Characters: Sherlock, John, Sarah, Abby
Warnings/Triggers: burn injuries
Pairings: John/Sarah, Molly/Alec (mentioned)
Word Count 4,632
Summary: Sherlock finds himself sofa-ridden and a bit silly, and is cared for by all three Dr Watsons—John, Sarah, and Abby.
Author's notes: Set in the Abby 'verse.
This story is about the third attempt I've made to tell it. I think it wanders a bit, but every time I tried to get it on track, it just got more wandering. So, I have decided I am pleased with it, and to let it be. It's a bit of an attempt to nudge Abby Verse!Sherlock to be a bit more compliant with Series Three!Sherlock, and to contrast a little with 'The Voice in Counterpoint', which takes place at roughly the same time a year earlier.
Now that I have seen all of Series Three, I have decided just to go with the theory that 'John married Sarah and therefore Series Three didn't happen like that', rather than trying to work it in to what I have here. John's choice of partner would have a significant change on how events went down, so I am going with that. Some events probably still happened, but in a different way, and I'm going to carry on with my plans for this verse, as they still work.
If Sherlock was being honest with himself, which he really found very tedious, he would admit he did not feel very well. He knew this was legitimate; he had every right not to feel well. He had second degree burns to the soles of his feet from walking on a super-heated metal floor without his shoes on. Not for the fun of it; he had been attempting to disarm an activated booby trap before it did serious harm to a number of people, and had taken his shoes off to get past the motion sensors. He'd succeeded in dismantling it. However, there was fire, which had heated the floor, and he had to walk on it to get out of the room, so now he was lying on the sofa at 221B with bandaged feet, the equivalent of a sunburn to his face, and mild smoke inhalation.
All a recipe to not make him feel very well.
He had accepted that the first few days might be unpleasant, but this had been nearly five now, and he had utterly failed to bounce back. It was very painful to walk, and he was constantly too hot, and, though he'd stopped coughing, he still felt exhausted and miserable. He was sleeping almost a full eight hours at night, and napping during the day. That couldn't be good for one's health.
He also had onslaught of concern from Mrs Hudson and John, both of whom were bent on looking after him. Sherlock was only released from hospital on the condition that he be able to get 'proper care' at home. Mrs Hudson took the morning shifts, and John and Sarah handled the evening ones.
He opened his eyes, and found a small face peering at him.
“Sherlock not napping,” Abby said, to herself. “Yay.” She smiled at him. “All better now?”
Sherlock blinked at her. “No,” he said. “Not really.”
Abby patted his arm in a sympathetic fashion. “Sherlock is sad,” she said.
“I'm not sad, I'm bored,” Sherlock said. “Which, while largely interchangeable, is not the same thing.”
He attempted to sit up, but had to lift his legs to let Gladstone down off the sofa. He'd been asleep in the crook of Sherlock's bent knees. Since his injury, Gladstone been extremely clingy, following Sherlock around and lying pasted to him, pointed outwards to ward off danger from impending wolves waiting to pick Sherlock off in his weakened condition.
“Hey, you're awake,” John said, as Sherlock moved to a sitting position. He came from the kitchen with a glass of water, and a few tablets. “Take these. Antibiotic and paracetamol.”
Sherlock took the water and swallowed it down.
“How's the pain?” John asked.
“Two lying down, eight on my feet,” Sherlock replied.
“All right, heading in the right direction,” John said. “Why is the floor flooded outside the kitchen?”
“I washed my hair. I couldn't take it any more,” Sherlock said. “I had to sit on the edge of the bath and the shower attachment was a bit...unruly.”
“There's about three inches of water there,” John said. “How long were you at it for?”
“45 minutes,” Sherlock said. “I might have overbalanced. Twice.” John raised an eyebrow. “More than twice.”
“I'll bring you a bath stool tomorrow,” John said.
“Thank you,” Sherlock said.
“Drink up, you need to keep hydrated,” John said. “I'll clean up the floor.”
“Leave it, it'll dry,” Sherlock said.
“It'll drip through downstairs, Mrs Hudson will be up here yelling,” John said. “And it's upsetting the rats.”
“Basil and Dawson are mice,” Sherlock said. “Don't insult them.”
