Disclaimer: I owe nothing that you recognise.


Written for the Kinkmeme prompt (and then followed in the loosest possible way!)

Sherlock Holmes had his first experience of sex when he was sixteen years old, with a girl who was the daughter of his father's buisiness partner, helped along with a stolen bottle of scotch and a rather ancient looking condom stolen from the wallet of an obnoxious party guest.

Somehow, eleven years and three months later, he's faced with ten year old John Watson.

Warnings: This fic does mention and refer to instances of child abuse -physical, verbal and psychological (and not all of these are in reference to John but to another character). An unusual childhood is mentioned as John grew up in a non-traditional manner and that will continue with Sherlock. On occasion there may be scenes bordering into neglect, depending on how you define it but more out of a forgetful nature then purposeful cruelty. Oh and an awful take on what social services would allow!

Update: I have started to go through the chapters and clean the earlier chapters up. The fic is completed but the rest is being edited. It will be sixteen chapters long and then there will be three further parts - "A series of firsts" documenting John and Sherlock's firsts. Then a take on series 1 and 2. The last will be a version of Sherlock returning. I have figured out the dates (finally) and John will be fourteen at the start of s1 in January, turning 15 in the feb and will be 16 when Sherlock 'falls'.

The Arrest

Summary: Arresting the mother of your child isn't always a good idea.

13th September 2005

Anna Watson.

Sherlock stared down at the girl (woman now) he had lost his virginity to. The girl he had shared his first cigarette with and used his first ancient condom with.

The only girl he had ever gotten pregnant.

And the only girl to have aborted the child.

It had been a relief at the time. Sort of; babies were utterly detestable creatures but that would only take a year or two and then there would be a personality that he could shape, growth and development that he could record and predict.

But, just as he'd started to get used to the ide, her parents had announced the abortion and she'd vanished. On occasion he'd toyed with the idea that she'd kept 'it', but that had been sentimental rubbish. Alone and pregnant at the age of sixteen; no-one would have chosen that option.

Except here he was, arresting her for murder and a rap sheet on cons and thefts (some of which had actually impressed him) and staring at her, then up at the picture on the wall.

The picture of her with a child. A boy with her sandy blond hair, dark blue-hazel eyes and his mother's mouth. His father's ears. A boy who looked to be about the right age…

A child.

A son.

"Are you all right?" Lestrade asked, sounding puzzled.

Anna was avoiding his gaze.

"You lied," he said, clearing his throat, not entirely sure what he was meant to do with this information.

"No," Anna stared at the table. "I just never corrected my parents. Couldn't really. Too busy trying to scrape together a living to raise a baby."

The tone was accusing, as if he were meant to feel guilty. In truth he felt nothing. Numb. Detached, as they weren't standing in the same kitchen/lounge surrounded by police officers.

Ever the keen mind, Lestrade frowned, looking between them. "Wait…do you two know each other?" Lestrade asked slowly.

What did it say about the rest of the force that he was the most competent one? With a scathing glance in Lestrade's direction, Sherlock turned his attention back to Anna and the rather baffling set of facts in front of him.

He couldn't make it add up. "Why…" he drew his brows together with frustration. "Why would you have kept it?" he asked.

It made no logical sense.

Anna glared at him and then looked away. "You'll need a social worker," she said looking at Lestrade and ignoring the question to Sherlock's iritation. "My son is on his way home from school, you have about ten minutes."

"His father's not an option?" Lestrade asked with a sigh, digging into his pocket for the phone.

Father. That was a troubling word.

As if sensing his thoughts, Anna looked up at Sherlock squarely, her faze almost challenging. "No," she said firmly.

Social worker. Right. That would be best.

What did one usually expect from ten year old children? Tears? Tantrums? Snot?


There was a horrible image of some clingy child, face wet with emotion and think with the need to be indulged. He so rarely had anything to do with children; most adults kept their offspring away from him, thus showing there was some intelligence in the world.

But when…when his…when the boy had returned home from school and had been led in by Donovan, he simply stared at Anna with eyes that looked huge for his pale face.

"No fools?" the boy asked with a sigh as he clenched his jaw.

Anna smiled sadly. "No sweetheart. No fools today.

The boy went to her as if magnetised. Curiously, Lestrade averted his eyes as the boy pressed a long hug to Anna and she wrapped her arms around him, almost engulfing the child.

