Fic: The Deepest Secret Nobody Knows (I)
Sherlock | Sally, Sherlock, John | PG-13 | ~12,500
ʙᴇᴛᴀ wordquandary | ᴅɪsᴄʟᴀɪᴍᴇʀ just playing in the sandpit | sᴘᴏɪʟᴇʀs Series One
First words. First steps. Tiny things like first smile, first laugh, the first time he reaches out and grabs Sally's finger (and his hands are so small). Sherlock misses everything. The real reason Sally Donovan hates Sherlock so much? They have a child he never sees.
Well, you know what I think, don't you?
He introduces her as an old friend. The tone bites and she ignores him, turns to the man standing next to them, the one that had made Sherlock say he's with me. Sally wonders if he has any idea how ironic Sherlock's words for her really are.
Their acquaintance is still short enough, then, that when he follows her home it feels alright for there to be a little bit of talking and a lot of touching; alright for his hands, which this morning had touched a dead body and now are touching hers, to feel what her skin is like underneath her clothes.
She remembers out-of-focus impressions of paleness, the kind of skin that burns in English sunshine, and freckles, dulled by winter, on his spine, and somewhere in the hours between opening her front door and hearing it close in the morning, the biggest mistake of Sally's life is cemented into reality in the strongest possible way.
They don't discuss it—any of it, ever—but she knows that he knows. She's seen him pull facts from the tiniest details, inconsequential points painted into murder maps, so she'd have to be an idiot to think that she has any chance of hiding it from him, even if she wants to.
There's a moment, about three or four weeks in, when he's looking at her from the other side of a corpse—just the tiniest glance in her direction, eyes sliding over her the way his hands had done, vaguely, in her memory—and she realises that he knows.
Lestrade's talking but Sherlock's not listening; Sally has her arms crossed, trying to concentrate on her work and not the constant cyclical panic that's overtaken her head—you're going to be a mother over and over and over—and he narrows his eyes and that's it, that's the look—the moment when they both know that something they can barely remember is going to be with them for the rest of their lives.
It's the closest they ever get to talking about it.
Sally has a son. She's been vague about who his father is, told the truth only to her mother, but when her colleagues come to visit them in the hospital—when they see him—she thinks that, now, probably, they know.
Then she's visited by a stranger.
At this point she hasn't seen Sherlock for some time, but there's something about this man, in the way that he watches her, in the casual manner that he leans on his umbrella and stares down into her son's cot, that recalls him, and it makes Sally's defences rise sharp and strong; she grips the blanket in her hands and frowns, questions, what who why?
Just an interested party, and all the while he's watching her son sleep.
“There's something of Sherlock in the eyes, don't you think?”
Yes, Sally does think. The same colour, the same shape. She's praying for them to darken as they settle, for it to be soon. For all that she's never loved anything quite so much as this small and frightening person, the reminder is disconcerting.
“I'll call someone,” she warns instead, and she's reminded of true authority when he just smiles, an insincere turn of the mouth that widens, turns a little truthful, when he looks back at the hospital cot.
“You'll be provided for, of course,” he continues, and it's like a disconnect between the conversation she thinks they're having and the one he's decided on.
“School, clothes, general costs. Whatever you need.” He twists the umbrella handle around in his hand as if he's thinking about what to say next. “There are some of us—” and here a darkening of expression, a glance at the cot, “—who don't leave things...unattended.”
And it's true, Sherlock has stayed as far away from this—from them, now—as it's possible to be when they occasionally have to work together. Logically speaking Sally prefers it that way, because he's dangerous and callous and odd and not the type of person she ever wants to expose her child to, but at the same time—at the same time she has a son who has no father, and that's not what she wants at all.
“One condition,” the man says. “Regular contact. I want to keep an eye on him.”
“You can't just walk in here,” Sally begins, because she's still exhausted and now she's irritated and a little afraid, “and start trying to offer me money and demanding to see my child, and I don't even know who you are—”
“As I said,” he interrupts, and still there's that shadow of affection that Sally doesn't quite understand, yet. “I'm an interested party.”
Sally's fingers hesitate over the keys on her phone, over the blank space ready for a text. She doesn't know what to say.
She settles on Sam. 7lbs. 2:25am.
There's no reply.
Samuel Donovan is her father's name. Or was, rather. He died a long time ago, so now it's her son's instead.
