Chapter 1: Delivery
"Stop sulking around like a child," John Watson scolded, turning over the page he was reading. His flatmate ignored him and stood at the window.
"Nothing's happening," he stated, observing the events out of the window. People walked down the street, chatting to friends, talking on their mobile phones or strolling by themselves. "It's sickening."
"Here's an idea; why don't you answer your brother's calls?" Sherlock scoffed at this. Folding the paper, the blonde turned to look at the other man. "He's called four times in the past hour alone. It might be important."
"Oh I'm sure it is. Top secret government project something or rather," his voice was toneless. Sherlock turned and flopped down effortlessly onto the couch. "I'm not dealing with his problems. They're boring."
This answer wasn't much of a surprise, but John sighed and shook his head just the same. "It's not as though you have anything better to be doing."
Picking up his violin from beside the sofa, Sherlock took it from its case and plucked a few strings indignantly. "I do so."
His friend shook his head. John stood up and threw his paper on the seat as he walked towards the kitchen. "Right."
Crossly, he plucked a few more strings. "Well I have to be available if something comes up. As far as Mycroft's concerned, I'm busy.”
A knock came from the door. Sherlock sat as though he hadn't heard it, picking away at his violin.
"Oh don't get up, I'll get it," John said sarcastically, setting down the glass he had just taken from the cupboard and walking towards the door. Opening the door slightly, he stuck his head through. "Yes?"
A smartly dressed man stood before him. "Sherlock Holmes?"
The man in question didn't move. A wave of cold realization washed over John. "Hang on. The downstairs door is locked. How did you... "
"Tell him my answer is no. And to stop calling!" The detective said with a wave of his hand.
John looked between the two men. "Oh," he felt foolish for not catching on sooner. "You work for Mycroft."
The man gave no response to this. "I'm just here to deliver a parcel." He turned, and this had caught Sherlock's attention enough that he strained from his seat on the sofa to see what the agent was bringing in. The dark haired man came back suddenly and dropped his 'parcel' just inside the door. He smiled at the two men as he walked out. "Good day, gentlemen."
John was sure that if it could have, his jaw would have hit the floor. As it was, it was not possible to open his mouth any further. Stammering, he looked from the delivery to his friend who had finally gotten to his feet. Sherlock's brow furrowed in confusion. Both had the same question burning in their minds; Why had he brought this...?
The baby in the carrier began to scream.
"What is that?" Sherlock asked, stunned.
"It's a baby," John answered numbly, looking down at the wailing infant strapped into the carrier.
"Yes, thank you, I can see that," he snapped back, "I meant why is it here? Why would Mycroft send a baby?"
Scratching his head, John shrugged. "You know your brother better than I do. Maybe you should have answered his calls!" Sherlock scoffed and turned away. "Is it... uh... possibly..." John stammered, trying to find the right words to voice the thought that had just occurred to him. Sherlock looked over his shoulder. John cleared his throat. "Mycroft does keep a close watch on your life. Is it... yours?"
"What do you mean 'mine?'" Sherlock asked.
His friend crossed his arms and stared hard back.
"You know... Yours." He repeated, hoping the so called genius would understand.
For a moment, Sherlock's face was blank. Suddenly, it seemed to click as horror descended upon his face. "What? No. No!" Sherlock looked as though the very thought disgusted him. "Of course it's not mine!"
The doctor didn't look convinced. "There's no way..."
"There's no way!" Sherlock insisted. "Do you really think that I'm the type to have an illegitimate child?" Before John could answer, Sherlock's phone rang loudly. Setting it to speaker, Sherlock pressed to answer the phone. "Why?" He demanded coldly.
"Nice to talk to you too, Sherlock. I hear you got my... delivery."
John was sure he could hear the smirk in Mycroft's voice. Kneeling down, he undid the fastenings on the carrier and lifted the crying child. It had obviously become their problem, and no power on Earth was going to get Sherlock to do anything about it, which left him. Fantastic.
"I am not your personal babysitter," Sherlock shot back. "Come and take your—"
"Now, now. The child's not mine, obviously," it was apparent that the elder Holmes was enjoying his brother's displeasure. "I need you to keep her safe for me."
"No." His brother answered stubbornly.
"No," he answered hotly. "Why don't you hire someone? Surely you of all people could find someone to watch..." he looked at the baby John was bouncing gently. "That."
"This is a matter of grave importance," Mycroft told him simply. "There is... trouble... going on currently, matters that you have no need to have any knowledge of. However, the girl is very important. She can't be watched by just anyone. She needs to be kept safe. Naturally I have all my best people dealing with this trouble, and I have to oversee matters. You're not my first choice, Sherlock, but unfortunately, you're all I have available."
"Well what exactly do you want me to do?" Sherlock asked impatiently. "Play house? I have far--"
Mycroft chuckled and cut off his younger brother. "You and Dr. Watson do make quite a nice couple."
John looked from the baby to the phone. "What?"
"Absolutely not, Mycroft," Sherlock tried to argue, but his brother continued.
"You really don't have a choice in this. Look after her, Sherlock. John, don't let him do anything rash. As I said, the girl is very important." There was a click, and the line went quiet.
"Well," John cleared his throat, and continued bouncing the baby girl. "Uh... what now?"
Sherlock folded his hands under his mouth, contemplating all the possible options. "Can't take her back to Mycroft. He's out of the country right now. He would have brought her himself otherwise. He'd have loved to have seen my reaction."
"Even if we could take her to Mycroft, he's not going to take her back," John added.
"Mrs. Hudson!" Sherlock declared suddenly. "She'll know how to look after it, and I'm sure she'd rather enjoy it too."
"No good," John shook his head. "She won a cruise from some raffle a couple months back, remember? She's gone for the next three weeks!" Sherlock returned to the couch and sunk down miserably. His flatmate sighed and set the baby back down in the carrier. "If we have to look after her, we're going to need a few things."
Grabbing his coat, John could only shake his head. He lived with the most intelligent yet most ignorant man he'd ever met. "Baby things. I'll run out and get them. You stay and look after her."
