Chapter 1: Blood
“No!” the shout is ripped from John’s throat as he wakes, sweaty and trembling, hands reaching for the other side of the bed in the hope it will prove his dream a lie.
Which is futile since it is cold and empty; bereft of the man who filled John’s life and heart with the warmth of a love he never thought he would find.
A good representation of me, John thinks as he stares at Sherlock’s pillow, existing but without purpose because he is gone.
In the daylight he doesn’t have such thoughts as he’s able to rationalise his fears. To read the well worn note once more and know that it was all a trick, a play elaborately staged to satisfy Moriarty and the web he left behind. To know that Sherlock still lives, somewhere, and is working to bring the web down so he can come back to life. To know that he, John, does still have a purpose because although Sherlock would have died to keep John alive he chose to live for him instead.
But in the darkness he cannot escape what he cannot forget; the terror of the fall and the pulseless wrist and, above all, the horror of seeing that face, those eyes - the eyes that lit up John’s world - lifeless and smeared with blood.
Chapter 2: Breathe
It’s been three years and John’s all but lost hope that he’ll ever see Sherlock again. He’s tried, really tried, to keep going like Sherlock asked him to but today … today he’s had glimpses of long coats and dark curls and his heart is aching fit to burst. He holds on until he gets back to the flat but then lets it shatter, leaning against the door in the dark living room as tears boil down his face and shake his whole body.
John’s head jerks up at the pained exclamation to see a silhouette detach itself from the shadow next to the window and move purposefully towards him.
'Stay back,' he gasps, yanking his gun from the back of his jeans and levelling it at the intruder. The man doesn’t stop and so John - certain that this means the worst has happened, that Sherlock has failed and Moriarty’s henchmen are fulfilling the contract - clicks off the safety catch and starts to squeeze the trigger.
Then the scent hits him and the gun is clattering to the floor as he surges forward, sobbing and laughing as familiar arms wrap round him, holding him blessedly tight.
'I missed you,' John chokes into Sherlock’s neck, 'Oh God I missed you.'
'And I you,' Sherlock murmurs back, 'So much I could barely breathe.'
Chapter 3: Bag
John watches the woman leave then rests his head on the desk and closes his eyes. He’s been so tired these past weeks; a bone deep tiredness that came out of nowhere and just won’t shift.
If he’d felt like this two months ago, before Sherlock came back, he’d have attributed it to depression but now? He’s happier than he’s ever been – exhaustion notwithstanding – and he’s not ill. It makes no sense.
A soft ‘John?’ jolts him out of his reverie.
‘I brought you coffee.’ Sarah sounds amused and he realises that she, like everyone else, thinks he's in this state because he and Sherlock are still “celebrating” Sherlock’s return as often as humanly possible.
As she hands over the cup with a knowing grin he’s so stung by the unfairness of the assumption that, instead of thank you, he blurts out, ‘This is not down to sex!’
‘Me. Like this. Not down to sex. All I’ve done these past two weeks is sleep. Hell, sometimes I'm so dizzy with tiredness I can barely stand, never mind anything else!’
John lifts the mug to take a sip and gags, ‘Ugh and this milk is off.’
'OK,' Sarah murmurs, staring at him critically, 'Come with ... actually no, you stay sitting. I’m going to postpone your next patient and fetch my bag.”
Chapter 4: Beta
‘Not. Possible,’ John shakes his head, resolutely ignoring the test Sarah’s trying to show him.
‘That’s not true and you know it,’ she gives him a sympathetic look before setting it in front of him. ‘You studied this at medical school, same as me.’
‘Yes. Exactly. We learnt that 99.99% of all omega males born after World War II cannot breed unless glycoprotein hormones are administered to trigger ovulation,’ he recites, glaring at her defiantly. ‘So unless I’ve somehow not noticed getting injected in the arse every day for a month there’s no way that thing can be positive.’
‘It can if you are one of the 0.01%,’ Sarah’s voice is firm but kind, ‘one of the anomalous few whose bodies trigger themselves due to severe emotional trauma or after they are reunited with their bonded alpha following an extended separation.’
‘But the chance of … I just …’ John’s eyes flick rapidly between her face and the test until, finally, he picks it up and reads it himself. ‘Oh ... Oh God … I’m actually …’ His lips tremble as he lays one shaking hand on his stomach, ‘I … Fucking hell!’
She winces at the curse but places a comforting hand on his shoulder, ‘Are you alright?’
‘I will be.’ He tries for a smile. ‘Am I making you glad you’re a beta?’
Chapter 5: Bucket
John’s been walking since he left the surgery - trying to get his head together, to drown the fear that one word on the test in his pocket has ignited - when a familiar black sedan pulls up and the door swings open. His impulse to ignore the silent command fades when another wave of exhaustion swamps him and he sways where he stands.
'Help him,' Mycroft’s curt order results in a suited man leaping out of the passenger door and steadying John’s arm, grip surprisingly gentle as John concentrates on getting safely from pavement to car.
'You’re just as stubborn as my dear brother,' Mycroft comments as John lies back gratefully onto cool leather and the car moves off, 'walking home in your condition when you could have taken a cab. I insist you take better care of my niece or nephew from now on.'
John’s eyes fly open and he sits up fast.
Much too fast because, instead of demanding Mycroft tell him just how the hell he knows, he’s clamping a hand over his mouth and swallowing convulsively, desperately trying not to be sick.
Mycroft’s response is to pull out his phone.
'Sherlock don’t talk, just listen. I’m bringing John home now. Please collect him from the car and Sherlock …' he looks at John with mounting concern, 'bring a bucket.'
Chapter 6: Brother
Sherlock, bucket free but vibrating with worry, lunges at the car before it’s really come to a halt.
‘What did you do to him?’ he demands of Mycroft as he sees John’s face, so pale that his skin looks almost blue in the shaft of afternoon sun lancing through the open door.
‘Other than bring him home?’ Mycroft raises an eyebrow, ‘Absolutely nothing. John’s condition is certainly not my doing.’
‘Condition?’ Sherlock steps inside and kneels in front of John, eyes flying over him as he seeks answers the only way he knows how.
‘Sherlock, not here,’ John says but Sherlock's already deducing.
‘The exhaustion is a symptom of something more serious,’ he says swiftly. ‘Nothing life-threatening since you're not devastated but ...’ he watches John's eyes, ‘you are shocked by the diagnosis, which you didn't make ... so it must be rare.’
John nods but can’t find his voice as Sherlock leans forward and inhales.
‘Your scent’s normal. No ... wait … there's something ... it's faint but … progesterone? You … you’re …’
‘Yes,’ John whispers as they stare at one another, ‘I'm pregnant.’
The silence stretches taut between them until Sherlock takes a shaky breath.
‘You’ve always been exceptional, John,’ he reaches out tentatively, brushing John’s abdomen with the tips of his fingers, ‘but this … this is amazing.’
‘Quite,’ Mycroft’s voice is warm. ‘Congratulations, little brother.’
Chapter 7: Brilliant
John’s warm and comfortable, the low rumble vibrating through his entire body making him feel safe and secure. He wants to stay like this, drifting peacefully, but gradually the rumble coalesces into words and he begins to surface.
‘… coal and ketchup? That's completely illogical.’
‘It’s a craving, it’s … Oh look, the poor dear’s waking. I’ll leave you to it, then. You look after him now!’
‘Sherlock?’ he says, well, tries to say. All he manages is a croak.
‘How are you feeling, love?’
He blinks and swallows. Sherlock never uses that tone or that endearment – any endearment for that matter – outside of the bedroom and it adds to his disorientation.
‘Here, let’s sit up.’ He feels Sherlock’s muscles tense beneath him and then they’re moving, Sherlock cradling him so carefully he begins to panic. Until his brain kicks in properly. Right, yes, I'm pregnant, Sherlock's apparently fine with that, I fell asleep and then …
‘Was that Mrs Hudson?’ he asks, the word craving echoing round his head.
‘Yes. She’s thrilled. Obviously.’
‘You told her!’
‘She said you'd be cross. That you'd want to wait until you're much further along ... I’m sorry.’
He looks up at Sherlock in amazement, ‘Apologies and endearments? Are you OK?’
‘I’m more than OK,’ Sherlock’s smile is dazzling, ‘You’re having my baby, John. I’m brilliant.’
Chapter 8: Bet
‘I can’t go back to work,’ John says disconsolately into Sherlock’s chest. The sky darkened hours ago but they’re still lying on the sofa, John ensconced in the protective curve of Sherlock’s body, both of them resting their hands on his stomach.
‘Not right away, no,’ Sherlock says, kissing John’s hair, ‘You’re clearly in need of proper rest for a couple of days.’
John huffs a laugh, ‘I don’t think a couple of days is going to cut it, Sherlock. And even if I didn’t feel like I’d been heavily sedated it’d be out of the question. Exposing myself to any and all contagious diseases my patients might have is simply no longer an option.’
He looks up in time to catch the flash of anxiety on Sherlock’s face.
‘I didn’t think of that! No, you certainly can’t go back,’ Sherlock shifts and frees one hand to grab his phone. ‘What about the last two weeks? Will it have harmed him? I need to research this, to …’
‘You need to calm down,’ John says, grabbing his hand and steadying him, ‘Sarah checked me over, ran all the tests. Everything is fine … And did you just say him?’
‘It might be a girl.’
‘It won’t. First born Holmes’s are always male.’
John’s mouth curls at one corner, ‘Want to bet?’
Chapter 9: Best
John’s trying to make a cup of tea. Not a difficult task under normal circumstances but, well, when is anything ever normal when Sherlock’s involved.
