'd really just wanted to stay home. But now, having almost finished their dinner at Angelo's and drunk enough wine between the two of them for four people, John felt warm and relaxed. Even Sherlock who rarely drank, had a healthy pink glow to his pale face.

"So, tell me again, why having a baby would be a bad thing?" John asked. The lateness of the hour, the wine and the baby fever of the day combined into a lethal combo inside his heart.

Sherlock, a light weight and obviously tipsy himself, laughed. He looked around, as if to make sure that no one had heard it. They were tucked back in the table by the window where they had sat the first time John had come there with Sherlock, nearly seven years ago trying to solve the cabbie case. "John….." he said as if he felt sorry for him. "Do you remember when Hamish was a baby? Do you really remember babies?"

"Of course I do" John said in exasperation.

"They're not all that cooing and singing and cuddling that gets you all…..mushy inside" Sherlock said. "Do you remember the dirty nappies, the vomit, the screaming at 3 am? Do you remember the constant attention that they need?"

"Yes, of course I do" John argued. "That doesn't matter."

Sherlock smiled, leaning on the table and looking at John, his gaze heavy. John felt himself get slightly dizzy; he hadn't remembered having that much to drink. "John, why do you really want a baby?" he asked.

"I love kids" John said honestly. "We already have the best one…..we can't be bad parents. Hamish is a great kid and he'd love a brother or sister."

Sherlock shook his head slightly. "You're recruiting him for your baby cause now?" he asked.

John laughed. "He's five, of course he wants a little brother or sister" he said.

There was a long pause, Sherlock finished off the last of his wine. When he looked back at John, his light eyes had darkened, making John wonder what was coming next. He was waiting for the 'Absolutely not, John' but it never came.

"John…Hamish was a surprise" Sherlock said measuredly. "He was a happy accident. If I had been consulted on the whole becoming a father issue, I would have said no. I'm glad it just happened because I'm so glad I have him. But…..if we adopt a baby, we're saying that this is final. We're saying we are really a family. You're telling me you want this to be permanent."

John swallowed thickly, his stomach doing a nervous squirm. "I…..I do." He said honestly. He didn't know when it had become that way but there wasn't a place he'd rather be. He couldn't imagine a family outside of Sherlock and Hamish.

Sherlock smiled for a fraction of a second but then it was replaced by a deep frown. "But John…..what are about the dating? What about all of the women?" There was almost a note of hurt in his voice. Sherlock said that he never drank because it impaired his mental capabilities but the real reason was because he actually started to express feelings. Even after all this time John had only seen him drunk a handful of times.

John almost had to laugh; he hadn't actually been on a date in over a year. It was a detail in his life that he hadn't bothered to pay too close of attention to. "It's not that important to me anymore. There are things that I want more than that now" John said, looking down into his plate when he said it. He tried to avoid looking at Sherlock, but when he finally had to look up and meet his eyes, there was a look of surprise on Sherlock's face. It took John back for a moment; it was so rare to see Sherlock surprised that it always managed to floor John.

"I always assumed…."Sherlock started but stopped abruptly.

"Always assumed what?" John asked. Sherlock always made jokes that people who made assumptions were no better than single celled lifeforms. Now he was doing it?

"I always assumed you would meet someone and get your own place. Have your own family." Sherlock said, his voice subdued. He drank a few deep gulps of wine as if his feelings left a bad taste in his mouth.

John had assumed that as well; at one time in his life the idea that he wouldn't meet a woman, one day marry and have his own children was dangerously depressing. But now? Now that future wasn't a possibility because he already had a family. "I already have a family. I don't need another one" John said, his voice coming out thick and cracking. He was relieved when he looked up and saw Sherlock giving him a cheeky grin.

….

John had cleaned his teeth and was ready for bed that night, his gait still tipsy as he walked toward his bedroom. Hamish had been asleep on Mrs. Hudson's couch when they had gone to retrieve him and Sherlock, surprisingly, had picked him up and carried him to bed. It was usually John's job, but Sherlock had such a strangely emotional look in his eye that John had left him to tuck Hamish in on his own.

When John got to his room, he expected Sherlock to be long gone to his own room. He definitely wasn't expecting what he found in his room. The lights were off save for Hamish's small nightlight, illuminating Sherlock kneeling next to Hamish's bed. Hamish was fast asleep, lying on his side facing Sherlock, looking younger and more peaceful than John had seen him in a long time. Sherlock had his hand on Hamish's head, brushing his hair back. It was so gentle, careful, loving; it was a genuine show of affection from a man who very rarely showed any.

"I don't know what I'm going to tell you about your mother" Sherlock was whispering, his voice fraught with worry. It was so unguarded; it made John wonder what Sherlock really felt, when he was all alone. Hamish had seen it; John thought about how Hamish said Sherlock looked so sad sometimes that he didn't ask about who his mother was.

"It's so strange, not knowing" Sherlock said with a self-depreciating laugh. "Nothing I can say about it will sound good. None of it is good and you're so good that you don't deserve anything less. The truth is ugly and hurtful…I don't want you to know that she just left you. It makes it sound like you aren't worth anything when you are worth the world."

John felt a lump in his throat; he breathed as softly as he could so as not to alert Sherlock to his presence. He felt wrong, invading such a private moment but it was so much deeper than John was ever allowed to see; he couldn't fight the urge. "I wanted you to accept John as your primary caregiver for as long as possible" Sherlock said, his voice more matter of fact, as if he was getting his emotions in check. "He's so much better than your mother, you know."

John slipped out of the room quickly as Sherlock bent to kiss Hamish on the forehead, his throat burning and his eyes feeling blurry.

Chapter Text

"What are we doing here, John?" Sherlock asked in a whiny tone, glancing around the classroom as he and John waited for Mrs. Abbey. "We are here and she is late. What kind of professional doesn't come to a meeting on time…..one she scheduled at that?"

John rolled his eyes but resisted the urge not to laugh at the sight of Sherlock trying to perch on the child sized chair. "Oh, you're fine, Sherlock. We would have been here anyway. Hamish had to be here half an hour before the play started."

"But what does this woman want?" Sherlock asked, as if she was a drug lord instead of a teacher. Sherlock had never had occasion to meet Hamish's teacher and it was obvious that he didn't care to.

"She just said that she wanted to discuss Hamish's progress" John said calmly. "She didn't say anything more."

"Hamish is much more advanced than the rest of these senseless drones. I mean, look at this mindless drivel" Sherlock said gesturing to a wall decorated with finger paintings, paper bag puppets and toilet tube animals.

John laughed. "You realize the drones in this class are all five years old?" he said.

"Hamish is five" Sherlock said. "You don't see him eating paste and making collages out of pasta"

"Hamish is hardly like a normal five year old" John said. "He's exceptional. It's hardly fair to compare other children to him."

Sherlock smiled. "I would hardly compare him to anyone else" he said. "I can't imagine why this teacher needs to speak to us about his progress. He has to be miles ahead of his classmates."

"Don't assume it's bad" John said.

"Well, you're doing all of this domestic business when we have the next one" Sherlock said.

John was so surprised he cracked his neck turning to look at Sherlock. "The next one?" he asked hopefully. So many times John had argued the issue of having another kid; now that Sherlock was entertaining the possibility it made John's stomach swirl with nerves and excitement.

Sherlock was grinned widely but trying to hide it when Mrs. Abbey finally entered the room. "Good evening, Dr. Watson, Mr. Holmes" she said, shaking their hands before sitting, much to Sherlock's distaste.

"Good evening" John said, seeing Sherlock cringe slightly out of the corner of his eye.

"Thank you both for coming" Mrs. Abbey said as she sat behind her desk and opened a folder with Hamish Holmes printed across the front. "It's especially nice to finally meet you, Mr. Holmes. Hamish talks about you constantly. I must say he is the spitting image of you" She gave him a warm smile as she chuckled. John felt Sherlock cringe awkwardly at the small talk; he hated small talk. A long drawn out pause ensued where it was obvious it was expected that Sherlock say something. John hit his leg against Sherlock's to signal him that it was time for him to be civil.

"Thank you" Sherlock said sourly. "I'll take that as a compliment." Even awkwardly, John had still made miles of progress on his flat mate and partner over the years.

"As well you should, Hamish is a delightful child" Mrs. Abbey said. She looked down at his file. "Well, I'm sure it's no surprise to the two of you that Hamish is a brilliant child. His abilities far exceed those of his age level; I've been individualizing instruction for him as best I can but it is very obvious that he is still terribly bored by the content in class. It doesn't challenge him. You can see from his recent testing that his scores are off the chart." She handed John and Sherlock a print out of Hamish's recent testing scores. John had always known Hamish was a genius even aside from normal parental pride. But to see it for himself, laid out in black and white, made him swell with pride.

Hamish's test scores were far above those of Year 1; they were all between Year 5 and 6. John's brain went into parent daydream mode, seeing Hamish graduating university before he hit puberty.

"As we only have two weeks of term left" Mrs. Abbey explained "we are looking forward to what we can do to challenge Hamish more. We'd like you to consider moving him up to Year 5 next year."

"Whoa…..really?" John asked in surprise. Sherlock was oddly silent, taking it all in.

Mrs. Abbey interpreted the shock as disapproval. "I know it's a lot to consider, especially with Hamish being so young, but I as well as the head teacher believe that it would benefit him greatly to be presented with material that will challenge him intellectually. He would also have plenty of time to still socialize with his peers during lunch, playtime and gym. I think it would be very beneficial for a child's of Hamish's maturity to be able to interact both his own peers and students that are older but at his level."

"So…..Hamish does well, socializing I mean?" John asked. He was so excited at the prospect that Hamish could start studying at his own level; he knew that even with Mrs. Abbey's interventions, the material bored him a lot of the time. He enjoyed school but Hamish's protests of 'bored!' echoing his fathers were getting more frequent. School was still a novelty to him so he enjoyed it but having to continue studying material far below him would grate on him, John knew. He just worried about Hamish's social capabilities. While he didn't seem to suffer socially like his father, Hamish still was, for lack of a better word, too smart for his own good. John worried that if Hamish were around older children, more capable of catching onto his blunt honesty than his peers, he might encounter trouble.

"Oh, yes" Mrs. Abbey said enthusiastically. "He does very well interacting with the other students and working in groups. He's very vocal; sometimes too vocal" she gave him a knowing smile.

John could see Sherlock open his mouth to argue and he jumped ahead before he could. "Do you think it would be a problem? His tendency to be so…..honest" John said carefully. "I don't want him getting beaten up or anything by the older students." John, of course, planned to teach Hamish how to defend himself but he didn't want him to get into schoolyard brawls, especially with students twice his size.

"I really don't think so" Mrs. Abbey said, "He is very tenacious and certainly says what he thinks but so do most ten year olds which how old his classmates would be. In fact, it might be of his advantage; it would help his classmates see him more as a peer and not as a little kid." She handed John several brochures. "You might want to consider enrolling Hamish in some of our summer programs. There are several to choose from; book clubs, science groups. He might be really interested in participating and it would be a chance for him to socialize with older children before the start of next term."

John nodded, glancing at the brochures; they would be perfect for Hamish. John had already been wondering how they would entertain him all summer. Hamish had already been begging them to take him with them to work during the summer. Sherlock of course, saw nothing wrong with it. John hoped to funnel his interest into more child appropriate activities.

"Yeah, I think that'd be great. He'd love doing some of these" John said. He looked at Sherlock who was completely unreadable. "We'll discuss it and let you know."

…..

Sherlock waited until they had left the classroom before he let a wide smile spread across his face. "Finally, these idiots recognize true greatness" he said, pride gushing through his words.

John grinned. "Look at you, all poker face and silent while we were in there and now that it's just me you're grinning like an idiot."

"Well, no need to think their excitement affirmed what I already knew" Sherlock said coolly though he was still beaming. "I already knew he was a genius. After all, he is just like me."

John shook his head with a smile on his face. "And so modest too" he said though Sherlock didn't comment on it.

They came to the end of the hallway covered with colorful children's artwork and walked into the auditorium's open doors. The room was already filled with parents, the sound of chattering causing a low murmuring throughout the room. Luckily, John spotted a few seats relatively close to the front of the crowd. Taking their seats, John turned to Sherlock.

"So…you think we should let Hamish move ahead?" he asked.

Sherlock's mouth dropped slightly as if he couldn't believe John was even asking. "Of course we should" he said. "There is little point in him being in school if he isn't learning any new material"

John had thought that there would be more of a discussion. "I suppose that's true" he said, "But aren't you at least a little worried about him being around kids that are so much bigger than him?"

Sherlock looked at John out of the corner of his eye. "As usual, John, you worry too much" he said. "Hamish is a strong kid. He can hold his own. And like that teacher said, he can go to some of those camps during the summer; he would love them. You saw they had a forensics camp…Hamish would be in heaven."

Well, so much for getting Hamish away from being fascinated in death….. "But he's so little….."John knew his voice came out as an overprotective parent but he couldn't.

Sherlock turned, a raised eyebrow trained on John. "He's really not" he insisted. "Listen, John, I know your heart is in the right place. You care about him; and if Hamish really doesn't want to do it, we won't. But you know he will…..this is really the best thing for him."

John nodded; he knew Sherlock was right. Hamish would love it and it was only fair that he actually get an education. Before he could open his mouth to say anything else, the lights in the auditorium dimmed, parents straggling to their seats and pulling out their cameras and smartphones to catch every minute of the production.

The spotlights trained on the stage, a light tune playing as Hamish came out, decked in a long robe, fake beard covering much of his face. He came to stand in front of a large cardboard cutout of the Ark along with a few other children dressed as Noah's family.

"Long ago, God saw that the world was evil and he brought a great flood to destroy all the earth" Hamish's little voice boomed throughout the auditorium. "He told Noah to build an ark to save him, his family and all of the animals of the ark. All the animals came, two by two, as God had called them."

Hamish and the other children started to sing "Who Built the Ark" as children dressed as animals came onto the stage. Watching him, John felt a swelling in his chest. He had wondered before Hamish came along how you could love someone so much that it hurt. But as his love for Hamish surged through him like the flood he was singing about, he understood it. Just when he thought he couldn't possibly love him more, he was proved wrong; by now he was sure that he would always be proven wrong if he ever assumed that he had reached the end of his love for the boy he considered his own. He was not the least bit embarrassed to be one of the parents with his mobile held up the entire time, even when he could see Sherlock giving him a small smile out of the corner of his eye.

…..

"Wow…ice cream before dinner…..and on a school night! This is great!" Hamish enthused, pulling the glass dish of ice cream across the table to him and tucking in so forcefully that a flow of chocolate sauce and whipped cream dripped off of the side. He was still clad in his biblical robe though his beard has been ripped off the second that the play was over. He sat on his knees to better reach the huge dish of ice cream. John knew there was no way that they could convince Hamish to eat actual food after if but he didn't care this time. Hamish deserved a treat.

"Daddy and I thought you deserved something special" Sherlock said, picking at his own ice cream. "Because you did so beautifully in the play."

"Yes, you were fantastic" John gushed along with Sherlock. "You were the star of the show."

"Well, isn't Noah supposed to be the center of Noah's Ark?" Hamish said seriously though he had a ring of chocolate around his mouth.

"That is very true" Sherlock said. "But even among other Noahs I believe you were the best." Sherlock picked the cherry off the top of his ice cream and handed it to Hamish who took it enthusiastically.

"Thanks Father…..I'm glad you liked it. And you too Daddy. I tried my best" Hamish said maturely.

"Well, it definitely showed" John said.

They were silent for a few minutes, watching Hamish devour his ice cream in record time. When Hamish had succeeded in getting ice cream all over his face, Sherlock broke the silence.

"Hamish, we had a meeting with you teacher before the play" Sherlock said. He obviously didn't foresee the panic that this statement would inspire in his son.

Hamish's eyes grew wide, his spoon stilled. "W-what did I do?" he asked, his voice nervous.

"Oh, you're not in trouble" John said quickly. "It wasn't a bad thing. It was actually really good." John paused, letting Sherlock have the privilege of telling Hamish the good news.

"Hamish, she showed us your testing scores" Sherlock said with a smile. "And you did so well that they want to promote you to Year 5 next term."

Realization dawned on Hamish's face. "Really?" he asked. John could already see the excitement building inside him and new that they would have no trouble convincing him to move on.

"Yes, really" Sherlock said, mirroring Hamish's excitement. "They told us that you were so smart that there was no point in going through the other years, they'd move you straight to 5 so that you could learn more."

"Cool…"Hamish drew out the word as he began to eat his ice cream again. "You know, I really like school but some of it was getting quite boring" he said.

John smiled at Hamish. "Well, it's a good thing that you won't you have to worry about that anymore." He said. Though it made him nervous, he'd just have to get used to it; he couldn't possibly imagine taking away Hamish's joy.

John leaned back as he listened to the soft, warm notes of music drift through the flat. He watched Sherlock and Hamish play their violins together. They played a slow, calming melody and John was sure that if he laid his head back against the chair they would be able to lull him to sleep. It had been a rare, completely perfect day. He wasn't sure when he had been so at peace. Hamish was doing so well he couldn't help but be proud of him. And on top of it all, Sherlock had even given in to John's request for another child. While it had been just a passing comment, John knew Sherlock well enough to know that he wouldn't make such a statement on that matter unless he was prepared to back it up.

So now, with the calm and peace of their wonderful tune, John finally felt relaxed. When the music stopped, John clapped with as much enthusiasm as a full audience. The two smiled as they took dramatic bows; they were both so proud sometimes. "That was wonderful" John gushed, glad to see the smile on Hamish's face. "What a wonderful little symphony you make. But part of this symphony has to take a bath" John said giving Hamish a smile.

"Aw, come on Daddy, just a few more songs?" Hamish whined.

"Nope" John said. "It's getting quite late and you need a bath stinky thing" he joked, pulling Hamish toward him and into his lap, tickling his belly. The melodious sound of Hamish's laughter rang out through the flat. "I don't stink daddy!" he said though laughs.

John gave a dramatic sniff. "P…U!" he said. "Yep….definitely stinky"

Hamish giggled. He looked toward Sherlock as he wiggled around on John's lap. "Tell him I don't smell Father" he said with a laugh.

Sherlock pretended to sniff. "Hmmm…..it would seem that your daddy might be right this time. Seems you are giving off quite an odor" Sherlock said in a rare joke.

"No!" Hamish said in mock indignation but his harshness was taken aback by his laughing. John tickled him a little longer before setting him down on the floor. "Come on stinky, let's go" he said heading for the bathroom.

Sherlock stopped him. "I can do it tonight" he said to John. John was surprised; Sherlock never did the more domestic of parenting duties like baths. But John wasn't going to argue.

"Sure, go right ahead" John said, sitting back down on the couch as Sherlock and Hamish made their way to the bathroom. John relaxed watching telly for a while before he decided to go to his room and change his clothes. As he passed by the bathroom he couldn't resist the urge to poke his head into the bathroom and see how Sherlock was doing with the bath. He poked his head in and saw Hamish sitting in the tub and Sherlock sitting by the tub, his shirt sleeves pushed up to his elbows. The sight made him smile; he wasn't prepared for the conversation that he could overhear from the two of them.

"What did you do?" he heard Sherlock asking Hamish.

"I called him an idiot…..I told him he was extremely stupid and that he didn't know anything" Hamish said. "Then Mrs. Abbey yelled at me and said I was wrong for saying that but he was an idiot"

Sherlock gave a small chuckle. "Quite right" he said. "He sounds like an idiot. But sometimes you cannot always say those things out loud. People get so upset over such things."

"I know" Hamish said slowly. "He was just so wrong."

"A lot of people are probably going to say things to you about that" Sherlock cautioned. "You'll have to get used to it."

"I don't like it when people say bad things about you and Daddy" Hamish said.

"Do you know what that word means?" Sherlock asked him.

Hamish shook his head. "Not really….I know it's like….you know….when two boys like each other" he looked down. "But I don't understand…because you and daddy like each other but he said it like it was a bad thing"

John felt his stomach stink; people were telling Hamish he and Sherlock were gay. John knew that this would come one day but he didn't expect that it would happen so soon. Hamish was too young to have to deal with this; he shouldn't know anything about this. It was bad enough that he was grappling with his own questioning of who his mother was without having to wonder exactly what Sherlock and John meant to each other.

