Consulting Conferences

A Collaborative Fiction by

Nodamncatnodamncradle (Hamish and John) and LondonFan (Sherlock)

Hamish's POV

Hamish walks from school alone. He's insisted on the matter since finishing primary school. I am quite capable, Dad, Hamish promised his father—and he keeps that promise every afternoon.

The flat is just short of a mile from the new High School—though not close enough for John's liking. He's a veteran, Hamish reminds himself, he's used to worrying. Sherlock never seems to worry, and Hamish hopes this evening won't be the beginning of another habit for his more… eccentric father.

It is unusually warm for February, and Hamish can't help but to assume the oddity will carry over into the evening's festivities—for lack of a better description, of course. Parent-teacher conferences could be measured against festivals.

Anything can be measured against anything. Father says quantitative data is always useful.

Hamish doesn't possess the numbers in hand, but he knows the levels of fun will differ in each situation.

Fun is relative, though.

Tonight, Sherlock will substitute for John at Hamish's conference. And tonight, if Hamish remembers to breathe, the experiment should be considered a success.

John meets his son at the door, pulling him into an expected hug and peck on the cheek. Hamish decides he's too old for such treatment, but enjoys the coddling anyway. John says that being normal is overrated and as long as this remains fact, Hamish will continue to appreciate such attention—even if it may be abnormal for a boy his age.

"You're sure you don't mind me missing this meeting? They're understaffed at the hospital, is all. You know you come first, though. Yeah?"

Hamish smiles and nods. Of course he knows. John will never allow him to forget what a brilliant son he is and what an astonishing man he will soon become.

"Dad, It'll be fine. Besides, this teacher already knows you. You walked me in the first day of class."

John blushes. His eyebrows furrow and lips purse as he shakes his head. "That doesn't sound like something I'd do."

"Of course it does," Sherlock answers from what Hamish deduces must be his temporary 'study'in the kitchen. He barely stifles a laugh as his father's muttered obviously echoes towards the front door.

John appears apologetic, but Hamish—entirely out of character—wraps his arms around his dad's waist and squeezes tightly, all embarrassment forgotten.

"I know you do it to show you care. I love you, too."

"And you know he loves you, too. Right?"

Hamish knows his father, knows he can be cold and distant, knows he can go days without existing in the physical world when engrossed. He questions his place in his father's life, and sometimes there are doubts, but father also says that one hundred percent accuracy is nearly impossible, so one should always aim for ninety-nine to account for error.

But Hamish also knows of John's need to assure his son of the unconditional love his parents feel for him. And because of this, Hamish nods again and smiles—hoping it reaches his eyes. He'll never know with one hundred percent certainty if it does. And John will never say.

"Good luck tonight. Keep your father in check, all right? This is your school. If he gets out of line, you have my permission to set him straight. All right, soldier?"

Hamish offers a mock salute, his chest forced outwards to appear broader than his gangly frame naturally allows. "Yes, sir!"

Not bothering with a coat, John steps out and immediately turns on his heel. "Dinner's in the living room since I don't trust this last endeavor. If you think you can manage, get your father to have a bite or two."

They are a strange trio, but highly functional. Hamish wouldn't change the arrangement for the most normal of families any day. He has heroes for fathers, whether one believes in them or not.


Hamish eats five times as much as Sherlock at any given meal. Early on, when Hamish was introduced to plants, he asked his father if he performed photosynthesis. How else could the man supply his body with its essential nutrients if he didn't consume them via mouth?

John retells this story to anyone willing to listen.

The pair leaves the flat after Hamish finally proves the weather inappropriate for coats. His father hasn't been outdoors for nearly a week, and that fact is blatantly evident as his footing re-acclimates to the pavement.

They don't exchange conversation and Hamish prefers the silence. He occupies his mind with his surroundings, instead. They're memories now, but in constant alteration. He wonders if his father's oversensitivity to detail is painful when there is this much matter to observe. He wonders if his father notices it at all, or if he's deleted such trivial concerns.

He won't ask. Sherlock's mind is light-years from his own. And for that, Hamish loves the man even more.

