The Problem of the 221 Names

Helen quietly slips out of Mycroft’s bedroom and leaves the door ajar. She walks to the kitchen and makes herself some tea. She picks a plastic jar from her myriad of pre-natal vitamins and swallows one.

She curls up in a corner and rests a thick copy of Anna Karenina resting on her swollen stomach. It’s not long before she hears the door open and the latch close shut. She smiles.
“Hello Arthur Holmes.You’re home early,” she murmurs into his cheek, putting her arms around him. Arthur still smells like the train.
“Yes — hello Helen Holmes — Jack sent me home. Said you were very pregnant,” he removes his coat and turns his chin, looking around the corner for someone who was above hip height and growing more every day.
“He’s down for his nap,” Helen says, following her husband to the doorway of Mycroft’s room. Arthur stands in the frame, watching him and watching her. Her husband breaks his shyness long enough to step inside and rearrange blankets and stroke his hair.
Arthur makes himself tea in the kitchen, until he’s too distracted and Helen fixes it for him. Arthur puts butter left on the counter back in the fridge. She takes it out again.
“We’re be making biscuits later,” she explains and he smiles.
“Helen,” he says, pausing to remove a small notebook from his white coat. “Can I have a word?”
“Of course,” she replies, turning to face him and leaning against the counter.
Arthur opens his mouth, takes off his glasses, and starts suddenly.
“Oh Arthur we are not doing this now,” Helen runs her fingers through her curls and exhales like a worn-out parent in a grocery store.
“Alaric,” Arthur continues, eyes set on his humble, black book.
“…that’s the name of one of the characters in P.G Wodehouse’s Uncle Fred in the Springtime. Are you stuck in 1895?”
Helen’s features become steadily more incredulous. “Is this what you did at work today? Is this what you did in Torchwood?”
“Medwin,” Arthur adjusts his glasses hanging in the collar of his shirt.
“Oh, no, Arthur, no. No. No I don’t think so.”
“Anstice, Rolly, Vyell, Tuttell, Kilcoursie, Suwarrow –“
“Stop, stop, stop,” Helen holds up her hand and laughs. “Rolly – is that one of Jack’s?”
“There’s only two more. Sherlock, and Azeline.”
Helen approaches him and puts the mug down by his side, arms sliding around his waist. “Which name do you like?”
Arthur goes pink in his ears, his nose. “I like Sherlock. Sherlock Holmes.”
“Sherlock Holmes,” Helen echoes, pausing to kiss Arthur square on the mouth. “That name will break him or make him. I hope you know that,” but she smiles despite herself.

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