Rating: Probably M/15+
Pairing: Sherlock/Girl!John (Joan)
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, and am making no profit from their use.
Warnings: Very medical discussions of pregnancy, also violence and implied sex.
Summary: Another kinkmeme prompt (I really need to stay away from that site...) Sherlock and girl!John (Joan) get together. A few months down the line Reichenbach Falls happens. Turns out that Joan was pregnant and she never got to tell him. Sherlock defeats the rest of Moriarty's organisation in only a few months. The day he arrives back in London is actually the day that Joan is in labour. Established Sherlock/girl!John, so...technically het, but still feels like slash in my brain.
Joan was never entirely sure how she got back to the hotel. She ran back to the cliff and found Sherlock's coat and scarf abandoned on the rocks with the note (dear god, the note). After scraping her throat raw shouting his name (because he couldn't be dead, he just couldn't and why wasn't he answering her?), it eventually occurred to her that she needed some kind of search party. Sherlock could be lying injured somewhere, and she couldn't scour Reichenbach Falls and the surrounding mountains all by herself.
The search was called off after a week. An achingly long week in which Joan never truly believed they wouldn't find Sherlock, in which she was convinced he was still alive and at any moment, he'd step out from behind this tree or that rock and ask what they were all so worried about.
When the sun began to set seven days after Joan had stumbled onto the waterfall path to find it deserted, the policeman in charge of the search gently broke the news that they wouldn't search any longer. That they thought it likely both Sherlock and Moriarty had gone over the edge and been swept away by the current.
Joan had nodded, thanked him politely, and limped back to the hotel she and Sherlock had chosen a week ago.
At first, she was angry. Why did Sherlock have to be a self-sacrificing idiot and wave her off on what he must have known was a fool's errand? If he'd known Moriarty was on their trail, why hadn't he kept her with him? Why hadn't he left the very dangerous area alongside a staggering drop? Why hadn't he at least taken her gun?
But then she saw the coat and the scarf tossed haphazardly over the bed where she'd left them, the coat and scarf he'd never wear again, and in the next moment she was crying miserably on the mattress.
One week ago, she'd drifted off to sleep in this very bed, turning on her side to avoid the glow of the laptop screen that was resting on Sherlock's knees. Apparently falling asleep after sex was for ordinary mortals – Sherlock never seemed drowsy afterwards, only strangely energised.
Usually, he'd leave the bed to potter around downstairs and allow Joan to get her rest, but in the last two months – when they'd been hopping around Europe to escape Moriarty – he'd remained with her. Not that Sherlock had fallen asleep with her or anything like that, but he'd taken to sitting up in bed with his laptop, typing one-handed as the other stroked slowly through her short hair or smoothed over her back.
Joan wondered if Sherlock had seen this coming. If he'd been so overtly affectionate because he'd known the end was near.
She sniffled loudly, and buried her face in the coat, breathing deeply. After a week, the scent had faded, but Joan imagined she could still smell him. She remembered the last time she'd pressed her cheek against this soft fabric – they'd taken a late train from Paris, and while Sherlock might have been capable of staying awake for days at a time, Joan certainly wasn't. She'd yawned widely and Sherlock had pulled her in against his shoulder, and Joan had slept all the way to Brussels.
Joan squeezed her eyes shut, and for a moment, just a moment, she could have sworn she felt a hand in the short, scrubby hairs at her temple, stroking carefully and gently to banish the tension, the way Sherlock did when she had trouble sleeping.
But when she opened her eyes, she was alone.
The funeral was...difficult. Not bad, but not good either. Joan sat ramrod straight in the front row and felt pathetically grateful no one had asked her to give the eulogy. That duty had fallen to Mycroft, and after the service was over Joan pressed herself into a corner at the wake and tried to blend in with the wallpaper.
Wakes were usually an opportunity for people to remember the good times, to reflect fondly on the life of the deceased, but Joan couldn't do it. She couldn't drink tea and eat biscuits and make empty chatter while an empty coffin with Sherlock's name inscribed on the wood was lowered into the ground.
They hadn't even found his body...
“Dr. Watson?” came a deep voice from her right.
Mycroft had found her.
For a moment they simply stared at each other – Joan was trying to suppress the urge to burst into an embarrassing stream of apologies for leaving his brother to face Moriarty alone, and assumed Mycroft was processing the fact that he'd never see Sherlock at her side again.
He didn't seem to be grieving, but Joan assumed Mycroft had much more practice at hiding his emotions – he worked with politicians, after all.
“Is there anything I can do?” he eventually asked, sounding awkward and deeply uncomfortable.
