"This is not your child," she said, pressing a kiss to the child’s head. “Nor is it your brothers, I assure you.”
There was something...soft...about Irene, in a position so maternal. Her focus seemed wholly on the child, a little boy with his mother’s dark waves. He didn’t care for the paternity, really, so long as it wasn’t Sherlock’s. He wasn’t the type to share paramours and he hoped not to start now.
Not when this one had his heart, broken and damaged as it was.
“May I hold him?” Mycroft asked quietly, earning a look of surprise from Irene. Ah, yes, an emotion that rarely played out on her face, but it was followed by a soft smile. He did not receive a lecture on how to hold a child, much as he usually did from his well-meaning sister-in-law when he asked to hold his niece, but Irene watched in fascination as he held the boy correctly from the start and then gave him a finger to grip. “He has a strong grip.”
“He does,” Irene said. “Mycroft...my dalliance was a mistake, and while I never intended to have a child, I’m glad he’s here. But I know you. You are the eternal bachelor. The Ice Man. And while I melted you once I left you alone to refreeze.” She paused. “There was nothing with Sherlock. Even a blind man could have seen his heart belonged to his pathologist, even if he didn’t know it. I was spying that Christmas. I saw the kiss on the cheek he gave her, and I knew then I’d never have him.”
“So you moved to me,” he murmured, his attention now focused on the child. “Outwitting and outsmarting me by playing my brother like a fiddle.”
“Yes. When you found me I was...surprised, to say the least. I had thought if it would be anyone, it would be Sherlock who found me. Those two years were a gift, and I let you go when Sherlock returned.”
“When I drug him back by force.” He didn’t mean to keep correcting her. She was getting to a point he so desperately wanted to hear her make. “But that is of little matter at the moment. You conceived this child and then?”
“And then I decided Nero needed a proper home. A caring home. A loving home,” she said, moving to his side. “And I was hoping we could share yours.”
He turned his attention from the child to the woman who had melted him, left him to refreeze and still thawed him by her mere presence, and he slowly nodded. “You had needed but to ask, and I would give you anything you asked for. Everything you could want.”
She leaned into him, her gaze turning back to the baby as he pressed a kiss in her hair. “I love you, Mycroft.”
“I love you too, Irene,” he said, and the last chip of ice in his heart was gone as he was filled with a peculiar and lovely warmth. He had her love, he had her in his life, and there was a beautiful baby to boot.
He had never been happy before, and this was a grand way to start.