It turns out that the strange man's name is Mycroft, that he's Sherlock's brother and he means it when he says they'll be looked out for.
Sally does her best to keep it under control; she puts her foot down at money, almost explodes when the first anonymous donation shows up on her bank statement—she can provide perfectly well for her own child, thank you very much—but there are a few things that she allows. Tiny gift-wrapped clothes, a pair of shoes that are so small she can hold them in one hand. A text from an unknown number that says Mr Holmes will be visiting his nephew this coming Thursday.
The payments stop, Sally makes sure of that, but the visits—she lets them go.
First words. First steps. Tiny things like first smile, first laugh, the first time he reaches out and grabs Sally's finger (and his hands are so small).
Sherlock misses everything.
Sally's undeniably surprised to see Lestrade at the front door.
She's got Sam in the crook of her arm, sleeping against her chest, and Lestrade's eyes flick between her and the baby as he asks if it's alright to come in. Her mum's out so Sally makes tea one-handed, waving off all offers of help—she's beginning to get the balance between baby and everything else perfected and she relishes the practice—and they sit at the kitchen table and exchange wisps of conversation about Sam and the Yard, all the while skirting whatever issue it is that he's come to discuss with her.
Finally, when he lifts the mug for the last dregs of his tea, Sally says, “So.”
“So,” Lestrade echoes, setting the empty mug on the table. “Have you thought about coming back to work yet? About Sam?”
Sally nods. “We're going to stay here with my mum for a bit.” Grandmothers are cheaper than nurseries, although Sally has insisted on paying rent, much to her mother's annoyance. “So there's no problem with me coming back.”
Lestrade doesn't immediately reply; Sally is sure she knows why.
“Listen,” she says, pre-empts whatever he thinks he's about to say. “I know that you and everyone else know who Sam's dad is, it's obvious just to look at him,” and she does then, though his eyes are closed, “but it's not going to be a problem. I'm not going to let that happen.”
Lestrade doesn't say anything for a while, just watches her hand on the back of Sam's head, the way her thumb brushes the soft skull. He was born with hair already thick and curling, although not as tightly as hers. Gentler, more like—
“Sergeant,” he says, “I value you as an officer and I want you on my team. To stay on my team. But Sherlock—”
“With respect, sir,” she interrupts. “I get it.”
And she does; he's indispensable now, as far as Lestrade is concerned. Sally will always think otherwise—her and Sam are going to be fine on their own—but Lestrade's her boss; the decision is out of her hands, in the same way that Sherlock has taken the decision on whether Sam will have one parent or two away from her.
“Right, well,” Lestrade replies. “Good. That's good.”
There's an unspoken thank you in there, but Sally's a professional, she doesn't need it. Not for agreeing to get on with her job.
Going back to work is a little strange—a mixture of happy and sad, guilt and relief. Leaving Sam is hard, hard enough that in the morning she says goodbye with wet eyes and a knot in her throat, but stepping off the tube and knowing that she's back, that work is just around the corner—that helps. That definitely helps.
Most of her colleagues are fine—it's old news, though some still take the opportunity to gossip that Sally got herself knocked up by the freak (and fuck them, she thinks, seriously)—and her desk is still in the same place, tucked next to Lestrade's office, just where she left it. Some of the girls downstairs have bought gifts for Sam to welcome her back and it makes the nerves she's been ignoring all morning (why is she worrying?) disappear a little.
“Donovan?” Lestrade says at quarter to nine, poking his head around his office door. “Need you in here.”
Sally smiles. She's back.
The first time she sees Sherlock again after Sam is born—their son, she thinks, and doesn't that sound out of place?—it is, inevitably, at a crime scene.
It's a little boy, a splayed body that makes Sally want to vomit and then go home and check that her own is still breathing, but she just holds it in and directs forensics up to the scene. She can see Sherlock melting out of the dark ahead of her as she points the pathologist towards the house. Her heartbeat speeds up and she crosses her arms.
He scowls at her, but his eyes are too bright, skin too flushed. Sally recognises that look.
“He won't let you in if you're high,” she says. “You're supposed to be clean.”
“Aren't you supposed to be at home?” he sidesteps. His eyes narrow and she can see where he's loosened the collar of his shirt. Sweat shines in the dips of his collarbones.
