Hello again! Ok, first of all I want to thank all the wonderful people who reviewed this story, so thank you guys!
Now, a little announcement: originally this story was supposed to be a one-shot (I wasn't even sure people would like it!) and the requests for more really caught me by surprise. After deep cogitation, I decided to continue this but I must warn you that updates will be sporadical. A plot is slowly starting to form in my mind, but it will take time. In the meanwhile, here we go...
Two weeks had passed since that fateful day when Mycroft had come to their door, a miniaturized criminal mastermind in tow, and John was rapidly losing his wits. Things were going really badly, to put it mildly...
The one and only time John had to leave Jim in Sherlock's care due to an emergency at work, the detective had abandoned the child at the supermarket claiming that they couldn't afford to feed him. Thankfully, Mycroft's men were on their guard against that very eventuality and brought Jim back to a furious and terribly worried John; they also took the opportunity to remind Sherlock that "Mister Holmes" would meet all the expenses, no need to worry about that. John intervened before the detective could argue the point and the little criminal genius remained in their custody.
As an incredibly creative form of retaliation, or at least that was what John believed it to be, Jim took one of Sherlock's silk shirts and "decorated" it with the crayons the doctor had bought him. When Sherlock got home to find his beloved shirt covered with cheery drawings of brightly coloured stick men, he screamed bloody murder.
"WHY DIDN'T YOU STOP HIM?!".
"I didn't realise what he was doing, I would have stopped him if I had! Now, let's be reasonable...".
"Reasonable? Reasonable? You are defending him! After this despicable deed! John, you have to open your eyes! He is obviously brainwashing you and you haven't realised it yet! I must put an end to this!".
"Sherlock, calm down and give me that poker! You have to understand that now Jim is just a child...".
"He is evil! Look at him! He's laughing! What kind of... of monster laughs after doing this?! He is deranged!".
Finally, after a solid hour of screaming and two cups of tea, Sherlock relinquished the poker and allowed John to put his shirt into the washing machine: the crayons were the washable kind and the result was satisfactory. While the detective sighed in relief, Jim was of course heartbroken to see all his hard work blown away (or, more accurately, washed away) like that: he threw a tantrum of epic proportions, going as far as viciously kicking Sherlock in the shin. Well, this time John had caught him in flagrant. The good doctor was just about to open his mouth to reprimand the small mastermind, when Sherlock tried to reciprocate. Seen the difference in proportions, that was bound to end in tears, if not something worse.
"Sherlock, don't you dare!".
John's authoritative scream actually stopped the detective in mid-movement and a displeased expression blossomed on his face. The doctor, however, would have none of that.
"Sherlock, I'm really fed up with this ridiculous attitude of yours! You seem bent on having a bloody competition with a toddler! A toddler! I am very disappointed, I expected more from you!".
He had to refrain from adding "young man".
"And you!" John went on, turning his attention to a smirking Jim, "I am very displeased with you too! What you did was mean! Very mean indeed! And I'm afraid that that look of angelic innocence isn't going to work!".
Life was so unfair: the only time he could have actually cherished the look of surprise on Jim's face, John was in no mood to do so. He had reached the limit.
"Right! First of all, you two are going to apologise...".
"NEVER!" screamed Jim.
"... to each other...".
"I don't think so!" prompted Sherlock.
"... and I expect you to try to get along!".
They both looked at him as he was crazy. After a little while, Jim asked in a way that could almost be described as concerned, "Johnny's head's owie?".
That was the last straw.
"You. Are. Grounded" he grit out.
Sherlock almost laughed in his face, but John really had had enough of it by now.
"I'm not kidding! You are grounded for the whole day! You, Sherlock, are going to stay in your room and you, Jim, will stay in mine. You are not allowed to play any musical instruments, do any kind of experiment or make anything explode. You are not allowed to leave you room until I call you for lunch. From now on, I don't want to hear a peep! Have I been clear?".
He gave them no time to answer, shouting a peremptory "NOW GO!".
Up they went, too shocked to argue.
A hour of complete quietness later, John was sighing with relief as he was finally able to complete the post he'd been trying to write for a week. Satisfied with him-self and slightly mollified, he went to the kitchen to set up lunch...
It dawned on him while he was chopping vegetables and the thought left him frozen in mid-motion for several seconds.
They had obeyed him. They had obeyed him. They had obeyed him. The implications left him terrified. Why had they done that? Was it the authoritative voice? Had he caught them momentarily unbalanced? Yes, maybe...
Deeply, he knew this to be rubbish: Mycroft, should the need arise, could muster a much more authoritative voice and he wasn't actually sure that there was something that could unbalance both Jim and Sherlock at the same time. No, the reason was subtler and a lot more terrifying. Somehow he knew that they had obeyed him because he told them that they did wrong and that they deserved to be punished. They had obeyed because they trusted him to set a limit, to show them that that was right and that was wrong. They had obeyed because they recognised John as an authority. Almost as a...
"Oh my God, this is ridiculous!".
He took a deep breath, berating him-self for being so foolish to think such a thought, and decided to make an experiment.
"Time to prove my-self wrong!", he thought grimly.
He calmly finished fixing lunch, set the table and finally called out: "Sherlock! Jim! Lunch's ready! Come here this minute, or else!".
There. Now they'd feel humiliated (he was treating them like bloody kids, dammit) and they'd ignore him out of spite. After this, he'd have to beg them to come down, he thought with a pleased smile.
He was about to set him-self upon this new task, when he heard a door open. Two doors. Oh no...
Jim literally jumped into the kitchen, followed by Sherlock. They both looked at him with a wary expression, as if expecting to be scolded again.
John simply stared.
After a few seconds of complete, embarrassed silence, Sherlock spoke up: "That smells... good?" he said, cautiously.
"Yeees", Jim agreed after deep cogitation, "Shall we eat?".
John nodded and wordlessly started to pile food on the plates. They ate in earnest, Jim and Sherlock relaxing seeing that John was not going to yell at them again. Inwardly, the good doctor was panicking.
A parent! They somehow decided that he was a bloody parent! How could they 'd come up with such a stupid... Well, he was always taking care of them, wasn't he? Cleaning after them, fixing their meals, berating them when they argued, cheering them up when they were down... Oh God, that was what Mycroft meant, wasn't it? Damn, damn, damn...
Sherlock, having polished his plate, declared the meal edible and Jim prettily asked for dessert. As the two geniuses fought over the chocolate biscuits that Sherlock hated and Jim despised, a genuine smile blossomed on John's face. Exasperating as they were, he couldn't deny that he adored his mad flatmates and he wouldn't have them any other way (and, if he let them free for the rest of the afternoon, it had nothing to do with sentimentality: he just knew when not to push his luck...).
I hope it was acceptable! Let me know if I should go on or if it's becoming redundant and I should just drop it! Thanks for reading!