Chapter 1: The More We Seek
"Do you think we should have a child?"
John coughed his half-chewed toast into his palm and stared at his partner, who had posed his question without even bothering to look up from his laptop. To say that the question was quite unexpected would have been akin to saying Sherlock and Anderson didn't particularly get along.
"Isn't it a bit early for this kind of talk?" John asked, wiping his now-sticky palm on a napkin. It was half six and he was only awake because Sherlock had been banging about in the bedroom--and not in a good way--trying to find a "very important" argyle sock because his sock index was out of sorts. John was certain he wasn't in any fit state to be discussing such long-term commitments as children.
His coffee hadn't even kicked in yet.
"Is there a specific schedule we should be on?" Sherlock asked, tapping away at his keyboard before continuing. "You eat silently, I research, we leave each other alone for twelve hours and then over dinner tonight, I ask you again? Would that be more appropriate?"
With most people, John was sure there would have been a degree of biting sarcasm.
The thing about Sherlock was that he was completely serious.
John considered asking for the twelve-hour reprieve, but he shook his head instead.
"I, uh... I suppose we could discuss it now. But...." John paused, treading carefully. "A child is a lot of responsibility, Sherlock. It's not something we could go back on if it didn't work."
"You don't think I would have done the necessary research before bringing it to the table?"
John hadn't even known it was a potential point of interest in their relationship. Sherlock had never been particularly paternal toward children on cases, unless he was putting on a face to get information. He'd never cooed at a newborn, he'd never asked to hold a baby, he'd never been around a toddler having a wobbly. And while John had always wanted children, he didn't want one on his own. He didn't want Sherlock to lose interest once his experimental fatherhood was complete.
John Watson was not single-parent material.
The thoughts must've been writing themselves across his features as he contemplated his lover's questions.
"Honestly, John, you think I'm immaterial to be a good father, but how else does one ensure that their genius lives on? I've considered it for quite some time--nearly the last two weeks, which is more thinking than the average person does is in his entire lifetime. I've not taken cases from Lestrade because I was working out ways to reorganize the flat to fit a child in, and I've been looking into schooling and nannies and also safer ways for me to continue my work while also doing what's in the best interest for our child. And while I'm sure you're nervous because you've never seen me with a child before, I assure you that while other people's children are insufferable, drooling globs of useless matter, our child would not be."
He looked pleased with himself, but of course John had his reservations.
"But what if the child isn't brilliant, Sherlock? What if he or she is..." John gestured into the air between them aimlessly. "What if the baby turns out to be perfectly normal, perfectly boring. What if the baby has my intellect."
"If the child was lucky enough to be anything like you, John, I'd consider it a success."
John sipped his coffee, knowing he should shower and head to the surgery. He blew out a long sigh through his lips before standing and walking around the table.
"I have to get ready for work," he said, gently dropping a hand atop Sherlock's silk-clad shoulder and squeezing. "I'm not saying this conversation is over, but I really am going to need to think about this on my own a bit."
Sherlock nodded and looked back down at his computer.
As John drew away, he saw a splashy header of pink and blue on the website.
For the next few days, John checked Sherlock's birth control package first thing each morning.
Two days after that, he found it left out on the sink for him to inspect.
He should have known Sherlock would deduce that he was checking up, but it was for their own good. There was no use in trying for a baby if Sherlock didn't understand how much their lives would change, not only immediately after the baby was born and for the rest of their lives thereafter, but in the trying and the subsequent pregnancy.
"You know that it takes time to conceive," John said one night when they were readying for bed. It was nearly one in the morning and he was exhausted, but the pills out that morning made him feel like it was time to broach the subject again, as if he'd been able to think of much else in the last days.
Sherlock's eyes glanced at him in the low lamplight. "Of course."
"Some couples try for years and don't have much luck. Low sperm counts, bad diets, general infertility." John sat down on his side of the bed and crossed his legs, facing Sherlock, who sat down to mirror him. "You'd have to make a lot of changes if we were going to be successful at even conceiving."
John didn't want to make it seem like this was all on Sherlock, so he quickly added, "And I would, too. My age is getting out of favor and I'm not as in shape as I used to be."
Sherlock nodded. John wanted him to speak, but he wasn't sure what he could say to bring a conversation into the mix.
"We'd have to eat better, be more active, no more noxious chemicals, no more staying up for three days. It's a lot to change, Sherlock." John didn't know if he was trying to talk Sherlock out of it or draw out the elusive promise of change.
"I'm aware of the responsibilities, John, and I believe I've considered it all thoroughly. It hasn't made me want this any less than I did when I first decided it a few weeks ago." Sherlock's hand brushed along the duvet that was half turned down next to his knee and he watched the folds in the fabric rather than holding John's eye. "I'm not certain I'd be a good father, but I know I could be one. They let people who are less fit than me leave the nursery wards every day. No one can guarantee success with any experiment, but..." Sherlock looked up, just a bit, and his eyes settled at John's shoulder. "How will we ever know if we could have done this if we don't test the hypothesis?"
John wanted to tell Sherlock that it wasn't an experiment, but he understood the need for comparison. There was something in the way he was looking away rather than at John, the way he was fidgeting rather than holding his ground. He actually wanted this, but it wasn't something he could--or wanted--to do on his own. Sherlock's almost shy disconnection from saying things about the solidified concept of parenthood made John feel like he was trying to keep a distance in case his proposal was rejected.
Sherlock's hands were cold when John took them in his own a moment later, letting them settle into the downy softness between them with a gentle squeeze.
"You have thirteen pills left in this cycle," John said. "What do you say to finishing them?" Sherlock pulled a face while looking down at their fingers and John squeezed his hands. "It'll take time to do this, Sherlock. We should have tests run, we'll have to put a few pounds on you so you get back into a regular cycle, and we'll need to ween your body off its nicotine and caffeine addiction."
Sherlock finally looked up, pale blue eyes holding John's firm. His mouth was set in a soft line.
"I'll keep a chart. The... websites all say I should keep a chart." That normally deep, sure voice was drowsily breathless, as if Sherlock couldn't believe John was actually, kind of, maybe agreeing. "I could make a temperature graph to track my ovulation cycle, and I could make lists of the most commonly successful conception techniques. I've been researching."
"It might help," John said, tracing a finger over one of Sherlock's palms. He liked the idea of Sherlock thinking this through further in the next few weeks. It would give both of them time to get serious. "Having a... common goal, or whatever, might help keep us on task."
"It's so much more than that, John." Almost a whisper, just barely loud enough for John to know that it had been meant for his ears. John didn't add anything, thinking that Sherlock had reached the end of his emotional capacity for the night.
Sherlock's fingers slipped through John's, entwining them tightly. The only sound in the room was their breathing and the rustle of skin on cloth, skin on skin as fingers stroked the backs of palms and thumbs passed over flesh.
When they curled together under the covers moments later, John stroked ebony curls and couldn't help imagining holding a sleeping babe against his chest with the same head of soft hair.
John stopped, mid-stride, mid toweling his hair, and looked across the kitchen to where Sherlock was returning to stare down his microscope. There was an open notebook next to it with several hastily scribbled lines, but John didn't see a pen anywhere.
"You know sperm has a short lifetime. We aren't even going to be able to start seriously trying for a few weeks. Whatever goes down the drain today is not going to affect anything two weeks from now." John didn't think about the fact that he'd been in the room for less than two seconds before Sherlock had outed his morning wank. "I promise that a few days before your chart says we have to go at it like rabbits, I'll stop."
"Fair. But if it doesn't happen the first month, you're not allowed to masturbate at all."
There wasn't much of a question there; no hint that Sherlock was looking for his partner to agree or disagree.
"Sherlock, your body is going to be coming off hormones that have been telling it not to get pregnant for two and a half years. It might take some time for us to get it right." He didn't mention that his own age was likely lowering his sperm count or the fact that they still didn't even know if Sherlock's body was in good enough form to conceive.
All in due time, he supposed.
"How's your chart coming?" John rested his towel over a chair and went to the fridge. He'd been successful in getting Sherlock to eat breakfast on three out of the last five days and was hoping he could get the detective to eat some eggs.
It was a bit of a long shot since Sherlock had already started experimenting for the morning, but it was worth a try.
"I've pinpointed when I believe my ovulation cycle will begin next month," he said, switching the slides he was studying. "It would be most beneficial for us to have sex every two or three days for the full month but to have sex once per day in the four days when my body will be most fertile. There is a margin for error, but I'm confident that it should work."
John held back the urge to tease; to say "Oh, baby, tell me more" to Sherlock's almost clinical words. He had a fear that sex was going to become mechanical, a means to an end that would leave them both feeling sour. He didn't like the idea of crawling into bed and immediately being turned into a fertile sex toy for Sherlock to use until he got his wish.
But they both wanted it--they'd talked so much about their hypothetical child in the last week that John was almost regretful that they hadn't already started trying.
They had to be realistic. Neither of them were in their prime anymore, and while it was still true that one time was all it could take for them to conceive, it was also possible that it could take months, and John wasn't sure Sherlock had the patience for that kind of commitment, or that they wouldn't get bored of the sex right out of the gate.
"When do we start, then?" John asked as he cracked an egg.
"I'll be going to the andrologist today to ensure everything is in working order."