Sherlock looms over the crowd of mothers waiting to enter the school and Hamish watches as he works—memorizing each woman and child, noting the significant and insignificant features, sizing them up to his own spouse, comparing the children to his own. He smirks and chuckles.

Hamish decides he and his dad have been complimented. Sherlock holds the door for the entirety of the group and smiles with that wide grin John helped him to perfect for the more sensitive cases.

There's no threat here.

Sherlock's POV

Sherlock hates it when he has to be polite and nice and friendly to other people who are not his family and close friends (well, that counts down to a number of only five, anyway, and even they complain about him being rude sometimes), and he especially hates to be kind to teachers. He never got on with the few he had to endure throughout his own time in school and he dislikes those who teach his son even more. Needless to say, school matters are left to John. Kind John, who always knows what to say to not make people angry. Understanding John, who can give Hamish's teachers a piece of his mind while being able to wrap it up in very polite words so that it doesn't sound like an insult at all. Human John. Perfect John. John who is everything Sherlock isn't.

That is one reason why Sherlock was so upset that he had to fill in for John at tonight's conference. Sherlock knows he has to be somebody completely different tonight, someone who shows affection openly, someone who accepts what the teacher suggests and someone who doesn't trumpet out the life stories and the embarrassing facts about people.

It's going to be a challenge for him, and he mentally prepares for that when they walk to the school. He tries to put on a successful act, but it's hard, really, even for a marvelous actor like him. Sherlock is a sociopath, at least that is what he claims to be because it's easier for people to understand and nod full of pity when behaves like he does. They wouldn't understand his real reason. Sherlock can't just go about, saying, "I don't like you because you are dumb as a bucket of shrimps." He can't. It wouldn't be socially acceptable. So he says, "I'm a high-functioning sociopath", and it works. Most of the time, anyway.

Hamish and he don't talk on their way and he's grateful for it, being able to slip into a role. He even holds open the doors for all the parents and their children, flashing Hamish a wide smile, pretending to be normal for once.

Sherlock would never admit it but he did wonder sometimes if he was a good father. Especially now, as they sit down in the classroom—the chairs are made of Indian wood and much too small for the children here, not good at all for the spine, low budget in this school, somebody had sex in the first row on the chair right in front of the teacher's table—Sherlock glances around to see everyone looking expectantly at either their children or the teacher, or happily chatting away with other mothers.

Sherlock and Hamish seem to be closed out.

Hamish has friends; Sherlock knows this, so he assumes it's because of him. Usually, John accompanies their son, coming home with a grin and talking about all the nice parents. The looks Sherlock gets make him shiver. He doesn't have to be a genius to know what they're saying about him, whispering it into each other's ears as if it's something secret.

"Oh, there he is, finally showing up. Posh bastard."

"He doesn't care for his son at all, does he?"

"I wonder how the poor boy manages with him as a father. I'd run away if I was him."

It's nothing new for Sherlock; it really isn't, especially because Anderson's kid is in Hamish's class, too.

However, he can't help being affected by it.

He does wonder if he is such a bad parent. He attempts affection, he wants the best for Hamish, and he loves him with all his heart. He knows that John is the better father, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

It's just that Sherlock—after years of being alone—finally has somebody to care about. John and Hamish make him feel safe and he'd do anything to save them from harm. They make him human and thus, he worries. If he isn't a good father, would they stay or would they eventually leave?

What if he screws this conference up? What if he can't keep his mouth shut, what if, what if?

Sherlock heaves out a sigh and casts a sideway glance at Hamish who sits in his chair, staring ahead. The conference is about to start in five minutes and Sherlock doesn't want to let those pass by in silence. If he really is the reason why Hamish has no-one to talk to, if he really makes all of his son's friends stay away, then he has do to something. That's what John would do.

Make a joke, say something clever, anything. Something a father would do. A good one, mind.

"That teacher of yours," he whispers, "she is having an affair. Can you see why?"

He has always tried to teach Hamish the science of deduction and has been able to mark down some success. They boy is still learning but he has wonderful observation skills and Sherlock couldn't be prouder.