“No,” she replies. She pulls the police tape up and he steps underneath, the way he's done so many times before, and when he straightens they stare at each other for a moment. Looking at him is like looking at Sam. “What day do you think it is? What month, for that matter?”
“He's been ill, then.”
Sally is used to Sherlock doing things like this, throwing out statements that are entirely non-sequitur, but this—this is different. This is about the son he has yet to see. It hurts, in that deep-rooted way that everything to do with Sam does, and she's shocked into saying, “Uh, yes. What—”
“You smell of Calpol. You've got bags under your eyes too. Obvious,” he says, beginning towards the house. He turns to face her, walking backwards for a few strides. “You've been staying up with him.”
Sally splutters. She's furious (though really that's nothing new, she's been furious with him since a little blue plus-sign appeared on a pregnancy test), and it's building and building. He's an addict, yes, and he's strange and dangerous and her rational side tells her constantly that they're better off without him, and they are—but it's hard, when she's sitting up with a poorly baby, or when Sam smiles, when his mumbles sound like they're becoming words, to know that Sherlock is missing all of this. She will never, ever understand how he can bear to be away from Sam, even for a few seconds, let alone forever.
Let alone out of choice.
She realises, watching him turn back towards the crime scene and walk away (always away, always away from them), that it's the first conversation they've ever had about their son.
Christmas. Birthday. Christmas. Birthday. Lots of them, one after another, and each one marked by an absent father (though not defined, never defined—Sally refuses).
But it's alright. Sam doesn't know the difference.
She and Mycroft discuss it, properly, just once. Sam's questions have begun to render themselves comprehensible, his understanding of the world clarifying every day, and with it Sally can feel a countdown starting in her head; how long until his questions take on a certain shape, a certain cadence? A certain subject.
When Mycroft visits—few, far between, usually on special occasions, but enough that he seems to be sticking to his promise to take care of them (enough for Sam to grin and babble happily at the sight of him)—there's a kind of unspoken agreement between them that the subject never strays from Sam.
There's nothing Mycroft can tell her—Sally decided long ago that he obviously runs the government, so work is out, and personal life is a complete no—and she doubts he has any interest in her profession beyond how it might occupy Sherlock. She's secretly grateful that he doesn't attempt small talk.
Tonight Mycroft's assistant is absent—time off, apparently—and Sally's mum is out with friends so it's just Sally and Mycroft and Sam, whose stories had been so exuberantly garbled this evening that he's fallen asleep on the sofa; stretched out, limbs contorted in all sorts of directions, he doesn't even cover half of it, and Sally sits down next to him, settles a hand into his hair.
“The similarities are remarkable.”
Mycroft is watching from the armchair. Sally doesn't ask if he means physical or behavioural; she doesn't want to know. Instead she hums an acknowledgement and hopes that it's enough. It seems to be, for the moment, as silence blooms; they're both watching Sam, whose only movement is the rise and fall of his chest, occasionally a twitch.
“Sherlock had the same energy,” Mycroft says, when the quiet has become fuzzy. Sally jumps a little, disturbed from her inspection of Sam's hands. “He must be rather a handful.”
She can never know if there's something underneath Mycroft's words, a hidden meaning waiting to bite, so she just settles for something non-committal. “I'm never bored.”
“Good,” Mycroft replies. He focuses on her for a moment, that incisive look he shares with his brother. “That's good.”
“Listen,” Sally says. It's an impulse, but the subject of Sherlock is pervading the air, thicker than usual, and the entire time she's been looking at her son's hands she'd seen his father's, the promise of long fingers and strong, thin wrists. “Now that's he's getting older—he—I think—”
“You're expecting questions.”
Well, yes. Sally nods. “I've been thinking about this and—if he ever asks you—about his dad, I mean—don't tell him anything.” Mycroft raises an eyebrow. Sally raises one back—let me finish. “Just—tell him to ask me. Please. I want him to talk to me about Sherlock.”
She's unconsciously tightened her fingers in Sam's hair; he shifts, pushing her hands away in his sleep, and Sally resettles them on her lap, murmurs sorry sweetheart even though he can't hear her.
There's a very long pause as Mycroft seems to consider what's she said; all the while his face is inscrutable, and he's used enough to getting his own way that the hierarchy of mother before uncle wouldn't stop him from ignoring her request. Sally's about to open her mouth, possibly to argue further, though there are questions about Sherlock that have started to buzz inside her head and in the quiet of her living room, tonight, she feels like Mycroft might be able to give her answers. Do you know why?
