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Going Where We've Never Been

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Amelia's hospital room had quite a good view, she thought. The trees outside were looking soft in the early spring, and the light was bright without being overwhelming. She hoped the next place they would move her would have such a good window; this sort of thing mattered, she thought.

There was a quiet knock on the edge of her hospital door. "Mrs. Hudson?"

She turned to face the door, and smiled at John. "Oh, come in, John." She only then noticed that his arms were full of baby. "And you brought the little one!"

"Thought you might like to see him." John set the diaper bag down and pulled the chair over to sit next to her bed. "Nazir, can you say hi to Mrs. Hudson?"

She laughed at the baby's bright string of chatter. "He's a talker, then."

John smiled down at the baby. It seemed to her that fatherhood fit him, softened out his hard-worn edges. "That he is. Can't shut him up."

"Can I?" She held out her arms.

"Of course." John stood, and placed Nazir next to her on the pillow.

He wasn't afraid at all, sweet little thing, and gave her a gummy smile. She brushed her hands across his round cheeks, against the grain of the fuzz on his head. "Quite the head of hair you have, young man."

John chuckled. "That, he gets from his mother. Watson babies tend to prolonged baldness."

Nazir's eyes still were bright blue that all babies had, though he was old for it at six months. Perhaps they were going to stay that way. "How is your lovely bride? Miriam, isn't it?"

"Maryam. She's doing well. Went back to work last week, so it's been, shall we say, a bit hairy at home."

Amelia clucked her tongue. "Well, your fault for marrying a workaholic, then."

John laughed. "I suppose so." They sat in silence for a moment, as Amelia played with the baby's hands. "So," John said quietly. "What's the verdict this time?"

She leaned down and took a long sniff of Nazir's head. There must be a reason babies smelled so good, but she was glad she didn't know why. Then she leaned back on the pillow. "I'm stopping treatment."

John's face fell. "I'm sorry."

She was glad, unreasonably so, that he didn't try to talk her out of it, try to convince her to go another round of chemotherapy, to keep on fighting. The fight was quite lost, she thought. "It's all right. I'm prepared, now."

The way his hands fidgeted, she could tell he wanted a chart to read, to be able to glean the details. But this was her death, hers to tell. "How long, then?"

"A few weeks." She patted Nazir's little tummy. Such a long time for someone his age, a few weeks was. So much could change.

"Christ." John shook his head. "When are you heading home?"

"Oh, I'm not. There's a hospice facility they're transferring me to." Nazir grabbed at her hand, and she let him pull on her fingers, thinner now than they were before the treatment, the skin starting to hang off them.

John leaned forward and touched her hand, too. "Are you sure you wouldn't be more comfortable at home? You know they can set it up just as easily."

She smiled at him across the baby. "Far too much trouble for anyone. It's not as if I have children to stay with me. I can't ask my nieces to come down from Leicester, just to tend to their dotty old aunt."

He held her hand tighter. "You know I would--"

"John Watson," she said, cutting him off. "You have your own family to take care of."

He looked down at Nazir, who was grabbing his hand now. She patted his hand and pulled away a little, so he could pick up the baby, who curled into his shoulder as he settled back into the chair. Seeing all his care turned on this little one was lovely, really, because here was a man who wasn't afraid to love things that weren't prepared to love him back just yet, who took to duty like he was born to it. He let Nazir play with the buttons on his jumper as he turned back to her. "Are there things you need done?"

She shook her head. "I've been ready for a bit, now. It was nice of the doctors to pretend this wasn't how it was going to turn out, but, well, I think we all knew." His doctor face made a brief appearance, but he managed to push it back down. "I've never been terribly religious, but I can't help but think that there's something else coming after this. Next big adventure, and all that. So, yes. Nothing to do now but wait."

He was stroking Nazir's back softly now. "You know I'll be there, don't you?"

She nodded. Of course he would do; he didn't know another way to be.

He sighed. "I should let you get some rest, now. I'll get your details from the nurse."

She was getting tired; good of him to notice. When Naila Turner had come by two days ago she'd rattled on so long Amelia was worried she wouldn't survive the conversation. "Of course, dear."

He leaned over as he stood, and kissed her gently on the cheek. "Say goodbye, Nazir. We'll come visit again soon, yeah?"

She patted the baby's cheek and then his. "I look forward to it."

John adjusted the bag he was carrying and Nazir, and then hesitated a moment. He looked back down at her. "If you see him?" he said, barely above a whisper.

She nodded. He didn't need to finish the sentence. She knew what he wanted to say.

He pressed his nose down into Nazir's neck for a moment, and she wished, fiercely, that nothing terrible would ever happen to this man again, because there is a limit to how many times a person's heart can be broken. "Right," he said, and cleared his throat. "Right. Well, I'll be off. Let you rest."

"Take care, dear," she said. "And keep your eye on that little one. He'll be sharp, I can tell already."

"I know," John said.

She listened to the door close as she turned back to the window, and fell asleep, watching the leaves dance in the sun.