John cast a bit of a daunted laugh. “I wasn’t planning on having a heart attack, thanks.”
Afterward, he met them both again with an accustomed pleasant air; saying nothing to interrupt, until gradually he recollected himself, and looked pensive when he did speak. The humour had subsided. ”Maybe it’s best that we talk about it now, while we’re all here.” John shifted in place, and sat himself affirmatively forward, with his hands clasped together between his knees. “I’ve not really .. got much of a plan for this, it’s been a while since I’ve, you know, had my head in the game. We’re gonna have to make a few rules.”
In the true sympathy of heart, he turned his look to Sherlock, with an expression alone that appeared to reflect the delicateness of the situation. “Sherlock, I’m not always going to be available. I’m married now, with a child. A child that I need help raise, so there are going to be times when I’m going to have to say ‘no’.” He said at last, using his gentlest tones. ”You understand that, yeah?”
Maybe it’s best that we talk about it now, while we’re all here.
Do we really have to?
Married, child, going to have to say no.
The words rattled around in his head, blundering about unceasingly.
You understand that, yeah?
It was a few more moments before the question ‘clicked’, and he looked back to John, eyes refocusing. “Of course I do,” he said, surprised at the effort it took to keep his voice neutral. “Things are different, things will not be what they were, I have responsibilities, I know. We’ve been over that before.”
Suddenly, in some kind of daydream, the tiny infant on his shoulder seemed inexorably heavier, bearing down on his chest, compressing the spaces around his heart, the air in his lungs compressing. Sherlock shook his head slightly, banishing the strange, surreal sensation from his mind. The weight remained, however; Ollie, the physical manifestation of everything that had changed. Shifting his shoulder to check that Ollie was properly asleep, he moved to hold him with both arms, pausing for a short moment before handing him promptly to Mary at his side, instantly turning his attention back to John.
“I don’t know what you want me to say about it. It’s not my decision. She’s your wife, he’s your son. I’m… what? ‘The person you knew for a while, then didn’t, then hated for a while and then kind of liked again’?” He kept his voice low, mainly to avoid more of that god-awful screaming, but the strain behind his words was obvious. “Look, John,” he said, standing after a moment, “dinner was lovely, and I’m grateful. But this is…” he stopped, sighing softly.
“I know how much things have changed, John. I know where your… allegiance lies, as it rightfully should. But I don’t…” Sherlock stopped again, taking stock and a short breath, “I don’t fit in this, John. -They- need you - they are supposed to need you. That I do is pathetic.”
Sherlock shook his head again, taking a backwards step towards the doorway. He offered a curt, almost apologetic nod to Mary, then looked to John for just a moment, tearing his gaze away quickly before the other had a chance to say anything. Why running away seemed the better option, even Sherlock didn’t know, but it seemed preferable to whatever ‘rules’ would be dictated. Any relationship which required the equivalent of a timeshare is damned already; would it not be better to just take the scraps you’re given?
Only moments later, Sherlock found himself at the front of the house, pulling the front door closed before stopping to breathe, taking a few steps from the door before stopping to fumble in his pockets for the half-empty cigarette box, drawing one out and lighting it quickly, before the regret of walking out hit him.