John watched to see how Sherlock would defuse the situation. "You're right….when they say that word they mean it likes its bad. But you're going to have to ignore it. If you show them you're upset then they will keep saying it." Sherlock said.

Hamish leaned forward and whispered so John almost couldn't hear him. "So…are you and daddy….." he paused "Gay?"

John was cringing and he didn't know how Sherlock kept a straight face. "No" Sherlock said. "We aren't. When people say that they mean that two boys like each other how boys and girls like each other. Me and your daddy do like each other but not like that. We like each other how friends like each other"

"So you and daddy are like friends that are always having a sleepover?" Hamish asked with a smile.

Sherlock smiled too, seeming glad that the conversation was taking a more innocent turn. "Yes…..yes I suppose that we are" he said.

Hamish laughed. "That's really cool" he said. Sherlock helped Hamish out of the tub and wrapped a towel around him. While Sherlock's arms were still around him, Hamish looked deep into Sherlock's eyes. "Even though you are daddy are friends…do you love him?" he asked.

John paused; it was the same question he'd asked John. He wondered how Sherlock would respond. There was no doubt in John's mid that the past five years had created a deep bond between them. John viewed Sherlock and Hamish as the most important people in his life. While John knew that Sherlock loved Hamish, he didn't know if the detective felt the same sense of caring family for John.

"What is it that you mean by love?" Sherlock asked. "What does love mean to you?"

Hamish thought about it for a second. "Love means you care about someone…..means you're always excited to see them and you're sad that they are gone. It means you want to play with them and talk to them all the time. It means they make you feel safe and you know they will always take care of you." He said with the overflowing enthusiasm of a child. It made John smile.

Sherlock looked at Hamish with much the same gushing look surprisingly. "Then the answer is yes….I definitely love daddy that way" he said.

John felt his smile widen; he hadn't expected Sherlock to share the sense of family love that he had. But knowing that he did, John couldn't help but smile. He slipped down the hallway and to his room before Sherlock and Hamish could notice him.

Chapter Text

The last two weeks of Hamish's term at school passed by in whirlwind. Short staffed at the surgery, John put in more hours than he had since he had started and Sherlock was busy investigating what appeared to be a murder-suicide but Sherlock was convinced it was a double murder. Hamish, with the knowledge that he was moving on soon to be with the 'big kids' was happier and better behaved in school than he had been before. He was already looking forward to the science and forensics camps that were scheduled for early July and August.

Summer had seemed to come early, with a heat wave that was enough to suffocate everyone. It was late one night, John was drenched in sweat as he picked up things around the flat when Sherlock bolted into the room, his face bursting with excitement.

"John! We should go on holiday. You ,Hamish and I" he said. His curls were soaked with sweat, his face flushed deep red; John knew he still would never give in and abandon his trousers and dress shirts no matter the heat.

John laughed. "Okay" he said, taken aback. "Sounds like a good idea. I don't think you've ever wanted to go on holiday. Where would you like to go?"

"Florida" Sherlock said brightly. "Hamish has always wanted to go to America. And wouldn't he love Disneyworld?"

John laughed. Maybe Sherlock was growing soft as he neared his middle age. "You want to go to Disneyworld?" he asked. John tried to imagine Sherlock in shorts, sporting a fanny pack as he trudged through the crowds; he couldn't picture it.

"Yes, I do" Sherlock said with a nod of his head. "Actually, I've already arranged it. Hotel, plane tickets, passports. We leave in three days."

John's mouth dropped open. "Three days?" he asked.

"Yes…..why not?" he asked. "It's the day after Hamish gets out of school. You've got plenty of vacation time you can take. They just hired a new doctor, right?"

John was blown away. "Who are you and what have you done with Sherlock Holmes?" he asked.

Sherlock jumped over his chair and crossed the room toward John, taking him by the arms. "Maybe this is just the new Sherlock" he said.

John shifted slightly, Sherlock's hold on him so obvious. "Well, have to say I like domestic and spontaneous Sherlock" he said. "Maybe you're getting soft?"

"I'm not going to get soft….I'm still a high functioning sociopath. That'll never change" Sherlock said with a twinkle in his eye. Somehow, Sherlock pulled him even closer so that he could almost feel his breath. "But…..a holiday would be the perfect time to tell Hamish we're going to get him a little brother or sister."

"R-really?" John asked, looking up at Sherlock, feeling a distinct warmness spreading over him.

Sherlock held John's gaze for a moment before he let go and twirled around, providing some much needed distance. "Oh, don't get all sentimental, John. I think it's time. We've been together for almost ten years."

"Sherlock….." John found a catch in his throat. He thought about all of the cases, all of the times they had saved each other's lives, the birthdays, the all- nighters and he was overwhelmed.

He could see a note of sentimentally pass across Sherlock's face before he squelched it. "I said don't get sentimental, John" he said, uncomfortable just for the deep emotions John was about to express.

John didn't care; he reached out and hugged Sherlock, whose arms still hung limp. "Thanks, Sherlock" he said.

"You're…..welcome" Sherlock said uncomfortably before giving John's back a tentative pat.

….

John woke up the Saturday that they were to leave for Florida with an excess of excited energy. Their flight was scheduled for later that evening which gave John plenty of time to give the new doctor they had hired a rundown of the place as well as give Sherlock time to tie up the loose ends of his last case. John had spent hours late into the night packing for himself and Hamish; Sherlock, of course packed his own things. John was almost bursting with as much excitement as Hamish. They had never gone on holiday as a family; even when it was just Sherlock and John they hadn't ever went anywhere that wasn't for a case.

When he found Hamish that morning, he was running around the sitting room, the telly on but he wasn't watching it.

"Daddy!" Hamish said, turning his running path around so that he could launch himself at John. John's breath blew out as Hamish's weight hit him and he gathered him in his arms. Hamish was only dressed in his swimsuit and John had to laugh; Hamish was part fish and he was going to be at heaven in Florida with so many beaches.

"Morning" John said, trying to hold on and Hamish began to bounce in his arms. "Someone's got a lot of energy this morning. Might Father have given you some candy before he left?"

"No, silly" Hamish said with a laugh. "He gave me cereal with chocolate milk in it!"

John nodded; so there it was. But, he couldn't blame either one; everyone was excited. "Ah, I bet that was delicious."

"It was!" Hamish cheered. "So….daddy….is it time to go yet!? I'm so ready for the beach and the sand and Disneyworld! I've always wanted to see the ocean!"

John hated to burst his little bubble. "Well, we've got six more hours, sweetheart" he said gently, watching Hamish's enthusiasm deflate slightly. "I know that's a long time to wait but I promise it won't be that bad. And then we'll be on the beach for two whole weeks."

"Alright….."Hamish said, pouting slightly, looking up at John though batted eyelashes.

"But the good news is that you get to go stay with Nana while I go finish up some work and she said she has a surprise for you" John said. In less than a second, Hamish had wiggled out of John's arms and had taken off for Mrs. Hudson's flat. John followed as quickly as he could, glad he could have diverted some of Hamish's disappointment.

When he reached Mrs. Hudson's door, Hamish was knocking furiously. John took Hamish's hand gently and stopped his knocking. "Give her a chance to get to the door" he said. Hamish took to bouncing up and down as he waited for Mrs. Hudson to come to the door.

When she did, he just about burst into laughter; when Mrs. Hudson did something for Hamish, she went all the way.

"Who is that?" Mrs. Hudson said, bending down to smile at Hamish. "Is that my Prince Charming? Prince Hamish?" Mrs. Hudson has a pink tulle skirt over her typical dress, a plastic tiara on her head and wand in hand.

"Yes! Yes! That's me!" Hamish said happily, excited for their little game.

"Oh, well, then must be yours, Prince Hamish" Mrs. Hudson said, pulling a plastic king's crown from behind her back and placing it on Hamish's head. John smiled as Hamish squealed in delight.

"Come, dear Prince" Mrs. Hudson said, holding out her arm to Hamish. "Let us go into the palace's royal cinema chambers."

John followed the two into Mrs. Hudson's sitting room where she had every Disney film imaginable sitting on the table ready for Hamish and her to have a marathon while he waited. Hamish went over to the stack, riffling through the cases, deciding on what to watch.

"Thank you for doing this" John said to Mrs. Hudson said, "You really are a life saver."

Mrs. Hudson grinned at him kindly. "That's what Nana is for" she said modestly.

John walked over to Hamish. "Hamish, Father's going to pick you up after he gets done at the station and I'll meet you guys at the airport after I get done with my work. You be a good boy for Nana, alright?"

Hamish briefly looked up at John. "Alright!' he said before looking at the movies.

"Can daddy have a hug goodbye?" John asked.

Hamish gave John a mature look but it was weakened by the plastic crown. "Dad…I'm a royal Prince. I'm far too busy for hugs."

John felt a punch to the stomach. Maybe his little boy was growing up; it was the first time he had called him Dad instead of Daddy. "Can you humor your old dad, the peasant?" John asked, playing into the game and not showing the tugging at his heart.

Hamish grinned. "I suppose" He stood and fell into John's embrace.

"You have a good time" John said, giving Hamish a kiss on the top of his mop of curls.

"I will!" Hamish said before trotting back off toward Mrs. Hudson.

…..

Though John had told Hamish that six hours waiting wasn't that long but he found that time seemed to slow down the longer he was at work. He showed Dr. Riley, the new physician at the surgery the ropes as quickly as he could. Dr. Riley was young, fresh out of medical school with lots of energy and enthusiasm but not a lot of experience. John assured him that he would do just fine; it seemed like only yesterday that he had been in his positon. How quickly 20 years could pass…

When it was finally time to leave it was all John could do to not to run out of the building. Sherlock was going back to 221B to retrieve the bags and Hamish and would meet him at the gate so John directed the cabbie toward the airport.

It was pouring the rain as John ran from the cab and into the airport; he dreamed of sunny beaches and warm sand the whole way from the front door to the gate. When he finally wove through the multitudes of people who obviously had the same idea as they had to take holiday as soon as school was over, he could see that Sherlock and Hamish were not there yet. Seeing that they still had time and knowing that Sherlock and Hamish, left to their own devices without him had a tendency toward being late, he sat down in one of the few available plastic chairs and began to tinker with his mobile.

Twenty minutes of stupid app games later with no sign of Sherlock and Hamish, John sent Sherlock a text.

Are you stuck in traffic or something? You're going to miss the flight-JW

John checked the time; they still had time but not much. When Sherlock had not answered his text after fifteen minutes, John tried to call him but his mobile went to silent automatically. John didn't consider himself a worrying person but now he was getting a little apprehensive. John paced around, people watching and looking out at the rain running down the window as he tried Sherlock's mobile three more times.

When the time to board their flight came and went, John's worry grew to full blown panic.

Text me or call now….I'm getting worried-JW

John tried to text Sherlock even though he knew there was probably little point in it. Pacing around and trying to act somewhat normal, John called Mrs. Hudson's flat.

"Hello?" she said cheerily from the other end of the phone.

"Mrs. Hudson, this is John" John said, his voice slightly betraying the deepening sense of panic that was swelling within him.

"Ah, I'd have thought that you would have already been on the plane." Mrs. Hudson said.

"Well, Sherlock and Hamish haven't shown up yet" John said. "I was calling to see when they left your place."

"Oh…..well, it was about an hour ago."Mrs. Hudson said. "I'm sure they just got caught in traffic or they stopped somewhere along the way. You know how the two of them can be."

Mrs. Hudson's words were meant to calm him but the tone of it spoke of her own worry. "Yeah, probably" John said but his voice sounded far away.

After another half hour of pacing and fruitlessly calling Sherlock repeatedly, John was out of options. He was used to action and since he couldn't think of anything else to he was going insane. The trip from 221B to the airport wouldn't have taken this long in the worst of traffic and John doubted that Sherlock would have gotten sidetracked to miss their flight; he was the one who had planned all of this in the first place.

John was making his way out of the airport, intent on doing something even if it was wondering around the city, when his mobile buzzed in his pocket. Seeing Sherlock's number, John answered the call with shaky hands.

"Sherlock! Where are you? I've been worried sick" John said. He was hoping to hear Sherlock berate him for worrying needless when he didn't need to. At this point he would have given anything to hear Sherlock criticize him or act like he was a worrier.

As soon Sherlock spoke, John could tell that his voice was all wrong. "John….uh…"his voice was distant, confused. It was the most unlike Sherlock that John had ever heard. Something was wrong.

"Sherlock…what is it? What's wrong?" John asked.

"There has been an accident" Sherlock's voice was clinical and toneless; he was in shock. Sherlock wasn't shocked by anything.

John stopped in the middle of the airport, causing people to crash into him but he could hardly tell. All around him dozens of people were talking, moving, living…John felt like he was in a tunnel that was slowly closing in on him.

"W-what happened?" John asked.

"Just come to the hospital. I…" Sherlock's voice paused, a slight tremor in it. "I need you, John."

It was the one thing that could have woken John up. In less than a second John's frozen body was running out of the airport.

Chapter Text

It was wrong, all wrong. John's eyes were staring out the window of the cab as it drove from the airport but he didn't see anything. He was in a void of worry, his heart racing and his lungs failing him; it seemed like forever and yet as soon as he had stepped into the cab he felt like he was yet again stepping out.

The hospital loomed over him like a monster and though his gut instinct was to turn and run away, Sherlock needed him and he pushed his way inside. John had watched as Sherlock's life was in danger more times than he cared to count but he never got used to it. He always wished that he had the ability to switch places and this was no different. Once the shock of it wore off, John began to think and that was even worse. Sherlock was, John could assume, reasonably unharmed if he was awake and able to speak to him. But…..Hamish. Sherlock hadn't said anything about him at all.

John burst into the hospital reception, blindly pushing past anyone or anything that got in his way. His shoes were wet, adding to his shaky gait but somehow he willed himself to make it to the help desk.

"Can I help you sir?" the woman behind the desk asked in too entirely a pleasant voice.

John put his hands together, trying to get them to stop trembling but it was useless. "I'm looking for Sherlock and Hamish Holmes." He said, his lips feeling stuck together. "They….uh…..they were in a car accident."

The woman checked the names on the computer before she looked back at him. "They were brought into the emergency area" she said, giving him a professional look of sympathy.

John felt slightly dizzy as he tore off down hallways in a blind search for the emergency room. This had to be a mistake, it just had to be…..As he passed open doors, showing beds filled with people hooked to dozens of machines, who clung to life as their loves ones cried, John tried to convince himself that he didn't belong here. Sherlock and Hamish were fine; they had to be. He needed them…he loved them.

One moment he was in a maze of hallways and the next he was in the waiting room, looking around hopelessly for Sherlock and Hamish like he had at the airport. He looked around at all of the crying children, the sickened faces, the broken and bleeding people but none of them belonged to him. He was just standing there, alone.

"John!"

John whipped around so fast he nearly got whiplash. His heart burst in happiness and clenched in sorrow as he turned around and saw Sherlock. His face was bruised, blood splattered on his once perfect purple shirt and he should have looked alright. But John knew he wasn't. Though he looked barely injured, the greyish pale color of his skin and the deer-in-the-headlights- look was enough to tell John that he wasn't alright at all.

"Sherlock…what happened?" John asked, rushing over to him. When he got closer, he could see that Sherlock was actually shaking; it was the most disturbing thing about Sherlock's appearance. John took hold of Sherlock's sleeve and led him over to an empty chair in the corner of the waiting room.

"We were in a car accident" Sherlock said, "On the way to the airport…our taxi was hit…someone ran a red light and….hit us….." Sherlock stared off at the floor, the ceiling, anywhere but at John.

"Are you…..okay?" John asked. Without realizing it, his hand was reaching for Sherlock's; he only realized what happened when Sherlock was pulling away from him. It bothered him more than he realized; he wanted some connection. Right now he felt like he was floating away from himself.

"I'm fine…"Sherlock said. "I…..barely have a scratch"

John though Sherlock's bruised face was more than a little scratch but he didn't say anything. A growing lump of fear and anxiety was forming in his belly. "Sherlock…..where's Hamish?" he asked. Though it terrified him to ask, he knew there was no more putting it off.

Sherlock's eyes grew glassy before he clenched them shut tightly. He dug his hands into his eyes and for a moment John though he was actually going to cry and it was terrifying. Seconds later Sherlock found his compose and when he opened his eyes they were dry and vacant again. "He was sitting on the side that got hit" Sherlock said, "He….he…."

"What, Sherlock…..what happened?" John asked, his voice harsher than he had imagined it would be. But it had the desired effect of snapping Sherlock out of it.

"He was badly hurt" Sherlock said, his voice cracking. "Head trauma…"

John's blood felt cold, frozen in his veins, trying to ignore years of medical training and what the words 'head trauma' conjured up. "How…bad…is it…?" John asked. He had been on the opposite side of this question so many times and he always pitied the people looking at him like he had answers.

Sherlock paused for a long moment, breathing in and out through his nose as if trying to gather strength. It felt like the longest thirty seconds of his life. "He's in surgery…..they're trying to stop the bleeding and swelling in his brain." Sherlock's eyes drifted away, as if he couldn't see John.

It was as all of the air had been deflated from John's lungs; he fought for air and thought for a moment that he was going to have a panic attack. Looking at Sherlock and convincing himself that he still had Sherlock and that was a good thing gave John the strength not to dissolve completely. "Did you see him?" John asked. If they were doing surgery then it was obvious that Hamish's injury was extensive. But still, John wanted Sherlock to tell him that it wasn't as bad as he knew it was.

"No….I was knocked unconscious" Sherlock said, self-loathing in his voice as if he had had control of being unconscious. "When I came to I was here in the emergency room. Hamish was already in surgery."

"What are we going to do?" John asked, more to himself than Sherlock; it was obvious that Sherlock didn't have any more answers than he did. This just couldn't be possible; it didn't seem real. Only hours ago he had left Hamish happy and laughing, wearing that goofy crown and singing with Mrs. Hudson. He could still feel his little arms as they squeezed him tight, could remember the feel of his soft skin and curls against his lips as he had kissed the top of his head despite his protests. Now, he was being cut open, his tiny fragile brain in mortal danger…..it wasn't okay. His little boy must surely need him and he was just standing there doing nothing.

Sherlock's hand grasped John's, bringing him back to reality. He only then realized how close he was to tears. Sherlock's eyes were scared but sturdy and it was all that kept John going. He gave his hand a squeeze for a second before letting go. "We're going to wait and we're going to be strong. For Hamish." He said sensibly. How could he possibly be sensible at a time like this?

"You're right" John said, his voice husky. "For Hamish…"

….

John had never been a religious sort of person but in the time that dragged on unending while Hamish was in surgery, he found himself beseeching any force in the universe to save his son. He thought about how many times he had felt on the brink of death while in Afghanistan; staring into the face of what at the time had seemed like certain death had seemed to him the worst thing he could imagine. Now, the pain of having to sit by wondering if the child who had become his life for the past four years was going to live or die was so much worse than the dreadful terror of fearing for your own life. Wondering if he was going to die was now almost a non-issue but this was torture.

John stared at the floor, consumed with worry and knowing that there was absolutely nothing he could do to make any of this better. Sherlock wouldn't talk to him; he wouldn't even look at him. John could only assume that Sherlock was so consumed with his feelings that it scared him; his primary way of dealing with feelings had always been to retreat, either physically or into himself. So all John could do was stare down at the sickly greenish grey floor tiles, focusing on the beating of his own heart, the ticking of the clock, the ringing of a phone distantly; anything to ground him and remind him he was here and that he couldn't lose it.

Eventually, John's thoughts turned to the day that Hamish had come to live with them. Somehow, dwelling on it made him feel a soft spot, a breaking in the sorrow that was all consuming and he let his mind drift, if only to make this terrible nightmare go away for a second.

It was a bitterly cold morning when John had woken up to the sound of crying in the flat. The snow outside was so thick that he and Sherlock had been stuck inside for days; John assumed that the crying must have been on the telly. Sherlock had been known to give into the 'idiotic drivel' of television when he had especially long periods away from work. But as John tried to ignore the sound of crying, it grew louder and more persistent.

John got out of bed and made his way through the arctic air of his bedroom and into the sitting room. When John had seen a small, flaying bundle on the couch, he had assumed he was dreaming.

"What the hell?" Sherlock bewildered voice said behind John. He was in his pyjamas and rumpled dressing gown, having obviously been awoken by the crying as well.

