Author Notes: Just a short One Shot to let you all know that I am still alive.^^ I hope I will have more time for writing again after my state examination - which is next week.
Appreciation: Thank you, Tstui1gos for beta-reading this story and showing me how I can improve my writing.
Trigger Warning: Mentions of body dysphoria and past self-harm. If this triggers you, don't read this story.
Enfolded in Love
It was obvious from her stance and how she fidgeted nervously with her hands that she had something on her mind she needed to talk with him about but hadn't yet worked up the courage to approach him. It was a sure sign that some topic was giving her serious trouble as his daughter usually wasn't shy about asking whatever question came to her mind. Kathi - Katharina Samantha Aurelia Watson-Holmes - knew that she could come to her parents with whatever problems she had. No matter if she needed a more detailed explanation about the maturation of crystals or just an hour of snuggling up to both of them after she had had an argument with her best friend.
Sherlock stared down at the police report about the latest serial killer in London but his whole attention wasn't focused on the gruesome details of the killings but on his daughter. Finally Kathi ventured into the living-room and came to stand next to the couch. She didn't say anything and Sherlock knew better than to address her just yet. Experience had taught him that Kathi would speak with him as soon as she had put the thoughts in her mind into some order or...
"I have made you tea, love and you are going to drink it." Sherlock looked up when John sat down on the couch next to him and pressed a steaming mug into his hands.
"Dad, Papa, I have something to discuss with you."
Ah, Sherlock mused with a little smile as their eight year old daughter took a seat between them on the couch and looked up at them both with wide eyes. It was one of those occasions when Kathi needed the input of both her fathers. He just hoped that the newest teacher at her school hadn't made an inappropriate statement about families and that every child needed a mother and a father like Kathi's last Science teacher - who was fired by now. Sherlock had been close to murdering that idiotic excuse of a teacher after their daughter had come home with tears in her eyes because the incompetent woman had made her belief that she didn't have a real family. If something like that had happened again then Sherlock wouldn't allow Mycroft to handle the situation but he would take matters into his own hands. No matter what John had to say about it.
"Calm down," his husband mouthed right on cue when Sherlock exchanged a quick look with him over Kathi's head. Sherlock grimaced but leaned back against the cushions of the couch and smiled reassuringly down at their daughter. "What do you have on your mind, sweetie?"
The petite girl leaned against his side and focused her whole attention on him. Blue eyes met Sherlock's and he was reminded once more of how much Kathi took after John. Her eyes were as blue as his and her untamable curls were the same shade of blonde as John's. They were now spilled out over Sherlock's shirt as Kathi pressed her cheek against his chest. She was so much like her Dad and yet John always pointed out that Kathi was just as much her Papa's daughter as she was his. The way she furrowed her forehead now and gnawed on her lower lip in concentration - like Sherlock used to do- was proof of John's words.
"We have been having sex education in biology for the past couple of weeks," Kathi started and Sherlock nodded in acknowledgment although he wasn't sure where this conversation was leading. They had discussed the mechanics of reproduction with their daughter when she had turned six and had bombarded them with questions about the differences between men and women and where babies came from. They had always been open about such topics although John had insisted on explaining them to her in an age appropriate manner instead of confronting her with scientific articles like Sherlock had planned on doing. Still, no matter how they had explained everything to Kathi in the end - John had won that argument - their daughter had appeared to have grasped the general concept. Therefore Sherlock was unsure what the teacher could have said at school that had confused Kathi.
Maybe... Sherlock glanced to John who interpreted his look correctly right away and shook his head doubtfully. So, from John's point of view as a doctor it was unlikely that their daughter had gotten her first period this early. Sherlock was also highly doubting that possibility - there weren't any other obvious changes of her body that usually accompanied the onset of puberty - but at the same time he couldn't think of anything else that could be troubling Kathi.
"Mrs. Taylor told us that you need an egg cell and a sperm cell to create a foetus. She also said that biology isn't everything and that you don't have to be a biological parent to love your children but," she grasped the hands of both her fathers' "that means that a sperm cell could only have come from one of you." Big blue eyes looked from one of them to the other and Sherlock's heart sank when he realised in what direction this conversation was going. "But you also needed an egg cell and a woman to carry me and I just wanted to know... Papa, are you alright?"
Sherlock closed his eyes for a brief second and released a shaking breath before he forced himself to meet the concerned gaze of their daughter and smiled tightly down at her. "I'm fine, sweetie."
But he wasn't. Sherlock was far from fine. There was a pressure on his chest that made it hard to breathe around the lump that had formed in his throat at Kathi's words. His heart hammered in his ribcage and Sherlock was all too aware of the faint tremor in his hands when he met John's worried eyes. Of course they had talked about what they would tell their daughter when the question arose and they had decided then and there that they would tell her the truth. It had sounded so easy back then when they had discussed the topic but now that their daughter was asking them about her origins... Sherlock didn't know how to tell her. His mind was too busy imagining how horrible it would be if Kathi didn't understand it to come up with a wording.
