“Father will collect me from school today?”
John finished cutting the sandwich and began wrapping it for Hamish’s lunch. ”That’s right, Hal. Do you think you can help him mind his manners and behave?” Each of them shared a conspiratorial grin.
“Yes, Dad. It’ll be okay. Ms. Davis only cried for a few minutes that time. And she has a nice new boyfriend, now.”
“So does her old boyfriend, I expect,” muttered John.
As he finished lacing up his black leather school shoes, Hamish looked over at the closet where his favourite trainers were kept. “Dad? You promised we would go to the park . “
“I did, Hal. I know. But do you remember Dr. Jensen at my practice? Well, her wife went into labour last night, so I agreed to cover an extra shift today. The new baby will want both parents there, don’t you think?
Hamish nodded, understanding mixed with disappointment on his face. Then his expression turned hopeful once more. “Could Father take me to the park?”
“Well, I’m not sure-“
“Of course I will take you to the park, Hamish.” Sherlock’s long fingers brushed lightly through Hamish’s dark curls.
John looked at Sherlock, then at Hamish’s joyful face, then back at Sherlock again. He bit his lip, but he didn’t say anything. John merely nodded his head and forced a smile.
Hamish hugged his Father and was rewarded with a kiss on the top of his head. Every time John saw that small action, no matter how often, no matter what the circumstances, his heart stopped, and his throat caught.
Sherlock. Tender and loving. Unguarded. And somehow, still Sherlock. Still brilliant and dangerous. Still the man who borrowed his phone at Bart’s and turned John’s universe upside-down in a matter of minutes.
John looked up to find Sherlock smiling that crooked smile at him.
“Right. Well I expect you both to be on your best behaviour - at school and at the park. Understood?”
Hamish and his father stood to attention and offered a mock-serious salute.
“Sir, yes, sir!” They barked in unison.
“No deducing the students, parents, or staff, at least not out loud.”
“Sir, no, sir!”
“No poisoning the wildlife or frightening the pensioners.”
“Sir, no, sir!”
John pulled himself up to his full height and returned the salute.
Hamish marched stiffly and seriously toward the door.
Sherlock stayed behind for a moment and moved in closer to John.
“No further orders, Captain?”
John raised an eyebrow. “Yes. Your orders are to report to my barracks tonight after lights-out.”
“With pleasure, sir.” Sherlock placed a soft kiss on John’s lips.
“Careful, soldier. That’s fraternization.”
Sherlock lowered his voice to a gorgeous rumble. “Then you shall surely have to discipline me, Captain Watson.”
A shiver ran down John’s spine.
It took him several minutes after they left before he was able to walk comfortably.
* * *
The extra shift at the surgery was mostly uneventful. The only difficult moment involved calming a frantic mother who felt sure that her young daughter’s upset stomach was a burst appendix. Later, when John filled out the paperwork, he saw that the woman had been widowed only last year. The husband succumbed to sudden heart failure (a condition now listed in the family medical history for the little girl).
No wonder, then. Poor woman.
He shuddered involuntarily at the thought of something like that happening to his own family, and then he immediately forced the thought out of his mind.
A quick glance at his text messages told him that he’d still have time to join in the fun at the park. After putting the last of the paperwork in order, he headed off in that direction.
By the time John reached the edge of the park, a few clouds had begun moving in from the east. The wind was picking up just a bit, bringing the promise of light rain later.
Looked like they’d need to leave for home in a bit. Still, there was a little time left. And there would always be tomorrow.
John caught sight of Sherlock standing near the edge of the green space. He was underneath one of the larger trees, looking up at something.
No. At someone.
Sherlock turned toward the sound of John’s voice. At the same moment, Hamish let go of the tree’s trunk. He spread his small arms out to the sides, leaned forward, and let himself fall.
It was only a fraction of a second’s delay for Sherlock, but it was enough to make his catch sloppy, and both man and boy tumbled to the ground in a heap.
John caught up to them just as Sherlock had struggled to his knees. He shoved him away brutally and began a rapid field-assessment of Hamish’s condition.
“Hamish, are you okay? Don’t move; just talk. Are you in pain?” Well-trained fingers flew over the boy’s body — checking for broken bones, swelling, and other signs of trauma. It reminded him of being in Afghanistan and treating the wounded. Only this time, unlike those during the war, John’s hands were shaking.
