“It’s now, Sherlock,” The Doctor says gravely. “I have to take Hamish with me today.”
“What?” exclaims John. “What do you mean, you’re taking Hamish with you? Who the HELL do you think you are?”
“John,” Sherlock cautions.
The Doctor’s tone grows serious, borderline frantic: “Look. You were an Army medic. You know what it means to see someone in danger. Someone you COULD save, if you just had the right equipment… or enough time. Well, listen to me. I have BOTH!”
“Dad, please,” Hamish interjects; “Don’t be scared. It won’t even be that long for you. You’ll probably see me again in a week.”
John looks from his son to The Doctor and then to Sherlock. Sherlock’s face is expressionless except for the determined set of his jaw. That means he knows something he isn’t going to share with the present company. But which of them is he hiding it from? And how bad is the news going to be when he breaks it?
The Doctor take a step closer and put a hand on John’s shoulder.
“Please,” he says, his voice barely above a whisper. “Please let me do this one thing. Please. Let me save him.”
John’s hands are steady as they curl into tight fists. ”Who is it then? Who the hell is so important that our son has to risk his own neck to save him?”
Sherlock swivels his gaze to his husband, his eyes wide with alarm. He has never, not in their twenty years of marriage, heard John’s voice sound so dangerous.
Hamish swallows, his throat tight with emotion. ”Dad…”
“Who is it then?” John repeats in a deadly whisper.
The Doctor steps forward, steadily meets the army doctor’s gaze, and answers:
“The Once And Future King.”
He watches as the King, his King, leans forward and enfolds his future Queen in a tender, loving kiss.
He watches, even though every fiber of his being is screaming to look away.
He thinks of his parents back home, and he can’t help but feel envious of them. Of their love. Of the way their love happened at the right time and place.
He watches as the King, his King, slowly pulls back and let his eyes flutter open, and he gazes at the woman in front of him as if she is all he sees, as if she is all that is good in the world, as if he can’t believe that this precious human being is finally, really, truly, his.
He knows that look achingly well — it is one that he sees his Father bestow on his Dad every single waking moment of their lives.
And he knows, with a resigned, bittersweet certainty, that it is the look he will never experience for himself.
“So, Whaddya say, Hal my old boy? Straight back home, or another spin around the galaxy. Any galaxy, actually.” The Doctor flashes a disarming toothy grin as he pulls down three different levers, possibly at random. Hamish knows they aren’t the same ones he saw the Doctor use before. Are some of these controls even attached to anything? Maybe the ship flies itself….
Hamish shakes his head to clear it, and then he meets The Doctor’s eyes. “I think home is best now, thanks,” he says with a weak smile.
“Right, then,” The Doctor replies, and four dials get a theatrical twist as the TARDIS hums and churns. The man seems suddenly absorbed by readings on a tiny antique-looking display.
It’s an opportunity for Hamish to lean back against one of the strangely coral-like support beams and just close his eyes for a few moments. Of course, when he does, he still sees that handsome, young face, that blond hair, that smile.
“You won’t, you know,” The Doctor breaks in without looking up from the console.
Hamish opens his eyes. “Sorry? I won’t? Won’t what?”
The Doctor grins to himself.
“You won’t end up alone, Hamish.”
“Oh. Well, yeah. Let’s hope not. There’s always a chance, right?” Hamish’s voice sounds hollowly cheerful and anything but convinced.
A little huff of a laugh escapes The Doctor’s throat. “Chance has nothing to do with it, Hal. I’ve seen you. BOTH of you.” He looks up and fixes Hamish with a gaze that rivals his Father’s. “I mean, I’ve seen your life… your life together.”
Seconds later, a grinding, wheezing sound fills the sitting room at 221b.
Hamish opens the door and is nearly knocked over by the force of his Dad’s hug.
“Hah!” Chirps The Doctor. “Back home, safe and sound, in the blink of an eye. What is it, six days since we left? Barely enough time—-” His words are cut off as a shorter, sandy-haired man grabs him by his jacket lapels and slams him against the side of the TARDIS.
“Six bloody MONTHS, Doctor!” He growls. “Do you have ANY idea what that was like?”
Sherlock smirks at the scene before returning to his examination of Hamish’s face.
“What was it, four years?” he asks, softly.
Hamish swallows. “About that long, yeah.”
“Something happened, too, yes? I’m… I’m sorry, Hamish. And I’m proud of you.”
He pulls his son back into a tight embrace.
“I love you,” he adds.
Hamish smiles and lets himself, finally, begin to relax.
“I love you, too, Father.”
Sherlock tightens his arms around his son for one brief, breath-stealing moment, before he consents to loosening his embrace. He is still unwilling to release his son, however, and he lets his hands rest gently on Hamish’s shoulders as he pulls back and gazes at his son’s face, taking in every detail, every change that these past four years has blessed and cursed him with.
And then he sees, from the corner of his gaze, a figure slowly emerging from the shadows of the TARDIS.
