Actions

Work Header

Ampersand

Chapter Text

 

 

John has been back in Baker Street for all of three days.

He’s sitting in the kitchen, having breakfast. A dusty tin of beans he found in the back of the cupboard and heated up. With bread, not home-made like Mary’s always was, but the cheapest kind from Tesco. It’s stale - god knows how long it’s been here.

There’s a slight murmur coming up from Mrs. Hudson’s radio downstairs, the eight AM BBC news.

A familiar smell coming from one of Sherlock’s test tubes. Embalming fluid, maybe. Some rotting human tissue.

There’s the bathroom door opening, and Sherlock’s steps that grow slower as he walks closer, as if he’s dreading to come into view. John chews his toast, swallows, and has a sip of tea, before he says, “Morning.”

Sherlock nods, a quick, uncertain thing. He’s dressed, all ready to go then. “I’m going to the morgue, I need samples. A male’s large intestine.”

“Hm.” John looks back at his breakfast and keeps on eating. His bathrobe sleeve nearly crosses his plate as he reaches for his tea again.

Sherlock’s still standing there, but there’s nothing more to say. John can’t come along to the morgue, if that’s even what Sherlock wants. He has to go to work.

But Sherlock does that now, leaves space between them where there shouldn’t be any.

John can feel Sherlock’s eyes linger on him. He’s not sure what he’s looking at. You faked your death and left me. I got married. You killed Magnussen. Mary left. It’s all fucked up, it’s all...

Blank.

Eventually, Sherlock moves away and grabs his coat. John raises his voice before Sherlock’s fully gone, “You want something from the shop?”

There’s a pause. A slight shift, and then Sherlock replies, “Milk.”

John almost bursts out a laugh, but then stops himself. It’s not a joke. Not anymore.

Sherlock waits for another moment, and then there’s the sound of the door falling shut. The thuds as he races down the stairs.

John looks at the last cold dregs of his tea. He could make another cup. He could... do anything. He puts it down.

It all feels so goddamn strange, somehow.

Sharing a flat again.

John sits there for a bit. Listens to the distant radio. There’s the sound of the door for a second time, and steps on the stairs. Sherlock probably forgot something, or it’s Mrs. Hudson butting in. But it’s Mycroft who walks in. “Good morning, John.”

Oh. John glances outside. “You just missed him.”

Mycroft looks like crap, it must have been a late night. War somewhere, or elections. John’s known Mycroft for years but he still doesn’t know what exactly he has a hand in.

“You want a cuppa or something?” The kettle’s just boiled.

“No, thank you. Would you give this to him?” Mycroft holds a file out. His eyes are lingering on John’s half-eaten plate.

“Yeah.” John’s surprised Mycroft even bothered to bring the file over himself. Usually it’s one of his assistants, looking scary and dressed in black. Maybe he thought it needed personal attention. Or he wanted to check up on Sherlock, more likely.

Mycroft turns right around. “We’ll speak later.”

“Hm, bye.” John needs to shower after this, and get to work at the clinic. He’ll be there by nine unless the tube’s busy. It’s more of a commute from Baker Street, now, too far to bike. He might sell it. He can use the money.

John’s thinking about work when he hears Mycroft’s sharp intake of breath - John looks up. “You all right?”

Mycroft’s holding on to the doorframe. “Yes.” It’s said authoritatively.

He sort of... sways.

John screeches his chair back and gets over to him just in time to grab the crook of his arm. “Yeah, you don’t look all right.” Mycroft’s brow is pearled with sweat. He’s as pale as a sheet. John half-pulls him to the sofa, and sits him down. He checks his pulse.

It’s fast and weak.

“You going to pass out?” Mycroft’s eyes are closed, and his breathing is shallow, but he’s conscious.

Mycroft swallows dryly. “I’m uncertain.”

John looks around. “You need a bowl?” He’s not about to clean vomit off the floorboards, it’s Sherlock’s turn. Forever, in fact - after that one time with the bile. There’s still a bleached spot on the woodwork.

