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The Third Holmes

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John refused to stop walking as the black car followed him at a crawl. “John, please get in the car,” Mycroft called after him, looking out of the window. “John, I promise you can punch me if you want, but I need your help.”

John scoffed. “I told you, Mycroft Holmes, I don’t want a damn thing to do with you.”

“I understand, but you cannot imagine how much I need you to get in the car,” he called and John stopped.

John glanced over. “Am I in danger?” he asked suspiciously.

Mycroft paused as the car stopped beside them. “If I say yes, will you get in the car?” he asked cautiously and John cursed.

“God in heaven, you fucking wanker, if I get shot because your sneaky arse couldn’t just call me up and go ‘oh John, you might get shot tonight’-“ John stopped and walked around, sliding into the car. “Fucking happy now?” he asked, only to frown when he saw how nervous Mycroft genuinely looked. “Shit, you weren’t just pulling my leg.”

Mycroft sighed, but nodded to the driver to drive on. “You are not in danger,” he said and John snorted.

“Of course not. I had to fall for it-“

“But I may be.” John stopped and frowned at Mycroft, who shifted slightly, mouth set in a grim line. “I know this is a very difficult time for you, and I understand why you have such open animosity for me, I truly do. I loved my brother, no doubt about that, I devoted so much of my life to him, and yet I am partially to blame for him… no longer being with us,” he said gently. “However, I recognize that the companionship you shared with him was much more directly emotional than my fraternal, and somewhat paternal, love for Sherlock, so I know that as much as I have struggled, you have felt more,” he added and John stiffened, biting back the burning in his eyes and the lump in his throat.

“What do you want, because I really want to leave,” John said in a tight voice.

Mycroft bowed his head in understanding. “There is… a situation that I am aware you were never involved in. I know you will not be terribly happy to hear this, but the fact is Sherlock had many secrets, many of which I helped him with.”

John nodded. “Yeah, and? Sherlock was a secretive man. Never could work out what went on in that mind of his,” he said with a sad fondness.

Mycroft smiled. “Quite.” He looked up. “There is no more reason to stall on my part, as we are headed to my home where you will need to know the facts beforehand.” He looked over at John. “I breeched national security in the situation surrounding Sherlock’s death and because of this, I am up for ‘review’. Which officially means my work is examined but unofficially means that, should I be proven more of a liability than asset, I will likely be ‘taken care of’.”

John gaped. “You mean assassinated?”

Mycroft nodded, looking down at his clasped hands. “I believe I shall be spared that particular nasty business, however, were it to happen, they would likely be clean and efficient and leave no trace, meaning anyone who was proven to be in on my information and/or who would report me missing would be handled as well. Which brings us to the main course, as you could say you’re your involvement.”

John frowned. “What would I do? Wait, does that mean I might be in danger of being ‘dealt with’?” he asked and Mycroft shook his head, giving John an almost alarmingly uneasy look for a man so cold.

“The short and simple of it is this: for the past fourteen years I have provided a home, education, and care to Sherlock’s son,” he said and John’s jaw dropped.

“Who’s what?!” he demanded and Mycroft nodded. “You’re having a laugh,” he accused and Mycroft shook his head.

“No, I am not, actually.” He smiled sadly. “My brother was twenty-five, strung out on more drugs than I can possibly imagine, got himself into a predicament and made an exchange of ‘services’ for his next hit rather than cash and not long after, a child resulted,” he said and John just stared. “Sherlock did not tell you this because he found the information mostly unimportant. He did not delete him, as he often did useless information, but he saw no need for you to be aware that he had a son as it wouldn’t generally ever involve your life together as he saw it.”

John just looked out the window before turning back. “You know, if he were still around, I’d probably kill him myself for keeping something like this from me,” he admitted and Mycroft chuckled softly.

“I am not surprised,” he agreed. “Look, I am telling you this, John, because Sherlock’s son lives in my home, since one of the only involvements in his life Sherlock has ever had is to forbid me putting his child in boarding school, he would be included in the ‘clean up’ should I be assassinated-“

John spluttered. “They’d kill a kid?!” he asked, and groaned. “Jesus I hate you fucking spies. Heartless bastards the lot of you,” he muttered. “Right, so what am I meant to do with this information?”

Mycroft bit his lip. “This will sound like a large request from you… but I do not believe there is anyone else in the world Sherlock would have trusted with his son’s safety-“

John scoffed. “Oh. Oh no, no no no, you aren’t seriously asking-“

“John, please.” It was Mycroft’s ‘please’- so sincere- that caught John’s attention. Mycroft looked up as they approached his driveway. “Look, I’m no parent so I don’t expect you to be one either, I just need someone to keep him and make sure he isn’t around me in case the worst should happen.” He looked down. “The child has never had the easiest life- as you could imagine- but it does not mean he deserves for it to end so young.”

John groaned. “Jesus, if Sherlock was twenty-five, what does that make his son? Thirteen? Fourteen?”

Mycroft nodded. “He’s fourteen. Just a boy.”

John sighed and shook his head. “Mycroft-“ The car shut off and John looked at Mycroft. “Wait, you don’t mean not-“

“I cannot take risks.” He looked at John before their doors opened. “I’ve already let my little brother die, I will not let his son die too,” he whispered, climbing out leaving John only to follow him.
John stood awkwardly in the sitting room as Mycroft went upstairs to bring the boy- Sherlock’s SON, John’s mind kept supplying- downstairs to meet John. He could not imagine Sherlock having a child. He couldn’t imagine Sherlock having sex even if it had been for drugs. He wanted to know what happened to the mother. Why did Mycroft have him and not Sherlock’s mother, who had to be more fit than Mycroft. He looked around the room and tried to imagine a child growing up in such a formal home. It looked more like a staged room for a film than a lived in home. But then again, he imagined, Sherlock’s childhood home probably hadn’t been much different.

John was still lost in his thoughts when the door opened and Mycroft came in. He stepped inside and John’s breath caught when he saw the boy following his uncle.

He looked so much like Sherlock that for a moment John feared he would cry. He had never imagined he’d see those cheekbones or icy blue eyes ever again. The boy was not an exact replica of his father, his face was rounder and his nose was smaller. He had dark, curly hair, but his skin wasn’t as pale as Sherlock’s had been. He was tall for his age, about John’s height at fourteen, but while he was thin, he was nowhere near as skinny as his father had been. In the end, however, John was forced to swallow several times as looking at a child so similar made him realize that he missed Sherlock more than ever.

“John, this is Adrien,” Mycroft started, leading the boy- Adrien- over to John. “Adrien, this is Dr. John Watson,” he said and Adrien looked him over, eyes rapidly examining him. John fought a smirk as he recognized the reaction quite well from both Sherlock and Mycroft. Of course Sherlock’s son would inherit his brain.

“Hello, Adrien,” John said with a small smile.

Adrien looked back at Mycroft. “You never mentioned Father had a boyfriend,” he said and John gaped.

“Oh for God’s sake, I am not gay!” he complained, putting a hand over his face. “Good lord, give me patience.”

Adrien eyed him curiously. “Right,” he said skeptically. “But you did live with my father,” he said and John sighed but nodded.

“I did. Sher- your father was my best friend and we were roommates,” he said, smiling sadly. “So, I take it you knew about this before Mycroft brought me in on it?” he asked.

Adrien shrugged. “Not really, but it doesn’t really matter either way, does it?” He glared up at his uncle. “My opinion never matters.” He turned to leave. “I’ll pack some shit so we can go,” he said on his way out.

John shot Mycroft a look and Mycroft rolled his eyes. “He really is his father’s son,” he said and John smiled a little grin at the look on Mycroft’s face.

“The attitude does remind me of something,” he said and Mycroft scoffed.

“Right down to the clothes, John,” he said with a sigh. He shook his head, looking at the wall over John’s shoulder. “When Sherlock was a teenager, he decided he was only going to wear black, he pierced his nose, and he dyed his hair green,” he said, then nodded at the door. “Watch him with peroxide and needles is all I can say,” he said and John smiled a fond little smile at the idea of a goth Sherlock.

“Jesus, what have I let you talk me into?” he asked and Mycroft just gave him a look. “Yeah, yeah, I know. Loyal to a fault, I think is how you said it once?” he asked and Mycroft just smiled.

“Thank you, honestly. I really do trust you more with him than any others, you must know that,” he said and John just nodded.

“I know, I do.” John shook his head. “That’s the insane part of it all.”
Walking into 221B not alone was painful for John. The last time he’d come home with a companion that wasn’t Mrs. Hudson, it had been Sherlock. As he walked into 221B with Adrien, he couldn’t help but shudder at the pain he once again was feeling. It had been three months since Sherlock’s death, two since he’d come back to Baker Street, and more than three weeks since even Mrs. Hudson had come inside the flat, as John usually went down to sit with her instead.

“Right!” he said as he put Adrien’s things on the floor and turned to face the boy. “This is the living room, the kitchen’s through there or through the door from the landing, and my room is upstairs- er,” he looked around. “Right, for tonight you just kip on the couch and tomorrow I’ll move some things out of my room and you can have it and I’ll take the couch-“

Adrien raised an eyebrow. “You only have one bedroom… and you’re sure you’re not gay?” he asked and John bit his lip.

“No, Adrien,” he said softly. “There are two bedrooms, but I haven’t-“ He bit back what he was going to say. “Please don’t go into She- the second bedroom, alright?” he asked weakly. “Just… just don’t,” he said, turning to head upstairs. “The bathroom’s just past the kitchen,” he said on his way out.
The next morning, John came down to make breakfast- barely remembering to make breakfast for two after so long trying to stop making two cups of tea- only to find Adrien sitting at the table examining an anatomy desk reference that John had kept from Sherlock’s things since it was useful to him as a doctor. “Early riser, huh?” he asked and Adrien looked up with a dry look. John smiled. “So, where do you go to school? Mycroft said you’re on holiday this week but is it far? I don’t have a car or anything.” Adrien didn’t answer, eyes still trained on John as he cooked. “He said the one thing Sh- your father insisted is that you go to a normal school-“

“Why do you do that?” Adrien asked suddenly and John looked over.

“Do what?” he asked and Adrien stood up to go take the book back to the table beside John’s chair. “What is it?”

“You start to say my father’s name but stop. Why can’t you say his name?” he asked curiously.

John swallowed hard and looked down before turning back. “Well, I’m not really sure if you’re old enough-“

Adrien let out a loud huff. “Boring!” he whined, flopping onto the couch backwards, pulling his knees up.

John froze. He absolutely froze. Adrien couldn’t possibly know it, but in that moment he looked, behaved, and even sounded exactly like Sherlock. John was suddenly flooded with memories of every single time Sherlock did the exact same thing- proclaimed something to be boring and fling himself on the couch like an angry toddler- and all he could see was Sherlock.

Without another word, John turned away from the stove and walked away, turning to head into Sherlock’s bedroom, running the last few steps so that he could slam the door behind him before his tears fell. He stumbled over to Sherlock’s bed and sat on the edge, putting his head in his hands as he fought to breath around the pain in his chest. “Oh God, Sherlock,” he sobbed softly, pressing his palms into his eyes hard, grinding until it stung if only so that his tears had a purpose. He put a hand over his mouth as a louder sob wrenched it’s way free, far too loud for someone else to be in the flat. It was just too much. Sherlock was gone. He was gone forever and John had started to make peace with that.

Only now there was a child- his child- that was every bit Sherlock made over to the point he had the same exact reactions and it was just too much for John.

“John the toast is burning- oh!” John’s head snapped up and he panicked slightly as he saw Adrien looking through the gap in the door from where it bounced back when John slammed it. He quickly rubbed his sleeve over his face to wipe away his tears.

“Sorry, I’m sorry, Adrien,” he said, standing, only to pause when Adrien pushed the door open, looking into the room with curiosity painted on his face.

“Was this- this was Father’s room?” he asked, looking around, eyes landing on the period table on the wall with a small, sad smile tilting the corner of his lips.

John swallowed and nodded. “Yeah, yes. It- um- it was his room,” he said weakly, looking around. There were still a lot of boxes from where he and Mrs. Hudson had cleaned up some of Sherlock’s things and hadn’t decided what to do with them. Mrs. Hudson had suggested giving the clothes and equipment to a charity but John just couldn’t bring himself to touch them.

Adrien bit his lip and looked at John. “Did something I did- was it not good?” he asked and John groaned, putting a hand over his mouth as he looked away, hands shaking hard. “John?” Adrien asked and John let out a laugh laced with tears.

“I’ll explain over breakfast, but just- just give me a minute and I’ll come recook breakfast, alright?” he asked, not looking back to see if Adrien nodded before leaving John alone in the room. He sighed and looked around. “God, you are a cold bastard for producing a mini-you and pushing him off on me, you know that?” he said, smiling through his tears before wiping his face and taking a breath so he could turn and head back out and finish making breakfast.
John looked up from his breakfast to see Adrien watching him. He was relieved to see his likeness to his father didn’t match refusing to eat, as he had eaten a good deal of his breakfast. “Well, thank goodness for that,” he muttered, catching Adrien’s attention. John smiled. “You are eating. I’m glad,” he said and Adrien frowned.

“Why wouldn’t I eat?” he asked in confusion and John sighed, pushing his plate back.

“Well, I was just noticing it because your father never ate unless I made him,” he said, smiling down at his plate. “And I’m going to go ahead and use that to bring up earlier,” he started, feeling his cheeks heat up slightly. “I’m so sorry you had to see that,” he said and Adrien tilted his head. “It’s just that you are your father made over,” he said honestly, getting straight to the point. “I started to say you may not be old enough to understand that as adults, your best friend is more than a best friend at your age. You go through tons of school friends, but it’s the mates you have in life as an adult that mean the most because you don’t have to see them every day like at school, you choose to include them in your life and they in turn do the same of you.”

Adrien shrugged. “I don’t really have friends so I wouldn’t know either way,” he admitted and John shook his head, sighing.

“Your father was very peculiar and you somehow have so many of his habits for having not lived with him,” he said, looking at Adrien. “It’s bad enough you look just like him, but then as early in the morning as it was when you turned around, flung yourself on the couch, and called me ‘boring’, I could only see your father doing the same thing a thousand times before,” he said, swallowing hard as his throat tightened some. He was better in charge of his emotions this time, but it still was hard. “And I am so sorry you had to see that, but for a second I lost it and I really am sorry. You don’t need to have to deal with my sorry arse being a nutter,” he said, trying to play it light.

Adrien looked at him curiously before looking down, stirring his food around on his plate distractedly. “Do you miss him? Is that why you were upset?” he asked and John let out a small laugh.

“God do I ever miss that git,” he said, looking up at the light fixture over the table. “And then you had to say ‘was it not good’- practically the most Sherlock thing you could’ve ever said-“ John froze, pulse pounding his ears as he realized had just said Sherlock’s name for the first time since he died. “Shit,” he whispered, running a hand through his hair.

“Am I really like him?” Adrien asked suddenly. “I didn’t really know him. I mean, I saw him sometimes, but never long. I don’t think he knew what he was supposed to say to me,” Adrien said and John smiled wetly, nodding.

“You’re just like your father,” he said. “And no, I don’t suppose Sher- Sherlock would’ve known what to do with a child.” John giggled. “He was practically a toddler himself most days,” he said and Adrien smiled. “He was annoying, he was messy, he had tantrums, he’d go days without eating until I had to threaten him, he only showed consideration when he wanted something from me, and he never showed much appreciation for me basically keeping him fed and housed.”

Adrien chuckled. “He doesn’t sound like he would’ve been very good of a friend,” he prompted but John shook his head.

“I can’t explain it and I don’t expect you or most anybody else to understand, but he got so much better because of me and because of him, I was alive again.” He looked up. “I was a soldier in Afghanistan, did Mycroft ever mention?” Adrien nodded. “Well, let’s just say when I came home, I was a bit messed up.” He smiled, looking down at his leg subtly. “Your father was able to work out how to fix me within a few hours whereas my therapist never made any headway at all.” He looked up. “He was just… Sherlock,” he said with a sad yet fond smile. “And yes, Adrien, I miss him more than anything in the world,” he choked out, biting his fist as he looked away, fighting back tears. “And I’m sorry you have to put up with me being like this, but it’s only been a few months. I promise, I can be better so you don’t have to deal with a crazy person,” he said.

Adrien just smiled. “It’s okay, if I’m anything like my father, I’m probably crazier than you ever will be,” he said and John couldn’t help the giggles that poured from his lips, prompting Adrien to laugh with him.

It felt so good to laugh.
After breakfast, John went down to ask Mrs. Hudson to come upstairs. When he came back up, Adrien was standing somewhat awkwardly in the middle of the room, watching for their arrival. “Adrien?” John stepped aside and put an arm around Mrs. Hudson’s shoulders as she came in. “This is Mrs. Hudson, our landlady,” he said, then chuckled. “Not a housekeeper,” he joked and she rolled her eyes at him.

“Oh you silly,” she said, then smiled. “Well then, hello Adrien,” she said, looking him over as she walked forward, then tutted. “Skinny as a tree,” she said, patting his cheek. “We’ll have to do a better job fattening you up than we ever did with- well, we’ll just have to do a better job,” she corrected, smiling sadly.

Adrien smiled nervously. “John already says I eat more than my father did,” he said and she gave him a warm smile.

John smiled at Adrien’s reaction and nodded. “How about you head downstairs and get the boxes your uncle had brought over this morning? Take them up and unpack.”

Adrien nodded then headed past John, leaving the flat. Mrs. Hudson sighed as he left. “That poor thing,” she proclaimed, frowning. “Oh I’d strangle Sherlock Holmes if I could for never telling me about that boy! He needed someone looking after him all this time, even before Sherlock came to me.”