“If you think that would be better,” he answers eventually, stilling Sally's words before they've had a chance to leave her mouth. It's probably for the best.
“Yes,” she says. She glances once more at Sam, then back to Mycroft. He's watching Sam too and for the smallest second Sally sees a soft expression, something warm. “Yes, I think it would be.”
Anderson is with forensics. They've known each other for years, long before Sally became a mother, and when Sam was a baby, when she was up trying to stop him crying, when the colic got too much or anything her mum suggested just didn't work, she would ask; Anderson and his wife have kids of their own and plenty of good advice to go along with it.
She's envious of his wife, in a way—they don't know each other very well but they've done small talk, at Christmas parties and things, and she's heard all about how good he is with their kids, about the things he does, and the unspoken idea of fifty-fifty, of someone to share the load with.
That's what Sally's jealous of.
She has her mum, yeah, and there are no words for how grateful she is, but—it's not the same. Not quite. No one with the same level of inexperience to lean on and ask are we doing the right thing? No one to look at and say do you have any idea what you're doing? No, me neither. No one with whom she's on equal footing, because her mum has done this all before, and even if she never says anything Sally wonders, in the back of her head, if she's silently critiquing the way Sally holds him or clothes him or puts him to bed. Not like that, dear.
When Anderson tells her that his marriage is in trouble Sally is horrified to find that, in amongst the condolences, the are you okays and the comforting gestures, there's a spike of victory, and it feels like I'm not the only one alone any more.
Mycroft says something cryptic. Not that this is unusual—Sally is used to conversations that consist almost entirely of subtext—but this doesn't seem to be about her house or the weather or even Sam.
“There are things that need fixing,” he informs her on the doorstep with neither preamble nor explanation, turning back just as he leaves. “Things that I intend to fix.”
Even a year ago Sally would have asked him. She still wants to—wants to ask what it is, why he thinks he can fix it, why he has the right to if he does—because Sally hates not knowing, can't bear indirectness, but with Mycroft things like that will only get her an impersonal smile and a nod for a goodbye, a sense of frustration. He leaves and Sally tries not to let it bother her, even though it feels like a little knot of foreboding in the back of her head.
She's called into work two hours early, a murder with a locked door and no cause of death. It's one of those mornings where she takes a few deep breaths, kisses a still-sleeping Sam goodbye and mentally prepares herself for seeing Sherlock, but when she arrives he's not there.
Lestrade doesn't mention him and neither does anyone else, and as they stand next to the bodies, cataloguing the seemingly impossible scene, Sally's curiosity bubbles over.
"You going to text him then?" she asks. "This seems like just his sort of thing."
Lestrade keeps looking at the victim, lips pursed in thought. “Sherlock's out of bounds for a bit,” he replies. “Don't ask me why, haven't a clue.”
Sally's adrenaline does a nose-dive and then spikes again, a whirl of confusion as her body realises that she doesn't have to see him, that there's an unknown reason why. She nods, okay, forces her attention away to the issues at hand, but whatever way they look at it the situation seems impossible, and Sally can't stop thinking.
Later, at her desk, Sally picks up her phone and scrolls through the contacts, straight to F. She refuses to save his number under Sherlock. Her fingers linger over the keys, motivated by questions and the echo of Mycroft's words in her head. Is it you he wants to fix, Sherlock? Is it you he wants to save?
She clicks aimlessly between contacts, legs tucked underneath her, and she pushes her heel against the desk, starts to swivel her chair from side to side. Sally doesn't know much about Sherlock and his brother—they exist entirely separately in her head, really, linked only by Sam—but sometimes she feels like Mycroft knows as little about him as she does, which boils down to words like genius and cruel and not safe.
It's the last one that sticks in her head.
Weeks without Sherlock when they actually need him proves stupidly unproductive; they still have no murder weapon, no solution to the mystery of a locked door. They have enough that Sally feels vindicated, feels that she could hold her head up and say see? but—that's not enough. Not for the confused families, the stunned relatives that Sherlock would never even think of. The ones that make Sally wish he was here, if only to give them the answers that no one else can seem to find.
