This is the song for Baby Birch
I will never know you
And at the back of what we've done
There is that knowledge of you
Baby Birch - Joanna Newsom
John closed his eyes as he held the plastic stick. 3 minutes it said. He started counting slowly. He’d got to 324 before he reminded himself that he had to open his eyes sometime. He took a deep breath and forced his eyes open and down to the stick in his hands.
“Fuck,” he mumbled dropping his head back against the wall he was sitting against. His eyes slammed shut, not wanting to see the plastic stick any more.
. . . . .
When Sherlock got home John was sitting at the kitchen table, pale and distracted. John looked up, knowing it was pointless trying to hide anything from the detective. He'd briefly considered not telling Sherlock right away, but he knew there was no way to hide things from him. Now that John knew Sherlock would know something was going on.
“What’s wrong?” Sherlock asked, eyebrows drawn together, standing over John.
John cleared his throat. “Sit down Sherlock.”
Through the fog of everything else in his head John registered surprise that Sherlock did as asked without questioning it.
John took a steadying breath before meeting Sherlock’s eyes. His hands were clasped together on the table; one of Sherlock’s moved to cover them.
John took another deep breath, feeling like he was about to jump off a cliff. “I’m pregnant.”
If it had been any other situation John might have been amused by the way Sherlock’s expression changed from concern to blank to confused so quickly.
“What? I don’t- What?” He pulled his hands away from John’s, pushing his chair away from the table. “Are you sure?”
John nodded, watching Sherlock’s expressions change. “Yeah,” he cleared his throat again. “I took a test, earlier.”
“It could be wrong-”
“I took two, Sherlock-”
“They could both-”
“They’re not wrong, Sherlock! I’m pregnant,” John said sharply, meeting Sherlock’s eyes again.
Sherlock stood up and began pacing the kitchen, one hand running through his hair. “How...How did this happen? We were careful, weren't we?” His head snapped around to look at John, who rolled his eyes.
“Yes we were careful Sherlock, but nothing’s 100%. Do you really think I’d do this on purpose?” John watched Sherlock continue pacing. Something in John’s tone made Sherlock stop and sit back in his chair, his hands covering John’s where they were still clasped on the table.
“No. No, I don’t think that.” He sighed and leaned back in his chair.
John watched him, his teeth worrying his bottom lip. He hated feeling so unsure around Sherlock, it had been a long time since he’d doubted himself so much, but then nothing had been like this before.
Eventually Sherlock let out a long breath and sat forward. “I don’t want children, John.” He watched John carefully as he said it.
“I know,” John nodded, looking down at the table.
“That hasn’t changed.”
John was studiously avoiding Sherlock’s eyes. “I know,” he swallowed and nodded.
“John...” Sherlock ducked his head trying to catch John’s eye. “John, what do you-”
“It’s fine Sherlock,” John said pulling his hands away from Sherlock’s, pushing his chair back. “I’ll make an appointment at the reproductive health clinic,” he said as he walked through to the living room.
His heart was pounding and his head was swimming, he felt like everything had shifted slightly in the space of just a few hours. He gripped the back of his arm chair, holding himself steady. None of this should have been a surprise to him. He and Sherlock weren't even bonded for fuck’s sake. Sherlock had been very clear about what he could offer before they’d spent their first heat together. Sherlock couldn't promise him anything. He knew he didn't want John to spend his heats with anyone else, and he didn't want to be with anyone else either, but Sherlock refused to call them anything but flatmates, friends, never anything more. The work was his priority, his first love. ‘Selfish prick’, John thought as he steadied his breathing. He tensed as Sherlock stopped just behind him.
“John, we can- we can talk about this if you want-”
“What’s the point?” John turned to face him, his hands out, palms up in front of him. “I’m pregnant, you don’t want children, I’m not going to force you into a situation you don’t want to be in. What is there to discuss?” He shrugged, looking at Sherlock again.
“What do you want?”
John sighed and moved to drop into his chair. He held his head in his hands, his elbows on his knees. “I want us, Sherlock. You and our life here is what I want.” Even as he said the words John felt his stomach clench. He felt more selfish than he ever had before. He wanted Sherlock more than anything else and Sherlock didn’t want this baby, so John couldn’t have it. It really was that simple John thought. He felt Sherlock’s hand stroking over the back of his neck, resting there, his thumb stroking over the short hair at the base of John’s neck.
“I want that too John. You and me and the work,” Sherlock murmured.
