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The Talk

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Hamish Holmes-Watson threw himself onto a chair at the breakfast table one drizzly Saturday with a huff. He picked up a slice of toast, looked at it despondently, and put it back on his plate with a sigh that made his Dad look up from his newspaper. His Father, however, paid no attention to Hamish's obvious turmoil and continued to stare at his phone.

"Morning, Hal," said John. "Something the matter?"

Hamish shrugged without saying anything, running a hand through his curly black hair. But the frown on his pale face spoke volumes.

"You've been really quiet lately," said John carefully. "Has something happened at school?"

"Sort of," Hamish said quietly.

"You're not being bullied again, are you?"

"Yes, but it's not about that," said Hamish, rolling his eyes and waving it away dismissively. "All those Neanderthals are still threatened by my intellect and too stupid to realise that that's why they all hate me, but I don't care about them anymore."

Sherlock hid his smirk behind his tea cup, glancing up from his phone for a second to look at his son with pride.

"Oh no," Hamish continued seriously. "It's much, much worse than that, Dad. Possibly the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life."

John raised his eyebrows, and even Sherlock started to properly pay attention. Hamish was never one to exaggerate about anything.

"Oh God, what is it?" John asked, sounding worried.

"I think I might be in love."

A silence followed Hamish's words that went on for quite a while, before John chuckled and Sherlock rolled his eyes.

"You take this one, John," he said, looking back down at his phone.

"Hamish, you're only ten," said John incredulously. "Don't you think you're a bit... young to be in love?"

"No," Hamish said seriously. "I don't really think there's an age limit, Dad."

"Okay, fair enough," said John. "But I thought this was something serious. You said it was the worst thing that had ever happened to you. Being in love isn't that bad."

"Yes, it is!" Hamish insisted. "Dad, this is very serious and definitely the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I mean, I knew the chemistry of it. I knew about the physical signs of attraction and the release of endorphins and all that, but I had no idea that it was supposed to feel this... bad."

John nodded slowly. "You do make a good point. So, does this girl... or boy have a name?"

"She's a girl," said Hamish.

"Dull," Sherlock mumbled.

"She's called Emily Green," Hamish continued as if his Father hadn't interrupted. "She's not boring and stupid like all the other girls in my class. Her face has all the symmetry that society defines as beautiful and she also has really nice hair. But the very worst thing is that she's never, ever spoken to me before. I doubt she even knows my name or if I even exist. And there are only twenty-eight people in my class, so you really have to go out of your way to not notice if someone exists."

"Hmm," John said thoughtfully. "Not sure how I can help you with this one, Hamish. Everyone's first crush is always awkward, and usually unrequited. But it isn't the end of the world, and it's certainly not the very worst thing that's even happened to you."

Hamish didn't look convinced. "But I can't stop thinking about her and it's really annoying. Sometimes I wish I didn't have any stupid emotions at all, you know, like a Cyberman or something. Then I could get on with more important things and stop obsessing over Emily."

"You're blowing this all out of proportion," said John gently. "Trust me, Hamish. You're only a kid, this will all blow over eventually. And in the meantime... I don't know, why don't you try talking to this girl?"

"But I don't like talking to people," said Hamish as if it was obvious. "Except for you and Father and Mrs. Hudson, of course. A lot of the other children in my class say I use too many big words, but dumbing myself down for other people is just tiresome. And anyway, Emily Green seems really clever and interesting from afar, but what if I talk to her and it turns out that she really is just as dull as all the other girls and I've wasted my time falling in love with an idiot? What then?"

"Hey, one of the most intelligent people I know happens to be an idiot," said John, smirking at Sherlock who rolled his eyes. "And you never know, Hal. Maybe this Emily girl has feelings for you too and has just been too embarrassed to say anything. You won't know until you talk to her. What's the worst that could happen?"

"She could reject me?" Hamish offered.

"But, as I say, it won't be the end of the world," said John with a smile. "And if she does reject you then it'll be her loss, won't it?"

Hamish thought about it for a second, before suddenly smiling and helping himself to some toast. "Yeah, you're right. Thanks, Dad."

"No problem," said John, sipping his tea. "And when you get a little bit older I'll give you the other talk."

"If you're referring to sex, I already know," said Hamish. "I read all about it, and frankly it all seems rather tedious. And messy."

John laughed and shook his head. "You really are your father's son, Hamish, but just wait until your hormones kick in. It's going to be the end of the world all over again."