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Of fish, bee, spiders and various larks

Chapter Text


By the time Rosie was twelve, body parts and other random experiments had returned to 221B, despite Sherlock still keeping the basement as primary laboratory. It had been Rosie herself to open the gates to that. She’d been tasked with keeping track of one of her papa’s experiments while he was on a case. Observing at set intervals and taking notes was certainly something she didn’t mind. She minded having to lose her favourite show by going up and down, though, so she just brought the sample into the kitchen – her kitchen, at 221B, because of course papa didn’t see the need for a telly in the lab.

From that, things had regressed quickly. John had welcomed the return of the occasional body part and toxic fumes with an odd mix of resignation and fondness. Rosie thought it was rad to have a fridge full of actual human fingers, or whatever the latest experiment entailed, and her few friends agreed with her. As for Sherlock, he was all too happy to go back to old habits, if only partially. Old habits and old flaws…so his clever girl decided, one fine morning, that she needed to make a point. And, as she’d learned from her parents, she didn’t pull her punches.     

They had a case the day before, so it wasn’t a surprise that Rosie would be the first one up – it happened sometimes. And while she didn’t have more than a few drops of coffee in her milk, and sometimes bypassed that entirely, she put on the coffee that particular morning, because its smell would always get papa up. Well, unless the case had spanned a number of days, but yesterday it was an easy thing, that had left him more annoyed at uncle Greg than anything else.

Sure enough, Sherlock wandered in, bleary eyed and so quiet, because he didn’t want to wake John up one of the few times his beloved felt like sleeping in. He entered the kitchen, smiled at the grinning Rosie who greeted him softly, spoon of cereals halfway to her mouth…and froze. “Put that down, love,” he said, throat tight.

“But papa! It’s my breakfast, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” she retorted, and really, the fact that her pout couldn’t stick, and kept turning into a smile, should have clued her papa in. But Sherlock had just got up, and even the most genius brain couldn’t react promptly when faced with terror before the first coffee of the day.

“Love…your milk is blue. And I, well, I left an experiment in the fridge…oh God tell me you didn’t eat any of that yet!” the sleuth pleaded.

Rosie sighed, sounding utterly put upon. “Which day is it, papa?”

He blinked, wrong-footed. “I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter! You might be dying now, just…Rosie, please…” he snapped.

“Breathe, papa,” she demanded. “It’s first of April. As in, April Fool’s day. This is food colouring, and perfectly harmless. Honestly, I’ve lived with you all my life. You should give me enough credit not to eat your experiments, even half-asleep, and generally not to put in my mouth anything that has so clearly spoiled.”

“You do realise you just took ten years off my life, love?” Sherlock asked, voice shaky with relief, repressing the urge to laugh and cry and sink to the floor. He shook his head to clear it of horrible visions of having accidentally murdered Rosie, and added, “You don’t mind if I have a tiny taste of yours?”

“Wanting to be sure it’s actually food colouring? Sure, papa, be my guest. You deserve it, though, you know. You forgot to label your latest experiment. I don’t care, I mean, I know how to be cautious…but if I have a friend over, I’d like to tell them, ‘help yourself to whatever is not For Science.’ We talked about this, papa. And dad said he’s been trying to get it in your head for decades – but I suppose having your own lab downstairs didn’t help with that,” she replied, smiling.

Sherlock took an extra spoon and tasted his daughter’s weird milk (yup, perfectly innocuous, thank God), before conceding, “I suppose, love…thanks for reminding me of the holiday though, I need to do something.”

“Sure,” Rosie agreed, getting back to her breakfast and ignoring his father getting a big, new garbage sack and tiptoeing back into his room. Whatever he was taking (and later hiding in a cupboard), she didn’t want to know. Dad had to be exhausted, though, to sleep through his lover rummaging in the room, no matter how softly the man could move. Frankly, she was mildly disappointed when  dad did get up in time to see her off before she went to school, but seemed to have taken no notice of whatever Papa had done. She’d hoped to know what he’d been up to, but dad was completely unruffled. Pity. 

The sleuth was, privately, as disappointed as his daughter by the lack of reaction. He expected to be called into the room and held accountable for his mischief…at which point he could talk it out and tease John. It was so much fun to wind him up! But never mind, if his blogger wouldn’t give him any satisfaction, he could live with that. “I need your help,” he declared to his smiling husband.

“With what?” John asked, putting down his toast with a tiny sigh.

“Which one of these goldfishes do you think looks more like Lestrade?” the consulting detective asked, turning the computer screen towards him.

John didn’t miss a beat, indicating the one he thought was the best fit – a breed named ‘white fantail’. “Can I ask why?” he asked then, wondering if he’d get an answer at all.

“Lestrade has French origins, and I have too – on my mother’s side, obviously. Now, April’s Fool in France is called poisson d’Avril – April’s Fish – and a classic prank is to stick paper fishes to people’s back without them realising it. I thought I’d just go by the Yard and celebrate it ‘properly’,” Sherlock explained, shrugging.

“That’s not all,” John remarked casually. “I know you, mister.”

The sleuth smiled proudly at him. His beloved was much cleverer than people gave him credit for. “Fine, I’ll admit that there’s more to it than anthropological accuracy. It will piss off Mycroft,” he confessed.

“How is Mycroft even involved?” his blogger asked.

“A sort of…inside joke between us. Something he said once, about feeling like he’s living in a world of goldfishes,” the detective said, hurrying to point out “which is his feelings, not mine. He’s always been an annoying know-it-all.”

“So if we’re goldfishes, this makes him what? A jellyfish?” John quipped, eyes twinkling with mirth.

They dissolved into breathless giggles, and when Sherlock finally managed to talk without devolving into another chuckle, he said, “Wish I had such a great comeback back then. Anyways, it’s since then – more than a decade, by now – that I keep telling him that caring for a goldfish is not such a bad idea…and really, he does have things in common with Lestrade, if only he deigned to take a hint.”

“Are you trying to matchmake your brother, love?” the blond inquired, one eyebrow raising in surprise.

“…Maybe?” the sleuth admitted hesitantly, as if expecting a scolding.

Instead, John hugged him impulsively. “That’s so sweet of you! God knows that Mycroft could do with not being so lonely. Off you go to pin this goldfish on Greg, then.”

Sherlock kissed him eagerly. “Just let me print it, and I’m off”.

Chapter Text

The consulting detective strode into Scotland Yard with the nonchalant attitude of someone going shopping at Tesco. He ignored entirely the few cops who rolled their eyes exaggeratedly at seeing him, or even called out, “You can go back unless you’ve come to confess.”

To be fair, that one was a newbie, and Sally glared at him for Sherlock. She’d been there, done that…until playing right into Moriarty’s hands had cured her of doubting his sanity. Now there was no love lost between them still (she should be able to solve cases on her own, and didn’t like the living, walking evidence they couldn’t), but at the very least there was respect.

Sherlock walked into Lestrade’s office without knocking, and Greg – busy writing some reports up, because he didn’t get to shirk the boring part of his job – looked up and remarked, with a weary sigh, “I seriously have no cases for you. Which is why I’m getting caught up with forms. Sorry, but you could have texted and I’d have let you know.”   

“I’m not here about a current case. I just need,” the sleuth replied, but he was interrupted.

There was a glint in the inspector’s eyes, but otherwise his face was entirely straight, even sombre,  when he announced, “Can’t help you out, mate, sorry. There was a ghastly accident. The cold cases’ archive burned down, because some idiot thought it was a good idea to have a smoke in a room full of papers. Of course, we have digital copies of some things…but not everything.”   

Sherlock snorted loudly. “Honestly, Lestrade, that’s not even a good one, as far as lies – or jokes – go…it’s not just that you'd all be much more distraught if you’d lost all your old physical evidence, or the fact that such a thing wasn’t on the news… What is that thing a fire produces in abundance and that, even if it had been mostly contained, the people taming it would have trailed all over the place?”

It took Greg barely a second to realise. “Ash,” he groaned. “Please, Sherlock, don’t start on me again about the intricacies of cinders, dust and so on. That’s why we have a forensic department, you know. Even if I deserve it, I guess.” 

The sleuth patted the inspector’s shoulder, “Cheer up, Lestrade. You work too much, that’s why you come up with such ridiculous jokes. You need a distraction – and for once, I’m here to provide one, rather than demand it.” Of course, in the meantime he dexterously pinned the paper fish at the man’s back. Mission, part one: accomplished. 