"No. No! John!" By the time he'd reached the door, John had left. Sherlock heard the door shut downstairs. Going to the window, he saw his friend getting into a cab. Putting his hands in his pockets, he turned and looked at the baby.
Her tiny face crumpled and a loud wail filled the room.
Chapter 2: Silence
With a heavy exhale, John looked over the multitude of products lining the shelves. Who knew they made so many varieties of food for babies? He certainly hadn't, but then he'd never had any reason to pay any attention to this particular section before. He hadn't planned on having to visit this section, not for a long while at least.
Yet here he was. Reading over a box of cereal, he decided her age would be a good thing to start with. He put her between four to five months, based on her size and awareness from the brief time he'd held her. At that moment, he was infinitely grateful for his medical training. He felt rather lost now; if he'd had nothing to go on?
His ringtone filled the aisle as he examined a formula mix. Tossing the canister into the basket he held on his arm, he dug into his pocket for his mobile.
Sherlock. Great. He couldn’t even be left alone for twenty minutes?
"How do you make it shut up?"
John blinked and pulled the phone back from his ear. "What?"
Sherlock paced around the room, tearing at his dark curls. "How do you make it shut up?" He repeated over the wailing of the baby. "It's been screaming since you left. I can't hear myself think!"
"Try bouncing her," John suggested, picking up a box off the shelf and reading the ingredients.
John stopped and shifted on his feet. "You are holding her, aren't you?"
"Why would I do that?" Sherlock asked back, the exasperation tearing at his voice.
The blonde doctor couldn't believe what he was hearing. Then again, it was Sherlock, so yes, he could believe it. The poor child was still sitting in the carrier by the door while his flatmate tried to ignore her. "Because she's a baby," John replied, trying unsuccessfully to keep his voice down. "Babies like to be held." He smiled quickly at a woman who had turned to stare at him before he turned away. "Pick her up and hold her close to you, like I was doing earlier. Do you —"
"Yes, yes, I remember!" Sherlock snapped, looking down at the baby. Taking a deep breath, he set the phone down and bent down to pick up the baby. After a quick moment of hesitation, he grabbed her, stood and held her out at arm's length.
For a moment, she stopped crying and stared at him with big, grey eyes. His blue-grey eyes looked back with a cold resentment. It didn't last; her lip stuck out and her features scrunched inwards. "Oh..." Sherlock closed his eyes and slowly brought her to his shoulder, though tried to keep a bit of distance.
In the store, John held the mobile to his ear and listened intently. The baby was crying, then she went quiet, then started crying again. What was he doing? "Sherlock?" He asked. "Sherlock, are you there? For crying out loud, I'm sure even you can figure out how to hold a baby!" The woman looked at him sideways. Feeling her gaze, John looked over his shoulder and laughed nervously. "Friend of mine. First time parent. Sort of... unexpected," he explained. She nodded slowly, and turned away. "Sherlock!" He hissed.
"Okay, okay I've got her," Sherlock's voice came back suddenly, though he sounded sick to his stomach. He also sounded more distant; John guessed the phone was set to speaker. "What do I do now?" He demanded.
John wasn't sure if he felt worse for the baby or for his friend. Both seemed completely and utterly helpless. If he hadn't been trapped in the situation as well, he might have found it funny. "I don't know... um... sing?"
"Sing?" Sherlock repeated flatly, obviously unimpressed by the idea. He grit his teeth. "Why the HELL would I SING?"
"It calms them down!" John told him insistently, looking around the aisle. If only Mycroft had said how long they'd be stuck with the baby.
"Bloody hell," Sherlock muttered under his breath. This couldn't be happening. Not to him. He was Sherlock Holmes, the world's only consulting detective, and he was stuck babysitting? "I am not singing," he declared loudly in the phone's direction. "Get back here and sing to it yourself!"
"Sherlock," John startled, listening to the mayhem coming from the other end, "I'm not going to be back for a while. I'll be as fast as I can, but there's a lot to get. Any idea how long we have her for?"
"It's already been too long!" Sherlock yelled back, and the baby in his arms screamed louder.
"Don't yell! She'll cry more!" John's outburst earned a few more stares. He huffed and pretended not to notice. Maybe it would be best to continue shopping elsewhere.
"I don't know," he hissed quieter, but with the same amount of frustration. "Mycroft could show up at the doorstep any time and take her back. Might be the only time I'll be happy to see him."
"Deal with her," John said through clenched teeth. "I'll be back later."
The line went dead.
Sherlock stared at the mobile lying on the table. Had he just hung up...? He'd pay for that. At some point. John would pay for abandoning him with this... thing.
To his relief, she stopped crying. He sighed.
"This is silence," he told her. "It is a beautiful thing. You should learn to respect it now."
He soon found out why she'd stopped crying; he also found himself in need of a change of clothes.
The day just kept on getting better.
Chapter 3: Name
"Okay," John wheezed, struggling up the stairs with his arms full, "I think I've got everything we need. I was lucky; a lovely saleswoman helped me pick..." He stopped, noticing that Sherlock was neither interested nor listening. Instead, he tapped away on his computer; he hadn't even given any sign of acknowledgement that John had even returned. The doctor sighed, accepting the fact that he wasn't going to get any help. "How's the baby been?"
"I wouldn't know. We're not on speaking terms," Sherlock answered flatly, keeping his eyes fixated on the screen in front of him.
"I don't think that's a problem considering she can't talk," John started, but stopped. "You've changed clothing."
"Have I? Your own observation skills are coming along remarkably," the dark haired man replied dryly, looking down at his keys as he typed.
"You've changed shirts and..." The doctor was starting to get a bad feeling, and suddenly he realized why. "Sherlock, where's the baby?"
"We're not on speaking terms," Sherlock repeated as John dropped the bags and tore off to search the flat.
He didn't react when John's angry shout echoed through the flat.
"Something wrong, John?" He asked, though his voice indicated that he remained uninterested.
John stormed back in, the baby girl held tightly against his shoulder. "You left her alone in my room?"
"I'm sure she didn't read your diary.”.
"Sherlock! She is a baby!" John wasn't sure what part of that wasn't getting through to his supposedly genius flatmate. "She needs attention. You can't just leave her and hope she goes away!"