He loves his son; he really does, though he sometimes struggles to show it.

Sherlock knows that Hamish admires his powers of deduction almost as much as John does and maybe this can break the ice between them, he thinks, make them laugh together like father and son, connect in an indestructible bond.

It's all he wants, to be honest.

Normality.

Love.

The perfect family—though his is already perfect enough for him. Sherlock knows he isn't perfect, not even close to it, and he admires his partner and their child. He loves them—an emotion the great detective wouldn't have been capable of only some years ago.

'Talk to me,' he thinks, pleading to Hamish in his mind. 'Let's show them that you can be happy with me. Please.'

Hamish's POV

Hamish is well aware of the peculiar glances he receives from his classmates. Very few have met Sherlock, and those who have rarely mention the encounter. His father is an intimidating man to those unable to understand him the way he and John can. He's different. His mind works on another frequency.

So, the question of his teacher's infidelity is hardly startling. Though, for any eavesdroppers, it's likely to be scandalizing conversation between father and son.

Sherlock is out of his element, Hamish realizes. He doesn't pity his father because his father doesn't accept such nonsense. But, he can appreciate feeling out of place, and he glances about the room—pondering the question all the while.

What does Father see…

His teacher's desk seems like the best place to start, and his eyes rake over every detail they can manage. The linoleum floor is worn where its legs touch, and Hamish can guess the desk has been moved rather forcefully on several occasions. There are small, barely noticeable crescents marking the wooden edge—possibly fingernail dents. The same wear exists beneath the desk in the first row, right where the youngest Anderson sits.

Hamish laughs outright at the thought of Matt—fearful of germs as he is—discovering his desk has been used in a less than sanitary way.

He turns to his father and finds Sherlock smiling in that reserved way he saves for home. And suddenly, the stares aren't as heavy anymore.

Mrs. Henderson enters in a rush, late and more than likely getting away from the affair that has become an inside-joke.

"Good evening, parents!" she breathes and grins, face flushed and makeup askew. "Welcome! I can honestly say it is a privilege to have each and every one of your children in my class this year. This has been my greatest group to date!"

"She hates Matt," Hamish mutters under his breath to Sherlock, "Mr. Anderson's son."

"How can you tell?"

"Her eye twitches when he raises his hand," he begins, and as if on cue, Anderson's son's hand shoots into the air. True to form, Mrs. Henderson's eye twitches slightly. "Watch her fists."

Sherlock studies the scene and smirks in a similar fashion to the smirk he wore outside when his teacher's hands change to clenched fists.

"Good work."


The pair waits for their turn for privacy with Mrs. Henderson. Silence encompasses them, but it's not unpleasant. It's natural. There's a warmth to his father's silence he's never quite felt before this moment.

Hamish is adopted, but he bares a striking resemblance to Sherlock. Tall and mainly constructed of never-ending limbs. His hair is constantly set in inky disarray that John is terribly fond of. His skin never holds a tinge of color, but remains as close to translucent as it can without appearing sickly—and he would know if he were ill, what with a doctor at his beck and call.

If no one knew better, Hamish was Sherlock's biological son. It's clear, however, he's taken after John in manners and most mannerisms. And for society's sake, Hamish feels fortunate.

His father is one of a kind.

"It's our turn," Sherlock says and stands. Hamish follows his father like a shadow and they both avoid the desk previously under deduction.

Mrs. Henderson quirks an eyebrow at their decided seating, but makes no mention of it other than a suspicious blush.

"Hello, Hamish. I'm sorry, I was expecting John. You are?"

"Sherlock Holmes," he answers—each tooth visible from the wideness of his smile. "My husband was called to the clinic this evening. Pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Henderson."

"Oh, the pleasure's mine! I should have assumed, but you know what they say about assuming." The adults share a laugh, both forced. "Hamish really is at the top of his class, Mr. Holmes. It's unbelievable how bright he is. Kind to a fault, as well."

"You can blame John for the sentiment," Sherlock teases. It's rare to see him in this form. "The brilliance is mine."