“You providing a distraction?” the cop asked. “Have you solved a private case and need me to make an arrest? Or maybe do you plan to break into another military research base and we’re all going to have a trip to the country?” He looked rather eager at the idea.

“No and no. sadly, nothing so fun. I need your help,” the consulting detective declared, shrugging.

Lestrade repressed a shiver. This could mean very bad things for the young man in front of him. The last time he’d asked…things had gone so utterly pearshaped (and this was the understatement of the century). “John is not leaving you, is he?” he asked, dreading the answer. It couldn’t be. They’d gone to the pub together not that long ago. Surely, if he was considering such a step, the doctor would have mentioned it? If only to complain about how intolerable his partner had become?

The glare he received from the sleuth could have turned him to ashes in a second if the world’s physics allowed it. “And here I thought you had at least two neurons rubbing together in that head of yours. Of course John is staying. He’s nothing if not loyal, and he’s been by my side more than a decade, even without counting our previous flatsharing. If I had any flaws he found intolerable, one’d think he’d have discovered them a long time ago,” Sherlock snapped. 

The inspector raised his hands in a placating gesture. “Look, nobody’s happier than me that you’re together. If you don’t want to believe I do care for you, at least believe that you work better when you’re happy, so the steadiness of your relationship is in my own best interest. But you don’t often ask for help. Not in these exact words, at least. You have to give me that,” he replied. 

“I’ve been led to believe that this was the proper way – and I do have something to ask that you might reasonably be too afraid to attempt,” the sleuth explained, immediately mellowed.

“Oh God, it’s even worse than I thought, isn’t it? What are you planning? Steal a nuclear warhead for your experiments?” Greg groaned, looking down at his desk.

“And people say I’m the drama queen,” the consulting detective replied, but he was smiling. “Nothing as deadly, honest. All I want is for you to prank my brother.”

“Why?” the inspector asked, baffled, looking up to try to read his friend’s features. It made no sense.

“Because it’s April Fool's,” Sherlock retorted, rolling his eyes, as always when he was asked to spell out the obvious.

“Yes, I know that, but why me? If you want to prank Mycroft, sure, go for it, he can do with someone needling him, I’m sure. Too much time spent being serious and stuffy and feeling all-important can be bad for a dude’s blood pressure. But the logical thing to do would be to prank him yourself, surely. I thought you liked logic,” the DI teased, smiling.

“I do, but Mycroft would expect that, and be wary. You have always been on his side, without antagonising him – one of your few flaws, actually – so he won’t expect that you would seek him out especially to trick him. Don’t you want to manage to dupe one Holmes brother today?” the sleuth countered, raising a challenging eyebrow. 

“Not that the idea isn’t tempting, but a) even if he doesn’t expect it from me, your brother is way too smart to fall for my kind of tricks, I’m afraid and b) is he going to retaliate? I don’t mean as in ‘prank me back’, I mean ‘ensuring I am expatriated to God knows where because I made him lose precious time for a joke while he was supposed to reason with North Korea’ or something like that,” Greg inquired, crossing his arms in a preemptively defensive attitude against the people he imagined would come to drag him away. He might not be a genius, but he liked his work, thank you very much, and he wasn’t looking forward to being fired (or possibly fired at).

“I should have known that you’d chicken out. Everyone is terrified of Mycroft, for some reason. Probably because they’ve never seen his childhood photos,” the consulting detective declared, huffing.

“Hey, I haven’t yet. I just asked. You can’t fault me for asking,” Lestrade retorted. He rubbed the bridge of his nose. He could already feel a headache forming.

“So will you?” Sherlock queried eagerly.

“Will I get banished for it?” Greg asked again.

“Of course not. If he did, he would have to admit he’d let himself be tricked by you in the first place, and I’m pretty sure people would deem him useless at that point,” Sherlock huffed, waving away his concerns. “Besides, he values your contribution to my sanity, and consequently his own, too much to overreact over a jest, especially today when he should expect one…if the majority of his associates hadn’t forgotten the very meaning of fun decades ago.”

“So comforting to know that I’m too precious a babysitter to be punished,” the DI chuckled, shaking his head. “This just leaves us with the small detail that he’s a genius, just like you. Whatever prank I might come up with, he would see through even before than I arrived in his street, much less in his presence. Do you really think that I can pull the wool over his eyes?”

“Well, not alone, obviously. But I’m here, am I not? Honestly, Geoff. You don’t think I would ask that of you and leave you to sort that out by yourself. I might not be the most personable man, but I’ve never asked the impossible from anyone,” the sleuth replied, shrugging. “Now, listen carefully to me, Gerard. This is what you are going to do…” 

Chapter Text

In London, the April fish was not a tradition. Which was the reason that the other cops were so startled by the goldfish’s sudden appearance on the Inspector’s back that they didn’t laugh at him – or even think to point it out. Mostly, they gaped. But since Greg was already gone past them by the time they noticed it, he didn’t see their shock either. This ensured that the sleuth’s little prank wouldn’t be noticed until he was on the streets – in full view of Mycroft’s cameras. Even if a tourist or rambunctious child made him realise then, his big brother would have seen and got the nod already.

Sherlock left the DI’s office with a smile on his lips – there was no way his plan could fail. Now, he had more plans to act out…and hopefully, his brother would owe him one soon. Not that he expected to be openly thanked – not unless he drugged him, or Mycroft was delirious with fever. But having his all-powerful sibling in his debt would be way more useful than some vocal acknowledgment.

For all his declarations (just like the very loud denials John held onto for too long), his big brother would have to recognise that at least one friend was not a bad idea. And who knew, maybe Lestrade would become even more. Mummy didn’t have an exclusive on wishing that her boys would find love, if only because it would make Mycroft less obnoxious, if Sherlock was reliable evidence.  

Greg probably messed up all his reports since his consultant swanned off, because half his brain (and if he’s completely honest, even more once or twice) was busy rehearsing what he would have to do afterwards. True, the sleuth insisted this was exactly the wrong way to proceed – that he needed to be ‘natural’ to fool his brother, because the man saw through a faker at five miles. The DI was ready to believe it, too, because a)they’re speaking of a Holmes sibling, and they’re too smart for their own good; b)with a career in politics, however unspecified, he must have a tremendous amount of training specifically in that.

Still, the idea of one-upping Mycroft Holmes was too tempting – and slightly terrifying – to think of anything else. Luckily, there was no murder committed today, or he would undoubtedly have bungled that crime scene worse than Athelney Jones had ever done, and the man was a sort of a legend at the MET, capable of missing clues literally biting him on the shins. Honest to God, once the murderer forgot their pet on the crime scene, and Jones thought it was just a dog escaped from home and come to investigate the interesting smell of dead body. Never mind that it couldn’t have got in on his own.

When the work day ended – he was so happy that there was no need for overtime, for once – he quickly amassed some of the necessary supplies and hid them in his bag. Now, it was all about leaving the place not looking guilty. Concerned was a good option. Concerned was what he wanted to convey. And honestly, he was partly concerned about being involved in the Holmes brothers’ eternal squabble, so it shouldn’t be difficult.

Next stop – the bakery. Not just anyone, but the one Sherlock had suggested. His brother’s favourite, that created works of art rather than food. One that would normally be outside his price range, but – since he was the one giving orders – the sleuth had offered to go halves with him on the price. For once, he’d remembered to bring cash, and Greg wondered if this meant he had just been recruited into his network, because – to his knowledge – only his homeless associates could make his consultant care about bringing actual money.

Of course, there was a chance that the bakery would refuse their plan – the DI was pretty sure that amounted to blasphemy in their book. And if they’d known whom he’d be bringing this to, they would certainly give him the boot. You didn’t mess with faithful clients, and when said client was Mycroft Holmes, you did what you had to do not to be exiled. But today of all days, they might be inclined to cooperate in a silly prank for a client – and a client he would be. The inspector just hoped that Mycroft’s gluttony would win over his annoyance and show him that the bakers were unwitting accomplices.

Greg was right on all accounts. It was subtle, of course, but he could see the baker’s surprise when he got in. He wasn’t their average customer, for sure. And his request raised an outraged eyebrow, as if he’d asked to have human flesh baked in his cake.

The inspector knew how to deal with posh idiots – or people who thought they were posh, anyway – and with a couple of quips and a casual mention that he was here on behalf of Mr. Holmes, they were all smiles and eager to be helpful. The fact that he was here for the younger Holmes sibling, and not their favourite patron, went unsaid. But after all, they hadn’t asked. And there were lots of Mr. Holmes in Britain. Assuming was never a good idea – they should know.

