This one is going out to Rocking the Redhead who put the idea into my head. It's a little bitty follow up to "Paragon." Enjoy!
There was something fundamentally boring about the slides under the microscope. The cross sections of poisonous foliage were not keeping his attention. The feeling had been more and more common recently, thought it settled a little more heavily on this particular night. Suddenly the bright fluorescent glow in the kitchen was too sterile, the darkness of the rest of the flat too unwelcome.
Flipping the scope off, Sherlock abandoned his study and made his way to the bedroom. Slowly opening the door, he lingered in the doorway for a few moments to adjust to the darkness, the only light coming from the lamps outside. He could just make out the form lying in the bed, the sound of light breathing the only noise in the room.
Molly looked entirely peaceful and for that he was glad. The first trimester of her pregnancy had not been kind to her: falling asleep in the lab, a complete aversion to nearly every food that existed, and nights that were interrupted by frequent runs to the loo to be sick. Sherlock had never really understood that "morning sickness" was a loose title until then.
Now six months along, life had improved greatly.
He watched her, lying propped against a long body pillow, one hand tucked under her head and the other resting protectively against her growing belly. Her hair fanned out behind her and across her shoulder, luxurious with the hormones of her new body. On that bit, she had been entirely correct – her hair and skin made her look like a goddess just a few short weeks into the pregnancy.
It was the first thing he noticed changing about her before either of them even knew. He still remembered coming home from closing a case to find her sitting on the edge of the sofa, her hands steepled over her face and her eyes wide, staring at the coffee table. The way she nearly jumped a meter when she heard him come in, the look of terror and joy on her face, sent him immediately to the wrong conclusion.
"You haven't agreed to another investigation," he had said, half questioning, half demanding.
She'd looked at him as though he were speaking in tongues.
"You said you were done with all of that. It's been two years, what could they possibly need you for?" he'd said heatedly, the memories and emotions of all that had happened when he'd discovered she had been an MI5 agent surging back into his mind. "Mycroft can bugger himself if he thinks for one second - "
Her response to his tirade had been to grab something from the coffee table and shove it at him. He'd looked down at the white stick in her hand and drawn a complete blank. The best thing he could summon from his mind was that it looked like a pH test. His confusion had obviously shown. Her eyes shone a bit as she looked up at him.
"It's a pregnancy test, Sherlock," she'd said quietly.
He'd gone rigid, his eyes slowly lowering to the stick. His mind had gone empty and entirely full all at once, thoughts racing as it gradually sunk in. Though spectacularly ignorant on a few things in life, the potential consequences of being in a sexually active relationship with Molly was not one of them. He knew what could happen.
"A-and… those two lines would be…"
"Positive," she'd finished for him.
If he'd had to do it over again, his reaction would have been greatly altered. His inability to be sensitive to feelings and proper social proceedings had never failed him so enormously.
He had backed away from her. Not far, but it was enough. Hadn't said a word.
Her face fell and hardened immediately and he knew he had ruined it.
"God, no, Molly, I'm sorry," he had sputtered, reaching out. "I'm so sorry. That – that – was knee-jerk, I'm sorry."
She'd stared at him, aghast, skirting his hand and making for the middle of the room as he followed her.
"Knee-jerk?" she had cried, eyes flashing. "Your knee-jerk reaction to finding out I am carrying your child is to back away in horror?"
"No, no, not horror," he had said defensively. "Be reasonable, Molly, that was a shock to the system."
She'd snorted in disbelief, no doubt thinking her side of the situation trumped his. Rightfully so.
"You gave the impression you were open to this – wanted it, even! I do recall your exact words to be that our offspring would be absolutely brilliant," she huffed.
"I don't deny that - "
"I knew you weren't entirely keen on filling the flat with basinets and nappies, but for fuck's sake, Sherlock, you could at least pretend that you care until you actually do," she'd snapped, grabbing the throw pillow from his chair and chucking it at him.
