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Outclassed, Outplayed and Outnumbered

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Before they actually had children, everyone had thought it would be a good idea. After all, what was the worst that could happen? Their children, naturally taking on the best part of their respective parents, would be both sweet and intelligent. Sweet, that is, like John, and intelligent like Sherlock.

Of course it was only after they had the children that the flaw in the collective thinking finally became apparent.

Sweet and intelligent, just like their parents?

The first flaw was that for all his pleasant smiles, his open honest expressions and his cuddly jumpers, John Watson was not sweet. Yes, he could come across as sweet. He was polite and mild mannered and rather unassuming, but that was the same mistake that more than one criminal made before they found themselves on the receiving end of a very well placed punch, or staring down the barrel of an illegally owned gun, one held perfectly steady in the hands of a man who could, had and would squeeze the trigger with little more justification than a mild comment that you were obviously not a very nice person.

For all he appeared to be, John Watson was not really sweet. His pleasant smiles hid the grim determination of a man who was happy with where he had drawn his line of right and wrong. His open expressions meant he could hide in plain sight with few suspecting that there was more to him than met the eye. And his cuddly jumpers were nothing more than covering for a body toned by the military and bearing the scars of combat.

No, deep down, John Watson was not sweet, and anyway, sweetness was hardly inherited, I mean, have you met his sister? There are a number of words that can be used to describe Harry Watson, but sweet is not one of them. So no, bearing the Watson name and genetics was no guarantee to sweetness.

Which left Sherlock. This was the second flaw.

Sherlock was intelligent. Very intelligent. Intelligent in the type of way that very few people in the world were. It was the type of intelligence that can sometimes be considered as much a burden as a gift, and frequently as both of those things at the same time. After all, who hasn’t received a gift that turned out to be more of a burden than anything else?

In Sherlock’s case statistics and genetics suggested that any children he had would also be intelligent, after all genius ran through their family – although often hand in hand with behavioural problems, manic-depression, obsessions, addictions and anti-social behaviour. The problem was – as someone really should have realised – Sherlock wasn’t just intelligent. He was also, in his own words, a high functioning sociopath. John, who had done some research into sociopathic tendencies, disagreed. Sherlock ignored him, even sometimes going as far as to make everyone aware that he was ignoring him. (John bore this with good humour, which, incidentally, put him in good stead with some of the future run-ins with their children. At times it was uncanny how much like Sherlock the children could be, or more accurately, how much like a child Sherlock could act. But back to the point.)

Whether sociopathic tendencies were inherited or not, most people couldn’t bear to imagine what Sherlock had been like as child. In fact, out of everyone, there was only one person involved who had no need to imagine Sherlock as a child; he remembered. Vividly.

Perhaps most surprisingly Mycroft turned out to be their biggest supporter for having children. On hindsight that should have been a warning, but by the time anyone realised that Mycroft might have some crafty, ulterior motives it was already far too late. When finally asked why, having had an inkling how things would pan out, he had still supported them reproducing and had even gone as far as enabling them to continue reproducing, he had given a very small, somewhat smug smile and the single one word answer of, “Revenge.”

No one asked him what he meant by that. By that time no one needed to.

Three children, two parents and a lot, a lot of trouble.

*-*-*

Their first born was a boy. This was not a surprise since they had requested a boy and while the process was not perfect – that is to say you sometimes didn’t always get what you asked for – it was usually easier for two men to end up with a boy than a girl.

The surprise, rather, was perhaps how normal he was. Well, normal for a Holmes that is. (Or a Watson-Holmes, or Holmes-Watson, depending upon who you spoke to and when.)

He had dark hair, a roundish face and turned out to have more than above average intelligence. He wasn’t the most social kid around, was somewhat awkward, but fared amazingly well considering the wholly unconventional family he had been born into and the genes that had been inflicted upon him. He coped well with having two biological fathers – not unheard of but still incredibly rare – and an uncle who ruled the world – strangely enough something that was rarer still. He even got on well with his uncle’s assistant.

He was pretty much what people had been expecting and had hoped for. That was perhaps why they decided to have a second child. This became known as the first mistake.

The second mistake was assuming that mild mannered Jakez as he was called (“It’s pronounced ‘Zhak’. ZH-A-K. Like the French Jacque. No, I didn’t misspell it. It’s Breton. Breton. Is everyone an idiot? Fine, have it your way, call him Jake or Jakes if you want!”) would remain as he had always been.

He didn’t.

By the time Jake reached eleven or so the hormones started to kick in and things after that started to kick off.

Everything turned out to be stupid. Except of course for the things that were really stupid.

Now at secondary school (private, yes, but not public or boarding because John had put his foot down), it suddenly started to matter that he was different, that his family was different, that everything about him was different. His parents suddenly moved from being brilliantly alternative to being cringe worthily embarrassing.

