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Asleep in the Nursery

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"Would you please shut up, Lyla?" Sherlock mumbled down to the wailing baby, the exasperation clear in his voice.

Soon after Mary's unexpected death during childbirth, Sherlock had received a desperate call from John, begging him for some much-needed help with the newborn baby he was now the single father of. Of course, Sherlock had accepted; after all, one could not simply decline such an offer, especially not one from his recently-widowed best friend. However, when he'd agreed to help with John's new baby, he'd had no clue such help would include hours upon hours of ear-piercing screams and endless sleepless nights.

"Bloody hell, you're so little! How on earth are you possibly producing this amount of sound? I know how big—or rather, how incredibly small—your lungs are, and, were I not witnessing it myself, I would have concluded such a tiny being was wholly incapable of producing such a horrendous sound!" Running a nervous and frustrated hand through his unruly curls, which had not been tended to in days, Sherlock hurriedly shut the door that led from the stairway to the nursery, and then clicked off the baby monitor, harboring some hope his efforts would allow John, who had begun to sob the last time he'd been woken by baby Lyla's cries, to continue to sleep.

Managing to stumble his way back to the cradle in the darkness, Sherlock peered down at the screaming mass of flesh below him and frowned. Despite it having been nearly a month since he'd taken up temporary residence in John's house, the detective had never truly interacted with the small human sobbing below him. While he had certainly changed his fair lot of nappies, he'd never yet cradled nor cuddled the baby girl. The few times he had tried had only resulted in a considerable increase in the length and volume of her cries. Which is perfectly fine by me. Not my area, Sherlock concluded as he continued to frown down at the wailing baby.

Feeling his pulse thrumming loudly against the pale skin atop his wrists, Sherlock, in a frustratingly quiet whisper, exclaimed down to baby Lyla, "I'm sorry you don't like me, but your father has had to endure one of the most painful and sorrowful experiences anyone can ever live through, and I'm quite sorry to say that your constant wailing has most certainly not made the transition from expecting husband to widower any easier. As a result, it would be most appreciated if you could simply sleep through the night—or hell, even just abstain from this insufferable crying through one night! While I know my paternal instincts are very lacking—if they even exist at all—I am trying my very best to be there for a man who has endured so much he did not deserve, and to be the friend John mistakenly imagines me as. I'm not a father, I would not even make a satisfactory godfather or uncle, and I'm certainly rubbish at infants and proper care of them. Which, I do now realize is more than simply providing sustenance and changing nappies. And I'm quite sorry to say, that while I'm perfectly capable of feeding and changing you, we've all now witnessed I'm completely incapable of providing that other side of things: sentiment and connection. I'm quite sorry for being so rubbish at it all!"

Overwhelmed by his sudden feeling of inadequacy, and exhausted at having received barely any sleep over the course of the past week, Sherlock buried his hands in his raven curls and collapsed to the ground. "I'm just rubbish at it all," he repeated in a murmur, tightening his hands into fists, and subsequently tugging painfully at his curls.

It took several moments of silence for the detective to realize what surrounded him: empty sound.

Realizing baby Lyla's screams had ceased, Sherlock quickly pulled his hands from his hair and glanced to his right, and into the little girl's crib. The detective's brows tugged slowly together when he found a set of teary deep blue-gold eyes gazing back at him.

Quickly regaining his calm and calculating composure, Sherlock held the baby girl's steady gaze, not wishing to begin another tirade of screams and tears. He tentatively flexed his right hand and then offered it between the thin slats of the crib. Curling his lithe fingers, the detective extended his pointer finger and then set the tip atop Lyla's own little fingers.

Blinking quickly out of her trance, as if she had been startled, Lyla now turned a wobbly gaze to Sherlock's finger, resting atop her own little ones. Blinking slowly, the baby girl wrapped her hand around the detective's finger, holding steadfastly to the digit.

Eyes fixed on their gently-connected fingers, Sherlock's gaze slowly warmed and the detective stared intensely at the small infant in front of him. "Hm," the detective hummed with a curious twitch of his lips, deep voice penetrating the silent darkness. "Sent into ruin by a baby, no less." The corners of his eyes crinkled in appreciation. "And then pulled from it." A deep chuckle rumbled in the Sherlock's chest. "You know, you're not nearly as insufferable when you're not murdering my ears with your cries." In response, Lyla merely blinked and then released the detective's finger from her grasp.

"Ah. I see. Had quite enough of that, then. Yes. But you see Lyla, you and I are still stuck in a peculiar situation, for we are both desperately in need a good night's sleep. That would be nice, don't you think?"

A small 'coo' passed by Lyla's lips, as if in agreement.

A chuckle. "Indeed. So, that leaves us with one solution, doesn't it? Seeing as it's just you and me, and you appear to be wide awake, and all, hmm?" Knowing quite well what needed to be done, Sherlock slowly slipped his hand back through the slats of the crib and then stood, taking note of the wobbly gaze following him as he did so. "You've not quite got control of yourself yet, have you? In fact, you look rather like one who's had a tad bit too much to drink," the detective observed quietly and with a chuckle. "Right, then. Let's give this a go for another time, shall we?"

