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It's All Okay

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-December 1989-
“He really is much too young for a formal diagnosis,” the words drift through closed doors and onto the ear which was deemed not only too young for the label, but to hear the conversation about the label. He’s not quite fourteen, although his lank scrawny body gives the impression he’s further into his teenage years. His body shape is caused more by forgetting to eat than by genetics.
Sherlock Holmes would never understand why people could be interested in food in a world which also contained microbes, cryptography, and the great mystery of internal organs. That final mystery, in fact, was what had landed him in the psychologist’s office for long dull tests and boring questions in the first place.
“Our son tortured a cat, then tried to burn down the house, he is clearly not too young for much,” Madeline Homes insists.
Sherlock sighs, muttering under his breath, “The cat was dead. It was necropsy, not torture, and the fire clearly got out of hand. How many times?” The secretary glances up at him. It would take a clever person to realize he’s eavesdropping. He chose the seat in the waiting room the closest to the door, and thanks to his naturally astute (and carefully trained) ears he only had to lean a little in order to catch the words. But clever people really could work any job, and you never could be too careful. So, he opens up the magazine and spreads it upon his lap before listening again. Hopefully the receptionist will just pass off his muttering as crazy behavior. After all, he was only here to find out if he was crazy. Wasn’t he?
“Well, if he was eighteen I would probably diagnosis him as a sociopath,” the doctor admits.
“What can we do to help him?” Siger Holmes asks. His voice is soft and kind, like it is when he comes in to wake up Sherlock in the morning, or when he punishes Sherlock (a task for which Mummy never quite has the patience), or when Sherlock tells him that he doesn’t want a birthday party. There is nothing fiercer than Siger’s soft voice.
“I would advise that we start off with biweekly therapy sessions, and perhaps you should hire a social skills tutor as well,” the psychologist replies.
“Can this be cured?” Virgina asks with a note of desperation that leaves Sherlock feeling hollow.
“We don’t use that word in my field,” the psychologist replies in a tone which would certainly be a lot less patronizing if he’d read Virgina’s doctoral thesis.
“Will we be able to help him? Keep him safe? Out of jail?” Mummy continues to plead with an emotional warble in her voice at the last word. Sherlock can hear the sound of Father patting her leg, even through the door.
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry too much about that. It’s a common misconception that all sociopaths are violent or criminal Those are just the ones you tend to hear about in the news. Well, that’s not true either. A fair amount of the great leaders you hear a bout in the news are sociopaths just like the criminals. They just aren’t quite as open about their diagnosis. Most people with this diagnosis go on to lead fulfilling lives. Who knows? Your son might grow up to lead a company.”
“He’s obsessed with murder,” Siger reminds the man in that same unflappable quiet voice.
“What about friends? Will he ever make a friend? Have a wife? Give us grandchildren?” Mummy presses.
“It’s very hard to tell, but there are sociopaths who have all of those things,” the therapist says.
“I just worry about him, constantly,” Mummy admits in a tired voice which shows that she has already born the weight of this worry for far too long. Sherlock wondered how long she has worried about him, and why he never noticed before. There is a sniffle, audible even through the heavy wood door before the door abruptly opens.
“Sherlock, it’s time to go,” Mummy says in a voice of command. A voice meant, no doubt to lead groups of people before she has decided to use it only to order her parents about.
There are tears in her eye, and Virgina pulls her son into a hug so fast that she is sure that he did not see them. She was always underestimating the cleverness of her youngest son. Sherlock feels the light tap of a tear falling on his shoulder as she holds him close.
Sherlock swears to do whatever he has to in order not to be the cause of Mummy’s tears ever again. He will become someone else. Someone who is capable of friendships and whatever else normal people like. His nose twitches uncomfortably at the very idea.
-0-
When nightmares came, Sherlock always ran to his brother’s room. He had learned at an early age that while Father would always be sympathetic to his plight, he was always too tired after be unexpectedly awoken in the middle of the night to be any good for conversation. Mummy was annoyed both by the disturbance in her sleep, and the fact that her husband was so willing to coddle a boy who should learn to deal with fear on his own. His brother however, Sherlock knew, would be glad to see him always.
The nightmares came less often now. Sherlock had made peace with the blood and the guts, and when he stopped fearing the nightmares they came less often.
There is no nightmare tonight, but whatever this is, is a million times worse than any nightmare that Sherlock had ever suffered through. His mind is racing and his whole body feels hallow as if his soul had fled from him in disgust for being so abnormal, so abhorrent. Sherlock feels like he is falling apart, and he needs someone to put him back together. He is broken, and his brokenness had made Mummy cry.
“Will he ever make a friend?” Mummy had asked. The psychologist had not explained to her that friends were not important. He had not even answered her yes. Sherlock wasn’t sure that he wanted to make a friend, but then again, he was not certain that he did not want to murder either, so perhaps his tastes in such matters should not be relied upon.
He was a monster, and because of that he was unlovable.
Now, Sherlock stands barefooted, and pajamaed in the grand hall smooshing his feet into the plush carpet deciding if he should wake his brother up. Mycroft is after all a great deal older than the last time he asked his brother to protect him from the boogie men.
Mycroft, omniscient as ever, calls out before Sherlock can reach a decision+, “Come in brother dear. Loitering is a crime, you know.”
Sherlock pushes the door open only to have a positively polar breeze blow over him. He shivers, “I can’t believe you don’t shut the windows, at least at this time of year.”
“I like air that has not previously been breathed,” Mycroft replies, holding up the coverlet to allow his brother to dive into its warmth.
“Our parents hate me,” Sherlock whispers softly. “They think I am going to murder them
“Don’t be daft, Sherlock,” Mycroft says, “I can’t abide idiots.”
“They said I was a sociopath,” Sherlock continues to present evidence against himself with persistence while putting his frozen toes on Mycroft’s warm silk pajamaed leg.
“Did they really?” Mycroft asks, wiping a few wayward curls from his brother’s forehead.” Then perhaps they are idiots after all. You are far too young for that word.”
“I don’t want them not to call me that, because I am too young. I want them not to call me that because I am actually sane. Do you think I’m crazy too?”
“Sociopath isn’t crazy Sherlock, and what exactly did you think you were going to the psychologist for? A pat on the back, and someone to call you brilliant? You did, in fact, start a cat on fire, brother mine.”
“It was dead,” Sherlock sulks.
“Yes, you ensured that when you disembowel the poor thing.”
“Disected,” Sherlock corrects, “And it was dead before that.”
“You could at least put in the effort to hide your experiments,” Mycroft says, exasperated.
“That was what was attempting to do with the fire.”
Mycroft chuckles, “And I suppose you were honest with the psychologist?”
“Yes, but he didn’t believe me.”
“About the cat? Of course not. I mean, were you honest about the rest of the questions that he asked? You didn’t study up on what to say beforehand?”
“I didn’t think I needed to.” Sherlock had though if he told the truth everything would be fine. He’d been certain if he let the psychologists see the true him, everything would be fine.
“And you wonder why I call myself the smart one. A few minutes in a textbook could have prevented all of this heartache. They are clearly wrong in your label because sociopaths are very good at deceiving others and convincing them that they are just fine. You, brother mine, don’t have the ability to convince a gnat that it is small. Oh well, we’ll just have to go in for a magical cure. Good God, Sherlock, all it takes to convince people that you are normal is keeping most of what you think inside that pretty little head of yours!”
“I don’t want to appear normal, Mycroft, I want to be normal. I can’t believe that you want to lie to someone who is trying to make me better.”
“Why not? That’s what I did,” Mycroft says with his real smile. The one he only lets out around people that he really trusts. The one that is hiding more and more, even around Sherlock as the years go by.
Maybe, Sherlock realizes, all of this is going to be okay after all. He is not afraid that Mycroft is going to murder him. If he’s like Mycroft, that is a good thing, a very good thing. “Never be ashamed of who you are, Sherlock. Don’t let their words define you. People like us are the powerful ones. We run the world. The ordinary people need us, brother mine, even if they tend to forget it. They may hate us, but they would not survive long without us.”
“I don’t want to run the world,” Sherlock declares, turning up his nose at the very idea.
“All right then, the world probably needs you to solve murders then,” Mycroft declares.
“Aren’t you afraid that I’ll want to turn to committing murder?” Sherlock asks.
“Oh, I am quite sure that nothing is beyond you, but I’m positive that you would have an awfully good reason before you did something so final. I do hope that brain of yours is smart enough to keep you out of such trouble, but when you do things like light cat carcasses on fire and tell the truth to psychologists it really does make me wonder.”
“Mycroft, are you smart enough not to commit murder?” Sherlock asks, suddenly terrified by images of his brother in prison.
“Smart enough not to murder against the law, anyway,” Mycroft returns. Sherlock knows that whatever Mycroft does for a living is not a minor government internship as he claims. Mycroft hint at it sometimes when he and his brother are alone, although the hints are always as subtle as this.
“What if I am not smart enough to keep myself out of trouble?” Sherlock asks.
Mycroft’s eyes go all soft in the way that they only ever do for his little brother.” Then you will call me, and I will come wherever you are and save you.”
Sherlock sighs in relief. Sherlock is a monster, it is true, but he is a loved monster. A monster who will have protection if ever the mob comes at him with torches and pitchforks.
“Do you think I will ever have friends?” Sherlock asks.
“Do you want them?”
Sherlock considers. The main reason that he wants friends is to make Mummy happy. He can deduce from the tiny wrinkle on his brother’s nose that it would make Mycroft happy if his little brother said he did have interest in friends. So, Sherlock shrugs.
“I rather think the whole idea of friends is a bit overrated,” Mycroft says. “People are all so dull, like goldfish. Perhaps it would be a better use of your time to learn how to be happy without friends. To get what you need from people without having to invest your soul in them.”
Sherlock considers, then tells the truth, “What I really want is to stop making Mummy cry.”
Mycroft sighs, “That, brother mine, is an impossible task. As soon as I convinced her that I had friends she began to fret about me finding a girlfriend.”
“Seriously?” Sherlock starts in surprise. “How could she not have deduced that you exclusively feel attraction for men?”
Mycroft chuckles, “I didn’t know you’d seen that, brother dear. Most people haven’t the slightest. I don’t know if she’d be happier if I had a boyfriend than if I had no one. I think I’ll forgo the work of faking a relationship for a time in any case.”
Sherlock knows he would date anyone who would have him if it could make Mummy happy. He doesn’t think there is ever going to be anyone who wants to date him though.
“I can’t deduce your preferences, brother,” Mycroft says softly into the darkness.
“I know,” Sherlock says sadly, “Neither can I.”
“Well,” Mycroft says with decision, “You are young yet, and who knows what might appear. If nothing ever does, well, that’s fine too, isn’t it. It might actually be a great deal easier, in fact. Que sera, sera*.”
Sherlock sighs into the darkness, grateful for the way his brother loves him, and wondering if anyone else will ever be able to love him like that.
Author note: *Italian for: Whatever will be will be

Chapter Text

-1981 February-

“I was joking, John!” Harry objects.

“I’m not a coward,” John reminds her.

“No, but you’re crazy if you drop from there. Come down, and we’ll find something else to do!”

John, hanging upside down above his sister on the monkey bars, swings from his knees a few more times. He tries to take everything into account. The distance to the ground, the wind, and even the chill of the metal coming through his worn blue jeans. At the very top of the last swing he straightens his legs and tries to bring them down as quickly as he can so he can stick the landing.

John’s foot catches on the bar and holds so long that he can’t save himself from the fall. His legs twist painfully, and he turns himself, trying to get straightened out again. He manages to free the leg but doing so takes all the time between the bar and the ground. The time he was supposed to use to flip, and land coolly on his feet like a professional.

Instead, John lands on his head. There is a moment of blinding pain, more pain than a brain can process, and then there is darkness.

When he wakes up John hears the sound of scared whispering from not that far away.

“Is he dead?”

“Go over and check on him!”

“He’s not my brother!”

“Are those his brains?”

“Can you seriously not tell the difference between brains and blood?” John asks, raising his hand to his head to try to take into account the damage. He tries to sit up, but the dizziness won’t let him. “You need to get help, Harry,” John calls, because one of the whispering voices belongs to his sister.

“I called the ambulance,” she replies in a shaky voice.

“Come here and put pressure on my wound, then, assuming there isn’t a skull fracture,” he says.

His sister gasps before he even finishes talking.

“Forget it.,” John sighs as he reaches his own hand up and presses against the most painful part of his head, which he hopes is in the general area of the bleeding. He hears the wail of an ambulance. Thank God, because he isn’t going to get any help from the hysterical bystanders.

“Can you hear me?” One EMT asks as he kneels down beside John.

“Yes. Is my skull fractured? I’ve been putting pressure on the bleeding, and I hope I haven’t made it worse.” John lifts his hand and watches the man’s eyes as he looks at the wound. Not so bad then, unless the EMT has a good poker face. Which he probably does.

“You’re going to be just fine,” the EMT says with a smile. “Can you tell me your name?”

“Yes, John Watson. Harry, you’re coming in the ambulance with me, get over here!” he commands sternly.

“The date?” the EMT prompts.

John rattles off the date, and the current prime minister. “I did lose consciousness though. How long was I out for?” he asks his sister.

She answers with a choked sob.

“Harry. Give me a guess of minutes,” John says sternly.

“As soon as it happened, I ran right over to the store.” She points across the street, “And called.”

John relaxes. The EMTs can figure out a time from that.

“He’s lost a fair amount of blood. We’d better put a stich in before driving,” the EMT says to his partner calmly. To John, the calm is such a relief from the sobbing.

“Harry, you stay out here while they put the stich in,” he says.

“No, I have to…be there…to comfort you,” she protests.

“All right then,” John says. “Close your eyes.”

“I’ll numb it before we start,” the EMT assures him. “It shouldn’t hurt.”

It didn’t either. John watches the concentrated faces above him, and he knew what he wanted out of life now. To be the calm one in a room of hysterics. To be the one who stemmed the tide of blood, and made the pain disappear.

Chapter Text

1981, May
Jim slips into the bathroom with the clothing catalog. He’d overheard some boys at school talking about masturbating to the pictures in the underwear section, and he wants to get this done before his father gets home from work. The door doesn’t lock, but he wraps a rubber band around the door handle and the towel rack. He knows full well it won’t keep his dad out if he wants in, but it might give him enough time to close the magazine.
He opens it to a page of scantily clad women, and reaches into his pants. He has a reaction to his fingers touching himself, but the visual stimulation is producing a counter measure. He sighs, closing his eyes. Boys from school pop into his head.
He flips the magazine to another page. The one with men’s bodies, more discrete and covered than the women, but enough. God, they are enough.
Jim loses himself in the sensations, trying hard not to focus on what this means. He’s staring at half clothed men as he brings himself to completion.
Then his father slamming the door open, “What are you doing, whore?”
Jim thinks to hide himself before the material, which was clearly a stupid mistake.
“You’re looking at fucking men?” his father yells swatting him across the head. It should sting, but only the dizziness registers in Jim’s mind. He doesn’t react, which only makes the abuse last longer, but it is the only victory over his father that Jim can have.
“I’m going to cure you, boy,” his father says, going to his bedroom to retrieve the taser he’d modified to be milder. It wasn’t turned down to mild out of mercy. It was because the torture ended too soon when it was at full strength.
“Look at those pictures, boy,” his dad commands and Moriarty tries not to comply, but his dad grabs his head and forces him to focus on it.
“Take it out or I will,” his dad insists, and Jim obediently frees his uninterested privates.
He closes his eyes, but his dad slaps him on the back of his head, and commands, “Look.”
Jim obeys focusing on the magazine and the taster touches the base of his penis, causing pain so much worse than he ever imagined it could be. He screams, and writhes out of his father’s grasp. His father again grabs him by the base of his head, and turns him back toward the pictures.
“You’ve got to learn that looking at shit like that causes pain,” his father says, repeating the treatment.
Jim is mortified to discover he’s crying. His father hasn’t made him cry since he was a toddler, but it’s never hurt this bad before.
“You want to be a fucking fag?” his father asks with another touch.
“No!” Jim declares.
“You remember that if you ever do something like this again. You remember what it feels like,” he says with another touch of the taser which drops Jim to his knees, sobbing.
His father leaves, but Jim knows that it’s not over. His father returns with a scissors, and Jim is terrified wondering what is about to happen. He is surprised when his father hands it to them. “Cut out their faces, and their dicks,” his dad instructions.
Jim is about to say no, but his dad moves the taser closer to him. He obeys with shaky hand, defacing the models one by one. His father pats his hair like you would a dog while he does it.
“That’s right,” he sooths. “Take them apart. Break the sluts.”
When it is done his father walks away, and Jim quickly stands, dressing himself and retreating to his bedroom. He doesn’t bother closing the door. He knows it offers no protection, but he does curl into the corner. With his knees pulled up by his face, and his badly burned member covered by as much of him as possible, the terror starts to dissipate.
1981 July
Jim had sworn he would never touch himself again. It lasted barely as long as the time it took him to heal. His hormonal teenage body refuses to yield to it goals. He wakes, in the middle of the night, hard and unable to focus until he finds the release he is so desperate for.
He swears now though, that he will at least have the self-control to keep his mind blank. At the first touch, though, memories come to his mind. Memories of searing pain, and faceless, crotchless men. Of Jim destroying men.
Silently he comes.
He wonders now what all of this means. He hasn’t dared to think about what the stimulus he used last time means. Now he has more to think about. What sexual origin does he have now?
Is he attracted to feeling pain? To causing pain? That is some of it, but there is more. What he wants more than anything is the absolute destruction. He wants to control; he wants to take the identity away.
But men. They have to be men.

Chapter Text

-1992 October-
Sherlock carefully forms his face into the carefully pleading look of a puppy dog. It’s one of seven looks that he has perfected through hours of practice in front of the mirror and the time spent with his social skills tutor. He’s been working hard on developing that thing that Mycroft called a mask of normalcy.
“I’m having a party on Saturday night,” he says, extending an overly formal invitation to one of his classmates.
The bloke chuckles. “What, you need some lab rats for an experiment and thought you could round all of us up, eh?”
“No, I thought my classmates might enjoy participating in a murder mystery dinner. I created one based on a collection of the most famous mysteries of the last one hundred years.”
“Oh God!” the boy gaffs.
“Don’t worry. I added clues. I took into account your inexperience with deduction and general low intelligence. I knew that you would be unable to solve genuine mysteries.”
“Condescension too!” the boy says, unable to keep his sniggering under control.
Sherlock finally realizes that the boy is mocking him. He tries to categorize the mockery. It is not sarcasm or mimicry or…
“Listen, kid,” the boy says, interrupting Sherlock’s thought. “Not everyone in this school has a weird obsession with murder. Some of us are not freaks.”
“I knew I should have offered beer,” Sherlock says decidedly, turning away. Mycroft would probably buy it for him if he told him it was an experiment and he didn’t plan to drink it. It was possible that Mycroft would have bought it for him in any case.
“That still wouldn’t make anyone want to hang out with a freak,” the boy calls after him as Sherlock walks away.
Sherlock retreats into the bathroom, throwing the rest of the invitations (hand-made calligraphy on his mother’s fancy paper) into the bin. “I must have done it wrong. I must have made an error somewhere. I’ll do it right next time. He’ll make no mistakes,” Sherlock speaks to the empty room, the only thing which, so far, seems to be able to tolerate his voice.
Even as he tells himself the familiar lies, Sherlock knows the truth. They are rejecting him. He can be who they want him to be, for a minute, for an hour. That is as long as he can hold his face and body and voice and mind behind the mask of normalcy. Then his true self comes bursting out, and if his sixteen years have taught him anything, it is that no one (save those required by familiar obligations) wants to be around his true self.
Sherlock looks into the mirror and makes the face his mother made when leaving the psychologist’s so many years ago. The just-been-crying-and-trying-not-to-show-it-face, which could sometimes evolve into the trying-not-to-continue-crying face. It was the first of the false faces that Sherlock had mastered because each of its contours was firmly etched into his memory that day. He attempts a labeling of each familiar crinkle. He calls that one Valley of Disappointment and this one Mount Worry.
The bathroom door is abruptly flung open by a distraught and disheveled boy of seventeen. Sherlock reads his face for practice. Humiliation, which turns to annoyance when the boy realizes someone else is in the bathroom. Then his eyes fall to Sherlock’s mother’s facial expression (worn by Sherlock’s face) in the mirror, and without having to study it further his face falls into the exact same lines.
Sherlock’s social skill’s tutor would call that empathy, which Sherlock was quite sure was something he could only mimic, never achieve.
“Oh, Sherlock,” the boy says with a voice free of sarcasm (something that Sherlock himself could never have mastered in a similar situation). He stoops down to pick up an invitation which hadn’t quite made it into the bin, and nods as if it were exactly the thing he’d predicted.
“I’ll come,” the boy declares.
“The script calls for at least twelve people,” Sherlock says in annoyance. Mycroft really is right, the entire world is full of idiots.
“I could come over to your dorm anyway,” the boy offers. He extends his hand to Sherlock. “I’m Jamie, since you clearly don’t know my name.”
“My apologies,” Sherlock says.
“That’s okay,” Jamie says, causing a sudden flash back to Mycroft’s words from years before about how it was all okay to echo through Sherlock’s mind. Then Sherlock remembers things that his social skills tutors worked so hard to perpetually remind him of: ask questions when people are upset.
“What’s wrong?” Sherlock enquires.
“Homophobic assholes, that’s what’s wrong,” Jamie muttered.
“I didn’t know you were gay.”
Jamie chuckles. “Well, that makes Sherlock Holmes and my family the only ones in the category of people who did not know.”
“You should tell your house mother what they said,” Sherlock says sagely. “Mine always give me a piece of cake when I’ve been bullied.”
“Huh. I’d have thought you would’ve had enough cake not to be rail thin then,” Jamie observes.
“I don’t bother to tell her about every time I’m bullied,” Sherlock returns.
“I’ve got to get to my next class. Should we meet up in your room after classes?” Jamie asks like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
Sherlock nods, already imagining the phone call when he can tell his mother the good news: he’s made a friend. He’s worked so long and so hard to look like he had friends to his mother that to actually have a friend was beyond anything that he had ever imagined.
-0-
It does not occur to Sherlock until after school to wonder if Jamie actually knows where his room is. He certainly didn’t know how to find Jamie again, but then again Jamie had known his name while Sherlock hadn’t been able to return the favor. There were other questions. What did one do with one’s friends? Should he plan some sort of activity? At least with the murder mystery night they wouldn’t have had to face the silence or forced conversation.
Sherlock worried more and more as the minutes ticked by. Perhaps Jamie had been sarcastic when he suggested they meet again, and Sherlock had been unable to recognize it in the other boy’s voice. Perhaps it was a prank, and Jamie and his friends would laugh at Sherlock tomorrow for having fallen for it.
He should never have trusted it. After all, no one wanted a freak for a friend.
Then there is a knock at the door, and when Sherlock opens it Jamie chuckles at the surprised look on his face. “You came!” Sherlock cries.
“I told you I was going to,” Jamie says.
Sherlock is standing in the doorway, and Jamie can’t enter in without pushing his way into his bubble in a way that he is not sure the other boy would be comfortable with. Sherlock looks down at his feet. “I’m not very good at this.”
“That’s okay, I double as a friendship tutor,” Jamie says cheerfully.
“I actually had a social skills tutor before I went to boarding school.”
“Really? Did they have a lesson on inviting people in who are standing at your doorway?”
“Yes.” Sherlock takes a step back and, with an exaggerated bow and an overly posh accent, says, “Do come in.”
Jamie wants to laugh, but he’s not quite sure whether or not Sherlock is joking, so he doesn’t dare. Sherlock squirms uncomfortably at the lack of laugher at his attempted joke. He decides to exaggerate the poshness of his accent even more. “Would you like some tea?”
The Jamie cracks a smile, certain of the levity of the previous action, “You’re making an empty promise there unless you’ve got a forbidden hotplate hidden somewhere.” He plops himself down on Sherlock’s bed.
Sherlock pulls his desk chair out, and sits facing his new friend. He begins a file in his mind palace for all of Jamie’s laughs, and tries to think of something clever to say so that he can get more data.
“You skipped language today,” Jamie points out matter-of-factly.
“I’m sure Mr. Lenz was too hung over to notice.”
“He was, but how did you know that he was going to be beforehand?”
“The frequency with which he looked at his watch yesterday. He was clearly looking forward to his evening out, which for that man always results in drinking to excess.”
“Clever,” Jamie says slipping off his shoes and drawing his legs up under himself on the bed. “You see all of us differently, don’t you? What do you see when you look at me with the x-ray eyes?”
Sherlock shakes his head. He knows that whenever he deduces people they stomp off in anger, and he doesn’t want Jamie to leave.
“I’m not afraid of your intelligence or uniqueness. This world is big enough for you, Sherlock, even if this school isn’t.”
Sherlock smiles at him but keeps his deductions inside under the file which is growing every moment with information about Jamie. The street in London on which he must have been raised in order to give those words that lovely cadence. The brand of his socks, the smell of his shoes, and mostly the way he looked at Sherlock the way no one but his brother had ever looked at him before, like he was clever, and precious, and worth listening to.
“I know that my social skills tutor must have covered this, but I’m afraid I don’t remember what kids our age like to do for fun.”
Jamie smiles, which was only a baby chuckle when Jamie did it (in many romance languages smile and laugh were almost the same word) and asks, “You do realize that you are our age?”
“I doubt that you would be interested in anything that interests me.”
“Try me,” Jamie challenges.
“Experiments,” Sherlock declares.
“Thank God!” Jamie declares, glancing at the mold in the wall corner. “That’s on purpose then?”
Sherlock glances in that way and considers lying. “I’m afraid that’s actually a result of the British climate.”
Jamie smiles at him just the littlest bit. He hasn’t run yet. Sherlock hurriedly thinks of something else to say.

Chapter Text

As much as Sherlock wanted his mother to know about his success in friend-making right away, he didn’t brag about Jamie during his biweekly calls home. He was afraid that his parents wouldn’t believe him, and he wasn’t sure that he could have endured that. He didn’t think to invite Jamie home over the holidays, even though he knew that was something people at boarding school who were lucky enough to have friends did. Sherlock wasn’t sure that the brand new friendship could have survived that much prolonged closeness.
Jamie, however, had no such qualms and had asked Sherlock to stay the holidays at his home. Sherlock’s mouth had agreed without ever having consulted his upper brain function. He also didn’t think about consulting his parents before agreeing, assuming that they would be overjoyed at the prospect. His mother, however, still did not believe him.
“Just tell me what you are aiming at Sherlock, and I will go with you on whatever daft scheme you have in mind.
“I told you. I wanted to spend a few days of my break at a Jamie’s house.”
“Who is this Jamie?” his mother asks hands on her hips.
“I told you. My friend,” Sherlock says, exasperated. This is the kind of dullness he expects from most of the population, but he is used to a bit more cleverness from his own kin.
“A girlfriend?” his mother asks. She knows that her son is quite handsome, and the wrong kind of girl might be willing to use him for things besides conversation.
“No, he’s a boy,” Sherlock responds, his tone slightly condescending towards his mother’s belligerent refusal to listen to her own son.
“If you really are just trying to spend time with a friend you can bring him here.”
“He invited me to his house. Changing the invitation around would be rude, wouldn’t it?” Sherlock says, surprised to find that some of his social skill lessons had stayed with him.
His mother sighs. “Okay dear, you can go so long as I talk to one of his parents on the phone first.”
“You are so embarrassing!” Sherlock exclaims dramatically, sure that this is how a normal teenager would behave. It’s getting easier to convince his mother that he is normal.
-0-
When Jamie comes to the door for Sherlock, it is Mrs. Holmes who answers the door. “By God, you’re actually real,” she says by way of a joke.
Jamie’s eyes go darker than the eyeliner which covers them and angry at the statement, and Sherlock has no idea why. “If your son told you that he has a friend, you really should have believed him,” Jamie replies in a tone that is downright adversarial. Sherlock has no idea how to smooth things over between the two of them. He doesn’t even know what is wrong. He thinks his parents might have overpaid for the social skills tutor.
“Sherlock just hasn’t had all that many friends,” Mrs. Holmes says by way of apology.
“Mummy!” Sherlock blurts in humiliation. He doesn’t need Jamie getting a list of reasons to stay away from him.
“It’s not his fault that the world fails to appreciate his unique brilliance,” Jamie says. “Sherlock said that you wanted to meet my parents before you would approve this weekend away. Unfortunately, they are both at work. Will my driver work? He’s used to substituting for my parents by proxy. There will also be several servants at the house who have an overly complicated rotation to evenly distribute the chore of looking after me when I am home on holiday.”
“That’s quite all right,” Mummy says waving to the driver. “Of course, you are always welcome to stay with us too Jamie.” Mrs. Holmes awkwardly clears her throat before continuing. “There will be separate sleeping arrangements on this outing will there not?”
Jamie puts his hand on his hip and tilts his body like a female model from the 1950s, and returns the volley in the double speak that he’s used to even as Sherlock struggles to tease the double meanings from it. “Of course, I would not invite my friend,” he emphasizes the word, “if I didn’t have enough room for him.”
“Of course,” Mrs. Holmes says, seaming relieved. Then his mother pulls Sherlock in for a kiss on the forehead, causing Sherlock to squeal in horror, not realizing that the noise he made was much less dignified and far more embarrassing that the kiss was.
“I’m sorry about her,” Sherlock says as they approach the car. He’s not exactly sure what he’s apologizing for, but he does have the vague feeling that some sort of a battle has just been concluded, and he’s not exactly sure who was victorious.
“She was wonderful.”
“You argued with her.”
“I know. That already makes her better than my parents. You can’t argue with people that you never see.”
-0-
“It’s okay, you’re safe.” The words are whispered by someone who is only inches away from Sherlock’s face.
He squirms away on the bed to be farther from the words while he mutters, “Of course I’m safe.”
“You were screaming,” the voice that he now recognizes as Jamie’s informs him.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you. I must have been having a nightmare.”
“Do you have them often?” Jamie asks.
“I used to. I don’t know. Perhaps I still do, and don’t remember. Mycroft was the only one who used to hear them. I thought they stopped when he went off to college.”
“What are they about?” Jamie asks seriously.
“Death. Bloody murders. Internal organs sprayed all over the place.”
“You love that stuff.”
“Yes. I couldn’t stop the nightmares, so I made peace with what the nightmares contained.”
“That is the most philosophic thing I’ve ever heard of,” Jamie says.
“Do you have nightmares, Jamie?” Sherlock asks.
“Only when I’m awake,” the boy replies.
Sherlock pulls the blankets on the bed back, scrunching them tightly in one hand before finally releasing them. “When I was little I used to run into my brother’s room whenever the nightmares came.”
Jamie chuckles. “I wonder what that sweet mother of yours would think if she knew you were inviting a boy into your bed.”
“I didn’t mean it like that!” Sherlock exclaims in embarrassment. Sherlock had wanted to be comforted. Since the days of his childhood, he had been starved for comfort.
“I can’t quite figure you out, Sherlock. And we can remain just friends if you want no matter how you answer this question, but are you gay?”
“I don’t know,” Sherlock says gravely, not sure how Jamie is going to deal with his truthful answer. Mycroft had accepted it, but that was years ago when it was not quite so strange that he had no sexuality to speak of. He kept expecting his orientation to announce itself with loud fanfare, but the announcement never came. Not even in teeny whispers.
“Okay,” Jamie says with a shrug. “I guess we’ll just be friends then. Unless you ever decide you want something different, because I would be open to that.” He then gets under the covers that Sherlock had offered him before.

“What are your nightmares?” Sherlock asks him seriously.
“Never being brave enough to come out. Or being brave enough to, and then regretting it, because it leads to me being rejected by everyone that I care about. Most of all, that I’m never going to be able to stop believing those horrible things I hear them saying about gay people, about myself, every day.”
“Anyone who rejects you isn’t worth your time,” Sherlock declares fiercely.
“Your mom knew me for less than a minute before she’d decided I was gay. Everyone at school, apart from you, knew it without being told. My parents have known me my whole life. I shouldn’t even have to come out to them, they should know it about me just like they know my hair color. Sometimes I think they do, and then they still make those damned jokes. How on earth can they say such hateful things about gay people when I’m standing right in front of them?”
“I am glad you’re gay,” Sherlock says honestly. He’s more than aware that if Jamie wasn’t a social outcast the other boy never would have looked at him twice.
Jamie misinterprets the words, and reaches his hand over underneath the blankets to take Sherlock’s hand in his.
Sherlock views his hand as an invitation to flop over on his friend, burying his head in Jamie’s chest, and soaking up the comfort he’s been starved for these long years since Mycroft first went away to university and now spent only a rare weekend at his family’s house. Jamie’s arms close around him with just the right amount of pressure.
-0-
“Master Sherlock,” Jamie’s butler says, knocking on the bedroom door. Sherlock fights his way through what seems to be an infinite number of limbs to try to answer the door.
Jamie objects to being woke up with a groan.
The butler’s shock is only represented by a pause before the voice on the other end of the door continues, “I’m sorry, Master Sherlock, I just came to enquire what you wanted for breakfast.”
“Anything is fine,” Sherlock says hoping that he said the right thing to make the servant go away.
He does, and Jamie and Sherlock manage to untangle all of their gangly teenage limbs from one another. They silently head in different directions as they prepare for the day. Sherlock pauses in the hallway until Jamie comes out of his bedroom so they can go down together.
The dining room has enough seating for thirty adults easily, but only four places are set at the kitchenward end. Fry ups, French toast, and fruit adorn the table. One of the meals appears to be eaten by a newspaper while a woman with an outrageously elaborate updo and perfect posture sits motionless, waiting.
Jamie sits down, and Sherlock follows his lead, barely daring to breath. Jamie immediately begins to fidget with the excessive silverware.
“Did you sleep well?” Jamie’s mother asks Sherlock.
He isn’t sure how to respond and hopes this isn’t the double talk that he is so horrible at. “Yes, very well. Thank you.”
Jamie clinks his silverware against the plate causing a painful sound to ring out in the echoey room, and his father emerges from behind the second newspaper to glare at him.
“I’m sure you were glad to be back in your own bed,” Jamie’s mother says to her son.
Jamie chokes on a bit of mushroom, then manages to cough out. “Yes.”
The butler walks behind Mrs. Withers head, shaking his head quickly so that only Jamie can see it. Jamie lets out a huge breath. Mrs. Withers glares at her son, then turns to Sherlock with volleys of questions about his family and small talk. Things that Sherlock has to focus on in order to respond appropriately too, but which are beneath his notice. It is by far Sherlock’s least favorite conversation.
The newspaper, and the head behind it, makes an exit at some point, and Sherlock finds time between words to shove some food into his mouth. Then Jamie’s mother stands up to leave, and the boys are left alone with the butler.
“Thank you for not telling,” Jamie says to him seriously.
“I didn’t do it for you,” the butler replies harshly. “I’d rather not have the master and the misses know that I’m negligent in the care of their child. Not after everything I’ve done to look after you for so many years.”
The words fall like a heavy weight on Jamie’s shoulders.
“I won’t be failing on my duties again,” the butler promises stoically.
Sherlock regrets for the rest of his life not defending Jamie at that moment. He couldn’t even find the proper words to respond to someone speaking about something normal like the weather. How could he respond to something as severe as this?
Still, it was a regret which allowed him to grow.

Chapter Text

1993, January

John Watson never wastes one word of a flirt on someone it will not be effective on. He can tell by the way a girl tilts her head how responsive they will be to his particular set of rugged charms. He would not even need his special talent to know what this girl wants. Her skirt is rolled at her hips to make it shorter. She’s thin enough that she doesn’t have to worry about the added fabric around the waist having a negative impact on her figure. Her hair is dyed so fiercely blond that it’s not even a natural color, and she’s covered her face with enough make-up to make it look like a mask. The shade of upsetting red-purple lipstick will probably haunt his nightmares.

“Hi,” he smiles at her, moving into her personal bubble.

“Hello, handsome,” she coos, moving so close to him that she actually touches his hip with hers.

“John,” he says, slowly backing her up against the wall of a dark and deserted hallway before touching her breast.

“I know. You’re on the ruby team,” she replies. “I’m Candy.”

He starts kissing her with excessive amounts of tongue, and moves the hand from her breast to under her skirt. Gods he was right about her. She’s got no underwear, and no hair. He feels like a welcome mat has been laid out for him.

“Someone is going to see,” she protests, pulling away from the kiss.

His hand goes still under the lack of permission, but he whispers in her ear, “That’s what makes it fun.”

“Hurry then!” she breaths back.

He’s studied the art of bringing a woman into pleasure plenty of times. It’s the surest way of being asked back for a repeat performance, especially considering the fact that teenaged boys on the whole were not the most attentive of lovers.

A finger inside, a thumb on her bulb, and a mouth to cover her whimpers and moans. He breaks away from her to kiss her neck, and whisper, “You’re gorgeous.”

His lips barely return to hers to catch the gasp of orgasm.

Then, before he thinks she’s even had time to recover he finds himself pushed up again the opposite wall, and she is dropping to her knees. As her mouth works him over a stain of florescent purple is left upon his cock by her lipstick. John focuses on the disgusting appearance in order to make himself last longer.

The plan is ruined when he hears the sound of footsteps near, and thinks they are going to be caught. The idea of danger pushes him over the edge.

1993, March

Most people skip a class because they hate it. John skipped it because he loved that little moment of dangerous panic that it allowed him to feel. The problem of course was that the more he skipped class the less perilous it felt. So, he started doing more and more dangerous things while he was outside of class.

First it was stealing snacks from the local shop. Then he bought condoms from a middle aged, staunchly religious man who could always be egged into a good lecture. But now John had a ridiculous stockpile of condoms (despite their increasingly frequent use). The man apparently gave him over to the devil and refused him so much as a glare of derision. Life had got boring after that for a time (apart from the day his mother had discovered his wardrobe full of condoms). Sex itself got boring until not even a new person or a new position could give him that elusive feeling of danger.

John wasn’t even sure how he first ended up hanging around the ambulance bay of the local hospital, but he did know that it was home in a way nothing else would be. It was his true addiction, and it was the one place on earth which never became dull.
A young EMT takes pity on the boy who was almost a high school drop out with vague medical aspirations. Soon John is doing ambulance ride-alongs after school, and is back in school during the day, on his way to becoming a doctor.

1995

John did not have the advantages that most of his fellow classmates at medical school had been born with. Of natural intelligence he had been given no more than an ordinary ration. His schooling had been substandard, and he had never learned the habits of forcing himself to focus for long periods of time on something he did not find personally interesting.

He almost dropped out halfway into the first semester before he hit a sort of second wind. He found a way to combine coffee and tea on a very particular schedule in just such a way that he was able to get very little sleep with very few caffeine side effects. He found tricks to make his mind stay upon the printed word when his heart was not in it, and ways to make the slippery Latin terms adhere to his mind.
The danger part of him mostly lay dormant, waking only to do some task half asleep that he ought to have been completely awake for, or taking more caffeine that was stickily speaking safe. John missed parts of his old self, but if this was who he had to become in order to be a doctor living on the risky edge of life than it was all going to be worth it.

Chapter Text

1993, May

“Dinner?” Sherlock asks, wearing the exact version of his smile that he knows Jamie loves best. The two of them are almost inseparable now, studying together, eating together, and sneaking off campus to visit locations of old crimes or to shop together. Sometimes they share a bed. Never overnight again and always over the covers, fully clothed. Nothing past a snuggle.

All of these things are done only at school, of course. Sherlock has seen the deep effect of falling in the esteem of a servant, and he does not want to see what it would look like to fall in the esteem of a parent.

“Okay,” Jamie says, lighting up during their walk to the dining hall.

“I think we might be dating,” Sherlock says with a prey-like start, as if he’s just solved a hidden mystery.

“Do you think or do you hope? Because it is up to you whether or not we are,” Jamie says with hope in his own eye.

Sherlock remembers his mother’s questions over the Christmas break, nagging both of her sons about why they didn’t have a girlfriend.
He’s still not sure how his parents will feel about him selecting a boyfriend instead, but he knows that if he’s ever going to date someone, Jamie will be it.

“Hope,” Sherlock says with false certainty, and the smile that he knows Jamie loves. He tries not to think too hard about whether he’s lying or telling the truth by mistake. His real and false feelings were hopelessly muddled. He could no longer remember which was the mask and which one was the face anymore.

“I am unbelievably happy to hear you say that,” Jamie says, skipping a few steps as they walk together.

Suddenly Sherlock stops and goes pale. “I don’t want to…” he pauses trying to find the words.

Jamie smiles at him, “The awesome thing about romantic relationships is that they have a wide breath of depth. Saying that we’re dating isn’t the same as committing to having sex.”

Sherlock doesn’t question whether the grin is genuine now.

Impulsively he grabs Jamie by the lapels, and pulls him in for a fierce, slightly aggressive kiss. Jamie moans in ecstasy from the kiss. Sherlock examines himself to see if there is anything within him which wants to moan like his boyfriend. He finds nothing, but he does like making the other boy happy. Sherlock pulls away. An ecstatic Jamie leans in for another kiss. Sherlock catalogues the different kinds of tobacco ash in his head to pass the time until he can breathe air which isn’t mostly carbon dioxide and moisture. He is beginning to understand his brother’s obsession with air which has not been previously used.

1993, June

Sherlock is not only embarrassed how much his mother fusses over him, but how often she thanks Jamie for being friends with him.

“Honestly, it’s my pleasure,” Jamie assures her with a smile every time.

Sherlock still has no idea if his mother will be happier with him with a boyfriend or him with no one, but he does know that the revelation will distract his mother (at least for a bit) from talking about how glad she is that Sherlock has a friend.

He takes Jamie’s hand. “Mummy, Jamie is my boyfriend.”

His mother chuckles, “Oh dear, those words mean something you probably don’t realize.”

“I’m a sociopath not an idiot. I know what I mean when I say boyfriend, and Jamie is mine.” Jamie grins at him, and Sherlock feels pride. He’s good at making his boyfriend happy, and he smiles, surprised at that.

“Oh Sherlock,” his mother exclaims with unmistakable pity. “You already found it hard enough to get along with others, and now this!”

“It’s not a tragedy,” his father says in his quiet way. “In my day it was practically to be expected at an all boy school.”

Sherlock finds comfort in the words, especially since he still isn’t sure whether or not he’s actually gay. He only knows that he is dating a boy. “Jamie is by far the least annoying human on the planet. Why wouldn’t I want to date him? Now don’t be rude about it. Jamie is far too frightened of the whole thing to tell his own parents that he is gay, and I won’t have you making it worse. If you want to make unkind comments about it, wait until we’ve left.”

“If you have any unkind comments about being in relationships with the same gender, kindly direct them to me,” Mycroft says standing. “I at least deserve them, because none of my relationships have been as romantic and innocent as this one.”

His mother shakes her head, saying faintly, “But you’re dating Julia.”

“Julia is an actress I hire to play my girlfriend at family events. The whole thing nearly ended a while back, because she entered into a serious relationship, and her boyfriend was less than comfortable with her playing someone else’s girlfriend. The three of us and the artist who lives with me went out to dinner together to see if we could come to an amicable agreement. Her boyfriend ended up saying that I was the campiest person he’d ever met, and that he was fine with Julia playing the part as long as I wanted.”

His mother stares at him open mouthed.

“And when I say artist, I mean person who started to paint to deal with his disappointment at being too daft to pass a single A level. The only paintings he sells are to me, every time he cries.”

Mummy clutches her heart in shock and horror.

“I thought George was living with you,” Sherlock says in surprise.

“His drinking became intolerable about four months ago,” Mycroft corrects.

“I would love to meet your men, Mycroft,” Mr. Holmes says.

“I knew you would not like the idea, and neither would they. Keeping you apart was really a favor to everyone involved. Also,” Mycroft says fiercely, “I did not want my little brother to hear if you had any unkind things to say about homosexuality. I could see that he didn’t know what he was, and perhaps still doesn’t, but I will not have hate figuring into his decision.”

Mummy pulls herself up tall. “No, quite right, Mycroft. I wanted to sway him, it’s true, because I know how the world would feel about it. I thought if it was me telling him it would be softer, but it isn’t better, is it? It’s rather worse when it’s your own family. Sherlock’s right. He’s smart enough to know the risks, and if it’s worth it to him, if Jamie brings him enough happiness to outweigh the pain, then it won’t do any good to add more unhappiness, will it? And Mycroft,” Mrs. Holmes states fiercely. “You will absolutely bring this boy of yours home. How long has he been living with you? Does he have any plans for the future? Do you have a picture on you, dear, that I could peak at? Are you thinking of adopting children, because one way or another, boys, you’re going to be giving me grandchildren.”

Mycroft blushes, “Mummy! It’s not that serious.”

“You’re not getting any younger dear. Your father and I were married by your age. Now, I know that legally that isn’t quite possible, but your father and I could still arrange a nice ceremony for you.”

“Really, Mummy, that isn’t going to work. People at work have no idea of my being gay. It would not exactly be good for government business.”

“I, for one, never believed this Julia business for a moment,” Mr. Holmes announces, rather proud of himself. “I knew you were hiding whomever you were really with from us. I didn’t know it was a man. I merely thought it was someone beneath your station. Rest assured that I would have been alright with whoever you brought home. Bring him round, son. Let us meet him. It’s a risk to be sure, but loving is the biggest risk of all, and if you’re not willing to take that risk with this man, perhaps he’s not worthy of you taking any risks with him.”
Mr. Holmes then turns to his younger son. “I am glad you have someone to love, Sherlock.”

It was Jamie’s turn now, and Mr. Holmes addressed him next. “You’ve told your parents? Given them a chance to open up their arms to you? You might be as mistaken about them as my foolish boys were about me. They might be waiting for the chance to accept you.”

“Sir, they regularly tell me what an abomination people who love their own gender are.”

“Well, if they don’t want anything to do with you, they have got to be some of the most foolish people who have ever lived. You spend more time here with us. It will do you good.”

Jamie, already tearing up from Mr. Holmes’ warm words, falls into his chest, and Siger holds him for what feels like forever. “I’m sorry,” Jamie mutters, embarrassed by the emotional display which would have been a cause for shame in his own family.

“I’m not,” Mr. Siger says with determination.

“Jamie is going to sleep in my room,” Sherlock announces, causing a surprised snort from Mycroft and open mouths from everyone else.

“Sherlock, you are just sixteen. We are happy that you found someone that you want to date, but there is no way that we can encourage you to have sex.”

“Don’t worry about that. We’re not having sex,” Sherlock says casually.

“I’m worried that if you share a room, you might,” Mummy says primly.

“We’ve shared a room six different times, and have not yet had sex,” Sherlock announces.

Jamie gives Sherlock a squeeze on his hand in a wasted effort to hush him. Mrs. Holmes is making the face of worry that Sherlock is altogether too familiar with. “I don’t understand!” Sherlock says in exasperation. “You didn’t want me to have sex, and when I told you that I wasn’t you don’t like that either! I will never understand how to please you.”

Mycroft falls into the role of social skills tutor as he has many times since Sherlock was young. “She doesn’t want you to have sex, Sherlock, but she does want you to want to.”

“Mrs. Holmes,” Jamie begins. “Your son, and I have decided to remain in the snuggling zone. Don’t worry about him, and don’t worry about his future. Just be happy that he is exactly where he should be for his age. Just stop worrying about him all over, actually. He’s fine, and no matter what Sherlock chooses to do, he’s going to remain fine.” Sherlock feels the tightness in his chest loosen for a moment at the words.

“I just want him to be happy,” Mrs. Holmes bemoans.

“I am happy, Mummy,” Sherlock insists, but it isn’t quite true. His mother is still worried about him, and he can never really be happy until they have reached a point where her worry stops.

Chapter Text

1994, March

It was not the first time that Jamie had touched that part of Sherlock. The two of them have been dating for just under a year now. They’ve known each other for even longer than that. Sherlock bats the hand away from himself before he even thinks it through. He wishes that his mind would have reacted faster than his hand did.

“I’m sorry,” Jamie whispers in the darkness that surrounds them.

“Don’t be,” Sherlock commands, and then places his hand on Jamie in the same place that Jamie put his hand on him. This feels less wrong that what Jamie had done a second ago, but it still feels strange and awkward. Sherlock strokes a few times, fascinated by the changes the organ in his hand is undergoing. Then he catches sight of Jamie’s face, and there is so much more to catalog. He is pretty sure he could write a research paper on this, but he knows neither his teachers nor Jamie would allow such things. Then the sounds begin, and Sherlock decides he’s going to need to write an entire encyclopedia on the sex act.

When they are finished, Jamie reaches for Sherlock again, but pulls his hand away when Sherlock shakes his head. Jamie seams confused by the fact that Sherlock isn’t even hard. “Did I do something wrong?” he whispers.

“No,” Sherlock says, reaching deep within him to figure out what to say, how to explain it to him. “I don’t think I can do that.”

“Medically?” Jamie asks alarmed.

“No, ejaculation clearly happens to me sometimes while I’m sleeping. I wake up having to deal with erections more often than I’d like. I just don’t think it means the same thing to me that it means to everyone else.”

“You’ve never played with yourself?” Jamie asks.

“No!” Sherlock exclaims as if his boyfriend has just accused him of treason against the crown.

“Maybe that’s the problem,” Jamie says. “You feel like it would be wrong to have sex. Or maybe just that it would be wrong to have sex with a guy.”

“I don’t,” Sherlock says.

“It’s okay if you do. I’m surprised I don’t have more hang ups about this kind of a thing. I’m just saying, maybe you should touch yourself, and find out if you like it.”

“What if I try that, and I don’t like it?” Sherlock asks, feeling his stomach lurch at the possibility of being more broken than he first imagined.

“Then I think you should go to a doctor and make sure everything is functioning properly.”

“It’s not that Jamie!” he says in exasperation. “The body part is fine. The mind isn’t! I don’t want to look at dirty pictures like the boys at school.”

“They’re looking at dirty pictures of girls, Sherlock. It’s completely different.”

“I’ve seen dirty pictures of boys. It was nothing interesting, just anatomy to me.”

“To be clear, you were looking at porn, and not an anatomy textbook, right?” Jamie asks.

Sherlock nods. “When I was younger, I just thought that I was a late developer. That the hormones would kick in before long, and I would be just like everyone else, unable to put a thought together because my higher brain function was being taken over by sex. I’m beginning to think that it might never happen. That I might never want it.”

“Oh,” Jamie says.

“Sorry,” Sherlock mutters, whishing that he had just kept everything to himself. He’d been longing to tell Jamie for months now, more and more as the suspicions about his own sexuality grew. It had gained weight, like a heavy burden upon his chest, until Sherlock thought he could not endure it any longer. Now though, he would be happy to have the weight back. He would bear any sort of discomfort for the privilege of being close to Jamie.

“Don’t be sorry,” Jamie says. “I’m just processing. I don’t fully understand it.”

“Neither do I,” Sherlock says.

“So, do you want to go back to just being friends?”

“No,” Sherlock says quickly. “I understand if you do though. There are a lot of parts in being together that I like. Not just the parts that friends can have, like talking, but I love holding your hand and snuggling.”

“Kissing?” Jamie asks.

“I like the quick pecks that you give me in public to claim me, but I don’t really understand the longer ones. I like making you happy thought, and I liked it even more with what we just did.” Sherlock blushes hard at even the barest of allusions to the sex act.

“I don’t want to continue doing things like that if it’s always going to be one sided,” Jamie objects. “Sex is supposed to be about mutual pleasure. Both of us gloriously happy and coming undone.”

“I might be comfortable with it later, but I’m not now. There is nothing sexy in it for me. It’s just another bodily function, and an annoying one at that. If you can’t be with someone who doesn’t want the masturbation and oral to be mutual, that you shouldn’t be with me.”

“Blow jobs?” Jamie asks, excited at the mention of the possibility of a sex act he’d not brought up first.

“Not today, but I would like to try that. I think I may one day allow you to be anally penetrate me.”

“See, that’s the thing. I don’t want you to ‘allow’ me to do things. I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to enjoy. Sex should be something both people want, and anything less than that is rape.”

“You didn’t rape me, Jamie,” Sherlock says with a snort. “You stopped right away both times I pushed your hand away.”

“I don’t want you to feel pressured to do this. I don’t want you to believe that you have to have sex with me in order to get me to stay with you.”

“That’s what it is though, isn’t it?” Sherlock asks confused. “If we’re not going to have sex you’re going to go find someone who will.”

“No,” Jamie says after considering for only a few seconds. “There is no way that I could find someone even half so interesting as you on this planet. We’re going to stay together. I just don’t know if I’m ever going to want to do this again,” he says gesturing between them.

Sherlock’s only answer is to snuggle against his body, and let out a happy sigh that leaves no doubt in Jamie’s mind that this, at least, is something that Sherlock truly enjoys.

-0-

The amount of awkwardness Sherlock feels as he stands alone in his bedroom with a box of tissues, and a bottle of lotion before him makes him wonder if Jamie didn’t have something about shame being a problem for him.

He takes off all of his clothes, and stares at himself in the mirror. He doesn’t find his own reproductive organs arousing, but he isn’t really sure if he’s supposed to. He slicks his hand, which disgusts him enough that he considers stopping, but instead he runs it along the length of his organ. The blood circulation flows in, lengthening and thickening it. He can feel a physical sensation too, which he thinks might be one of the things people talk about when they mean sex, but his physical and mental sensations are so divorced that he can’t even tell.
He moves his hand faster and faster, feeling the tension that he always tries to avoid. He rushes through the tension until it is released.
It was a satisfactory experience. Not exactly something that he would avoid, although not exactly something that he would seek out a repetition of either. He decided that he would be willing to let Jamie to do this to him.

Chapter Text

1994, June

Mycroft had always assumed that Mummy knowing the truth would either result in all of the pressure toward marriage and children to disappear, or in complete rejection of him by his parents. He hadn’t expected the pressure to simply continue almost completely unchanged.

“Mycey, why don’t you bring your nice boy home for Christmas?” Mummy asks.

She decidedly did not enjoy his response of, “Because he’s not a nice boy.”

Sherlock observes his brother carefully. “He’s really not lying mother. You do know, brother dear that he is only with you for the bond money.”

“Money is not how I keep him out of jail,” Mycroft mutters.

“Mycey, you’re a very intelligent and attractive man. I’m sure you could find yourself a nice man if you put your mind to it.”

“My mind is otherwise occupied.”

“It’s all this secret-keeping that makes it so hard. If you were just honest about who you are, you’d find nice men dropping into place. You could meet them at work even.”

“I have no interest in dating a politician, Mummy,” Mycroft says with a sigh. “Besides. There would be damage to my career and reputation if I were to come out.” The statement is accented with a scrunch of his nose, “And the world can ill afford that damage at this time.”

“You never know, dear. You could end up doing a world of good by giving others the courage to live their lives freely. Besides, you matter too. You matter every bit as much as the world you keep saving, and I don’t think you remember that enough.”

“Thank you Mummy,” he says, meaning it, but also trying to guillotine the subject.

“At the very least you should change all of the laws so that my two boys can get married,” Mrs. Holmes tuts.

“Even if I could get married, I would not,” Mycroft declares firmly.

“I think that marriage is wonderful, and I will probably do it whether it becomes legal or not,” Jamie declares, equally firm.

“See now, I could have at least one son-in-law. You get on that now, Mykey.”

“Yes, Mummy,” he says with resonation.

“And grandchildren. You should do something about making that easier as well,” his mother says, continuing the infinitely brought up lecture.

“Yes, Mummy,” Mycroft says, managing to turn away before the eye roll comes.

Sherlock laughs. “You want him to change the way the human body produces offspring?”

“No, he wants to make adoption accessible for couples who would really benefit from it. Families would be reachable for both children and adults who would not be able to have it otherwise,” Jamie says.

Sherlock blinks at him in surprise. “You want to be a father?”

Jamie nods his head, his lips tight with desire.

“I don’t think that I would ever be capable of that. My social skills are barely enough to have friends. I can’t imagine having family,” Sherlock says, shock paling his face.

“I think you are capable of more than you think you are, Sherlock,” Jamie informs him.

“If you two decide you want children I’d be happy to help. I’d even come live with you if you’d want,” Sherlock’s mother quickly offers.

“I don’t plan on having children for someone else to raise,” Sherlock says. “If I ever become a father, I will be one of the primary forces in their lives.”

His mother grins at that while Mycroft sighs dramatically, trying to picture what his life would look like if it were arranged in such a way to make it conducive to having children. Mycroft was pretty sure that children would render life as he knew it completely unrecognizable.

“Anyway,” Mr. Holmes says. “Sherlock ought not to be thinking about marriage and children until he’s finished school anyway. That’s years away still.”

“One year actually,” Sherlock punctually corrects.

“With high school, yes,” his father says. “But I don’t think you should be having children until you’ve gotten through college at least.”

“Oh, I don’t have any intention to go to college,” Sherlock says casually. “Honestly, what would the point be? I’m already smarter than all of the teachers.”

“College is mostly about making social connections, and only partially about making academic ones.” Mycroft says.

“You said the same thing about high school, and yet I managed to get through all of that without forming a single social connection.”

“You formed one, and I’ll be in college,” Jamie says with a smile.

“Yes, you will a whole year before me. I thought after I finished high school, we could live in an flat near your uni. You could go to school, and I could…”

“Loaf about?” Mycroft suggests disdainfully.

“Figure out what I want to do,” Sherlock corrects. “If I do end up going to college, I will be all the better for having thought through my goals first.”

“You could also take your A levels the same time I do. Taking them a year early is unlikely to negatively impact your score, and we could start our whole plan a bit earlier.”

Sherlock grins, Jamie’s enthusiasm brightening up the whole conversation.

Violet hates the idea of her son living with someone when he is only seventeen years old, but she reminds herself how much she has worried. Only a few years ago she thought he would never find someone to spend his life with. After all, she would much rather he found the love of his life too early than too late.

Chapter Text

1994, September

Sherlock did take his A levels early. He passed them all with flying colors, only being knocked down a few times for having given into his urge to correct the questions. He and Jamie moved in to a little apartment off campus. It was smaller than Sherlock would have gotten if he was on his own, and larger than Jamie would have been able to afford on his own. Jamie was under the impression they were each paying for equal parts of it, and Sherlock knew that he could only stretch that lie so far.

Sherlock did not enroll in any classes. Nor did he, much to Mycroft’s dismay, secure for himself a job or any other sort of activity that would give credence to an explanation of what exactly he was doing with his days.

Jamie studied hard, and, even worse in Sherlock’s mind, he partied harder. Sherlock went along to the parties sometimes, figuring that this, like the sex, was the price for having someone as wonderful as Jamie in his life. He danced when Jamie asked him to, and took whatever Jamie gave him, be it chips, drink, smoke, or pill.

He didn’t mind the dancing, although he would have preferred a ballroom setting with the predictable patterns, he had memorized at the age of eight.

Sherlock did not much enjoy the drinking, but at least it dulled the boredom and made time fly by faster. The smoking became a habit he was even more likely to adhere to on any given day than eating. The drugs he positively loved, both for their ability to sharpen his wit, and to dull the part of his heart which noticed and cared that other people did not find him the least bit amusing.

It was the conversation part of parties that Sherlock could not endure. Jamie could tell that Sherlock hated the parties, and so, by mutual agreement, Sherlock started going with Jamie less and less.

Sherlock missed the drugs. It was not addiction, he told himself. It was merely enjoyment. He took the pills out of Jamie’s pants pocket sometimes when he was out, and then he would enjoy them by himself, laying full length across the divan and drifting off into his mind palace.

Sherlock might not have had a great deal of social awareness, but he could tell that what was between himself and Jamie would not last much longer. Jamie was always going to want more than Sherlock could give. He told himself that that was okay, that it was good, even. That Jamie belonged with someone who was going to make him deliriously happy, and that if that person wasn’t Sherlock than Sherlock should let him go so that Jamie could get to that person as quickly as possible.

Sherlock still studied sex, and faked orgasms that he had never had in order to make Jamie stay. And he went to the parties sometimes too.
He understood why Jamie liked the parties: the ones he went to were always full of gay men. At his college classes Jamie was forced to walk in a world full of people who were nothing like him, but at night he could slip into a place where he belonged.

Sherlock knew that there was nowhere in the world where he belonged. If there were other people like him (which he doubted), they did not congregate in large groups. He did not even know what a collection of hims would look like. Was there one essential thing that made him different from everyone else? One thing which if corrected would make him a part of the world instead of an alien looking in?
Sherlock doubted things would be that simple. There were many reasons why he would always remain on the outside of this world, looking into it with longing.

1995 February

Jamie rushes over to Sherlock in the middle of the dance floor with a rather fit man trailing not that far behind. “How would you feel about a threesome?”

Sherlock shrugs. He doesn’t suppose, really, that it would bother him anymore than all the other kinds of sex that he’s been having.
“It’s fine,” Jamie says with a shake of his head. “If you’re not into it we won’t.”

“No, let’s do it,” Sherlock says with more confidence that he feels. Enough confidence in fact, to fool Jamie. Jamie grins, at him, and jesters the other man over. The man introduces himself to Sherlock, and Sherlock promptly deletes the name.

They head into the restroom which is a bit of a disappointment to Sherlock. It’s not the first time that they’ve been intimate in a public loo (not even the first time in this particular one). It seems to excite Jamie, but Sherlock prefers somewhere a bit less dirty, out of sight of plumbing. Besides, public toilets rule out the possibility of a cuddle afterword's.

Jamie bends Sherlock over the sink preparing him hastily. Sherlock infers, based on the sounds going on behind him that the strange man is doing the same to Jamie. Then Jamie is inside of him, and based on the noises and the stilting irregular rhythm Jamie enjoys this a great deal more than when they are alone.

The two men behind them finish, and the new man comes forward to offer to “help” Sherlock out with his own erection.

Sherlock declines the offer, and the other man seems to be offended. Sherlock thinks that’s pretty stupid considering how much work it is to bring someone to orgasm, especially him right now, with a slowly deflating erection.

“It’s okay, I’ll take care of him,” Jamie promises getting the other man to leave. When they are alone Jamie touches Sherlock’s chin with his finger, “Are you okay? I’m sorry.”

“I’m fine,” Sherlock says.

“Do you want me to finish you off?” Jamie asks.

“I’m fine,” Sherlock says getting dressed now that this penis has returned to normal.

“Of course you are,” Jamie mutters, “You certainly don’t need me to help you out.”

1995 April

Sherlock used to mind the mess of sex. The bodily fluids and the sweat. The smell which lingered in the room long after the act was complete. He’d become accustomed to all of this in the many times that he and Jamie had engaged in the act so that he could now merely lay tangled with his lover afterwards, enjoying the messy snuggle.