John raised a surprised eyebrow down at the frying egg, but he didn't say anything. Sherlock hated doctors--he hated being a patient. John had told him he'd be willing to perform a physical for him to determine if he really needed to see a reproduction specialist, but Sherlock had insisted on keeping John's work separate from the bedroom.
"Do you want me to go with you?" John didn't want to, and he knew Sherlock would hear it in his voice, but he offered all the same. The andrologist had always been an uncomfortable experience for John. And even though he was a doctor, he didn't like thinking of Sherlock clinically. He'd heard it was a rather common trait for dominant partners, specifically during childbirth. It was already something he had a hard time imagining, but that didn't mean he wanted their potential child any less. He just had a hard time taking the sex out of it all and remembering that it was a natural process their bodies were equipped for.
"You don't want to, so I won't ask you to go."
John scooped a pile of scrambled eggs onto a plate and set it down on top of Sherlock's notebook. He kissed the side of his curly head and handed him a fork.
There wasn't a single body part, not even in the ice box. No toenails, no scorpions. There were real, edible foods. Uncooked meats and fruits and yoghurt. The blender even looked like it had been used for something other than pureeing brain matter.
Though hopefully it had been thoroughly washed first. Or... Yes, it had been replaced.
John was temped to go downstairs and see if he was in the right flat or if he'd accidentally ventured into the married ones' happy home.
His beers, like the body parts, were also gone.
"Cutting alcohol out of one's diet is recommended while trying to conceive."
John turned around and walked back out to the sitting room, where Sherlock had successfully deduced him without needing to see him. Nothing new there.
"I suppose you're going to tell me I can't have the Chinese, either, because of the soy?"
Sherlock, ignoring John's sarcasm, seemed to consider it, but said, "Just this once, since it's already here."
John sat down at their table and unpacked the bag. "How much weight did he tell you you need to gain, then?" That was the only reason Sherlock would bother to do the shopping.
"He thinks with regular meals, I could gain six pounds in the first month." Sherlock had switched back to textbook words, and he sounded almost monotone, as if he had lost that flare of excitement.
In the first month was what John presumed was the most important part of that sentence. He knew Sherlock was underweight, and if the andrologist had determined that Sherlock's body might not be in top form to conceive, he wouldn't have hesitated to tell him. The doctor thought it would take longer.
John did, too, but he was trying to keep from getting Sherlock down about it. The man had never been particularly patient, and John was sure that Sherlock would be annoyed enough by the waiting between conception and birth.
"I think you might be able to gain eight," John said as he spooned some fried rice onto each of their plates. He was so unused to serving Sherlock. The man usually stole little bites from John's plate and then claimed to be full. "It'll take commitment, but I think we could plump you up a bit."
Sherlock made a sour face.
"It'll be alright, love," John said as he sat down. "It might take some time to get there, but it'll be worth it, yeah?"
The slight incline of Sherlock's head was enough agreement for the doctor.
John scrubbed his hands over his face. He wanted to reply back that the cycle would still be continuing when he got home, but there was something about the fact that he was getting a text in the middle of the day that was urging him home for sex that was especially tempting.
He knocked twice on Sarah's door. "Is it alright if I cut out for a bit? Sherlock needs me."
Sarah considered those words to be the theme of John's life, and he knew it, but she let him go anyway. He figured it was for the best that he didn't mention his reasons.
When he got home, it was to find Sherlock in their bedroom, sprawled out on the bed completely naked.
John knew what he was coming home for, but apparently the detective really didn't have time to mess around.
"Well, come on," Sherlock said, gesturing down to his exposed body.
John unzipped his jacket and pulled his jumper and undershirt over his head. Sherlock was laid out for him and apparently willing, but that was about all John could say for the picture presented to him. Sherlock's cock was soft, nestled in a coarse tuft of black hair, and his legs were slightly spread.
When John pushed down his trousers, Sherlock turned his head on the pillow and scowled.
"You knew you were coming home to have sex with me and you're not even ready?" he complained. "You could have at least tried. It would have sped things up exponentially."
John climbed onto the bed after shucking his pants. "Sherlock," he said quietly, draping himself over the pale, skinny form of his partner. "I can't just get it up on command. Just because we're trying for a baby doesn't make it a different kind of sex." He nuzzled his nose against Sherlock's neck and put his hands on the taller man's hips, fingers dipping down until they were between Sherlock and the comforter. "We still have to enjoy each other."
He began to plant small kisses against Sherlock's jawline, smiling against him when those long fingers began to twist into his hair to draw him closer.
It had been three days since they'd last had sex, since Sherlock had read online that it was best to wait a few days in between "normal trying" and "ovulation trying." Apparently he thought of them as two different sorts of sex, but John was having none of it.
His tongue glided along the side of Sherlock's throat, slipping around and applying a careful pressure to a slow-bobbing Adam's apple. If there was one part of Sherlock's body that was more sensitive than the rest, it was most certainly his neck. John had learned it very early on in their relationship and had used it to his advantage ever since.
Sherlock was at his microscope refusing to come to bed? John would kiss his neck with the obvious implication of further appreciation and Sherlock's clothes would practically melt off him. Sherlock was high-strung and more of a prick than usual? A quick suck to the spot below his left ear would have him purring like a kitten and appropriate for civilized conversation once more.
Well, as long as he left his coat buttoned.
Now, John was feeling the other man's responsiveness to his ministrations a little bit at a time, in the form of fingers gripping his hair, sliding down his neck to his shoulders, pulling him closer, holding his head in place in open invitation.
He nipped at his lover's collarbone, simultaneously teasing a hardening nipple with his dominant hand.
A soft whimper passed Sherlock's lips and John whispered a quiet "Shhhh" against his partner's neck, knowing full well that a "Get on with it, John" was likely somewhere behind that sound.
"You know that the foreplay is my favorite part," John whispered, tickling the side of Sherlock's neck with his breath and nose as he slid his hands down the other man's sides. He was laying between his lover's legs, cock stirring to life against the taller man's belly while Sherlock's was pressed between John's thighs.
"Sex is your favorite part," Sherlock protested. His fingers dug into John's hips, pulling him down while simultaneously pressing upwards. Words were contrary, but his body was certainly telling John that he was agreeable to the situation.
"Mmm," John hummed against a pale throat. "You're my favorite part."
It went on like that for a while; light kisses, fluttering touches, John trying to keep Sherlock from rushing things unnecessarily. If they were going to shag in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon, they were going to enjoy each other so thoroughly, they'd have lingering tremors until it was time to go again.
And there was so much to enjoy. There was the way Sherlock's skin seemed to burn against John, the soft jump of muscle and unbidden twitches of limbs when John touched a new expanse of skin with his lips and tongue. The soft sounds from both of them (once Sherlock stopped trying to boss John around), sighs and breath and little queues that said "Yes, more of that, do that again" without needing to speak.
John slipped two fingers into Sherlock's arse after an almost unheard of amount of foreplay. He had completely ignored his lover's cock and arse outside of the general friction of two bodies on top of one another. He wasn't surprised by the tight, wet heat that welcomed him. He'd practically been torturing his lover for the better part of an hour by the time he was ready to get to the main attraction.
And there it was: the knowledge that hit him every time he pressed the tip of his cock into Sherlock's body in recent days. They were doing this for something so much more than the simple pleasures of an afternoon shag. Their bodies were working together to create something so basic, something people had been doing on purpose and by mistake for thousands of years.
John began to move in and out of his lover, leaving kisses on every bit of skin he could reach as he did so. He was thrusting slowly, wanting it to build. With all the sex they'd been having and would have, it would be impossible to tell which time their child had been conceived. There was a certain amount of determination to ensure that every single encounter was one they both enjoyed, that they'd each found fulfilling, where they'd shown each other exactly how much love was there between them without words.
"Harder, John," Sherlock whispered, and that was John's queue that he may have spent just a bit too long with the foreplay. Sherlock wasn't bossy any longer, but his body was on edge, waiting and wanting, and it was true of John that he wouldn't be able to wait too long, either.
The work of moments and simple, repetitive movements found John gasping "Soon" against his lover's lips, found Sherlock's legs wrapping around John's waist and groaning when a clumsy, practiced hand wrapped around his prick, found Sherlock's orgasm causing delicious spasms around John's cock, triggering a white-about-the-edges feeling in John's head while his body surrendered to the detective's with a jolt.
"Oh, God," John practically wheezed. "You are...." He let the sentence trail off, stretching a bit to press his nose against the side of Sherlock's throat while the other man's fingers slid down his back, gently passing over scratches that John hadn't even felt in the making.
John raised his head, trying to push himself up a bit so he wasn't crushing Sherlock, but he was pulled back down, wrapped up in Sherlock, who seemed content to be a human octopus for just a few more moments.
"I love you," John said quietly against the other man's shoulder. Sherlock just squeezed him tighter, their bodies as close together as two people could be.
He was going to take a pre-sex shower so he didn't smell like the office when Sherlock got home, but that was when he found two tests in the bin.
John told himself it was fine; almost expected. It wasn't always easy.
That didn't mean it wasn't a little disappointing.
The doctor crept up behind him (well, not actually, surely Sherlock knew he was there) and slid his arms around the other man from behind. He pressed his lips to the bit of skin just above the hem of Sherlock's neckline.
"Good morning," John said, pressing himself against Sherlock's back. He'd woken up hoping for a bit of unscheduled shagging, but had found himself alone. As it was, he was already quite prepared to do his part in their baby making routine, and he let it be known with a gentle sway of his hips against his lover's arse.