Joan just looked at him.
“I suppose that was a stupid question,” Mycroft allowed. “But it had to be asked.”
That prompted a weak chuckle that sounded forced even to Joan herself. “Suppose so. And if you hear of some cheap accommodation-”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Cheap accommodation,” Joan repeated. “I can't afford the rent in Baker Street on my own.”
It was true Mrs. Hudson had offered to let her stay at a drastically reduced rate (Joan had a feeling it was mainly out of pity and mutual grief), but that would hardly be fair. Mrs. Hudson had charged Sherlock and herself rock-bottom prices already, and Joan couldn't in good conscience take advantage of the woman's good nature like that.
“Actually, I think you'll find you can,” Mycroft told her. “My brother and I received a substantial inheritance from our parents, and Sherlock's will is quite clear – everything he had passes to you.”
Joan blinked. Of course the money might not be enough, but she considered Baker Street her home. The thought of leaving it so soon after Sherlock's death had been heartbreaking.
Even if she wasn't quite sure if she wanted to be the one to decide what to do with Sherlock's violin, with his lab notebook, with his experiments...
Joan sniffed hard in an effort to erase the sudden threat of tears. Mycroft politely pretended not to notice.
“Distribution of the estate usually takes ages...” she began hesitantly.
“Oh, no, my brother's will was quite...indisputable,” Mycroft said, with the kind of smile that suggested Mycroft had made it indisputable. “”Everything should be transferred to your name within a week.”
Joan honestly didn't know what to say. She was grateful, yet 'thank you' seemed somehow inappropriate.
“I...if you ever need to talk...” she offered, feeling awkward – she'd never been good at emotional displays.
Mycroft's face twisted into an expression Joan had never seen before. There was pity and compassion there, but also something that looked quite close to guilt.
“...thank you,” Mycroft said eventually, not meeting her eyes.
Joan tried to smile (though she thought it came out as more of a grimace), and made to move away, hoping she could slip out the back door and go home, but Mycroft's hand on her arm stopped her.
Joan was surprised – Mycroft rarely grabbed hold of people, preferring to use his words to pull them to a halt. Her surprise only increased when he drew her close, almost conspiratorially.
Standing this close, Joan suddenly realised he smelled a little like Sherlock, and swallowed hard against the sudden blockage in her throat. She blinked rapidly, hoping the heat behind her eyes wouldn't translate to tears.
“Joan,” Mycroft began, his voice low and intent. “I've told you a myriad of things about Sherlock, some of them facts, some of them mere opinions...but if you believe only one thing I've ever told you, believe me on this – my brother loved you. More than anything. And that is why he did what he did.”
Joan tensed, feeling a sudden, visceral desire to punch Mycroft in the face. He'd said that as though Sherlock's love for her justified what he'd done, somehow made it all right that he'd left her to run back to the hotel, convinced someone was gravely injured, while he faced Moriarty alone. Perhaps all her presence would have done was provide one more body plummeting over the waterfall...but it had still been her decision to make.
At least it should have been her decision – Sherlock had denied her that choice.
But Joan wasn't about to flatten Sherlock's brother during his funeral, so she settled for pulling her wrist from Mycroft's grip and leaving, hoping it looked like a composed departure and not a furious, misery-filled retreat.
Joan didn't know if she was 'doing well' as people put it, and she couldn't seem to care. The money did indeed come through, as Mycroft had promised, and for the first time Joan understood why Sherlock had never seemed to care about getting paid for the work he did.
Which had raised the question of why he'd even needed a flatmate in the first place, but Joan was trying not to think about that. She was trying very hard not to think about anything to do with Sherlock.
She'd packed the skull, the violin and all the experimental equipment away into what had been Sherlock's room, which had become a storage area about a month or so after they'd begun sharing a bed. Joan knew she'd have to deal with it eventually, either sell them or give them away, but not now. Maybe one day she'd wake up and the thought of Sherlock wouldn't make her want to cry...but she just couldn't deal with it now.
So Joan went through the motions. She woke up, ate breakfast, went to work, came home, ate dinner, and went to bed. Sometimes she went out for dinner with Sarah (who was awfully understanding for an ex-girlfriend), and sometimes it was Harry (Joan couldn't even be bothered to comment on her drinking any more), and sometimes it was Lestrade (when he could get a break from work). She even met Donovan and Anderson (who she liked much better when she learned he and his wife had an open relationship) and the rest for drinks now and then, the officials drinking cocktails while Joan religiously stuck to lemon-lime and bitters.