‘Where have you put the teabags?’ he calls when five minutes of searching prove fruitless.
‘I threw them out,’ Sherlock says absently, wandering in from the living room clutching a large book entitled From Alpha to Omega: The Ultimate Guide to a Perfect Gestation.
‘Do I want to know why?’
‘Caffeine. You can’t have any.’
‘Sherlock, I’m a doctor. I know what I can safely consume. One cup of tea isn’t going to hurt me.’
‘Too risky. You’re mature for a primigravida as it is.’ He points to a box behind the steaming kettle, ‘I got you ginger tea instead. It’s good for nausea.’
John refrains from saying that he’s suffering from exhaustion, not morning sickness, reminds himself that Sherlock means well and pulls open the crockery cupboard.
And then he closes his eyes briefly and prays for strength.
‘And I suppose there’s also a perfectly logical reason why the mugs are hidden behind … two dozen brands of pregnancy supplements?’
Sherlock looks at him with what can only be described as his “How do live with your stupidity?” expression. ‘Of course. They’re for analysis. Do you really think I’d let you ingest anything but the best?’
Chapter 10: Bother
‘Hello dear,’ Mrs Hudson says when she finds John sitting on the stairs, ‘how are you feeling?’
‘Like all the sleep in the world wouldn't be enough and that bombing the Amazon distribution centre might be the only way to remain sane.’
‘The books,' John nods, ‘Well, the ideas he’s getting from them, really.’
‘Oh John,' She eases herself onto the step next to him and pats his knee, ‘He really doesn’t mean to upset you. It’s just his way.’
‘Rationally, yes, I can see that our flat looking like an offshoot of the British Library and the fact that I can’t breathe without him suggesting a more pregnancy friendly way to do it is just how Sherlock shows he cares,’ John presses the heels of his hands to his eyes and sighs, ‘but, unfortunately, rationality is in short supply in the swirling mess of hormones that is my body ... Mrs Hudson I swear the next time he says something along the lines of “but you’re a doctor, John, how can you not know the optimum temperature for bathing in the ninth gestational week of pregnancy is 35 degrees Celsius” I’m going to hit him. Hard.’
She gives his hand a squeeze, ‘You know you don’t mean that.’
‘True,’ John agrees, ‘but only because I’m too tired to bother.’
Chapter 11: Bang
‘John …’ A hand brushes his forehead, ‘John …’
He responds automatically to the familiar voice, rubbing the stickiness from his eyes and the ache from his neck as he tries to work out what’s happening.
‘Christ, not again!’ he exclaims when he realises, ‘How long was I asleep this time?’
‘An hour,’ Sherlock answers, taking John’s hand and wrapping it round a cool glass. ‘I would have left you but you haven’t eaten yet today and you need sustenance.’
John takes a sip of the drink, trying to ignore the fury bubbling in the pit of his stomach, mixing uncomfortably with the low-grade nausea that arrived last week and won’t leave, ‘Just give me a minute, will you?’
‘Lucozade and ginger biscuits,’ Sherlock continues blithely, waving said biscuits under John’s nose, ‘which, several of the books agree, will provide …’
‘I don’t give a shit what the bloody books say!’ John leaps off the sofa, flinging the glass at Sherlock as his anger overwhelms his reason, ‘Save your sanctimonious advice for someone who cares. Someone whose body isn’t being fucked over by a bundle of cells they never had a choice about carrying!’
And then, stifling a sob, John bolts from the flat, leaving Sherlock dripping forlornly, his face a study in confusion as the front door closes with a bang.
Chapter 12: Bleak
Come home – SH
John, sitting in a secluded corner of Regent’s Park, glances at his phone. He’s not crying. He’s absolutely, definitely, not crying.
Come home, John – SH
This isn’t how it’s supposed to go. He’s an omega for God’s sake, he’s built for breeding. Hell, his body wanted this so much it managed to overcome the inherited effect of Hitler’s most effective biological weapon. He’s supposed to be happy.
Come home, John, please - SH
So why does he feel so frightened? Why can’t he be like Sherlock and be thrilled about the new life he’s bringing into the world? Instead he’s only hanging on by a thread, overwhelmed by the alien cells that have taken over not just his body but his whole life.
Where are you? I’ll come to you - SH
Except that’s not the only thing overwhelming him. Sherlock’s like a man possessed; measuring, recording and making John feel more like a container than a person. Just something to hold Sherlock’s greatest creation until the child is born.
I love you – SH
But it's not just any child
I love you both - SH
It's their child.
I love you both and I want to hold you - SH
Created by their love.
Look up - SH
And Sherlock’s there, holding out his arms. Suddenly the world doesn’t look so bleak.
Chapter 13: Beginning
‘… didn’t like that shirt anyway,’ Sherlock says as he runs his fingers through John’s hair. They are in bed, Sherlock propped against the headboard and John curled into Sherlock’s side, head resting over Sherlock’s heart.
‘But that’s not the point! I really am …’
‘No. You mustn’t apologise, John. If I’d actually thought about you rather than some generic omega from those “bloody books” I’d have realised. I’ve behaved appallingly.’
‘No you haven’t. I should’ve said something but …’ his hand tightens on Sherlock’s waist and his voice catches, ‘I’ve felt so strange, Sherlock, and so utterly unlike myself …’ the tears return, falling unchecked onto Sherlock’s chest and this time he doesn’t fight it, finally letting everything out.
When he comes back to himself he finds he’s now in Sherlock’s lap, clinging to him as if he’s the only real thing left in the world. He’d be embarrassed if he had the energy but instead he just takes a couple of steadying breaths and lifts his head.
‘Can I do anything?’ Sherlock whispers, hand tracing figures of eight on John’s back.
John looks into his face and sees concern, understanding and, above all, love.
‘You already are,’ he whispers back, ‘just by being you … being here.’
‘It doesn’t seem enough.’
‘You’ll always be enough. You always have been, right from the very beginning.’
Chapter 14: Baby
‘What exactly was wrong with having the scan at the Princess Grace?’ John grouses as he lets Sherlock help him into the cab. ‘I mean, it’s only two streets away and I know Paul, the gynaecologist.’
‘I don’t like that hospital,’ Sherlock’s hand goes to John’s still flat stomach as they sit, ‘The Centre is much more discrete and besides, Doctor Qui and I have been corresponding.’
‘Doctor Qui? You've been ... Jesus Sherlock, he’s famous!’
‘Yes, and, slightly more impressively as far as I am concerned, a specialist in self-triggered omega male pregnancy.’
John smiles at Sherlock, all annoyance gone, ‘I should have realised this wasn’t just you being snobbish.’
‘No this is me - how did you put it last week - continuing to be overbearingly obsessive about your pregnancy.’
‘You woke me at three o’clock in the morning trying to measure my waist, you’re lucky that’s all I said. Anyway, this isn’t obsessive, this is … good. Sensible. Reassuring.’
‘Dear Lord, you’re making me sound normal.’
John stares at Sherlock for a second, incredulous and then he starts to giggle. After a heartbeat Sherlock joins in and the underlying tension of the past ten weeks melts away as they laugh themselves silly.
‘Come on John,’ Sherlock says, still hiccoughing slightly as the cab pulls up, ‘Hurry. I want to see our baby.’
Chapter 15: Born
John’s attention remains firmly on the screen as Doctor Qui talks Sherlock through the intricacies of how you get from an ultrasound image to a due date.
‘Are you OK?’ Amy, the Doctor’s assistant, asks quietly, ‘Not too uncomfortable?’
He shakes his head in response. He honestly couldn’t care less that his bladder feels like it might explode - he’s too bound up mapping each whorl and curve that makes up the image of their child and listening to the thrumming sound of its heart. It is one of the most beautiful things he’s ever experienced - almost more beautiful than Sherlock – and the intensity of his love for the tiny being he’s carrying is shocking.
‘John? What’s the matter?’ Sherlock’s back at his side, thumb gently wiping his cheek and he realises he’s crying silently.
‘Sorry … being stupid. I …’ he blinks hard, trying to force his brain to work properly under the onslaught of emotions, ‘just look, Sherlock … that’s our child. Inside me.’
‘It’s very real now, isn’t it?’ Sherlock says, getting right to the heart of the matter.
John just nods.
‘It’s perfectly normal to find this a little overwhelming,’ Doctor Qui says, handing them a print of the image, ‘just take a few minutes together, now, and then we can talk about when little one is going to be born.’
Chapter 16: Biscuit
‘I know I’ve said it before but I’m very happy for you both,’ Mrs Hudson says, handing Sherlock back the picture from the scan and picking up her tea, ‘Thank you for sharing this with me.’
‘You’re going to be his Godmother,’ Sherlock says without preamble, ‘how could we not show you?’
‘Oh Sherlock,’ she murmurs, pulling a handkerchief out of her sleeve, ‘I don’t know what to say.’
‘Yes, preferably,’ John says, eyeing the tin she’s brought up with her hopefully, ‘You’ll always be a huge part of our child’s life but this will make it official.’
‘But I’m …’
‘In the prime of life,’ Sherlock cuts her off, smiling, ‘with more energy than most thirty year olds I know. Besides, he won’t care how old you are.’
‘You’re right, as usual,’ she says, beaming at both of them, ‘and it’s definitely a boy? You can’t tell from the picture.’
‘No, you can’t,’ John says, giving Sherlock a look, ‘because it’s not possible to tell for another seven weeks at least. Sherlock has just “decided” that he’s right about the gender.’