"I'm making breakfast. There is nothing remotely sexy about fruit and yoghurt in a blender," Sherlock said, sounding bored.
"Says the man who still wants to shag me when I come home smelling like cherry cough medicine. Neither of us are good judges of sexy," John said, smiling against Sherlock's neck. No matter the man's protests, he had spread his stance so that John was a bit more on level with him, and John used it to his advantage to let his mouth slide along the skin between Sherlock's dressing gown and his hairline. That curly head tilted back and the blender stopped its task.
"I wouldn't mind having you right here," John whispered in his ear, hiking up the dressing gown and reaching around to tug at the drawstring on Sherlock's pajama bottoms.
"We are not conceiving our child on the kitchen floor," Sherlock said, still turning his head to give more access to the sensitive expanse of his neck.
"Who said anything about the floor?" John asked, noting the shiver that ran through the taller man with the realization. There were surely going to be arguments any moment now about proper conception positions and semen retention and Sherlock's need to get his goddamned smoothie finished, but John didn't give him the chance.
He pushed Sherlock's pajama bottoms down with one hand and sloppily lowered his own without actually untying them. It gave him limited mobility in terms of spreading his legs for balance, but it was all fine; he couldn't really widen his stance much without being too short for this, anyway.
Not a thought he wanted to think at the moment.
His left hand reached around and fought with the silk gown for a moment before he was able to stroke Sherlock's thickening cock, waiting to potentially be batted away at any moment, but Sherlock didn't fight him. He simply spread his legs further so John's cock nudged at his entrance of its own accord and then set his hands on the counter.
John pressed his cock against the moistened opening. Sherlock wasn't completely there yet, but almost. A few more strokes to the other man's cock and John could feel the wet heat surrounding the head and began to push forward, up into that warmth while Sherlock arched his back, taking him deeper.
The thing about sex with Sherlock was that the more impatient he was feeling at any given time of day, the more quickly he wanted the sex to be over. It was rare of him to want to drag it out, to make it last until they were begging each other simultaneously.
This morning, he was obviously feeling especially impatient. His body was clenching around John's cock, and he was blatantly trying to force a faster pace than John wanted from his morning shag. So he stuttered his hips, breaking rhythm and trying to slow the rapid-burning fire in his belly that was traveling all the way down to the tips of his toes and back up to his groin with a lovely, tingling pressure.
John's head fell forward against the back of Sherlock's and he groaned, pursing his lips on the tail of it, trying to reach skin in a desperate moment but failing. A tilt let him nibble at his lover's hairline, moaning softly into the short curls there as the faster pace resumed, taking them both closer and closer and then--
His fingers were almost bruising on Sherlock's hips when he pulled him closer, one hand clutching a hip and the other wrapped around, drawing his chest back until they were front to back, barely a breath between them as John spilled deep inside the taller man, teeth bearing down into a silken shoulder blade to keep from disturbing their landlady so early.
John wrapped his arms around Sherlock's middle again, holding him in place for a long moment, face pressed into the space between his shoulders. He wheezed there for a long moment, trying to get his breath back but finding that he mostly just wanted to curl up inside the other man and stay there for as long as he'd have him.
"Breakfast in bed?" John suggested without disengaging from his lover's body.
"Mm," Sherlock hummed, and then he was pulling away, slowly, and drawing up his pajama bottoms so he could walk the short trip back to the bedroom. "You can finish making it."
John adjusted his own pajamas and looked at the ingredients Sherlock had set out.
He was sure that no one in their right mind put pickles in a breakfast smoothie, but the man had at least been trying, so he supposed he had to give him some credit.
All the same, he emptied it out and started over.
This time, John found them wrapped in toilet tissue and tossed in with the kitchen rubbish rather than out in the mostly-empty bin in the bathroom. He only noticed them because he dumped a bit of liquid into the bin and the tissue practically melted around the plastic test.
They didn't talk about it.
"Why?" John asked. He felt quite suddenly like he was ready to puff out his chest and defend Sherlock's honor at a moment's notice. Yes, Sherlock had gained nearly eleven pounds, but it wasn't as if he was getting fat. He'd just filled out a bit in the face and shoulders. And thighs and arse, but John was certain he was the only one who got to appreciate those plumping particulars.
It was healthy on him, and no one would dare say otherwise.
"Just looks a bit like those buttons are fighting more than they usually do," Lestrade said. Upon seeing John's "And your point is?" expression, he quickly added, "I just mean that I've known him for years and I've never seen him take a bite. He's always been a stick. A brilliant stick, but a stick."
John looked back at Sherlock, who had straightened and was considering the people around him with one of his silent, observant gazes that made John wish he could share some kind of telepathic uplink with the man just to understand what went on in his head, even for a minute.
Sherlock frowned and buttoned up his coat quickly despite the heat in the room and motioned his head for John to follow. He didn't explain his findings, he didn't chide the detectives on their inability to see what was right in front of them.
He didn't say a thing, not even when they'd gotten back to Baker Street and he stripped out of his coat and suit with precise, measured movements, only letting go of his walled-up demeanor when he pulled John into the bed and wrapped himself around him, letting John touch him, caress him, love him until they were both warm and sticky and John couldn't help it, couldn't help whispering how beautiful he thought his younger lover was, because he could see, too; he could see the toll it was all taking.
The effort, the sacrifice, and the continued loss of control Sherlock was experiencing every time the test came back and told him he'd failed; and John knew it, knew Sherlock saw it as a failure every time, thought it was his own fault.
John kissed every extra bit of him, let his fingers linger on the new curves at his hips, slid his lips along his almost-fuller cheeks even after it was over, and then he rolled Sherlock over and curled behind him, the ever-protective big spoon, arms wrapped around him in a way that would surely leave his shoulder screaming in the morning, but all the same, their hands joined silently, pressing against a spot just above Sherlock's abdomen and squeezing in mute reassurance.
It was so much more than a flickering desire now. The child was something they both needed, and not just to prove they could, or to do it for the sake of combining their collective love into one being.
In the last three months, their want of a child had become something they needed to give to each other, like an ultimate gift that would keep on giving if they could just get it right.
"What did you eat last night?" John asked, crouching down, managing to sway only a bit in his effort to rub the back of Sherlock's neck without putting all his weight on his hand. "When you got up, what did you eat?"
John had caught Sherlock getting out of bed around one for a late-night snack. It wasn't too uncommon these days, since John had him eating small, frequent meals to keep up his metabolism while also ensuring that he was getting more nutrients than he ever had at any other point in his adult life.
Sherlock groaned and clutched at his stomach. "Leftover Thai," the consulting detective said before retching again into the toilet bowl. John stroked his back, not even wincing at the smell, and offered to make a run to the store for crackers.
Sherlock shook his head. "Go back to bed," he said, swallowing dryly. "I'll brush my teeth and be back. Sorry for waking you."
It was half five or somewhere thereabouts. The doctor padded to the kitchen to get a glass of water, returning to find that Sherlock was composed again, as if he hadn't just been hunched over the toilet.
"I'll toss out the Thai in the morning," Sherlock promised as they climbed back into bed.
They didn't think about it again that day. After all, the new tests had been negative less than twenty-four hours ago.
"You felt fine when we went to sleep, yeah?" John asked. His open hand was running up and down Sherlock's trembling back. The consulting detective didn't have a shirt on, but he assured his lover that he wasn't cold, just trying to control the heaving.
"I assure you, John, I did not consume more of the Thai as a midnight snack. I learned my lesson yester--" His words were cut off by a vicious coughing fit that left him bent over the toilet once more.
"I'm going to get your dressing gown," John said, brushing back the curly fringe on Sherlock's sweaty forehead before pushing himself to his feet.
The blue silk was draped over the alarm clock, where it had been rather unceremoniously tossed at the beginning of their lovemaking before bed. It was six in the morning, almost the same time as it had been yesterday morning.
Not an unusual time for Sherlock to be waking up and starting his day.
Not quite unlike morning.
No, John thought at the spark of hope that flickered across his mind. Morning sickness wouldn't kick in until at least four weeks in most cases, and Sherlock had taken tests every two weeks. He wouldn't have gotten four bad tests.
John shook his head to himself.
Had they reached the peak of desperation? Was Sherlock's body trying to give them what they wanted? Hysterical pregnancies weren't uncommon in stressful situations, and Sherlock had been rightfully down about it--
Best not to get any hopes up.
John watched Sherlock sleeping, the gentle rise and fall of his belly with each breath, and let his fingers splay across the pale skin there, sleepily entwining with the hand he found and closing his eyes. As he slipped back into sleep, he mentally chided himself for daring to think....
No texts, and there wasn't a case on. He was probably just bored.
"Sherlock." The man was buried under the blanket and pillows, only one hand visible from under one of the pillowcases. John took it, stroking the open palm with his thumb.
The pillow monster groaned quietly and rolled onto his back, moving the pillow up his face enough that John could see his mouth but not his eyes.
"I'm dying," Sherlock said.
"I've been gone eight hours. I doubt you're that far gone from the boredom."
"I spent half the day vomiting and the other half nursing a vicious team of ice men in my head, picking away at my brain with their pointy little tools." He winced when John plucked the pillow off his head so the doctor could feel his forehead.
