Characters: Molly, Abby, Alec, Sherlock, John, Sarah
Warnings/Triggers: largely fluff, but background and some discussion of a character in alcohol withdrawal, and the psychological effects of that, including mentions of a psych ward stay. Not too detailed, but still discussed.
Pairings: Molly/Alec, John/Sarah
Word Count 4,249
Summary: Molly and Alec take care of Abby Watson for the night.
Author's notes: Follows Brothers and Sisters. Set in the Abby 'verse.
Reed is Alec's godson. He's mentioned a couple of times in this story, but I couldn't find a way to put who he is in dialogue or narration without it sounding awkward.
One of the new MEs, Dr Sterne, was strict about everyone turning their mobiles off while assisting on her autopsies. Molly didn't think this was unreasonable at all, but some of the younger staff members were beside themselves over it. Which meant Molly was often the person Dr Sterne chose to assist her.
Molly didn't think she'd have anyone ringing her that couldn't wait a couple of hours to have an answer back, but when she turned on her phone, she had four messages waiting for her. She felt her heart drop, worried that something terrible had happened.
The first message was from Sarah, asking her to ring her back if possible. The second was from John, asking her to ring him back if possible. The third was also from John, apologizing for ringing her after Sarah had, he didn't realize she'd already rung, and the fourth was from Sarah saying everything was fine, not to worry about ringing her back, sorry for all the messages.
Molly decided she better ring just to make sure everything was all right.
“Oh, hey Molly, sorry to have bothered you,” Sarah said. She sounded a bit harassed and Molly wondered if she shouldn't have rung. “I was just looking for someone to mind Abby for a bit, but I'm going to be free now, so you don't have to worry about it. John's sister is in a bit of trouble, and he had to leave Abby with Sherlock.”
“Oh no!” Molly said. “Er, I mean...oh.”
“No, I think the first is more accurate,” Sarah said, with a laugh. “He seems to be managing all right, though.”
“Well, I think I could get off a bit early,” Molly said. “Maybe around three-thirty? I don't mind taking her if it would help.”
Sarah hesitated. “That would actually be great,” she said. “I think John needs back up, and I'd like to be there for him. If you could take her for a few hours, even, to give me a chance to see how things are, I would appreciate it.”
“I don't mind at all,” Molly assured her. “You know I love spending time with her; it'll be fun. I can probably keep her overnight, if you need me to.”
“You are the best, Molly, thank you,” Sarah said. “I'll ring Sherlock and let him know you'll be there. Thank you.”
When Molly rang the bell at 221 Baker Street, she instantly received a text informing her the door was unlocked. She opened it and went up to the first floor. Sherlock was so happy to see her, he even gave her a real smile, not the fake, charming one he sometimes used with her.
“Excellent, you're three minutes earlier than expected,” he announced. He pointed to the sofa, where Abby sat looking a bit confused. “There she is. She just woke up. You have perfect timing.”
Molly went and crouched in front of the sofa. “Hey, Abba-dab,” she said.
Abby smiled sleepily. “Molly.”
“That's me,” Molly said. “You're going to come to my house for a bit, okay? We can play with Toby, and maybe have a sleepover. Does that sound like fun?”
Abby looked a little too sleepy to be excited, but she seemed to understand what was happening. “Kitty.”
“Yep, we're going to play with the kitty,” Molly said. She stood up again. “Did she come with anything, Sherlock?”
Sherlock gestured to where a hurricane of items was generally centred around a baby bag. Molly gathered up the things and put them carefully away.
“Sherlock,” Abby said. “I see kitty.”
“Yes, I heard,” Sherlock said.
“You see kitty?” Abby said.
“No, I have to get your dog now, apparently,” Sherlock replied, sounding put out. “And take him for a walk and feed him. John and Sarah shouldn't have dependents if they can't take care of them.”
“Gladstone is your dog, too, Sherlock,” Molly pointed out. “He lives with you sometimes.”