Sally jumps. She bloody jumps, right out her skin, hand over fast-fluttering heart and drawn-in breath. Sherlock grins at her discomfort; it's deeply unsettling.
“Freak,” she says, like it's actually his name. “Don't bloody do that.”
He's still grinning. In the harsh light of their offices the angles of his face are bleached out, eyes lighter, but his bones are sharp enough that he still reminds her of a shark.
“Lestrade,” he says, a demand and not a question. The grin drops like it's been wiped away and for a moment Sally finds all she can do is look. At the imperfections in his skin, the way it's grey and marked underneath his eyes. He looks thinner, she thinks—the edge of his jaw is severe, tendons in his neck more visible from emaciation, but it's not—it's not unhealthy, Sally thinks, entirely nonsensically. It's a different kind of thin to the one that she's used to. Like it's something to be recovered from as opposed to maintained.
“In there,” she replies. There's enough of a delay between question and answer for him to raise an eyebrow, just a little, but Sally scowls in defence and goes back to her work. There's a pause where Sherlock is still standing beside her desk, a darkness in the corner of her eye, but when she looks the door to Lestrade's office is closing behind him. Sally's heart is calming down from shock, beating too fast, but it's impeded by the deductions swirling inside her head.
“Mycroft Holmes,” she murmurs. “You interfering bastard.”
She has no idea whether to be thankful or hateful. Something to fix, someone to save. She'd never have had him down as the type. Sally thinks of the addicts she's seen going through withdrawal in the cells, of the definition of hell they'd presented—thinks of Sherlock going through that. She plays with the corner of the picture on her desk, the drawing Sam had given her with that morning and insisted she take to work. It's half-hidden underneath her laptop and she draws it out, looks at her son's interpretation of the world.
Things that need fixing, Mycroft had said. She wonders if he thinks it will change anything; if she really does know Sherlock better than him, after all.
It's not an affair. Well, it is but it isn't; Anderson's wife doesn't know about it, but then they're not exactly good right now either, and Sally is half-guilt and half-triumph, fuelled by the feeling that—for once—she's not the one who's on their own.
Wrong! pops up on the screen on Sally's BlackBerry. So he can take the time to text her about an impossible suicide but not about their son?
Of course he can.
“You've got to stop him doing that,” she says. Lestrade has a hand to the back of his head, worrying at his hair. “He's making us look like idiots.”
“If you can tell me how he does it,” Lestrade answers over his shoulder, “I'll stop him.”
“Well, you know what I think, don't you?”
Sally is quite sure that she's going to kill Sherlock Holmes, father of her child or not. She's already in a terrible mood with him, considering what day it is and all the things he hasn't done, but he's also annoying and arrogant and intrusive; it's none of his business who she decides to sleep with, not any more. Never was, really. The reason that she's wearing Anderson's deodorant is between her and him (and possibly between him and his wife, though Sally doesn't dwell on that); privacy is obviously a social boundary that Sherlock's never even heard of, and God, she could kill him, she really could.
Not that any of this is unusual.
Sally has spent enough time wishing Sherlock an early death that she can push it to the back of her mind and carry on with her life, so she's discussing the scene with a PC when she sees Sherlock leave the house. He's walking quickly—he's obviously having a productive evening—and he ducks under the police tape and away without a word, too preoccupied to throw insults.
John Watson isn't far behind. Sally feels a touch of pity as he limps onto the road, looking first left and then right and then towards her. He limps over.
“He's gone,” she tells him.
“Yeah, he just took off. He does that.”
Yes, he bloody well does. John Watson doesn't know where he is and as Sally directs him to the main road she wants to ask why; why do people think that hanging around with Sherlock is ever a good idea? As he folds under the police tape, conversation seemingly over, Sally can't help it and the words bubble out.
“Look,” she begins, “you're not his friend. He doesn't have friends.” Or family, not really, she thinks. “So who are you?”
He stumbles over it, settles finally on I'm nobody, I just met him. What an idiot. People flock to Sherlock like sheep. Sally's betting that it's the bone structure, the hair, the coat; he's practically the embodiment of a Byronic hero, dark and brooding, the kind of looks that you could compare to a Keats poem and get away with it. He's practically magnetic.
“Okay, bit of advice then,” she tells him. “Stay away from that guy.”
“Why?” He fires the word back with barely a hesitation, defensive, and Sally is starting to wonder if they really have just met. Either that or this man is very loyal very quickly.