‘Because I am,’ Sherlock retorts, nose in the air.
‘We don’t know that.’
‘I don’t guess!’
‘Boys! Boys, please!’ Mrs Hudson interrupts, opening the tin and waving it between them, ‘Stop arguing and have a biscuit.’
Chapter 17: Beneath
‘Sherlock,’ John calls, trying to keep his voice steady, ‘could you come in here a moment?’
‘Five minutes,’ is the muffled reply and he’s tempted to just go back to the bedroom and see how long it takes Sherlock to wake up properly and notice but he’s too entranced by his reflection to actually do it.
His waist has been thickening, his hips widening but, until now, there hasn’t been a change in his physique that would be remotely perceptible to anyone other than him and Sherlock’s measuring tape.
‘Where did you come from?’ he asks softly, running a hand over his torso. ‘I’d swear you weren’t there yesterday.’
Although, he concedes wryly, he’d have been hard pushed to notice anything much yesterday, anything in the past few days really, given they’ve spent the majority of that time in bed; his latest scent change unleashing what Sherlock calls his “inner alpha” and what he described – gasped actually, between urgent kisses – as “an unquenchable need to worship your fecundity”. Not that John has a problem with that - far from it - but it was very … uh … distracting.
Returning his gaze to the mirror he splays his fingers over his abdomen - an action he’s repeated often of late - and watches as, for the first time, they’re pushed slightly outward by the new curve beneath.
Chapter 18: Bump
‘How did I not see?’ Sherlock’s on his knees on the cold tiles, nose inches from John’s belly.
‘We were somewhat preoccupied,’ John murmurs, tangling his fingers in Sherlock’s sleep mussed curls, ‘and it’s not exactly big.’
‘Not now, no,’ Sherlock’s up on his feet in a flash, face alight with enthusiasm as he dashes back into the living room, the rest of his sentence floating back over his shoulder, ‘but as Doctor Qui said, although omega males start showing later than females, once they do, their gravidity becomes far more pronounced far faster.’
‘Yes, I …’ John pauses and turns back to the mirror, twisting this way and that.
‘I’m going to get huge,’ he murmurs, moving his hands away from his body, visualising just how far his abdomen will protrude. He’s always understood, objectively, that he’s going to end up looking like he’s swallowed a watermelon but now … now he really knows. His stomach growls as an urge for fried bread assails him and he frowns, ‘God, I’m starving now too. I’ll end up enormous!’
‘Yes,’ Sherlock’s back, stepping in close behind John. He wraps his arms round John’s waist, rests his chin on John’s right shoulder and nuzzles his neck, ‘but don’t fret. You’ll always be gorgeous to me. Now just hold still, love, while I measure the bump.’
Chapter 19: Basement
‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ Sherlock croons as he rubs John’s back, ‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking.’
John moans softly in response and then starts retching again, one arm clamped round his torso, the other clutching the toilet bowl as he fights a losing battle with his stomach. Sherlock’s kneeling next to him, propping him up and he’s grateful for the support even if it is Sherlock’s fault this is happening in the first place.
Well, that’s not quite true. It isn’t Sherlock’s fault that certain smells now cause him to vomit copiously until there’s nothing left in his body. However it is down to him that John’s discovered the scent of soy sauce is one more thing he can add to the list of substances he can no longer tolerate. Although it does go some way to explaining why he’s felt compelled to refuse Chinese food recently; clearly his body knows what its limits are even if he doesn’t.
‘I think I’m done,’ his voice is gravelly as he pushes away from the toilet and sits down on the bathroom floor, ‘but I’m staying here until you’ve removed every trace of whatever you were working on from the flat.’
‘Yes, John,’ Sherlock says contritely, handing him a damp cloth, ‘and from now on all experiments will be conducted in the basement.’
Chapter 20: Beetroot
‘I should at least apologise,’ John says, voice still raw from vomiting.
‘Absolutely not,’ Greg and Sherlock retort together, startling a laugh out of Greg.
‘Seriously,’ Greg continues, following them into 221B, ‘You’re pregnant and you told Anderson his deodorant was making you ill. It’s his own fault he didn’t step back in time.’
‘Exactly,’ Sherlock nods.
‘He didn’t realise,’ John demurs, sinking into his chair, ‘it’s not exactly obvious yet.’
‘It is to anyone with half a brain,’ Sherlock calls from the kitchen, ‘you barely took your hands off your stomach while we were there. Everyone else had worked it out within the first two minutes.’
‘Yeah,’ Greg agrees, grinning, ‘Congratulations, by the way, I should have said earlier.’
‘Thanks,’ John grins back but then swallows, hard.
‘Do you need …’ Greg tails off as John shakes his head.
‘No, I’m fine, Sherlock’s getting …’
‘Here,’ Sherlock reappears, frowning, and hands John a bowl, ‘I still don’t understand how or why this works.’
‘Neither do I,’ John answers carefully, ‘but I don’t care. I’m just grateful that it does.’
He takes a spoonful and swallows, the moan of pleasure he emits as he does causing Greg’s face to burn scarlet.
‘What the hell is in there?’ he stutters.
‘Nothing special,’ Sherlock shrugs, still sounding slightly perturbed, ‘just Dulce de Leche and beetroot.’
Chapter 21: Blimp
‘Are you sure you don’t want any of this?’ Sherlock asks, waving a spoonful of Tiramisu at John.
‘I’m fine,’ John leans back on the sofa and smiles at Sherlock, rubbing his stomach and newly emerging bump, ‘that cannelloni was massive and I finished it all. I couldn’t eat anything else if I tried.’
They sit in companionable silence while Sherlock finishes his dessert and John makes a mental note to get Angelo something very special for Christmas. After all, delivering a full meal at 2am is going above and beyond anything he might owe Sherlock for keeping him out of prison all those years ago.
‘He likes you,’ Sherlock says, apparently reading John’s mind, ‘and he loves children. He’d cook for us permanently if we asked him.’
‘Lord no!’ John pokes at the gaps between his straining shirt buttons, smile fading rapidly, ‘my appetite has gone through the roof as it is. Can you imagine what I’d end up looking like with pasta on tap?’
‘Deliciously gravid and sexy as hell?’ Sherlock’s voice has dropped to the purr that means he’s only thinking about one thing as he slides up to John, fingers making short work of the buttons and then caressing the taut flesh beneath.
‘Hardly,’ John gasps, arching into Sherlock’s touch despite himself, ‘I’m turning into a blimp.’
Chapter 22: Blur
‘… maybe if I … nope … Damn! … Well, I guess there’s no passing you off as a few too many take-aways now, is there little one?’
Sherlock creeps closer to the bedroom door, entranced by both the content of the one-sided conversation and the love in John’s voice. He’s quite glad no-one can see him right now because he knows he’d have no hope of disguising the fact that sentiment has become something Sherlock Holmes does do. Quite emphatically, if the lump in his throat is anything to go by.
‘I don’t mind … not really, but …’
A scraping noise informs Sherlock that John’s opening a drawer.
‘… couldn’t you have held off your growth spurt for another few days? These were the only pair of trousers Daddy could still button.’
If Sherlock thought his throat had been tight before it’s nothing to how it feels now he’s peeking round the door. John, naked bar a pair of white cotton shorts that ride low under his growing abdomen, is kneeling next to the wardrobe and absently rubbing the neat bump as he sorts through the clothes.
‘Right then, little one,’ John murmurs, ‘looks like track bottoms and a trip to the shops. Let’s hope your Papa doesn’t mind.’
‘He doesn’t,’ Sherlock husks, stealth forgotten as his emotions overwhelm him and his vision begins to blur.
Chapter 23: Benedict
‘This subject is not up for debate,’ Sherlock mutters as John shifts his weight to his other leg, self-consciously rubbing the underside of his now obvious bump, ‘it’s our decision and that’s final.’
They’re attending the opening of an exhibit at the British Museum, ostensibly because Mycroft invited them but in reality because the main suspect in Sherlock’s latest case is one of the sponsors. John’s enjoying being somewhere that isn’t the flat, the Yard or the supermarket but the attention he’s getting from the other guests and the press photographers is getting a little wearing; Sherlock’s fame exploded on his return, making John’s pregnancy news with a capital N.
‘It was merely a suggestion,’ Mycroft counters, eyes flicking over John and then half turning to shield him from the worst of the scrutiny, ‘and it would make Mummy so happy.’
‘We’ll consider it,’ John says, shooting Mycroft a grateful look which he acknowledges with a minute tilt of his head.
‘We will not,’ Sherlock glares at Mycroft for emphasis.
‘Fine. I’ll consider it then. Arthur’s certainly better than the names you’ve been coming up with.’
‘What’s wrong with Benedict?’ Sherlock frowns, indignant, ‘or Lucius, or Cai?’
Mycroft smirks at the expression on John’s face, ‘Focusing on Shakespeare and the Classics then?’
‘Yes,’ John sighs, ‘although I do quite like Benedict.’
Chapter 24: Beg
Sherlock barely gets the door open before John's pushing him inside, spinning him, then pinning him against the wall. The curve of John's belly presses tightly against his groin and then John's tugging him down for a kiss that is all about possession and desperation and … Christ, Sherlock's helpless against this kind of fervour.
'John,' he gasps when he finally gets control of his mouth, 'John slow down! It's fine.'
'Not fine,' John's hands are moving, Sherlock's shirt is off almost before he can take another breath, 'I've wanted you All. Bloody. Day ... Please Sherlock, I need you. Now.'
Sherlock doesn't bother responding in words, instead winding his arms round John's trembling frame and kissing him, again and again, until John's boneless in his arms and he can get them off the wall and onto the sofa.
