To: Mr Sherlock Holmes
221B Baker Street
From: Ms Jane Bradbury
formerly of Bristol
As I write this, I know I am nearing the end of my life. By the time it is posted, I will have lost my battle with ovarian cancer. I write to you, not because you care about such things – I know you don't – but in regard to another matter in which I regret you must be involved.
I imagine you remember our encounter fourteen years ago. I regret to inform you that I intentionally deceived you: I was not using birth control, and I conceived a child. I had been watching you for a time, and decided that you were the right father for the child I wanted. The child – your daughter Alexa – has just turned thirteen. I never sought to inform you because I saw you merely as a source of genetic material, but now that I am about to die, I am faced with the unfortunate truth that you are the only family Alexa has who is capable of taking care of her. She is staying temporarily with my mother, but a teenage girl living in a retirement facility is not a feasible long-term arrangement.
Alexa knows that you are her father – she made the connection herself when you became famous. You are listed as her father on her birth certificate, and Holmes is her middle name. To see her, your paternity is certain, though of course you may have a test done if you doubt it.
With this in mind, I come to the point of my letter. I would like you to foster Alexa. You are of course free to say no, but in my romantic fantasies I see you stepping into your role as her father, and I hope that you two can be a family in my absence. She is curious to meet you, and receptive (hesitantly, if I am to be honest) to the idea of living with you. I offered her emancipation, but she rejected it and I don't think she is capable of living on her own. If you decline to foster her, or if it doesn't work out, I have done what I can to ensure that you are not responsible for her in any way, but one can never be certain.
Alexa is a wonderful young woman, as intelligent and headstrong and charismatic as her father, and thankfully a bit less mercurial. I hope that you will try to be a part of her life and spare her the ordeal of being forced into the foster care system.
John blinked at the letter, trying to absorb everything. He glanced over at Sherlock, who was scowling out the window with his violin on his shoulder, but the bow hung limp at his side.
He dropped the paper to the table and sighed. “So you have a kid.”
The bow flew through the air and scraped a few angry notes before Sherlock dropped the violin on his armchair, stalked across the room, and threw himself on the couch. “So it seems.”
“And … this woman, what she's saying … it's true?”
“As far as I can tell without a DNA test, yes.”
“So … you … with her?”
“Don't be an idiot, John, of course I did.”
John turned in the chair to look at Sherlock, who was glaring at the ceiling. With a sigh, he turned back to the letter on the table. “Fourteen years ago … you would have been at Uni?”
“Ah.” John's mouth went dry, and he licked his lips before he spoke again. “So she was the one you experimented with.”
“For god's sake!” Sherlock launched off the couch and into the kitchen, where he clattered glassware around on the table with his back to the living room.
John had had enough. “Stop acting like a child! We have to decide what to do about this.”
“No we don't.” Sherlock rattled some more things together, then slammed a cupboard. “I was declared dead once. I could go back to being dead.”
“No, you couldn't.”
“Yes I could. Mycroft could make it happen.”
“But he wouldn't, Sherlock. You can't run away from this. You have to make a decision. Either you become a part of Alexa's life, or you leave her to the system. And if you do that, you never know if someone is going to get on your case and force you to take some kind of responsibility for her. It seems like your paternity is pretty well proven.”
“John!” Sherlock whirled on him, and his eyes were cold. “I cannot deal with this right now. So leave. It. Alone.”
“All right. Fine.” John got up and took his coat off the back of the door. “Just don't forget that legally, I'm a part of this too, since you decided you wanted to marry me, and for some unfathomable reason I agreed. I'll be back when you've had a chance to be rational about this.”
He could imagine the look on Sherlock's face as he went down the stairs and out into the crisp autumn, but he didn't turn around to confirm it.