A glance around the room showed that most were doing that. A futile attempt to give the pair privacy or where they feeling guilty about separating mother and son?

Likely both, Sherlock decided, his eyes flicking over the boy unbidden.

The boy was short, even for his age. No-one in his family was short. Maybe he'd have a growth spurt.

It was a natural curiosity Sherlock decided. Of course it was; a biological imperative to inspect the outcome of one's genes. To decide if the act of procreation had been a success or failure.

Feeling marginally more comfortable with his investigation now, Sherlock studied the boy from his position against the wall.

New shoes. Likely procured free of charge by a con given the expense of them. The boy's reaction indicated that not only was he aware of Anna's lifestyle but that he was immersed in it. There may be a budding pickpocket and liar in front of him.

That would be interesting.

Small but sturdy. Liked but not overly popular. Average? But maybe purposefully so, in order to avoid attracting attention.

"Social Services will meet us at the office," Lestrade sounded annoyed. "Bloody budget cuts," he muttered under his breath. "Donovan, you keep an eye on Miss Watson here and I'll be along as soon as I've sorted out the kid's custody arrangement."

Anna closed her eyes and gripped the boy by the shoulders, "You be good," she said softly, her eyes bright. "In every way, you be good."

The boy nodded, his shoulders indicating his sadness as they hunched and his head bowed. Anna drew in a deep breath and walked over to Donovan, giving him a long look as she passed.

"Come on kiddo," Lestrade held out his hand. "You know anyone that I could call to look after you?"

The boy eyed Lestrade warily. "Probably shouldn't give you their names," he said after a moment's thought.

Lestrade blinked then grinned, "Fair enough." He looked up at Sherlock as the boy passed in front of him. "Uh…case solved right?" he said, seeming confused by Sherlock's presence.

The boy looked between them with only the vaguest amount of interest on his face before he looked through the door again, clearly hoping for another glimpse of his mother.

"You need additional evidence," he heard himself say. "I'll stay and look."

The boy threw him a filthy glance as they left, the house turning quiet in minutes.

He still needed more data.


The name was too short, too quick for him to roll it around in his head properly. John.

The first thing he did was find their documents. A yank through the shoe box under a loose floorboard in Anna's closet provided him with John's birth certificate.

And there was his bloody name, clear as day with Anna's in the applicable box.

John Hamish Watson.

He'd called a goldfish Hamish once. Had she remembered that or was it just coincidence?

More information needed.

Baby photos provided no help whatsoever. John had been small and round, like most babies were. The shots were done with a cheap camera, poor lighting and proficiency. Likely Anna had taken them herself.

School reports. Useless. All filled in with a tick list that told him nothing, completed with a generic comment that probably fit a third of the children in the class.

A letter.

It was messy, hastily written and contained some atrocious spelling.

Dear Mum,

We built stick huts today. Mark Elliot knocked ours down half way through because he was jelous of ours. We had to finish it quick because at the end they poored water over it to see how water tight the hut was. We got soaked.

But Mark lost his wallet afterwards and Lily who got the wettest found a tenner on the floor so it all worked out fine.

Love you and tell Uncle jasper were making vases tomorrow. Rekon he could sell mine for me?


Thief and a wannabe Robin Hood.

Sherlock traced the words with his thumb, trying to picture the scenario in his head. Jasper had to be Jasper Truman; a forger who most people with a slightly grey link knew.

John was ten years old. Young enough for a normal family to take him in, raise him properly. Ensure he didn't have to lie about such things.

But a normal family would frown at theft, at the attempts to redistribute wealth and joke about conning people into paying a fortune for worthless tat.

He still needed much more data.

But he pocketed the birth certificate and the letter.

John's room held a little more detail. Simple and uncluttered, a few toys scattered around.

His book shelf showed adventure books, and the DVD's were all typical boy films about heroes and saving the day. His trainers were well used and there were various sporting kits in his wardrobe.

Downstairs, in the main room, was a picture of John in a frame. A candid shot of him looking up at something curiously, tilting his head in question.

It was the first hint of himself that Sherlock had seen in the boy.

He wasn't sure that was a good thing.

"Anna didn't have an abortion," Sherlock announced to Mycroft as he walked into his office.