(“Can’t you at least pretend to be normal?

“Boring!”

“And you, do you have to wear those jumpers, they’re so… not cool!”

“Hey!”).

His Uncle moved from being cool to being creepy.

(“All the time! Every camera! Always following me!”)

And his uncle’s assistant became… well, he never actually said but he did have a habit of blushing rather deeply whenever she was around or even mentioned.

As for his younger siblings, well, the less said about them the better.

One of the more memorable moments came when he had wanted to go to the cinema… alone… with a girl. He had been thirteen. He was mature for his age, which was perhaps part of the problem. His parents, of course, were – in his mind at least – the other problem.

Sherlock in his very unhelpful manner had declared the cinema dull and the film he had wanted to see boring. This had obviously not helped matters and had handed the remaining parental responsibility over to John. John had – tactfully of course – honed in on the issues at hand, namely ‘alone’, ‘cinema’, and ‘with a girl’.

Jake had merely stared at him blankly. This had naturally led to some attempt at a father-son talk about the opposite sex which had involved John getting rather more embarrassed than he had expected, Sherlock snorting from the sofa and Jake thinking they were both utterly stupid. It had drawn to a dramatic close when Jake uttered the killer line to end all lines…

“Like you’re one to talk. You’re gay. You don’t even like girls. If I wanted advice about girls I’d talk to Aunt Harry.”

John had sighed deeply at this point – very deeply – so deeply in fact that he just about managed to drown out Sherlock’s amused snort of, “Three continents!” because that was something he really, really did not want to discuss with his thirteen year old son.

In the end they settled on arranging for a group of Jake’s friends to all go out to the cinema together. The fact that most of the group consisted of girls - okay, pretty much all the group, and the one other guy in the group was somewhat questionable anyway – was not the point. It was a larger, mixed group and that was all that mattered. At least to the parents.

It seemed that in one way at least Jake had inherited something in particular from John. Naturally it just happened to be the one thing that everyone had forgotten about.

*-*-*

Their second son was well, there were many words that could be used to describe young Benedict – Ben for short, except for when it was necessary to use his full name, which was rather frequent in fact – but few of them did him justice.

He was, as one poor babysitter put it, the demon child from hell.

Or as Mycroft amusingly put it, the best and worst of both his parents.

The first thing that was obvious about him was that he had inherited Sherlock’s dark curls, which gave him a somewhat adorable look… for at least ten seconds when you first met him that is. Despite the hair he looked quite a bit like John, with his rounder face and brilliant smile. It wasn’t enough to keep him out of mischief though.

Ben was bright, he was creative, he was inquisitive and he was interactive. He delighted in doing experiments with Sherlock. He even delighted in doing experiments without Sherlock much to John’s almost constant concern. It turned out that Sherlock wasn’t the only member of the family who liked to experiment with kitchen appliances as John found out one afternoon.

“Did you know ants can survive in a microwave?” Ben had told him as they stood in the kitchen.

“Right,” John had said.

“Because the waves are big and the ants are small,” Ben had continued. “So the waves go over the ants. And that means ants can survive in a microwave.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. But woodlice can’t.”

He should have realised something was amiss by the speed at which Ben had then scarpered away from the kitchen.

“Right,” he’d said still wondering what they were going to have for dinner that night when the realisation dawned on him and he grabbed at the microwave door. It was, of course, already too late.

“Benedict!” he had shouted as the smell of fried insect hit his nose.

“It’s science!” Ben’s voice had shouted back sounding far, far too much like Sherlock’s, only considerably higher.

Experiments weren’t the only things that Ben liked to do. He was also hyperactive, boisterous and prone to exaggeration. All of these things tended to lead him into trouble – repeatedly.

When standing for Class Rep it was revealed that Ben had paid all the children in his class fifty pence each to vote for him. When he found out John had of course protested that Ben simply couldn’t buy their votes.

“Why not?” Ben had said tipping his head to one side with a look at could almost be mistaken for being thoughtful. “Is it not enough?”

John had of course attempted to point out that that was not the way democracy worked until Ben had simply told him that of course that was how democracy worked and that Uncle Mycroft had said so. That, combined with the promise to blow up the teacher during the next science class and not to beat up people who annoyed him were three perfectly good reasons why he should be voted in as Class Rep.

Finance, entertainment and a vague threat of violence, John had to admit that unfortunately Ben (and Mycroft) had a point. Ben’s rule as Class Rep became one that was best forgotten, although it was doubtful that Mrs Elliott would ever forget for some considerable time to come, or at least until her eyebrows grew back properly.

