Title: On This Harvest Moon
Word Count: 8500
Summary: Real love is every day.
Notes: Written for this prompt from : John/Sherlock as parents who have neglected their sex life. They’ve been caring for their children and every time they try to get it on, somebody has had a nightmare and wants to sleep with them (and other such occurances). Or maybe they’re so tired that by the time they get to bed they’re just not up for it etc etc. Then Mycroft comes along and takes the children to stay at his/on holiday/whatever, and John and Sherlock have the best m*thaf*ckin’ sex they’ve ever had because they’ve been waiting so long!
John woke with a start as if he should have been up hours ago. The clock said barely past seven, though, which meant he was the only late one. The other side of the bed was empty and the children’s room, when he peeked in as he pulled on his bathrobe, was empty as well. Robin’s bed was neatly made and the cot had all of Zoe’s sleepy-time toys piled at one end.
John went down the stairs, yawning and feeling very lazy indeed. He could hear Sherlock’s low, rich voice and Robin’s piping one in response, with occasional nonsensical contributions from the baby. Typical morning routine, only he usually missed it because he was still at work at this time of day and wouldn’t come home for another hour.
“Finish your porridge,” Sherlock was saying to Robin. “No more dawdling. We have to leave soon.”
“Why?” said Robin.
“Why must you finish your porridge or why are we leaving soon?”
“Why are we leaving soon?”
“Because you start school today.”
“So you grow up to be clever.”
“Because being clever is better than being ignorant.”
“Robert Watson,” Sherlock said patiently, “finish your porridge.”
“Yes, Daddy,” said Robin, ate a spoonful, and then cried, “Daddy!” when he spotted John leaning in the doorway.
“Good morning,” John said and came into the kitchen, now that the jig was up. He gave kisses all round the table: Robin first, then Zoe, her forehead baby-hot and smooth under his lips, and finally Sherlock, who kissed him back and said softly, “I thought I’d let you sleep a little longer.”
“My body appreciates it,” said John and picked up a bowl. “Do I have enough time for breakfast?”
Sherlock locked at his watch. “We have to leave in fifteen minutes.”
John put the bowl back. “I’ll eat afterwards.” But there was enough time for a cup of tea, since the kettle was still hot, so he poured himself a cup and let it steep as he sat at the table. “Are you excited for your first day of school, Robby?”
“No,” Robin said and Sherlock sighed a tiny bit. “I want to stay here with you and Daddy.”
“Robin,” said Sherlock, “we talked about this. Remember? Like Daddy goes to work every day, your job now is to go to school.”
“Yes, Daddy,” said Robin, poking his porridge with his spoon, and John and Sherlock exchanged looks. Sherlock, in the way that he approached everything new, had researched how to handle first day of school jitters and it seemed to John that he was doing what the books said — but they’d discovered over the past few years that children didn’t always act the way the books said they would.
John drank his tea quickly and got up from the table. “Come on, young master,” he said, “let’s clean your teeth while Daddy gets Zoe into the pushchair.” Sherlock looked up from wiping Zoe’s breakfast from her face to give him a smile of thanks, and Robin got up reluctantly. He was already in his uniform, short pants and a jumper over a white shirt, and he looked like a textbook schoolboy. Also completely adorable, and John couldn’t resist scooping him up and kissed him as the boy giggled and squirmed.
John carried him upstairs and set him on his stool so they could brush their teeth together. “Daddy said he took you to the school last week so you could meet your teacher. Didn’t you like her?”
“Yes,” said Robin.
“And it’s only for four hours, and then Daddy will come get you and bring you home. And I’m going to be home from work early today, so we can have supper together.” He looked at Robin hopefully, and Robin very slowly brushed his teeth and leaned over to spit. John said, patting Robin’s back, “Robby, your whole life you’re going to go to new places and meet new people. It’s a good thing. It’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Robin leaned his head against John’s stomach. Sherlock often did the same thing when he wanted comfort, and it struck John — not for the first time — that children see and remember everything. He stroked Robin’s hair, which was dark and thick and wavy. No one would mistake Robin for his child or Sherlock’s, but there were things about him that reminded John of Sherlock even so, like these little habits. Robin was a questioner, an explorer. Many times when he was smaller they would hear a plaintive, “I’m stuck!” and would have to rescue him from whatever cabinet he’d climbed or corner he’d wedged himself into.
“I have to put my clothes on, Robby,” he said gently. “Can’t walk you to school in my jimjams, can I?”
Robin giggled at the suggestion and looked up at him. “Daddy’s in his jammies. Will today be fun?”
“And you’ll eat supper with us tonight?”