“Only by duress,” Sherlock insisted, which was a big lie and they both knew it.
Molly and Abby took the bus to Molly's flat. Abby told Molly the colours of what everyone was wearing, including someone's chartreuse shirt, which Molly hadn't expected her to be able to be that specific about.
Molly settled Abby in the living room with some music and Toby while she quickly changed out of her work clothes and into something more suitable for child-minding. Abby was up dancing when she came back, and Molly joined in, Abby chasing after her as Molly danced around the living room. When they rounded the coffee table, Molly found Alec standing by the door, watching them with a big smile on his face and biting his lip to keep from laughing. Molly came to an abrupt halt and Abby giggled and grabbed her legs in a hug.
“Oh, hi,” Molly said, trying to sound casual. It was hard; she had to raise her voice to be heard over the Spice Girls.
“Hey,” Alec returned, in a matching tone.
“Did you get my text?” Molly asked.
“No, my battery is dead,” Alec said. “I was going to charge it when I got here. I should have rung from a land line somewhere, sorry.”
“No, it's okay, I gave you a key so you could come when you wanted,” Molly said. “I just wanted to let you know what was going on.”
Alec gave a smile towards Molly's feet. “Hello there.”
Abby pressed her face to the back of Molly's thighs, making it very difficult to turn around and reassure her. She managed to wiggle free from Abby's grip and get the music turned down a little, then crouched down to Abby's level.
“Abby, this is my friend Alec,” she said. “Alec, this is Abby, my goddaughter. Abby's auntie isn't feeling well, so we're having a visit while her Mummy and Daddy help her get better.”
Alec came forward and crouched down as well. “It's nice to meet you,” he said. “I've heard all about you from Molly and your Mummy and Daddy.”
Abby gave him a shy smile.
“You're a very good dancer,” Alec went on. “Do you like to dance?”
Abby looked to Molly.
“We like to dance, don't we?” Molly said. “We have lots of fun dancing.”
“I see kitty,” Abby said. “I see Sherlock, and I go bus, and see kitty.”
“Sounds like an exciting day,” Alec said. “I like the kitty, too. Do you have a kitty at your house?”
Abby looked to Molly again.
“Abby has a doggie,” Molly said. “Named Gladstone. What do dogs say, Abby?”
“Ruff,” Abby said. “Ruff, ruff.”
Alec laughed. He looked to Molly. “Do you want me to go? I didn't mean to interrupt.”
Molly thought for a moment. She couldn't see Sarah or John having objections to Alec. They'd met him a few times and seemed like to him. He was a teacher, obviously he was trustworthy in regards to caring for children. However, she didn't want to force him to stay. He worked with children all day, maybe he'd want a break.
“You can stay if you want to stay,” she said. “But don't feel you have to.”
“I don't mind,” Alec said. “I have some homework to grade, and I was going to cook the chicken in the fridge, it'll just go to waste otherwise. I'm sure I can do something kid-friendly with it. Does she have any allergies?”
Molly didn't actually know that, but assumed John or Sarah would have mentioned if anything had developed recently. “I'll text and make sure,” she said. “But it sounds like a good plan to me. How about you, Abs? Do you want Alec to stay?”
“I play kitty,” Abby said, and walked away.
“We'll take that as a yes,” Molly said. She and Alec both straightened up, and Alec gave her a hello kiss. “You're sure you don't mind?”
“Nope,” Alec said. “Not at all.”
“I just meant, maybe you had something you'd rather be doing,” she said. She was distracted by the fact that he was sort of dancing to the music.
He took her hand and twirled her. “Not tonight.”
Molly texted Sarah to see if Abby had any allergies and to confirm that Alec being there was okay. 'None' and 'totally fine' were the answers. Alec went to get started on dinner, and Molly settled in to keep Abby entertained.