John nodded biting his lip and swallowing around the sudden and enormous lump in his throat. “I’ll make the appointment tomorrow.” He stood up, shrugging Sherlock’s hand off his neck. “I think I need some sleep.” He moved towards the stairs to his room, a room that he rarely slept in these days.
As he pulled the quilt over himself in the dark room he finally let himself wonder what would have happened if things had been different. What if Sherlock hadn't said he still didn't want children? What if he’d been happy, excited, thrilled even? What if he’d told John he was over the moon about it? What if he’d kissed John, told him he was excited about them having a baby?
John turned and buried his face in his pillow. He couldn't think of it like that, it wasn't a baby, not yet; it was a collection of cells, an embryo still. He was a doctor, he knew this. But it seemed like as soon as he’d let go of his control, as soon as he’d let himself consider ‘what if’ he couldn't stop thinking about them. Happy scenes of imagined family bliss tormented him. With picture perfect images of he and Sherlock and a chubby baby with black curls and bright eyes dancing behind his closed eyelids John sobbed into his pillow until his eyes burned.
As John sat on an uncomfortable plastic chair, his leg bobbing up and down, he almost wished he hadn't told Sherlock not to come with him. He hadn't even told Sherlock when his appointment was, but the insufferable man had deduced it as soon as he’d seen John. Sherlock had said he’d go with him but John had told him not to. He wasn't sure now why he’d wanted to be alone for this. The clinic was so sterile and depressing, though how could it be anything else?
He looked around and wondered what Sherlock would see here. An omega in a business suit; not ready to swap career for baby. A young omega with her parents; unexpected heat John would guess, maybe her first or second one. A couple who were both on the edge of tears; medical problems John assumed. He gave up his observations then, too depressing by far. The crying couple made him feel awful. If his deduction was right, they were here presumably because their baby had too many health problems to survive and John was here because he wanted his - his what? His boyfriend? His flatmate? His friend? - he wanted him more than he wanted the baby. John’s leg started bobbing again. ‘Selfish,’ he thought, closing his eyes and wondering if he’d ever be able to think of himself as anything else again.
“Dr Watson?” A young woman in brightly coloured scrubs called his name. He stood, wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans, his stomach tying itself into more knots. He made his way on wobbly legs to the corridor where the nurse was waiting for him. He barely heard her over the sound of his heart in his ears, but made his way into the room she’d directed him to.
“If you could hop up on the examination table the doctor will be in in just a moment to see you,” she smiled kindly and gently shut the door behind her.
. . . . .
Sherlock hadn't been able to stay in the flat once John had left that morning. He’d considered going after him, forcing John to let him go to the appointment with him, but he was already feeling alienated from John without making the man deal with his presence when it wasn't wanted. He’d gone to Lestrade and pestered him until he’d been thrown out of Scotland Yard. Molly hadn't been at work so there was nothing he could get into to occupy his mind in the morgue. Eventually he settled for roaming around London, re-familiarising himself with the city he loved. When he found himself outside Fortnum and Mason he ventured in to buy some tea that he knew John was especially fond of, and some biscuits he thought he’d like.
He tried to stop his mind from wandering to where John was and what would be happening to him at that moment. He tried not to think about John’s harsh tone that morning, and he tried even harder not to think about what this might do to them. He couldn't help but feel selfish. He was getting what he wanted - their lives would stay the same as always, he and John chasing across London searching for criminals, solving puzzles. They couldn't do any of that with a child. John’s attention would no longer be on Sherlock, it would be on the baby. They wouldn't be able to take risks like they did now, wouldn't be able to do as they pleased. Their lives would change and they would change and Sherlock didn't want any of that.
As he let himself back into the flat hours after he’d left he could hear the TV playing quietly in the living room. From the top of the stairs he could see John asleep on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket. His heart clenched as he took in just how strained John looked, even asleep he looked exhausted, his eyes red and puffy, indicating that he’d been crying. Sherlock frowned and stroked his hand over John’s hair. He hated being the cause of John’s unhappiness.
The feeling of a hand in his hair woke John from his restless sleep. He blinked up at Sherlock, the detective dropping to crouch next to the sofa.
“How are you feeling?” Sherlock asked softly, his hand still in John’s hair.
John nodded slightly, pressing softly against Sherlock’s hand, looking at the detective. “I couldn’t do it,” he whispered voice croaky from sleep and tears.