For all his hyperactivity and rough and tumble games, their biggest problem with Ben revolved around what he said to other people. Ben had little to no concept of what he should and shouldn’t say, something he had clearly inherited from Sherlock – along with the refusal to accept that there were some things that should or should not be said.

In short Ben got a reputation for lying.

This turned out to be unfortunate because in truth Ben was not as much as a liar as he was in fact a huge exaggerator. The problem was it was rare that anyone believed what Ben told them, and when they did there were often unfortunate side effects on account of the truth sometimes being stranger – and a good amount of time weirder – than fiction. It also sometimes became somewhat awkward. For example, John found that explaining that Sherlock was technically a high functioning sociopath and not a mass murdering psychopath, did not necessarily put the other parents’ minds at rest.

That, of course, was only the tip of what Ben found to tell other people. More than once John had had some awkward conversations with other parents while standing at the edge of the football pitch while their kids ran around in the mud attempting to get a ball between two orange cones.

(It didn’t help that John was of the opinion that if you had to stand around getting wet and muddy, you might as well be playing rugby rather than football, but it had been quickly agreed by all who knew Ben that a contact sport like rugby would be too much of an invitation for Ben to try and flatten someone, or experiment with the amount of height, speed and force needed to shatter a rib. So football it was).

After shouting at Ben not to call his own teammates idiots, John found himself pulled into conversation by the dad next to him.

“You must be Ben’s dad,” the other parent said in that slightly curious, slightly wary tone of voice John had become very much used to.

“One of them,” he had answered.

“Jimmy’s dad,” the other parent had said holding out his hand to shake.

It didn’t take a Consulting Detective to realise there was more to come.

“Jimmy said something funny the other day. He said that Ben had said that if Jimmy upset him then you would kill me and your partner would hide the body so that no-one would ever find it.”

Unsurprisingly that one had taken a while to sort out, although, as Sherlock said later when retold the story, it didn’t make it any less true.

That was, however, only the tip of the things that Ben told people. ‘Ben said…’ or ‘According to Ben…’ or ‘Is it true what Ben said…’ became regular starts to sentences around them. John of course tried his best to smooth the path and not scare everyone off. Sherlock of course was little help since he rarely denied anything and his answering smile was usually scarier than anything Ben had said.

The Watson-Holmeses, people agreed, were one weird family. Ben’s claims only supported this.

According to Ben his uncle controlled the SAS and could have you assassinated just by pressing a button. John honestly wasn’t sure if he wanted to find out if that one was true or not, especially as Sherlock had merely said that of course that was true and then added that Mycroft was also a skilled fencer and that his umbrella doubled as a sword.

According to Ben his uncle’s assistant was also an undercover ninja who could kill you with one finger without even looking up from her phone. John very much thought that one was true, so merely smiled and nodded, muttering something about vivid imaginations whenever a parent mentioned that one to him.

According to Ben, throughout his life John had been a brain surgeon, an assassin, a spy, a suicide bomber, a writer, a private detective and Casanova. The problem was, there was more truth in there than lies, and although somewhat exaggerated he wasn’t too far wrong. Mostly, of course, it was Sherlock’s fault. (It was usually Sherlock’s fault)

Ben was, on the whole, quite a bit like Sherlock. Or, at least, that was what John liked to think. The truth was, while it was painfully clear that Ben was a lot like Sherlock – his hair and looks, his curiosity that was always going to get him into trouble, his blatant disregard for what was right and proper – John could see more than a lot of himself in Ben. The needless habit of running head first into danger, the love of things physical and the sheer love of adrenaline, that was all him.

Ben, the apparent demon child from hell, was simply the product of his genetics. The best and worst of both his parents, Mycroft had described him. John could live with that, he was, after all, living with that already. Ben just added a new dimension to that, and one thing was certain, life was never dull when Ben was around.

*-*-*

Their third child, Cairenn (pronounced ‘care+in’ meaning ‘little beloved’. “Christ, Sherlock, can’t we just call her Karen and be done with it?” “Boring!”) was essentially an accident. That is to say, as much of an accident as two men…

(“What do you men we’re having another child? Who said anything about having another one?”

“You did, John, last week, when you said we should have had a daughter.”

“And you took that to mean… what am I saying, of course you did. I meant instead of, not on top of!”)

…who had to sign forms…

(“Don’t worry, John, your signature’s not difficult to forge.”)

…be accepted…

(“Mycroft’s taking care of it.”)

…and pay money towards the procedure…

(“Let me guess. Mycroft?”)

…could make it. In short, once Sherlock settled his mind on something there was no stopping him. On the other hand it did give John nine months in order to get used to the idea and for him to find out some of the other truths that Sherlock had been neglecting to inform him of.

“An experiment, Sherlock?!” John exploded one afternoon having found some rather detailed notes on the subject. “You’re treating our children as some kind of experiment?”