He left with a large bag, and two identical cake boxes in it – only position allowing him to distinguish them. Next stop: Mycroft’s. The man was expected to be at home now, and nothing short of WWIII (or his little sibling) could ruin his routine. The inspector knew the place, from being summoned once, when the government official felt too bad to go gallivanting around warehouses, but was too worried about yet another of Sherlock’s relapses not to discuss the situation with him. That time, Lestrade was practically ordered to find a case above a seven, and had to point out he didn’t actually commit the crimes himself. 

This, though, would be the first time he went to Mycroft on his own initiative. He knew all too well that doing so would be considered a betrayal by his consultant, and losing Sherlock’s trust would make helping him impossible.

He half expected (maybe even hoped) to be turned away at the door. Instead, he was welcomed in – by the British government himself. The inspector would have imagined a number of servants attending to him. If anyone looked like he would live as if still in Victorian times – with a bonafide butler and everything – it was the elder Holmes.  

“What brings you here, Detective Inspector?” Mycroft queried, raising an eyebrow.

“Sherlock. What else?” he replied, opening his arms in defeat.

“Come in, then. I hope we can solve whatever is worrying you,” Mycroft replied, inviting him inside. Unlike the sleuth, Greg wouldn’t surmise that this was due to him holding the bakery’s bag and the frankly delicious smell wafting out of it. And that he was led to the man’s spotless (but frigid-looking) kitchen, rather than a sitting room or any other, was sensible. Probably he wouldn’t be at ease in the stuffy place he imagined the rest of the house as. Or maybe he was wrong. He’d been wrong once already.

“What happened, then?” the government official said, busying himself with making tea. Never let it be said that he was less than polite.

“I’m used to Sherlock butting in my private life, God knows. As long as he loudly announces my marriage’s troubles to all and sundry, I can just shrug it off. I barely notice by now. But…I’d say it’s the family life that changed him, maybe, but today he surprised me. He came over to help out – not with a case, but with my marriage. He literally gave me a suggestion to earn my wife’s love back. And when he’s trying to be helpful, it becomes harder to tell him ‘none of your business’. Or even that I’m actually considering divorce nowadays,” Lestrade said, almost all in a breath. That would have been weird, surely. Just as weird as Sherlock involving him in his pranks.

“If he didn’t notice your impending divorce, that’s indeed case for concern,” Mycroft agreed, frowning. “It’s utterly obvious. I assume your bag is related to my brother’s influence.”

“Yep. Apparently his go-to method to gain one’s love back is to go through the stomach. Which is not an entirely insane idea, I suppose, if rather cliché, but not when the situation is so ruined. And since you’re his gourmet model, as much as he would hate to admit it, he very insistently recommended your favourite bakery and cake. The fact that someone might have different tastes didn’t even go through his brain,” Greg explained with a chuckle.

“But you followed his suggestions. Fully,” the elder Holmes remarked, subtly inhaling the heavenly smell.

“Well, if I had to come bother you, the least I could do was bring something to make you forgive my troubling you. Whether you were busy, or you had one of your few moments of relaxation, discussing my marriage isn’t something you’d appreciate,” the DI retorted with a chuckle. “Enjoy,” he added, after getting one of the packages out of the bag.

Mycroft couldn’t help the smile on his lips. He didn’t even say there was no need. He said enough things he didn’t mean on a regular basis. The inspector’s lies radar should flare if he was a hypocrite (which politeness would mean in this case) and he respected the man enough not to do this to him. So instead he replied just a warm “Thank you,” and went to take the necessary cutlery and plates. As soon as he cut, though, he realised something was very, very wrong. This wasn’t the right consistency…it actually was a cleaning sponge coated in a thick external lather of icing.     

Greg couldn’t stop himself. When he saw the horrified grimace on Holmes the major’s face, he laughed. “Happy April Fool’s to you, Mycroft. Don’t worry, I have a legit one in here to earn your forgiveness.”

“I didn’t think that you would join in my brother’s antics. Clever of him to count on that,” the other admitted. “I do hope you’re not lying though.”

“I don’t really fancy your payback, so I would never,” the inspector assured, getting out the proper cake.

“As if I would retaliate,” Mycroft remarked, sniffing. He patted the man’s shoulder, to his surprise…taking the paper off it. “I am even helpful. I’m not the only one my brother got.” He glared at the inoffensive goldfish.

Greg laughed once again, loudly. “Well, I got off lightly. Do I get a slice too, so we can both complain about being your little brother’s victims, or does my being his accomplice disqualify me?”

“I’d never let someone go hungry in my home, Detective Inspector,” the British government stated solemnly.

“Greg, please. At least one of you Holmes siblings should be able to say my name. It’s just one syllable, you know,” Greg quipped. 

“Very well…Greg,” Mycroft said, cutting the real cake.  

Chapter Text

John would be very surprised, if he knew that Sherlock went shopping, but he had plans, and could – occasionally – take care of his own scientific needs. This was supposed to be an experiment – well, disguised as one, at least – and so accuracy in the details was essential. His partner, as much as he was the best human being in existence, would probably miss the necessary details in the raw materials…but hopefully Rosie wouldn’t. She was an exceptionally bright girl, and he’d taught her to observe.

Coming back home, he was whistling. Because today John didn’t need to go to his ‘official’ work. Because he was satisfied about getting the ball rolling in Mycroft’s court. His brother needed to grow up and shed his ridiculous concerns about relationships – and yes, the sleuth was perfectly aware of how weird it sounded, coming from him. But for once, he was the…maybe not smart, but wise one. Because the day was supposed to be about having fun, and planning intricate tricks (though he didn’t have as much time as he would have liked at first) to surprise others, and that would keep his brain active – even without anyone getting murdered. Really, what was there not to be happy about? 

“Mrs. Hudson!” he called, coming back in. “I might need some help.”

“What with, dearie?” she asked, coming to meet him, an apron smattered with flour tied over her dress. “I was a bit busy myself, but if it’s a quick thing…”

“I’m actually not that sure. I have a recipe I need to perfect by the time Rosie gets back home, and while I would generally want to do things by myself, I’m ready to admit that your superior expertise might be useful, given the time constraint,” the sleuth admitted, with a shrug.

“Well, Rosie will still be in class for a few hours. My own baking is already underway…I promise I’ll come up as soon as I get it in the oven, dearie. And no pouting, it won’t hurt you to wait. I bet that John will have a way to distract you for another half-hour or so,” Mrs. Hudson replied, with a huge grin.

“I suppose,” the detective agreed, smiling.

“Ok, who are you and what have you done with my husband?” John remarked, seeing him enter the flat.

“What?” Sherlock queried.

“You did the shopping… and I admit I heard you chat with Mrs. Hudson. You’re planning to cook? Actual edible food?” the doctor quipped, coming to kiss him lightly.

“I believe in retaliation adequate to the offense…and Rosie’s prank this morning was food-based,” the consulting detective replied, when they parted. John had taken the bags from his hands, apparently not trusting him entirely with proper ingredient storage.        

“Was it, love?” his husband asked, smiling.

“There’s nothing to smile at, I must have lost at least five years of life. You know I use milk as growing medium!” Sherlock whined.

“Ouch. She made you think she got into your experiments without permission…and eaten them?” John asked. That was a nightmarish prospect, all right. He was actually a bit scared about what proper retaliation would entail…

“Oh, don’t look at me like that,” the sleuth replied, pouting, and as usual reading his mind and replying to that instead of the actual conversation. “As if I could ever hurt our girl…or even want her scared. I don’t want her to be ever afraid, you know, much less about me. You know me better than that.”

“Yep. I do, sorry. So…what are we preparing?” the doctor queried.

“There’ll be time to discuss that. After all, Mrs. Hudson will be up to help later, and her input should have some weight. As much as I appreciate your manifold talents, and your delicious recipes in particular, I suspect that elaborate sweets are not really something you felt the need to pursue. If you’ve really eavesdropped on my conversation with our dear landlady, you should have known that she tasked you to entertain me until her arrival,” he retorted, sounding rather regal.

“Did she? And how can I, Your Highness?” John asked, with a mock bow.

“Surprise me,” Sherlock demanded.

“Well, since we have a limited time…there’s one thing I’ve always wondered about actually,” his blogger replied, with a predatory smile.

“And that would be?” the sleuth queried, leaning away from him but a lazy smile stretching his lips.

