Sherlock knocked on John’s large front door. He waited for a few seconds before the door opened with a welcoming smile from the man standing in its doorway.
"Hi, Sherlock. Thank you so much for doing this, I've just got an appointment to run to." He smiled as he let Sherlock in and shut the door behind him.
"Sherrrlllloccccccckkk!" Shouted the two small children as they ran through from the living room and towards Sherlock.
"Hey kids, how have you two been?" He laughed and bent down, scooping them into his arms, sitting one on each of his hips. He cared so much for these kids and he loved watching them grow, they’d already grown so much in such a short time. He sat Hamish on one hip, giving him a tight squeeze around the boy’s waist as he hugged back and Sherlock kissed his head. Hamish was four, the spitting image of his father but with one exception, he was all legs. Rosie wrapped her arms around Sherlock’s neck as he moved his arm to sit under her nappy padded bum, hugged her and gave her big kisses all over her cheek. Her laughter was one of the things Sherlock loved about Rosie, she was two and always wore the biggest smile on her face. That and her little chubby cheeks and legs, Sherlock just couldn’t get enough of them.
They made small, happy noises and hugged him back with the same enthusiasm. "Gooooood." They smiled and cuddled up to him.
John leaned one shoulder against the hallway wall and smiled at his kids, he was happy to see them smiling again and happy to see Sherlock this way around his children. He knew how Sherlock was and John knew he was doing his best to always have a smile on his face around the kids and he was doing great.
"They really miss her being here. Since she left, they're always asking for you." He said and kissed Hamish and Rosie’s heads before grabbing his keys. "Again, thank you Sherlock." He smiled.
Sherlock chuckled slightly and smiled back at him, rocking from side to side, making the kids sway on his hips. "Anytime, John. Now go before you're late." He grinned as the kids waved goodbye to their father and Rosie blew kisses at him. John pretended to catch them and walked out the door, shutting it again behind him.
Sherlock put Hamish down onto the floor and kept Rosie on his hip, pushing the hair out of her face as he walked with her. “So what are we getting up to whilst Daddy is gone, hmm?” Hamish walked to the table and sat up on his chair, sitting on his knees to see properly and pushed a small pouch of pencils and crayons into the middle of the table.
“We were just going to draw, but Daddy said to wait until you were here so we could all draw together. He said you are the best at guessing what we’re drawing.” Hamish smiled and moved some paper over to the seat next to him.
“Oh I don’t know about that,” Sherlock laughed, pulling Rosie’s highchair over towards them and sitting her down inside. “But drawing sounds like a great idea, Hamish, I love it.”
The smile spread across Hamish’s face as he watched Sherlock sit down next to him. He excitedly moved more paper and pencils towards Sherlock and sat back down on his own seat, pencil in hand, his body bouncing slightly from his legs swinging beneath his seat. Sherlock picked up a piece of paper and a blue crayon and put it on the tray of Rosies highchair. “Now don’t put this in your mouth, Rosie,” he said, picking up the crayon and moving it like a wand in his hand, “it’s really really yucky and it’ll turn your tongue blue, forever!’” He side eyed Hamish and saw the boy holding back a little laugh before regaining his composure with a cough. Sherlock smirked slightly and put the crayon down and smiled with a raised eyebrow as Rosie picked it up and nodded, a determined look on her face as she started scribbling on the paper with the crayon upside down.
Sherlock picked up a pencil and started sketching, it had been a while since he had drawn, he never thought he was that good, but as always, if he sat down and dedicated time to it, he could feel like he wasn’t a complete amateur at it. Rosie dragged Sherlock out of his head by drawing ‘spots’ on her paper, banging on her tray. Hamish and Sherlock laughed, both for completely different reasons. Sherlock just saw her stabbing her poor piece of paper but Hamish saw her trying to make as much noise as she could.
“What are you drawing, sissy?” Hamish laughed and stretched his neck to see his sister’s drawing. She looked up from her paper and across to her brother and moved her paper to show him, “Fishes!”. Sherlock grinned as she turned to show him too and put her paper back down.
“Wow, well done Rosie, what a clever girl!” He smiled and watched as she kept on scribbling, colouring all the paper in, as much as she could. “What about you, Hamish, what are you drawing?” He sat back in his chair and looked at the older boy.
“It’s a secret, you don’t get to know until it’s done!” Hamish grinned and went back to colouring. Sherlock laughed to himself, picked up his pencil and started drawing again, taking his time and losing himself in his thoughts as he hummed to himself, a piece he would usually play on his violin.
Every now and then Sherlock would look up at the kids, still humming his melody, checking on them, making sure he was definitely not ignoring them or their needs. The children both had smiles on their faces as they coloured and scribbled. This made Sherlock so happy, just relaxing with the kids and they were comfortable around him, they trusted him and he wasn’t making things awkward. Just a little tune Sherlock had committed to muscle memory when playing broke the silence and made time pass so quickly, and he saw that it relaxed the kids, they didn’t need to worry about talking, or sitting quietly, which Sherlock knew all too much about. He just wanted the kids to feel safe around him when their dad was gone and by the looks on their faces he was doing just fine.