"Low grade fever, I think," John said. "Have you at least been keeping hydrated?"
The little grunt that followed told John all he needed to know.
"I'm going to get you some water, paracetamol, some crackers, and a cold flannel and you're going to be the ideal patient."
It wasn't a request.
When John got Sherlock to sleep an hour and a half later, he watched his lover's long fingers curl into the covers just above his naval and clutch for a long moment before relaxing.
"Was there something you needed, Mycroft, or were you just feeling the need to assert your omniscience?" John asked, tucking his phone against his shoulder while he unlocked the door to Baker Street.
"I merely wanted to wish you and my brother the best," Mycroft said and John scowled up at the security camera across the street as he closed the door. "Do keep our father Siger in mind when you get around to considering names."
"Good day, Mycroft." John ended the call and trudged up the stairs, feeling heavy, like the little shopping bag in his hand held a possibility so close to being a reality that he wasn't sure he could think of it without soaring. He didn't know if Sherlock recognized the symptoms, or if he had and was just ignoring them because he was slowly losing hope after their four months of effort had borne no fruit.
It was best to wait until morning. John would just suggest it, a simple, quick test to make sure they weren't overlooking a happier cause for Sherlock's symptoms in diagnosing a summer flu.
Even though it was barely eight, he stripped down to his pants and got into bed behind Sherlock, the test perched on the sink in the bathroom, a bit unimposing, but looming with possibility all the same.
The room was blurry, lit only by the light from the bath, which Sherlock was quickly crowding out of John's view as he clambered on top of him like a child at Christmas.
"John, wake up."
"I'm awake, I'm awake. What's wrong?" He sat up, rubbing at his shoulder a bit as he did first thing every morning. Sherlock had climbed onto the bed, into his lap, and was jabbing him in the hands with something pointy and it took a moment to find his coordination skills to grab the detectives hands and still him. "Jesus, Sherlock, that's kind of sharp--" And then John realized it was morning, it was too-early o'clock and Sherlock was stabbing him with a bit of plastic and--
John looked down at where Sherlock's hands were almost shaking within his own, wrists held tightly, willingly, and the white plastic was barely visible in the non-existent lighting, but why else would Sherlock wake him up with such enthusiasm?
He looked up at Sherlock, who was straddling his thighs and practically vibrating with excitement and he hadn't ever exactly fantasized about this moment, but here it was.
Four months, three weeks and six days and it was arse o'clock in the morning, but there: the little pink strip they'd been waiting for and no one in the whole of London cared that John Watson was half-hard from morning wood or that Sherlock smelled faintly of stomach bile and sweat--okay, maybe John cared, a bit, when he pulled the detective down for a kiss laden with morning breath and morning sickness and an overpowering feeling of success.
And maybe he never thought much about it before--there had been small, fleeting glimpses of coming home to Sherlock with the positive test, small hopes of getting a visit at work with the news--but it made sense that it turned out to be the first of many messy mornings when Sherlock promptly pulled away, a small, almost apologetic smile on his lips, and dashed for the bathroom with his hand over his mouth and the test dropped in John's lap.
When he went to Sherlock a moment later and crouched down next to him on the cold tile, hand pressed to the small of the pregnant man's back, he couldn't help thinking how brilliant it was to have this knowledge; to know that they were one step closer to the more they'd been seeking.
And like they'd promised, they were in this together, every step.
Chapter 2: The More We Gain
Sherlock said “I don’t know if I can do this.”
And then they realized that they could.
I have no excuse for the amount of time this took me.
But here, have 10,000 words of fluffy mpreg.
I tried to hard to get all the typos but with 10,000 words in this chapter, there's bound to be something I missed. Apologies!
"God, John, do something to make it stop."
The detective was curled around the toilet bowl, hugging it like a life preserver.
The morning sickness had been a blessing at first--a tell-tale sign of their biological union--but it had been a month and a half since the test, and Sherlock had been plagued almost every morning since.
He was down at least six pounds.
Cases missed, meetings put on hold, biscuits and breakfasts lost. They reasoned it was a small price to pay, and John reminded Sherlock regularly that morning sickness tended to be a response by the body almost exclusively in the first trimester. They'd be out of the woods soon.
He didn't mention that some carrying parents experienced it through the entire pregnancy. He was sure Sherlock had come across that in his research. But everyone was different--surely Sherlock's body wouldn't betray him quite so indefinitely.
It was a helpless feeling to watch Sherlock's body shake and retch. Sometimes John felt a sympathy stirring in his gut which would make him certain he was about to be sharing the bowl, but it always passed.
All he could do was rub his lover's back and make sure he had a clean toothbrush and some cool water when it was over.
Of course, Sherlock would tell him he could do more. John could allow him to concoct home remedies. Unfortunately for Sherlock, the doctor had banned any and all experimentation concerning their baby shortly after he found his boyfriend doing an internet search on chemical exposure in the womb so he could determine which chemicals he could and couldn't work with.
When Sherlock had narrowed the results based on danger levels and long-term side effects, John decided it was time to ban experiments altogether.
"Lestrade called," Jonn said. Maybe talking about a new case would distract Sherlock for a moment. "I think he thought we were shagging from the way you were groaning."
Sherlock touched his forehead to the rim of the toilet. "I've answered while we were shagging. I'm certain he knows the sound."
"You--" John started, but he cut himself off. It would be a bit not good to get cross with the man who was currently wrapping himself around a toilet from the effort of carrying John's baby. He cleared his throat. "Anyway, there's a case on. Stabbing on the tube, but apparently no one saw a thing until the car cleared and there was a bloke sitting in a pool of his own blood. They’re stumped."
Sherlock narrowed his eyes and John was about to go on, but a sudden shudder worked its way up through the detective's frame and he was once again sputtering into the bowl.
"Is there still a scene or just photos?" he asked when he'd sat up again. His voice was rough and low.
John reached for the bottle of water on the sink and twisted off the cap. "They were at the scene a few minutes ago, but I'm sure by the time we're ready to be anywhere, the body will have been cleared out. I could call Lestrade and have them hold it--"
Sherlock shook his head and took a swig of the water, swishing it around in his mouth before spitting into the toilet. "I've been sensitive to strong odors recently. I think short-term blood exposure may lead me to another bout of sickness."
Wrapping his dressing gown about himself, Sherlock stood and leaned over the sink for a moment. The doctor got up from his knees, his hand automatically resting against the small of Sherlock's back.
"I'll call and tell him we'll be at the Yard in an hour, then?"
Sherlock nodded as he twisted the cap off the toothpaste.
"It's customary to wait until after the first trimester, when one is considered 'out of the woods.' We're almost to that point, so I don't see why we wouldn't want to tell people." Sherlock's fingers wound in his scarf and gave it a tug. He was looking flushed. He was used to wearing the coat in the middle of summer; it wasn't anywhere near the normal heat he subjected himself to. But it seemed that the new hormones weren't fond of warmth, at least from John's point of view.
"Do you really want Anderson suggesting baby names before we’re completely used to this idea ourselves?" John asked. He plopped the magazine back onto the circular table in the center of the room and leaned back in his chair, tapping his foot all the while.
Sherlock scowled. "Anderson isn't people, he's barely fit for shoe polish. I was thinking Mrs. Hudson, maybe Lestrade."
"I notice you didn't include your brother."
"The interfering bastard already knows." Sherlock tugged at his left coat sleeve anxiously. "He thinks we'll name the baby after my--"
"Mr. Watson?" A nurse opened the door and poked her head into the waiting room.
"Holmes," John corrected. "We're not married."
"Technicality. Am I free to go?"
The nurse flushed and checked the file in her hand. "Sorry about that, I misread. If you could come back here for a moment, Dr. McDonnel would like to talk about scheduling a follow-up."
John swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry, and followed as Sherlock swept through the opened door like a bat. This had just been a quick checkup for the sake of making sure there wasn't anything wrong thus far, to make sure scheduling the first trimester ultrasound was a safe bet. They'd assumed they were close to twelve weeks from the barely-noticeable bump forming from Sherlock's formerly taut belly.
Almost in the clear.
But not quite, supplied a little voice in John's head. If the doctor was already looking for problems, it couldn't be a good sign. Maybe his age really was against him in this. High-risk.
The nurse gestured toward an examination room, which Sherlock entered, and John followed, finding the doctor waiting for them.
"I believe we may have been incorrect about our estimations." The middle-aged man motioned for his patient to lay on the exam table, and Sherlock stripped off his coat and suit jacket before doing so. "If you could just unbutton your shirt for me, Mr. Holmes. The bottom few will do fine."
John watched Sherlock's fingers with a fair bit of anxiety balling up in his throat. How off had they been? Were they that far along? If anything, he had to be farther along than they expected. Anything less than ten weeks wouldn’t already be starting to show. How long had they wasted, stressing over those tests while Sherlock's body had already been working away toward their gift?
Then again, none of that had been a waste.
He'd quite enjoyed it.
Missed it a fair bit, too.
But it wasn't the time to think about that.
The man's hand slipped into Sherlock's shirt and pressed a few times with three fingers, smoothing along the skin, watching Sherlock's face for reactions. Was he looking for tenderness? Cysts? John didn't see any reaction--didn't expect to, had no idea what he was feeling around for--and Sherlock was likewise watching the doctor for even the faintest of tells. He had his deducing face on.