“It’s for science,” Sherlock replied with an almost offended huff.

“Our children are not for experimenting on.”

“Of course not,” Sherlock said having already made that mistake in the past. “But I had a hypothesis and it needed testing.”

“Testing? Oh God, Sherlock, what have you done?”

“Nothing. Raising one child is an experiment, but obviously you must repeat the process with as many of the variables the same as possible. Therefore it was imperative that our second child was also male. Then you commented that it would have been easier raising a girl. This was worthy of some consideration and with only one major variant changed it could be easily compared to the previous sets of results. It is all rather simple.”

It was simple and somewhat logical, but it did not stop Sherlock from being completely insane though. However, the deed was now done and their family was enlarged by one more – much to the concern of many people, and to Mycroft’s twisted amusement.

It was clear right from the beginning that Cairenn was to be a complete and utter daddy’s girl. It was virtually inevitable. What was more surprising though was the realisation that it was not John, but Sherlock that she quickly had wrapped around her little finger.

She was clever, observant, asked (im)pertinent questions and fooled people with her apparent sweetness. She also had John’s fairer hair, his eyes and his expressions.

It was therefore no wonder that Sherlock would become completely smitten.

“My ruthless intelligence, your deceptive sweetness,” he pointed out, “what’s not to like?”

It turned out that Cairenn was pretty much what everyone had been hoping for but honestly didn’t actually want. She was sweet, charming, innocent and unassuming… and then she opened her mouth. For the most part that was when people suddenly got the impression they were being scrutinised under a magnifying glass and being found so horribly wanting. She was brilliant, logical, and rarely ceased from asking questions. Sherlock thought this was brilliant… very few people agreed with him.

There was nothing that she would not ask about or comment upon. “But why is it wrong to call her fat? She must know she’s fat ‘cause when she looks in the bathroom mirror she’d see a fat lady.” Or, “Why do we have nightmares? Surely our brains are on our side.” Or her somewhat brutal ripping to pieces of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that had had Sherlock heartily agreeing with her and John sighing dramatically while mentally conceding that she had a point. “I can’t watch that,” she had said. “It’s Bob Scratchit, he’s an idiot. Scrooge has been horrible to him for thousands and thousands of years and then he buys him one goose and suddenly it’s, ‘Oh do come in Mr Scrooge; oh thank you, Mr Scrooge’. One day of niceness doesn’t make up for thousands of years of horribleness. If Hitler said, ‘Oh I’m sorry I bombed loads of people, I promise I’ll be good for the rest of my life’, and then he bought everybody a goose, would we let him off?”

As well as having an ability to see through both people and conventions, Cairenn also had a very vivid imagination which she would often combine with her playing. One rather alarming (and yet at the same time both scarily accurate and somewhat amusing) afternoon was spent with her re-enacting a crime scene with her toys. She very carefully laid out her dolls and got to work. It went something like this.

Pink Barbie (incidentally her only Barbie and a birthday present from the mum of one of her friends who was under the mistaken impression that a girl raised by two men with no sisters and no female influence other than her lesbian aunt, was in desperate need of a Barbie. John had smiled politely at the explanation, shooting Sherlock a brief look that said ‘say anything and the four sheep lungs in the fridge will disappear before you’ve even finished highlighting the flaws in her thinking’. Sherlock had huffed and eyed the doll as one who was pondering what experiments could be done with it that were safe for child participation – demonstrating the rate of gravity perhaps? Some kind of acid test? Testing the melting point of plastic? – but he had kept his mouth shut. Cairenn’s friend’s mum had no idea just how close she had come to a very painful and thorough dissection of her thoughts, of her life and of her psyche).

Meanwhile, back at the crime scene that was Cairenn’s bedroom, Pink Barbie was laid out face down on the floor, red tape carefully marking out her position. The various other dolls, teddies and stuffed creatures were busy standing around watching, ready to play their part in solving the obvious murder of poor Barbie. The scene then went approximately as follows:

Teddy!Lestrade: She’s dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead! And I have no idea how it happened, because I’m a policeman and I’m rubbish.

StuffedCat!Donovan: Does this mean?

Teddy!Lestrade: Yes, this is a case for Super Sherlock.

At this point Super Sherlock, in the form of her brother’s Batman figure, swooped onto the scene complete with cloak followed behind by his faithful military dressed sidekick.

Batman!Sherlock: You called, Lestrade?

Teddy!Lestrade: Yes, Super Sherlock! We need your help because we’re blind and can’t figure out the truth despite it being right in front of us.

Batman!Sherlock: Of course you can’t. So what do we have?

This was the point where Barney the Dinosaur was brought into the conversation.

Dino!Anderson: It’s a dead body, stupid.