"What was I supposed to do?" Sherlock finally looked up. "Even if I wanted to feed her, or change her, or do whatever it is that was causing her to scream bloody murder, I couldn't. I couldn't even hear myself thinking with that noise going nonstop. I tried calling you again—"
John shook his head. "No you didn't."
"Well I thought about it, and it's the thought that counts," Sherlock answered quickly. "She went to sleep, didn't she?"
"She probably wore herself out from crying!" Passing the girl to Sherlock, he ran back to the bags. Sherlock held her out as far away from himself as he could. Instead of crying, the girl just looked at Sherlock, and he turned his head, watching her from the corner of his eye.
John took a deep breath. Getting mad at Sherlock wasn’t going to solve anything. There were some topics on which the man was genuinely clueless, childcare obviously being one of them. Anger wasn't going to help Sherlock learn. He forced himself to change the subject. "Mycroft didn't tell us her name," John stated, taking a canister of formula to the kitchen and opening it. After checking the kettle contained only water, he turned it on to boil.
"So?" Sherlock asked, wishing he could just put the baby down and leave. John would never let him hear the end of it if he did, so he stayed motionless instead. If she decided to spit up on him again, he'd leave her.
"Well," John opened a package of plastic bottles that he had picked up, "we should really call her something other than 'her.'"
Sherlock furrowed his brow. "Why? I think 'she' or 'it' are perfectly fine. It's not as though we're her parents."
John sighed. Of course Sherlock didn't see the need to give her a name. "For as long as we have her, we basically are her parents. A name would be a good thing to give her. What about something like 'Susan,' or 'Rachel...' "
"Boring, and I refuse to think of myself as her parent," Sherlock spat, cutting him off. "If we must call her something, why not monstrosity?"
"I don't think that'll be good for her self esteem," John stated, checking on the water. "Amy? Amy's a good name."
Sherlock scoffed. "Dull."
"Abigail? That could be Abby for short..."
"Still dull. Oh! That's what we could call her. Dull."
"You know, not everyone can have a name like Sherlock or Mycroft." John shook his head and carefully poured the boiling water into the bottle, rinsing it around. "Association. Is there an animal that she reminds you of?" He knew this could go badly, but it was worth a shot.
"She's a leech... a crow..." Sherlock mused, looking her over.
That wasn't as bad as he had expected. Deciding that it was clean, he added the formula mixture and added in more water. To cool it, he set it inside the fridge, next to the jar of-- god, he didn't even know, and he certainly didn't want to know. "What about Raven then?"
"Omen of death. Fitting," Sherlock nodded, and stood to give his friend the baby. He had held her for quite long enough.
Taking her, John let her curl up against his shoulder. "So Raven then?"
Sherlock sniffed and straightened his shirt. "If we must. Going out for some air."
Before John could say anything - though nothing he could say would stop his friend anyways - Sherlock had bounded down the stairs. John heard the door slam from the main level. He laughed quietly and looked down at the baby sucking contentedly on her fingers. "Well Raven," he said, "I'm really very sorry in advance. You should be glad you're not going to remember anything of your stay."
Chapter 4: Song
John was now quite sure now that he didn't want to be a father for at least a few more years, if ever.
"Shhh," he tried to say soothingly, pacing around the room, rubbing the back of the screeching baby girl. He didn't know what was wrong. He'd fed her twice, changed her twice and even checked around inside her mouth in case she was teething, which she wasn't. Still, Raven cried as though he was abusing her horribly.
He was certain he had never missed Mrs. Hudson so much. Surely she would have had some idea of what to do. He considered calling Sarah, but he could already hear the conversation in his head. 'So, I have a crying baby, and it's not mine she was left here by the government, really, but how do I make her stop?' She'd never buy that. Then again, she had met Sherlock. There had been more unbelievable things that had happened than a baby being delivered to their flat.
Out of them all, this was likely the least dangerous thing that had ever happened. Or potentially the most, depending on how Sherlock held up. Three hours later and he still hadn't returned from his walk. John supposed that was a good thing; Raven was safer that way.
When it came time for Sherlock to pay Mycroft back for this, John had already decided he would be in on whatever scheme his brilliantly twisted flatmate could come up with.
"Raven, please," he tried to talk quietly, but with his head pounding from her cries and the stress of the day, it was hard to fight the edge creeping in. It was a miracle Sherlock had lasted so long. He closed his eyes; what had he suggested to Sherlock anyways?
He opened his eyes. No. He wouldn't.
Then again, it was just he and the baby, alone in the flat, and he had tried everything else.
"Good god," John muttered under his breath. He took a deep breath, swallowing his pride in the process. He couldn't believe what he was about to do. "Twinkle..." He stopped and swallowed again. He already felt ridiculous. "Twinkle twinkle little star..." For some reason, he couldn't make his voice cooperate. It was stuck at a low volume, while Raven remained on high.
Maybe it was the song. Sure, she was a baby, but did that mean that she needed to be sung baby songs? Maybe picking one that didn't make him feel so foolish for singing would help. "Can't buy me love..." He started with the first song that came to mind. "I'll buy you a diamond ring my friend if it makes you feel all right."
To his delight, her crying eased and she quieted to soft snivelling. "I'll get you anything my friend if it makes you feel all right." She was quiet now, and sucked on her hand, listening. John laughed in shock. It was working? "Cause I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love."
His voice got louder as he began to enjoy himself. He even found himself dancing somewhat. "I'll give you all I've got to give if you say you love me too." He took her tiny hand in his and rocked her as though they were dancing together. Raven giggled. "I may not have a lot to give but what I got I'll give to you. I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love!" He spun them. "Can't buy me looooveeee..."
He stopped, seeing the doorway.
"Oh please, do go on," Sherlock told him dryly from the doorframe he leaned against.
John cleared his throat. "Um. I-I wasn't expecting you back soon... that is, now," he stammered.
"If I didn't live here I wouldn't have come back at all," Sherlock replied, strolling into the room with his hands in his pockets. "Thought about a hotel, but that could turn out to be just as bad, maybe even worse." He shot the baby girl a glare. She was an intruder he couldn't throw out, and it annoyed the hell out of him.