"I'll still love you both!" The sudden outburst startled both men as Kathi climbed on Sherlock's right thigh and threw an arm around his neck while drawing John closer with her other hand.
Some of the tension melted away from Sherlock as he concentrated on Kathi's reassuring weight on him and the warmth of John's body as his husband pressed their sides together. Still he couldn't suppress the hitched breath that escaped him when Kathi pressed a wet kiss to his cheek. He wasn't prepared for that conversation but there was no chance of fleeing from it without upsetting their daughter.
"I..." Sherlock started and then shook his head. He didn't know how to explain it to Kathi in such a way that she would understand it and still accept him. They had never spoken about anything even related to that topic and yet...
"I don't want to meet the woman who has carried me," Kathi clarified and pressed closer to Sherlock. "You are my parents but... I would really like to know my story. If my biological mother lived here with you and how you found her, nothing else."
"Sweetheart," John started and Sherlock felt him lean in towards him as he placed his free arm around Kathi's back. "It's not that easy to explain."
Sherlock caught John's questioning look and nodded his consent. John was better at handling such conversations than Sherlock was and he trusted his husband to explain it in a way that Kathi could comprehend. God, he hoped that she would understand and accept it... accept him otherwise Sherlock wouldn't know what to do. Just imagining that Kathi might love him a little less for it or look at him differently made Sherlock feel as if his heart was breaking in a thousand pieces.
"The sperm cell came from me." Sherlock was much too nervous to appreciate the light blush that colored John's cheeks as he spoke. "And the egg cell came from your Papa and he was also the one who carried you."
Sherlock squeezed his eyes shut and waited for the laughter of his daughter. Waited for Kathi to tell them to stop kidding her and demand the truth. He prepared himself for endless hours of disbelief and shock when the tentative voice of their daughter surprised him for the countless time. "How is that possible?"
She believed them! Sherlock drew a shaky breath. Maybe if Kathi was so ready to accept their words then it wouldn't be so hard to explain the rest to her as well.
"When I was born the doctors informed my family that I was a girl because of my genitalia," Sherlock explained and just hoped that he hadn't worded it in too complicated a manner for his daughter to understand. Maybe he should have just stated that he had been born a girl although the description didn't sit right with him. There was nothing for it now though and Sherlock would just have to make sure that Kathi understood what he was trying to tell her. "My parents raised me as a girl until I was a little older than you are now," Sherlock stroked through her messy curls tenderly. "But then I became aware that... that I wasn't a girl. I was a boy.."
"How can you know something like that?" Kathi didn't sound judging or even skeptical. Curious, yes and a little confused but she didn't give any indication that she was about to tear herself away from her Papa.
Sherlock swallowed against the lump in his throat as he tried to wrap his self-hatred from decades ago into words that would neither shock Kathi nor John. He had never told his husband how exactly he had felt during puberty and he didn't want to worry John now. It didn't matter that his teenage years were long since over and that Sherlock had stored all the bad memories associated with it in a dusty wing in his Mind Palace. Sherlock just knew that John would be angry and feel sorry on his behalf if Sherlock told them too much. He didn't want his husband to feel so deeply about a time when they hadn't even known each other.
In the end Sherlock slung an arm around Kathi's back and interlaced his fingers with John's that already rested on her shoulder as he stared at the opposite wall and chose the simplest way to explain his feelings. "Do you remember the pullover, Mrs. Hudson gave you for Christmas last year?"
Kathi nodded against his chest. "Yes, it itched and you told me to take it off because I was scratching at my skin until it was bleeding."
"Yes and that's how I felt when my body started to change when I hit puberty at eleven. It felt like there was an itch under my skin whenever I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed that I was looking more feminine with every day."
"So, your own skin made you itch?" Now, Kathi sounded a little skeptical and Sherlock cursed himself for finding it so hard to find the right words to explain his own feelings. "No, it wasn't exactly my skin but how everyone perceived me because of the shape of my body. They all believed that I was a girl because of how I looked. I hated my body for it and also for how I felt... trapped in my own skin. Sometimes, I imagined that I just had to scratch deep enough and my real body would emerge. The body of a boy."
A sharp intake of breath next to him signaled Sherlock that John had understood his references to self-harm. He was more glad than ever that his parents had forced him to talk with them about his feelings before he had gotten the chance to hurt himself with anything sharper than his own fingernails. At least, this way John wouldn't be reminded of Sherlock's revelations by some nasty scars, although that didn't mean that his husband wouldn't want to talk about this part of Sherlock's past. But this was something to worry about later.
