Drabble challenge Sherlolly. Can I have #12, 44 and 67? Thanks a million
List is here. This is the last one in my drafts, one less set of prompts to fill, huzzah!
12. “I’m pregnant.”
44. “Well that’s the second biggest news I’ve heard all day.”
67. “You’re strong, baby. You have to be.”
A Life Backwards
It was their favorite story, the one about themselves - all the hows and whys and wheres of their earliest existence (less the bit about how they were conceived - no matter how inquisitive, mature-for-their-age and intelligent the Holmes twins were, that was one story neither parent woud ever tell and one they actually had no interest in hearing). Best of all was how both Mum and Dad had their own ways of telling it, so that even though it was the same in the facts, it was endlessly changing in the details.
Especially once Dad started challenging them to ask for it in different ways and not just as a straight retelling.
“Tell it in sign language,” Hamish and Hester chorused once when they were three. “Tell it in French,” the demanded when they were four and bored. “Tell it on paper in the Dancing Men code” had been their request at five. And now, at six, it was “Tell it backward.”
Molly settled on the sofa next to her husband, holding baby Gregory and smiling, just as interested to hear this version as the twins were. He laid an arm across her shoulder, kissed Gregory’s head (cauinsg the baby’s forehead to wrinkle up and his little lips to purse, even in his sleep), and pretended to go into his mind palace to rearrange the facts.
“Your mother asked me how you both looked, since the nurse and doctor had bustled you off to drain out the mucus you’d decided to hoard in your lungs,” he began, eyes sparkling. “I, being utterly in control as always…” Here he widened his eyes in mock-innocence while wife and sprogs giggled. “…blurted out the first thing that came to mind.”
“He said you looked like a couple of turnips,” Molly supplied helpfully. It was hardly spoiling things when the story’d been told so many times.
“Nasty old wrinkly turnips,” Hamish added gleefully from where he was sprawled out on the carpet. He elbowed his sister. “She did, anyway, cause she’s ancient compared to me.”
Hester was three minutes older than he was and never misssed a chance to remind him of that. Just as he never missed a chance to prod her about being an old lady. Ah, the joys of siblinghood.
“Yup, turnips,” Sherlock replied equably. “Purple, moldy-looking turnips that had been kept in the vegetable drawer too long. But,” he added with a dramatic sigh, “your mother said we couldn’t let you cook a bit longer.”
Molly nodded. “Right, there was absolutely no putting you back, not after all the work I’d done!”
Sherlock gave her a doting look. “When she was still having a hard time ejecting you, stubborn brats that you were, I looked into her eyes, let her squeeze the sh…crap out of my hand and forever ruin my chances as a concert violinist, and for the first time ever used a ridiculously sentimental pet name for her. And do you know what I said?” He peered over at the twins questioningly.
“You’re strong, baby. You have to be,” they chorused, rolling their eyes.
“Glad you don’t do that anymore,” Hester added. “It’s silly.”
“And so it is,” Sherlock agreed. “Luckily your mother thought so too because she just giggled a bit, for the first time in fourteen hours, thirty-one minutes. Give or take a few seconds.”
He skimmed over the next (previous?) bits about arriving at hospital and calling Uncle John and Aunt Mary, zeroing in on what he knew was one of the twins’ favorite parts - when Molly had announced oh-so-calmly that she’d been in labor the entire day and night he’d been off chasing a jewel thief through the rooftops of London. “I came home after my triumphant capture of Julian ‘Jools’ Voleur to find your mother packing her overnight bag. I was so caught up in the excitement of the chase–”
“And so loopy from lack of sleep,” Molly interjected in a stage whisper.
“–that I missed the obvious signs of what was happening right in front of me,” Sherlock continued, not missing a beat. “Which meant I was doing what?”
“Seeing but not observing!” the twins responded with wide grins. They high-fived one another before settling back onto their elbows.
“Exactly.” Sherlock nodded his approval. “I was seeing but not observing. I burst into the house, coat flaring dramatically behind me, unwinding my scarf and not stumbling over Toby II as I began explaining how I’d captured the idiot when he jumped onto what he thought was a solid roof but turned out to be a very dirty skylight, thus crashing into the parlor of Sir George Westingham and landing on that very man’s very startled - and very, very angry - financial advisor. I had just got to the good bit, where I acrobatically and gracefully swooped into the room, cuffs in one hand and mobile in the other to call Uncle Greg, when your mother stopped me with her hand over my mouth.”
“Oh, weren’t you put out by that!” Molly reminisced with a giggle. “The glares your father was giving me!” To show no hard feelings, she leaned over and kissed the tip of his nose.
“And that’s when she said it,” Sherlock declared, after returning the kiss. “She has a real way with words when she wants to, your mother. ‘Well that’s the second biggest news I’ve heard all day,’ she said to me, and that’s when I stopped seeing and started observing…and dashed the three of you off to the hospital.”
Next he talked about measuring Molly’s tummy, about researching the latest trends in child-rearing strategies (useless, all of them) and finally being forced to ask Uncle John for advice (even more useless), and all the rest until there was only one thing left to tell.
The twins sat up, leaning forward with their hands on their knees in anticipation of what - sometimes, depending on their mood - was their favorite part of the whole story.
“So,” Sherlock said, clapping his hands on his lap and making as if to stand up. “That’s all the best bits, time for bed, I think.”
“No! Dad! You have to tell the part with Mum and how she told you about us!”
He tilted his head to one side in faux-confusion. “The what, the who, the where, the why, the how?”
Molly scooted over, giggling quietly as she waited for what was sure to happen next. Right on schedule the twins scrambled to their feet and rushed over to their father, clambering up onto the sofa and from there to his lap, demanding that he tell them the best part, right now, it wasn’t fair if he skipped it until finally, laughingly, he ceded the point. “Very well, then. If you insist.”
He sat with an arm around either of them, lowering his voice in a conspiratorial whisper. “Your mum and I had just admitted, for the first time out loud and in front of witnesses, that we loved one another. Other crazy things were happening at the time–” They hadn’t yet told the twins more than the bare facts of their Aunt Eurus’ existance and had no plans to disclose that truth for a few more years– “so as soon as I could I rushed over here to explain to your mum that I wasn’t trying to hurt her.”
He turned to look at Molly with such a tender expression of love in his eyes that her breath caught. He could still make her heart flutter, and make her lady-bits do something quite similar, and her return smile promised all sorts of lovely possibilities after the children were in bed. “I knew he hadn’t meant it that way,” Molly replied, just as quietly - and, had she been able to observe herself from the outside, with quite the same tender expression in her eyes. “I knew it wasn’t meant to hurt me or for an experiment or a case, once I’d had a chance to think it over.”
“And I confirmed that belief, showed her that her faith in me was justified,” Sherlock said, taking up the reverse-narrative thread once again. “I came into her flat and I apologized and I explained about how she’d been threatened and how we’d both been forced to confess such a wonderful secret under such awful circumstances. I even told her that Uncle John and Uncle Mycroft had heard the whole thing, and asked her again to forgive me.”
“And then?” Hester prompted when he fell silent, losing himself in his wife’s loving gaze.
“And then,” he concluded, “she said the most wonderful thing to me. She said…”
“I’m pregnant,” he, Molly and the twins chorused.
And their lives had never been the same from that moment on…in the best way possible.