Hamish tends to find Mrs. Pickett's first form classroom incredibly dull, he learns much more from Father's experiments and Dad's sound advice, but he's doing his best to behave and participate, after being written up twice already. He swings his legs irritably, kicking at the crossbar of his chair and readjusting his itchy blazer when the dour old woman clears her throat, pulling a tissue out of the sleeve of her cardigan.
"Alright, class. I'm passing you out each one piece of card-stock, we're going to be making cards for Father's Day today. Get out your coloured pencils, glue sticks, scissors, and anything else you think you might need."
Cringing inwardly, Hamish raises his hand. She sighs, acknowledging him.
"Can I have two cards, please?"
"Why would you need two? If you make a mess of the first one, then you can have a second one."
At the implication, Hamish bristles, his pride stinging.
"I'm not going to make a mess of anything, Mrs. Pickett. I need two since I have two fathers. Well, I call one Father and one Dad but they're technically both my fathers."
"They can't both really be your father, can they?" Mrs. Pickett looks as though she doesn't want to get involved in this. "Make one for whoever was married to your mother before they…" She coughs, clearly uncomfortable.
At this, a nervous titter runs through the classroom. Hamish debates correcting her, but bites his tongue. It's not the first time Hamish has been picked on for his "unconventional" household, but really, the teacher should be above all this. He's been trying so hard to be good, so hard to keep his mouth shut in class, but it's impossible when he's surrounded by such idiocy.
"Mrs. Pickett, I realise you are as old as time itself, but my family situation is none of your concern. This is ridiculous, and if you're not going to let me make two cards I'm leaving."
Her lined, craggy face has been slowly turning a livid shade of puce during Hamish's outburst, and she stands up from her chair, slamming a hand against her desk.
"Hamish Holmes, go to the headmaster's office immediately. You are out of line!"
"Gladly." Hamish scowls. "I'm sure he'll be thrilled to hear about your discriminatory and closed-minded worldview. And it's Watson-Holmes, you old crone!" He storms out of the classroom with as much dignity as someone in short trousers and and itchy blazer can, ignoring the snickering of his useless classmates.
Of course Sherlock would be mysteriously busy when the school called to let them know that Hamish had spoken out of turn again. John grumbles to himself as he adjusted his tie. Something about the austere oppressiveness and undercurrent of old money at the school always made him feel slightly out of place. He rings the discreet little buzzer at the front gate.
"Erm, yes, John Watson-Holmes? I'm here about Hamish?"
"Oh, yes, come through, the office is in the main hall on the second floor."
"Thanks, I know where it is…" He chuckles guiltily, sliding through the door and heading upstairs.
When he gets to the office, he spots Hamish sitting on a bench with his blazer balled up in his lap, looking more put-out and irritated than contrite, and John can't help but grin, imagining Sherlock in a similar position, possibly outside of DI Lestrade's office. He steps inside and drops down next to his son, ruffling his riotous mess of curls.
"What did you say this time, Hal?"
"Nothing!" Immediately, he's on the defencive. "Mrs. Pickett is… is… she's… a big fat meanie-head." At this, John lets out an amused snort. He knows he shouldn't be encouraging it, but seeing such a typical playground insult coming out of his tiny little adult is so incongruous.
"You must be angry if you've devolved to words like meanie-head. Why don't you tell me what happened?"
Hamish opens his mouth, as if he's about to start re-telling the entire story, when the headmaster sticks his head out of his office, calling them in. Placing a comforting hand on Hamish's back, John stands up and guides him down the hall.
"Dr. Watson-Holmes, if you don't mind." His voice is clipped, unsure what sort of a reaction he's going to get. They sit heavily in the uncomfortable wooden chairs facing the headmaster's heavy oak desk.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Watson-Holmes. Do you know why we called you in here?"
"Apparently Hamish spoke out of turn, or so I've been told. I'd like to hear the situation from him though." Out of the corner of his eye, John notices one relatively scrawny arm and long-fingered hand creeping towards him, and reaches out, clasping Hamish's hand firmly in his own.
"We were…" Hamish trails off, suddenly and uncharacteristically shy. "We were going to make Father's Day cards in class, and she only gave me one piece of card-stock."
The headmaster nods, encouraging him to continue.
"I asked for a second one."
"Had you mangled the first piece?"