John smiled sadly. “Yeah, well he always was a right nutter,” he said, sighing heavily. “I really hope you don’t mind but Mycroft needed my help and he had nobody else to turn to-“

“You stop right there, John Watson,” she chastised, pointing at him. “I will not have you suggesting I’d be upset about a poor little boy with no parents having a place to call home. Shame on you for even thinking it!” She pressed her lips together, shaking her head. “No mother, I’m guessing,” she said and John nodded. She hummed. “You know, I can’t honestly imagine Sherlock having ever had a girlfriend,” she added, startling a laugh out of John.

“Well, according to Mycroft she wasn’t,” he said, cringing. “I didn’t ask details but apparently she was just another junkie like Sherlock was back then.” Mrs. Hudson looked at John in surprise and he smiled sadly. “As much as I’d like to, I can’t really keep feeling sorry for myself when I’m around a kid who has lost his only parent, even if he never really had a family,” he answered her unspoken question.

Mrs. Hudson smiled, looking somewhat relieved. “Well, it’s good to see you doing better, dear,” she said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “I understood, but it’s nice to see you smile again. And you didn’t need to be by yourself up here anyhow,” she added. “It’s too soon to go looking for another young man but being alone wasn’t doing you any good, so at least you’ll have somebody to look after again,” she said and John chortled at the fact that Mrs. Hudson never did and probably never would give up the notion that Sherlock and John were a couple. No matter how many girlfriends she met, she never really seemed to believe it.

“Well, Adrien isn’t as bad off as I was, but he definitely needs somebody around. He’s fourteen for goodness sake, that’s a rough time in anybody’s life, even the most normal kid ever,” he pointed out. “He’s lived his whole life with Mycroft, God knows that’s bad enough,” he said and Mrs. Hudson tutted.

“Oh don’t be so rude. I’m sure Mr. Holmes was a decent uncle to him,” he said before turning to head down and see if Adrien needed anything. John had a good idea she would probably start making biscuits like mad.
John helped put the last box of things on his- Adrien’s bed and stood up, looking around. “You have enough things,” he said and Adrien shrugged from his spot sitting on the floor unpacking some books.

“Kids have things,” he said and John chuckled, going over to kneel beside him. “Are you sure it’s a good idea to unpack all this in here?” he asked and John shrugged.

“Well, you’ll want your privacy and you’ve got a bit more up here than you would down in the main flat,” he said. “Although you have a lot more books than I would’ve imagined so I guess you could put them down in the sitting room. There’s plenty of space in the bookshelves now unlike when I moved in.”

Adrien nodded. “Are you sure you want me to have your room?”

John smiled and looked around. “Yeah, it’s alright. Eventually I’ll move Sherlock’s things out of his room and take it. Maybe I can see about Mrs. Hudson letting me put the boxes down in 221C.” He walked over to the wardrobe. “I should probably get the rest of my things out. Done with this box?” he asked, picking up a cardboard box that was emptied of its contents.

Adrien nodded. “Yeah, you really don’t have a lot of stuff, it can probably all fit,” he said, looking around the room. “Why don’t you have more things?”

John shrugged as he pulled some clothes that he’d left in the wardrobe out, folding them before putting them in the box. “I’m a simple man. Never needed a lot of things. Got a good few outfits, couple pairs of shoes, some books and my laptop downstairs, toiletries in the bathroom, and one or two mementos from the Army in my trunk,” he said, kicking the footlocker at the end of the bed. “Not one for things,” he said, chuckling. “Sherlock always kept everything. He’d keep random things in case he wanted to mess with them later. I figure he was part-hoarder like a dragon or something.”

Adrien looked up in surprise. “Uncle Mycroft always said I hoard things,” he said and John winced slightly.

“I think the more I get to know you, the more like your father you really are,” he admitted, then chuckled. “Look at me. Talking about him after a day with you around when I couldn’t even say his name for months.” He shook his head. “I think I have a problem of some sort sometimes,” he said and Adrien grinned up at him from the floor.

“Maybe you just like having a Holmes around?” he asked and John laughed, smiling as he folded his last jumper from the wardrobe.

“I think I need somebody to look after and you’re a kid and your father may as well have been one,” he said, picking up his box of clothes. “Look Adrien,” he said, crouching down to look at him. “I’m not very good at this, I don’t think. I’ve never done well with children, so I can’t know I’ll know what to do all the times. And you know well by now that I’m not in the best place, but we’ll make this work alright?” he asked, giving him a comforting smile. “You’re a teenager, I’ll try my best to stay out of your way when you don’t want me around, and I won’t ask much of you, just work with me, alright?” he asked softly.

Adrien nodded. “Yeah, alright.”

John stood and sighed. “Good, that’s a good deal then.” He turned to head out then stopped. “Oh, I’ve got to go into work soon, you’ll be alright alone here, won’t you? If not I can call in for today-“

“No, that’s alright,” Adrien said, shrugging. “I’ll just unpack things.”

John nodded. “Good. Alright. I’ll be off soon, then,” he said before leaving to head downstairs.
John was almost asleep, lying on the couch, when he heard feet thumping up the stairs. He sat up and yawned, surprised to see he had fallen asleep as it was only eight. Adrien was in the kitchen doing homework at the table and the television was on and somehow John had just conked out.

There was a knock at the door and John turned, surprised to see Greg heading in. “Alright?” he asked and John stood up.

“Greg, wow, I’m so sorry, I was supposed to call you, wasn’t I? About going for a pint, right?” he asked, cursing as he looked at the clock on the mantle. “Sorry, I just fell asleep after work,” he said and Greg chuckled.

“Ah, I was worried about you for a bit, but yeah, I know that feeling,” he said, only to stop when he saw movement in the kitchen. John cringed when surprise flashed across Greg’s face. “Adrien?” he asked and John’s jaw dropped

“Wait, you know Adrien?” John asked suddenly and Adrien looked up and rolled his eyes.

“Hello, Greg,” he said and Greg laughed.

“I haven’t seen you for a few weeks, but I didn’t know you had moved in with John-“ He stopped. “Wait, did you even know about Adrien? I never thought to mention it and I know his dad never brought him up-“

John cut him off. “You knew about Adrien and never thought to go ‘oh yeah, your mate’s got a kid’ all that time?!” he demanded and Greg shrugged awkwardly. “And what do you mean you hadn’t seen him in a few weeks? When would you have seen Adrien?”

Adrien snickered, catching John’s attention. “He’s shagging Uncle Mycroft,” he said and Greg spluttered, flushing.

“OI! I am not, you little git!”

Adrien raised an eyebrow. “Right, so you just came over to see Uncle Mycroft for entirely business reasons. At night. When you weren’t on shift. And went out to dinner for nothing more than police and government liaison-“

John groaned. “Ew, oh God, I’m going to be sick,” he said and Greg shot him an offended look. “Hey, not you, you’re a… well, a decent looking bloke,” he said, then cringed. “But the idea of Mycroft Holmes on a date is horrific. Good God, that’s alarming.”

Adrien giggled, biting his lip to hold back a grin. “It’s funny, Uncle Mycroft would change his tie about four times,” he said and John snickered.

Greg just huffed and crossed his arms. “They were not dates, and no it isn’t just business, we’re… acquaintances. Mostly I was keeping him up to date on your dad,” he said to Adrien. “And we get on, shocking though that may be. I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s a mate, but he’s not so bad. And yes, most of the time we either talked about business or his brother, just lately it’s kind of got less business-y what with-“ He stopped and paled slightly. “Well, you know, it had to be,” he said and John shot Adrien a look, feeling a pang not for himself as much as for how pale Adrien had got. He knew Adrien hadn’t ever been close with his father, but he still had lost his only parent.

“Well, I guess it’s good somebody was willing to keep Mycroft up to date on Sherlock, I never did agree to it,” John said and Greg gave him a grateful nod. “Well, I’m not sure I can really head out tonight, mate, but if you wanna stick around we can put on a film or find a match on,” he said, nodding at Adrien.

“Yeah, that’s alright,” he said, and John turned to Adrien.

“Want me to shut the door so the TV doesn’t bother you?” he asked Adrien, who just nodded, already back to his homework.

Greg raised an eyebrow as he picked up a bedroom pillow and John grabbed it from him, tossing it behind the couch. “Who’s kipping on the couch?” he asked and John cringed as he sat down.

“I have been,” he admitted. He shrugged. “It’s been a few weeks now. Three or so.”

Greg frowned. “Adrien’s been around for three weeks?”

John nodded. “Yeah, I just haven’t really had the nerve to clear out the boxes and clothes and take Sherlock’s room yet,’ he said and Greg gave him a small smile.

“It’s good you seem to be doing better though.” He nodded at the kitchen. “Guess you needed somebody else to look after,” he said and John chuckled.

“Everybody’s saying that.” He sighed and turned on the TV. “Well it isn’t so bad. At least he eats and sleeps without being bribed.”

Greg snickered. “He’s still a Holmes. Nearly as smart as his uncle and his father.”

John smiled. “He’s just went back to school this week. He was on holiday. He doesn’t really talk about much. He’s a pretty quiet kid, but he will talk with me occasionally so it isn’t so bad. Mrs. Hudson keeps feeding him, soon she’ll fatten him up,” he said and Greg grinned.

“So he doesn’t turn down sweets like his father?” he asked and John grinned.

“He’s alright. It would be nice if I knew what the hell to do with a kid, but for the most part he stays on his own and I stay out of his way.”

Greg nodded. “Pretty sure that’s mostly how his whole life’s been, mate. He was five when I met Sherlock and, because of him, Mycroft. Already, he basically spent all his time on his own and Mycroft’s nannies just kept him fed and watered and out of the cutlery and such. I only saw him then because I was at Mycroft’s house when he came home from school and I thought he was Mycroft’s son and he explained to me about Sherlock’s situation.”

John groaned. “I’d have strangled Sherlock Holmes had he been here the night Mycroft kidnapped me, took me to his house to meet Adrien, then sent us both back here. I was so angry when I found out Sherlock never told me about his son.”

“I’d imagine,” Greg said, shaking his head in sympathy.
Another week of sleeping on the sofa and John’s back had had it. He waited until Adrien had left for school and walked down the hall and stopped at Sherlock’s bedroom door. He looked at it and then reached out with a shaky hand to open the door.

He walked into the room, chest hurting as his breath became irregular. He looked around and swallowed as he looked past the boxes of lab equipment Mrs. Hudson had moved in there when they cleaned up the main room of the flat and saw various articles of clothing still lying on the floor and falling out of the open dresser. His eyes stung and he blinked hard as he approached his wardrobe and opened it, fighting tears as his gaze caught on a deep red shirt hanging on the door of the wardrobe. “Never did wear that shirt enough,” John whispered to himself as he headed over. “You looked nice in red,” he muttered, his fingers brushing the sleeve. He shook his head and picked up one of the empty boxes near the door and started packing away Sherlock’s clothes. He cleared out most of Sherlock’s dresser drawers and his wardrobe- surprised to find just how many clothes Sherlock had that still had tags on them that he had never worn. He always favored the same few outfits, it seemed, even though he owned many more. He spent most of the day packing away clothes and other possessions.

He also was surprised to find a raggedy teddy bear hidden in the back of his wardrobe. John knelt down and pulled it out along with a handful of old paper clippings from murders from long ago. He picked up the small bear and smoothed it’s matted fur, biting his lip when he saw a black button sewn on where one of the eyes had gone missing at some point. He turned it over and was surprised to see black writing on the little tag on its foot. He pulled it flat and smiled a sad little smile when he saw the letter’s ‘S.H.’ drawn on in what had to be a child’s unsteady scrawl. It was neatly done, but with the clear shakiness of a child trying their best to do it correctly. “See? Told you you were human, Sherlock,” he whispered, smiling as he tried to imagine Sherlock as a small child, hugging his teddy bear after someone replaced its missing eye. He put the bear aside and closed up the box, checking to see he’d got all the clothes packed away.

He turned to put the clothing with the other boxes of equipment and stopped still when he saw Sherlock’s favorite blue dressing gown still hanging on the back of the door. He dropped the boxes as he remembered all the times Sherlock walked around all day without ever taking off the dressing gown. He walked over and touched it, breath catching as he remembered grabbing Sherlock’s arm for whatever reason- he was always having to drag Sherlock away from his experiments or drag him to bed- as he felt the soft material on his fingertips again after a long time without the sensation. He pulled it off of the hook, only to have his heart clench painfully when, without warning, the scent lingering on the dressing gown hit him.

John froze in place when he realized that even now- over four months since Sherlock’s death- his dressing gown still smelled like him. John closed his eyes and swallowed hard, fighting back tears as he clenched his fists in the material. He staggered back to sit on the bed as he held the blue article to his chest, head tipped back and eyes clenched tight to prevent any of the tears he felt burning his eyes from falling. “No,” he gritted out through clenched teeth. “No, damn it. I am a soldier,” he mumbled to himself. “I am a doctor and a soldier. I have had patients die in the OR, I have watched my friends get blown up beside me, I’ve been shot and left to die in a desert during a war, I will not keep crying over you, you sodding lunatic,” he whispered, hissing as he took a breath, shaking his head somewhat against the overwhelming urge to let out a sob. “I. Am stronger. Than this,” he spat, biting his lip immediately after. “Damn you, Sherlock Holmes,” he whispered, swallowing to try and free his throat of the lump that had set up residence with no apparent intentions of leaving. “You beautiful bastard, why did you make me so weak,” he whispered, only to gasp when a voice answered him.

“You loved him, didn’t you?” John jumped up, eyes flying wide only to relax when he saw Adrien standing in the doorway with his backpack, clearly just home from school. “Sorry,” he said, ducking his head. “I just heard you talking and the door was open a little-“

John sighed, sitting back on the bed. “No, it’s alright,” he said, shaking his head with a weak laugh. “Makes sense you’d be just as curious.”

Adrien looked around the room at the boxes. “Finally moving in here then?” he asked and John nodded, looking down at the dressing gown that hung limp in his hands. “I’m right though, aren’t I?” he asked, walking over to sit next to John on the bed, dropping his backpack. “You loved him,” he said and John let out a broken laugh.

“Yeah, yeah I did, I guess,” he said, groaning as he put a hand over his face. “Hell if I know why,” he added. “I wasn’t lying when I said I’m not gay, and I never did admit it to myself while he was alive, but I loved that stupid git so much,” he admitted finally. He looked up at the ceiling. “Jesus that perfect bastard was the most arrogant, self-centered, obnoxious, rude, and moody human being to walk the planet over the age of four, and I’m the sorry piece of work that fell for him.” He snorted, letting his head fall forward into his hands, bracing his elbows on his knees as the dressing gown fell across his lap. “God knows why,” he reiterated.

Adrien looked at him curiously, biting his lip. “Why did you even like him if he was like that?” he asked.

John lifted his chin, staring ahead at the wall. “Because we brought out the best in each other,” he acknowledged. “From the get-go, I didn’t write him off as a nutter like everybody else did. He took me on with the intention of fixing me.” He glanced over at Adrien. “When I came back home from Afghanistan, I’d been shot in the arm but I had a limp. It was psychosomatic, fully in my head, and nobody could fix me. Doctors, therapists, they got nowhere. I was depressed, I was alone, I had no idea why I bothered even going on anymore. Then by chance, I got to meet Sherlock and he looked at me for about a minute and worked out what was wrong with me- worked out everything about me, really- and by the very next night he had fixed me. No more limp. I was better than I’d been in years.” He grinned. “Wasn’t exactly healthy, I wasn’t listless because of what happened in the Army, I was listless because it was over, you see? I had my own addiction, I guess. I needed danger. I needed adrenaline. Sherlock gave me that. He gave me adventures, he gave me a friend, and he gave me a real home for the first time in ages.” He swallowed and shook his head. “And I didn’t give up on him. Everybody else did. Mycroft, Greg, they all did what they could along the way, but nobody ever really expected Sherlock to be any more than what he was-“

“A freak?” Adrien mumbled and John shot him a curious look.

“What makes you ask that?”

Adrien shrugged. “I get called a freak all the time, cause I’m so smart,” he said and John sighed but nodded.

“Yeah, they called him a freak. They thought he was one.” He shook his head. “Your father wasn’t a freak. He wasn’t ‘wrong’. He was different. I honestly suspect he had some form of autism, if we’re honest,” John admitted. “He just didn’t grasp the concept of social niceties or common courtesy. But he wasn’t a bad man, no matter what anybody else said.” He smiled and nodded to himself. “And when I came around, I made him better. I reminded him to do the simple things like say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I managed to make him nicer to Mrs. Hudson. I helped him pick up some of the more basic social norms that he just couldn’t understand and I helped him understand very base ‘human’ things he felt he was above. I made him more human, but that’s not to say he really was above humanity. He liked to think he was better but in reality, he embodied everything human to a T. He was an addict who was not lacking an ego and everything he did was very human.”

Adrien frowned. “Sounds like a twat,” he said and John shook his head, looking down at the dressing gown in his lap.

“He had a heart. He had the biggest heart, he just hid it well. Not many people saw the way he doted on Mrs. Hudson. He would eat for her before he would me. He’d hug her when that should have been beneath him. He loved that woman like a surrogate mother.” He laughed at a memory. “One time someone threatened her and scared her and he nearly killed the man for it,” he said. “He always said that caring isn’t an advantage, but he cared for me. He cared for Greg in his own way,” he added. “But besides Mrs. Hudson and ignoring some of his more dickish moments, Sherlock was considerate of me when that was not in his nature. He’d let me boss him around because he knew deep down that I only made him do things to take care of him. He was happy having me as his friend. I don’t think he’d ever had a proper mate before,” he clarified. “Nobody else bothered to give him a chance and that was their own loss because if anybody had taken the time and had a little patience with Sherlock Holmes, they would’ve had their lives blessed the way a select few of us did because he was so special and so different and to this day I will never believe he was anything other than a good man,” he whispered, swallowing hard as tears fought to free themselves once more. “I suspect in the coming months they’ll work out what really happened. I don’t know why he did what he did, but I know without a shred of doubt that he wasn’t a fake because I knew Sherlock Holmes. I loved that man and I knew him better than anybody else could’ve ever hoped to.”