The first emotion that played across Mycroft's face was bafflement, then thoughtfulness, then recognition, followed by shock.

Well, at least he wasn't the only reacting strangely today.

Sherlock flopped into the seat opposite Mycroft's desk still not entirely sure how this had happened or how he was meant to react to it.

"Good grief," Mycroft swallowed as he put down the document he'd been reading.

"I had her arrested three hours ago," Sherlock added rubbing at his forehead. "In retrospect not the finest plan."

Mycroft showed none of the inane disapproval most would have had. "Do you need me to-"

"No, my methods are irrefutable. She's guilty of murder. God knows why, it's a huge, uncharacteristic step away from her usual crimes." Sherlock lifted his feet onto Mycroft's desk and leaned his head back over the edge of the chair. That was interesting as well, what would have prompted the change of pattern? Blackmail? Money? Revenge? It has been premeditated, clever (relatively)…

"Feet," Mycroft muttered. Sherlock stared at him blankly before spotting the glare at his own feet on Mycroft's desk and papers.

"Thinking," Sherlock dismissed.

The disapproving look never failed to make Sherlock smile inwardly. "So there is a child?" Mycroft asked slowly.

"A boy. John."

"John?" Mycroft seemed to find the name equally distasteful. "Hardly fitting with family tradition," he decided with a frown.

Family…oh no. His parents did not need to be informed about this. Sherlock lifted his head and fired a warning glare at Mycroft. "I am merely processing the knowledge. I have no intention of…I have no intentions."

"Then what is in your pocket?" came the snide reply.


The boy was asleep in Lestrade's chair, covered with a suit jacket.

It was curiosity that made Sherlock squat down, keeping a desk between them as he studied the boy's face. It was round and still filled with puppy fat that gave him a sweet appearance-

Not sweet, just much younger than his years.

Not sweet.

"He's a child, not a toy," Lestrade muttered from the doorway. "Come here before you wake him up."

"Where are social services?" Sherlock asked quietly, standing and walking over, unwilling to risk the boy opening his eyes.

"Delayed. He isn't a priority at the moment and until they find a space for him there's nowhere to put the kid." Lestrade closed the door. "Poor thing."

"There will be a family to take him?"

Lestrade looked almost amused, "God no. They'll take him to a children's home, then the search for a foster home will start." He looked back at the door, "Kid that age, with that kind of background, chances are he'll bounce around for years. Shame, seems like a good kid despite everything."

Sherlock said nothing.

"So did you get anything else?" Lestrade asked, shaking himself.

"Call me when social services finally deign to make an appearance," Sherlock said standing. "I have other matters to attend to."

Sherlock managed to head the woman off before Lestrade spotted her.

"Can I help you?" she asked, looking tired but firm.

"Will John be bounced around?" Sherlock asked, disliking the term, as if the child was a football. "Lestrade said it was an option."

"I'm sorry, I really can't discuss the matter," she side-stepped him.

Sherlock glared after her and followed. "You think that will be the case," he said, ignoring the curious glances he was receiving. "Don't you?"

"Sherlock," Lestrade looked frankly baffled, "Back off! What the hell is wrong with you today?"

"I need to know-"

"It is confidential," the social worker said with some bite.

The birth certificate burned by his side as he whirled and walked out of the office, baffled by his continued interest in this.

Why did he need to know? Mycroft could track the child if he so wanted. Idle speculation about what might happen to a child was a complete waste of time. He would either be placed or he wouldn't be, he would either settled to a new life or he wouldn't. Worrying about it would hardly make a difference.

Three cigarettes later, the social worker walked out of the building, John trailing after her with obvious reluctance. Following them Lestrade scowled at the sight of Sherlock, glaring at him pointedly as Sherlock leaned against the stair rails in a clear message to back off.

Ignoring the look, Sherlock stubbed out the cigarette. "I need to talk to him," Sherlock declared, standing away from the wall. "Five minutes."

The social worker looked ready to argue but Lestrade nodded and tilted his head at John who, after a look between all three of the adults, stepped forward.

Sherlock turned, leading John a little away from the others. When he was sure they were out of earshot, he looked down at the boy, not entirely sure why he wanted to talk to him. But the child was staring at him with an expectant expression.

"What do you require?" he asked, surprising himself with the question. "For day to day living?"