'God I love you,' he says into the curve of John's neck, hands sweeping across John's shoulders and then down, caressing the bump before moving lower, feather light touches that turns John's breath to sobs.
'Please Sherlock, please,' John's hands are tugging futilely at his belt, all co-ordination gone. 'I feel … it's like my heat ... intense but ... different … oh God I can't ... Sherlock!'
'Shush, I'm here,' Sherlock's own movements are now bordering on frantic, 'I've got you. It's OK. You don't have to beg.'
Chapter 25: Break
‘Are you ill?’ Greg asks when Sherlock staggers rather than strides up to the crime scene, ‘You look awful.’
‘I’m fine,’ Sherlock’s voice is rough and his usual curtness is missing, ‘Show me the body.’
‘Not until you tell me what’s wrong with you,’ Greg hisses, grabbing Sherlock’s elbow and towing him into a nearby alley. ‘The last time you look this rough was …’ he swallows, meeting Sherlock’s eyes fiercely, ‘Please, tell me I’m wrong, Sherlock.’
Sherlock looks at him blankly for a second - something that frightens Greg more than his shadowed eyes and unsteady gait - and then his face clears.
‘You think I’m high?’
‘You’re doing a damn good impression of it,’ Greg snaps, face tight.
Sherlock inhales deeply and straightens, trying to pull himself together, ‘I’m not on drugs, Lestrade. I’m exhausted.’
When Greg’s face remains incredulous he sighs, a pink tinge appearing along his cheekbones. ‘John's pregnancy has reached the point where his, uh, desire for certain activities has increased exponentially. I'm finding fulfilling his needs ... challenging.’
Greg stares at Sherlock for a moment and then starts to laugh, 'Sorry Sherlock, I just ... God, you poor sod, John's completely done you in!'
Sherlock slumps back against the wall, nodding.
'Here,' Greg pushes his keys into Sherlock's hand, 'forget the case, take my spare room. You need a break.'
Chapter 26: Butterfly
He’s alone the first time it happens.
Well, he’s in Tesco so technically there are about fifty people with him but that’s not the point. The point is that because of where he is he doesn’t realise what it is. Instead he assumes it’s a combination of hunger – he’s trying to choose between chocolate eclairs and vanilla slices – and anxiety brought on by the stares of several shoppers who clearly recognised him. It’s gone as quickly as it comes, though, so he just buys both and goes home.
He’s alone the second time as well, two hours later.
He’s just finished consuming both the vanilla slices and one of the eclairs so he puts it down to indigestion - regretfully leaving the last eclair for Sherlock - and goes back to reviewing his latest medical journal.
The third time it happens he’s with Sherlock.
He’s not eating anything, he’s not hungry and he’s not worried. In fact, cocooned as he is in Sherlock’s arms, he’s entirely and completely content. So when he feels those tiny fluttering, swooping sensations inside he recognises them for what they really are.
‘Sherlock,’ he breathes, heart pounding, ‘Sherlock, I can feel the baby!’
‘Oh!’ Sherlock’s hands tighten over his own, ‘Tell me.’
He doesn’t have to ask what Sherlock means, ‘It … it feels like I’ve swallowed a butterfly.’
Chapter 27: Boy
‘He hates me,’ Sherlock exclaims, yanking his hands off John’s abdomen and stomping into the living room, ‘He’s not even born and he hates me. It’ll be worse when he’s arrived, he’ll think I’m a horrible father and then he’ll run away at fourteen and join the circus ...’
‘The circus? Really?’ John smiles, ‘Don’t you think you’re overreacting?’
Sherlock spins round, glowering, then throws himself into his chair muttering, ‘It’s alright for you. You can feel him.’
John looks at Sherlock, taking in the hunched frame and pinched expression and his heart constricts slightly, ‘Oh love, I’m sorry. I know it’s upsetting you.’
‘I just …’ Sherlock lifts his face to John and the hurt in his eyes is unmistakable, ‘Why does he stop kicking every time I touch you?’
‘It isn’t just you,’ John bends to hug him but Sherlock pulls him into his lap, arms wrapping round him automatically, ‘Oof … careful … I think little one’s just shy. I mean look at yesterday and the scan. Doctor Qui couldn’t see to determine the gender and even I couldn’t get any movement.’
‘Gender!’ Sherlock’s eyes light up and he cuddles John closer, cradling the bump, ‘Of course! She’s sulking!’
‘Yes. Obviously. I mean wouldn’t you be annoyed if you were female and your Papa kept saying you were a boy.’
Chapter 28: Brooding
John turns away before he winces, not wanting to draw Sherlock’s attention to the fact that little one’s moving; mainly because there’s no follow up to the sharp jab under his hand and after Sherlock’s outburst two weeks ago he doesn’t want to increase his misery at still not having felt anything.
‘Was baby kicking just then?’ Greg asks, thankfully so quietly no-one else in the room hears.
John nods, once, and then inspiration hits, ‘Can I talk to you for a minute?’ he whispers, ‘Somewhere else?’
Greg raises his eyebrows but then calls across the room, ‘Sherlock, John and I are going to get a drink.’
Sherlock just waves a hand dismissively in their direction, utterly intent on the photos spread across one of the Yard’s conference tables.
‘So what’s up?’ Greg asks as soon at they’re in the lift.
‘He hasn’t felt the baby move,’ John says, mouth turning down at one corner, ‘and it’s really, really getting to him. I was wondering when you felt your first one.’
‘Not until Liz was twenty fours weeks, which isn’t unusual. You’re what …’ Greg’s eyes rove over John’s frame, ‘twenty three weeks along now?
‘Then it won’t be long. Do you want me to talk to him?’
‘Would you?’ John looks at Greg hopefully, ‘It might stop him brooding.’
Chapter 29: Bemused
When John appears next to him in 221C Sherlock’s first thought is that there’s something terribly wrong. Except John’s smiling broadly, so he dismisses that and opens his mouth to berate him for coming in when he has no idea what chemicals he’s currently working with. But the words never make it onto his vocal chords because John grabs his hands and presses them against the left side of the bump and suddenly he’s never been less able to talk in his life.
Because he can feel their baby.
It’s arrhythmic and for a second Sherlock can’t make sense of anything other than the fact that he can feel it but then he presses a little more firmly and the ripples under his palms converge to one spot which jolts over and over again.
‘Little one thought it was time to say hello,’ John says gently, ‘or at least that’s how I’m choosing to interpret this sustained and intensive assault on my side …. You can feel it, can’t you?’
Sherlock just nods vigorously in reply; vaguely aware that he should say or do something more coherent but completely unable to think past the miracle under his fingers.
‘Sherlock, you are alright, aren’t you?’ John asks, teeth worrying his lower lip, ‘Only … I’ve never seen you look quite so … well, so bemused.’
Chapter 30: Blue
‘Since you called little one “her” this morning I know this isn’t about gender stereotyping,’ John takes the baby carrier out of Sherlock’s hands and puts it back on the shelf, ‘so why the obsession with blue?’
‘I’m not obsessed,’ Sherlock turns, surveying the rest of the store rather than meeting John’s gaze, ‘I … the colour isn’t … my choices are based on suitability alone. You’re assigning meaning where there is none.’
‘If you insist.’
Sherlock’s head whips round, his eyes meeting the blandest look he’s ever seen on John’s face, ‘You’re agreeing? Just like that?’
‘No, I’m just not arguing. I’m getting tired and … I’m worried.’ John’s hands go to the small of his back, ‘You’ve been withdrawn ever since you felt little one move and today … your face when you look at something blue … Come on, you can explain over coffee.’
Two coffees (one de-caff) and a chocolate muffin later and John’s looking expectantly at Sherlock; who presses his fingers to the bridge of his nose, eyelids fluttering rapidly.
‘I’m not going to laugh,’ John’s hand comes to rest on Sherlock’s knee.
‘I … I can’t stop thinking about my brother.’
John’s world jolts as Sherlock starts to tremble, eyes screwed shut and chest heaving.
‘Y-You have another brother?’
‘Had … Sherrinford. He … his eyes were cobalt blue.’
Chapter 31: Broken
‘We don’t have to talk about this here,’ John says when Sherlock opens his eyes again, ‘we don’t have to talk about it at all if you don’t want to.’
‘It’s … fine. I want to,’ Sherlock’s voice is so quiet John has to shift his chair closer to hear him, ‘He was … bright, John, luminous. He lit up everything around him and he could make even the dullest thing sparkle. He and Mycroft spent hours with me when I was little. They thought my precociousness was something to be encouraged not smothered. Mycroft would explain things, he never tired of my questions, my need to understand and Sherrinford … well he showed me where the beauty was in everything, showed me how to take my gift for looking and really see. He was the one who persuaded Father to let Mummy buy me a violin and lessons for my fifth birthday.’
Sherlock’s hand finds John’s and he laces their fingers together.
‘He died the summer before I turned seven. No mystery, nothing sinister. He was home from Cambridge, Mycroft back from school. They’d gone hacking together and Ford misjudged a hedge … he came off and the horse landed on top of him … He was dead before Mycroft could get help … He was just gone,’ Sherlock’s voice finally cracks, ‘and everything was … broken.’
Chapter 32: Bourbon
John can see Sherlock’s losing control over his emotions so, cursing himself for forcing the issue in a public place, he gathers the few things they’ve managed to purchase as quickly as he is able and then tugs Sherlock to his feet; horrified by the way he just follows blindly, paying no attention to anything around them.