John stepped closer, looking down to see a small, very vocal and very alive baby on the couch. Even then, his black curls were beginning to sprout on his head, his blue eyes shining with tears. Feeling instant pity, John scooped the baby up into his arms. It had been quite some time since he had held a baby and it took a few adjustments to get him into a comfortable position.

"What are you doing?" Sherlock asked gesturing toward Hamish as if he was a bomb to be handled with care.

"I'm picking up this poor, screaming child" John said, rocking Hamish up and down. Slowly, his cries began to die down.

"Whose baby is that?" Sherlock said. "Shouldn't we…..I don't know…..call someone?" His eyes widened in terror.

John had to laugh as he looked down at the beautiful little baby in his arms. Sherlock could look at severed heads and blood splattered crime scenes all day but put a baby three feet from him and he was terrified.

"What? Like Lestrade?" John joked. "Come quick, Lestade, there's an infant on the loose!"

"Maybe!" Sherlock said, his voice rising an octave.

John laughed. "What are you laughing at?" Sherlock demanded, seeing nothing funny about this.

"This is just a baby, not a bomb" John said. Hamish began to squirm against and John put his finger out. Hamish instantly began to suck on it like a makeshift dummy.

"What are you doing? What are you doing?!" Sherlock asked, pointing to John's slowly being consumed thumb.

"What?" John laughed.

"You're letting it rub its saliva all over your hand?" Sherlock asked.

"Sherlock, you handle human eyes and body fluids on a daily basis" John said. "This is just a baby. He's upset; he doesn't have anything to suck on so I'm improvising." Sherlock visibly cringed.

"Sherlock, this is nothing to be scared of" John said. "Though, we do need to find out how he got here"

"Who would put this on us?" Sherlock said irrationally.

"Oh, grow up Sherlock, you're acting more like a baby than he is" John said. "And really I think-"

At that moment, John's eyes fell on the note sitting on the couch where Hamish had been sitting. On fancy stationary, scrawled in elaborate type were simply the words "Please take care of our son, Sherlock".

"Uh…..Sherlock….." John said. He was so surprised, for a moment his grasp faltered and the bundle grew heavy in John's arms. Sherlock have a kid? Surely that had to be a mistake…..but…..who could even make that mistake? John knew that technically Sherlock was an adult fully capable of producing offspring- maybe? If John had to bet money on which of the two of them had a child somewhere that they didn't know about, he would have bet a million to one that it was him.

"What?" Sherlock asked. Unable to say anything, John just handed Sherlock the note. He watched Sherlock's face for the reaction and he wasn't disappointed. Sherlock's face paled to a sickly color, his lips pulling into a thin line.

"What is this?" Sherlock asked, looking at John with hard eyes as if had something to do with this.

"You tell me" John said.

"I didn't have anything to do with this" Sherlock said, pointing at Hamish in disgust and backing away even more.

"So you're telling me you never….." John trailed off.

"That I never what?!" Sherlock asked, growing impatient.

John had tried to phrase it as delicately as possible but it was obvious that wasn't going to happen. "Sherlock, you do know how babies are made, don't you?" he asked. It sounded sarcastic but John genially beginning to wonder if he knew.

"Of course I know the details of human conception, I'm not an idiot" Sherlock said, putting his hands on his hips and regarding John with disgust.

"So…..is there anything you want to share with the class?" John asked.

"Like what?" Sherlock shrilled.

John face palmed with his free hand. "Did you have sex with someone about…..a year and half ago?" he asked. There was no point in being delicate anymore.

Sherlock looked genially offended. "What a terrible thing to ask, John." He said, affronted.

"So is that a yes?" John asked. The idea of Sherlock copulating with another human being was like a bomb being dropped on him.

Sherlock's greenish cheeks turned red. "You're hardly the one to be asking about my private life. We all know what you get up to!" Sherlock said as he began to flee from the room.

Okay, that was definitely a yes…John was dying to know the story behind this apparently miracle baby but he knew that wasn't going to happen. "Sherlock, you know you can't run away from this. If this really is your baby-"

Sherlock whirled around and looked at John with the darkest, angriest look he had ever seen on his face. "That….is…..not….my…..baby…" he spat before walking out of the room.

The tiny little baby began to cry again and John bounced him up and down. "Don't worry, he's always rude. Don't take it personally" John said with as much humor as he could manage.

John was brought back to the present by Sherlock jumping up next to him. John watched as Sherlock paced around and around in a circle, pulling at his hair in frustration. "Can't believe I did this…can't believe it…." he was muttering under his breath.

"What's your fault?" John asked, his voice rough.

"What do you mean, what's my fault?!" Sherlock asked so loudly, gesturing wildly so that even people missing half a limb were looking at him. "This! All of this! This would never have happened if I hadn't chosen to take this stupid holiday!" He began to pull at his hair again.

"Sherlock" John said quietly, pulling Sherlock to sit down next to him, away from the critical glances of everyone around them, "You can't blame yourself for this. This was an accident."

"An accident that is going to kill Hamish" Sherlock said. John saw visible tears collecting in Sherlock's eyes.

The words hit John like a brick to the stomach. "Hey…..hey…don't start thinking like that" John said. Sherlock had to rally him before now it was his turn; maybe between the two of them they could get through this. "Remember what you told me? You said we have to stay strong for Hamish. He'll get through this and when he does, we'll be here to support him. He's going to need us."

Sherlock pressed his hands to his eyes, hanging his head to the floor. "Hamish…Hamish…."

It was the worst sound John had ever heard. The pure sorrow and anguish in Sherlock's heart that he was holding in came ripping from him in a voice that sounded like a strangled sob and scream. It broke John's heart.

"Oh Sherlock…" John said, putting his hand on Sherlock's shoulder to comfort him. The second the contact was made, Sherlock snapped into recovery mode.

"Have to get some air…."Sherlock said, jumping up as if he had been burned and running from the room. John just watched him walk away, feeling even more lost and powerless than before, trying to think about anything else but what was going on now.

"So, what are you going to call him?" John asked one day two weeks after Hamish had first appeared in their sitting room. Sherlock had, slowly, grown accustomed to the idea that he was a father. He still wouldn't tell John anything about the Hamish's mother and it was very obvious that though it was a complete surprise, Sherlock knew exactly who he belonged to. Since Sherlock had never known he was a father, he didn't know anything about the baby, not even his name.

Hamish was sitting in a baby carrier on the table, babbling loudly as he reached out toward Sherlock who was looking down at him as if trying to figure out exactly what to do with him. "What do you mean?" Sherlock asked.

John smiled at Hamish whose eyes finally left Sherlock's and searched his own. "I mean a name. He needs a name." John said, "Babies don't really respond to 'hey you'"

Sherlock tilted his head from side to side, a look of concentration on his face. John could almost see the wheels turning in Sherlock's brain.

"Think about it careful" John cautioned. "Don't call him anything weird. He's the one that's got to live with the name." He just imagine Sherlock naming the poor little baby after some ancient scientist or philosopher that he couldn't possibly be able to spell.

"Oh, I already know what I'm going to name him" Sherlock said with surety, looking up at John.

"Really? What?" John asked bracing for the odd answer.

"Hamish, of course" Sherlock said, as if it should have been obvious.

John felt heat flush in his cheeks. "What? You want to name your son Hamish?" he asked.

Sherlock shrugged care freely but his face looked pinker. "Yes" he said. "Of course I do. I like….."

"What?" John asked, trying to suppress the smile that came at knowing what Sherlock wanted to say. Sherlock always knew what he wanted to say; even his stuttering and misspeaks were on some level intentional.

"I like…..that name. That's a nice name, perfect for him" Sherlock covered quickly, averting his eyes when he saw John smiling at him.

The newly named Hamish began to cry in his carrier, squirming around uncomfortably. "What's wrong with him?" Sherlock asked, looking at Hamish puzzled. John had thought he didn't know much about babies but he was finding out more and more each day that his knowledge of children made him an expert compared to Sherlock.

"Well, you could pick him up" John suggested obviously. "Try to soothe him in some way."

Sherlock was about to pick Hamish up, reaching out awkwardly for him when he stopped abruptly. "No, I think he's crying for you, John." Sherlock said.

"Don't be ridiculous" John said, walking over to the two of them. "Why would you think he wants-"John stopped suddenly when he began to smell the tale tell scent of a dirty nappy. John scowled at Sherlock. "Oh, when he's got a dirty nappy that means he wants me does it? You could change him, you know."

Sherlock scooped Hamish up like he was fragile and dangerous and handed him to John. "Oh, but you're so much better at it" Sherlock said, backing away.

"I'm better at it in the fact that I actually do it" John said, "If it was left to you, he'd always be sitting in his own filth."

"But you're a doctor, John. You're used to human waste" Sherlock said with a cringe.

John rolled his eyes. "Your father is the biggest baby here, Hamish" he cooled toward Hamish in a singsong voice. He counted it a small victory that Hamish laughed at that moment.

"And your daddy is a whiner" Sherlock said in an equally high pitched voice. Hamish laughed even more and Sherlock looked smug at the fact.

"Daddy?" John asked, surprised at the very unsherlock-like word.

"That's what he'll call you" Sherlock said, again as if it was obvious. John couldn't help but smile; it just fit.

John was sure that he would die of the pain of waiting when finally the doctor came out to talk to them. Sherlock hadn't said a single word since his outburst and John didn't try to engage him further; what would he say anyway?

"Mr. Holmes. Dr. Watson?" the doctor asked. Sherlock jumped up from his chair as if it burned him and John followed suit.

"Yes?" Sherlock asked, his voice tight but hopeful. He was hanging on the hope that something good was about to be told to them. John's stomach only fell into his feet at the sight of the doctor. Disheveled hair, red tinted tired eyes, a weariness in his limbs…John knew the signs. It was not the look a doctor had when they were about to deliver happy news to parents. It was the look of defeat. John felt himself sink back into his chair.

"Hamish is out of surgery, he's being taken to the ICU" the doctor said, his voice professional but with the tinge of a pain that showed he still was affected by the sorrow of a parent's loss.

"ICU?!" Sherlock asked, his voice loud and demanding. John knew it was because he was so panicked but it made everyone in the room stare at him. John felt like his stomach was being filled with stones and he suddenly wished there was somewhere private that they could be while their world was coming to an end.

The doctor took a steading breath. "Hamish's injuries were quite extensive. There was a great deal of bleeding and we performed surgery to stop the bleeding and release the pressure. The bleeding is now stopped but damage to the tissue surrounding the injury was heavy."

"What…what does that mean?" Sherlock asked. His face was white, his lips turning a sickly color. John was relieved Sherlock could ask because he couldn't imagine saying it; he already knew too much of what was coming.

"Until Hamish wakes, it's impossible to know the extent of damage" the doctor said.

"How long do you think it'll be until he wakes up?" Sherlock asked. John could see Sherlock begin to shake.

"Right now he's in a coma…he's being monitored closely but due to the damage it might be a long time before he wakes." The doctor said.

John felt disconnected, floating away into space as the force of train seemed to slam into his heart.

"I must be honest with you" the doctor plowed on before Sherlock could say anything else. "It doesn't look promising. Hamish is in a very fragile state. With the amount of damage he sustained, it's likely that he will never wake up again. Even if he does, he'll likely be severely handicapped." The doctor gave them a sympathetic look. "I really am very sorry. I know that's the last thing you want to hear, I just wanted you to be prepared.

This wasn't happening…..this couldn't be happening. There was no way that what the doctor was saying was true; if it was, then it must mean the world was ending. Since the world around him still spun as if nothing happened, then this had to be some terrible nightmare. John would have given anything for this to be a nightmare. It just couldn't be possible that Hamish would never wake up. He was so happy, so smart, so full of energy and life…the world was better for his presence in it.

"Then you need to do something else for him! What's bloody wrong with you? You guys here are doctors…..you're supposed to fix people. Fix my son!" Sherlock demanded, trembling with sorrow and anger. John was still frozen, feeling oddly like he was going to get sick, when Sherlock turned toward him. "John, please…you're a doctor. Make them do something!" Sherlock was looking at him, begging him to fix it, to have answers. John had never had to turn Sherlock away without helping him; it was the only time the both of them were completely out of answers.

"Sherlock, I'm sure that they did everything they could…."John said, his voice hollow and deadpan. It was all he could manage.

"John…no…." Sherlock almost begged. John wrapped his arms around his middle and squeezed; he had to do something to hold himself together until the earth swallowed him whole.

Chapter Text

John was frozen in the hallway, unable to move; he had gotten up to Hamish's room quickly but now he couldn't bear to bring himself to go inside the room. Sherlock stood next to him, his face a blank mask of pale indecision. John looked to him for hope, a push into the room but he could see that he was just as afraid. The last time John had seen Hamish, he had been laughing, happy, bursting with life. Now he was on the edge of life and John didn't know how he could stand to see him like that.

"He'll get through this" Sherlock said, not looking at John but still staring straight ahead. His voice was flat, like he was running on autopilot. John knew he said it to keep himself from falling into despair. As bad as John knew the situation was, he knew that Sherlock was equally aware of how grim this was.

"He'll get through this…He's strong…..he's resilient…..he'll make it through this…"Sherlock said. John tried to move closer to Sherlock; he wanted comfort, consolation in the only other person he had. Sherlock just moved away.

"Yeah…..yeah, he will" John said in an equally zombie-like voice. Sherlock began to ever so slowly walk into the hospital room and John steeled himself up as he walked alongside him. A feeling of eternal cold, settling down into his bones, seemed to burrow inside him, making him feel as if he would never be happy again.

They were supposed to be in Florida…they were all supposed to be in sunny, warm, happy Florida. They were supposed to be staying in a hotel right now, with Hamish nagging them incessantly to go swim in the pool. They were supposed to be telling him he needed to sleep and that he could swim in the morning; they would have given in of course and let him swim until the pool was closed. They shouldn't have been looking at his small, damaged lifeless body in the hospital. The universe was truly cruel…..

It was worse than John could have imagined. He had seen many sick children working as a physician and as sad as it was, it could not prepare him for the sorrow of it being his own child. Though Hamish was five years old, he looked so small; he was nothing more than little ball in the middle of the huge bed. He was attached to more machines than John cared to count, most of his angelic face covered by an oxygen mask. John felt a lump forming in his throat as he took it all in; when he saw that Hamish's head of midnight curls had been shaved off, the incision from the surgery painfully visible, the tears were so heavy in his eyes that his vision began to blur.

Sherlock sat on the edge of the bed, his face an unreadable mask. John silently willed Sherlock to give into the emotions that John knew that he had to feel. John couldn't, wouldn't, give into his tears now if Sherlock remained strong. If he gave in now, he might never stop; he could feel he would go over the edge. Wiping the moisture that managed to escape on the back of his hand, John sat down on the opposite side of the bed, taking Hamish's tiny hand in his own.

"Hamish" Sherlock said, his voice rough and quiet despite the fact that his face didn't show it. "I don't know if you can hear me…..but…..if you can, I want you to know I'm here" he took Hamish's free hand and squeezed it. His voice faltered. "Father is here…..and Daddy's here."

"Yes" John said, his voice catching. "We are here and we love you….so very much." Silently he willed Hamish to wake but he knew that he wouldn't.

"You…..you take as much time as you need" Sherlock said, his voice coming out more strained with each word. "You sleep as long as it takes to make you well" Sherlock leaned down and gave Hamish a hug that broke John's shattered heart even further. If the room hadn't been so silent that all John could hear was the mockingly loud pounding of his own heart in his ears, he would have missed Sherlock's whisper in Hamish's ear. "But please come back me…no matter how long you sleep, please come back to me."

….

On the ride back from the hospital to Baker Street, John's numbness began to wear away as sensation filled his body. He was tired, deadly tired, his stomach rumbled with hunger and his head ached with the pain of dehydration. He hardly wanted to attend to his own needs; that his body should continue on unharmed while Hamish's lay like an empty shell seemed wrong. While he knew that logically he had to keep care of himself, that abuse his own body would do nothing to help Hamish, it was still a temptation.

But the worst part was that when the numbness wore off, his could keenly feel the pain of the night's events. His heart pained him so much that he could understand the literal meaning of 'heartache'; his heart felt like it stabbed him with a knife every time he thought of Hamish. He'd had everything; everything was perfect in his life. He'd had everything and yet he'd still longed for more. He thought of how only days ago he'd begged for a second child and now his first was being ripped from his arms. With as much pain and suffering he had endured in his life, this was the cruelest.

When they arrived at 221B, John handed money to the cabbie without even looking at it and stepped out of the cab on feet that didn't seem to belong to him. Sherlock was already making his way quickly for their flat and John's aching soul propelled him forward after him.

Sherlock was already in the flat when John was making way up the stairs. "Wait…..Sherlock…wait!" he called out. It felt like Sherlock was running from him and that was the last thing he needed. He didn't know exactly what he did need but he knew that Sherlock was part of it. He was the only one that could share his pain, the only one he could possibly hold him together.

Sherlock was racing toward his room when John caught up to him. John knew, from years living with the stubborn man that if he made his way to his room, he'd be completely gone to John for hours. "Sherlock, stop!" John urged Sherlock, reaching out and grabbing Sherlock's wrist.

Sherlock whipped around, his eyes angry, crazed almost, as he looked at John; for a moment John thought he might hit him like a caged animal. "What? What do you want from me John?" he asked, his voice spent and completely anguished.

John didn't know what he wanted; all he knew was that right now he wanted Sherlock. To comfort him? To comfort Sherlock? He just knew he couldn't be alone right now. "Don't leave me…please. Let's talk…..or not talk. Just stay with me please" John said. He knew the words came out like a beg but he didn't care. He didn't care if they talked; he didn't care if they just stared at the wall. He just wanted the only person in the world that loved Hamish as much as he did; the one person whose whole world was collapsing like his.

Sherlock's lip trembled but he surveyed John darkly. "Leave me alone!" he snapped, wrenching his arm from John's grasp and disappearing into his room. John knew better than to try the door; it would be locked.

Left in the hallway, alone and crushed with his sorrow, John sank down in the floor outside of Sherlock's room. He suddenly felt so tired, so emotionally spent he couldn't bear to move, much less hold in the tears. Wrapping his arms around himself like the hug that he ached to have, he began to sob, fully and earnestly. He didn't care if Sherlock could hear him; in that moment he felt so alone, so completely on his own that he didn't care about anything.

….

John woke the next morning to the hot morning sun burning his eyelids, a gentle hand rousing him awake. For one fantastic, blissful second, he forgot what had happened. For a moment he imagined that it was Hamish waking him, eager to get up to go to Disneyworld. He imagined that Hamish would dress in his Buzz Lightyear costume and he and John would convince Sherlock to wear one of the stupid Mickey Mouse ears hats. They would eat nothing but biscuits and ice cream all day and ride so many rides that it would make their stomachs ache. It would be the perfect day.

But as soon as John opened his eyes, he could see that his dream wasn't a reality. In one terrible second the events of the previous night came back to him. The accident…..the dismal news about Hamish…Sherlock's disconnection…dragging himself to his room in tears. He had fallen asleep in Hamish's bed, only small consoled by the scent of him on the pillow. It all rushed back to him with the force of a bolder hitting him in the chest. He let out a strangled cry like a whimper; he wasn't sure he could ever get used to the pain.

"John….." It was Mrs. Hudson's quiet, motherly voice. When John looked around, she was standing at the side of the bed, wrapped in her dressing gown, hair disheveled, a tissue clamped in her hand. Her red eyes spoke that she knew what had happened. John forced himself up, putting his legs over the side of the bed. He suddenly felt embarrassed to be caught sleeping in Hamish's bed. The ludicrously of it was enough to make him almost laugh. Great, he was becoming hysterical….

"John" Mrs. Hudson prodded again. "Sherlock told me what happened with Hamish. I'm so, so sorry."

John rubbed his tired eyes and looked up toward her. "Where is Sherlock?" he asked.

"He went out already….."Mrs. Hudson said. "I was getting the paper when I ran into him. He told me what happened."

John couldn't imagine that Sherlock had told Mrs. Hudson much more than the bare details. Surely he wasn't confiding in her when he could barely even look at John. "What'd he say?" John asked, his voice dead.

"Well, not much" Mrs. Hudson said, "He told me they were in a car accident and that Hamish is in a coma. He told me it was pretty serious and then he just fled before I could stop him. He's hurting so much…..holding it in though."

"Wish he'd let me in" John said, looking at the floor, littered with Legos and crayons. He bit his lip. "I could help him….."