“How many uses for a stopwatch do you think we can figure out?” his partner quipped, raising a challenging eyebrow. Of course he’d made Sherlock watch Torchwood – after Doctor Who, it was a natural progression – and frankly, the doctor always had a slight penchant for Jack Harkness, what with him being dark-haired, sexy and with a gorgeous coat. He’d been struck by that sentence – and surely his love would not object to a little experiment?

“Mmmm…at least seven, but in thirty minutes? No more than three. Annoying human biology,” the sleuth purred.

John chuckled, kissing him. Typical of his love, to bemoan human limitations. He was still low-key waiting for the day Sherlock would come out and admit he was actually some sort of alien. Not that the doctor would love him any less if he’d discover that Sherlock was a creature out of deep space.  The consulting detective would still be his gorgeous, clever, adorable, kind (yes, so very kind), brave, loving being he’d fallen in love with at first sight…though they’d needed way too long to have the common sense to act on it.

And if he misbehaved, pleasing his lover (twice, actually, because John liked to stretch things out as much as he could, even when they were on a schedule) but refusing reciprocation…Well, after all, the sleuth was the one who needed entertaining.  No matter how the detective pouted, looking forward to having his love naked and spoiling him back, or how much John would have liked it himself, he had plans, and wasn’t about to let them be spoiled. The former soldier had self-control enough for the both of them…and whispered promises that, later, Sherlock would get to do whatever he wished, were enough to persuade the detective to comply.   

If Mrs. Hudson hadn’t come up, John would have eventually given up (he’s always been the worst at denying consistently his beloved’s request, unless it was an actual matter of safety), but there she was, calling out a warning to the both of them. The old lady looked at Sherlock like a happy and proud parent, declaring, “So, dearie…what are you interested in? I almost can’t believe that you would be interested in cooking yourself.”

“Well, Rosie forced my hand. I’m not really aiming for something nutritious…more of an artistic dessert, you see,” the sleuth explained, getting the ingredients back out of the fridge.

“Artistic, really?” John asked, raising an eyebrow, rather concerned about the results of this endeavour.

“Well, for regular cooking I wouldn’t involve everyone. After all, that would be just basic chemistry,” Sherlock remarked, his tone dripping ‘obviously’ even if he didn’t voice it.

“Sherlock,” the doctor cut in sternly. Really, usually the dopamine’s effect lasted longer. His love was just pouty because he didn’t get his way entirely.

“Not good?” he asked, head automatically bowing like a chastened puppy.

“A bit. Not belittling people’s areas of expertise while you’re asking for their help is generally thought to be a good idea,” John clarified, with a quick caress to his cheekbone.

“Well, you know we won’t be offended anyway. But we need to get started, unless you want me to burn the cookies in my oven. And I’d say having a backup sweet might be a good idea,” Mrs. Hudson added, surveying the ingredients.  

“We won’t need one,” the sleuth declared earnestly. “Now, this is what I was thinking of,” he announced, taking the mobile phone from his pocket and showing the recipe he meant to attempt.

The fact that he asked Mrs. Hudson’s cooperation despite the instructions made his husband smile. “You’re really determined that this will be perfect, aren’t you?” he quipped, hugging his waist.

“It’s for Rosie, John,” Sherlock replied, as if it said everything. And really, it did.   

Chapter Text

For how excited he was about it, you’d think that Sherlock would show off his culinary endeavour as soon as Rosie was home. Instead, he pretended that nothing was happening. He asked how school had been, deplored her professor’s intelligence (or lack thereof) with her, and ate an actual meal with her, which John had whipped up, as usual.

As soon as she came back home, there was a cautiousness in their girl, clearly expecting some form of retaliation for that morning’s stunt. When lunch had gone without even any attempt at a pun, much less a joke, she seemed to relax. And of course, that’s when Sherlock struck.

Rosie got up, stretched and said, “If no one minds, there’s a book with my name on it,” moving towards the stairs to her room – the one which had once been John's, but that he didn’t need anymore. Nana Hudson had always been wise.

“Just a minute, Rosie, if you please. I’d like your help with an experiment,” the sleuth replied, beckoning her.

“Is it time sensitive?” the girl bargained, pouting. Her papa’s experiments were usually fun, but that didn’t mean that she had to cave in immediately. Dad spoiled him enough as it was already, someone had to make a point of not letting him always have his way.   

“Sort of, even if it won’t be immediately apparent to you,” Sherlock assured her.

Rosie sighed the put-upon sigh she got from his dad, and resigned herself to reading later. “Fine, I’ll help you out, but let me know what gear I need to put on. We don’t handle hazardous chemicals or body part without ensuring we won’t blow up the flat and/or spread the black plague during our next outing, remember, papa?”

“Don’t quote your dad. He always dramatizes things so much,” the detective retorted, hiding a grin.

“I dramatize. Of course. I’ve always secretly been the diva in this house,” John interjected, rolling his eyes.

“Secretly? You made a blog of it!” Sherlock quipped, smirking.

“Before you two start fake-arguing and then become terribly mushy…papa, experiment? As soon as it’s done I’ll be able to get to things that actually matter,” their daughter declared, tapping a foot.

“Yeah, right, of course love, experiment. Really, in a sense it’s more of a training exercise,” the sleuth announced, setting on the table what looked like a few pots of dirt.

Were they going to plant something, Rosie wondered. If so, they really should call Mrs. Hudson, her parents were awesome, but neither could be trusted not to kill catnip, much less an actual flower or vegetable.  She frowned at the simple pots. At one glance, she wasn’t even sure if anything interesting would have room to grow and thrive in ones so tiny. 

“Of course, ideally you should have time enough and the proper instruments to analyse any samples you need to. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have to hone your senses. You never know when you’ll be in a pinch and extra data might help you figure out what’s bugging you. Have a taste, and tell me what you think the PH of this could be,” Sherlock said, perfectly serious.

She couldn’t help but make a face. “Ugh, papa, are you serious? Am I supposed to eat dirt? Right now? You do know I’ll not become consulting detective 2.0, don’t you?”

“I know, and I’m not asking you to. But you never know what’s going to happen in life. Better to have a skill than not to,” the detective insisted, “Just a speck, Rosie, I’m not saying you have to eat it all.”

“Dad!” the teenager pleaded, searching for support by the sensible one in the family. “You cooked such a fine meal, surely you can’t agree to its taste being spoiled?”

“Normally I wouldn’t, but he has a point, you know. You never know what can happen…especially when you’re part of this family. I try to stop him from licking things on crime scenes, but the more skills you have the better it is. We’ll join you in the experiment, does that sound fair?” John replied, taking one of the pots in his hand.

“This is about this morning, isn’t it? It’s Fool’s Day, you know. It’s not fair to punish me for a silly prank that didn’t hurt anyone. Seriously!” Rosie complained, crossing her arms.

“I know, love. Just humour me? The tiniest speck?” the sleuth insisted, nudging a pot  towards her.

“Besides, it’s not punishment, I’m joining in. I don’t need to be punished, do I?” John reasoned, trying his hardest not to give the game away by his features. Damn but the temptation to grin was strong.

She huffed loudly. “I’ll give in, but I’ll expect compensation,” she conceded. When she tried to scoop up just a grain of dirt, though, it escaped her, and her fingers sank in it. Ugh! Was it wet soil? That didn’t make it better at all. Making a face, she gave the tiniest lick to the brown…something that stained her fingers.

Her face scrunched in thought. She tasted more of the ugly stains, before starting to giggle, her parents joining in. “You got me!” she blurted out, when she regained her breath. “Chocolate.” 

“Which makes it? Basic or not?” Sherlock asked, grinning at her.

“Damn, papa, I have no idea. And even if I did, there are too many variables in this. I mean, it’s not just sheer cocoa powder for me to choke on. There must be sugar at the very least, and…milk, I think, and, well, I can’t give you the whole recipe with what little I’ve tasted, sorry.” Rosie replied, shrugging. Just like her papa to prank her and still insist on a chemistry lesson.

“Well, then, like every other scientist, what you have to do is…?” the consulting detective raising an eyebrow.

She laughed again. “Collect more data!” she answered, receiving proud smiles from both her parents. “Do I get a spoon for that or not? I mean, I don’t mind scooping chocolate pudding with my fingers, but it seems a bit impractical, you know?”   

“Of course you do, love. We all do,” John agreed, turning to get them for everyone and handing them over. Honestly, if he hadn’t been present during the preparation, he would have never believed that these were Sherlock’s creation. Despite his ‘cooking is chemistry’ stance (or maybe because of it – God knew they had enough accidents during experiments), the consulting detective usually didn’t prepare anything that required work more elaborate than opening a container.