One thing she wasn't doing any time soon was touching a drop of alcohol. Harry's downward spiral had in part been triggered by their parents' deaths, and some part of Joan was scared to even sip at a beer when she was this disinterested in life – it would be far too easy to just drink herself into lethal alcohol poisoning.
And then her period was late.
At first, Joan told herself it was just stress, that the grief had put a strain on her body...
Except no grief she'd ever heard of made your breasts grow bigger, and after her period failed to make an appearance for the second month in a row, Joan bought herself one of the more reliable over-the-counter tests.
When it was positive, Joan bought six more tests all from different brands, just in case the result was false.
Joan sat on the bathroom floor, wondering nonsensically how this could have happened. She'd left her pills behind when they'd run off for Europe; they'd only had six minutes to pack, and birth control wasn't high on the list of things you took when you were running for your life. Joan had grabbed her clothes and her gun and that was it – they'd even had to buy toiletries along the way!
And apparently, they shouldn't have bought the cheap condoms, because now Joan was pregnant to a dead man.
“Oh my god,” Joan said aloud to the empty bathroom, suddenly realising. “I'm the tragic heroine. That's how it always goes – the hero dies defeating the villain, and she's left pregnant.”
And now that her life had officially become the cheap adventure novel it had always threatened to turn into, there was only one thing to say.
Joan wondered if she should get an abortion. Aside from the medical complications that came with having your first baby at thirty-seven, she had a feeling an adrenaline junkie with an illegal gun wasn't the best person to raise a child. There was also a small, bitter part of her that didn't want to play the role of the tragic heroine, that wanted to reject this and everything it stood for and just get on with her life.
She was already having a lot of trouble getting on with her life. Would having a baby or not having a baby really change that either way? And god help her, but just the fact that it was Sherlock's child was making something in her chest go soft and gooey, like chocolate left out in the sun.
Damn her sentimental, romantic side to the deepest level of hell!
So, judging by the instinctive, visceral rejection she felt, abortion was out unless she developed some serious medical complications. Joan toyed with the idea of adoption, but that was just so complicated. Not to mention that they suspected some aspects of intelligence to be genetic, and for a moment Joan had a nightmare vision of a miniature Sherlock unleashed on some unsuspecting foster family.
For the moment, at least, it looked like she was keeping it, and in the meantime she should at least get off the bathroom floor.
Joan went into the kitchen and got herself a glass of milk, because she'd been strangely desperate for one since she got up and at least now she knew why. Still, a glass of milk wasn't the weirdest craving she'd ever heard of – there was this one woman in med school who'd been desperate for pickled eggs and salt and vinegar crisps.
Joan drank her milk, and tried to sort out how she felt about this. She didn't dislike babies, per se, she'd just filed them under 'things unlikely to happen to me', along with being struck by lightning and winning the lottery. Babies and the consideration thereof had just never really been a part of her life.
Joan had allowed herself the rest of the day to sulk and weep and rant and fear, but the next day, she told herself it was time to pull herself up by her bootstraps and start being proactive. The first thing to do was work out what she needed, so Joan wrote up a shopping list while she was eating breakfast:
And, of course, given the way Joan's luck had been going, that was when Mycroft turned up.
She'd dismissed the knock on the door and the sound of Mrs. Hudson's greeting, believing it was Mrs. Turner stopping over for a visit. So when Mycroft was escorted in, Joan was sitting at the kitchen table in her pyjamas, peering at her list and chewing on a mouthful of cereal.
Mycroft smiled politely as Joan frantically tried to swallow and offer some kind of greeting.
“Good morning, Dr. Watson,” he said, sounding very formal.
“Morning,” Joan choked out before she took a large gulp of orange juice to chase down the bits of cereal stuck in her throat.
“Oh, weren't you able to work the coffee machine, dear?” Mrs. Hudson asked. “I'll just get it on for you...”
Mrs. Hudson was convinced that the only way to get through grief was with consistent mothering, and Joan had never had the heart to send her away. Largely because she suspected focusing on her was how Mrs. Hudson dealt with her own sorrow, but also because it was...nice...to be fussed over now and again.
“No, that's fine,” Joan said quickly. “I just...didn't feel like coffee today.”
She'd tried, but just the smell of it had made her nauseous. ‘Typical,’ she thought ruefully. ‘Was nothing sacred?’
Joan wasn't quite sure why she was reluctant to tell them the real reason, but the pregnancy still didn't seem quite real to her, and she felt uncomfortable at the prospect of telling someone else about it. Like she was telling them to believe in magical pink unicorns or something.