John’s grateful, for once, for the obviousness of his bump as when a cab pulls up the other people waiting insist he take it. The traffic is light and they get home in under half an hour. Which is just as well since the minute John steers him through the door Sherlock crumples, collapsing onto the sofa as he starts to cry.
Body shaking sobs that John’s never seen him succumb to before and, in all honesty, never wants to see again.
Sitting down he pulls Sherlock into his arms and gently begins carding his fingers through Sherlock’s curls, ignoring the wetness seeping into his clothes as Sherlock’s tears continue unabated.
After two hours John’s jumper is completely saturated, his throat is sore from murmuring platitudes and Sherlock’s finally stopped crying. He hasn’t spoken a word though, nor has he detached himself from John’s embrace.
‘Tea, love?’ John says eventually.
Sherlock lifts his blotchy face to John’s, ‘Can I have some bourbon?’
Chapter 33: Before
Sherlock sets the ice cubes rattling as he takes the drink but John doesn’t mention it, just sits back down and rests a hand on Sherlock’s back.
‘You blamed Mycroft?’
‘Yes,’ it’s more a breath than a word but then Sherlock takes a gulp of the alcohol, swallows hard and finds his voice, ‘The three of us were going up to town - there was a new exhibition at the Science Museum I’d wanted to see – but they decided to go riding first. Mycroft had bought Ford the riding crop for his birthday and he wanted to try it out.’
‘The riding crop? ... Yours?’
‘Yes, I kept it. He was still clutching it when they brought him back.’
‘You saw him?’ John can’t help sounding appalled.
‘There wasn’t anything that could be kept from me, even then,’ the tiny amount of smugness in Sherlock’s tone makes John feel a little better, ‘besides no-one realised I was there. Mummy was having hysterics and Father was busy telling Mycroft it was God’s judgement and that he shouldn’t waste his tears …’ Sherlock downs his drink, ‘… as if anything could have been wasted on Ford.’
‘I’m so sorry, Sherlock.’
‘So am I ... Sorry I didn’t tell you until now. Sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye. Mostly though, I’m sorry I never mourned for him before.’
Chapter 34: Breeches
‘… so all we have to do is ask Daddy when he wakes up. Now, though, I shall tell you how Ford and Mycroft stole …’
John forces his eyes open, blearily trying to work out what’s going on. He’s in bed, although he doesn’t remember getting there, and he’s naked bar a sheet draped over his lower body. Sherlock’s curled to his right, head propped on one hand, the other resting on John’s bump. His eyes shine in the glow from the streetlight outside and John realises he’s talking to little one, whose movements have woken him.
‘M’awake,’ he slurs, ‘what d’you want to ask?’
Sherlock presses a kiss to the bump before moving up the bed, tucking his head into John’s neck and talking into his collarbone, ‘I want to take you both home.’
‘My family home, Gatton Hall. To meet Mummy and … to remember.’
‘Oh,’ John kisses the top of Sherlock’s head and blinks away the sudden tears, ‘of course we’ll go. Whenever you want.’
‘It’s a manor house and estate,’ Sherlock’s body tenses as he speaks.
‘I’d assumed,’ John doesn’t feel Sherlock relax so adds, ‘Will you be striding about the place all kitted out like Mr Darcy?’
Sherlock melts against John and tilts his head up, ‘Why? Would you like to see me in soaking wet breeches?’
Chapter 35: Bedroom
‘Mummy really! Stop smothering him.’
The petulance in Sherlock’s voice would have made John laugh had he not been engulfed in a hug of epic proportions and almost unable to breathe.
‘Pish tosh,’ she says as she releases him, in an accent that would put the Queen to shame, ‘I have to make up for lost time. Now, John dear, are you feeling up to a bit of a tour or shall we have a spot of tea first?’
‘Ah … a tour would be lovely, Mrs Holmes.’
‘Violet dear, just Violet,’ she pats his arm and then fixes Sherlock with a stare so reminiscent of his own that for a moment John can only think oh God there’s two of them, but then her expression softens and she holds out her arms to him, ‘Welcome back, darling one, it’s been a long time.’
Sherlock’s jaw tightens perceptibly and John thinks for a minute he’s going to bolt, until he steps forward and lets her pull him into a tight embrace.
John spends the next twenty minutes resolutely examining what he thinks might be called the drawing room until Sherlock appears at his side.
‘Are you still feeling up to coming for a tour?’ his eyes are puffy and he looks ineffably young, ‘Only Mummy’s just gone up to unlock Ford’s bedroom.’
Chapter 36: Bewildered
‘Have another scone, dear,’ Violet gestures towards the beautifully arranged table, ‘after all, if you can’t indulge when you’re expecting, when can you?’
‘I really can’t manage any more, thank you,’ John says, shifting position in the wingback chair and rubbing his bump, ‘Little one seems to have woken up and started doing gymnastics.’
‘I’ll get some boxed up for you,’ she says but her eyes are fixed firmly on John’s abdomen and, somewhat belatedly, he realises what she’s thinking.
‘Would you like to feel?’
‘Of course she would,’ Sherlock’s off his own chair and kneeling beside John before he’s taken a breath, long fingers practically dancing over the bump as he pinpoints the movement, ‘come here and give me your hand.’
‘I did attempt to teach him manners,’ she says as she gracefully complies, ‘but as you probably already know they didn’t stick … oh my!’
‘Little one likes you,’ Sherlock’s beaming at his mother and John wishes he had a camera to capture this; Sherlock completely unguarded and happier than he’s ever looked in public.
‘I should hope so,’ Violet says, only the merest tremor in her voice betraying her emotions, ‘I am his Grandmother, after all.’
‘Not you as well,’ John says, just as Sherlock’s saying ‘We think she’s a girl,’ and, for a second, Violet looks completely bewildered.
Chapter 37: Bassinet
‘Are you sure about this?’ John asks, peering at the rickety attic stairs Sherlock’s just bounded up, ‘I think we might actually be able buy some baby things, now that …’ he fumbles for the right words but Violet fills the gap,
‘Now that Sherlock has accepted he can actually talk about Sherrinford rather than bringing him into your lives in the abstract? Well yes. But there’s no sense in spending money unnecessarily and they’re all just gathering dust here.’
‘That’s true,’ John arches his aching back as he nods, ‘so I’ll say thank you for both of us. I like the idea of keeping things in the family.’
An hour later and the upper hallway is a mess - pieces of well worn oak furniture surrounded by stacks of books and several bags of baby clothes. Sherlock darts down the stairs, drops a final book on the pile and goes over to John and Violet, who are sitting in the window seat overlooking the grounds, talking animatedly over an old photo album.
‘If you two have quite finished cooing over my baby pictures,’ Sherlock snarks, ‘Mummy can call Reginald to help me pack the car.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ Violet says, standing and kissing Sherlock’s cheek, ‘I’ll have it all sent on. You hired a Jaguar, darling, it won’t even hold the bassinet.’
John knows he should have expected something like this, knows he shouldn’t be surprised but, somehow, the sight of Sherlock - wearing navy blue overalls as he paints what used to be John’s room and is now the nursery - makes his breath catch in his chest.
Resting against the door frame, cradling his now sizable bump, he just watches while Sherlock meticulously covers the last bare section on the far side of the room. He finishes at the join between wall and ceiling, long fingers handling the brush as dexterously as if it were his violin and, once done, steps back to check there are no splashes. The noise he makes when he sees it’s fine reminds John of a happy cat; albeit one that’s a heavy smoker.
‘It looks good.’
Sherlock whirls, eyes shining as he drops the brush, crosses to the door in three swift strides and kisses John soundly.
‘Is it suitably gender neutral?’ he queries, his hands gently stroking John’s belly.
‘Perfect,’ John says, brushing a curl off Sherlock’s forehead, ‘It really is a lovely shade of yellow.’
‘Of course,’ Sherlock pulls something from his pocket, ‘since I used this.’
‘I do love you, Sherlock Holmes,’ John's smile goes soft as he inspects the proffered photo, ‘only you would match paint to the stripes of a bumble bee.’
If you would like to know what I see when I think of the Holmes family estate, or what the picture that Sherlock used to match the paint in Chapter 38 looks like then please click here - I've posted a couple of pics on my LJ.
Chapter 39: Bach
‘Heartburn?’ Sherlock asks, looking up from his notes when John appears at the kitchen door at one o’clock in the morning.
‘No, just little one … ugh … practising Baritsu by the feel of it. I thought walking might help.’
Sherlock looks at John, noting the tension in his face and shoulders, the shadows under his eyes and how both his hands are feverishly rubbing his visibly moving bump.
‘You’re exhausted,’ he states, laying his work aside and getting up from the table, ‘What can I do?’
‘Unless you possess magic, nothing,’ John offers him a smile but it’s wobbly and makes Sherlock’s stomach clench uncomfortably, ‘I’ll just …’ John gestures to the living room and begins to walk with a rolling gait that makes Sherlock think of cradles, lullabies and ….
‘You bonded with an idiot,’ he exclaims, striding across the room and snatching up his violin before dropping to his knees in front of a startled John.
‘Your Papa may not have magic,’ he says to the bump, gently running one hand over the widest part, ‘but music is only two letters away and I do have an aptitude for that.’
And then Sherlock, still kneeling, begins to play.
‘Well I never,’ John says five minutes later as he settles on the sofa, a real smile lighting his face, ‘little one likes Bach.’
Chapter 40: Black
'Wherizee, whez my brotherererer?'
John freezes in the doorway, arms wrapping instinctively round his bump. Not that he can cover much of it any more but that isn’t the point.