Sherlock spent the next ten minutes working on his drawing, he was determined to finish now that he had started, and watching over the kids before Hamish started rummaging through his pouch of pencils and crayons.
“Sherlock, I don’t have any more green pencils for my grass, my last one got too short for me to hold so Daddy had to throw it away.” Hamish looked up at Sherlock with a puzzled look on his face. “I can’t colour the grass in another colour, it would be wrong.”
Sherlock chuckled a little and picked up another piece of paper. He knew Hamish wouldn’t want him showing him on his drawing, after all it was a secret. He quickly scribbled down some grass and a flower on the new piece of paper and picked up a yellow pencil. “If you don’t have a green, then you can mix one. Green is a colour you can mix out of other ones.” He smiled and looked over at Hamish as he scooted his chair closer so that the boy could see. “Blue and yellow mix together to make green, bud. Here let me show you.” Sherlock took the yellow pencil and started colouring the grass in a flat yellow shade. “I’m starting with yellow, because it is lighter and you can put dark colours on top, but it is harder to put light colours on top of dark ones.” He explained. Once this was done he picked up a blue pencil and went over the yellow lightly and smiled as Hamish let out a little ‘wow’. He laughed again and put his pencil down.
“It works with other colours too, with orange and purple,” he showed the boy as he drew a carrot and some grapes. “For the orange you start with yellow, like we did before, then you put some red on top.” He grinned, watching the boy’s eyes widen as he showed him. “And then for purple you colour the grapes with some red, and go over it with some blue.”
“What happens if you colour something with all the colours, Sherlock?” Hamish asked with a curious but excited look sparking all across his face.
“Oh, you get this lovely shade of dirty brown.” Sherlock laughed and pushed the paper towards Hamish to try for himself. The young boy looked so excited and tried all the colours next to Sherlock’s tests and was so impressed with himself when the colours began to change as he drew one colour on top of the other. Sherlock grinned to himself as he stood up out of his chair to make himself a cup of coffee, putting his sheet of paper on the counter next to the kettle. “Want something to drink kids?” Sherlock asked as he took two cups down from the top shelf and a mug for himself.
Hamish nodded and grinned up at Sherlock. “Oh yes, can I have milk please?” He asked, putting down his pencils and pulling his chair in with a squeak.
Sherlock beamed and nodded as he grabbed the milk from the fridge and turned to Rosie, bending down to look at her. “And you, missy? What are you after?”
She banged on her tray with flat palms and gave her big smile. “Juice?” She asked with, what looked like to Sherlock, the faintest trace of puppy dog eyes. He bet this worked on John every time. “And what do you say, Rosie?” He said as he pushed her hair away from her face.
“More Juice,” the girl insisted as Hamish covered his laugh with his hand behind Sherlock. Sherlock turned to her brother and shook his head with a laugh.
“You know what you have to say, don’t you Hamish?” Sherlock asked. Hamish answered with a nod as he kept his hand over his mouth, hiding his giggles. “Then let’s see if Rosie knows.” He nodded and looked up at his sister who was looking puzzled at him from her highchair.
“More Juice.” She pouted and looked up at Sherlock with her lips pursed and her eyebrows furrowed. By this time, Sherlock knew that John would have given up and got the girl some juice, but Sherlock wasn’t going to give up. He was far too stubborn.
“There’s a magic word, Angel. It starts with a P. P-P-P...” he encouraged her. She gave him a confused look and moved her eyes between Sherlock and Hamish. Sherlock smiled as Hamish hopped off his chair and put his hands on Rosie’s highchair tray and stood on his tip toes to whisper in his sisters ear. “Pleeese.” She spoke down to her brother and he nodded. “Juice Pleeeeeeeese?” She beamed, turning to look at Sherlock again. He could only laugh and nod as he kissed her head and ruffled Hamish’s hair as he walked around the table to sit back in his chair again. He half filled a cup with milk for Hamish and put some orange juice in a sippy cup and filled the rest of it with water for Rosie. He gave the kids their drinks and turned to make himself his coffee. “And what do we say now?” He asked as he poured hot water into his mug.
Hamish smiled and finished his gulp of milk as he looked at his sister over his glass and sang, “thank you, Sherlock!” Rosie laughed and repeated after Hamish with her mouth still glued to the end of her cup. Sherlock smiled and sat back down with the kids at the table as they finished their drinks and chatted away. After they had finished, Hamish got down from the table to go and wash his hands whilst Sherlock cleaned Rosie’s face and hands with a baby wipe. He lifted her down from the highchair and wiped all the crayon off the tray too. He put the crayons and pencils away in their pouch and zipped it back up. Sherlock chuckled as Rosie walked off, shouting on her brother to find him.
He was pushing the chairs in to the table when he heard some giggling and saw a head pop out from a door before it shut again.
“What are you two doing?” He laughed, pushing the last chair in and walking into the living room to sit on the couch.
