You know what screw it!
I always said that Paved with Love would be the "what" part of the story and Rocks of Salvation would be the "how" and the "why". So here it is! The fluff to make up for the horrendous angst of last chapter because I feel like it!
Today was The Day!
Ava had remembered what Dad had told her to do. She'd gotten up, washed her face and crept down the stairs as quietly as possible. He'd been waiting with a cup of tea in his hands and one on the table for her.
"Are you nervous?" Ava asked biting her lip and being very careful to whisper.
Dad's mouth quirked, "Should I be?" he asked with a grin.
Ava shook her head smiling back.
They'd left before Sherlock had woken up. They'd picked up what they needed from Mycroft's house while Mycroft had asked Dad if he had rethought his insane idea.
Dad just shook his head with that same grin.
Dressed for the occasion they both sat in the empty waiting room.
"Do you think this is why Sherlock always wears a suit?" Ava asked admiring her new shoes.
And privately wondering how long it would take to get Dad to buy her heels.
"What? In case someone randomly proposes to him in the day?" Dad asked sounding distracted.
Ava glared, "No, I meant because he can blend in to any occasion without looking out of place." She rolled her eyes, "Do you think he's guessed yet?"
Dad shook his head, "He's remarkably dense about this sort of thing."
Not as dense as Dad thought, Ava mused privately. Sherlock had given them a strange look yesterday as if realising they were plotting something. Though, given they had all been working this out for the past three months, it was incredibly slow of Sherlock to just be figuring things out.
Mycroft took her into one of the side rooms when Sherlock eventually tracked them down.
"He will say yes, won't he?" Ava asked fiddling with a thread on her dress.
"I imagine so." Mycroft sounded positively uncomfortable with the whole thing. "He's become rather obsessed with labelling everything recently."
Ava glanced up at Mycroft.
Mycroft just shook his head.
"Did you say yes?" Ava demanded as she was finally allowed back out into the waiting room.
Sherlock just nodded looking a bit dazed.
Dad was smiling, his whole face delighted as he swung her up into his arms.
"Go on then," she said, handing her his phone.
Ava fired off the texts Dad had saved to his draft box last night.
"John?" Sherlock sounded confused, "Why…"
"Um…" Dad wouldn't stop smiling. "Have you not noticed where we are?"
Sherlock eyes travelled up, then to the side. Dawning realisation crept onto his face as he looked around at the registry office.
"Today?" he asked, seemingly stunned.
Dad nodded, "Well it makes sense," he defended squirming a little. "You know so we can…have it all over with by Christmas."
"Over with?" Sherlock repeated his tone dropping to a dangerous note.
"Well…do you really want Mrs Hudson making a fuss over this twice. And buying a hat. Or having Lestrade insist on some form of stag party, or Mycroft…doing whatever it is he does."
Sherlock nodded slowly, "Yet you've sent out texts."
"Well we need witnesses." Dad added brightly, "And it will save bickering if we just invite them all."
"How efficient of you."
Dad nodded "Well I do try."
Even Dad looked stunned when Mycroft handed over two tiny boxes.
"Don't say a word," Mycroft added hurriedly, "There is no need to ever bring this up again."
So they didn't.
That night, when Ava came down to bed, Sherlock was twisting the new ring around his finger thoughtfully.
Ava smiled at the sight and then glanced over at Dad who winked at her before leaving her to it and going into their room.
Sherlock seemed to rouse himself out of whatever he'd been thinking and stared over at her.
"You did well keeping that a secret."
Ava plonked herself down on the armchair opposite him. "You guessed yesterday," she announced. "I saw."
"It was one possibility." Sherlock admitted. "Not the only one though."
"That's ok. Dad said he'd rather have you guess at his present than at mine."
Sherlock's thumb kept stroking the metal band around his third finger absently, "I sincerely hope it's an improvement on last years present," he muttered.
Ava beamed, "You have no idea what it is," she crowed in delight.
Sherlock's eyes narrowed at the challenge.
Adopting her most innocent expression Ava sat primly and waited. Eventually Sherlock looked away.
"It's been an eventful day," he excused. "I'll work it out tomorrow." His eyes flickered towards the door.
He probably was eager to go and have S. E. X! Which was kinda gross to think of them doing that. They were old and her parents after all.
"Ok, but you'll have to get up early then. Otherwise you'll have it spoiled when the social worker arrives." Ava told him with faked sadness that she only just managed to pull off.