Sherlock's POV

Sherlock watches Mrs. Henderson with interest as she smirks at his comment. He is trying to be funny and smart, finding that he actually struggles with doing so. Usually it's not too hard for him to be witty and clever, or anything, really, just as he needs it. It's different when his son is with him, though, it seems.

However, Sherlock has no explanation for that except perhaps for sentiment. He loathes this word and the emotions coming with it in the past but when John entered his life, and with Hamish following some years later, he learned and allowed himself to be sentimental from time to time. Sherlock took it as a proof that he cared for his partner and their son, that he had done so for almost eighteen years now and that he always would.

"So, Mrs. Henderson," Sherlock begins after a weird silence has settled between them. "I assume you find yourself in a more or less awkward position, seeing as you don't know me but my partner. I can assure you, however, that you can talk freely and honestly with me. I don't bite." He smiles, eyes filled with warmth, and adds after thinking about it for a second, "Hard."

This teases a laugh out of Hamish's teacher and Sherlock feels relieved. The tension appears to be broken, that's a good sign, isn't it?

"Well, Mr. Holmes, in that case, I trust you," Mrs. Henderson says and winks at him in a friendly way. It takes all of Sherlock's self-control not to outright tell her with whom she had an affair and that she secretly was suffering from depression. But he keeps his deductions to himself, for Hamish's sake.

Mrs. Henderson gets the class register out of her bag where she notes down the grades as well as some comments about her students. "Hamish…," she says while flicking through the book, a frown appearing on her face.

"Why are we here, then?" Sherlock asks. "Hamish is a wonderful boy, there shouldn't be anything one could complain about." There it is again, his arrogance, his pride. He and John have raised Hamish so perfectly, a complaint about him would be illogical.

Mrs. Henderson seems to have found the right page and looks up, licking her lips. A nervous gesture, Sherlock concludes, not like John's lip-licking who always does it when he is excited about something. Or confused. Mainly a mixture of both.

"I really can't tell you a lot about your son, Mr. Holmes," the teacher starts, "except that he is a wonderful student with amazing grades. He has only got a B+ this term, in Physical Education, but only because he wasn't on fire that day, what with his cold."

Sherlock leans back with a pleased smile, just barely refraining from ruffling Hamish's hair. The boy probably wouldn't approve, not in front of his teacher anyway.

"His behaviour isn't too bad either." That's everything she says about that topic. Sherlock feels a pang of uncertainty in his chest. What does "not too bad" mean? Is it her way of saying that Hamish is a popular, nice guy or does she want to hint at his lacking social skills? Is he as sociopathic as Sherlock? He doesn't know, he doesn't even see. He can't read her anymore, for whatever reason, it's like he can't observe anything that has to do with his son. It may be the fear that his behaviour rubbed off onto Hamish, and Sherlock doesn't want that for him. Before he can ask, though, the teacher is already pulling out a pack of paper, smiling at Hamish warmly.

Sherlock makes a mental note to try and catch her alone later on to talk about Hamish's social behaviour.

"Your Hamish really is a wonderful boy, Mr. Holmes," Mrs. Henderson assures him when she sees the frown on his face. "Talented in science, clever in the languages. You raised him well." She smiles again and Sherlock wants her to stop doing it. He's too worried about Hamish right now, about his social behaviour. What if he gets bullied? What if he takes too much after Sherlock who was alone during all his school years?

What if it turns out that Sherlock is a bad father after all?

As if she could read his mind, Mrs. Henderson starts talking about an essay Hamish wrote.

"It might be of interest to you that Hamish is a great writer. The way he plays with alliterations and metaphors is just so refreshing to read after a long day of work." Sherlock looks up at the pages the teacher has spread out in front of her. "The topic of last week's essay was The Person I Admire The Most,and Hamish wrote about his father."

The first thing Sherlock thinks is John, he wrote about John and he can't help but smile proudly. John is perfect, a wonderful dad, of course Hamish would write about him. The same second Sherlock is happy about this, he realises that he will never be as brilliant and that Hamish would probably never write about him, only if he was forced to do so.