“You’ll see!” Shouted Hamish with an eruption of happy little giggles coming from the room. Sherlock chuckled to himself, rolled his eyes and smiled as he lay down on the couch, closing his eyes with his hands clasped over his stomach. And as he expected, he was poked in the arm in no time. Sherlock slowly opened one eye. “Prepare to be defeated, Mr Giant!” Hamish grinned as he stood in what Sherlock could only call a patient defence stance. He saw Hamish in his super hero costume, with his mask and cape on. Rosie was standing behind him looking over her brother’s shoulder in a princess dress with a cape on too. “Let’s get him, Rosie!” Hamish yelled as he pointed at Sherlock. Sherlock closed his eye again quickly and pretended to be asleep. Rosie struggled to get up onto the couch and began poking at Sherlock’s leg, trying to hold back her laughter.
“We are this city’s super heroes!” Hamish laughed as he started poking at Sherlock and trying to tickle his sides. Sherlock stayed as quiet as he could. A wicked smile spread across his lips as he sat up slowly, the kids squealing in excitement as they moved backwards.
“And I’m Mr Tickle Monster!” He boomed and grabbed the kids, pulling them into his arms, tickling their sides as they wriggled and squirmed. They laughed and squealed more, causing Sherlock to laugh himself. He stood up, a child under each arm and started to walk around the room as if he had won them as prizes, still tickling them.
“Stop! Stop, Sherlock, Stop!” The kids laughed and turned in his arms. He gave up and stopped tickling them and let them down onto the floor. He smiled and took a breath as he sat down on the floor with them laughing as he did. The kids smiled at each other as they saw Sherlock sitting down with them. They ran up to him and jumped in his lap, causing Sherlock to roll onto his back. They giggled even more and started climbing all over him.
“This is the last of you, Tickle Monster!” Hamish bellowed as they sat on Sherlock. He tried to wriggle free from beneath them but they crawled up his body and both of them sat on his hands, pinning them to the floor.
“Okay, okay, you got me. The super heroes have defeated me!” Sherlock sang out in a playful huff.
The door handle turned and all three of them stayed exactly where they were and looked at the door in unison. John walked in the door and Sherlock tried to hide his laugher as John looked at them curiously, the kids still sitting on Sherlock’s hands.
“Do I want to know?” John asked as he raised his eyebrow.
“Daddddyyy!” The kids grinned and got off Sherlock, running to John’s legs. This sight only put a bigger smile on their father’s face as he kneeled down to them. “The super heroes beat the Tickle Monster, the city is safe!” They grinned as John picked them both up and kissed their heads.
“Good, Tickle Monsters are the worst kind of monsters! I bet you’re all tired out now?” John chuckled. The kids both nodded and Sherlock nodded behind them with a smile.
“They don’t give up easy.” Sherlock laughed and stood up, brushing off his legs. “Reminds me of someone.” He joked.
“Oh that’s just mean.” John chuckled as he put the kids down and stood up too.
“Yeah, meanie!” Rosie repeated and chuckled as she held onto her father’s leg.
“Right kids, go put your capes and things away and we’ll get some snacks ready for you.” John said and patted Hamish’s back. They both ran out of the living room, leaving Sherlock and John alone. “Coffee?” He asked with a smile. Sherlock hummed approvingly and nodded, following John into the kitchen and sitting down at the table. Sherlock grinned as he saw Hamish’s picture that looked like a family out in a park, having a picnic before he realised it was Hamish, Rosie, John and Sherlock all together around a blanket. His heart fluttered and he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
“How was your appointment?” Sherlock asked with a smile as John passed him another cup of coffee.
John just smiled and untucked his dog tags from under his shirt. They were different. He had got them engraved, one with an ‘H’ and one with an ‘R’. Sherlock’s face flushed red as John moved them slightly and a third tag fanned out behind the other two, this one engraved with a letter ‘S’. Sherlock looked at it and grinned as John walked around to him, leaning down to peck his lips. Sherlock beamed and dragged him down for a proper kiss, his hands falling on John’s waist as he sat on Sherlock’s lap. He smiled on John’s lips, it was soft and sweet and put into words everything he was feeling. “Well?” John mumbled against Sherlock’s lips.
“Well, what?” Sherlock whispered as he pulled back, opening his eyes as John placed something around his neck. Sherlock looked down at it and took the tags into his hand. They were similar to John’s, three tags, one with the letter ‘H’, one with an “R” and the last one, reflecting in the light, an engraved letter “J”. Sherlock gazed up at John, a smile with a hint of confusion on his face.
“You’re a part of my squadron now,” John chuckled and tucked his own dog tags back under his shirt and did the same with Sherlock’s, gently resting his hand where Sherlock’s tags lay under his shirt. “That is, if you want to be?” John smiled down at him. Sherlock simply nodded, smiled and kissed John sweetly again. John giggled on Sherlock’s lips and stood up as he heard the patter of the children’s feet coming down the hall. John jumped across to the counter happily and started cutting fruit up for the kids. Sherlock stood beside him, filling their cups up as he turned over his drawing of John, Hamish and Rosie, together like a family photo. John beamed up at Sherlock, the man really was talented at everything he did, he would have to frame it somewhere around the house so everyone could see it. “Thank you again, for looking after the kids.”
“Like I said, anytime John.” Sherlock grinned and sneakily kissed his cheek.