"I'd like to schedule you for an ultrasound sooner than the twelve-week scan."
John could've lived without those words.
The morning of his ultrasound--one with an internal probe to get a closer look at the baby--Sherlock wasn't allowed to drink anything, because they needed his bladder as empty as possible. Thankfully, his morning sickness was mostly gone (or at least at bay) and he wasn't quite as miserable as John was.
Because John--John Watson was having something of an attack in his head. He'd imagined a thousand different ways this test could go wrong. The heartbeat could be dim, or gone. They could see nothing, even though he'd slept spooned against Sherlock with his fingers on the barely-there baby bump just the night before.
Sherlock donned the gown and let John help him up onto examination table, setting his feet into a pair of uncomfortable rests that lifted his knees and pushed up his gown. The technician joined them a moment later, carrying the chart that John imagined told her exactly what she was looking for.
"Mr. Watson, hello." She smiled and John began to correct her, but Sherlock cut him off.
"If we could skip the introductions, I'm rather uncomfortable and very thirsty and would like to get through this quickly, if possible."
Leave it to Sherlock to want to get to the bad news.
The woman pushed her braid back over her right shoulder and sat down on the rolling stool on the other side of Sherlock.
John, who had never been particularly keen on the workings of reproductive health beyond his annual checkups at the andrologist and his sexual habits, was happy for the curtain the technician erected, which separated that half of Sherlock's body from view. Of course he was fond of Sherlock’s body--in fact, “fond” was an understatement--but, well, he preferred not to think of him in such a clinical light.
"Now, Mr. Watson, have there been any complications thus far? Cramping, spotting, et cetera?" The technician turned on her little swiveling stool, emerging from behind the curtain so John could see her.
"He's had terrible morning sickness more days than not," John answered, forgetting she was addressing Sherlock. "And a fair bit of spotting around the estimated week seven, but I understand that's to be expected."
"Perfectly normal," she reassured him.
John squeezed Sherlock's hand.
"And what about conception? Were you trying long?"
"Took us about five months, maybe four and a half," John replied.
"Any use of fertilization drugs or home solutions?"
John looked at Sherlock. He wasn't sure of that answer himself. He didn't think Sherlock had tried anything tricky.
"No," the detective answered.
She hit some buttons, arranged herself so that John could see the ultrasound screen, and then moved behind the wall of light blue fabric that shielded Sherlock from the waist down.
“This might be a bit uncomfortable,” she warned. “But I’m going to need you to relax. We’ll have your baby up on the monitor in no time.”
John could hear a warm smile in her voice. He wondered if she had been prepped about what she was looking for. When there was potential for diagnosis of a miscarriage, he imagined a technician wouldn’t be quite so chipper.
The detective squeezed his hand a moment later, but his face remained unchanged.
“All right, now, I just need to--” She broke off and Sherlock pulled a face that told John exactly how many impolite things he was contemplating saying to the woman, so the doctor squeezed his hand tighter in a half-comforting warning.
The previously empty space on the monitor came to life and John watched, praying for something--a little bean-shaped person who might take a minute to locate, but as long as the baby was there, they’d be okay.
“Okay, so...” The fluttering grey broke up on the screen to reveal a black teardrop shape with a little grey ball tucked inside. Too soon, the technician adjusted the angle and the image was lost. But that fleeting glimpse had left John breathless. That was their baby. He’d get to hear its fast little heartbeat. He’d know everything was okay.
Sherlock cleared his throat, obviously a moment or two away from losing his patience as the woman seemed to fish around down below, occasionally bringing that blip of life back onto the screen before moving away again.
“Could you tell us exactly what it is you’re looking for?” John asked, twining his fingers with Sherlock’s.
“Your husband’s growth is equivalent to about twelve to thirteen weeks,” the woman said, not looking at the anxious couple, but instead watching the screen. “However--” She broke off, stilling the image and staring as if she’d found exactly what she was looking for.
John and Sherlock, who had been sharing yet another look at the word “husband,” immediately turned their attention to the screen.
“There you are,” the technician said. She sounded as if she’d just won a game of hide and seek.
There, in the blackness of the screen, were two grey shapes where only one had been a moment ago. John blinked and leaned forward, resting one hand on the side of the exam table while slipping his fingers from Sherlock’s to grasp his hand instead.
“Your growth is equivalent to that of a carrying parent who is about twelve to thirteen weeks along, but the persistence of your morning sickness and other early symptoms suggested that you weren’t quite so far into the pregnancy,” the woman said. “Dr. McDonnel suspected that a multiple birth may be a possibility, but didn’t want to worry you in case it was something more serious. And here we are--” She pointed to the screen, at one of the small figures. “Baby A.” A French-tipped nail directed their sight toward the second. “And Baby B. I’d say you’re likely about nine weeks along, judging by their sizes. Baby B looks to be just slightly larger, but that tends to happen.”
While John was having a bit of a dizzy spell over his lack of preparedness for this news, Sherlock simply said “Identical twins. Fascinating.”
John supposed he should have thought it a possibility. He was a twin--though he didn’t think about it often, what with being so on the outs with Harry--and his father had also been a twin. It tended to go down family lines, but it generally skipped around. Three generations of twins were... odd.
Outside, a crack of thunder opened the skies over London. He knocked on the bedroom door.
When there was no answer, he didn’t knock again, but he tested the knob. When Sherlock truly didn’t want to be disturbed, he tended to lock the door, or at least put something heavy in front of it to let John know not to come in. But there he was, spread out in the center of the bed, eyes closed, still wearing his suit.
“You’ll wrinkle like that,” John said, setting himself on the edge of the bed.
“I don’t think I can do this.” Sherlock’s voice was quiet, practiced as if he’d been mumbling the words in order to work up a script for when he was ready to say them aloud.
John edged up the bed a bit and rested his hand on Sherlock’s arm. “Where’s this coming from, then?”
“We’re keeping from telling people because as soon as we do, it will become a question of ‘Why would anyone let him have a child?’ or ‘How long until he leaves it on the tube or dips it in a chemical bath?’” Sherlock paused, eyes still closed, fingers clasped together over his upper abdomen. “And now--now there are two children, John, and I thought if we were ever going to have another one, at least I’d have time to acclimate to one first.” He sat up quickly, disengaging John’s touch in the process. “Do you know what my first thought was when she told us--when she said there were two?”
Even though Sherlock wasn’t looking at him, John shook his head.
“I thought ‘One to be the control,’” Sherlock spat. “My brain is hardwired for experiments, John, so much so that when I was seeing our children on that monitor for the first time, when I was holding your hand and worrying about a heartbeat or miscarriage--as soon as those fears were unfounded, I thought ‘I’ll have a child to be a control now.’ What kind of parent am I, John, that I would jump to thinking about testing a child?”
There were a dozen thoughts that probably should’ve been going through John’s mind--most of which involved some level of concern for his impending children and also questions of his own sanity for choosing this man as the bearer of his children.
But they didn’t.
Instead, he just wanted to calm Sherlock down and talk it out logically. It was normal to feel some level of panic, he was sure. They hadn’t planned for two children. They’d probably not even planned enough for one before embarking on their four-month shag fest. Nothing was going to change this, though. In seven months, there would be two little people who would need their love and attention.
John just needed to help Sherlock understand that he was capable of giving it.
He pulled himself further onto the bed and walked on his knees to sit cross-legged in front of Sherlock. Maybe there was a better way to approach this--maybe there was a way to raise Sherlock’s confidence levels without the potential for lowering it simultaneously--but John couldn’t think of it.
“Do you--d’you remember....” He paused and reached for Sherlock’s right hand, taking it in his own. He began to trace his finger along the palm in slow circles. “Round and round the garden,” he recited, “like a teddy bear. One step--” John walked his fingers one small step up onto Sherlock’s wrist. “--Two step...” Another. He paused before continuing--
“If you tickle me, John Watson, I will disembowel you where you sit.”
John smiled. “So you know the rhyme.”
“I fail to see how that’s relevant--”
“Sherlock, you’ve deleted the solar system. You’ve deleted the bloody Prime Minister. I doubt you’d know the Queen if you passed her on the street--”
“Now that’s insulting,” Sherlock huffed. “Everyone knows the Queen.”
“My point--My point, Sherlock, is that you’ve deleted everything you don’t think is relevant to you. But you know fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Why do you think they survived deletion?” John threaded his fingers through Sherlock’s. The detective opened his mouth to speak, but John didn’t let him. “Some part of you thought you’d need them eventually. Whether it was the carrier’s instinct, a deep-seated hope, or a conscious thought, it doesn’t matter. You knew. Someday. And--well, that someday is approximately seven months away. We’re going to be ready. We’ll be great parents.”
Sherlock’s eyes met John’s and they held for a long moment. They were both focusing on the pulse between their fingers, and John could almost see that brilliant mind working behind clear eyes.
“You’re wrong, of course,” Sherlock said a moment later. Before John could admonish him for his doubts, Sherlock added, “I’m certain they’ll be brilliant, but I doubt our children will be quite at the level of such rhymes from birth. We’re at least a year from fingerplay.”
A slow smile spread across both their mouths, only to be kissed away a moment later.
There was no question--no request in the inflection, just a simple order coming from the bedroom.
John had never understood why it was so hard for Sherlock to carry his phone from room to room with him. His trousers had pockets, his suit jacket always had an interior pocket. Why was it so difficult to keep track of the damned 4-by-2 inch rectangle?