John furrowed his brow, "Uh…food?" he asked looking unsure as to what he was being asked. "Air? Sleep?"

Idiot boy.

"Are you capable of making your own food?" Sherlock clarified, a half formed possible idea starting to threaten.

"Yes," John pulled a face.

"Of putting yourself to bed?"

John gave him a strange look, one that seemed utterly lost suddenly. "Yes."

"And you'd survive being left on your own for hours? I assume the presence of a television helps with such things."

"I guess."

"And…how emotional are you? Is this," Sherlock gestured to John, "Typical?"

John pulled a face, "Uh…"

"You don't have a need for hugs and bed time stories or discussions about feelings?"

"No," John sounded scornful. "I'm not a baby."

Sherlock turned to look at the car John was soon to be driven off in.

That was an uncomfortable idea.

"You can make your own way to and from school?"

John shrugged, "Guess it depends where I'm going," he said, swallowing and looking a little nervous about it.

What else should he ask? What else did he need to know?

Know for what? Sherlock suddenly frowned at the direction his thoughts had been spiraling to.

What was he thinking?

But the boy was about to be driven away-

"Excuse me?" The social worker called. "We need to be making a move. I'm sure your questions can wait for another day."

Excellent. Sudden relief bloomed.

"Yes," Sherlock nodded as she walked over and Lestrade watched with a wary eye. "Yes, where will he be going?"

That gave him time to think.

A day to gather his thoughts and remember that his ridiculous, unspoken idea was foolish.

Once he interviewed the boy again.

27th September 2005

There was a saying; out of sight, out of mind that Sherlock usually scorned. Now he understood it. Without the boy there, in front of him, life settled back to normal and the curious urge was easier to ignore and rationalise away. One day turned into three which, after a sudden case called, became two weeks.

Then that blasted car turned up again.

"It's Mummy's birthday in a month," Mycroft said as Sherlock settled into the back seat. "Am I to presume we won't be informing her about John?"

Sherlock stared out of the window, watching the rain drivel down the glass, distorting the view of London's streets and blurring the street lights.


"May I enquire why?" Mycroft asked after a pause.

Sherlock stroked at the letter and certificate still in his coat pocket with the edge of his thumb. "Do be serious Mycroft. The only person less suited to parenthood than I am is you."

"Then I suggest you return that-" Mycroft poked his umbrella in the direction of Sherlock's pocket, "-to the proper authorities and sign away any paternal rights. Once and for all."

That was sensible, rational, sensible and predictable in the way that most of Mycroft's ideas were.

Yet, for some strange reason, his thumb tightened on the paper as he nodded.

28th September 2005

The home was a rather innocuous looking building that looked run down and tired. The gate squeaked and there seemed to be a general lack of care with the appearance.

Mrs Fisher, who he'd spoken to on the phone under the pretext of being a friend of Anna's, nodded at him as she opened the door. Inside was clean but messy which he assumed was typical of a house filled with children.

"John will be pleased to see you," Mrs Fisher said as she led him through the kitchen. "They've all just come back from school."

They were outside. He could see glimpses of blue uniform and grey trousers, hear the children calling to each other. Loudly.

"He hasn't been placed yet?" Sherlock questioned, relatively sure of the answer given how eager she was being with him.

"No." Mrs Fisher sighed, "We have to vet very carefully; you must understand that with his background should there be a theft or a problem John may be the first most people would blame. Human nature," she said sadly. "And he's a solemn young boy, not that affectionate or quick to trust."

It was impossible to spot John through the bushes.

"It will be easier once his mother's trial has finished. And of course," she shook herself. "You said you were a friend of Miss Watson's?"


"Do you happen to know-"

"Yes." Sherlock turned to her and slipped his hand in his pocket, "I am intimately acquainted with his father."

Her eyes widened and then looked down at the birth certificate.

The letter, he did not offer.

"Mr Holmes…" Mrs Fisher looked hopeful, "Are you here to-"

"No." Sherlock concentrated on putting the certificate on the table. "No. I am not…suitable."

She reached out and tapped her finger on the creased paper, looking thoughtful. "Does he know?"

"No. He and I have only met once. I helped the police track down and arrest his mother. It was only when he…when I saw the photographs that I realised…" Sherlock shook his head, annoyed at his inability to finish his sentences.