“I love you,” he tells Jamie.

Jamie stares at him as if confused. “What does that mean to someone like you?”

It’s an honest question, and something in Sherlock wants to rise up and answer it rationally. Another part of him wants to cry out in offense. He’d always imagined that love meant the same thing to him than it did to everyone else on the planet.

Didn’t love mean you wanted to be with them all of the time? That you would choose them over anyone else in the world? That you wanted them to be happy more than you wanted to be happy yourself? How could Jamie not think he knew all of this?

“I mean, you don’t enjoy partying or talking or sex. Why do you even want to be with me?”

“You are the most interesting person that I’ve ever known,” Sherlock informs him. It’s the truth, and it’s also the highest compliment that he could ever give to someone.

Jamie scoffs. “Right, I’m a puzzle to you. I should have figured.”

“You are more than a puzzle,” Sherlock assures him. He knows that loving means making someone happy even if it makes you miserable. He thought that meant partying with Jamie or giving him sex. Now he wonders if it isn’t sending Jamie as far away from him as he possibly can. But before he can voice the words, before he can articulate himself the doorbell rings.

There is a flurry of them getting dressed before Jamie hops into a robe on his way to get the door. “Mom! Dad!” he says in a voice that clearly shows he is trying to sound excited, but is really scared.

Sherlock emerges from the room with his best manners in place. “It’s so nice to see you again,”

“Yes. Jamie didn’t mention that he had a roommate,” his mother says, looking around the room, assessing every object as if it were meant to go home and sit on her mantle.

“This is a one bedroom?” his father asks critically.

“It’s temporary,” Jamie stammers.

Even Sherlock’s big brain is not enough to stop them from walking into the bedroom and seeing one queen bed.

“Sherlock just came to study over breakfast,” Jamie says.

His mother just shakes her head, slowly, carefully.

“You are better than this,” Jamie’s father hisses.

“There is nothing wrong with what we are doing,” Sherlock says firmly.

“The hell there isn’t. I think we can identify exactly who it is that lead you astray,” Jamie’s father insists.

“That’s crap. When we met, I was already gay and Sherlock had no idea whether or not he was,” Jamie says hotly.

“Just let them blame me,” Sherlock pleads.

“How about you get the hell out of here and leave us to deal with our family by ourselves,” his mother says fiercely.

“I am not going to leave Jamie alone for this!” Sherlock yells back, in shock.
“Please, Sherlock,” Jamie begs.
“I am staying,” Sherlock says firmly, confused as to why he needed to ask when he had already promised.

“I’m asking you to go. Mom is right. This is a family matter.”

Sherlock stares for a second before stalking out of the room in silence, but the truth is that Sherlock had been under the impression that he and Jamie were family, or even more than family. He knows now, as he walks out of the room and leaves Jamie to face his parents that things are over for them.

Chapter Text

1995 May

Sherlock had assumed that Jamie would give him some sort of message when he was ready for him to come home. Since the message did not come, he stays away for four days, sleeping on the couch at Mycroft’s. It is his brother’s worry which finally drives him back to the flat. That and the questions.

“Did the two of you have a fight?” “What did you say?” “Do you know what you did?” Of course, Mycroft would be sure that whatever problems were between the two of them were all Sherlock’s fault. Sherlock wasn’t so sure that it wasn’t all his fault, but he was sure that if he didn’t know what he had done wrong, he was not going to be able to fix it.

He knocks on his own door, which is a strange feeling, but he feels like the formality will be welcomed by Jamie right now. When he doesn’t answer, Sherlock lets himself in.

Jamie is laying on the bed, which is strange at three in the afternoon. Sherlock touches his arm. “Jamie?” he whispers.

No response.

“Jamie!” he shouts far more panicked.

“Lockey,” Jamie says, barely able to focus on him through the drug haze. “Lockey is here, and parents are gone?”

“Yes, I’m here. How much did you take?” Sherlock asks.

“Not enough to die, too much to think,” Jamie slurs, barely discernable.

“You are going to have to give me some numbers so I can confirm the whole not enough to die part of your statement,” Sherlock intones with worry.

“I don’t know,” Jamie says.

“I’m calling the ambulance then,” Sherlock threatens, turning towards the landline next to the bed.

“I could die then. Die is okay.”

“Not with me,” Sherlock insists, following through on his threat, and shaking him violently while carefully articulating their address to the emergency operator.

-0-

They wouldn’t let Sherlock see Jamie in the hospital, even though he was the one to save his life. Sherlock assumes that they would have let him in if Jamie had asked for him. So, he figured Jamie was very okay with things being over between them.

When Jamie finally returns to their flat, he looks strung out, but dry. “Sorry you had to see me like that.”

“I’m glad I showed up,” Sherlock says.

“They said I probably would have lived anyway.” Jamie slunks by Sherlock’s chair, dismissing his presence.

“That doesn’t mean that I regret it,” Sherlock fires back.

“We can’t keep living together,” Jamie says.

“I don’t care what your parents said-” Sherlock begins.

“No, you don’t understand. They’re cutting me off. I won’t be able to afford this place, college either.”
“That’s fine, Jamie. I can afford this place by myself.”

“I know you can, Sherlock. Jesus, you can afford this place, and your parents don’t care you are gay, and you don’t even have to do something useful with your life, like go to school,” he says annoyed.
Sherlock is confused by the fact that Jamie is listing a bunch of positive things as if they were negative. He doesn’t even know what to say.

“Sherlock, you don’t have to stay with me.”

“I want to,” Sherlock says still confused.

“Why the fuck would anyone, particularly you, want to stay with me?” Jamie shouts in shock and horror.

“Because I love you!” Sherlock yells back.

“Jesus, Sherlock. You imprinted on me like a baby duck. You didn’t think you would ever be with someone, and then I came along, and you attached yourself to me. You are blind to all of my faults. Sherlock, Jesus, you never even did drugs before I came into your life! You hadn’t had sex! I’ve corrupted you, derailed your life!”

“I like my life better now than I did before,” Sherlock says.

Jamie examines him critically. “That might even be true. Maybe you had to pass through this in order to get to the next stage. I don’t know, and it’s probably best not to look into your past and second guess everything. But now you can be free, Sherlock. You can be the you that you’ve discovered, and you won’t have to worry about me.”

“I want to worry about you.”

“No, see, you don’t have to! Once I leave you can sleep until noon, and never go to another party or another class. You can do whatever you want every single second.”

“I would rather have you,” Sherlock says.

“Well, Sherlock, I’m leaving, and you are going to have to figure out what your life looks like when I’m not in it.”

“Please, Jamie, I’ll do anything if you stay,” Sherlock pleads.

“Sherlock, that’s the point. You’ve been sacrificing yourself for me for far too long. I won’t have you spend your entire life living for me. I want you to start living for yourself.”

“Your parents cut you off. You can’t leave right now,” Sherlock says.

Jamie smiles. “I’ve already spent too long thinking about all of the things that I can’t do. There is nothing that I can’t do. I’ll figure it out. People do that you know. They figure things out. I’m not going to postpone this because I’m afraid of a lack of money.”

“Let me give you some then.”

“No, Sherlock, I’ve spent too much time living off of you already.” Then Jamie pulls Sherlock toward him by his tie, and lays a powerful kiss upon him. It is ironic that Sherlock first understands what humans get out of kisses when he is getting the last kiss that he will ever receive.

Kisses are a way to talk without words, and if he’d learned the language of kisses soon enough Jamie would have believed him when Sherlock said that he loved him.

-0-

The world is empty without Jamie. The flat is quiet. He fills it with opera and concertos. It is cold, and so he lights the fire and turns up the heat and covers himself with dressing gowns.
He is empty, so he refuses to eat. Nothing will fill the void inside of him anyway.

1995 June

Mycroft is used to his brother not answering his phone. It could mean Sherlock is having sex with that boyfriend of his or experimenting on a cadaver or solving some long-forgotten murder. Still, Sherlock has been out of contact for a really long time, a long enough time to justify Mycroft’s worry.

Mycroft opens the door with a key his brother does not know that he has without even knocking. His brother is curled on the floor under a mass of blankets, his body so still that Mycroft’s first act was to kneel down and check for his brother for a pulse.

“I’m not dead, you cod,” Sherlock says through a voice which has clearly not been used in days.

“What’s wrong?” Mycroft says as softly as he is able.

“Jamie left.”

“I mean why are you on the floor?”

“Jamie left,” Sherlock repeats.

“When is the last time you had something to eat?”

“When Jamie left.”

“Okay, sensing a theme on these answers. Let’s get you up, and get you something to eat,” Mycroft prompts.

“No. I’m dying Mycroft.”

“Of course, you aren’t dying, Sherlock. Don't be dramatic. It’s a break-up. People have break-ups.”

“I’ve gotten this close to starving myself to death, it would be a bother to turn it around right now.”

“Sherlock, get up right now!” Mycroft says in his most commanding voice.

“I’ve very committed to this dying thing,” Sherlock says, not even bothering to bring his voice out of monotone.
Mycroft’s heart clenches as he picks up his brother’s phone to dial 999. The thought of his brother laying on the floor killing himself in this painful way for days while he knew nothing about him haunts him. He will never begrudge his mother’s constant need for contact with him ever again. Mycroft will have to keep a better eye on his brother as well.

-0-

Mycroft really didn’t think it would get this far: feeding tube and sedatives. Sherlock drifts in and out of consciousness, panicking each time he awakes to feel something sitting like a poisoned toad in his throat. There are times in the next day that Mycroft spends by his brother’s bedside that he wonders if he did the right thing. Perhaps it would have been kinder to grant him his wish of death.

He regrets the thoughts as Sherlock begins to recover. The feeding tube comes out, and Sherlock drinks soup and tea laced with cream. He eats pudding.

The first few times the therapists come, Sherlock scoffs at them. Later he recites the words he knows the therapists want to hear in monotone. Later he adds feeling to the words, and they stop being worried about him.
Mycroft still is. The brothers have been sitting in silence for a long time when Mycroft suddenly says, “Sherlock, you aren’t going to try something foolish like this again when you get out are you?”

“I think not,” Sherlock says, causing Mycroft to breathe a sigh of relief at least until his brother finishes the thought. “I have thought of much more creative and less painful ways to die.”

Mycroft is terrified of his brother’s creative intelligence. Not that Sherlock is intelligent compared to him, but normal people find a way to kill themselves and Sherlock is much cleverer than that.

-0-

Sherlock has not eaten chips since the last time he was in the club with Jamie. If he is going to go through the bother of eating, it will be something which will allow his body to be fueled as long as possible. He doesn’t know why his brother brings them to him. He’s been eating the nutrient rich food of the hospital.

“You get chips when you are suicidal, brother mine,” Mycroft says.

Sherlock takes a bite. He tries not to show his pleasure when the chip hits his mouth. It’s been a very long time since he had chips, and he did not remember them tasting this amazing.

Mycroft smiles. “That’s good, brother mine. You live for the chips at first, and then you find something else to live for this afternoon, and something new after that. Before long you’re not going to have to keep looking for things to live for. You’ll be too busy living.”

“You sound like you speak from experience,” Sherlock accuses.

Mycroft lets out a long deep sigh. “It’s lonely to be like us, Sherlock. I accepted a long time ago that there would never truly be someone who understood me. I think it’s been a lot harder on you that you really believed there was for so long.”

Sherlock is about to protest that Jamie did understand him, but he knows that is a lie. Jamie thought he wasn’t capable of love, but he was. For a while, while Sherlock had been with Jamie, he had thought it was a blessing to be capable of love, but now he knows that it is in fact a curse.

“Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock,” Mycroft says. “You keep your heart locked up in a box. You use people for whatever you need that they are willing to give, but you don’t let them near your heart.”

“All I want from them is the heart,” Sherlock says.

A look of confusion, a rare enough thing on Mycroft’s face, appears as he studies his brother. It might be true that Jamie never really understood Sherlock, but it is equally true that his brother did not either. Sherlock is caught forever now, between two worlds.

-0-

Sherlock felt like he was starting his life completely over now that he’s living it without Jamie. He could swear that toothpaste tastes different, and that the milk in his tea swirls in a different direction. The bed is harder and colder, and mostly just bigger. Far too big, really, for just one body. The apartment is bigger, emptier, and it echoes with his footsteps when it never used to, even though it used to be full of loud speech, laughter, and yelling.

He is no longer able to predict people’s behavior or even the actions of physics upon the world. Nothing seems to make sense anymore, and the very rules of the universe have stopped applying themselves properly.
Sherlock must learn to eat without Jamie and sleep without Jamie. Both are things he mostly failed at doing as much as would be healthy for him.

He gives up on solving crimes, because he is sure that he does not have the social graces that he would need in order to be listened to.

He uses all of the drugs that Jamie hid in corners of the apartment when he was high and then forgot about later. Sherlock searches the apartment completely for more even after he was sure he had deduced every possible hiding spot.

If his desire for drugs had been greater than his loathing for leaving the apartment, Sherlock would have deduced a place in town where he could have procured drugs for himself. As it was, the laziness of depression kept him lying on the bed day after day after day after day. After day.

Chapter Text

1995 July

There was a knock on the door. Sherlock knew that his brother would have let himself in. I If it was his parents, his mother would soon call to him through the door. He really did not want to see anyone else. The knocking continues, and at some point it becomes more annoying than the nuisance of having to pull himself off of the floor to go answer it.

A sopping wet Jamie meets his eyes. The spikes of hair jell that he had started wearing in the last month that they were together are plastered to his face. Jamie has two-day stubble, and his finger nails are painted a shockingly garish shade of pink.

“I’m sorry,” Jamie blurts, his face only one second away from tears.

“For what?” Sherlock asks, stepping aside to grant him admittance to his apartment.

“I didn’t know where else to go.”

“You are always welcome here,” Sherlock says.

“It’s just going to be for tonight,” Jamie insists.

“No,” Sherlock informs him, opening up his arms. Jamie falls into his arms in a way that reminds Sherlock of the very first time they fell into each other’s arms.

Sherlock explains how much he hates the emptiness of his bed.

Jamie tells him that he missed his deductions, and his laugh, and the way that Sherlock always checked his pulse when Jamie slept in.

Sherlock doesn’t remind him about how he had to do that because of the drugs. Sherlock is not going to talk about Jamie’s drugs. He is not going talk about anything that Jamie doesn’t like. He’ll do whatever he can to keep him.
Sherlock tells Jamie that he loves him, and when Sherlock sees that he still isn’t believed he goes on to define what love is. He tells him how he didn’t see the point in living in a world without Jamie by his side. He told him how the apartment echoed, and so did his heart. He explained, quite clearly how all food (apart from chips) lost their flavor when Jamie was not by his side.

Sherlock knows when he is done with everything that Jamie still does not understand. He does not know how close Sherlock came to leaving behind a Jamieless world forever. Sherlock does not bother to tell him, because he accepts all of the things that Jamie does not know.

1995 August

Sherlock offers sex to Jamie, frequently. Jamie responds with kisses and cuddles, but never goes farther than that, even when Sherlock begs. Sherlock isn’t sure if they are a couple or friends who are sharing an apartment because one of them is homeless. Sherlock hopes they are a couple.

They share a bed. Sometimes from opposite sides without touching, and sometimes cuddled together for comfort. Jamie isn’t sleeping with anyone else, and that is enough to make Sherlock decide that they are together. Jamie is also sleeping 2.3 more hours than he did when he and Sherlock last lived together. He’s not going out to clubs.
A suspicion starts, not in the back of his skull like most of them do, but in the pit of Sherlock’s stomach. He decides to wait until Jamie tells him what is going on. Then one night Sherlock wakes to hear Jamie sobbing in the bathroom, and he wedges himself into the small space between the sink and the bath.

“Sherlock, I’m fine.”

Sherlock pulls him into a hug which lasts and lasts until Jamie’s muscles finally release. “If I buy condoms can we have sex again?”

“What?” Jamie asks pulling back to stare at him in surprise.

“It’s AIDs, isn’t it?” Sherlock asks. It’s not words that confirms his suspicion, but the look of finality in his love’s eyes.

“I meant to leave before you found out,” Jamie says with a sigh. “I didn’t want to hurt you.”

“I haven’t seen you take medicine,” Sherlock says.

Jamie laughs. “You know how much those things cost?”

“I’ll pay for it,” Sherlock says quickly.

“Sherlock, this is not your problem. It’s my mistake. You don’t have to suffer for me. I’ll just leave in the morning.”

“I can’t live my life knowing you died when I could have stopped it,” Sherlocks insists. “Jamie, I would gladly trade all of my money for your life. Hell, I’d trade my life for yours. Please.”

“Sherlock, we’re talking trust fund money.”

“I know,” he says, finally making eye contact.

“You’d have to tell people what I have. What I did,” Jamie says, looking down.

Sherlock tilts his head up. “This is not punishment for whatever you did. What you did is fine. You’re allowed to have sex with people who want to have sex with you, Jamie. I will have to get permission from someone to get the medicine. If you don’t want me to tell my parents, I can get the trust fund transferred over to Mycroft. Is that better?”

Jamie nods. “How can you not hate me? If I’d stayed with you this never would have happened.”

“I hate this disease, Jamie, and it’s not fair you have it.”

“I don’t deserve you,” Jamie murmurs, falling into his arms.

When they finally pull apart, Sherlock says, “Are we together, Jamie?” Sherlock rushes on, “We’re doing the meds either way.”

“God, Sherlock, if you still want to date me I’d be honored.”

“Thank God!” Sherlock exclaims. “I’ll get condoms tomorrow then!”

“No, Sherlock. You don’t even like sex. I’m not going to risk your life to have it.”

“It’s not that dangerous, assuming we always use protection. I’ll research and figure out ways to prevent it from spreading.”

“You won’t die for my mistake.”

“Jamie, you are the best thing that I’ve ever had.”

“And now you have me without the sex.”

“Jamie, I tried to tell you before. Being an asexual doesn’t mean I hate sex. I like it. I like how happy it makes you, and how close I feel to you. I want it to be a part of our life. Besides, my body needs physical release from time to time, and you are far more efficient at achieving it than I am.”

“We’ll talk about it later. Maybe when I’m medicated, and my viral load is really low, if you really actually want it,” Jamie says.

“I’m glad we’re dating again. I would have been okay if we were roommates, but this is way better.”
Jamie smiles.

“I missed you, Sherlock. There is no one else like you.”

“And for that, most people are grateful.”

-0-

Mycroft stares at Sherlock across the tea table. He places the cup down in the saucer, the normally comforting sound loud and harsh in the silence between brothers. “Jamie has returned then.”

“Yes. That is actually why I wanted to talk to you. I need you to take over my trust fund. I’ll be needing some funds, and Jamie doesn’t want me to ask our parents.”

“Oh, Sherlock,” Mycroft says. “Has he has any treatment at all?”

“He can’t afford the treatment.”

“Surely his parents-”

“His parents rejected him when they found out about his sexuality. This is not something they would help with.”

Mycroft leans forward. “Sherlock, of course I will give you whatever Jamie needs. I just want to make sure that you are not pursuing a...physical relationship with him.”

“I don’t think that’s any of your business.”

“Sherlock, it’s not worth the risk.”

“I’m the one who gets to decide that.”

“Sherlock, I’m not sure you understand how serious AIDS is.”

“I am aware, Mycroft. My boyfriend has it.”

“I am endeavoring to prevent you from getting it, brother mine.”

Sherlock sighs, “Honestly, if Jamie has to die I wouldn’t mind going with him, but my goal is actually to prevent both of us from dying. We’re going to be careful, Mycroft, and I haven’t exactly talked Jamie into doing anything, but if we do, that’s about us. Get us the money.”

Chapter Text

1995 September

Sherlock should have expected it. After all, his parents had been dropping by to check on him much more often since his suicide attempt. Still, he didn’t expect them to just walk into the room while his head rests on Jamie’s lap with Jamie slowly running his hands through the curls in Sherlock’s head.

“Jamie?” Mrs. Holmes exclaims. “You’re back! Thank God!” She pulls him up to give him a hug causing her son’s head to clunk against the couch painfully.

“Thanks, Mom,” Sherlock says sarcastically.

“You have no idea how sad Sherlock was after you left,” she continues.

“Nor do I think he needs one,” Mr. Holms says softly.

“Right, quite sorry. You’ve moved back in, then? You should have called us to help,” Mrs. Holmes says, pulling Jamie away to look at him only to crush him into another hug almost instantly.

“I didn’t exactly have a lot to move in,” Jamie explains.

“Come here then,” Mrs. Holmes says, wrangling a third hug out of Jamie. “Oh, what’s wrong then?” she asks, softly rocking him back and forth with a rhythm that Sherlock remembers from his earliest childhood.

“You shouldn’t be nice to me,” Jamie protests in a low, thick voice.

“Oh, of course I should. Everyone deserves to have someone be nice to them.”

“You don’t know. You don’t understand, and if you did you would not be nice to me,” Jamie continues.

“Oh, there isn’t anything in the world that would make me want to be unkind to you. Now, out with it. What is it that makes you want to be unkind to yourself?” she asks.

Jamie leans back far enough so that he can look into the eyes of both of Sherlock’s parents. “I have AIDs,” he whispers.

There isn’t even a pause in the conversation. “You’ve been to the doctor then? No matter, I’ll find you better doctors,” Mrs. Holmes declares, worry creasing the corners of her eyes in a way that Jamie finds almost heartbreaking.

“I’m fine, really. Sherlock has already seen to it.”

“Well, at least now we know why the boys transferred the trust over. Shame, Sherlock. You ought to have known that I’d have given you the money if you’d asked me,” Mr. Holmes chides.

“I did know, but…Jamie asked me not to tell you,” Sherlock explains.

“Well then, do you need rest? Here I am, pulling you off the couch when you should be lying down. Go on,” Mrs. Holmes commands.

“I’m fine. I’m doing okay right now,” Jamie says, smiling for the first time in days.

“You’ll let us know if we can help you, eh? Of course, your parents are sure to be taking care of you as well.”

“They disowned me because I was gay,” Jamie informs Mr. Holmes. “I did tell when I got sick. I thought the fact that I was going to die might change things for them. Well it did, I suppose. It made them more hateful. They said that this was what I deserved.”

No one deserves this,” Mrs. Holmes declares. “Now then, Sherlock, why haven’t you made us some tea? Honestly, all that money we spent on social skills tutors and you never even mastered the basics.” Her tone is light and teasing, but Sherlock hears it in a far more serious tone than she meant it to be.

-0-

“Your viral load is far below the acceptable rate for sexual interaction with protection,” Sherlock informs Jamie. If Sherlock could be the kind of person to say “Duh”, that’s what he would have ended his sentence with. As it is, Sherlock raises one eyebrow and slightly turns his head.

“If I ask how you got my testing results, are you going to answer me?” Jamie responds.

“Certainly not with the truth. That would decrease the chances that my method would work in the future,” Sherlock says honestly.

Jamie sighs. “I am still not comfortable putting you at risk.”

“Right. We broke up because you thought you knew more about being an asexual than I did. You thought you could make better decisions about whether or not I wanted to have sex than I could. If you still think all of that then I’m not sure that we should continue this relationship.”

Jamie looks at him startled. “I never thought of it that way.”

“I want to have sex.” Sherlock baldly states. “If I didn’t want it, I would not ask you for it. My experience with sex probably is not the same as yours, but it’s still valid, and it’s something I've missed. A lot.”

“Okay,” Jamie says, standing before him. Sherlock leans forward for one of the long snogs that comes before sex for them. Sherlock was an engine that took a very long time to warm up and needed the same starting sequence each time the key was turned. He pushes Jamie against the wall, and makes a pattern with his kisses. Mouth, chin stubble, ear lobe, neck, mouth... He gets through it four times before Jamie giggles indicating that he’s caught on to the game.

Jamie starts to push back and slowly maneuvers Sherlock against the table, against the hall, against the door of their bedroom, and then finally pushes him down on the bed, and collapse on top of him.

“This is one of the things I love about sex. Feeling your weight on top of me.”

“Like to be crushed, do you?” Jamie asks with a chuckle so close to Sherlock’s skin he feels it before he even hears it.

“I love being close to you. Love it even better when you’re inside of me, and on top of me. I want you as close as you can get.”

“Yes, we could be a lot closer if there wasn’t all these clothes between us,” Jamie says removing his clothes. When Jamie’s arms are above his head still trapped in his button-up, Sherlock says, “Leave them.” A wry smile wraps around his face.

“You’ve gotten kinkier since the last time we were together,” Jamie says. “Have you been with anyone else?”

“No!” Sherlock says quickly. He is probably doing this wrong. He studied hours of the raunchiest films in order to make Jamie happy, and here he is, messing it all up before he can even get his boyfriend inside of himself.

“It would be okay if you had been, Sherlock. We aren’t together, and as you pointed out, you’re in control of your own sex life.”

“Sex is only something I want if I care a lot about someone. I haven’t...I didn’t.”

“That’s okay too,” Jamie says, touching his face, his lips, his cheekbones. Sherlock leans into the contact, and that makes Jamie grin more than all the porn actions Sherlock has ever practiced for a mirror audience.

Sherlock is trying to decide if he wants to abandon all the other porny ideas of how to make his boyfriend happy when Jamie movies down his body, and starts to nuzzle against his crotch. Sherlock doesn't have to fake his delight. He loves the way Jamie treats his genitals. It’s like the way that most people treat the face. Jamie gently pulls off his trousers and pants, and then begins to work Sherlock with his mouth while preparing Sherlock with his finger and the tube Sherlock manages to produce out of a jacket pocket. Jamie continues the attention far longer than he would with another partner.

“Jamie, I’m ready,” he says with a breathy plea.

Jamie pulls back and puts what Sherlock thinks is altogether too much attention on the careful application of his condom.

Sherlock forgets to make the sounds he’s been practicing when Jamie enters him, but he really doesn’t need to because a sound of pure delight comes out of him purely by accident. Jamie grins at him and runs his hands through Sherlock’s hair as they lay in silence, carefully waiting for him to adjust.

“You can move now,” Sherlock says.

“We’d better wait a bit longer. It’s been a long time since you’ve had someone inside of you,” Jamie warns.

“Not someone, but something,” Sherlock whispers.

Jamie’s eyes dilate with pleasure.

“I told you that I required physical release even without you,” Sherlock says, confused by his excitement.

“I just didn’t expect you to be doing that with a toy inside of you!” Jamie exclaims.

“Most effective method,” Sherlock says. “Well, besides you, but you left, so I had to make due.”

“Holy shit, you are like a superbottom, and I love it!” Jamie says beginning to move inside of him while Jamie reaches up to take his member in hand.

For a few second Sherlock is silent, and then he remembers the sounds he’s supposed to be making. The first one isn’t quite right, and Jamie looks at him as if he was trying to figure out whether it was a sound of pain or pleasure. The second one though, makes Jamie grin, and soon he’s making sounds to match the ones that are coming from his usually silent lover.

“Jesus, Sherlock! What’s got into you?”

“I missed you,” Sherlock reminds him, and it’s the truth. He missed him so much he’s spent hours studying the proper way to move his face and body and vocal cord to convince his boyfriend that he wants sex, to make his lover comfortable.

“So good,” Jamie says moving into the final thrusting that Sherlock knows means he’s about to come.

“Come in me,” Sherlock pleads, and somehow, even though he knows it’s just biology, he feels very powerful when Jamie obeys. It feels different, not to feel the semen inside of him. It’s not quite as close, but Sherlock reminds himself, a small sacrifice to make for getting to live.

Jamie pulls out, and messes with the condom before he snuggles against Sherlock’s body. Another disadvantage of a barrier Sherlock pouts.

“You liked that more than you used to, didn’t you?” Jamie whispers in his ear.

“I suppose that only makes sense since I like you more than I used to,” Sherlock says.

“That’s how it works for you isn’t it? The sex is only as good as the emotional connection?”

“Mmm,” Sherlock agrees.

“For me it doesn’t matter. The emotional connection, and the sex, they don’t have to go together. I guess I’m just a whore.”

“No, Jamie, you are normal, and you have an emotional connection with me. Don’t you?” Sherlock pleads.

“Of course,” Jamie says, kissing his neck.

“Well, that’s all that matters to me,” Sherlock says happily.

Chapter Text

1995 September

Jamie always woke up later than Sherlock did.This was always far truer on a night after they had sex, so Sherlock isn’t surprised when Jamie doesn’t get up from bed right away in the morning. But when the clock hits ten in the morning he becomes concerned. Sherlock checks his pulse.

“I’m alive, Sherlock,” Jamie says in an annoyed voice, but that only worries Sherlock a lot more, because usually he says that he’s fine. Not that he’s alive.

Sherlock lays down next to him. “What can I do?”

Jamie shakes his headand Sherlock nuzzles into his chest, holding him until Jamie falls asleep by way of making amends for having woken him up in the first place.

When afternoon arrives, and Jamie still hasn’t woken up, Sherlock’s stomach sinks. He wakes him again.

“Sherlock, I really will get up soon.”

“Jamie, you’ve slept the whole day away. Your heart rate is alarmingly low. I think you need to go to a clinic.”

“I’m too tired to go to a doctor…” Jamie jokes, falling back asleep at the end of the sentence by way of punctuation.

“Jamie?” Sherlock asks. He doesn’t answer, and Sherlock feels his pulse once more. It’s even threadier and lower than it was before. “Jamie, I’m calling for an ambulance if you don’t answer me right now.”

There is no response, and Sherlock stares at the man he loves with worry for a few more seconds before he follows through on his threat.

-0-

No one makes an objection to Sherlock climbing into the back of the ambulance next to Jamie. Which is fortunate, because Jamie wakes up half way through the ride with eyes wide and full of panic until Sherlock squeezes his hand and he falls back into his restless sleep. He doesn’t seem to mind where he is as long as Sherlock is with him.

The staff at the hospital are not nearly as understanding as the EMTs in the ambulance were though, and they refuse to allow him access to Jamie’s room. Sherlock wastes some time in persuasion first, pointing out that they are boyfriends, that they are living together, and that he gives a shit about Jamie unlike the family that they would have let go into the room.

When he realizes that none of this matters, Sherlock goes to work: he calls Mycroft. He doesn’t even try to convince the minion who answers to hand him to his brother. He just shouts into the phone, “I’m at the hospital, and they won’t let me see Jamie!”

It takes only thirty-four minutes for a hospital administrator to come puffing up a stairwell, breathing apologies and actually making a damned good bow as she leads Sherlock into Jamie’s room. Seven connections to the wall, both electric and fluid, Sherlock notices with a quick appraisal. There are bold, underlined words on the clipboard advising the hospital staff to treat the boyfriend of the patient like royalty. Sherlock prefers that they treated Jamie like royalty. He moves forward, and touches Jamie’s hand, feeling as if he’s disturbing a corpse in the colosseum. He’s relieved to feel it warm.

“You left me,” Jamie mutters, startling Sherlock’s hand from his, but just for a moment.

“They wouldn’t let me see you.Thay said, they said I wasn’t family.” Sherlock voice chokes ab it, but settles down as he sees a whisper of a smile on Jamie’s lips.

“Idiots,” he mutters.

Sherlock chuckles before taking a better look at the clipboard,“Pneumonia.”

“Hmmm.”

“I was a little worried I exhausted you last night.I thought maybe that’s why you got sick,” Sherlock admits.

“Thought you sexed me to death, eh?” Jamie teases, accidently winking by being too exhausted to manage to open both eyes.

“Let’s not joke about your death,” Sherlock says seriously, but he sighs. “Even though the fact that it’s hanging over your head is the only reason you’re with me.”

 

Jamie jerks both of his eyes wide. “What?”

“Sorry. I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

“Sherlock, I am not with you just because I am sick.”

“Jamie, it’s okay. I accept what we have.”

“No, no, honey, and if taking the money for pills made you think that is all this is then I’ll stop taking them.”

“No,” Sherlock says fiercely, sending a sharp echo around the hospital room with his vehement reply. “I’m paying for your pills whether or not we’re together. And you don’t have to lie to me. You left beforeand you came back when you needed me. I don’t mind being needed. It…it helps me, actually.”

“God, Sherlock,” Jamie says, griping his lover’s hand, “What we have is so much more than that! I should have explained it more, but I never imagined you didn’t know. I left, because I thought I wanted other things. Other things that made me sick, incidentally. I thought that partying and having sex with lots of guys was what I wanted.
I was done with it months ago, before I knew I was sick, before I came back to you. I discovered that it wasn’t what I wanted out of life. I would have come back to you sooner, but I didn’t think you’d want me. Or worse, that you would. I don’t deserve you Sherlock,” Jamie says, his eyes and face wet with uncontained tears.

“I’m the one who doesn’t deserve you, Jamie,” Sherlock argues.

“Sherlock, you are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I wish I’d never let you slip through my fingers. All that wasted time, plus, you know...” Jamie gestures at the obvious hospital surroundings.
Sherlock sighs. “I’m getting a little sick of you blaming yourself for your AIDS. It wasn’t your fault, and it’s something we are going to face together.

“I love you,” Jamie says.

“I love you too,” Sherlock says.

-0-

Sherlock is furious with Mycroft for trying to make him leave the hospital in order to eat and shower. Mycroft made solid points about how Sherlock couldn’t even be in Jamie’s room if it were not for him, but Sherlock is still fuming as he slams out of the hospital’s main entrance door.

When Sherlock returns, his wet hair still dripping and his shirt on inside out, Jamie is asleep with a notebook open on his lap. Sherlock sits down, and tries to avoid reading it. He’s used to reading people’s life story on their faces. The temptation to see if Jamie was telling the truth about wanting to be with him wins and Sherlock leans in, reading the scrawled words upside down so as not to disturb Jamie.

“Things AIDS stole from me: marriage, children, college degree, job, future.”

Sherlock’s heart clenches. Jamie had mentioned wanting children a long time ago, and of course there had been Jamie’s dreadful habit of studying when he was in college, but Sherlock never thought he’d been serious about those things. Sherlock was pretty sure that he himself didn’t want those things, but he was also pretty sure that he would give Jamie whatever he wanted. Sherlock slips out of the room, and begins to wander the hallways. He didn’t mean to end up in the maternity ward, but he did.

The baby in an incubator in the corner of the room catches his eye. He walks in, much to the alarm of the nurses.
“My brother is Mycroft Holmes, call him if I’m bothering you,” Sherlock says dismissively, walking over as if mesmerized. “What is wrong with him?” Sherlock asks the nurse hovering just behind him.

“He was born premature. Mom was addicted to drugs.” She tsks. “He has the AIDS.”

Sherlock can’t believe that not long ago he was worried he didn’t want to be a father. How could he not want this?
“You can hold him,” the nurse unexpectedly prompts.

“I probably shouldn’t,” Sherlock says quickly. He’s more than a little worried that if he picks the baby up, he will have moved past the point of no return.

“He doesn't belong to anyone. Babies do better when they are held and touched. You’d really be doing him a favor.”

The nurse’s wheedling pushes it’s way past Sherlock’s logic center, and he pulls a chair up to the incubator, reaching in to hold the merest mite of a human being with the protective plastic gloves. The baby turns toward the contact and Sherlock loses his heart.

“Hello,” he brokenly whispers, smiling. “You’ve got to hold on, infant I know you haven’t seen much of the world yet, but there are some pretty great things out there. There is murder for instance, and that is pretty interesting.”
The nurse, busily writing on the baby’s chart, stops and raises her eyebrows at him.“ I mean solving murders? And there are...puppies?” Sherlocks stumbles, struggling for the first thing he can think of that the nurse will approve of.

She chuckles and walks away.
“And this world contains a man named Jamie,” Sherlock whispers. “He’s fighting the same disease you are. Maybe the two of you can fight together, hmm? And my mother would love the very idea of you. Grandmas are good, yeah? They make biscuits. Of course it’s going to be a bit before you can handle that. I don’t know what Grandma’s do for children your age since I don’t remember it personally, but, all the same, I’m sure it was pretty great.”

-0-

Sherlock makes it back to the room before Jamie wakes up. When Jamie’s eyes open, Sherlock is there, smiling at him.

“I should probably tell you I read your note.”

“Oh, that,” Jamie says. “I was just being bitter.”

“You can still have those things.”

“Sherlock, it’s fine. I’m trying to let all of those things go.”

“You don’t need to,” Sherlock protests. “Weddings bore me, but the idea of promising to be with you forever would be fine. Also, it would make my mother very happy.”

Jamie raises his eyebrows. “Okay, maybe we can do one of those things, but only if you really want to, and you give me a proper proposal someday. The rest though...”

“We should adopt,” Sherlock blurts.

“Sherlock, I can’t even take care of myself. I can’t have a baby.”

“Well, in this case you can sometimes, and I’ll take care of him when you are too sick to do it.”

“Sherlock, I’m not going to live long enough to be a parent. It wouldn’t be fair to the child.”

“What if it was a child no more likely to live than you are?” Sherlock asks.

“Oh God, you found one already,” Jamie says falling back on his pillow in exasperation.

“By accident, I swear.” Sherlock powers on despite the incredulous look Jamie is giving the ceiling. “There’s a baby in this hospital with AIDS that he got from his drug-addicted mother. He’s premature and might not even make it out of the hospital.”

“Sherlock, you’ve chosen to love one sick person. Are you sure that your heart can take two?”

“I’m sure.”

“Let’s go look at the other man whose stolen your heart?” Jamie asks.

Sherlock grins, “I’ll go steal a wheelchair.”

“Tomorrow,” Jamie says patting his head.

-0-

The same nurse is on duty. She gushes when Sherlock rolls Jamie into the maternity ward.

“You brought your partner, then?” she asks.

“Yes,” Sherlock says.

“He made a huge improvement since you were last here. You can hold him outside of the incubator this time, if you want,” the nurse continues.

Jamie frowns. “He doesn’t need to catch my pneumonia, but he’d be safe if I touched him through the glove?”
She nods, and Jamie sits down to tenderly stroke the baby’s belly. His uses his free hand to wipe the already forming tears out of his eyes.

“You want to feed him?” the nurse asks Sherlock. “Might help him eat more. If he could gain some weight it would help him leave the hospital faster.”

“You sure I’m qualified? I’ve never done anything like this before.” Sherlock says nervously.

The nurse laughs. “Parenthood doesn’t exactly come with prerequisites, dear. There isn’t a parent who leaves this place who has any idea whatsoever what they’re doing. I’ll fix you a bottle,” she says, bustling off to the other side of the room.

“You’re sure this kid is up for adoption, Sherlock?” Jamie asks.

“I’ll talk to Mycroft,” he says.

“How sure are you that you want to do this?” Jamie asks.

“It’s so funny that just yesterday I’d never even considered being a parent, and now I can’t imagine not doing this.”

“You know you’re almost certainly going to be a single parent. I mean, at least I hope you are, because I want this kid to live.”

“Well, I want both of you to live,” Sherlock insists.

Jamie sighs. “We’re not going to do this unless I know you’re absolutely sure you want to do the single parent thing.”

“If necessary,” Sherlock says, dosing his hands with far more hand sanitizer than strictly necessary.

“God, are we crazy?” Jamie wonders, but his gloved hand has already moved to let the baby clutch one of the oversized fingers, so Sherlock assumes his question is rhetorical.

The nurse returns and hands Sherlock the bottle. Sherlock begins to feed the baby Jamie talks. “Hey, little one. I know you don’t know much about the world right now, but there are some good things coming your way. There’s this thing called sunlight. Oh, you are going to love it. And there is nature. We’re going to go to the park, eh? Maybe we’ll even get you a little pram so we can push you around the park in it.”

The baby stares at Jamie wide eyed as he eats.

“I think he likes your voice and the cuddles. He’s already eaten more than he ever has in a single feeding,” the nurse says.

“Oh, I’ve got a lot of experience with reluctant eaters,” Jamie says looking at Sherlock.

“He’s still rails thin,” the nurse chucks.“ I’d step up my efforts if I were you.”

“Well it will be easier now that I have the words ‘for the baby’ backing me up,” Jamie teases.

“I have the feeling that I’m going to be hearing those words a lot,” Sherlock says.

“Honestly, boys, I’m quite relieved that you’re showing interest in this little tyke. There aren’t many who would take a complicated case like him. His parents are in for a fair amount of heartbreak.”

“Aren’t all parents?” Jamie asks. “At least we know what we’re signing up for.”

Chapter Text

1995 September

Sherlock is used to having to go through several minions before Mycroft takes his call, so he is surprised when it doesn’t even get to the second ring before he hears his brother’s voice.

“Is Jamie in need of assistance?” Mycroft asks quickly.

“No, he’s recovering fine. He might even get out of the hospital tomorrow. I’ve got an unrelated request. Jamie and I have decided to adopt.”

There is a pause. “Please tell me we’re talking about a canine?”

“No, Mycroft. A human baby.”

“Sherlock, are you sure that is wise? James is very sick right now. I It might not be the right time to take on additional responsibilities.”

“The baby is in the neonatal intensive care. He does much better when we provide him with affection. He might not live if we don’t do something. Besides, this is something that Jamie really wants to do with his life, and we don’t know how much time he has to do all the things that he wants to do.”

“I see,” Mycroft says, and then pauses, readjusting his grip on the phone before trusting himself to continue. “What is your plan if the child lives longer than Jamie?”

Sherlock rolls his eyes. “Why does everyone think I can’t be a parent by myself? Being a parent with someone else requires a lot of responsibility as well.”

“That is true. However, brother mine, you have never expressed interest in being a parent before. You cannot blame me for being a bit surprised by the whole thing.”

“If you could just tell me how legally practical this adoption would be, I would appreciate it,” Sherlock says.

“Of course. Give me the name,” Mycroft says.

“He hasn’t been named yet. I have the mother’s name. He’s three days old,” Sherlock offers.

-0-

“You are cleared to go home today,” the nurse says cheerfully.

“Excellent. As long as cleared means sleeping in a chair in the neonatal unit, of course.” Jamie grins.

The nurse looks alarmed until Sherlock interjects.

“No, Jamie, you’re not going to run yourself sick over that baby. You are going to go home and rest. I’ll stay with Alec until he can go home.”

Jamie blinks at him.

“Oh. Did I only name our son in my head?” Sherlock asks, turning back with a look of understanding that Jamie knows means he’s already deduced the answer.

Jamie chuckles anyway. “Clearly.”

The nurse walks out of the room.

“He needs to be named after you, but you would reject a diminutive, so I went with your middle name,” Sherlock offers.

Jamie smiles. “If we named him after you, he’d have a more interesting lineage.”

“Quiet,” Sherlock says, “But he needs to be named after you.”

Jamie nods, understanding why it is so important to his boyfriend. “All right then, but he’ll have to have something of yours. God knows you’ve got enough names to gift him with. Choose whichever you like best for his middle name.”

Sherlock thinks for only a moment. “William will do. It’s a versatile name. I ran through Billy and Bill, Will, and William before I went by my own middle name. It would be a shame to run out of names before you ran out of personalities.”

Jamie debates about whether to talk before he does speak. “Sherlock, when I’m gone...”

“I refuse to talk about your death,” Sherlock says quickly, brushing the topic off like he would a high maintenance coat.

“Well, refusing to talk about it won’t prevent it from happening,” Jamie says. “I want to be sure that you’re going to be all right when I’m gone.”

“All right? Of course, I won’t be!” Sherlock begins.

“You’ll have to be though,” Jamie explains, deadly serious. “You understand? That’s what adopting Alec means. It means you’re not allowed to fall apart after I die.”

Sherlock’s face goes grave. “I’m going to fall apart. Alec will just have to go live with my parents for a time after you die. I’ll grieve hard, and then I’ll put myself together and go back to raising our child.”

“Okay,” Jamie nods. “Just don’t let him stay there too long. One more thing, Sherlock. I want you to have my body when I’m dead.”

“I don’t know why you would believe I have necrophilia tendencies,” Sherlock says looking insulted.

Jamie chuckles. “Not like that, you sicko. I know how you like experiments though.”

“You will never be a body to me, Jamie. I don’t run experiments on people I love.”

“Oh, yes you do,” Jamie insists.

“Fine! But not anything that would hurt you, and none after you are dead.”

“Then keep a piece of me. Something,” Jamie says.

“Ashes?” Sherlock asks.

“No, something more you.”

Sherlock thinks for a minute, and then whispers as if he’s sure it’s too much. “Your skull?”

“Perfect,” Jamie hums. “You’ll put it on your mantel or your bookshelf. It will be something to remind you of all the good times, but you won’t use it to feel guilty or sad or anything else.”

“Will it scare the child?”

“God no. Remember it’s going to be your child, Sherlock, and no child of yours is going to be scared of a skull.”
The child is going to be like him. The child is going to be affected by having him for a father. “Jamie, you have to keep me from messing him up,” Sherlock blurts.

“Sherlock, you’re not going to...”

“I am!” Sherlock practically shouts. “You forget. I don’t know why you always forget, but you do. I’m a sociopath. You are the only person who has ever developed any sort of tolerance for me. People find me annoying, and rude, and grating. I can’t teach a child manners. I can’t take care of it!
There are studies that show that sociopaths are probably not even capable of loving another human being.”

“That’s all crap, Sherlock. You love me, and you sure as hell love that baby.” Sherlock relaxes under the truth and trust in the words. Jamie continues, steel in his tone. “No parents has any idea what they are doing with a child. You and I are going to make mistakes, but your mistakes are not going to be because of some rubbish diagnosis. It’s going to be because you are human. Eh? And this kid is lucky to have you. God, you know this baby wasn’t going to be loved without us, right? We are going to love the baby, and that’s all that really matters! Okay?”
Sherlock grins at him. “I am grateful for you every single day, you know that. I couldn’t even make a friend, and now I’ve got this love...”

“God, Sherlock,” Jamie says. “I’m lucky to be with you. Not everyone would be in a relationship with a dying man. Or give him a chance to be a father...to have a family.”

“Okay, let’s get you home so I can get back to our baby,” Sherlock says, standing up and offering Jamie his hand.

“If you think I’m going to leave without dropping in on that baby, you’re nutters,” Jamie says taking the hand and pulling himself up by it.

-0-

Sherlock didn’t know how to tell his parents about the fact that they had become grandparents, but he did know the longer that he waited the angrier they were going to be when they found out. He practices the phone conversation over and over until he is sure that he is ready. With a sudden horror, Sherlock realizes that his parents are probably going to respond to what he says, and that he’s not going to be able to predict their part of the conversation.

That is how Sherlock ended up calling his mother, blurting information on the room she could “met her grandson in” at the hospital, and then hanging up before she can get a word in edgewise. He is pretty sure he is going to get a chewing out as soon as she arrives.

Instead he gets a hug. A long, teary, wet one. “Oh, Sherlock, when you and your brother told me that you liked men when you were teenagers, I’d given up on ever having grandchildren. Now you’ve given me them! You have no idea how excited I am about this!”

Sherlock’s stomach twists in guilt. He should have mentioned to his mother that the child is sick, that she is not going to have a grandbaby for very long.

“Mom, he has AIDS,” Sherlock whispers.

“Yes, we know Jamie does.”

“No, my son,” Sherlock whispers.

Mrs. Holmes’s mouth is in a firm line for a moment, and Sherlock thinks that the yelling is going to start now. He knows that he would deserve whatever she dishes out. After all, she didn’t sign up for this pain like he and his boyfriend have.

“Well, that’s to be expected. I went and raised a boy with a big old heart. I can’t expect him not to use it. We’ll just have to make his life extra special since he might not get all of the life that he deserves.”

Then she walks over to the incubator, and looks down at the tiny boy inside, the large smile on her face tightens Sherlock’s chest. He looks down and feels his sternum, trying to process the increase in temperature and medical…oh, but what if this is a metaphysical, not a physical, sensation? It takes Sherlock a moment, but if he has to describe how he feels when Mum looks down on his son with such pure joy, Sherlock would almost say that his heart is melting.

1995, December

Sherlock isn’t prepared for what it is like to take Jay home. Most parents have the better part of a year to prepare for their new addition, but that’s not even the main reason why he’s so anxious. Most babies don’t come home with heart monitors.

Sherlock’s parents ensure that a crib, the bare essentials in nappies, onesies, and bottles, and a rather glorious teddy bear are waiting for them when they enter their home with Alec for the first time. Jamie and Sherlock (mostly Sherlock) must move the dresser into the living room to make room for the heart monitor in the bedroom, and Sherlock won’t dare sleep just in case it stops working without warning.

Sherlock retains almost no memory of the first two months of his son’s life, and he never knew if that was due to the fact that it is hard to form memories when you are sleep deprived or if it was so unpleasant he just deleted it.
It is not that this time did not have a record though. Sherlock keeps each feeding and diaper change meticulously recorded in an excel document. A notebook kept by the rocking chair in which Sherlock spent a large portion of his Alec-centered day was filled with more frivolous information about smiles, head tilts, his favorite song to hear on the violin, hypothesis about possible cognitive developments of the day, and the Shakespeare sonnets most likely to lull him to sleep.

Jamie would add his own information to the notebook as well, much to Sherlock’s annoyance. Things about his favorite teddy and which nursery rhyme he enjoyed.

“You can let him be a kid, Sherlock,” his boyfriend would remind him.

“He is a kid!” Sherlock would object. “That doesn’t mean that he has to be an idiot as well.”

When Jay was three months old, Jamie was playing with him on the floor enjoying the child’s outrageous giggles. He suddenly looks at his boyfriend, and asks, “What if his intelligence is below average?”

Sherlock snorts. “Then clearly the instrument used to measure his intelligence would be flawed. Our child is not below average.”

“It is a statistical likelihood given the drugs he was bathed in before he was even born.”

“You’ve taken drugs and it didn’t make you stupid,” Sherlock retorts.

“Well, I took them when my brain was mostly developed, and according to you I was stupid to begin with,” Jamie mutters.

Sherlock calls him that, often, and his stomach clenches. He has stopped pretending to be someone else around his love a long time ago. He thought it didn’t really matter, that Jamie would accept him the way he was no matter what. Maybe he shouldn’t have. “I don’t mean it when I call you stupid.”

“I know I’m not as smart as you.”

“Of course, you are!” Sherlock objects. “You can figure out humans way better than I can. You never would have hurt me by accident like I’ve blatantly been hurting you.”

“You mean I wouldn’t repeatedly call the person that I loved most in the world stupid for no reason? No, I wouldn’t.”

“See, you know things that I don’t. Things that I could never learn, even with years of social skill tutors. You could learn what I know, but I could never learn what you know.”

Jamie climbs into the rocker on top of Sherlock’s lap, carefully cradling the baby between them. “I just need to know that this kid is not going to be a disappointment to you. Even if it turns out that he isn’t a genius.”

“Of course!” Sherlock says scandalized.

“What if he ends up thinking guts are gross?” Jamie asks.

“Then we’re going to need to get a bigger place so I can keep the experiments away from him.”

“We are going to need to get a bigger place to keep the experiments away from him anyway. Toddlers get into everything.”

“Just how big should it be?” Sherlock asks apprehensively.

“Well, he’s going to need his own bedroom for starters,” Jamie begins.

“I agree that children should all have their own bedrooms. So how many bedrooms are we going to need?”

“It sounds like you’re asking me if we’re going to have more children.” Jamie says in surprise.

“I don’t think they should be as spread apart age-wise as Mycroft and I are. I’d like our children to be pretty close together.”

“I had no idea that we were considered multiple children,” Jamie says.

“Oh,” Sherlock says more the a little taken aback. “I just thought...we love the one we have so much, and you really hated being an only child. I just assumed.”

“I hated my parents. It had nothing to do with being an only child.” James presses his lips together. “Sherlock, I want to be a parent. I want it to be the most important thing in my life.”

“But you don’t want it to be your whole life,” Sherlock deduces. “There were other things on the list, things we’ve put off because we have a newborn.”

“Things I don’t regret putting off, not for a second.”

“But it’s time for us to get married, and time for you to go to college.” Sherlock nods.

“God, I sound selfish,” Jamie moans.

“No, our baby deserves married parents, and if he’s not going to have siblings we are just going to have to make extra sure that he makes friends. Honestly, with me as a parent he’s probably going to need the extra push.”

Chapter Text

1996 January

Jamie is confused for a moment when Angelo brings out a nearly empty plate. When he looks down at it, he sees the words “Will you marry me?” written in lightly sauced spaghetti.

“The me is me,” Sherlock explains, pointing an unnecessary finger. “It just occurred to me that the pronoun is unclear, and I would really rather you didn’t marry Angelo.”

“There was no danger of that,” Jamie says. “No offense, Angelo.”

“None taken, Sir.” He grins.

“Yes, I’ll marry you, you idiot.” Jamie says leaning over the table to kiss his fiancé.

Angelo claps his hands together, startling the couple for a moment “Good! Now I’ll go get your real dinner and a candle. It’s more romantic with a candle.”

The fiancés smile at one other and lean in again.

-0-

Sherlock’s family is delighted over the announcement for which Sherlock is grateful. He figures if he leaves them alone in a room for long enough, they’ll have the whole wedding arranged and he won’t have to lift a finger.

Of course, it would all be a great deal easier if Jamie didn’t have so many pesky opinions.

“You know if you stopped vetoing all of the things that they want to do the whole thing would be over by now,”
Sherlock points out when Jamie has said no to a wedding at the old family estate (which seemed so delightfully easy to Sherlock). Everyone in the room stops and stares at him in horror. He knows he did something wrong, but he can’t for the life of him figure out what it was.

“Sherlock, our wedding is not something that you ‘get through’. We’ll cancel the wedding. I have no desire to marry someone who doesn’t want to marry me.”

Sherlock groans. Now he must explain. “I don’t want to marry you because there are going to be a lot of people there, and I hate people, even with the flowers and presents and, and the teacup arrangement. I do want to be married to you. I want a forever with you.”

“Okay, well this marriage isn’t legal anyway, so we don’t have to do this.”

“You want it. I don’t mind. I’ll get through it. I would do anything for you.”

“Yes, and you already do enough for me. Sherlock, I don’t want you to spend the rest of my life doing whatever I want. I want this to be mutual. I want both of us to be happy. You don’t have to keep sacrificing for me.”

“All right, so how about I make this sacrifice for me, and you make a sacrifice for me later.”

“What?” Jamie asks.

“I’m tired of solving murders just from the newspaper. I’d like to actually...do cases. Have people come to the flat, maybe leave the baby with you, and run around London solving problems.”

“That sounds amazing, Sherlock.” Jamie says.

“It could negatively affect the completion of your list.”

“I can do distance school, and if it means I don’t have a job at some point down the line I am very okay with that. It’s the least important thing on my list. You, and this baby... you are the part that matters.”

“Distance school might be a better option anyway. You can work around your sick days. Take your time.”

“Maybe we can have a slightly smaller wedding. Why don’t you take off all the people who stress you out,” Jamie says, handing him the guest list.

Sherlock raises his eyebrows at him.

“Ok, take out 10-20 of the most stressful people.” Jamie prompts.

“And that list will NOT include your brother,” Mrs. Holmes says pointedly.

Sherlock sighs dramatically, taking out a pencil and crossing off names with a dramatic flair.

1996 February

“Shh!” Sherlock scolds to the baby in his arms. “You are a bouquet today, and flowers do not cry.”

The baby stares up at him in surprise, and Sherlock takes advantage of the break in noise to throw open the doors and walk down the aisle toward his husband. They went with matching suits, but Sherlock insisted on walking down the aisle toward his husband.

“We could walk together, or both be at the end of the aisle. If you go down the aisle everyone is going to think you are playing the role of the women.”

“They can think whatever they want,” Sherlock had pointed out.

Jamie had laughed and agreed. Sherlock hadn’t asked him about including the baby in the event. Jamie had asked who would be looking after Alec, and Sherlock had told him that he was going to take care of it.

Jamie grins widely when he sees his husband. It grows even bigger when he sees the flower covered mass in Sherlock’s arms moving. Jamie chuckles. The eighth month old recognizes the laughter, and tries to launch himself out of Sherlock's arms. He’s used to leaping between his two parents, and doesn’t recognize that the distance is way too large for that. Sherlock keeps a hold of him. When he arrives at the end of the aisle he faces his husband, and they hold the baby between them in the way that many couples hold hands. Jamie bends down to bestow a kiss on his baby.

“We’re not to that part yet,” the vicar teases.

“I can kiss my son anytime that I want,” Jamie teases back.

Then the vows begin, because Lord knows they need to keep it as short as they can since Sherlock is willing to go through this with him. He’d forgotten what would be in the vows though. “In sickness, and in health” was a bit closer to home than he wanted it to be. He looks into Sherlock’s eyes on the words, and Sherlock is grinning back him. They’ve already lived these vows.

“We have,” Jamie says when he’s supposed to say ‘I do’ and the momentarily flustered vicar moves on to the next part of the ceremony.

“You may now kiss the groom,” the vicar finally says to both of them.

They comply, much to the protest of the baby who is squished between them.

Mrs. Holmes sweeps down the aisle to kiss her new son-in-law on the cheek while removing the child from his arms. “I’d better take this before someone gets the idea to toss the bouquet,” she teases, taking out a bit of cookie to appease the boy, who takes the bribe eagerly.

“It is traditional,” Sherlock teases back.

Jamie’s smile grows, and Sherlock is the only one who can see that it is false. He looks at him critically. Jamie shakes his head. He’s completed now, half of what he wanted out of life, which is good, because he is running out of time.

Anyway, he was given four months to live more than a year ago. All of this time was extra, bonus, and the bonus had been the best part of his life. No, he really had nothing to complain about.

-0-

Honestly, Jamie is surprised that Alec lasts as far into the reception as he does. “We’d better get him to bed.”

“Oh, I’ll take care of it,” Mrs. Holmes says. “I’ll just put him down in our room.”

“You could put him in our room, so we won’t have to move him later,” Jamie offers.

“Don’t be ridiculous, not on your wedding night.”

“We’ve lived together for almost all of our adult lives. And Alec has been in our room since he came back from the hospital,” Jamie points out.

“If it is this much of an argument for us to take the baby for a single night, how on Earth is Sherlock going talk you into a honeymoon?” Mrs. Holmes chuckles, but the laugh dies on her lip when it comes into contact with a glare from her son.

“It was supposed to be a surprise,” Sherlock grits through his teeth.

Jamie tries to stamp down his anxiety. “Where exactly is this trip to?”

“France, but only for five days. I knew it would be hard to be away from our baby for longer than that.”

“You do understand that five days is still a long time to be away from our baby?”

“I do. I also think it’s a pretty short time to be married without a kid,” Sherlock tries.

Jamie smiles. “Fine, but I will be calling your mother three times a day, and he’ll be spending the night in our room tonight.”

“Whatever you think is best, dear,” Mrs. Holmes says with a coy smile of victory.

Jamie falls asleep minutes after entering that hotel room that night, too exhausted by his wedding for either love making or infant care. Sherlock rocks his son back to sleep and stares in surprise at the man who has become his husband. He wonders how he managed not only to convince someone to marry him, but to have done it with someone who is as good a man as Jamie is.

Chapter Text

1998, June

Sherlock dreams that he is sleeping next to an iceberg. He wakes up without opening his eyes, and tries to snuggle closer to Jamie so that he can get warm. That’s when he realizes with horror that Jamie isn’t warm.
He shakes the man and calls his name even though he knows it’s all for not. He makes such a fuss trying to wake him that three-year old Alec walks into the bedroom (they had moved into a larger flat when Alec turned two so he could have his own room). Sherlock jumps from the bed, scooping up the boy, and dragging him into the kitchen while telling him lies. “Papa is sleeping. We’ve got to leave Papa alone now.” He calls for an ambulance first, and then he calls his parents. He holds his little boy, and sings to him like Jamie always did, even though he’s never done it himself.

His mother arrives shortly after the body, as he forces himself to think of it, is gone.

“Papa sleeping in ‘bluence,” Alec announces confused.

“Is Jamie okay?” his mother asks since Sherlock only told her to come and take Alec for a few days.

“He’s d-e-a-d,” Sherlock spells. “I’ll go pack. I’m not exactly sure how long you’ll need to keep Alec for.”

His mother catches his arm. “Sherlock, what exactly does that mean?”

Sherlock rolls his eyes dramatically. “I’m not going to kill myself! I’ve got a little boy to worry about! I just need some time alone. A week perhaps, maybe a month. I don’t know.”

“We’ll get your father to come over, or your brother. I can understand you not wanting the baby around right now, but you shouldn’t be alone.”

“I get to be alone. Jamie and I made a deal, and I get to be left alone for a while,” Sherlock hisses over Alec’s head with no small amount of panic.

“Okay, honey,” his mother says calmly before pulling him into a hug. He tries to struggle out of it, but his mother does not let him go, and once he relaxes into the hug he finds a sliver of relief in it.

-0-

Sherlock did not tell Mycroft that Jamie was dead. He didn’t want to have to say the words again. He’d already said it twice-to the person who answered 999 and to his mother. He was pretty sure that his mother would go about telling everyone else that needed to know. He was also pretty sure that Mycroft was going to be sent to take care of him even though he’d told his mother he didn’t want that.

When Mycroft does arrive two hours after their mother, he is shocked at what he sees. A large kettle full to the brim with fire in the middle of the living.

“Jesus, Sherlock!” Mycroft exclaims, rushing over to the cabinet where he had hidden the fire extinguisher shortly after his brother and Jamie had moved into the flat (he’d told Jamie, but not his little brother, although he was sure that Sherlock knew about it some way or the other).

After Mycroft has properly distributed the foamy fire retardant Sherlock continues to stare at the extinguished fire.

“Please tell me your son is not at home while you try to burn down the flat,” Mycroft huffs at him.

Sherlock shakes his head, “Mummy took him.”

“Where is Jamie?” Mycroft asks. Usually he can count on his brother-in-law stopping most of Sherlock’s insanity.

Sherlock looks at his brother in shock. “Jamie is dead.”

“Where?” Mycroft asks walking over to peer into their bedroom.

“They took him already. I thought Mummy called you.”

“She did. She only told me that you needed me. She did not give me any details, though I can see I should have asked for them. Why are you starting things on fire?”

“Not things, just ties,” Sherlock says.

Mycroft stares at the ashes in the pan in horror knowing how much the expensive fabric cost. He’ll have to look up the chemical consequences of burning silk, but he can guess that they are not good.

“Why are you burning Jamie’s ties?”

“My ties.”

Yes, Mycroft scolds himself. He should have known that by the poshness of the fabric. His deduction skills are always dampened by concern for his brother. “Why are you burning your ties?”

“Jamie would grab me by the tie, and pull me close for a kiss. He’s grabbed all of these ties, some of them hundreds of times. He isn’t going to grab onto a tie ever again. He isn’t going to do anything ever again. He’s gone. He just isn’t anymore. Last night he was, and now he just isn’t,” Sherlock says in a voice that is clearly puzzled.