For all that Mrs. Hudson had supervised the recipe, their landlady hadn’t needed to hastily take things out of her tenants’ hands to avoid accidental poisoning or the batter exploding, so that had to count as the sleuth’s success. Ok, sure, explosions might not be a usual worry for beginner dessert makers, but the doctor wouldn’t put anything past his love. 

Despite their unappetizing exterior, the puddings were simply divine, and didn’t last long at all. “I have no idea where you bought these, papa, but we’re going back to shop there very soon,” Rosie declared resolutely once she finished her cup.

Sherlock tutted. “How unobservant of you, Ro. I really expected better from you. These are not store bought,” he pointed out. “Not uniform enough for that.”

“Well, why didn’t Mrs. Hudson ever make them in twelve years? There were plenty of April Fools for her to do so. What a tremendous oversight,” she retorted, inadvertently channelling uncle Mycroft’s attitude perfectly.    

“Because she didn’t. I did. Found the recipe on a website, actually,” Sherlock said, looking rightfully proud.

“Ha. Ha. Ha.” The teenager’s laugh was very flat. “Seriously, you got me once already, believing it was soil. A joke that wants people falling for it should be at least a bit believable.”

“Of course it should. Which should be proof enough that I did indeed prepare it. I’d create a cover story you would have no trouble believing,” the detective agreed, shrugging.

“Proof or it didn’t happen,” Rosie retorted, glaring weakly at her parents. Different ones might be annoyed by having their words questioned, but both men in the Holmes-Watson household were only too happy of her attitude.

“It so happens I do have pics,” John mentioned, brandishing his mobile phone. You don’t think I would have been in the room and not documented such an historic event?”

His girl thumbed through the latest photos, gaping. “You did!” She remarked loudly, once she was done reviewing the ‘evidence’. “You really did,” she insisted, but this time her voice was lower, and there was something like awe in it.  “You do know that you will have to actually prepare edible  food more often now, papa?”  Rosie asked, raising one eyebrow.

“Let’s not rush into anything, honeybee,” the sleuth retorted, a hint of pout already forming on his lips. Oh well, he’d work himself out of it soon, hopefully.

“I won’t,” she promised, then waved at her parents and moved towards her bedroom. As long as he was awkward because of the request, it would be easy for her to sneak back to her books. And even if that didn’t work, at least it should have distracted him from the acid and base question that he’d brought up. She might not know everything, but let it never be said that Rosie wasn’t clever.  

Chapter Text

Rosie almost meant to give dad a pass. No need to prank him too. After all, April’s Fool only had so many hours, and she had her priorities straight. Books, her favourite show…fine, yes, homework too, not that it took her too long usually. But since dad backed papa in his making a fool out of her, priorities just shifted. She knew exactly where to hit to make today memorable.

Actually, if she went that route, she better hide his gun first to make sure it was unavailable. Obviously, dad thought she could never get at it. What he forgot was that she’d been brought up by Sherlock, too. One of the first life lessons papa had given her (just after the ones in escapism, which had been so much fun) were how to pick almost any lock. Just in case, you know.

She didn’t want to be a consulting detective. But papa was, and in case one of the criminals he hunted decided to kidnap Rosie, making sure she had the skill set to get herself out had seemed paramount. “We’re always going to save you, Rosie, love,” papa had promised “but since 90% of the criminal classes are really shoddy in their work, there’s no need for you to play damsel in distress…unless you’re in the mood.”     

With the weapon out of the way – not that she was certain dad would use it, but there was a definite chance he would – she was ready for her attack. Not that she would act immediately – she needed him with his guard down, and too much eagerness would make him suspicious. She indulged in her favourite book, even finished her homework…but finally, it was time to hit.

Papa had disappeared into his basement lab, while dad was upstairs, surfing the web. For all that she was finally a teen, and wiser than many adults, her parents had the weirdest hang up about leaving her alone in the flat.

Rosie slammed her textbook closed, stretched out, and tiptoed downstairs. “Dad?” she asked, voice purposefully soft, “Can we talk?”

“Always, love, you know that,” John agreed, turning to her. “What’s the matter?”

“Can I tell you a secret?” she mumbled, looking at the floor. “A big one?”

“Of course, Ro,” he replied, a frown starting to crease his forehead. His little girl was usually outspoken – often too much – and she didn’t keep secrets from them. She had never needed to. Not unless it was a silly one, like a surprise she prepared for one of her parents. A big secret – one that made her hesitant to speak – that Sherlock had not deduced and discussed with him already? That was definitely cause for alarm. In the blogger’s experience, his loved ones keeping secrets from him usually escalated quickly to nightmare level.      

“I think I’m in love,” the teenager confessed, still not looking at him. She might burst out laughing if she did, and that wouldn’t do.

There was a beat of silence, and then, John uttered a soft, almost melancholic, “Oh.” How quick their girl had grown. It seemed yesterday that he’d have to wake up to give her a bottle of milk. “Do I know…whomever it is?” He’d almost said, ‘him’, before reminding himself sharply that making assumptions in this field wasn’t a good idea. Especially because the Watsons didn’t have the best track record at being strictly straight.

“Well, yeah…though I suppose papa knows him better. Just, don’t flip out when I tell you, will you? Promise, dad,” she entreated.

On one hand, ‘him’ meant that she’d have less trouble from arseholes, and that settled some of John’s concerns. But unless ‘papa knows him better’ meant that Sherlock had deduced him to an ounce of his life, which would be par for the course, that sentence sounded alarming. While John actually asked about most of her friends, the sleuth had a tendency to deem them all idiots and mostly ignore them when they came round. But of course, there was only an answer he could give. “Promise.”       

“It’s Billy,” Rosie said, shooting her dad a quick, defiant look, before averting her eyes again…towards the hearth. Oh well. Mental association.

“You’ll have to give me a bit more to go on, flower, because you have…what, two of them just in your class? And I don’t even want to hazard a guess about how many are in the whole school, your club, and all the places you go to where you might possibly have developed a crush on someone,” John prompted, smiling in an attempt to defuse the situation.  

“He’s not from school…actually, he’s not my age at all,” the teenager revealed. It was time to pull off the metaphorical big guns.

John took a deep breath and reminded himself of the all-consuming crush he had on his substitute biology teacher when he was about his girl’s age. These things happened. And they waned by themselves. As per usual, he used humour to face the situation. “Well, that’s not the end of the world, I suppose. Unless he’s Billy the skull, I object to that.”

Rosie grimaced.  “Jesus, dad, do you want to make me throw up? Being alive is sort of a prerequisite for a partner, isn’t it?”  

“One would hope. Certainly if you’re interested in being loved back, at least. But I’m curious. Who is this Billy who has charmed you? At least a clue?” the doctor queried, smiling.

She sighed deeply. “If we play this game, we’ll still be here when papa comes to dinner, and I’d really like him not to know…well, as long as possible, at least.” Before her dad could protest that, despite his love’s affectionate insults, he wasn’t actually an idiot, Rosie came out and said, “Billy Wiggins, dad.”

The sound John made was close to a strangled penguin…or at least to what she thought a penguin being strangled might sound like. “Wiggins?” he repeated, eyebrows shooting almost to his hairline.

“Well, he’s funny, and almost as smart as papa, and he’s been around a couple of times to bring…” the girl replied, shrugging.

Before she could finish that sentence, her father cut in, “Bringing what? Because I need to have a deeply serious conversation with someone. Many someones.”

“Jeez, dad, information! He’s brought information sometimes, when papa was on a case but didn’t want to leave the flat yet. Which I suspect was because I was home, too, and that is a conversation we need to have. I don’t need a minder anymore!” Rosie protested.   

“You very much do, love, and you just proved it. Out of all the people in the world, Wiggins? Wait – did he encourage you?” John replied, his voice very low and apparently calm – which scared her terribly. She’d expected him to yell. Make a scene. Not that carefully contained, obviously murderous mood. Yes, she’d hidden the gun…but that was a joke with herself. Not something that she really expected would be necessary.

Still, the devious part of her, that liked testing her parents’ limits, challenged, “And if he had?” She crossed her arms and glared at him.