John had sent a couple of Blu Rays, a few toys, some crayons, and a few books with Abby, along with an owl cuddly toy, a blanket, a change of clothes, training pants, a baby monitor, and pyjamas. Everything Molly would need to keep her overnight, if necessary. Toby jumped up to the top shelf of the bookcase and hid from Abby's well-meaning affection.
“Maybe we should let the kitty have a sleep,” Molly said. “He's probably tired.”
Abby pouted, but put herself down in front of CBeebies when Molly put it on and watched while colouring in a book Molly had on hand for her visits. Molly went into the kitchen to see how Alec was getting on, keeping the door propped open so she could still see Abby.
“I'm doing a stir fry,” Alec said, his knife flying along a red pepper. “I won't give her rice, just the veggies and chicken. She can pick out what she wants with her fingers. Reed likes that.”
“Sounds good,” Molly said.
Her kitchen was rapidly turning into a gourmet one, each week new ingredients and utensils appeared as he brought them in and left them. He was there almost every night, now. It was good; she hadn't been this serious about anyone in a very long time. And never this hopeful.
“So, what's wrong with Abby's aunt?” Alec asked. “Can I ask? Is it okay?”
“Erm,” Molly said, not sure if it was polite to discuss Harry with him. Would John want him to know? “It's sort of private, actually. John's sister has some long-term problems that flare up sometimes. She can be sort of...unreasonable about them.”
Alec raised his hands. “I don't need to know, I'm just being nosey,” he assured her.
“It's not my thing to tell,” Molly explained.
“I understand,” Alec said.
They chatted about their days, and then Molly went out to make sure Abby was okay. Alec came out with the food a little while later, and he and Molly ate on the couch, and left Abby hers on the coffee table. She carefully tested the various ingredients in it and ate the peppers and chicken, but left the onions alone with an firm declaration that they were 'icky'.
Molly did the washing up after dinner, while Alec took over Abby-watch. When Molly came back out, Abby was up on the couch with Alec, playing with a little toy stethoscope that John had sent along. She had the headset around her neck and was holding the heart-shaped bell to his stomach.
“Hmm, I'm sure if you're doing that quite right,” he said. “Do you have ears in your neck? Here.” He moved the headset to her ears. “There, now you can hear all the food in my stomach.”
“I play stethoscope,” Abby said.
“Wow, that's a big word,” Alec said. “I suppose not surprising when your Mummy and Daddy are doctors. Probably part of dinner conversation.” He moved the bell to his chest. “Can you hear my heartbeat?”
“Boom-boom,” Abby said. “Boom-boom. Abby is a doctor, play stethoscope. Boom-boom. Like Mummy.”
“You have to be very smart to be a doctor,” Alec said. “Do you know all your anatomy? Where's your nose?”
Abby pointed to her nose.
“Where's your mouth?” Alec asked.
Abby pointed to her mouth.
“Where's your...toes?” Alec asked.
Abby lifted a foot up.
“Well, Dr Watson, you seem to be very knowledgeable,” Alec said. “Good job.”
Molly knew it was not very Modern Woman of her, but seeing a handsome man with a child made her want to put her hands under her chin and squeal with delight. It was extremely sexy. She was grinning like an idiot and tried to tone it down before he noticed.
“Have you finished your check-up?” she asked. “Is Alec healthy?”
Abby climbed up in his lap and touched his cheek, looking at his mouth. He opened it and said 'ahhh'. She giggled. “I fix,” she announced. “All better. Abby is a good doctor.”
“I do feel very good,” Alec agreed, giving Molly an amused smile. “But now, sadly, I have to do my work.”
“Why don't we watch a Blu Ray, Abs?” Molly said.
Molly selected a Disney film and popped it into the Blu Ray player. She remembered John complaining that it was all they ever watched, and, indeed, when the opening credits started up, Molly recognized the theme tune from John humming it, even though she hadn't seen the film yet herself.