"Yeah," John coughed and cleared his throat again. "Yeah I suppose it could have." He looked down as a silence fell. "Well," he announced, "I should get her to bed."
"Good idea," Sherlock agreed, and John took his chance to make a beeline for his room. "Oh, and John?" Sherlock called, and the doctor stopped and exhaled slowly. "Next time you feel the need to use music to calm her down, I suggest using your computer. You can find anything online, and you'd spare the girl and the neighbourhood of permanent ear damage."
Choosing not to answer, John just nodded to himself and continued on.
Sherlock seethed silently and stared out the window, though he found himself giving into amusement. He even smirked at the memory of the look on John's face when he noticed he'd been caught. If having the baby around was going to cause more incidents such as that, he might be able to bear her just a little more.
Chapter 5: Morning
To say that Sherlock liked to think was an understatement.
If his mind wasn't racing at high speed at all times, he was more irritable then usual and he quickly fell into boredom. Even when he was sound asleep, his mind worked eagerly on puzzles, stored information and made connections about everything and everyone. It was a computer that was happiest when it ran twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
Naturally, he wasn't happy when the process was interrupted, especially when the interruption came at six in the morning with the screaming of a baby he didn't want in his flat.
For a while, he tried to ignore it. Maybe if he was lucky, it would just stop.
It didn't. Instead, the noise got louder as his flatmate carried the creature down into the main flat. Right, it wouldn't be too much longer then, just until she had bottle shoved into her mouth. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on something else.
His eyes shot open.
Whistling. He could hear whistling. John was whistling?
Right, now things had gone too far.
He'd have to put an end to it at once. Sliding out of bed, he grabbed his robe and slipped it on. He allowed his bedroom door to slam a bit harder than usual to announce his presence.
"Morning," John greeted him as he lumbered into the kitchen, his eyes glaring fiercely at the baby carrier on the table.
"Hardly," he answered, looking down at the girl who still screamed.
"I didn't say 'good,' I just said morning," John pointed out, lifting the girl from the seat and handing her suddenly to Sherlock. He took her out of instinct that he blamed on the hour. His mind mustn't have been fully alert. "Though, I rather think it is."
"Why?" Sherlock stared hard at the baby who tried to fling herself from his grasp. He had half a mind to let her do so.
Testing the temperature of the formula on his wrist and approving it, John set it down and took the girl back. Nestling her in his arms, he picked up the bottle and slipped it into her mouth. Raven instantly settled down and sucked contentedly. John shrugged. "I don't know, I just think it is. Normal people don't have to have a reason to think a day is going to be good."
"There's been no criminal activity, and we're stuck with that leech who doesn't sleep."
"Actually, she slept fairly-"
Sherlock continued. "How can anything be..." He stopped, looking John over. "Where are you going?"
John furrowed his brow. "What?"
"Please. You're dressed, your hair is neatly combed and your attire clearly says that you are not only going out in public, but that you are looking to impress someone." Sherlock shook his head and waved his hand dismissively. "Look, I don't care. Just take her away for a while. If you don't bring her back that would be even better." John cleared his throat and looked down. Sherlock looked over his shoulder. "What?"
"Sarah called this morning, about an hour ago," John admitted. It had been the commotion of him getting ready that had woken Raven from her sleep.
Sherlock didn't see the problem. "Even better. She'll have a natural maternal instinct that--"
"I can't take Raven!" He finally blurted out, and Raven looked up at him. He sighed. "She needs me to help out today. I can't work and look after Raven."
Was John really suggesting what Sherlock thought he was? He couldn't be... yet he was. "No, I won't..."
"It's not really up for debate," John informed him, laying Raven back down in the carrier and using the blanket to prop the bottle up as her fingers hadn't quite grasped the concept of holding the bottle yet. "Look, I'm not happy about leaving her with you, but I don't have much of a choice." He looked at his watch and sighed. "And I'm late." Grabbing his coat, he ignored the daggers Sherlock was shooting him and headed for the door. "Don't ignore her this time."
Sherlock said nothing, therefore promising nothing. Until he heard the downstairs door slam, he remained motionless. Sprawling himself out on the couch, he closed his eyes and pulled at his hair. At least she was being quiet.
His phone beeped as the clunk of the bottle falling to the ground echoed in the kitchen. Checking it, he found a text from Lestrade.
Need you down at the Yard. Think you'll like this.
He'd have to inform John of the definition of 'good day.' This was not it.
Chapter 6: To The Yard
John had his mobile phone switched off. Sherlock hated him for that.
More than that, Sherlock hated his own curiosity.
He had to get down to the Yard. There was finally something to do! Lestrade had said that he'd like whatever it was – not that it meant anything, but it was enough to hold his interest until he could examine whatever it was. He had to get there, and the sooner the better.
But what about her?
He had considered leaving without her. He'd even made it as far as halfway down the stairs, but she had started to scream. That had stopped him. It wasn't that he felt guilty about leaving her, why should he? She wasn't his. No, rather it was that he had underestimated how powerful her lungs were. How was it someone who couldn't even hold her own bottle could scream so loud? In any case, someone might have heard her and called the police.
That was a court case he wanted to avoid, though he was certain he could win it. Really, it would be so easy. All he'd have to do would be to weep on the stand, and wail about how his partner had left him alone with the baby and how he couldn't handle it. Someone would take pity; people were remarkably predictable that way. Plus, he could have his payback on John.
As delightful as it may all have been, it might also take up time if something more interesting came along. He couldn't have that.
He could have found out where John worked – he hadn't actually told him the name, not that it would have been hard to figure out – but that meant taking the girl anyways. It also meant longer before reaching the Yard. That simply was just not an option.
Reluctantly, he had taken the girl along with him. It was a bit chilly, and John wouldn't forgive him if she froze to death, so he found an old scarf and manoeuvred it around her. It looked a bit odd, but Raven gurgled so he supposed she didn't mind it. However, if she decided to empty her stomach contents onto it, Mycroft would be paying for his dry-cleaning for the next year.