In a moment, Mrs. Hudson's arms were around him, hugging him; John felt a small measure of the pain melt away at the comfort. "You know how he is dear" Mrs. Hudson said, "You have to give him time. But, you know, you matter too. Tell me how you're doing."

John felt a lump in his throat like wanted to cry but he was sure that he had given all of his tears the previous night. He felt too spent to even cry. "It's awful…it's a bloody nightmare" John said, still leaning into Mrs. Hudson. He'd wanted some comfort so badly that it was a relief to have her here. "I can't believe that this is happening. I'm going to lose him….."

Mrs. Hudson pulled back, holding his face in her hands. "I know it's hard, john" she said, "But you've got to stay positive. You can't believe you're losing him yet; it'll kill you."

"I know" John said sincerely. "I just know how bad it is…..what his odds are and it's not good."

Mrs. Hudson smiled bitterly. "Hamish is a remarkable child" she said. "He has everything to live for. If anyone's got a chance to get past this, it's him."

John closed his eyes to the terrible world around him. "I hope you're right"

…..

John held Hamish's tiny hand in his own; it was as if somehow he had gotten even smaller than he was the previous night, as if this injury was shrinking him. He watched the rise and fall of every small breath, painfully aware that they were not natural breaths but they were still the one thing, along with the beeping heart monitor, that told that he was still alive. That there was still a chance he could get out.

John couldn't help but remember the one and only other time Hamish had been in the hospital. It was shortly after he had come to live with them; he'd had a severe case of RSV and it had scared John to death. At the time he had just gotten used to having Hamish around; their lives had settled into an odd but comfortable routine and John was already head over heels about being a dad. Hamish had been so sick; he'd looked so frail in the hospital, fighting for his breath. He was not ashamed to admit his eyes had teared up from happiness and relief when he had walked into Hamish's room one morning to find him sitting up and trying to bite on the bars of the bed just like a normal, healthy baby.

John would have given anything if he could have walked into this room and saw Hamish awake. He imagined him sitting up, smiling at John from across the room; no doubt he'd comment that daddies don't cry when John burst into tears at the sight of him. He wouldn't even care if Hamish was embarrassed if he smothered him with hugs and kisses. But even day dreaming about that was no good; it set John on a bad path of thought. If Hamish did wake up, he most likely wouldn't be himself. Everything brilliant and amazing about him would be gone. John didn't care if he was an invalid; he'd take care of Hamish for all of his days. But the child he knew would be gone and he'd have to learn to love a new version of him. John knew it was a selfish thing to think; all that mattered was that whatever version of Hamish they had, he loved them and they loved him.

For the hundredth time, John tucked Hamish's blankie over top of him; he'd seen it lying on his bed as he had dressed to come to the hospital and he couldn't leave without it. When Hamish woke up, he'd be scared and disoriented; John wanted him to have a comfortable item even if he had once thought he was too old for it. He'd also grabbed Hamish's alien winter cap as he'd left and it now rested upon his fractured head. The green antenna on the hat gave him a sort of tragic humor but John just couldn't bear to look at cuts on his head any longer. With the hat on, John could almost convince himself that Hamish was just sleeping.

John glanced at the clock as he watched the sun setting outside. Sherlock had not been here all day and there was only one hour left of visiting hours. Anger flooded through John, a welcome emotion to all of the grief and sorrow that he had been feeling. Where in the hell was Sherlock? Where could he possibly be that was more important than being with his critically ill child? Didn't Sherlock know that people who had visitors and loved ones around them were more likely to pull through? John squeezed Hamish's hand; he would at least have John here for as long as he could be. John wanted Hamish to know that he had a reason to pull through, that he had not been abandoned.

With a half hour left of visiting hours, Sherlock finally burst through the door. That he didn't even appear upset or to have been crying, that he didn't seem shaken up at all burned John to the core. He welcomed the anger; it was better than the grief.

"Where the hell have you been?" John asked, scowling at Sherlock as he took the chair on the opposite side of the bed from John.

Sherlock looked like it was just another day. "I've been out" was his only pathetic reply. John wanted to punch him. Did Sherlock have no soul at all? How could the idea of his son lying here all day not have been burned into his brain?

John covered Hamish's ears on the off chance that he could actually here them; he didn't want Hamish to know that Sherlock apparently didn't care. "Where could you have possibly been that's more important than being here with your son?" he asked.

Sherlock sighed, looking tired and bored with John's attitude. "I don't have to answer to you" Sherlock said pettily. "I'm here now and that's all that matters. You can leave"

John felt his eyes widen in shock. "Leave? I'm not leaving…..are you crazy? I have half an hour left here with him before I have to go back to our bloody depressing flat. I'm staying right here."

"His father is here now, he has company." Sherlock said firmly. It was almost like he challenged John to get angry; too late.

"I'm his dad; I need to be here too." John said, feeling something desperate rise in him like a wave.

"You're not his dad" Sherlock hissed. "I'm his dad…..he's not yours!"

John felt like he had literally been punched in the stomach. He dropped to his chair, his hands falling away from Hamish's ears as if he had been shocked. All of the anger and fight in him had left him and all that was left was a deep dark pit in his heart. "Excuse me? What do you mean he's not mine?" John asked bitterly.

"He's not your son" Sherlock spat, angrily almost. "You don't share his blood, his DNA. You never even legally adopted him. You aren't his father, I am and I want to be alone with my son."

John had suffered so much anger and pain at the hands of Sherlock Holmes over the years; he was a powerful person but it had always seemed worth the stress of Sherlock's oddities to know him personally. Sherlock had insulted every aspect of his life at some point, made fun of every one of his habits and had used every word in the English language that meant stupid to describe him. But nothing, nothing, Sherlock had ever said or did had hurt John as deeply as that one statement had.

John stood up from his chair and walked over to Sherlock with death in his eyes; he could see the fear on Sherlock's face that his own countenance had brought on. It was rare when John could do anything to put fear into Sherlock but he knew his anger surely had to make him look like the full force of his deep seated homicidal tendencies.

"How dare you" John said, each word slow and purposeful least he strangle Sherlock in his grief fueled anger. "How dare you say that to me. Hamish might not have my blood and I might not have legal claim to him but he's mine in every sense of the word. I love him….." John took a breath, urging himself not to become hysterical or kill Sherlock. "I love Hamish like he was my own. Since the day he came to us, I have taken care of his every need. The midnight feedings, the sick days, the nappies…..have you forgot all of that? Where would Hamish be without me, where would you be without me? I do all of that because I love that little boy more than anything else in this world. He's everything that's good about you with none of the selfish, dickish behavior that makes up 90% of your personality." John took a breath; he was never going to make it out of here if he didn't speed up. "I was here all day, watching him and thinking about every moment in my life that was made better because he was in it. He's everything to me and you could even be bothered to be here with him."

Sherlock had paled so much that he looked grey as John spoke. "John….." he started but John didn't give him the option to speak. He didn't deserve it.

"No….you know what?" John asked, holding up his hands. "You want one half hour with him, without me because I matter so little to you? Go right ahead…"

John didn't give Sherlock a moment to speak before he stormed out of the room.

Chapter Text

John was drowning in his grief and he didn't know if he should be upset or relived that he now had anger to contend with. Sherlock's comment had hurt John so deeply that he was still seething over it when he returned to 221B. He knew deep down he wasn't completely angry; he was hurt. He and Sherlock should be leaning onto each other to get through the pain of all of this. Instead, Sherlock wanted nothing more than to push John away. He didn't know why that was, other than Sherlock was just as heartless as he'd once imagined, but it hurt him in a time that he had very little left to give emotionally.

When he got home, he was on autopilot; drink water, eat food, take a shower, sleep. He did what he had to to keep going, counting the hours until he could go back to the hospital. He didn't care what Sherlock said; Hamish needed someone there with him all day and he couldn't count on Sherlock to be there.

John was planning on making the quickest work of eating whatever he could find fastest and taking a shower so he could take some sleeping pills and earn a few precious hours of unconsciousness before waking to the nightmare again. He wasn't necessarily surprised when Mrs. Hudson arrived within ten minutes of his getting home, armed with a plate of hot food.

"How's he doing?" Mrs. Hudson asked sympathetically, setting the plate down and taking a seat at the table, pushing a large stack of books and beakers out of the way to make space.

John knew he'd have to eat so he sat down and began to chew, mechanically and not tasting it at all. "No change" John said, staring into his plate.

"Aww….I'm sorry, John" Mrs. Hudson said. "Are you holding up alright?"

John wasn't alright and he was sure that Mrs. Hudson knew that but somehow he'd make it for Hamish's sake; as long as he was fighting for life, John had to keep fighting. "As well as you can imagine" John said.

"What about Sherlock? How's he managing?" Mrs. Hudson asked.

John instantly found it harder to stomach his dinner. "He's cold and heartless like always" he said bitterly.

Mrs. Hudson looked pained. "I'm sure he is just having a hard time expressing his feelings" she said neutrally.

"No, he was able to express himself just fine" John said, dropping his fork so fast that it slammed down onto his plate. "He expressed very clearly that I, as someone who is of no relation to Hamish, have no business intruding upon him and his son." John pushed his plate away; suddenly he was feeling like skipping straight ahead to the sleeping pill portion of the night.

"Oh John…."Mrs. Hudson started to say.

"It's okay" John said, the words rushing out like verbal vomit; he just had to say something to someone. "It's okay that Sherlock doesn't think of me as Hamish's dad….."

Mrs. Hudson looked like she was on the verge of tears that John wished he could cry; he was beyond tears at this point. "John, you know Sherlock can't really believe that" she said quietly. "He's under so much stress and pain right now…you know how he is. He doesn't know how to handle his pain and he lashes out."

"He wasn't even there!" John burst out indignantly. "All day he wasn't even there. Then he just comes in there and kicks me out."

Mrs. Hudson reached across the table and squeezed John's hand. "Just hold on, John" she said. "I know you can do this…you and Sherlock always manage through tough times. This might be the hardest thing you've ever been through but Sherlock will look to someone to lean on eventually and when he does you'll be there for him." She gave him a smile. "Because you always are."

John's drug induced sleep that night was blissfully free of nightmares and dreams; he awoke the next morning without any bodily or mental relief but he had had over eight hours of unconsciousness and that was that all he could he hope for at this point. He couldn't resist the urge to check all of the rooms in the flat when he woke, hoping to find Sherlock had returned in the night. But the flat was as empty as it had been when he went to sleep, without any sign that Sherlock had come back at all. He pushed the disappointment and sadness down inside him, determined to get through the motions of dressing and getting ready so he could go back to the hospital.

John was aching, with sadness and loss and so many unidentifiable emotions as he walked down the hallways to Hamish's room. He'd been in so many hospitals for so many reasons and this was by far the most somber atmosphere. He could feel the grief and despair reach around his heart and squeeze it tight; the children's ICU was one of the worst places on Earth. He passed dozens of people in the hallways, each looking away when he looked their way, their red rimmed empty eyes mirroring John's sorrow. It was the worst kind of battlefield.

John was floored when he walked into Hamish's room and saw that Sherlock was already there. He stopped in the doorway, observing his small broken family before he could walk all of the way in. Hamish lay in the bed, pale, small and frozen like a horrible photograph John wished he could look away from. Sherlock sat in the same chair that he had when John had left the night before; he wondered if he had ever left. Sherlock was slumped over onto the bed, asleep. His hand stretched out, clutching Hamish's loosely. When John saw that his head was supported by Hamish's stuffed zombie doll, Bee, he felt the almost constant nag of tears stabbing the back of his eyes.

John hadn't brought the toy; it was one of Hamish's favorites but he hated the stupid thing. Sherlock had thought it was cute in his insane, morbid way; he bought it for Hamish when he was barely two. John had thought the toy, a sickly little zombie doll with only one leg, was not an appropriate toy for a toddler but Hamish had taken to it immediately. He carried that stupid, ugly thing around with him almost constantly until he went to nursery school. He'd not been able to say zombie when he had gotten it; its babyish name of "Bee", the only part of the word Hamish had been able to say, had stuck. It had been the first of many of arguments between the two of them about what was appropriate material for a small and strangely morbid child. It was only a few weeks ago that John had had one of the greatest frights he could remember having. Upon returning to their flat after a shift at the surgery, John had found Hamish sitting at the kitchen table, sitting on his knees, head propped on his hands, head tilted to the side as he looked down at an array of photographs from the Yard Sherlock had left lying around. Hamish's eyes were widen open, staring in fascination at the bloody, grotesque dead bodies like a normal five year old child might look at a puppy or exciting new toy. "Cool…" he had kept saying to himself over and over again as he rocked from side to side, John frozen in horror. The argument that had ensued between him and Sherlock had been one of the worst they had ever had.

But it wasn't these distressing memories that came into John's head at the sight of the wretched toy. All he could think about was the fact that it was the first toy Sherlock had bought for Hamish and that Sherlock's bringing it here was as much for his own comfort as Hamish's. It was enough to make him forget that he was so angry at Sherlock.

John took the seat he had occupied so short a time ago across from Sherlock. Looking at Hamish, who seemed to grow smaller every time that John looked at him, John obsessively retucked the covers around him, straightened his ridiculous alien hat, his hand running over his forehead to brush hair out of his eyes that wasn't there anymore. He just wanted to do something, care for Hamish when all of his care was clearly out of his hands now. He just wanted to touch him, hold him; more than anything John wished he could pick up his fragile little body and cradle him close. He settled for again just holding his hand.

Sherlock seemed to sense that John was there; within minutes of arriving, Sherlock stirred. He stretched painfully, his muscles creaking audibly, brushing back his wild hair and yawning before he realized John was there. He jumped slightly, seeing John; he could see the sad glint in Sherlock's eyes before he recovered and looked dull and unfocused.

"John….." Sherlock said tiredly, cautiously. He looked unsure of what to do.

"Don't worry…..I'll stay out of your way. Pretend I'm not here" John said bitterly. The last thing he wanted was an argument. He wasn't angry with Sherlock but he didn't want Sherlock to get mad at him again. He just wanted to be here with Hamish, even if he and Sherlock and couldn't speak to each other.

"Don't say that John" Sherlock said, his voice so tired that John looked at him fully for the first time. His shirt was rumpled, the few remaining buttons that were done were in the wrong holes, his hair stuck at wild angles making him look like an even crazier Einstein, his eyes red and bloodshot. John could feel pity welling inside him.

"No, really it's okay" John said quietly. He didn't want to start something.

"No, it's not" Sherlock said, turning around and fixing John with a hard stare, one that made John take him more seriously. "It's not okay what I said to you, John. What I said last night wasn't okay"

John was floored; was Sherlock about to apologize? Had he actually been affected by what John had said? It would have been the first time in seven years' time. "You really hurt me" John admitted, his words clipped and pained, rushing out before he could stop himself.

Sherlock looked down, twitching slightly; apologies and feelings were so far out of his comfort zone that it was almost painful to watch. "I know I did…..and I didn't mean it" Sherlock said. "I was…I was…." He stopped, took several deep breaths before continuing. "This is so hard for me. I don't know how to handle all of this and I said things I didn't mean. I couldn't stop it and I'm…sorry…"

It was the last thing that John had ever expected to hear from Sherlock. He didn't apologize, he didn't feel remorse and yet somehow, without anyone telling him, he had recognized that what he said was wrong and had taken it back. Even so, John couldn't say it was okay or that it didn't matter; it wasn't okay even though John did forgive him.

John was relieved when Sherlock continued and he didn't have to think of something to say. "Hamish is your son just as much as he is mine" Sherlock said, looking at John with glassy, surprisingly sincere eyes. "To say that he wasn't fair at all. I'd have never been able to keep him if it wasn't for you. You are the one that takes care of him. I don't do anything for him."

"That's not true" John jumped in to say. Sherlock didn't say it self loathingly and while John did most of the traditional parenting activities it wasn't fair to say that Sherlock didn't do anything.

"But it is" Sherlock said seriously. "I would have never been able to care for him, especially in the beginning. I would have been rubbish at it….I probably would have ended up giving him up. I know that's a terrible thing to say but it's true. You did it all. I couldn't have…..just like his mother wasn't able to take care of him. Not that I would have expected her to."

John was relived to be justified; he was glad to hear the acknowledgement that he had never received that Hamish's care and wellbeing fell mostly on his shoulders. But he had never wanted it with Sherlock looking so defeated and sad. He had never wanted it at the expense of Sherlock realizing that on his own, he would have failed at being a parent just like Hamish's mother had.

"Sherlock…who was Hamish's mom?" John asked before he could stop. Sherlock had never willingly mentioned her himself; whenever she was brought up he acted angry just having to think about her but now he looked like thinking about her made him sad.

"You've been asking me that for years, John" Sherlock said, looking at Hamish instead of at John, one hand holding Hamish's and the other rubbing the Bee doll absently. "I can't believe you've never figured it out on your own."

John almost wanted to laugh at the impossibility of that statement. John had never seen Sherlock go on so much as one date with a woman and used every chance to bemoan John's dull and senseless dating life. Sherlock hated dating and relationships and the idea that Sherlock could have had a one night stand was even less believable. Besides, there was very little of his mother's features in Hamish's appearance. He mostly just looked like a small replica of Sherlock. "You've never liked women…..it's kind of hard for me to imagine who you'd want to be with one." John said delicately. He was surprised when Sherlock actually gave a small laugh. It was an out of place but welcome sound to John's aching soul.

"I like women" Sherlock said humorously. "Not very many, but I liked Hamish's mother." He tilted his head, studying Hamish. His eyes seemed to drift far away. "He looks like her sometimes…the look he gives me when he sasses me."

"I'm still lost…..who is it?" John asked, now looking at Hamish as if he could provide the answer. John knew the look Sherlock was talking about; one that was a little more mischievous and sly than Sherlock's but John had always chocked it up to his being a child.

Sherlock turned away from Hamish to finally look at John. "You were always jealous of her….you didn't like her." He said matter of factly, a small smile turning on the corners of his lips.

John felt his cheeks turn red slightly. "Jealous…..what do you mean?" he asked, sounding guilty even though he didn't know what for.

Sherlock laughed again and it felt like medicine to John, so desperately needed in such a dark place. "You misunderstand me" Sherlock said. "I didn't mean it as a bad thing. But you were jealous of her…..just as much as she was jealous of you."

John's blush deepened and it felt odd; his face had been completely void of color since Hamish's accident. Sherlock was looking at him expectantly, waiting for it all to come to him but John couldn't think of who Sherlock meant. The insinuation was enough to make John not want to answer.

"I don't want you say you're a bit slow, John, but you were the one who gave us Hamish's name after all" Sherlock said, raising his eyebrows knowingly at John.

That's when it came back to John, rushing at him like a wave and he couldn't believe it hadn't come to him before then. How had he not seen it? The one woman Sherlock had paid even the slightest attention to, the one woman who could stand Sherlock long enough to try and flirt with him. She was the one woman who was brilliant and insane enough to be a perfect match for Sherlock, so much so that John had been annoyed by it all.

"Hamish…John Hamish Watson, just in case you were looking for baby names"

"Oh my god…"John said as he realized it.

Sherlock smiled. "There you go….knew it'd come to you." he said.

He'd said those words so many years ago in sarcastic jest; he'd never imagine in a million years that they'd actually need baby names. Irene had tried hard, too hard, to win Sherlock. It was impossible to imagine that she had actually succeeded. "Really? Irene?" John asked, unable to come up with anything else to say at the moment. The idea that Irene could be someone's mother was just as unbelievable as the idea that Sherlock could be someone's father.

Sherlock looked far away, nostalgic. "Who else could it be?" he asked, shrugging his shoulders.

John had recovered out of his haze enough that he could formulate a better response. "But how…how did that even happen?" he burst out in astonishment.

Sherlock grinned before he could hide it. "If you're expecting the sultry details of my affair then you'll be waiting for a long time." He said slyly.

"No" John said in embarrassment "What I meant was I thought she was dead. Mycroft said she was."

"Put two brilliant minds together and we created the perfect cover up" Sherlock said proudly. "Not dead…at least not when you thought she was. Her life really was in danger like she thought it was. I saved her."

"But if you were…together" John said carefully, "why did you not see her again? Why didn't you know anything about Hamish?"

Sherlock looked down, the proud bravado of the previous comments fading. "If you imagine there was any sentimentality there then you would be mistaken. Not all that hard to imagine….I found myself mistaken as well. She got what she had always wanted. I never saw her again."