Batman!Sherlock: Yes, Anderson, I can see that. I can also see that you’re rubbish, with terrible hair and… and your wife doesn’t even like you. You’re the stupid one. Stupid, stupid, stupid! You’re fired!

This was the point where Dino!Anderson was tossed across the room and therefore out of the crime scene.

(This was also the point where on overhearing the proceedings, John hadn’t known whether to laugh or to judge himself somewhat of a failure as a parent. He did however make a mental note to advise Sherlock on what was and wasn’t suitable television viewing for a six year old.)

Back to the game and Batman!Sherlock was now looking over the body of Pink Barbie.

Batman!Sherlock: Murder. Definitely murder.

StuffedCat!Donovan: How can you tell?

Batman!Sherlock: Because she has a knife in her back, stupid. Did she fall on it? Of course not. Look at her clothes and her shoes and the blood. It has to be murder. Lestrade, from the entry of the knife you are looking for a killer who is six foot tall with blond hair, blue eyes and plays the ukulele. Start by questioning Ken.

Teddy!Lestrade: Ken?

Batman!Sherlock: Her ex-husband.

Teddy!Lestrade: Her ex-husband?

Batman!Sherlock: Her fingers. There’s a dent on her wedding finger, which means she used to wear a ring but doesn’t any more.

ActionMan!John: But that’s brilliant!

Batman!Sherlock: Yes, I know.

ActionMan!John: Oh, I love you so much.

Batman!Sherlock: I love you too.

The next fifteen seconds or so consisted of Batman Sherlock snogging Action Man John complete with sound effects.

(Incidentally, later that night a similar exchange happened between the real Sherlock and John, although that took fifteen minutes, not seconds and went a little further than just snogging.)

Less than a minute after that the crime scene was completely destroyed by the appearance of Ben who jumped into the room shooting everything in sight. When Cairenn promptly shouted at him he said he was being Dad and shooting all the bad people – bang, bang, bang, bang, BANG!

Cairenn threw him out of her room and then proceeded to have Batman!Sherlock and ActionMan!John chase Muderer!Ken around the room until yes, ActionMan!John shot Murderer!Ken, and then they all went home for tea.

*-*-*

So, having managed to produce three children all with their own unique gifts and talents – quirks and annoyances – Sherlock and John continued with their lives, muddling through, capturing criminals and attending increasingly awkward parent-teacher meetings.

Jake continued to find his parents and younger siblings an embarrassment while being a magnet for teenage girls who found his intelligence, personality and smile somehow attractive. Ben continued to conduct experiments and to tell the world how cool his family were despite being told not to, and continued to idolize Uncle Mycroft for ruling the world with his umbrella. While Cairenn continued to have Sherlock wrapped around her little finger and unsettled everyone else with her deep and probing questions.

The results of Sherlock’s experiment proved to be inconclusive, although John banned him from even considering another child. It was unknown what John threatened him with – Cairenn guessed experiments, Ben guessed violence, Jake guessed sex; they were all wrong – but after three days of sulking Sherlock relented and it was confirmed that they would not be inflicting another child onto the world.

The world as a whole sighed in relief.

So life continued as usual, punctuated by the occasional explosion, and the less occasional body part in the fridge.

Then came the day of the kidnapping.

*-*-*

While it was true that over the years both Sherlock and John had gained many enemies, it was also true that very few of those people would consider going as extreme as to threaten their children. Moriarty for instance, even with his history of such acts, would never have even dreamed of such a pointless and ridiculous ploy. After all, all it was going to do was to incite and enrage the parental emotions of a high functioning sociopath and his trained killer partner. Also it would mean having to deal with their children, and have you met their children?

No, it was not something that even Moriarty would consider. You would have to be incredibly stupid to go to such lengths. Unfortunately not everyone in the criminal class could be considered intelligent. As such it was almost inevitable that eventually someone would be stupid enough to attempt such a ploy.

And guess what, they did.

*-*-*

In short, Ben and Cairenn were kidnapped on their way home from school. This was in itself an achievement as neither Ben nor Cairenn were children easily persuaded to do something that they did not want to do.

At this point thought should be given to both the kidnapped children and to their parents and loved ones. Kidnappings are not pleasant experiences, a situation that can invoke a wide range of emotion such as anger, fear, desperation, confusion and surprise.

However, some thought must also be given to their kidnappers who were intelligent enough to have gotten to the children, but not smart enough to realise what a monumental mistake it was. It is to them that some of our sympathy should be directed.

That said, it was still a kidnapping and as such they – almost – deserved everything that they had coming to them.

When asked afterwards what had happened, the story from the children was rather garbled and seemed to contain elephants, green bottles and physical actions such as leg kicks and so on. The story from the kidnappers was no less garbled and in the end it was felt by some to be too much of a punishment to force the kidnappers to have to re-live it through intense questioning.