“Yes.” John crossed his heart. “On my honor.”
“Okay,” said Robin and hopped down from his stool.
The idea had come from Myrcroft, in a roundabout way. Once he learned, or let it be known that he had learned, that Sherlock and John were together, he said he expected to hear wedding bells and the pitter-patter of little feet before long. John brushed it off as Mycroft’s usual sarcasm, but Sherlock got one of those thoughtful looks and it didn’t go away.
Finally John said, “Out with it,” and Sherlock said, “Children.”
“You don’t want children,” John said, disbelieving.
“No,” Sherlock said quickly. “No. They’re irrational, emotional creatures. Illogical. You have to play with them. No, I don’t want children.”
“Okay,” said John.
“Do you want children?” said Sherlock. They were lounging in bed, lazy, and children were really the last thing on John’s mind. He was far more interested in connecting the freckles on Sherlock’s back, but since Sherlock was asking, John gave an answer.
“I always thought I’d have some. That’s what you do, you get a job, you get married, you have children. But then I got older and never found the right woman … and now that I’ve found the right man, it’s rather moot.”
“Gay couples adopt children,” said Sherlock quietly. “Or have in vitro, or use surrogates …”
“In vitro is a bit difficult for us,” John said, smiling, and Sherlock turned over to look at him.
“Do you want children?” he asked again, even more seriously, and John sighed.
“I don’t know. I’ve rather let go of the idea, I think. And where would we put a baby, in this madhouse?” He smiled but Sherlock didn’t smile back.
“We shouldn’t,” he said and moved onto his back. “It would just be one more person our enemies would hurt.”
“Okay,” John said. “No children.”
But when Sherlock woke him three nights in a row playing violin, John realized the subject was not as closed as he’d originally thought. On the third night he got out of bed and went downstairs, sat on the sofa and pulled his robe over his feet. Sherlock went on playing, pajama bottoms hanging off his slender hips, and John thought, No, we can’t bring a child into this. Sherlock is enough of a handful. He never eats, he forgets to sleep, he forgets other people exist at times …
But he also knew that Sherlock was capable of great tenderness , of love that was both vast and focused. Lestrade had said he might be a good man one day, and John thought Sherlock was well on his way.
Sherlock lowered his bow and said, “You’d be a good father.”
“I hope so,” said John.
“I don’t know if I could.”
“You could, if you decided you wanted to.”
Sherlock swallowed. “It’s not a decision you can take back in a few months if you realize it’s a mistake.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Do you think they would let someone like me have a child?”
“Someone like you?” John began, and remembered all the things he preferred not to think about — Sherlock the sociopath (self-diagnosed; he knew Sherlock’s medical and psychiatric records backwards and forwards by now, and there had never been official diagnosis in all of his psychiatric history), Sherlock the addict (and how those records had made John wince and wish he’d met Sherlock ten years earlier), Sherlock the depressive, the moody, the easily bored. “That’s all in the past.”
“Not past enough.”
“Well, perhaps I’d balance it out. War hero and doctor and upright citizen.” He smiled, and this time Sherlock hesitantly smiled back.
“Between the two of us,” Sherlock said, “we might even raise an interesting child.”
“We might. I think I’d rather have a good child than an interesting one, though. Any child we got would likely be quite normal. Normal intellect, normal emotions — or if we decided on a special needs child, that would require even more patience from us. Can you have patience, Sherlock?”
“Of course I can,” said Sherlock.
“Can you sustain it for eighteen years?” said John and Sherlock plucked at the violin strings. He said, “I love you,” and got that hesitant smile again in response, “but I also know you better than anyone, and I don’t want you to set yourself an impossible goal. We shouldn’t raise a child just to prove we can. We should raise a child because we want to raise a child.”
“You think I’ll be a bad father.”
“I think you’d be a wonderful father if you don’t get bored. You can’t get bored of fatherhood, Sherlock. It’s long-term. It’s a lifetime.”
“I want you for a lifetime,” said Sherlock, grey eyes focusing somewhere around John’s knee. “Why not a child, too?”
“Indeed,” said John softly and their eyes met. “You’ll have to stop doing experiments in the kitchen.”
Sherlock huffed. “I may have to stop detective work entirely. Or we’ll have to hire a nanny who’s available at all hours.”
“We’ll figure that out. First thing first, Sherlock. Do you want to have a child?”
Sherlock had a wondering look as he said, “Yes. I want to raise a child with you.”
John’s eyes stung and he whispered, “Okay.”
It happened so quickly that John suspected Mycroft had gotten wind of it and pulled various strings for them. They were prepared to wait a few years for a child, but instead barely six months passed after they began the process when they were contacted. There was a two year old boy his social worker thought they might suit. Would they like to meet him?