Abby crawled to the other end of the couch to watch, and Molly sat down beside her. Alec settled in with his homework and pulled Molly back to lean against him while he worked on the arm of the couch. Abby bopped along to the songs and talked to the characters. Disney films were always good for adults, too, and Molly enjoyed watching it as much as Abby did. Even Alec seemed to laugh at all the right moments, a nice rumble Molly could feel in her back.
It was all quite cozy.
John rang around eight o'clock, when Molly was folding laundry and Abby was wrapping herself up in the curtains and 'hiding', then popping out to 'surprise' them. Alec was at the PC, preparing tomorrow's lessons, but played along with Molly, pretending to wonder where she was, as though they couldn't see her feet sticking out.
Molly took the phone to the hallway to hear over Abby's delighted giggles.
“Hey, Molly, thanks for helping us out,” John said. “How are things there?”
“They're great,” Molly said. “No problems at all. We've given her dinner, and she's playing now. How are things there?”
“Erm, they're...okay,” John said. “Harry's physically all right, but she's a complete mess emotionally. She's been crying for four hours straight, now. They've got her on a psych hold, and we're looking into trying to find her somewhere to go for rehab purposes, but it might be a day or two. She doesn't really have the money, and—well, anyway, we're still working things out. Sarah's really much better at this than I am, but I need to be here as next of kin, so do you mind keeping Abs overnight?”
“No, I can do that, no problem,” Molly assured him.
“Great, thanks,” John said. “Is she okay? I'm sure she's really confused at playing pass the parcel like this.”
“She seems okay,” Molly said. “She hasn't been fussy or anything, that I've seen. I think she just thinks we're having a sleepover. Do you want to talk to her?”
“No, that'll just upset her,” John said. “I believe you. I'm happier she's with you than with Sherlock. That wasn't my best move, but Mrs H is out of town and I couldn't find anyone else.”
“She's fine,” Molly said. “She survived. I think Sherlock did a pretty good job.”
“Huh,” John said, sceptically. “Anyway, her bedtime is around 8:30, we usually give her about half an hour of quiet time before then. She's been very assertive lately about wanting to choose her own story and pyjamas. She might try to charm you, but one story only and then it's bedtime.”
“Got it,” Molly said.
“She does this monologue thing sometimes, too,” John added. “Sort of...talking to herself and playing pretend. You might hear it on the monitor. Sarah says it's normal. 'Cot talk' or something.”
“Okay,” Molly said.
“Someone will be there before you have to get to work in the morning,” John said. “Thanks so much, Molls, I owe you big time.”
“Don't worry about it,” Molly said. “Just do what you have to do there. We've got it covered here, I promise.”
“I know,” John said. “I'm just feeling neglectful. Sarah's worse, which is why I'm not letting her on the phone. Okay, I'll see you soon, Molls.”
“See you,” Molly said. “And don't worry.”
“Not really an option, but we'll try.”
Molly gave Abby a bubble bath, much to Abby's great delight, put on her training pants for bedtime, and helped her with her pyjamas.
“No!” Abby said. “I not want 'jamas. Bad!”
“They're the only pyjamas you have here, sweetie,” Molly said, firmly. “You have to wear them, or nothing at all.”
“No!” Abby said. “I want Mummy! Mummy 'jamas.”
“Mummy is very sorry she isn't here,” Molly said. “But you're going to have to wear these pyjamas. If you don't want them, you'll have to be naked.”
Abby was resolute in her refusal to put them on. Until Molly left her on her own, naked. Then she was a bit more willing.
Molly had inherited a toddler lilo from someone at work, whose children had grown out of it. She thought it would be useful for her nephews and Abby, and maybe if she had kids of her own one day.
“I want story,” Abby said, as Molly settled her down on the lilo with her blanket and owl.
Molly let her pick from the selection John had sent. Alec came in to see if she needed help and listened to the story as well. Abby knew most of the words, and if Molly prompted her, she filled them in.
“I want story-story,” Abby said, when they were done. “Please.”
“No, just one story before bed,” Molly said. “Now it's time to sleep.”
Abby appealed to Alec. “I want story-story,” she said.