As such, it is possibly best to take the story from the transcript from the CCTV system that was dutifully placed on Mycroft’s desk the day after the incident. It was reported that the small smile of pride that he wore for the rest of the day after reading it was enough to scare various minions and alarmed enough dignitaries that one war at least was averted and several diplomatic concessions rapidly agreed upon by visiting heads of state wishing to be anywhere but facing that smile.

The transcript – truncated as required – went something like this:

Criminal!One: You got them?

Criminal!Two: Yeah. Wasn’t easy. This one’s got rather a kick on ‘im.

Ben: That’s because I’m going to be a footballer when I grow up. Or kill people. I haven’t decided yet.

Criminal!Two: He’s also got a mouth on ‘im.

Ben: Dad says I talk too much and that I shouldn’t tell everyone everything just because I can. But Dad, my other Dad ‘cause I’ve got two and I call both of them Dad, doesn’t tell me off because he doesn’t care if people think he’s a mass murdering psychopath, although he does say he’s a sociopath and not a psychopath but I think psychopath sounds better, and he’s not exactly a mass murderer, although he has killed people and keeps body parts in the fridge, but I think Dad’s killed more people but tells Dad off about the body parts despite the fact body parts in the fridge is so cool. Dad says he doesn’t kill people but I’ve seen the powder burns on his fingers and it doesn’t take a genius to work these things out.

Crim!Two: Yeah, like I said, got a mouth on ‘im. Get over there!

Cairenn: You’re not a very nice man. You’re very shouty. It’s not good to shout at people. Is that why your wife left you, because you shouted at her?

Crim!Two: Whut?

Crim!One: Don’t listen to her. Just get them tied down.

Ben: I’m not being tied down. Those chairs look uncomfortable.

Crim!One: Shut it, kid!

Ben: Or what?

Crim!One: Or I’ll shoot you. Do you know what this is?

Ben: Of course I do. It’s a Sig P226. Dad’s got one. He keeps it hidden but I know where it is. It’s what he uses to shoot people with. Bang, bang, BANG!

Cairenn: You’re holding it wrong.

Crim!One: I’m holding… whatever. Barry, get over here and help!

Caireen: Uh-oh. You said his name.

Ben: Yeah, that’s not good because now we know his name, Dad and Dad will track you down and Uncle Mycroft will release his ninjas on you.

Crim!Two: Shut up!

Cairenn: Owww, you’re tugging too hard. Does you girlfriend or boyfriend know you’re kidnapping defenceless children?

Criminal!Three: What the fuck is she talking about? I ain’t no pouf!

Ben: You just said a naughty word!

Cairenn: You’re supposed to say bleep. Like that chef on the telly. Everyone knows that. So you should have said ‘what the bleep is she talking about’. And it’s ‘I’m not a pouf’ not ain’t. And pouf isn’t a good word either. Daddy got really mad the last time someone called him that.

Ben: Yeah, then he smiled at them in a really mean way.

Cairenn: Yeah, and the guy looked really scared.

Ben: And Dad can look really scary sometimes, although not as scary as Uncle Mycroft and he can kill you with his umbrella!

Cairenn: And I only said boyfriend because Daddy says not to presume these things. I bet she doesn’t though.

Crim!Three: What have you two been saying?

Crim!Two: Nuffin’, I swear. She just knows these things. You should ‘ave seen whut she said to… uh… you know, in the car on the way over. She knew about the… you know and everythin’.

Crim!Three: Fuck!

Cairenn: You’re supposed to say bleep! Don’t you know anything?

Crim!One: Shut up!

Cairenn: I was only trying to help.

Crim!One: Just shut the fu…bleep… up, both of you!

Ben: Or what?

Crim!One: Or I’ll shoot both of you and fucking bleep the consequences.

Twelve Minutes and Thirty-Two seconds later…

Ben: I know you said you’d shoot me and everything, but I really gotta pee.

Crim!One: Just ignore him.

Ben: Well that’s not going to help, ‘cause I really, really do need to pee and not letting me violates my rights.

Crim!Two: We can’t just ignore ‘im.

Crim!One: Yeah, we can.

Ben: Really, really gotta pee. Now!

Cairenn: You should listen to him ‘cause those are new trousers and Daddy’s not going to be happy if they get ruined.

Crim!Three: For fuck sake, just let him pee.

Crim!One: You do it then!

Crim!Three: Fuck no.

Crim!Two: Well I ain’t.

Ben: Bursting!

Crim!Two: Fine. I’ll do it. Alright, kid… ahhhhh… fucking ‘ell.

Crim!Three: How the fuck did he escape?

Ben: I know kickboxing!

Cairenn: Kick him in the balls, Ben. Kick him!