The familiar defencive spark is back in the boy's eyes, and John squeezes his hand gently, reminding him to be polite. Scrunching up his face, Hamish takes a deep breath.
"Why does everyone think I'm going to mangle them? I have two fathers! What's wrong with people, why doesn't anyone just THINK for once?"
If the headmaster is taken aback at Hamish's revealing outburst, he does his best to hide it. He looks at John, for confirmation.
"Nothing he's said so far is out of line, in my opinion. I'm sure my husband would agree with me."
The headmaster nods, his face softening in understanding.
"I take it asking for a second one didn't go so well."
"She insisted only one of them could be my real dad, and, um, I may have called her old and snapped at her."
The headmaster nods. "Hamish, you have to understand that, well, Mrs. Pickett is… as you so succinctly put it, old." At the use of the word succinctly, John can't help but smile. His son is bright - painfully bright - and it always impresses him when adults don't patronise Hamish. "Her mindset is different from yours. Now, I'm not saying it's right at all, but she's set in her ways. You were right to stand up for yourself and ask for a second piece of card, but you shouldn't have insulted her."
Hamish nods, studying the carpet intently.
"I'm not going to punish you, because I understand why this upset you so much. However, since there's only thirty minutes left before last bell, I think you should just go home with your father."
"He's Dad. Sherlock is Father."
John shrugs, smiling sheepishly.
"It was easier having the differentiation when he was younger, and it's stuck. We're both fine with it."
He stands up, holding his hand out over the headmaster's desk.
"Thank you, sir. I'll try to make sure he keeps that sharp tongue in check from now on."
As soon as they step out of the office, Hamish starts ranting again.
"It's not fair, dad! She was the one being rude and unreasonable and awful!"
"I know, Hal, I know. But I think the headmaster was trapped there - he knows you weren't being out of line, and he didn't punish you, but you have to learn to phrase things a bit more diplomatically at times. I suppose I have to be more careful around you, Lord knows your Father's never been the most tactful person in the household."
"Now come, I've got an idea."
Hamish studies the Hobbycraft sign above them.
"What's all this, then?"
"You still need to make a card for Father's Day, don't you?"
"Dad! I can't buy stuff to make a card for you while you're with me. That would spoil the surprise." His tiny brow furrows, that unusual horizontal crease forming across the bridge of his nose exactly like Sherlock's.
"Oh, Hamish." John drops down and hugs him, smiling. "I don't need a card. We can make one for Sherlock, together."
"I didn't know you were particularly crafty, dad." Hamish looks sceptical, but follows John into the store.
They meander up and down the aisles, grabbing a mixed assortment of glitters and some highlighters Hamish insisted on getting to organise his homework assignments. He grabs two heavy pieces of white card and puts them in the basket.
"Two?" John smiles fondly, raising his eyebrows.
"It's so I…" Hamish fidgets, playing with the handle of the basket. "In case I make a mess."
John nods seriously, even though they both know Hamish is lying. "Good to be prudent, just in case."
John trusts him to head off to the next aisle on his own, but panics a bit when he hears Hamish's sharp cry carrying across the store.
"Hal? Everything alright?" He ducks across the aisle, to find his son beaming happily and clutching several packages of scrap-booking accessories to his chest.
"Dad, look!" He's grinning proudly, and holds up the assortment of stickers and ornaments. Bees, violins, and test tubes with little beads inside them, simulating some kind of suspension. He's also got a smaller pack with a bunch of mixed designs, including - incongruously - a skull and a heart. John feels that familiar pang of love and pride from deep within his chest. How have two giant twits like Sherlock and himself raised such a thoughtful, observant little boy?
"Oh, those are perfect for your father. Good call. Much nicer than any of the rubbish Mrs. Pickett would have had, right?"
"I think she wanted us to use macaroni." Hamish shudders.
"Hey, don't knock macaroni. I made some lovely things for my own parents when I was your age, using dried pastas. You should give it a try sometime." John's eyes crinkle as he laughs, teasing his son. Hamish just rolls his eyes, but he's smiling as they head towards the cash register.
Several hours later, they're settled at the kitchen table, supplies spread out between them. Hamish has painstakingly affixed the glittery test tubes along the bottom of the card, aligning the violin, the skull, and a heart he found on top of them, as if they're coming out of the tubes. He's added the bees haphazardly around the top of the card, as if they're flying around.