Sally has a hundred reasons for staying away from Sherlock Holmes, though half of them aren't something she's going to share with a man she's just met. Besides, he can't get pregnant, meaning he's got half of her problems when it comes to Sherlock and even less reasons to know about them. She settles on what's most obvious to the outside world.
“You know why he's here?” she begins. John looks towards the house and then back at her, guarded, slightly curious. “He's not paid or anything. He likes it. He gets off on it.” And there's the truth, out there for the world and John Watson to see. “The weirder the crime the more he gets off and you know what? One day just showing up won't be enough. One day we'll be standing around a body and Sherlock Holmes will be the one that put it there.” The words tumble out, all the things that Sally thinks when she looks at Sam and wonders how alike are they, really? The thoughts that terrify her.
“Why would he do that?”
John Watson is looking at her a little like she's an idiot.
“Because he's a psychopath.” No point in dressing up the truth. Part of her wants to shock him—wants to shock John Watson, the man who's captivated Sherlock so entirely on a day when he should be paying attention to someone else. “Psychopaths get bored.”
Lestrade calls her then from inside the house. She spares one last look for the man over her shoulder; one last piece of advice.
“Stay away from Sherlock Holmes.”
She doesn't know what to think of him. Mad, obviously, for sticking to Sherlock like glue, but he seems fairly normal. Sally sees him twice, that first time, once at the murder-not-suicide and then later, in the flat she'd like to avoid. She always notices the walls, the mantelpiece—covered in pictures, paintings, but no photographs—and she feels the bare space in the middle where, at home, there is a photo of Sam.
Tonight it's rather awful, mostly because Lestrade has called her back out for overtime when she's already annoyed about having to work today at all, and to this place no less. She thinks he must have forgotten what day it is, distracted as he is by Sherlock's insane behaviour and the bewildering addition of an army doctor, so she just holds her head high and hopes that it's over and done with as soon as possible.
The flat—their flat? Already? she thinks, noting the unfamiliar things—is as ridiculous as always; there are bits being pulled from cupboards and fridges that are probably infectious and definitely illegal, and she catches Anderson's eye from across the kitchen and mimes being sick. He grins. When Sherlock turns up John Watson is still in tow, and he still seems completely ignorant of Sherlock from the way that he dismisses Sherlock's past without a single hesitation.
“Are these human eyes?” Sally asks, waving the contents of the microwave at Sherlock. He scowls, expression twisted, gestures harsh.
“Put those back.”
“They were in the microwave!”
“It's an experiment,” he snarls, all sarcasm, and yes, well, everything's a fucking experiment with him, isn't it? Lestrade interjects, keep looking guys, and Sally puts the frankly disgusting, very child-unfriendly jar on the counter. She doesn't even want to think about the rest of the kitchen.
She hears the murmur of words between he and John through the open kitchen partition, then footsteps on the stairs. God, she thinks, shaking her head, he really doesn't care about today, does he? He hasn't even mentioned it.
“It's Sherlock, he just drove off in a cab,” she hears John say, and Sally's simmering frustration—at Lestrade for dragging her here, at this stupid flat, at Sherlock (always)—bubbles over and up.
“I told you, he does that,” she tells him, and then to Lestrade, “He bloody left again.” Words filled with layers and layers of meaning that John doesn't yet understand. He's ringing the phone but it's not here, can't be, and suddenly Sally is sick and tired of all this utter rubbish.
“Does it matter?” she snaps, “does any of it? You know, he—he's just a lunatic and he'll always let you down and,” and she won't cry, she won't, “you're wasting your time. All our time,” she adds, and she sees the moment when Lestrade remembers what day it is, the momentary flare of guilt. He sighs, a whole body exhale—okay everybody, done here.
Thank you, she thinks, starts immediately to relieve the team. Now that she knows she's going home she can feel herself ticking off the moments until she can get back to Sam, and she's feeling lighter and happier with each one until she's on the stairs, heading away.
“Sherlock Holmes is a great man,” Lestrade says behind her, voice carrying, “and I think one day, if we're very, very lucky,”—impossibly so, Sally thinks—“he might even be a good one.”
It's enough to remind her that Sherlock is off somewhere else chasing criminals across London and that, even as he is, his son is at home, turning four.
| Part II