"I'd like to read out some bits, if you don't mind, Hamish?" she asks and the boy shakes his head, averting his gaze.

Hamish's POV

Hamish has learned two important rules where his teachers are concerned. First and foremost, he should always respect their judgment if it poses no threat to either himself or a fellow student. And secondly, he should always question authority because what dunderhead chooses to facilitate the progress of a child they had no hand in creating?

Needless to say, he follows the first and the latter is the advice of the parent in attendance.

Mrs. Henderson clears her throat and straightens her already pristine posture. His father would most likely scoff at her arrogance if they were merely in passing of this woman, but they're far from a passing glance, and Hamish's grade depends greatly on this woman's opinion of him.

She begins.

"The person I admire the most," she quotes, "is my father. He's different in an exceptional way—brilliant, really. He reminds me, without having to say so, that I am remarkable because I'm odd. I don't have to be liked by everyone to be loved unconditionally."

Mrs. Henderson doesn't read the entirety and pauses at a particularly telling tale about a young Hamish conducting experiments on stuffed animals. Her laughter is high and piercing, and Sherlock—best behavior imaginable—manages to smile without wincing.

His grin falters, however, as the identity of the essay is revealed.

"My father, Sherlock Holmes, doesn't believe in heroes. He swears that if they existed, he wouldn't be among them. I don't disagree with the man often, as he is a renowned genius, but I stand my ground on this matter. Sherlock Holmes is my hero. He's one of the most astounding men in the known universe."

Sherlock makes a startled, barely audible gasp. If Hamish's senses hadn't adapted to heightening around his father, he would have missed the sound. He's attuned, though.

Pay close attention, John says, with Sherlock, you have to be alert.

"I'm so used to hearing about John," Mrs. Henderson breaks the silence. "And to hear such a wonderful essay about a man I hadn't yet met, well, it was almost like reading a fairytale, Mr. Holmes."

Hamish keeps his focus towards his only means of escape. The windows were merely props in this classroom and on the other side of his father.

"I didn't know about this assignment," Sherlock says, a tone of mystified wonder tainting his usually certain baritone. "Did John?"

The question is clearly directed at Hamish, and he nods once. This was bordering on sentiment—something far from Sherlock's realm of comfort..

"He corrected my spelling mistakes," admits Hamish, his sheepishness having little to do with his partial ineptness for spelling. Chancing a quick gaze at his father, Hamish doesn't find a returned look. Instead, he meets the side of a slightly flushed cheek.

"That was," Sherlock searches for the remainder of his sentence, "flattering. I greatly appreciate you sharing this with me, thank-you. And thank-you, too—for writing it, Hamish."

Sherlock Holmes doesn't thank people. He says the population shouldn't be encouraged by gratitude or praised for intelligence they should always expend.

This is some Sherlockian way for confessing the disadvantage of love.

When he falls asleep on the sofa and Hamish blankets his feet and adjusts his pillow.

When Hamish's afternoon snack becomes Sherlock's first meal in days.

When the boy finds anything that reminded me of you.

The reaction is always the same. Thank-you.

Sherlock's POV

Sherlock knows that Hamish's essay is going to be brilliant and flawless. After all, he is taking after Sherlock in his writing style and not after John – thank God. Also, he is much more faster when typing on the computer than John. Sherlock has caught the two of them on several occasions, hovering over the laptop and Hamish typing up the latest cases with John telling him what to write, occasionally correcting Hamish's spelling mistakes.

It's so much more efficient.

He expects the essay to be long, and wonderfully written. He knows that Hamish loves to play cleverly with stylistic devices and type up sentences that the best authors Sherlock knows couldn't have written better.

What he doesn't expect is what Mrs. Henderson reads out.

He is shell-shocked to say the least, but in a very positive way. Sherlock hadn't seen it coming that Hamish would write about him in an essay, especially not for a topic like this. John is the perfect father, Sherlock thinks, so why didn't Hamish write about him?

The reasons become clear as Mrs. Henderson reads on but Sherlock still can't quite grasp that this essay is about him. Apart from John with his blog and his sweet words about their engagement, nobody has ever written about him. And here he is, with Hamish having written pages and pages.

