A/N: Sorry this is so late, but here is the end! It's a bit rushed, sorry. D: NaNoWriMo starts in a week. However, I most definitely have a sequel planned!
This was quite an odd sight. John had to leave the room, and splash his face with water before he returned just to be sure that he was, in fact, wide awake and not still dreaming.
No, his eyes worked just fine. Somehow, he just couldn't wrap his mind around it.
Sherlock was sitting cross-legged on the floor. Raven sat in front of him, waving about the plastic keys. If he had just been studying her, the scene wouldn't have seen so odd to the bleary eyed doctor. However, one detail was drastically out of place.
Sherlock was smiling.
Had he missed something? His eyes scanned about for anything sinister. Sherlock didn't smile at babies, especially one he'd been stuck with. Any odd medical equipment? Body parts? Oh no, there was a bell on the mantle. He'd been conditioning the poor girl just as Pavlov—
No, wait, the bell had been there since Christmas. Sherlock had been complaining about his skull – or specifically, the void that it had once occupied - , so Mrs. Hudson had bought them a decorative bell. Sherlock had decided to leave it, for whatever reason. John deemed it better than the skull, so he didn't question the motives. One less body part around the flat was perfectly all right with him.
Right, so she hadn't been conditioned – to his knowledge anyhow – so just what was going on?
He watched curiously as Sherlock covered the infant's eyes. She went very still, and the smile fell from her face. The moment the detective pulled his hands back, her face lit up once again.
"John, it's remarkable!" John was startled by the sudden exclamation; he hadn't been aware Sherlock knew of his presence there. "When her sight is covered, she seems to think the world has vanished!"
Ah, so that was it. He was studying her. "It's called peek-a-boo, Sherlock."
He scoffed. "This is much more than a game, John." Of course it was. John's phone cried out from his pocket the same moment as Raven made some kind of noise. He pulled it out just as Sherlock exclaimed, "She just spoke!"
The words on his screen ripped his mood to shreds.
"Sherlock." John had gone very still, looking down at the screen of his phone.
"I don't care what your medical books say – they were all written by idiots anyways." Sherlock seemed rather pleased. "I know she just said 'no.'"
The doctor sighed. "Sherlock."
"Oh, there may be hope for humanity yet!" Sherlock exclaimed, lifting the little girl into the air and looking at her with pride. "Perhaps you will be clever after all."
"Mycroft wants her back," John cut in suddenly, and the mood in the room dropped dead. Sherlock's piercing eyes looked at him questioningly. "Apparently I'm to take her to him straight away."
"No," Sherlock breathed.
Sherlock instantly regained his composure. "I said, 'oh.' It's about time, honestly. Just how long has it been?"
John thought. "A little over a week, I suppose, close to two..."
"Just as I thought, far too long. You'd best gather her things together and take her then," the taller man declared, passing her off to the doctor. John took the confused girl and held her tightly against his shoulder. Sherlock was slipping into his coat. "I have an appointment to see Lestrade; I decoded the message." Knotting his scarf, he had taken on a completely neutral expression. "I won't be long, though I expect you'll still be gone when I return."
Without so much as a glance back, Sherlock had swept out the door. John sighed; if he hadn't known better, he'd have thought Sherlock hadn't cared at all.
Leave it to Mycroft to pick the oddest places to meet. John was grateful for the ride that had picked he and Raven up from Baker Street, but from the looks of the building, it seemed more likely they were doing a drug deal rather than passing off a baby. Poor Raven; it was no fault of hers that she had gotten mixed up with the Holmes brothers. At least she was far too young to remember it.
Mycroft was waiting when he arrived, looking his usual prim and proper and smug self.
"Are you sure?" The Detective Inspector questioned, crossing his arms.
Sherlock looked insulted. "Obviously."
"Hello, John," Mycroft greeted him. "And little Cecelia. I'm pleased to see she still looks healthy."
"Cecelia?" John asked, looking down at the dark haired baby in the carrier.
"Yes, that is her birth name, but I take it that's not what you and my brother have been calling her?" The elder Holmes knew it very well. He'd left no way for them to learn her name.
"We've called her Raven," John admitted, looking down at her fondly. Mycroft motioned for one of the agents that had accompanied him to take Raven. John swallowed a lump in his throat as he waved quietly at the girl watching him in confusion; this was ridiculous, he couldn't be upset. She wasn't his, and he hadn't been part of her life very long. Maybe the fact that she didn't know this was goodbye was what made it so much harder to take.
"Be ready for round two?" Lestrade asked in disbelief, and Sherlock nodded. "What is that supposed to mean?"
Sherlock folded his hands together at his mouth. "It means I've finished this round." He grinned. "I've won."
"Thank you, John. You've been very helpful to me," Mycroft smiled, but somehow the smile made him go cold. "I doubt whether Sherlock would have managed without you."
"Sorry, this was a test for Sherlock?"John asked, his mind connecting the pieces.
Mycroft nodded, his brow folded in such a way that made John feel like a fool for not knowing this sooner. "Yes. You see, I think he is much more adapted to society than he likes to believe. You've certainly made progress with bringing him out of his little world."
"Was instrumental in this test. I've done it before with smaller tasks, but I felt he was ready for more," Mycroft explained.
The arrogance of the Holmes brothers knew no limits. "So who is she then?"
"An orphan," Mycroft answered simply, and John felt his face burn. She hadn't mattered to him, not really. She was just another piece of property that Mycroft had access to. "The car will take you back to your flat, John."
Too infuriated to retaliate, John climbed wordlessly into the black vehicle. Mycroft watched it drive off, a smile still tugging at his lips. Yes, John Watson was just the man to help his brother.
"Have the documents prepared to have a change of name issued to the girl," he instructed the waiting agent.
With a heavy heart, John pushed open the door to the main flat. He had barely stepped inside when barking filled the flat, and a small puppy – a bull dog – dashed to his feet.
"I figured you would undoubtedly be mourning the absence of Raven, so rather than have you mope around, I found something else for you to care for," Sherlock informed the bewildered doctor from his spot by the window. "Just don't let him ruin my experiments."
"You... you got me a dog?" John gasped, leaning down to give attention to the eager pup.
"He followed me home from Scotland Yard," Sherlock shrugged. John looked down at the animal craving his attention; it was obviously not a stray. "Oh, and I've already picked a name so you don't give him a ridiculous one. Meet Gladstone."
John laughed. "Hello Gladstone."
Looking out the window, Sherlock kept his back to the scene behind him. He was ready for round two, more than ready. Mycroft would not win.
A small smile curled the corners of his mouth as he raised his hand up and touched his nose for the briefest of moments.