Characters: Everyone in the Abby 'verse except for Mycroft (sorry Mycroft), plus Harry Watson
Warnings/Triggers: references to alcoholism
Pairings: John/Sarah, Alec/Molly
Word Count 5,597
Summary: Abby Watson turns three, and her family come together to celebrate—including an unexpected one.
Author's notes: Set in the Abby 'verse, post- 'Exception to The Rule'. This is some fluff to set-up further events. Quite a lot of fluff, actually, how did this turn into nearly 6,000 words?
I've hesitated to write Harry, as we've never met her, but the show doesn't seem inclined to bring her onscreen, so I figured, what the heck?
“Okay, balloons are operational,” John said, coming into the kitchen. “Presents are piled. How is the cake coming?”
“We've had a hundreds and thousands incident,” Sarah said, lifting her hands to show how many rainbow bits she had stuck to them.
“Stay still, I'll ring for hazmat,” John said.
“No, it's too late, save yourself,” Sarah said. “If you go now, you won't be contaminated. Tell Abby I love her.” She turned back to the cake. “Okay, moment of truth.” She gently peeled back the parchment paper three in the middle of the cake. There was a three-shaped void of hundreds and thousands in the icing. “Yes! Get in.”
John came over to look. “That looks good,” he said.
“Don't sound surprised,” Sarah said, elbowing him in the stomach. “I am a domestic goddess. All right, so I'll put this in the fridge, and put the kitchen back together, and we're ready to roll. Do you want to go up and get Abby washed and dressed before everyone gets here?”
“Yeah, I can do that,” John said. He tried to swipe some icing from the cake and Sarah slapped his hand. “Ouch!”
“No one is to touch this cake until everyone has seen the glory of it,” Sarah said. “Leave now.”
John licked the transferred hundreds and thousands off his hand, and left to get Abby from the living room.
“No, you not help me,” Sarah heard her say, as they passed by on their way upstairs. “I do it myself.”
Sarah washed her hands, and put the cake safely in the fridge. Gladstone, who had been standing hopefully at her feet while she baked, trotted over, still very optimistic something might be given to him. She gave him a bickie, because he was a good boy. She was sponging off the counter when she heard the front door open, and the bounding of doggie feet on the parquet in the hall as Gladstone went careening toward it, barking.
“Hey, Sherlock,” she said. He was the only person with a key who wasn't presently in the house.
“Hello,” Sherlock called back. “Yes, I see you, Gladstone. We've only been a part for less than a week, there is no need to be this excited about my arrival. Sit. Good boy.”
Sarah peeked around the corner, and saw Sherlock was crouched down to give Gladstone's ears a rub. He stopped when he noticed her watching, and straightened up. He awkwardly held out a present. “What do I do with this?”
“There's a pile in the living room,” Sarah said. “You can put it there.”
Sherlock went into the living room, Gladstone with his nose to his calf, wagging his tail.
“Why does Mycroft send her presents?” Sherlock called.
“I don't know,” Sarah said. “But when she was born, he did inform John that if she ever needed anything, to ring him. Maybe it's a reminder of that?”
“John is my friend,” Sherlock said, sounding a little put out. “I can help him. Mycroft doesn't need to be involved.”
“My impression is that he was suggesting if she needed a kidney or something, he'd find one on the black market for her,” Sarah said. “I think that was the sort of thing he was offering.”
There was contemplative silence for a few moments. “Mycroft would be more efficient than I would at finding organs,” Sherlock said, eventually. “Just purely due to connections.”
“Do I even want to know what that is in regards to?” John asked, from the top of the stairs.
“Your daughter's hypothetical kidney transplant,” Sherlock called back.
“In other words, 'no',” Sarah said. “It's her birthday, let's stop talking about her organs.”
“You brought them up,” Sherlock said.
“Let's all be in one place and not yell at each other,” John suggested.
Sherlock returned to the hallway in front of the kitchen. Abby came flying at him when she reached the bottom of the stairs, and wrapped her arms around his legs. He smiled down at her, and patted her head, which was downright affectionate for Sherlock. Something had happened around the time he'd burned his feet. It was as though he'd suddenly got the hang of Abby. John said it always took him time to warm up to people, but three years was a bit much.
“I not wearing socks,” Abby told Sherlock. “They not con-fortable. I don't like socks.”
“Big girls wear socks,” John said. “It's only little girls who don't wear socks.”
“I big girl, but not wear socks,” Abby said.