“Six months,” says a tender voice from behind The Doctor. “That must have been horrible. I remember how it was for me, those first six months when I thought I had lost you. I nearly turned the whole of Albion upside down just to find you.”
Sherlock feels the boy beneath his hands suddenly freeze. He turns his attention back to his son’s face and he is surprised to find a mingled look of horror and awe and hope flash all at once in his son’s eyes.
“Impossible,” Hamish breathes.
Looking entirely confused as he watches the bizarre scene unfolding before him, John helplessly turns to The Doctor and wordlessly raises his eyebrows in question.
The Doctor smiles back at him. “Looks like you and Sherly haven’t been the only ones waiting, my dear Johnny.” He turns to the figure behind him. “How long have you been waiting, old friend?”
The smoke from the TARDIS clears, and Sherlock and John watch in quiet amazement as a young man steps into the middle of 221 B Baker Street’s sitting room, a man whom John notes has eyes the color of the TARDIS and hair the color of the Afghan sun, a man whose gaze, at the very moment, is completely arrested by the trembling boy in Sherlock’s arms.
“Sixteen hundred years,” the man answers softly.
Sherlock blinks and is forced to step back as Hamish suddenly whirls around. His gaze is manic and frantic as he gestures wildly at the mysterious young man who is now calmly walking towards them with an entirely amused look on his face.
“You!” Hamish sputters. “You!”
“I see the years haven’t done a thing to improve your incoherent stupidity, Merlin,” the young man drawls, ignoring the way Sherlock inflates in fury behind them as the word ‘stupidity’ is used to refer to his son. “Or is it Emrys? How many names do you have, anyway?”
“His name is Hamish Watson-Holmes,” John interjects with his arm wound firmly around Sherlock’s as a gentle warning to stop his husband from killing their new guest. “And he is our son.”
The young man stops short. He frowns. Then he turns to The Doctor to wryly ask, “Your name isn’t really Kilgharrah, is it?”
Hamish’s mouth drops open. “You’re Kilgharrah?!” he exclaims, pointing an accusing finger at the grinning Doctor.
“Nope,” The Doctor answers cheerfully. “I’m just The Doctor.”
“The Doctor,” the young man repeats, before he shakes his head. “How many secrets have been kept from me all this time? Actually you know what, don’t tell me,” he continues hurriedly as The Doctor opens his mouth, “I really don’t want to know at the moment.”
“Why are you here?”
Everyone’s movements are stopped short at Hamish’s soft, desperate whisper. Sherlock watches as the young man’s gaze turns impossibly deep and tender as he looks into Hamish’s eyes.
And suddenly, Sherlock knows without a doubt the reason why this young man has followed his son into their home, why he has waited sixteen hundred years for this moment.
Instead of answering Hamish, the young man instead turns to Sherlock and John. “Misters Watson-Holmes,” he begins saying. “May I have this great honor…”
And to everyone’s shock, he kneels on one knee and bows his head graciously before a slack-jawed army doctor and a shell-shocked consulting detective.
“…of adding the name ‘Pendragon’ to your family?”
Silence reigns in the room for a heart-stopping moment. And then everyone begins talking all at once.
“Two sides of the same coin indeed, what did I tell you?” The Doctor gleefully exclaims as he punches his fist into the air.
“Pendragon?” John gapes. “You’re the Arthur Pendragon?”
“I’m proud of you, son,” says Sherlock approvingly, “You refused to settle for anyone less than The King of Albion.”
“Hang on, you prat, how are you going to add name ‘Pendragon’ to my family?”
For the second time that evening, Hamish cuts everyone short.
“Hamish,” Sherlock says. “Surely I haven’t raised you to be this dense.”
“Says the man who once insisted he was married to his work,” John mutters.
The corner of Arthur Pendragon’s mouth twitches as he fights and fails to stop an amused grin from spreading across his face. “I was just thinking,” he begins slowly, “that Hamish Pendragon has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?”
“Hamish Pendragon-Watson-Holmes,” Sherlock interjects firmly.
“Father!” Hamish exclaims in horror.
Arthur chuckles. “That can work too.”
“That’s such a mouthful,” The Doctor complains.
“… A beautiful mouthful?” The Doctor backpedals with an innocent grin.
“Indeed,” Arthur says as his gaze drops to Hamish’s lips.
“Oh god I don’t need to be in the same room for this,” John moans.
“Now you know how I feel,” Hamish mutters.
The Doctor stamps his feet impatiently. “Well, what’s it gonna be? I’ve waited years for this, surely you can’t deny me the climax of the story now?”
Hamish gazes at the legendary man standing in front of him: the King, his King, the one he has never even dreamed will ever be truly his.
“Sixteen hundred years,” Hamish whispers. “You really waited that long… for me?”
“I would’ve waited a thousand more if it means I can see you again,” Arthur answers in a heartbeat.
Hamish swallows. “Well…” he looks at the TARDIS, then at his parents, then at The Doctor with a grateful smile, before he turns to the man before him: the other half of a whole, his destiny.
“We can live those thousand years together if you want.”