'Joooohn!' Harry is at the foot of the stairs, Mrs Hudson close behind, 'I've come!'
'I can see that,' John wants to slam the door in her face but he can't leave her out there. Not in that state. She's liable to lash out if she doesn't get what she wants and Mrs Hudson is right in the line of fire.
'Sherlock!' he shouts, hoping his voice will carry down to 221C, 'my sister's here!'
At the mention of Sherlock's name Harry's face twists and she starts up the stairs.
'Whatcha call him for? Dint come for 'im. Came for you.'
'I don't want you here,' he says firmly as she keeps going, practically dragging herself up on the banisters, 'I want you to leave.'
'You don' mean it!' She's almost at the top.
'I do. Go away, Harry.'
'No!' she snarls and launches herself up the last step, hands outstretched and he scrambles to get out of the way. Only his balance is off and he staggers, foot catching the door frame and that’s enough.
He’s falling backwards.
Then there’s a burst of pain and his world goes black.
Chapter 41: Blinked
He can hear voices above him, muffled and echoing and he thinks he's somehow got stuck in the ocean. The words make no sense but he listens anyway.
'She's been dealt with, Sherlock, that's all you need to know.'
'Look at him, Mycroft! Look what she did to him!'
'Yes, Sherlock, but please calm down. I won't be able to prevent them sedating you if you keep going for much longer.'
'He was so still, Mycroft. I thought ...'
'I know, Sherlock, I know ... Here, have my handkerchief.'
He wonders if they've moved away as he can't hear them anymore, just a strange gurgling mixed with a shushing sound. Maybe he's on a beach?
'If anything happens to him, to them, I ...'
'I'm Doctor Abrams.'
'Irrelevant. Tell me what's wrong with John!'
'Apart from being unconscious? Nothing. Both your bond-mate and your son are perfectly healthy.'
'Healthy! That’s your diagnosis! Why hasn't he woken then?'
'That's like asking why the sky is blue, Mr Holmes. He's taken a blow to the head. He's resting. He'll wake when he's ready. Now if you'll excuse me.'
He remembers now. Harry. He fell and ... Son? Did he say son?
'I want a second opinion, Mycroft, I don't care how qualified he is I ...'
'John just blinked.'
Chapter 42: Blame
'Hamish,' Sherlock says decisively from his seat on the hospital bed. He's facing John, legs crossed beneath him, right hand resting on John's bump, left hand entwined with John's right, 'I want to call him Hamish.'
'That wasn't on the list,' John says between sips of water, 'what happened to all those complicated aristocratic ones?
'They don't mean anything to us,' Sherlock says, brow crinkling, 'but Hamish is a little part of you.'
'Sentimental rubbish? Yes but somehow sentiment seems far more important to me than it once did.' Sherlock lifts their hands and presses a kiss to John's, 'You seem to generate exceptions to all my rules.'
'Obviously,' John fires back, 'Problem?'
Sherlock's answering smile could power cities, 'Not at all. Quite the opposite in fact.'
His face darkens as John puts down the glass, raises a shaky hand to his bandaged head and inhales sharply as his fingers test the damage above his left temple.
'What's wrong? Is it hurting?'
'It's fine, love, and the pain’s manageable. I just wanted to check it for myself.'
'I'll call the nurse.'
'No, there's no point,’ John’s hand joins Sherlock’s on the bump, ‘They can’t give me anything that wouldn’t hurt Hamish.'
'You agree then?’
'Yes,’ John grins, ‘but if he hates it when he's older you're taking all the blame.'
Chapter 43: Blind
I shouldn’t have come, John thinks, as sparks of light dance on the edges of his vision, I should have listened to Sherlock and stayed at home . Except that would have meant Sherlock staying at home too and, much as John loves him, he really, really needed him to take a case before his boredom caused John to commit the one murder it would be physically impossible for Sherlock to solve.
So John insisted and, when Sherlock refused to leave him on his own, just got up and grabbed his coat, ignoring all protests.
Now though, he’s regretting leaving the flat. He feels light headed, dizzy, disoriented and he knows, just knows, he’s this close to fainting.
‘Do you need to sit down?’ Greg speaks quietly, directly into John’s ear and he’s grateful Greg’s attempting to be discreet since it means he’s right next to him.
‘Bit late for that,’ he mutters, far too honestly, as he leans into Greg while the world tilts and pitches around him.
‘Shit! … Donovan! Get in there and get Sherlock out here now.’
‘S’ok. Really. I’m just a bit … wobbly,’ he murmurs but Greg’s having none of it.
‘Yeah. Right. I may not be Sherlock, John,’ he says, wrapping firm, steady arms around him and slowly lowering him to the ground, ‘but I’m not blind.’
Chapter 44: Brain
‘Well you’re worrying unnecessarily, Sherlock,’ Doctor Qui says as John tugs his t-shirt back down, ‘both John and little … Hamish is it? … are fine.’ He turns to John, ‘Your blood pressure is on the low side, just as you thought, and getting some extra iron into your diet wouldn’t hurt.’
John doesn’t even get his mouth open before Sherlock’s in full flow.
‘But John’s ankles! The dizziness! And he’s hot all the time and he isn’t sleeping! He didn’t have any of this before the accident and now his blood pressure is too low! What if …’
‘Sherlock!’ John hoists himself off the examination table and grabs Sherlock’s hands, ‘Stop! Please ... just stop.’
‘Sherlock,’ Doctor Qui intervenes, smiling genially as he presses Sherlock back into a chair, ‘You picked me to look after John because I’m the best, yes?’
Sherlock takes a shaky breath but then nods, once.
‘So you trust my judgment?’
‘Excellent,’ Doctor Qui claps his hands together, then pulls out a pen and writes a few words on a prescription pad. ‘John, take this and Sherlock home, follow the instructions and in two months you’ll have a perfectly healthy little one.’
John looks down at the note and smiles. It says:
Rest, relax and do what feels right. And tell Sherlock to switch off his brain.
Chapter 45: Better
'I can dress myself.'
'Doctor Qui said to rest.'
'I'm not even going to dignify that with a response. You read the “prescription”, Sherlock, you know exactly what he meant.'
Sherlock looks at him, eyes still vivid with the fear that he’s barely been able to contain since John left hospital and John can’t find it in himself to argue.
'I'm alright,' he says instead, letting Sherlock button his shirt, 'We're all alright. '
He expects his words to be dismissed as they have been every time he’s tried to say this in the past three weeks but what he gets is an armful of Sherlock who buries his face in John's neck, shivering violently and muttering sorry over and over again.
‘How do you do it?’ Sherlock says when he eventually pulls back and John sees tears trickling down his cheeks.
‘Do what, love?’
‘Let me out of your sight,’ John frowns, uncomprehending, until Sherlock adds ‘I thought you were dead for barely a minute. You ... it was over a month before you got my note!'
John wipes the tears from Sherlock's face, replacing them with kisses.
'And it was horrible but it's the past. You're here. I’m here. We're alive. That’s what you focus on.'
'And the fear?'
'Doesn’t ever go,' John pulls Sherlock close again, 'but it gets better.'
Chapter 46: Blaze
They’re at a crime scene, Anderson keeping as far away from John as is physically possible even though it’s been months since anything made him vomit. Not that they care where Anderson is; Sherlock’s crouching next to a large puddle of what smells like a mix of blood and petrol that has a human heart at its centre and John’s standing behind him, eyes fixed on the words daubed across the tiles above it:
I OWE ALL THREE OF YOU
‘It seems I have one more to dispose of.’
Sherlock’s voice is a malediction as it echoes round the pool and John shivers despite himself.
‘I didn’t hear that,’ Greg says, laying a hand on each of their shoulders, ‘and Sherlock, I’ve made your brother aware of the situation.’
‘In this instance I agree with your actions,’ Sherlock straightens, pulling John into his arms, ‘whoever this minion is, he clearly wants to involve my family … It would be unconscionably rude not to include Mycroft.’
Greg’s phone rings and he answers, face going pale within seconds.
‘Thanks,’ he rasps, disconnecting and shoving it into his pocket with a shaking hand. ‘They’ve found a body. Male. Heart's missing and it's bled dry. Plus …’ Greg turns to John, ‘it … matches your description.’
Sherlock’s hold on John tightens, his lips curl and his eyes blaze.
Chapter 47: Back
‘What’s wrong?’ John asks when Sherlock appears in front of him, face taut and hands clenched into fists, one still containing his mobile.
‘That was Mycroft,’ Sherlock’s voice could sink the Titanic, ‘They’ve located him.’
‘Where?’ John levers himself off the sofa. He doesn’t need to ask what Sherlock is talking about; Moriarty’s successor an almost tangible presence in the room.
‘Ireland,’ Sherlock blocks John’s path, pulling John’s gun from his own waistband and handing it over. ‘That was what you wanted, wasn’t it?’
‘Yes, I … You’re going, aren’t you.’ It isn’t a question, despite the phrasing, and Sherlock feels like he’s been kicked in the stomach at the look on John’s face.
‘I … I have to.’
‘No. You don’t. Let Mycroft’s team handle it.’
‘It’s his cousin, John,’ Sherlock’s voice is a plea for understanding, ‘Moriarty had a cousin and I missed him! It has to be me!’
‘It should be us!’ John shouts, slamming his hands into Sherlock’s shoulders, ‘I should be there to protect you!’
‘John, I …’
‘No. Don’t, Sherlock … Don’t tell me you’re sorry. Don’t tell me,’ he runs a hand fleetingly over his bump, ‘that you’re doing it for us. Don’t tell me it will be OK.’ His hands curl round Sherlock’s shirt collar, pulling him close for a kiss, ‘Just promise me you’ll come back.’