Mycroft raises a hand, and holds it over his eyes. “That won’t be necessary, I think.”

Fine. John goes to the kitchen, and opens the fridge, looking for something cold. All he can see is a bag of toenails, and a tomato with white patches growing off it. John wets a tea towel instead.

Mycroft’s sunk back into the cushions. His eyes are closed. He’s breathing carefully.

“Here.” John presses the towel to Mycroft’s hand.

Mycroft takes it, dabs his face with it, and then slowly opens his eyes. He seems ashamed, for a second. He says, carefully, “My apologies.”

John sits down on the table across from him. “Better here than on the stairs.” It’s the flu, maybe? It’s not the season for it, but it’s hardly unusual. Unless he’s eaten some bad sushi. “You’ve been to see a GP?”

Mycroft’s lips thin. “No need to worry, I assure you.”

“Right.” John’s not about to question him. He probably goes to the fanciest practise in London.

Mycroft’s hands tremble as he folds the towel and puts it to the side. He stays seated, though, so John assumes he’s going to need a minute.

Mrs. Hudson’s radio’s moved on to the weather forecast now. Seventy percent chance of rain. There’s the occasional sound from the street.

Mycroft’s breathing.

There’s a very faint, sweet smell coming from him. Mycroft’s an omega, and this close by it’s obvious. Mycroft’s scent lingers in his nose. John glances at him - strange, he always thought he was on suppressants.

Sherlock is, as well. John saw them again when he moved in and he opened the bathroom cabinet to put his razor in there. In-between the antiseptic and the paracetamol.

Even with them, Sherlock smells like an alpha. Something slightly burned. Something risky.

John’s heard clients make a low moaning sound when Sherlock walks up to them. He has seen them whimper, and get goose bumps when Sherlock deduces them. Sherlock pretends not to notice, although John’s sure that he does. He just doesn’t care, that’s it.

Sherlock doesn’t care.

John looks at Mycroft again. Maybe he’s been sick for a while and couldn’t keep his suppressants down. He’s not close to a heat though, it doesn’t smell like it. Thank god. John wouldn’t want to deal with a Holmes in heat.

Or well, not this one, anyway. Sherlock... right. John looks down at his hands. His bathrobe sleeves have small holes in them. It’s the same one he wore here, in Baker Street. Five years ago.

Mycroft moves. He seems determined to get going as soon as he can, his fingers grip the side of the sofa, and he pushes himself up. John’s willing to bet that he’s still dizzy, but Mycroft stares him down. “I would appreciate it if you could keep this to yourself.”

John gets the feeling that there’s an or else in there. “Sure.” As embarrassing as it must be to him, ‘Mycroft nearly fainted on our sofa this morning’ is hardly world news.

Mycroft nods. “John.” He bends cautiously to collect his umbrella, and leaves.

 

-

 

John gets to work only ten minutes late.

They barely look at him, these days. Mary wasn’t that well-liked, but John’s the man who left her at eight-and-a-half months pregnant, and that doesn’t exactly make him popular.

His first patient has gastroenteritis. The next wants a prescription for her rheumatoid arthritis medicine. Next one’s a cold, the one after that cold sores, then a urinary tract infection, followed by someone with allergies playing up. It’s all a blur, really. John’s not even sure he’s a decent GP, most days. It’s all basic things, people with their lacklustre little problems. He can do it with his eyes closed.

Fourteenth patient of the day thinks that she’s pregnant. She’s been trying for a while, she says. Her last heat was a month ago. John draws her blood, says the blood results will be back in three days, ignores her hopeful smile, and adds her file to the pile. Then it’s a kid with a rash, and an elderly man with nothing wrong with him except the need to chat, and...

John tries not to remember the woman.

With Mary, it was Sherlock who figured out that she was pregnant. At the wedding. John hates the memory of that moment now. The dance after. That frantic push of happy, be happy, this is supposed to be the best moment of your life.

It wasn’t.

 

-

 

John goes to the shop after work. Sherlock’s not going to do it, of course. He won’t pick up what they need on his own, same thing as it always was. John would hate it if it weren’t so familiar.