Sherlock went white.
"Social worker?" he rose looking panicked,"Why?"
Ok, so perhaps that hadn't been as funny as she'd meant it. It was strange to remember that sometimes Sherlock got weird about things too. She really should remember it though. If he and Dad could follow her on school trips to make sure she didn't have a sudden turn at heights or fancy rooms then she could probably try to remember that Sherlock had a thing about social workers, huge floor to ceiling windows and any form of the words IOU.
And that they both got ill at the staying alive song.
"John," Sherlock called, "Did you know about this social worker?"
The door was yanked open. "Ava," Dad started looking mad. "You were meant to just tell him, not play the Holmes' version of how to have a heart to heart."
Sherlock's eyes darted between them, "Why is a social worker coming here." He demanded still looking pale.
Dad huffed and stared at Ava.
"Is it because of this," Sherlock held his ring hand up, waving it at Dad. "I swear to god John if this has stirred it all back up again-"
Ava thrust the envelope up at him. "Just open it," she scowled at him.
Sherlock just glanced at it and then back at Dad. "If they try to take her away I will-"
"It's adoption papers." Ava cut over him, waving it in his direction.
Sherlock blinked in utter confusion.
"For you to sign." Ava clarified.
Sherlock still just stared and then slowly looked at Dad.
"I did tell you I wanted everyone to know how we felt about each other," Dad said sounding tired, "I was including Ava in that."
Sherlock stayed utterly still and then slowly, unbearably slowly, reached out his hand for the envelope.
In silence he pulled out the half completed papers and stared at them.
"Unless you liked the title of step-dad," Dad added.
"This-" Sherlock seemed to have lost the power of speech.
"Even if we do end up like one of those statistics," Dad sounded a tad bitter about that, "You'd still be a legal guardian. And if anything ever happens again you'd never have to go through it all again."
Sherlock was just staring at the papers.
"But it does mean that, one last time, you'll have to deal with social workers." Dad sounded apologetic.
"But she's nice," Ava butted in. "And Mycroft didn't yell at her once."
A spasmed smile crossed Sherlock's mouth at the reminder of his usually calm brother utterly losing his temper at the poor unfortunate woman that had first handled their case.
"I told you Sherlock." Dad said quietly. "Everything I have."
Sherlock's hand shook as he held the papers and slowly made his way to the desk.
"You don't have to sign them now-" Dad broke off as Sherlock picked up the pen and started scrawling his signature. "-or apparently you do."
Lestrade phoned the next evening with a case while Sherlock and Dad had an argument about the mouldy cheese in the fridge which apparently Dad had wrongly assumed was an experiment.
"What?" Sherlock snapped down the phone as he barely took a breath in between yelling at Dad and answering the call.
"No." Sherlock said barely three seconds later, "I don't care how confused Anderson is; it's hardly a useful indicator of complexity."
Dad stood with his hands on his hips looking murderous and waited.
"Lestrade, I don't care; I am spending Christmas Eve with my husband and daughter. Kindly piss off." Sherlock violently pressed end call, tossed the phone on the table and rounded on Dad again. "And why on earth you think mouldy Red Leicester is an experiment is beyond me. It's substandard cheese to begin with."
Dad blinked, looked at the phone and then at the offending cheese. Then at Sherlock.
Then he whirled, opened the fridge and started to take out everything.
"We are going through this bloody thing once and for all." Dad said, "And so help me if you complain."
Ava caught the brief smile that crossed Sherlock's lips and bit her lip.
Turning she glanced over at the fireplace.
There was her sports day medal and the skull that Dad had spent hours reconstructing after she smashed it. The knife jammed into the mantelpiece would forever hold the receipt of the first meal Sherlock had bought Dad when he'd gotten out of prison and the draft of Ava's speech that had won the contest at school a few months after she'd started talking again.
And that now also held the civil ceremony licence and her still pending adoption papers. Across from it was their christmas tree with the lone pink bauble, the angel she had made two years ago, the usual silver decorations and the wonky salt dough characters from last year.
"Ava! Why is there a half-eaten, half rotting Cadbury's cream egg in here?"
Ava glanced at the skull.
"An experiment?" she called hopefully
"Don't even try it."
"He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem."
Which, if you take certain interpretations means for the whole section from the Songs of Songs from the bible means "it is the pavement of love; a sinner may leap here, there is no hazard to fall, or if he fall, he falls soft, for it is upon love"
quoted from James Durham's work.