John can't help but think it's an incredibly apt representation of Sherlock in graphic form. He smiles as Hamish furrows his brow with concentration, trimming the edges of the card with pinking shears he's borrowed from Mrs. Hudson. The peaceful silence of the table is interrupted when Hamish yelps, the all-too-familiar copper tang of blood filling the kitchen. He pulls his hand away quickly, but not before the fibrous card soaks up a fair bit, spattering the bottom of his design.
Before Hamish even has time to ask, John's got the kitchen first aid kit (not to be be confused with the bathroom first aid kit, the bedroom first aid kit, or the emergency portable first aid kit - all necessities when you live with Sherlock). He kneels down and quickly, deftly, cleans up the wound.
"There we go, Hal. Just a little nick, you'll be fine with a plaster, don't look so dejected." He covers the cut with a small bandage and kisses the back of Hamish's hand before standing up and dusting off his knees.
"I'm not worried about my hand." He sulks. "I've ruined the card, I got it all bloody."
"It's not ruined, it's actually sort of artistic. It will add a touch of… verisimilitude. Your father will appreciate that." This earns John a giggle.
"I guess it does look kind of cool."
"Absolutely. Let's just let it dry, and you can sign the inside later."
Grinning, Hamish wraps his arms around John's waist, trapping him in a fierce hug.
"Thanks, Dad. You're the best."
"I know, just don't let your father hear you say that."
A few days have passed and Father's Day is quickly looming. Sherlock's card is dry and safe, and John was right - the blood's added a little something personal, something Hamish knows will make his father laugh. The fact that he still hasn't made anything for John is weighing heavy on his shoulders though.
Sherlock is sitting at the kitchen counter skimming through some texts from Lestrade on his phone when Hamish slinks up. He's trying to be quiet, but nothing ever gets past Sherlock. He looks up, smiling.
"Do you need something, Hamish?"
"Are you busy? I was wondering if you could help me."
Sherlock's about to ask Hamish to come back in a bit when he studies his son's face - eager, expectant, and a little bit nervous about being rejected. The Detective Inspector can wait.
"Of course. Unless it's something to do with your love life, in which case let me call your dad."
Hamish grins. "You're being silly, Father. You know I've got more important things right now to worry about than stuff like that. Like Father's Day."
"Ah, yes." Sherlock's face turns pensive as he steeples his fingers under his chin. "Your dad mentioned what happened at school the other day. I suppose I should admonish you, but from what I heard, I'm inclined to agree with everything you said."
Hamish giggles, his eyes crinkling and shoulders shaking, and Sherlock can't help but think of John when he laughs.
"In all seriousness though, Hamish. If there's one thing I've learnt from your dad, it's that there is a time and a place to tell people exactly what you think of them. So all I will say about this is that while I admire your conviction, your timing could have been better. Now, what was this about Father's Day?"
"I want to make a card for Dad, but I'm… not that crafty." He shoves his bandaged hand into his pocket and Sherlock does his best to suppress a smirk. He's already figured out that Hamish somehow cut himself making a card for him, but he's certainly not going to say anything. The careful bandaging is John's handiwork, so he knows the wound is clean and taken care of, in any case.
"I'll be glad to help you, Hamish. If they teach this stuff in your class, surely it'll be easy for me."
Hamish smiles and runs to grab the bag of supplies he put away after making Sherlock's card, along with one addition. The box rattles as he puts it down on the table.
"Macaroni?" Sherlock raises an eyebrow. "Surely we've got better supplies lying around?"
"Nope, I want to try with these." Hamish smiles, thinking back to his conversation with John at the craft shop. "Dad will understand why."
Sherlock shrugs and rolls his sleeves up, ready for a challenge. Needless to say, things don't go well. Without the forethought involved in Sherlock's card, Hamish is at a bit of a loss. He's been pushing the macaroni around for a while, trying to form some sort of design, but nothing seems to mesh. They both associate so many feelings with John - warmth, strength, devotion, protection - but they're all frustratingly intangible.
They're both getting tired and frustrated with their combined lack of artistic talents when Sherlock reaches up to push his fringe out of his face. All he succeeds in doing is spreading the mess around. Grinning, Hamish leans across the table, fingers reaching towards Sherlock's dark curls.
"Father, hold still. You've got glitter in your hair." He's trying not to giggle, but Sherlock catches the mischievous glint in his eye and lets out a chuckle of his own.
