The baby's eyes are a deep, dark brown. That's the first thing John Watson noticed. The child was unearthly quiet, and it took John much longer than it should have to discover the small bundle- tucked, as it was, in a rather old-fashioned looking pram in the living room. John had returned from the surgery no later than usual. He had hung his coat, as was his routine, and went straight to the kitchen, bare of science experiments and body parts and anything that didn't belong in a kitchen. The only allowance to this was the microscope, which had been cleaned but otherwise unmoved.
John permitted himself a few allowances.
He mindlessly made tea, plucked a half-eaten sleeve of Hob Nobs out of the cupboard, and shuffled into the living room, avoiding the sofa to sit in his usual chair, the morning paper still laid out on the floor exactly where he left it. He ignored the pang the undisturbed flat triggered in his chest, put down his mug of tea, and kicked the paper away.
He was about to turn on the telly when he saw it. The pram, tucked in between the end of the sofa and the wall, right under the Warhol print of a skull that Sherlock always favoured. John stood quickly, his senses instantly on alert. Someone had been here, been and gone, without so much as disturbing the dust.
Despite his better judgment, John approached the pram without hesitation. He peered inside, and the baby peered back at him, it's dark, deep eyes more intense than a baby's had any right to be. It's brow was furrowed under sparse, dark hair, and the child studied John with unfocused singularity. The child didn't cry. Its hands were balled into tight fists and its lips were pursed tightly.
John couldn't suppress his surprised laugh, and when the baby's eyebrows shot up so high as to almost disappear into its hairline John brought a hand up, covering his lips with his fingertips as he stared down at the baby, who was becoming more restless.
John pulled his phone out of his pocket, opened his messages, and found nothing new. He scrolled through his recent contacts and selected the last name on the list.
BAKER STREET ASAP EMERGENCY
The response was quite nearly instantaneous.
Arrival in approximately twenty-four minutes.
John slipped his phone back into his pocket and reached down for the child, lifting it carefully into his arms. It could be no older than five or six months, and John carefully lifted the waist of the baby's diaper to check the sex.
Ah. A boy then. A boy with a dry diaper, what felt like a full stomach, and a wrinkled scowl as he continued to stare at John.
"Hello there," John finally said, bouncing the child a bit awkwardly in his arms. The baby's frown softened a bit, and John checked his watch.
Twenty-four minutes never seemed quite so long before.
In all actuality, Mycroft Holmes arrived in precisely twenty-two minutes. John was watching out the window, a baby on his shoulder, when the black town car pulled up to the kerb. He went downstairs and opened the door just as Anthea, followed closely by Mycroft, mounted the stoop.
For once, Anthea's eyes were not on her Blackberry. She raised a delicate eyebrow, put her phone in an inside pocket of her blazer that instantly pulled John's interest, and turned to Mycroft, her face artfully neutral.
To his credit, Mycroft looked unfazed by the revelation. His jaw worked, he pressed his chin down to his chest, and he lifted his eyebrows. As his fingers tightened around the handle of his brolly he said, "Anthea, do go and fetch Doctor Watson the necessary...supplies."
Anthea nodded once and started back towards the car, her heels loud on the otherwise eerily quiet London street.
Mycroft Holmes narrowed his eyes suspiciously at the child before pointing inside 221 with the tip of his umbrella. "I would suggest we relocate this discussion to more temperate climes," he said primly, and John couldn't help but roll his eyes.
With a quick glance down to the baby, who had fallen asleep at some point with a hand fisted in his cable knit jumper, John started back up the stairs, Mycroft close behind. John crossed directly to the pram and carefully deposited the child inside, covering it with the emerald green blanket that had been draped over the baby earlier.
Mycroft had made it no further than the entrance of 221B, his eyes resting on the skull that still held court over the mantelpiece. With a barely perceptible nod his gaze shifted to John, who had perched on the arm of his chair, his legs crossed out in front of him at the ankles.
"What's going on, Mycroft?" John asked when it was quite clear that Mycroft was not going to offer any information willingly.
Mycroft Holmes took a deep breath. He rolled the handle of his brolly in the palm of his hand before wrapping his fingers back around it firmly. He licked his bottom lip, and with the slightest shake of the head he said, "I am afraid, Dr. Watson, that I do not have an answer to that question. Though I can assure you that I will have every one of the associates I can spare trying to unearth any information that can possibly be unearthed. You have my word, and in most civilized circles my word carries quite a lot of weight."
John could hear the little Sherlock-voice in his head latch on to the last statement snidely, but listening to the little Sherlock-voice in his head made his chest ache, so he ignored it. Instead he swept a hand out toward the child. "What am I supposed to do, then? Keep him? He's not a stray dog, Mycroft, I can't just keep him."
"I will see to it that all the necessary forms are filled and filed promptly," Mycroft said with a dismissive flick of the wrist. "Someone obviously wanted you to have this child. It has been widely publicized, Sherlock's...end and the havoc it wreaked. They knew to whom this child's welfare would fall if they brought it to two-hundred and twenty-one B."
John swallowed thickly. "Do you think..." he cleared his throat, and pressed on, "...Sherlock?"
"Nonsense," Mycroft spat, conscious to keep his tone low. "Sherlock had nothing to do with this...complication. He's dead, John, and I'm quite certain he failed to father any children in his abbreviated existence." A buzzing sounded from Mycroft's person, and he deftly plucked his phone from his breast pocket, scanning the message quickly. "Anthea has returned with the necessities of child-rearing. If you require any more assistance do not hesitate to contact me, Anthea will be at your disposal. If new information arises, I will alert you directly."
John stood as Mycroft made his way to the door. "Wait, what if I don't want to do this?"
Mycroft's smile was thin as he slipped his phone back into his pocket. "One is rarely allowed to pursue one's wants, Dr. Watson. Good night."
John collapsed in his chair, staring at the mug of cold tea and packet of Hob Nobs, no longer hungry.