Adrien nodded, looking away. “I know Father wasn’t a fake. I didn’t know him well, and Uncle Mycroft tried to stop me from hearing the things said about him, but he can’t have been a fake because he did the same thing Uncle Mycroft does, just in a different way. I do it to,” he said, and John grinned.

“You do, don’t you? Like the night we met. Mycroft didn’t say a word to you and you knew who I was and why I was there,” he said, looking at him.

Adrien nodded and smiled sadly. “I just don’t say it cause people think I’m enough of a freak at school just for being smart, rich, and not having a family. I don’t want them to have another reason to hate me,” he admitted and John gave him a stern look.

“Do not let annoying tits at school make you be someone you don’t want to be, Adrien,” he said, putting an arm around the boy’s shoulders. “I’m not saying be a showoff or an arse like your uncle, but you should never let them make you into someone you aren’t.” He smiled. “You’re a smart kid and I’m proud of you,” he said and Adrien gave him a surprised look.

“What? Why?” he asked, brow furrowed.

John grinned. “C’mon, you grew up with Mycroft Holmes and didn’t end up a posh git, that’s reason enough to be proud of you even if you hadn’t ended up smart and nice. Also, you are Sherlock’s son, so you could’ve ended up an arsehole,” he said and Adrien gave him a wide, genuine smile. “You never had a normal childhood but you’ve managed to be yourself and not give up and become a hoodlum or something, Adrien, of course I’m proud of you. Anybody who lives the childhood you had and made it to be a teenager that isn’t stealing shit, stabbing people, or failing out of school is definitely a kid to be proud of.” He tugged him into his side affectionately. “You’re a good boy and I am so proud of you because I know you got here on your own, basically, and I admire the hell out of that.”

Adrien was practically glowing under John’s praise. “Thank you. Nobody’s ever been proud of me before,” he said and John’s heart clenched at how honest he sounded.

John pulled him into a hug, unable to help it. “Well that’s their problem, because anybody who doesn’t appreciate you doesn’t deserve you, Adrien. Don’t ever doubt that,” he said, pulling back to ruffle his hair. “How about you go down and see if Mrs. Hudson has some biscuits made for you while I get this stuff downstairs, alright?”

Adrien nodded, looking a lot happier than John had ever see him as he stood up. “Alright, I’ll see if she has the ones you like,” he said, grabbing his bag to drop in the living room before John heard the thud of feet running down the stairs.

John stood and folded Sherlock’s dressing gown to put in the last box he’d put on top. “Don’t worry, Sherlock, I’ll take care of Adrien. I know that sociopath shit was bollocks so I’d bet you worried about him all the time.” He shook his head, looking around the room. “Don’t bother with that anymore because I took care of you, I can take care of him.” He smiled as he sealed the last box. “I hope you knew how amazing your child is because lemme tell you, Sherlock, he’s saved me again and I still in a roundabout way owe my sanity to you.” He snickered. “I’m totally fucked, aren’t I?” he giggled to the empty room, picking up a stack of boxes so that he could make his way out and head downstairs to put the boxes in 221C.

It felt like turning over a new leaf.
Within a few months, John really couldn’t remember why he had never wanted children. Sure, Adrien wasn’t a child and wasn’t his, but three months of watching over the boy brought him more peace than he knew he could’ve ever had. Sure, it didn’t make up for how horribly he missed his adventures, but it gave him a purpose. Someone relied on him- more than even Sherlock had- and it was his job to take care of someone. It seemed natural to him to care for a kid. Mrs. Hudson said it made sense, seeing as he was a doctor- a natural caregiver and nurturer- and he had to agree.

Adrien seemed so different from the quiet, sulky boy he’d met at Mycroft’s that first night. He still hated school and all the kids who went there, but after a little while being back home his proverbial rainclouds cleared and he was a happy boy. He smiled at John’s stories from work, he had a brain to outwit even John’s quicker jokes directed towards him, and about the only thing John could help him with from school was his anatomy homework. He was brilliant. He was possibly as smart as his father had been, since his intelligence was paired with a more normal attitude. Mrs. Hudson stole him frequently to take him shopping with her and John could tell that Adrien loved the woman’s grandmotherly ways of treating him. He still liked to tease Greg when he came around to either hang out with John at the flat or pick up John so they could go out to the pub every once in a while, but Greg seemed to take his playful teasing about having a crush on Mycroft a lot better than he ever had Sherlock’s barbed jabs at his intelligence.

John knew without a shadow of a doubt that Adrien had saved him after Sherlock’s death. He would’ve never made it to such a content point in his life after his best friend’s death without Adrien there to help brighten up his life once more.

Which was why John had a momentary panic when Mycroft arrived at the flat one evening. John invited him in and offered tea, which he had just gone about making when Adrien came upstairs from Mrs. Hudson’s flat. “John, did somebody come- Oh! Uncle Mycroft,” he said in surprise, walking around to sit in one of the armchairs, pulling his feet up to the edge. “John didn’t say you were coming,” he said and John came back with tea.

“I didn’t know he was coming,” he said, then gave Adrien a pointed look. “Feet down,” he said and Adrien rolled his eyes at John’s back before taking his feet off the chair. “Don’t roll your eyes, you look daft,” John muttered even without seeing it himself. He sat in his own chair, putting his tea aside, rolling his eyes when Adrien stole it and sipped from the cup. “What brings us this visit, Mycroft?” he asked curiously.

Mycroft hummed, eyeing Adrien curiously. “Actually, good news,” he said, sitting a bit taller. “I’ve passed reviews and the chances of my being ‘eliminated’ are much lower.” He looked over to Adrien. “You can come home now,” he said simply, and John’s heart dropped.

Before he could speak up, however, Adrien put the tea down and shook his head. “But I don’t want to,” he said, biting his lip. He looked at John. “I want to stay,” he said, eyes wide.

John smiled calmly. “Are you sure, Adrien? I’m sure you had a lot nicer things back home. Better than what we’ve got here.”

Adrien shook his head. “This is home,” he said and John felt a wave of pride. He turned to Mycroft. “Can’t I stay?”

Mycroft looked curiously amused. “Are you sure? This was never meant to be long term. I’m sure John didn’t plan on keeping you around too long.”

Adrien nodded then looked at John. “Can I stay? Please?” he asked, and John’s chest tightened at how worried Adrien looked.

“Of course you can, don’t be silly,” he said and Adrien smiled brightly. “Mycroft, really, it’s no trouble. I love having Adrien with me.”

Mycroft looked at Adrien then at John and gave a polite nod. “If it is what you prefer, Adrien, it is no problem.”

Adrien nodded. “I want to stay with John, I like it here and I like Mrs. Hudson and it’s just good here,” he babbled and John bit back a smile at the look on Mycroft’s face.

“Well I guess that settles it, then.”
John was getting ready for an evening shift at A&E - a new job he’d got recently after Greg and Mycroft both put in good words for him since his pay at the surgery wasn’t really enough for both him and Adrien- when he heard Adrien pounding up the stairs, only to run right past the flat and fly up to his room. The sound of his bedroom door slamming was enough to pique John’s curiosity and he finished buttoning his shirt before jogging up the stairs after Adrien.

“Adrien?” he asked, tapping on his door lightly. “Adrien are you alright?”

“Go away!” Adrien called and John frowned when he heard how tight his voice sounded. In spite of Adrien’s shout, John eased the door open, peeking in. Adrien was laying on his bed, face pressed into the duvet, arms over his head.

John’s frown deepened. “Adrien, are you alright?” he asked and Adrien groaned into the covers.

“I said go away!” he whined, voice muffled.

John walked over and sat on the bed next to him. “Sorry mate, but I’m stubborn.” He put a hand on his back, rubbing his shoulders. “How about you tell me what happened to make you this upset?” Adrien whined and tugged at his hair. John tutted and reached out to east his fingers out of his dark curls. “Don’t do that, you’ve got such nice hair, no need to tug it out,” he chastised. “Now come on. Talk.”

Adrien pouted as he lifted his head. “They found out my middle name,” he mumbled and John frowned.

“Who did?”

Adrien sighed and sat up, sitting back on his heels. “The kids at school. One of our teachers was out and the on in his place said my whole name when he read the class list.”

John frowned. “And what’s so bad about that? Everybody’s middle name is bad,” he said comfortingly.

Adrien glared. “Then what’s yours?”

John snickered. “Hamish.”

Adrien huffed. “Better than me,” he argued indignantly. “As soon as I can, I’m changing my name,” he said decisively.

John just rolled his eyes at his dramatics. “You Holmes men are so damn dramatic,” he muttered, shaking his head. “What is it, then? What’s so bad you want to change the name your mother gave you?” he asked.

Adrien pouted. “My mother didn’t name me, my father did. My mother gave birth and ran off before the hospital released her and abandoned me,” he said and John felt his heart sink.

“I’m sorry,” he said and Adrien shrugged.

“I don’t really care about that, but my name,” he whined, falling back against his pillows.

John smiled. “C’mon, stop whinging and tell me what it is!”

Adrien gave him the most forlorn look as he looked up at him. “Gaillard.”

John hummed. “What is that, French? That isn’t so bad-“

“In English it’s Gaylord,” Adrien interrupted and John stopped.

“Ah.” He bit his lip and Adrien sat up, gasping.

“OH MY GOD DON’T YOU LAUGH TOO!” he cried and John snickered. “Stop it!” Adrien whined, throwing his pillow at John, who just caught it with a grin.

“I’m sorry, Adrien, I’m sorry, really,” he apologized, laughing as Adrien started smacking him with the other pillow. “Oi! Stop!” he cried, smacking Adrien back. “Look,” he said, stopping him. “I’m sorry your name is a bit shit, but at least Adrien is nice,” he said and Adrien huffed.

“Stupid name,” he mumbled and John snickered.

“Could be worse, if we are considering who named you,” he said with a smile. “His name was Sherlock and his brother’s name is Mycroft, honestly, I think you got the better of the three,” he said and Adrien grinned. “And I can see why it’s French, Sherlock used to talk about his grandmother who was French and he loved her a lot. He’d want to name his child something French.” He waved a hand. “And he didn’t understand a lot of things like that so I doubt he really knew why it would make you be teased.”

Adrien huffed. “Stupid name. All this time without anybody hearing my middle name and now they have and it’s going to be terrible,” he whined.

John patted his back. “You’ll live, I promise. Besides, they don’t matter, now do they?” He nudged him. “I told you, they don’t matter because you’re a better person than anybody who is a dick to you.”

Adrien smiled up at him. “Yeah, I know.”

John nodded. “Good. I’ve got to finish getting ready for work now, but I’m sure if you tell Mrs. Hudson you have an unfortunate middle name, she’ll give you extra cake with your dinner,” he joked and Adrien grinned up at him.

“You’re horrible,” he said, then at up as John walked out. “John?” he called and John stopped. “Thanks,” he said softly, smiling bashfully.

John chuckled. “Never a problem, Adrien, you know that,” he said as he shut the door on his way out, smiling to himself as he headed downstairs to finish getting ready for work.
John was reading the newspaper when Adrien came rushing upstairs and burst into the room. “John!” he hissed, running over, leaping onto the couch. “This is weird but can I call you ‘Dad’ for a bit?” he asked and John frowned. Adrien made a face. “A bunch of kids from my school are downstairs cause we have a group project and the teacher volunteered me as whose house we worked at and I’d rather avoid the teasing of trying to explain who you are so can I tell them you’re my dad?” he asked quickly.

John smiled sadly. “Of course, Adrien.” He looked at the door. “Shit, do you need me to clear up in here really fast?” he asked and Adrien shook his head.

“We’ll just work in the kitchen,” he said, smiling. “Thanks, I just don’t want to give them another reason to make fun of me at school,” he explained before jumping up to run out onto the landing. John watched him call his schoolmates up and shook his head sadly at the thought that such a good kid was teased for anything. It also angered him somewhat that kids were so petty that they would tease someone for having no parents. The cruelty of some humans drove John mad sometimes.

He went back to his paper after he watched two boys and three girls cramming themselves around the kitchen table, only a couple of them even sparing him a glance before sitting down. It wasn’t but about twenty minutes later, once he’d turned on his laptop and got online that he heard something that caught his attention coming from the kitchen.

“I thought you were rich, Holmes?” one of the boys asked in a rude tone.

“I- what do you mean?” Adrien asked and John winced ahead of time.

“This dump sure doesn’t look like it goes with the fancy car that picks you up or the expensive shit you have, now does it?”

“My uncle’s rich. I don’t live with him but he’s in charge of my stuff-“

“So you aren’t rich, huh?”

“Well no, but I’m fourteen, what can you expect?” Adrien argued in a tone John recognized. He snuck a glance and wasn’t at all surprised to see the same ‘you are so stupid it hurts’ expression he remembered Sherlock having quite often.

“Leave him alone, Joey,” one of the girls said. “It ain’t like you’re rich neither, is it?” she pointed out.

“No, but I don’t have fancy shit like he does, now do I? I just expected more than a split-level flat in a townhouse from a boy with a real leather pencil case and a phone that probably cost a month’s rent-“

John had had enough so he stood, making a show of looking at the clock. “So,” he asked, heading over to the sliding doors, opening them fully. “How much longer have you lot got? I’ve got a night shift and I need my kitchen so I can make dinner for me and Adrien, if you don’t mind,” he said pointedly.

Adrien gave him a tiny smile. “We’ll finish up soon, Dad,” he said and John gave him a little grin and nod.

“Good then,” he said, going back to his place on the couch, keeping his body turned their way so that anybody who glanced up would see him sitting there. Maybe now they’d leave Adrien alone at least in his own home.
When Christmas came, John was happy that the holiday he would’ve dreaded after Sherlock’s death was made much warmer by having Adrien in his life. By the time Christmas came around, John had had Adrien for eight wonderful months and he honestly couldn’t wait to celebrate the holidays.

Together they decorated the flat, put up a tree, and started up the holiday spirit in 221 from top to bottom by decorating the banisters on the stairs heading down to the main floor, they decorated the hallway with a small tree near Mrs. Hudson’s door, and they hung a wreath on the outside of the door. Adrien loved to laugh at John’s holiday jumpers, but eventually John talked him into letting Mrs. Hudson knit him a Christmas tree scarf that he wore whenever he and John went out.

John knew Mrs. Hudson and Adrien were up to something and he suspected it was a gift for him. However, whenever he asked Adrien what he wanted for Christmas, he refused to ask for anything. John was having the hardest time trying to trick Adrien into telling him something he wanted but didn’t have just so he could sneak behind his back to get him a gift.

His answer came one night when Adrien and John were walking around a shop, looking for some new china for Mrs. Hudson, and Adrien hummed along to the Christmas music playing over the loudspeakers in the shop. “I should see if Uncle Mycroft will let me have my violin,” Adrien said offhandedly, picking up a teacup to look at the garish pattern with an almost offended look.

John raised an eyebrow. “You play the violin?” he asked and Adrien nodded.

“Yeah, Uncle Mycroft said it was important to learn an instrument as a kid. Father got me a violin and hired my first tutor when I was four. He never had much to do with me, but he was very insistent that I have the best music teachers and learn the violin,” he said and John smiled to himself as a sudden idea hit him.

“What do you think of this?” John asked quickly, distracting Adrien from thoughts of Christmas music or Mycroft sending him his violin.
On Christmas day, Adrien opted for them to wait and open their presents that night when John and Mrs. Hudson had invited people to the flat for a small get together like they had had in the past. John was a bit worried about Adrien opening his gift in front of everyone else- unsure how they both would react- but he agreed.

That night, Mrs. Hudson had supplied some light finger foods for their guests, which included her neighbor, Mrs. Turner, Lestrade, Sarah, and even Mycroft showed up for Adrien’s sake. Adrien’s wide eyed smile had Mrs. Turner and Sarah both turning all maternal over the boy within half an hour even though he and John spent most of the time giggling at each other over how badly Mycroft was failing at pretending he wasn’t nervous as he spoke with Lestrade. It was, in John’s opinion, horrifying yet fascinating to see two men older than himself holding stilted conversation that was interrupted by blushes every few minutes.

When the time came to open gifts, John was pleased to see everybody had got Adrien stuff since the boy had tried his best to keep anybody from giving him presents. Adrien seemed so surprised and overwhelmed by everybody’s gifts that his bright smile had Mrs. Hudson getting all emotional over him. John laughed when he found out his gift that Mrs. Hudson and Adrien had been so secretive about was a hand-knitted jumper that Mrs. Hudson had helped Adrien make that had obnoxious snowflakes all over.

“You made it as a joke,” John started, smirking at them. “But I will wear the hell out of this, Adrien. Probably whenever we go out together. And I’ll make sure to take off my jacket for maximum exposure whenever there’s teen girls around,” he teased, earning a playful glare from the boy. “Thanks, you two,” he said, leaning over to hug Mrs. Hudson and ruffle Adrien’s hair. He and Adrien gave Mrs. Hudson her gift and she was positively thrilled with her new china set, promising to make them both come down for tea the very next day, even.

“And that leaves one for Adrien!” Sarah said, picking up the last box from under the tree. “Ooh feels solid,” she said, offering the wrapped rectangle to Adrien.

Adrien gave John a look as he took the box. “What did you get me that’s in a wooden box? Don’t tell me you bought me a-“ He froze as he undid he paper and stared at the violin case in his hand. “Oh,” he said, pushing the last of the paper and ribbon away to look at the engraved metal plate that read S. Holmes on the top, just near the handle. He undid the latches silently and opened the box, freezing with his fingers on the top as he looked at the antique violin inside the case.

John had kept Sherlock’s violin rather than sell it because it had not only been an antique piece that Sherlock had taken good care of, but it had been the one personal item that Sherlock was really attached to. He played that violin all the time, even if it was an antique, because, as he had told John once, an instrument was made to be played, not looked at. He took great care of it, but he never let it just sit and gather dust. He brought it to life with his fingers.