“Then your papa will need to find another associate,” the former army captain stated matter of factly. His service was way before she was born, but damn if Rosie wasn’t sure that this was the attitude dad would have before ordering an offensive. Yes, okay, he was a doctor…but captains should do things like that, shouldn’t they? “As for you, Rosie, we’ll need to supervise which people you have access to, too. Your uncles will be happy to help if necessary, I’m sure,” he continued.      

This was starting to be concerning. Better not to push it too much. Rosie laughed – loudly, but a bit strained. It was a thing to have very protective parents. Another to know just how far they’d go. Though maybe she should have picked someone who wasn’t more than thrice her age… “Got you!” she exclaimed.

John grinned at her, out of pure relief and checked – just because he needed to hear it – “So you’re not in love with Wiggins?”

“I’m not in love at all. Not yet. When it happens, please don’t murder them or involve my uncles,” she pointed out seriously.

“Find someone in your age range and I won’t need to,” her dad quipped back, hoping the adrenaline spike would disappear soon.

“…Is it still okay if I like actors or singers?” Rosie queried, sounding doubtful.  

“I’m protective, not insane, love. Like them all you want,” John assured. He didn’t say he was ready to encourage it…just in case being fixated on a star or another kept her from noticing people around her. The later he needed to worry about boyfriends, the better.   


Chapter Text

Rosie was more than happy to move on from the prank. She might have subtly planned not to let dad have enough time to retaliate against her, but when a friend sent her a link to a frankly hilarious “cats forgetting how to cat” video compilation, she was all too eager to steal dad’s pc – for the bigger screen – and invite him to watch it with her.

Hence why, when – not long after – Mrs. Hudson called a warning, before letting herself in, she found John and his daughter laughing wildly. The landlady smiled reflexively. She so loved when the young ones had fun. She lay the tray she’d brought – covered with a paper towel – on the table, in front of the two, and announced, “I baked a bit too much – again. Really, I need to get the hang of portions someday or other…but I’m not in a rush.” Then, she winked. She would never stop feeding her favourite family, and everyone knew it.

“Thank you, Mrs. Hudson. You’re really too good to us,” John replied warmly.

The old lady took the towel away with a flourish, and then gasped, in a properly horrified way.  That finally made Rosie look away from the screen. It might not have been very polite of her to ignore her before, but that orange kitten was just too cute to pause – and she knew Nana wouldn’t be offended.

What she saw was some tasty biscuits, but – at first sight, Mrs. Hudson had certainly done a great job of it – many of them seemed to be haunted by black spiders. Without missing a beat, she scraped one of the ‘spiders’ from the cookie it sat on, and swallowed it, moaning in pleasure when the dark chocolate hit her palate.

“Was my piping technique or my acting prowess lacking, dear?” the landlady wondered, shrugging away her failure.

“Honestly? Neither. If you were only the neighbour, you’d have scared me for sure. But I know you, and I know you have standards. You would never let any spider survive near your kitchen – much less a whole clutter of it. And I know dad’s current experiments, and none included raising arachnids, so where would they have crawled out of? You’re just too good at housekeeping for me to believe this could happen, Nana,” Rosie declared earnestly.

“I’m not…”Mrs. Hudson started.

The teen cut in, “our housekeeper, I know, I know. That’s not what I said. I said you were great at housekeeping – in your own home. And also when you help us out, but that’s just out of the goodness of your heart.”

A sharp look from John was enough to make his daughter add quickly, looking down, “I’m sorry for interrupting you. But does it really need saying? Besides, you’re wrong too, you know.”

“Excuse me, young lady?” the old woman said sharply. She was ready to wave away the interruption, but very few people dared to tell her that she was wrong. 

“Yep, you’re wrong, and I stand by my words. I can’t remember all the times you pointed out you were just the landlady. But you’ve never corrected me before, Nana. Not when I called you your proper name. So, sure, you’re not our housekeeper, despite your talents in the field. But you’re family, and can we please stop pretending otherwise, even as a joke?” Rosie said, fists against her hips.

“Oh, you. Come here, Rosie. You do realise I have to hug you right now, don’t you?” Mrs. Hudson  replied, opening her arms.

The girl shrugged and flew into the other’s arms, being careful to calibrate her energy enough not to tackle her to the floor. Nana wouldn’t appreciate needing a hip replacement because of her.

John watched them with the biggest grin on his lips. He couldn’t believe how lucky he was. Years ago, he wouldn’t have deemed a happy family life something that existed on earth, much less something that could happen to him. But every day he was proven wrong. 

“You know what? Since I ruined the prank for you, I’m going to help you make it work. You’ve just picked the wrong victim, Nana. Especially because I’ve been food-pranked once already today. But there’s someone who will put just about anything in his mouth without checking if you badger him enough about it...and even without any spider experiments ongoing, 221C is definitely a more fitting breeding ground for the critters than your lovely kitchen…” the teen said, a mischievous glint in her eyes.  She covered the biscuits back, and mumbled, “Do you mind if I bring them down?”

“Do your worst, dearie,” Mrs. Hudson prompted. “I’m really glad we let Mycroft install these cameras in the basement, just in case, because that way I won’t need to come down to see it. I have a feeling that you’ll be able to act better than I am. And I usually am good, but Sherlock is too observant for his own good.”

Rosie saluted and went downstairs. John laughed, turning on the local camera app on his computer. “You know Mrs. Hudson, if Rosie hadn’t been so quick to call your bluff, you’d have got one over me. I didn’t react just because I’m not particularly scared of spiders, or any other bug…but I was about ready to murder the things. Which would have ruined your nice biscuits. Luckily she acted first,” he confessed. 

“Are you saying this just to make me feel better?” the landlady countered, raising an eyebrow.

“Of course not. I don’t need to. In any other household, I would have probably screamed…but if I started shrieking because of a bunch of insects, I could never have survived everyday life with Sherlock, so I’m rather desensitized,” the doctor replied, shrugging.

Now it was Mrs. Hudson’s turn to laugh. “Too true! I probably should have ignored you all and just headed next door. I’m pretty sure that Mrs. Turner is less used to such sights.”

“One would hope so, at least. Sherlock is unique!” John agreed, grinning.

Rosie brought down the tray, and set it by her papa, still covered. “So, I might have gone overboard with this morning’s jokes. I know we already had a very delicious dessert, thanks for that by the way, but Nana baked too much as usual, so I thought you might like a taste. Especially if this will go on much longer and make you late for dinner. Will it?” she said cheerfully.

“Mmm…not sure. It shouldn’t, but honestly, I thought that by now I’d have more results to show, so maybe, love. Thanks.” He smiled, but then waved her away, too absorbed in his samples (bless Molly for existing, really).

But Rosie would not be deterred. She started asking questions, despite already knowing the general outline of the experiment. Some of her friends would probably have found it too creepy to inquire about, but with her parents, the idea of human body parts didn’t scare her…as long as they were unattached to a functioning brain that might wish her ill. Honestly, as long as you took the necessary precautions not to catch any disease your sample might be carrying, and were careful with potentially noxious chemicals (again, basic precautions), a lab was about the safest place you could be in. Assholes tended to stay out of it most of the time.

Another parent might have been annoyed by a kid meddling after being signalled to be on their way. But Sherlock really worked better when he could talk out loud, and Rosie wasn’t asking stupid questions – she was a bright child, just like her parents. So he was only too happy to have her linger, and show interest in his work.

Once she deemed that he was suitably distracted, she said, “Don’t mind me...”, unveiled the biscuits …and suddenly jumped back, with a sharp inhale. Nothing too over-the-top, or papa would see through her. A screech would be out of character, she was used to worse. But an instinctive ‘fuck - need to get away from these!” reaction.

It also helped to keep papa’s attention on her rather than the faulty goods. He looked up from his experiment to check on her…which (she calculated carefully) kept the biscuits in the corner of his eyes.

“Oops…” Rosie remarked, “sorry.”

As soon as he saw she was fine, the next thing to jump at him was the dark shadows on  the tray. “Oh fuck!” the sleuth blurted out vehemently. Once he would have said something more refined, but cohabitation with John had its effects, and Ro wasn’t two anyway. “We’ll just keep it a secret from Mrs. Hudson, won’t we, Ro? I didn’t think the lab was infested…”

“Too late, I’m afraid,” she replied, winking. “Look at it a second, papa. Really.”

Of course, a proper glance was enough to see them for what it was. “Have you ever considered taking up acting?” the sleuth asked, looking at his daughter pensively.

“Maybe. Someday. I hope Nana is satisfied with your reaction…if I had a mum, maybe she’d get a true screech out of her. But a heartfelt swear is as good as we could hope, I think,” the teenager replied, looking just as contemplative.

