Hamish stared at his reflection in the mirror. Stared and stared and stared, until his eyes felt too dry and too wet all at the same time and they were stinging like mad but he wanted to make sense of this.
The person in the mirror was not him. The person in the mirror was a /girl/. Skinny and babyish but with a chest and hips and it didn't match up to the person he was in his head. If Hamish raised his hand, the girl in the mirror raised her's too. He grit his teeth and her jaw clenched. There was a total disconnect between his internal self and -- this.
Hamish tried to remind himself that this was him, and therefore that this was not a girl. Boys can look like this, too, he told himself. He was a boy and he looked like this, therefore this was a boy. Other people might see a girl but those people were stupid and wrong. This was what a boy looked like, sometimes.
He bit his lip. He was definitely about to cry, and that made him want to cry even more, because boys weren't supposed to cry. How was he supposed to convince other people that he was a boy - that he could be a man - if he couldn't even look at himself without blubbing? People didn't listen to girly crybabies.
That thought tipped him over the edge, and he gripped the bathroom sink, glaring at his red-faced and watery-eyed reflection. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair. He never asked to be that way. He never even asked to be born, let alone like this. What was the point of him? He wanted to die.
No. No, that wasn't fair on his parents. The thought that he might hurt them tore him away from letting his thoughts turn any darker. But fine. If he didn't want to die, then he wanted to have never existed in the first place, so he wouldn't have to deal with ANY of this. If he could fade out of existence there and then, leave no imprint of his life on anyone else's, just vanish and have it all never have happened, then he would.
But he couldn't. No more than he could tear the sink from the wall. His grip on the cold ceramic tightened; his knuckles were white. Hamish's eyes met his reflection's again and, without thinking, he released his grip and punched as hard as he could.
The noise of glass shattering made more of an impact on Hamish than the pain, which he could barely feel. He stared at his knuckles, now red and bloody, little fragments of glass still in the wounds as shards of the mirror fell into the sink with tinkling chimes, waiting and waiting for it to hurt. For him to have an easier problem to solve, something kinder to cry over. But it just felt hot and kind of achey and it didn't really help at all.
"Rosie? Rosie, everything alright in there?" Papa's voice, through the door. Hamish kept on staring at his knuckles, waiting, quiet.
"Rosie?" Dad this time, more urgently. Three knocks to the door, in rapid succession, but Hamish still couldn't bring himself to respond. What could he say? Nothing was alright in there, nothing would ever be alright and he didn't have the words to explain it other than how wrong wrong wrong it all was and they'd never understand that and--
John broke the door down and barged in, quickly followed by Sherlock, each of them sweeping their gaze over the room, assessing their child, the situation. "Sh*t, Rosie, what happened, what have you done?" John said on the exhale of a breath, and Hamish broke down again, in floods of tears. Sherlock quickly shed his dressing gown and wrapped it around Hamish's shoulders, tying it loosely at the waist, for privacy.
"I'm sorry." Hamish whimpered between sobs, not sure what he was apologising for specifically but there was a lot. For hurting himself, for breaking the mirror, for not being their baby girl anymore, for not /wanting/ to be their baby girl anymore, for not being a proper man and just saying the right thing at the right time and having it all figured out and for not dealing with it. "I'm sorry..."
"Hey hey hey, shush now, what're you sorry for, hey? It's not your fault, these things happen." John said gently, pulling Hamish close into a soothing embrace. Hamish's expression crumpled and he shook his head.
"It is my fault, 's'all my fault." he cried. He hated that he couldn't even cry without thinking about how stupid and squeaky and high his voice was. He wasn't meant to sound like that, he wasn't meant to cry like that, it wasn't him wasn't him wasn't him wasn--
"Shh shh sh sh sh... deep breaths for me, Rosie, deep breaths okay?" John hushed him, and Hamish tried for a moment, really tried, and them remembered he wasn't Rosie and burst into tears all over again, wracked with shuddery sobs.
"John, you go and get the first aid kit, I'm going to bring her through to our room to calm down a bit." Sherlock said, trying to take control of the situation as John's efforts were strained. Whatever the problem was, it was in there with her. Best remove her from the situation and then respond. John returned Sherlock's expression with a flicker of doubt, then nodded once.
"Go on then, follow dad." John said, pressing a kiss to the top of Hamish's head, rubbing his back twice before guiding him to Sherlock. Hamish clung onto Sherlock, hiding his face in his pajama shirt, still crying, and Sherlock shuffled them awkwardly back into his bedroom, sitting them both down on the bed.