Mycroft’s stomach sinks. “You’re high.”

“Jamie hasn’t used drugs since we adopted Alec, but I knew where the drugs were. It’s fine because Alec isn’t here. He’ll never see me high.”

“I’m worried about you, brother mine.”

“Don’t be!” Sherlock shouts. “I’m sorry,” he mutters, “I shouldn’t yell at you. This is why I wanted to be alone. I told mom that I wanted to be alone. I can’t be nice to people. It’s hard enough on a normal day, and it’s not going to happen now.”

“All right then. I’ll stay, but I won’t expect you to be kind to me,” Mycroft says.

Sherlock looks at him critically for a second, and then he falls into his brother’s arms. Mycroft is more than a little startled by it. Sherlock hasn’t hugged him since he went to college. Then his arms fold around Sherlock, and he holds him close to his chest for an impossibly long time before Sherlock says, “Aren’t you supposed to be making me tea, like a proper big brother?”

-0-

It is a week before Sherlock goes to his parents’ house to pick up his son. He’d spoken to them and Alec on the phone each night, but his son was young enough that he did not really understand that. “Da!” The boy explains with pure joy. Sherlock picks him up, and holds him close.

The boy is content to snuggle into him for a while before he asks, “Papa?”

“Papa is gone,” Sherlock says feeling his heart clench at the words.

“Get Papa!” the boy demands.

“I can’t,” Sherlock says.

The boy cries, and smacks Sherlock at half force with his fists.

“I know, baby. That’s how I feel,” Sherlock coos, holding Alec tight until his toddler furry has worn him out. “I love you, baby boy.”

“I wasn’t sure if he spit up one of his pills this morning,” his mother says worriedly, coming up behind father and son.

Sherlock nods, knowing how difficult it is to manage medicine with a child this small. “I appreciate you taking care of him like this. Most people wouldn’t think of caring for a child who has what he has.”

“Oh!” his mother says covering the small boy’s ears belatedly. “Don’t be silly. Our grandson is always welcome here!”

Sherlock smiles weakly, knowing this to be true, and trying to work out how that relates to his mother crying at the psychologist's office. Would his mother ever cry over Alec? Of course, at his death, but would it happen before that? Would his son get to live long enough to be a disappointment to his mother?

“How are you, my boy?” she asks, looking in his eyes.

Sherlock sighs.

“Silly question, how would you be?” she moans, pulling him in for a hug.

“Thank you for sending Mycroft to me. I did not think that I wanted him, but I did.”

“I know, dear one, no one should be alone with death.”

“Da,” the boy says taking his face in his hands, and pulling his attention closer.

“Yes, dear one,” Sherlock says.

“Gam gave bear,” he says. “Big!” he exclaims, using both the wildness of his eyes, and the expanding of his arms to show his father exactly how big the bear is.

“Well, I think you’d better show me,” Sherlock says, putting the boy down, and grabbing onto his hand so that he can be led to the big bear.

Chapter Text

2002, August

“You ready to go home?” Sherlock asks the six-year-old Alec. There was enough discrimination against his son’s disease around that Sherlock has not even attempted to get him into a school. The boy knew that he was sick, and he understood what that meant as far as pills and being careful over his blood, but he had no idea what it meant in the eyes of people who might hate him. Sherlock wanted to keep it that way.

The boy nods, but looks serious as he gives his father his hand.

“What is it?” Sherlock asks.

“Everyone else at the park comes with their mother.”

“Yes,” Sherlock agrees.

“I don’t have a mother,” Alec continues.

Sherlock looks at the small boy and debates which of the talks he has practiced in the mirror will be most appropriate for this particular age. “Yes, you had two fathers.”

Alec nods. “I don’t remember Da.”

“No, you were very young when he passed on,” Sherlock agrees.

“But why do I have two fathers when everyone else has only one? Why didn’t I have a mother?”

“Well, you did have a mother long ago when you were born. You grew in her belly. But she was sick, and so she decided that it would be better if you lived with someone else when you were born.”

“That was nice of her,” Alec says.

“It was certainly lucky for us,” Sherlock replies with heavy feeling.

“Is she dead now?” Alec asks.

Sherlock had not thought of his son’s birth mother in a very long time. “I don’t know, son.”

“Am I going to die?” the boy asks with moist eyes.

“The medicine is getting better allthe time. Your father was given a few months to live, and ended up living five years because of the advances.”

“So, there might be a miracle that would let me live?” Alec asks far too bluntly for a child raised by anyone but Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock’s stomach sinks, and he can’t get words past the lump in his throat, which is just as well because he has no idea what he would say if he could get words out.

“I’ve been having more bad days. More flues and pneumonias.”

“Alec, you don’t need to be worrying about this. You’re a child.”

“I’m a child who is going to die, and lying to me about it isn’t going to make it any better.”

Sherlock remembers being small, and wishing that adults would treat him like an equal. “When your father ended up in the hospital for the first time with his illness, he made a bucket list. A list of things he wanted to do before he ‘kicked the bucket’ or died. Being a parent was on that list, and we met you during that very trip to the hospital. He didn’t have time to finish everything that was on that list, but he got a lot of happiness out of the things that he had time for. Why don’t you make a list? Tell me what you want to do with your life?”

Alec ponders. “We do that all of the time. When we want to go to the park you take me, and you read to me whatever books I want. You took me in a hot air balloon that time that I read about them, and I decided that I wanted to do this today.” Alec gestures to the path they are walking together.

“You could think bigger, son. We could go on a trip if you wanted.”

Alec pulls into an abrupt stop, and stares up at his father. “Disneyworld?”

Sherlock grins. “Yes, little one.”

2002, September

“Oh, he looks a bit peaky doesn't he?” an old women says, worriedly peering down at the little boy.
Sherlock looks at Alec critically, wondering how he could have missed the fact himself, but he knows that it is much easier to see things in strangers than in those that are close to you. That is why he has such an easy time deducing people. Most of them are strangers what with his standing apart from the rest of the world. “Alec, if you’re sick you should have told me.”

“I want to go to Disney World!” he whines.

Sherlock feels his forehead. “Not today honey. We’re going to have to find out if the American health care system is as awful as people say it is.”

“No!” Alec objects pouting. “You said I could go to Disney World before I die! If I go to the hospital there might not be time for it.”

“Oh dear!” the old lady says.

Sherlock shoots her a look of reproach for listening in on their conversation. Then he goes back to talking to his son. “Don’t be ridiculous. This is not the illness that is going to kill you. Hopefully that is still a long way off. We are going to go in and get medicine, and we’ll stay an extra day. You are not going to be losing anything by doing this first.”

Alec nods, sniffling. “Thank you.”

Sherlock smiles, ruffling his son’s curls. “You might as well realize that I want you to be happy as much as you do. We’re on the same team, and you lying to me is never going to lead to greater happiness on your part.”
“Oh, isn’t this lovely?” the women says.

Sherlock is about to scold her for being involved in something that is not her business when Alec asks , “What’s wrong with your husband?”

“Oh!” the woman exclaims.

“How did you know?” Sherlock asks surprised and excited by his son showing skills at deduction.

“Please, Dad, I haven’t watched you make deductions my entire life and not learned anything. She’s touched her wedding ring fifteen times since she sat down to breakfast.”

“Oh, he’s a clever one, isn’t he?” the woman says to Sherlock before extending her hand to the boy. “My name is Mrs. Hudson, and my husband is on trial for murder.”

“Oh, you are so lucky! My father is the best detective in the world. He can get him out.”

“Oh, that, that won’t be necessary,” the woman stutters quickly.

“You don’t want to get him out, you want him to stay. You want him to executed, in fact,” Sherlock says, helping himself to marmalade. He tilts his head as another deduction leaps to his forethinking. “No one should do to a person what he did to you,” Sherlock says fiercely.

“It wasn’t all his fault, dearie. I’m not innocent.”

“What happened?” the boy asks.

“Something you’re not old enough to know about, and I don’t say that often, so you are going to have to believe me. If you want to join us at the hospital, Mrs. Hudson, I might be able to do something to ensure your husband is indeed executed.”

“I would be rather grateful,” she admits.

-0-

Sherlock makes the case ironclad in no time at all. The sickness from travel delayed Alec’s trip to Disney World by only a few days. Mrs. Hudson frets over him with a wet cloth and tea in a way that Alec would never accept from his father. When they finally go to Disney World, she goes with, gasping at all of the rides and becoming more excited than the boy whenever one of the characters comes by.

They end up flying back to England together (“Really, dear, I needed a change of scenery after all that.”)Mrs. Hudson becomes Alec’s caregiver whenever Sherlock does his detective work. Even when his father is home Mrs. Hudson often stays, providing tea, and fiction, and knowledge that doesn’t involve the solving of crimes. In short, all of the things that his father is in short supply of.

One day when Sherlock cuddles his son to sleep Alec whispers, “I used to think that I needed a Mummy, but now I knew that I was only waiting for a Mrs. Hudson.”

Chapter Text

2004, February

Alec is not granted a death as easy as his father’s. He spends his last four months in the hospital, drifting in and out of consciousness, barely able to form a sentence even in his best times.

Sherlock stays by his side almost every minute. Once in a great while Mycroft would force him off for a shower, and more often Mycroft or their parents would bring take away and sit by Sherlock’s side until he ate. None of them trusted that Sherlock would eat on his own if left to his own devices.

Alec coded three times. The second time resulted in intense cracking of the ribs that made Sherlock re-think his opposition to DNR. He holds his ground though, deciding that he wants his son to have every second of life that he can, even if that is only eight years, and even if not all of the days are very good.

Sherlock fails to believe in his son’s death when it finally comes. He tells the doctor that they are wrong. That they need to continue to do CPR. When they finally convince him that there is no hope he crawls into the bed next to his son for one last snuggle. He holds the boy’s dead body for hours before Mycroft picks him up and carries Sherlock out of the room. Sherlock surrenders to his brother’s princess carry, and his brother takes him into the waiting room where his parents and Mrs. Hudson are all sitting together.

“Oh, Sherlock,” Mrs. Hudson says, sounding broken.

-0-

Mycroft was more intelligent than Sherlock, and both of the brothers knew it. However, Sherlock was capable of fooling his brother in a way that the older brother could never replicate. Mycroft believes that Sherlock is doing better when he eats full meals and gets out of bed. Mycroft tells Sherlock that he’s proud of how well he’s handling it all, and then goes home.

Sherlock purchases his own drugs for the very first time that night.

The next year and a half is a blur, to be honest. Amazingly, the drugs manage to both speed up and slow down his mind to the point that he is usually able to forget exactly why he is so sad.

The sadness doesn’t leave though.

Sherlock overdoses three times. Mycroft always finds him in whatever den he retreats to. He drags him off to rehab, and Sherlock slips out the back way, or flirts a guard into letting him go. On one very memorable occasion, Sherlock alters the conception of the entire rehab’s reality to the point that they all need intense therapy afterword.

Mycroft didn’t send him to rehab again after that, but he did keep checking up on him, saving him many more times.

It was a bother to have someone love you, Sherlock decides. You weren't allowed to die then, no matter how much you wanted to.

2005, September

Regulations tread. Beat copper. Sometimes the deductions made it through the drug fueled haze. That just meant that he needed another hit. He’d get one, as soon as the cop left.

The treads stop by him. How inconvenient.

“You know there’s a homeless shelter right around the bend?” the policeman asks.

“I’m not homeless,” Sherlock says, noticing how the copper reacts in surprise to his posh accent

“All right then, can I help you home?” he asks.

“Might as well,” Sherlock replies. “I’ve got nothing else to use.”

“I don’t suppose I could interest you in rehab?” the policeman enquires.

“God, you sound like my brother,” Sherlock moans.

“Your brother sounds like a very wise man,” the copper replies.

Sherlock smiles, “He’d love you. Fold you right up and keep you like a pocket square.”

“Come on, you keep on going like this, and you’ll kill yourself,” the man urges.

“You smoke.”

“That’s hardly the same thing,” the copper says with exasperation.

“Don’t propose. She’s cheated on you before, and she will most certainly do it again.”

The man doesn’t say anything, but his surprise makes him reach for his pocket.

“The outline of your box is clearly visible in your pocket. They could be earrings of course, but you check it far too often for that to be the case.”

“She doesn’t cheat on me,” The policeman protests.

“If you were sure of that you wouldn’t be so worried about marrying her. When I got married, I didn’t have any of these doubts.”

“Maybe I’m worried about the homeless drug addict in front of me.”

“Anyway, you shouldn’t marry a woman, it precludes your absolutely favorite sexual act.”

“And how the fuck did you guess what I like in bed?” he says, annoyed.

“I didn’t “guess”. I deduced. The drugs are supposed to stop my brain, but they don’t always work.”

“Come on,” the copper insists, extending his hand.

Sherlock shakes his head. “To die, to sleep, and in sleep perchance to dream.”

“There's the rub, though, for in the sleep of death men do not dream. You’re a kid, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.”

“I’m twenty-nine,” Sherlock objects. “And I’ve lived more than you have already.”

The copper looks surprised at his age, but he says, “What could have happened to you by the age of twenty-nine?”
“I got married and had a son.”

“Left your wife, then, to shag men like you advise me to?” he teases.

“Husband, he died. They both died.”

“I’m sorry,” the policeman says sincerely. “Come on let’s get you back to that brother or your parents. There have to be people that love you.”

“I’m a sociopath. The drugs are just a symptom of that. I don’t have feelings.”

“I don’t believe that. You love your family.”

“I do,” Sherlock says resignedly. “If I didn’t, I could die.”

-0-

Gregory Lestrad never forgot his first Mycroft sighting. It was mostly just a whirl of coat and an outline of umbrella flying into the police station. He certainly didn’t miss the voice though. It was a voice which could command armies or even form them if there were none to hand. “Where is my brother, Sherlock Holmes?” the voice demands.

Greg’s heart flutters a little at the sound, and he wonders if the homeless boy wasn’t right about it being something serious to give up men forever.

“I was trying to take him to his family or to rehab,” Greg explains, hoping that this man isn’t going to direct his anger at him. “He wouldn’t go. He was brash as to use drugs right in front of me, so that’s why he ended up here.”

“You wouldn’t go away,” Sherlock moans, his voice echoing from the detainment cells. “I didn’t think you’d actually arrest me.”

“I thought you were fucking dead, Sherlock!” Greg is taken aback by the curse coming out of Mycroft’s posh mouth.

“That was the point,” Sherlock says with a dramatic roll of his eyes.

“We had a funeral, Sherlock. We grieved,” Mycroft says furiously.

“And yet, here you are nagging me. Again!”

“I guess we’ve just officially proven the existence of hell, then. Get into the car, Sherlock,” the man says through ground teeth.

“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m under arrest,” Sherlock says smugly.

“Oh, Sherlock, let’s not pretend I don’t control that.”

“I don’t want to go with you, Mycroft.”

“You don’t have a choice.”

“Actually, he does. He is displaying signs of distress, and I will not release a person to a family member they don’t want to go with.”

“Jesus, Sherlock, are you happy? He thinks I’m abusing you.”

Sherlock smirks.

“Paperwork it is then,” Mycroft says with annoyance. “But rest assured, I will get him out.”

Mycroft did not get Sherlock out of jail. Greg released him as soon as he’d sobered up. It turns out, Gregory Lestrade was stronger than the British government.

Chapter Text

2005, November

Sherlock was interested in the young beat cop, and it had been a long time since he was interested in anything. He decides to give into his interests.

“Congratulations on the ill-fated engagement,” Sherlock mutters as Lestrade emerges from his house.
Lestrade sighs “Do I need to search you for drugs and put you in a nice safe jail cell for the night? Again?”

Sherlock snorts. “I deduced you would try that and that’s why I left all of the drugs in a safe place. I was hoping you’d have a nice case to distract me, but as usual you’re only given the easiest of jobs. You need to a get a promotion so I can have something interesting to do.”

“Get in the car, Sherlock, and I’ll drop you off at rehab.”

“I’ve escaped from more rehabs that you’ve heard of.”

“Listen, I know you might have a difficult relationship with your brother, but you can’t keep living like this.”

“Surely you know by now that my brother was never really abusive? I just used that as an excuse not to go with him.”

“Damn it, Sherlock,” Lestrade says, exasperated. “You need to go to your family if you are lucky enough to have a family that loves you.”

“I’ll let you drop me off with my brother if you give me a case to solve,” Sherlock says, the beginnings of a smile tugging at his lips. Lestrade had the insight that if Sherlock were not habitually on drugs, the smile would have been sharkish instead of only halfway cunning. It gave Lestrade pause, making him chose his next words carefully.

“Look, I don’t have a case to give you right now, but if you let me take you to your brother, I’ll bring you the next interesting case that I have. In fact, I’ll keep bringing you cases as long as you stay sober, off drugs, and keep with your family.”

“People loving me is a weight. An unbearable weight, pulling me toward life. I know that I am not allowed to die, so I might as well not live like this anymore. I held it together as long as my son was alive, and I may certainly get it together again now.”

“Yes, you will,” Greg says, smiling at the grand speech and opening the passenger door of the police cruiser. “Where exactly are we going?”

Sherlock gives the address of his flat and Greg uses his radio to call in the fact that he’ll be delivering a citizen to safety.

-0-

On Tuesdays and Thursdays Mycroft has a leisurely start to his mornings. It is a tradeoff for never ignoring middle of the night phone calls. His coffee is interrupting by a knock at the door.

“Sherlock!” he says in surprise before he sees the cop behind him. Mycroft’s tone goes flat. “What did he do now?”
“Sherlock agreed to see his family. Your brother isn’t in trouble.”

“I assume since you brought him here he’s admitted that no one abused him. All right, Sherlock, what rehab are you picking?”

“None of them. If you put me in a rehab I am going to sneak out. But I will stay here, without the drugs. Lestrade has promised me cases if I clean up.”

Mycroft looks at the cop with newfound gratefulness and also a surprised curiosity. Then he turns his gaze down his nose, at his little brother. “Very well. But if we do this, I’m going to be watching you all of the time,” Mycroft warns.

“You’ll be watching me? Not some minion you hire for the task?” Sherlock says with surprise. “You’re going to take time off work for me?”

“Of course, brother mine,” Mycroft says sweetly.

“Ew. I’ll be in the spare bedroom. Don’t come in until you’re done being sentimental,” Sherlock says, walking off.
“Thank you for convincing him to come,” Mycroft tells Lestrade.

“This was all your brother. He knows you love him, and wants to get better. I should mention he’s said a few things...”

“You’re talking about his suicidal tendencies. Yes, I’m familiar with them. The drugs really are a manifestation of that. I am adept at watching people very closely. If you follow through on your promise to bring him cases, I will offer you a stipend, and will also cover any administrative problems that my brother might cause you.”

“Well, I might enjoy the cover if things go south, but you don’t need to pay me. I already made a promise to do it, and that’s enough.” Lestrade’s tone is no nonsense.

Mycroft stares at him puzzled for a long moment.

“You’re not used to not having all the power in a relationship are you?”

“No,” Mycroft admits almost against his will.

“You’ll adjust,” Greg says shooting him a smile as he disappears.

-0-

“I had underestimated my body’s reliance on substances,” Sherlock moans.

Mycroft lips are pressed thin as he spoons ice chips into Sherlock’s mouth.

“You’ve already taken too many days off for me, Mycroft. I wouldn’t have come here if I had not known how long this was going to take. You have to go back to work before England falls.”

Mycroft smiles. “Despite what you may think, brother mine, I’m not that important to the nation, nor am I that foolish. I know what you are planning to do the minute that I am out of your sight.”

“Call Mrs. Hudson. She’ll watch me.”

Mycroft considers his little brother. He seems just as eager to cling to sobriety as he had been all week. He knew that Mrs. Hudson was a formidable woman who would let Sherlock get away with no more than he had. She had been tender with Alec when he was sick and she carried around no small amount of guilt for not having prevented Sherlock from turning to the drugs after his son died. “Very well, brother mine, but I’m not going into work until she enters the room.”

-0-

Lestrade is taken aback to see an older woman answer the door, but he scolds himself inwardly. He should have expected more family to rally around the young man in his recovery, and he was definitely not showing up just to see the man’s brother. Not when he was happily engaged to a woman. A woman he was definitely going to marry.
“Hello, Mrs. Holmes, I was just going to drop in on Sherlock for a moment, if I could.”

Mrs. Hudson puts away her surprise at seeing a policeman at Mycroft’s door, especially with such a kind tone towards Sherlock. “Oh, I’m not quite lucky enough to be Sherlock’s mother, but you are welcome to see him. He could do with a bit of cheering up. It’s harder for him than he thought it would be to come off the drugs. I tried to tell him that that’s what happens when you mix, but of course he didn’t listen.”

Lestrade makes a sympathetic noise and follows her deeper into the flat.

Sherlock is lying on the bed, pale and without energy, but as soon as he sees Lestrade he sits up. “Did you find a case for me? I’m three days sober.”

“It’s a cold case. I hope that’s alright. It was all I could scrape up.”

“It’s perfect. All of the idiots will have tried their best and failed. I can have all of the glory when I crack it instead of having to share.”

Lestrade hands the folder over and turns to go, but Sherlock’s voice stops him. “Mrs. Hudson, would you be so kind as to offer the Sergeant a cup of tea?”

“I’m your drug warden, dear. Not your housekeeper,” Mrs. Hudson states flatly.

“I really should be getting home,” Lestrade says in his most apologetic voice, giving the women a bit of a bow.

“Nonsense. Mrs. Hudson really does make the best tea, and if you stay long enough to enjoy it, Mycroft will be home. We both know that half of the reason you’re here is to see my brother.”

Mrs. Hudson claps her hands together. “Oh! It’s about time that Mycroft was with someone. It’s been simply years, hasn’t it, Sherlock? Oh, and he’s so much softer and kinder when he’s got a man to warm his bed isn’t he, Sherlock?”

Sherlock crinkles up his nose at her comments, and Greg’s ears go red. “I’m engaged actually.”

Mrs. Hudson tutts. “Oh, well, I won’t have you breaking his heart than. You’d better leave.”

The opening of the door signals that it’s already too late for exits.

Mycroft always goes straight to his brother’s room after coming home from work to check on him. Sherlock looks better than he has since he arrived at Mycroft’s house which i probably has something to do with him flipping through a case file. Greg is perched on the chair in the corner but stands when Mycroft arrives.

“Sergeant,” Mycroft says with a nod of his head.

“It is nice to see you again, Sir,” Greg replies, smiling and standing.

Mycroft feel things inside of his stomach stirring that he hasn’t felt in years. Attraction is not something he’s allowed himself to endure in a very long time. Sex was an unnecessary distraction from his work. It was dangerous, the killer of his dear brother-in-law, and by extension, many times, nearly his brother. This feeling of unexpected lust was something that he simply had to put away and ignore.

Only he knew that it was not all lust. He knew that part of what stirred within him was deeper than that, which scared Mycroft even more because he wasn’t sure if he had ever felt that before.

“Can you take your pheromones out into the corridor please? It’s impossible to focus on this case with you two undressing each other with your eyes.” Sherlock’s tone is level, an indication that he is no longer focusing on the people in the room, merely swatting distractions out of his concentration.

Mycroft blushes and walks into the parlor abruptly, half surprised when the Sergeant follows him.

“I really would feel more comfortable if you would take something for your efforts to keep my brother sober. You are giving of your time to do our family a great service.”

“Doing something for others. That’s called friendship.”

“Sherlock doesn’t have friends.”

“Of course, he does. Besides, I’m doing this as much out of my friendship for you as for him,” Greg says, grinning at him.

“Yohoo!” Mrs. Hudson says. “I’m coming in with the tea.” She enters the room as if she very much expected to see the two men kissing inside, and for a moment Mycroft can’t for the life of him figure out why they weren't. A moment later all of the logical reasons come back.

Of course. He was so caught up in blasted feelings that the deductions came too slowly. “Your fiancé is a very lucky woman,” he says with an even voice.

Greg looks up at him startled, and suddenly feeling guilt even though he knows there is nothing in any of the conversations that they have shared with which he can reproach himself.

“I’d better be getting back to my brother. Please, enjoy your tea,” Mycroft says, walking out of the room.

“Oh dear, did I do something to cause that?” Mrs. Hudson asks.

“Not at all,” Greg says smiling at her. “Perhaps you could bring that cup into Sherlock. I’ll be taking off now. Thank you for the hospitality.”

Mycroft was lying about going to see his brother though. He walks through his bedroom and bathroom, into the walk-in closet. He wedges himself behind the dresser in the corner until at last he feels alone. It’s a coping mechanism that Mycroft hasn’t used in years.

“Caring is not an advantage,” he repeats to himself like a mantra. He tells himself that it is a good thing that the other man is getting married. That it’s a bit of a relief, honestly. The disappointment and loss are already almost more than Mycroft can bear, and if it went on for years first it would certainly crush him. “All hearts are broken, and it hurts less the smaller the heart is.”

Mycroft stays in his hiding place until he is sure the Sergeant is gone, and that his heart rate has returned to normal. Then he returns to his brother.

Sherlock looks at him, deducing, and Mycroft fidgets under the gaze. Then Sherlock stands up, and hugs him. “He shouldn’t marry her, and he just might come to his senses before the wedding day,” his brother says.

The cruel hope settles deep in Mycroft’s heart.

Chapter Text

2005, October

Lestrade pours cases like an offering at Sherlock’s feet, partly because he can actually solve them (earning Lestrade a quick promotion to Constable), and partially because he knows it is keeping the man sober and sane. Sherlock looks healthier each time he arrives. The two of them agree to give up smoking together, and Lestrade finds the task much harder than he thought he would.

Mycroft manages to disappear every time the doorbell rings. Lestrade keeps a running list of all the reason why it would never work out with the man. He’s much too posh for example, too busy running the British government, if his little brother can be believed. Lestrade is going to marry a woman, and he’s very happy with his decision, thank you very much. Somehow though, the list always changes part way through into the reasons why he ought to see where this thing might go with the man.

He needed someone to remind him to slow down and smell the flowers. He barely knew the man in the bespoke suit, but Lestrade found himself thinking about Mycroft throughout the day in a way he never did with Amy. If he thought, he had a chance with the man he would drop all ideas of marrying Amy and run off with him into the sunset just to see where this thing was going to go.

It is all a moot point Lestrade reminds himself. Mycroft would never allow that. He’d practically run out of the room the one time they’d been alone together during the past few months. No, Mycroft Holmes was not the sort of man who dated a lowly police constable. A prince might be enough for him, although Lestrade doubted even that.
In his wiser moments Lestrade thought that if a stranger could turn his head this much, he was probably not ready to get married

Greg drags his body into his house a few hours later than he would normally come home from work. He’s two beers braver than he was when he left this morning, but he somehow feels none of that liquid courage right now. Amy meets Greg with her lips pressed together.

“I’m pregnant,” she declares.

He doesn’t quite believe her. It feels like a desperate ploy born out of a desire to keep him, but he wants children badly and she’s always said later (later not never, because he would have left after never, but he only hopes with later). If it’s a lie after all, he will leave later when it becomes obviously untrue.

What Lestrade had not been counting on was Amy’s plan to get pregnant before enough time had passed to prove her a liar. He’d never considered that she would let an innocent babe be caught up and swirled into the mess that two adults are making of their lives through a conscious decision. He had always assumed that parenthood was a magical thing capable of making a selfish, uncaring women into a saint who lived for others. Greg had his own mother to blame for this belief, but what he didn’t take into account was that his own mother had started out saintly and continued so.

So, Greg kisses Amy, and tells her how happy he is, and she flushes the birth control pills down the toilet when she goes to the bathroom that night. Five weeks later little Anna conceives.

Greg never once mentions he’s good enough at math to spot the lie. That would cause a fight and they don’t fight anymore. Not since they became parents.

2006, August

Mycroft knows what he is doing is wrong. It’s stalking, and if he was not above the law, this would certainly be against the law. None of that matters though, because watching Constable Lestrade on CCTV is the only thing that eases the ache in his heart enough that he can focus.

Besides, no one is likely to find out about it, and if no one knows about it than it can be doing no harm.
The best is when he can catch a glimpse of Greg out with his baby girl. Every time Papa Lestrade looks at his daughter his eyes light up. Mycroft remembers feeling about that way with Sherlock. He knows that his parents love him, but he never remembered them looking at him like that. Perhaps they did, but only when he was too small to remember it. Mycroft is not sure whether or not the look of adoration is still in his eyes when he looks at his brother, but he does know the feeling is still in his heart.

He wishes above all of his other thoughts and logic that Greg was his husband, and that the baby was theirs. He wishes it so hard that whenever he turns away from the cameras, Mycroft’s heart breaks.

He cannot say that the spying hurts no one anymore. But the only person that it is hurting is himself, and that makes him feel somehow justified in continuing it.

-0-

Once in a while Greg wonders if he’s done the right thing staying with Amy just because she was going to have his baby, but he never once thought of it after little Anna entered the world. She is an ideal first baby. Wide eyed and curious, she rarely cries, even less so when her father has charge of her. He has a way of predicting her needs in such a way that she never needs to cry. Her mother, however, cannot understand what she wants unless she wails, but even then, the wails are short and stop as soon as Anna knows that help is on the way.

Often Greg falls asleep in the big chair in the living room with his daughter on his chest. His wife complains about how he doesn’t love her anymore. She longs for the way he’d doled on her when she was pregnant. This is the entire reason she decides to fall pregnant a second time. Greg, however, consents to having as many children as time will allow him, no matter what his wife’s reasons are.

Three months later there is a miscarriage. Greg deposits his daughter with his parents and goes home to care for his wife. She pretends to grieve, but she enjoys the attention of her husband far too much to be believable.

When she finally falls asleep, Greg leaves the house in order to get drunk as fast as possible. He did not, however, mean to get quite as drunk as he ends up being. So drunk that he wakes up staring at angels. He knows he isn’t dead, and for a moment he is worried that he is passed out drunk in a church, but one look around reveals that he is, in fact, in a bedroom. A posh bedroom. He doesn’t know that many posh people, and suddenly Greg finds himself praying that he’s at Sherlock’s house.

He sits up, grinning when he sees water and pills lying by the bedside table. He takes them without thinking. Greg doesn’t know what they are, but he does know that if either of the Holmes wanted to kill him, they could think of a lot easier ways than poisoning him with pain killers.

The medicine is fast and especially effective, making Greg think that it might be something not yet released to the public. Greg heads out of the room once he sees, to his relief, that he’s still got his clothes on.

The smell of a fry up meets his nose as soon as he walks out of the bedroom. He follows it to a kitchen. Greg hesitates, realizing that he is in Mycroft’s house, not Sherlock’s apartment but then he hears Mycroft’s voice waft out from the kitchen, along with more delicious odors.

“Good morning, Sergeant,” the man says formally.

“I’m sorry, but I have no idea how I got here,” Greg says, figuring that he might as well put the cards on the table right away. Better to fold than bluff at this point.

“No, I don’t imagine you would remember. You weren't exactly conscious when you arrived,” Mycroft says. He clears his throat. “My driver came upon you unconscious in an alley, and we took you here to recover.”

“Came upon me, did you?” Greg asks.

Mycroft looks down at his shoes.

“You’ve got to tell me how you did that. I’m not going to be cross. you’ve clearly saved my bacon.”

“CCTV,” Mycroft mutters. The silence twists his stomach, and finally he looks up to meet Greg’s eyes.

“I don’t mind the British government having my back, I suppose. As long as it doesn’t go into my house or office.”

“Never,” Mycroft says with a shake of his head.

“Thank you,” Greg says, shaking Mycroft’s hand.

“A fry up has been proven to decrease the symptoms of a hang over,” Mycroft continues.

“Shit, I left Amy alone all night!” Greg suddenly remembers. He is embarrassed at how long it takes him to realize this.

“I sent a nurse.”

“You sent a nurse?” Greg repeats, shocked.

“It was not that I thought she required one, but I did know that it would ease your guilt, though in my opinion, you have nothing to feel guilty about.”

“No, I just got dead drunk until I needed rescuing like a damsel in distress instead of taking care of my family, that’s all.” Greg’s tone is scathing, aimed not at Mycroft, but at himself.

“Did you know that Sherlock had a husband and child?” Mycroft asks sitting down with the breakfast and causing Greg to do the same.

“He mentioned it.”

“They both had AIDS.”

“Shit,” Greg mutters, cutting a dainty bite off his sausage. Usually he wouldn’t eat this formally but considering his company he thinks he should make the extra effort. Mycroft does not fail to notice.

“Quite so. His husband died first. My parents took the boy for months while Sherlock grieved, did drugs, and set fires. He pulled it together for his son in the end. I don’t blame him for that. I don’t even blame him for the five years he lost to drugs later when his son died. You lost a child, Greg. You are allowed to grieve over it.”

Greg eats another tiny bite of sausage, wondering if the story implies Mycroft’s feelings for himself are brotherly. Of course, Mycroft would be an idiot if he felt for someone like Greg.

Mycroft sets down his silverware, and picks up the sausage, taking a giant bite of it. He then grins at Greg. “There is no need for you to modify your table manners around me.”

Greg smiles at him and tries not to focus on the suggestiveness of the giant sausage in Mycroft’s mouth. He spreads some beans against his toast and takes a bite.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Mycroft says as gently as someone in the British government can.

Greg feels a lump form in his throat. “Thank you.”

Chapter Text

2008, November

Sherlock has spread the case file out before him on the floor and is lifting the pictures one by one until they are an inch from his face. “Have you heard from your brother lately?” Greg asks in what he thinks is a nonchalant tone.
Sherlock glances at him casually. “You’re still wearing your wedding ring, Sergeant.”

“I know,” Greg says, twisting it.

“I’m not going to tell you if my brother is with someone unless you take off your ring,” Sherlock says, going back to his crime scene photos with a smirk.

“Bastard.” Greg mutters, taking off and pocketing his ring. “I’m sure you know that my daughter and I are staying at my mother’s, then?”

“Your wife cheated on you.”

“That’s not why we’re having problems,” Greg argues.

“Of course not. Your wife is a manipulative, selfish woman who spends far more money than you have, expects you to do all the housework and childcare as well as dote on her. And none of those things changes the fact that she cheated on you,” Sherlock repeats.

Greg sighs, mostly because he can’t counter any of the arguments. “So your brother?”

“Oh, of course he’s not dating anyone. He’s never dating anyone.”

“Never?” Greg asks incredulously.

“He dated eons back, but not for almost a decade now. Insert whatever threat here which makes you least likely to break his heart,” Sherlock says, returning to his work.

Greg smiles at him fondly.

“Stop that! I can’t solve all your cases for you when you’re over there beaming at me!” Sherlock objects.

Greg turns his back to Sherlock knowing that the other man really could work faster when he didn’t have to contend with social cues.

-0-

Two-year-old Anna cries when her father leaves her before bedtime.

“You’ll be fine with Grandma,” Greg promises her, but he feels like a monster. After all, one parent has already been removed from her life. What right has he to take the time to date if it means less time with his little girl?
Greg has only been to Mycroft’s house twice, both times years ago, but he has no trouble finding it again. He half expects Mycroft to be waiting for him when he arrives, having spotted him on CCTV or whatever 007 methods he had. He’s more than a little surprised when a plump and rosy middle-aged women opens the door.

“I’m sorry, I came here to see Mycroft, but I’m sure he’s busy-” Greg begins, nervously trying to retreat.

“Don’t be daft. He’s in the theater. I was just fixing him some popcorn before I left for the night. I’m his cook, Mrs. Jasmin. You come right in, dear, so I can get back to the popcorn before it scorches.”

Greg pauses again before the door of the theater, but then he hears Mrs. Justin’s voice from the kitchen commanding, “Go on in dear!”

He pushes open the door and stands in the only shaft of light beaming into the darkened room. Mycroft looks up expecting a salty treat and instead sees Greg.

He instantly stands. “Is Sherlock all right?”

“Yes,” Greg says his stomach falling. “I’m sorry to disturb you. I’ll just-”

“Stay,” Mycroft says, catching him by the hand. He subtly feels over the second-to-last finger to detect the absence of the ring that he couldn’t see in the dim light.

“I left her.” Greg says without any prompting. “We’ve started divorce processes.”

“Who has custody of the baby?” Mycroft asks, his voice terse and his face unreadable in the darkened theater.

“She’s hardly a baby anymore, but I do.”

“Thank God,” Mycroft says. “Would you like to watch a movie with me?”

Greg glances at the scene. “Oh, this is the one with the leopard, right?”

“Bringing up Baby,” Mycroft says, looking impressed at Greg. He moves over a seat so Greg can sit in the chair next to him. Mycroft has still not let go of Greg’s previously ringed hand, and now they adjust it more comfortably between them.

“Do you require some alcohol?” Mycroft asks.

“Us plebeians usually phrase it as, ‘Would you like a drink?’”

Mycroft chuckles, but still looks at him, expecting an answer.

“No, thanks. I haven’t touched the stuff since the break-up. I’m not sure I trust my ability to keep it to moderation right now.”

“I am glad to see that I rank a bit above getting piss faced,” Mycroft says, already knowing the effect the crass language from his mouth will have on Greg and loving it.

“You are a rank above most things, Mycroft Holmes,” Greg says seriously.

“You can pick something you’d enjoy more,” Mycroft says handing him the remote. “Perhaps football?” he lets his nose wrinkle in disgust thinking that Greg can’t detect it in this light.

"I’m good with the Carry Grant. How far in are we?”

“The dog just stole the intercostal clavicle,” Mycroft says, his stomach swooping at the idea this man liked the same type of movies as he did. “I have always thought that your body type was quite similar to Carry Grant’s.”
“High praise,” Greg grins. “I don’t have anything on his accent though.”

“Oh, God, the accent,” Mycroft agrees.

“Knock, knock. I can leave the popcorn in the kitchen if I’m about to burst in on anything,” the cook says.

“You’re fine, Mrs. Jasmin,” Mycroft assures her.

She hands the popcorn to Greg, grinning at the held hands. “You’re Gregory, aren’t you?”

He nods.

“You should bring the little one ‘round. There are always homemade biscuits in the tin in the kitchen. All right then, I’ll be taking off, loves. You’ll have the house to yourselves.” Mrs. Jasmin grins at them and spins out of the room.

“You could bring her, your daughter,” Mycroft says seriously.

“Really? I never would have assumed that you liked kids.”

"What a ridiculous phrase. Children are just people. No, I don't like most people, but I liked Sherlock when he little, and I like five out of eight cousins, so I suppose on a whole I like little people more than big people. I'm certainly going to like your daughter!"

“That’s good, because I wouldn’t want to leave her too often otherwise.”

“Right, you can bring her, and we can all be together. I’ll never make you choose between your offspring and me.”
Greg chuckles at the double entendre on the screen as they search for the professor’s lost bone. Greg lays his head against Mycroft’s shoulder. “God, I haven’t been this relaxed on a date in decades.”

Mycroft goes tense, clearly not wanting to talk about his past relationships.

“Right, sorry,” Greg stays stuffing his mouth full of popcorn in order to keep the stupidness from leaking out. His mind is suddenly filled with an image of Mycroft with a mouth full of sausages from that meal long ago. He sits up and puts the popcorn closer to his date.

“Thank you, but no,” Mycroft says.

“You were planning on eating popcorn before I came, so I know you want some,” Greg says seriously.

Mycroft is not quite as relaxes as Lestrade is, and he doesn’t trust his ability to talk, control his face, and eat all at the same time. He is a bit right not to trust his ability to eat through the nerves, and the attempt smears his lips with butter.

Greg wants to kiss the butter off Mycroft’s lips, but he also wants to take it slow.

On screen, Katherine Hepburn declares she’s going to marry Carry Grant, even if he doesn’t know it yet. Greg touches his knee to Mycroft, and feels peaceful once again.

-0-

“You could spend the night if you wanted,” Mycroft says as the credits roll.

“I should get home to my daughter. She kicked up a bit of a fuss at me leaving before bedtime, and I would hate for my mother to have to deal with Madam Crabby Pants in the morning.”

Mycroft smiles a bit. “Sherlock refused to wake up from a nap for anyone but me when he was young. Mummy had to change his naptime so that I’d be home from school before he woke up, or the child would have laid abed all afternoon.”

Greg fidgets, and then finally he asks, “So, we should do this again?”

“I’ll have a room set up for your daughter whenever you want a repetition.”

“Mycroft, you don’t have to do that, we can just put her down to sleep anywhere...” Greg says quickly with guilt turning in his stomach. “This is a bit new for you to start dropping money, don’t you think?

“Don’t be ridiculous. I have more money than I could spend in a lifetime. I used to spend quite a bit of it on Sherlock, but since he began using drugs I haven’t been able to give him so much as a present let alone access to his own trust fund.”

“You could give your money away. Spend it on someone who really needs it.”

“I do plenty of that, of course, supporting various drug rehab programs, not to mention a children’s home for hard-to-adopt orphans like my nephew was before Sherlock and Jamie took him in. It’s not the same as having an actual flesh and blood person to buy for, though.”

Mycroft is lonely, Greg realizes. Greg has never been lonely. He was the popular boy at school and came from a house full of sisters and brothers. In his entire life, Greg had never had a room to himself, not even now with his little daughter curled up next to him every night.

“Okay,” he whispers.

Mycroft leans forward and Greg is sure that he is going to kiss him, but Mycroft only touches his face and runs his thumb across his face. “Soon, yeah?” Mycroft asks.

“Day after tomorrow,” Greg returns.

When they reach his front door, Mycroft hands him an umbrella from the umbrella pot at the door.

“I don’t think it was supposed to rain,” Greg objects.

Mycroft shoots him an incredulous face, and then opens his front door revealing a downpour.

“It rains whenever you are unprepared for it,” he declares.

“Well, that explains it, then,” Greg's says.

“Hmm?” Mycroft asks, more than a little alarmed that infatuation has made him too dull to understand a simple conversation.

“You and your umbrella are responsible for climate change” And with that, Greg pops open the umbrella and disappears into the night.

Chapter Text

2008, November

Mycroft opens the door and grins at Greg and the little girl in his arms. At first, she hides her face in her father’s shoulder, but Mycroft draws a biscuit out of his pocket. The little girl nabs it out of his hands, and grins at him.

“You want to see your room, little one?” Mycroft asks, holding out his hand.

“Anna,” she corrects, nibbling her biscuit but going to him.

“As a policeman I cannot condone you luring children with sweeties.”

“Hmm. I thought it was the parent’s responsibility to teach their children stranger danger,” Mycroft returns.
They head up the stairs, and Mycroft opens the first door. Greg can’t believe what he sees. A mural is painted on all four walls. Each surface displays a separate biome: a jungle, an ocean, a safari, and a polar scene. A toddler bed covered with pink zebra stripes is against one wall. A kiddie table sits next to it. A bookshelf is stuffed with books of all shapes and sizes, some clearly meant for a child Anna’s size, some clearly for older ones. A beanbag sits next to it populated by a collection of stuffed animals that match the paintings on the wall. A large wooden organizer has pull out cloth boxes of various sizes with labels like, “crayons”, “blocks”, “plastic figurines”, “fancy dress clothes”. Around the entire floor and even up and over some of the furniture runs a large train track.

“Train!” Anna says, wiggling to get free of Mycroft.

He sets her down, and she runs over to start pulling the engine along with her hand.

“You can press this button to make it run,” Mycroft tells her.

She does and begins giggling in delight when it does. She stops and starts it again.

“How did you know she’d like the train?” Greg asks in amazement.

Mycroft shrugs. “I just bought the things that I liked.”

“You know that this is too much, right?” Greg says, bashfully trying to add up the total in his head, and failing.

“I confess to having no idea what normal people consider too much,” Mycroft says, going over to open the door to the wardrobe.

“My God,” Lestrade breaths. “I don’t think she’s owned that many clothes since she was born.”

Mycroft pulls out a three-piece suit with a skirt with one hand, and a hooded towel with fox ears. “Shopping for small children is delightful.”

Lestrade sees how happy this has made Mycroft. “Oi, I’m going to have to look up what to do to prevent children from getting spoiled.”

“Am I spoiled?” Mycroft asks.

Greg grins at him, feeling like he is never going to win an argument with this man. “No, you are not.”

“My room was posher than this. Of course, I never had a train set.” Mycroft drops to his knees next to the girl. “You can re-arrange the cars on the train,” he shows her.

Anna seems delighted with this new concept but doesn’t quite have the motor skills to do it. So, she hands them one by one to Mycroft, and he puts them in her requested order.

“You’ve eaten?” Mycroft asks.

“Yes, I’ve gotten in the horrible habit of eating early with my kid. We should probably put her to bed before too long.”

“No,” Anna says casually, not looking up from the train.

“That’s a pity, because those animals could really use a cuddle, and there are some pretty amazing books I would love to read to you,” Mycroft says.

“Train,” Anna argues.

“Well, I think we can finish putting the train together, and run it around a few times, but then I think it will be story time,” Mycroft reasons.

“Kay,” Anna says.

“You’re magic, Myc,” Greg observes. “She’s never agreed to a bedtime that easily before.”

“I don’t really like that nickname,” Mycroft says, pulling a face.

“Sorry,” Greg says.

“No, it’s all right. It's only...that name is so old. I feel like it belongs to someone else. I am not the child I was when people called me that.”

“Hmm,” Greg muses. “Maybe I’ll have to find another name for the you who sits on the floor to play with trains.”
Mycroft grins at him.

“I push train now?” Anna asks.

“Yes, dulcina,” he says.

She presses the button hard, and giggles as the train runs around the track. After a few trips around the room, Mycroft prompts her to go pick out a book. She chooses a chapter book.

“Oh, Anna, babe, I think you should pick a shorter one. You’re a bit young for that.”

“No,” Mycroft says sternly. “Never tell a child that they are too young for a book. If she is too young she’ll tell us by losing interest. Don’t stifle.”

Greg nods, figuring the other man is speaking from experience.

“This, however, is the fourth book in the series,” Mycroft says, going over to the bookshelf, and coming back with ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’. “Go pick out a stuffed animal or two, and lay down,” he commands.

Anna takes a great deal of time in the selection of a zebra and a killer whale before laying down. She then reaches a hand toward Greg, “Daddy, ‘nuggle.”

He slides into the cramped toddler bed behind her. Mycroft slides onto the floor beside them and begins reading the story. Greg likes Mycroft’s voice on a normal day, but he discovers that he enjoys the man’s reading voice even more.

Also, it is quite clear that Anna is not too young for the story. She pauses him every now and again for questions. The most difficult of these questions was, “What is war?”

Mycroft, panicked, had looked at Greg, expecting him to answer. Greg had grinned, “I think you know a whole lot more about this answer than I do, wouldn’t you say, Mycroft?”

Mycroft glares at him, but then responds, “Sometimes people get very cross with one another, and then they use nasty things like bombs and guns to hurt one another.”

“Time out,” Anna informs him.

“That is a very wise idea,” Mycroft says. “I’ll pass it on to my superiors.”

Greg can’t help but chuckle at that, and then Mycroft goes on with the story. When Anna begs for a second chapter Mycroft is only too happy to comply.

-0-

Greg digs in the diaper bag and pulls out a baby monitor.

“We don’t need that,” Mycroft tells him.

“Your house is very big, and she’s not familiar with it...” Greg begins.

Mycroft shakes his head pressing a button on the intercom on the wall. “Now, we just press this button,” he says pointing to another, but not touching it. “In whatever room we go to, we will be able to hear her.”

“Please tell me you didn’t re-wire the house just for her?”

“I initially did it for Sherlock, actually,” Mycroft says with a smile.

“Very convenient though,” Greg says, grinning delightfully at him. He then goes over to his daughter’s bed and bows before her placing a kiss on her forehead. “If you need anything you just ask the box and Daddy will hear you, okay.”

“Okay,” Anne says with a huge yawn.

As soon as they are out of the child’s room, Mycroft grabs onto Greg’s hand, and they walk down to the living room. Impulsively, Greg pulls him into a hug which lasts so long they begin to rock back and forth like a slow dance. Mycroft begins to step in time to invisible music.

“You’re good at dancing,” Greg whispers, unable to keep the surprise out of his voice.

“Mmm...I took lessons long ago. Sherlock joined ballroom dancing when he was little, and then he cried because he was the only boy in the whole program. So I joined.”

“God, Mycroft, the way you love people. Most people don’t realize how lucky they are to have you on their side.”
“Dulce facium mihi**,” Mycroft says. “The same can be said of you. You are the noblest human that I have ever meet.”

Greg finds himself blushing.

“Amo mi viri honesti***,” Mycroft coos. Greg isn’t exactly sure what language Mycroft is speaking, but he expects it is Latin, and he can infer what was said from the context and the way that some of the worlds sounded like English words.

Suddenly Mycroft’s phone beeps in a way that lets him know there is a text message. “I’m sorry,” he says, extracting himself from the grasp of the other man, and walking into his study.

Greg is alarmed when he hears Mycroft shouting into his phone. “Sherlock! Pick up the phone! I’m coming to your flat.”

Greg is alarmed when he sees how stricken Mycroft looks when he returns to the living room, “I’m sorry, but I am going to have to cut the date short.”

“I can get Anna and come---” Greg starts to offer.

“Better not. I have no idea what she’ll be exposed to, but I’m sure that it would not be good. Stay here, and make yourself at home.”

“Text me when you know whether or not he’s okay.”

Chapter Text

2008 November

“Danger night,” Sherlock had texted his brother. He knows that whenever he is on the edge, his brother will pull him back. Mycroft Holmes will always leave countries to decide their own fates, terrorists to be interrogated by his lessers, and the world to crumble whenever Sherlock needs his big brother.

Then comes the night where he doesn’t come.

Hours after he had tried Mycroft, Sherlock is woken up by his brother screaming his name. “Damn it, Sherlock, answer me if you are still alive!”

“I’m sorry,” Sherlock moans from his bedroom, and Mycroft dashes to his side.

“What did you take? How much?”

“I’m melancholy high,” Sherlock moans.

“Okay, you don’t need the hospital though?” Mycroft desperately inquires.

“No, I didn’t take very much.” Sherlock is annoyed by his brother’s relief. “But I gave up thirteen months sober.”

“I know, I’m sorry I didn’t hear your first text. You want me to stay?”

“Can’t we go to your house? To my detox room?”

Mycroft, for one of the first times in his life, fidgets. “I’m not sure that would be appropriate.”

Sherlock pauses. “You’ve got a man there? It’s been a long time since you last kept a man.”

“He’s not living with me,” Mycroft says.

“That sounded like a ‘yet’. I’m sorry I took you away from him, brother mine. You can call Mom and Dad and go back to him as soon as they arrive. I don’t want to keep you away long enough that he finds out I’m into drugs.”

“I’m not hiding anything about you,” Mycroft says.

“Oh my God, it’s Lestrade isn’t it?” Sherlock asks. “And you can’t have me there because his daughter is also there!”
Mycroft nods.

“Oh, that’s so sweet,” Sherlock says, making a face which Mycroft well recognizes. The Holmes brothers do not do well with sentiment. He pulls his brother up, and gets him to the toilet just in time. As Sherlock recovers on the floor, Mycroft sends a quick text message to Lestrade: “Sherlock took some drugs. I’ll be staying here tonight. My cook will be in early tomorrow morning. Please request from her whatever you want.”

“Wishing you the best. We’ll reschedule our date for another time,” Greg texts back.
Sherlock looks up at his brother in surprise. “I’ve never seen you smile like that over someone,” Sherlock says.
“It’s very new, Sherlock Don’t get too attached,” Mycroft chides, offering his brother a hand to pull him off the bathroom floor. “Now, what triggered this?”

Sherlock sighs. “It’s Alec’s birthday.”

Mycroft kicks himself for not having predicted that. It was after all a simple thing to track in the calendar. He will make sure to mark down all the birthdays and anniversaries of Sherlock’s dead family. Mycroft will not make such an error ever again. “I’m sorry,” he practically whispers.

“I’m mad at myself for messing this up,” Sherlock says. “Please, tell me more about the detective. I could use a distraction. Are you in love with him?”

“I’m not even sure if I know what that means,” Mycroft admits. “I don’t even know if I am capable of such a thing,” he continues. “What does it feel like?”

“Well I’m certainly not an example case,” Sherlock says. “For me, romantic love is not that different from familial love, although I think for most people the two have little to do with one another. Love is when they are the air you breathe, and you can’t stop thinking about them no matter what you are doing. They distract you in every task to the point you become almost completely useless. The only way you can fix the matter is to make them so much a part of your life that they are part of everything that you do. To make your whole life revolves around them. That you live for them alone.” Sherlock takes a sip of mouthwash and whirls it around in his mouth.

Mycroft sighs, deciding he’s been in love with Gregory for even longer than he suspected. “Perhaps you should think about being a parent again, Sherlock. It was good for you.”
Sherlock spits with ferocity. “I know what you’re thinking. I should get a kid, so I stay off drugs. The problem is I’m not exactly sure that would work, and I’m definitely not willing to risk a kid’s safety and security in order to find out.”

“You never did drugs when you were fathering Alec,” Mycroft reminds him as he walks back to his brother’s room.
“Yes, but I never really did them before that either.” Sherlock reacts to his brother’s incredulous look with a sigh. “I mean I took them sometimes, but it wasn't like after he died. I wasn’t...” Sherlock had never admitted to being an addict, and he didn’t now. “I suppose that drugs are the love of my life now, and until I’m sure that won’t be the case, I won’t get a child involved.”

“Perhaps you could find yourself a man, then.”

“I’m asexual, Mycroft,” Sherlock points out.

“An asexual man who got married,” Mycroft reminds him.

“A fluke. Pure luck. Unlikely to occur again,” Sherlock says with confidence. “Now, enough with this clever ruse to avoid discussing your love life. Tell me more about Greg, although not any of the nasty bits, thank you. I will have to look the man in the face the next time he brings me a case.”

“There haven’t been any nasty bits,” Mycroft says.

“Why?” Sherlock says with confusion. “You like sex, Mycroft.”

Mycroft chuckles. “It just so happens that you interrupted our second date. Besides, as much as I enjoy the activity I haven’t indulged in it for years.”

Sherlock looks at his brother, shocked. He’d known of course that his brother had stopped the rotating carousel of men he lived with, but he had assumed that was about protecting his heart, and perhaps his reputation. Sherlock had imagined that his brother was having his needs by some discrete series of one-night stands, or perhaps paid escorts.

“Never?” Sherlock asks.

“Much too risky.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Mycroft, just use condoms,” Sherlock blurts in frustration.

“While that decreases the risk, it does not eliminate it all together, brother mine, which is why I did not approve of the physical aspects of your relationship with Jamie. That reminds me, this little stunt has earned you another one of the dreaded tests,” Mycroft says with raised eyebrows.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, I only used once, and it was a clean needle.”

Mycroft raises his eyebrows.

“Fine, I’ll get tested, but you ask Greg too.”

“It would do little good at this point. His wife was less than faithful, and the break-up between them is quite recent. The test results could well show a negative when the answer is really positive,” Mycroft says.
Sherlock rolls his eyes. “I don’t understand why you are so afraid to take what you need.”

“And I am a little worried that your husband gave you a very distorted concept of the way that most allosexuals view sex, brother mine. Sex is not the only thing that matters.”

Sherlock ponders for a moment, wondering if he should believe the words that his brother says or his own experience with the world. “Does asexuality run in families? You know a common test for if you are asexual is that you would prefer cake to sex. I think that might be true for you,” Sherlock teases.

“Celibacy is very different from asexuality. When I was younger, it’s true, sex was in the forefront of my relationships. That is no longer the case. I have lived without it so long that I could easily go on living without it for the rest of my life. There are other things, though, that I do not want to continue living without. Even if it terrifies me,” he finishes gravely.

Now Sherlock can see how scared his brother is and offers him the only nugget of comfort that he is able to produce. “Lestrade is a good man.”

“That he is, and I hope that trusting my heart to him will not be a mistake. Only promise me, brother, if the day comes where it does prove to be an error you will...” Mycroft pauses, trying to select an appropriate euphonium. “Bring me chips.”

“Always, brother. You only need to call,” Sherlock says earnestly.

“I wish I would have been more of an uncle to Alec.”

“What are you talking about?” Sherlock says. “You always showed up when he was in the hospital. You made sure he had everything that he needed.”

“But I didn’t drop in and play with him, and I never picked out clothes for him. I didn’t know how adorable clothes for little children are.”

“You’re shopping for the little Lestrade already?” Sherlock asks in surprise.

“Her name is Anna, and his name is Greg,” Mycroft says in annoyance.

“That is not critical information. I am going to delete it,” Sherlock says. Then he stares at his brother seriously. “Fatherhood might be just as good for you as it was for me,” he says thoughtfully.

Mycroft shakes his head. “I’m not jumping ahead of myself. We are at the very beginning of the relationship.”
“You’ve never wanted to do a relationship before. Not a real one, not one which was not primary an exchange of your money for his dick...” Mycroft makes a snort of derision. “The very fact that you want a relationship with Garry means something.”

“Greg,” Mycroft corrects.

Sherlock shrugs. “I told you that I was not going to be able to remember that name. It doesn’t matter. You love him, and you should probably tell him that as soon as possible.”

“That would be unwise, brother mine. We haven’t even had our second date.”

“You are probably right. I don’t really know anything about how to date,” Sherlock admits. “You can go back. I’ll be fine.”

“I’m staying. Nothing is ever going to change how important you are to me.”

“Not even if you really become a father to Gaston’s daughter?” Sherlock asks in surprise.

“Of course not,” Mycroft says, smiling at his little brother and choosing to ignore the purposely obnoxious error.

“Tomorrow you’ll come stay at my house for a few weeks.”

Chapter Text

2008, November

Mycroft is very good at sending witty and coy little messages. Which is good, because otherwise Greg is not sure he could have survived two weeks of Sherlock being at his lover’s house. Finally it’s time for another date.
“Come as soon as you get off work and get Anna from daycare. Toddler and adult friendly dinners and bathtub toys have been secured,” he had texted Greg at lunchtime.

Greg’s stomach dances to a new tempo of distraction throughout the whole day. He responds with a “excited to see what adult friendly bathtub toys look like,” but clearly went too far based on the lack of response from Mycroft.
His mother scolds him for “forgiving this new girl for ignoring him for weeks.” Greg makes a mental note to come out to his mother.

The doorbell rings, and Mycroft is behind it, grinning as enthusiastically as Greg feels inside.
“How is Sherlock?” Greg asks.

“Good. It was the anniversary of his son’s birthday. I marked similar days on the calendar to avoid further incidents.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Mycroft. Sherlock is responsible for keeping Sherlock clean.”

Mycroft feels relief at those words. No one has ever said that to him apart from Sherlock, and it wasn’t as if he exactly believed Sherlock. “Thank you.”

“Are you hungry, *puellina?” Mycroft asks Anna.

“Biscuit?” she asks eagerly.

“Dinner first. Do you like chicken nuggets?” Mycroft says with a turning of his nose. “I’m informed that that food is pleasing to many children.”

“Should be good,” Greg says, smiling when his daughter doesn’t answer.

“Biscuit,” the toddler says more sternly.

“After dinner,” Greg repeats.

A tantrum swiftly ensues. Greg carefully sets down the child who is kicking and hitting him and looks up at Mycroft much embarrassed. “I’m so sorry.”

“Please, with Sherlock as my brother I am rather familiar with the phenomena. Besides, it’s more than a bit my fault for slipping her sweets the first time we met.”

“I, God, I can’t even imagine the sorts of fits that Sherlock could throw when he was a toddler,” Greg says with a dramatic roll of his eyes.

“I was talking about last week,” Mycroft says. Greg chuckles.

Anna sits up, glaring at her father because she thinks he’s laughing at her.

“All done, lovely?” Greg asks her.

“’Nuggle, please?” she asks with a sniffle.

“Apologize, snuggle, and then dinner,” he tells her.

“Sorwy,” she says, looking at both adults, and then raises her hands up to her father who lifts her into his arms. He holds her tight, and then walks toward the kitchen. Mrs. Jamison emerges from the room and clucks over the small girl, calling her things like cute and precious and clever. The girl absorbs the praise with a grin. Greg is shocked to see a booster seat in one of the chairs, but he sets her down in it. The cook places a plate of food in front of her, and Anne politely says thank you. She shoves a chicken nugget into her mouth while slowly pushing the peas off the plate of it, looking away with an enormous amount of casualness for a two-year-old.

“Leave them on your plate,” her father scolds.

Anna looks at her father with wide surprised eyes full of false innocence.

He chuckles and ruffles her hair. It makes something in Mycroft’s stomach jump. He wishes he had someone to talk about love with besides his asexual brother. Perhaps he could talk to his parents. He shudders at the thought. If he told his mother that he might be in love with a man with a young daughter, she was going to start planning his wedding. She would certainly demand to meet Greg, and they were still too early in the relationship to even consider that.

“You cold?” Greg asks in reaction to the shiver. Before Mycroft can answer Greg throws an arm around him and pulls him against his side. It doesn’t really provide much by the way of physical warmth, but it does provide a great deal of emotional warmth. Mycroft sighs in happiness, and Greg grins at him. Anna shoves another chicken nugget into her mouth.

“Smaller bites, kiddo,” Greg cautions.

Anna pulls half of the nugget out of her mouth and places the half-masticated piece back on the plate. Then she looks up at her father for approval.

“Great job,” he praises.

Mycroft attempts to hide his gag reflex by turning his face away. Greg chuckles.

-0-

After Anna eats dinner, they play hide-and-seek, which allows Anna to explore the house. Mycroft believes he has underestimated how much energy a two-year old has. His new estimate was infinite. The estimate is quickly amended when Anna abruptly crashes. She struggled to stay awake in the tub, and fell asleep a mere page in the chapter of Narnia.

“You could keep going,” Greg says. “I like hearing you read.”

“I don’t want her to miss it,” Mycroft objects.

“You can read it again to her tomorrow,” Greg says. Then his eyes go wide in horror. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to just invite us over...”

“Oh please,” Mycroft says with a dismissing wave of his hands. “You can come over whenever you want. You could move in.”

Greg’s mouth twists into a grin.

Mycroft goes back to reading the chapter, pulling the book up in front of his face so he doesn’t have to look at Greg as he reads.

He didn’t mean to say that, but he isn’t sorry.

-0-

“So, grown up dinner now?” Mycroft asks as they leave the room, Anna’s night light dancing tropical fish over their heads.

“Sounds great,” Greg says. He freezes when he sees the dining room. “Wow!” There is a fancy table cloth with an absolutely outrageous candelabra (24 candles Greg guesses). “You’ve found a way to have a proper date in your house!”

