John raced up the steps to 221b in a daze. The crisp winter air stung his lungs like thousands of icy needles tearing down the edges of his throat, making breathing an impossibly painful task, but he couldn't slow down.

Not now.

He threw open the door and in one fluid motion he spun around and slammed it shut, as if afraid of pursuers. There was silence in the flat.

He pulled the warm bundle from the crook of his arm and clutched it against his chest, panting and heaving painfully, beginning to wheeze. He gazed around his flat, ensuring that he was alone.

There was nothing.

The warm bundle shifted.

John's arms reflexively shot out like two flat planks, holding the murmuring, struggling thing as far away from himself as was physically possible.

John took deeper, slower breaths. He had begun to sob and needed to stop. The full impact of what he'd just done slammed into him and sent him buckling down onto his knees. He barely felt them bang against the hardwood floor, though he didn't doubt he'd develop bruises later. The loud noise startled him out of what was becoming a reverie as his mind floated in and out of the reality of the situation.

He brought the warm bundle closer to his chest in an awkward hug and coddled it for a moment, trying to think quickly without having his thoughts border on the strange and ever-shifting boundary between sane and not.

"Okay, okay, okay." John whispered, like a mantra that would magically come true if he continued chanting it. "Okay, okay, okay."

In his head, his thoughts were racing in perfect circles, screaming and panicking, much in the same way he'd like to have been.

"These things just don't happen, this isn't possible, it's not real." He assured himself silently, but when he dropped his gaze, he found his arms still wrapped tightly around the warm bundle. He suddenly felt a surge of cold fear, thinking he could suffocate the bundle, or squeeze it to death, so he loosened his grip and let the thing slide down until it balanced on his lap.

"Oh, what've I done, what've I done, what've I done?" His thoughts became a broken record of mournful disbelief. He swallowed hard and the warm saliva soothed his enflamed throat.

He stood up suddenly, staggering slightly under the added weight and imbalance of the struggling blanket, and managed to walk, almost calmly, to the couch where he dropped the thing with horror onto the cushion.

The thing gave a small cry of discomfort, a pathetic cooing noise no louder than a moan from someone who was troubled by a nightmare in deep sleep, and began to roll back and forth in an attempt to free itself from the confines of its cotton restraint.

John caught the thing's eyes for a moment, and was terrified to find them as sharp as black daggers, fully alert to the danger of the situation.

John stumbled away from it, content to let it free itself for the time being, and decided to peruse Sherlock's pile of junk that he'd been carefully constructing on the desk for a pair of shorts or a towel or something for the small child to wear.

To his pleasant surprise, he found a green shirt and a pair of khaki shorts just beneath a pile of crime scene photos. They looked like a close fit.

John picked them up and brought them back, and found that the tiny consulting criminal had freed himself from the blanket and was contentedly kicking his dangling feet off the couch, completely nude.

"Here, I found these. Put them on." John said, fully embarrassed, holding out the clothes to the infant genius.

Jim grinned and brought his fists up to his round cheeks. He blew a raspberry with his hands and giggled wildly.

"Come on, I know you understand me. Put on the clothes." John said angrily. He did not need to deal with this now.

Jim looked at John sharply, his cherub features darkening into a scowl. He opened his mouth and said "Abbada ba ba. Guchuu da baba! Hehehehe!" He broke off into manic laughter.

John looked down to the toddler, who had lain back on the couch to thrash about in a fit of laughter, and he looked to the clothes.

He crouched down until he would have been about eye-level with the tot (had he been sitting up) and stroked his chin thoughtfully.

"Maybe you can't understand me." he said, mostly to himself. Jim stopped laughing and sat up, glaring at John with his dark, lightless eyes.

He opened his arms, and made grabbing motions.

"Shuu!" he demanded "Chuu, bew shuuu! Loki dynamio!"

John glanced around the flat and tried to guess what the toddler wanted, but instead, he decided to use a technique he had developed dealing with Sherlock to clothe the toddler. He could always figure out what he wanted later.

"Okay, but not until you put these clothes on." He said handing them back to Jim, who took them and eagerly began shoving his legs into the pants backwards.