John had a feeling Sherlock would want it to be brought to life again, had he been there still. “Adrien?” John asked softly, reaching out to touch his arm only to freeze when Adrien looked up at him with tears in those big, blue-grey eyes that John knew even longer than he had Adrien.

“Thank you,” Adrien whispered shakily, closing the box gently to put beside him before leaning across the arm to hug John. “Thank you so much,” he choked out and John closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around Adrien tightly.

“It’s alright,” he whispered and Adrien let out a small sound. John smiled wetly and rubbed his back. “Your father would’ve wanted somebody to take good care of his beloved violin and who better to breathe music into it again than you?” he whispered so that only Adrien heard him.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Adrien whimpered, pulling back to wipe at his eyes, suppressing a sniffle.

John smiled. “You okay?” he asked, ruffling his hair and Adrien nodded, laughing as he reached back and pulled the box into his lap again.

“Yeah, I am,” he said, biting his lip as he opened it again. “You really think that?” he asked John, and John knew what he was talking about so he nodded.

“Of course I do,” he answered, smiling warmly as he settled back to watch Adrien show the instrument to the others who didn’t see it. For the first time in a long time, John felt full of warmth, happiness, and contentment that he never thought he would ever fully feel again after Sherlock died. Adrien seemed to heal the hole Sherlock had left in his heart and he couldn’t be more grateful for the boy’s place in his life.
John hadn’t really wanted to get out of bed the morning of the anniversary of Sherlock’s death, but he had for Adrien’s sake. He didn’t think Adrien even noticed what day it was, so he tried hard to keep a smile on his face so as not to bring him down, too. It wasn’t until the afternoon that Mrs. Hudson came up and tapped on the door.

“Yoohoo!” she said, ducking in. “John, dear, I was just coming to see if you wanted to come with me to take flowers,” she said, giving him a cautions look. “I know you might not be up to it, but I figured it best to ask-“

“Oh.” Adrien looked down suddenly, taking a rather abrupt interest in his fingers. “I forgot that was today,” he whispered and John gave him a sympathetic look.

He reached out and touched his shoulder. “We don’t have to go to the cemetery if you don’t want, I’m sure Mrs. Hudson is alright going alone…”

Mrs. Hudson caught on and nodded. “Oh, of COURSE dear!” She shook her head. “You don’t have to at all,” she said and Adrien bit his lip, looking up at John.

“I’ve never been,” he said and John frowned.

“You’ve never been? At all?” he asked and Adrien shook his head. “Mycroft never took you? You didn’t go to the funeral and you’ve never…” Adrien shook his head. John hummed softly. “Mycroft never thought you might want to say goodbye?” he asked softly.

Adrien shrugged. “Guess he didn’t think it was important.”

John cursed. “Swear to God that man infuriates me,” he mumbled, then ran his hands over his face. “Alright, how about we go, even if just this once, okay?” he asked and Adrien nodded. John reached out and ruffled his hair. “Alright, let’s get ready to go,” he said, giving Mrs. Hudson a pointed look as he stood. She just shook her head, tutting, clearly just as upset with the elder Holmes as John was.

When they got to the cemetery and left the cab, John wasn’t sure who was more pale, him or Adrien. Mrs. Hudson kept chattering away as they walked, but John knew she was mostly trying to fill the air. John’s breathing became harder as they approached the painfully familiar black tombstone. He felt Adrien stiffen beside him when the name came into view. John and Adrien stood back to give Mrs. Hudson a moment to leave her flowers and stand there for a bit before she came back. John put a hand on Adrien’s shoulder, giving him a reassuring squeeze. “You want a second? We can hang back if you want,” he asked and Adrien shook his head, sliding his hand into John’s.

“No,” he said softly, leaning into John’s side some. John smiled sadly and nodded, nudging him back with his shoulder. They walked a little closer and Adrien reached out to touch the letters, mouthing the name. “It’s so… weird,” he admitted, looking down. “So impersonal. I guess that was Father all over, but it’s just not normal on a gravestone. Usually you see some epitaph or something at least.”

John smiled sadly. “It is very Sherlock, though,” he said softly. “He was such an impersonal bastard most of the time,” he admitted, voice cracking slightly. “No sense of propriety or common social norms. I tried not to judge him on it, but it fits to have something so cold and sterile instead of some warm, fuzzy ‘in memory of’ message.”

Adrien nodded, then swallowed. “It’s so much more real, kind of,” he admitted. “I never saw him much so I haven’t really missed him, but knowing ‘your father is dead’ is so much different than when you’re standing at his grave.”

John swallowed and looked down. “Can I have a minute, then we can go, alright?” he asked, and Adrien nodded, squeezing John’s hand before letting go to turn and go back to Mrs. Hudson, who had wandered off a ways.

John waited until Adrien was out of earshot before letting his head fall forward and allowing his emotions to show. “Jesus, Sherlock,” he muttered softly, lifting his eyes to look at the name on the stone. “If you had any idea of the beating you’d get if you were alive- oh boy,” he said, smiling sadly. “The way you and your brother have done this boy is enough that I’d have strangled you until you were blue in the face, Sherlock.” He sniffled. “He’s doing well, you know? He’s happy, I think. God knows I’m happier with him around,” he whispered. “You know, Sherlock, I would be lying if I said I didn’t imagine following you a few times,” he admitted for the first time ever, even to himself. “For a little while there, I honestly didn’t know what I had left for me because you were-“ His breath caught and he swallowed before going again. “You were basically the reason I went on, Sherlock. You were- the most important thing in my life,” he said softly. He sniffled, blinking hard as tears slipped free from his eyelashes. “God Sherlock, you have no idea how important you were to me. You were so much more than a friend, you were so much more than a flat mate. You were a force of nature and you swept me along with you wherever you went.” John laughed weakly. “Adrien worked it out before I really had, but I was so in love with you, Sherlock. God knows I’m glad I never worked it out because you would’ve known within a day and that would’ve been weird, but I did,” he said, voice trailing off.

“I miss you, Sherlock. I really do,” he managed to squeak out, knees growing somewhat weak. He crouched down so that he didn’t fall over and put his hands to his mouth, wiping at his face. “Adrien saved me. He saved me just like you did all that time ago. And I know Lestrade at least thinks I only care for him so much because he’s like a part of you still with me, but it isn’t that. Initially, yes, I took him in because he was yours and I wanted to protect what was yours, but he’s not, is he? Not really. He’s his own person. He may look like you and have some of your habits, but he’s so much more than the bits of you in him. He’s Adrien and he’s like the son I never thought I wanted.” He swallowed hard. “I hate that you left me, Sherlock. I hate it so bad. I hate that even a year later I still have it hit me sometimes at the most random place or moment and it nearly chokes me to think I’ll never see you again,” he whimpered, fighting back a real sob. “I hate that I won’t ever really know what happened. I can’t stop thinking sometimes that maybe it was somehow my fault and I know it wasn’t but I can’t stop thinking I could’ve did something- changed something- and you would’ve still been here today and it eats at me, Sherlock.” He shook his head. “I’d still have you. We’d all still have you and Adrien would still have a dad-“

“He wasn’t my dad,” a voice said and John turned, startling to see Adrien not far behind.

“Adrien, oh lord,” he groaned, wiping at his face. “I didn’t know you were there.”

Adrien came over and knelt down, biting his lip as he stared at the stone. “He wasn’t ever my dad.” John frowned at him. Adrien looked up with a bitter look on his face. “I think I hate him sometimes,” he said with anger in his voice, surprising John.

“Why?” he asked in shock and Adrien whined softly, swallowing hard. “Adrien?” John asked and Adrien turned to him with tears filling his eyes.

“Because he left you!” he whimpered, giving a choked sob as tears slipped down his cheeks. “You loved him and he left you and it hurt you!” he admitted. “You’re so much better than he deserved and he had the nerve to hurt you and leave you and I hate him because you’re the only dad I’ve ever had and I love you and he hurt you-“

John let out a broken sound. “Oh Adrien,” he breathed and Adrien broke down into sobs, throwing his arms around John’s shoulders.

“You’re the only person who ever loved me and I hate him for what he did to you,” he sobbed into John’s neck and John felt his heart breaking all over again. He held Adrien close, hands fisted in his shirt as he let his own tears fall- not for himself but for Adrien. “Why weren’t you my dad?! You love me and he didn’t deserve you-“

John kissed his head. “He didn’t deserve you,” he breathed, rocking Adrien slightly. “Shhh, it’s alright,” he said, swallowing hard. “You are the most amazing kid, Adrien, and your father had no idea what he was missing by not being in your life and I swear to God, I’d kick his bloody arse for it if he was here. And you’re right, I do love you, Adrien. You are the son I never had and I love you so much,” he reassured, stroking his hair soothingly as Adrien’s crying subsided some. “If you want me to be your dad, I will be. You can tell people I’m your dad because nobody else had the balls to be the father you deserved and I may be fourteen years too late, but I will always love you,” he said and Adrien laughed wetly against his jacket.

“I love you too,” he said, then pulled back, biting his lip. “Can I-“ He ducked his head. “Is it weird that I want to call you ‘dad’?” he asked in a tiny voice. “I know I’m too old for that but I just- I never got to-“

John groaned and pulled him back into a hug for a moment. “Adrien, you can call me whatever the hell you want. I don’t care what you call me.” He smiled. “Well, unless you start calling me ‘Anne’ or something, cause that is weird,” he said and Adrien let out wet giggles, eyes bright when he pulled back, his smile not at all marred by the tear streaks on his face.

“No promises,” he teased and John smiled. Adrien looked over at the stone and sighed, sitting back on his heels.

John reached out to squeeze his hand. “Want to go home now?” he asked and Adrien nodded, then bit his lip with a nervous but excited look as he looked up at John when he stood up.

“Yes, dad,” he whispered and John felt his heart swell at how happy Adrien looked to say that. Truth be told, John didn’t mind it in the least because he knew for a fact that he loved Adrien the same he would if he really were his son and nothing could change that now.

“Alright then, let’s collect Mrs. Hudson and get out of here,” he said, pulling Adrien to his feet. He put an arm around his shoulders as they started off and only looked back at Sherlock’s grave to give a small nod of farewell before they made their way out of the cemetery, both of them feeling lighter than they had in a long time.
John had just got out of the shower and got dressed after work when he heard the door ring and Adrien yell for him. “DAD! LESTRADE IS HERE!”

When John got out to greet Greg, Adrien was already pacing between the windows playing the violin. He was getting better, John had to admit. He was good to start with, for a kid, but he was getting better every day. “Hey Greg!” he said earning a pointed look and a mouthed ‘dad?’ and John just shrugged and smiled, shaking his head before nodding at Adrien to mouth ‘later’.

“Alright, John?” he asked and John nodded.

“Oh yeah. Just home from work, how about you?” he asked, going to start the kettle.

Greg came in and sat at the table. “Good, good, had a day off for once-“

“He finally got Uncle Mycroft to go on a date with him and he had to take a day off since Uncle Mycroft’s schedule is unpredictable,” Adrien cut in, grinning without even stopping playing.

John raised an eyebrow and Greg glared. “Swear to God, that really is Sherlock’s kid. One Holmes was bad enough-“

“Don’t seem to be complaining about the oldest one, I see,” John said with a smirk and Greg just blushed.

“Hey, you don’t get to judge me, you put up with the nutter for ages, at least mine is housebroken,” he joked and John snorted.

“So he’s ‘your’s now? Maybe you can be the one to talk to him about paying for Adrien’s new clothes and shoes since he hasn’t given Adrien an allowance in three weeks and I can’t really afford to keep paying for clothes for a child that DOESN’T STOP GROWING!” he said loudly, pointedly aiming his voice at Adrien.

“Not my fault you’re a short-arse!” Adrien called back and John chuckled fondly, going to get the tea and cups as the water boiled.

Greg frowned. “Adrien hasn’t got an allowance in three weeks? That’s not like Mycroft,” he said and John shrugged.

“I don’t know. It isn’t much, usually, and I can pay for his food and things like that, that’s what the new job was for, and Mycroft is still paying for half the rent like he has all along, but he’s a kid so of course he spends whatever he gets when he gets it on magazines and junk food and whatever else teenagers fuel their bodies with so he doesn’t have anything saved and he really needs some new clothes and shoes because in the less than a year I’ve had him, he’s grown two inches and already only has a few pairs of shoes that still fit,” he said and Greg scoffed.

“Going to be a tall bugger, isn’t he?” he asked and John nodded.

“Already taller than me,” he said with a fond smile. “He’ll be fifteen in a couple of months and he’s already a fairly tall boy.”

Greg lowered his voice, taking the tea John offered him as John sat. “So what’s with the ‘dad’ thing?” he asked so that Adrien wouldn’t hear.

John winced, but smiled. “He told me I’m the only dad he’s ever had and he was really upset and said he wished I had been his dad instead- poor bugger’s never really had any family, you know- and I told him I love him like he was my own son and he asked if he could call me ‘dad’ and I wasn’t going to say no to him, he’s had it rough all his life.”

Greg smiled sadly. “Poor thing. I can’t imagine my kids never having a parent. I mean, I’m sure Mycroft did the best he could, but for my joke about being housebroken, he isn’t much better with human beings than his brother was, is he?” he said and John sighed but shook his head.

“Pretty sure Adrien was raised by nannies and butlers, Greg. Nobody probably has ever loved him like I do and I hate it so bad, but I’m so proud of how well he’s turned out growing up basically alone. He doesn’t have many friends because they all pick on the smart, rich kid. Little sods,” he muttered, sipping his tea.

Greg shook his head. “I never asked, but what was the story with his mother? He was already a little kid when I met Sherlock, so I never got that story.”

John groaned softly. “Adrien told me his mother took off before the hospital had even released her after she gave birth. Just off and ran out once she’d been left alone for a while and he was in the nursery. I called Mycroft to ask him and he said Sherlock didn’t even know the girl was anywhere near having the baby until he got a call because she’d put his name on the birth certificate and there was a baby abandoned there with his last name.”

Greg hummed. “You know, as much as I always thought he was a tosser for abandoning his kid to Mycroft, I reckon going to get him, name him, and take him to his brother in the state he was in back then was actually a pretty responsible thing.”

John chuckled. “Yeah, from experience with junkies, it’s not often they have a clear enough head to tie their own shoelaces, nonetheless rationalize taking his previously unknown child and getting him somewhere safe.” He sighed and shook his head. “Doesn’t matter anymore, Adrien’s my child now and I only regret he had to live fourteen years without somebody to love him the way I do,” he said with a fond smile.

Greg grinned and nodded. “Makes sense you’d be a good dad. You’re a doctor, it’s in your nature to care for people, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” John said, leaning back to look out at Adrien, who was still pacing and playing with a content look on his face. “I’ve got to get on Mycroft though, look how short those jeans are,” he said, snickering at the amount of ankle shown by Adrien’s jeans.

Greg chuckled and shook his head. “Well, he has been very distracted lately. No idea what’s going on- way above my pay grade- but I’ll be sure to ask and see if he just forgot. It sounds crazy, but like Adrien already said, we went to lunch today and he stuck his fork in his wineglass he was so distracted by something,” he said and John snorted.

“Mycroft Holmes distracted, that’s something I’d love to see,” John said with an amused little chuckle.
John laughed as he ran up the stairs, looking back for Adrien, who hadn’t even come in the door downstairs yet. Adrien had yelled that John couldn’t catch him and took off running the last block home, but John had quickly outrun him, even with shorter legs, as he was still in pretty good shape for a man his age and Adrien was a skinny boy. He stopped on the landing and grinned when Adrien came through the door, staring in shock. “Good job, slow arse!” he teased and Adrien just rolled his eyes before going down the hall to Mrs. Hudson’s door, probably to try and weasel her out of some biscuits, if John knew him at all.

John headed into the flat with a smile on his still wind-flushed face, only to freeze when he immediately saw mud on the floor and a shadow by the window. He grabbed the broom next to him, for lack of a better weapon, and edged into the room. “Whoever you are, don’t do anything stupid,” he said tensely, keeping his distance from the shadowy figure as he edged towards the desk where he still kept his gun, even though he knew he’d never get it out and loaded before he was attacked if the intruder chose that path. “Just stay there and nobody has to get hurt,” John said levelly. “I have a gun and don’t you think I won’t use it-“

“The Browning is locked in a box that would take you a good twenty seconds to open and retrieve the gun even leaving out time to load and chamber a round. In that time one could cross this room twice, if the need arose,” a voice that John knew all too well spoke from the shadows.

John dropped the broom in shock. “Who- who are you?” he asked, reaching his hand across the wall to flip the light switch.

Even before he turned back, he heard a small chuckle. “You know-“

John wheeled around and edged his way towards the figure that was still facing away from him. “I bloody well don’t because Sherlock Holmes is dead and this is not funny,” he said, voice quaking slightly. He stopped between the person and the doorway. “I won’t ask again. Turn around,” he commanded, only to gasp when the man turned and John found himself looking across the face, trying to find anything to explain who it really was standing in his living room looking like his best friend’s ghost. “Whoever the hell you are, my landlady will have phoned the police-“

The man- who was not Sherlock- gave a wry smile. “Mrs. Hudson doesn’t know I am here. I came in with my key so she never heard me ring up-“

“Shut up,” John spat, fisting his hands at his sides. “Sherlock Holmes is dead, so who the hell are you and what did you think you’d get from making yourself up to look like a dead man-“

“John, don’t be stupid,” he man said in a tone that was so painfully Sherlock John’s doubt wavered for a moment. “If I wanted to harm you, you would have been dead one minute and forty-three seconds ago-“

“Oh God no,” John breathed, horror dawning across his features as he recognized the look in Sherlock’s eyes- Oh God, it’s him- and bit back a wave of nausea. “No,” he said more firmly, shaking his head. “No, this is not real. You are not him. Sherlock- That man died in front of me, you’re just a look-alike-“

Sherlock narrowed his eyes slightly. “You said it, look-alike-“

“I know, because Sherlock is dead! He leapt off a building in front of me, I felt for a pulse and found none because his bloody brains were splattered on the fucking pavement-“

Sherlock cut off John’s rising anger. “The girl screamed when she saw me, right? A look-alike kidnapped her and she thought I was the one who kidnapped her. Use your mind, John, what does that logically suggest-“

John shook his head. “Doesn’t matter, you’re the look alike, you probably kidnapped those kids and Sherlock took the fall for you- literally-“

“Moriarty wouldn’t need to keep his look-alike alive, should someone recognize him, thus he would be killed and left somewhere, providing the morgue with-“

John’s blood left his face. “Oh God, a look-alike body. A bloody Sherlock John Doe in the morgue of the same building you- you” He froze as realization sat in and he realized what had happened, what his so-called best friend had done to him. He looked up suddenly with rage etched into every feature. “YOU SICK BASTARD!” he cried, crossing the room in just enough strides to have Sherlock go wide eyed before John punched him as hard as he could, knocking him back over the table behind him, only to haul him up by his stupid shirt and turn him back to the room and punch him again.