“I’m okay, Dad. My…elbow hurts a bit…”
Sherlock reached for Hamish’s arm and John shoved him away again, this time even more roughly.
“Don’t you TOUCH him! You hear me?” John’s looked at Sherlock and saw the surprise in the other man’s face. Saw fear there, too. But John didn’t care. His only concern was Hamish, now. He turned back to his son, careful to mask as much of the anger as possible.
He gently took Hamish’s left arm. “This one, Hal?”
Hamish winced and nodded. Already, there was swelling of the soft tissues. A sprain at least. John moved the lower arm in a slow smooth arc. it was obviously tender, but most likely not broken.
“How about your head and neck, Hal? Do you remember hitting your head?” John’s hand moved automatically to the damp, dark curls at Hamish’s left temple. Thank God, they were damp with sweat, not with—
“He’s fine, John. He’ll be fine.”
John didn’t turn to look at Sherlock; he didn’t even acknowledge the statement. He merely scooped Hamish up in his arms, stood up, and started walking away.
“John…,” Sherlock’s voice called after him.
For a moment, John broke his stride. Then he hefted his son’s small body up to a more comfortable position, and he kept walking.
* * *
And it was, indeed, fine. Just a slight sprain. John watched Hamish doze beside him on the leather sofa; only the sound of light snoring broke the silence.
Sherlock had gotten a cab for them at the park, and then he’d managed to stay miraculously quiet the entire time as the doctors examined Hamish’s arm.
Even during the cab ride home, Sherlock had said little other than to reply to Hamish’s questions about wind speed and velocity.
John could hear movement in the kitchen, and a few minutes later he heard the faint sound of the electric kettle finishing its boil.
Sherlock appeared soon after. He held a mug of tea out to John.
“Thank you.” John took it with one hand. The other was still wrapped protectively around Hamish.
“I’m sorry, John.”
Sherlock started to turn away, then he changed his mind and instead dropped to his knees in front of Hamish. John watched as Sherlock lightly brushed the back of his long fingers over Hamish’s temple and cheek.
He leaned down a bit more and kissed the soft dark curls before turning his eyes back to John.
“You know that I would never let him come to harm, John.”
“Do I, Sherlock?” John’s angry whisper was close to a hiss. “What part of letting him jump from a ten-foot tree shows me that, exactly? Do you have any idea how it felt for me to see our son about to…..” He clamped his jaw shut and blinked hard several times before continuing: “I can’t talk about this now. Not now. I don’t want to wake him, and I’m really too angry at you. I might tell you exactly what I’m thinking, and those are not words you want to hear, Sherlock. Trust me.”
John watched as Sherlock’s mouth twitched in… anger? Hurt? Hard to tell.
“You’re angry because seeing Hamish about to leap from the tree reminded you too much of watching me leap to my supposed death. You still haven’t forgiven me, and you still don’t trust me not to hurt you –or our son- in some equally terrible and selfish fashion.”
“Sherlock, stop…” John warned.
“You worry that, despite everything, I will never place as much value on our family than I do on problems, experiments, or my work. In fact, you wonder if our son, if our whole life, is any more than another experiment for me.” Sherlock waved his hand dismissively. “The point of this is that you are grossly over-reacting to a minor injury—“
John sat forward on the couch, threatening. “Sherlock, so help me—“
“And it’s entirely my fault, John.”
“I caused you immeasurable pain once, and I can never take that away. Today, I triggered those memories by allowing Hamish to do something unnecessarily dangerous. I promise never to do such a thing again. I promise you that, John.”
Hamish stirred, muttered something incoherent, and then fell back to sleep.
John’s eyes drifted from Hamish to Sherlock.
And both the centre of his universe.
“Come here,” he said softly.
Sherlock leaned in closer.
John reached out and stroked Sherlock’s soft, dark curls.
He let the backs of his fingers brush against Sherlock’s temple and cheek.
He leaned down and placed a kiss on the top of Sherlock’s head.
“I believe you, Sherlock.” John inhaled the scent of Sherlock’s hair – shampoo, grass from the park, and something that could only be described as just Sherlock. “I’ve always believed in you. I suppose it’s time to start trusting you, as well.”
Sherlock’s hands reached up and pulled John close. “I love you, John. And I love our son. Nothing will ever be more important than the two of you.”
“I know, love. I know. It’s going to be fine. It’s going to be all fine.”