He had another idea. Racing quickly to John's room, he pulled a jumper from the man's closet. Tucking it around the baby snugly, he smiled to himself at his own cleverness. It now looked like she was covered with a striped blanket, and his scarf would stay clean.
Brilliant. He was brilliant.
"Scotland Yard," he told the cabbie he had flagged down before climbing inside.
Once he was inside, he found he didn't know what to do with the carrier. What did normal people do with the things anyways? Did he put her on the seat beside him? Or was he supposed to – god forbid - hold her on his lap?
He settled for the seat.
"She your first?" The cab driver asked, looking at him through the mirror. Sherlock groaned inwardly. Fantastic, he had found one who liked to chat.
"No," he forced a smile. "I'm... babysitting." The word stuck in his mouth. He hoped the man got the message that he didn't want to talk.
"Oh, well that's nice of you. I've got three myself." Sherlock rolled his eyes, but smiled when the man looked at him once more. "Jenny, David and Chris. Beautiful little ones; get it from their mother."
"I'll bet," Sherlock muttered under his breath.
He cleared his throat. "I'll bet their mother is lovely."
"Oh she is. I'll never know how I wound up with someone like her. You know, you just don't know how life turns out. It's funny like that..."
Sherlock sank back into his seat. Beside him, he noticed that Raven had drifted off to sleep; maybe she was smarter than he gave her credit for.
It was going to be a long ride.
"Would you look at that! We're here. Time goes so quickly when you're in a good conversation."
It had been too long, and he knew of at least three other routes that would have been faster. Sherlock smiled thinly and paid his tab. "Wait here for me, I won't be long." He started to climb out, leaving the sleeping Raven on the seat.
"Hold on, friend!" The cabbie called after him. Sherlock cringed. "You can't leave her here!"
"Why not?" He forced a pleasant smile. "I'll only be a minute. Returning a lost wallet." Maybe if he played the role of a good man, the cab driver would go along.
"That is a nice thing to do," the driver said admiringly, and Sherlock held his breath, "but I'm afraid you'll have to take her with you."
"But, she's sleeping!" Sherlock argued, and turned on a pleading look. The man had children of his own; perhaps that could work to his advantage. "And so soundly too. It would be such a pity to wake her." He wasn't completely lying; it was much easier to manage her when she was asleep.
"I agree, friend," how Sherlock hated that word now, "I know how hard it is to keep them asleep at that age. Always waking up and needing you." Sherlock nodded. Yes, yes, exactly. "But I'm afraid it's company policy. Too many young parents leave their children in cabs and don't return for them. It's sad really. What is our world..."
"Oh do shut up," Sherlock snapped, taking the carrier out and slamming the door. He'd get another cab. That one was just plain annoying.
Now, to find out what Lestrade had wanted.
Chapter 7: Freak's Got A Baby
Ignoring the looks of everyone as he strolled inside, he made his way to an elevator. To his delight, the floor where Lestrade's team worked was relatively, although somewhat unusually, empty. Maybe, just maybe, he'd get through this in peace.
He'd almost made it to Lestrade's office when he heard a leering voice behind him.
"So it's true! Freak's got a baby!"
Sherlock turned and gave her a glare that he hoped shrivelled whatever bit of a soul she had. "What did you just say?"
She smirked her usual smirk; smug and arrogant and oh how he hated it at that moment. "You—"
"Sergeant Donovan, don't you have work to do?" Lestrade cut in, and Sherlock wasn't sure whether he was grateful or annoyed. Sally nodded - as a scolded child would, Sherlock noted – and turned to walk away. "Come in, Sherlock," the Detective Inspector motioned for his tall visitor to enter his office.
"What do you mean so it's true?" Sherlock demanded after the sergeant, choosing to ignore the invitation from her boss. Sally just looked over her shoulder and smirked even more as she turned around a corridor. For once, she knew something he didn't, and she loved it.
"Ignore her, Sherlock, I'll deal with her later," Lestrade promised, trying his best to keep Sherlock's temper down. The last thing he needed was to have a mad Sherlock – no, wait, a mad Sherlock with a baby. "Come on, I need you to look at something."
"What did she mean?" He hissed at the man waiting for him.
"I don't know. Probably nothing. You know she likes to rile you up, and it appears that she's winning," Lestrade pushed open his door further. "Inside."
Sherlock huffed and dropped the baby carrier on the closest desk before marching into the office.
Lestrade looked at him expectantly as the consulting detective sat himself down in the chair. When Sherlock caught his stare, he barely blinked. "What?"
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Lestrade asked, crossing his arms.
The blue eyed man glanced briefly away, as though looking for what he might have forgotten. "No."
The elder man shook his head and grabbed the carrier. "She can't be left out there alone!"
"I wasn't aware she was invited into this meeting. What happened to police confidentiality?" Sherlock snapped, shooting a bitter glare at the carrier where the baby girl lay quietly. Could he have no escape from her, not even for ten minutes?
"First of all, she's a baby," Lestrade replied, setting her on the desk. He had thought about the floor, but he wouldn't put it past Sherlock to kick her. He'd hope that the man would have better sense, but the fact that he couldn't answer it honestly scared him. "Secondly, I wasn't aware that you were a member of the force."
"You need me," the younger man reminded him. "You don't need her."
"No, but she's quiet; good company."
Sherlock snorted. "Give her five minutes. What did you need me..."
"Good lord, is she wrapped in a jumper?" The man looking at her sounded shocked.
"She didn't come with a jacket," Sherlock answered defensively.
"What do you mean come with one? Of course she didn't! She's not a doll, Sherlock."
He was aware of that. Dolls were quiet. She was not. "What did..."
"Has she got a name?"
He sighed. This was going no where. "John calls her Raven. Now what did..."
Lestrade nodded. "Good name, Raven. Would have thought John would have picked something simpler..."
"His names were boring. Now..."
"So you named her then?"
Sherlock exhaled loudly, and gave Lestrade a menacing glare. "Do you have something for me or not?"
Taking a postcard off his desk and fighting back his amusement, he held it out to Sherlock. "Here."
Taking it, he looked it over briefly. It was a photograph of symbols. "It's a code."