John found that to be one of the saddest things he had ever heard; it was no wonder he hated thinking about Hamish's conception, why he didn't want to share with Hamish his pitiful origins. Irene had seen the allure and excitement in the being the one to break 'The Virgin' and she had. After that, there was nothing left for her. It was obvious that Sherlock didn't share her lack of sentiment. John didn't know what to say; he couldn't acknowledge how hurt Sherlock must have been. Sherlock wouldn't have wanted to discuss it either.

"Well, then it's her loss" John said after a painful pause. "For such a genius she must be a real idiot. She deserves to not know Hamish." It was the only thing that he could think of. If Irene could abandon Sherlock after a one night stand and then abandon her own child a year later then she deserved to not have the pleasure of knowing Hamish and it was just that; a pure delight.

John was glad when Sherlock appeared to relax. "You're right…..maybe she wasn't as intelligent as I thought" he agreed, silence falling after that, the mystery of Hamish's parentage solved. John had thought he would feel better for knowing, but later almost wished he hadn't known.

Chapter Text

Over the next week, John's life settled in the grimmest kind of routine. Every moment of his day was planned around being at the hospital or making it through the hours that he couldn't be at the hospital. All day he would sit with Hamish, often alone. Sherlock still seemed to be having issues being there and John had given up trying to force him to. John knew really that Sherlock wasn't capable of sitting around with the worry and sadness; it wasn't something he could do. Where Sherlock went all day, John didn't know that either but when Sherlock did show up, he didn't press him on it. Mrs. Hudson would visit with John frequently and they would trade stories of the good times they had all shared. It didn't stop the hole in his heart from being there but it did stop it from getting bigger.

John attended to the very basic needs of eating and sleeping but even that he was starting to neglect. He was constantly nauseous and jittery. His life was now on a roller coaster of anxiety, worry and relief. Hamish was not doing well, and certainly not getting any better. The pressure in his brain kept going up and every time it did, John though this was the end. When it would finally go down again, he felt some relief that Hamish was alive even though he knew technically that even more of his fragile brain must be damaged. Every time John saw him, his boy looked less and less like the energetic and lively Hamish he knew. Though John wanted to keep hope, had to keep hope, he knew every day that passed made things worse and worse. Every moment, John lived in perpetual fear, made worse by the fact that he tried to swallow it down and soak in the moments that he had.

It was eight days after the accident when John finally had to stop. He'd been at the hospital all day, sitting with Hamish, and it was late in the night now as he tried to find something in the flat to eat for dinner before passing out. It was quiet, unbearably so, the only sound being the rain pounding on the roof and John's frazzled nerves couldn't take the drone of the telly or the radio. When John's mobile rang, it was like an alarm throughout the flat; hands shaking, he fished it out of his pocket and answered it on the second ring with a speed of someone living in terror of every scrap of news.

"Dr. Watson? This is Dr. Miller from the hospital" the grim voice of Hamish's doctor came through on the other end.

"Yes?" John asked, his voice coming out panicked and croaky. He held his mobile with both hands to keep it from shaking out of his hands.

"I know you just left the hospital but I need you to come back. There's something we need to discuss that can't wait" Dr. Miller's voice was clipped, professional, and purposely vague.

John felt a jolt of fear run through his body and paralyze everything in him. This was it….this was not the call to tell him that Hamish had woken up. "What…is….it?" John managed to force out. He didn't want to know but some small shred of him still hoped that this was all a mistake. Hamish must have woken up…..that's why he had to come immediately. He didn't care how broken he was, how many challenges it might mean…he just wanted to see him awake, to see him smile again.

"I really must discuss it with you in person. Mr. Holmes is already here" Dr. Miller said shortly. John didn't hear anymore because he dropped the mobile. It hit the floor and rolled across the carpet into a pile of Sherlock's mess somewhere and he didn't even think to look for it. His hands were shaking, already he could feel his leg beginning to ache him; his body was betraying him because he knew what was coming even though he couldn't bear it.

Through some miracle, John managed to make it out of the flat and into a cab. He was in a daze in the cab, seeing nothing. The cabbie hadn't tried to engage him since he'd barked at him to bloody shut the hell up, but the radio rang in his ears, nothing but noise. His attention only picked up on one scrap of the daily news. June 7th…..he'd lost track of the days but that was what today was. He knew that that was important…..it would be the day he'd look back on and know that part of him had died that day.

When he arrived at the hospital, he moved through the mass of people to the now familiar room as far as his leg would allow him to move, seizing as much as it was now. His chest felt a stabbing pain in it and he thought of the irony of it. He should be the one lying in a hospital bed, clinging to life. He was old, he had aches and pains; he'd been shot, stabbed, tortured, pushed his body to the brink. He wished it was him and not Hamish; he'd gladly give up his own life if he could save Hamish. Sure, the boy would grieve if he died but the pain for everyone would have been less. Hamish was only five…he'd not been given any time yet.

When John wove his way through the masses of people and into Hamish's room, Sherlock was already there, along with Dr. Miller. Though nothing appeared different, Hamish looked mostly the same on the outside, the room felt different; odd, cold…..like there was ghost with them. John's eyes flickered to the monitors but he couldn't see them well enough from where he was standing to read them. The beeping of the heart monitor told him at least that he wasn't too late. When John looked at Sherlock, his dread increased exponentially.

John hadn't seen Sherlock all day but the man he saw yesterday, the one he knew to be strong, brilliant and capable of anything wasn't the one sitting in the chair by Hamish's bed. It wasn't that John saw Sherlock as something inhuman but he had always raised him to a higher level than other people. His mental abilities and what he was capable of always made John look to him for answers and hope, even in the grimmest circumstances. He'd never admit it to Sherlock, but his own well-being clung to the hope that Sherlock gave him. But the man that was sitting before him was fulluy human and fully defeated. Sherlock sat hunched over in a position that he normally would have considered Neanderthal-like, his twig thin body slumped in defeat. His curls, in a combination of the rain and lack of normal washing, exploded around his head like a dark cloud. The cuts on his face from the accident were now mere red marks, but on his grayish tinted skin they looked like vicious cuts. His lips were white pale almost, dry and parched like they might break if he spoke. He'd bemoaned Sherlock for acting like such a machine, for not caring about what happened to Hamish but he could see he'd been wrong. He cared too much…..the man in front of him was the man he was when John wasn't there. John had been internalizing his feelings; there was no reason to assume that Sherlock hadn't been as well.

"Dr. Watson" Dr. Miller said in way of greeting as he turned around and saw John enter the room. "Would you have a seat please?"

Everything about it was wrong. His chair, which was on the opposite side of Sherlock's, was now moved so that it was sitting next to Sherlock's and John knew as well as anyone that telling a concerned family member to sit as a doctor was never, ever a good thing. Wanting to argue, wanting to refuse to sit but knowing that it wouldn't solve anything, John lowered himself into the waiting chair. As soon as he sat, his hand was encircled by long, thin, cold fingers; when John looked over at Sherlock he was staring firmly at his lap and away from John. Sherlock didn't believe in holding hands; he thought it was for sickly romantic couples and little girls. It was classified as the 'sentiment' that he hated so much. And that was enough for John to know; if Sherlock Holmes was actually holding his hand, then he already knew what the doctor was going to say. With his powers of deduction, how could he not? He probably deduced it as soon as he looked at him. John began to understand even more why it was so hard for Sherlock to be here; he could sense Hamish fading away. For the first time ever, John saw Sherlock's deductive abilities as a curse instead of a gift.

"As you know, ever since the accident and the surgery, Hamish's brain has continued to have bleeding and swelling episodes" Dr. Miller launched on and John felt Sherlock's grasp tighten around his hand. "We've managed these as best as we could but his body is in a very fragile state. With all of the damage, another major hemorrhage was very likely and tonight it has happened. The hemorrhage he sustained tonight was almost as large as the one he suffered during the accident. His body is much too weak for surgery and even if we could operate, it wouldn't do any good. Hamish' brain is no longer showing activity"

To John, it felt like the world stopped; it was like in one instant everything in the world had stopped and the force of it caused a ringing, roaring in his ears and a dizzy sensation in his head. He squeezed Sherlock's hand so tightly he was sure that he must have hurt him but Sherlock didn't let go; he didn't even loosen his grasp. It was what John had been expecting but hearing the words made them real and not just a creation of his overly anxious mind. Hamish was brain dead…and what brain dead really meant was that he was dead. If they unhooked him from all of the machines he was on, his heart would stop beating, his lungs would stop breathing….he was just a shell with nothing that made him Hamish left inside. John stared at him, unable to believe that he was like an empty eggshell, completely void on the inside.

"I'm very sorry to have to deliver this news to you" Dr. Miller continued when John and Sherlock didn't speak. "The machines are keeping him breathing at this moment but even that won't last long. I'll leave you two alone with him for the moment."

John could hear Dr. Miller walk out of the room but his eyes were on Sherlock. Sherlock's eyes were clenched shut tightly and though he wasn't crying, John felt him closing his eyes was to prevent the tears. John could feel his throat closing, eyes burning in the familiar ache for tears but he forced himself not to; it Sherlock was keeping it tougher, he had to too. And the last thing he wanted, if this was really the last time they'd see Hamish, was to dissolve into hysterics.

"Tell me this isn't happening, John. Tell me" Sherlock's voice was broken and heavy with emotion as he spoke. The sorrow and aching need in his tone was enough to send John over the edge of his tears. Sherlock's eyes were clenched but his lip was trembling; Sherlock bit it to make it stop. He was looking for John to make things better, to make this horror go away. As much as John had always looked to Sherlock for answers and reassurance, he'd never known until this moment that Sherlock did the same with him. And it hurt him to know that he could give him absolutely no reassurances this time.

"I can't…I can't and I wish I could" John said, his voice distant. There was so much to say and so much that couldn't be said.

Silence stretched on for so long that John thought he would die before it was broken. He kept his eyes firmly planted on Hamish, thinking of the last time that he had seen him awake. He could hear the melodious sound of his laughter, feel his arms around him as he had hugged him. Hamish had been embarrassed; he hadn't wanted a hug but John was glad that he had insisted on one.

In the silence, Sherlock let go of John's hand and moved to sit on the edge of the bed next to Hamish. "I never held him enough…" he said, his voice sorrowful and far away. Sherlock had been a hands off parent, but he'd been a good dad. John couldn't have him having doubts now.

"Hold him now…I'm sure he'd like that" John said, his voice full of a lump he wanted to cry.

Sherlock tilted his head, studying Hamish as a wave of sadness crossed his face. "He can't feel it…..he's gone." He said in grief.

John moved from his chair to come sit on the bed with Sherlock and Hamish. "Sure he can…..he can't respond but he knows" John said. John didn't know if that was true but in that moment he chose to believe that Hamish could still hear them and feel their touch. He knew Sherlock wanted reassures and that was the best reassure he could give him.

Sherlock looked at John for a moment, taking in what he said before tentatively lifting Hamish up out of his spot. Sherlock leaned against the back of the bed, cradling Hamish like one would hold an infant. He put Hamish's head in the crook of his arm, straightening his hat and smoothing out the favorite outer space pyjamas John had put him in. It was easier to believe he was sleeping like this.

John watched Sherlock hold Hamish; how he looked down at his face with love, how he ran his finger along his cheek, how he leaned down and placed the smallest of kisses to his lips. It was so personal, so intimate that John felt he shouldn't be watching it. A few tears managed to make their way out of eyes at the sight and he wiped his eyes before Sherlock could see. He'd never been this affectionate, this tender while Hamish was awake. John wasn't sure that he was capable of it. Now he could see how wrong he was.

"Hamish…I can't even tell you how much I love you" Sherlock whispered to him, never stopping the strokes along his face. "I know I was really rubbish at all of that while you were awake. Maybe you even thought I didn't care…..but I did. I cared so much and I care still…but you know how it is, right? I always hoped that you did because you were so much like me. It wasn't easy for me to tell you things like how much I love you but I did. I always will…you're my little boy." Sherlock put his forehead to Hamish's and paused as if composing himself. "You are my little boy and I never thought I'd have a little boy. You were such a surprise and I was so lucky to have you. Of course, it was all your Daddy's doing. He took care of you so well and I just had the privilege of knowing you."

Sherlock cuddled Hamish a little closer to him, smiling at him and petting his head like he never had before; it was like he was trying to make up for all of the times that he hadn't and John felt like an intruder to it all.

"You were really lucky to have your Daddy" Sherlock said, surprising John. "He always woke up in the middle of the night for you, always changed your nappies, took care of you when you were sick. I know you always wanted to know about your mummy but I never wanted to tell you about her. She didn't deserve you…you are pretty like she is, sly and sassy like she is…but everything good and kind about you, that was your daddy. And you are so very, very good."

John bit the inside of his cheek and looked down to keep himself from crying; all those things he did, he did it because he loved Hamish. He never thought Sherlock noticed or cared; John knew he wouldn't have ever have spoken those words under any other circumstances.

"You're so good I know you don't want to leave us" Sherlock said, his voice thick and emotional. "And I don't want you to go. Every day I'll miss you, so very much. You're my little boy and I love you. I'll love you the rest of my life. But it's okay…. I know you've been holding on for me but you don't have to. You can rest….father loves you" Sherlock leaned down and gave Hamish a kiss on the forehead and John had to press his fingers into his eyes to keep from losing it.

John had never thought about it but it made sense; it seemed that people could sometimes hold on for their loved ones. It made sense that Hamish had been fighting so hard; every day he and Sherlock had been begging him to come back. Now they needed to tell him it was okay to leave, even though they didn't want to.

"John?"

Sherlock's voice broke John from his musings. "You want to hold him?" he asked. John knew he was really asking him to say good bye.

"Y-yes" John said in a shaky voice. He sat down on the bed next to Sherlock, glad even for the small touch of Sherlock's arm against him; it grounded him. Sherlock passed Hamish to John and he was hit with just how small and tiny he seemed. All that he had experienced throughout the week seemed to have taken so much of him away. John held up close, careful with his fragile head. He looked down at him and he really could be asleep. He looked so peaceful, his face relaxed, lips out in a pout; he didn't look like he was in any pain and for that John was thankful.

"Hamish…I'm going to miss you so much" John said before he could stop himself. His voice sounded desperate and sad and he fought for composure. He gulped air into his lungs with a vicious force, trying to steady himself. He couldn't, wouldn't cry here and now. He'd do that later…after…..John almost jumped when he left Sherlock's hand on his arm; when he turned, Sherlock was giving him a sad but encouraging look. John used it like an anchor to hold on to.

"I can't believe I was so lucky that I got to be your Daddy" John continued, talking slowly to help contain himself. "One day my life was normal; I didn't even know what I was missing. And then we got you and you made us family…you've been the best thing that could have happened to me. I'm going to miss you so much…your laugh, your smile…..everything about you" John swallowed hard. "I love you Hamish…I'll love you forever"

John closed his eyes, putting his forehead against Hamish's. He couldn't possibly continue. There was so much to say and yet every word that came out felt like it weighed so much. He couldn't believe this was the last time that he would ever talk to Hamish, would ever hold him and be able to touch him. The world had never felt crueler than it did now, to give him the best thing he'd ever had and take it way so shortly.

John was glad that Sherlock could see his distress. "You remember that idiotic song we used to sing Hamish when he would wake up and have nightmares?" he asked. Sherlock gently moved Hamish so that he was in the middle of the two of them, giving them equal space to hold onto him. John held one of his hands while Sherlock held the other.

John sniffed, coughing before he could speak and make it sound half way composed. "Which one?" he asked. He had sung more in the past four years than the rest of his life combined.

"The one about the alligator" Sherlock said, "He always made us both sing it and I thought it was the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

John laughed, a small bitter laugh. Hamish had had a spell of horrible night terrors when he three; he'd wake up every night terrified. John had begun to sing songs off of one of his favorite children's CDs and the alligator one was the one he liked best. He couldn't blame Hamish; listening to Sherlock sing such a juvenile song was hilarious. And they both would have done anything to calm his fears.

"Yeah…that one" John said, remembering. "He's not heard it in a very long time. I'm sure he'd get a kick out of it" One last time…John thought but didn't say. John worked his free hand over to Sherlock's holding his hand. John was glad when he didn't resist but gladly took the offered hand, holding onto each other, their entwined hands coming to rest on Hamish.

"The alligator is my friend, And he can be your friend, too. If only you could understand, Don't wear him as a shoe" Sherlock started the song, the way they had always done. He squeezed John's hand as his voice shook slightly.

"The alligator is my friend, He likes to dance and flirt. If only you could understand, Don't wear him as a skirt." John sung the next part of the song, his voice shaky but it felt good to be saying something, to do something that Hamish liked and be able to get the words out.

"The alligator is my friend, He likes to sing and dance. If only you could understand, don't wear him as your pants." John and Sherlock sang at the same time. Pretty soon they were laughing, even though they had tears in their eyes. Even though John still felt like he was dying inside, he knew he could hold on until the last, singing stupid songs and holding onto Sherlock's hand until finally it was the end.

….

The sitting room of 221B was illuminated by the soft pink glow of sunlight as morning tried to make its appearance known, making the dust motes floating through the room show up. The room was already warm and it was not even 6:30 yet; it was going to be insufferable by noon. The tick of the clock sounded like a gong with every movement, the hum of the refrigerator sounding like the roaring of a plane. All this, John was aware of.

All he wanted to do was stand there in a haze, focusing on the dust bunnies under the chair or the half-drunk week ago congealed tea cups on the table. To think of anything else was simply unbearable. John's heart was racing, his hands felt numb. He tried to stare down at the floor and will himself to melt into it but it wasn't possible. All he could see when he looked at the floor wasn't the faded carpet or wooden planks; it was Sherlock's shoes and they reminded him he wasn't dead and disembodied. He was somehow still alive and so was Sherlock.

John forced his eyes up to look at Sherlock, knowing it might be a mistake. When John looked at the man beside him, something inside of him broke. Sherlock stood frozen in the middle of the room like he did, his face pale and lifeless, his eyes red giving him the appearance of a grief stricken vampire. His hands were knotted in front of him, clenching each other, shaking as he stared off into nowhere. It felt like a dam broken inside of John, making feeling gush through his chest like a flood. A strangled sob came out of his mouth and echoed through the room before he could stop it. He covered his mouth as water filled his eyes but it was too late. Neither of them had been able to cry at the hospital; they were raw and in shock. But now it was coming to claim John and it wasn't sure he could survive all that he felt.

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Sherlock begin to walk toward his bedroom like a zombie, moving but not actually seeming to see anything around him. Alarm bells rang through John's mind screaming at him to do something, to say something. He wanted to say anything that could possibly make Sherlock stop and stay with him but his mouth felt like it was stuck. He watched through blurry vision as Sherlock disappeared down the hallway and closed his bedroom door behind him.

Breathe in…..breathe out…put one foot in front of the other…..keep moving….Somehow John made it up the stairs without falling; he wasn't even sure he considered that a good thing. He got within inches of his bedroom door and froze; his heart felt a physical jolt that stopped him and made him hold his chest.

There was no way he could go in there; to see Hamish's still unmade bed, his pyjamas crumpled on the floor, his school uniform draped over the desk chair….He couldn't share his room with a ghost. He knew eventually he'd have to face the room but he couldn't do it now, alone and within hours of losing him.

With much quicker speed and clarity than he had walked up the stairs, John made his way down and across the flat to Sherlock's room. He had lost nearly everything that mattered to him but he had one very important thing left; Sherlock.

John's sweaty, shaky hands clutched around the doorknob, glad when the door opened; even if it had been locked he would have insisted Sherlock let him in. What choice did they possibly have? All they had left was each other and there was no way they could possibly keep their distance now.

John was fully prepared to find an angry Sherlock, one who would push him away to disguise his grief. He was ready to argue, plead even with him. But he found that all of that was wrong and didn't prepare him for the reaction he actually got.

Sherlock was sitting on the edge of the bed in just his pants and shirt, as if he had made an effort to try to change but had been unable to continue. His head was hanging, his hands held in front of him helpless, his body shaking from sobs. For a moment, John didn't know what to do. Though he'd called Sherlock careless he knew really that Sherlock just wasn't open with his pain; he knew Sherlock cried and felt things like other people. He called him a machine and at times he really seemed unhuman but John had known him long enough to know he wasn't. But never, in seven years together, had John ever seen him shed a real tear. He'd seen him fake it on crime scenes or to get something he wanted. But this was real and it hurt John just to see it. His own pain cried at him inside and he felt the tears that he'd been holding back start to trickle down his face.