His hands had flown up to block the assault, holding the pillow with more than a little intention to use it to deflect any further airborne attacks. Peering over the top of it, he'd seen Molly leaning against his chair, arms crossed tightly across her chest and her eyes locked on the floor.
So very, very not good.
Letting the pillow drop, he had made his way carefully over to the woman with whom he had been sharing his life for the last two years. Not waiting to see if she would let him, he had wrapped his arms around her and tucked her under his chin, fitting to him like a glove, as she always did.
"There won't be any pretending to care, Molly," he'd said softly. "I do care. It's unexpected – but I am happy."
"Don't lie, you're terrified."
"So are you."
She had leaned back, looking up at him with eyes that held a dozen questions and uncertainties. The subtle changes he had seen in her made sense in a heartbeat – the sheen in her hair, the tiredness, and thank God he had not mentioned her weight gain this time around.
"Are you ready for this?" she'd asked timidly.
The thought of a tiny life dependent on him made him momentarily lightheaded. For one terrible second he had considered that he was not, in fact, ready. He was selfish, driven, and lived a potentially dangerous life. It was one thing to bring Molly, a grown woman with a strong sense of self, into all of that. It was quite another to bring a child into it. His own father had been the opposite of a good role model for fatherhood and he'd had no desire to try to amend that with his own turn at being a parent. But then his mind offered up the image of a delicate baby wrapped in a white blanket with Molly's brown eyes and his dark hair and something clenched around his heart. The thought of Molly holding that baby was enough to encourage the half grin onto his face.
"With you… yes."
He'd spent the next four months making up for that blunder. Some days were more successful than others.
An idea popped into his mind as he stood in the doorway, watching her sleep. Quiet as he could, Sherlock padded over to the small bookshelf on the other side of the room and knelt down, scanning the titles. Finding what he sought, he slid the hardbound off the shelf and walked back to the bed.
Sliding gently into bed, he turned onto his stomach and opened the book once he had positioned himself at eye level with her belly. He could smell the lingering scent of her soap from her evening bath, filling his senses with orange and cinnamon. Setting his phone to a light app, he began reading.
"I am by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. My ancestors had been for many years counsellors and syndics; and my father had filled several public situations with honour and reputation. He was respected by all who knew him for his integrity and indefatigable attention to public business. He passed his younger days perpetually occupied by the affairs of his country; a variety of circumstances had prevented his marrying early, nor was it until the decline of life that he became a husband and the father of a family…"
The slow crinkle of the pages as he turned them and the words from his mouth joined with Molly's even breathing to create a comforting melody that was far more engaging than cross sections of stems at the moment. He made it through the first twenty pages before Molly stirred, a light noise of wakefulness coming from her throat. Her eyes slipped open and she looked down at him, confusion in her face.
"What're you doing?" she asked sleepily, her hand smoothing over her stomach and reaching out to run through his hair.
"Reading to her," he said simply.
Molly glanced down at the book and squinted. Her mouth turned up in an amused smile.
"She's not going to be exactly like me, you know," she said, ruffling his hair before returning her hand to her belly.
"Your work hardly falls into the realm of reanimation."
"No, but I do smuggle body parts to you… on second thought, that would make you Dr. Frankenstein, not me."
"Either way, it can't hurt her to know a great work. I intend for her to know many."
"No, I 'spose it can't," Molly murmured, smiling.
The effect of her smile on her glowing face was instantaneous. The sight of her overwhelmed him and he let go of the book, placing his hand atop hers and bringing his forehead to rest against the swell of her stomach. He could feel the little flutters of movement beneath her skin, their voices and hands inspiring activity in her womb. Two lives he had never intended to let into his world, to place in importance before his own, and yet he knew he would give up everything for them.
"Go back to sleep, Molly… you need it."
"In a little while," she whispered.
When he looked up again, her eyes were closed, though she was clearly still awake. He began reading once more and she hummed contentedly, threading her fingers with his.