Author: shooting-stetsons PM
Previously titled Life Not to Scale. Sequel to A Study in Lullabies. A series of scenes from TBB in the same universe. Features Girl!SherlockRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Family - Sherlock H. & John W. - Chapters: 6 - Words: 18,322 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 41 - Follows: 24 - Updated: 01-10-12 - Published: 12-26-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7677211
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It was the bloody papoose that did it, in the end.
John hadn't minded the idea of living with Sherlock Holmes and her young son Alex, especially not after finding out just how limitlessly brilliant the world's only consulting detective was. He had moved in with her, run with her, shot a man for her, and then took her to the hospital so her ripped stitches could be put back in order. He had protected her from her brother's anger, protected her from her bully of a friend Victor Trevor, protected her when she didn't want to be protected, and protected her when she knew she needed to be protected. He'd helped her through long nights with a colicky baby, capturing the both of them in his arms and swaying in time to half-imagined music, and let her kiss him when Alex finally went to sleep.
In some ways, the things Mycroft Holmes had said about the battlefield had been true. But in all the places it mattered, he could never have been more wrong. Sherlock had been sent home from the battle just as much as John had been, though for different reasons.
And then there was the papoose.
He didn't mind looking after Alex, really he was quite fond of the eleven-week-old, but when he started unfolding the pram in lieu of taking Alex with him to Tesco's so his flatmate could have a break, Sherlock stopped him short.
"It would be easier with the papoose," she called from where she was reclined back on the sofa, eyes closed (though John had a feeling she was trying very hard to open them) and rimmed with bluish-grey circles. John could tell she'd not been sleeping much, mostly due to the fact that he himself was never woken in the night by the baby crying. Sherlock had had him move the cradle into her room once she'd gone on the mend. "You'll have your hands free, and Alex will probably sleep easier with someone close by."
For some godforsaken reason he'd thought it was a good idea, and wrestled his way into the thing that Sherlock hadn't yet touched. Alex laid his warm head on John's chest and gave a tiny infant-smile.
"Alright, I'll be back in a bit; try to get some sleep, yeah?" he called from the door. Sherlock raised a hand in acknowledgment but otherwise didn't stir, and John set optimistically off for the shops.
In retrospect, the papoose really hadn't been a good idea at all.
While it did cradle the baby safely against him and keep his head supported, it was damn near impossible to bend down and retrieve anything from a low shelf, and John hadn't accounted for the additional bulk of the diaper bag on his hip. Not to mention old ladies kept cooing at how sweet he looked, and trying to touch Alex as though that were perfectly acceptable. Sorry, but being a doctor made John all too aware of how vulnerable babies were to germs because of precisely that, and had to skirt around the shop to keep them at bay.
It took a good half hour longer than it should have for John to get everything, and then the chip-n-PIN machine reared its ugly head, and Alex started crying because he couldn't help shouting at the bloody thing. In the end he was attracting too many stares and fled the shop bereft of groceries.
When he returned to Baker Street an hour after departing, Sherlock was facing the other way on the sofa and looked even more weary, if that were possible. "Why didn't you get the shopping?" she asked without opening her eyes.
He licked his lips and worked at the buckle of the papoose. "I had a row with the chip-n-PIN machine."
Sherlock's eyes flew open. "You had a row with a machine?" she asked, equal parts perplexed and amused.
"Sort of," he amended. "It sat there and I shouted abuse at it." Alex hiccuped threateningly again, and John quickly sat down to get the infant from the papoose and hold him more comfortably. "Do you have cash?"
Sitting up and rubbing her head, Sherlock blinked blearily at him before nodding to the table. "Take my card." She held out her arms and John transferred Alex over before walking to the table. There was a shallow gauge-mark in it that hadn't been there before he left.
"Oh, Holmes," he sighed, torn between fondness and irritation. Instead he plucked the card from the thin sleek wallet and left Alex with his mother this time round.
The second time he returned Sherlock and Alex were having what the baby books called "tummy time," which was apparently crucial for building neck muscles. Sherlock and her son were face-to-face on the blanket she'd spread over the floor, and she had a few brightly-colored toys scattered around her.