“It was mostly Mrs. Jamison,” Mycroft says bashfully.

“Well dearies,” Mrs. Jamison says placing food on the table. “I’ll be off now.”

“Thank you for all of this. It’s lovely,” Greg says.

“Oh, all the credit goes to this man here. He’s the one with the ideas,” she says, tapping Mycroft’s shoulder as she leaves the room.

Greg sits down, and instead of seeing Mycroft’s face he sees fire. He smirks, confident that Mycroft cannot see him anymore than he can see him. “How was work today?”

“I thought you understood that I could not share details of my work with you.”

“Right. I wasn’t asking for classified information there.”

Silence rains.

Greg attempts to take a bite out of his food, raising it up to his mouth, but he can’t stomach it.

“I can’t do this,” Greg says standing. He catches a look of horror in Mycroft’s eyes in the seconds before he sets his plate down next to Mycroft instead of across from him. “I meant looking at you through the candle, not our whole relationship!” he says with an explanation.

Mycroft lets out a long breath.

Greg reaches across the table to lay his hand on Mycroft’s. “Sorry I scared you.”

“I’m not very good at this, and I’m not used to be not good at things.”

“Are you kidding me, Mycroft? You’re amazing at dating,” Greg says in admiration. “Burning table aside,” he teases.

Mycroft blows out a few candles, and Greg leans forward to help. It takes a lot of blowing, and they are both laughing by the time it’s all done.

“I can’t figure out why you would want to date me,” Mycroft whispers, his voice barely audible over the gentle wafting of the few remaining candles.

Greg smiles, taking his hand again. “You are the kindness person I have ever met. To your brother, to my daughter, to me, to everyone. You are incredibly self-sacrificing. You are so brilliant, so amazingly over the top, mythical, godlike brilliant. Not to mention sexy.”

Mycroft blushes. “I’m not sure how you could call me that when you’ve clearly seen yourself.”

“I can’t understand how you don’t understand what a catch you are,” Greg repeats.

Mycroft speaks slowly, stumbling, “Most of the people I was with before...it was clearly about my money.”

“That’s not me,” Greg says, offended.

“I know,” Mycroft says quickly. “That’s why I don’t understand this. I understood what I was doing way back then. Someone who couldn’t take care of himself would come and live with me for a while. He’d get his life together, and I’d find another man. I knew how to do that. This isn’t that. You’re...worth more than all of them together. You don’t need me.”

“I don’t need your money, Mycroft. That’s different than not needing you,” Greg says.

“When I do things wrong, you’ll tell me? You’ll help me?” Mycroft asks nervously.

“Of course, Mycroft, but there are only a couple of wrong ways to do this, and there are hundreds of right ones. We’re aiming for something that makes both of us comfortable and happy. We’re going to figure out what works for both of us,” Greg taking a bite of his food.

Mycroft decides to eat with his left hand so he doesn’t have to let go of Greg’s hand. It's messy and rude, but it’s still not the rudest thing that’s happened at his table tonight. The visceral memory of the chewed chicken nugget coming out of Anna’s mouth causes Mycroft to shutter again.

-0-

Greg can see fidgets in the other man, so he stops him in the hallway to kiss him. Mycroft kisses back moaning into his mouth. Greg pushes him against the wall, and feels Mycroft’s hand on his chest pushing him away.
Greg leans back. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, sorry,” Mycroft says. “Was everything okay in the guest room last time?”

“Yes, it was lovely,” Greg replies. “You want to see for yourself?” he asks alluringly.

Mycroft looks alarmed. “I... ah...have an early morning, so I should probably-” he stammers, taking a step back.
“Okay,” Greg says, utterly disappointed for a moment, but gathering himself together quickly. “Right, but don’t make an excuse, okay? Set your limits and be proud of it. Sleep well.”

“Thank you,” Mycroft says, leaning forward and kissing Greg senseless before retreating to his room.

Chapter Text

2008, December

By the end of the month, Greg is spending more time at Mycroft’s house than his own, and the previously empty wardrobe in Mycroft’s guest room is full of his clothes. They still haven’t shared a room, although the kissing sessions have become more intense and longer.

Greg never complains, even though Mycroft knows he hasn’t been with anyone else, and he wants to be with Mycroft. It’s never mentioned, and Mycroft decides it’s finally time.

They are cuddled together in the theater after Anna was in bed, when Mycroft brings up the conversation he’s been dreading for a long time. “You knew that Sherlock was married, and had an adopted son.”

Greg nods.

“They both died of AIDS. Since then, I have been careful with my heart. Sherlock almost killed himself when Jamie left him early in the relationship, and he turned to the drugs after his son died. I was there for his death. It was the worse death that I could ever imagine. I have been wary ever since then.”

“I know I’m a risk because of my work, Mycroft, but my job is not that dangerous.”

Mycroft shakes his head. “That’s not what I’m trying to get at. I’ve already opened up my heart to you. We are already past that kind of protection. I was trying to tell you that I have been celibate since I first saw how sick my nephew was.”

“You mean you weren't always asexual?” Greg says, surprised.

“What?” Mycroft says in surprise. “I’m not asexual. I had sex with a shocking number of people in my younger days. Then I chose not to have sex. An asexual person does not feel sexual attraction, and they may have sex or not have sex from there. Asexuality or allosexuity is a sexual orientation whereas choosing sex or celibacy is an action.”

“Wow, I’m sorry. I clearly didn’t know much about it.”

“I didn’t either,” Mycroft admits. “Until Sherlock came out to me.”

“Sherlock?” Greg says in surprise. “He was married.”

“Yes, and in the last ten years he’s been far more sexually active than me, thus proving my point about how asexuality and celibacy are different.”

Greg crinkles his nose. “If his husband was still alive I’d have to have a talk with him. Sherlock shouldn’t have had to do that if he didn’t like it.”

Mycroft sighs. “It’s more complicated than that. Sherlock’s choice to have sex with his husband was as free as my choice to remain celibate for the last ten years.”

“Okay,” Greg says. “I’ll take your word for it. And I’ll research so I’ll know what I’m talking about in the future. I do want you to know that I respect your decision, and we never have to do anything. Being with you, staying in your guest room, it is by far better than my whole marriage.”

“I want to have sex,” Mycroft says quietly. “I was just trying to ask if you would...” he says nervously.

Greg touches his knee gently, encouragingly.

“...get tested.”

Greg laughs. Mycroft looks devastated. “I’m sorry,” Greg says, “Just...that’s all?” Mycroft nods. “Mycroft, I’ve gotten tested. My wife cheated on me with God knows who.”

“There are windows on STDs that can give you a false positive,” Mycroft says.

“My marriage was pretty bad near the end, Mycroft. It’s been almost four months. I can get re-tested.”

“Another two months then,” Mycroft says, looking down and concerned that it is too long.

Greg lifts his chin lightly with his head. “I’ll gladly wait, and we can use protection even after that.”

“Thank you for not being mad. I know I’m being paranoid,” Mycroft says.

Greg pulls him close to him. “AIDS is awful. Not as bad as it was a decade ago when you saw it first hand, but it’s not unreasonable to be afraid of it. Besides, I think this taking it slow bit has been good for us. I feel really close to you.”

“Do you want to start sharing a bed even if we’re not doing anything sexual?” Mycroft blurts.

“Yes,” Greg says kissing him on his hairline.

-0-

Greg is spreading peanut butter on celery while Anna covers them with “ants” which are chocolate chips since she rejected raisins. The doorbell rings, and since it’s Mrs. Jamison’s day off, Greg goes to answer it with his daughter trailing behind him. When he opens the door holding his daughter to a pleasant looking older couple, they just stare at one another.

“I’m sorry, dear, do you work for my son?” Mrs. Holmes asks.

“I’m Greg,” he says. “You’re Mycroft’s parents?

“Yes. Is he here?” Mrs. Holmes asks.

“He’ll be here in an hour or so. Come in, please. Anna and I are having a snack if you’d like to join us.”

“Hello, Anna,” Mr. Holmes says, going down on his knees and extending his hand to her to shake.

She does smiling.

“Hello, dear,” Mrs. Holmes says, trying to contain her grandmotherly excitement.

Greg leads them all into the dining room and goes back to feeding his daughter peanut butter and chocolate celery.

“You’re dating my son, then?” Mrs. Holmes asks.

Greg looks at her startled, and wishing Mycroft told him whether or not he’d come out to his parents. “Yes,” he admits, figuring there is no way to deny it.

“Living with him?” Mrs. Holmes continues.

“Not exactly,” Greg continues with his honestly.

“Daddy!” Anna says, holding out her hand asking for more chocolate chips.

“That’s enough. love,” he murmurs.

Anna pouts, but goes back to eating.

“I’m really glad to know he has you,” Mr. Holmes says.

“Yes!” Mrs. Holmes says enthusiastically. “Please. Please tell us about yourself.”

“My daughter lives with me, apart from every other weekend when my ex-wife takes her. I am a policeman...”

“Oh! Are you the policeman who helped save Sherlock?” Mrs. Holmes asks. When Greg nods, she stands up to hug him. “Oh! Thank you for that! And now you’re making our Mycroft happy!”

“And he has a daughter,” Mr. Holmes reminds her.

“You will move in with Mycie, won’t you?” Mrs. Holmes asks.

“You don’t get to ask that,” Mr. Holmes chides his wife rather urgently.

“We will probably move in with him eventually,” Greg says, smiling at them.

“Oh! I wish I’d known. I should have brought her a present. Grandparents should always give presents. Wait a mo,” she says, digging in her purse. “Here, dear,” Mrs. Holmes says, holding up a pen. “It’s not much, but you’ve probably never seen one, them being as old as they are. You can click it, and change the color of the pens,” she says demonstrating. The she pulls out a napkin, and hand it to the girl who happily colors on it.

“Say thank you, Anna.”

“Thank you,” the little girl says cheerfully.

“Oh, your daughter is so polite! You've done such a great job with her,” Mrs. Holmes coos. “You ever thought of having more?”

“Leave him alone, dear,” Mr. Holmes warns.

“I’m sorry. Both of my sons have been alone for so long. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself,” Mrs. Holmes apologizes.

“Quite alright. I also agree that Mycroft has been alone for far too long. I hope that I can make him happy.”

“Look!” Anna says, holding the napkin up for the admiration of the adults at the table, which they happily give to her.

The door opens and Mycroft enters the dining room He looks surprised to see his family. “Hello, Mummy, Daddy.”
Mrs. Holmes stands up to hug once again, this time embracing her son. “Why didn’t you tell us about your man? Not the same reasons that you used to keep them from us?”

“No,” Mycroft agrees.

“Why?” She asks again, and Mycroft is very aware that Greg’s eyes are in on the asking of the question as well.

“We are rather new. I didn’t think we were there yet.”

“Then it is good that we came. We’ll hurry you two right along,” she says hugging her son again.

“I like him,” Mr. Holmes says with a smile. “And the girl,” he grins.

Anna abandons her snack to run up and hug Mycroft around his legs. “Myc, miss.”

“You too, little one,” he says, picking her up.

“Myc Ma? Myc Daddy?” she asks.

“Yes, these are my parents. Everyone has parents,” he informs her.

“Everyone?” she says, looking at Mr. and Mrs. Holmes.

Mycroft flinches realized that he’s talked himself into a corner.

“Oh dear, our parents have passed on,” Mrs. Holmes says.

“Where?” Anna asks.

“That’s a polite way of saying death, honey,” Mr. Holmes explains. “She means we used to have parents, but now they are gone.”

“Back?” Anna says.

“No, honey, you’re too young for this, but you’re much too young to worry about it yet. There will be plenty of time for the existential dread later.”

Anna nods as if she understands.

“Sorry if my husband overstepped there,” Mrs. Holmes says apologetically.

“Oh, please, I think he’s just earned himself a job. He’s in charge of all the tough discussions from now on,” Greg teases.

“As a recipient of those talks, I veto that decision,” Mycroft says. “Some of the information I received was inaccurate.”

“To be fair, ‘the talk’ would have been more relevant had you not presented us with a fake girlfriend,” Mr. Holmes replied.

“Your mistake was in basic anatomy,” Mycroft returns with a wrinkled nose.

“Look at that, Anna,” Greg says to his daughter. “You’ve got people positively competing over who gets to parent you. You're a lucky little girl.”

“Trains?” she asks.

“You done with your snack?” her father asks.

She nods her head “All right then, wash your hands, and off you go.”

Mycroft pulls a thin package of wet wipes out of the pocket of his pants. Anna extends her hands to him, and he wipes them singlehandedly with skill which shows that he has done this many times. She starts up the stairs. A few steps up, she looks back over her shoulder and asks, “Myc?”

“You go on, dear. I’m going to have tea with my parents.”

“Tea!” she exclaims. She turns around, and scrambles into the kitchen.

“I’m sorry,” Mycroft says blushing. “She doesn’t understand that adults generally don’t enjoy tea with small children. I’ll go to her, and explain...” he begins to walk toward the door of the kitchen.

Anna’s impatient voice can already be heard, “Myc, press the button!” since she was not allowed to operate the kettle by herself yet.

“You’ll do no such thing. I don’t know exactly what about our previous behavior led you to believe we wouldn’t be overjoyed by the idea of having tea with that little girl, but whatever it is you’d best get it out of your mind this very instant. Come on then, cuppa with a grandchild,” she says to her husband.

“You’re a bit presumptuous on that last point,” Mycroft argues.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Greg corrects, tapping him on the shoulder. “They’ve claimed her, and she’s claimed them. We’ve got absolutely nothing to say on this matter.”

“Pincess cup?” Anna says, running out of the room to hold it up before Mrs. Holmes’s face. “Or ugy cup?”

“Oh, whatever you think is best,” Mrs. Holmes coos. “You are the expert, I believe.”

Chapter Text

2009, February

“I didn’t know if you wanted to see them,” Greg says, awkwardly handing Mycroft a sheet of paper. He scans over the words at the top of it. Test results, all clean.

“I’d like to return the favor, but I’m afraid that my test result are old and filed by now,” Mycroft says.

“I trust you,” Greg replies.

“I trust you, too,” Mycroft says, placing his hand on Greg’s cheek and rubbing it softly with his thumb.

“You know we still don’t have to do anything unless you are ready. You’ve waited an awfully long time, and I want to make sure that things are right for you before we do anything.”

“I know, and I really and truly appreciate that,” Mycroft says. “But I’m ready if you are.”

The two of them start kissing and give in to the gravity which draws them to the bed. They are rolling and touching and feeling like they have many times before. The only difference is the heady knowledge that this could be heading somewhere that all of those other times were not. Mycroft’s eager fingers do away with everyone’s buttons and zippers, and Greg rolls them under the sheets at some point.

“What do you want?” Greg whispers seductively into Mycroft’s ear.

“You,” Mycroft replies in a way that sends shivers down Greg’s spine.

“Sorry, that was a real question. I’m not exactly sure what...what act you want. It’s your first time in a decade Mycroft, I want you to pick exactly what and how we do this.”

Mycroft’s mind short circuits with the possibilities. He remembers his favorite times, and pictures how much better they would have been if he had been with Greg instead of the men that he had been with.

“I just want you, Greg, and whatever you want to do with me.”

Greg smirks at him, and kisses once more at the spot on Mycroft’s neck that makes his brain shut off before sliding down his body, placing kisses in the valley of his chest, and across the belly Greg calls thin, and Mycroft calls fat. He darts his tongue, for only a second, into Mycroft’s belly button causing the other man to breath in a sharp intake of surprise.

Greg settles between Mycroft’s legs, and Mycroft can feel Greg’s breath on his penis, but Greg does not make any attempt to move closer. Mycroft tries to keep still, but can’t help a little eager twitching.

“I’m looking for consent here, love,” Greg says almost (but not quite) against his dick.

“Oh, God, yeah, enthusiastically!” Mycroft says, and then he feels a mouth encasing him. The feelings are amazing, and he tries to close his eyes and enjoy the feelings, but it’s reminding him of all the other times too much. It’s too unanimous. It’s just a mouth.

He pulls the blanket back, and Greg pulls off of him just enough to smirk.

“I wanted to see you,” Mycroft says.

Greg reaches up with a hand and laces his fingers through Mycroft’s hand and suddenly he feels more connected to Greg that he has to anyone in his life. Something in his brain unlocks, and words began to pour out of his mouth with no filter between it and the world, not even a filter that could translate from the Latin he had taught himself to think in to the English he used with the rest of the world. “O mea! Vultus dulcis meus! Tu tangis in corde meo ut teneat manum. O deurom! Spiritus est anima tua. Fac me tibi. Nunc.” *

Greg’s squeezes his hand with the hand that is holding it and squeezes the bit of Mycroft’s penis he could not take into his mouth. Mycroft comes with a note of pleasure which turns, rather quickly, to another rant of pleasure.
“Semper amica mea. Numquam prohibere. Sit omni verbo nunc autem perfectum te esse dicis. Semper sequitur ex hoc. Aeternum. Semper. Amica mea. Vultus dulcis meus!” **Greg moves up to be even with his lover once more.

“You know that I have no idea what you’re saying, right?” Greg asks breathlessly.

“You don’t know Latin?” Mycroft asks, sounding genuinely confused.

“Latin? If you had enough brain waves to speak in Latin while I was doing that to you I was certainly doing something wrong.”

“It takes less brain waves to talk in Latin,” Mycroft defends.

Greg looks at him in surprise. “You speak Latin better than English? Please tell me that Latin was not your native language.”

“Not quite, although my mother did speak to me when I was young. I was by no means fluent before going to school. I taught myself to think in Latin so that if I was ever tortured or drugged they couldn’t get truth from me in a way that would be easy for them to understand.”

Greg looks at him with pity. “What were you saying, love?” he asks.

Mycroft pauses, trying to run through his memory of what he said, “Something about the way you holding my hand felt like a connection to my heart. Then there was a bit about present perfect tense...”

“What?” Greg asks chuckling.

“You know, starting in the past, but going on into the future.”

“It’s a grammar term?”

Mycroft nods. Greg chuckles, kissing that spot on his neck.

Mycroft moves down the bed.

“Sorry, love, this isn’t going to last long,” Greg says.

“Well, I did make you wait a long time,” Mycroft observes.

“And you looked so fucking sexy when I was sucking you off,” Greg continues.

Mycroft kisses his tip, and then takes him completely into his mouth squeezing his left thumb in order to decrease his gag reflex. When Greg is completely in his mouth he gives it a good suck, and Greg comes in his mouth.

“Jesus, Mycroft!” Greg says. “How the fuck are you that good at it?”

“I told you that I had a great deal of practice during my ill spent youth.”

Greg reaches out his arms, and Mycroft falls into them delighting that the snuggling was not going to go away just because there were other forms of intimacy now.

“How do you say ‘love’ in Latin?” Greg asks.

“I don’t expect you to speak Latin just because I do,” Mycroft says before bestowing a kiss on his jawline.

“I know, but I want to have something to call you here that is all you. I want a word that I have never used for anyone else in the world.”

“I presume you mean the noun version then, which would be amica.”

“I think you said that before, didn’t you?” Greg asks.

“Yes,” Mycroft agrees.

“What was the other thing you said? You called me something twice.”

“Dulce vulchar mean?” Mycroft asks.

“Yes! What does that mean?” Greg asks.

“My sweet face,” Mycroft answers.

Greg bursts into giggles that he cannot control. “I’m sorry!” he says.

“It is okay. I have been asked by former lovers to avoid pillow talk. I know that I am terrible at it.”

“I love it, My,” Greg says. “I love it even more in Latin. Never stop with it. But let’s keep it in Latin when we are trying to be romantic.”

“Oh, you want to laugh at me, but not when we are having sex,” Mycroft says.
“I’m sorry,” Greg says earnestly.

“It’s fine,” he says rubbing his lover’s back. “I’m not often funny on purpose, so you have to take it where you can find it.”

“What?” Greg says looking at him, “But you’re so campy and sarcastic.”

“Oh, but campy stops being campy the moment it becomes self-aware,” Mycroft argues seriously.

Greg runs his hand through his hair. “Well, I don’t know exactly what you are, but I do know that you are perfect, and I am so glad that we are together.”

2010, March

"Mycroft," Greg says, standing nude in the walk-in closet. "Where are all of my clothes?"

"The right side of the closet is yours, honey," Mycroft reminds him.

"No, I see the bespoken suits that you bought for me. I'm asking about the clothes that were handing in my closet when I went to take a shower ."

"You're welcome," Mycroft says.

"I'm not saying thank you, Mycroft. I want my clothes back."

"These are the same, only better," Mycroft says, looking confused.

"I like my clothes. I want them back," Greg says with growing annoyance.

Mycroft sits up. "Oh, is this about money again? Honestly, I have far more money to spare."

"This is about me not wanting my boyfriend to dress me. Mycroft, you either want me the way I am or you don't want me."

"Oh, my dulce pulcha," Mycroft says moving toward him. "I want you the way you are."

"Your closet begs to differ," Greg says.

"Our closet," Mycroft corrects.

"Doesn't really feel like it," Greg says with annoyance.

"I don't understand why you are so offended by my offering you better clothes."

"I know you don't understand, but you still need to listen to this: I am not wearing those clothes you bought. You can either bring back my clothes or I will stay naked."

"You say that like it's a threat," Mycroft says with a smile. "You forget exactly how much I enjoy seeing you be naked."

"Yes, but only when it's just you. I work today."

Mycroft stares at him in horror. "You wouldn't go outside like that would you?"

"Yeah, I would," Greg says. "In fact, I think the paper has just been delivered."

Mycroft follows his boyfriend out of the room. Greg is only halfway to the door when Mrs. Jamiston opens it, coming in for her morning shift.

"Good morning," Greg says in a perfectly normal voice.

"Oh my!" Mrs. Jamiston replies in shock.

"I'll give you your clothes back!" Mycroft pleads rushing to stand between his lover and his cook. "Just go upstairs and wait!

"He stole my clothes," Greg rants.

"I don't need to know about it," Mrs. Jamiston replies, waving her hand as she walks away.

Mycroft sighs, heading upstairs to retrieve the inferior clothes he'd meant to donate.

-0-

“Come here, pueri cori mei,”*** Mycroft says when Anna walks into the master bedroom.

She scrambles up on the bed and hands Mycroft a book.

“Oh, what do you want me to read?” he asks. “Ah, yes, de Latina****today?”

“You’re teaching her Latin?” Greg says with a raised eyebrow.

“Languages are much easier to learn when you are small, and Latin can be a useful skill depending on what school we’re going to send her to.”

“Not a school which requires Latin,” Greg says. “But I suppose it’s good for her to know. I think it makes the brain more flexible. Maybe I should try and learn it too, although my brain won’t catch on to it nearly as well as hers can.”

“I’d be happy to teach you, vultus dulcis meus,” Mycroft says.

They curl up together with the girl between them, and Mycroft begins to read the book of Latin rhymes, pausing to translate whenever Anna poked him gently to let him know she didn’t understand.

Greg’s phone rings, and the first time he just ignores it. When it starts ringing again after a few seconds he sighs, gets up, and leaves the room to answer it.

Mycroft knows the best time of his life is over the second that Greg comes back into the room. Fourteen months. The good part of his life was only fourteen months.

“Time for bed, parvulus,*****” Mycroft says softly.

Anna is about to object, but when she sees the serious look in the adults’ eyes, she walks out of the room without comment.

Mycroft stares at Greg. Greg knows he’s already deduced what is happening, but he is still going to make Greg say it.

“That was my ex-wife,” Greg begins.
Mycroft just stares at him, not saying a word.

“She’s pregnant.”

“Good for her,” Mycroft says bitterly.

“She’s a shit mother,” Greg points out.

“Bad for her then,” Mycroft says looking down.

Greg has to take several breaths before he can talk again. This was not how he thought it was going to go. He’d almost been happy when Amy had delivered the news. This was not how he thought Mycroft would take it. Mycroft was so good with Anna, he’d truly treated her like his own. They’d never talked about having more children. Greg had figured there would be more steps: marriage, an official adoption of Anna, maybe saying that they loved each other in English for once. God, they hadn’t even officially talked about Greg having moved in, even though he hadn’t slept at his parent’s house for eight months.

He didn’t think that when he brought up another child Mycroft would look at him like this, broken into a thousand pieces.

“You just expect me to do nothing, then? This is a real child, Mycroft. A child that she is thinking about aborting, and, God, if she doesn’t? I’m not so sure that that wouldn’t be worse.”

“Of course, I don’t expect you to do nothing, Gregory,” Mycroft says with a sigh. “Why would I ask you to be anything other than what you are?” He stands up and gives the man the hairline kiss which stars in all of his tenderness moments. “You just can’t expect me to be happy about it.”

Greg pushes his head into the man’s shoulder, relieved for a moment to hide his face. “I thought you would be.”
Greg feels something in Mycroft’s chest which was either a sob or a snort. “You thought I would be glad at you leaving?”

Greg pulls away and stares at him in horror. “I’m leaving?”

“Why are you making jokes right now?” Mycroft says pained.

“I’m not, honey. I don’t have any intention of leaving,” Greg says.

“It’s the only option,” Mycroft says soberly, pushing past him out of the room.

Greg stands staring after the man for a long time, and then he takes his suitcase out and begins packing his clothes up. He’s not going to leave tonight though. Explaining this to Anna is going to be hard enough as it is, and he doesn’t have the emotional energy for it now.

Chapter Text

2010, March

Mycroft Holmes likes fine whiskey. He drank it often in the first decade of his adulthood when he returned home from work. It would take the strain off of him. He had stopped, cold turkey, when Sherlock had lost control of his drug habit. Addiction was hereditary. Mycroft hadn’t been sure the day he put the bottle down that he was not an addict, but now, years later, he was.

Mycroft hadn’t touched the stuff in ten years, and he was pretty sure that Greg didn’t even know it was in the house. There were beers in the fridge. Greg drank one every Saturday, and a few on a weekday night if he’d had a hard day. Actually, beer tended to mean uncaught murderer. Mycroft often thought that if it were not for Sherlock, Greg’s consumption of beer would be much higher.

Mycroft prepares to pour some whiskey into a glass, and then changed his mind, drinking it straight out of the bottle.

Mycroft had known better. He knew that loving someone meant you got your heart broken. It could not be helped when it had to do with family. His brother breaking his heart was just a part of life that he’d accepted. He shouldn’t have gone around and looked for other people to break his heart though. Now he was losing Greg and Anna.

Anna.

Mycroft hadn’t really processed that loss yet. He takes another big gulp of whiskey, but it doesn’t help. He still feels as if he’s just been punched in the gut. He tries hard to breathe through the pain.

He’d really started to allow himself to believe that this was for real, forever, present perfect tense.

He should have seen it coming. He knew what sort of a man he’d fallen in love with. Greg loves his daughter more than anything else in the world. He would give up anything to be a father. Of course, that anything included Mycroft. How could it not? How could he pretend that he was more important than a child, a baby? A poor defenseless thing that was not even going to be born unless Greg came there to save it?

Mycroft takes another sip and leans back in his armchair, trying desperately not to think, not to think about anything. The pain in the back of his skull continues. And grows.

But Anna? Surely if Greg is doing this in order to make life better for a child he’s not going to take Anna away from him. Anna loves him. Anna will be sad if he goes away.

He walks up the stairs, finding that it’s already difficult for him to navigate them.

“Anna,” he says, finding his tongue as clumsy as his feet.

“What about her?” Greg asks.

“Can I see Anna?”

“She’s sleeping, Mycroft,” Greg objects.

“Not now,” Mycroft says.

Greg’s mouth goes firm. “What about the new kid? You want to see that one too?”

Mycroft stares at him stricken not understanding why he is teasing him, tormenting him. “Why are you doing this, Mycroft?” Greg asks desperately. “Decisions have been made. Why are you making it worse?”

“Can I...can I say goodbye?” Mycroft asks.

“What words are you going to use?” Greg asks. “You’ve got something that is going to make her understand this? Understand why you’ve suddenly been removed from her life? Because if you don’t have those magic words than you’d better just not say anything.”

Mycroft shakes his head, and then whispers, “I’m going to miss her. I’m going to miss you.”

Greg wants to be alone. He wants to go into the guest room and cry over how awful this loss is, but he knows that there are going to be other nights for him to cry. So, he opens his arms and lets a whiskey scented Mycroft fall into them.

“I’m going to miss you too,” he admits, moving the hug to a snuggle on the bed.

They don’t talk anymore, and they don’t have sex. They just hold each other all night, deriving comfort from each other for the very last time.

-0-

“Brother,” Mycroft shouts banging on the door to his brother’s run-down flat.

“Oh, for God’s sake, Mycroft, I’m fine! You don’t have to check up on me like this every time I turn my phone off.” He opens the door, shocked to see his brother looking disheveled and smelling of booze.

“Your phone is off?” Mycroft asks concerned. “Are you okay, brother dear?”

“I’m fine,” Sherlock says, annoyed by the concern in his brother even when he is in this state. “But clearly you are not. What is wrong?”

Mycroft just stares at him, and then the deduction clicks into place.

“I don’t understand why he left. He loved you,” Sherlock says, then, with new authority in his voice he continues.

“I’ll talk to him, sort this out. It must have been some mistake.”

“Don’t bother,” Mycroft says. “He left me for something that mattered more to him than I did.”

“That’s impossible. The only thing he cares more about than you is his daughter,” Sherlock says.

“Yes,” Mycroft whispers.

“But you love Anna. Why would she be the reason that the two of you broke up?” Sherlock asks.

“Not Anna. Another baby.”

“He cheated on you?” Sherlock asks in shock.

“Of course not,” Mycroft snaps looking annoyed.

“You don’t want to have more children with him? I thought that was the direction in which all of this was going,” Sherlock continues.

“Oh, would that that was where he wanted this to go,” Mycroft says mournfully. “He’s going back to his wife. She’s such a bad mother that she needs him in order to raise children, and he doesn’t see this as a reason that he should not be with her at all. I don’t want her near Anna, but I don’t get a say in that, because Anna is her child, and she is not mine.”

“Oh, brother,” Sherlock says.

“Will my whiskey make you fall off the wagon?”

“That was never my drug of choice. I don’t go in for things that slow down the mind. I prefer things that speed it up. I’m just not sure that is the best coping mechanism for you.”

“There is no coping mechanism that is going to make this better,” Mycroft says, plopping down on the couch and taking a long swig of the drink. “Remember, Sherlock. All hearts are broken, and caring is not an advantage.”

“That is a bit bleak, brother,” Sherlock objects.

“No. Both of us have had our hearts broken and we’re not going to go through it again. We simply cannot afford to go through all of this again.” Mycroft waves a hand vaguely in the direction of Jamie’s skull on the mantelpiece.
Sherlock nods his head, knowing that his brother would be far less happy with this decision than he would be. His heart was made for loving, and to let it sit cold and unused was just as foolish as when Sherlock had taken his cold heart and tried to act like it was a human heart.

Sherlock’s only hope was that Mycroft’s resolution to be alone would fade with time, and he would fall in love again when his heart was mended. If his heart was going to be mended at all.

-0-

“Where are we going? Where is Mycroft? Can’t we go home?” The questions are flung from the car seat in the back of Greg’s car far faster than he can answer them.

He parks the car and lets out a deep sigh. He might as well explain it to Anna as best he can before he enters his ex-wife's house.

“We’re going to Mummy’s house. This is going to be our new home. We’re not going to see Mycroft anymore.”

He expects the question why. He doesn’t expect the tantrum. Anna, of course, had thrown tantrums when she was a little girl, but she had not thrown a tantrum since she was two and a half years old, and this one was a doozy. Screaming, kicking the seat before her, and thrashing around. Greg gets out, and opens her door.

“When you are done,” he tells her softly.

Her mother emerges from the house. “What’s wrong with her? What did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything,” Greg says annoyed. “She’s just isn’t happy about the move.”

“I want Mycroft!” Anna screams in range.

“Oh, but honey, don’t you want to be a big sister?” her mother coos.

“No! Mycroft!”

“Well, honey, we don’t always get what we want,” Greg says with a voice firm with sacrifice, and more than half broken. “So, you’re just going to have to stop screaming and get on with your life.”

Anna does stops screaming and glares at her father in silence. She wipes some tears away and raises her arms up. Greg leans forward, and unbuckles her car seat, lifting her out, even though she is getting a bit big for that at nearly four years old. She buries her head in her father’s shoulder. “And you are going to love being a big sister.”

“Yeah?” Anna asks, sniffing.

“When the baby comes you can share a room with me.”

“Really?” Anna says cheerfully.

“Yep.”

“What?” Amy asks.

“I’m coming home. I’m going to put my wedding ring back on. We’re going to share the raising of these children, and the meals, and the chores, but we are not going to be sharing a bed.”

“So, you just expect me to celibate?” she asks in anger.

“Oh, please, you weren't even faithful when our marriage was real. I do ask that you are discrete and don’t make our kids ask awkward questions. If you don’t like this arrangement, I can put Anna in my car, and we can go to my folk’s house. You can deliver the new kid to me when it’s born. Honestly, I don’t much care either way,” Greg says with a voice that is alarmingly flat.

“But you’re not going back to your boyfriend?” she asks.

“He made it quite clear that choosing this baby was not choosing him, and as much as I love him...” his voice finally breaks.

“Come in,” she says with a nod. “I think we might just be better at this friendship thing than we ever were at being lovers.”

-0-

“The Iceman cometh,” a low-ranking official whispers when Mycroft rounds the bend. He pretends not to hear it. It’s so much easier that way. The nickname is new for him. Mycroft had always thought that he had his emotions totally under control before he lost Greg, but the new nickname indicates that something has changed. Mycroft doesn’t feel like he has emotions anymore. He just feels empty, hollow. He has to constantly remind himself what he is supposed to be feeling within each moment, and when he is supposed to feel it.

His mother calls on his birthday, and that should make him feel warm and loved.

His brother doesn’t answer his phone, and that is supposed to make him feel worry.

He got his way on an important treaty, furthering the chances of word peace. What was the emotion that should be attached to that one again? Oh yes, happiness. He supposed.

He doesn’t check the CTV very often anymore. It is the only thing that causes him to feel an emotion, if you can count the feeling of being stabbed in your chest a feeling. Sometimes, though, he gives in. Feeling something is a relief when you haven’t in a long time.

Greg with the baby in a pram walking through the park with Anna by his side. Anna going to preschool. Gregory walking into work.

They were living his life without them. They were fine. He told himself that that is what he wants. He wants everything to be fine with them, but in his heart, he knows that he wishes they were falling apart at least as much as he was.

He thinks about ending his life sometimes. There is nothing in his life that he wants to live for. In the end he doesn’t end his life because he is not the only one, he has to consult. He knows that his death would destabilize his brother, even though Sherlock likes to pretend that he doesn’t care about Mycroft. He knows it will destroy his parents in a way they may or may not ever recover from.

He also knew that the government, just then, could ill afford his loss.

So, he presses on. It is harder to live for people than to die for them.

Chapter Text

2010, May

First John realizes that he was on the ground and then he realizes that he’s in pain. It takes some time to identify the source. It might be his head, or his shoulder or his leg. It was even possible that it was a combination of all three of them.

He realizes that there is was a change in place and time from when he was standing.

The doctor part of John analyzes his condition. He is not about to bleed out, but the shock might be a problem. His shoulder was wounded, and maybe his leg. He can’t move so he has to rely on someone rescuing him. John hates having to rely on other people.

“Watson, I’ve got you,” Murray says, and he feels himself being thrown over a shoulder, and being dragged to safety.

2010, July

There is a new balance to the working relationship between Sherlock and Lestrade in the days after Lestrade and Mycroft have broken up. Lestrade has to make sure that any case he goes to Sherlock with has a great deal of interest for the other man. If the case is boring, Sherlock refuses to solve it, but only after he digs and jibs at Lestrade until the man is almost in tears.

It isn’t like Lestrade chose for the best thing that had ever happened to him to blow up in his face, even though Sherlock seems to think so.

Three serial suicides ought to do it though, Greg thinks. He asks him kindly, and repetitively. Then, just to be sure, he bows.

It’s the first time since the break-up when Sherlock doesn’t insult him even once. Although that might have had something to do with the other person who was in the room.

-0-

John is drawn to danger in the same way that Sherlock is pulled to drugs. The danger can make him forget for a moment all the pain and suffering, and the war. Danger swirled around Sherlock Holmes. John knew from the very first night that if he can stay with Sherlock Holmes, he will never have to go looking for the danger ever again.

-0-

Of course, Sherlock had heard the words, but he has never heard them in reference to himself before. “Wonderful,” and “fantastic,” are concepts completely foreign to him. He is far more familiar with words like “freak”. John Watson is like a miracle, hovering around him, and using positive words to describe him. Being impressed by him.

-0-

“Who is he?” Lestrade asks.

“He is with me,” Sherlock replies.

Lestrade has only known the man after his great grief. Both Sherlock and Mycroft had talked about Sherlock’s husband, but Lestrade has never seen Sherlock with anyone. “But who is he?” Lestrade repeats with more insistence.

“He’s with me,” Sherlock says once more.

Greg feels like someone should tell Mycroft about this. He knows that Mycroft is constantly worried about his brother falling in love again, getting his heart broken again, falling apart again. The problem, of course, is that Greg doesn’t talk to Mycroft. He hasn’t talked to him in a very long time.

“Fantastic!” John exclaims when Sherlock deduces, and Lestrade can see something light up in Sherlock’s eyes.

“Do you know you do that aloud?” Sherlock asks.

“Sorry, I’ll stop,” the new man says.

“No, it’s fine.” Sherlock says. There is something special about the new person in Sherlock’s life.

-0-

Mycroft hates it when his brother acquires new people that won’t take the bribe. Mrs. Hudson was happy to take money from Mycroft, and although Mycroft is well aware that she passes some of that money on to his brother (at least on the weeks in which she considers Sherlock well behaved), he also knows that she does a great job of controlling his brother. Gregory had not taken the bribe, of course, and he looked out for Sherlock as if he were still his own family, even after Mycroft had stopped being his family. Mycroft is worried that his brother will fall for John, and that was something that Mycroft didn’t think his brother could survive.

This man is not taking money. He’s not afraid of Sherlock or Mycroft for that matter. He definitely means trouble.
Mycroft hints at marriage, and at Sherlock and John being a couple. Perhaps this man, who thinks himself straight, will run at the hint and heartbreak will be saved by everyone all around.

Mycroft knows that he’s lost the battle before he even finishes talking to John. This man is a puzzle, a collection of contrasts, and there is nothing in the world that is more appealing to Sherlock Holmes than a paradox.

Mycroft gives up on prevention and begins to plan how he is going to pull his brother’s broken heart back together.

-0-

Angelo is delighted to see Sherlock with another man. It’s been a long time since Jamie, and Angelo sincerely hopes that he is going to be as happy with this new one as he was back then.

Sherlock felt a little bad for getting the man’s hopes up, because he isn’t sure that he’s dating. He isn’t entirely sure that he’s not dating either. He has no idea what John wants, and he certainly does not know what he is thinking. He tries to remember how he felt when he first met Jamie. It was more or less like this, he thinks, but Sherlock’s not sure if that means that his feelings will grow and change for John like they did for Jamie. He’s still not sure that his feelings for Jamie ever grew into something truly romantic. He isn’t sure he is capable of producing the correct feelings for a romantic relationship.

“So, you have a girlfriend then?” John asks.

“Not really my area,” Sherlock says.

John’s eyes show increased interest. “Right, boyfriend then? Which is fine by the way.”

“I know it’s fine,” Sherlock says with annoyance. After all, Sherlock has never kept any part of his sexuality a secret, either that his one relationship had been with a man, or that he was asexual. He is open about who he is even when people refuse to understand him. Unlike John, who has clearly never given his sexuality a critical thought.

“Right, so you have a boyfriend then?” John presses.

“No.”

“Right, then you’re single, just like me,” John stammers something out that sounds a bit like interest.

Sherlock tries to find the words to accurately describe his orientation to John in a way that won’t lead to pity or disbelief. He isn’t even sure if asexual is the right word, because he really did love his husband. Perhaps he could explain that he was married to a skull on his mantel. No, that would probably be the sort of thing that would keep John from moving in. “I consider myself married to my work.” That was true enough, Sherlock thought. The work mattered more than anything else to him.

Maybe, after all, John was right that it is all fine. Perhaps the uncertainty, and the confusion is all part of it. He will let this friendship be a friendship and not be alarmed if it turns into something more later. It is all okay, even the fact that he doesn’t have it figured out.

-0-

Sherlock knows the look in John’s eyes when he realizes that the drug’s bust is somewhat justified is something that Sherlock is never going to forget. The look is awful to be sure, but it is not as bad as Sherlock had expected it to be. It isn’t a total lack of respect, and John’s not leaving.

He doesn’t miss Lestrade’s eyes either. They are full of sympathy and regret for the fact that Lestrade had chosen this pressure point. Lestrade would have never guessed that John does not know about the drugs.

-0-

John is not sure why anyone would want to put up with Sherlock, least of all why he himself puts up with him. Perhaps John is drawn to the mystery of Sherlock in the same way that Sherlock is drawn to the mystery of John.

“Dinner?” Sherlock asks John, hiding his nervousness in the casualness of the question.

“Yes,” John says, grinning at him like he’s just won the lottery just by being asked.

-0-

Greg decides to let John get away with murder. It’s not a good choice, of course, but he’ll be damned if he is going to take away the best thing that’s happened to Sherlock in a long time. Besides, it’s not like he’s letting some madman go who is going to kill people without a reason. If John does kill again, he’s going to have a damned good reason for doing it.

Some things are beyond the law. John was a soldier and he knew the price of taking a life, enough not to do it lightly even if it was with an illegal gun.

Greg thinks of Mycroft against his will like he still does dozens of times a day and wonders how many things the man has done over the years which were technically against the law, but which saved the world.

He sees Mycroft appear in the distance as if summoned by his thoughts. He is barely visible as he emerges from the car to stand before his brother, digging his umbrella into the floor like he does whenever he is nervous.

After all this time Greg still feels the urge to run across the crime scene and street and see the man once more. He tries to think of words he could say that would change things, that would make Mycroft take him back and make the emptiness in his heart go away.

There are no magic words in real life.

-0-

Of course, Mycroft didn’t have had to go to the crime scene himself. He could have relied on the official crime scene report, or CTV, or the gossipy bulletin from Mrs. Hudson. Even Greg had sent him a text: “You know your brother has someone new in his life, right?”

Mycroft ran the words over and over in his mind with an unnatural obsession that comes from these being the only words that he’s heard from the man since their breakup. It’s not much to cling to, but if he hasn’t let go by now it’s fair to say that he’s never going to.

Chapter Text

2010, July

Sherlock never really has to think about money. Even though Mycroft cut off his access to his trust fund when he abused drugs for the first-time, Sherlock can still get whatever he wants. He just has to ask his brother, which is rather inconvenient and annoying. He does not mind it as much now because he knows Mycroft is lonely. Powerful soul aching loneliness has set in after Lestrade left him for that harlot of an ex-wife.

Sherlock really has no idea how much is in his trust fund. He knows there had been a lot of it, and that a lot of it had been spent on medicine. He also knows that there is enough left that his brother only occasionally nags him about getting a job, and then only because Mycroft believes in the magical powers of jobs to reform people.
John is obsessed with money, or rather his lack of it. Sherlock wants to do what he did with Jamie and either lie to him about how much things cost, or just tell him that he is going to take care of everything. He knows that neither of these will work with John. John just won’t take whatever he needs like Jamie used to. So now Sherlock must start thinking about money in that way that John does.

“Take my card,” he says.

-0-

John is a criminal now. Of course, that was true a few weeks ago when he killed someone, but there was a very good reason for it, and he hadn’t gotten caught. Now he is caught, even though he hasn’t actually done anything besides be stupid enough to take the spray can out of a vandal’s hands.

He has an ASBO.

If they actually want to prevent him from any more criminal behavior the only real way to do it will be to ban him from being around Sherlock Holmes, which of course they haven’t done, having not believed a word of John’s story of not having been the one to graffiti the side of the building.

Sherlock Holmes is a bad influence on him, of this John is sure. Unfortunately for the British government, there was nothing they could put in an ASBO which would keep him from seeing Sherlock Holmes.

-0-

Sherlock is finding a ridiculous amount of time to watch John eat. Part of it is because of the infrequency that Sherlock himself eats, but Sherlock knows this isn’t the whole reason. He loves talking to John, and if he puts food in front of John it is a way of keeping a computer or book or paper away from his face. Then John talks, and smiles, and laughs. Sherlock knows that it is foolish to be jealous of the written word, but he also knows that something can be both foolish and true.

-0-

John has never fallen asleep at work before, not even when he was a medical student running on negative amounts of sleep. Yes, Sherlock Holmes certainly has a negative influence on him to be sure. He stayed up all night solving a mystery with Sherlock Holmes, and now he can’t do his day job. By all objective measures, John’s life is falling apart, and he knows that he should care about it a lot more than he actually does.

-0-

“We are going out tonight,” Sherlock declares.

“No, I have a date,” John argues. He’s not supposed to disagree. He almost never does. It’s very inconvenient.

“A date?” Sherlock asks in surprise.

“Two people going out, having fun,” John says.

Sherlock hadn’t taken into account that if he didn’t date John that John would date other people. He feels like his heart is in a vice grip at the very thought. “That’s what I’m suggesting.” He’s not sure that he wants to date John, he’s not sure if he really can, but he knows that he’s going to try if it is the only way to keep John from dating other people.

“I hope not,” John says.

The words echo inside of Sherlock’s brain like shrapnel from a bomb. Of course, John would never want to be with him. Which is fine, good even, because while Jamie was okay with a relationship with a freak most people would not be. John would not be. John needs and deserves more than Sherlock will ever be capable of giving him.
It was fine, Sherlock told himself. Most of what he wanted from a relationship he could get from a friendship with John. So now Sherlock will be okay with the fact that friendship is all that John is ever going to give. He will just have to ignore the fact that John will continue to choose girlfriends for himself.

-0-

John is angry at him because Sherlock came to his date, and Sherlock isn’t exactly sure why.

“I’m trying to get off with Sarah!” he explains. He’s not even embarrassed when Sarah comes around the bend and hears him say it.

Sherlock is embarrassed. He understands that sex is an important part of romantic relationships for most people, but John has just declared that sex is the whole of a romantic relationship for him.

In that case, being John’s friend will be far better than being his boyfriend.

-0-

Sherlock likes the way that John corrects him, at least when he doesn’t pout or leave the room. Sherlock likes it when John tells him that what he does is “not good,” and even better, when John explains why.

“People don’t like it when you point out their flaws, Sherlock. They might not like the very thing about themselves you just pointed out, but they don’t really have a way to change it.”

“Apologize, Sherlock, even if you don’t think you did anything wrong. They think you did something wrong, and that is all that really matters. You don’t have to mean it, for God sakes. I know you can act.”

“Create a filter between your brain, and your mouth. You don’t have to say every thought that pops into your head. Just say the ones that will make people happier, or will accomplish something.”

“Sherlock, for God’s sake, put a please on the end of that sentence, please.”

“When people come over, offer them tea. Then actually make it. Without additions from your chemistry set.”
John is very good at giving advice.

Chapter Text

2010, August

A bomb went off at Baker’s Street, and John found out about it because of the news. He never should have argued with Sherlock about shooting the wall. He never should have left after the fight. He should have been there to protect Sherlock, not running off to his girlfriend's house.

When John finally arrives back at his flat, Sherlock is sitting in a chair, unharmed, with his brother sitting in the chair across from him.

Sherlock looks bored and John realizes that nothing will ever be enough to entertain this man.

-0-

Jim is flirting with Sherlock, which annoys Sherlock for a number of reasons. The other man is supposed to be dating Molly, and his being gay is going to hurt Molly’s feelings. He’s distracting Sherlock from the work, which is rude and annoying. The most important reason is that Sherlock doesn’t want anyone to flirt with him, ever. He wishes he could wear his asexuality on his sleeve as easily as Jim wears his homosexuality. Sherlock wishes that his mind left as many marks upon his physical appearance as other peoples’ minds seem to do for them.
He wants others to look at his transport and see the way he views people, reading the story of their lives. But they can only see cheekbones and hair and God only knows what other details their eyes might rest upon.

Sherlock can turn on flirtation like a faucet whenever he needs to. He doesn’t think he’s ever done it for real. It’s a language he doesn’t speak, a code he can’t crack. With his husband, he’d just spoke the truth, and it had worked. Perhaps he should learn to flirt for real, to get romance, not information. Then he can have romance if he wants it. He just isn’t sure if he wants it.

-0-

John thinks that Sherlock is cold and unfeeling. John yells at him because of it. Sherlock apparently was supposed to be falling apart at the very idea of a bomb threatening people. Doesn’t John understand that he can’t fall apart? The fact that he doesn’t fall apart is what makes him better than other people.

If Sherlock gets sad, he can’t focus, and if he can’t focus than these people are going to die.

Caring is not an advantage.

-0-

“Soft!” the old women had called Jim. “Soft!” That was more than enough for her to die for. He remembers the taunts, the things he has been called: “puff”, “rent boy”, “fairy”, and “queen.” His legs have been described as dancer legs, and his voice as soft.

They are all ways to wound him, and no one gets to wound Jim without paying the price.
He can play gay Jim and that is fine, because it’s not really him. It’s a mask, a role for him to play. He will not spend his life playing gay Jim.

And no one calls him soft and gets to live.

-0-

John seemed surprised by the fact that Sherlock talks to John even when he isn’t there. Honestly, it’s a whole lot easier to talk to John when he isn’t there. The John inside of his mind never gets offended, or objects, or argues.
Overall, it is safer to love John when he is out fetching milk or whatever else he does when he’s out of earshot.

-0-

“Don’t be alarmed. It has to do with sex,” Mycroft declares with a campy grin.

“Sex doesn’t alarm me,” Sherlock quips. He’s annoyed at his brother for bringing it up. He hasn’t explained his orientation to John in any words besides saying he was married to his work. He wants to explain it properly to John, but not like this, not with a stereotype. Asexual people are not afraid of sex (well some are, but not most, and not him). They just don’t worship at its alter.

“How would you know?” Mycroft asks.

Sherlock bites back his response. He could point out that he avoids sex by choice while his brother was just scared. He doesn’t want to hurt his brother. Not after Lestrade anyway.

-0-

“Hello, Sherlock.” The voice is in Sherlock’s ear as he’s pushed against the wall of the alley. For a second Sherlock is alarmed, thinking there is a gun in Moriarty’s pocket, but he realizes quickly it’s his penis.

Dull.

“I assume you’ve got something in place to prevent me from tossing you to the floor,” Sherlock says.

“Oh, and here I assumed you’d be a bottom?” Moriarty teases.

Sherlock starts to break away from him, but is stopped by the sniper marks on the wall his face is slammed against.

Moriarty presses himself more firmly into the back of Sherlock.

“I have to say I’m disappointed,” Sherlock says. “Here I thought you were interesting, and you’re just driven by your baser instincts just like the normal people.”

“Mmm,” Moriarty agrees, and Sherlock is a bit alarmed by the way that his voice is unaffected by the sexual act he’s engaging in. Usually this makes humans stupid enough you can take advantage of them. “Of course my instincts are a bit different from most.”

“You have some kinks then?” Sherlock asks, careful to make his voice sound completely unaffected by the way Moriarty is thrusting him into the wall.

“Just the one,” Moriarty leans forward to whisper in Sherlock’s ear. “The absolute destruction of my ‘partner’.” He says the last words with a sneer. “And I have to admit that I am looking forward to destroying you more than anyone else.”

Moriarty pulls away, and Sherlock turns confused by the fact that the other man hadn’t climaxed.

“Oh, don’t worry, dear,” Moriary sneers. “I’m not finished with you yet.” He starts to walk away and calls over his shoulder. “The snipers are giving me a five-minute head-start, lovey. I’d advise you to stand still until then.”
Sherlock uses the time to plan his next move. He could go to Lestrade of course, but that would mean forensic doctors looking for advice that wasn’t there, and Lestrade would look at him with worry for months, just like when he was on drugs. He could go to his brother, of course, but the worry would be worse, and God only knows what he would do to Moriarty. Probably something that would turn Moriarty’s attention to Mycroft.

John would make him go to a doctor, and probably a psychologist. Neither of them could help him.

So, he wasn’t going to mention it. Sherlock closes his eyes and locks it away in the dungeon of his mind palace. It’s much too dangerous just to delete.

Chapter Text

2010, December

John is shocked. Sherlock just apologized without specifically being asked to. Sherlock had seen that he’d hurt Molly’s feelings, and he said he was sorry. He either actually means it, or is an even better actor than John thought.
But what John really thinks is that he deserved to get Sherlock’s first apology.

-0-

Irene’s passing is Sherlock’s first death since his son. Mycroft stands beside him, waiting for a reaction. Waiting for him to start ties on fire or shoot up, because as horrible as that would be Mycroft at least knows how to deal with those.

Sherlock takes the cigarette from Mycroft’s fingers, sucking relief from it.

Loud grief explodes in the morgue, and the brothers turn toward it.

“Do you ever think there is something wrong with us?” Sherlock asks.

No, Mycroft thought. There is something wrong with the rest of them. The weak ones who weep over the death of a mortal. It was like crying whenever the seasons changed. “All lives end,” he tells his little brother. “All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage.”

It doesn’t really matter if caring is an advantage or not. Sherlock knows he can never stop caring.

-0-

John shouts across the warehouse toward Irene, “Just in case anyone was still interested, I’m not gay.”

Sherlock cowards in the shadows, wishing that he had not followed John here. He knew that John was straight. He knew it without having it shouted, echoing loudly across the infinite gap between them. The sound of it feels as if it’s reverberating in his chest cavity.

Irene, teasing, returns, “Well, I am, and here we are.”

Poor Irene. She knows what it is like to fall for someone whose orientation ensures they will never love you back. Sherlock decides that he is going to be very nice to her from now on.

John requires Irene to inform him that she is still alive. The obscene sound on Sherlock’s phone gives him away.
They turn toward him. Irene is not surprised (she is clever, clever enough that the whole thing might have been a rouse to get John to declare feelings, had he had them). John is shocked.

-0-

Irene’s face looks positively besmirched, and Sherlock decides that the kindest way to let her down was to point out who he was really interested in.

“Please don’t tell me that was astounding or amazing. John has expressed that in every way known to the English language.”

“I would have you right here until you begged for mercy twice.”

Except for that one, Sherlock thinks in shock. “I’ve never begged for mercy in my life,” he says, trying to sound normal. Anyway, he would not beg for mercy. Sex just does not have that kind of effect on him.

“Twice,” she repeats, and he is shocked to find that he believes her.

Chapter Text

2011, April

John uses his Captain Watson voice to order a soldier around at Baskerville.

“Did you like it?” Sherlock asks.

“Oh yes,” John replies. He’s missed being in charge. Sherlock likes it, but in a way he’s pretty sure he’s not supposed to.

-0-

John is used to Sherlock asking him to do favors. John is not used to Sherlock using a pretty psychologist to bribe John to do the favor for him.

Everyone was always saying that John and Sherlock were a couple, apart from Sherlock himself.

Sherlock, who said he was married to his work. Sherlock, who was apparently confused by what the definition of a date was. Sherlock, who was not the sort of person who went with anyone.

-0-

Sherlock walks out of the building, just in time to see John and Lestrade fumbling for a word to describe Sherlock. “Asperger's,” John lands on.

Wrong. If John needed to label him with something, he could at least use the proper one: psychopath. He’d given John a label when they first met because Sherlock found that most people needed a label in order to get through dealing with him. It made them comfortable to believe that he was broken, damaged, that there was some sort of a medical reason for his bad behavior.

He thought he was beyond that with John. Will he ever be good enough, normal enough, for people to look at him, and see him? Not some label, not see some deficit or lack, something that he should be and was not?

-0-

John could not believe that Sherlock had drugged him. Well, he hadn’t exactly drugged him, but that was not from lack of effort. Sherlock had sat in a room and listened to John panic and had done nothing to calm him.

Sherlock had experimented on him like he was a lab rat. It should be a deal breaker. It should be the end of their friendship. John knows now that he and Sherlock are going to be together forever, whatever else they are.

2012, January

John flaps the paper angrily at Sherlock. A paper which declares that everyone thinks they are a couple. “We have to be more careful!” he declares.

Sherlock’s stomach falls, and he can’t even analyze why he is so injured by this. “Why?”

“You are one step away from famous.” John is concerned about him. He’s not embarrassed by him.

-0-

John tries to give last minute instructions to Sherlock on how to behave in the courtroom. It feels suspiciously to Sherlock like a cram session for social skills.

“I’ll just be myself,” Sherlock declares.

“Let’s give smart ass a whisper,” John says.

Sherlock isn’t sure why everyone else gets the advice to be themselves but him.

-0-

Sherlock is more than a little surprised to discover how against the idea of dying he is. For the greater portion of his life that stretched after the death of his husband and son he’s been mostly indifferent to this idea. He’s continued to live, mostly out of habit.

He isn’t exactly sure when he started valuing his own life, but he is pretty sure that John Watson has something to do with it.

-0-

Moriarty talks about John like he is a pet. Sherlock would be a simply awful pet owner. Most days he is not able to feed himself, let alone another animal. It would be bad indeed if John had to rely on him for his well-being. It’s far more accurate to say that Sherlock depends on John for his well-being.

No, John is not his pet. John is his whole life.

-0-

“Are you having fun?” John asks Sherlock, and for a moment he is delighted. Sherlock has been waiting his whole life to meet someone who enjoys crimes scenes as much as he did. Then he realizes that this is John scolding him. He’s reminding him not to smile at a crime scene.

How dull.

-0-

Lestrade does not want Sherlock to be himself. He wants him to be dull, boring, just like everyone else. Doesn’t Lestrade know that if Sherlock was not himself, he would be worthless? He would be terrible at being ordinary, so it is for the best that he is extraordinary, because if he was not Sherlock would be nothing.

It’s for the best, though, that Lestrade would rather have an ordinary person than Sherlock. That way if Sherlock doesn’t make it out of here alive Lestrade is going to have ordinary people in his life, and he will have no reason to grieve for Sherlock.

-0-

Sherlock can’t help but smile, even if he does hide it from John. All it took was someone calling him a weirdo for John to punch the police commissioner in the face. He has a friend that is willing to defend him.

It got even better than that, though. John was more loyal than just a punch’s worth. He is loyal enough to allow Sherlock to point a gun at his head. He is loyal enough to run through the streets with Sherlock the fugitive.

It would be a tragedy be to leave a world which contains loyalty like this.

-0-

Moriarty has killed himself right in front of Sherlock, and Sherlock keeps telling himself that it is a good thing. The world is a much better place without Morarity in it. He was a bad man after all.

Still, Sherlock is affected by looking at his dead body. Sherlock likes dead bodies to be strangers. It is unnerving to see someone stilled by death whom he’d seen quickened by life just a few moments ago. It reminded Sherlock that before long, he too, would be dead. Even during the years that Sherlock had longed for death he had feared it.

Death is beyond all comprehension.

All that Sherlock can think about is how similar he is, was, to Moriarty. He was a sociopath. He loved murder. There, but for the love of friends and family, went Sherlock.

Moriarty had tried to kill Sherlock, and by taking his own life, in some strange way, he has.

-0-

The tears that Sherlock sheds on the roof are real. Sherlock knows he isn’t going to die, but he also knows that he is going to have to leave. He will live his life without John, for goodness knows how long, and that is a kind of a death after all.

Chapter Text

2011, April

John keeps a list of things that Sherlock did not know. He did not know that the Earth went around the sun, or how much milk cost (he’d guessed 80 pounds, and when John had been shocked, he’d switched his guess to 80 pence). He had never heard of a shooting star and was unclear as to who the current leader of the country was.

But most of what he didn’t know was the social niceties of life. When it would be a bad idea to smile or laugh. What he should not say. How not to offend people.

He could make deductions based on the things that someone else’s face did, and sometimes he could strike his face into the perfect form to get information from someone. He did not know how to make honest faces which would rend nothing more from his fellow humans than emotions.

What John never knew the most important thing that Sherlock didn’t know: that death is not the only kind of leaving that hurts. That a fake suicide, much like a real one, is just a way of passing your pain on to someone else.

-0-

Sherlock hears John at the grave begging him not to be dead. Everything in him wants to rush out, scoop him up in his arms, and tell him that his wish has been granted. But that would have put John in danger, and Sherlock has done all of this to keep him out of danger. He is not about to ruin it now.

-0-

“Gregory,” Mycroft says in shock as he opens the door to reveal his former lover on the day after his brother’s supposed death.

“Mycroft, are you okay?”

Mycroft looks down at himself looking for some unnoticed injury. His time in M16 had made it so he really didn’t notice pain.

“Your brother,” Lestrade says. “I know how much you love Sherlock, and I wanted to...” He tries to peer past Mycroft. “Are your parents here?”

Mycroft shakes his head, his stomach twisting in guilt. Sherlock made him promise not to tell anyone that he is still alive, not even John. Not even Gregory. He hadn’t exactly expected to have to lie to the mans’ face.

“No.”

“Mycroft, you can’t be alone right now. Can I come in?”

“You don’t have to do this,” Mycroft says.

Gregory looks stricken. “I want to be with someone who knew him right now.”

Mycroft still doesn’t move away from the door. “How does your wife feel about you being here?”

“We never actually got re-married,” Greg says.

Mycroft looks at his ring.

“Yes. It stops people from asking questions that I don’t want to answer.”

“Apart from me,” Mycroft says.

“Well, you always could see through me,” Gregory says.

“You want a whiskey?”

“I’m going to say yes only because I assume you don’t keep beer anymore,” Greg replies.

“You would be correct in that,” Mycroft says.

“I can’t imagine how hard this is on you,” Greg says when he’s had two fingers poured for him. “I know how much you loved your brother. How you would have done anything for him. It must have killed you that Sherlock didn’t ask for help from you when he really needed it.”

Mycroft stares at his full glass unable to meet the other man’s eyes. “I would have done anything for him. Even lied if it would have helped. Do you think that is right?”

“Lying to save someone? Sure,” Greg says.

Mycroft feels relieved.

“I can’t believe how well you are doing with all of this. I thought you’d be...” Greg shakes his head. “I’m sorry. I know that people grieve in lots of different ways, and just because you look stoic doesn’t make me believe that you’re actually doing well.”

“I’ve had a lot of practice grieving for my brother,” Mycroft says.

“Right, I’d forgotten that he pretended to be dead,” Greg chuckles.

“That, as well as all of the foolish risks he took when he was doing drugs. Not to mention his suicide attempt. I sort of feel like everything since I found him starving himself to death on the floor of that smelly student flat was extra time. That extra time was the best years of his life.”