"Better get it out quick! Last time I had glitter in my hair, your dad and I were in disguise for a case, in this club in Camden… He had on these ridiculous platform boots, and a mesh shirt that showed off all his muscles…" Sherlock puts on a fake dreamy look, teasing Hamish, who cringes appropriately.
"Ew, Father! I don't need to hear this!"
"Back to work, then."
Glowering, Hamish stares at the bit of card, no longer pristine and white now. There are fingerprints and smudges on it. He's glued a few pieces of dried pasta in the form of a familiar smiley face, an accurate facsimile of the one above the sofa, but nothing else. He huffs in irritation, pushing the card away.
Sherlock sighs, peeling a piece of coloured paper off his elbow. He may be a genius, a chemist, and the world's only consulting detective, but clearly at some point in his life he's deleted basic arts and crafts. And blast these useless safety scissors.
"Hamish… do you have your heart set on making a card for John?"
"I have to make him something! Though I suppose it doesn't need to be a card, exactly…"
"Excellent. I have an idea. Go clean this infernal glue off your hands and bring your violin in here. Just be careful with that bandage."
Hamish's face lights up, quickly cluing in to what Sherlock is getting at.
"Will you help me compose something, Father? Something just for Dad?"
"We should have a couple more hours before he gets home, I think we can work something out."
They spend the next few hours working together, Sherlock composing off the cuff as Hamish gives input, and by the time John comes home they've worked out a short piece that expresses all the love, the warmth, the happiness that John brings into their family. Sherlock is nearly swelling with pride in his son's accomplishments, but they manage to behave and keep their work a secret when John gets home, even though they're both full to bursting and eager to share their day's accomplishments. At least Father's Day is only a few days off.
Sunday morning dawns early and bright. Hamish hops out of bed at the unreasonably early hour of half five in the hopes of beating Sherlock to the punch. Sherlock and John had been out fairly late last night while Hamish stayed downstairs with Mrs. Hudson, so hopefully they'll have a bit of a lie-in this morning.
He heads into the kitchen and a quick trip down the hall confirms that both his parents are still dead to the world. He does his best to stay quiet as he pulls out all the supplies he'll need for a good fry-up and some oatmeal, thankful that John (and not Sherlock) was the last one to do the grocery shopping.
Unfortunately, there are no cookbooks anywhere in the flat, but Hamish has seen his parents prepping basic food often enough that he thinks he can figure it out. He turns all the burners on the hob to full, figuring everything will cook faster that way, before anyone wakes up.
He dumps the rolled oats into a pot, unsure of how much water to add. Erring on the side of caution, he fills the pot to the top. He cracks six eggs into one other pan, breaking the yolks and leaving them to set before setting the bacon and onions in a third pan.
Needless to say, things are not going well, when he hears slow, steady steps heading up the stairs.
"Oh, dear, what's all this then?" Mrs. Hudson peers into the kitchen, her dressing gown tied snugly around her and her hair still a mess.
"Oh, um, morning Mrs. H. I…" Hamish shrugs bashfully. "I thought I'd try to make breakfast for Father's Day."
She casts her eyes across the kitchen, taking in the watery oats, the rubbery eggs, the bacon - charred on the edges and still raw in the centre - and smiles, stroking Hamish's shoulder fondly.
"Maybe you should have started with something a bit simpler, like yoghurt and fruits, or cold cereal?"
He rubs the floor with his toes, nodding. "Probably, yeah. I just wanted to do something special for them." He rubs the back of his head, making his hair stand on end.
"Tell you what," she says, imagining Sherlock and John attempting to eat the mess and taking pity on all of her boys. "You tidy up that infernal mess your father's left on the table, and let me whip up some pancakes right quick. Then you can go wake the two lazy louts and we can all have a proper family brekkie together."
"Oh thank you, Mrs. H!" Hamish hugs her tightly before suddenly turning awkward and pulling away. "I really appreciate it."
Twenty minutes later, John and Sherlock are trudging blearily into the kitchen, Hamish dragging them each by the hand. Blinking at the unexpected sight of Mrs. Hudson and a full breakfast spread out before them, John smiles. Sherlock yawns, not bothering to stifle or smother it, before reaching out to stroke Hamish's curls.
"Mrs. H and I made you breakfast! Happy Father's Day!"
