While You Were Sleeping
It had been another long day at the clinic and all Joan wanted to do now was crash in front of the television with a nice cup of tea.
As she climbed the stairs up to the flat she knew it wouldn’t be as simple as that. Sherlock was in a case lull at the moment so had been looking after Amy all day—on his own. As much as she trusted him to look after their daughter there was always that niggle in the back of her mind reminding her of what boredom had meant for Sherlock in the past. If he’d been causing explosions in the kitchen again she’d make sure he took every one of Mycroft’s cases for a year.
It took her off guard when she turned the handle of the living room door and was confronted, not with chaos and destruction, but with Sherlock, laid out on the sofa all loose limbed with their daughter lying across his chest, her dark curls tickling his chin. One of his arms hung off the side, brushing the floor where a heavy book had fallen, his other arm gently wrapped around their child, keeping her in place. They were both fast asleep.
Joan stood there for a few minutes, smiling to herself, just taking in the peaceful image in front of her. She should have known better than to worry; then again you could never tell with Sherlock. She had no doubts about his parenting abilities—she hadn’t before and certainly didn’t now, not after the last seven months—but old worries died hard.
Finally realising that she couldn’t stand in the doorway forever she headed into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Grabbing a mug from one of the cupboards she put the kettle on to boil and grabbed the milk out of the fridge—they were running low again, she’d have to get some more soon.
As she waited for the water to boil she found herself thinking of the last seven months and how their lives had changed. Despite his fears Sherlock had proven himself to be a good father—yes there had been the occasional ‘bit not good’ instance, but he clearly adored Amy.
Joan remembered a time when she’d been preparing a bottle for Amy; Sherlock had come marching in and declared that she was doing it all wrong. He’d promptly taken the bottle from her and proceeded to sterilise and mix the formula to his exacting specifications. Joan’s anger at the implication that she couldn’t feed her own daughter properly began to fade as she watched Sherlock busy himself with the task at hand. After all his worries before Amy had been born that he’d not care about the tiny person about to enter their lives, it was nice to see him so engaged. Still, after Amy had been fed Joan had asked him, in no uncertain terms, not to barge in like that again; he might have precise ideas on baby formula, but could he not make her feel like a failed mother in the process.
Joan finished making her cup of tea, throwing the tea bag in the bin on the way back into the living room. Sherlock and Amy were still snoozing happily as she sank into her favourite arm chair and picked up the nearest medical journal that she hadn’t quite finished yet. Every so often, as she took another sip of tea, she’d look up and just watch them; Sherlock’s chest rising and falling, lifting Amy with every breath, a look of contentment on his face, one that was never quite matched whilst he was awake.
Just then she could hear footsteps on the stairs—three thuds, Mycroft. His umbrella was unmistakeable.
Not wanting to wake Sherlock and Amy, Joan rose from her chair and opened the door before Mycroft could knock. Keeping her voice low she greeted him. “What do you want Sherlock for now?”
“I need his assistance with a rather, shall we say, delicate matter.” His tight-lipped smile did nothing to alleviate the many ideas of what could count as a ‘delicate matter’ now flying through Joan’s head.
“He’s unavailable, I’m afraid.”
She didn’t usually decide what cases Sherlock took on; in fact she was usually trying to get him to take on more to relieve his boredom, but she knew if it was important then Mycroft would call again soon—besides, she wasn’t going to wake him for a conversation with his brother; that foul mood could wait a little longer.
Mycroft didn’t seem all that concerned by Sherlock’s unavailability. “Nonsense. He has no other cases on right now, surely you’d be...”
It was at that moment that Mycroft finally saw the contents of the room behind Joan.
She stepped back from the doorway, allowing him a better view of the dozing pair. The look on his face was priceless—Joan wished she had a camera on her, if only to serve as a reminder that Mycroft Holmes was human after all.
His cold, stern exterior had fallen, replaced with a softness she’d never seen on the man before—granted, she usually only ever saw him when he was talking to Sherlock, but it was a look she could never have imagined him wearing before this moment.
He stood there, his reason for coming seemingly forgotten as he observed his younger brother in a rare moment of familial bliss.
“So,” Joan began, trying to bring Mycroft back round to his purpose, “can this wait?”
Mycroft pulled his eyes away from the sofa. “Ah, of course,” this time his smile was more genuine, “I shall call back another time.” With a final look over at his brother, a gentle smile and soft sigh, Mycroft nodded once to Joan and headed—almost reluctantly—back down the stairs.
Closing the door behind him, Joan went back to her earlier position where the remnants of her tea had grown cold. She decided to take one more look at the happy scene on the sofa before resuming her reading when she froze. Two pale blue eyes were staring back at her—Sherlock was no longer asleep.
“What did Mycroft want?” His voice was a low mumble, trying hard not to wake the child still asleep on top of him.
“Not sure. He said something about a ‘delicate matter’, I chose not to ask,” she said, keeping her voice down, “he said he’d call back later.”
Sherlock let out a quiet sigh—at least with a baby lying on top of him he couldn’t get too dramatic about it.
“How was your day then?” Sherlock had obviously been reading to Amy before their impromptu nap, if the book she’d seen on the floor was any indication.
“Dull. Lestrade hasn’t been stuck once in the past four days, it’s almost unheard of.” How he managed to sound so derisive when he was trying so hard to keep quiet she’d never know.
“Sherlock, try to remember it’s a good thing that the police can solve crimes on their own.”
“But I’m bored.”
“So I’m aware,” Joan sighed, “did Amy not keep you entertained then?”
At that Sherlock’s face looked vaguely guilty, “Well, yes she did, I suppose.” Joan smiled at the mildly grudging tone, “but it’s not the same.” His hushed tone sounded put upon— sometimes Joan wondered whether she actually had two infants to look after rather than the one.
“What were you reading to her?” At Sherlock’s slightly startled gaze she expanded, “the book on the floor. I didn’t get a chance to see the title.”
Sherlock smiled. “Gray’s Anatomy.”
Joan just stared back at him. “You what?”
“Research suggests that children at Amy’s age can begin to understand what’s being said to them, so I thought it was about time we started to familiarise her with certain things.” There was a trace of defensiveness to Sherlock’s voice, but the innocent tone he used was unmistakeable.
“Sherlock, she may be starting to understand words but she’s not ready for Gray’s Anatomy just yet.”
“I know that, thank you. What I meant was she should be smart. Like you.”
Joan couldn’t hold back her smile. “I’m flattered, but she’s not quite ready for that yet. Besides no matter what you read to her, her first words are not going to be ‘thoracic vertebrae’.”
Sherlock was pouting at her from his position underneath the child in question. “Fine. I was just trying to give our child an advantage in life.”
Joan smiled and rose from her chair, heading towards the sofa. “Come on, it’s time we put her to bed.” Bending down to gently lift the slumbering infant from Sherlock’s chest, Joan carried Amy to her room where she could rest undisturbed.
Having tucked Amy into her crib Joan came back into the living room to see Sherlock stretching out his cramped muscles, now sitting at one end of the sofa.
Joan slowly wandered over and sat down next to him, curling into his side. “She doesn’t need an advantage, Sherlock,” she said, taking them back to their earlier conversation, “she’s yours, what more of a head start could she have?”
He looked down at her, his brow wrinkled in apparent confusion. Joan smiled, leaned in and kissed him lightly on the lips. It always amused her that despite continual declarations of his own intelligence and brilliance, whenever anyone else pointed out those things to him he always seemed surprised.
She brushed her lips softly up his jaw, whispering against his ear, ‘you’re brilliant’. He turned his head towards hers, catching her lips in another kiss, more passionate than the last.