“John- JOHN!” Sherlock cried, only to let out a strangled cry when John’s fist connected a third time and he collapsed to the floor where he was left groaning. “John, stop,” he groaned and John just stood and looked down, fuming, as his former best-friend struggled into a sitting position and looked up at John with blood gushing from a cut to his eyebrow and his split cheekbone below it.

John stared at him for a moment before sliding to his knees, the fight leaving him only to be replaced with cold, hard shock. He looked at Sherlock blankly, taking him his dirty hair, a dusting of stubble along his jaw, and a new scar near his hairline that John didn’t remember being there. “Bloody hell, it’s you,” he whispered and Sherlock nodded, wincing as blood dripped down onto his lap. John snapped back to reality with a curse. “Fucking wanker,” he hissed, standing to go grab a rag and bring back. He handed it to Sherlock, who was staggering to his feet. “You’re bleeding on my carpet,” he said simply.

Sherlock smiled a weak smile and pressed the rag to his face, wiping away the blood. “Well, that covers ‘how will John take it’,” he said and John glared. Sherlock paused. “John… I am so sorry-“

“Oh piss off, you are not,” John snapped, his voice full of acid. “You- You bastard,” he hissed. “You just-“He shook his head. “You disgust me,” he spat and Sherlock flinched slightly.

“John, you must understand-“

“THE HELL I MUST!” John roared, face red with anger. “You made me think you killed yourself before my very eyes and now you have the nerve to come back?! Do you just-“He struggled for words, he was so angry. “Do you have any idea what happened to me, Sherlock? Do you have any idea what that did?” he pressed. “You heartless bastard-“

“I rather think that the opposite was proven the moment I decided to jump,” Sherlock interrupted, voice laced with sadness. “John… you have no idea-“

“YOU have no idea, Sherlock! You have no fucking clue what I went through!” John snapped. “Do you know how many times I nearly followed you?!” he cried and Sherlock froze, skin becoming even paler than before.

“John, please don’t-“

“Don’t what?” John asked. “Don’t tell you the truth? Don’t put it in terms you understand? How’s this then- Sherlock Holmes, you were the only thing I had in the world and you left me for what was to me no apparent reason.” John shook his head, swallowing. “You were the only friend I had that mattered- the closest family I had.” He looked up at Sherlock with pain in his eyes. “And you didn’t die, you killed yourself and made me watch it,” he finished, voice cracking slightly.

Sherlock swallowed but looked up with remorse filling his features and for once, John was shocked to see it was genuine. “I did it to save you,” he said and John froze. “And Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade, but mostly you, John. You say I was your only friend that mattered? You were the only friend at all.” Sherlock smiled weakly. “It was jump or let you die and I knew that before I ever approached that roof. I knew it before I sent you away. I knew it would be that way and I did not intend for you to see, John, you have to believe me,” he pleaded.

John swallowed hard. “If that’s how it was, why didn’t you contact me after? After it died down, at least. It’s been over a year.”

Sherlock sighed, blotting at the cuts on his face. “There were still assassins out there. I had to stay hidden because if they caught a single clue that I wasn’t dead, you three would die. I meant to finish with it much faster but there were complications-such as Mycroft’s lack of help for a while-“

“Shit, of course he knew,” John said, growling to himself. “Yeah, the whole ‘almost got put on the assassination list’ thing would make it hard for him to help you out-“

Sherlock frowned. “How did you know that?” he asked and John rolled his eyes.

“He told me,” he said simply and Sherlock lowered the rag, frowning.

“You were not meant to be involved, why did he tell you? How did he tell you without telling why? I don’t understand what could possibly-“

“DAD? Daaad we heard yelling, are you alright?” John froze, panic seizing his limbs so that he couldn’t run and stop Adrien until it was too late and Adrien had come through the doorway. “Dad, is anything-“ Adrien gasped, freezing when his eyes landed on Sherlock. He looked from Sherlock to John and back. “I don’t-“ He whined softly, turning to John. “Dad?” he asked, looking back to Sherlock, taking a few steps closer before stopping. “F-father? What- I don’t understa-“ He froze and his eyes widened in fear as he turned to John, who saw the distrust in his eyes. “No,” he whimpered, eyes filling with tears before he turned and ran out of the room, thundering down the stairs.

John finally snapped out of it. “ADRIEN!” he cried, rushing out onto the landing just in time to see the front door slam. “Shit!” he cursed, turning back to the room, going over to grab his jacket again.

Sherlock stared in confusion. “Adrien?” he mumbled, then snapped around to John. “Dad?” he demanded. “What is he doing here, how do you know who that is, and why did he call you Dad?”

John turned back. “He lives here, Mycroft sent him to me when he thought he could be killed, I’m the only parent he’s ever had that loves him, and now my son is running down Bakers Street and you’re asking me stupid questions!” he shouted before turning to rush down the stairs and run out after him.
Adrien had made it all the way to the end of the street before John caught up with him, pulling him around only for Adrien to burst into tears and collapse into John’s arms. When John got him back home, Adrien took one look at Sherlock, who was standing just inside the main flat, before sprinting past the door upstairs to his bedroom. John stopped and sighed, knowing it was best to give Adrien a little while to get himself together before trying to talk to him.

John turned back to Sherlock, who just watched him, eyes narrowed- well, one eye, the other was nearly swollen shut. John sighed and shook his head. “Come on, let me look at your face,” he said, heading into the kitchen to get the first aid kit.

Sherlock sat down at the table, looking around. “Adrien has been here a while,” he noticed and John nodded, pulling out some gauze. “Why?”

John looked at him sternly. “I told you already, Mycroft thought he was going to be killed and he knew anybody who witnessed it- even if they were a fourteen year old boy- could’ve been part of the cleanup. He knew as well as anybody that I’ve got some strange instinct to look after people- probably the doctor thing- and he kidnapped me, took me back to his place, introduced me to Adrien, then sent Adrien home with me-“

“He just handed Adrien over to you just like that?” Sherlock asked, looking pensive. “He must’ve really thought he was going to die, then.”

John nodded. “It was a good few months before he came to us and said it was safe for Adrien to go back with him, so it must’ve been really rough on Mycroft, even if he is a Holmes,” he said bitterly, poking a bit harder than necessary at the cut he was cleaning on Sherlock’s cheek.

Sherlock looked up. “Then why is he still here?”

John smiled a little smile as he got some more alcohol for the gauze he was using. “He didn’t want to go. I didn’t want him to either. It was hard for a few weeks, but eventually he opened up and I let him in some and we got on really well.” He shook his head. “I began to really understand how empty his life has been and I wanted so bad to give him a proper home so I did,” he said simply. “Got a new job to get better pay since there were two of us and Mrs. Hudson is always downstairs if he needs something and I’m out at work. It’s nice, really,” he said fondly.

Sherlock just stared. “Why do you think Adrien had a bad life? I would say he’s had a better life than most of the children he’s been around. I made sure he went to a normal school and Mycroft has more than enough money for all the best things, the best tutors, every luxury a child could want-“

John gave him a hard look. “Yeah, a life where his uncle is never around, he’s been raised by nannies and maids, and all the children pick on him for being so rich among average kids. He had no family, no friends, nothing.” He shook his head. “I may not have much family and many friends now at forty-three years old, but I cannot imagine growing up without other kids to play with at school or a mum or dad that loved me. Nobody was ever there to read him bedtime stories or make him soup when he was ill when he was a little boy. There was never any kids at school to play games with, no joking about the teachers, nothing. I honestly am more proud of him for turning out alright and mostly normal than anybody could imagine because most kids without a family or friends all their childhood end up in prison or in a grave by the time they’re adults and I don’t think that’s a worry I have to have with him,” he said firmly. “You could use a stitch or two on this eyebrow but I think a bandage and super glue will do it, since I don’t have sutures anymore.” Sherlock just stared at John. “What?”

“Why would Adrien need family or friends? What’s so bad as long as he isn’t living rough to have nobody at home? I only really had Mycroft like he did and I ended up alright-“

John let out an incredulous laugh. “YOU alright?! You? You think anything about you is ‘alright’, Sherlock?!” he demanded, pulling out the bandages. Sherlock gave him a hurt look and John sighed. “Look, you-“ He shook his head with a humorless laugh. “Sherlock, you aren’t a sociopath, you just self-diagnosed that because you felt it ‘fit’ you, and that is what is not alright! You don’t understand human beings because you grew up in the emotional equivalent of a sterile environment. Your brother loved you, yes, but he was so much older he grew up without emotions and his expression of ‘love’ was keeping your sorry ass out of trouble as a kid and then keeping you out of jail as an adult. Do you ever wonder why you got messed up with drugs as a teenager-“

“The drugs shut off my brain-“

John cut him off. “They made you feel something,” he argued. “Most people who end up mixed up in drugs had a bad childhood. That is a statistic you can look up yourself. All teenagers are likely to try recreational but the ones who end up junkies are the ones who have emotionally stunted lives and need to feel something. You had nobody and nothing to get clean for either, that’s why you didn’t ever get straight until Lestrade offered you cases- and yes, I do know all about that, Greg gave me a history on you after you-“ He hummed and shook his head. “And THAT! I ‘wasn’t supposed to watch’ you die, yeah, that’s your equivalent of throwing your heart out for the world to see, Sherlock!” He sighed and finished putting on the butterfly bandages. “The fact that your most extreme emotions are barely measurable is proof you aren’t alright. At least not emotionally.”

Sherlock looked away when John finished. “I have more than proven to myself that sentiment really is a dangerous flaw, why would anyone want to be alright if I’m emotionally stunted?” He looked at John. “If normal people feel more than how I have, how do they live?”

John shook his head. “Because most of us are used to it, we understand it, and we enjoy it, Sherlock,” he said softly, feeling exhausted even if he’d done little more than fight with Sherlock.

“But it… hurts,” Sherlock said and John nodded.

“Yeah, it does, but sometimes feeling emotions is the best thing in the world.” He looked away. “I cannot express how angry I am still, but do you know how… relieved I am now?” he asked, unable to meet Sherlock’s eyes. “I want to hate you for what you did, Sherlock, but the feeling of relief and happiness at knowing you’re alive is too much of a good thing for me to keep the anger ahead. I’m not forgiving you and I’m actually pretty sure you best go begging off a couch from Mycroft cause you sure as hell aren’t staying here tonight, but that’s what feelings are.”

“Contradictory? Isn’t that confusing?” Sherlock asked, and John chuckled.

“Definitely.” He went to the freezer and pulled out a bag of peas to hand to Sherlock. “Hold this on your face.” He sat down across from Sherlock and just looked at him, really taking him in. “He looks just like you,” John mused, shaking his head with a soft chuckle.

Sherlock frowned, face half-obscured by his bag of peas. “Who does?”

John snorted and rolled his eyes. “Lestrade’s dog, no who the hell do you think, Sherlock? Adrien, of course.”

“Oh,” Sherlock said, then frowned again. “Really?” he asked and John nodded.

“Definitely. I thought that the minute I saw him,” he said fondly. “He is you made over. It nearly killed me the first few days,” he admitted. “He’d do something that was so Sherlock and it would be like a slap to the face reminding me of you.” He chuckled. “He calls things ‘boring’ in that very same way you always did. He pouts like a child like you do, only he is one-“

“Oh I do not pout-“

“You did before at least,” John contradicted. “He even makes the same faces when he’s working things out that the rest of us miss.”

Sherlock looked surprised. “He does it too?” he asked and John nodded.

“Yeah, you didn’t know?” he asked and Sherlock looked away.

“I know very little about Adrien,” he admitted. He looked up. “Why did he call you ‘dad’?”

John smiled. “Because I’m the only parent he’s ever had. I know it’s a bit odd, but he wants to and I do think of him as my child at this point so why not? Let’s me know he loves me, at least.” Sherlock smiled and looked away, earning a confused eyebrow raised by John. “What?”

Sherlock shook his head. “Nothing important.”

John sat back and nodded. “Look… you should go. I’ve got a kid to take care of who has just had a serious shock.”

Sherlock stood with a nod. “I understand.” He put down the peas. “I should go see Lestrade. Let him know I’m alive.”

John hummed as he put the peas up. “He’s probably at Mycroft’s tonight.”

Sherlock frowned. “Why would he be at Mycroft’s home?”

John smirked to himself. “Well, how about you just go find out yourself. I’m sure you need to talk to Mycroft too.”

Sherlock nodded. “That is very convenient,” he said and John bit back a snicker. “John…” He trailed off and looked back at him with so much in his blue eyes that John was momentarily stunned by the emotion. “I am sorry,” he whispered. “I did not want to hurt you. You were and still are my best friend, John. You must know that I only did what was necessary. I may not understand much, but I do understand that you are so important to me that my ‘death’ was preferable to losing you.”

John looked away. “I know but it doesn’t change how angry and upset I still am.”

“Will you ever forgive me?” Sherlock asked and John sighed.

“I’d like to say ‘I don’t know’ but chances are I will,” he said and Sherlock gave him a hopeful look. John rolled his eyes. “No matter what, you’re Sherlock.”

Sherlock gave a tiny smile. “Thank you, John.” He turned and left without another word.

John figured that was probably for the best.
Adrien was lying on his bed, curled up with his back to the door, when John walked in. John approached him slowly. “Adrien?” he asked softly, going to sit next to him.

Adrien rolled over and gave him a hurt look. “Tell me you didn’t know my father was alive,” he whispered and John stared in shock.

“Adrien, no!” He reached out and touched Adrien’s hair. “Jesus, you remember how I was for a while there at the start. You know I couldn’t fake that if I tried. Hell, it wasn’t long ago you found me crying at his grave, you know I’d never pretend or lie like that,” he said and Adrien sniffled slightly.

“Then why is he alive?” he asked, looking up at him with wide blue eyes. “He’s… he died. My father died, Dad!” He stopped and sat up, narrowing his eyes. “Oh he had the nerve to come to you after what he did! I should hit him,” he said and John chuckled softly.

“Too late, you saw his face, let’s just say he wasn’t bleeding when I found him skulking in the living room,” he said and Adrien gave John a small smirk.

“Good.” He sighed and leaned back against the pillows. “I don’t understand. Why didn’t Uncle Mycroft tell me? If Father was alive, he knew it, I know he knows most everything, but he told me he was dead. I couldn’t have mattered enough to lie to-“

John cut him off. “You matter more than enough to Mycroft, he just has a bad way of showing it,” he said and Adrien gave him a disbelieving look. “If Sherlock is to be believed… He died to protect me,” he said and Adrien looked up in surprise. “There were men sent to kill me, Greg, and Mrs. Hudson if Sherlock didn’t die, and he says he had to save us. If I’m right, I bet Mycroft knew he had to seem like he lost his brother as well and if he didn’t tell you- just in case someone knew you were Sherlock’s son- it would be all for nothing.”

Adrien groaned. “It’s still wrong. Like him or not, he’s my father, how could he make me think he died? Even if he doesn’t give a damn about me, that’s cruel.”

John smiled sadly. “Hell if I know, Adrien. Sherlock has no understanding of human emotions, he probably didn’t think you’d be bothered, if I’m honest. It’s sad but it’s true.”

Adrien sighed and leaned into John’s side, pouting. “Please tell me I’m not like Father in that respect. I don’t want to be thought of as a heartless bastard,’” he mumbled and John laughed, pulling him into his side with an arm around his shoulders.

“No, you’re definitely not like that.” He kissed his hair. “You are kind and compassionate, something Sherlock has never and probably will never be. You will be a better man than your uncle or father. I’m not saying they aren’t great men, but you will be amazing.”

Adrien smiled and tucked his head under John’s chin, leaning against his chest. “What will happen now? Where will Father go?”

John chuckled. “I sent him to Mycroft’s tonight but he may end up kipping on the couch in the end,” he said, then shook his head. “He loved sleeping on the couch, when he would finally shut his brain down for a bit. Won’t bother him the least.” He looked at Adrien. “However, if you don’t want him here, he can go to Mycroft for good for all I care, you say the word,” he said and Adrien smiled, nodding.

“I’ll see how I feel about him later,” he said and John smiled and nodded.

“Sounds good to me.”
John was finally getting into bed after a long night of talking with Adrien and thinking, when his mobile dinged beside him. He reached out for the glowing device and picked it up, only to feel his heart flutter when he saw a text message from an unknown number and somehow knew. He opened the text and couldn’t help but burst into giggles.

Was it really necessary to send me to interrupt my brother and Lestrade having a date? –SH

John bit his lip but couldn’t help but reply, Damn, I hoped you’d break in on them shagging. and put his mobile away, fighting a smile.

It wasn’t that he’d forgiven Sherlock, not in the least, but it was that after so long- after so much hurt- Sherlock was alive. He was really alive and the text message was the final proof John didn’t know he had needed.
John wasn’t at all surprised to run into Greg on his way out of the hospital after his shift ended. “Alright, Greg?” he asked and Greg stood up, nodding as he walked with John towards the street.