At the sound of John's quiet cries, Sherlock looked up and noticed him for the first time. His face was red, tear streaks all along his cheeks. His lip trembled as he forced himself to still the sobs long enough to speak. His eyes looked desperate as they met John's, his blue eyes so infused with red they took on lavender tint. "John…John…."

Sherlock's voice broke from his mouth like the cry of wounded animal and was a command to John. John had heard Sherlock call his name in fury of anger, begging for help, in laughter, hugest annoyance but he had never heard Sherlock say his name like that. Like it wasn't just his name but the cry for what Sherlock needed the most.

John didn't know what he was waiting for but apparently that was it; as soon as the words broke free from Sherlock's lips, John was meeting him, throwing his arms around him and clinging for his life. Sherlock's arms wrapped around John's waist and pulled him close to him, burying his face into John's shirt. Sherlock cried so hard that combined with John's legs already buckling, he knew he couldn't stay standing for long but he dared not break the contact yet. He grabbed onto Sherlock's head like it was a life preserver and buried his face in his curls, crying for all that he was worth. All of the hope and lost dreams that he had allowed himself to have in the past week, hoping Hamish would pull through, masked some of the pain and though he had cried every single day since, none of it was like this. Though he'd known that the possibility of it ending any other way than this was slim, that didn't stop him from deluding himself into believing it. They shouldn't be here, alone; they shouldn't be childless parents. Hamish should have been with them. John wanted this to be a horrible mistake but he knew, seeing how completely Sherlock had lost it, that it wasn't. Though he wouldn't have admitted it to a soul on Earth, he based his emotional well-being on Sherlock; if Sherlock was okay, he was okay. Sherlock was definitely not okay right now and neither was he.

John was glad that Sherlock was coherent enough to notice the shaking in damn leg as it gave out on him. In one swift, surprisingly strong move, Sherlock swung John around so that he was lying on the bed next to Sherlock. With even the small job of focusing on still standing out of the way, John's whole body started to shake with the force of his sobs and the waves of sorrow crashing over him. He put his arms around Sherlock and held onto him; there was no way he was letting him pull back at some moment and get away. John was sure that at this moment it might destroy him.

"John…John…"Sherlock's voice was the only sound that broke the sound of their sobs.

"Sherlock….." John's eyes clenched together, what little breath he had left escaping with the sound of Sherlock's name. They couldn't say anything; there was so much to say and so much they couldn't say. John just felt the need to say Sherlock's name and hear his own from him as an assurance that he was still with him. John buried his face in Sherlock's neck; he didn't know why, only that it was warm and safe and comforting. It was warmer and softer than John would have thought; Sherlock's skin always looked like marble. He could smell the hint of cigarette smoke on his skin and felt a small fraction of his brain worry about him over it. Considering Sherlock's pas drug abuse, it was really the best turnout that could have happened if Sherlock had been looking for an old vice. The small worry in his brain began to grow as he dug his fingers into Sherlock's back, imagining the loss of Hamish might launch Sherlock into a sorrow induced drug binge.

John jumped when he felt Sherlock's hand grab his face and pull him back so that he had to look into Sherlock's bloodshot eyes. He looked completely desperate, as if everything in his whole world was falling apart. "John….I feel you slipping away. Please, stay with me" he begged John. It was like Sherlock could sense the worried path his mind went down and wanted him back in the present moment with him. He couldn't refuse.

"No….no…..I'm right here" John said, putting his hands over Sherlock's and holding on. "I'm not going anywhere, I'm right here." His voice sounded raw and pained as his heart felt but he saw it reassure Sherlock. His lip stopped trembling and a look of small relief came over his face.

John's hand gripped onto Sherlock's and squeezed, and Sherlock let him. And when Sherlock leaned forward and let his lips touch John's, John let him. Sherlock didn't stop him when he kissed back and he didn't judge him when he dissolved into tears half way through and collapsed back onto his sweet, cigarette smoked neck and fell asleep.

Chapter Text

When John woke up, the air of the room was so stiflingly hot that it was all he could think about for several glorious minuets. The air in the room was like an oven, the sunlight coming in the room burning his eyes before he opened them. His clothes clung to him in a sticky mess and he was about to bemoan the terrible summer heat when he opened his eyes and remembered heat was the last of his worries.

When he opened his eyes he found himself in Sherlock's bed, lying on his back in a sore, miserable heap and it all came back to him from the night before.

Hamish was gone….he was…John stopped his mental thought process. Even in his head couldn't bring himself to say the word. There would be so much to do…..so much to take care of…god, Mrs. Hudson didn't even know yet. But all John wanted to do was curl up in a ball and disappear. He didn't cry; there was nothing left after last night. Now he just felt empty and that was worse, much worse.

There was sound of cars and traffic, of people talking through the open window that provided no breeze; life was continuing for some people and it hurt. How could life still go on in world where Hamish was gone? It wasn't right, not right at all. It should at least be cold and dismal, with the whole world feeling pain. But they didn't; it was just him and Sherlock.

John uncurled from his position on the bed just long enough to look around the room and find no sign of Sherlock. It immediately worried John, wondering where he could be. When he noticed the shirt and pants Sherlock had been wearing last night on the floor, his worry increased. It surely could only mean that Sherlock had changed clothes and left the flat. But where would he go? And why would he leave him here alone? He thought about how Sherlock had begged him not to leave, even mentally last night and wondered where he might go. Forcing himself not to panic, John sat up on the bed, every movement taking an eternity to complete. He was slow and sluggish, the heat making him slower and increasing the pain in his chest. His leg ached like it hasn't since before he met Sherlock and he cursed it; what kind of mental person was he? After seven years of it not hurting, it was back with a vengeance. With a burning in his throat, he knew why that was. Hamish…the loss of him was overwhelming and yet it still was surreal.

John wanted to cry, needed to; anything to make the stabbing pain in his chest go away but he couldn't manage it. His body was hot and dry inside, everything expended from crying only hours ago. He was hit with the memory of holding onto Sherlock and how it'd not made anything different but how it had made things better; a part of his soul, the part that always been Sherlock's reached out in aching for him. He couldn't be alone now. His mind briefly thought about the kiss, the one Sherlock initiated, but he filed that in his brain under Things to Worry About Later.

John gathered the energy necessary to heave himself up, John got off of the bed and threw his shirt off, leaving him in just his undershirt. It was so bloody hot but changing would require going into his room and this was preferable. When John stepped out of Sherlock's room and into the flat he was surrounded by the sound of silence and his worry increased that he was alone. John checked every room in the house but found no sign of Sherlock. His heart racing, blood pumping erratically, John walked up to his door and paused. It was the only room he hadn't checked yet and John knew that Sherlock might very well be in there. He took a deep, steading breath and forced himself into the room.

It was eerie, as if John hadn't entered it in year when really he'd been in here yesterday. Sherlock wasn't in there as he had hoped but now that he was here, it was impossible to deny he was here. It didn't kill him…..but nearly. Everything Hamish was in everything all around him. The books on the desk, the telescope that Sherlock had once hated by the window, his superhero pants on the floor despite how many times John had told him not to leave his underwear lying about, the science magazines under his pillow…..it all screamed the silent noise of a ghost and it made John's heart ache. John lowered himself onto Hamish's bed, disturbing his pillow to bring it to his chest. Pressing it to himself it brought some measure of comfort. John could see the magazines, old ones of Sherlock's tucked into the headboard of Hamish's bed. Seeing a photo sticking out of one of them, John grabbed it and pulled it out. The image made him stop.

It wasn't that it was crime scene photo; sure, the fact that your child was hiding pictures of dead people in his bed might have been more disturbing had Hamish still been alive. Actually, it would have given him a heart attack a week ago to find it. But Hamish was gone and there was no point in worrying about where his morbid curiosities might have led him had he grown. But what startled him most was what the picture was.

A child, a boy six years old, splayed on the street, his head in a pool of blood and his eyes open and unstaring. No doubt Hamish had been fascinated by the similarities between himself and the kid in the picture. But John remembered the case; he and Sherlock had worked it no more than a month before. The boy's body had been found deserted on the road, a hit and run. Sherlock had worked it all out simple enough but John had found himself worrying about the parents. He had thought at the time how horrible it must have been for them, losing their child before his time, how much they must have grieved. Cases involving children were always tough emotionally but this one had hit him especially hard. The little boy had looked so much like Hamish and it was the first time he thought more about the poor parents whose lives would never be the same again.

John dropped the picture on to the bed, clutching the pillow to his chest as a pain shot through his body and his breath seized in his lungs. It would have been easy, tempting even, to give into the anxiety attack that wanted to claim but he forced himself to breath and calm himself. With shaky hands, John fished his phone out of his pocket and dialed Sherlock's number. It rang numerous times before ending on voice mail.

"Sherlock…..this is John" John said, his voice sounding unlike him; it was too panicked and weak. "Please…..please…tell me where you are. I…..uh….call me….."

John hung up the phone and immediately sent a text message, knowing Sherlock would be more likely to respond to his texts than calls.

Sherlock…I need you here…please come home…

John dropped the phone on the mattress next to him, not knowing what to else to do. John felt his mind begin to get consumed with worry. Where would Sherlock possibly go? Where could he go at time like this? John knew there were things to do, arraignments to be made but John knew Sherlock wouldn't do any of that stuff, especially without him. So, where would he go?

Seized with purpose, John picked up his phone and dialed the number he had only used a handful of extreme times.

John's stomach was churning painfully as he listened to one, two, three rings before the phone answered. "John…I'm so sorry…" John knew things must surely be terrible; even Mycroft sounded genuinely sad and sympathetic.

John swallowed hard, unable to say anything to acknowledge the pain that Mycroft was apologizing for lest it drag him down in suffering again. "Where is he, Mycroft…he needs to be here." John said, every word careful and slow; painful.

Mycroft paused. "I'm afraid that I can't tell you. I have no idea where he is" he said regretfully.

John felt something inside of him break, making him angry; he almost welcomed the anger that rushed through him. Mycroft always knew everything that wasn't his business to know about him and Sherlock. He watched every detail of their lives with stalker like intent and yet now when John needed him to know something, when it was really important, he didn't know anything. John let out a string of curses only an army man could have thought of. "How can you possibly not know where he is!?" John lashed out. "You always follow him, always and now, you have no idea where he is?!"

"John, you and Sherlock have suffered a terrible tragedy, one I'm afraid to say that you're much more equipped to handle" Mycroft said, his voice almost tired. "Sherlock doesn't know how to handle these things. He's never lost anything that meant anything to him; really he's never had anything that meant anything to him. The fact that I can't find him tells me he doesn't want to be found. Unfortunately, I'm afraid you'll have to give him space; I'm sure that he'll return to you soon enough."

John let out another string of colorful curses. Mycroft's slothfulness was enough to make John want to kill him. Sherlock was not a man who would be trusted to be alone when he was compromised. John had already had years taken off of his life the one night he'd found Sherlock overdosed and unconscious on the floor of his bedroom five years ago; the thought that Sherlock might be strung up somewhere at this very moment made John mad with worry. "How can you possibly say that? You know what he's like" John said. Mycroft tried to say something but John barreled on. "You know what; I can see you're obviously not concerned. Do me the common courtesy of letting me know if you happen to hear something from him. His place is here."

John hung up the phone, falling onto the bed and curling into a heap with his face in Hamish's pillow, trying to delude himself into thinking this was a horrible nightmare.

….

The heat increased in the room and the shadows moved across the walls, cruel in their telling of the passing of time. John didn't know how long it must have been since he'd moved; hours, maybe an eternity. Ten phone calls, 15 text messages and zero responses….it was all consuming. John was vaguely aware of pains, distant calls of his body to attend to needs but he couldn't gather the energy that was needed to care enough to figure out what it needed. He just lay on Hamish's bed, curled into a sweaty ball and tried to will himself to stop breathing.

Sometime later, a voice broke the silence of the flat and caused him to jump. "Oh my god…John…"

John turned his sore neck to look up and see Mrs. Hudson standing next to the bed beside him. Her face was pale and her eyes red from crying, a handkerchief clutched in her hand; she already knew what had happened. For a fraction of a second, John allowed himself to hope that Sherlock was back and he had told her but somehow he thought that wasn't the case. She was clearly distraught but she was trying to hold back tears for him. It wasn't necessary; if he had to start talking, he would soon be crying himself.

Mrs. Hudson sat down on the small edge of the bed that John wasn't taking up. With her free hand she pushed back the wet hair on his forehead in such a loving gesture it stirred John's heart enough that he could actually feel something other than pain. "I'm so, so sorry John" she said, her voice breaking. "I know it doesn't mean anything but I hate so much that this happened. I still can't believe it. "

John couldn't believe it either; at any moment he was still hoping that someone would walk into the room and tell him that this was some horrible mistake. He tried to speak but he couldn't manage to think of what to say; tears began to trickle out the sides of his eyes and run down his face, mixing with sweat.

"Mycroft called me…..he wanted to me to check on you. He told me about Sherlock" Mrs. Hudson said carefully.

Normally, John would have scorned it; Mycroft didn't care enough to check himself so he sent someone else. But now he could recognize that if Mycroft cared enough to send Mrs. Hudson to check on him, then he really thought there was cause for concern. He hadn't found Sherlock and maybe he wasn't coming back at all.

Feeling a wave of crashing, unendurable pain, John sat up and embraced Mrs. Hudson, crying a fresh wave of tears that he didn't think his body was capable of producing. "Oh John…." Was all Mrs. Hudson could manage before she too was crying a fresh torrent of tears.

John sobbed until he was again sure that he didn't have anything at all left, his chest aching and his soul feeling as empty as ever. Mrs. Hudson reached over to the desk and grabbed a handful of tissues to hand him and it reminded him he wasn't completely alone. He was grateful to have someone there, even though the loss of Hamish and the potential loss of Sherlock was strong enough to kill him.

"Sorry…what a mess I am" John said, moping his eyes and nose with the tissues, gripped by a sudden self-consciousness that he had lost it so completely.

"Nonsense" Mrs. Hudson said, dabbing at her own eyes. "It'd be wrong if you weren't upset. You just lost your child…..of course you're upset"

John sniffled heavily "I can't believe he's gone" he said. "everything in this house feels like it is attached to him. Like he's a ghost here…when he should just be running around and laughing and chatting nonstop about everything." John felt a pain in his chest; to say out loud that Hamish was gone made it seem more real, like the memory of his death, of holding his dead body in his arms, had taken shape and form and had become solid and less transparent.

Mrs. Hudson looked around, deep in thought. "It's quieter in here than I've ever heard it. Its eerie…..you can tell he's not here because he filled everywhere he went with so much life and happiness…" He choked back a sob. "I think about the last time I saw him awake…"

John had thought of that so many times…how he'd hugged him as he dropped him off at Mrs. Hudson's never knowing that it would be the last time he ever spoke to him. But the fact that he'd spent the last hours of his waking life happy and playing with Mrs. Hudson had brought him comfort and he knew he should tell her that. "I'm so glad he got to have such a happy time with you…..right before" John said thickly. "I know he was nothing but happy in the end."

Mrs. Hudson had to put her handkerchief to her mouth and sob for a moment before she could compos herself again. "Thank you John…I like to think he was too" she admitted. It was quiet for a long moment and John didn't know what to say more, or if there was any more to say. Crying had made him tired and he thought about letting unconsciousness swallow him again.

"Sherlock will come back you know" Mrs. Hudson said, breaking him from his thoughts.

John felt a pain like a kick to the stomach, having to think about Sherlock. Mourning the pain of losing Hamish was bad enough without having to worry about where Sherlock was. Or even worse the thought that Sherlock had left him. "That's what Mycroft seems to think…..why am I the only one that's worried about him?" John asked bitterly.

"Oh, don't misunderstand" Mrs. Hudson said sadly, clutching her handkerchief. "I am worried about him. I know he can get into trouble. But he's so upset right now; he won't know how to grieve. But I know whatever trouble he might get into, he'll still always come back to you."

"You see so sure…..wish I could be" John said, feeling what energy he had left deflate from him like a flat balloon.

"His place is here and he'll be back because he loves you" Mrs. Hudson said a touch of sadness and sentiment in her tone.

John's head whipped up; the idea that Sherlock loved him was almost laughable. It would have been laughable under any other circumstance. Sherlock didn't love anyone, except Hamish. "I'm sure everyone would love to believe that me and Sherlock are in love but that's not true" John said bitterly. Hadn't everyone around them always wanted he and Sherlock to be together, Mrs. Hudson included? But it had never been true. The memory of kissing Sherlock last night intruded upon his brain unwanted. It had been the least romantic kiss of his life but somehow the most meaningful. It had nothing to do with sexual attraction and everything to do with wanting connection with the person he cared about most in the world through his greatest pain.

"I wasn't implying that you're in love" Mrs. Hudson corrected. "I was simply saying that he loves you. In his own, unique way he cares for you. I know it might not seem like it, but that man would rip apart the whole world to save you. I really hope you know that."

John paused; if he was fair, he knew Sherlock did care. Of course he did; if they both didn't care deeply for each other they probably would have killed each other long ago. But that was hard to remember when he wasn't here. It was hard to remember when John felt like he had left him when he needed him most.

"I know he doesn't show it like normal people" Mrs. Hudson continued when John remained silent. "And you know, there was a time that I thought Sherlock was incapable of love. After Hamish came along, it was undeniable that he could love and love deeply; anyone could see that. But I could see that way before Hamish came along. He cared about you like he's never cared about anyone. And that's why I know, even though this seems like a terrible betrayal he'll be back.

John swallowed hard, trying to believe what she was saying. Hamish had always wanted to know so much that he and Sherlock loved each other and now it was all John wanted to know. The world was so hard without Hamish and John needed Sherlock. He'd never told him anything close to that; he'd kept an amount of pride in the fact that he never let things get 'sentimental' between them. But if he could get him to come back, that's not a mistake that he would make again.

…..

Mrs. Hudson stayed in the flat with John that night; she didn't ask and John didn't tell her to leave. Under the circumstances, it was unwise and unnecessary that they should be alone. They moved around in silence, saying nothing but comfortable to have each other around. Mrs. Hudson made some easy meal for dinner and forced John to eat it; he ate mechanically, not even able to remember what it was. They ate on the couch, watching the telly with unseeing eyes until eventually Mrs. Hudson fell asleep on the couch. Feeling no obligation to fight any longer, John curled up in Sherlock's chair and fell asleep.

John's sleep was broken and unyielding, giving him no rest. When he woke up in the early morning hours, he was greeted with what he considered to be a most unwelcome sight. Opening his sore and tired eyes, he could see Mycroft sitting in his own chair across from him, watching him sleep. As many times as John had woken to the sight of Sherlock watching him sleep, he never got used to it and it was still unnerving.

"What the hell, Mycroft?" John croaked, his voice broken and unused. He lifted his aching, sweaty head from the chair and sat up, looking at the elder Holmes with annoyance. The sun was beginning to rise outside the window, pink soft light filtering in. He saw Mrs. Hudson was still curled up asleep on the couch. "What do you want?" he asked Mycroft irritably. He was consoled in some small part to see that Mycroft was uncharacteristically unhinged. He was red and flushed from the heat, his prim suit rumpled. John wanted to see concern of some kind in his face but he didn't.

"I came here to check on the state of affairs" Mycroft said, "Given your history of alcoholism I wanted to make sure you were not in a poor state."

John felt annoyance rise up in him and he was almost glad for it. Being annoyed at Mycroft was something familiar, something that didn't make him feel like he wanted to die inside. "I'm not a bloody alcoholic" John retorted, giving Mycroft as seething a glare as he could manage in his state.

Mycroft fiddled with his ridiculous umbrella that he couldn't possibly have needed in this godforsaken heatwave and gave John a flat look. "Perhaps it would have helped if I said you had alcoholic tenancies…..which you do."

John had always despised how Harry had become so consumed with drink; she'd let it ruin her life just like their father had. Knowing his genetic predisposition toward it, John tried to be careful about drinking though he knew sometimes he pushed it. But the grief of yesterday had made him understand how one could get lost in it; John might have let himself succumb to it had Mrs. Hudson not been there. It would have been glorious to just stop thinking for even a few hours. "Is there something you want to say? Or than just insult me?" John asked pointedly.