But Mycroft's eyes flickered to her orange juice, her cereal...and then the list sitting right there on the table. Joan could have kicked herself for leaving it out, and thanked god that she wasn't a spy of some sort – she wouldn't have lasted five minutes.
Under other circumstances, the way Mycroft's eyes widened would have been comical. “You're pregnant.”
“Oh, well done,” Joan sniped, snatching the list away.
“You're pregnant?” Mrs. Hudson repeated, coffee abandoned. “Is it Sherlock's, then?”
“Of course it's Sherlock's!” Joan snapped, feeling slightly offended. She'd never been the type to date more than one person at a time, and her one attempt at a relationship before Sherlock had been with Sarah.
“Well, you can't assume these days,” Mrs. Hudson said innocently. “What with all these open relationships and swingers and I don't know what else...”
“And why didn't you tell me? I might not have any firsthand experience, but I can't tell you how many of my friends have had babies over the years...unless, of course, you're not keeping it.”
“She's written down prenatal vitamins on her shopping list,” Mycroft pointed out. “That suggests she plans to carry the pregnancy to term.”
Joan groaned again, but with a lot more frustration this time around. “Yes, I'm pregnant, yes, it's Sherlock's, yes, I'm 'carrying it to term', and I didn't tell anyone because I only found out yesterday!”
She rose from her chair, attempting to look dignified in her threadbare pyjamas with teddy bears all over them (a joke gift from Harry).
“Now, I'm going upstairs, getting dressed, and then I'm going shopping.”
She'd planned for a dramatic, sweeping exit (Sherlock might have been more of an influence than she'd thought), but Mycroft forestalled her by plucking the list from her fingers.
“I'm sure I can get someone else to take care of this,” he said, glancing over it once more.
“I'm sure you can, but you won't!” Joan snapped, snatching it back. “If you've got someone who can get me bras in the right size, I don't want to know about it! At least give me the illusion of personal privacy.”
Mycroft quirked his lips in a way that reminded her of Sherlock when he was amused, and Joan hoped the sudden tightness in her chest hadn't made her breath hitch audibly.
“Uh...why did you come over?” she asked, hoping for a line of conversation that would distract her from the comparison.
“Oh, just to check up on you,” Mycroft smiled, though a disconcerted expression flickered across his eyes as he glanced down at her (still relatively flat) belly.
“Okay, well you've checked up, bravo, though why you couldn't just get your surveillance people to do it for you...”
“Some things require a more personal touch,” was all Mycroft said, though he was still staring at her abdomen in a way Joan found rather unsettling.
She didn't even think about it. All Joan knew was that she didn't like the expression on Mycroft's face – something between calculation and sympathy with a touch of horror – and it was only when Mrs. Hudson had tittered behind her hand that Joan realised her right hand had curved protectively around her waist.
Joan flushed, dropping her arm and wondering why she'd done that – it wasn't as though Mycroft's stare was going to hurt the little lump of dividing tissue.
“I'll be going now,” she muttered awkwardly.
“Come back for lunch won't you?” Mrs. Hudson called as Joan made her way upstairs. “I made far too much pea and ham soup last night...”
Joan was tempted to ask 'so are you my housekeeper now?', but knew that was just misplaced frustration. It wasn't Mrs. Hudson's fault she was in this mess.
She sighed, and spared a moment to pray that the flat would be empty when she descended to go shopping.
“Pregnant?” Sarah repeated, sounding disbelieving.
“Pregnant,” Joan nodded. “I'll still be working for a few months yet, but I figured I should give you the heads-up.”
Joan had decided she was keeping the baby. Really, she suspected her decision had been made the moment she'd wrapped her arm around her belly – that inherently protective gesture had sealed her fate.
Though occasionally she still envisaged Sherlock's...Sherlock-ness, combining with her addiction to danger and producing the craziest kid ever born.
As a part-time worker, Joan didn't qualify for maternity leave and frankly, with the money she'd inherited from Sherlock, she didn't need it. Practically overnight, Joan had become wealthy enough to take several years off work, and planned to do just that – she'd look for a job again when her baby was in school.
Sometimes, thinking that far ahead, thinking of having a kid running around and going to school, made Joan feel a sort of sickening terror not unlike the vertigo you felt when looking down from a very high balcony. The idea of raising a child, of having a helpless living creature entirely dependent on her was...well, frightening.
“So...how are you coping?” Sarah asked hesitantly. “With...with everything.”
“It's getting better,” Joan evaded.
She didn't want to admit she'd cried on the sofa for almost half an hour just that morning after discovering a small sheaf of paper tucked between the cushions. It had been crumpled and smudged and obviously the worse for wear, and it had taken several seconds to realise the apparently random sketches on it were actually Sherlock's attempts to replicate the exact shape of the scar tissue on her shoulder.