“It is creepy to name the rats that live in your walls,” John said.
“They're mice!” Sherlock called after him.
He leaned back on the sofa, and Abby climbed up next to him. She snuggled into his flank, resting her head against his side. He'd got to know her better over the past few days, as she accompanied John on his visits to tend to him, carrying her toy stethoscope to assist in doctoring. She was reaching an interesting age, where she was better able to articulate what was going on her mind. She was almost a person now, with little quirks and thoughts, and he found it rather fascinating to watch her explore and discover the world. He was interested to see what the rest of her would turn out like. He could see why people had children, almost. He preferred the borrowing system. He could send her away when she grew tiresome.
“Still sore feet?” she asked, as he put his heels gently on the coffee table.
“Yes,” Sherlock said.
“Mr Owl, sore,” Abby said. “Hurt his wing. Very sad. Daddy fixed, because good doctor. Make all better. I help you, okay? We play and make Sherlock happy.”
Sherlock considered what else he had to do, and decided that wasn't entirely unappealing. “Yes, fine,” he said.
Abby's face lit up. “Sherlock plays with me,” she said, excitedly. “I play with Sherlock. He likes me.” She carefully got down from the sofa. “I find toys.”
“Oh!” Sherlock said. “That reminds me, I have something for you. Gladstone, box.”
Gladstone stood up and nudged a box over to the sofa. It had come in the mail that day. Sherlock had decided to go online to get some new microscope slides, as he couldn't get out to the supply store to get them. He'd also ended up ordering a few other things, including some blocks for Abby. It was an impulse buy. He pulled the box out and gave it to her.
“For me?” she asked.
“Yes, for you,” Sherlock said. “Happy...birthday?”
“April,” John called, from the hallway. “It's only February.”
“Well, Linus Pauling was born in February, happy Linus Pauling's birthday,” Sherlock said. “He won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.”
“You remember his birthday and you can't remember your own?” John asked.
“He was the most influential chemist in history,” Sherlock said. “I'm only the...27th most influential. Celebrating his birthday makes far more sense than the ones we do celebrate. What did Queen Victoria ever do?”
“Create the British Empire?” John said.
“Well, it doesn't exist now, so it was just a waste of time,” Sherlock said. “In any case, this is a present for you, Abby.”
“Say thank you, Abby,” John said. “And don't touch it until I get there.”
Abby put her arms around Sherlock's knees. “Thank you,” she said.
John came out to investigate, holding a mop. “Oh, it's blocks,” he said.
“Element blocks,” Sherlock said. “They have the elements on them, instead of the alphabet. They are educational. It will put her ahead in her science studies.”
“She's two, she doesn't have science studies,” John said.
“Well, then she should start,” Sherlock said. “Really, you've been neglecting her.”
John seemed to be trying not to laugh. “Yeah, it's awful how we treat her,” he said. “No science. No maths. Just food and love and fun.”
Sherlock ignored him. He opened the box of blocks and dumped them on the floor. Abby sat down to investigate. Gladstone was also very interested, and wandered away with Oxygen before Sherlock made him bring it back. Abby picked up a few blocks, and started to arrange them.
“I build a castle,” she decided. “You help, okay?”
“All right,” Sherlock agreed. “But you can't put those ones together, you'll create a poisonous gas.” He swapped one block out for another. “There, that's a safer combination.”
Abby went to work on her castle, very serious about it. Her face was very much like John's when he was thinking very hard about something.
“Okay, I was going to make dinner, but it turns out you have literally no food,” John said, when he was done mopping up. “As in, the only thing I can find in the cupboards are toenails.”
“Oh, did you find those? I couldn't remember where I put them,” Sherlock said. “I don't need to eat, don't worry.”
“No, you do need to eat,” John said. “So, I'm going to run down to the shops. I'll be maybe...twenty minutes. Do you want me to take Abby with me?”
“No, we're fine here,” Sherlock said.
“Oh. Okay,” John said, sounding surprised. “Right...I'll be back, then. Have...fun.”
“Mmm,” Sherlock said.
John grabbed his coat, and Gladstone saw him down to the door, returning a few moments later, sad that he hadn't been invited along on the trip. He hopped back up and pasted himself to Sherlock. Sherlock helped Abby build her tower up, trying to teach her the elements as he went.
