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Words of Certainty

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“Hamish! Get back here.”

His dad’s voice followed him but he didn’t care. He had no intention of speaking to either of them for the foreseeable future. Instead he took sanctuary in his room, locking the door behind him.

He knew that his father and dad could easily get in if they wanted to, but for the moment silence filled the flat.

Hamish slid down the door, resting his head against the hard wood. It was insanely frustrating to live in the Watson-Holmes household. From the start, Hamish clashed with his stepfather. They were polar opposites; Hamish was very much like John and Mary Watson.

His mother passed away when he was only a couple of years old and, according to his dad, a few months later Sherlock returned, and their relationship blossomed once again.

Hamish had no idea how the two of them had any sort of relationship. Sherlock was brilliant and his father was just an ordinary bloke. They would solve mind-boggling crimes but aside from that Hamish didn’t think they had a normal relationship. It was far from what he saw in the movies, where both partners adored each other and affectionately bickered.

Sherlock and John were never like that. They seemed to argue constantly about body parts in the fridge, weird molds growing in Petri dishes, and Sherlock constantly tracking blood throughout the flat.

Almost on cue, he heard raised voices from the floor below him.

“Was that really necessary, Sherlock?” John sounded exhausted, as he always did when his son and partner fought.

“He knows not to do it. I have explained to him countless times that he can’t be so reckless around my experiments. Yet time and time again he messes something up. The wrong concoctions are mixed and my experiments are ruined - again!”

He heard a glass shatter and a heavy object screech across the floor. Hamish couldn’t resist placing his ear against the door, trying to hear everything that was happening below him.

His dad let out a frustrated sigh before starting again. “You’re 40 years old. There really isn’t a need for you to act like a child. You can start your experiment again. He’s just a boy and he made a mistake. It’s not a big deal.”

Hamish couldn’t help but flinch. He knew that to his father it was a huge deal.

“He’s not a boy! He’s nearly 10. For years I have scolded him about messing around with my experiments. He isn’t careful, and it led to several of our cases taking longer than necessary because I didn’t have the proper data.”

Silence filled the home for a moment. “You‘re right, John, it‘s not a huge deal. It‘s a colossal complication.”

Sherlock’s voice boomed throughout the flat and Hamish was certain that the neighbors would hear the two arguing. But he knew that neither of his parents really cared what the neighbors thought.

“Let’s remember who the adults are here, hm? You don’t need to act like a prat by smashing stuff and shoving things.”

“John, there are weeks of work wasted because of him. Why doesn’t that bother you?”

Hamish sighed and moved towards his bed, already feeling the tears threatening to fall. This seemed to be a weekly occurrence. Nothing he did pleased his father. He was always messing up, a constant disappointment in his father’s eyes.

It was moments like these when Hamish couldn’t help but repeat every negative thing his father had ever said about him. It was hard to hear. All he really wanted was Sherlock’s approval, but it never came.

He couldn’t help but think of his mother in times like these. He always imagined how different it would be: his parents wouldn’t fight and he’d be loved by both of them. His dad always spoke so highly of her, even though their marriage was short-lived.

He imagined his mother wrapping her arms around him, running her fingers through his hair, and whispering comforting words. Mary Watson wouldn’t raise her voice in anger or continuously berate him.

He would often stare at the pictures of her and remember what his dad would say as they sat close together on the old worn couch.

“You have her hair, obviously.” He would gently run his fingers through his blond locks, a small grin appearing as he remembered her.

“And your skin,” John would crinkle his nose. “It’s quite pale, like hers. You have her petite nose and that bizarre arrange of freckles across your nose and cheeks. But you’re stuck with my big mouth and eyes. Sorry about that.” John would wink and Hamish couldn’t help but beam during those moments.

Life would be easier if she were still here.

At last, he gave in and let his tears fall freely. He was safe in his room and wouldn’t feel bad about crying openly. After a while, his eyes bloodshot and head heavy, he found his way under the warmth of his bedspread and quickly fell asleep.

****

Hamish woke to a light rapping on his door. He groaned and rolled over, pulling the blanket over his head.

“Hamish, time for dinner.”

His dad’s voice made him groan again. His head still felt heavy and his eyes burned.

“Not hungry.” He muttered as he let out a yawn.

It wasn’t the truth, though. He was starving; now that he was awake he could feel his stomach rumble. But he didn’t want to go out and face his parents.

“Hamish, you need to eat. Open the door, please.” John’s voice was composed, but Hamish could tell that he was stressed out from being the constant referee between his husband and son.

“Hamish, please just open the door.” His dad pleaded once again and Hamish couldn’t help but unlock the door for him.

He didn’t even bother to remove himself from the bed. He simply reached over and put his hand on the lock. “It’s just you, right?”

“Yes, it’s just me.” Hamish turned the lock until it clicked, and John turned the handle. He opened the door with a small smile on his face.

“There, now.” John closed the door behind him and looked into his son’s face for the first time since the argument from the afternoon. Hamish knew his eyes must still be red, and his face puffy, surely sticking out prominently against his pale skin.

John crossed the few steps towards the bed and Hamish moved over to give him a spot to sit. The springs groaned under his weight as his dad adjusted himself on the small bed, his back against the headboard. As if instinctively, he placed his arm around Hamish’s shoulders, pulling the small boy close. “You know your father doesn’t mean-”

“You always say he doesn’t mean it, but he wouldn’t say it if he didn’t mean it. He’s not like that.” Hamish mumbled as he stared blankly at his feet.

John sighed and ran a hand through his graying hair. “Your father gets a bit tense when it comes to his experiments. You know how he is when it comes to that stuff. You just have to be more cautious-”

“Cautious? His junk is everywhere!” He whipped his head around and looked at his dad.