"Yeah, I got that bit, thanks," Lestrade resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Sherlock didn't give them enough credit, but then, Sherlock didn't give anyone enough credit, if any. "Can you decode it?"
He looked up. Codes weren't that hard to break. He didn't understand why he had been called specifically. There was no murder, no overall mystery... it was boring. "Why..."
"Turn it over."
He did. Ah, it had been addressed to him. Now that made more sense. "Of course I can decode it."
Lestrade nodded. "Good. Keep me updated, all right?" Sherlock didn't answer, but kept his eyes fixed on the different symbols. His mind was already searching through his database trying to solve it. Lestrade cleared his throat. "Also... why do you have a baby? She's not... ah... she's not yours?"
"Why does everyone think that?" Sherlock wondered out loud, clearly irritated. "No. She's. Not. Mine."
The door opened, and two of his favourite people joined the conversation. "So it's true," Anderson grinned.
"I told you," Sally laughed.
"I had to see for myself. You," he looked at Sherlock and laughed, "with a baby."
"That's enough, Anderson," Lestrade barked, and the man went quiet. He leaned over the carrier with the other sergeant.
"Are we sure it's even still alive?" He asked, casting a smug look over to the seated man who was glaring poisonously back. "After all, Sherlo—" He stopped, and let out a cry instead, as did Donovan. From where Sherlock sat, he could see the tiny fist grasping tightly at a clump of the bothersome man's hair, and the other fist pulling tightly at Sally's. "Get it off, get it off!"
"Stop screaming bloody murder, you two," Lestrade scolded, but Sherlock didn't need his deductive skills to see that the Detective Inspector was enjoying the sight just as much as he was. "She's just a baby. Serves you right for harassing her."
"She's never done that to me," Sherlock added calmly after a moment, revelling silently in that fact.
"You've probably never gotten close to her," Sally said bitterly, pulling her hair free.
"I've held her." Sherlock informed them, folding his hands.
Sherlock cut her off by rising to his feet. "If you'll excuse me, I need to take her home. It's probably getting close to her nap time. Detective Inspector, I suggest you put your infants to bed as well. They're quite sour." He grabbed the carrier, slipped the postcard in his pocket and smiled at the two glaring at him. "Good day."
Once he was out of earshot, he sent a smile down in Raven's direction. "Good girl. Very good girl."
This time, walking through the building, he did so with just a little bit more pride.
Chapter 8: For All We Know
“... based off of her size and awareness, I’d say she’s about five, maybe six months,” John finished explaining to an amused Sarah.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” she laughed as though she'd never heard anything funnier. “If I hadn’t met Sherlock, I wouldn’t believe it.”
“Neither would I,” he admitted with a shake of his head. “However, it’s completely ridiculous and completely true.” He rubbed his forehead. “It would have been nice to know how long we have to look after her for.”
“Well, if he’s Sherlock’s brother, then he’s enjoying the thought of you two with a baby. He might just want to see how long you last.”
John nodded. It was all too possible. Hell, with the two brothers, anything was possible. “Supposedly she’s someone important, but that's all we know. We weren’t even told her name. Sherlock and I have just been calling her Raven.”
The woman smirked. “Oooh, maybe she’s a princess.”
He would have laughed, but for all he knew, she very well could have been.
Sherlock sniffed. Maybe he should have kept the last cab waiting despite how irritating the driver had been. At least it had smelt pleasant; this one was just foul.
He looked at Raven from the corner of his eye.
“Change of address,” Sherlock told the driver suddenly.
“Was it a good idea to leave the baby with Sherlock?” Sarah asked curiously. “If I had known about your situation,” she smiled as she said it; the idea was still funny, “I wouldn’t have asked you to come in.”
“I’m not sure,” John admitted, different situations flashing through his mind. All of them were terrible and had equally terrible endings. “I’m sure he’s managing.” He hoped to god Sherlock was managing. He’d never forgive himself or his flatmate if something happened to the girl.
Sarah took a drink from the plastic water bottle in her hands. “I can’t picture him trying to change a nappy.”
“Nor can I,” he shook his head. Then again, he hadn't pictured it of himself, and it seemed as though that was all he'd been doing. Poor Raven; maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to leave her with his brilliantly ignorant flatmate. “I’m sure Sherlock will figure out how to do it.”
“There you go,” Molly beamed sweetly, passing the baby back to Sherlock. “Good as new!”
For a few hours, anyways. Raven grinned at him and chewed on her fingers. With a tiny screech, she waved her hands about. Sherlock cringed a bit; she was not going to get slobber on his coat. He grabbed the jumper from the carrier and wiped off her hands and mouth.
“So,” Molly said with a wide smile, but her voice was nervous, “I didn’t know you had a niece.”
“She’s not...” he started out of habit, but then looked at the woman oddly. Niece? She had said niece, not daughter! Perhaps she wasn’t quite as thick as he had thought. “Er, yes,” he forced a smile. “I’m just... watching her for a while.”
“That’s so nice,” Molly smiled approvingly. “I have a nephew a little bit older then she is. They’re quite fun to spoil, aren’t they?”
No. Unless once you had spoiled it you could get rid of it for good, spoiling them was most definitely not fun. He just smiled back at her as he lowered Raven into the baby carrier. He had promised John that he’d try to be nicer to Molly. Try was the key word. He wasn't even sure why John had asked him to be nicer to Molly, but his flatmate had been quite insistant.
“Maybe we could arrange a play date for them, sometime?” Molly sounded far too hopeful.
No. Absolutely not. Never. No, no and no. “Maybe,” he said quickly, his mind fumbling for nice things to say. There was no way he’d ever agree to a play date, even if Raven were his niece. The poor girl didn’t need to be subjected to that so young.
The child’s hands were covered in her saliva once again, and she tried reaching for his scarf. He dried her hands with the jumper once again before tucking her in with it. His scarf was going to stay drool free, just like the rest of him.
“You’re so good with her.” Sherlock froze; he didn’t like the tone to Molly’s voice. He’d played dumb to some of her advances in the past, but he was aware of them. “You know, I like children. I’d like to have my own...”
He picked up the carrier. “Thanks for your help, but we’d best be getting back.”