“W stands for Tungsten,” he said, as he placed the block on the top of the tower. “Because it's also known as Wolfram. You can spell your last name in elemental symbols. Tungsten, Astatine, Sulphur, Oxygen, Nitrogen. That spells Watson. You can't spell any of my names in elements, I've always found that disappointing. The closest you can really get to Sherlock is Siarlac—Sulphur, Iodine, Argon, Lanthanum, Carbon. You can get closer with Holmes—Holimos. You couldn't spell Abby, either. You'd have to use Auby—Gold, Boron, Yttrium. As I'm saying this is occurs to me I might have spent more time thinking about this than is strictly necessary. You can spell necessary in elements, however. Neon, Carbon, Carbon, Einsteinium, Sulphur, Argon, Yttrium.”
Abby looked at him with wide-eyes. “I'm a princess,” she said.
“Yes, fair enough,” Sherlock said. “You can spell Princess in elements...”
“And so, the criminal could only have gone out through the air vent...” Sherlock explained, moving a small toy through the bank he'd built out of blocks. “But no one really uses air vents; they're extremely impractical. Therefore, he had to have found some way to get out that wasn't immediately obvious. Let's return him back to the scene of the crime.” He moved the toy back.
Abby sat on her heels and watched, with her head cocked to one side, the way John did when he was listening to one of Sherlock's explanations. “I like blocks,” she said.
“Excellent, our criminal is about to steal several gold ones,” Sherlock said. He held up a block. “Au, that is the symbol for Gold. Do you remember that?”
“Lilliam,” Abby said.
“No, this is Helium,” Sherlock said, pulling that block from the door of the bank. “It's fine, you'll get the hang of it. Anyway, back to the bank—”
“Sherlock?” John asked, arriving at the top of the stairs with grocery bags. “What are you doing?”
“I'm playing with your child,” Sherlock said.
John came over to look. “Aww, baby's first crime scene,” he said. “Clean it up.”
“I was just telling her about the Heatherton Affair,” Sherlock said. “It was relevant to our conversation. It's just the robbery, I've left out the triple homicide part.”
“That's good,” John said. “That shows excellent judgement, good job. Clean it up.”
“Fine,” Sherlock said. He disassembled the bank. “It has a good ending, Abby, I'll tell you the story properly when you're older.”
“Much older,” John said.
“My childhood would have been much more satisfactory if I was exposed to crime at a younger age,” Sherlock said.
“Yes, but we're aiming for a well-adjusted child,” John said. “It's weird, I know, but we want her to have a healthy psyche.”
“Boring,” Sherlock said. “You're raising her to be average.”
Abby went back to assembling her castle, chatting to herself about princesses and fairies. She often had a running monologue with herself when she played, and Sherlock liked it as it explained her reasoning process very clearly. He wasn't sure how she'd suddenly become interesting. He was sure she hadn't been particularly interesting before. Perhaps it was because he was injured and desperate for entertainment.
“And Sherlock plays with me,” she said. “Because he likes me. I am a princess. Lilliam is a block. Blocks have names. Sherlock likes them. I like them. Gold blocks make Sherlock happy. No sore feet.”
“Hey, she's got you figured out,” John said. “Good job, Abs, it took me much longer to figure out how to look after Sherlock.”
“I don't need to be looked after,” Sherlock objected. “Most of the time.”
“I'm making bangers and mash,” John said. “Sarah's going to come after work and do your feet. We'll all eat together.”
“You cannot throw dinner parties at my home,” Sherlock said. “You no longer live here. It's rude.”
“Do you mind?” John asked.
“No, it's fine,” Sherlock said. “Go ahead.”
John laughed, and went to the kitchen to get started. Mrs Hudson had taken the opportunity of Sherlock's being bed-ridden to thoroughly clean up, and John had been using the newly cleaned kitchen for making food. He was being very solicitous, and it was odd. Sherlock suspected that there was some guilt involved. John had set off the booby trap, though that was hardly something to be ashamed of, as, if Sherlock hadn't noticed it, John certainly wasn't going to be able to. Sherlock had also locked him out of the room to keep him from following him into the dangerous area, as John would almost certainly have attempted to help and been hurt, and he had a family to support. Sherlock didn't . It was perfectly logical for him to be the one to attempt to stop the trap. John was behaving as though Sherlock had saved his life, when all he'd done was fail to endanger it. Which, while largely interchangeable, was not the same thing. Besides, John had busted down the door and dragged Sherlock from the room, and Sherlock hadn't gone all gooey over that. They took turns rescuing one another, that's what they'd always done. No point in getting sentimental each time it happened.