They would. They would, very much.
At first John thought it would all fall apart here. In the interviews Sherlock had been charming and friendly and blessedly normal, but when faced with an actual child, how would he react?
The boy, Robin, was playing with blocks and chunky plastic cars especially made for toddler-sized hands. He was a lovely child, with big brown eyes and mocha-colored skin, and John felt a tug towards him that made him grab for Sherlock’s hand to keep from wavering on his feet. Sherlock squeezed his hand quickly and then let it go, and sat on the floor near the boy. He steepled his fingers and watched Robin play, until Robin looked up and studied him back. He solemnly offered Sherlock one of the cars.
Sherlock took it, thanked him gravely, studied it and then gave it back.
They exchanged smiles.
By the time all the papers were signed and the getting-to-know-you sessions were got through, Robin was calling them both Daddy. They changed his name to Robert John Watson (“Best he have your name, John, it’ll be safer for him.”) but still called him Robin (though John found himself calling him Robby and Robby-Bobby and Rob Roy, while Sherlock frowned and said he was confusing the child and Robin giggled) and painted his name on his bedroom door.
They decided — much to John’s surprise — that Sherlock would stay home. He could adjust his work schedule around Robin’s needs more easily than John could, so once family leave was over John went back to the surgery with pictures of Robin for everyone to exclaim over and determination not to call the flat a dozen times to check on them. Sherlock had been very warm with Robin, even with his book-based approach to parenting, but still John was half-certain he’d need to say, “No experiments with the baby.”
Turned out, he didn’t. Turned out, Sherlock could handle Robin on his own just fine. Turned out, he could play with Robin, read to him, talk to him on a level Robin could understand. Turned out, Sherlock could even cook (“It’s only chemistry, John.”)
Turned out, if John walked a little slower and watched Robin trot along at Sherlock’s side, his tiny hand wrapped around Sherlock’s finger and Sherlock’s strides shortened so Robin could keep up — turned out it brought a lump to John’s throat, no matter how many times he watched it.
Turned out, they weren’t rubbish at this parenthood thing.
Zoe came along two years later, a newborn. Her mother and father were far too young to raise a child, and her mother refused to even hold the baby before the nurse gave her to Sherlock.
“Are you sure we can do this?” John whispered as he watched her rose-petal mouth open and close and her fists flail. “She’s so tiny.”
“All the more reason we should,” Sherlock said, his intent gaze fixed on her face. “We can’t abandon her to the world. She needs us, John.”
“Right, yes, right,” John said.
They put her cot in their bedroom until she slept through the night, and then downstairs with Robin. Her name (once they chose it — Sherlock wanted names like Jessamine or Dorothea and John wanted names like Grace or Hannah — Zoe was the only one they found that suited them both, unusual enough for Sherlock, simple enough for John) was painted on the door as well, and John said, “You know, we need to think about a bigger place in a year or so. They’ll want their own rooms eventually.”
“Not for years,” said Sherlock. “But we’ll want to be closer to a school before that.”
“School,” John murmured. “Robin’s too small for school.”
“He won’t be forever.”
They left Baker Street, promising to keep Mrs. Hudson updated with pictures of the children, and found a place in a more family-oriented neighborhood, with a low crime rate and a ten-minute walk to the nearest primary school. There was a room in the flat that would be Zoe’s one day, but for now held the books they needed to buy more bookcases for. There was also a back garden where Robin could play and John could try his hand at growing tomatoes and strawberries.
Digging in the dirt was remarkably satisfying, and it took a few weeks for John to figure out why. He and Sherlock, while they were happy and still in love, hadn’t had sex often since Zoe’s birth. It had been difficult since Robin came into their lives — he had nightmares for much of the first year, and slept between them when nothing else would console him — and it had only become more so once they had a newborn. Sherlock could manage on little sleep, but managing was not feeling sexy and desirable.
Gardening was not sex, but it was stress-relieving. It would do until their lives evened out again.
His shirt was clinging to him in the unusual heat, clammy and uncomfortable, so John pulled it off and hung it from a shovel he’d stuck in the ground. Sherlock glanced up from the blanket where he was playing with the children, and tilted his head slightly, eyes narrowing. John pretended not to notice, intent on getting the holes to their proper depth and applying the fish-based fertilizer before he buried the plants (halfway to the crown, like the clerk at the home store had advised), and when he looked up again Robin had parked himself at John’s side.
“Yes, my love?”
He pointed to John’s shoulder. “What’s that?”
John glanced down. “It’s a scar.”