Chapter 48: Birth
‘I haven’t sent him alone, you know,’ is Mycroft’s opening gambit when John finds him seated at the kitchen table.
‘M–Morning Mycroft,’ John long ago accepted that his brother-in-law occasionally just appears in his home so he simply flicks the kettle on and eases himself into the chair opposite, ‘and you didn’t send him. He sent himself.’
‘A technicality. Which you know.’
John gives a jerky nod, ‘So why did you tell him?’
‘Because he would never have forgiven me if I hadn’t.’
They share a look of mutual understanding but the smile John gives Mycroft doesn’t reach his eyes, ‘If anything happens to him …’
‘It won’t,’ Mycroft tugs at one cuff, ‘I’ve sent my assistant with him.’
‘As good a name as any, John. She is, how should I put it? … Highly qualified for this sort of operation.’
‘I’d almost feel sorry for the bastard if he weren’t … God!’ John’s eyes pop and one hand flies to the underside of his bump as the other grips the table hard enough to turn his knuckles white.
Mycroft’s on his feet in a second, composure shattered as he squeaks, ‘You’re not due yet!’
‘I’m not in labour, Mycroft,’ John’s grinning despite the discomfort he’s feeling, ‘It’s a Braxton Hicks contraction. Just my body getting some practice in before the birth.’
Chapter 49: Been
How are you feeling? – SH
Mycroft called you? – JW
Yes, I’ve never heard him so discomforted. I wish I’d been there – SH
I do too – JW
I’m sorry, John – SH
I told you not to say that – JW
Since when have I ever done what I’m told? - SH
True. Hamish says hello. At least I think he’s trying to wave to you but he keeps hitting my kidneys instead – JW
I left a CD on the coffee table. Put it on – SH
Brilliant! You are brilliant! I love you – JW
Has it worked? – SH
John? – SH
Are you asleep? – SH
For someone who’s supposed to be a genius … Yes, I was asleep. Four hours straight has to be a record. I think Hamish prefers Michael Rabin’s bowing to yours – JW
Slander and lies – SH
The evidence is incontrovertible - JW
Well it shows an appreciation of technique, however I do need to speak to our son. I will phone – SH
Are you serious? – JW
‘I guess you were!’
‘Hello to you too, John.’
‘Sorry, yes, hello love.’
‘That’s better, now hand me over.’
‘You actually want me to hold the phone to my bump?’
‘Yes. How else will Hamish hear me?’
‘Right, OK, moving you now …’
As John lowers the phone he hears, very faintly, ‘This is your Papa, Hamish. I’ve been …’
Chapter 50: Blooming
‘So you’re today’s babysitter,’ John says as Molly appears at the flat door, ‘I was wondering.’
‘What do you mean?’ her attempt at innocence is woeful.
‘Since Sherlock left I’ve had a visitor each day - Mycroft, Greg, Sarah and now you. Plus Mrs Hudson’s been in every afternoon. I’m pregnant, not stupid.’
‘He worries,’ she sits, handing over a pink and blue striped toy cat that, against all the evidence of John’s eyes, is labelled “Beauty”. ‘He doesn’t like being away this close to your due date.’
‘Five weeks is not close, mores the pity,’ John huffs, rubbing the top of his bump, ‘I'd give birth now if it were possible.’
‘Excited to meet him?’ Molly’s smiling so widely John wonders if she might damage her mouth and the complaints he was about to voice die on his lips in the face of her enthusiasm.
‘Something like that,’ he says instead, ‘Tea?’
‘Lovely,’ Molly’s on her feet instantly, ‘I'll make it.’
‘No,’ John struggles upright with a moan, 'let me.'
‘Please, Molly,’ he looks down and grimaces, ‘I know Sherlock’s obsessed with me resting but I’m massive already, I feel like I’m getting bigger every hour and I can’t leave the flat. This is the only exercise I’m getting!’
‘You’re not massive,’ Molly says, letting John past anyway, ‘You’re blooming.’
Chapter 51: Betty
‘You’re not just saying this to calm me down?’ John demands. He’s generating a surprising amount of menace for someone who is heavily pregnant and lying on a sofa eating peaches straight from the tin.
‘I am merely relaying information received,’ Mycroft’s voice is steady but there’s an edge to it that makes John’s mouth go dry, ‘and I have no reason to suspect its integrity. As such we must accept the delay was unavoidable but that the operation is progressing well.’
‘No reason other than that it’s Sherlock out there, Mycroft. He’s fooled you before!’
‘True. Yet he has nothing to gain from that now,’ Mycroft settles himself in John’s chair. ‘He doesn’t want to disappear.’
‘But he would if he thought it would protect me! Please Mycroft. Send someone else. Find him! It’s been two weeks since he last made contact and I …’
Mycroft’s expression softens in the face of John’s despair and he pulls his phone out.
Which starts to ring.
‘Yes? … While I appreciate you following protocol, in this case I think you should be speaking to John … Yes I am … Of course.’
He offers John the phone
John’s heart is racing as he lifts it to his ear, ‘Hello?’
‘It’s me, John. I’m fine. Everything’s OK’
‘Thank Anthea actually, well … her real name’s Betty.’
Chapter 52: Bored
‘You want some?’ Greg asks, waving his carton of Chicken Saag at John, ‘I’m full.’
John swallows his mouthful of naan and then says, ‘Not right now, no. But shove it in the fridge, please. I’ll have it for breakfast.’
Greg tries, and fails, not to look disgusted but he gets up and does as John’s asked, speaking over his shoulder as he piles the dishes in the sink, ‘so Ms Blackberry’s actually called Betty?’
‘Yup,’ John sniggers for a second, ‘You can see why she doesn’t tell anyone.’
‘Makes me think of cakes.’
‘Oh! There’s a chocolate sponge in the tin on the table if you want some.’
‘God no, but …’ he looks over at John and grins, ‘shall I just bring you the tin and a spoon?’
‘Fuck off,’ John retorts good naturedly, ‘you can cut me a slice though, if you don’t mind?’
‘Do you want ice cream on it?’
‘You have to ask?’
Greg laughs and opens the freezer, ‘I needed this, John, thanks.’
‘You’re a mate, Greg. No thanks required.’
Greg hands over the bowl and plonks himself in Sherlock’s chair, ‘I know but I don’t like to impose.’
John raises an eyebrow, ‘Impose? Don’t be daft. I’m stuck in here until Mini-Moriarty is neutralised. I should be thanking you for keeping me from getting bored!’
Chapter 53: Bone
John stares at the red and white flecked blur, pulse loud in his ears as he tries to make sense of the image.
‘John?’ Greg’s on his feet in an instant, ‘Is something wrong?’
‘I don’t think so,’ John says slowly, tilting his head in a vain attempt to clarify exactly what he’s looking at, ‘but I expect Mycroft will be along in a second to explain things.’
‘Yes,’ John says as he hears the front door go, palming his Browning from the side of the chair anyway, ‘I hope so.’
‘John?’ Mycroft calls as he pushes the door open, ‘Ah and Gregory. Yes ... I believe my brother has been in contact?’
‘This,’ John hands Mycroft his phone while lowering the gun, ‘is definitely from Sherlock then?’
Mycroft looks unsettled by the picture and John shuffles himself out of the chair, ‘What’s happened?’
‘Be calm, John,’ Mycroft’s placid mask is back in place instantly, ‘and sit down ... I’m merely surprised he would send that on an unsecured connection.’
‘I don’t think you need worry, if I can’t identify it I doubt anyone else can.’
Mycroft looks at the photo again and gives a sliver of a smile, ‘Well it was Colin Moran, son of Sebastian and doting cousin to dear Jim. Now though, it’s just so much blood and bone.’
Chapter 54: Believable
‘Do you want me to stay?’ Greg says an hour later, Mycroft having left once Sherlock finally texted John the words he’d been wanting to see for weeks:
It’s finished. Will be home tomorrow night - SH
‘No, I’ll be … oh … fine in a bit,’ John’s on his feet, circling the kitchen and the living room, one hand tight to the small of his back, the other massaging the underside of his bump, ‘they’re just Braxton Hicks and … fairly weak ones. Really … annoying, nothing more.’
‘I know what they are,’ Greg says easily, ‘and I also know Sherlock would prefer you not to be alone while you’re like this.’
‘I’m not alone,’ John nods at his middle, ‘I’ve got … H-Hamish for company.’
‘Such wit,’ Greg grabs his coat but doesn’t put it on. ‘Well he can’t say I didn’t try.’
‘I’ll be sure to ... tell him that,’ John leans against the wall, panting tiredly, ‘if he asks.’
‘Are you sure you want to be on your own?’ Greg searches John’s face, eyes doubtful.
‘I don’t want to keep you up when you’ve got ... work tomorrow,’ John grits his teeth, only partially stifling a moan. ‘Besides, I always ... get like this at night now. Really, I’m … ugh … used to it. I’ll be …’
‘Don’t say fine,’ Greg shakes his head, ‘it’s not remotely believable.’
Chapter 55: Burning
John wakes to dawn light piercing the bedroom curtains and an absence of contractions. Relief surges through him; just a false alarm, thank God.
Sounds from the kitchen, the scent of frying bacon and the steaming mug on his nightstand indicate Greg hasn’t left yet and John smiles, shifting in his nest of pillows and sheets until he’s upright enough to reach for the drink. The pain in his lower back stops him. It’s a deep, pulsing ache, making it impossible for him to contemplate remaining sitting down.