Mrs Fisher folded it up suddenly. "Talk to him."


Sherlock glanced at the window. "He's busy," he excused.

"You should be certain," the tenacious woman handed him back the certificate. "Once you sign any papers you cannot go back."

Irritated, Sherlock drummed his fingers against the counter, "I didn't make it home for three days last week. I barely remember to feed myself and I find sleep dull. I have no problem with leaving without notice and I spend my days tracking suspects for the police and clients. I have been shot at more times then I care to count, successfully stabbed twice and scraped with a bullet once. Half of Scotland Yard think I'm a psychopath rather than a functioning sociopath. Tell me how that is an acceptable situation for a child."

Mrs Fisher nodded slowly and Sherlock took a deep breath, the win an unsatisfactory burn in his chest.

"John is the victim of continuous playground bullying; his mother's trial is in the papers and these children do not have an easy time of it as it is. He won't talk to anyone, won't trust anyone and will lie at the drop of a hat to avoid bringing attention to himself. He has tried to run away twice and, though this isn't official Mr Holmes, we were exceedingly lucky to find him the second time. His school work has slipped and currently he is sporting a rather interesting purple bruise that he got from 'tripping on the stairs'."

That…that wasn't meant to be the case. Sherlock felt himself flounder momentarily. "He's adjusting," he said quietly.

"Yes." Mrs Fisher agreed. "But I have two children who are here because their parents were abusive towards each other, one whose guardians were extremely negligent, a victim of sexual abuse, two children who have been 'returned' despite our efforts and we are due to have a third one back tomorrow. Tell me, there are three adults here, do you honestly believe John will get the attention he deserves?"

"You seem competent," Sherlock muttered.

"I am also only one person."

"I…" Sherlock shook his head, "I am not a suitable candidate."

"Who is?" Mrs Fisher sighed. "Just…talk to him. If you are so sure then it won't change much."

Sherlock hovered, still unsure, "I…"

The matter was taken out of his control when the back door opened.

John looked miserable. He hadn't looked so despondent the night his mother had been arrested. The bruise on his cheek was vivid and turning from purple to an ugly yellow-green. His shoulders were tense and wary as if readying himself for some assault.

A shiver of something uncomfortable ran down Sherlock's spine. The boy that had been so stoic, so resiliently brave the night Anna had been arrested now looked like he'd lost something vital.

Blue-hazel eyes glanced at him and there was a flare of recognition and then a suspicious glance at Mrs Fisher. If possible, John's stance curled even further inwards.

"Were you after something, John?"

There was a minute flicker to the fridge as the boy shook his head in a sullen fashion. Then his eyes fixed on the door, narrowing as if working out the chance of escape.

"Could you-" Sherlock looked at Mrs Fisher and then at the door.

She hesitated and then nodded, "John, I'll be right outside if you need me. I'll hear if you call."

Then she was gone.

"Three against one hardly seems fair," Sherlock said, keeping carefully against the counter. And it had been, he thought with a frown. The marks on his wrist, the strains on his blazer and tie, the fact that he'd been forced to absorb the blow and not turn his head from it.

"I'm not helping you," John said scuffing his shoe against the floor. "She shouldn't be in prison."

Did he know something or was it simply a boy's desperation to believe the best about his mother?

"And you can't ask me anything," John added, chin firming slightly. "There are laws."

Then the wide eyes darted down to Sherlock's hands and there was a flutter in his throat as John swallowed. Sherlock followed John's gaze and stared at his own hands.

He'd been hit.

By an adult.

Not lately, but it had been recent enough that John was hyper aware of the possibility. Anna wouldn't have allowed-

The murder had been odd. Uncharacteristic of her and very…business like. She'd admitted to the fact that she had been paid to do it, that she had planned it all out but there was something…

There was a mystery here.

It would explain the boy's skittishness. Days and then weeks without his mother had probably left him feeling especially vulnerable to such an attack again.

Someone had threatened John.

"The man who hit you," Sherlock said slowly, "What did he look like?"

"No-one hit me," one of John's eyes narrowed fractionally. A very well hidden tell; Anna had obviously trained the boy in lying.

"Mm," Sherlock let his disbelief bleed into his voice, "Clearly."

There was more here…

"Someone's explained…" Sherlock sucked in a breath, "You've see him again. Since Anna was imprisoned."