“Let's a read a story,” Abby said. “Okay?”
“I don't have an appropriate story for you,” Sherlock said. “Well, I think I still might have A Child's Introduction to Anatomy somewhere, but most of the pages have fallen out...”
Abby had this problem solved very quickly. She had brought her own story. She retrieved it from the bag John had brought with him, along with her owl. She showed him the injured wing, where the fabric had torn and John had put a plaster on it. It was starting to look a bit ratty. Sherlock didn't think it was designed to be a cuddly toy, more something to be played with and put away. It no longer made noise, having worn itself out earlier in the year. Abby's attachment to it was something he hadn't anticipated. He would have chosen a more suitably snuggley toy.
Abby handed him a book made of thick cardboard, with a rabbit on the cover. Sherlock leaned back on the sofa with it, and she climbed up next to him, and settled herself in with Mr Owl to listen.
“'Alexander Visits the Doctor',” Sherlock read out the title. He opened the book. “'Alexander is a bunny. He is three-years old'. Why is he dressed like a child, then? Rabbits reach sexual maturity by six months. He'd be well-into middle age by now. Anyway, 'Alexander is going to visit the doctor today. He is a bit nervous.' There are objects labelled in the illustration, I assume I'm supposed to point them out to you. This is a bed, and that's a pair of shoes, though why he wears shoes when he doesn't wear trousers is beyond me.”
He turned the page. “'Don't be frightened,' his mother said'.” Sherlock found himself assuming an appropriate mother rabbit voice. “'There's nothing to be afraid of'. Blah blah blah, that's a kitchen scene, and there's an oven and some fruit.”
He continued through Alexander's triumphant tale of going to the doctor and getting measured and examined and finding out there was nothing of which to be afraid. Abby listened intently, sometimes pointing out objects she knew, or thought she knew. John kept snorting with laughter in the kitchen, at very inappropriate places, where there was no humour. Usually when Sherlock changed voices.
“Mummy!” Abby said, when the doctor character appeared.
“That is not your mother, that's a rabbit,” Sherlock corrected. “Although, I suppose her white coat and stethoscope might appear similar to Sarah's.”
“Mummy!” Abby said, again, and ran for the stairs.
“Oh, yes, that is your mother,” Sherlock agreed. He'd been too engrossed in his telling of the tale to hear Sarah's arrival. “Hello!”
“Hi,” Sarah said. She came into the living room, holding Abby on her hip. “Were you reading Abby a story?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “She requested it.”
Sarah looked suspiciously at him, and placed a hand on his forehead. “Yeah, you're still a bit hyperthermic from the burns, aren't you?” she said. “Poor Sherlock.”
“I'm fine,” Sherlock said.
“Are you drinking? Have you taken your paracetamol?” Sarah asked.
“Yes,” Sherlock said.
“Mmmm,” Sarah said, sceptically. “Uncle Sherlock is a bit silly, isn't he, Abs? He has a bit of a fever, it's making him silly. Have you had a good time with him? Are you helping him get better?”
“I good doctor,” Abby said.
“I know, you're an ace doctor,” Sarah said. “You are good little helper.” She rubbed her nose against Abby's and Abby giggled.
“Dinner will be ready in five minutes,” John announced. “Better start to the table now, Sherlock.”
Sherlock carefully got to his feet, wincing and gritting his teeth. Standing up and sitting down was the worst. If he moved quickly from foot to foot, he could keep the pain from getting too bad, but he had to keep his weight even to stand up or sit down, so the pain shot up through his feet. He quickly began his swaying dance until the pains subsided, and then picked his way over to the table. Sarah hovered around him, obviously trying not to take his arm. He flopped down in a chair and lifted his feet up off the floor until they stopped throbbing.
