He knew the second time. He knew it before she did, though he could not pinpoint exactly what gave it away. When she walked into their bedroom at the end of the day and stripped out of her clothes, standing before him completely bared, she looked…different. And he just knew.
She didn't believe him at first.
"Sherlock," she said slowly. "I just had my monthly. There's no way…"
But he had been right. Things would always run so much smoother if she just trusted that he was always right. Or nearly always. He'd been convinced it would be a girl; a darling little sister for five year old Clara. All scans pointed towards a boy.
He watched Molly's body grow and swell with a second child, watched his precious daughter, who already had him wrapped around her little finger, become enamored with the idea of her new sibling. Molly showed her how to change nappies and swaddle a baby doll. During quiet times, Clara would sit devotedly next to her mother on the sofa and read from her beginning reader science books, making sure her brother was well prepared for the world into which he was entering. Molly would lean back into the sofa and run her fingers through Clara's chestnut curls, closing her eyes happily while she rested and listened to simplified facts of chemistry and physics.
When she was seven months along, Sherlock came home to Baker Street after a disappointingly simple case to find Molly standing by the window, looking onto the street with her brow drawn seriously. Something was wrong. She stood with her belly angled away from the glass, her eyes sweeping the street. If those signs weren't enough to give away a problem, the gun sitting on the desk in front of her screamed trouble.
"What's going on?" he asked carefully.
"Someone's been loitering on the street, three buildings down," she told him, never taking her eyes away from the window.
Sherlock crossed the room and stood by her, his gaze following hers. Sure enough, there was a figure pressed into the shadows of a building on the opposite side of the street, hood pulled over their head and hands shoved deep into trouser pockets.
"How long?" he questioned.
"He was there this morning when I took Clara to school," she said. "It's been four hours now. He hasn't moved."
"I arranged for Anthea to pick her up," Molly said, absently running a hand over her stomach. "They'll torture Mycroft for a few hours until things are cleared."
"Who do they suspect?" he said, watching the figure shift on the pavement and look on the direction of 221.
"Henri Bisset," she said, pushing the curtain aside with her finger when the figure moved a few yards out of her sightline. "I shut down an international drug ring his sister was running. Testified against them with some…unfortunate…DNA evidence."
"Unfortunate?" Sherlock asked.
"Let's just say that she and her boyfriend were not exactly practicing safe sex around some of their merchandise," Molly explained with an amused grimace. The amusement dropped a moment later. "Henri was implicated. He got a light sentence compared to the others. They released him last year."
He took in the details, edging himself in front of her body to get a better view of the whole street. Counting quickly, he came up with five visible government officers peppered along Baker Street. Waiting for the right moment.
He reached out and took Molly's hand, squeezing tightly.
"You should have called," he murmured.
"You were occupied," she told him simply. "It was easy to handle, Mycroft took care of things."
"That's not the point," he said, running his thumb over the back of her hand. The figure of Henri Bisset began pacing, looking around. Sherlock's free hand twitched and he reminded himself that the gun was within reach. "You were here by yourself."
"Armed," she reminded him gently. "And with the British government at my beck and call."
It was not enough to reassure him. She had been surrounded by armed agents and snipers not so many years ago and he'd still nearly lost her.
His pulse jumped when he saw Bisset make a decision, striding across the pavement and into the street. In a flash, the agents that had blended into the scenery only moments before rushed forward, forcing him to the ground. He felt the cold, hard steel of the gun in his hand before he even knew he had reached for it.
"Mycroft's people are getting better, there were three I didn't spot," he said, putting the gun down and turning away from the window. He slid an arm around her waist and guided her away, giving her a smile. "Though you could have warned me what I was walking into before I frolicked down the street in front of a criminal."
"I saw no frolicking," Molly replied with smirk. "And I'm sure they were instructed to protect you as well."
It wasn't long after that incident that Molly started standing at the base of the stairs to Clara's room, one hand on her hip and the other poised at her mouth. Sherlock was confident he knew what was going through her mind, but waited patiently for her to broach the subject.