"Whenever you're ready, we need to talk about this." Sherlock said. Hamish carried on crying, not even sure he was still upset but because he couldn't stop.
"It's alright now, darling, it's all right." Sherlock tried to soothe him, letting him cry it out. He knew at this point there was little else he could do than be there for him, stay with him until he calmed himself.
And eventually, Hamish's sobs subsided, until he was just sniffly and shaky and now his hand really really did hurt, all stinging and sharp and he felt stupid for punching the mirror like that. John returned with a tray of tea and a first aid kit. Hamish wondered if he'd been waiting outside the door for him to stop crying.
Didn't want to deal with him when he was like this, probably wouldn't want to deal with the news Hamish had to tell them, either. But it wasn't like he could keep it to himself after this, could he?
With a doctor's care, John lifted Hamish's hand to the light by his forearm and pushed back the silk of Sherlock's dressing gown. He assessed it, then leant forward and ruffled Hamish's hair.
"Well, luckily for you, I think we can avoid stitches this time. But it is going to sting a lot, cleaning this. Are you going to be brave for me?" John asked gently, slipping easily back into his caretaker role. Hamish felt guilty for doubting him before.
"I can be brave." Hamish whispered. He would be brave.
John nodded and set about cleaning up Hamish's hand, and for a moment he looked almost proud, and Hamish was pleased he could make his papa proud even though this was the stupidest thing to be proud over, seeing as he did it himself.
Then John was flushing the glass out of the cuts with sterile water and Hamish hissed, not feeling proud at all now because it really stung and he wanted to swear but he couldn't in front of his dads.
Sherlock must have noticed how his eyes had watered, because he started rubbing Hamish's back again; Hamish tried to take some comfort from it. Dad and Papa were really trying. They didn't even know what was wrong and they were trying so hard to fix things. The guilt returned, hotter and more raw than his hand felt. Hamish knew he couldn't keep this inside any longer.
It wasn't how he planned to tell them. And he had - he had planned it. He was going to gauge their reactions to his short hair, going to start presenting them with all the stories and TV shows and music he could find about transgender people and see what they thought about that. He wanted to gradually introduce them to the concept that he might not be a girl anymore, probably never had been a girl, really. It wasn't meant to happen with a broken mirror and bloody knuckles and a runny nose. /God/, he wasn't even in his pajamas. Hamish was all of a sudden very embarrassed and grateful for the dressing gown all at once, and it was good to feel something other than hurt and guilty and wrong.
Papa was talking again and Hamish had zoned out, entirely preoccupied by his own thoughts of his impending confession.
"Sorry," he sniffed, looking up from his lap. "What did you say?" John chuckled and pat his knee.
"Sometimes you're so much like your dad, I forget you've got no genetic resemblance. I said 'You're all done now'." John gestured to Hamish's hand. He glanced at it, now clean and free of glass, with little pieces of gauze criss-crossing over the more open bits. Butterfly stitches, he recalled.
"It'll take a while to heal, being on the joint as it is." Papa informed him, but Hamish didn't mind that. The sting was good. It would remind him not to be so stupid again. No more keeping things inside until he burst - it was clear now that he could not take his time. He had to be brave.
"Here, drink some of your tea, and then when you're ready, we can talk about this." Hamish drew in a shaky breath, then nodded silently. Sherlock passed him his mug over, and Hamish accepted it awkwardly in his left hand. That was going to be a pain with schoolwork...
The tea was hot and sweet, and more milky than Hamish usually took it, so evidently Papa was trying to stop him from going into shock. Tea like this was supposed to help, he knew. He thought again of his announcement. They would be the ones who'd need milky sweet tea after that. He drank half the mug, then passed it back to his dad, who set it aside on one of the bedside tables. But nobody said a word.
Finally, Hamish took a deep breath and broke the silence.
"I... um. I punched the mirror." He said slowly, making sure his voice would hold.
"Yeah, we er, kind of gathered that much for ourselves. Why did you punch the mirror?" John asked. Wasted no time in getting right to it, then. Perhaps that was easier.
Hamish cleared his throat. It didn't feel easy. He felt like he was about to throw up his tea.
"Umm. I... guess I didn't like my reflection. I was upset." His throat felt tight, constricted, like he was going to cry again. His parents shared a look.
"What is it about your reflection you didn't like? Has somebody at school been saying horrible things about you?" Sherlock asked then, visibly bristling with defensiveness on his behalf. Misplaced defensiveness, probably. God, why did it have to be so /difficult/?
"No, no. That's not it. It's-- I'm not--" Tears welled up in his eyes again and he squeezed them shut tight, ducking his head.