Lestrade nods. “You made him happy,” he tells him.

“John made him happy,” Mycroft argues. “He hated me.”

“He worshiped you,” Greg corrects.

“You’ve...checked on John?” Mycroft asks.

“Please, you’ve been looking at him on CCTV.”

“It’s not the same as having a conversation with him.”

“He’s falling apart. The loss of your brother is hurting him more than his injury at war ever did. He’s strong though. He's going to be fine.”

“I appreciate you checking on me. It was very kind,” Mycroft says softly.

“I’ve missed you. Every day,” Gregory whispers.

“Yes, well, I’m sure your wife was able to offer you comfort,” Mycroft says cynically.

“We’re not together, Mycroft. We’re just raising a child together.”

Mycroft’s whiskey pauses on the way to his mouth. It hovers there for long moment after long moment before he finally sets it down. “What?”

“I didn’t go back to her, Mycroft. After you kicked me out, I decided that it would be more convenient to live there, but I’m not about to go back with her. She would just cheat on me, and God, the fighting. We still fight a bit as friends, but it was constant when we were trying to be a couple.”

“I did not kick you out,” Mycroft says in shock.

“Right,” Greg sneers. “You just told me that there was no way you were raising Mia with me. I had to choose between my daughter and you.”

“Raising the new baby with you was an option?” Mycroft says in a quiet shocked voice.

It’s Greg’s turn to stare. “Of course it was! Mycroft! I asked you to adopt Anna’s half-sister, and you told me that if I wanted to be a part of her life, I couldn’t be a part of yours.”

“I never said that.”

“Well, perhaps not in so many words, but-”

“I never meant that, dulce vulcher mia. I had no idea that you wanted that. I thought you were leaving me, and I didn’t want you how much it was killing me.”

“Shit.” Lestrade drops his head into both hands, bending over as if struck a sudden blow. “Shit!” Greg reiterates, then looks back up. “And if I’d communicated clearly?”

“I would have decorated a nursery for our new baby.”

Greg gasps. “Okay, and what about now?”

“I am not going to be the reason that a family is ripped apart.”

“Mycroft, my girls are at my parent’s house because I don’t dare leave them alone with my ex-wife ever since Anna asked me what a threesome was. I’m not sure we were ever a family even when we were married, but I know we are definitely not one now.

You and I and Anna were the most family-like family I’ve ever had.”

Mycroft swirls his drink in silence.

“Right,” Greg says, standing. “I’m sorry. I understand. It’s been a couple of years. I should have known that you’ve moved on.”

“No,” Mycroft says, making Lestrade pause in his retreat to the door.

“You’re still not required to forgive me.”

“There is nothing to forgive. I could have spoken clearly just as easily as you could have.”

“So why then, Mycroft?” Greg asks, sounding distressed. “Tell me why we can’t go back into the best thing that ever happened to me?”

Mycroft stands and puts a hand on Greg’s cheek. “I didn’t say no amica mea.”

“Oh, of course, but,” Greg says seriously. “Your brother just died...it’s not the best time to start a relationship.”
“I am…overwhelmed by the idea of having another chance at you. I know how precious it is now, after having had it, lost it, and now, having a chance at it again. I am quiet because I cannot believe my good luck. I want this, Gregory, very much.”

“And by this, you mean both my daughters? Because leaving Mia behind would be a deal breaker.”

“I would never ask you to leave your child, Gregory. I look forward to meeting her,” Mycroft says, standing up.
“God, I’ve missed you,” Greg says, falling forward into a hug. The two of them clutch each other like it is the only lifeline to the world. Mycroft finds the spot-on Greg’s neck that drives him crazy.

“You sure that’s where you want this to go?” Greg asks.

“I’m certain.”

“Good enough,” Greg says, swooping Mycroft up into a fireman carry, and mounting the grand staircase as easily as he would if he were carrying one of his daughters.

-0-

“I know that you’ve given up smoking,” Mycroft says, glancing at the nightstand as they lie in bed.

“Be my guest,” Lestrade says, waving his hand.

Mycroft retrieves the cigarette from the drawer by his bed reserved for lube, condoms, after-sex cigarettes, and spy novels which he can only justify wasting his precious time reading when insomnia overcomes him.

It smells like home to Greg. “Give me one.”

“I will not be responsible for reinitiating you into a bad habit.”

Greg reaches over Mycroft to playfully grab one. He puts it in his mouth, before lighting it from the one in Mycroft’s mouth. “Don’t be a git. I quit for your brother; you know.”

“You’re not allowed to hold me responsible if you get cancer,” Mycroft says.

Greg wraps an arm around him.

“Tell me everything about nuestros pueres,” Mycroft requests, leaning into the contact.

“My Latin’s gotten pretty rusty. Which pronoun is nuestros?” Greg asks.

“Our.”

“Mmmm,” Greg hums. “The right one then. Our girls,” he says dreamily.

-0-

The alarm on Greg’s phone rings, and Mycroft rolls over to turn it off.

“Sorry, I’ve got to pick up the girls,” Greg says.

“I’m on grief leave,” Mycroft says. “I could come.”

“Sounds lovely.”

“Do we have time for a time for a fry up?”

“Yes, we can eat before we go take them to your house.”

“My house?” Mycroft asks, suddenly and acutely concerned.

“Let me move in and get the girl’s adjusted before we get that pronoun changed.”

“Okay, but you can redecorate if it would make this place feel homier to you,” Mycroft offers concerned.
Greg chuckles. “Amica, you’ve got all the style sense in this relationship, and I am very much okay with it. I called this my home before. It's just new this time. I don’t quite believe it yet.”

“Crees nuestro amica,” * Mycroft says, kissing him.

Chapter Text

2011, April

Mycroft doesn’t generally take rides into the country. It reeks of fieldwork, which he hasn’t done since his work for M16. This ride is enjoyable. The discussion is a mixture of old jokes, catching up, and long silences warmed by affection.

Greg’s parents live in a cottage which reminds Mycroft, with a twist of his stomach, of his own parents’ place. When the door opens, the smell of biscuits wafts out. Mycroft realizes the biscuits that he put in his pocket are going to be less effective at bribing the children here.

“Daddy!” a little girl yells, running toward Greg.

“Hello, baby girl,” he says. “This is Mycroft.”

She buries her head in Greg’s shoulder like her sister used to do. Anna walks up near them, taking in both men.
“You’ve got a hug for your dad?” Greg asks, holding out his arm to his older daughter.

“Your face is really familiar,” Anna says, staring at Mycroft.

Mycroft is about to laugh at what he thinks is a joke. He’d been imagining the whole time that Anna was thinking of him as often has he’d been thinking of Anna. Greg quickly says, “He has one of those faces. Anna, I’d like you to meet Mycroft. We’re going to live at his house.”

Mycroft has lots of practice at hiding his emotions. Which is good, because he is falling apart right now.

“Mom too?” Anna asks.

“No, but you’ll still see her sometimes.”

“Okay, good,” Anna says, smiling and coming to give her father the requested hug, all the while not taking her eyes off the new man.

“This is Mycroft?” Greg’s mother says, coming around the corner.

“Yes, Mum.”

“Well, you’re introducing me to him this time. That’s a good sign. You’re changing addresses again, son?”

Greg nods.

Mrs. Lestrade stands before Mycroft. “The things I’ve heard about you, Mr. Holmes. Is one permitted to hug the British government?”

“I’m a minor official in the British government, but yes, you may hug me,” he says, accepting the first hug from a stranger in years.

“You’ll have tea before you rush off. You’ll get the kids settled in tonight, but you’re not moving them in. You haven’t the time, and you won’t tire them out. I’ve got a suitcase to get them through the first few days all ready,” Mrs. Lestrade states all this with a meaningful finger pointed first in Greg’s direction, then in Mycroft’s.

“Poor Mum. You’re going to have less chances to boss me around now,” Greg warns.

“Oh, you’re going to bring those babies out here just as often. If you don’t, I’ll just show up at that giant house of yours and visit.” His mother grins. “I’ll put the kettle on, dearies.”

-0-

Mycroft had drunk a lot of good tea in his life. Tea made in every country of the world. Fresh tea, rare tea, tea made by people who had spent their entire life perfecting the art and strengthening supply chains. Yet the best tea that he ever drank was made by Lestrade’s mother and was used to dunk fresh-from-the-oven biscuits.

-0-

“What is your house like, Mycroft?” Anna asks from the backseat.

“It’s giant,” Greg says.

“It’s perhaps a bit large for London,” Mycroft says, glancing at him.

“It’s quite posh,” Greg continues.

“But you need to feel at home. When I was a child we used to go to my grandmother’s house occasionally. Her house was an untouchable kind of posh. Mine is nothing like that,” Mycroft says.

“Does it have a water slide?” Anna asks.

“Of course not,” Greg says.

“Perhaps we could put one in,” Anna suggests.

Greg laughs, but comes up short when no one joins him. “You are not putting in a water slide, Mycroft.”

“I don’t see why not. It’s a bit of an engineering challenge, but I’m sure we could hire someone for that. The permit would not be a problem for me.”

“She’d change her mind by the time we got it done. It’s too big, too much,” Greg counters.

“You could help me pick out your room though. I have a room that would be suitable for Mia, although we can make any changes that you want too, baby girl,” Mycroft says, glancing at the younger sister only to discover she has fallen asleep as soon as she was put in her car seat.

“Can I have a trampoline in my room?” Anna presses.

“I’m afraid not. It’s too small. I might be able to fit one in the grand hall though. I’ll have to do some measurements.”

“Stop this,” Greg says exasperatedly. “Anna, stop asking for things before Mycroft thinks that you’re greedy, and you stop trying to give her everything she asks for. She doesn’t need any of it, and I don’t want her to be spoiled! Land sakes, it’s just the first day!”

“I just don’t think biscuits are going to work this time,” Mycroft mutters.

“This time?” Anna says.

“It’s how Mycroft used to make friends when he was young,” Greg says, throwing an explanation into the backseat behind him. “You don’t need to bribe people into wanting to be around you. People already do,” Greg says, fondly playing with the small hairs on the back of Mycroft’s neck.

“You are the exception to the rule.”

“Gran said you were the government, but that’s not a person, that’s a lot of people,” Anna observes.

“Your Gran was teasing me,” Mycroft explains. “I merely work for the British government.”

“What do you do?” Anna asks, bouncing in her seat.

“Mostly paperwork,” Mycroft says. He’s answered questions about his work in exactly this way dozens of times, but never to children, and never to someone he cares this much about. It’s difficult for him.

Greg snorts.

“Do you get to meet the prime minister?”

“When he’s in the country for the weekly meeting, yes.”

“Have you meet the queen?”

“Several times, over tea,” Mycroft explains.

“Oh! How does the queen take her tea?” the little girl asks, clapping her hands together.

“I’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement about such things.”

“Wait, that’s classified? What does she put in it? Heroin?” Greg asks before he can stop himself.

Mycroft gasps “You can’t talk about the queen like that!”

“Yeah, it’s probably something boring like bones of lesser mortals,” Anna quips.

Mycroft turns back to give her a glance of approval at the snarky dark personality she’d developed since he last knew her. It’s enough to encourage her to continue.

“Or stardust,” Anna continues.

“Well, if you get technical, everything on the planet is stardust,” Mycroft observes.

“Really? How?” Anna observes.

Mycroft goes on to describe astrophysics in a way that proves he did not delete the solar system the way that his younger brother did.

-0-

Mia sinks into the stuffed animals in the corner of the room, chatting to each of them in a baby voice, no real words distinguishable from the toddler dialect.

Anna walks over to the bookshelf and touches Narnia. “I remember these books.”

“Yes, you read them when you were younger.”

“Really? Where did I get them from? Where are they now?”

“Well, you were very young,” Greg says.

“I’ve not been able to read long,” she protests.

“They were read to you,” Greg says.

Anna goes over and touches the wardrobe, one that had been bought for her when she fell in love with the series. She opens the door to reveal the mirror. “I remember this. How do I remember this?”

“Gran used to have one like that at her house,” Greg lies.

“No,” Mycroft says. “It was one thing when we were just not telling her. I’m not going to constantly lie to her.”

“I lived here before, in this room,” Anna says.

“Yes,” Mycroft says.

“You read me Narnia,” Anna continues.

“Yes, I did, Sweetie,” Mycroft says, moving toward her for the hug of reunion he is sure is coming.

“What did I do wrong?” she asks with tears welling up behind her eyes. “Why did you leave me?”

“Nothing, honey! It had nothing to do with you. Your father and I...”

“You tucked me in, and fed me, and we went to the park, and then you fell out of my life. You let me forget all about you! Why?”

“Honey, your father thought it was best.”

“You never loved me,” Anna warbles, the tears spilling over cheeks gone flush.

“Hogwash,” he says. “You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You are my entire life! How could you ever think otherwise?” He opens up his arms in another attempt at hugging her.

Anna flees the room.

Mycroft starts to follow, but Greg puts out his hand to stop him. “Watch Mia, please.”

Greg finds Anna behind the grand piano in the room Mycroft calls “the salon” and Greg refers to as the “poshest sitting room”. He wonders just how much his daughter remembers from the first time she lived here because this was where she used to hide when she thought she was in trouble. He sits in silence for several minutes with his back against the wall within sight of her but saying nothing.

“Mycroft did not choose to walk out of your life. I made him.”

“Why?” she sniffs.

“It was a misunderstanding. I thought he asked me to choose between having your little sister in my life and having him in my life. I choose Mia. I would always choose my girls. He thought I chose your mother over him.”
“You would never do that,” Anna breaks in.

“I know,” he admits with a sigh. “He asked me if he could have time with you after we left. I said no. I couldn’t stand the thought of him loving you, and your little sister feeling rejected. The first time I was with him I let him choose whether you were going to part of the equation. He wanted you, he chose you. In fact,” Greg chuckles, remembering the question over the cigarette last night. “I think he might be more excited about you and your sister than he is about me.”

“That’s not the only reason you’re with him though, is it?” Anna says worried. “Because that’s why you were with mom, and it wasn’t good.

“No, it wasn’t. Moving back in with your mother was a mistake. This isn’t. Mycroft and I might both love you more than we love each other, but we love each other a whole lot.”

“Good,” Anna says with a grin, moving within hugging distance of her father. “I remember this place.”

“You lived here for about fifteen months when you were two and three years old.”

“How long are we staying this time?” she asks, still leaning against him.

“Hopefully forever, baby girl, and if not, we’re still going to be okay. You know that I’m never going to leave you, right? You will always have me.”

“I know,” she says, burrowing into his side.

-0-

Mycroft insists not only on putting on his own clothes right after sex, but on Greg doing so immediately as well. Well, right after the cigarettes. Usually it annoys Greg. He likes to cuddle, and he likes to cuddle Mycroft when he still looks debauched. When Mycroft gets dressed and smooths his hair down, he goes back to looking like he’s never been affected by another human being in his entire life. Greg enjoys the few moments he can see that Mycroft is affected by him.

Tonight, he’s grateful for his partner’s rigidity when there is a knock on the door. “Come on in sweetie,” he says.
Anna stands there in footie pajamas.

“I know you already read Narnia to Mia, and me, but...” she says holding up what looks to be a pretty thick book.
“Come on, honey,” Mycroft says, tapping the spot between the two of them. “What book do you have there?”

“Hobbit,” she answers.

“Oh, another favorite of mine,” he says.

Chapter Text

2011, April

Mycroft wakes up in the morning with Anna pressed between him and Greg. The book they fell asleep reading is smashed between them, much to its detriment.

Greg smiles at him across her head. “I’m afraid to move,” he whispers.

“Don’t drop them off at daycare today. I’ll take them for as long as I’m on leave,” Mycroft says.

“Mycroft, you’re on leave because your brother died. That doesn’t mean you’re ready to take care of little kids all day.”

“I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t want to or if I couldn’t. I could use people around right now,” he says. He feels bad not telling Greg that Sherlock is alive, but he can't stand the thought of Greg being in danger again.

“Okay,” Greg says. “I’ll call and tell them that you’re allowed to do pick-ups and drop offs while I’m at it.”
Mycroft grins at this.

“I’ve got to get ready for work. The kids can sleep in since I don’t need to run them to care, and it’s summer hols for Anna.”

-0-

“Why do you have two umbrellas?” Ann asks as Mycroft helps her little sister out of the car seat.

Mycroft pulls one of the umbrella-like objects off his arm, and with a flourish, snaps it into an umbrella stroller.

“Wow! One of them is not even an umbrella!”

“Actually, neither of them are umbrellas,” Mycroft says with a campy smile.

“Really? What is the other one?”

“I’ll tell you when you are sixteen,” he responds. “Just rest assured, I’m prepared for everything. Your carriage awaits, my lady,” he says to Mia.

“What?” Mia asks.

“He wants you to sit in the stroller, but he said it like you’re a princess.”
\
“Am princess,” Mia says with a proud jut of her chin sitting down in the stroller.

“Okay, I think the wardrobe belongs in Anna’s room, so Mia keep your eyes out for a nice bureau or anything else you would like. Anna, you’re going to need everything apart from the wardrobe.”

“Oh, how sweet!” the shop owner says as they walk in. “Daddy-daughters shopping day!”

“He’s not our dad,” Anna says looking at the shop owner with confusion.

“Oh,” the woman says looking uncomfortable. “Who is he?”

“He lives with our Daddy,” Anna explains, not quite sure how to describe it, and knowing that answering with his name wasn’t going to cut it.

“Oh,” the woman says taking a step back. She wavers, then takes a firm step forward, dropping down on one knee.
“Are you okay, honey?”

“Of course, I’m okay,” Anna says.

“Do you want to be with him, honey?” the clerk persists, putting her hand on the little girl’s arm.

“A lot more than I want to be with you,” she says, jerking away from the woman and plastering herself against Mycroft’s side.

“Come, my dear.” Mycroft says, turning back. “I don’t believe this store has anything for us.” He gives the girl’s hand a quick squeeze before turning to lead her outside with the umbrella stroller.

“What did she want?” Anna asks angrily.

“As misguided and discriminate as she was, she was looking out for you and your sister.”

“I didn’t need her help,” Anna protests.

“I know.”

“Why did she think I did?”

“Some people think it’s bad if two men live together. They think that they will do other bad things, and make their children do bad things as well,” Mycroft says carefully as he locks Mia into her seat and puts the umbrella stroller in the car near them. He really wishes Greg was here for this conversation. Parenting a six-year-old was different than parenting a toddler, and this was not exactly a starter conversation.

“That’s stupid,” Anna says, fastening herself into her booster street.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Mycroft says, closing the door to the car and going into his own seat.

“Should I lie next time? Just call you Daddy?” Anna asks.

“If you like,” Mycroft says. “But that won’t solve all of our problems. Sometimes we might go somewhere as a whole family, and then no matter what you call me people are going to know.”

“Plus, lying is wrong.”

“Yes, it is,” Mycroft agrees. “But sometimes it is okay. Sometimes lying about this might keep you safe. Sometimes it will prevent an incident. Living like your father and I chose to is a constant fight. We chose this, we expected it was going to happen when we chose to be with one another. You didn’t choose this. You don’t have to fight.”
“But I want to,” Anna argues.

“I’m so sorry, puella mia*. You shouldn’t have to make this choice. We never should have put you in this position.”

“I’m not sorry,” Anna says, squaring her shoulders.

“You were pretty amazing in there the way you reacted,” Mycroft says chuckling.

|-0-

After Anna is tucked into her new bed, and Mia is asleep in Anna’s old one, Mycroft and Greg shut the door behind each other and reach for one another like they are drawn by the pull of gravity. Greg’s mouth finds the spot-on Mycroft’s neck which drives them both batty. Mycroft’s arms tighten around him, first at the hips, then the sides, and lastly at the shoulders.

Mycroft’s phone chirps the arrival of a text, and he lightly taps Greg away before getting it.

“It I didn’t know you were running the British government; I would get suspicious at the way you always answer your phone when it rings. Like there was someone else you’d rather be with right now.”

“Certainly not,” Mycroft says, glancing at the words and rapidly typing a reply. “However, it would be dishonest to let you believe that this was a work-related call.”

“Wait, you broke off a kiss for a personal call?”

Mycroft nods.

“Then I need to know who it is.”

“I’m sorry. I can’t tell you that.”

“Mycroft, I know I just sort of dropped back into your life two nights ago. If there was someone else already in it, I need to know that. I’m not going to be angry; it’s not going to end things between us, but I need to know about it.”

“I was not with anyone.”

“Last time I checked, you were not big on friendship, so who exactly are you texting?”

Mycroft’s mouth is set firmly. “I can’t tell you.”

“I know that part of being with you is the non-answers, and the half-truths, and the outright lies. I’ve always trusted that when you didn’t tell me these things it was because you couldn’t. I always assumed classified. I can deal with the double life, but I’m not sure how I feel about a triple one.”

“You’re right about me not having any friends,” Mycroft utters.

“Okay, so that leaves...family? Please tell me you’re not breaking off a kiss in order text your mother.”

“Brother,” Mycroft whispers.

“What?” Greg demands, “You’ve got another brother?”

“Oh,” Mycroft says, wrinkling his brow with sudden remembrance. “Let’s save that particular discussion for another night. I was texting Sherlock.”

Greg stares at him confused. “You mean as some sort of...grief thing?”

“Sherlock is alive. He faked his own death. Again. He’s texting me. I needed to answer right away because he could be in trouble.”

Greg chuckles in disbelief. “God, I should have known he’d done it again. Where is the ruddy git?”

“Eastern Europe. He won’t tell me more,” Mycroft says, frowning at the phone.

“Jesus, he totally had me what with you on leave and John in tears.”

“John doesn’t know, and you can’t tell him.”

“Mycroft, he cares for your brother. Sherlock can’t let John think he’s dead.”

“We have to. John is not a good actor and I really hope that you are. Your life might depend upon it. Sherlock didn’t decide to pretend to be dead in a drug fueled haze this time. He did it to save your life, and John’s, and Mrs. Hudson’s. He’s going to come back and tell John the truth as soon as it is safe for him to do so. Right now, though we’ve got to look devastated. We’ve got to look like we mean it so that everyone stays safe.”

Greg stares at him seriously. “Okay, I think the fake loss of a brother should fill up your grief quota for a year. We don’t need to add real loss onto that. I do however want to talk about the possibility of you having another brother.”

“Sister,” Mycroft corrects in a quiet voice.

“Okay. She can’t possibly be more work than Sherlock.”

“She’s institutionalized,” Mycroft says.

“I’m sorry,” Greg says, then asks hesitantly, “Could I meet her?”

“She’s not allowed contact with anyone. Even I rarely speak to her face to face. Also, Sherlock does not know of her existence, so please do not mention her to him when he comes back. Also avoid mention of it with John because he will surely tell Sherlock.”

“How does Sherlock not know about his own sister?” Greg asks in surprise.

“Her exit from our home was...” Mycroft pauses. “A bit traumatic. He’s blocked it out. I believe that it is best he doesn't remember her. Even mentioning her to my parents causes them undue stress.”

“Of course,” Greg says. “Thanks for telling me. Now, if you’re done with texting your brother, we could return to this,” he says, tantalizingly kissing him. Greg will return to the mystery sister later, but Mycroft can only do so much emotion at one time and he’s well over that limit now.

Chapter Text

2013 October

Mycroft had made the decision not to live in the political part of town. Although he never really let down his carefully dyed and straightened hair, he prefers knowing that he isn’t going to run into people from work as he went about his daily home life.

Then one day he did.

“Mr. Holmes, who do we have here?” the representative says with a grin for the little girl.

“I’m Anna, and this is Mia,” Anna proclaims with a wide grin.

Mycroft makes a mental note to review the stranger danger lessons with the girl.

“I see. Are you out with your uncle?” the representative asks her.

“No,” she giggles. “He’s my Mycroft.”

Mycroft’s whole face goes red, and he rushes on, “My partner’s children.”

“Oh,” the man says in surprise. “I did not realize you were in a serious relationship. You’ve never brought her to any of those long awful dinners. You must be afraid we’d steal her away from you.”

“They are not really her thing,” Mycroft says, his stomach rebelling against the lie. The lie in front of a child who is looking at him with wide eager eyes.

“Well, you should convince her to come sometime. We’d love to meet her,” the man says, clasping him on the back.

-0-

Mycroft has a sleepy Mia cuddled between him and Greg on a comfortable divan. Anna plays with a doll on the floor while listening to him read. Mia’s eyes flutter closed, and Mycroft shuts the book. He’s about to carefully extract himself from the little girl without waking her when Anna tells Greg, “Mycroft called you a girl today.”

“Oh?” Greg asks, his eyes laughing at his terrified lover. He thinks at first it was a mere slip of the tongue, but the guilty face of Mycroft lays that thought to rest.

“We met a man wearing a suit just like Mycroft in the park today.”

“Oh, I see,” Greg says. “Put that face away Mycroft. I’m aware that you are not completely out of the closet. Anna, sweetie, I know that it’s difficult to understand, but some people think it’s bad for men to live together like Mycroft and I do.”

“I know,” Anna says.

“Oh,” Greg says, a bit startled by the loss of his daughter's innocence.

“I’m sorry. I should have mentioned there was a bit of a run-in with a shop keeper the day we got furniture for their rooms,” Mycroft says.

“Yes, well, Anna, there is too much of that in this world. Mycroft works a job where it really matters what people thinks about him, where his reputation is power. He uses that power to do good things. Even things for people like us,” Greg begins.

Mycroft’s face takes on a surprised campy grin and Greg continues in a falsely sarcastic tone.

“Oh, you didn’t know I was good enough at math to catch that one, eh? Well, I am. You entered politics when one tolerant law was passed Another happened just when you’d risen in position, and the right to marriage, well that happened when you’d really taken over, eh?”

Mycroft nods.

“If he let people know about him, he’d lose some of that power, and that wouldn’t just hurt him, but everyone else like us. So sometimes he has to lie, and I’m not hurt if he lies about me. I just care about the way he treats me and my daughters. Eh? He treats you good, yeah?”

Anna nods.

“All right then. That’s what counts. Besides, who a person is with is a bit of information only they get to decide who to tell. Mycroft is the only one who has a say in who knows about Mycroft and me.”

“Are there people you don’t tell, Daddy?” she asks.

“Well, there are some I don’t go advertising to, but there are also none I lie to. It’s different for me though. My career won’t be hurt by who knows about me, and I’ve been open about the fact that I sometimes like men for a lot longer than Mycroft has been.”

“Apart from at work, I’ve been out since I was in college,” Mycroft says.

“I didn’t know that,” Greg says looking at him mystified. “You understand though, Anna?”

“I do, but I think it would be way easier if I could just punch all the people who didn’t like it.”

Mycroft chuckles, “I sometimes feel that way myself, puella mea, but violence never solves a problem without creating five more. I’ve been battling against this hate for a long time, and things are so much better than they were when we started. You fix hatred with love.”

“All right go put on your jammies and brush your teeth. We’ll meet you in your bedroom in a bit,” Greg says.

Mycroft extracts himself from Mia’s snuggles, and they all enter the hallway. Anna disappears into her bedroom.

“You know I’m not ashamed of you, right?” Mycroft asks.

“Are you ashamed of who you are, Myke? Are you ashamed of being gay?” he asks softly.

“Sometimes,” Mycroft admits. “Not as often as I used to be.”

“You are perfect,” Greg says, leaning forward to place a kiss on the tip of Mycroft’s nose. “Have you told anyone about us, ever? Proclaiming who I was really helped me come to the point where I wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed of it. I’m not saying you come out at work. I’m just saying to other people.”

“You are almost the entirety of my social circle,” Mycroft points out.

“What about your family?”

Mycroft sighs. “My contact with Sherlock is pretty limited right now.”

“And your parents?”

“They took our breakup hard.”

“I’ll bet, what with losing a grandchild.”

“They loved you too,” Mycroft says.

“You think they’re going to have to deal with that loss again?”

Mycroft shakes his head, smiling hopefully and subtly.

“Invite them over then,” Greg says, giving him another kiss just as Anna pops out of her bedroom holding the book out to them.

“All ready!” she chirps.

“Oi!” Greg says. “No way you brushed those teeth that fast. Try again!”

-0-

Social niceties should last an average of four point five minutes. Mycroft lets them go on for two minutes beyond this usual deadline, and it does not go unnoticed by Mummy. “Mycroft, honey, is everything okay?”

“Yes, Mummy, quite good actually. I actually wanted to tell you...Greggory and I are back together.”

“Really?” she asks, leaning forward eagerly. “He’s back living with you then? And Anna?”

“Yes, and he’s got a younger girl, a bit more than two. Mia.”

“Really?” she smiles broadly, good cheer brightening her eyes. “And things between you are...good?”

He nods.

“When do we get to see them?” his father asks the all-important question.

“You should come this weekend,” Mycroft declares.

-0-

“Mummy, you really didn’t have to bring them presents,” Mycroft objects.

Greg nudges him in the shoulder. “Oh, so we really are going to have to have that conversation about our children being spoiled, Mr. I-brought-home-gold-necklaces-for-small-children-because-they-love-shinny-things?”

Mrs. Holmes chuckles at her son being called out.

“Mycroft loves my daddy,” Anna declares with a defiant jut of her chin.

“We know dear,” Mr. Holmes says.

“Come on, puella mia, you’ll have to look somewhere else to get into a fight over hate,” Mycroft says with a chuckle.

Mrs. Holmes stops, looking startled by the words from her son. “You’ve dropped some words off of that since last I heard it, son,” she says seriously. “It’s much better this way. You should probably make it official sooner rather than later though.”

Greg looks critically at the exchange knowing he’s going to have to consult the Latin dictionary which has become more and more of a friend to him since he started dating Mycroft.

Mia stares at her new puzzle with a serious frown, not moving it at all for a long time. Then critically she moves all the pieces into the correct positions, barely hesitating in between placements.

“Downright clever,” Mrs. Holmes observes. “Just the way that Sherlock used to solve them.”

“Sherlock?” Anna says looking at her in surprise. “No! Holmes? You’re related to Sherlock Holmes? Like, the detective, Sherlock Holmes! Oh my gosh! I should have known from your last name! He’s like...famous!”

“Hush, Anna. Mycroft doesn’t want to talk about his brother,” Greg says, hoping that secrets are not about to come out in the open. Small children are unlikely to keep a dangerous secret like that.

“Oh,” Anna says turning toward Mycroft with sad eyes. “I’m sorry. He’s your brother?” She asks again softly.
Mycroft nods.

She comes over and gives him a long hug that never seems to end. “Thank you,” he whispers.

Chapter Text

2011, May

Today is a good day. John knows it is a good day because he gets out of bed. That is new. He hasn’t seen the point, really, for a long time after Sherlock.

Then he thinks about how many days there are left of Sherlockless time and the thought is so heavy and oppressive that it pulls him right back into bed quite against his will.

-0-

Sherlock writes John e-mails whenever he is safe and near a computer, which frankly is not all that often. He never sends them, of course. He knows that if he sent them it would make himself feel a whole lot better, and it would make John feel a whole lot worse. That is not a trade that Sherlock is willing to make.

He is not going to tell John that he is alive until both he and John are out of mortal danger, because, really, there is no cause for John to have to grieve him twice.

2011, July

John isn’t usually one to miss the sight of a beautiful women, but then again John really hasn’t noticed much of anything as of late.

“There are ghosts in your eyes,” Mary tells him. Then she talks about the ghosts that are in her own eyes, her dead parents. The two of them cry together, and then they have sex. He isn’t sure if it is the tears or the physical contact or the combination of the two, but it is the first time that John has felt right and properly alive in a very long time.

He spends more time with Mary, and it doesn’t chase the ghosts away from his eyes, but it does make him feel as if he were a living man instead of a ghost himself.

2012, November

Anderson maps out all the places that he thinks that Sherlock has been, and Greg resists the urge to take the map home to Mycroft and ask if it’s all true.

He knows that Sherlock is alive, but he’s not going to give it away here. Not when he did not give it away in John’s house where the man is still haunted by grief, where the urge was so much stronger.

Sherlock is returning home, and when he gets here things will be good again.

2013, January

Sherlock frowns at the picture of John. “We’ll have to get rid of that,” he says, gesturing disapprovingly at John’s mustache. Mycroft is more than a little alarmed at his brother’s use of the romantic we. Then Sherlock goes on to talk about plans to jump out of a cake.

He tells his brother that John is no longer at Baker’s Street, that he’s moved on, but all of this falls on empty ears.
Mycroft worries that when the truth cannot be hidden from Sherlock anymore, when it is imposed on him by John’s presence with Mary right in front of him, he is more than a little afraid that Sherlock’s heart is going to break.

-0-

It has been two years since the last time that people casually assumed that John and Sherlock were a couple. Longer still since John screamed at a (alas not quite) empty warehouse that he was “not gay”.

When Mrs. Hudson acts as if he and Sherlock are a couple once again, it feels like Sherlock is finally home.

2014, January

Greg now smokes not only every time he makes love to his boyfriend, but also whenever he has a mystery too hard to solve. He lights one up in the parking garage, and then he hears a noise, and turns.

It’s Sherlock.

“You bastard,” he says, pulling him in for a hug.

“That’s low tar,” Sherlock says crinkling up his nose at the smell.

“I figure since I went back to smoking, I might as well pick the kind that would kill me slower.”

“My brother smokes low tar.”

“Does he?” Greg says with a smile.

“He smokes them after debauching the low class rent boys, he convinces to sell their bodies to him.”

“That is not what our relationship is like at all,” Greg objects.

“So, you admit that there is a relationship?” Sherlock says.

“I’m back living at your brother’s with my two children. Have been for a while.”

“The youngest one isn’t yours.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, of course she is.”

“Not unless you cheated on my brother the last time that you were together,” Sherlock says with an eye roll.

“Genetics don’t matter. Family is made with love.”

“Genetics are the only thing my brother and I have in common.”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Sherlock. You should come over to ours for dinner.”

“Would the children be there?”

“Yes, my children are usually there,” Greg says with a roll of his eyes.

“Tedious.”

“Oh, come on. You loved it when you had one.”

Sherlock’s eyes go dark for a second. He’d forgotten that Greg knew that about him. Most people he deigned to consort with had no idea about that part of his life (and would probably not believe it if someone told them). The few who did know about it avoided mentioning it in an attempt to spare his feelings. “I did, and it almost destroyed me. I’m not really looking for the chance to do that again.”

“Think about it, Sherlock. Being an uncle is loads easier than being a single father, and neither of my girls are sick.”

“There is more than one way to lose people, and one way or another the loss always happens. There is no way to avoid it,” Sherlock replies in a much-rehearsed monotone.

“All right then, but our door is always open, and if the children really are deal breakers, we can do an adult night. We’re family now.”

“We’re not family until you put a ring on my brother’s finger,” Sherlock says looking at him seriously. “He told you I was alive, didn’t he?”

Greg nods.

“That’s all right. You’re a good actor.”

-0-

Sherlock put so much effort into designing a cute meet for him and John. John should have been delighted. He should have hugged him and talked about how much he missed Sherlock. John should have told him that he was going back to Baker’s Street and left this woman he insisted on proposing to.

John definitely shouldn’t have punched him. Not over and over again, and not onto the back which was still sore from whippings.

He had known when he left that it would hurt John of course, but he had assumed that John would see the pain was not his fault, that it was something that was happening to both of them, something that was out of their control.

There is something else there. He doesn’t hate it the way that he is supposed to. It’s another thing that’s broken in him. It’s probably just because he missed John so much. That’s why the pleasure turns to pain.

-0-

“You don’t know anything about human nature?” Mary is amazed by his ignorance. It is not a cruel amusement though, it’s a curious one. As if Sherlock were a mystery that she is going to solve.

Mary had heard the rumors about John and Sherlock. The whispered jokes, and the comments written on the blog she’d promised not to read on their first date. She would have worried when they first got together, had Sherlock not been dead.

She considers worrying now, but she can’t. First of all, because Sherlock Holmes is a hard man to hate face to face. Secondly, he does not have the social skills he will need to lure her fiancé from her. He barely has the social skills required to make a friend. Last, and perhaps most importantly, his asexuality radiates off him like heat from a fire. This man can never love her husband in the way he needs to be loved.

-0-

Sherlock smirks at the buzz of the Operation game. “Can’t handle a broken heart?” he taunts.

“Don’t be smart,” Mycroft scolds.

“Oh!” Sherlock groans. “That brings me back. ‘Don’t be smart Sherlock’,” he mocks.

“If you seem slow to me, can you imagine what the rest of the world is like? Goldfish.”

“I’ve been gone for two years,” Sherlock says with a sly smile, “I would have thought you’d have gotten yourself a goldfish.”

Mycroft tries to sway the conversation away from his relationship. Mycroft is more than a little relieved when Sherlock turns the game to deductions, even though he pretends not to be. Sherlock deduces that the man who left the hat alone in his apartment must be alone because he is wearing a funny hat.

“Not necessary. Why would he care?” Mycroft asks with confidence, not realizing that he just walked into a trap.

“Indeed, why would anyone care?” Sherlock says cheekily. Oh, Mycroft groans inwardly. His brother knew about Greg being back the whole time, and this day was nothing more than a silly attempt to bring the truth out of him.
“I’m not lonely, Sherlock,” he says stubbornly.

“How would you know?” Sherlock says mirroring Mycroft’s words to him long ago about sex.

It’s fine, Mycroft will get his revenge. Christmas in the cottage with their parents should do it.

Chapter Text

2014, May

Sherlock is shocked that his parents and John are suddenly in the same room. He quickly shuffles his parents out into the kitchen before they can interact with each other.

“Those are your parents?” John asks in shock. “They are not what I...” he pauses, thinking hard. Probably searching for words which will not offend, because John, bless him, is always worried about such things. “They’re so normal.”

“Yes, my cross to bear,” Sherlock says flippantly, hoping that the subject is going to be dropped.

All in all, this meeting had gone far better than he had ever imagined that it would. His mother hasn’t called him a psychopath, and John hasn’t told her how odd Sherlock still is. It is a miracle, but he isn’t about to press his luck. It will be best to keep them apart in the future.

-0-

Sherlock knows of course that pretending he can’t turn the bomb off is not the right thing to do. There are better ways, he is certain, to repair relationships, but there are no better ways that are known to him.

The confession that the threat of death drew from John’s lips is even better than Sherlock hoped it would be.

-0-

“Sherlock Holmes is alive!” Anna says, shoving the newspaper in Mycroft’s face.

“Yes,” Mycroft says.

“Can I meet him?”

“I don’t think so. You’d only be disappointed. He is not the most social of creatures.”

“He doesn’t have to be social! He’s already a legend!” she exclaims.

“Oh, you would certainly be disappointed by him,” Mycroft says, shaking his head.

“You know that I know Sherlock too, right, Anna?” Greg asks.

“Of course, you know him, Dad, but he’s not your brother. It’s completely different,” Anna insists. “Call him, Mycroft!”

“Okay,” Mycroft says with a sigh, pulling the phone out of his pocket. He dials his brother’s number, and it rings out.

“You said he was your brother,” Anna says suspiciously.

“Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean he actually answers when I call.”

“I would always answer if Mia called me,” Anna says.

“Anna!” Mia screams to which Anna returns, “Mia!”

Mycroft chuckles, “Well, I hope that stays true forever.”

“Don’t let Mycroft fool you. He and Sherlock love each other. Can I give it a try then?” he asks, taking out his phone and waving it before his daughter.

“If he won’t answer for his brother, he’s not going to answer for you,” she says.

“Bet?” He says.

“Candy?” Anna asks hopefully.

“Sure.”

Greg dials, and chuckles when Sherlock picks up. “You’ve got a murder for me?”

“No, my daughter wants to meet you. Is it okay if I put her on speakerphone?”

“Dull,” Sherlock says.

“Come on, you’re her hero,” Greg says.

“Fine,” Sherlock says.

“Are you really Sherlock Holmes?” Anna asks, running toward the phone that Greg has put on speaker.

“Technically my first name is William,” Sherlock says, causing Mycroft to roll his eyes so deeply that Greg worries they are never going to come back out of his head.

“But you’re the detective, and Mycroft is your brother?”

“Yes.”

“I read your blog!”

“It’s John’s blog. You are much too young to be reading it. It has violent themes. Lestrade, you really should have stricter rules with your offspring.”

Greg chuckles. “After your brother polished off the unabridged Thousand and One Nights, I didn’t think there was anything too dirty or violent for her.”

“Ah yes, Mycroft read that to me when I was young.”

“Only you made me read all the ‘sailors’ as ‘pirates’.” Mycroft reminds him.

“Sherlock, can you come to our house sometime? My friends are never going to believe that I met you unless I have pictures, and I could get things signed too.”

“Aren’t there two of you now?” Sherlock asks. “Is the smaller one there?”

“Yeah, Mia, say hi to Uncle Sherlock,” Anna says.

“Hi!” Mia yells enthusiastically.

“Uncle, yes, I suppose I am that, although my brother refuses to make an honest man out of your Dad.”

“Daddy is honest,” Anna insists.

“I meant marriage, kiddo,” Sherlock says, and Greg finds himself surprised at how warm the other mans’ voice has gotten. “Yes, we’ll make a time for me to come. My brother is very good at reading stories, but he is rubbish at blanket forts. My son had quite an interest in them.”

“You have a son?” Anna asks excitedly.

“A long time ago, yes I did,” Sherlock answers.

“You and Mycroft are brothers, but you don’t talk to each other much anymore. How come? Are you one of those people who thinks he’s bad for loving my Daddy?”

“God, no. I’m the reason that Mycroft came out of the closet.”

“What closet? Were you playing hide and go seek?” Anna asks.

“Mycroft used to have a girlfriend.”

“Daddy used to have Mommy,” Anna retorts.

“Totally different. Although your father’s selection of your mother was unwise, and, I’d like to remind him, something I advised him against. He was with her because he wanted to be. My brother however, had a fake girlfriend.”

“Oh, sometimes he lies about my dad still,” Ann says.

“You’ll give him courage. Kids do that for their parents,” Sherlock says.

“You and John should come over for dinner tomorrow night.”

“Oh, John is not coming. He’s rather busy with his fiancé.” Sherlock spits the last word like it’s a curse.

“Oh, Sherlock,” Mycroft says like Sherlock has just broke his heart. “You knew he was straight when you met him.”

I never said I had romantic feelings for John.”

“Then why do you care if he’s getting married?” his brother challenges.

“It is distracting him from the work.”

“Sherlock,” Mycroft says with reproach this time. Sherlock hates how his brother can put a thousand emotions into his words.

“The first time you brought him to a crime scene I thought you were dating,” Greg interjects.

“So, did I,” Sherlock admits.

“Sherlock, you weren't the only reason I thought that. His admiration for you didn’t seem completely platonic either.”

“John is straight,” Sherlock objects.

“It’s all a bit more complex, though, isn’t it? There are so many places between straight and gay...”

“Projecting,” Sherlock mutters.

“If you do have feelings for John he deserves to know before he gets married. He might feel the same, and you can have a happily ever after,” Greg advises.

“I thought you knew. I’m asexual. I could never be what John wanted.”

“You’ve been married before, Sherlock,” Greg reminds him.

“Yes, but that was different. Jamie and I broke up and only really got back together because he was sick. If he’d stayed healthy it probably would have been different. John has a chance at real happiness. What kind of a person would I be if I gave him the chance to trade a whole life with Mary for a half one with me?”

“One who believed he was smart enough to choose for himself,” Mycroft grumbles.

“A selfish one,” Sherlock corrects.

Anna has been trying to be invisible in order to get more information, but she can’t contain herself any longer. “I can’t believe the Johnlock conspiracy is the truth!”

“Johnlock?” Sherlock queries suspiciously.

“For the love of God don’t look it up, Sherlock,” Mycroft says in a weary voice. “And you puella mea, don’t go around spreading rumors about your uncle.”

“Wait, there are people out there who think John and I are a couple?” Sherlock asks while doing a quick google search.

“Tell him how you feel, Sherlock. Explain everything you’ve got to explain and let him decide what path he wants to take,” Greg advises.

“I can’t do that. I don’t think you quite understand what asexuality is. You think far more about romantic relationships than I do. I don’t need a romantic partner the way most people do. I can be single and happy, quite happy. I can’t be happy without John in my life. Why on Earth would I risk friendship? No, you’ll keep quiet. Also, Johnlock artists have an inaccurate representation of my body. Perhaps I should correct them.”

“Please don’t, Sherlock,” Mycroft pleads.

Greg chuckles.

“Fine. I won’t correct the inaccurate drawings if you don’t tell John about my misguided feelings. If I needed a romantic entanglement to be happy, I would seek it,” Sherlock says.

“All right then, come over for dinner tomorrow,” Greg demands. “Just because you don’t want a man in your life doesn’t mean you can’t have family.”

2014, June

Sherlock is pretty sure that Mrs. Hudson is attempting to be comforting. She’s failing at it what with the talk of tears and Sherlock always being alone.

He is just as certain of his love of John as he is just as sure of the chemical formula for oxygen. But John would not be happy with him. Of this he is also sure. No one wants a broken man who doesn’t even enjoy sex. Mary can make John happy, and so Sherlock will do anything it takes to help John get to be happy.

If John is going to get married, then Sherlock is going to make sure that he has the best wedding ever. Focusing on the wedding has the added effect of keeping him from focusing on the fact that soon John is going to be married. Sherlock is going to be alone again, and he hadn’t done so well with that the last time. He needs people.

-0-

Sherlock has never understood before why people drank alcohol. It dulled the senses, and most people’s senses were already dull enough.

Then John touches his knee, and Sherlock’s stomach did an unfamiliar backflip. Alcohol made people nauseous didn’t it? That must be what this back flip is.

But maybe Sherlock understands why people drink now. If drinking is the secret to getting John to touch him than Sherlock will drink all the time. Maybe if he drank enough, he would feel more normal, more human. Sherlock has heard enough stories about unrequited love before, and never once has it made him cry before the one the client told him that night. That night he understood.

-0-

“Mycroft don’t be ridiculous. Put on your suit, and be my plus one,” Greg says with annoyance when his partner comes out of the bathroom clad in his ridiculously posh workout clothes.

“Granted, John and my job don’t have a great deal of our social circle in common but going to a wedding as a couple would be pretty noticeable.”

“Fine, use your own invitation. Sit at a different table. We’ll text each other snide comments throughout the dinner,” Greg says.

“Go, and have fun,” Mycroft says, giving him a kiss. “I’ll watch the girls.”

“You are being ridiculous, My. Come with me.”

“I’m not going to a wedding to watch John Watson destroy my baby brother.”

“Sherlock said he was fine with it.”

“Sherlock is not self-aware enough to know what he is and is not okay with,” Mycroft says.

“Sherlock’s a big boy, he can take care of himself.”

“When Jamie left, he tried to kill himself. By starvation. And when I say try, I mean almost did. He’s more stubborn now.”

“He’s also stronger. It’s been a decade, Mycroft. He’s not a stupid teenager who can’t live without your help anymore. Trust him.”

Chapter Text

2014, June

Sherlock realizes that Janine wants to have sex with him. Tedious. How do these people have room for anything in their heads with all of these thoughts of mating? No wonder all of them are stupid in comparison with him. It will be easy enough to distract her by pointing to the nearest man.

-0-

Major Sholto, Sherlock thinks with disgust. John had loved a man and that man had not been Sherlock. Perhaps even worse, John hadn’t even mentioned the Sholto to Sherlock, as if Sholto was an embarrassment, or even worse, likely to give Sherlock the wrong idea. Sherlock was wise enough to know that being capable of loving men was very different than being capable of loving Sherlock. Sholto was a lot to take, there was no denying it.

Sholto is standing across the room right now looking shy, awkward, and painfully needy. Sherlock memorizes each and every one of his mannerisms, knowing that John liked him. Even though he knows it wouldn’t do any good. After all, John did not pick Sholto. He picked Mary.

-0-

It’s a love speech delivered from the best man to the groom and there is nothing unusual in that. There are all kinds of love after all. The kind that Sherlock has for John was not romantic. At least that was what he told himself.

-0-

If Sherlock had known that weddings were this interestingly full of murder and death, he would have had a big one when he married Jamie. Of course, there had not been a murder or a death, because Sherlock had saved Shoto. He was not about to let someone that John cares about die, and he was not going to let anything ruin John’s wedding (and John would think that murder ruins a wedding).

-0-

A baby. John, and Marry are going to be having a baby. Sherlock is happy for John of course. Having a baby was the best (and worst) that had ever happened to him. He is glad that John is going to get the chance to experience that. The new little one is going to be so lucky to have them.

“The statistics for the first trimester...” Sherlock tries to warn. He remembers the heart ache and he feels like he has to prepare them. Sherlock knew the odds of Jay surviving and his death still almost killed him. He couldn’t imagine if he walked into it completely blind sighted.

“Shut up,” John commands.

Quite right. Warnings are not going to do any good. He’ll just try to avoid giving his heart to this baby right away.
After all. This baby is not his.

2014, July

John cannot believe his eyes and ears. Sherlock Holmes, dating. Sherlock Holmes using and receiving cutsie nicknames. Sherlock Holmes kissing people. He hadn’t really thought that Sherlock Holmes went in for that sort of thing, but here he was. John might have lived his life quite differently if he knew that Sherlock Holmes could live his life like that. Of course, Sherlock Holmes is kissing a girl, so really, it would have changed nothing.

-0-

Sherlock proposes. Proposes right in front of John. Honestly, John is as relieved as he is horrified when he discovers that the whole relationship has been a rouse. It’s horrible. Janine does not deserve to be treated like this, but it also means that Sherlock is not straight.

John can deal with asexual a lot better than he can deal with straight, and he didn’t really want to analyze why that is. He locks it up in a box of things he does not want to think about when it comes to Sherlock Holmes.

-0-

Sherlock does not miss the cruel poetry of being shot in the heart by Mary. He has been wounded by her ever since he first met her. Still, he cannot hate her. Even the shot to his heart was an act of Mercy. It is saving his life.

-0-

It is long past time for Sherlock to die. His death has been overdue since the first suicide attempt. Since then all the good in his life has come and gone. Now death, never a generous debtor, was coming to claim its due.
Sherlock Holmes is more than happy to give his debt to death until, “John Watson is definitely in danger.”
It has always been this way. Humans tying him to life, not allowing him to slip away and die. First, it was Mycroft and his damned chips. Then it was Jamie, and then his son, the strongest pull he’d ever had. Now there is John. It is the burden of loving. Your life is not your own. You owe it to other people.

-0-

Janine is a lot less upset about the fact that their whole relationship is a lie than he’d thought she was going to be. Sherlock felt bad about hurting her for the last month. She is rarity: a genuinely good person.

She is upset that he’s never had sex with her. He thought she’d understood that part. He’d told her the truth about his asexuality, mostly. She’d continued to try to tease and bribe him into the bed the entire time they were together.

She is more upset, it seems, about the lack of intimacy than about the fact that he’s never given her even an ounce of his heart. This is why he can never have a real relationship with anyone. The things he has to offer, the things he has to give, will never be enough for a normal person.

2014, October

It has been a long time since Sherlock has seen a look of disappointment that keen in John’s eyes. He hasn’t seen it since John found out that he was an addict for the first time. He hadn’t really considered this when he started doing the drugs. They were supposed to make the loss of John less intense. He hadn’t considered that John would stand there when he was full of them. He has managed to look completely sober while they stand on the tarmac saying goodbye.

Sherlock almost told John. It would have been a horrible drug fueled decision, and he is glad that he’s chickened out at the last minute. The situation calls for a goodbye, not for a love confession. He will not leave John with the confusion and pain. He will carry it.

“It was the best of times,” Sherlock tells him.

And he asks John to name his baby after him. John laughs like it’s a joke. It isn’t a joke. Sherlock wants to leave something behind him.

-0-

Sherlock has killed order to protect Mary. John can’t believe it. He knows that Sherlock doesn’t feel the same about committing murder that most would. He knows that Sherlock is able to rationalize it away the same way that John had rationalized his killings as a soldier.

Sherlock does not care about the consequences. He’s willing to give up his freedom for John’s comfort.

2015, March

Sherlock has absolutely no intention of being in the room when John’s child enters the world. It isn’t because of the reason that most people avoid these things (aka the screaming and the blood). He just wants to limit the time he spends with the kid. He refuses to bond with her. He can remember when one look at the poor defenseless baby in the incubator, and he became Sherlock’s. He didn’t want to accidently claim John’s baby.

Because he needs to keep reminding himself that John’s baby is not his baby.

The noise of him repeating that truth over and over to himself, “She is not mine,” echoes over the bare walls whenever Sherlock is in the same room as her. It seemed to counteract the baby pheromones and keeps him detached. Sherlock keeps his phone before his face whenever possible as an added precaution.

2015, May

“Once a cheater, always a cheater,” John’s mother used to say, generally when her cousin had returned to his cheating wife yet again.

Now John is a cheater and he feels like the ink is tattooed deep in his heart. He made his choice, and there is nothing that he can do about it now. He feels as if he tarnished to his very soul by texting someone.
But he is done with the cheating now. He’s left it behind like a pair of clothes which no longer fit.
Once a cheater, yes, but not always. Not him.

-0-

John feels like he deserves Mary’s death. She was always too good for him, and it never could have lasted. He cheated on her, so he doesn’t get to keep her. But she didn’t deserve death. She was not a saint, no, real humans never are. But she was a force for good. She was a mother, and she deserved to get to finish that.

-0-

Sherlock can’t quite remember why he’s spent so much time of his life trying to connect with other humans, to make friends. Connection is merely another world for loss. Friend is another word for pain. Mycroft is right. Caring is not an advantage.

2015, June

John is a single parent and he is incapacitated by guilt. Sherlock remembers what it was like when he was in the same place, and so he tries to help like his parents did when he lost Jamie.

John says that he wants anyone but Sherlock. It is worse than rejection because John needs him. Rosie needs him.
Sherlock avoids bridges on the way home. He isn’t sure that he wants to die, but he doesn’t want to tempt fate right now. He’ll hide the knives from himself when he gets home.

He feels alone, but he knows that is a lie. There are still ties which hold him to this Earth. His life is still not his own. Sherlock recites the names of people who would grieve for him if he was gone in his head as he walks home, the mantra not hopeful but merely a pair of concrete shoes to keep his feet on the sidewalk and off the guardrails.

-0-

“Keep your hands off it! Your life is not your own!” Sherlock shouts at her. There is not much for him in this life right now, but he knows the art of living through the bad days. He can teach her that. He can save her, and maybe that would give his own life enough meaning that he can continue to live it.

The gun is starting to cause him a temptation. He can focus on nothing but the gun in her hand. He asks for it, and for a split second he doesn’t even know what he wants to do with it. He walks over to the water and throws the gun as far as he can. Now he is too close to the water, and he feels the pull of it on him like a giant planet. He grabs onto the railing, and shouts again. “Your life is not your own!”

She is gone, and that is not good.

He should not be left alone. She should have known that. She should have known that because he should have told her.

-0-

Faith calls him kind. He is not used to people calling him that. John has changed him.

-0-

Sherlock decides this is defiantly the way that he wants to die. Dying at the hand of John is going to be a great deal more pleasant than living, or even killing himself. This is right, this is proper. He had been born for this death, and maybe it will make John feel a little bit better. He is willing to trade his death for John’s peace of mind.

Sherlock has suspected for a while that he has a bit of a kink when it comes to violence. When Molly slaps him, he feels something, not quite romantic, but the closest to romantic he’s ever felt for a woman. John has hit him before. Hit him a lot, and even though it had hurt, what with the opening of the whip marks on his back, it also felt something…something more emotional than sexual. But perhaps this is how an asexual does sexual kinks.

-0-

Mary had always seen John as more than he was. Thank God for that, or else he would have let Sherlock die.
Now John tells the truth. Sherlock had not caused Mary’s death. What he doesn’t says is that John had almost caused Sherlock’s death. What kind of friend does that? Ignores their friend’s repeated cry for help? Beats them senseless when they are so out of their mind with drugs they can barely move?

Now here he is, babysitting the drug addict while his dead wife scolds him from the corner of the room. Then suddenly he is crying and Sherlock takes him into his arms. Christ, Sherlock is a good hugger, and John’s not quite sure why he didn’t know this already. He would love to spend the rest of his life folded in Sherlock’s arms.

-0-

Sherlock cannot help thinking that living in John’s arms would be so much better than dying by his hands.

Chapter Text

2014, July

Mycroft does not understand why Lady Smallwood is giving him her phone number. “I already have your number,” he tells her.

“My private number,” she explains with a grin.

It takes his mind a second or two to catch up. Then he realizes that he’s got a problem. She’s trying to flirt with him.

It’s two days before he figures out what he needs to do. He can’t turn her down. She’s powerful and clever. He’ll date her. He’ll be the dullest, least interesting date in the world, and she’ll end it. It's the only option.

But he defiantly can’t tell Gregory.

“It sucks that you have to work this late,” Greg says, giving him a kiss.

“Right well, needs need when the devil drives,” he replies grimly.

“You’re oddly nervous. Please tell me the world isn’t ending.”

“It’s not,” Mycroft says, but he still doesn’t crack a smile at his lover’s joke.

“Okay, well, I’ll see you later,” Greg says.

Mycroft walks away with a stomach twisting in guilt.

-0-

Mycroft keeps trying to shift the conversation back to the strictly professional, and Lady Smallwood keeps turning it back to the personal. He tries to be dull, and she keeps finding something in the least little thing he says to be fascinated by or laugh at.

Suddenly Mycroft hears a very familiar clearing of the throat.

“Gregory,” he says, standing up, looking startled and terrified.

“Jesus, Mycroft. You acted so squirrelly I thought something was up, but I didn’t think you would cheat on me. And with a woman? You’re kidding me with this, right?” Greg says in a strained voice.

“Oh,” Lady Smallwood says with interested understanding, laughing once more.

“No,” Mycroft says to Lady Smallwood before turning back. “Gregory, can we talk about this later?”

“Please,” Lady Smallwood says, standing up, and holding the chair out for Gregory. “Take my seat and talk about it now. Rest assured that I was the one who asked him out, and he’s been trying to be the worse date ever on purpose. I am absolutely sure that he would rather be having this date with you.”

“Lady Smallwood, I assure you-” Mycroft begins.

“Oh, please don’t hurt this man with your lies. I won’t take it out of you at work.” She begins to walk away, but turns, and comes back. “Although, your sexuality is not a determent like it was decades ago when we started out.” Lady Smallwood winks most uncharacteristically and leaves before even a man of Mycroft’s abilities can reply.

“I’m sorry,” Greg says sitting down. “I didn’t mean to blow your cover. I never would have come over if I knew she was from work.”

“How can you be apologizing to me right now?” Mycroft asks, looking devastated.

Greg smiles, a tiny corner of his mouth turning up. “I watched you for a bit before coming over. You don’t play straight well at all.”

“Crazy how long I’ve been passing, isn’t it?”

“Sorry, I overreacted. Next time I’ll trust you more. I’ll see you at home.”

“Please stay,” Mycroft says, taking his hand.

Greg looks around somewhat nervously. “This looks like the kind of place where people from your job might be.”
“Indeed,” Mycroft says looking around quickly. “There are four people who work in my building eating here at this moment. Two more are on the reservation list for 9:30. And I’m still asking you to stay and holding your hand.”
“You’re sure?” Greg asks, and gets his nod first before he grins.

“You smell like Baker’s Street. I assume you told my brother why you needed him to watch the girls?”

“I actually created a rather elaborate story which I’m sure he didn’t believe. I’ll send him a quick text to let him know his brother isn’t a cheater.” When Greg finishes, he looks up at Mycroft. “Regretting going public yet?”

“God, no. I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me, and I can’t believe I carried it so long.”

“You’ll have to plan a way to announce it come Monday. Would a pink tie be bold enough?”

“You don’t own one,” Mycroft says.

Greg chuckles. “It is true that you pretty much exclusively wear my ties. Which is weird considering the fact that all of my clothes are rubbish compared to yours.”

“I like to carry a bit of you with me all day.”

“That’s sweet,” Greg coos rubbing his hand again. The two men feel like new lovers all over again.

“I think we should get a flag.”

“You think people are going to question your patriotism just because of your sexuality?” Greg says confused.
“No, I was talking about one of those busy rainbow things that people who have accepted themselves favor.”

“We’ll buy one on the way home.”

“I want everything that people who have accepted themselves have,” Mycroft nods. “Including things I fought really hard to give them the right to.”

Greg freezes, “Did you just...?”

“God, no, I’m openly gay now. That did not have enough camp for a proposal. It was a pre-question. A question to see how the question would be received.”

“I’ll say yes when the question is asked, then,” Greg replies. “This new you is rather daring.”

“It was cramped in the closet. I’m stretching right now. I think I’m going to take you out for lunch tomorrow. Pick you up from work.”

“Oh,” Greg says, trying to make his face seem natural.

“No?” Mycroft says in surprise. “I thought that you were out at work. Was I wrong about that?”

“I am. People know that I am living with a man, and they even know your name. It’s just that not all of them know that I’m dating the poshest man in all the world.”

“Not the poshest,” Mycroft objects.

“No, but I bet you’ve had tea with him.”

Mycroft chuckles. “I can pick you up without the town car if it makes you feel better.”

“I think if you are willing to come out I will be open to the fact that I am dating a man WAY out of my class,” Greg grins.

“You are in a class far above me, Gregory.”

-0-

“Sherlock?” John calls walking up the stairs. “I thought I’d come by and see if we could work a quick case today.”
Sherlock pokes his head out of a giant blanket fort and yells down, “No cases tonight. I’m sorry, John.” The head is quickly withdrawn back into the fort.

John’s puzzled look at Sherlock’s refusal clears when he walks into the living room. He chuckles at the scene before him. John always knew that Sherlock was a bit of a child, but he never expected him to be this much of a child.

Then a smaller head pokes out of another part of the fort. “Uncle Sherlock! You can work a case. Mia and me can come.”

“You ought to have said Mia and I, and if I did that your father would not trust me to take care of you anymore. We wouldn’t want that now would we?”

“No,” the girl says, a little disappointed and retreats back into the fort.

“Uncle Sherlock? Don’t tell me that Mycroft reproduced without telling us.”

“Mycroft isn’t really my daddy,” Anna says with her head popping out of a different window than before. “But he lives with my daddy.”

“Oh,” John says. “More information I didn’t know about. Is this all new?” he asks Sherlock.

“No. Lestrade has been with my brother for most of the time I’ve known him, although they had a completely ridiculous falling out somewhere in the middle there.” Sherlock says this with a mouthful of clothespins that he is one by one using to clip together two sheets.