“Okay,” he heard her say timidly behind him as he strolled from the room. “You’re—“
The door shut behind him, muffling out the rest of her sentence. He exhaled in relief. He liked Molly, he did, she was intelligent and useful, but her obsession with him was tiring.
John would have to be happy with him. Not only had he managed to restrain himself from leaving the baby on a sidewalk somewhere, he had also managed to be relatively nice to Molly. Overall, a success.
“Come in,” John called in response to the knock at the office door.
The door opened a bit, and Sarah poked her head inside. “Do you have a cot for her?”
“No,” he shook his head. “I still need to get one.”
“I have one at my place that I’d be happy to get rid of! My sister gave it to me once her daughter got her first ‘big girl’ bed. She said that she just didn’t have room for it, but I think she was trying to send me a hint.”
“She knows how to be subtle.”
“Subtle isn’t the word I’d use,” she shook her head, and John laughed. “But I’d be more than happy to lend it to you.”
John stopped in the doorway of the main flat, amazed by the sight in front of him.
He’d been expecting Raven to be sitting on the table wailing while Sherlock played his violin angrily. Or, he’d been expecting to see her in the carrier in the middle of the floor while Sherlock read a book, ignoring her completely. Or perhaps he'd even expected to see her seated on the ground with Sherlock no where in sight. He wasn't sure what it was he'd been expecting.
Whatever it was, he hadn’t expected this.
Sherlock, seated in an armchair properly, held her carefully, cradling her softly in his arms. His eyelids we lowered as he watched her closely, studying her with a strange curiosity that John wasn’t sure he’d ever seen in Sherlock’s eyes before. It was a bemusing sight to take in, one that tugged at his mouth.
Of course, once Sherlock noticed him, the moment was gone. “Oh good, you’ve decided to come back,” he said sarcastically, his entire demeanour changing from quiet to annoyed. He caught the look John was giving him. “She fell asleep while I was feeding her!” He protested defensively.
“Babies will do that,” John informed him, enjoying the chance to tease Sherlock while he had it. This was payback. “Why didn’t you lie her down?”
“Her carrier’s in the kitchen. She would have woken up if I tried to get it,” Sherlock answered matter of fact. “I would have had to listen to her incessant crying then.”
John nodded, pretending to believe him. “Oh. Right. The sofa?”
“She could have rolled off! That’s hardly safe for her,” Sherlock was looking at him as though he were crazy. “Really John, and you’re a doctor?” He sniffed, getting to his feet. “If anything happened to her, I’d never hear the end of it from Mycroft.” He held the baby out to John, who took her carefully and walked over to the carrier.
“Is that my jumper?” John asked in disbelief, looking down at the crumpled mess.
Sherlock fixed his shirt in the mirror, acting as though he hadn’t heard a thing.
Chapter 9: The Cot
“Bloody hell!” John cursed aloud before sucking on his throbbing finger. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it had been the first time that it had happened, but he’d hurt the same finger multiple times within the past hour. Why was this so difficult?
Sherlock made a disapproving noise. “There is a child in the room, John.”
John huffed and looked up at his supposed friend. “You know, this might be easier and go faster if you helped?”
Sherlock looked at the postcard beside him, and then back to the screen of the computer that sat on his lap. “It probably would.”
John looked back at him expectantly. The room was quiet apart from the tapping of the keys and Raven’s occasional gurgle or shriek. “Well?”
He shook his head. Why had he expected anything different? “Are you going to help me with this?”
“Ummm...” Sherlock stretched it out, pretending to be thinking it over. “No.” He returned to working away on his laptop. John was starting to wonder whether he was actually doing anything at all, or if he was just playing solitaire.
“Why?” He asked exasperatedly. An hour into trying to set up the wretched thing hadn’t put him in the best of moods, and the fact that his flatmate was lounging on his bed the entire time wasn’t helping.
“Someone has to watch the child,” Sherlock answered simply without removing his eyes from the screen.
Sherlock’s argument would have had validity if he had actually been watching her, or if she hadn’t been lying by his feet. John raised himself up to see her. Raven had one of her arms stretched out in front of her, watching her own hand in a curious fascination. “She’s fine.”
“The baby. Raven. She’s fine.”
“Oh, right.” He answered as though he had forgotten.
John waited, but the room was quiet once again. “So will you help?”
“Why the hell not?”
“Police work, very busy.”
John sent him a glare. He probably was playing solitaire and internally mocking the doctor’s attempts at putting together the bed. As if the oh so great detective could do any better.
Sherlock finally looked up when John cursed loudly again and clicked his tongue disapprovingly. “Really John, I had thought you were competent enough to build a bed meant for an infant. And watch your language, really.”
John laughed in disbelief. “You think this is easy?”
The dark haired man scoffed. “Of course it is. Don't be childish, John.”
That did it. John dropped the piece he had been trying to snap into place to the ground and crossed his arms. “Right! Let’s see you do it then!”
John nodded knowingly. “Just as I thought.”
Sherlock raised his eyes and glared darkly. “Just as you thought?”
“You can’t do it,” his smile was rather taunting, but he couldn’t help himself.
The icy grey eyes flashed. Was John challenging him? “I could—“
“No, no, I understand,” John said, turning back to the bed that lay in parts. “Everyone has their limits, I suppose.”
That did it. Sherlock gave him a nasty glare as he slammed the laptop closed. He swung his legs off the bed - narrowly avoiding kicking Raven, but he did manage to avoid her just the same - and made his way to the chaos of what was to be a cot. “I’ll have this put together in half the time it took you to make such a mess,” Sherlock told him confidently.
John got out of his way and sat on the edge of the bed. He crossed his arms and didn’t fight the smirk that was pulling at his mouth.
Raven squealed, and reached for him when she saw that John was looking back. He picked her up and sat her on his lap where she grabbed at his fingers. He caught the look of disgust yet not altogether dislike Sherlock gave the girl before he turned his head back to the array in front of him. John ruffled the girl’s thin dark hair. It was interesting how someone so small had completely disrupted Sherlock’s routine.
It wasn’t long before the other too cursed aloud.
“Language, Sherlock,” John reminded him.