One Hundred and Seventy-Three seconds later following a variety of sound effects.

Ben: Ahhhh. You hurt my lip. Dad is so gonna kill you.

Crim!One: You ok?

Unmistakeable sounds of groaning.

Cairenn: I think he’s going to be sick.

Crim!Three: … ‘m ‘kay…

Cairenn: My arms hurt and I’m bored. How much longer you going to be keeping us here?

Crim!One: Just shut up!

Cairenn: We could play a game. I know… I spy with my little eye something beginning with…

Ben: Hair!

Cairenn: Ben! You could at least have let me say the letter.

Ben: But that’s boring. My go. I spy with my little eye something beginning with B.

Cairenn: Blood. That’s easy. I spy with my little eye something beginning with…

Ben: Chair.

Cairenn: Ben!

Ben: My go. I spy with my little eye something beginning with…

Six minutes and twelve seconds later…

Cairenn: … but that’s cheating. You can’t see the sky.

Ben: I can. Or I could if there was a window.

Cairenn: Well that’s stupid. I could then say E for elephant because I would be able to see an elephant if we were in Africa…

Crim!Two: Jesus Christ, don’t they ever stop?

Cairenn: It’s supposed to be I-spy, not what I want to spy.

Ben: Yeah, but that’s boring. There’s not a lot to spy around here.

Cairenn: But you can’t just go making stuff up.

Crim!One: Oh for fuck sake, play something else.

Cairenn: We could play twenty questions.

Ben: Boring.

Cairenn: The alphabet game.

Ben: I know, let’s play what Dad and Dad are going to do to them when they find us.

Crim!Two: Whut?!

Cairenn: Okay. You start, Ben.

Ben: I think Dad’s gonna shoot you. Bang, bang, bang!

Cairenn: Yeah.

Ben: Cause you’re bad men and Dad shoots bad men. He once shot a cabbie because the cabbie was bad.

Cairenn: And then Daddy’s going to smile at you.

Ben: Which is really scary.

Cairenn: And Uncle Mycroft might hurt you with his umbrella.

Ben: Which is also a sword.

Cairenn: And then Daddy will chop off your toes and use them in an experiment.

Crim!Two: Shut up!

Cairenn: I was only saying.

Crim!Three: How much longer?

Cairenn: Did you know there are two-hundred and six bones in the human body?

Ben: Two-hundred and eight if you count the sternum as three different bones.

Cairenn: And the smallest bone is in your ear.

Ben: The biggest bone is your femur.

Cairenn: That’s in your leg.

Ben: I broke my radius last year. That’s in your lower arm. Dad says I shouldn’t have been doing my vampire bat impression on the banister, but I didn’t exactly plan on falling off.

Cairenn: I haven’t broken any bones but Daddy let me do some experiments with bones he got from the morgue. We put them in different types of acid, although he only let me pour the vinegar.

Ben: Yeah, Dad banned us from using other acids after I burnt a hole in the carpet with the hydrochloric. You should have heard Dad shouting at Dad about that.

Cairenn: I need to scratch my nose. It’s all… itchy.

Ben: Why don’t you try rubbing it on your shoulder, like this.

Cairenn: It’s not working.

Ben: Well try more.

Cairenn: I can’t! Excuse me, Mr Kidnapper, my nose is itching.

Crim!One. No-one even think about going over there.

Cairenn: Well that’s not very nice. What if I was dying? Or my arms were about to fall off? Or I suddenly got cancer?

Crim!Two: What she going on about?

Crim!Three: Fuck me. Cancer 'parently.

Ben: You can’t just get cancer. That’s silly.

Cairenn: I could.

Ben: No, you can’t.

Cairenn: I could, and then all my hair would fall out and I’d get all weak and need to be in bed, and it would be all their fault because they wouldn’t let me scratch my nose.

Crim!Two: Oh, for fuck sake, someone go over there and sort ‘er out.

Cairenn: You’re supposed to say bleep! What sort of kidnappers are you?

Ben: Yeah, you’re rubbish you are. Wait till Dad and Dad come.

Cairenn: And anyway, I don’t understand why you kidnapped us. It can’t be for the money.

Ben: Yeah, ‘cause we don’t have any. I spent all mine on sweets.

Cairenn: And you haven’t had us hold up any signs with ransom demands on them.

Ben: Or made us cry and film us. Which is rubbish, because I’ve been practicing my crying. Dad says I’m almost as good as Dad.

Cairenn: So why have you kidnapped us?

Ben: I think they want Dad to do something.

Cairenn: Well, that’s just stupid, because if kidnapping got Daddy to do things we would have tried it years ago.

Ben: And Uncle Mycroft kidnaps Dad all the time, and he’s got a better car and a really cool umbrella.