"Whatever," John looked at the door fiercely.

"That is far too dull a response from you," Sherlock snapped. "Try again."

John's jaw gaped fractionally and he seemed completely flummoxed by the idea that he was getting told off for his use of words rather than his rudeness. So confused in fact, that he just screwed up his nose and looked away, his mind clearly racing and trying to figure out his next move.

It was fascinating, watching the shifting expressions. Anger and a sullen glare passed and were replaced with a slight spark of something.

"Why? Are you actually a lawyer or do you just dress like one?"

Sherlock stared at the boy and then felt a terrible, awful urge to nod in approval and yet simultaneously slam into the chair in a sulk. "That…" he said pointing, "Is highly offensive."

A genuinely amused grin flashed, rare as mercury and Sherlock's hand clenched around the certificate protectively. The smile vanished quickly from his face, replaced with a rather forlorn expression as John worried at his lip.

"You see things?" he asked hesitantly, "You spot things that people can't?"

"I deduce," Sherlock corrected.

There was a flicker of…of something. Sherlock wasn't sure what it was but there was some reaction to the word. "Do you…do you take private cases?" John asked, edging slightly closer.

Vaguely amused at the idea that a ten year old was attempting to hire him to solve a case he was already interested in, Sherlock nodded, "Sometimes."

John clicked his jaw, clearly thinking and his eyes fixed on Sherlock's coat, then shoes, then watch. "You're expensive aren't you?" he asked, shoulders dropping again.

"Only when the cases are boring."

John nodded and Sherlock waited for the question. But John just glanced at the fridge one last time for whatever snack or juice it was that he had originally come in for and then darted back to the door.

"You aren't going to ask?" Sherlock queried, something panicking as John reached for the rusted handle.

John glanced back, an odd sad smile lingering on his lips.

"No," he shifted as if unsure. "I'm not that interesting or that important."

Then he vanished out into the garden again.

Yes, Sherlock thought, staring at the door his son had just gone through. You are.

Later, when he stumbled home dazed, he smoothed the certificate out on the table and stared at it as if an answer would suddenly appear in the creases.

30th September 2005

"Who threatened him?"

Anna glared at him and then over at the guards. "Fuck off," she suggested, folding her arms defiantly and leaning back in the chair.

Sherlock turned and looked around the room and then back and caught her glance, then looked at his tapping fingers pointedly.

"What was the amount?" Sherlock asked, trying to stress the last word slightly.

"Twenty thousand," Anna replied, as she had done in court, her tone bored and childishly petulant.

Her finger tapped four times.

There were seven guards. Four were being paid. Either Anna was extraordinarily paranoid or she had fallen foul of some very powerful people.

"The child," he said, his tone taking on an air of boredom. "You seemed dismissive of the idea to track down any other potential guardians."

"You don't need my permission," Anna said carefully. "If you're dedicated to searching."

Sherlock looked away.

"There are no suitable options," Anna sounded as if she were holding a leash to her temper, "My parents want nothing to do with their bastard grandson, my brother is an alcoholic and the father is a spoiled, selfish child."

Snarling, Sherlock leaned forward, "And his mother watched him get slapped around because she was too out of her depth."

Anna flinched and then leveled her chin at him, "I jumped ship," she smiled grimly, "I got tired of holding us both above water when no-one came to help."

Sherlock sat back, rubbing a hand over his eyes, his lack of sleep threatening to fog his mind. "Someone has had words with the boy," Sherlock said after a moment, dropping his hand from his head.

Anna's mouth twitched and she suddenly looked much sharper than before. "Have they?" she asked, her voice far too disinterested to be believed.

Sherlock rapped his fingers on the arm of the chair, lost in thought.

"Leave it alone," Anna said, swallowing. "Just leave it alone. You'll only make it worse."

2nd October 2005

Two days he received a text.

Get a taxi to St Bart's. Now. MH

What happened? SH

It appears someone felt the need to exchange more than just words with the boy this time. MH

Sherlock stared at the screen and felt a sudden urge to hurl the phone out the window.


3rd October 2005

It was child's play to sneak into John's exam room.

"You're a doctor today?" the boy asked sleepily, staring down at the arm currently bandaged as he curled up on the exam table. He looked exhausted but seemed reluctant to relax.