Hamish’s eyes glowed with anger. His dad was supposed to be on his side. Sherlock was an impossible man to get along with; his dad had said so on countless occasions. “You always take his side…”

“Don’t interrupt me again.” John’s voice was firm and commanded Hamish’s attention. “I’m not taking any sides. You both have your reasons. You ruined his experiment and he overreacted. He said some things that he shouldn’t have said, and I’ve already talked to him about it.”

Hamish’s face contorted with annoyance as his father used his ‘parenting voice’ on him. “I hate him, dad.”

“You don’t hate him. You’re just upset.” John removed his arm from around his son’s shoulders and silence fell between the two for a moment. Hamish could tell his dad was at a loss for words now.

His dad was getting up to leave when the handle of the door turned and Sherlock entered. “We’re coming down, don’t worry.”

“I want to have a few words with Hamish.” Sherlock’s voice was placid, no longer holding any more contempt.

“No, Sherlock.” John shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I don’t think that’s the best idea right now.”

“Yes, and I‘m sure you have your reasons but I feel this is necessary. He’s my son as well.”

“I’m not your son.” Hamish whispered, glaring up at Sherlock.

John groaned, but before he could say anything, Sherlock stepped forward and glanced down, his brow creased. “John, leave.”

John looked between the two of them and made eye contact with Hamish. “I’ll just be downstairs if you need anything.”

John stood closer to Sherlock and whispered in his ear. “He’s a bit stressed so…don’t be yourself.”

John and Sherlock locked eyes.

“John.” Sherlock gestured to the door.

“I’ll go warm up dinner.”

When his dad left, Hamish felt an overwhelming urge to run from the room. But he knew he was going to stand his ground, regardless of what Sherlock said.

Sherlock pulled up a chair from the nearby desk and sat on it. He crossed his legs and the two stared at each other for several minutes in silence.

“If you’re not going to say anything then I’m going downstairs.”

Sherlock quirked an eyebrow. “You’re not going to go anywhere. You want to know what I’m going to say. You’re curious.”

Begrudgingly, Hamish shrugged his shoulders and removed the blanket from his body, swinging his legs over the edge so that he was face to face with the man that he called ‘father’.

Sherlock studied Hamish for a few seconds before starting. “The older you become the more we seem to be at odds. Our discord seems to bring the entire street to its knees. I don’t know how to communicate with you- or anyone- properly. My lack of proper etiquette seems to have an effect on you the most.”

Sherlock stopped, and Hamish stared. He didn’t believe what he was hearing. He wanted to know what angle Sherlock was working from. Did he honestly want to make nice? Or was he just being manipulative?

“You claim that I’m not your father-”

“You’re not.”

Sherlock tilted his chin upwards, his eyes widening. “I adopted you.”

“That’s just a bit of paper.” Hamish’s lips pressed firmly together as he watched Sherlock.

“I’m not your son.” He repeated, pushing on. “You don’t love me because I’m not like you.” His throat tightened as he said the one last thing he always kept buried in him, ashamed. “I’m not smart.”

Tears formed in his eyes again but he was determined not to be weak in front of Sherlock. He pushed the feelings back, but could already tell that Sherlock had noticed his eyes watering over.

When Sherlock spoke again his voice was soft, a fierce, determined look on his face, and Hamish knew in that moment that whatever Sherlock was going to say, he wanted Hamish to believe it completely. “I sat with you in the hospital when you fell out of that tree in the park and broke your arm and collarbone. I was there when your dad taught you how to ride a bike. I have helped you with your homework. I have been to every school function I could possibly go to. I don‘t have to do it. I want to do it, because I‘m your father and you‘re my son!”

Sherlock’s voice raised on those last words and Hamish looked away, biting on his lower lip.

“I am aware I am not like your dad,” Sherlock said coolly, but then paused, as if debating mentally what next he should say. To Hamish, this was definitely something different from him.

Then Sherlock continued, voice even, “And I know I don’t tell you the things that I… perhaps should.” Those last words were said carefully, as if relinquished after deep consideration.

Hamish was still looking away when Sherlock gently took hold of his chin, guiding his head until they were facing each other.

Hamish met his eyes reluctantly and Sherlock moved his hand away swiftly, leaning back, studying him with a calculating expression.

Then he began to speak.

“One: I am proud of you. Of all of your accomplishments, big and small. Two: You are unquestionably clever in your own way. You can play the violin far better than I ever could. You spent hours practicing until your fingers bled. You are a hands-on learner and you learn with such ease when you work with your hands.” The words rolled off Sherlock’s tongue, eyes unwavering on his. “Three: You are like your dad. You may resemble your mother, but personality-wise you take after John. Both of you are genuinely human and I admire that in you. Four: I am dreadfully sorry if I have ever made you feel inadequate. It was never my intention. Five: I love you in your entirety.”

Hamish and Sherlock stared at each other in silence, and Hamish took his time processing everything he had just heard.

The sincerity in his father’s voice was rarely heard. But the declarations of love and assurance touched him deeply, and it was as if a great weight had been lifted from him.

There was a knock on the door and John peeked in. “I haven’t heard any screaming. I’m not quite sure if that’s good or bad…”

John looked between the two of them. Sherlock gazed blankly at him while Hamish was smiling slightly.

“Everything alright?”

Hamish and Sherlock exchanged another glance before Hamish returned his attention on John. “Yeah, dad, everything’s fine.”

His dad blinked in surprise, then smiled. “Yeah? Good. Good. Come on then, dinner’s on.”