If he hadn’t longed for this exact thing for years.

It’s busy, and John’s being dragged along into the rush of people trying to pick up just that one thing or other for dinner. He doesn’t even know which aisle he’s in, just that he is shuffling around a screaming toddler and then a group of tourists with carry-ons gaping at the jam, when his eye falls on a packet of biscuits. Digestives, blue wrapper.

It was the only thing that Mary could keep down first thing in the morning for weeks.

John walks past them. No use thinking of that now, she’s gone, it’s all gone. It was all a lie. Not his baby. He gets bread and milk and cheese and whatever else he can think of instead.

He’s waiting in line - there’s a product being called up somewhere and it’s taking bloody forever - when his phone buzzes.

John considers ignoring it. Not a lot of people use his number, these days. But he shuffles the food in his arms around to reach his pocket, and checks. Sherlock. “Pick up more files on your way back, Diogenes club. SH”

John sighs. He texts back, “Fine. JW” He doesn’t know why he’s bothering, really. Sherlock could go get them himself, but then he’s too lazy to do it, probably. London is hell at this time of evening.

It’s started raining, too.

Traffic is at a near stand-still, there are pedestrians and umbrellas everywhere, it’s a tangled mess of people just trying to get home.

John takes the tube. He gets sucked along with the stream of commuters, wet coats and the damp, blasting heat. He stands in a car surrounded by men in suits, a young couple with awkward backpacks, and a group of elderly Indian women, and holds on.

Trying not to think.

John doesn’t know if the files are for a case, he didn’t look at whatever Mycroft brought over this morning. Might be nothing at all. He wants it to be something, though. A case. Anything to make that uneasy itch of every fucking day is like this, now, empty go away.

He gets off at Westminster. The rain has picked up. It’s dark, and the streets are shining with water and car lights leaving long light trails on the road.

By the time he’s at the Diogenes club, the carrier bags are digging into his fingers, and there are raindrops rolling down his hair.

He rings the buzzer. Either the attendant’s been warned in advance - CCTV - or John wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a photo of himself somewhere in the Diogenes Club saying ‘let this man in’, because the door opens to a butler-type in a suit, and he gets ushered in.

John’s aware that he’s out of place here, carrying the shopping. Dripping onto the furniture. His wet shoes sink into the deep carpet, and he rustles his bags loud enough that some of the geriatric men look up from their newspapers and brandies, and frown at the intrusion.

Mycroft’s not in one of the sitting rooms. They’re taking a lift down this time.

The attendant stands perfectly still, not a trace of judgement there. Probably comes with the job, John thinks, thou shall not think.

They end up in a long corridor with several reinforced doors. The attendant opens one of them, steps back, and there’s Mycroft. Behind a desk, with a portrait of the queen over his shoulder. Properly framed.

John closes the door behind him, and it falls shut with an ominous-sounding heavy click. It feels like a bunker. Of course it does, John’s not even sure which of the two is the biggest drama queen - Sherlock or Mycroft. “Watched too many Bond films as a kid, did you?”

Mycroft tilts his head. “It is practical to have an office here as well.”

John walks closer, and puts his shopping down on the floor. Mycroft eyes his bags with faint distaste while he rifles though the files on his desk. Probably never shopped at a Tesco’s in his life, John thinks.

Actually, he looks apprehensive all over. Still pale, too. “You feeling better now?”

Mycroft smiles a perfunctory smile. “Much, thank you.”

He’s lying. John can see the sheen of sweat on his face, and the careful way he’s moving, as if too fast of a movement might make him nauseous again. John grins, not sure why, just that he’s catching Mycroft Holmes in a lie for once. “Yeah, you’ll have to do better than that, lying to a doctor.”

Mycroft eyes him intently for a short moment.

John can smell him again, omega. Strange, how he’s never noticed before. It’s very sweet. Mycroft holds out a pile of files. “That is all.”