John brought out the food. Sausages and mash, and a frozen vegetable medley. Sherlock found it all very appealing, another sign he wasn't feeling well. Sarah put Abby down, and grabbed some heavy tomes from his bookshelf. She wrapped them up in a towel from the loo, and put them on a chair, then sat Abby on top of them, so she could reach the table.
“No, you not help,” Abby said, crossly, when Sarah started to cut up her sausages. “I do myself.”
“I'm just making them smaller for you, sweetie, and then you can use your fork,” Sarah said. She smirked at Sherlock. “Do you want me to cut up yours for you, too?”
“My hands are not injured, thank you,” Sherlock said.
“I big girl, I eat forks,” Abby said. “I can.”
“I know, you're a very big girl,” Sarah said. “There we go.”
John and Sarah sat down at the opposite side of the table, and Sherlock realized he was having a family dinner, which he wasn't sure he'd had in many years. Not a proper, everyday sit-down dinner, that didn't involve a special occasion.
Despite Abby's protests, her skill with a fork was lacking, and she had to use her other hand to balance the food on it. Gladstone seemed to be aware of her deficiencies, as he placed himself under her chair, and snapped up the food that failed to reach her mouth.
Sherlock ate, half-listening to John and Sarah talk about their days. The food was good; John had turned into somewhat of a house husband since he'd got married. Since Sarah worked full-time and John only part-time, he often took over the more domestic jobs in the household. Happily, it seemed. Sherlock would have thought he'd miss all the excitement of constant danger, but John declared himself happy with semi-constant danger. Which was enough for Sherlock, in terms of having him as an associate. And he was still a friend, danger or no. It was a satisfactory arrangement, he supposed. Not a life he would choose for himself, but he didn't have to choose it. He felt accustomed to it, now, and that they had found the right balance. Every time he felt he'd found it, however, something would change again to throw the balance off.
“Molly's invited us for dinner next week,” Sarah said. “She's throwing a little grown-up dinner party now that her and Alec have moved in together properly. She's very excited; it's adorable.”
“Alec is the boyfriend,” Sherlock checked. “Or is Alec the cat?”
“Toby is the cat,” Sarah said.
“She should have given her cat a cat name, it's confusing,” Sherlock said.
“It's not really,” John said.
“I suppose I'll have to remember him, now,” Sherlock said. “Is he going to be permanent?”
“I'd say so,” Sarah said.
“Is he worthy?” Sherlock asked.
Sarah cocked her head to the side and smiled, the way she did when she thought Abby was being endearing. Apparently he was being endearing. “I think he is,” she said.
Sherlock made a mental note to scan Alec's Facebook account for anomalies. He had plenty of time on his hands; might as well have a project to work on.
Sarah turned her attentions to talking to Abby about her day, and Sherlock worked on getting his food into his mouth while she nattered about visiting Mrs Hudson, and having milk and biscuits, and going to the park to play, and visiting Sherlock, who had sad feet. Sherlock left the table after his food was gone, taking the glass of water Sarah insisted on with him. He returned to the sofa. Gladstone was up with him in moments, ready to protect against the wolves.
“I appreciate that you have pack instincts, but I really am fine,” Sherlock told him.
Gladstone hooked his chin over Sherlock's knee.
Sherlock went to work on his laptop, connecting to Molly's Facebook account (her password was impossibly easy to guess), and using that to have access to Alec's account. The man was boring beyond belief. Used his account responsibly, no improper pictures, tagged in lots of family photos, used proper grammar and punctuation in his posts.
“C'mon Gladstone, we'll go for a walk,” John said, after dinner. “C'mon, Sherlock will be okay. You know you like to walk. C'mon. Good boy. Good boy!”
They left, and Sarah came over to tend to Sherlock's feet.
“Alec has an ex-girlfriend,” Sherlock said.
“Most people do have exes,” Sarah said.
“She regrets breaking up with him,” Sherlock said.
“I would, too, he's practically a god,” Sarah said.
“She's not dangerous,” Sherlock said. “Ouch!”
“Sorry,” Sarah said. She took off the bandages more carefully. “Looking good, though. You've burst a blister, I may clean that up a little, but the rest are healing nicely. I was worried about one of them being infected earlier in the week, but it's not as red now. I'm going to do the washing up, and let you air them out a bit.”