Mrs. Hudson winks conspiratorially at Hamish, even though both John and Sherlock are well aware that their son had very little to do with the actual culinary procedure. It's the thought that counts, right?
"Thank you, Hal. It looks wonderful. Right, Sherlock?"
John elbows Sherlock lightly in the ribs - sometimes the man really takes far too long to wake up in the mornings.
"Mmm? Oh. Yeah." He rubs his eyes and runs his fingers through his hair, further disordering it. "Sorry, Hamish. I'm not quite awake yet. It does look lovely. And thank you too, Mrs. Hudson. Would you care to join us?"
She smiles and takes a seat at the table, and for a while there's delightful peace and quiet in the flat as they all take their fill. The contented murmurs of people enjoying their food and company are more than enough for everyone. Eventually though, they clear their plates, and John carries the dishes into the sink.
"Those can wait, for now, I think. First, Sherlock, I think Hamish has something for you?"
"I'll be heading back down then." Mrs. Hudson pushes her chair away from the table.
"Oh no, please stay. You're family too." If her cheeks flush and her eyes water at this, everyone pretends not to notice. She sits back down, smiling.
Sheepishly, Hamish reaches into the pocket of his robe, pulling out the handmade card.
"It's… not much, but…" he studies the floor intently, holding the card out to Sherlock.
"Don't be bashful, Hal. You literally put your blood, sweat, and tears into that card."
"Not my tears! I didn't cry when I cut myself!" Hamish scowls, his pride hurt.
"It's an expression, kiddo. You remind me of your father when you take things so literally."
Sherlock's been silent during this whole exchange. Nervously, Hamish looks up at his father, unsure of what to expect. Sherlock is staring at the card, incredibly focused and intent, what John calls his "deduction face".
"Violin - because we play together. Test tubes are for parts of my job. The bees are because you know they fascinate me. The skull, I assume, is the one on the mantle that we joke about being your godfather. What does the heart represent?" The look on Sherlock's face is a still mask, completely inscrutable.
"That's because I love you, silly Father." Sherlock's lower lip trembles ever so slightly - anyone not intimately familiar with him probably wouldn't even have noticed it, but John does. The tiny show of fragility is gone as quickly as it came though, and Sherlock smiles at Hamish, a warm, genuine grin.
"Thank you, Hamish. It's absolutely perfect."
"Even with the blood?"
"Especially with the blood." The response is far too inappropriate and emphatic, and everyone laughs, even Mrs. Hudson.
"And now, Hamish, I believe you also had something for your dad?"
He ducks into the hallway where he's hidden his violin case. When he steps back into the kitchen, John's face lights up, knowing he's in for something special.
The music that weaves through the air is light and happy, trilling notes that evoke the warm sun on a raised face, a tight hug, a bandaged hand. It evokes families that might not be the most traditional, but are definitely the most loving. It evokes John and Sherlock and Hamish and home.
He drags the bow along the strings, drawing out the last note, and pauses awkwardly. Mrs. Hudson, bless her, is applauding loudly. Sherlock is beaming with pride. But right now, Hamish only has eyes for John's reaction. He may not be very demonstrative, but his eyes are glistening and his smile spreads from ear to ear, and that's more than enough for Hamish.
Hurriedly, he puts his violin away before launching into John's arms for a hug. Sherlock's long arms wrap around them both, pulling them all close. Smiling, Mrs. Hudson discreetly slips out, leaving the three of them huddled together.
When Hamish extricates himself, Sherlock makes a big show of fussing with his dressing gown, causing John to grin.
"Your father claims to be above all this emotional nonsense, but he's full of it."
"Shut up, John."
"Thank you for proving my point, Sherlock."
Hamish giggles. He likes it when his fathers tease each other, he knows they do it as a sign of affection. John squeezes him tightly one last time before letting go.
"Love you, Hal."
"Love you too, Dad. You too, Father."
Sherlock puts on a good show of looking put out, scowling dramatically.
"Hmph. I suppose I have to say I love you both too."
The act sets Hamish to giggling again, which makes John burst out laughing too. If there's one thing Sherlock's unable to resist, it's John laughing. Sherlock's chuckles cause another cascade of mirth from Hamish, and eventually all three of them are leaning on the table, giggling, and gasping for breath.
It may not be the most conventional family ever, Hamish finds himself thinking, but it's mine, and it's perfect.