The concrete was hot and burned the underside of Hamish's legs comfortingly as he gripped the heated cover of his battered, hardback book. The Easter holidays stretched out deliciously ahead of the eight year old boy. It was a relief to not have the worry of school the next day for two glorious weeks. But people didn't understand, Hamish loved to learn; like his father he loved facts and intelligence (although the boy's mind was more open to general knowledge than that of the detective). School however was unfortunately not synonymous with learning. School meant facing people his own age, people with such differing interests and thought processes there was no way there was any hope of befriending them. School meant stuffy teachers trying to encourage Hamish to "just muck in"; little did they know they were only adding to the problems.
Hamish was not a typical young boy: he didn't trade cards at break time, he didn't join in the game of hide-and-seek-tag that was started every lunch. He spent his free time at school sitting on the wall at the edge of the playground reading. And for this reason the boy wasn't invited to birthday parties, no one asked him round for tea, he had never been to a sleepover.
A backpack knocked the boy on the back of the head, startling him out of his daydreams.
"Oh, sorry, Mish," John sidled past his son on the step of 221B and loaded the baggage through the open door of the orange campervan, parked outside.
"Do you want me to help, Dad?" Hamish put his book to one side and got up.
"Yes actually, could you please ask your father to text Greg an-" Before John had time to finish, his husband stepped out of the flat, phone in one hand, squinting in the sunlight.
"I was just texting Lestrade about that case of the foreign businessman. What did you want me to ask him?"
"About the car manual, it's not in the glove compartment," John sighed.
"Oh, I put it in your satchel when Lestrade gave it me on Thursday," the detective turned back to his phone.
"Hamish!" A voice called from inside 221. The boy recognised the homely voice as Mrs. Hudson, their landlady, or as Hamish preferred 'Grandma'. The eight year old disappeared inside and John continued heaving bags into the van they were borrowing off the Detective Inspector.
"Hamish, dear, I made these sandwiches for you and your fathers on the journey, would you please take them out to your dad?" Mrs. Hudson never failed when it came to the little details.
"Thank you, Grandma," Hamish took the cling-film bound bundle and wrapped his arms around the landlady, smelling her lavender perfume mingled with Earl Grey tea, his dark curls so like his father's tickling her cheek, while his glasses pressed into his face.
"Oh, love," Mrs. Hudson coiled her thin arms around the boy before releasing him. Hamish ran back outside and put the sandwiches on the front seat of the van.
John stepped out of the flat with the last of the bags, loaded them along with the others into the back, and stopped, breathing heavily as the sun pelted down on him.
"Right little man, I think we are ready to take off." He put his hands on his son's shoulders and called through the door. "Sherl! Come on. We're all packed up."
Sherlock stepped outside once more, his long black coat flung over his shoulder; his trim waist encompassed in a slick, white shirt; his black curls falling across his forehead, closely followed by Mrs. Hudson who stood on the step waiting to wave them off.
"Alright, Mrs. Hudson," John kissed her goodbye. "Take care and remember you have my mobile number if you need it."
"Honestly," Mrs Hudson laughed and shook her head. "I can look after myself, dear."
As Sherlock got into the passenger's seat, John pulled out his sunglasses, slipped them onto his face and slid shut the side door behind Hamish. Checking his son was buckled in he climbed in himself – narrowly avoiding the bag of sandwiches left on the seat as Sherlock reached for them in time – and started the engine.
Hamish leant his head against the window and waved to Mrs. Hudson. It was even warmer inside the van and Sherlock's long fingers fiddled with the A/C until cool air blasted out in their faces. The sun shone down on the young boy as if it were smiling at him, the light reflecting off his glasses. He was happy. He was with his fathers and that was good.
As they drove past Regent's Park he saw a young man wearing a straw trilby hat selling passersby sunflowers. The vibrant, achingly bright flowers reminded Hamish of Van Gogh and he smiled. The boy was currently invested in the obsession of post-Impressionist art, his number one fixation therein being that of Vincent Van Gogh. It wasn't just the work of the Dutch painter that fascinated the boy so much, more the man himself. He was such a sad man and yet he still managed to produce such bright, emotional, and bold paintings; Hamish admired that.
"You any good at reading maps, Mish?" John looked at his son through the rear-view mirror and smiled, knowing that of course Hamish Watson-Holmes was.
"Oh forget maps," Sherlock insisted. "I'll navigate. They're useless anyway."
"Hm," John deliberated. "I think this time let's just stick to traditional map orienteering. No offence," he added with a smirk at his husband.
While Hamish read the map for his dad the journey down to the ferry port in Cornwall passed in a pleasant manner despite being near to five hours long, the radio playing classical music as they sped along the sunny motorway. They stopped briefly at a service station and ate their sandwiches in the van with the doors open. John went inside to buy them drinks and ended up caught in a long queue.
Sherlock turned in his seat to face his son. "How you doing?"
"I'm good, this is good." Hamish reassured his dad with a smile.
"And, um," Sherlock hesitated. He knew he should ask Hamish about school, John had been demanding he did so for the past few weeks but when he came across an opportunity he never could quite find the words. "Hamish?"
The boy looked up into his father's sharp, blue eyes and knew what was to come.
"You know you could tell me anything," Sherlock decided on. "You know, I mean if anything was troubling you."
"Has Dad been talking to you then?" Despite his age not many things got past the boy. He had confided in John some time ago about his issues at school but he didn't think he could tell his father yet, what with his mind so often being concerned with other matters.
"I care about you too, you know," Sherlock reached out his hand and brushed Hamish's knee. "I, I hope you know that you don't always have to go to your dad when you want to talk. I'm always here as well."
"Yeah, I know." Hamish looked out the window as the sun pooled warmth across the tarmac. He shuffled closer to his father in the seat.
"Dad?" Sherlock looked up into the dark, round eyes of his son, set behind the big pair of glasses. "Vincent Van Gogh once ate yellow paint because he believed it would make him happier," the boy whispered.
The detective didn't say anything. He just looked at the small face of his son, the face that broke his heart; the only one that could.