“Sorry, kiddo, I can't overrule,” Alec said. “Time for bed.” He got off Molly's bed, and crouched down by Abby on her lilo. “We'll tuck you in nice and tight, okay? Lie down.”
Abby reluctantly put her head on her pillow. Alec settled her blanket over her.
“Kisses,” Abby demanded. “Please.”
Molly gave her a kiss on her nose. Alec didn't seem sure, but Abby lifted her head and stared at him until he kissed her forehead. Abby snuggled in, and Molly turned off the light. There was a lot of light coming in through the balcony doors, which Molly went to double-check were locked, so she didn't think a nightlight was necessary. She and Alec tip-toed out of the room.
She sort of tackled him onto the sofa once they made the living room and straddled herself over his lap to kiss him.
“You are so, so wonderful,” she said.
“Okay, I am definitely child-minding more often,” Alec said, with a big grin.
Molly put their end of the baby monitor on the coffee table and flicked on the telly to watch the remnants of Poirot, and then Location, Location, Location. The monitor had a few sounds on it here and there, and then Abby's little voice started up, in a sing-song sort of chant. Molly muted the telly and strained to listen. Abby was hard to understand at the best of times, and she was a bit mumbly now. It faded in and out, but Molly got a few sections of it pretty clearly.
“I sleeping. It’s bedtime. Mr Owl, hello.”
“Aunt Harry sad. She crying. I hug. Not happy. Daddy sad. We go Gamma's. 'Hi, Sherlock'.”
“I take blanket off. I no like 'jamas.”
“Molly is pretty. I like Molly. I like kitty. Fuzzy. Pretty man with Molly. He happy. I like Alec. I bubbles. Bubbles, bubbles. Bubbles nice.”
“Spish-spish in boots. Rainy days. I like brolly. Man brolly. Flowers, flowers. 'Pretty flowers, Abby'.”
“Where's Mummy? Mummy not here. I sad. I love you, Mummy. 'I love Abby'. Kisses.”
She continued to babble, but softer so Molly couldn't make out any words.
“Awww,” Molly said. “Poor thing. That's so sweet.”
“Reed does that,” Alec said. “But while he's playing. 'This is a blue block, I put it with the blue block', stuff like that. He's older, though. I think it's speech development. Sorting out their thoughts and practising. They don't really have an interior monologue yet.”
“Thank you, Professor Thornton,” Molly said.
“Sorry, my area of expertise,” he said. He nuzzled behind her ear. “I like Molly.”
Molly laughed. “I like Alec.”
Molly and Alec went about their normal routines for the evening, until ten o'clock, when Abby appeared by the sofa.
“I want Mummy,” she said, in a tone of voice suggesting she had considered all possible options and decided this was the only course of action.
“Mummy isn't here right now,” Molly said. “Do you need something? Because I can help.”
“I want Mummy,” Abby said, very insistently. “I want Daddy. I want.”
“Do you know what, Abby?” Alec tried. “If you go to sleep, I promise that Mummy and Daddy will come in the morning, after you have your breakfast.”
“No!” Abby said, her fists balling up. “I want Mummy!”
What followed was an hour and a half of putting Abby to bed and having her get out of it again. Alec tried, Molly tried. They let her cry for a while, they tried to soothe her. Nothing worked. She just wanted her mum, and Molly couldn't blame her. It had been a very confusing day for a two and a half year old.
“Maybe if I go to bed, she'll see it's okay,” Molly said. “She might be afraid and doesn't know how to say.”
Molly once again put Abby back to bed, but this time she too got under her covers and lay down. Abby tried to talk, but Molly didn't answer, just pretended to be asleep.
At midnight, Abby finally nodded off and stayed asleep. Alec crept in and changed and slipped into bed behind Molly.
“Everything okay?” he whispered.
“I'm afraid to get up and put my nightie on,” Molly whispered back.
“Change in the hallway,” he suggested.