Sherlock shot him a look of venom. “There is no physical way that a piece like this,” he held up the one in question, “would ever join with a piece like this.” He held up the other. “They’re not even the right size! And these instructions,” he dropped the piece and grabbed the paper booklet, “aren’t even in bloody English!”
“You read the instructions?” John asked in disbelief.
“I wanted to see if they were all from the same product,” Sherlock replied defensively. “Frankly, I don’t even think they’re from the same company.”
“Oh, they are.” This was far more amusing then he had originally thought; John wished he had a video camera. “Trust me.”
“This might go faster if you worked on one side and I did the other,” Sherlock suggested coldly.
He supposed that he could agree to this. John laid Raven back down on the bed and wiped his hand on his pants. She had taken his thumb as something to chew on.
Eventually, after more cursing and finger injuries, the bed stood.
Sherlock stood with his hands on his hips. “That was absolutely ridiculous.”
John laughed as he picked up Raven, who had fallen asleep. She whimpered, but settled as he laid her back down in the newly assembled cot. “This from a man who keeps assorted body parts around the house.”
“They’re experiments. This was just pointless,” he argued.
John motioned for him to be quiet as he made his way to the door. “If you wake her up, you’re dealing with her.”
“I most certainly am not.” Sherlock followed him out, and John pretended not to notice him taking one last glance before shutting the door ever so gently.
Chapter 10: Music
Sherlock drummed his fingers against the wood of his desk. The postcard lay in front of him, and he held a marker firmly in his other hand. The first word of the code was obvious. Eight symbols, and the postcard had been addressed to him. Clearly, they spelt out S-H-E-R-L-O-C-K. Dull. Really, couldn’t they have at least tried to be original? He’d be able to figure out some of the letters based off of the symbols he now had.
Or he would have, had he been able to think.
“Can’t you silence her?” He asked John, exasperatedly.
Flustered, John rocked her and patted her back to try to soothe the baby as Raven cried loudly. She showed no sign of settling down any time soon. “I wish I could,” the tired doctor answered. “We’ve only had her a couple days; she’s probably not adjusted.”
“Well she’s not the only one!” Sherlock spat back unsympathetically. He could think of a few ways to bring back the silence. Unfortunately, the law didn’t agree with any of those ways.
“Sherlock, she’s been taken from everything she knew. She probably wants her mum!” John defended the sobbing baby, even though he was close to ripping his own hair out. She wouldn’t take a bottle, or her dummy, and nothing seemed to comfort her at all. He was a doctor, not a parent. Caring for children wasn't something that came naturally to him, though he supposed he could at least say he was doing better than Sherlock.
Though that wasn't saying much.
“That’s not my problem!” He argued as he watched John set her down in the carrier. His frustrated flatmate darted out the main door and up the stairs. “And for all we know she doesn’t have a mum!” Sherlock called after him. It was true; they didn’t know a thing about her.
He huffed and looked down at the screaming girl. Ugh, would she never stop? His brain was hacking away at his skull, begging to be set free. He wished that he could grant it mercy and let it go.
Raven’s cries were broken by hiccups occasionally. Great. At this rate, she was crying so hard that she was likely to make herself sick. Well if she did, John would be cleaning it up. He had a code to break.
At this rate, it was never going to be broken, though he couldn’t say the same for everything else in the room. There had to be a way to save his sanity.
His grey eyes settled on the violin case not far off. Perfect. He’d simply play louder than she could cry. If she managed to outcry him, he might be impressed with her lung capacity. However, the likelihood of that was slim to none; he would win this. Grabbing his violin quickly, he soon got himself ready. Settling back into the chair and propping it under his chin, he shot a glare at the still wailing Raven. He drew the bow across the strings slowly before launching into an angry, improvised tune.
He smiled to himself; it was working. Over his violin’s beautiful cries, he couldn’t hear the little monster anymore.
He could think again.
From the corner of his eye, he could see John dashing back down the stairs. This meant his fun was over, for a bit anyways. At least he had the satisfaction of knowing he’d won the battle. Sherlock continued to play. He knew the lecture was coming; What would make you do that, she’s already upset, she’s just a baby for god’s sakes, blah blah blah. Dull. The smiling man in the doorway could just...
Smiling? Why the hell was John smiling?
He abruptly stopped playing.
“You’re brilliant,” John told him with a bit of a relieved laugh.
Well, naturally. However, he didn’t understand why he was receiving this compliment now...?
“Though, I do wish you could have done that sooner,” he added, crossing his arms.
Sherlock still wasn’t following. He looked down at Raven and noticed for the first time that she’d gone quiet. She even had a tiny grin on her face as she chewed on the blanket covering her - John had gotten it for her to spare his jumpers. Sherlock was relatively sure he still hadn’t been forgiven for earlier in the week. He didn’t mind; John would let it go soon enough. At least he hadn’t let the child freeze, after all.
John studied Sherlock’s expression. The detective was looking down at the baby with a curious look in his eyes, as though he couldn’t quite figure something out. “You did remember that she had liked music, didn’t you?”
Music? Of course! Music! “Yes, obviously,” Sherlock snapped back. “Though, I would hardly consider your little rendition the other night music.”
So his voice didn’t sound like a violin, he doubted Sherlock could do any better. Raven had obviously enjoyed it, and that was the main thing. “She’d disagree,” John pointed out, sitting down in a chair and pulling the carrier closer so he could rock it gently. “She must have been around music often,” he mused, looking down at the little girl and wondering what she had been taken from.
Raven looked up at John with big eyes before her face scrunched up.
“Sherlock? I’d keep playing if I were you,” John advised, preparing himself for the screaming that was to come.
“Absolutely not,” Sherlock argued. “I play for no one but myself, and I have...”
He stopped as the wailing filled the room again.
With a huff, he raised the violin back under his chin and began to pull the bow unmercifully across the strings. He looked darkly down at the baby. She sniffed, and soon began to babble happily. Sherlock continued to play, but his eyes studied the girl. She could go from inconsolable to sickeningly exuberant in mere moments, all because of a few notes on a violin?
What a strange, strange creature.
At least she had decent taste in music.