“Rid’ulous,” Mia says, poking her head out now because she’s feeling left out.

“Wow, I’m not sure how I missed that,” John says.

“Probably the way you miss most things,” Sherlock says dismissively. “If you’re staying you should join us in the tent.”

Before John can respond, Sherlock’s phone beeps. “Never mind. Apparently, your father wants me to watch you all night, and it’s time for bed.”

“Nah-uh!” Mia protests.

“I’ll let you read the text yourself,” Sherlock proposes.

“Can’t read,” Mia pouts.

“Well, that sounds like a good reason to learn,” he tells the three-year-old.

“Daddy didn’t pack our books. Can we go home and get them?” Anna asks.

“I suspect attempting that would result in years of therapy. I am not as good at reading bedtime stories as my brother is. However, I will put Mia to bed with Shakespeare. Iambic pentameter has amazing sedative properties. As for you Anna, you can choose between a chemistry textbook, and John’s blog.”

“Definitely the blog,” Anna says.

“Wise choice. Maybe the man himself will stay and read it to you?” Sherlock asks, looking over at John.
John knows it’s a disaster to stay and play house with Sherlock Homes, but that doesn’t stop him from saying, “Yes.”

“First off, though, we’re going to have to put all the blankets and sheets from the fort back on the beds.”

“No!” Anna whines.

“This is part of the fun, my dear. You get to make a mess, but you also have to clean it up, and if you are clever you will be able to make that just as fun as the mess making.”

“How?” Anna asks skeptically.

“Well, step one is destruction,” Sherlock says, tipping a chair over in demonstration.

Anna pulls the middle of the fort down, causing massive devastation and making both of the girls giggle. Mia jumps on top of the pile, which doesn’t destroy it nearly as much as she thinks it does. A few minutes later that fort is piled in the middle of the floor.

“All right, now we put them back on the bed,” Sherlock instructs. “You ever put sheets back on and billow them up like a balloon?”

Anna grabs a sheet and runs giggling into Sherlock’s room.

“Where exactly was this ‘it’s fun to clean up’ attitude when we lived together?” John asks him, following the little girl.

“It’s not my fault you cleaned up after me. It completely enabled my bad behavior.”

“Interesting. So, it’s my own damn fault that I was your domestic servant for years?” John asks, chuckling.
Anna and Mia are on either side of the bed trying to billow. Mia’s side was much shorter because of her height. Sherlock walks over and lifts the little child up so the sheets can reach the ceiling.

-0-

John is amazed that Sherlock was being serious about the Shakespeare having magical powers at putting children to sleep. He’s going to try it with Rosie next time she gets the colic. He’s also amazed at how familiar Sherlock is with the bedtime routines of pajamas, bath, and bedtime snack. He's extra impressed that Sherlock knows enough to be skeptical of Anna’s claim of teeth brushing. He’ll have to remember the trick of smelling her breath. When she stomps back into the bathroom for another try he tells her, “If you wake up Mrs. Hudson with your tantrum she’ll be too tried to make you breakfast in the morning, and you’ll have to deal with whatever I give you.”

The threat causes the little girl to walk on tiptoes the rest of the night.

“You’ll read your blog to me, now John?” Anna asks once she’s really brushed her teeth.

“I don’t know. It’s sort of violent for someone your age.”

“Mycroft says you’re never too young to read something you enjoy. Besides, I’ve already read it.”

“Your dad approves too?” John asks.

“Daddy will do anything that Mycroft tells him too,” Anna says with a yawn, not realizing she’s revealing more about her parent’s relationship than they would probably want her to.

“All right. Which one?”

“The one about how you met. I like a romance.”

“Romance?” John asks in shock, turning to Sherlock for conformation.

“Unfortunately, Lestrade has spawned a Johnlock shipper.” Sherlock explains, sitting down in a chair near them.

“I don’t know what that means.”

Sherlock sighs. “There is a community of people on the internet who think we are or should be a couple,” he admits.

“Oh,” John says, not quite sure what to say to that.

“I’ve corrected her, but she’s rather stubborn,” Sherlock says.

-0-

Sherlock continues to cuddle the sleeping children for a while after they’ve fallen asleep. Then he slips out from between them, extracts a baby monitor from the dresser, flipping it on, and walking out of the room. John follows.

“You’re good with them.”

“Kids? Much easier than adults. They tend to say what they actually mean.”

“You keep pajamas and toothbrushes and baby monitors for them,” John observes.

“Lestrade doesn’t have family in town. He's come to rely on me.”

“I never would have thought...” John hesitates.

“That I could keep children alive much less entertained?”

“That you would come alive by doing it,” John corrects.

“I know you don’t trust me with Rosie, so...”

“What? No. That’s not what that was. I was angry at you.”

“People always think that I can’t be trusted with children, but they are wrong.”

“I never thought that, and they certainly are wrong if they think that.”

Chapter Text

2014, July

Greg never breaks off the kiss as he pulls Mycroft down onto of himself. Many a successful sexual encounter started this way. Mycroft stops him, though, by sliding onto his side.

“I want to finish coming out of the closet,” Mycroft says.

“Who else haven't you told?” Greg says.

“This is about something that I haven’t done.”

“We’re talking bottoming? I’d always assumed you’d tried it and didn’t like it. Or were just not interested.”

“Are you opposed to topping?”

“Not at all. It's not my favorite sex act, and I’d be disappointed if it was all we ever did again, but I do enjoy it.”

“You know the ancient Greeks and Romans valued homosexual relationships over straight ones. They viewed sex with their wives as only being for the purpose of reproduction, but sex with men was about deep relationships. However, there were limits on what could be done. To penetrate was fine. To be penetrated was disgrace.”

“That’s stupid.”

“I realize that. Still, I could not risk the reproach.”

“I honestly don’t think anyone would reproach you for it. Besides, I’m definitely not going to tell anyone.”

“Don’t be daft. You are the only person whose good opinion it would hurt me to lose.”

“Do I fall in your esteem whenever we make love?”

“Of course not,” Mycroft says.

“The way I see it, the only thing that matters is if you either want to do this with me or you don’t.”

“This is giving up control for me. It’s a level of vulnerability that I’ve never had with anyone else. I just wanted you to know that...first.”

“Okay, My,” Greg says kissing the spot on his neck which makes Mycroft melt. Then Greg’s hands start moving, first to loosen his tie from his partner’s neck, and then to unroll Mycroft’s cufflinks, carefully placing them on the nightstand so as not to annoy his lover. Then he peels open his waistcoat, and his shirt.

“God, I love your layers,” he mutters, sloughing them off Mycroft’s body.

“Yet you are always taking them off,” Mycroft teases, wiggling himself free and then rolling Greg on top. Greg pulls off his own shirt and belt and then his partners. He grinds against Mycroft a few times before moving to the side so he could more easily remove their pants and underwear. He lightly kisses the base of Mycroft’s penis, and then licks from the base to the top. Greg pauses to reach over and retrieves the lube.

“You still want this, babe?” Greg asks lightly.

“Yes,” Mycroft says, flipping over.

“I’m going to need you on your back. I want to be able to see your face. Make sure you want this.”

“I do,” Mycroft argues.

“You’re conflicted. I’m going to need facial expressions to guide me. Let me know if you want to stop.”

Mycroft obeys his lover.

“Digitis infimus me penetrad, amo te,*” Mycroft pleads.

“I don’t know which is my infamous finger,” Greg says, holding his hand up to Mycroft.

Mycroft puts his mouth around Greg’s middle finger and gives it a sensual suck. “Your Latin has gotten better. The longest finger is the infamous one. The one used for fucking.”

“Ah, the concept of the middle finger is rather old then,” Greg says, slowly mixing lube with his lover’s spit, and placing it at the very opening of Mycroft. “You’re tight, love.”

“Mmm,” Mycroft humms.

“That wasn’t sexy talk. That was a legitimate concern. You’ve got to relax or else this is going to hurt.”

Mycroft takes a deep breath, but it does not have the desired effect. Greg leans forward, and licks. Mycroft squirms in surprise, and Greg slips his finger ever so slightly inside. “There you go, baby.”

Greg begins stroking his partner while he goes farther, fighting against Mycroft’s untrained muscles. When he finally gets in, he taps the back trying to find Mycroft’s prostate.

“I am sufficiently lubricated. Continue.”

“You’ve got a magic pleasure button inside of you, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to find it.”

Greg works in silence for several more minutes before he finds the spot, making Mycroft make an undignified squeal. Tapping doesn’t quite have the effect Greg wants, so he tries stroking which renders his partner speechless.

“Do you want to come like this, and make the other round two?” Greg asks removing his finger from Mycroft so that his partner can think.

“Tuus omnis**,” Mycroft says moving onto his hands and knees.

“I told you, face to face,” Greg says, pulling Mycoft’s hips back down to the bed, turning him, and adding two pillows underneath.

Greg is gentle. Gentle enough that Mycroft is so overcome with the sensation of wanting more that he wants to scream. There is stretch, and pain, but there is also a feeling of closeness and arousal. When he finally finishes his slow journey in he pulls forward for a physically awkward but meaningful hug with his love until it’s time to move.
“Motus tu talarium est.***”

“I missed that one, so if it was a request to stop you’ll have to say it in English.”

“Non prohibere****,” Mycroft returns.

“Well, that’s a physical impossibility,” Greg chuckles.

“Delego te tantum intermissum animia mea,*****” Mycroft mutters, and then his speech decreases into a chorus of “Delego te, delego te.”

Tonight, without the possibility of interruption by children, Mycroft does not demand that they dawn clothes after they finish. Instead, they hold each other silently, still breathing in unison.

-0-

Greg chuckles at box of donuts on his desk the next morning.

“You must have been extremely good in bed last night,” Sally teases.

“Well yeah, always. But that’s not what this is about.”

“Oh?”

“It’s step one in a proposal.”

“What? That closet case?”

“Out of the closet as of last night.”

“There’s a big jump between that and proposal.”

“He literally told me that he was going to propose.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Sally says, waving dismissively.

“He’s taking me to lunch today,” Greg says, biting an arch out of his donut and putting his feet up on his desk. He tries to guess the campy proposal that Mycroft is going to do. He hopes it isn’t going to be too over the top.
“Make sure I get a look at your imaginary boyfriend before he whisks you off,” Sally says, reaching over to snatch one of his donuts.

-0-

Sherlock returns to his room to see his brother idly spinning an umbrella in the living room.

“It’s not official, brother mine, but I shall be getting married soon.”

“Who proposed?" Sherlock asks.

“I haven’t yet, but I hinted enough that he knows I’m going to be the one to do it.

“You know people from your work will figure this out. They have far too much access to legal documents for this to slip by them."

"I'm planning on inviting them."

"Iceman's heart has melted. Get a prenump and give him more children."

Mycroft snorts. "Aren't you going to congratulate me?"

"I'll come to the wedding."

“I can settle for that,” Mycroft says.

Chapter Text

2014, July

Text from Sherlock to Lestrade:
Take the kids to your folks’ place.

Text from Lestrade to Sherlock:
Why?

Text from Sherlock to Lestrade:
I have a surprise for my brother.

Text from Lestrade to Sherlock:
A surprise which will leave him angry for weeks?

Text from Sherlock to Lestrade:
He deserves it.

Text from Lestrade to Sherlock:
Why?

Text from Sherlock to Lestrade:
Did you know I had a sister?

Text from Lestrade to Sherlock:
We’ll be gone by six.

-0-

When John and Sherlock leave Mycroft’s house after terrifying him into admitting that Sherlock had a sister John chuckles. “Did you see the giant pride flag in his bedroom?”

“Yeah. It’s new. Apparently my brother is ‘out’ now.” Sherlock says the word out with a lot of flourishes.

“Good for him,” John says.

“Apparently it’s a step toward marrying Lestrade.”

“Really?” John says.

“Lestrade is pretty excited. He's also nervous because Mycroft hinted at proposing and then didn’t say anything about it for a couple of weeks.”

“Oh.”

“Knowing my brother, he’s just planning something huge and ridiculous.”

-0-

“This is family!” Mycroft insists, sitting on the client chair in his brother’s flat.

“That’s why John stays,” Sherlock says.

Mycroft knows that it is true. John became family when he kept his brother from getting high all of those times when he took care of him when he was high. He bought the groceries, and cooked, and forced Sherlock to eat. He did the laundry (even though he clearly did not know how to treat quality sheets). John is his emotional support. John is Sherlock’s everything. He doesn’t understand all of the complexities of Sherlock’s sexuality. He doesn’t think Sherlock understands it all either. He doesn’t think about it enough to understand, which, in fact, is part of being asexual.

-0-

Sherlock’s sister had wanted him dead. She’d set a house on fire in an attempt to kill him.

Still, Sherlock cannot hate her. Mycroft said that Euros had been in hell since earliest childhood, and Sherlock cannot help but think that there but for the grace of God went he.

-0-

The bomb hovers between them, and John barely dares to let his heart beat for fear that it is going to go off.

“Would a phone call be possible?” Sherlock asks.

“A phone call?” Mycroft asks.

“John has a daughter. He might wish to say goodbye.”

Guilt twists in John’s stomach. He hasn’t been thinking about his daughter. He isn’t even begging God to let him live like the last time he thought he was going to die. He’s asking God to let Sherlock live.

-0-

The only way that his sister knows how to play with him is by torturing him. Euros cannot get Sherlock’s attention any other way than by committing murder and threatening his life.

-0-

Euros is demanding that he choose between Mycroft and John. Clearly Euros does not know him as well as Mycroft does, which is to be expected since she hasn’t seen them since they were small children. Mycroft says horrible things to try to make it easier to shoot him.

Nothing will ever make that easy.

Mycroft loves Sherlock. He saved his life when Sherlock wanted to die. Mycroft, who was so injured by Sherlock’s failed romance that he stopped giving his body and heart away. Mycroft who at long last has fallen in love with Lestrad. Mycroft who is going to propose, get married, have family. Mycroft who already has a family, two little girls who treat him like a dad.

Of course, he can’t kill John either. John is a father too, and his daughter doesn’t have another parent to rely on. Besides, he’s John, and that is enough to guarantee him the right of eternal life in Sherlock’s mind.

There is only one choice. There is only one person here who is no one’s father. He lifts the gun, and pointed it at his own head. Everyone is screaming. His brother, his sister, his John.

-0-

Sherlock thought that he struggled with connecting with other humans, but his struggle is nothing compared to his sister’s. Then again, who better to form a connection with the unreachable than the barely reachable?

-0-

“Look after him,” Sherlock says. “He’s not as strong as he looks.” His smile to Greg is a benediction, a blessing on their relationship. It’s more than that, Greg knows. This is Sherlock taking care of his big brother after so long of his brother taking care of him.

It’s happened at last, Greg thinks. Sherlock Holmes is not only a great man, but he’s also a good one.

-0-

“My,” Lestrad says, softly approaching his lover who is trying to shrug off an ambulance worker and failing.

“I’m fine,” Mycroft says, trying to grab his coat with a shaking hand.

“Well, I’m not. I came way too close to losing you tonight,” Greg says, opening up his arms. Mycroft falls into them sobbing so softly that only his lover knows what he is doing.

“Habo vos, maritis,*” Greg says.

“Not quite yet,” Mycroft corrects.

“My Latin isn’t good enough for fiancé,” Greg whispers, moving the two of them over to a more private corner.

“She wanted my baby brother to kill me. I thought my baby brother was going to kill me.”

“He would never do that.”

“My sister wanted him to. She wanted me dead. She was playing some game with Sherlock, and I was a side note, a tiny detail that was hardly worth the mention. She tried to kill Sherlock when we were little kids. I was glad when they took her away. She was my sister, and I wanted her to be sent away.”

“Well, she’d already murdered by then.”

“She was my sister, a little girl, and I kept her locked away all alone.”

“She was dangerous, and you visited with her, interacted with her, which is more than most people would have done.”

“Prodigium sum. Cur amas?**”

“You are not a monster, Mycroft, and even if you were I would continue to love you.”

“We’re going to have a big wedding,” Mycroft whispers. “I want everyone to know how lucky I am to be marrying you.”

Chapter Text

2014, July

Sherlock carefully watches his parents’ faces when his brother tells them that Euros is still alive. They are relived. Excited. Overjoyed.

She burnt down their house. She tried to kill their son. She did kill someone, an innocent little boy. They love her anyway. They never stopped loving her, not even for a moment, not even when they thought she was dead.
They will love him too. No matter what he does they will love him. He has to test his hypothesis.

“I am never going to get married again,” Sherlock declares.

“Oh, we’re aware dear,” his mother says.

“I shot someone. In the face,” Sherlock says.

His mother looks a bit shocked at that. “I’m sure you had a reason. Mycroft, you fixed it up with the law for your brother, didn’t you?” she asks her son.

“Yes, mother,” Mycroft answers with an eye roll.

“He was a very bad man,” Sherlock agrees before he continues. “I don’t really like being near people. I find them annoying.”

His mother nods.

“I’m a high functioning sociopath. For a long time, I tried to hide the crazy from you so you wouldn’t cry. I’m not going to hide it anymore. I’m not going to pretend to be more normal than I am.”

“Oh honey, I’m so sorry if you ever felt like you had to pretend,” his mother says, hugging him. “I like you just the way you are. All of that social skills stuff when you were younger...I was just trying to help you.”

“You were worried I would turn into a murderer like my sister.”

“No dear, not really. We were just worried...I didn’t understand that some people didn’t want friends, didn’t want someone to date. I thought you couldn’t possibly be happy without those things, so I worked hard to make sure you had the skills to get them. I should have seen that you didn’t need any of those things to be happy.”

-0-

John’s eyes stay firmly fixed on the TV screen even when he feels Sherlock’s gaze on him. Mary knew. Knew things Sherlock even hadn’t at the time. She had understood the complexities of Sherlock’s feelings perhaps better than he had himself. She’d given him permission to be with her husband, a blessing from beyond the grave.

“I know who you are. I know who you became,” she said.

Mary knew more than Sherlock himself did: that he feels something for John. He would prefer romance to friendship, but he is pretty sure it’s never going to happen.

It is best not to hope, even if Mary had wished them well from beyond the grave.

-0-

Sherlock isn’t surprised when John shows up to clean up after the bomb at Baker’s Street. John is good with duty, and Sherlock has always been his duty. Being duty to the man you love is not ideal, but it is better than being nothing to him.

Sherlock is surprised when John spends the night up in his old room. It is the least touched part of the apartment. Sherlock had planned on staying there himself, but John being close while he sleeps on a splintered bed is so much better.

The next day John arrives after his work with boxes which he unpacks before continuing with the clean-up. Sherlock assumes this means he is moving in, but that night John does not stay. Sherlock tells himself that he is sleeping in John’s bed because it is less damaged, but he doesn’t believe himself.

John brings Rosie the next day, but he spends so much time fussing over her safety amongst the rubble that Mrs. Holmes whisks her away to the park by mid-morning.

“Come on,” John prods. “Let’s get this place safe enough for my daughter.”

John is going to move back in. He’s moving back in with his baby. Sherlock will clean anything, baby proof this house as much as they need to make that happen.

“Stop grinning and start cleaning, your stupid git,” John mutters.

-0-

Mycroft looks at the few pieces of ruble that they haven’t quite cleaned yet in the way that they used to look at Sherlock’s drug needles. “You haven’t requested access to your trust fund for repairs.”

“John and I are doing fine,” Sherlock says.

“John?” Mycroft says in surprise.

“He’s moving back in,” Sherlock says proudly.

“Oh, brother mine,” Mycroft says in his pity voice which Sherlock hates more and more each day.

“It’s fine,” Sherlock says through ground teeth.

“He is not in love with you,” Mycroft reiterates, feeling that it is his brotherly duty to prepare Sherlock for less.
“I don’t want him to be. I’d disappoint him as a lover. I can be the friend that he needs though.”

“Are you sure that is going to be enough for you?” Mycroft asks.

“It is all of which I am capable.”

“Oh, Sherlock, is it possible that you are still unaware you have the biggest heart of us all?” Mycroft asks.

“Your heart is bigger, and warmer than you let on too, Iceman,” Sherlock says.

“Yes, well, on that note, will you be available to watch the children this weekend? I have a proposal planned.”

“Of course.”

“Perhaps we should have you come over to our house,” Mycroft says, feigning thoughtfulness while glancing at the room with distain once more.

“I’ll call you Friday morning to let you know if I and John have finished cleaning the place yet,” Sherlock says.

“Thank you, brother mine.”

-0-

“Pack for the weekend,” Mycroft says, handing his lover a suitcase.

“What? Where are we going?” Greg asks.

“Surprise.”

“I don’t have a passport.”

“Cara pultra mea, it’s cute that you think you need a passport with me,” Mycroft says, kissing him.

“You’ve got a plan for the girls?”

“Sherlock and John.”

“Oh, John and Rosie are moving into Baker’s Street?”

“Yes, John’s approved it as child safe. He felt the need to tell me even after Sherlock texted me that it was good.”

“I think John is a little surprised that Sherlock is good at childcare. I can’t exactly blame him,” Lestrade says.

“God, you should have seen him as a father, Gregory. He was amazing.”

 

“I think I’ll get to,” Greg says.

“Hurry now. Pack,” Mycroft prompts.

“Or we’ll miss our flight?”

“God, no. Private plane, but we might miss our dinner reservation.”

“Insanus virus, *”

-0-

“Can you tell me where we are going now?”

“You can’t deduce it by the direction of the sun and our time in air? Your geography is very poor.”

“Auxilio vestra stupidus amicus, **” Greg says.

“Rome.”

“Oh my God, My,” Greg says.

“Don’t be swooning yet. The proposal hasn’t started.”

“Oh, you daft man, you flew me to Italy. That’s enough.”

-0-

“Mycroft, I thought we were going to dinner?” Greg says, nervously looking at the colosseum in front of them.

“We are.”

“That is not a place to eat, amicia.” Greg states blandly. "Is it even open?”

“How do you still not know that everything is open for me?” Mycroft says, holding out his hand.

Greg takes it and when they pass by under the archway Greg’s heart stops to see the place lit up with thousands of candles. An orchestra strikes up as they enter, all strings on the first note with the rest of the instruments starting after them. A choir joins in.

“O deus, ***” Greg says, attempting to back up.

“You are not going to ruin all of these people’s nights by backing out of here,” Mycroft whispers.

Greg sees the table in the middle.

“Jesus, Mycroft. You are going to kill me.”

“Existis mundus totos tuus. Hac noche agere hoc verum, ****”

The meal is hindle wakers, just like Greg’s mother used to make.

“Of all the things that have happened here, this has got to be the most unique.”

“It’s actually a common proposal spot,” Mycroft says.

“Not like this,” Greg says. He takes a bite of the food, mulling over the tastes that tingle his tongue. “This was actually made by my mother wasn't it?”

“We’re having brunch with your parent's tomorrow.”

Greg puts a piece of his hindle wakers into his partner’s mouth.

“This taste awful,” Mycroft murmurs.

“And here I was thinking you were perfect.”

Mycroft pours some champagne into their glasses. “A toast. To the man who holds my heart. Who brings light into my days. I was asleep until I met you. You are the heat which melted my ice heart. I don’t want to go a single day without you for as long as I live.”

Greg takes Mycroft’s hand, the one not holding champagne. “I will never understand the act of self-deception which led you to believe I was worthy of you, but I am grateful for it every day. You are the most impressive man I’ve ever known. You fill my heart, my mind, my soul, in the way no one else ever have. I also want to spend my life with you.”

They touch glasses and take a drink. Mycroft slides a box over to Greg. “Delego, will you marry me?”

“Of course, amica,” Greg says.

He opens the box. “A gun? You know I work in a law department. I don’t exactly want to break the law.”

“There is paperwork in there. You see that it’s silver and engraved, right?” Mycroft says.

“I don’t need a gun.”

“My job is dangerous, Gregory. I would feel more comfortable if you were armed. At least sometimes.”

“You’re not.”

Mycroft raises his eyebrows and twists his umbrella.

“Oh my God,” Greg says.

“It’s also a sword,” Mycroft grins.

“I didn’t get you something,” Greg says, panicking. “I should have. I knew this was coming.”

“I actually got something I want from you...if you want to give it to me,” Mycroft says, sliding another box to him. Greg opens it up to revel some legal papers.

“You want to adopt my girls,” Greg says.

“If that is acceptable to you?”

“I do, and they will want it too. I feel like you got me two presents, three counting this trip. I don’t know how I’m ever going to repay you.”

“You come home to me every night. Miraculum est.***

“Stand up, and let me kiss you properly now,” Greg says, rising to his own feet.

The choir turns to cat calls.

Chapter Text

2014, July

The girls run in for a hug and Greg scoops them up, holding them between himself and Mycroft.

“Missed you,” Mia says, placing a kiss on each of their cheeks.

“You too, honey. Let’s sit down and talk,” Greg says, setting Anna down and carrying Mia over to the couch.

“Mycroft and I got engaged this weekend.”

“What’s engaged?” Mia asked.

“It means we’re going to get married,” Greg explains.

“Why?” Anna asks.

“Because we love each other.”

“But what would be different if you were married?” Anna asks. “You already love each other.”

“We do, but this is promising we’ll keep doing this forever,” Greg says.

“Well that’s stupid. You and Mommy were married, and that didn’t last forever.”

“You are right. This is your father and I standing up in front of a room full of people and telling them that we love each other,” Mycroft says.

“So, everyone will know?” Anna asks.

“No more secrets,” Mycroft agrees.

She hugs him.

“I have another question that I want to ask you, and you are welcome to say no if you want to. I want to adopt you both.”

“So, Dad won’t be our dad?” Mia asks.

“No, idiot, Mom wouldn’t be our mom,” Anna says.

“Don’t call your sister that,” Greg scolds.

“Mycroft would be our mom?” Mia says.

“No, both of us would be your dad,” Greg says. “And your mom would still be your mom. You’d still go to see her Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, just like you do now.”

“So, would this change anything?” Anna asks.

“We live like Mycroft is your Daddy, but that isn’t legally true. This will just make it easier to deal with hospitals, schools, and things like that.”

“In other words, it’s just telling everyone we love each other. Like your marriage,” Anna says.

“Yes,” Greg says, marveling, not for the first time, at his daughter’s wisdom.

“Okay,” Anna says.

“How about you, parvulus?” Mycroft asks. “Do you want me to adopt you?”

“Yes,” she says without hesitation. The kid logic part of her mind has obviously worked through the formalities already.

“I gave your father an engagement gift, and I would love to give you girls an adoption agreement gift as well,” Mycroft says, shifting to draw two boxes out of his pocket. He hands one to each of the girls.

Anna snaps her open to reveal a beautiful gold locket with her initials on it. Mycroft snaps open the box for Mia.

“Look, Mia!” Ann says “It opens.” Anna snaps her necklace open, and gasps to see the miniaturized pictures of her family.

Mia shoves hers into Mycroft’s hands, and he pulls the snap for her clumsy toddler fingers. “Oh!” she says.

“You want me to put it on your neck, parvulus?” Mycroft asks.

“No,” she says pulling it away from him.

“I think she’s a bit small for this. She’s going to lose it or break it,” Greg says in dismay.

“Probably.”

“It’s real gold, My!”

“Everything breaks and is lost. The point is to enjoy it until then,” Mycroft says.

“Can you put this on my neck, Father?” Anna asks turning her back to Mycroft and lifts her hair. He snaps it on for her, and she turns to him. “That was okay, right? Father? It’s sort of formal, but so are you.”

“I love it, puer meus*,” he says, grinning.

2014 August

Rosie is napping on the bed in Sherlock’s room as Sherlock and John finish baby proofing the flat. The ruble is all gone, but the flat before the bomb was not exactly the kind of place you’d want an eleven month old baby to live. John is down on his hands and knees finding all the nuts and bolts Sherlock has dropped and never bothered to pick up when Rosie fusses.

“I’ll get her,” Sherlock says, glad to stop packing up his chemistry set in order to go retrieve her.
When he opens the door she begins crying. Sherlock goes over to pick her up, and she tries to make herself weigh a thousand pounds, sinking into the bed.

“Come on, honey. I’m going to take you to your daddy.”

Rosie stops crying. “’diot?” she asks.

It sounds suspiciously like a word to Sherlock, but he doesn’t know what it could be. “Let’s go see Daddy. Maybe he’ll know what you mean,” Sherlock says, although he would have thought John would have mentioned it if his daughter were talking.

Rosie wiggles when he sees her father. “Diot!” she exclaims.

“Is that a word? Is she talking?” John asks, standing up.

“I was hoping you would know.”

“Diot! Diot! Diot!” Rosie exclaims, reaching for John.

“Are you calling me that, honey?” John asks. “I’m Dada.”

She shakes her head as if her father were particularly dense. “Diot.”

“Oh my God,” John says, glaring at Sherlock. “Do you mean Idiot?”

“Diot!” she explains, nodding while she claps her hands and lands a moist kiss on her father’s chin, the only part that she can reach.

“I blame you,” John tells Sherlock, glaring at him.

“For your daughter saying her first word at a slightly above average age? I’ll take it.”

“No, for the fact that my daughter thinks my name is Idiot,” John says, annoyed.

“You are right. She’s extraordinarily clever. Most kids are in school before they begin to compare intelligence. She must be far above average.”

“When she calls me idiot, it is not an assessment of my intelligence. It’s because she hears you do it!” John angry-whispers in exasperation.

“’diot,” Rosie says, fondly patting her father trying to calm him down.

“Call him Dada,” Sherlock suggests.

“Dadiot,” Rosie says. Neither John nor Sherlock can help giggling.

“You hungry, little one?” John asks her.

She nods.

“I’ll get her something. It’s hard to cook when you’re holding a little talker,” Sherlock says, ruffling her hair as he goes into the kitchen to prepare the toddler's lunch.

“Try it again, Rosie. Dada.”

“Dadiot,” Rosie says, patting him once more.

-0-

“We need to schedule a cake testing,” Greg says, looking up from the binder he’s created for wedding details. Mycroft wanted to hire someone to plan it. Greg wants them to make their own decisions. He also wants Mycroft to get off the phone while they do.

“No cake," Mycroft says without looking up.

“Mycroft, we’re having cake at our wedding.”

“Fine. But I’m not eating it,” Mycroft says.

“You love cake,” Greg objects. Then his stomach sinks. “Honey.” Mycroft continues to type on his phone. Greg reaches over to gently push the phone to the table, “I’m sorry I didn’t notice this before. You’ve got to tell me the last time you had a balanced meal.”

“My salads are perfectly balanced,” Mycroft answers.

“Honey,” Greg says. “How long do you plan on going on like this?”

“I’m going to stay on the diet until after the wedding.”

Greg slams the binder shut. “Fine, we’re eloping tomorrow then.”

Mycroft rolls his eyes. “Don’t be dramatic. I’m not endangering my health. My body just does not respond to small changes. I have to be a bit forceful with it.”

Greg stands up and walks over in front of his partner, kneeling down when he gets there. “Mycroft, your body is bloody perfect. It KILLS me that you want to alter it.”

Mycroft feels tears coming to his eyes, but he works hard to keep them inside. “You are very kind about my weight, but...”

“I am not kind about it, Mycroft! It’s a non-issue. Where is this coming from?”

“I was a very chubby child,” Mycroft says bashfully.

“Sherlock showed me pictures, Mycroft, you were fine.”

“Of course Sherlock showed you,” Mycroft mutters before he can stop himself.

“Sherlock?” Greg says.

Mycroft shakes his head.

“You’re not the only one who can deduce, you know. Sherlock knows how to get under your skin. I know this from experience. Listen to me, Mycroft, you are the perfect size. Now, I’m going to order in some take away. You are going to eat it, and we’re going to have cake at our wedding.”

“I will agree as long as you don’t smash cake onto my face,” Mycroft says.

Greg chuckles. “Wouldn’t have dreamt of it. I would love to feed you some, nice and neat on a fork though.”
Mycroft nods.

Greg can see there are still tears in his eyes, and then on impulse Greg says, “How could you possibly want there to be less of you?” He kisses all the parts he knows Mycroft hates: the fleshy part of his upper check; the part of his neck which served as a double chin when Mycroft was eleven; the things that Mycroft thinks of as man boobs, but which the rest of the world calls pectoral muscles; the love handles which are used quite literally in that way on a regular basis; the slight budge of stomach-felt never seen-always disguised by waistcoats or vertical striped pajamas; the thighs that shook sometimes, to Mycroft’s horror, in the thralls of sex or when running on a treadmill (the only time when Mycroft actually ran). Greg finishes his worship, looking up at Mycroft, “Perfect,” he says, almost in confusion.

“Greg...”Mycroft whines, unable to keep the tears in any longer.

“Why can’t you see yourself with my eyes?”

“I’m fat and ugly. How can you not see that? How can you possibly overlook it?” Mycroft says, covering up his eyes and letting himself cry.

“Mycroft, I weigh more than you. Do I have to lose weight to be lovable? Can’t you treat yourself like you treat me?”

“But you’re handsome,” Mycroft murmurs.

 

Greg pulls his hands away from his face. “Well you’re bloody gorgeous, amica.”

“If I don’t diet I will blow up like a balloon.”

“I’m all for a sensible diet and running on that infernal treadmill of yours, although I prefer other ways of burning calories. I just don’t want you to go through life afraid of eating cake at your own wedding or thinking your body isn’t beautiful. Now. What are we ordering in?”

“I’ve only had chips once since I was eleven.”

“Way too much self-control, amica. All right I’m off to get you chips.” He kisses Mycroft.

-0-

Lestrad really did mean to just go out and get the chips, but the best chip stand in London was only a short walk from Sherlock’s flat. He finds himself walking there almost against his will, and then running up the stairs. “Sherlock Holmes, you might have your own body issues, what with the body just being transport, but you don’t need to give them to your brother!”

Sherlock and John both stare at him in shock, and Greg suddenly remembers the baby upstairs, glad that he apparently did not wake her.

“Stop calling your brother fat. He’s not fat.”

“Is Mycroft okay?” Sherlock asks, breathlessly starring at the chips in his hand.

Greg softens at the concern. “He’s eaten nothing but salad for a week.”

“You’re brining him chips though. Did he ask for chips?” Sherlock says a bit frantically.

“Yes, well, I sort of required him to pick something unhealthy. This is what he asked for. Why?”

“You get chips,” Sherlock shouts, “when you’re suicidal!” He dials his phone quickly. “Mycroft? Are you okay?”

“Sherlock, I was with him half an hour ago. Chips don’t mean the same thing to the two of you,” Greg says.

“I am perfectly fine.” Mycroft voice sounds tinny coming in over the phone.

“You’re sure you’re fine?” Sherlock asks into the phone. He visibly flinches. “I’m sorry Mycroft. I didn’t mean it when I made fun of your weight. I never said it...when it was true.”

“Not helpful,” Greg groans.

Sherlock looks at him alarmed.

Greg rolls his eyes. “Tell him you’d love him no matter what he weighted, you idiot.”

“Of course, I would!” Sherlock says. “I did, I am, I have!”

Mycroft might not be able to clearly hear what his fiancé said, but he can deduce it. “Sherlock, I am fine. Greg is overreacting to my not wanting cake at the wedding. It’s fine.”

Sherlock turns his back to Greg and John as if that will help. Then he says, “Mycroft you always did so much to protect me from being hurt. I should have done the same for you.”

“It’s fine, brother mine. Truly,” Mycroft says.

Sherlock hangs up and turns to Greg. In a voice that would sound normal only to someone who did not know Sherlock Holmes well, he takes the chips from Greg, and says, “Mycroft hates cold chips. Get him fresh ones.”

Chapter Text

2014, September

The puppy arrives in the sitting room considerably before Mycroft. It’s a floppy eared bloodhound. It stops cold at the sight of an unfamiliar human, displaying its intelligence by analyzing Sherlock with three careful head tilts, each one resulting in an oversized velvet ear touching the ground. Then the puppy bounds forward, pausing at Sherlock’s feet to look up at him, desperate for his attention and approval.

“Hello,” Sherlock says, hesitantly greeting him.

The dog wags his tail.

Mycroft enters the room.

“Did you lose a dog?” Sherlock asks.

“He’s a present. You never did get that dog you wanted when you were a little boy.”

“He seems smart.”

“Yes. I selected him for you by using the closest thing to an intelligence test for dogs this world is capable of producing. He also has above average sense of smell and tracking instinct. He’s barely old enough to be weaned, but I didn’t want to wait any longer to introduce the two of you. I have some instructions for his care.”

“I am sure that if I can take care of a premature baby that I can handle a young pup.”

Mycroft’s eyes go soft. “I saw you bowing under too much responsibility. I didn’t want that to happen to you again.”

“I think I might be getting ready for more responsibility again,” Sherlock says.

“More than a puppy?” Mycroft asks.

“Rosie is moving in,” Sherlock says.

“Are you planning on parenting her?”

“Godparenting,” Sherlock corrects.

Mycroft gives him the incriminating look. “I’ve seen you love a child before.”

“Thank you for the dog, Mycroft,” Sherlock says dismissively.

“You’ve wanted one for a long time, and I would have gotten one before, but I didn’t want to awaken memories of a dead friend. I am proud of you for not returning to the drugs after the whole...truth came out.”

“I am stronger than you think, brother.”

“I am not strong. I cannot endure to see you in pain,” Mycroft says.

“That explains this little guy,” Sherlock says, picking up the dog, who takes the opportunity to lick his face.

“He needs walking,” Mycroft says, turning to leave.

“Didn’t you walk him on the way over?”

“I leave you responsible for his outtakes.”

-0-

Sherlock quickly exhausts the dog with food, walk, and cuddles. The pup falls asleep in front of the fire. John doesn’t even notice the dog as he walks in and puts Rosie on the floor. He moves to the kitchen to prepare tea. Rosie does not miss a beat, quickly waddling over to the dog, who wakes up and eagerly begins to lick her. John turns at the sound of giggling.

“Sherlock, that’s a dog!” John exclaims from the kitchen.

“Very good. See Rosie, your father knows his animals. Do you know the animal sounds as well?”

“Why is there a dog in our flat?”

Sherlock turns his face away, hiding the smile that pops up as John says, ‘our flat’. “I got Rosie a dog.”

“Without asking me?”

“I did ask. It’s not my fault you weren’t around at the time.”

“Who exactly do you think is going to take care of it?”

“I already fed him, walked him, and taught him it is unacceptable to eat your computer cord.”

“What?” John quickly peeks at the cord to see if there is any damage.

“Da,” Rosie says, pointing to do the dog so closely that the finger touches the dog.

“That’s right, Rosie, that’s a dog.”

Rosie sniffs dramatically.

“Hey, look at that. She knows what sound a dog makes. She’s already ahead of you, John.”

Rosie grins proudly. Then sniffs again.

“I think she’s named him.”

“Sherlock, this dog deserves a proper name,” John objects.

“I was leaning toward canis domesticus, but hers is equally spot on.”

“I assume that since you don’t do the shopping for yourself you haven’t done any shopping for him,” John says, “Do I have to go get some dog food?”

“Mycroft brought some,” Sherlock says before he can stop himself.

John smiles. “Ah, I see. You didn’t buy this dog for my daughter, your brother bought it for you. Well, I suppose it is well overdue.”

Sherlock doesn’t like the pity in John’s eyes. “He’s getting married,” Sherlock says by way of distraction.
“Yes, I guessed it based on the cake fiasco. Good for them.”

Sherlock suddenly feels the need to get John to confess his bisexuality. “They would have been married a long time ago if my brother wasn’t ashamed of who he was. You know that I’ve dated men?”

“Really?” John asks.

“Well, a man. But that’s all I’ve dated, at least for real. Janine doesn’t count.”

“I dated a man once too. Well, dated might be a bit of a generous name for what we had. But it was romantic.”

“And sexual. Sholto,” Sherlock says in the mocking tone he reserves for that man’s name.

“Yes,” John replies, pulling a face at Sherlock’s tone. “It’s not the only time I’ve felt something for a man, even though it’s the only time I acted on it.” If Sherlock didn’t know any better, he would think that John meant HIM when he said this. But he does know better, and Sherlock knows that John will never flirt with him. “Any way, you can’t be too hard on your brother for not being open about who he was when I didn’t know anything about your sexuality all the time that we’ve known each other.”

“I wasn’t ashamed to marry a man. Of course, it wasn’t legal then, but I got as close to marrying him as I could be.”

“You were married? Jesus, we’ve known each other for five years and this was never even mentioned? How long were you married for God’s sake?”

“Three years,” Sherlock says, confused by John’s anger.

“Do you still have contact with him?”

Sherlock chuckles. “That would be a bit hard, considering I don’t believe in necromancy.”

“I’m sorry,” John says abruptly in surprise.

“Don’t pity me.” Sherlock’s had enough of that lately. “I knew what I was getting into. I knew he was dying long before we got married. Besides, getting together actually extended his life.”

“Oh?” John says confused.

“He needed money for treatment. I worry sometimes it was why he married me. He said that it wasn’t. Anyway, I definitely loved him first. He might have had better options before he got sick.” Sherlock realizes that he’s very bad at flirting. No one would want to be with someone who could only get a husband when he was dying. He tries to make a correction. “I made him happy. I did.”

“Marrying a dying man? God you’re a saint. No wonder you turned to drugs.”

“Different grief entirely,” Sherlock mutters.

“Oh,” John’s eyes are filled with even more pity. “You want to talk about it?”

“No,” Sherlock says harshly. He’s not exactly sure how to flirt, but he is pretty sure it would involve using more words. He can’t think of any now, and even if he could, Sherlock couldn’t get them past the lump in his throat.

“Sherlock Holmes was a husband,” John says in surprise.

“Gee,” Rosie informs her father.

“Well, if you’re hungry we’d better make you something,” John says with a smile. “I don’t suppose you have something in?”

“Yes, I went to the shops early this morning.”

“What?” John says in shock.

“I hate it. People wear their lives on their sleeves and fingers and faces. It’s so damned noisy and distracting. Of course, now shops are open all night. It’s much quieter to go shopping before dawn, but when you do run into something the story tends to be much more disturbing.”

John opens the fridge and chuckles. “Everything in here has a cartoon character plastered on it.”

“I’ve found that is a reliable way of determining if it is made for consumption by a small child.”

“Thank God they’ve started putting cartoon characters on fruits and veg now,” John says. “You want some carrots, baby girl?”

“Ple,” Rosie corrects.

“Apples, on their way,” John says.

“Does Rosie have a speech impairment?” Sherlock asks.

“What? No? Why?” John asks alarmed.

“You use the repeat and add one strategy when you talk to her. It’s a strategy for toddlers with speech delays,” Sherlock says.

John looks up from the apple he’s slicing to smile at Sherlock. “It is yeah. But if it can get kids that are years behind caught up imagine, what it will do for an average kid.”

Sherlock covers Rosie’s ears. “How dare you use that word with her?” Then he scoops Rosie up and puts her in her highchair. “Rosie is extraordinary in every way!”

John chuckles. “I’m impressed you know the repeat and add one thing.”

“Parenting books,” Sherlock shrugs.

John puts the cut apples on the tray of Rosie’s highchair. “You’re reading parenting books?”

“I know that you will be doing the parenting, obviously. I just wanted to study it.”

“I will be happy to have you participating in the parenting. You’re good with kids, and I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.”

“You are a very good father, John,” Sherlock says. The encouragement sounds a bit strange coming from Sherlock Holmes, but then, the puppy flopped at his feet was also something that John Watson thought he’d never live to see.

Chapter Text

2014, November

Sherlock knows it is a bit of a trick. But now that the little girl has been living with him, he is determined to turn the little girl from a stranger into family. He enters the room just a bit before her usual wake up from a nap. She turns at the sound, reaching up her arms to him. He puts a dummy (which John stopped letting her have months ago) right into her mouth, and picks her up, and she melts into him making a soft sound that closely resembles a “mew”. She’s all sleepy heat and fussy pajamas.

He rubs her back. “I don’t know what your favorite Shakespeare is yet, so let’s start with Hamlet. You’re a bit young for Laurus’s advice, but maybe it will sink if I start early. There, my blessing with thee,” he says, kissing her on the forehead. “And these few precepts in thy memory. See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportioned thought his act....”
After a few soliloquies and rocking in her bedroom, Sherlock changes her, and brings her down for a snack. “You hungry, Rosie?”

“Baba,” she agrees.

-0-
John knocks on Mrs. Hudson’s’ door when he gets off work. “How was Rosie today?”

“Oh, I don’t have her, dear,” she says calmly. When she sees the panic, she chuckles. “I put her down for her nap, but before it was time to go get her I heard Sherlock on the monitor. He was reciting poetry to her, I think, but he was doing such a good job I just left him to it.”

“Thank you,” John says, hugging Mrs. Hudson with a smile that she knows is not for her. John runs up the stairs and opens the door so quietly that Sherlock doesn’t hear. Sherlock is laying on the couch facing toward the window with his knees bent, and Rosie propped up, facing him. He’s naming the bones in her hand and arm in ascending level, ending with a tickle on her clavicle.

John is pretty sure his heart is about to explode.

He steps forward, shattering the moment. “I’m sorry, John,” Sherlock says, standing quickly.

“I don’t mind. You clearly took good care of her.”

“I know it was overstepping a boundary. You asked Mrs. Hudson to look after her.”

“Only because I thought you weren’t interested. I’m going to find a daycare soon. They all have ridiculously long waiting lists, and Mary planned on having a bit more of leave.”

“Don’t find a daycare,” Sherlock says quickly, “I’d like to look after her.”

“Every day?” John asks in shock.

“Yes,” Sherlock says.

“You won’t be able to run off and take a case in the middle of the day.”

“That’s fine. Most of the time I can solve them without leaving the flat. If I want to leave the flat while you’re at work, I’ll just have Mrs. Hudson watch her.”

“I can’t ask her to do that forever,” John objects.

“She and I have talked about how much she loves Rosie. I swear she won’t mind. Besides, it would mostly be me. I completely understand if you aren’t comfortable with me taking care of your child...”

“Not the problem,” John says. “I just feel like it’s asking too much.”

“I want to do this,” Sherlock declares firmly.

“God, there is something wrong with me. I’m her father, and I don’t want to stay at home with her every day.”
“That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. You love her, and you take care of her. Not every human is built for taking care of children all day. Besides, you are still going to be with her as much as you would if she was in day care.”

John smiles bleakly. “I never expected to be a single father.”

“Most people don’t,” Sherlock comforts, handing him his daughter.

John puts a kiss on her forehead. “I love you, Rosie,” he tells her. “Sherlock, how am I going to cope with it all? It's one thing now when the worse is stringed peas on my tie and those truly terrible nappies.”

“Speaking of that, I think we should switch formulas,” Sherlock says.

John smiles. “Right, but soon it will be tantrums, and then carpools and dance lessons, and then God, boys and make-up. I don’t know how I’ll cope with any of that.”

“I’ve given you lots of practice dealing with tantrums. You don’t have a car, so you probably won’t cope well with carpools. She’s not built for ballet; she’ll do violin and Lego club instead. There will be no boys allowed until after college, and I think I can do her face. If not, I’m sure Uncle Rudy can give us a few tips.”

John chuckles. “How about we let her choose her own extracurriculars, and you will not call my baby fat.”

“Not fat, no, but she’s gotten your height.”

“She’s in the 40th percentile!” John objects.

“Yes, more gymnast height if you insist upon a girly sport.”

John chuckles, holding the baby up so she can stand and bounce on John’s legs.

“The point is, John, that there are a lot of people who love you, and you’ve got to get used to relying on us to help you with this little girl,” Sherlock says.

“God, I’m lucky to have you,” John says, falling back on the couch with the little girl on his chest.

“Dada,” Rosie says pointing to the skull. “Jaja’s cra.”

“That’s right, Jamie’s cranium,” Sherlock encourages.

“Wait, she knows the name of your skull?” John asks in shock.

“She likes stories, and since you banned me from telling her anything that involves crime that just left me with my personal life.”

“The skull is part of your personal life?” John asks in surprise.

“Jamie was my husband,” Sherlock explains.

“Oh my God, your husband’s skull has been staring at us for years? Jesus, Sherlock! This is not the way people behave! Please tell me that you did not take this out of his grave.”

“Of course not! Jamie and Mycroft did the paperwork together before he died.”

“So, you asked your sick husband for his skull?” John says, alarmed.

“No,” Sherlock says, clearly offended. “He offered it to me. He actually wanted me to run experiments on his body, but...I told him I couldn’t do that.”

“But this? This you were okay with?”

“How is it different from having an urn with ashes, besides the fact that it has less self-deception? I look at him every day, and he reminds me that life is short. That I can connect with other people when I want to.”

John laughs, one short burst. “Mrs. Hudson knew, didn’t she? When she took him?”

Sherlock nods. “She tried to give him a ‘proper burial’ in her vegetable garden. I only got it back, because I threatened to call Lestrade, and convince him she was a murder.”

“Oi! You’re a madman,” John says.

“Mad!” Rosie says.

John chuckles. “Finally she gives you a nickname too.”

“Mad! Diot!” Rosie declares pointing to each of them.

“That’s right, and now this madman and idiot are going to play with you. What do you want to play?” Sherlock encourages.

Rosie sniffs.

“Canis, Ms. Rosie wants to play,” Sherlock calls, setting the girl down. The dog trots over causing her to laugh. The dog stands patiently, and the baby grips the side of the dog in order to pull herself into a standing position. Canis slowly walks, and Rosie goes with him, her momentum carrying her along.

“The dog is teaching the baby to walk,” John observes.

“It appears so.”

“Your dog is parenting my daughter,” John continues.

“Your parental guilt is exhausting.”

-0-

John’s newspaper is smushed down by an eager dog. “Sherlock, I think Sleuth needs a walk.”

“His name is Canis, and I just walked him,” Sherlock responds from inside his book.

“Then why is he jumping all over me?”

“Affection,” Sherlock says with an annoyed curve of his mouth.

“Then pet him or something, he’s your dog,” John requests.

“Wouldn't help. He’s quite specific about who he wants affection from.”

“Why?” John asks, looking down at the dog.

“Not sure, although studies suggest dogs are attracted to people who don’t like them. Something about how being ignored makes them feel safe. It’s more prevalent in cats, though.”

“How about you stop reading articles about dogs, and start taking care of this one,” John says, picking the squirming puppy up, and placing it on Sherlock’s lap. Sherlock begins talking to him, and petting him, but he just jumps over to John’s lap.

“All right, dog, let’s get the baby and go for a walk.”

-0-

“John!” a voice says.

He turns toward the voice. “Noah!” he says with a smile to his old friend from his Barts’ days. “How have you been?”
“Good! Who is this little one?” Noah asks, looking into the stroller. Rosie pulls the blanket up over her face.

“Don’t be shy, Rosie. Say hello to Daddy’s friend.”

Rosie sticks a hand out, and uses it to wave.

“I’m glad to see you settled, John. I heard about your wedding. I was a bit surprised to see you with a woman. I’d always thought you’d be better off with a man.”

John smiles sadly, looking down at his daughter. “I guess you didn’t hear about my wife’s death.”

“No, I didn’t,” Noah says quickly, with genuine surprise and sorrow. “I’m so sorry. How are you coping?”

“As well as can be expected,” John says.

Sherlock and Canis catch up with them just then. “John, I am absolutely sure he poops more than he eats. He must be converting oxygen into feces. Either that or the laws of physics have completely stopped applying to him.”*

“Sherlock, this is Noah Smith. We went to Barts together.”

“Nice to meet you.” Sherlock puts out the hand that’s not wrapped up in dog leash.

“Oh, so I was right after all,” Noah says. “Good for you!” He claps John on the back.

“He thought we were together,” Sherlock says when they have walked out of earshot.

“Mmm,” John says.

“You didn’t correct him,” Sherlock observes.

“Correcting people who think we are together has never worked before. Does it bother you?” John asks, looking suddenly at Sherlock with something akin to panic.

“No,” Sherlock says.

“You’ve never corrected anyone,” John notes.

“I hate how they always say it with a touch of a smirk, you know. Like they are catching me in some sort of scandal.”

“It wouldn’t be that,” John says. “While I wasn’t exactly open about my past relationship with a man it wasn’t because I was ashamed.”

“Sholto was?” Sherlock asks.

“I don’t even know. I was his subordinate. That was why it was inappropriate, not because we were both men. What I’m saying is, if it was up to me, I’d tell people I sometimes like men.”

“I’ve never hid who I was either,” Sherlock says. “I understand why people do sometimes. There was a time when I didn’t. When I was a teenager, I pushed Jamie and Mycroft into coming out. I regret that now. I don’t know. Maybe if Mycroft hadn’t been forced to admit it when he was young, he would have been more open later.”

“Your brother is how much older than you?”

“Seven years,” Sherlock says.

“That’s probably the bigger reason. Acceptance changed fast in a few years there. He grew up in a different time.”
Sherlock nods. “I would definitely never be ashamed to be dating you.”

John smiles. “Right, and you’re a world class detective. Anyone should be proud to be dating you if that was something you were interested in.” John’s eyes linger on Sherlock as if he’s expecting something, but Sherlock can’t figure out what it is.

Canis stops and squats. “Seriously, again?” Sherlock exclaims, but he is relieved that it gives him an excuse not to finish this conversation with John.

Chapter Text

2014, December

Greg puts a pint down in front of John before sitting down across from him with his own pint.

“How are you coping?” Greg asks.

“Better. It’s still incredibly hard, but I’m doing so much better than I was those first few months.”

“Having Sherlock around has got to help,” Greg says.

“Oh, God, yeah. He’s really good with kids. Well, you know that, I guess, since he’s an uncle to yours. I can’t believe you kept your relationship with Mycroft Holmes under your hat by the way.”

Greg chuckles. “He wasn’t exactly open with all of that, so I let him pick who he told. Which was shockingly few. I think Sherlock is glad to have a chance to break out his dusty parenting skills.”

“Parenting?” John stops at the word.

Greg looks caught. “God, the Holmes brothers like their secrets. He never told you about his son?”

John shakes his head, finding it hard to drink all of a sudden. “Where is he? He didn’t...lose custody of him because of the drugs did he?”

“No. If he lost custody Mycroft or his mother would have stepped in. More than that…Sherlock would have never done that when he was a father. From what I understand, there was occasional use beforehand, but he only fell off the edge when his son died.”

“Oh,” John said looking down. “How old was he?”

“Seven. Sherlock and his husband adopted him when he was a preemie. They didn’t think he’d live a month.”

“God, I can’t imagine opening myself up for that kind of loss,” John says softly.

“I know. That man is deceptively strong. So, how is living with him going?” Greg takes a sip to hide his grin after he asks the question.

“I told you. Fine,” John says.

“Right, he’s good with the baby. How is he with you?”

John looks at Greg long and hard before answering him. “Fine. I think he poisons my drink less often. Of course, that could just be because I’m less likely to drink something that he’s made after he blatantly announced that he poisoned me at my weeding.”

Greg sighs.

“What are you trying to get at?”

“I’m not subtle, am I?” Greg chuckles. “I sort of promised not to talk about this...I just...feel like a conversation could solve so much. God, if My and I had just had an honest conversation we could have had three more years together.”

“Together,” John smiles awkwardly, taking a big sip to fortify himself. “Sherlock doesn’t really think of me like that. Before I knew he was married I would have guessed he didn’t feel that way about anyone.”

Greg smiles, thinking that John is a lot more observant that Sherlock gives him credit for. “You should talk to him about it. I have.”

“What did he say?” John asks.

“I’m already out of bounds here. Just talk to him, John,” Greg pleads. “Also, our children should meet.”

-0-
If Sherlock didn’t known that John had been out drinking with Lestrade, he’d think he was being attacked. Sherlock goes down the stairs trying to help John up.

“Imm fine,” John says, trying to wave him away.

“Don’t be ridiculous. What would Rosie do if you fell?”

“You!” John says pointing at him. “Havern son.”

“Had a son. Come on,” Sherlock says, putting his arm around John to help him up the stairs.

“You never told me,” John says morosely.

“Not a subject I like to dwell on,” Sherlock says.

“Poor Sherlock,” John says patting his curls roughly. “Oi, beautiful curls,” John says looking at him with absolute adoration.

Sherlock chuckles.

“God, you are gorgeous.”

“Okay, let’s get you to bed,” Sherlock says.

“You coming too?” John says.

“I think I’ll go to my own bed,” Sherlock says.

“You want company? Less stairs,” John says.

“Let’s go with the couch, then,” Sherlock says.

“Oh, snuggly,” John says running his hands through Sherlock’s hair again. “I thought there would be more product. Gay people use products.”

“I do use product,” Sherlock says.

“Posh product must not feel like p-p-proper product. Nnn you’re sooooo poosh, posh, poshy, poosh,” he says, managing to sing-talk and adore at the same time.

Sherlock shrugs John onto the couch and goes to the kitchen to fetch water. “Drink,” he commands.

John does. “Mm lucky to have you, Sherlock.”

“Not as lucky as I am to have you,” Sherlock says warmly. He stands up.

“Stay,” John commands.

Sherlock knows it’s ridiculous, but he kneels down next to the couch, and rubs his hand against John’s short hair. John smiles. Sherlock hums a lullaby.

-0-

John wakes up the next morning with a mouth tasting like vomit. There is a weight on his chest, and for a moment he thinks he has pneumonia. Then he realizes the weight is a person, namely Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock is kneeling on the floor with his head on John’s chest. His curls are more disheveled than usual, and he has a soft smile on his face.

“Sherlock,” John whispers.

“How are you?” Sherlock asks, not opening his eyes.

“Hung over. You slept here?” John asks, concerned.

Sherlock stands up embarrassed. “You asked me to,” he says before retreating into his bedroom.
John feels like there is something important from last night that he is supposed to remember, but he doesn’t know what it is.

-0-

Anna bursts up the stairs. “Where is Cousin Rosie?”

Sherlock’s cheeks go red as he glances at John. “Rosie isn’t your cousin.”

Anna rolls her eyes, full of scorn. “Well she will be when you too stop being idiots and get together.” She bends down to put her face close to the baby’s. “Can I hold her?”

“Yes, just sit down in a chair, sweetie,” John says.

“Mia, you get in there too, and we’ll take some pictures,” Mycroft says.

“I don’t think pictures are necessary,” Sherlock says, concerned at how much they are all treating this like a family reunion.

“Brother mine, Anna is wrong. You two don’t have to be together to have Rosie and John be a part of our family.”
John grins at Mycroft in gratitude.

John carries his daughter over to put her on Anna’s lap. Rosie looks at the older girl critically, as if she were deciding whether or not she’d accept the situation. Sherlock picks a toy off the floor, and hands it to the little girl. She quickly uses it to smack Anna in the head, which luckily only causes the little girl to giggle.

“Smile for the camera,” Greg says, kneeling down to take pictures with his camera phone. Sherlock positions himself behind Greg’s head pulling faces and causing all of the girls to break out in grins.

“Sherlock, did you see my necklace?” Anna asks. “Mia has one too, but she hides it under her bed.” Anna opens up the locket to show him while still holding the baby.

“It’s beautiful. You speak Latin?” he asks, looking at the engraving.

“Only a little. Mycroft taught me.”

“And he calls you puella mia,” Sherlock says with a smile on his face. “Sentiment, brother mine.”

“I’m parvulus,” Mia says.

“Yes, well, you’d better stop growing or else that name won’t fit you anymore,” Sherlock says.

Mia looks devastated. “Why?”

Mycroft shoots his brother an angry look. “You’ll always be my parvulus, no matter how big you get.”

“My name changed,” Anna objects.

“That’s because you stopped being the child of my heart, and started being my child,” Mycroft says, looking at her warmly. Greg looks uncomfortable.

“What is wrong dulcis vultus mea?” Mycroft asks.

“You stopped saying, ‘te amo’,” he whispers.

“Oh, love, I am a terrible Latin teacher. Deligo means I love you too, only...more.”

“More?” Greg asks.

“Amo te, it’s how you say please, or I would love ice cream. You use this word to show affection for your friends or describe a favorite hobby. You do not use the verb amar to talk about the one who sets your heart on fire or for family. You don’t use amar for the most important things in your whole life. You save deligar for that.”

Greg pulls him in for a hug, “Deligo, mi amica.”

“Mycroft, do I set your heart on fire?” Anna asks, trying to fit herself into the small space between her parents.

“Yes, deligo,” he says, pulling her into a side hug. “You too, Mia. Deligo.”

“Mycroft...you’re softer now,” Mia says, nuzzling his stomach like he’s a pillow.

“Mia! That’s rude!” Greg exclaims, horrified that his little girl noticed Mycroft’s extra pounds. He fears it is going to send his lover back down the road of insecurity.

“No,” Mycroft says, smiling. “It’s okay, parvulus. You’re right. I used to be very hard, mostly on myself. I’m learning to be softer, and if that makes me comfier it’s a good thing.”

“Yeah, Mycroft is a teddy bear,” Mia says, throwing her arms around him.

Greg gives his fiancé a huge smile.

Suddenly Mia’s eyes light up remembering the question she’d been assigned to ask. “John!” she practically shouts, launching herself toward the man. “Can Rosie be my flower girl?”

Greg chuckles. “It would be our flower girl.”

“I don’t know, she’s a bit young for that,” John says.

“I’m a flower girl too! I’ll help her! I’m going to pull her in a wagon! And all the flowers can sit in the wagon! And if she doesn’t want to throw the flowers, I’m very good at throwing flowers and pulling a wagon,” Mia exclaims.

“All right then,” John says grinning.

“What about you, Anna?” Sherlock asks.

“I’m the maid of honor,” she says proudly.

“I’d like you to be best man,” Mycroft says to Sherlock.

“Oh, surely you could find someone better,” Sherlock says. “The Prime Minister perhaps.”

“There is no one I care about more than you,” Mycroft tell his brother.

Sherlock looks down at his shoes, unable to catch his breath.

“He’ll do it. Of course, he’ll do it,” John answers for him. “He’s honored.”

“We’d both like you to be groomsman, John,” Greg says.

“Cheers, mate,” John says with a smile.

“Yes,” Sherlock suddenly confirms, returning to the conversation. “Yes, I’ll be your best man, Mycroft.”

Mycroft and Greg stare at him startled. John chuckles. “He reacted a lot faster than he did when I asked him to be my best man.”

“So,” Anna says grinning at Sherlock. “Have you’ve made Johnlock truth yet?”

“Anna, darling, you need a new obsession,” Sherlock replies.

Anna turns, scoops the baby up, and hands her to Sherlock. “But if you were with John you could be a daddy. Don’t you want to be a daddy?”

“Don’t be daft, Anna. A child can have as many people love it as it can get. Sherlock and I don’t have to be a couple for both of us to be there for Rosie. He was there for Rosie when my wife was still alive,” John returns with a smile.
Anna falters, suddenly taking a step back, and leaving off the light teasing.