"I asked Mrs. Hudson to kindly check on you" Mycroft explained. "when I didn't hear from her, I became concerned. But I can see now that you're in quite capable hands."

"Have you found Sherlock yet?" John asked in a clipped tone, hands gripping the arm rests of the chair tightly. He didn't want to waste time putting on a show of normalcy for any longer than he had to. Best to get to the point of the only real reason John cared enough to not just through Mycroft out.

Mycroft took a deep breath and John already knew what his answer would be. "Sherlock has been trying to evade me his entire life…it seems that for once he's several steps ahead of me. He doesn't want to be found." He said with a note of regret.

John wanted to yell at Mycroft but he didn't have the strength. "You're real rubbish at this whole tailing everyone business" he said unemotionally. "You know every detail about our lives until the one point it matters."

"Don't think I'm going to stop trying" Micro almost snapped. "I guarantee I will find him."

"Just leave" John said, rubbing his eyes, fighting sleep again even though he'd just woken. "Please just go"

Mycroft rose, though he looked unhappy about it. "You make a mistake in thinking that you're only one who cares for Sherlock, the only one who is concerned about him" he said, not turning to look at John before he walked out of the door.

John couldn't care about being rude; the conversation had left him searching for his mobile in a desperate hope. John found it where he had left on the table last night after dinner. With a shaky hand, John checked his texts and missed calls but found nothing. Feeling the sinking of despair, he sank into the kitchen chair, beakers and petri dishes clinking as the table shook. Dozens of Sherlock's unfinished experiments lay in various stages of disarray, no doubt expelling the odd scent in the kitchen. John dialed the ever familiar number, the sound of the phone oddly loud in the quiet of the flat. Sherlock didn't pick up; John didn't expect him to. But John was a little encouraged that the phone didn't immediately go to voice mail; at least Sherlock now had his phone on.

John steeled himself up for what he should say; because his phone was on, John felt he actually might hear this message. He felt it should go beyond the simple "please come home" that he had sent a dozen times yesterday. All of his feelings for Sherlock were gathering inside his heart like a storm and he couldn't stop it; overwhelming need for him, consuming love and burning rage. John's hands shook as he held the phone to his ear.

"Sherlock, I don't know if you've been listening to these messages" John started. "Actually, I don't know which is worse to imagine; that you aren't even doing me the respect of listening or if you're listening to my pleas and dismissing them. Either way, I have to say this because if I don't it will burn inside of me." John had to pause, gathering his breath lest he start crying and he didn't want to give Sherlock that. "How could you do this to me? Literally, how in the world could you leave me like this? After all I've done for you, after all we've been through….we come to the biggest tragedy we've ever faced and you leave me like this? I know you're hurting…..I am too. I loved that boy….still love him…more than I thought was humanly possible. I feel like a piece of myself has been ripped from my soul. He's in everything here in the flat and the weight of it…kills me." John took a long steading breath. "I know you're suffering but you can't do this alone. I can't even properly mourn Hamish's death because I'm so consumed with worry that you're out there on the streets, strung out or worse. You have to tell me you're alive, that you're alright…if you don't it might kill me. Hamish was our son; he was so essential a part of us that we need to mourn him together. I can't even bloody bury him, Sherlock, without you. Think about that….if you don't care about what this is all doing to me…..at least think about the fact that your son can't even rest in peace until you come home. Care about him…..even if you don't care about me."

John pressed his thumbs into his eyes and willed himself not to cry. Even thinking about the possibility that Sherlock really cared so little for him that he wouldn't come home was enough to send him in despair. They'd lived together for over seven years, working together, being friends, being family…if all of that was pulled out from under him he didn't know what he'd do. He did love Sherlock; in what way he didn't exactly know. It would take his mind at a much less emotionally unstable point to figure that out. But he knew he needed him; he knew without him his life made no sense.

"I don't know you if you care about me…"John started again, his voice thick and emotional. "But I care about you a lot. I don't just think of you as my friend or partner…you're my family. The only family I've got left…..I've lost my child…..our child….and I can only bear that if I still have you. Sherlock, if you care about me at all…if I've mattered to you at all…please, please come home."

Chapter Text

Over the next week, John's state of mind and physical well-being deteriorated so much that he simply gave up. He could think of no solution to the current state of his life and mentally had checked out. He had begged Sherlock to come home, to at least call and he'd still not done either.

Mrs. Hudson stayed with him almost constantly now, worried he might take drastic measures if left to his own devices. Her worries were not unfounded; John was beginning to wonder what the point of all of this pain and suffering was? Hamish, the light of his life was gone. Sherlock, the anchor that held him together, the person who's saved him from ending it all upon returning from Afghanistan, didn't even want to be with him now that Hamish was gone. He'd entertained dangerous thoughts; who would really miss him once he was gone? Mrs. Hudson would cry and mourn him for a fair amount of time. Greg and Stamford would miss him as friend perhaps. But who would it really affect? When John was left with no answer to that question, it was when Mrs. Hudson began to watch him 24 hours, scarcely even sleeping. He was a burden to her and he knew she'd be better off if he just offed himself. He made the mistake of musing that thought out loud; an hour later he watched like a lump on the couch as Mycroft cleaned the flat of every knife, gun, poisonous chemical, pill or blade of any kind. He knew as well as John did he didn't have the stamina to go out and get more.

John had stopped eating altogether and only drank anything when his throat became so dry he could scarcely breathe. He'd taken to doing nothing more than sleeping on the couch in Sherlock's dressing gown, clutching Hamish's blankie under his head. Mrs. Hudson called it pitiful, he thought. It wasn't though; he was just pathetic. Every part of him hurt and he took to taking large quantities of sleeping pills to put himself in a near constant sleep until Mycroft had taken them too.

"John…..get up"

The voice roused John a little bit from the stupor he was in. He was lying on the couch, the fan creaking and giving him the only purchase from the unrelenting heat. It sounded like Mycroft's voice and he was irritated at being bothered. He swatted at Mycroft, grunting at him to go away.

"John…..get a grip and look at me. It's important" Mycroft said, slightly annoyed. Well, if he didn't want to deal with John, he shouldn't have bothered him, John mused. He flipped over on the couch away from Mycroft, determined to make him go away.

"I've found him, John" Mycroft said, his voice loud and important, knowing what kind of impact his statement would have on John.

John felt something long dead inside him rise up and take notice when he hadn't really taken notice of anything in weeks. John turned around, sitting up on the couch and trying not to show the indent his body made in the couch cushions from lying there so long. His clothes stuck to him and he noticed for the first time how uncomfortable it was.

"Where is he?" John asked, his voice deep and croaky, like a long time smoker's from lack of use.

"He's staying in a cabin in the country, a place we used to visit in our childhood" Mycroft explained. "I was under the impression the place had long since been demolished and since it wasn't a place of good memories, I never thought Sherlock would return there. But that's where he's been hiding out"

"Is he….well?" John asked. He braced himself for what kind of trouble Sherlock could have gotten himself into.

"About as well as you are" Mycroft said seriously. "I had one of my men check him out from afar. I knew if I confronted him, he'd run and you'd not be able to find him again. It should be you, John. You should go there and speak to him. Convince him to come home…..you're the only one he'll listen to."

"Course I will" John said, his voice thick with emotion. "Just give me a bit to tidy up and you can take me, right?"

"I'll return within an hour" Mycroft said shortly before leaving the flat.

John's stomach was twisting and turning with flip flops. The idea of confronting Sherlock left him so many feelings he didn't know which was most relevant. He wanted to see Sherlock, more than anything he wanted to see him. But he was apprehensive; Sherlock had completely ignored his pleas and John didn't know what that meant. He feared that it meant Sherlock was ready to severe his ties with him. He wasn't sure he could bear it if he went to him and Sherlock told him to leave him. But he knew that not going to him wasn't a possibility.

John got off of the couch and stood on shaky legs. They felt weak and useless from not using them. He was suddenly very aware of everything around him that he hadn't noticed before. The sound of traffic outside the window…..the ticking of the clock…..the sweat rolling down his neck…it felt like a very long time since he had felt or noticed anything but now it was all assaulting him at once.

He walked shakily to the bathroom, intent on making himself somewhat presentable. When he closed the door behind him and looked in the mirror he was taken aback by how truly horrible he appeared. His face was pale and drawn, heavy dark bags under his eyes, his face covered in odd patchy stubble. He set about shaving before doing anything else; though it improved his appearance somewhat, there was nothing he could do about the dreadful appearance of the rest of it.

Making a list in his head of all of the small but impossible tasks that he had to manage, John began to stripe off his clothes. He hadn't changed them in a week and they peeled off of him like an oily, disgusting second skin. He let them fall into the floor in a heap before moving to the tub to turn the shower on.

When he came to the tub, he froze in his tracks, seeing Hamish's soap and shampoo sitting on the side of the tub and was hit with the realization that he would never use them again. John would never hear him splashing around in the water, making up grand stories with his bath toys, never help him wash his Sherlockian curls, never smell that sweet, clean smell of him as he put him to bed after a bath. It was all so much to John; he gripped the bottles in his hands and sunk down to the floor, overwhelmed with emotion as a memory resurfaced and consumed his thoughts.

It was weeks ago, a time that seemed like an eternity now to John. It had been late in the evening, finishing up washing Hamish's hair so that he could get him out of the tub and get ready for bed. He'd rinsed Hamish's hair without the usual fuss and he seemed subdued, staring into the bubbles and not playing. John had just thought he was tired and was surprised when Hamish suddenly said, "Daddy…do you believe in heaven?"

John paused, taken aback. Hamish was full of deep questions lately; first it had been about whether he loved Sherlock and if they were gay and now he was asking his opinion of the afterlife? John didn't know what to say. He didn't consider himself very religious though he did believe in the idea of a God out there somewhere. He supposed it was to be expected; Hamish went to a Catholic school. Even though he and Sherlock were not really religious they had not hesitated in their choice of school for Hamish. It was the most academically rigorous and John thought religion could only be a good influence for Hamish. "Yeah…suppose I do" John said honestly.

"Well, I know that Father doesn't" Hamish said matter of factly. "He's right in thinking it illogical. The idea of it doesn't make sense. But…..I think it might still be real."

"What's got you thinking about this so much?" John asked curiously.

Hamish's brow furrowed deeply like when he was in serious thought, just the way Sherlock's did. "Well, I just never knew kids could die" he said thoughtfully. "I know that's a bit stupid of me, but I never thought it. I thought only old people die"

It didn't make sense to John then but it did in retrospection; it must have been when he had found the crime scene photos of the little boy that had been killed. "That's not stupid" John was quick to say. "It's a horrible thing to think of, little ones dying. Unfortunately, they do sometimes. But that doesn't mean you're going to die" John said quickly. He didn't want Hamish developing a morbid fear that death was waiting for him.

"I know" Hamish said, "I just was thinking of the little boys and girls that die and that they must go somewhere. I mean, they haven't even a chance to live yet. They must go to a nice place when they die…..to be happy like they weren't allowed in life yet. I'm not scared of it; I was just thinking on it."

John's heart was warmed by the exchange. Hamish sounded so adult, so much like he wasn't like the 'little boys and girls'. It was the sweetest and purest idea of heaven he had ever heard and he wanted to believe it.

"That sounds like a fantastic idea" John said with a grin. "I bet that's exactly what happens."

When John pulled back from the memory, he expected to be crying; surely he must from the pain in his heart but he wasn't. The irony of the memory was not lost on him; that Hamish should be contemplating the death of children weeks before his own might seem cruel. But right now, the thought of it actually gave John…hope? He didn't know all that he believed about life after death but he could imagine that it was like Hamish thought it was. And if he could imagine that Hamish was in place where he was happy and always would be happy, then he might be able to cope better with losing him.

Feeling renewed with the thought that Hamish really might be 'in a better place', that he could think of something happy for what seemed like an eternity, John stepped into the shower to get ready for his encounter with Sherlock.

….

John was sure that he had never been on a longer car ride. Through winding country roads, past forests and miles of greenery, John grew more and more worried. He sat in the back of Mycroft's car, holding his wallet and gazing at the photo in it for the eternity that it took to get to wherever Sherlock was. John ran his fingers over the picture; it was one of him, Sherlock and Hamish taken last summer. It was a cheesy photo booth picture from a fair they had gone to. The best part of it was two fingers Hamish held up behind Sherlock's head, unbeknownst to him. John could still see the look of surprise on Sherlock's face when he had seen it.

"What are your fingers doing on my head?" Sherlock asked, obviously to the joke as usual.

Hamish had giggled. "They're bunny ears, Father. You're a bunny" he had said between laughs.

The memory of it was almost enough to make John smile. He clutched the photo close to himself as a small cabin came to view. John's throat clenched at the sight of it; if he didn't know better he would have said it was abandoned. John couldn't imagine what sort of conditions the inside of the cabin held.

After a few minutes of John remaining frozen, Mycroft turned around in the front seat to look at him.

"This is it" he prodded John gently. "Would you like me to come with you?"

It was the most compassionate John had ever heard him sound. They both knew that this was something that he had to do by himself and it almost looked like it pained Mycroft that he couldn't help; that Sherlock didn't want his help.

"No…that's alright. I'll do it" John said, swallowing back his nerves as he put his wallet back in his back pocket.

"He's in a bad way, John" Mycroft said gravely, "You have to make him come with you."

John couldn't speak and so he just nodded, throwing himself out of the car before he could lose heart. His all-consuming grief was momentarily taken over by the worry coursing through him.

Sherlock didn't want to come home…that much was obvious. But why wouldn't he want to come home? John tried not to analyze it too deeply…..if he did then all he was left with was the possibility Sherlock didn't want to be at home with him. In their time of deepest grief, he wanted to be away from John.

Pushing those thoughts aside, John forced himself to walk. This was a terrible tragedy; people reacted all sorts of ways when they lost children, he told himself. He'd been blind with sorrow ever since Hamish had died; there was no reason to think that Sherlock wasn't as well. He didn't know he needed John; he had to convince him the only way they'd make it through this was together.

John walked up to the dilapidated, white wash cabin, his hand freezing on the door. He'd wanted Sherlock to come home for weeks and now the prospect of finding him scared him. He had no idea what sight he'd find Sherlock in. John himself had been barely living and that was with Mycroft and Mrs. Hudson's care. How bad off might Sherlock be having been left on his own?

John pushed the door open, having to struggle a bit to get the croaked frame to accommodate the door. When he stepped into the cabin, his dread for Sherlock increased. The old and torn up furniture in the house was all covered in a layer of dust as if no one had touched it for years before Sherlock's arrival. The small kitchen was void of any signs of food and John doubted there was any running water. He walked through the kitchen and into the sitting room. Light barely streamed through the thick, old curtains to illuminate the frame of Sherlock sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall. He was still in the clothes from the night Hamish died; his shirt was open and torn in places, the sleeves rolled up. John tried to hold back the moister in his eyes when he saw the track marks along Sherlock's arm visible from across the room. Sherlock's eyes were vacant and empty, staring ahead, his face paler than John had ever seen it. He looked like he could fade into the wall.

"Sherlock…."

John's voice echoed off of the walls like white noise and Sherlock's head snapped to the side to look at him, not even having noticed him before. His eyes were red, completely bloodshot and there were tear tracks along his dirty face. All John wanted was to take him home and take care of him even though he knew he was barely in the condition to.

"John….."Sherlock said, his voice husky with lack of use. "Go away….."

John was expecting it but it still hurt. "I'm not going away, Sherlock. This…this is wrong. You need to come home." He insisted.

"I can't…just go away" Sherlock said. He seemed like he was in a daze trying to fight his way out; John was almost certain he was on something.

"I'm not leaving until you come with me." John said.

Sherlock turned on John, his face suddenly angry. "Leave…..I don't want you here." He said hatefully.

John tried not to take it personally; he knew Sherlock didn't really mean it. He was hurt and lashing out; John was used to Sherlock's unpredictable emotions but felt less than capable of dealing with them right now. He could barely manage his own feelings but he had to make Sherlock see reason somehow. "Why are you here, Sherlock? Really, why are you here? Why did you leave me?" John asked. His voice came out sad and transparent; at this point he didn't care. He just wanted Sherlock to know he was hurting and that he needed to come home.

"I didn't leave you, John. Don't make this…..a thing" Sherlock said, trying to sound dramatic but sounding strung out.

John sat down on the dusty carpet next to Sherlock so he could look into his eyes; he wanted some part of what was left of Sherlock to be able to deduce how hard this was. "I'm making something out of this because it is something" John said honestly. "Hamish….Hamish is gone and you just disappear the morning after he died. How could you do that to me?"

Sherlock was quiet, digging anxiously at the cuts on his arms. "Didn't you get any of my messages? Didn't you care?" John asked.

"I got every message of yours" Sherlock said, looking at John seriously. "And I did care…this is just…best"

"Best?" John asked, his voice cracking. "How can this possibly be the best for anyone? You think this is good for you? It's not…..and it's certainly not the best for me. Don't you even care about me at all?"

Sherlock looked down at his lap. When he looked up to John again, John was stunned to see actual tears in his eyes. "Of course I….I….." Sherlock started but he couldn't finish. It didn't matter; John knew what he was trying to say and that was all that mattered.

"I begged you to come home…..and you didn't" John said, feeling tears coming to his eyes. He didn't want to cry, again, it was all he ever did these days. But he couldn't help it. "You really hurt me, Sherlock."

"I know….."Sherlock said regretfully. "But I had to leave"

John's heart clenched. "Why? Why did you have to leave?"

Sherlock looked down at his lap again. "I am in so much pain" he said tearfully. "Every moment of every day…I'm in so much pain. Hamish is gone and I miss him so terribly I feel like it's going to kill me." He swiped at the tears in his eyes and John felt nothing but sympathy stirring in him.

"I feel the same way, Sherlock" John said honestly. "Ever since it happened I can hardly believe it. I don't want it to be true but it is. Everything reminds me of him and the pain of it just kills me. You don't have to run away…we can help each other through this."

"No…..we can't!" Sherlock said miserably, mopping his eyes.

"Why? Why not? We're a family, Sherlock…I need you" John said, biting his lip. There was no point in being anything but transparent.

"I can't go through this again…I can't lose anyone like I lost Hamish…it'll kill me. We have to end it…..now…..before…." Sherlock said so quietly John struggled to hear him. He dissolved into sobs, still digging at the miserable places on his arms.

Sherlock was trying to push him away; he hadn't been imagining it. But it was sadder than he had imagined; Sherlock felt so much pain over losing Hamish he was afraid to get more attached to John for fear he lost him too. It was sad but it wasn't going to work; they were already too close to make a clear break.

"Sherlock, that's not possible" John tried to explain. "We can't just stop knowing each other to save ourselves pain. That won't ever work."

"It has to…..I'm sorry" Sherlock tried to insist.

Something snapped inside of John. He had already lost his son and he was not about to lose Sherlock. He didn't know what to call Sherlock other than his entire family. John grabbed Sherlock's face in his hands so there was no way that he could look away. He had to make him listen; he could see by the way Sherlock's eyes widened that he had his attention.

"Sherlock, you saved my life" John said, putting feeling behind every word. "And I don't mean from murders and kidnappers. I mean in the very beginning…I came back from Afghanistan with no reason for living. Until I met you…you changed everything, Sherlock. You were my partner, my friend….now you're my family. Hamish was our son; he brought us together even more. Without him…sometimes I feel like I'll die. But without you I know I'll die. I can't lose him and you at the same time. One day, one of us if going to die…..that's inevitable. And it's going to hurt but we don't know when that's going to be. It could be a week from now…..it could be thirty years from now. But I know that with whatever time we have, I want to spend it with you. I want to go on cases with you; I want to risk our lives together like we always have. I want to live with you even though you make a bloody horrible roommate sometimes. And one day, a long time from now…I still want to have more babies with you."

John had never spoken so frankly, so emotionally with Sherlock. He'd always locked his feelings deep inside but he knew this was not the time for that. If he couldn't use the truth to convince him to come back, he was useless.

"I love you, Sherlock" John said, his voice faltering. "I do and I don't know why I never told you before. I care about you so much it hurts sometimes. Please…come home with me. Don't run from me and don't push me away."