He looked so small, so vulnerable.


His wrist had been broken.

Anger was an emotion Sherlock was well acquainted with. The frustrated version when an experiment failed or when Anderson opened his mouth, the stubborn kind when Mycroft opened a car door or tapped his umbrella on the floor. A childish anger when things didn't go his way and a hurt anger when people didn't want to listen to him.

Never this. This rearing fury that made him sure he could shatter walls and kill whoever was responsible with his bare hands. How dare someone touch his-

Sherlock sunk into the chair and put his head in his hands.

His son.

As soon as he allowed the thought and the feeling, it flooded him, drowning him in it. His brave, stubborn, willful son who was so good at blending in that even Sherlock occasionally almost missed those flashes of sheer astounding resilience.

"It's okay," John's voice, so loud in the silence made Sherlock look over. "I…it's fine," the boy stared stubbornly at the bed sheets.

"What is?" Sherlock asked, his voice sounding oddly raw.

"That…that you don't want me."

The statement made Sherlock close his eyes, rewinding back to their last meeting.

"Deduce," he sighed, leaning back. "Your mother told you about me. That I used that word to describe my methods."

John nodded, still not looking up.

John knew and he had simply batted an eyelid and accepted it.

Clever, clever boy.

"I don't want to want you," Sherlock said eventually and watched John's brow furrow at the statement.

"If you go away they'll stop thinking that I'm saying things to you," John flexed his hand and winced. "I can take care of myself," he declared suddenly, glaring up at Sherlock.

How many times had he said that to Mycroft, how many times had he glared at the world, at anyone reaching out to him because he wasn't sure what it meant or how to respond.

He didn't want that for John.


"I'm sure you can," he lied.

His son caught the lie immediately. "Go away," John snapped, moving and hissing as the movement jostled his wrist. "Piss off."

"If you lie to me, I'll lie to you."

"You do lie to me," John sulked, "Every time we've talked you've lied. My Mum might be…" John broke off, eyes filling a little, "But she never lied to me."

Sherlock nodded and the pulled the chair closer, John went stiff, eyeing him up as if Sherlock might suddenly attack.

"Then the facts," Sherlock said, feeling a little more comfortable with such territory, "are as follows. I am not a paternal person, I will not nag you to do your homework but I will be disappointed and likely belittle you should your school work be less than average. I will not attend plays and…" Sherlock floundered, "Whatever else it is that children do to perform to adults. I will not be at your beck and call. My work is important and it is unpredictable. You may not see me for days on end, and I will certainly not cook you three square meals a day. I will not help you with romantic issues and social conventions are not my area."

John raised an eyebrow at that.

"I will not parent you," Sherlock finished. "But…if those conditions are acceptable…"

John stared at him, clearly baffled.

"You are…" Sherlock looked up at the ceiling and then at John, "You are important. You are interesting and you are useful. And I will not change my mind about any of those qualities."

John slowly met his eyes, seemingly stunned and desperately searching Sherlock's for something.

"You do know social services will probably murder you for saying half of that?" John asked, sitting back, seemingly turning over whatever it was he had seen in Sherlock.

"I suggest you phrase that as a straight answer," Sherlock huffed.

"Phrase it as a straight question then," John snapped back.

Touché. Sherlock nodded, trying not to smile. "Would you like to…be my flat mate?"

John sniggered and then grinned, "Okay." Then the grin faltered, "But you still have to pass-"

"Your Uncle practically runs the government and I am not an idiot," Sherlock replied, pulling out his phone.

"You have…you have a family?" John asked, sounding stunned by the idea.

"Did you assume I spawned from mid-air?" Sherlock asked texting. "Mycroft will probably introduce himself soon; he can never resist sticking his fat nose into everything. I believe we can avoid my parents for a while."

"Do…" John licked his lips looking worried, "Do they hate me too?"

Sherlock paused and looked up. "No. My mother simply talks. Incessantly. They both lecture continuously and with great fervor." He eyed John thoughtfully, "Though maybe if I offer you up to them they'll simply try again with the next generation and leave me in peace."

Deal with social services. I am relieving you of listening to the endless nagging to produce a grandchild. You owe me. SH

That night, Sherlock watched John sleep all night.

For data, and certainly not for any sentimental reason.

At all...