“Puella mea...” Mycroft says reaching for her.

“No,” she says, wrenching her arm away, and running into Sherlock’s bedroom.

Mycroft follows. “Anna...”

She buries her face in her uncle’s pillow. “You could have seen me. Took me to a park, something. You could have been something, even if you weren’t my father. No, you just let me forget you.”

“Anna,” Mycroft says, rubbing her back. “It was the biggest mistake of my life, but I swear it wasn’t about you.”

“It was about you and dad not being together anymore,” she recites, turning on her side so she can look at him.

“Yes, it was, but there was more. You don’t know, Anna, how closed off I was before your dad and I got together. I was...you know my nickname was ice man?” he asks.

“Glacius virus,” she says, laughing.

“God, it’s even worse in Latin,” Mycroft chuckles. “I had no friends. I did not get along with my family in any sort of tolerable way. No one wanted to date me. No one but your father. Then he let me parent you? God, I thought I was the luckiest man ever.”

Anna sniffs, looking at him.

“When he left, I thought he was saying I was not good enough to be your father. I believed him, Anna. I disappeared from your life because I thought that absence would be better for you. I did it out of love.”

She gasps. “That’s stupid! Just stupid!” She flings her arms around him.

“I understand that now,” Mycroft says with a chuckle. “I know that for better or worse you love me. I would never leave your life now, eh? Believe that. Even if your father left. Even if he begged me never to see you again I would be there.”

She smiles. “I would never let him tell you to get out of my life.”

“Besides, I’m going to be your dad soon, legally.”

“Do I get a wedding present like I got an engagement one?” she teases.

“Honey, everything I have is yours now.”

Anna’s eyes go wide. She jumps off the bed, and runs into the main room. “Daddy! I just realized I’m rich.”

“Oh, God, My, you didn’t bribe her to make her stop crying did you?”

“Of course not. She asked if she got a present for the wedding.”

“Mycroft, they already got something for engagement...”

“Oh, I didn’t get them something for the wedding. I just informed her that my money was hers.”

“Mycroft! For God’s sake she’s six!”

“It’s not like I plan to hand it to her in an envelope. There are trust funds involved.”

“I think that you and I should have this discussion in private,” Greg says with a sigh.

“You’re probably right. I actually should have included you in the conversation the first time.”

“The first time?” Greg asks.

“Anna has been in my will since the day after I met her. Same with Mia, though that was years later. Greg, they were always going to get my money after I died. The only difference now is they’ll get it when they’re younger.”

“Good, because I want you way more than money,” Anna says, hugging him.

Mycroft smiles down at her.

“Well, I’ve lost the battle of keeping my children from being spoiled. See what you can do about yours, John. Take precautions now,” Greg warns.

“No need to worry. My trust fund is much smaller than Mycroft’s. Besides Mycroft’s got control over it.”

“Rosie will have anything she needs,” Mycroft says firmly. “And Sherlock I have never denied a single request you’ve made, apart from the one time you begged me to go buy you cocaine.”

“What is cocaine?” Anna asks.

“Horrible stuff which nearly killed me,” Sherlock says seriously.

“If Mycroft won’t give you money, Uncle Sherlock, I will,” Mia offers. “I already have four pounds, and Mycroft is going to give me more.”

“Well, thank you, lovey, but I don’t need your money. I can take care of myself with my work as a detective,” he says, giving her a little kiss on her forehead.

“Can we make a fort, Uncle Sherlock?” Anna asks.

“Sure honey. Go on and strip the beds.”

Chapter Text

2014, December

“John!” Sherlock whines.

“Oh, please, Sherlock, you wrote the most amazing best man speech for me. You are perfectly capable. Stop whining and do it!”

“But that was for you.”

“He’s your brother, Sherlock. Talk about something nice he did for you when you were little.”

“I used to sleep in his bed when I had nightmares,” Sherlock says.

“That’s sweet, but I worry he might be embarrassed. Anything else?”

“He came out to my parents because I’d just come out, and I was scared. He stood in front of me and talked about the string of low-class men he’d lived with.”

“Mycroft?” John squeaks.

Sherlock nods.

“Well, you can maybe use that story, but you’ll have to abbreviate it. Not tell any more details but that he came out to protect you.”

“Do I talk about the drug dens he carried me out of?” Sherlock asks.

“I don’t know, Sherlock, you might want to ask if he’d be comfortable with that.” John pauses. “They met through you, right?”

Sherlock nods.

“That’s a good story.”

“I faked my own death. Mycroft hadn’t seen me in two years. The arrest record came across his desk and he flew in from some Eastern European country where he was currently employed as a spy in order to bail me out. I convinced Lestrad I was afraid of physical abuse so I wouldn’t have to go with him.”

John laughs.

Sherlock grows serious. “I was never a very good brother. But he was always a saint to me.”

“You love him, Sherlock. And he knows it.”

“When they told me I was a psychopath he told me how to fake being normal. He thought I’d do it all the time, like he does, but I didn’t. I just broke it out in certain cases.”

“You’re better than normal, Sherlock,” John says, and Sherlock’s stomach goes warm at the words. It’s an emotion he’s been feeling quite frequently lately.

John grins at Sherlock’s uncertain look. He likes that he is the cause of it.

2015, January

“John!” Sherlock yells in horror, walking into his bedroom seemingly unaffected by John’s half-dressed state. He flings a tie at him. “I can’t wear that.”

“I’ll tie it for you, you git,” John says, standing up and wrapping the silk decoration around Sherlock’s neck.
Sherlock visibly shudders. “I know how to tie a tie, John. I just can’t wear it.”

John reluctantly slips it off him. “It’s your brother’s wedding. Sacrifice your style for a day.”

“No, I...don’t wear ties.”

“You wore one for my wedding.”

“A bow tie. Bow ties can’t be pulled.”

John’s stomach sinks. Was Sherlock attacked when he wore a tie once?”

“Jamie used to grab me by the tie when he kissed me. I haven’t worn a tie since he died.”

“Okay,” John says quickly. “Then we’ll both not wear ties. If your brother has a problem with it, I’ll go all scary captain on him.”

Sherlock flushes with the thought and John cocks his head at him. “Thanks, I’ll let you finish...putting on your clothes,” Sherlock says, rushing out of the room.

-0-

“Anna, you have to walk down the aisle with me,” Sherlock says, staring at his stubborn niece.

“No,” she says crossing her arms. “You’ll block the view of my dress from half the church. Besides, you should walk with John.”

“He’s the groomsmen,” Sherlock objects.

“At a wedding with two grooms.”

“You’re not going to win this one,” John says with a chuckle, extending his arm. He likes the idea of walking down the aisle with Sherlock by his side a whole lot more than he would like to admit.

Sherlock sighs, and takes John’s arm. Anna grins at them and practically skips down the aisle in front of them. John and Sherlock step out together keeping perfect pace with one another as they walk down the aisle just like they do when they run through London together. John turns to him with a wide grin and Sherlock’s heart skips a beat. John and Sherlock turn to stand next to the alter across from Anna, Mia, and Rosie. The door in the back opens to reveal a grinning Lestrade and Mycroft walking side by side in matching bespoke suits.

Mycroft looks completely at home. Greg looks intensely out of his element, but they both look intensely happy.
The ceremony is short, consisting of little more than traditional vows. While Mycroft might be able to use his powers of speech to persuade people in private, he did not trust them in public. Greg had, more than once, been told his manner at police interviews was uncouth.

“Hey!” Anna says after the kiss. “You’re supposed to announce that you love him!”

The couple chuckle. Mycroft gently touches his husband’s cheek. “Deligo te, maritus meus.”

“Deligo, amica,” Greg responds.

“In English, so they all know,” Anna insists.

“I love you,” Mycroft says, turning to kiss her forehead. “And you too,” he says, kissing Mia on her forehead. “And of course you,” he says, finishing by giving his husband another quick peck.

“I love you, too,” Greg says grinning. Then he turns to scoop up Mia and grabs Anna’s hand. Mycroft wraps his arm around the back of Greg, and they turn to leave the sanctuary together.

John cross the aisle to pull Rosie out of the wagon, and turns to follow the happy couple out of the church. Sherlock, on impulse, puts his arm around John. John turns to bestow a bright smile upon him at the action.

-0-

Greg sighs before introducing Sherlock to the crowd. He leans forward and whispers, “Mycroft wanted to ask one more time to let him proof your speech.”

“He’ll have to trust me,” Sherlock says standing up. “I owe my very existence to my brother. In oh so very many ways, but it starts before my birth. He filed a formal petition with my parents requesting a sibling. It was a decision that I know he’s come to regret.”

The room chuckles, and Mycroft shakes his head. “He comforted me when I had nightmares. He helped me hide my misdeeds from our parents. He taught me almost everything I know, from how to tie my shoes when I was four, to algebra when I was six, to the deductions I am so famous for. More important than that is the fact that my brother taught me how to live in the world. How to get along with people and when to ignore them. How to make peace with myself. When I proved to be worse at this than he was, he was always there to rescue me. He is a good man, my brother.”

-0-

“May I have this dance?” Sherlock asks, extending his hand to John.

John raises his eyebrows.

“I could go get our child protestor to shame you into it.”

“She’s busy dancing on Mycroft’s toes,” John says, standing up and putting his hands on Sherlock’s shoulder and hip. Sherlock lets him position himself as the lead. It is not hard for Sherlock to lead from a submissive position.
Sherlock turns to see the truth of his words, and crinkles his nose. “I can’t believe he’s letting her do that. Do you know how much those shoes cost?”

“It’s cute. It’s a sweet daddy-daughter way to learn to dance,” John says, accidently treading on Sherlock’s feet.
“It does seem to be an easier way to teach someone the basic skills. Perhaps you should jump onto my feet.”

John giggles, like he did at their first crime scene. Sherlock smirks, on both sides of his face so John can actually see it.

“You realize the only reason I agreed to this is that you are such a good dancer?” John says.

“I’m lucky you did. I never did get to dance at your wedding.”

John’s face falls. “You didn’t?”

“I danced with Janine, but not on the dance floor.”

“You should have stayed, Sherlock.”

“I couldn’t,” Sherlock says, and John doesn’t miss the fact that it’s the same words that Sherlock used to explain why he could not wear a tie. Sherlock Holmes could not take some kinds of pain.

The song ends, and Sherlock loosens his hold, giving John a chance to escape. John tightens his grip instead.

“What did you have nightmares about?” John asks.

“Murder.”

John cocks his head in surprise. “You love it.”

“I didn’t always,” Sherlock says.

“Well if that doesn’t just sum you up. Something hurts, and you just wrap your arms around it and give it a kiss.”
Sherlock finds himself wanting to kiss John. He’d been with Jamie for years before he’d wanted to kiss him. He’d kissed Jamie hundreds of times before he’d really wanted to. Yet all he can think about is John’s lips.
John blushes. Why did he say that? He can’t flirt with Sherlock Holmes. It’s like flirting with a marble statue.

“I still have nightmares sometimes,” Sherlock admits. “Waking up next to Jamie’s cold body. All the times that Alec was coughing, drowning in his own blood.”

John rubs his back in sympathy, the both of them still twirling to the slow song.

“Sometimes it’s not them that are dying,” Sherlock whispers. “Sometimes it’s you and Rosie. And Mary.”

“I dream about the fall,” John says, swallowing.

“I’m sorry,” Sherlock whispers.

“Sorry for saving my life?” John teases lightly, causing the giddy smiles to return to both men.

Mia runs up and shoves herself into the tiny space between the two men. “Dance with me, Uncle Sherlock,” she insists.

“All right. Get up on my toes then,” Sherlock says, taking hold of the young girl with an apologetic smile cast at John.

Chapter Text

2015, January

Sherlock puts a piece of cake in front of John.

“No, thanks,” John mutters, pushing it away, but his eyes don’t leave it. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that he wants the cake.

“I promise you Mycroft has great taste in cake,” Sherlock prompts.

John sighs. “I thought you agreed you weren't going to tease your brother about his weight anymore.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Sherlock says, staring at him concerned. “John?” he prompts.

John pushes the cake away from him. “Look, if you think my baby and your brother are fat then why exactly would you be opposed to me skipping dessert?”

“John, you are perfect-” Sherlock begins.

“Please,” John says with a dramatic eye roll as he leans back in his seat.

“John, I have never once commented on your weight.”

“No, just everyone else which makes me feel worse. Like mine is so bad you can’t even mention it,” John says, crossing his hands over his stomach.

“I’m sorry. I need to communicate better. Rest assured, if I thought you were overweight, I would have mentioned it. Clearly, I do such things. I love your body. It’s strong.”

John’s lips curl up a tish.

“I call my brother fat over the memory of when he actually was. I never call Rosie fat. I call her short. Short is good,” he says, smiling at John.

“Oh, dear,” Mrs. Hudson says, carrying Rosie over. “I think this one is just about ready for bed.” She tries to hand the baby off to her dad, but Rosie bats him away.

“Lock!” she insists.

“Okay, Rosie, but I didn’t bring my violin.”

“’ing,” she insists.

“Right,” Sherlock says lifting up the baby. “Thank you Mrs. Hudson. You did more than your fair share of watching the baby today.”

“Oh, we were having fun right up until she got tired and decided her Hudders wasn’t enough.”

“Night Night, Hudders,” Rosie says by way of apology.

John follows them into the hotel room, and, after getting Rosie ready for bed, the two adults end up sprawled on the comforter with the baby between them. Sherlock sings to her, wordless classical music, but Rosie won’t settle, continuingly rolling between snuggling her father or snuggling Sherlock. John takes a deep breath and scoots over until the baby can snuggle them both. Rosie stops squirming, and begins to breathe deeply right away.

Sherlock’s singing wavers, and John stares at him trying to determine if it is a good or bad pause. Sherlock reaches over and puts an arm on John’s shoulder. His singing resumes.

“You can go back to the party,” John whispers when the baby is out.

“I’d rather stay,” Sherlock whispers, unwilling to shatter the moment.

“It’s your brother’s wedding.”

“I stayed longer than I did for yours,” Sherlock says.

“You should have told me...that night, before you left. That you were tempted by the drugs. I would have helped you.”

“You were dancing with your wife,” Sherlock says.

“I would have still been there for you.”

Sherlock feels all warm inside thinking about John leaving his wife on his wedding night to make sure he didn’t return to drugs. He can’t tell him the lie about it being for a case right now.

John lifts up his hand gently and runs it through Sherlock’s curls. “I’ll always be there when you need me.”

It’s a lie. They have both let each other down more times than they can count. Yet, always there they are again, returning to one another.

There is a knock at the door, and Sherlock reluctantly pulls himself away from the sleeping toddler, and the near embrace with John, to answer it. It’s Mrs. Hudson. “Go back to the party dears.”

“We’re fine, honestly,” John whispers.

“Please. I’m old. I plan on laying right down next to that little girl and drifting off. You are young, you ought to go and dance some more. Certain young ladies are requesting another dance with each of you before they go to bed, and Mycroft really wants to dance with his little brother. Out you go,” she says, shooing Sherlock out. John follows after him. “Come and get us if she wakes and won’t go back to sleep,” he coos.

“Yes, of course, dear,” Mrs. Hudson says. It’s only when the boys are out of the room that she notices there are two dents in the bed, one on each side of the sleeping child. “We’ll be needing two bedrooms indeed,” she murmurs.

-0-

“Brother, it is time for you to dance with me,” Mycroft says.

Sherlock stand, and puts his arms in position for his brother to lead.

“I am glad to see that you and John have begun a romantic relationship,” Mycroft says.

Sherlock’s face falls. “We haven’t.”

Mycroft considers. “Then you should, because you are both looking at each other like you already have.”

“How did it start, with you and Lestrade?”

“He’s your brother-in-law, Sherlock, call him Greg. I can’t say I have a lot of responsibility for our getting together. He just rang my doorbell and we watched a movie together.”

“Bit hard to replicate when John lives with me.”

“Ask him to dinner.”

“I’ve done that since the first night we were together.”

“Well, then, try the direct approach.”

“What if I lose him?” Sherlock asks.

“You won’t,” Mycroft assures him. “Gregory and I had so many bumps in the road, but none of that matters because we were meant together. You and John are meant to be together too. You’ve had enough bumps. Now is the time to be bold.” Sherlock smiles.

“Hey, brother,” Greg says, clapping Sherlock on the back. “You mind if I cut in?” he asks his husband.

“Not at all,” Mycroft says, neatly handing his brother over.

“I’m your brother-in-law,” Sherlock corrects.

“I’d rather think of you as a brother.”

Sherlock crinkles his nose, but accepts the new title. “I’m happy for you.”

“Thank you. Do I have the pleasure of saying the same about you and John yet?” Greg asks.

Sherlock shrugs.

“I feel like I’ve been asking this question since I meet him. Who is he?” Greg teases.

“John and I are in a good place. We are friends who are raising a toddler together. I appreciate the increased responsibility he’s allowed me with Rosie.”

“The two of you have your hands all over each other, all the time,” Greg notes.

“Platonically,” Sherlock says.

“Sherlock,” Greg says, leaning in so his new brother doesn’t miss a word. “The man is in love with you, and I know your feelings about him. You should do something.”

“That’s what Mycroft said,” Sherlock replies. “I’m not really sure how to go about things like that. I’m pretty unexperienced in that area.”

“What did you do with your husband?”

“He had to tell me multiple times that he wanted to come over. Then I freaked out that he wasn’t coming. Then we were friends, and we kept ending up in each other’s beds, and touching, and after several months of that I asked if he was dating, and he said that was up to me.”

Lestrade smiles. “God, you are so sweet. The same things are happening with John, but you don’t have to wait months. God, you’ve already waited years.”

Sherlock thinks about all the ways he messed it up with Jamie. He is not going to make the same mistakes with John. “You might be right,” Sherlock says.

“We’re almost by John now. Do you want me to hand you off to him?” Greg asks.

Sherlock nods, glancing over his shoulder just long enough to spin himself into John’s arms while spinning Mia into her father’s arms.

“That was well done,” John says.

“I had a phase where I wanted to be a dancer in between my pirate and acting ones,” Sherlock admits. “I’ve got a case,” Sherlock says, remembering something he’d decided to ignore from the website. “It could use your help.”
“Oh?” John asks, looking down at his feet.

Sherlock wants to reach over and lift John’s chin, but he resists the impulse. “We’d have to go undercover. People are dying suspiciously in a seaside town. I suspect poisoning.”

“Sounds lovely,” John says.

“It’s the off season of course,” Sherlock says.

“Still lovely. I’ll take some time off from the surgery.”

“We can bring Rosie.”

“Okay, if you think she’ll be safe,” John says, looking up from his feet to grin at Sherlock. His heart melts, and he finds himself looking down just to avoid the intensity of John’s eyes. It causes Sherlock to miss a step. As he tries to fix it, his hand accidentally drifts lower from John’s lower back to his butt. When John doesn’t object he leaves it there, memorizing ever atom of John’s skin with the spray of his fingers.

“It’s a small community,” Sherlock continues. “It might be easier if we pretended to be a couple. They might open up to us more.”

“Mmmm,” John hums, amused. “Not the first time you’ve lied about your marriage status for a case. At least I’ll be in on it.”

“All right, ladies and gentlemen. It’s just about time for the little girls to go to bed,” Greg says on the microphone. “Let’s clear the dance floor for one last dance with the little ones and their daddies.” John and Sherlock move apart, but their hands stay together for an extra second.

-0-

“It’s a bit of a cold day to have that baby out at the beach,” a woman titters.

“She’s enjoying herself. I know this isn’t the right time of year for a holiday, but when this one actually manages something romantic and impulsive you’ve simply got to encourage him.”

“Oh, that’s so sweet,” the woman says, grinning at Sherlock. “You too been married long?”

“I locked this one down as soon as it became legal actually,” John says, grinning wide.

Sherlock is impressed by John’s ability to lie. “Rosie, don’t eat sand,” he says, kneeling down to take it out of her mouth. She starts to cry, and he picks her up humming to sooth her. “Diot!” she calls reaching for John.

“That’s Daddy, sweetie,” Sherlock corrects.

“Lock,” Rosie says, splaying her hand over his face.

“Papa,” John corrects lightly. Sherlock meets her eyes, unable to breath.

“Papa,” Rosie agrees, then she points to her father. “Diot.”

“Dada,” Sherlock tries again.

“Want Diot,” Rosie says, leaning over so far toward her father that she almost falls. John takes her into his arms.
“All right then honey. I’ll be your idiot if that’s all you’ll accept.”

Rosie snuggles into his chest.

“Oh, you guys are cute together,” the woman coos.

“We’re staying over at the Davis’s old place. Strange what happened to them wasn’t it?” Sherlock asks.

“Strange for an old man to die? Not really,” the woman replies.

“There are a lot of empty houses around here lately. Is there some kind of plague going on?” Sherlock presses.
“Oh, I don’t know. Old people die,” the woman says, looking uncomfortable and using the break in the conversation to walk away.

“Little too intense there, Sherlock,” John says.

“You’re right. We’re going have to kiss.”

“What?” John says.

“She’s looking at us. She thinks we’re weird. We’ve got to ease her worry.”

“All right then,” John says, moving right in front of her. He’s got a cocky grin on his face. Then there are lips and hands on the short hairs of the neck, and a hand on his waist, and, Jesus, there is tongue. John kisses like he’s a boss. Like he’s army, and, God, Sherlock likes it.

He used to think about anything else when he was kissing Jamie, but when he kisses John all he can think about is the way John is currently in charge of his entire body, his entire soul.

John pulls away, looking even more cocky. “You are quite skilled at that, John,” Sherlock mutters.

“This beach is nearly empty in the off season. Let’s go to a restaurant,” John says, taking his hand. Sherlock raises his eyebrows. “She’s still watching.”

“Papa,” Rosie says cheerfully.

“God, I think she’s a Johnlock shipper too,” John mutters.

-0-

John bounces Rosie on his knee while reading her a child’s story. Sherlock is at a small desk nearby pouring over newspaper articles.

“At least four of the victims were swimming a few hours before they died,” he observes. “Oh!”

John grins. “Solved it did you?”

“Nope,” Sherlock says. “We should probably go on a walk by the beach so I can identify what caused it.”

“Mmm,” John says, bouncing his child a bit more. “I think I should put this one down for a nap.”

“Okay, we can do that first,” Sherlock says. “You need a snack, Rosie?”

“Biscuits!” she demands.

“Apples?” Sherlock counters.

Rosie opens her eyes in a good imitation of Sherlock’s puppy dog face.

“I guess I’m the deciding vote, and I decide on apples,” John says, picking her up.

-0-

This is a perfect moment, John decides. He and Sherlock on a hotel bed facing each other with Rosie in between. They giggle. It’s not even a joke that make them giggle. It’s life.

John wants this moment, this exact moment, to last forever. He has never been this happy.

-0-

“So how long have you known?” John asks.

“Just now. Right there where I told everyone. That's when I found out that it was a pufferfish imported from the oceans of North America.”

“You’ve known since reading the newspaper in the library,” John accuses.

Sherlock says nothing.

“So, you risked people being stung by a deadly fish in order have a few days holiday at a beach resort in winter?”
“Don’t be an idiot,” Sherlock says.

Rosie echoes him by saying, “Diot!”

Sherlock grins at her before continuing. “I deduced that the fish could not survive this long in the climate and was already dead. I would not have put anyone in danger.”

“Then why exactly are we still here?” John asks teasingly.

Sherlock looks startled. Then he grins. “Rosie needs exposure to a wide variety of environments in order to grow up well socialized.”

Rosie nods her head matter of factly. “Soc’iz”

“I think we should take her to France next year,” Sherlock says.

“And will we have to pretend to be married there as well?” John teases.

Sherlock ears brighten to blush pink.

“It’s okay,” John says. “I didn’t mind.”

“Mycroft said...” Sherlock says, stopping.

“What?” John prompts.

“He said...you felt things,” Sherlock whispers.

“Very observant, your brother,” John says, gently bouncing his daughter on his hip. “Are these feelings returned?”

“I don’t know,” Sherlock says slyly. “I guess that would depend on what exactly those feelings were.”

“Warm ones. Deep ones. Ones that are more than friendship,” John says with a smile.

“Oh, thank God,” Sherlock says with a quick puff of relief. “I don’t want to ruin what we had. My friendship with you is the most important thing in the world. I couldn’t...”

“Then we’ll keep the friendship and just add more onto it,” John says, grinning at him.

“I...I’m not very good at this,” Sherlock says.

“’This’ can look like anything you want it to,” John says, taking a step closer to Sherlock.

Rosie grabs them each by the back of the head and tries to push them close to one another. John chuckles. “You want to kiss?”

Sherlock nods.

John’s presses his lips to Sherlock. It’s gentler than the fake kiss earlier on the beach. Sherlock’s whole body turns to tingles. A kiss has never been like this before. Nothing has ever been like this before. Not even solving crime, or jumping off Bart’s or holding his son. Sherlock feels like he’s been dead his whole life until now. John’s lips have the power of making him come alive.

“So, we should go to Angelo’s,” John says with sparkling eyes.

“Yes, on the 23rd,” Sherlock says seriously.

“Three weeks? We’re going on our first date three weeks from now?” John says.

“Yes, if you are amiable.”

“I would be amiable to dating you before that.”

“I need to do some research,” Sherlock says.

“You don’t need to do research with me, Sherlock. You know me better than anyone else in the world. We don’t have to do anything traditional if you don’t want to.”

“I want to do this right, John,” Sherlock says, touching his cheek.

“Okay. If three weeks is your speed than that’s what it is. I won’t go too fast for you.”

Chapter Text

2015, February

“Mycroft, I need you to watch Rosie for a few hours today while John is at work, and not tell John,” Sherlock says, holding out Rosie and a giant diaper bag in the middle of his office.

“Planning something romantic, are you?” Mycroft asks.

“I’m planning on studying pornography so that I can hide the fact I’m asexual from John so he doesn’t leave me,” Sherlock says all in one breath.

“That’s a terrible plan. Don’t start a relationship with a lie. Be honest with him. Also,” Mycroft crinkles his nose. “Pornography is not an accurate representation of sex.”

“Take your might-be-a-niece-one-day so she doesn’t get traumatized,” Sherlock says. “Overly detailed directions are in the diaper bag if you need them.” He leaves before his brother can give him any more advice that he does not plan on following.

“Hi,” Mycroft says to the little girl.

“Idiot?” Rosie asks hopefully.

“No, sweetie, you’re confusing me with my brother. I’m Mycroft.”

-0-

Greg follows the laughter into the kitchen when he comes home from work with Anna. It’s pretty much covered in flour.

Rosie claps her hands. “My biscuit!”

“Yes, Mycroft makes good biscuits,” Greg says, kissing his husband. “Everything okay with Sherlock and John?”

“My brother was being a complete idiot.”

“Idiot!” Rosie repeats, causing the other men to chuckle.

“Then they got some case and rushed off together as soon as John got off work. Looks like we’ve got her for the night.”

“Lucky us,” Greg says, tussling her hair.

“Daddy! Can Rosie stay forever?” Mia begs.

“’Fraid not, sweetie. Her daddies would miss her,” Greg explains.

Mia considers. “Then you need to get me another baby.”

Greg chuckles, and then sees Mycroft looking at her with longing. He catches his husband’s eye, and tilts his head. Mycroft looks away quickly, and Greg decides this is a conversation that should be held only between the adults.
“Babies don’t just grow on trees, Mia,” Greg says. “Let’s just enjoy Rosie whenever she spends time with us, eh?”

“Okay,” Mia says. “Can she sleep in my room?”

“Yes,” Mycroft says.

-0-

Mycroft doesn’t look up from his spy novel when his husband lies down on the bed next to him.

“Mycroft, we never really talked about whether or not we were going to have more children,” Greg says.
Mycroft looks at him so terrified that Greg can’t help but scoop him into his arms.

“What’s wrong?”

“Last time you wanted a baby you left,” Mycroft whispers.

“Not going to happen this time. If we decide to have more children we are going to do this together.”

Mycroft falters. “The children are getting bigger....they are very enjoyable when they are small.”

“I would be very open to more babies,” Greg says encouragingly. “Are you thinking more along the lines of surrogacy or adoption?”

“I have always thought the idea of adoption was quite lovely, but if you wanted to have more of your children through surrogacy I would not be opposed.”

“God, amica, I would love to adopt with you,” Greg says grinning. “We should probably start on it soon. I know it can take years to adopt a baby.”

“I have ways around that,” Mycroft says.

“I waited years to have a baby with my wife. I don’t want to jump ahead of couples who have been waiting,” Greg objects.

Mycroft looks heart broken. “Gregory, perhaps this is not a good idea. Both of us are getting on in years. Perhaps if we wait for a baby at the age that we are already that would not be fair for the child. We would be quite old before it was old enough to be independent.

“What about siblings? They’re harder to adopt. It might be a compromise between jumping ahead of people, and waiting a long time.”

“You mean a baby and an older child?” Mycroft asks with his unreadable spy face.

“Is that too much?” Greg says.

“We have the emotional and financial resources for dozens of children, Gregory. It is just a matter of how many children we want,” Mycroft says.

“I don’t have the energy resources for a dozen, I’ll tell you that. But I think four total could be something we’d manage.”

“We would hire a nanny of course,” Mycroft says.

“No. I don’t want a stranger raising our kids, amica,” Greg objects.

“Having a nanny is no different than when we send Mia to day care, or Anna to school. Granted, there are people out there who use their nannies as an excuse not to spend time with their children, but that doesn’t have to be us just because we have a nanny. If we are both working and plan on having more than one child who is not yet old enough for school, I think it’s a reasonable solution.”

“I’ll consider it,” Greg concedes. “If we’re going to adopt children I’m going to take family leave for the first bit anyway, so we’d have some time to decide.”

“I, too, would like to take family leave. After you of course. It would give me time to possibly re-arrange my schedule. I could easily arrange to take a day off during the week and work Saturdays. It would be one less day of daycare for Mia and the new children, or one less day for the nanny, if we eventually decide to go down that route.”
Greg’s heart is bubbles at the suggestion. “God, I love parenting with you,” he says, laying his head down on his husband’s shoulder. After a few seconds he feels Mycroft shift as he puts down the spy novel and picks up the tablet that he keeps by his bed.

“We agreed no working in our bed,” Greg complains.

“I’m not working,” Mycroft says.

Greg shifts to look at what his husband is doing, and is shocked to see that he’s on an adoption website.

“You’re just going to adopt right now then?” he asks.

“Certainly not. We can take all the time that you need. I just wanted to be aware of our options.”

“We’re definitely adopting kids. I just think it’s a little late at night to be doing this right now,” Greg says with a yawn.

“I can go somewhere else to do this if it bothers you,” Mycroft says without taking his eyes from the screen.

“It’s fine,” Greg says, rolling over so his back is to his husband in order to block out the light of Mycroft's screen.

-0-

There are still ten days left before the deadline that Sherlock gave himself for the first date. But he spent all day watching porn, so he’s pretty sure that he can make all of the sounds and faces that he needs to in order to fool John.

Everything that went wrong between he and Jamie went wrong because Jamie knew Sherlock was asexual, and thought that Sherlock could never like sex because of it. If Sherlock has sex with John before he knows about his sexuality (or better yet, if John never found out about his sexuality) then John will know that Sherlock is okay with sex, and he won’t leave.

No, Sherlock is going to pretend that he is more than okay with sex. He is going to pretend that he is downright obsessed with it like the rest of the population. It’s certainly not the hardest or strangest thing that he’s done.
John is taking off his coat after coming back from a case. There is dust from a collapsing building clinging to his clothes, but if Sherlock wasn’t asexual he would not notice how disgusting John was, so Sherlock pretends he doesn’t see the debris.

Sherlock pushes John against the entryway wall, and presses his lips to John’s. Sherlock doesn’t open his mouth at first, because he doesn’t want to be too forceful for John. John gasps in surprise, and opens his mouth wide.
John’s tongue takes control of Sherlock’s mouth immediately. John tilts Sherlock’s head into a better angel with nothing other than his tongue. Sherlock hates being bossed around, and he’s really not sure why he enjoys it so much when John does this.

Sherlock had planned to get through the kissing as fast as he could so that he could get through with the sex soon. However, it is John who pulls away first.

“Look at us ahead of schedule,” John says with his face so close to Sherlock that Sherlock can feel the breath upon his face.

Sherlock buries his face into John’s neck, kissing, moaning.

John takes a few steps, and pushes him against the opposite wall, holding him by the wrists with Sherlock’s hands above his head (although not too high, because John is too short too reach that far).

Sherlock frees a hand and loops his fingers through the loops of John’s pants, playfully dragging him along. Sherlock pushes him up against the wall of the living room (so John’s head matches perfectly with the drawing of the smiley face), and ruts against him, faking the enthusiasm of a porn star. Then he drops to his knees, taking a moment to look up at John as if he were the most amazing thing ever. That part isn’t even make-believe.
John looks drunk, and doesn’t seem to quite understand what is happening until Sherlock undoes his flies.
He puts a hand between Sherlock’s mouth and his own eager flesh. “Wait a minute,” John says. Sherlock waits exactly a minute, and then applies his mouth to John. John chuckles and pushes him away, talking more than another whole minute before he speaks. “You’re sure about this? You’re ready?”

Dull. John is still thinking that he doesn’t want this even though he is acting exactly like the characters in porn.
“Yes,” Sherlock says, leaning forward to take John into his mouth. This time, there are no objections. Sherlock knows how to make this quick. He closes his mouth tight, and makes the motion fast. He reminds himself to keep it wet but doesn’t allow it to drip. He can’t tolerate drippage during the process. He focuses on moaning, and looking at John with adoration to keep himself from thinking how vile the process is. This is the organ John uses to urinate after all.

John’s fingers spray against Sherlock’s skull tracing delightful patters in it that make Sherlock feel as if he is full of warm air. He focuses on the sensation so much that he forgets to moan around John’s cock, but his partner doesn’t seem to mind. The edges of his eyes crinkle into smiles as he looks down with fondness at Sherlock turning his head into the motion of John’s hands.

“God, you’re beautiful,” John whispers.

John warns him before he comes, and Sherlock swallows him down, all the better to sell the over eager idea with. Besides, new research shows that swallowing semen is far less likely to cause throat cancer than originally thought.
John collapses sideways onto the couch breathing heavy. “Jesus, that was not what I expected,” he pants.

“What did you expect?” Sherlock asks.

“I dunno, more timid I guess. A bit more reserved.”

“I’m not a fainting maiden,” Sherlock says with disgust.

“Never crossed my mind,” John says, holding out his hand to Sherlock. Sherlock doesn’t delay for even a moment from falling onto his lover. John chuckles. “I’m going to return the favor. Just give me a second.”

“You don’t have to,” Sherlock says quickly, worried that his acting might not quite be as skilled when he is in the reverse position.

John chuckles “Trust me when I say it will be my pleasure.”

They are breathing in unison, and Sherlock never wants it to stop. Before too long John slides away from him (causing all sorts of lovely fiction). He slowly deprives Sherlock of his trousers and pants. Then he leans forward, and bestows the lightest of all kisses on the very tip of Sherlock’s penis.

“You are perfect,” John says, looking up at him.

Sherlock squirms, trying to makes sense of what’s happening to his internal organs.

John’s blow jobs are like his kissing. Sherlock’s cock is being claimed by his tongue, by his lips, in the same way that John had claimed his mouth not long ago.

Sherlock has always thought that slavery was wrong, but he finds himself remarkably okay with belonging to another human being as long as it’s John Watson.

“Amazing,” John says, bobbing away from Sherlock before bobbing closer to him again. John rests a hand on his thigh, more like a hug than a sex act, and it causes Sherlock’s stomach to do a double flip.

Sherlock remembers how much he liked John’s fingers on his scalp and puts his fingers in John’s. John says something without removing his mouth, and it takes Sherlock a moment to deduce the words by the form of his lips.

“Fantastic.”

Sherlock only remembers that he meant to moan when he moans completely by accident.

“Beautiful,” John says against Sherlock, and Sherlock feels something start in his toes then run up and down his spine. There is something he’s supposed to do, but he can’t remember what it is.

John pulls off of him. “Come for me, gorgeous,” he whispers, his breathy words still falling on Sherlock.
This is not the sound he’d intended to make. Sherlock’s mind searches for an analogy of the sound he’s making.
Howler monkey. He’s pretty sure that’s the closest analog for his screech.

“It’s okay, Sherlock,” John comforts, moving up the couch to hold him. John is distressed about something, and Sherlock thinks it is about the howler monkey noise. Then he realizes that he’s crying.

He stands up, shaking John off him, and runs into his bedroom. He leans against the door trying to calm down his emotions and his body.

He hears John breathing on the other side of the door, and he expects the other man to burst into his room and demand explanations. Or end what is between them before it ever really has a chance to begin.

“Sherlock, I’m going to bed unless you can tell me something I can do to make it better.”

Sherlock trusts neither his voice nor his brain, so he remains silent, and John walks away.

Sherlock feels empty as he hears John mount the stairs.

-0-

Sherlock stands at the entrance to John’s room reading hope in John’s face. “Cuddling is my favorite part of a sexual relationship, but I do not want to talk about what happened earlier.”

Without a word John lifts up his blanket inviting him in. Sherlock lets out a breath he didn’t even know he was holding. He curls his head into John’s chest, and molds the rest of his body into John’s in a way that makes him a contortionist.

John wraps his arms around Sherlock’s back and kisses the place where Sherlock’s curls begin. Sherlock is pretty sure that he’s never been this happy. He almost tells John that, but saves himself just in time. He’s pretty sure it would have been a disaster.

-0-

John cannot believe that he is waking up next to Sherlock Holmes. He grins at him, still asleep, and works hard not to move so that he won’t risk waking up the man beside him.

“Stop staring,” Sherlock whispers.

“Sorry,” John says with a chuckle. “You’re so amazing.”

Sherlock opens his eyes and looks at him in awe. “You really believe that?”

“Of course,” John says.

“How on Earth did I manage to find the most deluded man in the world? The only one who looks at me and sees...”
“The most amazing man in the world?” John finishes.

“A human,” Sherlock answers.

John’s face turns to pity for the first time during their relationship. “What did I do wrong last night?”

“Nothing,” Sherlock says his face going instantly blank. “We’ve got to go pick up Rosie.”

John sighs looking at the clock. “You’re right, but that doesn’t make this discussion go away. It’s just delaying it.”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it,” Sherlock reminds him.

“Okay, but we’re not doing anything physical until we have,” John says.

Sherlock turns to him with a scoff. He is Three-Continents-Watson, and his threat of withholding sex is not going to last long.

Chapter Text

2015, February

Greg is not used to waking up in a cold bed. He reaches one arm over to the other side of the bed, searching for his husband to no avail. Mycroft is a bear in the morning, rarely getting out of bed without prompting from Greg (or the eighth ring of an alarm clock, something Greg had put an end to early in their relationship).

A glance at the clock reveals that it’s five o'clock in the morning, and now Greg is really worried. The only reason Mycroft would be up that early is if he is sick. Greg checks the bathroom, and when he finds it empty he worries that one of the children might be sick. He is surprised when a check reveals all three girls to be sleeping soundly. He pads into the guest bedroom, the one he himself slept in during those early nights when Greg was sure that Mycroft would never accept anything more from him than friendship. It's the same room that Sherlock stayed in during his detox all those years ago.

Mycroft is putting together a crib on the floor.

“Did you sleep at all?” Greg asks, amazed by how much the room looks like a nursery already despite the fact that there is still a queen-sized bed in the middle of the room.

“Greg!” Mycroft exclaims. “Look at them.” He nods toward the tablet laying on the bed.

“Please tell me that you have not already committed to some children,” Greg says with a bit of alarm.

His partner turns to him with far more alarm in his face. “You’re regretting it already? You don’t want to have kids with me?”

Greg sighs, and moves in to kiss his lover. “No, I just don’t think we ought to rush out and do this today. We should at least find out how the girls feel about the whole idea.”

“Oh!” Mycroft says. “Mia is already on board, and Anna is so good with Rosie I don’t think she’ll mind.”

“You’re probably right about Mia, but I think we should have a talk before we dive in. Being happy when your cousin comes over once in a while is a far cry from actually having siblings every single day.”

“Okay, we’ll ask them,” Mycroft says.

“You’re going to get sleep before we acquire children too. Especially if it’s a new baby. You’ll be sleep deprived soon enough. We don’t want to start the process extra early.”

“A day or two more or less of being well rested won’t matter. It’s going to be years of not having the rest,” Mycroft says, taking the tablet up himself since Greg’s been ignoring it. “Look at this and tell me if these are our children.”
Greg feels a strange flutter at the words, like he did the first time his wife told him that he was going to be a father, the baby that wasn’t, the one before Anna. He has a strange urge to take out his hand, and put it on Mycroft’s belly, because if feels like the new life is all coming from that direction. Instead he takes the tablet from Mycroft’s hand, and looks at the faces on the screen.

It’s not what he expected really. There is a girl older than Anna, perhaps about ten. Her short blond hair is all matted together as if its never known a brush. Her arms are crossed, and her chin is jutted out toward the camera, but you would not have needed the body language to know that she’s not happy with the entire picture taking process. Her eyes are full of such fury that Greg is sure she’s a Gorgon, capable of ending the life of a man who displeases her with a single thought.

“Wow,” he breathes, more than a little afraid of the child.

“I know. They’re perfect right?” Mycroft asks.

That’s when Greg remembers there are supposed to be two figures in the picture. He sees the little baby in the older child’s arms, or at least catches a glimpse of the top of its head. She’s holding the baby so protectively that you can’t really determine anything about his beauty, but you can see that he is fiercely loved by his sister, and that’s something.

“Mycroft,” Greg says, wanting to broach the subjected delicately, in a way where his husband won’t run skidding away from what might just be the best adventure of both of their lives. “You didn’t miss the anger right? You understand that this one is not going to be easy to parent.”

“Easy to parent?” Mycroft says in confusion. “Is that the goal?” He takes up the tablet and begins to quickly flip through pictures of other children with a scowl on his face. If he’d been the tongue-in-teeth kind of guy, it would have been poking out. As it is, Mycroft settles for flicking each picture up like you’d flick a cat away from a plate of food.

“Not at all. I just wanted you to understand-” Greg stops, realizing how ridiculous it is to describe body language to a man as versed in observation as Mycroft Holmes.

“That she’s angry and she’s got a good reason? That she doesn’t want anyone to love her, and if she doesn’t get someone very stubborn in her life very soon she’ll be lost forever?”

Greg nods, his heart swelling at his partner’s big heart. “What are we going to do about a room for...”
“Fiona,” Mycroft says. “I’ve already converted my exercise room to a room for her. We could go meet them today? I was waiting for you before I sent a message suggesting it. This room is for her brother Matthew.”

“I think tomorrow would be a wiser plan,” Greg says. “We can have a nice sit down with the children today. You can catch up on some sleep, and it will give Fiona a chance to adjust to the fact that other people might be entering her life.”

“It will give her time to plan a way to make us not want her. A waste of her energy, really, because we won’t be frightened off by her behavior. Best we meet her today. Don’t worry, I have no plans on taking them home today.”

“We’ll talk to the girls over breakfast, and see how they feel about us adding to our family before we make any plans.” Greg makes the proposal which is accepted by his partner.

-0-

Mia stops as soon as she enters the kitchen. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Greg says.

“Bacon always means there is something that you don’t want to tell me,” she says.

“Well, we do have some news. News which we think is very, very good, but we aren’t at all sure if you’ll agree with us,” Mycroft admits. “We’re thinking of adopting.”

“A puppy like Rosie’s?” Mia says, clapping her hand together.

“A baby like Rosie,” Anna corrects her sister while wearing a very serious look.

“Yes,” Greg nods. “Actually we were thinking of adopting two children. A baby and his big sister. She’s even older than Anna.”

Mia grabs onto her sister’s hand in excitement. “You’ll be a little sister, and I’ll be a big sister!” Not two weeks ago Mia had been in tears after ending a fight with, “Just wait until I’m the big sister!” and being informed that she would never be.

“You’re not going to be MY big sister,” Anna informs her.

Mycroft looks at Anna critically. “What do you think about this?”

“They’ll be your children won’t they?” she asks softly.

“Oh, honey,” Mycroft says putting a hand on her check. “Adding more children to this family is not going to take anything away from you. You will be no less my child if we got a dozen more children, though really we’ll never go that far.”

She looks down. “But they’ll be really yours.”

“Oh, honey, you and I are as real as they come. I haven’t been in your life the whole time, but I won’t have been in Fiona’s life the whole time either. It's true that I’ll be there for a greater percentage of Mattie’s life, but I will always have known you longer, puella meus.”

She smiles at him, and nods.

Just then John and Sherlock came into the house. Mycroft stands. “How would you feel about returning the favor of child care for a few hours today?”

“That would be fine,” Sherlock says. “We’ll probably go to the park, don’t you think?” he asks the girls.

“I liked Rosie so much that Daddy and Mycroft are going to get me my own baby!” Mia says, bouncing toward Sherlock.

“Really?” he says with a laugh. Then he catches his brother’s eye and says more seriously, “Really?”

Mycroft grins. “Gregory, and I are going to adopt two children.”

“Congratulations,” John says. “Twins?”

“Siblings,” Greg corrects. “A baby, and...” his brows furrow. “How old is Fiona?”

“Ten,” his spouse confirms. “We’re just going to meet them today.”

-0-

The foster mother smiles at the couple as they arrive. “It won’t be hard to bond with this one, but his big sister is upstairs. She’s informed me that she won’t be coming down.”

Greg starts to take the baby, but pauses, wanting to give Mycroft the first try. Mycroft shakes his head and Greg receives the infant. Mycroft hovers over the child for a minute, kissing the baby’s head before going up the stairs.
“He’s a brave one, isn’t he?” the foster mother says, looking after him.

Mycroft deduces the room of the little girl based on the wear of the carpet in the hallway. He knocks, and when there is no answer he pushes the door open. The window is open, and Mycroft looks out to see a large tree with a girl swinging from a branch by her knees some eight feet off the ground.

It’s not the first time that he’s been in a tree, although it wasn’t a part of his own childhood. It was a big part of Sherlock’s though, and Mycroft had more experience with it than then he’d really wanted to. It’s been years though. He sits down on the branch and scoots closer to her.

She stares at him bemused.

“You don’t think this branch will hold an old fat man like me do you?” he asks.

She chuckles, but covers her mouth trying to hide it.

“Don’t worry. This tree is strong. I can see strength from a mile away.” He makes it clear that he is also talking about her.

“I came out here to be alone,” she says pointedly.

“I can see why. It’s a lovely place to be alone, assuming you have to be. Alone can be boring, and the tree would help a bit with that.”

“Alone can be safe.”

“Yes, of course, but safe is boring. Not exactly the kind of thing people who hang upside down off trees eight feet in the air would be interested in.”

She giggles again, and when she’s done holding her hand over her mouth she pulls herself up so she’s sitting on the branch. “It’s usually the wife that comes up to look for me, and it’s usually a lot later. Your wife holding the baby?”

“My husband is,” Mycroft says.

Fiona looks shocked, but she smiles grimly. “You’re not going to win me over. I’m not going to go home with you, and they won’t let you have my brother without me.”

“I won’t take your brother without you. I believe that siblings should stay together whenever it is possible. Besides, I think you are the far more interesting member of the family.”

She looks at him confused.

“I’ve got a little brother, seven years younger, myself,” Mycroft says. “I understand that you need to protect your brother. I want to help you do that.”

“You don’t want me,” she says.

“You aren’t used to people wanting you, but we do. My husband, and my daughters and I.”

“You’ve already got kids?” she says in surprise.

“Mmm,” Mycroft agrees. “Anna is almost eight, and Mia has just turned four years old.”

“Adopted?”

“They are from my husband’s first marriage,” Mycroft says. Then he decides to be more honest, “Well, Mia isn’t his genetic child, but she doesn’t know that.”

“Doesn’t it bother you that they aren’t yours?”

“They are mine. They are my children because I choose them. My brother, he’s my flesh and blood, but that isn’t why he’s my family. He’s my family because of all the hours we’ve spent together.”

“I’m not going to climb down from the tree and put on a pretty dress,” she warns.

“Good,” Mycroft says. “I wouldn’t want you to stop something that you’re good at.”

“You’re not scared up here?”

Mycroft looks away from her for a moment, out to the big wide world beyond the tree. “Honey, this is nowhere near the scariest thing that I have ever done.”

“You might rip your suit.”

“I have other suits.”

-0-

“Hey, you guys disappeared for a while,” Greg says, smiling at the little girl with eagerness from the couch where he’s perched with Mattie.

“Fiona was teaching me the fine art of tree climbing,” Mycroft explains, taking the baby.

“If you tilt him upside down a bit he giggles,” Greg informs him.

Fiona fidgets.

“You watch football matches?” Greg asks.

Fiona shakes his head.

“You don’t really seem like the tea party kind of girl. What do you like to do?”

“I build things,” she whispers.

“Really? My girls are really into building blanket forts. That your sort of thing?”

“Legos,” she whispers.

“Yeah? Want to show me?” Greg asks.

She looks confused. “You’ve been here over an hour. You’re not leaving?”

“We’ve got time, don’t we?” Greg asks Mycroft.

“Of course. Maybe I’ll get to feed this little one.”

Chapter Text

2015, February

Mia runs down the steps of Baker’s Street. “Where is my baby?” she asks confused at Mycroft and Greg’s empty hands.

“We’re speeding up the process a lot more than we would for most people,” Mycroft says. “But that doesn’t mean that we get to take them home today.”

“Yes. Even though Mycroft didn’t sleep all night we’re not ready to add two children to our family.”

“I do have most of it arranged, but we need to figure out a nanny.”

“Daycare,” Greg adds.

“Two children too young for school, and another who only goes part of the day. It would make much more sense to have a care giver. The staff to child ratio would be much better.”
“All right then.”

Mycroft pulls out his phone and presses a button, “My family leave just began."

-0-

“Well, Rosie is down,” John says, descending the stairs with baby monitor in hand.

“Stupid phrase. It sounds like you’re putting a dog to death,” Sherlock mutters.

John puts the kettle on and fusses with the tea cups, then turns toward Sherlock. “Was your husband abusive?”

“What?” Sherlock says, taking a step back in shock. “Your deduction skills are very poor John. You should probably give up.”

“That reaction last night after...”

Sherlock closes his eyes. “No, John,. Jamie never abused me in any way.”

John nods doubtfully. “Was last night the first time you’d had sex since your marriage?”

Sherlock nods.

“Okay, well this is a big thing so a big reaction is normal. We really should have taken things slow. We’ll go back, and take thing slow now.”

“I don’t want to take things slow,” Sherlock says. “That was the whole point.” He sighs, knowing he can’t avoid the conversation. “I didn’t want to repeat the problems in my previous relationship. Jamie worried I didn’t like sex enough, so I wanted to show you I liked it.”

“You are making it really hard not to hate your ex-husband,” John says.

Sherlock closes his eyes and starts again. “It was me, John. I was...am...asexual. I don’t know? When I was with Jamie I thought that the way I felt about him was a fluke. Now don’t know if that would still describes me. Especially...last night it was so different,” Sherlock says looking down. “Better.”

“You cried,” John reminds him.

“It was...unexpected,” Sherlock says blushing. “Good unexpected though. I never...orgasmed before.”

John raises his eyebrows. “That was your first ejaculation? Sherlock, this is a medical issue that needs to be addressed.”

“Not first ejaculation,” Sherlock says in frustration. “First orgasm. Ejaculation for me has always been a release of muscle tension. A way to sleep better and feel close to my partner. It’s not been like, like that before.”

John steps forward placing a hand on his cheek, and Sherlock looks at his face, which is stretched into a cocky smile.

“I don’t know why it happened. I loved Jamie. It should have happened with him.”

“Okay,” John says taking a step back, and dropping his hand.

“I don’t know if it is going to happen again, so don’t count on it. I wanted to have sex right away, and I planned on faking my enthusiasm. Then you’d just think I was normal.”

“I don’t know anything about asexualilty, but I’m pretty sure that’s a kind of normal.”

Sherlock smiles.

“We don’t have to have sex,” John says.

Sherlock snorts. “You are highly sexual. I’m not even sure you can be satisfied by an exclusively male relationship. The longest you’ve been without partner sex is seven weeks, and you were quite crabby near the end.”

“I don’t need sex, Sherlock.”

“I liked our relationship even before...that amazing thing that happened last night,” Sherlock says, ignoring the reappearance of John’s cocky smile. “I like the way the other person loses control, and gets so happy. I like how close you feel to someone when they are inside you, around you, holding you. Jamie felt like he was taking advantage of me every time. He wasn’t. When I don’t want sex, I say no. Being asexual doesn’t make me incapable of consent. Being asexual doesn’t make me innocent or childlike.”

“Okay. I don’t know anything about this, and I want to research, but I believe you. I trust you to know what you want.”

Sherlock smiles. “I want to kiss you.”

John walks closer to Sherlock, ignoring an ill-timed click of the kettle. He stands on his tip-toes, and presses his lips to Sherlock’s. Sherlock opens his mouth, and leans his head back. John tries to hold back, but it only lasts a couple of seconds before he takes control. The kiss ends with both of them panting against the counter.
John chuckles. “You are bloody fantastic.”

“I like your compliments,” Sherlock breaths, collapsing into his neck.

“Yeah?” John says. “Let’s get ready for bed eh?”

Sherlock scratches his neck. “Maybe not today. I...haven’t figured out what last night meant.”

“Okay, I wasn’t assuming, but do you want to be in separate beds or the same one? No wrong answers,” John asks.

“Same,” Sherlock says.

“I love that you are a cuddler,” John says, giving him another hug.

-0-

“Honey, you need to get some sleep,” Greg says, wrapping his arms around his husband as he types in the dining room.

“I can’t sleep,” Mycroft says. “This house feels empty.”

Greg sighs. “Come to bed now. We’ll put in the paperwork to bring our babies home in the morning.”

Mycroft brightens. “I could send an email right now.”

“All right, you nutter, but make it quick,” Greg says.

Mycroft quickly types the e-mail before jumping up and kissing his lover. “I might need a bit of help sleeping.”

“Oh?” Greg teases.

“I’ve heard orgasms are good for the job,” Mycroft says.

“I think I might just be up to the task.”

-0-

It isn’t the first time that John’s woken up to a nightmare when someone else was in bed with him, but it is the first time that the someone else has actually noticed what’s going on. All of the girlfriends that John has had since the war, and even his wife, have slept through his nightmares. Sherlock, however, wakes up at the first slight tensing of his body. Sherlock pulls him close to himself, and John relaxes against him, almost against his will.

“You’re safe, John,” Sherlock whispers. “I’d never let anything bad happen to you.” John believes him, because after all, Sherlock died for John once. John relaxes against him, and Sherlock kisses the top of his head.

“Sherlock,” John says. “I don’t really know anything about your orientation. Hell, I barely understand my own. But I’m mostly straight. Almost everyone that I develop feelings for is a woman, and once in a great while there is a man. Perhaps you’re the same way only with asexuality. You are mostly asexual, and once in a great while you get feelings for someone.”

Something comes uncorked in Sherlock’s mind palace. He half-remembers reading it on some blog he’d frantically searched in the middle of his marriage when he’d been desperate to know that he wasn’t the only person like himself in the world. He reaches over John to grab his phone from the nightstand beyond him and quickly finds the word. “Demisexual,” he announces. “It’s on the asexuality spectrum. It’s when you rarely feel attraction for anyone, but occasionally develop feelings for someone you already have a deep emotional connection with.”

“Oh, that is so sweet!” John says.

Sherlock crinkles his nose at that. “My sexual orientation isn’t sweet John. It just is.”

“Right, sorry,” John says. Sherlock snuggles his head into John’s chest again. “Don’t take this as me pressuring you,” John says. “But if you want to see if orgasms are going to be a regular thing with you I think I have something you’d really enjoy.”

“Okay,” Sherlock says.

“Turn over on your other side,” John instructs. Sherlock obeys turning his back to John. John spoons him filling all of his craters with mountains, and vice versa. John snuggles his chin into Sherlock’s neck. “Perfect,” he whispers before reaching around and grabbing Sherlock’s member, freeing him from his pajamas. Sherlock has never been held while being stroked before, and he decides instantly that it is a sensation he rather enjoys. John lets a constant flow of praises fall into Sherlock’s ear as he pumps him into completion.

The sound that comes out of Sherlock as he finishes is closer to a howl than a scream of pleasure, and that causes John to laugh a bit.

“It’s not funny,” Sherlock pouts.

“How did we do?” John asks.

“It was bloody fantastic,” Sherlock says, turning so that he can nuzzle himself back into John’s chest.

The two of them lay in silence for so long that John has almost gone back to sleep when he suddenly feels Sherlock pull away enough so that his words can be heard. “You don’t need to be so cocky about the fact that you are the only person who has ever made me come. I’m pretty sure that it’s just because of how much I love you.”

“I love you, too, Sherlock,” John says, giving him a kiss on his forehead.

Chapter Text

2015, February

“I’m not getting in that!” Fiona says in horror, bulking at the town car that Greg has already climbed into with her brother’s car seat.

“How exactly do you plan on getting home then?” Mycroft asks.

“I’m not going home,” the girl says pointedly. “I’m going to your house, and if that is the way you travel around, I’m not going to be going at all,” she says crossing her arms.

“Well, all right then. I guess we’ll be taking the subway,” Greg says, climbing back out of the car.

“You’re going to let a ten-year old boss you around?” Mycroft asks.

“Please. You are regularly bossed around by small children, and I’m pretty sure that has been true ever since your little brother entered the world. Besides, it’s not like wanting to take public transportation is a bad thing. It’s good for the environment, and I’m pretty sure that you will be all the better for being in amongst the people a bit more.” Greg sets down the car seat temporarily and pretends to straighten Mycroft’s tie in preparation for the harrowing journey even though it is already perfectly adjusted.

“I once saw a man urinate on the subway,” Mycroft whispers to Greg in horror.

“Just once? You really don’t ride it that often do you?” Greg replies. “You’re welcome to take the car if you want, but the kids and I are taking the metro.”

Mycroft sighs, and extends his hand to take the diaper bag away from his partner who is picking the baby’s car seat back up.

“Your daughters are going to be at your house when we get home?” Fiona asks.

“Yep. The cook agreed to watch them for the time it takes to come get you. It will probably be a bit longer than we planned since we are going on a much slower form of transportation,” Mycroft says pointedly.

“Oh, they’ll be fine,” his husband says dismissively, now dusting down Mycroft’s shoulders and back with one hand.

Mycroft turns to glare at Greg, who only smiles, and contemplates Fiona. “I’d considered sending you to a nice local public school when the fall term begins, but something about this conversation tells me it might not exactly be a welcome offer.”

“I’d rather keep going to my school,” the girl says.

Mycroft crinkles his nose. “I’ll have to research its record. If it’s high quality we’ll continue. If not, we’ll find something equally democratic for you to attend.”

“I’m not going to be posh just because you are,” the girl declares, lifting her chin up in the air.

“That all right,” Greg says. “He tried to convert me as well, and failed.”

Mycroft shoots his husband another glare, this one more fiery than the last. “I just wanted you to take a bit more care in your appearance. I don’t understand why you are still upset by it.

“I think you look just fine,” the girl says grinning at Greg.

“Thank you,” Greg says with a cocky smile.

2015, March

John stares as Sherlock enters the flat, his arms weighted down with bags of food for the second time in a single week. “You’ve done the shopping again?” he says in surprise.

“Obviously,” Sherlock says, opening the fridge to shove the spoils of his trip in between a glass of pickles and part of a plastic-wrapped sandwich. John notices, not for the first time that the fridge is curiously devoid of body parts and other sorts of experiments.

“You must have a good case on,” he says.

“No, not really,” Sherlock corrects.

“The flat has been a bit dull lately. Usually a lack of hazardous waste means you have something more interesting to distract that brilliant mind of yours.”

“I only take the dull cases now, the safe ones,” Sherlock says with a tone which implies he is a bit put out by John suggesting anything different.

John looks at him using every power of deduction that he has. Then he realizes. “Oh Sherlock,” he says standing up, and placing a kiss on his forehead.

“What?” Sherlock asks, offended.

“Don’t you dare go about changing yourself for me, not one teeny tiny bit! I fell in love with Sherlock Bloody Holmes and if I am given anything less than that I am going to protest. There is no change that you could make to yourself that could possibly make me love you more than I already do.”

“Please, John,” Sherlock says looking embarrassed. “I was just trying to be a responsible adult and make the flat a safe place for a child to stay. And get some food like you are always telling me to.”

“Right,” John says. “I don’t mind the lack of hazardous materials around the toddler. I just need you to fell free inside of our relationship.”

-0-

“What?” John says, putting down the paper to look back at Sherlock as he stares at him. Canis takes the opportunity to leap up on John’s lap, and John obediently pets him.

“I don’t understand why you love me,” Sherlock says.

“Oi, fishing for compliments then, are we?” John says.”

Sherlock ponders. “An analysis of the compliments that you have already given me leads to conflicting results. You have complimented both my face and my penis. Empirically speaking, my penis is asymmetrical and my face is symmetrical. It does not make sense that you would like both of them.”

“Nutter,” John mutters after glancing at his daughter, and being relatively reassured that she isn’t listening and is also still too young to understand. “I like your leany cock because of its bend, and your face because of your outrageously high and symmetrical cheekbones. But what I really like about you is what’s underneath that pretty face.”

“My skull?” Sherlock asks.

“No, that madly brilliant brain of yours. I love how it can deduce a life story in the time it takes most people to breath. I like how you are conceded...”

“But you tell me not to be conceded,” Sherlock objects.

“Yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that I like it when you are,” John tells him. “I really love this utterly detached compassion you have for people who come to you for help. The sort of distance that soldiers and doctors are trained for, but never actually achieve. When I first met you, I thought that you don’t care, but you do, and not caring is how you care best.”

“You shouldn’t love my flaws, John. You are a good person, and I am a sociopath.”

“No, you are not. I checked the DMI. There is no way that you’d qualify. Besides, it is much too late to warn me off, because I am already in love with you.”

Sherlock stands up and walks over and sits himself down on John’s lap, much to the dog’s distress, but the dog moves over when Sherlock gives him a pet by way of sympathy. Rosie on the floor pulls herself up and toddles over to them, feeling left out.

“Rosie! You walked! Amazing!” John says, spilling Sherlock and the dog off of his lap in order to bend down on the floor, and open his arms to her.

-0-

“John, my parents have requested that I go to the cottage this weekend, and I would like you to come with me, but I completely understand if you do not want to.”