Well I need to thank Greg for staying, he thinks, getting up and shuffling slowly towards the kitchen.
Only when he gets there it isn’t Greg at the stove.
‘Sherlock! How? When?’
Sherlock spins, eyes lighting up, ‘Mycroft. Helicopter. An hour ago.’ He darts round the table but stops just short of John, eyes widening before he blurts, ‘You’ve grown! You’re …’
‘Huge. Yes. Thank you. I’d noticed … It’s lovely to see you too.’ John tries to sound cross but his actions belie him, reaching for Sherlock and pulling him close. ‘You’ve been gone over three weeks, what did you expect?’
‘I’m sorry,’ Sherlock breathes, kissing John’s temple softly, ‘Sorry it took so long … I missed you so much.’
‘I missed you too, love,’ John says, but then sniffs, looking alarmed, ‘Is something burning?’
Chapter 56: Bladder
‘That really wasn’t quite the reunion I had in mind,’ Sherlock has the grace to look shamefaced as he throws the ruined pan in the bin and then starts to open all the windows.
‘No, I don’t imagine it was,’ John says from the kitchen where he’s scrubbing vigorously at the soot on the cooker splash back. ‘Although you setting things on fire isn’t exactly new.’
‘No, but … will you please sit down and let me do that!’
‘I want to,’ John says quickly, holding the Brillo pad away from Sherlock, ‘it’s helping my back.’
Sherlock snorts and wraps his arms around John, tugging him away from the stove and into the living room, ‘I made the mess, I have to clean it up. You were the one who made that rule.’
‘Yes but … I want to clean.’
‘I don’t care,’ Sherlock slides his hand under John’s chin and tilts his head up, ‘You look tired. Have you been resting properly?’
‘As much as anyone suffering heartburn and persistent Braxton Hicks can rest, yes.’
Sherlock kisses him, sweet and slow, fingers kneading the knots of tension in John’s shoulders and spine. ‘Better?’ he asks when he finally pulls back.
‘Yeah,’ John’s face is beatific for a moment but then he sighs, ‘If only it were that easy to fix my bladder.’
Chapter 57: Bugger
John slides awkwardly out of bed, hands immediately going to the small of his back to try and ease that ache, which hasn’t shifted all day. Sherlock doesn’t stir - not a surprise, John doubts he’s slept much while he’s been away - and John wants him to stay asleep, so he quietly manoeuvres himself out of the room.
He stops abruptly in the living room and leans forward, right hand grabbing the back of his armchair to brace himself while his left rubs soothing circles over his bump. Which is now heaving, muscles rippling under his hand and, despite knowing it’s another false alarm, just like yesterday, it’s so strong that he can't help crying out.
‘John?’ Sherlock calls blearily.
‘I’m fine … go back to sleep.’
‘M‘kay’ he slurs and John smiles, sliding his legs further apart and lowering his head onto the chair too.
The new position does help - a little - so he tries to relax and is mentally reviewing everything they’ve still to do in the next few weeks when a popping sensation in his groin, followed by a trickle of warmth, startles him.
He stares, blankly, at the growing wet patch on his pyjama bottoms until another spasm assails him. Only this one really hurts, squeezing his whole abdomen.
"Oh!" he gasps as he realises what's happening, “Oh bugger!”
Chapter 58: Blank
Make it stop, he screams inside his head as another contraction starts, Make it stop!
He hadn’t realised it was going to be like this. He hadn’t understood that the pain was going to get this intense, this excruciating and the knowledge that he can only wait it out sends a spike of panic straight through him.
I’ve got to keep calm, I’ve got to breathe, I’ve got to get through this, he tells himself as he bites his lip and tries to detach, to view the proceedings dispassionately.
But he can't.
Because it's John, his John, who is drenched in sweat, sobbing and crying out as he labours to bring their son into the world.
He'd been fine at first, when he'd heard John swear and rushed out to find him clinging onto the chair, puddle at his feet. He'd known exactly what had to be done, who to call, where the bag was. He'd got John into the taxi, got them to the hospital. He'd helped.
Now, he's useless. He can do nothing to make it better. It’s been hours, John's grey with exhaustion and yet no-one seems concerned.
He wants to tell John it's OK, that it’ll soon be over.
But he can't.
Because it might not be.
And at that thought his mind goes blank.
Chapter 59: Beautiful
Just my imagination, John thinks as Sherlock sways, face bone white. Has to be, because the man who dissects eyeballs on the kitchen table can't be about to faint. Not now, sixteen hours in, when I need him most.
‘Sherlock?’ he gasps, hands fisting the sheets as another contraction hits, ‘Talk to me … Please … I need you … to … help me …’
‘You’re doing fine,’ the midwife - Rory, yes that’s his name - says kindly when it becomes obvious Sherlock isn’t capable of speaking, let alone helping, ‘Almost ready to push?’
‘Yes!’ He is. The pressure's unbearable, ‘Can I? Now?’
‘Not yet. I’ll tell you when.’
So he pants his way through what feels like a hundred more contractions with just Rory’s smile for encouragement until, finally, he says ‘Push!’
But all John can do is moan, completely exhausted.
‘Come on, John. Push for me.’
'Too tired … I can’t!’
‘Yes, you can!’ It’s Sherlock, speaking as he slides behind John, wrapping his arms round him, bracing him, telling him he's wonderful, brilliant, that it's all fine.
And suddenly it is because he’s not alone and John's cursing as pushes, again and again and then ... the pain fades as a warm, wailing bundle is placed in his arms.
‘Oh, John!’ The awe in Sherlock’s voice is unequivocal, ‘So beautiful ... you ... he ... you’re both so beautiful!’
Chapter 60: Bond
‘He’s so tiny,’ Sherlock says from his perch on the edge of the bed, eyes fixed on every twitch of his son’s mouth as John gives Hamish his first feed, ‘and so perfect. How did we do that?’
‘Same way we’ve done most things in our relationship,’ John stifles a yawn, ‘completely by accident.’
‘Mr Holmes,’ Rory calls as Sherlock gives a snort of laughter, ‘a moment, please.’
‘Do you need anything?’ Sherlock asks, only moving when John shakes his head, ‘OK, I’ll only be a second.’
John hums in response and Sherlock forces down his instincts to remain at their side and goes over to the man at the door.
‘I know you’re desperate to get back,’ he says, forestalling the sharp words on Sherlock’s lips, ‘but I wanted to let you know that, despite several of your well-wishers best efforts, no one will be allowed in before tomorrow morning.’
‘Oh … good …’
‘Yes,’ Rory smiles, stepping out of the room, ‘buzz if you need anything.’
‘I’m back,’ Sherlock says unnecessarily as he slips in beside John, wrapping his arms round them both.
‘What did Rory want?’ John leans back, pressing his lips to Sherlock’s neck.
‘To say there’ll be no visitors admitted tonight,’ Sherlock murmurs, first kissing John’s forehead then Hamish’s cheek. ‘To give us some proper time to bond.’
Chapter 61: Blessed
‘Mycroft,’ Sherlock calls ever so softly, beckoning to his brother with his free hand, ‘Come in.’
‘I’m not intruding?’ Mycroft remains in the doorway, his usual confidence absent.
‘It doesn’t normally bother you,’ Sherlock’s retort contains no malice and when he meets Mycroft’s eyes they both remember another age, another time, another life. After a heartbeat Mycroft inclines his head and moves into the room, silently shutting the door before padding, cat-footed, over to the bed.
‘I should have brought a camera,’ he murmurs, eyes travelling over the tableau of Sherlock cradling John and his son, both of whom are sleeping peacefully.
‘Over there somewhere,’ Sherlock waves his free hand towards the side of the room, ‘but that can wait. First I want you to meet your nephew … Hamish Sherrinford Watson-Holmes.’
Mycroft looks down at the tiny child and once again the past rushes in. Except the last time he was introduced to a new born he was seven years old and the child had ivory skin and a shock of black curls, not chubby pink cheeks and a head of golden fuzz.
‘He’s got John’s colouring.’
‘And cobalt blue eyes.’
‘All babies’ eyes are blue, Sherlock,’ Mycroft squeezes his shoulder gently.
‘Hamish’s won’t change.’ You could bend rocks round Sherlock’s certainty.
‘Regardless,’ Mycroft smiles, properly, ‘You have been truly blessed.’
Chapter 62: Blog
‘Finally,’ Sherlock leans against the flat door as the footsteps fade down the stairs, ‘I thought Molly would never leave.’
‘I know,’ John says, adroitly moving Hamish from one arm to the other as he tries to put down his tea, ‘You were remarkably circumspect about it.’
‘I believe fatherhood has mellowed me,’ Sherlock snags the cup from John and sets it down before sagging on to the sofa next to him.
John looks between Sherlock and Hamish - who blinks sleepily, one miniature hand flailing, the other clutching the edge of his blanket – and wonders how on earth he earned the right to all this happiness.
‘I know,’ Sherlock slips one arm round John as he wiggles his finger into Hamish’s fist, ‘I never believed I could have anything like this. I …Thank you, John. For everything.’
‘I love you, Sherlock’ John says simply, lifting his head for a kiss. For a few minutes, while Sherlock obliges, the only sound is Hamish’s contented gurgling.
When they pull back Sherlock nods towards the newspapers on the coffee table – each one sporting a blurry picture of the three of them on the front - and hands John his laptop.
‘Time for you to set the record straight, I think.’
John nods and, gently placing Hamish into Sherlock’s arms, settles back to update his blog.