“So… I’m assuming he went to you first?” Greg asked and John sighed but nodded. Lestrade grinned. “You the one who gave him that shiner?” he asked and John cringed but nodded.

“Yeah, I felt bad after, he bled a good bit, but to be fair, it was chin him or lose my mind and just die of shock right there.” He shook his head. “Adrien came in before I could stop him and found his supposedly dead father standing in our living room bleeding and promptly ran out of the house. I had to chase him down the bloody street to catch him, he freaked out so badly.”

Greg shook his head. “Mycroft knew, I think, but not the whole time.” He snorted. “Explains why he’s been so distracted lately. I nearly passed out when Sherlock barged in on us having dinner. Pretty sure I threw a fork at him, actually,” he said, ducking his head. “It was a bit of a blur for a second there.”

John chuckled. “I know all about that. I thought someone broke into the flat cause he was just skulking around in the dark.” He shook his head. “Jesus, Adrien was so upset. After I chucked Sherlock out, I spent a good half hour reassuring Adrien that I didn’t know about it.”

Greg groaned. “Did he tell you why? Mycroft took him upstairs to talk without me, but I’m assuming he explained his faked suicide.”

John winced. “He says there were people set to kill us- Me, you, and Mrs. Hudson- if he didn’t kill himself. He worked it out before he got to the roof and he and Molly set it all up.”

Lestrade gaped. “Jesus, Sherlock faked his death for other people. Since when does he have a heart?” he asked and John smiled sadly.

“I told you all he was human. I guess he just never showed it until it was up to us dying.” He looked away. “Said I wasn’t meant to see. He sent me away, he tricked me into thinking something had happened to Mrs. Hudson and he didn’t think I’d be back before he jumped. Apparently crying over the phone to me was real. He hadn’t planned that part, I guess. Just did it when he saw me.”

Lestrade gave him a look. “He was crying?” he asked. “I never got to see the details on that case, I was suspended, remember?”

John nodded. “Yeah, when he was faking a suicide note to me.” He swallowed, clearing his throat. “I guess after all of it, he did care about me if it was enough to make him cry to know I’d have to watch him fall. To know he had to make me think he was a fake.” He groaned and ruffled his hair. “He had to pick now. Adrien’s birthday is in two weeks. Sherlock just had to go and cock that up for us. Adrien’s going to have so much on his mind the following weeks and I hate it.”

Greg smiled supportively. “Well, he’s a strong kid. He’s a Holmes, he’ll be alright.”

John groaned. “God I hope so. Sherlock’s going to have to talk to him- really talk to him- and I’m not sure he’s ever done that. I don’t think in Adrien’s whole life, he and Sherlock have ever had a real talk.”

Greg chuckled. “Sadly, probably not.” He gave John a curious glance. “You gonna let him come back to Baker Street?”

John shrugged. “Not right away. I mean, Adrien has the choice in the end. If he wants to let Sherlock come back, we will, but I’m not going to let Sherlock into our home if he’s going to upset Adrien by being there.” He snorted. “If he does come back, he’s got to kip on the couch because I’m not giving up his old room and Adrien sure as hell isn’t going to share a room with Sherlock.”

Greg grinned. “Might have to see about renting out 221C from Mrs. Hudson, if he decides to stay for good.”

John shrugged. “Actually, I think he’d be perfectly happy sleeping on the sofa. He doesn’t sleep much. And he can have half the closet space in my room since I don’t have a lot of clothes anyhow.” He shook his head. “But for now, he’s stuck with Mycroft because I’m not letting him come home until Adrien says he can. Sherlock doesn’t know him. He may be his father, but I am his dad and I will do what is best for Adrien.” He shook his head with a sad little chuckle. “He didn’t even know Adrien deduces things the way he and Mycroft, Greg. How could he not know his kid did that?”

Greg rolled his eyes. “Well, he isn’t a show-off like Sherlock or cataloguing it to blackmail you like Mycroft does, for one thing,” he said and John laughed.

“Man, I bet Mycroft’s got enough to basically ruin your life if you fuck him over, huh?” he teased and Greg smirked.

“Eh, he probably could but I could definitely get my own. He’s not as secretive with me since things have gotten sort of serious and if nothing else, I can tell the world that he snores,” he said and John laughed hard, imagining the headlines “The British Government Snores” in the papers someday.
John nudged Adrien, who was staring at the kettle. “Hey, you in there?” he asked and Adrien blinked, but looked up and nodded, worrying his bottom lip. “Hey, Adrien?”

Adrien sighed and fidgeted. “Just… I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to Father when he gets here,” he admitted and John sighed, coming around behind him to kiss the top of his head and pat his shoulder.

“Don’t worry. If he starts to be too much of an arse, I’ll make him leave.” He squeezed his shoulder. “It’s okay to be nervous. You barely knew him and then he was supposedly dead, I’d be more worried if you weren’t somewhat scared.”

Adrien huffed. “Thanks, that’s comforting.”

John came around and fixed their tea. “Look, I’m bloody terrified how this will go and I’m the one who actually knew the real Sherlock. And I’m not a kid,” he added. “You’ll be alright. I promise, if things go poorly, I’ll drag him out myself.”

Adrien grinned. “I’d like to see you dragging Father around. He’s all skinny and tall-“

“What, like you?” John teased, leaning over to set his tea in front of him. “Here, it’ll calm your nerves,” he said and Adrien rolled his eyes.

“That’s your solution to everything, Dad, more tea.”

John snickered. “Well, you’re a teenager, I can’t give you a pint,” he joked and Adrien rolled his eyes. “C’mon, that was funny,” he argued and Adrien snorted.

“Yeah right-“ Adrien was cut off by the door. He tensed and John gave him a small, encouraging smile as he walked towards the hall, ruffling Adrien’s hair on the way past.

“Just breathe and I will make sure this goes as well as it can for you,” he promised, letting Adrien see the honesty in his eyes before he turned away to head down and answer the door. When John opened the door, his breath caught. Sherlock had gotten his hair cut and his face wasn’t swollen any longer, but his eye and cheek was still fairly bruised. However, despite his injury- John did feel sorry for that- his pale eyes were alight in a way John had only dreamed of seeing again. John swallowed and shook his head. “Don’t know if I’ll ever get used to seeing your face again,” he said and Sherlock gave him a hopeful little smile.

“Would you believe me if I admitted to the same?” he asked, eyes narrowing slightly as the flitted across John’s face. John knew the look well and knew he was being scrutinized. Sherlock probably knew what kind of injury the car crash victim he treated the night before had by the set of his jaw or something. John waited for Sherlock to make a deduction but was pleasantly surprised when Sherlock managed to hold it in, though he could see Sherlock struggling to keep his mouth shut.

“Alright, just say it,” John said with a small quirk of his lips, unable to fight the giddiness at getting to SEE Sherlock deduce again. John did not, however, expect the words out of Sherlock’s mouth.

“I missed your eyes,” were the words that burst out of Sherlock’s mouth, clearly shocking Sherlock himself if the wide eyed look that crossed his face was anything to go by. Sherlock gave him a panicked look. “I’m sorry,” he whispered and John swallowed hard, somewhat floored by Sherlock’s outburst.

“No, it’s… it’s alright,” John said, offering him a slightly warmer smile. “Let’s go up, Adrien’s waiting.”
John sat at the end of the table, watching in amusement as Sherlock and Adrien simply looked each other, clearly making deductions about each other, for a solid ten minutes after they settled with their tea.

Adrien was the first to break the silence. “You’ve got three broken ribs, how aren’t you in serious pain?” he asked and Sherlock blinked, clearly startled.

“I’m able to ignore it mostly, how did you-“ He stopped. “Oh yes, John mentioned you were like Mycroft.”

Adrien shrugged. “You also broke your left thumb about six months ago, your ankle was sprained two months ago, you’ve been in France at some point in the last few weeks, and you have no idea how I know that,” he said and John smiled brightly at the shocked look on Sherlock’s face.

“Mycroft didn’t know I had been in France,” Sherlock said suspiciously. “Also, I haven’t seen a doctor, how could you possibly-“

“I live with Dad, who is an A&E doctor, there are so many medical journals in this flat you’d be shocked, so I can read the signs of the wounds in how you carry yourself, and you keep shaping your words as if you have spoken French quite a lot lately.” Adrien just smirked and looked at John, who winked at him.

Sherlock just stared. “You’re clever,” he admitted and Adrien grinned. “Too clever, how on earth could you spot the French? I didn’t even think I had spoken French enough to have picked up a habit in forming words.”

“And you mumble,” John pointed out, flushing when they both shot him exasperated looks. “Well he does!”

Sherlock looked back at Adrien. “You speak fluent French, if I had spoken German you wouldn’t have noticed,” he challenged and Adrien shrugged.

“But I did notice the French,” he countered and Sherlock hummed, clearly trying to deduce something about him.

“Children are always tricky,” Sherlock mumbled and John couldn’t fight a smile at the scene. “You like anatomy in school,” he said and Adrien narrowed his eyes.

“That’s not impressive, I mentioned earlier that I read Dad’s medical journals, anybody would’ve gotten it,” he challenged and Sherlock huffed.

“Your nose has been broken within the last two years,” he said and John looked at Adrien closely. “John won’t see because Mycroft made sure it was set correctly to heal, but there is a slight ripple, barely even there, near the bridge. Probably from a football or some other sport equipment- how do you like sport, you’re a Holmes,” he said in disgust and Adrien flinched, looking away. Sherlock froze. “Not from playing sport, you flinched, it’s a bad memory-“

John saw Adrien give him a panicked glance and immediately cleared his throat. “Sherlock,” he said loudly, shaking his head when Sherlock looked at him.

Sherlock kept going, however. “Someone broke your nose,” he said softly, eyes showing a small amount of surprise that his expression didn’t really betray. “You were thirteen, you weren’t out to get mugged, Mycroft would’ve never let you go out at that age, probably didn’t even let you walk to school-“

“Sherlock, leave it,” John hissed and Adrien looked down at his hands.

Sherlock’s gaze darkened. “At school. Someone broke your nose at school and you lied to hide it from Mycroft- he probably knew but let you think he didn’t- and no one did anything about it,” he said and John’s heart plummeted as he saw Adrien giving John a slightly frightened look.

“Sherlock, shut up,” John said bluntly, then reached out to catch Adrien’s hand. “It’s alright,” he said and Adrien winced.

“I- I didn’t want Dad to know,” he whispered, then looked at John. “Sorry.”

John shook his head. “Why wouldn’t you want me to know? Someone hurt you, why would you be ashamed of that?” he asked, only to have Sherlock wave a hand.

“Oh it’s obvious, he got beat up cause he’s gay,” he said and Adrien gasped, standing so abruptly his chair fell over backwards, landing with a loud bang.

“SHUT UP!” he shouted, then turned to run out of the kitchen and upstairs to his room.

John immediately turned to Sherlock. “Sherlock Holmes, I swear to God, you have thirty seconds to get out of this flat or I will knock you around again,” he threatened and Sherlock gave him a confused frown.

“Why? I don’t see why he’s upset, it’s obvious you won’t care, what with a lesbian sister, he’s fifteen so it’s likely he would’ve told you before much longer, hell I wasn’t sure you didn’t know already until he jumped up-“

“Sherlock, you know NOTHING about children!” John snapped. “Yes, he knows I wouldn’t care, he may have wanted to tell me before long, but now he doesn’t get to!” He stood up and paced. “Sherlock, you don’t understand, he is a child, he has never had a parent before me, nobody has ever paid much attention to him, and now he doesn’t get the chance to tell me on his own time and in his own terms!” He shook his head. “You just- you don’t understand, Sherlock. You cannot possibly understand what it is like to be confused and unsure like he probably has been and now he had something he should’ve had to the time to make peace with and grow comfortable with telling me shouted out by a man he never really got to know and who he thought was dead not long ago!” John shouted. “Now you are going to go up there, apologize- and I mean grovel like hell- and then you will leave,” John demanded.

Sherlock just stared. “I’ve never seen you so angry, not even when you punched me-“

“BECAUSE YOU UPSET MY SON YOU UTTER TIT!” he snarled, eyes wide and angry. “You best remember, he is the one who decides if you get to come back here ever again, so if you don’t want to be stuck in your brother’s house, you best make him believe you’re sorry, even if you lie your ass off, because I know you,” John said, then sighed. “You aren’t sorry. You won’t be sorry. You are too you to be sorry for anything,” he finished sadly. “Just go up there, Sherlock,” he said weakly. “I swear to God, if you don’t make him believe you are truly, utterly sorry, you will never set foot in the flat again.”

Sherlock tilted his head. “Why are you this upset? I’ve only seen you this angry once or twice under rare circumstances.”

John laughed humorlessly. “Because you hurt my child, the person I have come to hold more dear than anything in this world. You have no idea how much you’re getting away with just by still standing there because most likely, had you been anybody else, I’d have thrown you down the stairs by your hair,” he said darkly. “Now. Get upstairs and apologize.”

Sherlock bit his lip, but nodded. “Oh, I think I understand now,” he said and John snorted, rolling his eyes as Sherlock stood, straightened his shirt, then walked out, heading upstairs after Adrien without another word.
Sherlock knocked on the door to Adrien’s room- which was so odd to him, as it had always been John’s room- and heard no reply other than a sniffle. He opened the door and felt a strange sensation in his chest as he saw Adrien lying on his bed crying. He walked in and bit his lip, wondering why the feeling wasn’t going away. “Adrien?” he said softly, honestly flinching when Adrien lifted his head and Sherlock saw the tear streaks on his face, which was red from crying.

Adrien sniffled and wiped his face, looking down at the bed. “Go away,” he whimpered, pulling his knees up to his chest.

Sherlock bit his lip and closed the door, leaning back against it. “I’m… sorry,” he said and Adrien snorted.

“Yeah, sure you are,” he said bitterly. “Dad made you say that, didn’t he?” he pressed, eyes narrowed.

Sherlock’s lips quirked and he inclined his head. “Yes, he did,” he admitted openly. “However, I do believe I may actually feel sorry,” he said and Adrien snorted.

“Likely story,” he mumbled and Sherlock huffed, rolling his eyes.

“I do, believe it or not, have a heart,” Sherlock grumbled, walking over to sit on the end of the bed, pulling his legs up to cross under him as he scrutinized Adrien. “You do know John won’t be angry, right?”

Adrien rolled his eyes, sniffling. “Obviously. I’m not stupid,” he said and Sherlock raised an eyebrow. “I just… I didn’t want to tell him,” he whispered. “Not yet. Maybe not ever.”

Sherlock sighed. “Why not, you clearly have him wrapped around your little finger-“

“He’s my dad, who wants to tell their dad ‘oh yeah, I might be gay’?!” he demanded, glowering slightly.

Sherlock hummed. “No idea, I’ve never thought on it. My father would’ve probably beaten me or something, but clearly John wouldn’t care so I didn’t believe there would be a reason to worry.” He frowned. “Wait, did you fear John wouldn’t be comfortable with homosexuality?”

Adrien sighed and fell back against his pillows, arms still crossed over his chest. “Dad isn’t a hypocrite, I know that,” he said and Sherlock frowned somewhat, waiting for Adrien to wipe at his cheeks before continuing. “He’d be in no place to be unhappy with me liking boys now, would he?”

Sherlock frowned. “Has John started dating men now?” he asked with an accusatory brow raise and Adrien rolled his eyes.

“Don’t joke, it’s cruel,” he said bitterly. He glowered at Sherlock, startling Sherlock into sitting up straighter.

“What?” Sherlock asked and Adrien gave him an angry look.

“Dad might’ve killed himself if it wasn’t for me, do you really think it’s funny to joke about it?” he spat. “You ruined his life, you could’ve driven my dad to suicide before I met him and you think it’s okay to have a laugh?!”

Sherlock blinked. “Adrien-“

“Don’t you dare joke about Dad!” Adrien interrupted.

Sherlock held out a hand. “Adrien, I’m sorry,” he said and Adrien glared, shoulders heaving angrily. “No, honestly,” he said softly, swallowing. “Everything-“ He looked up. “Everything I did was for a reason-“

“I don’t give a damn about your reason,” Adrien said angrily. “You just-“ He growled and shook his head. “You hurt him,” he whispered acridly, eyes shimmering as he stared into near-identical eyes ahead of him. “You hurt him so bad that he couldn’t look at me for very long for the first few days without tears because I look like you. For three weeks he slept on the couch because he couldn’t bear to go into your room. He broke down crying the first day I was here and ran and hid from me because I did something that reminded him of you. That was months after you died,” he pointed out. “The day he finally cleaned out your room and made it his, I found him crying and talking to you out loud,” Adrien whispered, tears in his eyes. “D’you know what he was saying?” he asked and Sherlock stared at him, eyes wide and frightened as he trembled, seeing it all in his mind. “He said he was a doctor and a soldier and that he’d watched friends get blown up and was shot and left for dead and yet you made him too weak because you were the one he couldn’t stop crying over. He told me about how arrogant and conceited you were and I asked why he liked you and he told me that no matter how much of an arse you were, you made him better and he made you better and he told me how you saved him from himself and how he made you into a human being.” Adrien snorted. “Some human being you were, abandoning the person who loved you most,” he said and Sherlock flinched as if he’d been slapped.

“Adrien, you may have trouble understanding, I know he is important to you, but while I did hurt John, I did what I did to save him,” Sherlock said, looking down at his lap. “You are not the only one who cares for John, do not be mistaken in thinking what I did was without great sacrifice on my part.” He looked up. “You’re right, John is the only person who has ever really tried to get to know me and subsequently cared for me and I was willing to fake my death to keep him safe,” he said and Adrien blinked. “You are not a small child, so you can know that there was an assassin set to kill John if I did not die- or appear to- and I could not let that happen.”