Sherlock stared into John's eyes for what felt like an eternity, making John squirm with nervousness. After what felt like forever, Sherlock started to cry, not even trying to pull away from John. "Help me, John" he said pitifully. "Please help me"

John gathered Sherlock close to him in a tight hug, feeling a weight lift off of him. It was a start…..it was a good start.

"Course I'll help you" John said, "We'll get through this. Together"

Chapter Text

It wasn't easy, but somehow they were managing through it. Arrangements were made, things put in order. John and Sherlock fought, argued, cried; it got so loud sometimes that Mrs. Hudson had to check on them. Neither one was pleasant to be around but they were doing their best and at least they were together. Sherlock would lock himself in his room for hours at a time; John slept on the couch because he still couldn't manage to spend nights in his room. Sherlock played the violin; the tunes made John want to cry as he tried not to notice the small violin in the corner that would never be played again. John turned the telly on and stared at it for hours but he never watched anything. Sometimes he felt numb; sometimes he felt everything. It was still hard; everything took such effort. He didn't want to eat or shower or clean; all he wanted to do was sleep. Sherlock went into drug withdrawal and things got even worse around the flat. John took care of him and he supposed that there was at least something good that had come from it; it was enough to pull him out of himself.

The night before Hamish's funeral, John sat on the floor of his room, a photo album open on his lap, looking at the pictures and for once feeling happy at the memories and not just an urge to cry. The picture John had taken of Hamish the very first day he was with them, the picture of Hamish sitting in the middle of his toddler bed like a little mouse the first day they took away his crib, pictures of second, third, fourth and fifth birthdays, Hamish's first day of school…it all brought so many memories. It did hurt John, deep inside, to look at the pictures. But it was a sweet kind of pain and he knew it would always hurt to some extent.

John had his fingers resting on a picture of Sherlock and Hamish, Sherlock stretched out asleep on the couch with Hamish's little body draped over him asleep as well, when Sherlock walked in the room. He was in his old rumpled pyjamas, his face pale and drawn; he looked unhealthy but he was doing better than he had been. He'd made it past most of the withdrawal symptoms and was on the slow road to recovery. John was afraid Sherlock might lose it; he hadn't set foot into John and Hamish's room since the accident and John didn't know how he'd respond.

John watched Sherlock carefully as he looked around the room, taking it all in with a sad eye before dropping down on the floor next to John. "What are you looking at?" he asked. They'd barely spoken all day, the weight of tomorrow's funeral weighing heavy on them both.

"Just pictures….."John said, looking at Sherlock before returning to their reminisces. "You two look perfect here" He pointed to the picture of Sherlock and Hamish sleeping.

"We both had the flu then" Sherlock commented. "As I recall, I woke up as soon as you took that picture. Hamish did too…and then proceeded to vomit in my face."

John laughed; what an odd thing it felt like to laugh. It was bittersweet but it was good, made only better by the fact that his laughter made Sherlock actually grin a bit. "So…..not really perfect then" John said.

"No" Sherlock agreed. "But then again, photos only tell the story you want them to" Sherlock flipped through the album and pointed to a picture of toddler Hamish standing next to a potty chair and proudly sporting 'big kid' underwear. "For example, looking at this you would think Hamish was actually easy to potty train as opposed to the nightmare he was." Sherlock smiled small for a moment. "Months of human waste everywhere…..what a nightmare"

John had to smile at it. "You know he was only a terrible child to potty train because of you" John teased.

"What? What did I have to do with it?" Sherlock asked, genially confused.

"He could have learned to do it in a few days" John said. "He did learn it in fact. He just didn't want to do it…..so he rebelled. He's got your attitude."

Silence passed between them; John couldn't bring himself yet to speak of Hamish in the past sense. His hands passed over a picture taken just last Christmas of him, Hamish, Sherlock and Mrs. Hudson. "God…I miss him" John admitted.

Sherlock paled slightly. "Me too…" he said simply.

It was silent for a long time, flipping through years of mementos before Sherlock finally broke the silence. "What you said the other day, John…when you picked me up….." He started, his words slow and careful.

John involuntarily tensed up. Sherlock hadn't said anything about his little sentimental outburst since it happened and John was alright with that. He knew they didn't need to hash out any rash decisions while they were so deep in grief. But now Sherlock was bringing it up. What part might he bring up? The fact that that he said he said he loved him? The part about the babies? John cringed; he meant it all but that didn't mean he wanted to discuss it right now.

"Yeah…..what about it?" John said cautiously. He looked over to see Sherlock picking at the hem of his dressing gown which he only did when nervous.

"Well…I didn't say anything then….." Sherlock said, stuttering and stumbling over his words in a most unlike him fashion. "I didn't say it then but….."

"It's okay, Sherlock. Just tell me" John said, seeing that Sherlock could get stuck in this rut for a long time. He really just wanted to get over whatever part of it Sherlock was going to criticize.

"I don't think I knew it for a long time…but I do….have a very affectionate care for you" Sherlock said, not looking at John. "For Hamish, it was easy for me to admit that I loved him. There was no doubting it…with you it was harder to see it for what it was."

John had to smile as color came to his cheeks. It was, remarkably, the Sherlockian way of saying "I love you."

"Sherlock…" John said, his voice betraying how deeply he was affected.

Sherlock's cheeks turned pink, looking away from John as if he was embarrassed. "Don't make it sentimental…..it is just the truth" he tried to dismiss the meaning behind his words.

John hugged him anyway. "You know I'm rubbish at not making things sentimental" he said, tightening his arms around Sherlock.

He was surprised when Sherlock's arms closed awkwardly around him. "I know you are…..and still I tolerate you" he said with a note of humor in his voice.

….

It was a beautiful day, full of sunshine and blue skies, the air warm but not the blistering heat that it had been; John thought it was no kind of weather for a funeral but nature mirrored the spirit of the little body that was being put to rest. John almost wished though that it was raining and dark, to match the bleakness of his soul. He'd tried to avoid this day as much as Sherlock even though he hadn't run off; with Hamish in the ground, it was impossible to deny that he was gone forever.

"I just was thinking of the little boys and girls that die and that they must go somewhere. I mean, they haven't even a chance to live yet. They must go to a nice place when they die…..to be happy like they weren't allowed in life yet. I'm not scared of it; I was just thinking on it."

John had to remind himself several times that day of Hamish's own words and put all of his heart into believing that they were true. It was almost worse when he had finally seen Hamish again; he looked so peaceful that he might have been asleep. John hadn't cried, but it had taken a lot of effort.

Now it was just he and Sherlock, standing by the plot that was much too small, the gravestone looming like an eerie omen. John hadn't even the bravery to look at it until now; when he did, it felt a burst of affection spread through him.

Hamish Holmes-Watson

January 18, 2013- June 7, 2018

Beloved son & Heaven's most beautiful angel

John swallowed back a lump of emotion welling in his throat. "Holmes-Watson?" he asked. It wasn't Hamish's legal name and he wasn't the one that had asked to have it on there.

Sherlock turned to John slightly, his hand twitching as if he wanted to reach out for John's but he didn't. "He was your son as much as mine" he admitted, his own voice unusually thick. "Perhaps even more so yours. It was a major oversight that I never made it legal."

John saw Sherlock's hand twitch again and he reached out to take it because he knew Sherlock never would. It felt strange but in a good way; it fortified him. He knew he should say something more about it; he knew that Sherlock knew how much it meant to him though and sometimes were best left unsaid with him.

The breeze through the cemetery, rustling the leaves on the trees and brushing back John's growing-too-long hair for a few minutes as they stood in silence. "Are you going to try to tell his mother?" John finally asked, looking at Hamish's birthday. It wasn't his actual birthday; it was Sherlock's deduction for what his birthday was likely to be so it was close. But since Sherlock had seen no sight of Irene since the night of Hamish's conception, no one knew really.

John could see Sherlock stiffen out of the corner of his eye. "I honestly have no idea where she is" he admitted, "I'm sure I could find her if I cared to. But she didn't care for Hamish ; she left him. She doesn't deserve anything."

There was so much bitterness still in his voice; John could tell he still resented her for leaving Hamish. For leaving him…part of him might always hate her for that. "I'm sorry" John said. It was inadequate but he felt so sorry for Sherlock that he had had finally opened up to someone for the first time in his life and had been betrayed. It no doubt left a lasting impression.

"It's alright" Sherlock said, with a little nod that made John believe it was. "I was given the greatest kind of gift from it; one I would never wish away."

John nodded as he felt Sherlock's hand hold onto his a little tighter. They stayed in a comfortable silence, as the light went down over the horizon, casting shadows on the ground, both pretending not to notice when they wiped silent tears away as they stared at the small plot in the dark.

….

Four years later….

John Watson was a happy man, much happier than he ever thought he could be again. It wasn't just the smiley, floating on air kind of a happy; it was such a strong sensation of happiness that he couldn't stop smiling and the energy of his happiness

Violet Beatrice Watson-Holmes….for so long she was nothing but a dream and a distant one at that. But now she was here; even feeling her weight in his arms he still was a little dizzy to believe that she was really here.

Sherlock had kept his word; after three years of waiting, they had begun the process of adopting another child. It hadn't always been easy, these last few years; for much of the time John had wondered if they would be the kind of parents that couldn't withstand the death of a child. A lot of parents split up; it spoke to John how much they cared for each other how much they had withstood it all and made it out on the other side. Actually, it was Sherlock who had brought it up ultimately. He knew how much John wanted a baby and John wasn't going to bring it up for fear of ruining it. The last thing he wanted to do was bring it up when Sherlock wasn't ready and have him say no to the idea forever. And, aside from the time that he had told Sherlock he wanted more children when he picked him up from the cabin, they hadn't actually really discussed it. And Sherlock certainly hadn't voiced his opinion on the matter.

So, it was quite a surprise when Sherlock had dropped the idea on him in a very shocking and Sherlockian manner. They had been sitting in the living room one night, John finishing a post on his blog and Sherlock was playing a beautiful and new melody on his violin.

Sherlock had turned from the window to come face John. "What do you think about calling it Violet's lullaby?" Sherlock had asked.

"Well, it's a lovely song" John had said, surprised. "But who's Violet?"

"Our daughter…..at least that's what we'll call her when she gets here" Sherlock had said as naturally as if he had been telling John it was sunny outside.

John had fallen out of his chair. "Our daughter?" he asked, picking himself up out of the floor.

"Naturally….."Sherlock said with that maddening smile. And so had begun their year long quest to adopt.

It wasn't an easy process, adopting, and John knew that. But he didn't really anticipate how frustrating it could be, especially for two men trying to adopt a child. And especially two men trying to adopt a girl; what about the poor child's feminine influences? Sherlock tried to get anyone who would listen to his insistences that John was quite a good nurturing feminine influence (to John's ire) but most would have none of it.

And then they had met Beatrice….

Beatrice was so naturally charming and likeable that they had both insisted on her child sharing her name; when she had declined, they had made it her middle instead. Beatrice, still a child herself at 15, was a kind and gentle person who had never even had the chance to think about being a mother. In foster care herself and living on an Estate, she had no possibility of caring for a child. And, through some miracle, she had chosen John and Sherlock as her future child's parents. She was such a darling person that even Sherlock seemed enamored by her and they would have kept in touch had it not been Beatrice's insistence that she couldn't bear to be involved in the life of the child she gave away.

It had broken John's heart to see her cry as she had handed Violet over to him as the paper work was finished. He'd been so conflicted, crying for her pain and smiling because of the euphoria that was exploding inside of him as he gazed down into that toothless little smile and those big, blue eyes. He was finally a daddy again…

So, now, by some miracle he found himself holding this precious, dear little life in his arms, watching her as she drifted off to sleep, as the cab took them back home. Where they would be a family of three again…

The only dark spot on an altogether wonderful day was Sherlock's reaction to the whole thing. While it had been Sherlock's idea in the first place, he'd been uncharacteristically quiet and passive through the whole thing. He hadn't held Violet, even when John had insisted and seemed to be avoiding looking at her even. It was almost as if he were afraid of her and John supposed that he could be. Or, more likely, he was overwhelmed by his feelings and afraid to show it while they were at the adoption agency.

It was beautiful weather, sunshine and spring air, as they stepped out of the cab. Sherlock, remarkably, paid while John got out of the cab, carrying Violet and the nappy bag slung over his shoulder. Sherlock walked into the flat first, John struggling to keep up with him. John was beginning to grow a little concerned that he still hadn't said a word.

When John finally made his way up to the flat, Sherlock was just sitting on the couch, staring straight ahead; John couldn't tell if he was thinking deeply or at a loss of what to do. All John could tell was that there was a storm of some kind brewing in that brilliant mind of his and he had to do something about it.

John carried Violet to the couch and sat down beside Sherlock. Sherlock gave her a casual glance but then looked away.

"So…..tell me what's going on in there" John said. Now that they were home, he could prod Sherlock to talk. While he maintained his stony façade on the outside in public, John had gone to great lengths over the last four years to help him open up and be more human at home. Mostly, it worked.

"What do you mean?" Sherlock said ignorantly, knitting his hands together nervously.

"Sherlock….." John chided. Usually it was enough to make him cave.

"Fine….." Sherlock relented with a dramatic huff of a breath. "I'm just….anxious"

John gave him a smile and nudged him gently with his free arm. "That's okay…I'm anxious too. This is a big change. But it's exciting too" he said.

Violet stirred in John's arms, spitting out her dummy as she stretched her little arms in the air. Sherlock caught the dummy with cat like reflexes and replaced it to her mouth. She sucked on it contently and seemed to go back to sleep.

"You want to hold her?" John asked. Honestly, he could have kept her all day, forever really, but he knew that Sherlock needed to start bonding with her as well. He hadn't held Hamish for nearly a week after his arrival and John was not going to let that be the case this time around.

"No….no…..that's…..okay" Sherlock said nervously, waving his hands. John almost laughed at how nervous he was; it was quite endearing.

"Nonsense…..she won't bite. Not yet at least" John teased.

Sherlock regarded Violet as if she was a bomb that might go off any second. "She's much too small" he said as if smallness was a dangerous quality.

John smiled. "She's not going to break" he insisted. She was much smaller than Hamish had ever been when they'd had him and the thought of him on this day hit John particularly hard. Hamish would have loved to have a little sister.

Sherlock didn't say anything, just continued to look anxious. "Here, I'll show you how to hold her" John encouraged.

"No…..I really don't think-" Sherlock tried to argue but John was already transferring Violet into his arms.

"Just cradle her in your arms like this and make sure you're supporting her head like this" John instructed, placing Violet in his arms. Sherlock stayed rigid, almost afraid of even moving.

Violet opened her eyes, stretching slightly before gazing up at Sherlock with her wide, curious eyes. John was glad to see a smile beginning to spread across Sherlock's face at the small connection.

"She's looking right at me!" Sherlock said, laughing with a glint in his eye that John rarely, if ever, saw there. John could feel a warm glow in his heart that felt like it was spreading between him and Sherlock.

"Course she is" John said grinning, leaning closer to Sherlock and Violet. "She wants to get to know you."

Sherlock cradled Violet, her looking even smaller than she was in his massive hands. He gazed down at her like the wonder she was; he was so rarely enamored by anything and it was a sight to see, even for John who knew him best. "Well, hello there" Sherlock addressed her as she looked up at him, each studying each other. "I'm your father…..hopefully I won't be too much of an annoyance to you"

"Sherlock" John chided him, elbowing him playfully.

"It's best she know right off I can be a right git" Sherlock said logically but John could see a touch of fear in his eyes. He'd had so many doubts after Hamish's death; he'd beaten himself up about all the things he'd wished he'd done even though John tried to tell him how good a father he was to him. He and Sherlock, like any other couple that had children, each had their own skills and duties as a parent. They worked together and they were both good at it. And the idea of adopting had actually been brought up by him. Though John knew part of it was to placate him, it wasn't entirely for his benefit.

"Sherlock, she's here because of you" John told him, leaning on him so that his head rested close to Sherlock's shoulder. "You wanted to bring her here and I know you'll be a good father."

"Well, I will try" Sherlock said sincerely, looking at Violet with emotion deep in his eyes. "But you know, your daddy is really the good one. He'll get up with you whenever you cry…..he'll hold you when you're scared…..He knows all the funny stupid songs that kids seem to like" Sherlock told her with a laugh. "Anything and everything that you'll ever need, he'll be there. That's why his name came first when I named you….you're a Watson and that's a great thing, you know why? Because John Watson is the greatest man I've ever known and he's the best daddy there is because he can love so very much."

John felt love bursting inside his chest; a compliment from Sherlock, even after all of this time, was so rare and this was one of the best that John could remember getting. He was not one for cuddling, had no concept of pillow talk and made it very well known he thought that any kind of 'sentiment' was only reserved for the most precious, special alone times, specifically near death experiences. Love exploded inside him for the crazy man who looked so out of place holding a baby but at the same time looked at ease.

"Sherlock…sentiment" John said, his voice dripping with emotion. Sherlock turned his head to the side and looked at him.

"What can I say? You must be wearing off on me…I don't know how to make it stop" he said with some humor. When John hugged him, he didn't even try to stop him.

…..

John might have waited to hand Violet over to Sherlock had he known that he wouldn't give her back. Sherlock, with his uncanny ability to ignore personal needs had skipped dinner and stayed on the couch all evening with Violet in his arms. John had to smile; he was glad that Sherlock was opening up to her now and he couldn't be upset about it. After dinner John had taken a shower, taking advantage of Sherlock's attentions on taking care of Violet. It had been nearly impossible to tear himself away, though. He could spend hours lost in the minute details of wonder that a baby brought; her toothless smile, her wide, searching eyes, the feel of her feather soft skin and hair. Just as enamoring was the sight of Sherlock staring at her, falling in love more and more by the second.

When John emerged from the shower, he found that Sherlock had finally left his spot on the couch. Knowing exactly where he would find him, John walked down the hallway toward the bedroom that had once been his but was now completely covered in lace trim and pink paint.

John found Sherlock sitting in the rocker in the corner of the room next to Violet's cot. Violet lay on Sherlock's chest, her head against his shoulder as he cradled her against him, rocking the chair slightly. As John walked closer, Sherlock's gaze slowly panned away from Violet to him. John knelt down by the rocker, smiling at Sherlock as he rubbed his finger along Violet's cheek.

"I can't find the strength to put her down" Sherlock admitted, unusually transparent. "It's like I'm afraid she'll vanish if I don't see her with my eyes."

"She is truly a miracle…I didn't think we'd ever get to this point" John said, grinning like an idiot as he watched Violet yawn against Sherlock's shoulder, making a patch of drool on his expensive shirt.

Sherlock was silent for a long moment before he spoke and then his voice was a whisper. "Aren't you afraid?" he asked uncertainly.

When John's gaze met Sherlock's he saw genuine fear in his eyes. It was such a rare thing to see that it made John's own fear increase. "I'm terrified" John said candidly. Any new parent who wasn't afraid had no idea what they were getting into.

John watched a war of emotions cross Sherlock's face as he tried to keep them in check. "I can't lose her like I lost him" Sherlock said, his voice a whisper. He instinctively held Violet tighter.

John felt a knot of worry in his chest. He'd thought of Hamish even more than usual the past few weeks as Violet's arrival date came closer. He'd ran through the gamut of emotions; feeling guilty at bringing a new baby into their home, worrying that they'd lose her too, being unbelievably excited. So many fears and so many anticipations…it helped John to know he wasn't the only one. "You know I can't make promises" John finally said, "but I can say that losing Hamish…was…a tragic accident. There's always a chance of getting your heart broken when you care about someone…..but it's worth it. Wasn't it worth it with Hamish?"

Sherlock swallowed hard before he spoke. "Of course it was" he said simply.

John smiled at him. "As it will be with Violet" he said. "We will love her and take care of her and make mistakes and I'm sure one day she'll grow up and break our hearts when she goes off to uni or gets married to some guy that couldn't possibly deserve her" John was glad when he saw Sherlock smile.

John stood up, standing next to Sherlock as he put his arms around his shoulders. He looked down at Sherlock and Violet; his whole world sitting in one small rocker. "The good things Sherlock…only think of the good things. That's all you can think about when you look at the future; it's all that matters."

Sherlock hugged Violet closer as he leaned ever so small into John's touch; he thought John hadn't noticed but he had and he smiled to himself. "Most of the time I'm right, John" Sherlock said with a grin. "But sometimes you surprise me by being a genius….and always on matters of the heart. I've just learned to go with it"