Making sure his hands were steady, Sherlock reached down over the side of Lyla's crib and, careful to support her head as John had instructed, pulled the baby girl into his arms. A soft 'shush' gently escaped the detective's lips when Lyla began to squirm and fuss. "None of that, now. If I'm going to make an effort, so must you," he rumbled with a disapproving raise of his brow. Mimicking the move he'd seen John make countless nights before, the detective settled baby Lyla in the crook of his arm and then began to rock gently back and forth.

As if a button had been pressed, Lyla's squirming and whines quieted to the occasional snuffle.

"Ah," Sherlock hummed in appreciation. "So that's the ticket, then."

A yawn.

"The ticket indeed."

A small hum escaping with each steady breath, Lyla curled her small form against Sherlock's arms and chest; one of her small hands, which was rating atop the detective's chest, grabbed ahold of the his silky robe, clutching it dearly between her fingers.

Not used to such close contact with Lyla, or any infant, for that matter, Sherlock's swaying suddenly paused as he gazed at the baby girl's hand, clutching so strongly ahold of him. "It's rather incredible how easily trust is earned," Sherlock mused aloud. He resumed his swaying. "So trusting."

While Sherlock couldn't quite explain it, somehow suddenly knowing John Watson's daughter trusted him as much as John himself seemed to, filled the detective with an odd sense of pride and elation. "That'll do, then." Feeling the weight of his own exhaustion overtake him, Sherlock sat down on the nursery floor, barely noticing its hard wooden surface against his skin. "Is this a truce, then?" the detective whispered, still swaying back and forth as he gazed down into a set of blue eyes that were so clearly John's.

As if accepting defeat, or rather succumbing to her exhaustion, Lyla's eyes slid closed and the weight of her little body rested fully in Sherlock's arms.

Now barely able to keep his owns eyes open, neither Sherlock, nor his arms, could hold out any longer. Closing his eyes, the detective carefully laid himself back on the ground, opening his eyes just long enough to make sure Lyla was safely situated against his robe-clad chest. Allowing exhaustion and gravity to pull his head back to the ground, Sherlock placed a hand on Lyla's back; a steady gauge of each of her precise breaths. "There's a girl, now," the detective murmured, fingers curling ever-so-slightly against the baby girl's onesie-clad back. "There's my girl..."




John awoke to a suspiciously quiet house and an even more suspiciously quiet baby monitor. Suspecting the batteries had died sometime in the night, the doctor snatched the device off his bedside table and rolled out of bed with a yawn. On his way to the kitchen to replace the suspected faulty batteries, John suddenly noted that the door to the room Sherlock had taken residence in for the past month was hanging open. Yet it was clear to John his friend was not up and walking about the house.

Abandoning the baby monitor on the kitchen counter, the doctor quietly crept up the stairs to his daughter's bedroom; if she was crying, he'd have heard it by now, which meant she was likely still sleeping. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, John found the door closed.

With a frown, the doctor silently and hesitantly pushed it open, only to have it bump against something and retaliate its way back. Now more curious than concerned, John peeked his head around the corner of the door, not quite sure what he might find in his daughter's room, but certainly not expecting the sight that awaited him.

It turned out the cause of the door's protest to open was Sherlock's foot; the detective was angled in such a way that only one of them caused a barrier for the door. Laying on his back and sound asleep, Sherlock's body and robe took up most of the open floor space in the little room. Snoring lightly, it was clear Sherlock had fallen asleep quite some time ago and that consciousness was not soon in sight.

Curling his lips inward and towards themselves, as if like a young child creeping the house past his bedtime, John slowly pushed the door open and nudged Sherlock's foot out of the way in the process. "You soppy sod," the doctor chuckled to himself as he suddenly realized Lyla was sleeping soundly atop his friend, her little body curled inward against his chest. John suddenly realized his friend must have been sleeping on the wooden floor for the majority of the night before. That can't be at all comfortable. Well... For Sherlock, at least, John noted with a chuckle, as Lyla, whose entire body rose and fell with each of Sherlock's breaths, seemed quite content with her resting spot.

Realizing it was quite cold in the room, and noting the faint goosebumps prickling on his friend's pale arms, John left the room and soon returned with a blanket. As Lyla was situated higher up on the detective's chest, closer to his collarbone, John draped the blanket just below her little body, quite pleased with himself when Sherlock's light snoring continued.

Hands on his hips, the doctor took a moment to gaze down at the scene, which struck him as being rather unusual and adorable at the same time. After all, if there was ever a man on earth less suited to tending to a child, it was Sherlock. And yet, here he lay, on a nursery room floor, sleeping quite peacefully, with an equally-peaceful baby cuddled against his chest. John was quite sure he'd never seen the detective so outrageously out of his realm.

Despite this, however, the doctor couldn't help but note how natural the detective seemed with Lyla atop his chest. In fact, John was quite sure he'd never seen his friend in quite a peaceful state; usually Sherlock looked like he was intensely focusing on something, even as he slept. Now, however, the detective's features were completely relaxed, the planes and lines of his face smoothed and sloping. His fingers, resting atop Lyla's back, lay splayed and relaxed; the muscles in his arms for once were not distinguishable. Unusual, the doctor noted with a raised brow.

A fond smile gracing his lips, John silently crept from the room, careful to avoid Sherlock's haphazardly-strewn limbs. Peeking his head 'round the corner of the door, the doctor whispered to his slumbering friend and daughter, "Sleep well, Sherlock. And you as well, Lyla, my darling." Smiling smugly, John chuckled to himself, "I'll be sure to take the next night shift." The doctor shut the door behind him.