Sherlock let out a soft chuckle at this.
“Can you give me some back-up?” John asked him. “She likes you, she might listen.”
“Abby, I insist you always question authority,” Sherlock said, sternly. “Especially over such useless things as wearing socks. That is clearly an attempt to have power over you. I support your actions.”
“Cheers,” John said. “That was very useful.”
“I don't know what you were expecting,” Sherlock said. “I'm hardly likely to rally behind the oppressors. Besides, I don't like socks either.” He bent over and detached Abby from his legs, gently pulling her by her pinafore dress.
Sarah had to admit that, for all he sometimes was careless about her spirit, when it came to handling her physical self, he'd always treated her like spun glass.
Sarah held out her hands for the socks, and crouched down to Abby. “Birthday girls have to wear socks,” she explained. “Or they don't get presents.”
Abby had a think about this.
“It's a lie,” Sherlock said. “They aren't going to go to the trouble of throwing you a birthday party, and then not allow you presents. Stand firm.”
Sarah reached out and pinched him very hard in the leg. He let out a yelp and danced away. Abby stuck a foot forward and agreed to wear her socks.
“I don't like them,” she said, sadly.
“I know, but sometimes we have to wear things we don't like,” Sarah said.
“Unless you're Uncle Sherlock,” John said. “Then you can to go Buckingham Palace in a sheet.”
“That was a protest,” Sherlock said. “I was making a point. Rather like Abby, who is making a protest over the fact that she finds socks uncomfortable, which is perfectly reasonable, and I don't understand why it's so important that she put them on.”
“You know, I think I've figured out why you've taken to her, lately,” John said. “She's finally reached your level of maturity. You have an ally.”
“I suppose it must be hard on you. How tragic to discover your child outstrips you intellectually,” Sherlock said.
John and Sherlock faced each other, deadpan, for a few seconds before they both started laughing. Abby looked happy, and watched them with a smile on her face.
“Hoo-hoo?” Mrs Hudson called from the front door. “I'm sorry to come right in, but the door was open. Sherlock Holmes, I have told you a thousand times to close the door when you enter a house. Were you raised in a barn?”
“Gramma!” Abby said, running over to greet her.
“I have calculated that I can gain a least an hour's extra time per annum by not closing doors,” Sherlock said. “Do you know what I can do with an extra hour? It's my gift to the world, Mrs Hudson.”
“You are a naughty boy,” Mrs Hudson said. “But you, Miss Abby, are very good girl. Look at how big you are! You're growing like a tree. You'll be as tall as me soon!”
John went to take her present, and helped her off with her coat. Abby followed her to the living room, skipping along and explaining about her sock problem, and how it was her birthday, and she was getting presents, and Sherlock had come to visit her, because he loved her.
“She seems to be very focussed on that,” Sherlock noted to Sarah. “That I love her. She says that quite often.”
“According to my child development books, around this age, they liked to be reassured that people love them,” Sarah explained. “I don't know if she really knows what it means yet, but maybe she knows that people who love her will keep her safe.”
“I suppose that makes sense,” Sherlock said.
“And you do love her,” Sarah pointed out.
Sherlock's head whipped to the door. “Oh, Lestrade's here. I'll let him in, shall I?”
Sarah grinned at his back as he went to get the door, opening it before Greg had time to knock.
“Every time I come here, you let me in,” Greg said. “Do you live here? I mean, do you and John just split time between here and Baker Street?”
“John does,” Sherlock said. “I still base myself at 221B. He favours here, however. It's not an even split.”
“Yeah, well you're not married to him, so that makes sense,” Greg said. “Most married people spend the majority of their time together.”
“You didn't,” Sherlock said.
“Yeah, and I'm not married any more,” Greg said. “Go figure, huh? Hey, Sarah.”
“Hey Greg,” Sarah said. “Come on in. I should get tea and coffee going. Either of you want something?”
“Coffee,” they both said, Greg adding a 'please' to the end of his.
Mrs Hudson asked for tea, and John wanted coffee. Sarah set to work, while Greg went in and said hello to Abby. Sarah could hear her delighted giggles as he swooped her up over his head with an 'rarrr' noise like a great bear.
Molly and Alec arrived a few minutes after that, and then the party was all there. Sarah had considered throwing Abby a proper party with her friends, but she felt she was still too young. She'd been to a three-year old party a month earlier with Abby, and present opening had been very upsetting to some of the kids there, who didn't understand why they didn't have presents, and why they had to give the things they'd brought to someone else. Sarah didn't want a repeat of that. Next year, she'd give Abby something more kid-friendly. This year, being with the adults who loved her would be enough.