Sherlock lay with his feet on the arm of the sofa, and Sarah went to the kitchen. Abby arrived with her stethoscope. Sherlock knew a family member had given it to her, but Sarah's immediate family were all doctors, and therefore he couldn't narrow it down. Abby climbed up on the sofa, settling next to his hip
“I take care of you,” she said. She put the stethoscope headseat in her ears, and applied the bell to his chest. “I'm helping.”
“Can you hear anything?” Sherlock asked. “Is it echoing? I have a very small heart, I'm sure there's plenty of room in my chest.”
“Boom-boom,” Abby said. “Good heart.”
“No, bad heart,” Sherlock said. “Not a very good one at all. It doesn't function very well.”
Abby continued to do a check-up on Sherlock, moving her stethoscope about and making notes to herself that Sherlock didn't follow. Mimicking John, he imagined. John always muttered to himself when he was examining something.
“Okay, all better now,” she declared. “You not sad, okay?”
“Very well,” Sherlock agreed. “I'm not.”
She smiled, and he smiled back.
“I love you,” she said.
His very small heart grew a little warm at that. It didn't function very well, but it did have a bit of room in it for certain people, if they stretched it and wiggled in.
“Yes, I see,” he said, briskly. “Good. Erm, I love you, too.”
A dish was dropped in the kitchen, and Sarah seemed to have got some bubbles up her nose, as she gave a few sniffs.
“Now, come up here, and I'll show you how to look for suspicious behaviour on a Facebook page,” Sherlock said to Abby. “We really need to teach you proper skills. Your parents are doing a terrible job.”
Sarah tended to his feet after she was done with the washing up. Sherlock preferred her ministrations over John's. John was not nearly as gentle as Sarah. She trimmed away the skin around the burst blister, and washed his feet with soap and water, and rubbed ointment into them. Sherlock continued his investigation into Alec, who proved to be squeaky clean, aside from the fact that his parents married after his conception. They were divorced now, but even they were amicable with one another, and uninteresting.
“He doesn't follow any of Molly's usual choices in men,” Sherlock commented.
“Good,” Sarah said. “Now, stop prying. Did you look into me like this?”
“No, I knew you were fine when I first met you,” Sherlock said. “You were always the best of John's many conquests.”
“I love how you manage to be quite complimentary and yet somewhat insulting at the same time,” Sarah said.
“It's a gift,” Sherlock agreed.
She finished putting the bandages on, and pulled a pair of thick, fuzzy socks on over top. They were made to provide cushioning to his feet, but John had insisted the only ones he could find came in garish colours. Sherlock's current pair were violet and cyan striped, with neon pink skull-shaped non-slip treads on the soles. John had claimed the skulls were 'very you'. They clashed with his dressing gown.
“There we go,” Sarah said.
Sherlock yawned. “I'd like everyone to go away, now,” he said.
Sarah laughed very loudly at this. “Fair enough, you've been very good,” she said. “We just have to wait for John and Gladstone to get back, and then we'll be gone. Let's clean up our mess, Abs. Get our things together.”
Abby helped pick up her toys put them back in her bag. Sarah decided to leave the blocks at Baker Street as a treat for Abby to have when she came to visit.
“We've been voted out of the Big Brother house,” Sarah said to John, when he returned. “King Sherlock has sent us into exile.”
“Oh, no,” John said, in a monotone voice. “How awful.”
Gladstone hopped back up with Sherlock on the sofa, sniffing at his feet and trying to lick his socks.
“You need anything before we go?” John asked.
“No,” Sherlock said.
“All right, let's roll, Sawyer-Watsons,” John said.
Sarah went ahead with Abby. John paused to pick up the bag from the floor.
“John?” Sherlock said.
“Yeah,” John said.
“Thank you for taking care of me,” Sherlock said.
“No worries,” John said. “You've put me back together enough times. Just returning the favour. Rest, okay? Get better. You've earned it.”
Sherlock nodded. “Goodnight,” he said.
“Yep, see you tomorrow,” John said.
He left, and Sherlock was on his own again, and pleased about it. He settled back on the sofa, Gladstone curling up next to him. If Sherlock was being honest with himself, he would admit he did not feel very well still. However, he would also confess to feeling a bit better for proper care.