“I’d love to go,” John says.

“Mycroft and his family will be there as well,” Sherlock says. He fidgets a little before he finally asks, “Are we going to tell them about our romantic relationship?”

“I don’t see why not,” John says. “You’re nervous about this. You don’t think they’re going to like that we’re together? Is there something I can do that will make them like me better?”

“Oh, they’ll love you. They’ll be relieved that I’m with someone. They were when I was with Jamie. It’s only...”
John gently places a hand on Sherlock’s arm.

“You told me that I am not a sociopath, but a psychologist told me that I was when I was fourteen. I dissected a cat, and tried to hide it with a fire.”

“Oh,” John says. “That must have been scary for your parents considering what happened with you sister.”

“I know that now, but all I knew then was that I made my mom cry. It made me feel like a freak. Like I was broken.”

“You are perfect,” John repeats the words as he has so many times now. As if he knows Sherlock forgets and needed to be reminded sometimes that it is okay to be Sherlock.

“You are the only person that believes that, and I’m a little afraid that if you spend enough time around my parents you aren’t going to think that anymore.”

“Nothing is ever going to change how I see you.”

“I’m also worried that if my parents knew everything about me it would change how they see me.”

“What don’t they know?” John asks.

“I’ve committed murder.”

“They would understand if they knew the whole story.”

“I’m a freak.”

“You are not.”

“That’s how most people would view my asexuality or demisexuality,” Sherlock says.

“Sherlock, that is a normal part of sexuality. It doesn’t make you strange at all.”

-0-

“Sherlock, are you quite alright?” Mummy asks softly as she hands her distracted son a cup of tea.

“Mummy, do you remember the day that you first found out that I was a sociopath?”

“I do wish you would stop calling yourself that,” she replies. “You were too young to be diagnosed.”

“You cried that day,” Sherlock continues.

“I was scared for you Sherlock.”

“You were afraid that I was going to turn out like my sister.”

“You were a sensitive child. I was concerned that people would not understand you, and I wasn’t sure you’d be able to deal with it.”

“You were afraid that I was going to become a murder,” Sherlock accuses.

“Now, Sherlock, I never said that.”

“I am a murder though,” Sherlock says, suddenly deciding that he will not live the rest of his life with fear of rejection. If his parents are going to reject him he’d rather have it over and done with.

“It wasn’t murder!” John protests.

Mrs. Holmes waves her hand at John dismissively. “Sherlock, I know you well enough to know that if you killed someone there was a reason for it.”

“You can’t know that, Mummy. I have a sister who kills for fun, and a brother who kills for his job. I used drugs. What on Earth would make you trust my moral judgment?”

His mother pulls him in for a hug. “Oh baby, you can go on telling me everything you’ve ever done wrong for as long as you want, and it’s not going to change the fact that you are my son, and I love you.”

He moves over on the couch to hug her back, and she holds him.

“John and I are dating,” he says.

She pops away from him. “Rosie is our official granddaughter?” she says in excitement, dropping Sherlock and scooping the child off the floor.

“I said I was dating John. I didn’t say that I was marrying him!” Sherlock protests.

“Hey, Rosie girl, can you give Grandmummy a kiss?” Mummy asks, ignoring her son.

Rosie obliges with a smack on her cheek.

“Aren’t you precious?” Mummy exclaims.

“Mummy, you can’t just claim her as your granddaughter. She already has grandparents...”

John puts a hand on his partner’s wrist. “Sherlock, it’s fine. Rosie can do with as many people who’ll love her as she can get.”

“Mummy, I’ll have you know that I am not getting married anytime soon.”

“Dear, you’ve been living with John for years now. I don’t suppose a marriage is really required,” Mummy replies.
Sherlock sighs. “We’ve not been together for most of that time! Listen. I want to tell you about my sexual orientation.”

“Did you delete the memory of coming out to us?” his father asks with real concern. His father was always more alarmed by him deleting important life events than he was by the symptoms of his supposed sociopathy.

“No, this is different. I used to think that I was asexual, but now I believe I have a better term to describe me, which would be demisexuality. I only extremely rarely have romantic or sexual feelings for other people. Only twice, in fact, and both times with someone I had already formed a deep bond with.”

“Dear, we don’t fall for the stereotype that all gay men sleep around. There is no need to convince us that you haven’t been with very many people.”

“It’s more than that, Mummy. Most people who are not with a bunch of people still feel attraction for people. They still think that person would be nice to date or that one has a lovely body. I don’t have feelings like that for anyone. Not until the point where they are already my best friend.”

“You poor thing. All this time I thought you weren’t with someone because losing Jamie was too much for you. Now you are telling me that all along it was because you couldn’t be?” his mother asks sadly.

“You’re still not understanding. I wasn’t with anyone because I didn’t want to be,” Sherlock says. “Being single doesn’t mean the same thing to an asexual as it does to everyone else. I didn’t miss the romantic relationship like most people would have. I was happy. I would have told you then, but I didn’t think it mattered. I thought I had to be happy the way that you wanted me to be happy for it to work. I don’t want you to be disappointed in me anymore. Not ever again.”

“Honey, we were never disappointed in you.”

“You cried,” Sherlock reminds her.

“That was never because I was disappointed in you. That was because I was worried about the big bad world hurting my son,” she says, flicking the tears away from her face.

“You’re crying right now!” Sherlock exclaims in distress.

“That’s only because I hurt my son,” she replies, hugging him again with the small child sandwiched between them. “I have always been proud of you, Sherlock, and there is nothing you could do that would ever disappoint me!”

Sherlock’s father stands from his chair, and moves to pull his son off the couch. “I have never cried over you son because I never doubted, not even for a single moment, that you were going to make your way in the world. If the world did not accept you the way that you were than you were just going to go about changing it. I knew you were determined from the moment that you were born.”

The two of them share a hug.

Chapter Text

2015, February

“John, I want you to anally penetrate me tonight. I have cleaned myself out in preparation for the event,” Sherlock says rather formally.

John chuckles, and Sherlock feels like he should be offended that his lover always laughs at the frankness of their conversations, but Sherlock finds it delightful instead.

“I’m a bit versatile when it comes to sexual roles. Do you always like to bottom?” John asks.

Sherlock crinkles his nose. “That’s a vulgar reference. I don’t like it. I also don’t actually like to be on the bottom most of the time during sex acts, but I do always like the role which is typically called ‘bottoming’.”

“Asking to be anally penetrated is definitely more vulgar than if you had asked me to top you,” John says.

“I mean vulgar in the original sense. Common,” Sherlock specifies.

John starts to unbutton Sherlock’s shirt, but Sherlock bats his hand away. “Undressing people is not sexy or romantic. That is a lie that television has perpetuated. It is more efficient if we each undress ourselves. After all you are not my valet.”

John chuckles again and obeys, making short work of his own clothing. “You want to do this spooning like the hand job?”

“I want to be able to look you in the face tonight,” Sherlock says. “Besides, I enjoy having weight over me sometimes. It has the same calming effects as a weighted blanket.”

John’s eyes go all soft and full of sentiment in a way that Sherlock hates. Sentiment, he decides, is next to absolute pity.

Sherlock lays down on the bed, and John helps him wiggle two pillows under his hips.

“Shoot, I’m going to have to go up to my room to get supplies,” John says.

“You will find personal lubricant in the drawer over there.” Sherlock points.

“Okay, but we’re still going to need condoms.”

“No, you won’t. You and Mary tested clean for STDs when you started dating. You’ve been with no one since then, and she didn’t cheat on you. I’ve been tested ridiculously often in my life. A side effect of marrying an HIV positive person and using drugs. Even though I never used a dirty needle, Mycroft insisted each time I injected that I had to take two tests six months apart. Honestly, more than once the reason I didn’t use that day was to avoid the hassle of an over worried brother. Unlike your normal partners, I can’t fall pregnant, and we are in a committed monogamous relationship. Aren’t we?” Sherlock suddenly asks with concern.

“We are,” John says, kissing the worry away with a light kiss to Sherlock’s forehead. “The doctor in me approves of your reasoning.” John reaches over his partner and grabs the lube. It only takes a few minutes for Sherlock to be prepared and more turned on than he ever was when he did this with Jamie.

“I’m good,” Sherlock whispers, figuring that John is waiting for his approval before he begins.

“You don’t like this part?” John asks.

“I do, it’s just...more than necessary,” Sherlock tries to explain.

“I’m enjoying myself, and you’re enjoying yourself, so I think this should just go on until one of those things isn’t true anymore,” John says.

There had always been a bit of physical pain when he and Jamie did it. It was really the only pain that was in his and Jamie’s relationship. Not enough so that Sherlock could realize that he’d enjoyed it a bit more than was proper. There is not enough of anything in sex-not enough pain for him to enjoy, and not enough pleasure to get lost in it.

But Sherlock just closes his eyes, and tries to enjoy what John is doing to him, letting himself get lost in the sensation of a finger against his prostate, and the compliments falling on his ear. John starts to stroke him, and Sherlock doesn't want John to know he’s not quite as into what he’s doing as he imagines. If this suddenly becomes all about him, John will notice for sure, despite his lack of deduction skills.

“I want you inside me right now,” Sherlock says, and even though the words don’t have the ring of truth that he’d tried to put in them John doesn’t seem to notice. He puts extra lube on himself, and positions himself right before the entrance. “You’re sure?” John asks.

“I asked you!” Sherlock says sharply.

Apparently, that is enough and John slides into him. Sherlock tries to play his old trick of focusing on the face of his lover, and thinking about other things, but somehow his brain will not allow him to be distracted this time. The sensations building inside of him take all of his focus despite himself. Sherlock can feel John inside of him in a way he never felt his husband, and he stops to ponder why this might be so. John isn’t bigger. He considers the question of whether his current lover has more skill than his former one for a few moments before he dismisses it. While the teenage Jamie certainly was less skilled than John, Jamie, after he’d slept with half of the gay men in London, had certainly had a wider skill set than John.

It must be the strength of the emotional connection then. Sherlock had been avoiding thinking about that for some time because he didn’t want to dishonor his dead husband, but it was really the only solution that made sense. Sherlock loved John more than he’d ever loved Jamie, and that was why every touch of the other man was so intense for him. He wondered if this is what most people felt when they had sex, or if this experience was somehow less or somehow more than what normal people felt.

“What’s going on in that brilliant mind of yours?” John asks with concern, and Sherlock realizes in surprise that the other man had stopped thrusting, and engulfed him in a hug. He wonders how long that has gone on without him noticing.

“I love you,” Sherlock replies.

“I love you, too,” John says, running a hand through his curls. “Now are we done with the sex for tonight, or are we finishing?”

Sherlock knows without a shadow of a doubt that John is not bluffing. If Sherlock declared right this instant that he was bored with sex, John would pull out of him, and never complain even inside of his own mind about Sherlock leaving him aroused. Sherlock’s heart bubbles up with happiness.

“Finishing,” Sherlock says. “I daydream during sex. Don’t let it get to you.”

“Just so long as you’re not dissociating because you don’t like what is happening,” John says, more than a little suspicious.

Sherlock shakes his head, and John begins to move again. Sherlock tries hard to focus on what is going on, to stay in the moment and be the kind of lover John wants. He observes John’s face-half way between the face he makes when he reads a word he does not know, and the pleasure of him taking his first sip of tea. He memorizes the feeling of each finger whenever John moves his hand from the bed beside his head to his shoulder for a minute. Sherlock traces with his eyes the sweat which is moving down the side of John’s face, then neck, then shoulder, then chest. He feels John hitting that spot inside of him. It's too intense, so intense that Sherlock can’t quite process it. He’s not even really sure if it could qualify as pleasure or pain.

He does know that he doesn’t want it to stop. Not ever.

“More,” he moans, and to his surprise he sounds like the porn he tried to imitate without even trying.
John thrusts harder, and deeper, and wraps his hand around Sherlock’s cock, something Sherlock would not have even guessed he wanted. But he does. He throws his head back and lets the intense orgasm hit him.

Sherlock feels John moving after he’s finished, and it gives him an even more intense feeling of something, something too much even more than it did before his orgasm. When John comes inside of him he tries to pull out almost instantly, but Sherlock wraps his legs around his back, and grabs his butt to hold him closer. “Stay, stay inside me forever,” Sherlock pleads.

John chuckles. “Not possible, love. And if we were planning on trying, we should have picked a different position.”
“Please,” Sherlock begs, knowing he’s being irrational, and not really caring, although it would usually drive him mad.

“Honey, it’s been years since you’ve had someone back here. I really don’t want to overstay my welcome and cause you pain.”

Pain, Sherlock thinks. He hadn’t even considered that when he’d made his request. He just wants to be close to John, but it is a nice bonus. “I’ve not had people back there for years, but I have had...things,” Sherlock says, still holding John close.

“Really?” John says, running his hand through Sherlock’s hair. “That’s sexy as hell.”

“I’ve found that it’s the only way I can reach release by myself,” Sherlock explains.

“I’d love to help you out with a toy sometime. If you’re open to it,” John says, repositioning slightly.
Sherlock nods.

“Okay. I’m going to pull out now, but it’s going to be okay because we’re going to cuddle afterword.”

“Just a few more minutes,” Sherlock says, pulling the arms that are supporting John away from him so that he collapses on top of Sherlock.

“All right, love,” John says, unwilling to admit how comfortable he finds his partner’s chest. Sherlock files away the perfect moment in his mind palace.

Chapter Text

2015, February

Mycroft couldn’t subject himself to the horrors of public transportation again, but he did at least allow his daughter the courtesy of parking the town car a few blocks away and walking to her school.

“Oh my God, you’re not even working right now. Why do you have to wear a suit?” she asks.

“I never leave the house unless I’m properly dressed.”

“Properly dressed like a freak,” she mutters.

“If you like, we can go clothes shopping and you may pick out clothing for me that would be less embarrassing for you,” he offers.

“You’re serious?” she asks.

He nods.

“Even if I take you to a thrift store?” she asks.

Mycroft crinkles up his nose, but nods again.

“Okay,” Fiona agrees, thinking she is calling his bluff. “Then we’re going to go to my favorite place. Today.”
She’s absolutely shocked when Mycroft agrees, “Right after school.”

2015, March

“Oh my God, are you okay?” Greg says, rushing over from the couch to greet Mycroft and Fiona the moment he gets home.

“Quite. I know we are a little bit late. I would have called you if I knew it was going to cause such a panic.”

“I’m talking about the mugging!” Greg says, only half teasing.

Fiona giggles, and Mycroft just gaps at his husband.

“You’re wearing jeans with holes in them.” Greg points to them as if he is certain that his husband cannot locate the holes on the garment without his help.

“I am told that distressed jeans are very in,” Mycroft says, plucking at the clothing with a confused face.

“The last time I wore jeans with holes in them you told me I looked like an economically depressed gardener. You also said you wouldn’t be seen in public with me until I changed,” Greg reminds him.

“Fiona will be more comfortable if I picked her up from school looking as if I belonged to a different social class, and since I am not currently working there is no reason not to fulfill her wishes,” Mycroft points out.

“Wow,” Greg says conspiratorially to their daughter. “He really loves you.”

Fiona’s stomach twists strangely at the thought, but she makes a point not to think too much about it.

-0-

“’Diot, hungry,” Rosie says.

“This really is ridiculous, Rosie,” Sherlock says. “I know you’ve had your fun teasing your father, but you really should call him by his proper name.”

“Jaw?” she asks, looking up at Sherlock for approval.

“No, not his name obviously,” Sherlock says rolling his eyes. “You should call him Papa. I know you can say it, and you should be calling me Sherlock anyway. Or ‘lock’ if the whole thing is too much to get your mouth around.”

Rosie shakes her head, with tears springing to her eyes. “Papa?” she asks extending her arms to Sherlock.

“Fine, then call him Dada. He is, after all, really your dad.”

“Dada, hungry,” Rosie says. John has used the time during which Sherlock was distracting her with the discussion so he could warm her up a sippy of milk.

“Good girl, Rosie,” John says, patting her head. “Food will be ready soon. You can go on calling Sherlock Papa though. People can have two daddies.”

Sherlock is too flabbergasted to speak for a bit, but he finally choses to say, “John, we’re much too new for you to be letting your daughter think of me as her parent.”

“She came up with the idea herself,” John says, opening a bag of crackers, and putting it before his daughter on the coffee table. “Besides, we’re not really in a new relationship. We’ve been in a friendship for years. You were already her godfather, and you’ve been parenting her for longer than we’ve been together. Our relationship has changed, but it hasn’t just begun.”

Sherlock grins at the words. He watches the little girl before him eat, and his mind wonders suddenly to all the ways that he has acted like a parent to her since her birth, and it suddenly occurs to him that there is one of those he should probably let John know about.

“If something were to happen to me she’d get my trust fund.”

“What?” John says in alarm. “Talk about too early!”

“This was years ago, before she was born, actually.”

“Oh,” John says in surprise. “You know I can take care of her, right?” John asks. “Financially, I mean.”

“Yes, well it’s not even really about that,” Sherlock says, grasping for a way to explain himself. “It’s about legacy really. It’s a way of claiming that this is a part of me which is going to go on long after I am dead.”

“It’s saying that she’s yours,” John agrees.

“Papa, ‘ungy,” Rosie says, looking at Sherlock pleadingly.

“Daddy just gave you some food,” he says.

She scrunches up her nose. “Biscet?”

Sherlock turns his pleading eyes onto John who sighs. “Two more bites first,” John says.

She takes two giant bites looking at her fathers for approval which they give. John with a pat on her head, and Sherlock by standing to retrieve the promised treat.

2015, July

"I wish you could put a baby in me," Sherlock murmurs during a post-coital cuddle. In shock, John maneuvers the other man by the shoulders so that he can see his face. Sherlock is more than a little bit perplexed by the confusion in John's eyes. "I wasn’t serious, John. It was just a passing orgasmed fueled thought."

"I think we need to have a discussion about kids," John insists. "You want more, clearly?"

"Of course," Sherlock says, as if that thought was self-evident. Which to be fair would have been to someone with his skills of deduction.

"Okay, well, we've been together for a couple of months now, and you haven't exactly mentioned it, so it did come as a bit of a surprise to me."

Sherlock rolls his eyes. "You know how much I love Rosie. You can't be surprised that I would enjoy another child to love as well, can you?"

John smiles at this. "All right, well we clearly can't have a child the way you were talking, but we can have a child that is yours. We'll get a surrogate, and..."

His voice drifts off at the shaking of Sherlock's head. "No. It would not be wise for us to have children that are genetically related to me. All of my siblings are cold-blooded murders. It would not be wise to spread those genes further."

"Mycroft?" John asks in surprise.

"Surely you realize that being a spy is a prerequisite to being the shadow ruler of a government," Sherlock replies dryly.

"I think you have marvelous genes, and I would be honored to raise a child that had them," John replies with a bright smile.

"No," Sherlock says defiantly. "I think we should adopt, but if you are set on the idea of surrogacy I would not be opposed to there being more children with your genes in the world. There is a risk, of course, with that. Alcoholism runs in your family, and there is a chance that your attachment to danger is genetic, although I rather think it isn't."

"I would be very good with adoption. Are we thinking a sick baby like you did last time?" John asks. Even if Sherlock's thoughts had been going in that direction, which they had not, he would have changed course when he heard the tightness in John's voice as he asks the question.

"No, I was thinking older. Did you know that there is a far higher percentage of LGBTQA+ teens in the homeless than in the general population?"

"That sucks," John says seriously. "A teenager, huh? That will be quite an age gap then."

"We could wait a few years," Sherlock offers.

"Or we could just get a child on the younger side," John says with a smile, running his hand through Sherlock's curls. He's always loved them, but he loves them the way they are when they are in bed together far more. They are natural and messy, and this makes it seem more beautiful to him.

"We could have your genetic child as well," Sherlock points out. "The age gap with Rosie would be just about perfect on that one.”

"No I think we should adopt. Two children total, yeah?" John asks, and Sherlock can see how nervous he is about expanding the family beyond those bounds.

So Sherlock agrees. "Perfect."

-0-

When John walks up the stairs with his two-year-old on his hip and sees someone who is definitely not his housemate and lover in the living room, John's first instinct was to run to his and Sherlock's bedroom for a gun. He's glad he suppressed that instinct when he sees that the person in question is a child. He's on the cusp of adolescence to be sure, but he's not yet arrived. His body is long in the way that makes boys of that age completely unsure of what to do with their limbs, especially when at rest. He stands up from the couch when John walks in, and stares at the man before him.

"Is Sherlock in?" John asks, looking around the room, hoping that his partner is going to appear and give him some sort of an explanation.

"No, he went to..." the boy drifts off the middle of his sentence with his cheeks turning red, "He's out."

"All right then. Do you need some tea?" John asks, going to flip the kettle on.

"Sherlock gave me some before he left."

"Right." John uses his deduction powers, weak though they are, to infer that this child is part of Sherlock's homeless network, and as such could do with a meal. "Something to eat, then?" He sets his daughter down and opens the fridge. "We've got veg, or grilled cheese, or peanut butter."

"Grilled cheese," the boy replies instantly, and then says regretfully, "If it's not too much trouble."

"No trouble at all," John assures him, taking out a pan, and placing some butter in to melt. "Do your parents know where you are?"

"Sherlock went to tell them," the boy says, looking at his feet.

"Oh, now, it's going to be all right," John says, and suddenly he finds his arms full of sobbing teenage boy. He switches the stove off with one hand, and takes a quick glance to his daughter's safety (she's playing with the duplo bricks in the corner) before continuing the impromptu hug.

"I'm sorry. I didn't understand what was going on here. Last night Sherlock and I decided we were going to add to our family. I should have remembered how fast he works. I just didn't think of it when I saw you. What is your name sweetie?”

“Theo, you don't want me," the boy sniffs. "Who would?"

John smiles sadly. "We'll work on correcting that way of thinking."

The boy fidgets, still in John’s embrace. "You live with Sherlock?"

"Yes," John says.

"You're friends?"

"Boyfriends," John says.

"You're not married?" the boy asks, looking down.

"No," John smiles. "But it doesn't mean we'll never be. Sherlock was married to a man before."

"It ended badly?" Theo asks.

"He died, sweetie. I was married before as well. To Rosie's mother." He indicates the child on the floor with his head. "She died as well."

"I'm sorry," he mutters.

"Can you tell me about what happened with your parents?" John says seriously.

"I...I should have known better," Theo says quietly. John feels his heart clench. Theo continues. "I knew how they felt about gay people, but I still had to test it...I felt like it might matter if it was me instead of some anonymous person. I came out to them on April Fool's day. I told them that it was a joke, a prank, but they skill kicked me out."

"That wasn't your fault. Any parent who is any good would never kick their kid out just for being themselves. It's going to be okay," John reassures him as he pats the boy’s back.

"You aren't going to want me,” the boy still insists.

"Oh, honey, you've got to know that your sexuality isn't going to be a deal breaker for me."

"That's not the only thing that is wrong with me," the child says, beginning to weep heavily. "I was born wrong."

"No," John says shaking his head.

"You don't know!" he practically shouts. "I have a lesion in my brain."

"Okay."

"I'm broken."

"No," John says with confidence.

Theo stares at him in shock.

"I'm going to finish making you a meal now, eh?" John says. He turns the stove back on and replaces the pan on the heat.

"You don't care about the hole in my brain?" Theo asks while John butters some bread. Theo fetches some cheese out of the fridge, and John acknowledges the gesture with a smile.

"Of course I care. As a doctor I'm going to want to look at your medical history. We'll make sure that we do everything we can to make it better. It's not going to make me stop liking you. Nothing is ever going to make me stop liking you."

Theo smiles as John puts the finished sandwich on the griddle. Delicious, warm, comforting smells waft throughout the room.

"I'm hungry," Theo says, wrapping a protective hand around his midsection.

"Right," John chuckles. "I forgot what it’s like to be a teenage boy." He begins buttering more bread, and Theo cuts more cheese. Then John realizes that age and hormones might not be the reason Theo is ravenous. "When’s the last time you've ate, Theo?"

"Officer Lestrade gave me his lunch when he picked me up," Theo mutters.

"Right," John smiles, making a mental note to thank Lestrade later. "What have you been doing since April?"

"Different things. I stayed with friends sometimes. I did a few days in the shelter, but they started asking questions and I was afraid my parents would be angry if they found out about it. I was sleeping on a park bench when Officer Lestrade got me."

"Theo, do you think your parents are going to be open to you living with us?" John asks.

"I don't know," Theo mumbles, almost incoherently.

"I suppose that’s what Sherlock is figuring out right now, then?" John asks, flipping the grilled cheese with an unnecessary flourish.

"Yeah," Theo mutters. John gives him a quick side hug.

As Theo eats the sandwiches, John shoots a quick text to Sherlock asking him to inform them when he knows anything, and telling him that they are going shopping.

Sherlock replies, "He's perfect isn't he? Mrs. Hudson is cleaning out the attic to make a room for him."

John's reply is a simple: "Well done, honey."

John did not know the definition of gratitude until he saw Theo's reactions to each individual thing they bought together in the store. Underwear, jeans, t-shirts, shoes. Theo painstakingly considers each item, and has to be told again and again that he needn't pick the cheapest item every time. Each little item results in a dozen thank yous and an only slightly formal hug at the very least.

When John suggests a new bedspread the child positively bounces.

John's phone beeps and his heart stops. Theo stares at him wide eyed, and John makes the decision not to show it to him until he'd read the message himself. "Parents obstinate. They are alarmed at the idea of a gay couple raising their son. I'm sending in the British government." John exhales. Mycroft will fix things.

"They won't let me stay with you, will they?" Theo asks, reading his facial expressions.

"Not yet, but we haven't given up on you," John says, trying to give the boy a comforting smile.

"I knew you shouldn't have wasted all of this money on me," the boy pouts.

"Not a waste," John says, lifting the bags in one hand while holding his daughter's hand in the other. "Can you help me hail a cab?"

"What's the point?" Theo almost wails in despair. "I might as well just stay here. My parents are not going to let you take me, and they don't want me back. It's not fair! They never even wanted me. I was an accident!"

"So was I," John states steadily. "So was Rosie. Accidents really do make up the best people, don't they? Cone on now, it's almost time for Rosie's dinner."

Theo's facial expressions are icy, but he hails the cab and the three of them return home.

There are benefits to living and working with Sherlock Holmes for as long as John has. He recognizes the sound of Mycroft's umbrella striking the stairs as he ascends.

“The best we could do was temporary custody, and even that took a great deal of arm twisting,” Mycroft says, twirling the umbrella so that the edge spins and flourishes and somehow enhances his entrance through the narrow doorway.

"I get to stay tonight?" Theo asks with absolute hope in his face.

"Not just tonight," Mycroft says, his face going all soft for the boy. "We just can't promise you forever just yet."

"Kids don't even live with their parents forever," Theo says.

"That's right," Sherlock says. "And we're going to keep on making things more permanent. It helps that you were living on the street before we found you, and that they had chances to get you back after you left. We can provide evidence of that in court if necessary. We'll have to work hard at it you know. Get you back in school, make things stable, and then maybe we can turn this ‘for now’ into ‘forever’.”

"Oh," Theo says, looking crestfallen.

"Oh, come now. School can't be all that bad," John says with false cheer.

"Me going to school isn't exactly going to make you look good. I'm bad at it. They have me in special classes," Theo says.

"Oh, Theo, they aren't looking to see how you act to decide if you are going to stay with us. They are going to be looking at what kind of parents we are. I don't want you to think you're responsible for success in this. If it doesn't work, it will because we failed you, not the other way around."

"I really should be getting home to my own brood," Mycroft says. "I have some papers for you to sign, and I'll leave behind his medical and educational records for you to look at when you find the time."

"Thank you for everything," John says with the true sincerity that he learned from Theo today.

"Not a problem." Mycroft smiles. "I'm actually quite pleased to help my brother add to his family again." He gives Rosie a grin so wide that the girl breaks into giggles looking at him. Then he turns to Theo. "I'm sorry I don't have more time to get to know you right now. But we're family now, so there will be time made before too long."
Later that night, as John gets the child settled down on the laylo in the living room, he offers him a bedtime story.
"No one has ever read me a bedtime story before," the boy says quietly.

"Well, then you are long overdue," John says, settling down with a long book of fairy tales.

"I'm not a little kid," Theo objects.

"Right," John says. “Well, what would you like me to read to you?"

"I want to be a doctor," the boy says, looking longingly at a thick anatomy textbook on the shelf.

"Ah. Then at least we’ll be reading the sorts of things that will put you to sleep," John says, cracking the book open and beginning the chapter on bones.

When Theo falls asleep, John opens up the documents that Mycroft brought over. Theo's medical records read like a list of neglect. There was a brain legion which should have been caught, and was not. There were the autistic-like symptoms which should have been recognized and treated long ago, but which have been ignored until they were combined and grew in on each other into something that was even bigger than what it had been when they started. Things had gotten better once Theo entered school, starting out as a child who rarely talked, and who was frequently prone to tantrums. He ran from school, frequently at the beginning, not caring for or recognizing his own safety. The steadiness of school had helped him a great deal, and over the years Theo had calmed down. When he ran, it was to the corner of the room, and the tantrums happened much less often, and for much less time. He'd been five years behind just three years ago, and now he was between two years behind and in line with his peers, depending on the subjects. Theo’s education had (shockingly, John thought sarcastically) regressed a bit in the few months before he was kicked out of his house.

Sherlock comes out of the bedroom. "If you're going to stay up late reading, can you at least do it with me wrapped around you?"

John chuckles, getting up and walking toward him. "Just trying to prepare for this new bit of parenting."
Sherlock suddenly looks insecure. "You said you wanted a child this morning..."

"Yes," John says. “I’m overjoyed. And this is the right kid, Sherlock. It’s just sudden, and more than a little bit overwhelming.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t plan enough,” Sherlock says.

“It’s okay,” John says, giving him a kiss and walking the rest of the way into the bedroom with Sherlock trailing after him. "We're going to figure this out. We'll have to see about getting him into a school tomorrow."

"He won't be going to school. He hates school."

"Okay, well lots of kids hate school. It doesn't mean they don't have to go."

"They made fun of him there, for being who he is."

"Is this a deduction, honey, or did he tell you this?"

"Both."

"Okay, well, we're going to find somewhere that won't do that. And if people do tease him there is going to be hell to pay. I will personally see to it and that's all there is to that," John says with military decision.

Sherlock smiles. "All right, but not tomorrow. He's just found a new family and he could do with a few days to adjust."

"I suppose one more day won't hurt when he's been on the street for a while. I'm assuming he wasn't getting any schooling then."

"No," Sherlock says. "This school we're sending him too...it won't be boarding will it?"

"God, no. He needs family more than anything else," John says. "We are going to have to get him somewhere real to sleep. He was so excited about the bedding and a few pairs of clothes that I can't imagine what he will do when we get him his room."

"He'll have the attic."

"You have to make it feel like his room, though. Take him to get some paint tomorrow. Let him pick the color. You can paint the room together. We need to get a bed for him too..."

"John, he's going to be with us for a long time. We don't need to figure out everything for him the very first night."

"You're right," John says relaxing back against his lover. “I just want everything to be okay."

Chapter Text

2014, September

John sighs when he sees Sherlock's name on his phone, but answers anyway. "I'm at work. Did you use the flow chart before you called?" John asks, referring to a document he'd created to help Sherlock understand that running out of hydroelectric acid was not an emergency that warranted bothering John at work, but that a knife wound was.
"A child who ran away isn't exactly on this list, but I'm thinking it's an emergency," Sherlock replies.

"Jesus, when? Where?” John says, looking at his patient with apology in his face as he exits the room.

"Theo ran from school," Sherlock replies. "I told you that we never should have sent him to that place."

"Drop Rosie off with Mrs. Hudson. I'll meet you at the school," John says, drastically increasing his pace down the clinic hallway.

"Oh," Sherlock says, clearly startled.

"What?" John asks.

"I'm thinking the school might have waited a bit before they called me considering the fact that he's standing right in front of me."

"Thank God! I'll be home soon," John says.

"No, go ahead, and finish the day," Sherlock says, hanging up the phone abruptly leaving John to stare at the phone in shock.

"I'm sorry," Theo says.

"Well, I'm not happy that you ran from your school, but I'm glad you came home," Sherlock says. "What happened?"
"I'm stupid," the boy says, smacking himself in the head.

Sherlock gently reaches out to take his Theo’s fist in his and keep him from striking himself again. "That's a lie."

"I don't know how to solve the problems!"

"Okay, well, you were out of school for a while. You probably have some catch up work to do, that's true, but that's not the same as being stupid. Stupid is not being able to learn, and I can tell based on your school records that you can learn far better than most people. Not many kids can catch up on things when they start out as far behind as you did."

"Smart kids never would have gotten behind in the first place." Theo's hand breaks away from Sherlock's with a rapid unexpected movement, and he bangs his head hard, several times.

Sherlock grabs his hand again, and pulls him into a hug. Theo sobs in his arms for longer than Sherlock would have thought possible. When the boy finally pulls away Sherlock asks blandly, "Tea?"

"Are you taking me back to the school?" Theo asks.

Sherlock glances at the clock. "There is less than an hour left. By the time we got there there wouldn't be much point. We are going to have to figure out some way to make sure it doesn't happen again. We're probably going to have to get you a math tutor as well. Perhaps John is going to be able to help you, but I'm quite sure that I deleted all of the higher mathematics."

"Deleted?" Theo asks in surprise.

"Yes, there are a lot of unnecessary things in the world, and I simply remove them from my mind."

"You'd be better off if you deleted me," Theo says bitterly.

"Oh no," Sherlock insists. “You are one of the good things. One of the best things in my life! Besides, I couldn't delete you if I tried. I have this mind palace, see, and there are thousands of things in there. When it's just a fact, like how to solve a two-step equation, well, that can be tossed over your shoulder can't it? You? You're not a nick knack or a piece of furniture or a geometry proof. You are a supporting wall and if I were to get rid of you the whole bloody house would come tumbling down."

"I'm not as important as all that."

“Yes, you are," Sherlock says bluntly, cutting right through Theo’s self-deprecation. "Now, what do you say we take little Ms. Rosie to the park?"

Theo grins. Hours later as Theo literally rolls in the grass at the park Sherlock decides that this is something that they are going to have to do far more often.

-0-

"He ran away from school, and you just let him go to the park?" John says in a harsh undertone.

"He didn't understand how to do the math. I explained to him that it was okay."

"Okay? What about this is okay? It's not okay that he doesn't understand his school work, and it's not okay that he just left school today.

"I know, but we talked about it," Sherlock says.

"Talked about it?" John asks raising his eyebrows. "He needs a punishment, limits, boundaries."

"No, he needs to know that his family is going to love him forever."

"Yes, that too, but the two aren't mutually exclusive. We're going to take away his video games for...I don't know, but this is pretty serious."

"John, he can't help it when he does stuff like this. You've read his file, you know that he used to do this a lot. This was only one time."

John sighs. "You're right, and he is pretty new here. How about we tell him that the next time it happens he is going to lose electronics for two weeks?"

Sherlock frowns. "Ten days?"

"Agreed," John says, going up on his tip toes to bestow a light kiss on Sherlock’s lips. "You and I make a pretty good parenting team, don’t we?"

-0-

Theo stands on the threshold of the school on his toe tips, leaning over into the freedom of the fresh air, and then teetering back into the school.

He wants to run more. He knows that if he runs far enough and fast enough the panic is going to leave, and he's going to feel better. But if he leaves, if he leaves, he's going to have to have conversations with Sherlock and John again. It won't be like with his parents what with the yelling and the threatening. Running isn't his only way to be heard and seen like it was at home. No, it just means that Theo would make them sad and worried, and then his electronics would disappear.

He teeters back on his toes until his heals hit the floor again. He slowly takes a step backward, then another. Thinking about his family has grounded him. It has helped him deal with the desperate need to run, but the need is not completely gone from him. He walks to the water fountain and gets a drink. Then he returns to class.
The teacher grins as Theo sits back down. Deep breaths, John had told him, deep breaths when the panic comes. He stares the problem down with a determined glare while he breathes deeply.
-0-
Theo is determined that he is not going to panic. Not this time, no not even though he doesn't understand what he is talking about, and he feels like insects are rushing up and down inside of him.

He's not going to run, because Oliver is in the room. Oliver is perfect in every way that Theo can imagine, and quite a few that he cannot. He’s popular, but in a subtle way. Oliver isn't exactly part of the in crowd, but there are few students in the school who wouldn’t say that he is amazing. Oliver has wide interests, and then there’s the hair. God, that hair.

Always perfect. Always beautiful, and Theo spends way too much time thinking about how soft the hair would be if he could only touch it.

Of course, he doesn't touch it, for the same reason that he’s not going to run out of the room even though he’s having a panic attack. No, he wants Oliver to think the best of him.

Theo shoots a look at him, just to see if he would be able to run out of the room without Oliver noticing. Oliver shoots a smile back at him, and Theo's stomach does back flips.

-0-

The letter is more carefully constructed than some novels, and far more than the essay that Theo is supposed to be writing, even though the letter is fairly short.

"Oliver,
You are the coolest person in the school. You should come over to my new flat and play video games.
Love,
Theo."

It only takes three minutes before a note is passed back, but it is a longer stint in purgatory than most people ever do. The letter brakes Theo's heart.

"Theo,
You're cool too. Sure we should hang out, but dude, you shouldn't sign your letters with love. People could misunderstand that stuff."
-Oliver."

Theo gives in to the urge to run.

-0-

The sound of unbelievably harsh weeping breaks through the house as soon as John opens the door after work. "What's wrong with Theo?" he immediately asks.

"I've no idea. He's beyond the ability to communicate. I tried to comfort him, but that only seemed to make him more distressed. There was some door slamming."

"Is Rosie wearing ear phones?" John asks, looking at his daughter.

"I was able to stop one of them from crying at least," Sherlock says with a shrug.

John tracks up the stairs to his son's attic bedroom. "Theo?" he asks gently, knocking on the door.

"Go away! Leave me alone!"

"Let me in,.Tell me what’s wrong."

"You can't fix it. You can't make it better!"

"You can at least have some water. You've got to be dehydrated after all of those tears."

Theo opens up the door and glares at John. "Water isn't going to help this."

What will?”

"You're not going to understand."

"You might want to try me. After all, I was young once."

"You don't know what it’s like to be rejected!" Theo exclaims, throwing himself back into the room.

"Oh," John says, following his son and sitting down on the bed. "I don't know if I ever shared with you that I'm bisexual. I've...I've usually been with women, not men. Most of that is just my interest, but part of it is the fact that my first crush on a guy...it didn't end well."

"Why?"

"He was straight."

"I think Oliver is too."

"It's much scarier than when you ask out someone of the opposite genders. Don't get me wrong, that’s bloody terrifying too, but at least the odds are in your favor. Also, they are usually not offended if they don't like you. It's harder when you are gay. What did Dylan do?"

Theo squirms, feeling ridiculous for all of his tears now. "He was really nice about it. Actually, he doesn't know that I tried to ask him out. I think he just thought that I wanted to be his friend, and was so socially awkward that I asked weird."

"And he wants to be friends with you?" John asks.

Theo nods.

"Do you want to be friends with him?"

Theo rolls his eyes dramatically falling back on the bed. "You don't understand. I want to be more than friends with him."

"I know, but if that's not possible, would you want to be friends with him or would that be too painful?"

Theo knows that he would do anything to be near Oliver, even if it is a kind of sweet torture. “I want to be friends.”
"Then you should invite him over. Friendship is good. Really good. If I had to choose between that and romance I would choose friendship every time."

"You were friends with Sherlock before you too got together, weren't you?" Theo asks with hope in his eyes.
"Yes, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen this time. You're young, Theo. I'm not even sure you're old enough to date. Just focus on friendships, okay, bud?"

When John walks downstairs Sherlock is clearly impressed. "You made the crying stop."

"He's got a crush on a straight boy. I made him understand that friendship was a good thing, even if it wasn't exactly the thing that he wanted right now."

"Oh," Sherlock's face goes soft. "Friendship with someone you have romantic feelings for is torture."

John’s heart breaks for the Sherlock that went through all of that, and he leans forward to kiss his lover on the face. "I'm so sorry. I wish I could have seen you suffering back then. It would have saved both of us a lot of pain, but it also would have made us miss out on a lot of really good things. What we are, that never would have been possible if we hadn't had the long trail of friendship first."

"But Theo isn't demisexual. He doesn't need years of friendship in order form a bond first," Sherlock points out.
"No, but he is twelve, and I would rather that he just had friends for a couple of years yet. Most parents have a few more years to adjust to the whole parenting thing before they end up parenting a dating teenager.”

Chapter Text

2014, September

John rolls over in his bed, and sighs. It's not a good sign that he can't get to sleep without Sherlock, not only because that shows an alarming reliance on his partner that he, as a doctor, would advise his patients against, but also because the other man never sleeps. John is pretty sure he cannot survive on the lean sleep rations that Sherlock gets by on. "Come to bed, Sherlock!" he requests.

"You know I don't sleep on cases," Sherlock calls back.

"Come to bed anyway," John requests, softer than before, hoping that his voice doesn't sound as needy as he feels.
Sherlock appears in the bedroom door, staring at his partner in confusion. "I don't want to have sex, either John."
"You can come to bed and think, you git.”

"Why?" Sherlock asks.

"To keep me company. I like having you by my side."

Sherlock lays down on the bed, flat on his back with his hand steepled under his chin. John curls up next to him, ensuring some bodily contact without taking so much that he would be a distraction to the other man.

"John?" Sherlock asks.

"Mmm?" John answers in a sleepy, content voice.

"I think we should get married."

"What?" John asks, now fully awake, and jerking away from the other man.

"I'm sorry. Perhaps I should have waited to have this discussion for a time when you weren’t trying to sleep."

"Well, I'm awake now. Can you please help me understand...did you just propose to me?"

"Yes," Sherlock says. "Did I do it wrong? I messed it up with Jamie too. He said this wasn't the sort of thing you should do beside a hospital bed. I guess I should have generalized that to all beds, but I didn't know. You proposed in a posh restaurant. We'll do that. Do you own a tux or is that too posh?"

John lays his hand on Sherlock's knee. "Stop talking about how you’re going to propose. You've proposed, you've already done it. I just need to understand why."

Sherlock's eyes go dark with furry. "You don't think I know my own mind? You've got to check to see if my reasons for proposing are good enough?"

"No," John says with a prolonged, frustrated sigh. "Sherlock, that's not it at all. People usually put their reasons for wanting to get married into the proposal. We've never even said I love you to each other, and here you are proposing out of the blue. I just...we're new, Sherlock. We’re so new."

"Of course. I love you," Sherlock says simply. "And I've deduced that you love me, so there was no need for us to actually say it."

"Well, no, I don't suppose there was, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't every now and again. I do love you," John confesses, reaching across his lover to do away with a wayward curl on the other side of his face.

"That was nice," Sherlock says. "I can follow my train of thought through to let you know what I was thinking that led up to the proposal."

"Thank you. That would be very nice," John says.

"I was thinking about how you are comforted by being in the same room as me, and I thought that was a ridiculous thing. Then I realized that I am the same way, I find comfort by being around you even if neither of us says anything. A thought popped into my head that I wanted to be near you, like this, forever, and that led to my proposal. It would also provide our children with greater security. I admit that I didn't actually think of that at the time, but now..."

"You don't have to sell me on the idea, Sherlock. I want to marry you."

"Why?" Sherlock says rather playfully. "If I had to defend my reasons for wanting to marry you, you've got to do the same. It's only fair. Besides, you wanting to be with me is far stranger than me wanting to be with you."

"Don't say that about yourself, Sherlock. God, anyone on the outside looking in would wonder exactly what you saw in me. After all you are far more handsome, and intelligent, and, and bloody posh."

"If anyone asked me, I would simply explain to them that I was a sociopath, and they would think you were really quite charitable and generous for taking me in," Sherlock says.

"No, that word doesn't describe you, and even if it did...Sherlock, the fact that you don't like many people, that you love so rarely, that makes your love more of a gift. I'm honored to be someone that you've chosen to love, and I'm going to work really hard to deserve it."

"I'll get you a ring," Sherlock says.

"I don't want one. Are we doing a church wedding or going for more of a small courthouse thing? I know you're not religious."

"I'd like to have people at our wedding. Unless you're ashamed of me?"

"Never," John says, chuckling at him as he kisses Sherlock on his forehead. "But I hope you plan on doing most of the planning."

"Oh, yes, John, I remember that you are rubbish at such things," Sherlock says, "Don't worry. I'll take care of all the planning."

"Don't go quite that far, I'd like to have some say in my own wedding."

"Yes, I'll give you some small things to make you feel like you're contributing like Mary did. You will have to pick your own best man."

"Oh," John says sadly. "Well, that’ll be a problem because I'm marrying the best and wisest man that I've ever known."

"Don't remind me of that speech," Sherlock says, turning over.

"Why?" John asks. "It was an amazing speech. So touching!"

"My heart was breaking," Sherlock says thickly, almost against his own will.

"What?" John exclaims. He stands up and moves over to the other side of the bed so he can actually look his friend in the face. John sees the truth in the way Sherlock’s eyes are narrowed. "You had romantic feelings for me...even then."

"I think I had them a long time before that, but I was just starting to notice them then."

"Oh, Sherlock!" John exclaims, holding his lover close to him. "You should have said something!"

"What good would that have done? You were going to marry someone else, a pregnant someone else, and me telling you how I felt just would have made you feel bad about doing what you did anyway."

John's face looks pained.

"Really?" Sherlock asks breathlessly.

"Sometimes it's a bit inconvenient for you to read my mind," John complains.

"You wouldn't have married Mary if you'd known how I felt about you?"

"I don't think so," John says covered in guilt. "I loved her, I really did, and it's not as if I regret my marriage in any way. You have to realize that the only reason I didn't make a move on you a long time ago was because I thought you were asexual."

"You were sort of right," Sherlock reminds him.

"I know. You certainly gave me that impression during that first night in Angeloes, and then when you didn't date anyone..."

"Well, I am married to my work really, and I didn't love you yet. I didn't even know you yet."

"Right," John says. "We'll just have to do better with communicating in the future."

-0-

"Exactly how much supervision do children Rosie's age need?" Sherlock asks when John comes home from work.

"Constant unless she's asleep, and then keep the monitor on her," John says with his eyebrows raised high.

"Oh," Sherlock says, doing his best impression of moderately alarmed.

"Where is Rosie?" John asks, in alarm looking around the room and not seeing his small daughter.

"She really seemed to enjoy the chemistry set that you made me move to my bedroom, so I left her to it."

"Jesus!" John says running into Sherlock's bedroom.

Rosie is in the room, fast asleep on her back, surrounded by pillows to keep her from rolling off the bed. There are even baby gates surrounding the chemistry set.

John turns to Sherlock who is only inches behind him. "You cock! You utter cock!"

Sherlock looks crushed.

"I'm sorry, Sherlock. I never should have believed you were that irresponsible for a moment. I do trust you with her, you know that," John says, hugging Sherlock.

"You're supposed to hit me," he whispers, dragging John out of his bedroom before they wake up his daughter.

"Oh?" John says. "Why would you want that?" Sherlock's face contorts. "Oh," John says smiling. "Why didn't you tell me? You mad hatter. Asking for things you want would be far more effective than you trying to trick me into assaulting you when I had no idea why I was doing it."

"I thought you'd be horrified if you know what I wanted," Sherlock mumbles hesitantly. "I know it's weird."

"It's not, honey. It's a really common thing that people like in bed. I'm not personally into it, but we can probably work out something that I'm comfortable with. Did Jamie make you feel like it was weird?"

"He never knew."

"I'm honored to be the first person that you've ever told, but I'm sorry that you didn't ask your husband for what you wanted."

"I didn't know I wanted it then," Sherlock says. "I...I felt something when Molly slapped me. I didn't know what it was then. It wasn't until you hit met that it really had an effect. I've never felt anything like it, really. I'd love to feel it again."

"When I hit you?" John says in confusion. "When you came back from the dead, and I punched you? That's why you kept pretending not to know why I was angry? You wanted me to hit you again?"

"Yes, but also the time in the hospital."

"The time I bloodied my knuckles almost beating you to death when you were too high to defend yourself?" John asks in shock, unable to keep the sharper tone out.

"I hoped you'd kill me. Dying by your hand would be the perfect way to go. It's actually still the way that I’m hoping for."

"Oh, Sherlock," John says, brushing his hair back from his forehead to give himself a moment to think. He swallows hard, then nods, continuing. "We're going to work out some safe, sane way for violence and pain to be injected into our sex life, but, and this is really important, Sherlock, I am never going to hurt you that much. Never again. I never shouldn’t have hurt you like that the first time. It was demonic of me.”

“I want the pain,” Sherlock pleads, holding both shaking hands out.

"Okay, I'm going to have to do some research first. I'm not comfortable with anything that will leave you marked or scared, and I don't want to cause you a lot of pain, but do you have any requests?"

"Slapping, punching, biting," Sherlock says, rattling off the list.

John grins, surprised to find himself aroused by his lover's last request. He leans forward nudging Sherlock's collar out of his way with his nose. He nips the pale skin there.

"Harder than that, John," Sherlock says sounding bored. John can’t see it, but there’s an eye roll in there too.
John kisses, applies a hickey, and then goes in for a deeper bite.

"More," Sherlock says.

"Oi!" John says pulling away. "I'm not going to draw blood from you like some bloody Ivan the Impaler! I'll figure something out, okay? Since I'm researching anyway, do you have any interest in being bound?"

Sherlock looks at him as if he were mad. "No! Why would I?"

John chuckles, his breath bursting out in funny little gasps. "Well, it’s my understanding that enjoying pain and enjoying being bound go together. Perhaps I’ll discover I'm wrong in my research."

"I do like it when you order me around," Sherlock says.

"That's nice, because I really like ordering you around, and I especially love how you actually listen to me when we're in the bedroom."

"I think I would listen to you anytime that you talk to me in your Captain Watson voice," Sherlock admits.

"Good to know. How much time do we have before Rosie wakes up?" John asks.

"Long enough if you're quick," Sherlock says with his eyes twinkling.

"Off with your trousers then, love," John says in his most commanding voice.

"Mrs. Hudson does not give much warning when she pops in on us, and it is the day she goes to the shops."

"So much for you listening to my Captain Watson voice," John says. "Fine, get up to my room, and take your clothes off. I'll get the baby monitor."

Sherlock obediently rushes up the stairs, but he doesn't take his clothes off. He feels odd standing in what is no longer John's room, but is now a nursery. He turns to John looking startled.

"Oh, you're quite right this is..."

"Putting her down for a nap in my room sounded like such a good idea at the time," Sherlock says.

"Shower sex?" John suggests.

"I've never done this...so you'll have to order me a bit," Sherlock says coyly.

John decides to go overboard on the directions telling him not only what pieces of clothing to remove, but how to remove each and every one of them. Then the directions continue. "Step into the shower, and begin washing."

Sherlock takes a washcloth, but John stops him. "Use your hands love."

"You could use yours," Sherlock suggests.

"All in good time."

Sherlock lathers up his hands. "All right, so where should I start?"

"That Adonis-like chest."

Sherlock rolls his eyes at the word choice, but obeys, slowly. John licks his lips in that mindless way he does when he's turned on, and Sherlock grins. He already knows so many of John's reactions from years of living close to the man. He can't wait until he knows every response that the man is capable of. "Do you want to join me?"

John takes off his clothes, and walks into the shower behind Sherlock. He lathers up his hands, and begins rubbing Sherlock’s back in something that is far closer to a massage than washing. Then John runs his lathered hands over Sherlock’s arms, and his legs. Sherlock has always needed a long warm up if he was going to truly enjoy sex, but this is already starting to be a bit too much of a warm up for him. "John," he pleads.

John wraps his hands around Sherlock working his way down his chest, going lower and lower until he is gripping Sherlock firmly. John pumps him until he's close to coming, and then he suddenly switches gears slowly walking around to Sherlock's front, and massaging his butt.

Sherlock moans low in his throat.

"How do we feel about penetration?" John whispers.

Sherlock blushes. "I didn't...I didn't prepare John."

"I wasn't exactly planning on doing this without preparing you, love."

"No I mean I didn’t use an... an enema," Sherlock mutters.

"Oh," John says. "Well, I'm willing to brave it if you are."

"Really?" Sherlock says. "I've never...done it without that before. I've heard that it could become quite messy."

"Life is messy," John says. "But it's okay if you don't want to do it without that sort of preparation. I don't want to do anything that you aren't comfortable with. I just know that it's a lot of work to get ready that way all of the time, and so if you could be comfortable without it...well, I certainly would be."

"I think....maybe not for the first time we're together, but we could try it," Sherlock says. "I'll...be prepared for you tomorrow."

"Right then," John says, dropping to his knees before his lover in the shower spray, and finishing him off quickly while palming himself roughly to completion.

Chapter Text

2022, May

Rosie has not wasted the chance to study the laws of deduction from the amazing Sherlock Holmes since before she can even remember. As soon as she walks through the door of 221B Baker Street she knows what's happened. Rosie calls up to the second story door, "Oi! Just because Dad's working late doesn't mean you have to make me tea. I'll make it myself."

"You're a child, Rosie. You shouldn't have to make your own tea," Sherlock says.

"I don't mind really," she replies, tromping loudly up the stairs just to further hint at her irritation. Sherlock knows so much but he still sometimes misses the obvious.

Sherlock's face is twisted up in pain when she come through the door. He tries to hide it, but Rosie can tell that he's thinking about how Mrs. Hudson used to cook for the three of them. It's been nearly a year since they lost her, but they haven't yet begun to get over it. Rosie stops and, taking pity on Sherlock, reconsiders her position.

"Oh, come on, then. Toast and beans. Something both of us can manage, eh?" she asks.

He nods, unceremoniously dumping whatever he'd been attempting to mix into the bin. "How was your day?" he asks, putting the toast in and turning the kettle on.

"Good," Rosie says. She knows this is the perfect chance. The question has been burning inside of her for months now, and she's got to find a way to let it out. Preferably before her big brother gets home from high school.

"Sherlock, I want to ask you something, but I don't want to hurt your feelings."

"Curiosity is always good," he says distractedly, scrapping the tinned beans into a bowl. He warms them up in the microwave after taking out an experiment that Rosie can't really identify, although she's usually quite good with determining the origins of Sherlock's experiments.

"Tell me about my mom," Rosie says with rather forward determination, locking eyes with Sherlock.

"Right," Sherlock says, attempting to hide all of the subtle tells that he is nervous. Rosie catches his hands being wiped down the front of Sherlock’s shirt anyway. "Your mother was amazing, sweetheart. Mary was clever, and beautiful, and really just everything that someone could want in a mother."

"Right. Almost the same words as you and Dad always use. I'm twelve, Papa. I'm not a little kid anymore. You can tell me whatever truth you and Dad are trying to hide away from me."

"We're not hiding it, honey. It's just complicated and hard to explain. Your father and I agreed a long time ago that once you were old enough to ask questions you were old enough to know the truth. So, I suppose this means go ahead and ask whatever you want."

"Dad and Mary were married?" she asks.

"Yes.”

"But Dad knew you, right? He met you first?" she asks, staring at him in horror.

The toast pops up, and Sherlock doesn't so much as glance at it. "I was best man at his wedding."

"I don't understand. How could he do that to you? Make you watch that?"

"Oh, honey,” Sherlock sighs and realizes that he’s running his fingers through his hair. It’s another one of his nervous tells and he stops abruptly. Suddenly, Sherlock rapidly scratches his head with both hands, his whole face wrinkling up with thought patterns. He exhales sharply, mediation-like. "It wasn't like that. Your father and I were best friends. The thought that we could be something more had honestly never occurred to him."

"You'd lived together, for years."

"We were strictly separate bedrooms until he'd moved back in with you after your mother died. Besides, we weren't roommates when he married your mother, not when they were dating."

"Why?"

"I had to leave," Sherlock says.

"Because you couldn't stand being in love with Dad."

"No, Rosie. I left to protect him." Sherlock turns away from her in order to finish the toast and beans since the microwave had beeped. "And not in some mamby pamby protect his heart kind of way. No, I had to make sure that he wasn't murdered."

"It was case related?" Rosie asks.

"Yes, but don't worry. I don't take cases like that anymore."

"So, he just let you go?" Rosie asks.

"He thought I was dead for two years, Rosie, and in that time he fell madly in love with your mother. I liked her, you know, which didn’t happen very often. Still doesn’t. And she liked me, which is even more rare. She saw how I felt about your father, even when I wouldn't have admitted it myself. Even when your father couldn't have seen it if his life depended on it. You know those videos she left you? She left some for your father and me as well. She wanted us to know that she was okay with-" he waved his hands broadly, encompassing the whole apartment and their lives.

"How did it feel, Papa?" she asks. "To be at his wedding."

"Oh, Rosie.” Sherlock places his hands on the counter, as if bracing himself. He pauses a moment but then says honestly, “It was the best and the worst night of my entire life."

"Why the best?"

"They were happy. Really happy. Also, I got to solve a murder, and found out that you were going to exist."

"What?" she asks in shock.

"Oh, dear, I'm not exactly sure if I was supposed to share that detail. I suppose I'll have to ask John."

"They didn't get married because of me, did they?" Rosie splutters in horror.

"God, no. They didn't even know about you until the dance. I was the one who put it all together actually."

"You deduced me," she says warmly.

"I did," he says.

"How did you feel when you found out about me?"

"Fantastic. How else would I feel?" Sherlock asks, smiling softly.

"Really? The man you loved was having a baby with someone else. Why exactly would that make you feel so spectacular?"

"God, children, that's the good part of life isn't it?” Sherlock happily throws the toast on two plates and takes up the spoon for the beans. “I knew you were going to be a part of my life from the very beginning. I didn't know it would be like this," he says, finishing the beans and pouring her a cuppa. "This is better than I ever could have imagined, but having even a little bit of you in my life would have been so much better than having no baby at all."
Rosie smiles.

"Okay, so then how did you two get together then? It sounds like you were very much in the friend zone."

"Friend zone," Sherlock says with a bit of mockery. "I actually require things to start firmly in the friend zone. How did we get together? Well, your father came home drunk and flirty, and that didn't hurt, although we didn't actually get together that night. After that we just sort of flirted lightly, and tested the waters for a while, and then...we just were together. It was an easy transition really, to go from being best friends to being best friends and husbands.
"That's sweet," Rosie says, smiling. "All right, then how did my mom die?"

Sherlock looks stricken. "She died a hero, Rosie. Saving a life," he stops.

"Whose life?" Rosie asks.

Sherlock sighs. “My life, love. Your mother gave her life for me." His voice had been soft but now it turns hard with long-held frustration and even a little bit of anger. He’s clutching the box of tea bags, squashing it. “God, that was foolish of her! And she was usually so bright."

Rose stares at him.

"I'm sorry, Rosie, if it weren't for me you would have had a mother. I'm really sorry that I took that from you.”

"I wouldn't want a mother, Sherlock. I want you," she declares.

Sherlock's eyes well up and he turns away to put down the sagging tea bag box and take up the sugar, which he knows Rosie will want in her tea. "Yes, well, that's because you don't remember her, Rose. Your mother...she was amazing. Strong, and smart. She was also a much better cook than either your father or I. She would have made sure you had a proper tea. She actually would have made sure you had a proper everything."

"Sherlock," Rosie says. "I have everything I could ever want, and I can't imagine growing up without you."

He shakes his head. "I'm a sociopath, Rosie. You deserve a lot better than that."

"Liar," Rosie accuses, moving around the table to hug him. "Dad tells you all the time to stop calling yourself that."

"A psychologist called me that, and your dad is not properly licensed to change the diagnosis."

"All right, go and get a proper diagnosis now that you’re old enough for it to count. Or stop calling yourself that," Rosie says, hands on her hips.

Sherlock smiles at her, sadly. "You know, you remind me of your mother. A lot."

"It's the hair, isn't it?" she asks, twisting to run a hand through the strands.

"Your mother's hair was dyed that shade was inherited from your father. I hope for your sake the premature gray isn't an inheritable genetic trait. No, you remind me of your mother when you are stubborn."

"Thanks," she says sarcastically.

"It’s a compliment," Sherlock says brightly, plopping two lumps of sugar in Rosie’s teacup. “The best you could ever hope to get. She was fierce, and there is nothing in the world we need more than strength, especially for a girl who had to grow up with two daddies. I've always felt a bit bad about that. It must be difficult."

Rosie chuckles, the sound muffled as she bites into the toast and beans. “God, you are so old, Papa. I understand that when you were young people were stupid, but they mostly are not anymore. Besides, it's a nice filter. Anyone who has a problem with my parents isn't worth getting to know. Besides, I might have gotten my fierceness from mom, but I get my intelligence from you."

Sherlock squints up his nose almost as high as the teacup he is holding before his face. "We're not genetically related, Rosie. How could you possibly not know that?" He sips the tea.

"How could you possibly not know that intelligence does not primarily come from genetics," Rosie returns with a smile, lifting her own teacup. She ignores the sloppy sides of the cup where Sherlock’s overenthusiastic application of the sugar has slopped tea over the sides. "You don't think all that classic music, and Shakespeare, and logic puzzles didn't have an effect on me?"

"Don't forget the games of Operation," Sherlock points out. "Those were critical for your development."

"Right then, I'm done with tea. Isn't it supposed to be homework time next?" Rosie says.

Sherlock sighs. "Honey, I know that your dad gave you a couple pictures of your mother, but I also know he's got a box for you. Pictures...clothes...everything."

"I don't want it," Rosie says. Sherlock looks at her surprised. “I mean, yes, I want it, but I don’t want it yet. I’ve gotten a lot of answers today that I need to process, and…I really want Dad to be the one to give it to me."

"Okay."

"I do have one more question though. How exactly did Mom die? I mean, what killed her?"

Sherlock closes his eyes against the question for a long minute. "She was shot Rosie."

"The person who killed her?" Rosie asks.

"She died in jail. She was rather old to begin with."

"Why did she want to kill you?" Rosie asks with deep concern in her eyes.

"Because I'm an obnoxious git, Rosie. Please don't worry. I'm not going to let you lose another parent. I've already let you lose far too much."

She leans forward and kisses him on the cheek. "You'd better keep yourself safe. I'm going to be very cross with you if you let someone kill you."

"Yes, your father says something similar on a regular basis," Sherlock says. "All right then, what do you have by way of homework?"

"I've got to read a chapter on history and do a page of fractions."

"Dull," Sherlock says. "I'll be playing violin if you need me."

He picks her favorite songs. The classical ones he used to lure her to sleep when she was little or sick.