The short answer of it was probably that John always brought it when Sherlock asked him to. John could keep track of it. Why should Sherlock bother with something so tiresome?
John closed his laptop and fetched Sherlock’s phone from the mantelpiece, where it had somehow become lodged between the Cluedo board and the wall.
He didn’t ask, he just fetched.
Sherlock was shirtless and splaying his fingers over his belly when John found him in the bedroom.
“Ah, thank you. I need you to take a series of photos.” Sherlock placed himself in front of the wall, facing John, and stared at him expectantly, as if John was just supposed to start snapping.
“Any reason why?” John asked, finding the camera application on the phone. When he had it open, he aimed and pressed the button on the bottom of the screen. The flash went off and the photo saved itself to the phone.
Sherlock turned so that his right side was facing John. “I want to document external growth,” he said. “I’ve missed the first few months because I didn’t think of it until now, but I believe I can backtrack and make accurate estimates.” Another flash, another photo. Sherlock turned so that John could see his other side. “And most of the growth will be in the next few months, so those are the most crucial.”
Third photo finished. John stepped forward to hand Sherlock the phone, but he was waved away as Sherlock reached for his shirt, which was laid out on the bed.
“It’s becoming more obvious,” John offered. At thirteen weeks, Sherlock’s bump was a bit more pronounced than it would’ve been if they were having a solitary child. It was still easily hidden under Sherlock’s coat, and with the weather, it was perfectly normal for him to wear the great coat at all times. But the bump would eventually start to show even through the thick wool.
“I’m aware.” Sherlock was sorting his sleeves, still standing shirtless. “I’m beginning to notice stretching on the underside. Will those marks be permanent?”
John hadn’t noticed, but he hadn’t had much of an opportunity to inspect anything. Sherlock had become almost self-conscious about the bump, sometimes seeming agitated if John touched him without invitation.
And yet there were moments like this, where Sherlock would parade about half-dressed.
“It varies by person, honestly,” John said, taking a step forward. “There are going to be more as time goes on, likely darker and deeper, but there are remedies we could try.” He found one of the mentioned stretch marks on the right underside of the baby bump and ran a finger along it, slowly and carefully so as not to make Sherlock uncomfortable.
“Home remedies?” Sherlock questioned.
“Could I make them myself?”
There was something alight in Sherlock’s eyes--a challenge, an experiment to be had.
John nodded. What harm could some external lotions do?
Sherlock’s sensitive skin had a bad reaction to three of his seven home remedies, which he had spread onto seven separate divisions on his lower abdomen.
John’s only hope was that they not scar. With Sherlock’s stubborn refusal to stop itching at the hives, this was practically a given.
“I’ve printed out the ‘top’ lists from five different baby name websites, each one citing the most popular baby names from the last several years,” Sherlock explained, working his way down his current list and drawing a thick, black line in permanent marker through entries in the books. “Our children cannot--will not--have some common, simpleton name that they share with thousands of other children born in the same year.” He crossed off another name with a flourish before turning each of the two books to the next page.
“And... why two copies?”
Sherlock fixed him with a look that made John momentarily wish Anderson was in the room, just for that “How can you be so obtuse?” stare to be directed at someone else.
“Obvious, John. One for each of us.”
Oh. Probably should’ve figured that out, yeah.
“Let’s have a look.” John reached across the table and dragged over the book closest to him. Sherlock gave a grumble of something similar to “I’m not done yet” as John flipped through the pages, noting some of the black lines censoring out popular names.
“Two names can’t be that hard to choose with all these options.” John paused on the letter E, noticing Edith and--Early? Who would name their child “Early?”
“Six,” Sherlock said, not looking up from where he’d continued to plough through his list with the marker.
John glanced up from the second page of E’s. “Six what?”
“Six names.” Sherlock finally looked up at him, sliding a piece of paper with three sets of paired horizontal lines. “We need a set for a boy-girl pair, a girl-girl pair, and a boy-boy pair.”
“That makes no sense, Sherlock,” John protested.
“If we choose a favorite boy and girl name, that leaves us with a missing name for each sex if we end up with a matched set,” Sherlock explained. John opted out, not keen on touching ‘matched set’ with a ten-foot poll, instead choosing to let his lover continue speaking uninterrupted. “We can’t just tack on another boy or girl name, respectively, since we’ve already shown a preference toward one. If we choose Adam and Eve, for example, and we end up with Adam and Steve, we’ve already set it in our minds that we prefer Adam, since his was the name that was non-negotiable. I think it would be much more responsible of us, then, to choose three sets of names for whichever pair pops out, thus being prepared and starting with a fresh, even slate for our children.” Sherlock paused to cross off yet another name in the book before looking back up at John. “A favorite will come with time. No need to start them with uneven odds.”
John scrubbed a hand over his face. “Sherlock, we’re going to love them both just the same--”
“Please, John, don’t give me that rubbish. You’re a twin. Tell me your parents loved you and Harry equally.”
“Harry turned out to be a rebellious teen and a drunken mess when she--”
“Yes, because she was the older twin by an entire fourteen minutes and yet she was the less-loved Watson child.” Sherlock drew a large black X on three pages of names, but John wasn’t going to ask about it. He was sure he’d see it in his own copy when he went to browse later. “Our children won’t be quite so untamable, but if I didn’t expect a certain level of rebellion and outspokenness from them, I wouldn’t be giving our respective genetics enough credit.”
John turned a few more pages. He didn’t know why he was sticking with the E’s.
“Eleanor?” John posited.
Sherlock shook his head.
Sherlock made a face; didn’t bother raising his eyes.
“Honestly, John,” the detective said, dropping the marker onto the table after capping it roughly. “Do you pay no attention to popular culture?”
John blinked at him, sure a response was coming. Hearing Sherlock say the words “popular culture” was enough to intrigue him.
“Emma Watson. She’s an actress best known for the Harry Potter films, in which she played a brainy witch who married the ginger sidekick. We are not naming one of our children Emma Watson.”
Something warm spread in the pit of John’s belly and he closed the book.
“So that’s settled, then?” John asked, sliding it back across the table for Sherlock to deface further.
Sherlock gave him that On Reserve for Anderson look once more, brow furrowed as if the answer were all too clear.
It was a locked door.
“Love, I need to get in there,” John said, practically dancing around with his need for the toilet.
Sherlock had been in the shower while John was eating breakfast. There hadn’t been anything different about the morning--their routine was pretty regular when Sherlock wasn’t on a case (which he hadn’t been in almost three weeks, but that was fine, wasn’t it? He had research to distract him).
But the water wasn’t running any longer and the door was locked. While each of them regarded their privacy on occasion, it wasn’t uncommon for them to share the bathroom while one or the other shaved-slash-showered if the other had to pee.
(There used to be two working toilets in the flat but, well, no one was going to talk about what Sherlock had done to the second one. It was an unspoken rule of Baker Street.)
“Just a moment,” Sherlock said, and John could hear the rustle of cloth as Sherlock dressed.
When Sherlock emerged fully dressed from the bathroom in a steaming cloud, John realized he couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen the detective in anything less than three layers of clothing.
He hadn’t even been asked to take the weekly growth photo since the first week.
“Hey.” He grabbed Sherlock’s arm as the taller man made to walk around him. “Is everything okay?”
The pause he received in answer made him slide his hand along a fine-tailored suit-clad arm, meeting Sherlock’s eyes below a fringe of inky black curls plastered to his forehead.
“Of course,” Sherlock answered, pulling away and heading for the laundry basket with his pyjamas. “Why would anything be less than okay?”
John was determined to figure that out.
Their last sexual activity had been a quick shag at two in the morning after a case that had wrapped up a few days after they found out about the twins. That had been at the estimated nine-to-ten weeks of pregnancy, and now Sherlock was nearing twenty-one weeks.
How had that happened?
John was typing up a blog entry to let the world know they hadn’t died; they just hadn’t been taking cases that weren’t “nines and above” by Sherlock’s standards. And even when they were, they tended to be a bit too dangerous for a man who had just passed the halfway point in his pregnancy.
His secret-from-everyone-but-Mycroft-and-Mrs.-Hudson pregnancy.
God, that coat really did work wonders for concealing that bump.
Sherlock was laying on the couch, an uncommon blanket wrapped around himself in addition to his t-shirt and untied dressing gown. It was becoming a habit for Sherlock to cover himself up, though John wished it wasn’t something that had extended into their home lives.
The decision not to tell anyone until they were just a bit further along came from the “high-risk” aspect of the pregnancy. Their ages, the fact that it was their first (and second--that thought was still a little hard to process sometimes), and that it was a twin birth all stacked some of the odds against them. But all was well--they would even be able to tell the sexes soon, if the babies would cooperate and give a good view of their respective junk on the next ultrasound.
If they were getting a head start on a life of defying their parents, they’d probably be stubborn about it.
It was strange to think that it had been almost three months since he’d last done much more than kiss Sherlock. They still went to bed together, fell asleep together, and often woke curled together, but--how had they not once tried to take their nightly kiss and turn it into something more?
John chalked it up to both of them being tired, both wanting to curl up at the end of their long days and get right on with the next day.
Still... something nagged at John. He couldn’t place it.
And then--a week ago. The locked door.