“Now, Miss Molly, let's see that ring of yours,” Mrs Hudson said. “I haven't seen you since you said yes. I'm so pleased for you.” Molly flushed, and held out her hand for Mrs Hudson to see the ring. “Oh, how lovely! It's very nice, dear. Such a nice detail, the twist on the band.”
“Alec designed it,” Molly said, proudly.
“My sister designed it,” Alec said. “I just sort of described what I didn't want, and she went from there.”
“It's beautiful, in any case,” Mrs Hudson said. “Have you set a date yet, or is it too early?”
“We're thinking August,” Molly said. “But every wedding planning book or website I've looked at has their checklists starting from a year in advance. I don't know if it's possible to get everything together before August.”
“It is,” Sarah said. “John and I got married three months after our engagement. Unless you're planning on three hundred guests, you don't need that much time.”
“We just want a small wedding,” Molly said. “And Alec will have July and August off, so he'll have lots of time to do the running about bits then, if we need him to. I was wondering, actually, if you'd like—or would be willing to be—my Matron of Honour? You don't have to say yes, or you could think about it, because I know it's a big thing to ask.”
“It's not a big thing at all,” Sarah said. “I'd love to.”
“It's just that I don't have any sisters, and my friend Rita probably thinks it should be her, but I know she'll end up making me do everything her way,” Molly explained. “Oh! Not that you're my second choice, you're my first choice, but—”
“Count me in,” Sarah said. “Seriously. I'd love it.”
“Oh,” Molly said. “Oh, good. Alec's friend Josh is going to be Best Man, and his son Reed is going to be the ring bearer. Alec has lots of nieces and nephews, but we thought it would be best to choose people not in the family, so we don't hurt feelings. Do you think Abby would like to be flower girl?”
“I'm sure she'd be thrilled,” Sarah said. “What do you say, Abs? Do you want to help Alec and Molly get married?”
“Yes,” Abby said, very obviously not sure what she had been asked.
“Well, there you go,” Sarah said. “We're both in.”
“Brilliant,” Molly said. “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pull focus. It's Abby's day. We're here to celebrate her, aren't we?” She bent down, and Abby ran into her arms. “Oooph, you're getting to be such a big girl! How old are you now? Do you know?”
“I am three,” Abby said, holding up three fingers.
“One, two, three,” Molly said, counting them. “What a clever girl!”
“Let's get everyone sorted for drinks, and we'll get this party started,” Sarah said.
John helped her serve the rest of the tea coffee, and she brought out snacks and treats and put them on the coffee table. Gladstone was very interested in the vegetable plate, until Sherlock's firm 'leave it', made him drop down to his belly and feign innocence.
Sherlock managed fairly well with all the chat. He started to look like a wild animal after a while, his eyes darting around, trying to keep track of everyone and everything. He didn't seem to have an off-switch. When Sarah had first met him, when he started to get fed up, he'd throw a little strop and start to behave badly; say something rude or stupid out of desperation. Now, he'd learned to remove himself, so Sarah knew when he got up for more coffee—leaving Alec hanging mid-sentence—that he'd had enough. Gladstone went after him into the kitchen.
“Don't worry, it's not you,” John assured Alec, who sat looking bewildered. “His brain just gets a bit overheated when there's too many people around. It's like blowing a fuse when you have too many appliances plugged in. He just needs a bit of a reboot.”
“I thought I was doing well,” Alec said. “I thought I was getting the hang of talking to him.”
“You weren't,” Greg said. “No one ever has. We all just pretend. You'll learn to pretend.”
“I can hear you!” Sherlock called, from the kitchen. “Stop talking about me as though I were a fiddly bit of technology. Your conversation was acceptable, Alex, I just didn't want to hear it.”
“Alec!” Molly corrected.
“I'm getting close,” Sherlock called back.
“He is getting close,” Alec agreed.
“You're adapting, that's good,” Greg said. “By the time you and Molls get married, you'll have learned to just be happy when he has some of the right letters.”
“I can still hear you,” Sherlock called. “Your name is Greg, I have it now.”
“Yeah, Alec, don't worry,” Greg said. “It only took him fourteen years to learn that. I'm sure he'll get yours soon.”
Sarah waited until Sherlock had had some time to collect himself before she suggested present opening. Abby had been resting happily in Gramma's lap, being snuggled to within an inch of her life, but popped right down at the suggestion that she might want to open her presents.