And suddenly... the scent, John’s smelled that earlier today. On the young woman with the hopeful smile and the heat a month ago. He’s sure of it. Nausea, fainting - oh.

Mycroft’s pregnant.

John stares at him.

“Yes?” Mycroft’s still holding out the file, looking impatient now.

John says, “Morning sickness, is it?”

Mycroft face goes carefully blank.

“Sorry, it’s…” John wants to say something about doctor’s instinct and force of habit, but it all fades when he sees Mycroft’s controlled swallow. He’s gone even paler. Shit. “You going to be sick?”

Mycroft looks him over.

John looks around. “Maybe a bin…”

“No.” Mycroft’s voice halts. He hesitates, then says, clearly, “You are right, John. I am…” he pauses briefly, as if he can’t quite make the word fit, “...expecting.”

Really? John blinks, and then laughs. “Well! That’s...?” good? Or – John glances at Mycroft, is it good? “You’re rather...” old to be having your first. Right. “Not someone I’d, um, expected to have a kid?”

Mycroft sighs. He still looks vaguely nauseous. “You do not know me well, John.”

Yeah. That’s probably fair. John can’t stop looking at him. Pregnant, how did that happen, exactly? And whose is it? Does he even have an alpha?

Mycroft eyes him. “I expect you to keep this information to yourself.”

John can’t imagine what Sherlock is going to say to this, but he’s sure it’s going to be interesting. “You don’t want me to tell Sherlock?”

“No. And he needs look at these files as soon as possible.” Mycroft looks stern, but John is still stuck on Mycroft, of all people, pregnant.

Mycroft’s frown deepens, and John gets the hint. “Yeah, I’ll...” He takes the file. “Do that.”

John collects his shopping, he pulls the heavy door shut behind him, and gets found again by the attendant who escorts him up.

Well, that was weird.

He diagnosed a pregnancy from smell alone, though, not too bad for a beta doctor - John feels pretty smug about that. Saw through Mycroft Holmes’ lies, that’s a first, he should probably get a badge of some sort for that. Honour from the queen.

They walk past the collection of old men reading again. Do they know? Does anyone? Is it a secret of state or something? John grins.

It’s still raining as he walks out. Actually, there’s another Tesco down this street - he could have just done his shopping here instead of bothering with dragging it all along.

John thinks on whether to face the tube, or just not bother and walk. He’s wet already anyway.

And then he stops, and sighs.

He turns around, and walks into the Tesco.

Finds the biscuit aisle.

It’s the same attendant waiting at the door of the Diogenes club, with the same blank expression. John doesn’t even ask, just walks in fast enough that the guy has to keep up with him. Back down in the lift. The man does give him a somewhat questioning look this time, but John ignores him. He’s not really thinking about what he’s doing, actually.

Down the hall, John opens the door for himself this time, and Mycroft looks up. “John? Did you forget something?”

John opens his shopping bag, and walks closer. He takes them out, and puts them on Mycroft’s desk - digestives, blue wrapper. There are drops of rain still standing out on the plastic.

Mycroft frowns at him.

And right, John does feel stupid even coming back, but here it is. “It’s, ah…” he breathes. Mary. “Helps the nausea. They’re easy to keep down, it has to be that brand, don’t ask me why.”

Mycroft looks back at the digestives with something startled in his eyes.

“So, congratulations, and all that.”

John nods at him.

And then leaves.

He walks back to Baker Street instead of taking the tube again. It takes a cold half an hour, during which he gets wet to the skin, the water soaking his hair and rolling in icy drops down his neck. It’s even in his shoes, his socks feel as if they’re sopping when he walks up the stairs to 221b.

John walks in, and puts the shopping onto the kitchen counter. Sherlock doesn’t even look up from the experiment he’s doing, something involving Petri dishes, so John slams Mycroft’s files down next to him. “Here.”

He got rained on for that. He got to deal with Mycroft being pregnant, the least he can get from Sherlock is a thank you.

But John barely gets a look in return for his trouble. A quick flick of Sherlock’s eyes. A hint of his smell. “Hm.”

Next time he can get his own damn milk.