"The room's not big enough for two," she said at first. "Where will we put them when they get bigger?"
"There's time to work that out," Sherlock assured her. "He can sleep in our room for a year at least."
Molly looked unconvinced.
A few days later, she reworked her wording.
"Maybe we should start looking for flats that have more room…just to be familiar with what's out there when the time comes," she ventured delicately.
Sherlock looked up from his reading and saw the growing concern in her eyes. Placing his book on the side table, he stood and walked to her. Taking hold of her hands so that she would stop wringing them, he looked firmly into her eyes.
"Tell me what's wrong, Molly."
"It got too close," she said after a moment's hesitation. "What if I hadn't noticed? What if Clara had been here?"
"But you did and she wasn't," he reasoned, placing a hand alongside her cheek. "You were magnificent."
"How could we do this to them?" she said, panic starting to creep into her voice. "How could we bring them into a world that revolves around criminals and people who want revenge and know where to find us - "
"Molly, Molly," Sherlock stopped her, pulling her into his arms and stroking her hair. "I know it's hard to believe, but our world is hardly more dangerous than anyone else's. Especially when it comes to our children. There are people who are careless parents, who are more of a danger than an enemy could ever be…you and I have both seen that. We protect our children. Mycroft adores Clara. John, Mary, Mrs. Hudson…they have the best in Britain looking out for them."
Molly sniffed and tightened her hold on Sherlock, working around the swell of her belly to be as near to him as she could manage.
"They do, don't they?" she said.
"But…if you still wish to explore our living options," he said, "I think a little more space wouldn't be the worst idea in the world."
It didn't leave him as anxious as he had expected to consider leaving Baker Street, though he had invited John to the flat to discuss it. Sitting in their old chairs, Sherlock realized that the nostalgia for the old days was dimming; dimming in the sense that he knew it shouldn't be attached to a building or a room or a piece of furniture. He could leave Baker Street and he would still have the people that made the years as important as they were.
"It'll be good for you to have a bit more room," John told him encouragingly. "It was crowded when it was just us, you'll be going mad when there's four of you."
"Never thought I'd see the day Sherlock Holmes was a father of two," John said with a grin.
"Yes, well, I never thought I would find a woman who was a government agent posing as a specialist registrar," Sherlock returned, looking up as he heard Clara bounding down the stairs.
"Uncle Johnny!" she cried, bouncing through the room and leaping into John's lap.
John let out a dramatic 'oomph,' but caught the girl easily enough.
"And how are you?" John asked.
"Very well," Clara said politely. "Daddy ordered owl pellets for me. They came yesterday. I found four mouse skulls already!"
Sherlock bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing at the effort John was making to hide his shock. Clara was equally likely to create a craft with purple glitter and rainbows as she was to dig through the dirt for insects, but he had to admit, he enjoyed it most when his daughter was able to unnerve John.
"Well that's…fun," John said with a smile. "Are you excited to meet your brother in a few months?"
"I'm going to play with him when he's big enough," she told him. "He can help me with my essperimints."
"Experiments," Sherlock corrected gently. Clara glanced at him and nodded.
"Eck-sparamints," she tried again.
Sherlock's lip quirked up and he nodded back. Close enough. John smiled at him and settled Clara more comfortably in his lap. His friend blinked a few times, looking at the floor. It piqued Sherlock's interest, knowing there was something on John's mind.
"If you and Molly are looking for more space," John started. "You know, looking near Mary and I would be great. It would be nice to have you all nearby. And…well, being near a playmate…could be good for the kids."
Silence filled the room and Sherlock cocked his head, waiting for John to meet his eyes. When he did, a shy grin spread across his face.
"Mary's expecting," he said.
Clara lit up like a light.
"More babies?" she asked, looking at her father.
"More babies," Sherlock confirmed.
Clara whooped and jumped off John's lap, skipping out of the room.
"Wait til mum hears!" she cried, hurrying out of the flat to find Molly at Mrs. Hudson's.