“It’s where I was once badly hurt and then it healed.” He knelt so Robin could see his shoulder better. The boy studied it, frowning.
“Did it ouch?”
“Did you fall off your bicycle?” One of Robin’s friends had fallen off a bicycle and broken his wrist. It had made a lasting impression.
“No. A long time ago, years before you were born, I was a soldier in a war. Another soldier shot me, and the scar is where the bullet hit me.”
Robin frowned more. He had toy soldiers, of course, and the idea that mild, gentle Daddy was once a soldier was clearly difficult for him to grasp. “Was he a bad man?”
John inhaled and glanced at Sherlock. Sherlock watched him, absently letting Zoe gum his fingers. “He might have been,” he said quietly. “I don’t know. I know he thought we were bad men.”
“You’re not a bad man,” Robin stated, and his fists clenched as if he intended to defend his father’s honor against that faraway, long-ago sniper.
John held his hands and carefully pried them open. “I hope not, love. And anyway, I’m mostly glad it happened — otherwise I never would have come back to London and met your dad and we never would have met you.”
Robin nodded as if this were only natural. “Can I touch it?”
“Gently,” said John, and Robin’s finger warily prodded at the scarred flesh.
“Does it still ouch?”
“Sometimes,” John said. “When it rains, mostly.”
“Because … some old hurts never really heal.”
“Now you both have got dirt all over you,” said Sherlock as he came to them, the baby on his arm. He picked up Robin easily in his other arm. John stood and then made a startled noise when Sherlock abruptly kissed him. They never hesitated to show affection in front of the children, so it wasn’t that — it just seemed odd to be kissed at this moment, like this, when he smelt like fish and had soil on his hands.
“Hello,” he said, not knowing what else to say.
“Hello,” Sherlock said and smiled one of his small, genuine smiles. “Come eat once you’ve washed up.”
“Lunch together!” sang Robin happily, kicking his feet as Sherlock carried the inside.
That was certainly a cause for celebration, so John picked up his shirt and went inside to wash off the evidence of his efforts. He had only started the water running when Sherlock joined him in the lav and wrapped his arms around John’s waist. John leaned back against him as Sherlock buried his face in John’s neck.
“You did that on purpose.”
“Did what?” said John, as innocent as can be.
“Took off your shirt when you’re sweaty and dirty. You know I can’t resist you when you so–” He inhaled, running his nose along John’s shoulder. “Human.”
“I’m always human.” He reached back to knot his fingers into Sherlock’s hair.
“You’re even more so now. If the children hadn’t been there I would have ravished you right there in the garden.”
“Promise to ravish me later instead?”
“Promise,” Sherlock growled and nipped at John’s neck. He released John as quickly as he’d embraced him, and went back downstairs to rejoin the children.
It was never that simple, of course. It seemed like every time they both had the energy, they both were in the mood, they both were home (John had taken a job at an A&E when they moved — the commute was better, the hours were worse, and he missed the steadiness of the surgery), there always seemed to be something else in their way. One or both of the children were sick, Robin wanted to sleep in their bed, Zoe wouldn’t stop crying and Sherlock had to walk with her, singing to her softly in his baritone voice, until her wails became whimpers. Often on those nights Sherlock simply fell asleep on the couch, the baby on his chest, and John would cover them over with the old woolen blanket before he left for work. It made something clutch around his heart when he saw Sherlock like this — people had doubted this path was a wise one, everyone from Harry to Donovan had said Sherlock would never last as a caregiver, but when he saw how much Sherlock loved these children John knew they had all underestimated him.
They finally got the children in bed, Robin having fallen asleep hard after an afternoon of gardening and playing, Zoe having stayed awake a bit later than usual but went to bed without much fuss; and then made their weary way to their own bedroom, arms around each other. John nuzzled Sherlock’s neck, chuckling at the scent of him (milk and baby powder and the children’s soap) and directed him to the bed. “No interruptions,” he said and bent to kiss Sherlock slowly.
Sherlock hummed beneath him, his hands stroking John’s sides, and they came to rest on John’s back. John kissed him deeper, teasing at Sherlock’s tongue, and then pulled back with a frown when Sherlock didn’t respond.
“Sherlock?” he whispered and nudged him with his knee. “Sherlock.”
Sherlock … snored.
John sighed, moved off him, and scrubbed his hand over his face. He kissed Sherlock’s forehead and made him comfortable enough to sleep — it was actually easier than undressing Robin when he was sound asleep, even though Sherlock was far heavier dead weight — and laid a blanket over him. He kissed Sherlock again and whispered, “I miss you,” before he lay down his head.