John tilted his head to one side like an interested puppy. Not only had it been so long since they’d last been sexually intimate, but John couldn’t actually remember the last time he’d seen a sliver of Sherlock’s skin above the wrists or below the neck.
“Sherlock,” John said, closing his laptop.
“Mmmm,” Sherlock hummed. He didn’t open his eyes, just stayed curled up on the couch.
“Let’s go to bed.”
“It’s barely ten.”
John didn’t know how Sherlock did that without checking a clock.
“I don’t mean to sleep.” John hoisted himself out of his chair and held out a hand to the blanket-clad detective. “I think I’ve figured out what’s wrong.”
Sherlock opened one eye. “I’ve already told you, nothing’s--”
John crouched down in front of the couch and placed one hand over that lying mouth.
“I haven’t seen a bit of your skin since the day you had me take those photos for you,” John said, staring into that squinty blue eye. “I think you decided that you didn’t like the way your body was changing and you decided for me that I didn’t like it either--which is rubbish, Sherlock. And I’ve figured out what you’re doing.”
Sherlock’s lips parted against John’s palm, but the doctor shook his head.
“You’re covering yourself up because you think you’re different--and you are, but not in a bad way. I know you’re a vain man, Sherlock Holmes. No one dresses themselves in fine clothes and poofs out their hair like you do without a level of vanity. And I appreciate every single tousled curl--not to mention my admiration for the man who tailors all those trousers to fit your arse. But you don’t have to have a tailored waistline for me, Sherlock--your body is growing and changing because we’re having a baby--fuck, we’re having two babies--and that is how I want to see you.” John removed his hand, brushing away the curls on Sherlock’s forehead so he could press his lips there.
“So we are going to go to bed now,” John said. “And I’m going to show you exactly why you can be your gorgeous, confident, closetly-vain self while simultaneously carrying a set of Watson twins. Sound agreeable, Mr. Holmes?”
“I suppose I could multitask,” Sherlock said casually.
“Because you were so busy before I interrupted you,” John said, fishing out Sherlock’s hands under the blanket and pulling him up from the couch.
“I was contemplating my list of six for our children.”
“The only names I want you thinking for the rest of the night are God, Jesus, and John. Non-negotiable.”
One corner of Sherlock’s mouth twitched. “If you insist.”
Well, anyone important.
Sherlock’s tailor knew because the man had never sewn an elastic waistband into such expensive trousers. Various other people knew, but only because they didn’t matter. The people who did matter weren’t meant to know until Sherlock and John were good and ready to tell them.
But after that night when John had gone to painstaking extremes (lovely, worth-every-second-of-the-effort extremes) to prove to Sherlock that he was desirable and gorgeous and brilliant even with a pair of children growing inside his body, Sherlock had been more comfortable. He’d stopped wearing thick t-shirts to bed, he’d stopped getting fully dressed before coming out of the bathroom.
And, on occasion, he didn’t wear a shirt under his dressing gown when he was lounging around the flat, drifting in and out of his mind palace.
That was how Lestrade found him when he barged into the flat one early Tuesday morning.
“Sherlock Holmes, is it that difficult to answer your bloody pho--Oh.” The silver-haired detective inspector was stopped in the doorway, staring at Sherlock, who was laying on the sofa with his dressing gown sliding half off of him. Even if it had been covering him, John was certain the silk silhouette wouldn’t have made one lick of difference, except to perhaps cover the deep purple lines that had formed on the consulting detective’s belly.
“Well, that explains why you haven’t been taking cases,” Lestrade mumbled.
John looked between the two men from his chair, but said nothing. Sherlock’s relationship with Lestrade was more involved than John could attest to--the men had known each other for years, and if Lestrade wasn’t a bit offended by Sherlock’s refusal to share his news, John would be surprised.
“About twenty-three weeks,” Sherlock said, pulling the robe around himself and sitting up.
“Christ, that looks a right bit more than twenty-three weeks,”
“That would be because there are two in there,” John said.
Lestrade’s lips fell apart a bit and he stared at Sherlock for a long moment. “Twins?”
“Would you like to see a photo? They’re really beginning to look like humans now, rather than foreign life forms,” Sherlock offered. The print out of the most recent ultrasound was always nearby--they both had a secret habit of taking it out and looking at it, just a surreal sort of reminder that they didn’t talk about.
“Yeah, I suppose.”
There were no scoffs about Sherlock’s ability to parent a child, no admonishments to John’s sanity about knocking the detective up with twins (though the twin part had, of course, been far beyond his control), and not a word was said about the fact that there was still a real, human skull sitting on the mantlepiece when there was a small silver rattle placed directly next to it (their first baby gift, a token of Mrs. Hudson’s).
If everyone in their lives could react this well, John would be happy.
And they agreed it would be perfectly within reason for the twins to call Lestrade “Uncle Greg.”
They were laying in bed together, neither of them able to sleep. Another pair of weeks gone by, another ultrasound that didn’t give them even a hint at the sexes of their babies. But it was still nice to see the two of them tucked snuggly up against each other, slowly running out of room.
There was movement in there--Sherlock could attest to it, healthy little jabs of feet and arms. There had been nothing yet for John to notice, but at this point, every day could have been the day John was introduced to his babies’ wiggles.
“What if you pick a name and I pick a name and we name them in pairs like that?”
“But then how do we determine which child has which name? We’ll prefer the baby with the name we chose.” Sherlock was on his back with the baby name book held up over his face. John was next to him, resting his head on one hand, propped up on his elbow while the other hand turned pages in his copy of the book.
“How about we try this--”
“You’ve said those words a dozen times in relation to the name game and they have never once preceded good ideas.”
John chose to ignore that. “You pick three names that start with J. Two girls and a boy. I’ll pick three names that start with S--two boys and a girl. We’ll meet in the middle and combine them into the pairs.”
Sherlock turned his head and stared at John tight-lipped for a moment. “And if we hate them?”
“Then at least we’ll have something to work with.”
Sherlock turned to the J’s.
Stormageddon: Dark Lord of All Stuart I would name my child “Stormageddon” before I named him Stuart, John - S
John - We are not naming one of them after me. - J
2. Jessamyn - We can’t give them names that sound alike. - J They don’t sound alike. What are you on about? - S
Draft List - 8/12
Sophie - Honestly, John, what is your interest in this name? - S
Simon - Not naming our child after a children’s game, John. - S
Johnathan - Still not happening. - J
Johanna - Is this what you’re like when you try to be funny? - J
Jane - Never gonna happen. - J
Draft List - 10/12
1. Sophie It was my grandmother’s name, you oaf. It stays somewhere on this list. - J
1. Shiloh - It works for a boy or a girl and I like it. - J
On December 14, right in the middle of week 27, they got a clear look.
John Watson was going to pay for every time he’d ever chatted up someone’s daughter with dishonorable intentions. He was going to have teenage girls.
So caught up in the terror he’d face sixteen years down the road, he paid no mind to the fact that Sherlock had chosen the name “January” based on the fact that he could call her Jane.
And then Sherlock would turn. That belly would turn with him, and there were the twins, housed safely inside that lovely, lovely man.
“You’re staring again,” Sherlock said from the couch one evening. John was quickly brought out of his near-lustful ogling of his lover by that stern voice. He knew that Sherlock’s back was bothering him--it was why he was laying down at only half-six on a Thursday rather than wandering around the flat poking and prodding at things for entertainment.
“Sorry,” John said.
“No, it’s... fine.” He reached for the straining buttons on his shirt and started unbuttoning them from the bottom up. “They’re being particularly active right now, if you’d like.” He put his left hand on the outer side of his exposed stomach, an invitation for John to feel.
That was another thing he still wasn’t used to. It was brilliant, of course--this recent development that he could feel one or both of the babies moving while Sherlock felt it internally. Life--that was what was under the pale, lined flesh of Sherlock’s stomach--life that they’d created together.
“It’s funny,” John said once he’d sat himself on the floor next to the sofa. He slid his hand along the curve of his lover’s belly, occasionally feeling the little kick of movement below the surface. “When we first met, you told me you thought of your body as transport...” He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to a spot where he’d just felt a flutter. “And here you are, carrying these two around until they’re good and ready to join us.”
“And then we’ll carry them around together,” Sherlock said. He tipped his head back onto a cushion and closed his eyes. “The closer we get, John, the more I think I’m ready.”
John smiled and pressed his cheek against the consulting detective’s cushion of a stomach. Every day that went by, he felt the same way.
The slumbering doctor hummed into consciousness, reaching up with a sleepy hand to thread his fingers through his lover’s curls. “Mmm, what’s wrong?”
Obviously nothing, but for some reason, it was instinct.
“I woke up and now I can’t sleep,” that deep voice rumbled against his neck, licking up to John’s ear with a pointed tongue. “I tried masturbating, but I can’t do it comfortably.”
John was definitely interested in where this was going, especially when he realized that Sherlock was pressing his naked legs against John’s cotton-clad ones. His belly was against John’s hip, warm under a hiked-up t-shirt.
“What do you want me to do?” John asked, tilting his head back to let Sherlock suck a small bruise just below his ear.
“I want it slow. Building.” Sherlock pulled back and then turned himself onto his right side, reaching back with his left hand to pull John against him to spoon. “Just--I want you.”