The thing that touches Sherlock most, apart from being the protagonist in this essay, is the little flashback Hamish has built in, the experiment with the stuffed animals. It was one funny incident, all those years ago, and John and Sherlock still love to talk about it – despite the living room being almost fully destroyed and Mrs. Hudson being angry at them for months.

The gasp Sherlock lets out at him being called a hero is more or less involuntarily and quiet. He knows that Hamish has heard it, though. After all, he taught him to prick up his ears at all times and John tells him to be careful around Sherlock anyway.

A lump forms in Sherlock's throat, something he still isn't used to. It formed all those years ago when John finally admitted that he was in love with him, it was there when he proposed to John, and when they adopted Hamish and he knows it is nothing dangerous. It is just… something new. Something he still isn't accustomed to.

After Mrs. Henderson finishes reading and babbles on, Sherlock looks at Hamish with a peculiar look on his face. Love, mixed with shyness and pride, and true happiness when he learns that John helped Hamish out and even managed to keep it secret from Sherlock. It seems like his cheeks grow hot, though that could simply be an imagination. He feels like he should say something other than just "thank-you" but find that he can't. Not in front of that teacher, and probably not even in front of his son.

Sherlock has to admit he is at a loss when it comes to feelings. He wants to express them, he desperately does, but something inside him doesn't want him to. Maybe he should talk to John later on, asking him what would be an appropriate way of thanking Hamish. For now, he manages a squeeze on Hamish's shoulder, combined with an affectionate look.

He hopes his son understands.

One day, Sherlock thinks, I'll be able to be normal. To express how I feel. One day.

He fears that this day won't come. Every day.

When it is obvious that Mrs. Henderson doesn't have anymore to say, Sherlock clears his throat, remembering that he wanted to speak her in private. She agrees to his plead and he walks Hamish out of the classroom, telling him to wait close by.

"It won't take long, I promise." Sherlock smiles at him, and Hamish smiles back, and then he scoops his son into his arms and hugs him tight for a fraction of a second before letting go with a whispered "Thank-you". His heart is beating wildly when he turns around and returns to the classroom, taking his seat in front of the teacher, asking her about Hamish's social behaviour.

Hamish's POV

They aren't a hugging family. No, that isn't precisely right. John is a hugging father, and Sherlock isn't one for excessive affection.

Hamish can survive with either.

And for as bright a child as he is and continues to be, he's still floored by the unexpected—something his father desperately works to remedy. Suspend your disbelief, Hamish. Anything, no matter how improbable, is possible.

His father forgetting himself and giving into parental roles is improbable, but obviously possible.

Though, that knowledge does little to settle the pride welling in Hamish's stomach. He's done enough to coax Sherlock outside of himself, and he figures he wears the same silly grin his dad sports on the more frequent occasions John finds himself in Hamish's position.

Sherlock doesn't take long, just as he promises. His face is relieved, all lines settled and relaxed. The tension seems to have left his body as well. Without warning, he takes hold of Hamish's hand and jerks his head towards the door of the schoolhouse.

"Would you like to stop for ice cream on the walk home? I'm certain you're starved. We could both eat."

Hamish nods and refuses to release his father's hand as they locate the street outside and the shoppe a few blocks away.

What a scene they must make. Of course Hamish hasn't the height of his father, but he's certainly reaching the height of his dad—and that must be odd from the back to appear to see two grown men walking hand-in-hand into an ice cream shoppe.

But Hamish considers his fathers walking hand-in-hand, and they're nothing if not beautiful together. So he hopes their pairing is as equally respected.

They choose a table inside, though the weather is still agreeable. Hamish has his father's taste in frozen treats and they split dark chocolate ice cream with waffle cone pieces sprinkled on top.

John teases his men for their taste in bitter sweets. Not a sweet tooth to be found, eh?

The pair laughs, and Hamish knows they're minds are traveling the same wavelength. He wonders if he's picked these habits up from Sherlock or if nature's brought two compatible people together.