"Not...?" John prompted him gently, when he'd been quiet for a few seconds again.
"Not a girl."
Hamish held his breath. Everything was very quiet. Uncomfortably quiet. The quiet was deafening, in fact. On and on the silence stretched, until finally someone spoke.
"So what you're saying is that you are, in fact... a boy?" Sherlock ventured slowly. There was a forced neutrality to it that set Hamish on edge, but at least he'd said /something/. Papa just stared and stayed quiet.
Staring down at his lap, Hamish nodded.
"Yeah, I, um." He cleared his throat again. "I think so. 'm pretty sure."
There was another beat of silence before Sherlock continued. But every moment of silence was a riot of upset voices in Hamish's head, sending him into a panic that he tried to squash down.
"Right. Um. What, er, makes you feel that way?" Sherlock asked. Hamish wondered if this was supposed to feel encouraging. Dad was treating this like one of his crime scenes, like a puzzle to be figured out, he was gathering /evidence/, and now Hamish really did feel like a victim. He didn't want to have to justify who he was to his dad.
"I can't-- I can't put it into words like that, dad." Hamish sniffed. How could he explain it so he'd understand? "That'd be like. Um... Like asking you to quantify how much you love Papa. You could count how many times you've told each other that or how many times you've kissed or rate it on a scale from one to ten, but those numbers could never do the feeling justice, right?" Steadying breath; he was not going to cry again. "I couldn't put it into any words that would do it justice. I just know I'm not a girl and I am a boy."
Sherlock fell quiet again, looking pensive. Hamish wondered whether he was thinking about the fact that his former daughter was now saying he's his son, or if he was just trying to figure out a way of quantifying love. Then he turned to John, nudging him into a response.
"John?" Sherlock prompted him. John swallowed and looked between Sherlock and Hamish.
"You um--" John cleared his throat. "You're sure you're a boy? Because. You know, girls can do anything boys can do - probably better, actually. Girls can be doctors and police officers and soldiers and CEOs and scientists and anything, anything they want. And they can have short hair and wear trousers and-- and I just want you to know that if you're just saying you want to be a boy because you want all that, you can have that as a girl, too."
Hamish's eyes watered. So much for not crying again. It was clear Papa was trying very hard to be understanding but he'd gotten it so wrong. He wasn't pretending to want to be a boy so he could do boys' jobs or wear boys' clothes. He just was one.
"Rosie?" John prompted him when he didn't reply.
"I'm not Rosie!" Hamish responded. It was supposed to come out flat: annoyed and firm. But it sounded shrill, like the voice belonged to somebody else. He met his Papa's eyes, and he looked hurt. What did he have to be hurt about? He wasn't the one who looked wrong, sounded wrong, felt wrong, thought different, every waking moment of his life. He wasn't the one who should be hurt.
Sherlock, unsurprisingly, was the voice of reason between their emotional conflict.
"Okay. Okay. If you're not Rosie, then who are you? Who do you want to be?" He asked gently. Hamish sniffed and looked away angrily. He was simplifying it way too much.
"I'm... your son. I want to be your son, not your daughter. And I want to be a 'he' not a 'she' and a 'mister' not a 'miss' and if anyone ever calls me 'young lady' ever again I'm going to throw up or punch something or maybe both." He said. Deep breath. He still couldn't meet their eyes. "And I want to be called Hamish."
Papa bristled. Hamish didn't even need to look at him to know that he'd be sat there with his jaw clenched, hand doing that tensing thing - curling and uncurling in a fist on his lap.
But he couldn't take it back. And he didn't want to take it back.
"Are you doing this to spite me." John asked flatly, in the way Hamish had wanted to answer before when he came out all shrill.
"No. No-- it's a family name. You pass it down the men of the family." Hamish defended his choice.
"You don't know the history of that name." John responded. His words sounded distinct and deliberate, like every syllable was carefully measured for it's worth before being spoken. He sounded more dangerous like this than on the occasions that he yelled. Hamish's stomach tightened and twisted into knots.
"How can I? You never talk about it." Hamish shot back. The muscle in John's jaw jumped, and besides him Sherlock was getting ready to de-escalate the situation. Hamish cut across him.
"I know you hate the name Hamish. I know that, Papa. But it's family. And /I'm/ family. And-- and when you use the name Hamish for me, I'll know you're using it because you love me. You wouldn't use the name if you hate it more than you love me." Hamish's voice faltered; he was choking back tears again.
John stared at Hamish a few seconds longer, silent, with that same clenched jaw. Then he turned to Sherlock.
"Take Rosie up to her room, please. I need to clear up the first aid kit and the bathroom." He said.