Molly managed to get up and out and back in and down without Abby waking up.
Abby slept peacefully through the rest of the night, but woke up at five-thirty, ready for the day. Molly didn't usually get up for another hour, and she could only stare baffled at the eager face beside her bed, her little hand patting Molly's cheek.
“Can you go back to sleep, Abs?” she asked, hopefully. “Go and lie down?”
“Kitty, kitty!” Abby said, pointing to Toby, who was draped over Alec's hip.
Molly resigned herself to getting up. Abby clapped her hands and climbed up on the bed to get to Toby. She woke Alec up in the process, and he could never get back to sleep in the morning if he woke up early. So, then they were both up. They made coffee, and put Abby in front of CBeebies, and sat in sleepy confusion on the couch.
“How parents do this every day?” Molly wondered, watching Abby dancing around to the song on the telly.
“They're inured,” Alec said. “From doing it every day since their child was born. We're not used to it.”
“This must be what it was like when we got our parents up for Christmas morning,” Molly said. “I never knew why they were so cross. Are you going to be okay at school?”
“Oh, yeah,” Alec said. “It's Friday. We never get anything accomplished on Friday anyway.”
Molly made breakfast, since Alec had made dinner, then she played with Abby while Alec got ready and they swapped while she got ready. There was a knock on the door around seven. Molly answered.
John and Sarah looked awful. Molly gave them both a hug on the spot.
“How are you?” she asked. “How are things?”
“Tired,” John said. “Copacetic. Harry is through the worst of it, now. She's agreed to stay on the psych ward until we can find a better place for her. She seems determined this time, but she always does.”
“I'm sorry,” Molly said. “If you need to talk about it, I'm happy to listen.”
John nodded, tiredly. “I'll keep that in mind, Molls, thanks.”
“I owe you a meal or something,” Sarah said. “Maybe we could have tea at the weekend.”
“Sounds nice,” Molly said. She stepped back to let them into the flat.
“Daddy!” Abby shrieked, when John came in. She raced towards him. Then she saw Sarah. “Mummy!” She skirted around John and went straight to Sarah's arms.
“Ouch,” Alec said, from where he was lying on the floor from playing with Abby. “That's cold, mate.”
“I'm used it,” John said, with a laugh. “Dads are always second-choice parents.”
Alec got up and helped Molly collect Abby's things from around the flat. Abby was snuggled right into Sarah's shoulder and clinging for dear life.
“I love Mummy,” she said. “I love Daddy.”
“Yeah, sure you do,” John said, tickling her stomach.
“She's had breakfast,” Alec reported, when Molly handed the bag over to John. “She had a bit of a rough night, but she's had a few hours sleep.”
“I hope she wasn't too much trouble,” Sarah said. “Were you a troublesome girl, Abby?”
“I see kitty, I see Sherlock,” Abby said. “Bubbles and flowers. I draw flower, and man draw flower, and Molly read story. I eat apples. Miam.”
“Well, you don't seem too traumatized,” John said. “Let's go home, brat.”
“I not brat!” Abby declared. “Abby is a good girl.”
“We'll see,” John said.
Abby waved goodbye to Alec, and Molly followed John and Sarah to the door. Abby leaned over to give Molly a kiss goodbye.
“Did Alec stay all night?” Sarah asked, quietly.
“Yes,” Molly said. “Is that okay?”
“Oh, yes, it's fine,” Sarah said. “Just...God, Molly, marry that man.”
Molly and Alec still had another half hour before they had to leave. They both had another cup of coffee.
“You were really brilliant,” she said to him. “Thanks so much for your help.”
“I didn't mind,” Alec said. “It's probably good practice for when we have—I mean, if,...I mean... if I—” his eyes blanked out and his shook his head. “No, I don't know what I mean. I'm too tired to know what I mean. I mean it was fine, that's what I mean. Yes, let's go with that.” He gave her a sheepish grin.
Molly smiled, blushing. “Yes, let's go with that.”