John trailed sleep-slow fingers along Sherlock’s spine over the t-shirt, finding skin at the hemline and slipping his index finger between his lover’s arse cheeks. He had obviously gotten started before he woke John to assist him; John’s finger slipped in easily, and he thrust in a few times, slowly, before deciding he’d had enough of teasing both of them.
He didn’t even bother to push down his pyjama bottoms, just unbuttoned the fly with one hand and fished himself out, giving a few slow strokes. John was treated to a lovely, full-body shiver when the head of his cock kissed Sherlock’s opening, pressing in slowly until he was fully sheathed, his stomach against Sherlock’s back.
“God, that’s lovely,” John breathed against the back of Sherlock’s neck. “Alright?”
“I’m fine. That’s perfect. Move, but... slow, John.”
John began to rock his hips forward and back, letting his fingers trace the line of Sherlock’s side before curving along his stomach. Before he could reach down to stroke his lover, long fingers caught his wrist.
“Not yet,” Sherlock said, his voice low. “I just want to feel you right now.”
John curled his fingers with Sherlock’s and complied.
In the end, it happened at a crime scene.
Maybe Sherlock’s hormones had addled him a bit, making him more prone to caring about what people said about him where he’d previously paid no mind. He’d been avoiding taking on cases, and John suspected that it had something to do with public reactions to his newly acquired girth. But the Yard had been stumped and Lestrade had all but gotten down on his knees and begged Sherlock to come to the scene.
First, there was disbelief. Whispers. Wide eyes.
Then blatant disrespect from Anderson--something about Sherlock’s baby coming out with scales or other, John didn’t remember, he was too angry to pay any further mind to it. Insert some cliche about smoke coming out of ears and you’d have an accurate depiction of John Watson at that moment.
But those were things they could deal with. Maybe not in public, but it would all be dealt with on their own time. Sherlock and John--they were untouchable.
Except for when--
“Well, you know it couldn’t have been planned,” Sally was saying to Anderson. “The Freak probably stopped taking his pills so that Watson would never be able to leave him. Snare him, y’know? Loyal bugger.”
Sherlock’s mouth had twitched a little at that. John’s mouth formed a thin line.
And then Anderson had to go and open his mouth in a falsified whisper. “Guaranteed. I’d have been out of that flat before he could finish the unfortunate announcement--”
John tried to count to ten.
“For your information,” John said, pushing himself up from where he was squatted down next to Sherlock. He’d been trying to give his medical opinion about an almost-undetectable poisoning, but, well, he wasn’t going to stand for their shite anymore. “Sherlock and I planned this pregnancy. Together. You see, sometimes when two people love each other very much and are in a committed relationship and not sleeping with half the Yard, they decide they want to spread that love.”
A hand touched the back of John’s left calf, but he stepped forward, ignoring Sherlock’s warning. Sherlock ignored his often enough. John was allowed this solitary outburst to defend the father of his children.
“It took us months to get what we wanted and we’ve been hiding it for months because of peons like you who feel the need to degrade our relationship and offend our unborn children by implying that they are anything other than wanted.”
Sally and Anderson--and pretty much every other person in a twenty-foot radius--gave a little gape at the plural, but no one was saying anything.
“Further,” John said, turning about in a small half-circle. “This man--Sherlock bloody Holmes--has more to give with his half of the genetics than any of you could hope to achieve with your own. He is brilliant--I saw it in the first ten seconds of meeting him, I’ve seen it every day after that. How all of you can stand around here and watch him work-- even now, while seven and a half months pregnant with twins--and not think that he is the most incredible person in the room is beyond my comprehension.” John paused, daring anyone to say a word. “He is--”
This was the moment, John realized. It didn’t feel like a weight anymore. The Moment.
All the tension in his shoulders, all the anger--everything faded away in the span of that moment. Sherlock was staring up at him from where he was kneeling on the other side of a fresh corpse, the Yarders were standing still as if they knew John would shoot them where they stood if they moved--and that was the moment.
“He is my best friend,” John said, his voice softer now. “He is incredible and infuriating and sometimes I think he has the attention span of a twelve year old and the limbs of an octopus, but that’s what makes him Sherlock, and I--I wouldn’t want him any other way.” His eyes met Sherlock’s and he reached into his pocket. He hadn’t kept it in a box (too obvious an outline), but he’d been sure to take it everywhere.
This--now--it was right. God help him, he was proposing at a crime scene.
He started walking toward the detective, going around the body rather than over it.
There had to be some class to this.
“Sherlock, I know you’ve probably seen this coming for a while.” John was surprised that his lover didn’t try to interrupt him in the affirmative. He got down onto both knees in front of Sherlock, who was still sitting likewise. “But I was wondering if you’d marry me?”
The ring he’d had tucked into his pocket was a smooth, dark metal with a lighter band in the center. No ornate jewels, no splashy designs. It was simple, yet precise.
He offered it out between a latex-gloved thumb and forefinger.
There was an awestruck quality in Sherlock’s eyes that briefly made John wonder if he’d done something wrong.
Then the detective’s arms were around him (quite awkwardly, considering the twins) and John nearly dropped the ring onto the poor, poisoned bloke at their side, but Sherlock caught his hand. John barely managed to get the ring onto Sherlock’s finger single-handedly before warm lips brushed his, a quiet whisper of “yes” before closing in.
And maybe Lestrade was holding a gun to his entire team, but by God, they all clapped.
His efforts to sleep alone had been aborted after an hour of reading, followed by tossing and turning.
If you can’t beat ‘em, he supposed.
“Sherlock?” He walked into the living room and found Sherlock looking up at him from the couch, sitting with an almost-empty plate in his lap and a huge volume opened in front of him. The plate that had had almost half of a three-tiered chocolate cake on it last time John had seen it.
“Tell me you didn’t eat that whole thing by yourself,” John said, trying to remember exactly how much cake had been there.
“In my defense...” Sherlock wiped his mouth and set down the fork, holding out the remaining three bites for John. “I--Well, there were three layers. And I wanted some, and it was only fair to share with each of the twins equally. Wouldn’t want to show favouritism.”
John stabbed at the cake with his fork. “Do you feel like you’re going to be sick?” Death by chocolate wouldn’t have been entirely out of the question at this point.
“I’m actually wondering if you’re going to eat that or just keep poking it.”
With a sigh, John passed the plate back. One bite for Sherlock, one bite for Shiloh, and one bite for January.
John Watson was left to wonder if he’d be eaten out of house and home before the twins were born.
“John, no one in their right mind would put me on bed rest.”
“Sherlock,” John said, tossing the magazine back to the table. “You are thirty-two weeks pregnant with twins. The cramping you’ve been experiencing could be considered preterm labor. If she puts you on bed rest, you will adhere to it or I will tie you to the bedposts.”
A pregnant woman across the room gave John a stern glare, and he wanted to tell her that he wasn’t serious about the whole “tying Sherlock up” thing, but he wasn’t sure that would be telling the truth.
John found his own special circle of hell at thirty-five weeks and one day.
He’d already triple-checked the poor piece of paper six times. He could barely read his own writing anymore from all the markings.
The delivery was scheduled for the following morning, a C-section at half nine. Like scheduling a cleaning for one’s teeth or having a cast set, they’d set the time and date for the birth of their children.
“You’re pacing again,” Sherlock grumbled from the bed.
“I’m forgetting something.”
“You’re forgetting that you need to sleep. This is likely one of the last nights of quiet we’ll have for quite some time. I’d have thought you’d take advantage of it and get a full eight hours.”
John fidgeted for several more moments, only stripping down and getting into the bed when Sherlock sighed at him.
Oh, how the tables had turned.
“How are you feeling?” John asked, spooning up behind Sherlock and slipping his hand under his t-shirt. His fingers danced along one side, pausing to wait for any movement below the surface. The twins were still, as if sleeping in preparation for their world debut in the morning.
“Uncommonly tired.” The detective pressed back against his fiancé’s body. “I’m glad I’ll be able to be up and about again, especially without the swollen ankles and back pain.”
“We’ll trade them in for sleepless nights and dirty nappies. Worth it, surely,” John said quietly against the back of Sherlock’s neck. He gently ran his nose along the curve there, kissing softly just to one side of his lover’s throat.
They were silent together for a long moment, resting quietly. Then Sherlock’s left hand reached up to settle on John’s upper arm, which was curved around him protectively.
“I wouldn’t trade any of this for anything, John,” Sherlock said. His voice was quiet, almost grumbly as he began to drift to sleep. Before John could think of a suitable reply, he could feel Sherlock’s belly rising and falling with each sleepy breath beneath his fingers.
In the morning, they’d become fathers--and it was a terrifying and electric thought to John, who had thought he was the more prepared parent in their game of house. But the side of Sherlock that had emerged since that conversation at the breakfast table had surprised him every step of the way, leading all the way up to this night, the day before their baby girls would enter the world.
No matter what niggling sensation in the back of John’s mind told him he’d forgotten to pack Sherlock’s slippers or that they’d gotten the wrong newborn formula, they were ready.
Well, except for the fact that no one remembered to bring a second “coming home” outfit.
And maybe they had to choose one daughter to wear the cute little white jumper dress and matching cap for the photos just before the girls were sent home with their doting fathers.
Yes. That happened. But it may as well not have. They agreed to never tell January that the picture of her on the mantelpiece next to her sister was actually, well... Shiloh. Posed twice, differently.
There was certainly some advantage to having identical twins.
Stop thinking like that. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes did not have a favorite.