Adrien stared. “Dad wasn’t important enough to warn afterwards?” he asked and Sherlock sighed.

“I couldn’t.” He shrugged. “I wanted to. I was too afraid something would happen to him.” Sherlock looked up. “I am sorry I hurt him, but you have done well to make him happy in my stead and I thank you for that.”

Adrien smiled weakly. “Well, I still hate you sometimes for hurting him, but Dad is the best thing to happen to me,” he admitted. “Nobody else has ever given a damn about me,” he grumbled.

Sherlock stood. “I need to go talk to John,” he said, walking to the door. He stopped, halfway out before turning back. “And Adrien?” He looked at him, biting his lip as his eyes bored into Adrien’s. “I know you have no reason to believe it, I know I’ve never had anything to do with your life, but you are wrong to say nobody’s given a damn about you because as terrible as I am with emotions, I do care for you,” he said simply and without inflection. “You are my son,” he whispered before leaving, letting Adrien sit and think in his absence.
John snuck into Adrien’s room just after eight and jumped on the bed, startling a muffled yell out of the sleeping child, who tangled himself in the covers tossing around until he pushed his hair out of his eyes and saw it was John. “Eurgh, why?” he moaned, flopping over onto his middle, only a tuft of dark hair amongst sheets and pillows.

John chuckled. “Happy birthday,” he said, reaching out to play with his curly hair. “So, I let you sleep in a bit because you’re skipping school and we’re going to spend the whole day doing whatever you want,” he said with a warm smile.

Adrien rolled over and blinked at him suspiciously. “You’re letting me skip school?”

John smiled and nodded. “My mum always let me skip on my birthday when I was a kid. I’m sure it’s less fun as a teenager, but I asked you throughout the week about important assignments or quizzes today and found you didn’t have any so we’re going to go do whatever you want today- within reason- and hang school,” he said and Adrien smiled, sitting up.

“You’re awesome,” he said, pushing the covers off to climb out of bed, going to find clothes. “What time is it?”

“Just past eight,” John said brightly. “Want to go get some breakfast to start with?” he asked and Adrien nodded.

“Yeah, can we go to that café with the chocolate pastry things I like?” he asked and John smiled.

“Of course we can, now hurry and get dressed and meet me downstairs,” he said, rushing out to go make sure Adrien’s gift was in place where he would see it when he got to the living room.

When Adrien got downstairs, he stopped and gaped when he saw the kitchen table. “Oh COOL!” he cried and John grinned.

“Happy birthday,” he said, and Adrien beamed up at him. “It’s sort of creepy, but you’re not the average kid,” he admitted and Adrien laughed.

“This is awesome,” he said as he went to inspect the model of a human head. It was a full head that split in half. The left half was bared down to the musculoskeletal level with blood vessels and muscles and the right looked like a mannequin’s head. The midsection showed a cross cut of the human head with everything inside, such as sinus cavities and the inside of the mouth. The left portion’s brain-half came out, showing off the anatomy of the brain within the skull. To the normal person it would seem an odd gift, but John knew Adrien loved anatomy and would definitely like a model of a human head. “So cool, it even has the foramens in the skull cap!” he said and John grinned.

“It’s almost alarming how like your father you are about the inner workings of a human head,” John teased and Adrien rolled his eyes, remembering his Dad’s stories about Sherlock keeping body parts in the refrigerator.

“This is so cool,” Adrien said, walking around the table to hug John. “Thank you, Dad,” he said, still grinning when they pulled apart.

John clapped him on the back. “Happy birthday, Adrien.”
After spending the whole day going around London, doing whatever Adrien wanted, John was happy for how nice their day had been. “Alright, we’ve got about two hours before we need to get home so I can make my shift tonight,” John said and Adrien hummed. “Dinner?” John suggested and Adrien paused in his walking and looked up suddenly.

“Can we see if Father will come have dinner with us?” he asked and John startled slightly, taken aback by Adrien’s suggestion.

“You sure you want to see him?” John asked tentatively and Adrien rolled his eyes.

“I don’t hold grudges. Besides, he can’t really prove he won’t be too much of a jerk to live with us if I don’t see him,” he said and John smiled, reaching out to ruffle Adrien’s hair.

John pulled out his phone and sent off a text. “We’ll see. How about we go to Angelo’s and if he’s free, he can meet us?” he asked, looking up once the text was sent.

Adrien nodded with a smile. “Alright.” He tugged at John’s sleeve and they turned around, heading the other direction so they could head towards Angelo’s. “Dad, you do want him to come back, don’t you?” he asked and John paused.

John thought for a bit before sighing. “Yeah, I guess I do.” He shrugged helplessly. “As much as I want to stay angry, he is my best friend in the end. He isn’t dead so I don’t have to miss him anymore, I can let him move back in with us.” John smiled at the ground, biting his bottom lip. “The flat will feel more like home, I guess,” he said and Adrien made an exaggerated eye roll.

“And a mess. I dread Father’s experiments all over,” he said, then grinned, knocking their shoulders together. “But I do want him to be in his home if you want him there. I may not like him much, but I lived fourteen years with Uncle Mycroft, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody who has our home as their other option,” he said and John burst out laughing, nearly running into a post as he fought to breathe.
John was pleasantly surprised when they arrived at Angelo’s and Sherlock already had them a table. When he spotted them, he stood, smiling nervously- a trait John was not used to- as they approached and took their seats. “Well now, Sherlock Holmes on time for something, shocking,” John teased and Sherlock rolled his eyes, though John caught the way the corners of his mouth twitched. “Surprised you weren’t busy.”

Sherlock sniffed. “Well, not much to do with Mycroft always spying on me,” he said offhandedly.

John snickered. “Adrien said on the way here he pitied anyone stuck living with Mycroft unexpectedly.”

Adrien nodded. “It’s better than a lot of places, but you and Uncle Mycroft never have gotten along so I’d imagine it’s hell,” he said and Sherlock gave a dramatic shudder.

“My ‘dear’ brother has spent his entire life playing my mother and father at once and it’s never quite worked with how I like to live my life-“

John snorted. “Even if it is the only way you’re alive,” he pointed out and Sherlock sighed.

“Yes, well, I’m not saying he doesn’t usually have my interest at heart, but I don’t need coddling,” he said and John hummed.

“I do recall a certain someone losing his entire wardrobe once,” he pointed out and Adrien laughed at the offended look on Sherlock’s face.

Sherlock sniffed and straightened his jacket. “Yes, well, you fiddled with my clothes and I did not know where you put them-“

John snickered. “You checked everywhere but the closet, Sherlock! How you lived before me, I’ll never know,” he joked and Sherlock gave him a piercing look, eyes alight in a way that betrayed what his straight face didn’t.

“I often wonder the same,” he admitted and John’s laughter died out, leaving them looking into each other’s eyes searchingly, even though they had no idea they were looking for the same thing.

Adrien eyed them both in amusement, only to mime gagging when their stares intensified. “SO!” His loud exclamation shook the two men from their stupor. “I’m not sure about you guys, but I’m hungry!”

John smiled. “Absolutely famished from all that walking,” he answered, then looked up at Sherlock momentarily before looking back down at the menu. “Sherlock will have the chicken scaloppini, what about you, Adrien?” he asked and Adrien looked at Sherlock, then at John.

“He never said what he’d want to eat,” he said and John smiled, eyes still on the page.

“Sherlock has lost a good stone while he was gone. He never remembers to eat. If I don’t make him, he’ll skip dinner here and he’s a picky eater,” John added, looking up at Adrien. “He never ordered anything other than chicken scaloppini from here in all the years we came here together.”

Sherlock smiled wryly. “I really do eat-“

John scoffed. “You do not, liar,” he accused playfully. “You will now, though.”

“John, really, I’m not hungry-“

“You’re eating, Sherlock, and that’s that. Half your plate at least,” he refused.

Sherlock huffed, turning to Adrien. “Is he like this with you or was it just me?” he asked and Adrien giggled.

“I eat so I wouldn’t know,” he answered honestly and Sherlock lifted his menu to hide his smile from John, who was openly smiling down at his own menu. Sherlock had missed John’s smile.
When Sherlock walked John and Adrien home, John was surprised but pleasantly so. He was really surprised however, when he got a text halfway along the walk from Lestrade.

You heard from Sherlock? He ran off of a crime scene about two hours ago and hasn’t answered a text since. –GL

John waited until they got back to the flat. “Adrien, go on inside, I’d like to talk to Sherlock for a moment,” he said and Sherlock turned to Adrien.

“Happy birthday, Adrien,” Sherlock said with as sincere a smile as John could hope for.

“Thanks!” Adrien said, turning to run up the steps and inside.

Sherlock turned back to John, who held up his phone. “You ran off of a crime scene to come have dinner?” John asked, eyes asking the real Question for him. Why?

Sherlock bit his lip and looked away before clearing his throat. “You asked,” he said simply and John chuckled.

“Sherlock, you never give up a good case. I didn’t even know Greg was letting you on them, I wouldn’t have bothered if I thought you were too busy-“

Sherlock cut him off with a sincere glance and tone of voice. “I spent more than a year away from you, John. I’m never too busy to see you again.”

John’s breath caught in his throat. “But it was a case.”

Sherlock smiled sadly, looking so intently into John’s eyes John felt frozen in place. “You’re you. I could spend hours just taking in the small changes in you since I left. I missed you,” he admitted, though he sounded as if it pained him to do so. “So much,” he added with a whisper.

John bit his lip and nodded. “You cannot imagine how much it means that you showed up. For me and for Adrien. He’s mostly doing it for me, he knows I miss you, but he does want to let you into his life and you showing up for us makes it so much more likely you will be able to move back in soon.”

Sherlock gave him a warm look. “You think you’re going to let me come home?”

John rolled his eyes and chuckled. “It was always a ‘when’, not an ‘if’, Sherlock. I missed you for so long, how could I refuse you when it would mean not missing you anymore?”

Sherlock shook his head. “You are the most amazing person I’ve ever met, John Watson. Your capacity for forgiveness is astounding. I’m shocked you’re even considering letting me back home.”

John snorted. “Well you saved me, Sherlock. I would be a horrible human being if I didn’t let you back in.”

Sherlock just shook his head. “You would be normal. But you aren’t normal, John. Of all the ‘average’ people in the world, you surprise me the most. Always have and always will.”

John just nodded. “I need to go in, but we had a good night, Sherlock. I’m so glad you came.”

“Me too,” Sherlock agreed, straightening up. “Goodnight, John,” he said and John nodded and smiled.

“Goodnight, Sherlock.” John turned and headed inside, stopping when he got upstairs. He looked down at the door and just stood there for a bit, wondering what the hell had happened that he had missed.
John was just sitting down to have his tea when he heard feet pounding up the stairs, startling him as he saw Adrien at the table, messing about with his anatomy head. When Sherlock flung the door open he held up a hand. “Sorry, sorry, I was visiting Mrs. Hudson or I’d have rang,” he said, striding across to John.

“Well then, what’s got you in such a state?” John asked, looking up at Sherlock, who sat on the edge of the couch suddenly, holding out his phone. “What’s this?”

“This is the X-rays of a body I’m investigating the death of with Lestrade. What could cause those crushed discs in the spine?” he asked, and John took the mobile, looking closer.

“Was he hit on the head with something very heavy? Compression of the vertebrae-“

Sherlock shook his head. “No, that’s what’s confusing me. He apparently died from a blow to the head and he was lying at the bottom of the stairs, so I figured just he was pushed down the stairs, but then I saw the blood on the floor and the lack of intracranial bleeding and determined he couldn’t have been killed by the blow to the head. Molly found the crushed discs and they could’ve been fatal, but a healthy person’s vertebrae would not sustain that much damage from a blow to the back of the head, not the very top-“

“Did they test his tissues for tuberculosis?” Adrien asked, voice drifting from the kitchen table. John and Sherlock both turned and he shrugged innocently. “Pott’s disease. Spinal tuberculosis.”

John hummed. “That’s generally thoracic and lumbar though, very rarely cervical, almost unheard of in adults.”

Sherlock just stared at Adrien. “I didn’t even think of that,” he said, then looked at John. “Is it possible, though? Could spinal tuberculosis weaken the spine enough that the crushed disc could cause death?” he asked and John smiled and nodded.

“Yeah, it’s definitely possible,” he said, turning back to Adrien. “Good work on that one. I never would’ve thought of that,” he said brightly.

Adrien shrugged. “I read a case about an Indian man who had surgery for spinal cord pressure due to thoracic damage from spinal tuberculosis. It was very interesting,” he said, turning back to the portion of plastic brain in his hand.

Sherlock did a double-take. “Is he studying an anatomy brain?” he asked John, raising an eyebrow.

John smirked. “Yeah, I got it for him for his birthday. He’s probably got about as much medical knowledge as I do at this point,” he said honestly. “Listen to this,” he mumbled, then turned to look at Adrien. “Adrien, what do you want to be when you grow up?” he asked, gesturing for Sherlock to listen.

Adrien didn’t even look up from his plastic brain before speaking. “Medical examiner, you know this, Dad,” he mumbled, poking at some part of the brain with the pencil in his hand.

Sherlock looked taken aback, looking from Adrien to John. “He wants to work in a hospital? How mundane,” he commented and John rolled his eyes.

“I’d say he’s a lot like his father in that aspect; you were always cutting up body parts gleefully in our kitchen,” he accused and Sherlock hummed.

“Didn’t think of that. Maybe I should’ve studied pathology rather than chemistry at University,” he said, leaning back. “Would’ve made access to body parts much easier,” he added and John snorted.

“Why do you think I’m buying him plastic body parts? I’m sure if he could get real ones like you used to, I’d have more heads in my refrigerator instead of plastic ones on the table-“

“Oh hey, you don’t happen to still have contact with whoever got you fingers do you, Father? I’ve got this really interesting idea about tendons in the third and fourth digits-“ John cut Adrien off with a scathing laugh.

“No,” he said, then stood with his empty tea mug. “No.No. NO!” he stressed, walking over to the sink. “There is no way in hell I’m letting my fifteen year old son dissect human body parts. Seriously, no!” he said with finality.

“Actually,” Sherlock started, standing as well but John turned and pointed at him.

NO!” he argued resolutely. “No body parts!”
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Really, John, he’s asking for fingers instead of committing petty crimes, you should be glad,” he said with a chuckle.

John put his hands on his hips. “No, you do not count. You may have been nicking people’s yard ornaments, but you are not a normal child.”

Adrien looked up from the table. “You nicked yard ornaments?” he asked and then made a face. “Dull, I’d have gone for kicking over bins,” he muttered and Sherlock gave him a somewhat surprised look before raising an eyebrow at John, who just shrugged.

“Clearly he doesn’t just look like you,” John muttered to Sherlock, who gave him an amused little grin. “I’m just doing my best to prevent the dropping out of university to rot in a drug den bit,” he said before heading back out to where he had been reading the paper before Sherlock turned up.

Sherlock followed and sat down again. “Well, to be fair, while it wasn’t the best idea to become an addict, Adrien only exists because my dealer in Uni had enough money and wanted sex instead,” he said and John snickered.

“I just have fun imagining the great Sherlock Holmes that I know sinking to basically whoring himself out,” he said and Sherlock made a face.

“Can’t say I was a ‘great’ anything when I was desperate enough for a hit I slept with a women multiple times- real proof how bad I wanted it- and got so high I forgot to put on my clothes before going back to my dormitory,” he mumbled and John dissolved into giggles.

“I’ve seen you refuse to put on clothes and walk around in a sheet many times, Sherlock, and that was stone cold sober. I am not surprised,” he said and Sherlock spared him an embarrassed little smile. John gave him a speculative look. “You are still clean, right?”

“Well, if you really must know, I’m still clean,” Sherlock confirmed. “I won’t say it was easy on the run- especially in the types of places I was in- but I had a goal and I was able to stay clean.” He bit his lip and looked away in a way that John knew meant he was hiding something.

“Alright,” he said, sighing disappointedly before holding out his hand towards Sherlock, who just looked at it. “Cigarettes. Now.”

Sherlock huffed. “You can’t seriously expect me to give them up now-“

“Never mind Adrien’s agreeing to let you come home, I won’t let you come home until you quit again,” he said, wiggling his fingers of the outstretched hand. “Give me them now and go buy patches on the way to report to Lestrade about the spine fractures.”

Sherlock stared at John and then made a grumpy sound. “Fine,” he hissed, digging a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket to hand over.

John nodded. “Good and the other pack,” he demanded and Sherlock gave him a narrow-eyed glare. “I know you,” John said sternly and Sherlock stood up with a grumble.

“You’re terribly annoying,” he said, digging a crumpled pack of cigarettes from his other coat pocket to hand them over. “There, happy? Want to search me? I’m nicotine free now,” he hissed sarcastically and John just stood, going to toss the packs in the bin.

John came back and patted Sherlock’s chest as he passed him. “I trust you without giving you a pat down, Sherlock. Just don’t buy any more,” he said, sitting down again. “Remember, the longer it takes you to quit again, the longer it’ll be before you can come home,” he said in a teasing voice and Sherlock just sucked his teeth petulantly before whirling about in a whip of his coat and stalking out. “Have fun catching criminals!” John called, ignoring the offended sound Sherlock made as he stomped down the stairs and out the front door. John grinned to himself, more than pleased to have Sherlock back in his life. He glanced back to see if Adrien was paying attention and smiled when he saw him engrossed in shining a torch into the skull cap to examine the foramens and sutures of the skull without any idea what was going on in the flat around him.
Adrien hadn’t been due home for a few hours when Sherlock showed up and asked John if he could come be of assistance at a crime scene. John didn’t have work and he did miss going to see Sherlock be brilliant (he could admit it, it never failed to be impressive) so he agreed to go. They had only been there for about twenty minutes before Sherlock was off chasing after a criminal, John right on his heels the whole way. What was meant to be a short stop ended up being an entire afternoon running around London like old times, even so far as Sherlock dragging John behind a dumpster and them bursting into laughter as they let the criminal run right into a trap where Lestrade’s men were waiting.