“Your mum? Hardly, love. She wasn’t easy to scare, just like you,” Sherlock said, privately thinking that, if in truth surprised, Mary’s go to reaction would probably be to add a bit of lead to the recipe. It might be a bit not good (he’d have to ask John), but he was relieved that such a trigger-happy woman wasn’t around Rosie. It could make a day like this too dangerous to celebrate, and his girl seemed to be having a blast. 

“Good,” she declared, smiling. “I’ll leave you to your work now, dad, sorry about this…well, not too much. But I’m sure Nana will appreciate your consideration for her feelings.” She waved for the camera.

The detective waved too, then said, “Now, are you really interested in this?”

“Yes,” Rosie nodded exaggeratedly. “But this gave me an idea I want to note down, so I’ll go upstairs and expect a full report tonight, okay papa?”

“Fine, boss,” Sherlock agreed. She was the only one who held the title.

Rosie took the stairs up two by two, very pleased with herself.          

Chapter Text

John chuckled at the text he received an hour later. He honestly doubted that Sherlock had planned this from the start – it seemed a bit too over the top for the intended victim. But he’d promised to have his beloved for better and for worse…and certainly supporting his taste in jokes was part of the deal.

So he bounded downstairs, and loudly knocked at the basement’s door, yelling, “Sherlock! Lock! It came through!”  

The detective opened the door with an ecstatic smile, and an eager, “Oh! Wonderful!”

Of course that racket attracted Mrs. Hudson’s attention, and she opened her door – she’d gone back downstairs with the biggest grin after seeing her prank pay off – to check what the good news was. “What’s up?” she asked, smiling already, happy for their own happiness. Which made John feel rotten for what his husband had planned, but he would ensure it was a short joke, in case Sherlock turned out to be too engrossed by his master plan. 

“Bees, Mrs. Hudson!” the sleuth yelled, hugging her. It made no sense, of course, but then again he rarely did.

“Not here, young man, you don’t. I don’t care if you’ve found roof hives or whatever else. I’ll have to put my foot down,” the old lady declared, wriggling out of the embrace and crossing her arms sternly. 

“Of course not here, Mrs. Hudson. Don’t worry, I know that all the neighbours would give you grief for it, and besides, it’s so polluted here, my poor bees wouldn’t have an easy life. No, we bought a house in Sussex. Well, more like a farm actually. Janine mentioned it was for sale in a town next to her country home, and honestly, I look forward to studying a society organised in a way that actually makes sense,” the detective explained, talking a mile a minute as usual.

If John wasn’t aware of the truth, he would have believed him. It sounded exactly just like the sort of thing his husband would do, when taken by the fever of a new study. Though mentioning Janine should have been a bit of a giveaway. It was one thing for Sherlock to still be texting Irene. His blogger – and then fiancé – almost blew a gasket when he discovered that they still texted regularly. Once reminded that they were both gay, and allowed to read their threads, he’d apologised and got used to it. But Janine? Never mind that they used each other, if John dropped his ex-girlfriends his lover had to drop his. 

Their landlady nodded, smiling widely. “Oh, that sounds like a great idea! I’m so happy for you, dearie! I’m sure that Rosie will love that too. Maybe you can go there during the weekends and the holidays,” she cooed.

At that, the consulting detective frowned. “What? No, no. my studies need to be constant. We’re moving there. I’m so relieved that you think Rosie will like it, I wasn’t so sure,” he replied, still excited.

Mrs. Hudson was speechless for a second, then turned to John for support. “What?” she said, sounding lost.

“It’s past time that we start a safer lifestyle, Mrs. H.,” the former soldier remarked apologetically, with a small shrug.

“That might be, but…do you really think that uprooting everyone and moving away is the better option? Away from all your friends? And Rosie’s friends?” the old lady asked, trying to encompass with a wave of her arm the whole of London they were leaving behind.

“This is the XXIst  century, Mrs. Hudson, not the XIXth! She will just double her friends. All her old ones are still a text away. It’s not like she has to wait weeks for a letter to be received and returned,” Sherlock remarked, with more scorn than she deserved.

“Honey,” John said sternly. The joke was one thing. Insulting Mrs. Hudson was quite another. He didn’t want to end in their amazing landlady’s black books.  

She didn’t seem to register the rudeness, though. Instead, she doggedly insisted, “And what about your cases? Do you really expect that poor inspector to haul over to Sussex anytime there’s a nice murder?”

“Safer lifestyle, Mrs. Hudson. Maybe I should get you a hearing aid for Christmas? I’m retiring. No more cases for me. John was kidnapped often enough, and it’s a miracle Rosie hasn't been yet. At least before her being continuously under surveillance was understandable – any helicopter parent would do the same. But she’s about to be a teenager. She will want to break the rules – and I can’t be always wondering if she’s late because she’s making out or because the relatives of the latest criminal I caught have taken her in retaliation,” the sleuth explained, with a slight huff.

“I understand that, dear. But isn’t it for that that you have Mycroft? I’m sure he could ascertain her location at any moment, and you wouldn’t have to stop working. For one, you’ll go stir crazy before you know it. And for another, there are so many people you could help still. It’s not as if you have a hip, as well! Talking of retirement, at your age! You should be ashamed of yourself, young man!” the landlady replied, glaring.

John decided to intervene…or he was going to burst out laughing and ruin the joke. “Are you suggesting that we ask Mycroft to divert government resources to track down one rebellious teenager? Mrs. Hudson, are you sure we’re the ones who need to be ashamed?” He raised an eyebrow.  

She snorted in a decidedly unladylike manner. “Ashamed? For suggesting Mycroft Holmes keep mixing his job and family business? If he hadn’t, Britain would be under Moriarty’s thumb at the moment, and that would be dreadful. Who’s to say that Rosie’s safety won’t get tangled with the nation’s, too? You’re all quite smart, but not even you can read the future so far in advance…unless there’s way more to the Holmes line than you’ve ever acknowledged. Or not the Holmes line…these things usually are passed by the maternal side, aren’t they? But I don’t think I’ve ever heard your mum’s last name, so…well, you get what I’m saying.”

“I do. You’re saying that you need to lay off the soothers, if you’re really considering the option of mummy passing down to us some sort of preternatural power, second sight or whatever. Her side of the family does have considerable talent, but we’re not of fairy descent. Mostly because they don’t exist. Also, it appears you really think that Mycroft could track a child of mine if she didn’t want to be tracked, and frankly I take exception to that. It is plain offensive,” Sherlock countered, crossing his arms.  

Mrs. Hudson chuckled. “You might have a point there…still, I know you, dearie, you’ll get all excited and want to move tomorrow. If necessary, I’ll consider this your notice, but I expect you to be around for a little while still. I’m pretty sure there’s a law about that. Or there should be. And I’ll expect you – and Rosie of course – to come visit. Often. Someone needs to keep an eye on you, or God knows what you’ll get up to. You might think you’re headed for a quiet life, but I’ve known you for over a decade by now, and I feel confident claiming that you living a life without at least some minor disaster would break some as of yet undiscovered law of physics.”   

Unexpectedly, Sherlock was the one to crack and give away the joke. He started laughing and, when he could get his breath back, he agreed, “You’re so right. The universe is against us living without disasters. But that’s what makes life interesting, isn’t it?”

“Of course, dearie. No retirement just as of yet, then? Not even for Rosie’s sake?” she inquired, smiling but needing the affirmation.

“At the very least not until we get bad hips of our own. As you said, Mrs. Hudson, there’s always Mycroft to help keep an eye on her,” John said.

Apparently, Rosie had been overhearing it all – her dad hadn’t bothered to close the flat’s door, to add to the impression of having urgent news – because she piped in, from upstairs, “I don’t need any surveillance!”

“She’s smarter than me,” Mrs. Hudson cooed proudly, “she didn’t believe you for a minute, or she’d have protested already. Vehemently.”

The teenager came bounding downstairs, before scoffing, “Of course I didn’t believe them! As if we would be able to go on without you, Nana!” and hugging the old lady again.

“You’ll have to eventually, you know,” Mrs. Hudson murmured, ruffling the child’s hair.

“Not necessarily. If what’s going on in Doctor Who can be replicated…I don’t mean regeneration, but even just taking the long way like Clara….I need to ask uncle My if there are already projects trying to achieve it, and how much funding they get,” Rosie replied, a stubborn frown on her face.