Cairenn: Daddy shouted at Uncle Mycroft the last time he kidnapped Dad but Dad told Daddy that it wasn’t a problem and then we all had tea and cake, but not Uncle Mycroft ‘cause he was on a diet.

Crim!Three: Oh god, don’t these kids every shut up?!

Ben: No. Dad says I should learn Dad’s habit of not speaking for days, but I think that’s boring.

Eight minutes and two seconds later…

Cairenn: We could sing something.

Eighteen minutes and seventeen seconds later…

Ben: And if one green bottle should accidentally fall, they’ll be nine-hundred and seventy-six green bottles sitting on the wall.

Two minutes and thirty-six seconds later.

Ben: And if one green bottle should accidentally fall, they’ll be nine-hundred and six-nine green bottles sitting on the wall.

Crim!Two: Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!!!

Cairenn: Well that’s rude. You’re supposed to say please!

Ben: And now you’re interrupted my song. I’m going to have to start again now. A thousand green bottles…

Crim!One: SHUT UP NOW! There will be no more singing, no more talking, and no more bloody bottles!

Ben: They were green bottles, not bloody bottles. Bloody bottles is another song.

Crim!One: SHUT UP before I shut both you up!

End Transcript

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It was precisely at this point that the doors had burst open and a tall skinny man with dark curly hair and an extremely angry expression entered, flanked on either side by a shorter, fairer man in a jumper brandishing a gun, and a dark haired teenager who bore more than a passing resemblance to both the newcomers and to the two children currently tied up.

The first criminal, the one with the gun who had been heard threatening the children, ended up rolling across the floor in agony, a bullet through his thigh – his femur incidentally. The bullet came from a Sig P226 and it was agree by all later that he had shot himself in the leg. (The report that said his gun hadn’t actually been fired was accidentally lost, which was… a shame.)

The second criminal took one look at the new comers, put two and two together and realised that the children had not been lying and figured out that surrendering was perhaps the best and easiest thing to do.

The third criminal bolted out the back, only to come face to face with a gentleman in a three piece suit casually leaning on an umbrella. In his haste, the criminal was sure that this was supposed to mean something, but it was only when the smooth wooden curved handle of the umbrella connected rather firmly with the nerve bundles between his shoulder and his neck that is suddenly dawned on him. His last thought, before sliding towards blissful silent darkness of unconsciousness, was to wonder if there were any ninjas around as well.

*-*-*

From the point of view of Sherlock, John, Mycroft and Jake, the rescue went rather well (although it did cause Lestrade to once again shout at them for not waiting for police backup).

Once untied, Cairenn jumped up to tell Sherlock everything that had happened while rapidly scratching her nose. Ben meanwhile informed John how cool he was for shooting the first kidnapper, and then once the bruises on his face had been checked out, went to idolise Uncle Mycroft and his umbrella.

“…And that was when Ben kicked him in the balls… and then he kept saying bad words instead of going bleep… and then we played I-Spy and I told Ben that he couldn’t have sky like I couldn’t have elephant… and then…”

It was quickly concluded that both Ben and Cairenn were pretty much unhurt, which was not something that could be said for the kidnappers. In the end it was not Ben or Cairenn who needed the counselling in the weeks that followed.

“They’re fine. You can stop worrying now,” Jake said to John.

In years to come John would look back on that and see it for the defining moment that it was. Sherlock was giving his full attention to their little girl, who was animatedly telling him how she had deduced that one of the criminal’s wife had just left him between interspacing it with questions like, ‘but why did they kidnap us?’ Ben was busy showing Mycroft his fighting skills and talking, for some reason, about green bottles. Which had left him to be oddly comforted by the baby he had once held in his hands and had vowed to protect, who was now nearly as tall as him and growing up so very fast.

Nodding, he slowly began to relax, although he knew he would probably never really stop worrying. He was a parent, that was what parents did. And for all their flaws, annoyances, activities, personalities and characteristics, the children were all a perfect combination of him and Sherlock, to the point where the two youngest had taken a kidnapping in their stride with the full confidence that their parents would come and rescue them.

His love for them was overwhelming.

Maybe Sherlock was right, maybe he wasn’t such a bad parent after all.

“Is this the point where we go home for tea?” Cairenn said a little later looking up at him from beneath her fair curls. “That’s what normally happens, isn’t it? You and Daddy storm in, you shoot the bad guy and then it’s home for tea.”

“Can I have cake?” Ben said bounding over at the mention of tea. “Chocolate cake with lots and lots of icing.”

John found himself laughing and then agreeing, because what the heck, tea and cake sounded pretty good right then.

“Why not,” he said.

“Tea sounds like a tremendous idea,” Sherlock said joining them.

“And cake,” Cairenn added.

“And cake,” John said.

So that was exactly what they did.

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THE END

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