“Jesus, I’m getting old,” John said, panting as they walked back to where the police were congregated.

Sherlock smiled. “I didn’t want to say anything, but you’re going gray,” he said and John scoffed.

“It happens. I’m blond so it isn’t as noticeable,” John said with a shrug.

Sherlock snickered. “It’s just funny. You don’t ever seem as old as you are,” he said and John shot him a look.

“You’re pushing forty, Sherlock, your hair will turn soon too.” John smirked. “Sherlock Holmes, you will be forty very soon, and I can tease you mercilessly about getting too old,” he said and Sherlock scoffed.

“Age has no bearing upon me. Unlike you, I have no reason to fear aging. I’m in good health and my appearance means little. Hell, you need to get a move on with the finding a wife thing. Your chances of marriage and a family are ticking by, aren’t they?” he pointed out and John sighed as he looked ahead, a content smile on his face.

“Not really something I look after anymore,” he said simply, putting his hands in his pockets as they approached the end of the alley.”

Sherlock raised an eyebrow. “Really? Who are you and what did you do with John Watson?” he asked and John laughed.

“No really, I’ve got Adrien. I’m getting on up in age, too.” He looked down. “Besides, not really my area,” he said, refusing to blush when he felt Sherlock’s eyes on him.

“Oh?” Sherlock asked, voice to level to be anything less than very focused.

John shot him a glance and nodded. “Yeah-“

“JOHN!” John was cut off by Lestrade jogging over, gone pale as a sheet. “John, my lord-“

John caught his elbow. “What’s wrong, Greg? You look a bit sick-“

“What’s happened?” Sherlock asked quickly, eyes raking over Lestrade’s face. “Something bad has happened, what?”

Lestrade looked at John. “Jesus, John, Mycroft called me. You’ve gotta go, mate, it’s Adrien,” he said and John’s stomach dropped.

“What happened? Where is he? Is he alright?!” he demanded and Greg shook his head.

“I don’t know, Mycroft called and said he got hit by some bastard on a motorbike while he was walking home, Mycroft was already headed to the hospital to meet the ambulance when it got there-“

“Come on,” Sherlock said, grabbing John’s elbow, tugging him away. “It’s faster if we run from here,” he said and John nodded, for once having absolutely no trouble keeping up with Sherlock as they raced through the city, taking more alley shortcuts than they did even chasing most criminals as they full on sprinted towards their destination.

John couldn’t ever remember being more terrified in his life, not even when he had been shot.
When Sherlock and John rushed into the hospital, both of them panting for breath from their neck-breaking speed on the way there, it was only Mycroft’s presence that got them past the reception desk. “The doctors haven’t come to speak to me yet, but from the initial report it seems he will be alright,” Mycroft reassured and John nodded, still hassling.

“Good, good, oh thank God,” he groaned, wiping at his forehead with his sleeve. “Jesus Christ, Mycroft, what happened?!” he asked.

Mycroft sniffed, looking away. “A motorcyclist decided it wasn’t so bad to drive home on a motorbike after a few pints and failed to yield at a crosswalk. Hit Adrien and an older lady. The lady was alright, she was on the other side of Adrien, but Adrien was quite injured, I’m led to believe.”

Sherlock stiffened. “And the motorcyclist?” he asked and Mycroft hummed.

“Broken leg which he will have the pleasure of healing up from while in prison,” he said in a scarily level voice.

Immediately John’s brain flipped through a book of injuries commonly sustained from pedestrians being struck by vehicles and his panic grew. “Oh God, what if he was going excessively fast? Adrien could have spinal damage. He probably has brain injuries. What if he has intracranial bleeding? Oh God, Sherlock, what if he has lasting brain damage?!” he breathed, wheeling around to face Sherlock, who was pale and deathly still. “Sherlock, what if he isn’t alright? What if he’s injured terribly?” He didn’t even realize there were tears in his eyes until Sherlock looked to his face and his expression softened, weakness filling his usually cold eyes. “What if my son isn’t alright?” he choked, only to gasp when Sherlock reached out and caught his hand, squeezing it as he looked down at him. “Sherlock, he’s all I’ve got!”

Sherlock shook his head. “He’ll be alright,” he said, squeezing John’s hand. “Do you hear me, John? He’ll be alright. Mycroft just said he’s likely to recover, right? He will be alright-“

John shook his head. “You can’t know that, Mycroft can’t. I’m the doctor, I know what happens with these things!” He swallowed and looked up at Sherlock with tears in his eyes. “Sherlock, it’s Adrien,” he whispered and Sherlock swallowed hard.

Sherlock did something very few would expect of him and decisively stepped closer and slid his arms around John’s shoulders, pulling him into a hug. “It’s alright,” he whispered, leaning his chin against John’s temple as John slid into his arms and fought tears as he clung to Sherlock. “It will be alright. Adrien will be okay.”

“He has to be, Sherlock. I can’t lose him!” John choked out and Sherlock closed his eyes, turning to press his lips to John’s hair as John pressed his face into Sherlock’s neck. “I cannot lose him-“

“You won’t,” Sherlock said and John groaned.

“You can’t know that, Sherlock. You can’t.”

Sherlock slid a hand into John’s hair and stroked the back of his head. “I can’t believe anything will happen to my son. No matter what, he is my son and he is incredibly dear to me. I cannot imagine losing him and I refuse to believe it is even slightly a possibility,” Sherlock said, smiling sadly when John clung tighter. “If he isn’t alright, we’ll do whatever we must to get him whatever he needs to be alright, I promise.” John just nodded, refusing to pull away from Sherlock’s hold as they waited.
John was still clinging to Sherlock, neither of them having moved, when a doctor finally came to see them. She smiled when John finally released Sherlock to turn. “Alright, who’s Adrien’s dad?” she asked and John started to speak before stopping, jaw clenching as he looked at Sherlock and then Mycroft. He hated admitting he wasn’t actually a relative.

Sherlock gave him a meaningful look and stepped forward, taking his hand. “We’re his parents,” he said and John relaxed some, squeezing Sherlock’s hand as thanks.

She smiled comfortingly at the look on John’s face. “He’s alright,” she reassured. John relaxed some and she looked at the paper in her hand. “He’s lucky, he was hit pretty hard, but he should recover completely pretty quickly. He has a concussion but it’s not too bad. He was only unconscious for a few minutes and his wrist is fractured, but it’s not too serious, he’ll be out of a cast in a few weeks, probably.”

“Oh thank God,” John groaned, running a hand through his hair. “Can we see him?” he asked, more than relieved when she agreed to let them go back while Mycroft went to speak to his assistant.

When they got into the ward and John came around the corner, he saw Adrien sitting in bed while a nurse finished taping down a bandage to his head, just along his hairline. “Dad!” he said and she looked up when John strode over, jaw clenched.

“Adrien, dear God never scare me like this again,” he said, leaning down to pull Adrien into a hug, holding on tight.

Adrien wrapped his un-casted arm around John’s neck and held him back. “I’m alright, Dad,” he said and John let out a weak sound.

“I was so scared,” he admitted, pulling away to sit on the bed next to him. He reached out and cupped his cheek, tilting his head. “How many stitches has he got?” he asked the nurse, who chuckled.

“Twelve. It wasn’t a very big gash but where it’s at it bled a lot. Head wounds-“

“Tend to bleed heavily, yes,” he agreed, sighing as he looked Adrien over. “You really are your father’s child. I swear you Holmes boys are going to send me to an early grave.” He shook his head. “I’m going to die of a heart attack one of these days. I thought it would be Sherlock for the longest but you’re quickly getting a place on that list,” he said and Adrien smiled, then gasped, eyes flickering over John’s shoulder.

“Father? What are you doing here?” he asked and Sherlock cleared his throat from his spot standing behind John.

“John and I were at a crime scene when you got hurt so we came together,” he said, giving him a somewhat fragile look, eyebrows furrowed. “Are you alright?” he asked and Adrien nodded, looking surprised at Sherlock’s concern.

“You stayed, though,” he said and Sherlock’s eyes dimmed slightly as he looked down.

John, too, was surprised by Sherlock’s reaction. “Sherlock?” he asked, only to stop when Sherlock walked around the other side of the bed, edging past the nurse who was still making notes on the chart, and sat beside Adrien, shocking them both by leaning in and curling his arms around Adrien, pulling him to his chest. “Sherlock?” John asked, reaching out to touch his arm.

Sherlock just pressed his face into Adrien’s hair, exhaling shakily. “I’m sorry,” he choked out, voice muffled by Adrien’s hair as he clutched at the teen and rocked slightly. “You’re my son, I love you, I’m so sorry I’ve been such a horrible father that you’re shocked I even care you got hit by a motorcycle,” he breathed, lifting his head with a wet sniffle, shocking John to see tears on his cheeks. “I love you so much, Adrien. I just never knew what to do. I don’t know how to be a father. I didn’t know how to love anybody at all before John made me better and now look. You’re in the hospital and you’re surprised your own father even cared enough to come see you!” he whimpered, pulling back to look at Adrien’s face, holding both sides of his head in his hands. His eyes swept over Adrien’s face, tears slipping down his cheeks. “I was so scared,” he breathed, moving in to kiss Adrien’s forehead. “No matter what, you’re my son. You’re my child. I love you more than you have ever known. I always have. I just didn’t understand. I didn’t know how or why.” He let out a weak sob. “I feared I would lose you,” he admitted, leaning their foreheads together. “I tried so hard to stay strong for John but I was so scared,” he admitted.

It was one of the only times John ever heard Sherlock admit he was afraid. Sherlock never admitted he was weak. He never admitted he was human. But as John sat there, he watched Sherlock Holmes breaking that barrier, destroying the wall of emotionless machine, and holding his son for the first time in either of their lives. He may have been fifteen years late, but John could see Adrien fighting to hold in his own emotions as he turned his head to lay it on Sherlock’s shoulders, tentatively curling his arms around his father’s back in reciprocation. He closed his eyes and let Sherlock hold him for a while. “It’s alright, Father.”

Sherlock just took a steadying breath and raised one hand to wipe his face. “It’s not. You should’ve never felt unwanted.”

Adrien shook his head. “Well then, it’s okay now. Okay?”

Sherlock smiled and nodded, pressing his face into Adrien’s hair. “Okay.” He opened his eyes and John was almost startled by how clear and focused his eyes looked still damp from tears. He gave John a searching look and John just reached out to cup Sherlock’s cheek with an emotional smile of his own, stroking his thumb along Sherlock’s sharp cheek bone, leaving his hand there when Sherlock gave him a relieved little smile and let his eyes fall shut again, content to hold his son for a bit longer.
When Adrien was cleared to go home and go to sleep, Sherlock and John both went with him, fussing over every jolt he got as he took the steps. When John settled Adrien in bed, checking to make sure he looked alright to sleep, Sherlock stood in the doorway, watching fondly as Adrien slid into bed, favoring his wrist. “Father, are you staying?” he asked and Sherlock looked at John, who just smiled.

“Yeah, he’ll be here when you wake up,” John said, ruffling Adrien’s curls when he stood. “Get some rest,” he said, walking over to ease past Sherlock.

Sherlock gave Adrien a smile and turned to leave, only stopping when Adrien called out. “Father?” Sherlock turned back and Adrien smiled sleepily from his pillow, the bruises on his face looking worse in the shadow. “For what it’s worth, I love you too. You’re my Father, no matter what.” He shrugged. “I’ve always loved you, even when I didn’t think you liked me. I can’t really help it.”

Sherlock’s breath caught and he swallowed. “Goodnight, Adrien,” he said, pulling the door shut before heading downstairs to the main flat. He walked into the kitchen and smiled when he saw John standing there, making tea like always.

John turned back and gave him a weary smile. “Well, that was the most terrifying thing in well over a year,” he said and Sherlock matched his smile.

“Thank you for letting me stay the night. I just want to be able to be near in case Adrien needs something,” Sherlock said awkwardly, pulling at his sleeves, unsure of what to say.

John shook his head. “Sherlock,” he laughed with an exasperated sigh. “Come home,” he said simply, bumping his head back against the cabinet as he slouched on the counter. “Just stop this nonsense and come home.”

Sherlock gave him a surprised look, but nodded. “Right. Yes, okay. I can get what few things I have tomorrow from Mycroft’s. I should be perfectly fine without much-“

John shook his head and ignored the kettle finishing. He walked around the table and looked up at Sherlock. “We’ll bring your things up from the 221C and find room for your things again. You can experiment, you can ruin appliances, you can break things again. I want you to be home again, Sherlock.” He looked up into his eyes. “I’m done with this. All of it. It’s stupid. Do you know how much I missed you when you were dead?” he asked softly. “I begged with reality to put you back. I woke up every day and wanted to hear you breaking things and smell smoke from you setting things on fire because I wanted all of you back with me, even the annoying, narcissistic, arsehole who didn’t give who shits about what you were destroying, because you are not Sherlock Holmes without making messes and pissing me off.” He laughed softly, reaching up to touch Sherlock’s cheek. “You wouldn’t be you, you wouldn’t be the man I love, if you didn’t make me hate you some days.”

Sherlock closed his eyes, leaning into John’s touch. “John,” he breathed, catching John’s hand to hold it to his cheek. “I would’ve watched the world burn before I lost you. I was so selfish, but nobody had ever treated me like a person the way you did. I missed you every second I was gone.”

John smiled. “Well you’re home now,” he said and Sherlock opened his eyes, catching John’s gaze.

“You said love… not loved?” he asked breathlessly, eyes searching John’s.

John swallowed but shook his head. “Love,” he confirmed. “Always ‘love’.”

Sherlock let out a soft, pained sound. “John,” he breathed before darting in, closing the gap between with one step. Their lips met and John felt every emotion he’d been feeling well up in his chest until the dam burst and he groaned, sliding his hand into Sherlock’s hair, gripping his curls as he used the other arm to sling around Sherlock’s neck, pulling him down so that he could kiss him more deeply.

Sherlock seemed unsure, but John expected that. John honestly expected he was the first person to get close enough to Sherlock to kiss him since his days of trading sex for drugs in his twenties. John led the kiss, directing Sherlock’s angle by the hold on his hair. Sherlock slid his hands around John’s waist until they both were splayed across his spine, holding John close as he craned his neck down so their lips could meet. He moaned, somewhat startled by his own sound when John nipped on his top lip, sending shivers down his spine. John chuckled, pulled away to press their foreheads together. “Sherlock,” he whispered, grinning at him in a way Sherlock could get used to quite easily.

Sherlock looked into John’s dark blue eyes and sighed shakily. “Interesting. I cannot say I expected… well that,” he finished lamely and John snickered, leaning up to kiss him again. “I feel this deserves quite a bit of research,” he said in a low voice that sent shivers down John’s spine.

“Mmmmm, oh yes, there are several variables to be accounted for,” John said and Sherlock shared his smirk, sliding a hand along John’s back, nosing John’s cheek aside to kiss to his jaw. “I know you, you can’t be happy until you’ve done all your research.

Sherlock moaned softly, brushing his lips along John’s cheek to his lips, kissing them gently once more. “Oh yes, there will have to be extensive research.” He pressed his forehead to John’s, looking into his eyes. “I’ll have to catalogue your reaction to everything,” he said and John gave him a near-lecherous grin.

Everything, huh?” he asked, and Sherlock chuckled in amusement.

“Every reaction to every touch,” Sherlock whispered against John’s lips, earning a weak gasp.

John tipped his head back and kissed Sherlock tenderly, putting every emotion he could into the touch. “How about we start with this?” he asked, slowly pulling Sherlock into a deep, slow, intense kiss into which he poured his heart, using his body to tell Sherlock how much he loved him.

Sherlock’s response was an instant one: an unspoken ‘I love you’.
John smiled fondly when he heard the door open downstairs and two pairs of feet stomping up the stairs, signifying Adrien and Sherlock’s return. “Dad! Dad, Father got us some ears, how cool is that?!” Adrien called, rushing into the kitchen looking excited.

Sherlock went into the living room to the small refrigerator in the corner near his desk that John had ordered they keep body parts in. “I’m thinking Adrien can run this experiment on his own,” he said and John turned around, hands on his hips.

“Oi! What did I tell you?” he demanded, glaring at Sherlock when he walked back into the kitchen.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Really, John, he’s probably got better anatomy knowledge than you and you’re the doctor-“

“And who was it who nearly chopped his own fingers off trying to skewer a bloody eyeball?!” John demanded and Sherlock gave him a sheepish look. “That’s right, the one who has a long life ahead of him and needs his fingers,” he said then turned to Adrien. “I already deal with your father burning holes in my bloody rug, I will not let you start ruining things and starting fires too.”

“But Dad!” Adrien whined and John shook his head.

“No ‘but’s, you are only to observe, not get involved in your father’s experiments, and that’s that,” he said with finality.

Sherlock huffed. “But John, he has to LEARN-“

“At school, where he studies anatomy in a teaching environment,” John argued, leaving no room for any other arguments against his own. Sherlock started to speak and John held up a hand. “Who sews people up when they have accidents in the home in this family?” he demanded and Sherlock just whined, going to flop into his chair, pulling his knees up.

“You’re so boring,” he snapped, glowering at him over his kneecaps.

Adrien looked up. “What if we promise not to use the sharp scalpels-“

John pointed at him. “You touch my surgical kit again- even for the dull blades- and I’ll ban the both of you from experiments for a month,” he threatened and Adrien whined, going to face plant on the couch, groaning loudly into the pillow.


John eyed his sulking lover and son and grinned to himself, chuckling as he turned back to the washing up. “My boys,” he sighed fondly, shaking his head. “You’re both full on nutters but I love the both of you,” he called out, grinning at the disparaging remarks he got from both sides of the living room, because he knew deep down that no matter how sulky and ridiculous two Holmes could be together, he wouldn’t trade his family for the world.

That’s what they were, John thought, a family.