“Love, I don’t want to be immortal. Frankly, that sounds exhausting. But I’m not leaving you alone anytime soon, either, so let’s forget about that for a minute, will you? Why don’t you tell me what these characters you were reading about are up to?” Mrs. Hudson queried, inviting her inside her flat.

Of course, the girl immediately started talking a mile a minute, while John and Sherlock offered their landlady a grateful smile. Then again, the detective had given her plenty of practice in redirecting the conversation from awkward subjects. No wonder she was awesome at it.  

Chapter Text

The couple went back upstairs, leaving Rosie to entertain Mrs. Hudson with her latest fan theories. After all, there was no doubt that they would be treated to the same exposition in the future – and repeatedly. As soon as they were inside, Sherlock tried kissing his husband enthusiastically, part in thanks for the surprisingly good acting and part because, well, there was really no need of a reason to want to snog John Watson silly. He was very disappointed when his love didn’t indulge him for more than a handful of seconds.  

John answered his protesting whine with, “In a second, honey, promise. I just have to dash – you never know when Rosie will be back.”

Well, if anything, that was a reason to maximise the kissing time now. No teenager liked to see her parents being affectionate, after all. Before the detective could bring this very sound objection up, though, John had already run – upstairs. To Rosie’s room. Given that this was emphatically not the time to start the laundry or any other household chore, it was obviously joke-related.

The detective loathed the silly holiday for the apparently unending one hundred and thirty three seconds (not that he was counting) that his love had spent planning whatever he was up to. And if that wasn’t bad enough, John spent an additional twenty-five seconds in their bedroom – without him! – just for the sake of his plan. He was tempted to claim the sofa and sulk, but sooner or later (most probably later, to be honest) Rosie would be back. She would ask what was up. And the answer would make her roll her eyes and, probably, make a face, even if the sleuth kept things vague enough so that he wouldn’t accidentally spoil the other’s plan.

Besides, John was finally back, and he purred, “Now, where were we before I so rudely interrupted?” It was hard to stay angry at him, when he was lapping behind Sherlock’s ear. That spot always sent a frisson down the sleuth’s spine. Only long practice ensured that the groan it ripped from his throat was (mostly) suffocated.

“Bedroom,” he demanded. Rosie was truly unpredictable, like all teenagers. She could talk about her favourite subject for four hours, or remember something she wanted to show Mrs. Hudson in five minutes and rush upstairs to get it, obviously not bothering with silly things like knocking on her own door. Which meant that anything less than innocent had to be restricted to a (well-locked) bedroom, for everyone’s sanity.

Not that Rosie couldn’t pick a lock, if she wanted to, but there was never one used in the first place unless she really needed to stay out of that room. Heck, half the time Sherlock left any door ajar. John liked to joke that it was an aftermath of his last life, when his lover had obviously been a feline, and probably got his tail trapped in one door too many. 

They stumbled into their room, and somehow the blogger managed to trap the detective against the door, lock it with one hand and open a couple buttons of Sherlock’s shirt with the other. His lover decided it was a brilliant time to kiss him with fervour, and the fact that John could still multitask despite the majority of his brain being overwhelmed by oxytocin and dopamine proved that he was even more of a genius than his partner.

The detective would have fully subscribed to the notion, but sadly, his husband insisted that this kind of evidence shouldn’t be mentioned when Mycroft was being all snotty, or media were annoying. TMI, or something like that. It was true that nobody cared what the elder Holmes sibling said anyway, much less the general public, but it was frustrating when people thought their partnership was, intellectually speaking, a mésalliance. (So maybe he was starting to understand why John used to care about what people thought of him. It was a surprising discovery.)

After a while, the breathless lovers decided to relocate to the bed – it would be a pity to have it there, all comfy, and still do it right against the door, no matter how tempting it was. Besides, that risked breaking it, and the danger – to the hinges and their backs – wasn’t worth not moving a short way now that privacy had been attained.  

John shuffled backwards, letting his partner and muscle memory guide him, unwilling to turn away from Sherlock for a second…and of course, the very moment the back of his knees hit the bed, was the moment that a screech from upstairs interrupted all hope of any intimacy. Damn it. He’d done it to himself, true, but couldn’t Rosie have ranted a bit more to Mrs. Hudson? He’d acted immediately because of his foresight, but frankly, he’d counted on them having at least three quarters of an hour.

Sherlock groaned in despair, muffling his voice against John’s shoulder. He glared at his husband, managing somehow to convey a whining, “Why?” without a word. Bad timing, indeed. But there was only one day any prank would be acceptable, and John needed to get even for the years of life he lost when he thought Rosie wanted Wiggins as a boyfriend.

Their daughter was already banging on their door, clearly upset, so John sighed, briefly recalled his most disgusting memories to kill his arousal, gently let his husband curl on their bed in a sulk, and went to the sitting room. “What’s up, Ro?” he asked, feigning ignorance.

“Where. Is. Bee?” she replied, unimpressed by his acting.

“Why do you ask?” John countered nonchalantly.

“Because I’d forgotten my phone in my room when I came to check what that whole ruckus was, so I went back to get it to show Mrs. Hudson something I saw earlier. And Bee wasn't where she was supposed to be anymore. You know, on her shelf. And since I haven’t moved it, we don’t have a pet that might steal it, and I’m rather certain we didn’t have a home invasion in the last few minutes I was chatting…you moved it. Well, you or papa. Frankly, I hope you have a very good justification for moving my things without asking,” Rosie ranted, glowering up at him.

“I just thought it needed doing. Because, you know, you reminded me today that you’re growing up very quickly. You’re not a child anymore, and I respect that. You had Bee since you were teething, Ro. God knows how it isn’t completely ripped apart by now. Anyway, that’s definitely a child’s toy, so I binned it,” the blogger explained, shrugging. Mean, sure, but then again, she hadn’t pulled any punches with her prank either. Maybe next year they’d all stick to the fake bugs (Mrs. Hudson’s idea had indeed been rather brilliant) and not threaten each other’s coronaries.

He was proud of her reaction, though. Another child would probably have cried. Rosie was his and Sherlock’s (and Mary’s, mustn’t forget Mary’s, her genes didn’t contemplate whimpering either), so she just crossed her arms in front of her and spoke in a very calm, very low voice. The same tone John was likely to adopt before inflicting grievous bodily harm on a criminal. “You didn’t.”

“Did I not?” John challenged, with a half-grin.

Rosie looked at him, tilted her head to the right, and declared, “No, you did not. Because I’ve found your dog tags once, when I was bored. These are a soldier’s equipment, aren’t they? You’re not one anymore, so why don’t you throw them away? I mean, you’re low-key famous. It’s not like your dead body is going to turn up somewhere with no other means of identification, no matter which criminals you fight. And you might be an idiot, dad, but you don’t hold people to stricter standards than you follow. That’s one of the few decent things about you.”

With anyone else than his beloved daughter , the blogger would have pointed out that his dog tags were anything but useless now – they were one of the few things that could silence his husband, for one – but she had a point anyway. In the bleak time between being discharged and meeting Sherlock, he’d kept them for purely sentimental reasons, and certainly understood getting attached to mementos. So instead he said, “Don’t flatter me too much, Ro. Few decent things? It might go to my head!”

She merely stretched a hand out, and sternly ordered, “Bee. Now.”

“Yup…let me get it,” her dad promised, slipping back inside his room and ignoring the hopeful look Sherlock threw him, raising his head from the bed, to retrieve the prized toy.

“Here it is. Safe and sound,” he declared, handing her over.

“She. Seriously, bees are ladies. Even papa remembers as much,” Rosie chided, hugging the old tattered toy against her chest. Without giving him a chance to reply, she ran away to reinstate her in her rightful place, mumbling, “Stupid unfunny joke.”

John smiled. It seemed he didn’t have to be terrified of his baby girl growing too fast just yet. Now, he needed to find a way to appease the angry queen in their bedroom. Being disappointed twice was sure to put Sherlock in a major mood. 

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I am so sorry, this is not an update, just my deepest apologies. I had a complete writer’s block up to today for my ongoing stories, and then I realised it happened because I was not trying to write what I actually wanted to write, only what I felt I *should* be writing, while my Muse had all sorts of interesting ideas for oneshots (and different fandoms). I am NOT – emphatically not – abandoning this story. But writing used to be my moment of happiness, and since it’s become a source of stress instead, I’m taking a month-long sabbatical from regular updates. Believe me, I do feel bad about it. But my sanity comes first – or at least what little of it is still there.