While some people might have found that creepy, Joan had instead remembered the night Sherlock had seemed to be making an honest attempt to map the scar with his tongue (three days before he died), and had bawled herself silly (and blamed the hormones later, of course).
But she was getting better. In the beginning, she'd felt like crying every time she woke up at a decent time, reminded that she'd never again be roused ridiculously early by the sound of a violin in the living room or a miniature explosion in the kitchen or Sherlock shaking her awake for a case. Everything around the flat had reminded her of him, and for a week or so Joan had honestly considered moving out altogether.
She wasn't over it – somehow, Joan doubted she'd ever be completely over it – but she no longer felt like she was one misplaced beaker away from bursting into tears. There were still little things that would catch her up – the flat would creak in the night and she'd swear she heard a footstep, a sudden brush of wind would remind her of the way Sherlock's fingers used to absently card through her stubby hair when he was distracted...but even they weren't as heartbreaking as they used to be. Just the other day, Molly had tried to joke that her job was much more boring now that no one came in asking to flog corpses and Joan had found herself smiling rather than sniffing back tears.
She was still a little depressed about the prospect of raising the child without a father, though. Uncle Mycroft would have to be the male role model, though she might try to rope Lestrade into it as well, for a less megalomaniacal influence.
“Well, if you need any help – suggestions, babysitting...” Sarah shrugged. “My brother's got three children, so I've got an idea of the basics.”
“So you're the person I call hysterically in the middle of the night when the baby's crying and I have no idea what it wants?”
“Well, I wouldn't go that far...”
Joan chuckled for a few moments, the laughter sounding somehow unnatural, as though it had rusted from lack of use.
Sarah looked as though she was trying to find a way to diplomatically ask an un-diplomatic question. “Were you...trying for it?”
“No,” Joan said bluntly. “We bought overly-cheap condoms while we were hopping around Europe. And Sherlock was very...attentive.”
Almost as though he'd known what was coming, and had been trying to make as many good memories as possible...
And dammit, how effective were condoms meant to be, anyway? Ninety-eight percent or something like that, Joan was sure. It just figured she'd wind up in the other two percent.
Telling Harry had gone about as well as expected. Joan had agreed to go out for a friendly drink (which never ended well, but it was pretty much the only way she could see her sister these days), and Harry had scoffed at her when she'd religiously stuck to water.
“You must be over the grieving period by now,” she urged. “I'll even buy you one of those fancy martinis you usually only indulge in on special occasions.”
Joan shook her head. “Sorry, Harry, but it's strictly soft drinks and water for me tonight.”
“Come on, Jo – what are you, pregnant?”
Joan had never been good at breaking news tactfully.
Harry's eyes had bugged out like tennis balls, and then she'd suddenly seemed furious. “Are you telling me that arsehole knocked you up and then had the gall to die on you?”
In spite of herself, Joan was amused. “You say that like it was his choice.”
“Shit, what's your kid going to be like?” Harry muttered, her thoughts obviously diving off on another tangent altogether. “It's going to shoot like a sniper and have that same freaky intellect...oh god, your baby's going to be some sign of the apocalypse, isn't it?”
“Not that I'm aware of,” Joan said, trying and failing to hide her grin.
She probably shouldn't be so amused, but Harry just looked so horrified at the prospect of Sherlock's genes combining with Joan's, as though she was expecting Joan to give birth to some sort of super-villain.
Automatically, her hand dropped to her belly, rubbing it slowly even though she knew it was impossible to feel the baby at this stage. It might be Joan's imagination, but she did think her abdomen felt...firmer than usual, the walls of her uterus thickening to support and protect the tiny lump of cells that, at this point, wouldn't even be bigger than a peanut.
Just one of many changes to come. At ten weeks pregnant, her belly was starting to curve just slightly, layers of fat being put down in preparation to sustain the baby's rapid growth in the final trimester. Her breasts had grown two cup sizes as glands expanded in readiness to produce breast milk.
Joan was a doctor; she'd read the textbooks, seen the anatomical specimens, consulted at hospitals and even observed births – pregnancy was no mystery to her. And yet, she couldn't help but be strangely fascinated by the way her body was changing. She'd always just nodded and smiled politely at the women who'd described it as wondrous but, god help her, it kind of was.
“Still, I am wickedly envious of your bust size now,” Harry offered. “Just saying. And here I thought you'd got surgery or something...”
Joan laughed, and drank her lemonade.