Sherlock sat staring blankly ahead. The moisture of the ground soaked through his trousers, the cold of the marble seeped through his jacket. He watched as the clouds worked their way across the steel blue sky; swirling and undulating, a strange reminder of the transience of nature. Sherlock brushed small creases from his slacks and picked nonexistent lint off of his cuffs. He barely noticed when John approached swiftly and silently. John paused and looked off towards the sun for a few minutes before he sat beside Sherlock. Sherlock did not look up; did not acknowledge his companion. He sighed and returned to his cloud gazing. An hour, possibly two; he was hardly paying enough attention to the progress of the Sun to know; passed before Sherlock began to speak.
“Hamish is, without a doubt, your child.” John’s mouth opened in protest, but Sherlock threw up a hand before he could argue. “No, no. I know that, genetically, there’s no arguing he’s mine. He was cursed with the Holmesian make-up. And while it is formidable in intelligence, I occasionally wish he could be privy to a sturdier stock. The Holmes’ aren’t made to blend in, and Hamish quite certainly never will. He’s too much my progeny. That curly hair, the knobby knees, the fair skin, the almost alien opalescent eyes; he gets it all from me.”
Sherlock looked down at his hands. They lay, steepled, unmoving, in his lap. His voice softened as he continued, “But he’s yours, too. Somehow, he’s yours, John. He knows how to handle me. He can combat the worst of my dark moods. And that has Watson written all over it.” He brought his eyes up to meet John’s. “He smiles, and I see you. His sense of humour is absolutely you. I don’t know why or how, but you have imprinted yourself on our son. How else would he know how to make the perfect cuppa? You. He gets that from you.”
“I’m sure you’ve noticed, but he seems to have acquired some of my less desirable habits as well. The stubborn need to be right, the sometimes ceaseless conversation,” John snorted but Sherlock ignored him. “The occasional disregard for any of his bodily needs, the slightly addictive personality; you remember, I’m sure, the lollipop phase; those are mine.”
A companionable silence enveloped the two men. The clouds stretched out above them, darkening. Sherlock ran a hand through his hair, maintaining the steady eye contact that many found uncomfortable, but he knew John relished, “Your influence on him is inescapable and undeniable. And I wouldn’t undo it, even if I could.”
“He plays the clarinet, for goodness’ sake. Not even a stringed instrument. I can only blame you for that.” John smiled and Sherlock looked away. “Though, if anyone can bring dignity to a woodwind, it’ll be Hamish Watson-Holmes. He couldn’t possibly be anything less than extraordinary with input from the world’s only consulting detective and his army doctor.”
John’s shoulder bumped his. Sherlock chuckled. “You may poke fun at this, or possibly you already know, but that boy has me in the palm of his hands. He’s so full of love and affection, everything I never was. And his laughter can make even the dullest moments effervescent.”
“Do you remember his fifth birthday party?” Sherlock continued. John nodded slowly and smiled fondly. “Of course you do. It was unforgettable. Hamish managed to correctly deduce that Lestrade and my brother had,” Sherlock fought off a shudder, “done the deed, as it were.” John grinned at his discomfort.
“And that night, you and I were watching telly when Hamish walked in and stood, as if he were going to make some world-altering declaration. Looking back, I suppose he was. He tucked his hands behind his back and announced, ‘Papa. Father. I love you.’” John placed an arm around Sherlock’s shoulders and Sherlock let his head fall back.
“I love you. Three simple words. Separated, they’re meaningless. Together… And since those three words were spoken, unabashedly by a child, my child, our child, my life has been vastly changed. And that, that’s you. That, that sentiment. All you. I’ve never been able to declare anything involving emotion with anything even close to certainty. So, thank you. Thank you for, well, everything.” The arm around his shoulder tightened.
“I never thought I’d find someone who would love me, never dreamed there would one day be two; two remarkable human beings who have the strength and the compassion to not only love me but also to announce it to the world.” John brushed a tear from his cheek while Sherlock wasn’t looking. Sherlock continued, “I don’t know what I’d do without him. He is everything. And once again, he gets that from you.”
“You know I don’t support these silly notions people have about the existence of a higher power, some all-knowing being watching us from on high. But if anything was designed by a deity it was the two of you. If anything was fated to be, it was the three of us.” Sherlock cleared his throat. John merely blinked through watery eyes.
“Last night, Hamish prayed. He didn’t know I was listening. He said, ‘Look, I don’t know if you’re there, but Papa always says there are things in this world even Father can’t explain, so, I guess if you are, I have something to say. I need you to tell Papa…’” Sherlock’s voice broke. His hands clenched into fists. “He said, ‘Tell Papa that I’m watching Father for him. Tell him we’ll be okay.’ Imagine that, seven-years-old and looking after me.”
A tear rolled down Sherlock’s face. He pulled his knees to his chest and wiped his face. The comforting weight was gone from his shoulders. “John, I froze. I couldn’t move. He prayed for a good long while, too, just sending you a letter through heavenly messengers. And the entire time I stood outside his door, trying to listen, unable to comprehend, struggling to breathe, struggling to stand. And then, then I caught the end of his prayer. He said he really misses you.”
The tears were flowing freely down his face as Sherlock stood, brushing dirt from his trousers. He straightened his jacket and turned. He smiled sadly as he watched this last image of the man he loved fade slowly. He stepped forward and placed his hand on the smooth headstone that had been serving as his backrest. His eyes scanned the now familiar words, trying to focus on the shapes rather than the meaning:
Soldier, Doctor, Father, Friend.
Sherlock pulled a single gladiolus from within his jacket and placed the slightly rumpled flower on the gentle curve of the deep black stone. He caressed the unfeeling, unrelenting cold. His eyes fell closed as he spoke his final words to the man who had, long ago, become his heart.
“He really misses you. And that, that, my dear John, he gets from me.”