Either way, Hamish is fortunate. And they've both had the good fortune of finding John.

"What did you need to speak to Mrs. Henderson about?" Hamish asks shamelessly. His curiosity isn't a secret.

"I wanted to know how you were faring socially."

As unabashed as himself, Sherlock replies. Hamish can sense a lie and Sherlock feels no need to waste either of their time.

"And you couldn't ask her such a thing while I was present?"

"It would have made her uncomfortable."

Sherlock doesn't condescend to think his son would find offense in truth. Mrs. Henderson would have been uncomfortable, and Sherlock was catering for his son's benefit.

"She says you're brilliant in all aspects—you're quite charming."

"And that worries you."

His father shakes his head. "Quite the opposite, actually. I don't quite know how to react. We're alike, you and I. I see it and John has always seen it. I worried you might be a bit like me in my less attractive qualities. You aren't."

Oh.

"You're as close to perfect as I've ever come across in my research and perfection is impossible."

"Nothing is impossible, father. And even so, I'm not perfect."

"Of course you are," Sherlock argues, his tone dismissive in the very same way he speaks to Lestrade or any of the men from work. He won't be swayed on this point. "You're the best of John and myself and we're both remarkable people. That makes you especially exceptional."

"Your sentimental bias has skewed your data," Hamish laughs and feels his face flush in pride. "Ask Uncle Mycroft. He'll point out every detailed imperfection."

"Mycroft is an idiot who should have had his mouth sewn shut for my eighth birthday—it was the only present I requested and I'd wasted a wish."

Sherlock's POV

Hamish lets out a laugh at Sherlock's comment and the great detective can't help but smile as well. Sarcasm is something that all three of their little family loves, even more so because Mycroft – as intelligent as he is – doesn't understand this way of communicating. He just doesn't. So it's all the more fun to watch his brow crinkle in confusion whenever Hamish, John or Sherlock say something sarcastic. The three of them usually start sniggering at the same time while Mycroft can do nothing but twirl his umbrella.

Sherlock loves those moments. It gives him a feeling of unity, he feels he belongs to John and their son. His heart fills with happiness whenever they are having fun together. This feeling used to be rare when Sherlock was a child, an adolescent, and he didn't feel happiness up until he met John. It's fair to say Hamish and his partner have changed his life.

He watches Hamish eat the ice cream, grinning inwardly at their same taste. Sherlock is just happy that everything is all right with Hamish in school, that he does have friends and isn't like him. That he has the chance to have a good social life. It's a relief, actually, to know that Hamish will be a better person than him. A hint of sadness creeps into Sherlock's otherwise happy smile but he does well to hide it.

When Hamish and he had held hands on the way to the café, he knew that he had to change something about his behaviour. He decided to allow more physical contact, just to show how much he loved his son. So he reaches for Hamish's hand that lies on the table and gently closes his fingers around it.

"Hamish," he starts but his voice breaks, so he has to clear his throat and start again. It isn't easy for him, not in the slightest, but how can he ever improve if he never starts?

"I think I have yet to fully appreciate what you wrote about me," he says and curses himself for sounding so posh. Emotions are not a matter of eloquence, oracy is not the thing that counts here. "Your essay was… wonderful. And I don't only mean this regarding your style, I mean the contents. Although you already know that." Sherlock blinks twice, then continues. He manages to refrain from saying "I appreciate your sentiment" and thinks it over again. "I wanted to thank you for every word you wrote. It touched me, really, and I am still not quite over the fact that you chose to write about me of all people."

Hamish grins at him. "Maybe I've only written about you because I've already written about John so much?" he teases and even though it startles Sherlock at first, he knows that isn't true. Hamish had written this essay about him because he wanted to, and this makes his heart fill with pride. He simply smiles back, noticing that he has done an awful lot of smiling today.

His fingers dance over Hamish's back of his hand, caressing it fondly. "I just want you to know that I love you," Sherlock says, looking up at his son, voice trembling ever so slightly. "I know I don't show it often, even though I should, but that's how I'm wired, I'm afraid. But whatever I do, I do it for you - and John. You are constantly on my mind, Hamish, and you're the most important person to me." He sighs. "I just want you to know that."