"So, your girl's body was like my pullover and you had to get rid of it to feel better." Soft curls tickled Sherlock's neck when Kathi moved her head to glance up at him. "And you felt right in a boy's body because... you were born in the wrong body in the first place and had to work harder than others to get your real body?"
The last part was voiced as a question but Sherlock smiled down at his daughter nonetheless. He felt relieved that she appeared to understand him and proud that she was better at putting his own feelings into words than he himself was.
"But," she added just when Sherlock was about to tell her that she was perfectly right. "You can't carry a child in a man's body."
"Your Papa kept the necessary organs to carry you because they didn't bother him," John explained simply although they both knew that it hadn't been this simple and Kathi wasn't so easily fooled either.
"But didn't it bother you to carry me in your belly like a Mummy would do when you hated that people saw you as a girl when you were small?"
Sherlock swallowed thickly and then nodded against the mob of unruly curls that rested on his chest. "It wasn't always easy but I really wanted to have you together with your Dad. No matter what people said there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to hold you in my arms."
Kathi drew back a little from him just enough to look directly into his eyes and Sherlock held his breath as he waited for their daughter to come to a conclusion, to decide if she was fine with that or...
"You are the best Papa in the world!" The air was pressed from Sherlock's lungs as Kathi threw herself against his chest once more and almost choked him as she squeezed her arms around his neck. "I'm so glad that you are my parents."
"And we are glad that you are our beautiful, intelligent, little daughter," John murmured next to them while Sherlock merely pressed a kiss to Kathi's golden curls. He couldn't speak. His words were robbed from him by an overwhelming love that started to bloom in his chest and spread through his whole body. He closed his eyes in silent thanks for the amazing family he called his own as twin tears of happiness ran down his cheeks.
"She has finally fallen asleep," John announced as he sat down next to Sherlock on the couch. It was past ten in the evening and usually they sent Kathi to bed at around half past eight but today had been an exception to the rule. Their daughter had wanted to hear stories about Sherlock's pregnancy and her baby days and neither men had been able to deny Kathi her wishes. Not after she had been so wonderful about finding out that her Papa was transgender although John suspected that they shouldn't have expected anything less. She was their daughter after all.
"She was fascinated by the pictures." Sherlock pointed to the table on which two dozens of pictures were spread. "Maybe we should have taken more back then."
"You didn't want too many reminders of the way you looked during the pregnancy," John reminded his husband and nudged his shoulder until Sherlock got the hint and lay down with his head pillowed on John's thigh. "I'm sure Kathi understands that." John picked up one of the pictures that showed Sherlock seven months into his pregnancy playing the violin with a beautiful smile on his face.
There hadn't always been reasons to smile while they had tried for a child or during the nine months of pregnancy. It had taken a couple of years until Sherlock had managed to conceive and John was sure that they wouldn't have tried much longer than that if it hadn't worked out back then. John's heart had broken every month when his husband had suffered from his menstruation. He had listened to Sherlock's muffled sobs at night when he had felt betrayed by his body in more ways than one. John had never felt so helpless in his life before - not even when men had died under his watch in Afghanistan - and he had only been able to hold Sherlock close and show him how much he was loved.
"She understands more than we gave her credit for," Sherlock murmured quietly. "Maybe we should have told her sooner."
John hummed noncommittally and searched for his favorite picture on the table. "I don't think it makes a difference. She always knew how much we loved her and now she is even more aware of it. Just as aware as we are of our love for her and for each other."
"Yes," Sherlock agreed and craned his neck as John managed to retrieve his favorite picture from the table. A soft smile started in Sherlock's eyes and turned the corner of his lips upwards as he laid eyes on it. "One of the happiest days of my life. It has a special place in my Mind Palace right next to the day of our wedding or when we had our first time... Oh and the day when you accepted my proposal and when you told me that you love me for the first time and..."
John silenced his husband with a soft kiss and stroked his cheek tenderly with his thumb. "We have a lot of happy memories to call our own, Darling."
"And even one miracle of our own," Sherlock whispered against John's lips as he glanced sideways at the picture that John was still holding with one hand. Sherlock's words just now echoed John's own thoughts on the day that this picture had been taken. That it was a miracle to sit next to his exhausted husband who was smiling proudly at their beautiful daughter to whom he had given birth only a couple of hours earlier.
"Yes, Kathi is a miracle." John placed a soft kiss on Sherlock's lips. "But this miracle wouldn't have been possible without you. You are the strongest and bravest man I have ever had the fortune to meet, Sherlock and there is nothing in the world that could make me happier than that you are my husband. That you have chosen me. And I love you so much that there aren't enough words in any language to describe my feelings for you."
"I love you, too, John. Even if I don't say it nearly often enough, you are my miracle. That you are here with me and love me, it's just... I love you so much."
John wasn't sure if he tasted Sherlock's tears or his own when he drew his husband in for a deep kiss. He only knew that these were happy tears born from the love they held for each other and their little miracle upstairs.