Hamish's expression crumpled. Hadn't he been listening at all? Was he always just going to stubbornly refuse to accept him? He looked to Sherlock pleadingly, large blue eyes spilling over with tears.
"Come on. It's been a long night." Sherlock said softly, gently nudging him to leave. Hamish's face crumpled further, and he stared miserably at his lap. So that was it? A feminist pep talk and a cold dismissal? Why had he thought this was going to just work itself out? What an idiot.
"You're a bit too big to be carried now, don't you think? Come on, up you get." Sherlock encouraged Hamish, when he hadn't moved. Reluctantly he did so, pushing himself off the bed with his uninjured hand to slink off up the stairs to his bedroom. Behind him were the steady footfalls of his dad following him up, but it felt like an empty gesture to Hamish now.
Papa had been so cold.
Hamish sniffed as he headed into his room, grabbing the pajamas that he'd laid out before he went down for a shower. With his back to Sherlock, he changed into them, then turned to pass back the dressing gown. Sherlock was looking around the room with an uncharacteristically distant look, eyes all soft and sad. Hamish followed his gaze and realised he was looking at the old decorations from when he was a child - the walls in shades of pale pink and lavender, soft teddies still on the shelves. He was looking at a little girl's room, Hamish realised.
Well, it wasn't like he had picked the decor as a young child. He passed the dressing gown to Sherlock, then crawled into bed tiredly. Everything felt so heavy. He wanted to sleep for a year, mostly so he wouldn't have to deal with this for a long, long time.
But of course, Sherlock had something to say about the whole thing. Hamish had already closed his eyes, but he felt the mattress dip a little as Sherlock sat on the edge of his bed.
"So you're really transsexual?" Sherlock asked softly. Hamish cringed inwardly at the outdated term, but he supposed it was something.
"Transgender." Hamish corrected him, voice equally quiet.
"Transgender." Sherlock echoed, making a mental note of it. "And you're... really fixed on this idea of being called Hamish? You saw how it upset papa."
If his eyes were open, Hamish would have rolled them. That was half the point.
"I need to know he respects my choices. And like I said before - it's a family name."
"Watson-Holmes is the family name."
"And where's my place in that?" Hamish rolled over now, to open his eyes and glare at his dad expectantly. "I see you, and I see papa, but I don't hear any mention of me in there."
"You're our dau-- you're our child." Sherlock answered. "You're part of both of us."
"No, I'm part of papa and part of a woman I have no memory of but was apparently significant enough in both of your lives to name me after her."
An expression of hurt flickered across Sherlock's face, making Hamish regret his words. Alright maybe he was overlooking dad's contribution to raising him, but what he said was true. He wasn't going to take it back.
"She isn't family the way we are." Sherlock said carefully. Dad was always careful talking about the real Rosamund.
"Whatever, dad, that's not the point. The point is, I want to choose my own name - a guy's name - and I think being called Hamish will ultimately bring us all closer together once papa gets over himself."
Sherlock was quiet, thoughtful again. He was tense, too. When he was upset - really upset, not pretending to get papa's attention - he always carried it in his shoulders, never his face. Hamish could always tell.
"John is going to struggle to accept you for as long as you go by Hamish. He thinks of it as a personal attack. It's nothing to do with your gender." Sherlock tried again, but Hamish huffed and looked away.
"Well I'm making it to do with my gender."
"No, you're making it harder on yourself so you feel justified in playing the victim." Sherlock retorted. "I understand that you're not -- you're not choosing to not be a girl. I understand you can't choose youe gender. What I don't understand is why, when you can choose any name in the world, you choose the one that is going to make things harder for everyone."
"You don't understand because you're NOT. LISTENING TO ME." Hamish's voice faltered as he yelled, and he hid his face in his pillow again. "Get out, get out of my room!"
Hamish's eyes stung with tears. Sherlock watched helplessly as his child's shoulders shook with tears. Was this his fault? Could he have done anything differently?
"We'll talk about this tomorrow, ok? Sleep on it. You're probably still in shock. This can all wait until morning." Sherlock ventured gently. But he got no response from Hamish, so he scooted back off the bed and made a move for the door.
"Want me to turn out the light?" Sherlock offered, lingering with his hand on the switch. Still no response from Hamish except his snuffling, tearful breaths.
"...Alright then. Goodnight." Sherlock said, flipping the switch before he left.
In the settling gloom of his bedroom, Hamish rolled over and stretched his hand out. It ached, but not as much as his chest did. Maybe his parents weren't as accepting as he thought. It would be a long while before he could settle enough to sleep.