"Should I be concerned he hasn't started smiling socially yet?" she called in lieu of a greeting. "He's eleven weeks, and the books all say eight is the usual age."
"Preemie, Sherlock," John replied over his shoulder, stacking cans in the cupboards. "He'll smile when he's good and ready; there's no need to rush him."
She didn't call back, but John shrugged it off as having nothing to say and finished putting the shopping away. Alex was squealing like a piglet the whole time. "What are you two doing out here?" he grinned, then laughed outright to himself when he saw that Sherlock had fallen asleep on the floor in the span of time it took for him to put away the shopping. Alex was batting at her face with outstretched fingers waving like tiny pink tentacles.
John knelt down and rubbed Sherlock's back, in the same way he did to Alex on occasion, to wake her. She needed the rest, certainly, but would probably regret the sore neck later. "Hm?" she murmured, then sprang up as if she had been caught doing something indecent.
"Did you sleep at all while I was gone?" he asked as Sherlock picked Alex up and placed him in the plastic swing by the fireplace.
Pressing a button on the swing frame, Sherlock let it start mechanically swinging before setting down at her - no, John's - computer. John held out his hand disapprovingly and she sighed, handing it over and rising again to fetch her own from the bedroom. She didn't bother replying until she was back in her chair. "I tried, but then those people showed up asking about the missing diamond."
He straightened slightly. "Did you take the case?" he asked.
Sherlock made a disapproving noise and shook her head, never raising her eyes from the email she was reading. "Dull. I made sure they got the message." When John didn't answer right away, she quirked an eyebrow at the computer screen. "Problem?"
John shrugged. "I just thought you'd be eager to get back to cases now that you've been cleared. You know, by your doctor." He grinned. "And what a good doctor you have," he prompted after a moment. She snorted.
"If by 'good' you mean clearing me for sexual intercourse, coughing, and saying 'so, what d'you think, fancy a go?' then you're correct." Well, that had been a surprisingly good impersonation of his voice. She cast him a sidelong glance and smirked slowly as he blushed, embarrassed by her frankness. "Afternoon well-spent, nevertheless."
He chuckled to himself, recalling that afternoon with perfect clarity. "Well, maybe that's it, then," he concluded with mock-smugness. "You're just going to miss this." With his free hand John gestured between them, trying to encapsulate the give-and-take, the easy touches, the occasional kisses over the sink while giving Alex a bath, that had been built between them for the past seven weeks. He probably failed.
"I could quit anytime I wanted to," replied Sherlock instantly with the air of a joke lingering between consonants. "You're the sentimental one, after all."
"Says the woman who spent her entire phone memory taking photos of her kid and now only has room for fifteen texts in her inbox." He managed to get his hands up in time to deflect the projectile shoe going for his face and laughed at his disgruntled flatmate. "I'm kidding, Sherlock. It's sweet, no, really. Seeing how much you focus on him, it's enough to make a bloke wonder what you'd be if you didn't have him." He rubbed his eyes and smiled across the room at her.
Immersed back into the screen of her laptop, Sherlock shrugged. "Dead, most likely," she said matter-of-factly.
John nearly fell off the sofa, the warmth sucked out of the flat in less than a second. "W-what?"
She glanced up at him as though about to make a scathing remark but seemed to see something in his face, and looked quickly back down at her laptop. "Um, yes. If I'd never had sex in exchange for drugs Mycroft probably wouldn't have sent me to rehab and, on the road I was going down, I would have OD'ed - again - approximately three weeks before I met you. And if Alex had been stillborn or if he'd died I would have killed myself. Yes, I'm fine, no, I don't want to talk about it, and if Mycroft or Lestrade ask we never had this conversation. I need to go to the bank; are you coming?"
Before John could mentally make the leap from suicide to banking, Sherlock had gotten up and fetched Alex's car seat from behind the sofa. She put a hand on John's shoulder to balance herself, and for a moment her thumb brushed through the short hairs at the base of his neck before she pushed herself upright. He shivered slightly and cleared his throat. "Um, yes, sure. Why are we-?"
"An old university...Sebastian Wilkes, knew him in uni, he needs a favor. Come on, John, help me get Alex ready; where did you put the diaper bag?"