Hamish nods, his face an unreadable mask. Sherlock would give anything to know what his son thinks in this very moment but he has learned from the best how to hide his emotions.

"And if you should ever need reassurance on this – don't hesitate to come up to me. You know how I am. I need to be reminded of the most natural things."

This elicits a grin from Hamish and Sherlock smiles and takes a last spoonful of the ice cream. He lets go of Hamish's hand after a last affectionate squeeze and leans back in his chair. It's getting late now, and John should be home from the hospital soon. He hadn't realised how long he had sat here with Hamish, just chatting along and spending time together. But now it was time to go home.

Sherlock waits until Hamish has finished his ice cream as well, then he leaves some cash on the table and leads his son outside. They walk home in silence, just like when they had left for the conference. They are walking closer together now, though, shoulders and hands occasionally brushing. From time to time, Sherlock will smile at Hamish and when there are just five minutes left to reach Baker Street, he puts an arm around Hamish's shoulder and holds him close. He can't work up the courage to press a kiss to his son's head, not now.

But he knows he eventually will.

John's POV

John arrives home far later than anticipated. It's gone dark hours ago and he holds his breath while unlocking the door—a habit he believes muffles the sound.

Sherlock finds this absurd. Locks can't hold a breath they are incapable of making.

His arms are aching and his back screams—this is the absolute last night he'll volunteer for an extra shift. John's becoming too old for this sort of labor.

Assuming his son and husband have gone to bed, he's surprised to find his boys settled on what was once Sherlock's couch in the sitting room. Sherlock stares blankly ahead with Hamish's head resting atop a pillow placed beneath him. By the look of it, Hamish has been sleeping for some time, and Sherlock isn't known for something so human. Instead, he twirls absently at their son's hair, his other hand cradling the side of his face.

His mind palace…

John rolls his eyes, confident he hasn't startled Sherlock's train of thought—an actual train could ride past without disturbing his wanderings.

But as he strides into the room and shifts to his knees at Sherlock's feet—face at eye-level with Hamish—Sherlock's concentration breaks. For a moment, his gaze flutters in confusion, but the smile that follows is bright and genuine. John knows they've made excellent headway tonight, he needn't ask for the details.

He chooses to lay his hand over the fingers in Hamish's hair to twine his and his detective's digits together. Keeping his thumb free, he brushes the corner of his son's cheek and grins down at the boy who changed their lives. Of course, he'd had a bit of help from the man serving as a makeshift bed—regardless of what Sherlock believes.

Few people have the opportunity to see Sherlock as anything less than incredible. John and he are learning together, and while the detective will concede to John's parental skills, they're hardly superior.

Hamish is his father's son with a few bits and pieces of his dad. And John wouldn't trade such a child for the world—it was like falling in love with the absolute best of Sherlock all over again.

"Everything went well," Sherlock whispers in disbelief.

"I know."

Sherlock smirks. They know well enough to expect brilliance from each other—even if it's taken a lifetime to develop the confidence.

"I love you both," he tries, voice still soft but sure.

"I know," John repeats and squeezes the fingers in his own. "And we love you. Very much so."

"I know." He's teasing in his mock mocking, but an edge of seriousness colors his admission.

John stands and Sherlock shuffles Hamish into his arms.

Together, the trio climbs the stairs to the master bedroom. John chuckles as Hamish's sleepy form refuses to release their hold at Sherlock's neck. Sherlock manages to maneuver them both into his and John's bed before John takes his side. Hamish breathes evenly, his face resting on Sherlock's chest. John props himself on his elbow to admire the sight of father and son.

And for once, Sherlock appears entirely comfortable with the extra weight. But of course he'd be a natural. He's a natural at everything.

For someone convinced in his inability to love, Sherlock exceeds as a father. He and Hamish both agree. While he may be a bit eccentric, while he may not always exude the soundest of minds, and while he may not be the quintessential father figure, he's perfect as is.

And John wouldn't have either of them any other way.