“I wear my socks,” she told Sarah, lifting a foot. “I am a big girl.”
“I know,” Sarah said. “And big girls get presents.”
“Yay,” Abby said.
Mycroft present was the largest, and they opened that one first. He'd sent her a doll house, a huge one, which would be taller than she was when assembled, and had a winding stair case, four levels, and real fabric curtains.
“Oh, that's brilliant,” Molly said. “I would have loved that when I was little. My dad made me a doll house out of cereal boxes. I played with it until it fell apart. You're going to love that, Abs.”
“Yeah, once we figure out how to put it together,” John said.
Sherlock held out his hand, and John went for the tools. Sherlock set to work on assembly while Abby continued through her other presents.
The ones from Sarah's parents step-parents were, as usual, too expensive and big and trying to outdo one another. It was absolutely ludicrus how much they tried to compete for Abby's affection. Sarah's brothers had warned her, but she didn't fully understand how much of a battle it was. Even her dad, who was much more laid back than her mother, couldn't seem to help himself.
“That's mine,” Sherlock announced, when Sarah handed his present to Abby. “I got her that.”
Abby pulled the paper off. John sat poised to pounce if it was dangerous. Abby picked up an item that had fallen out.
“You bought her safety glasses?” Greg asked.
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “They're made for children. They're an appropriate size. I was thinking ahead. She'll need them.”
“Oh God,” John said, scrambling for the other item in the present before Abby could get it. He held up the box. “It's a science kit.”
“Yes, it has experiments in it,” Sherlock said. “They involve colour. She's very obsessed with art, I thought she might be interested to know how colours are formed. I'll help her. Why is everyone smiling? I was trying...I tried!”
“You succeeded,” Sarah hastened to assure him. “It's brilliant. Very thoughtful. Well done.”
Sherlock looked reassured. “Continue,” he said, with an imperious gesture.
Sarah handed Abby her next present, which was from Greg. Abby had to put her safety glasses on before anything else could be done, and giggled happily as she looked around through them. Several mobiles snapped pictures of this, and Sherlock was quietly pleased with himself as he assembled the doll house.
Abby tore off the paper, and gave a happy gasp. “Wibbly!” she said, bringing it over to Sarah. “Look, Mummy, Wibbly Pig.”
“It is,” Sarah said. “Books about Wibbly Pig. That's exciting, isn't it? You should say thank you to Greg.”
“Thank you,” Abby said. “I like.”
Greg gave her a thumb's up. “I heard Wibbly Pig is pretty big here,” he said.
“You read me a story?” Abby asked.
“You bet,” Greg said. “Maybe later, though, huh? You have some more presents there.”
Abby accepted the next present, from Molly and Alec. This was a little bundle of things, as Molly was prone to give, but the biggest hit was a pair of dress-up butterfly wings, which attached like a cape and fluttered around. Abby had to have them on right away.
“Hey, now you're a scientist butterfly,” Alec said. “That would be a good superhero. Spins cocoons and cures cancer.”
“Butterflies don't spin cocoons, they are a result of a cocoon,” Sherlock said. “Don't you teach children? You should know that.”
“If she were a superhero, she could have powers beyond the normal boundaries of a butterfly's abilities,” Alec said. Sherlock looked sceptical. “All right, flies around and cures cancer.”
“That would be more accurate,” Sherlock said, satisfied.
“I am very pretty,” Abby decided, looking over her shoulder at the wings. “I am a pretty flutteryby.”
The doorbell rang while Mrs Hudson's present was being opened. Gladstone, who had been assisting Sherlock with his assembly, went barking to the door to defend them. Sarah got up and followed him to answer the door. She stuck her foot out to keep him from escaping.
“Harry!” she said. Gladstone let out a soft growl, and she hushed him.
“Hey, sis,” Harry said, with a grin.
“Hi,” Sarah said.
Harry's grin faded a little. “You got my e-mail, right? I said I would come,” she said.
'Yes, but no one thought you actually would,' Sarah thought. She smiled, and said “Yes, of course. I'm just glad you could make it. John will be thrilled, and Abby, too. Come in.”
She stepped back to let Harry through, trying not to be too obvious about studying her. She hadn't been drinking. Sarah was relieved. Harry had been very good since the last bout in rehab, aside from the usual money woes. Sarah had to admit to largely playing sceptic when it came to Harry. John still hoped, and Sarah supported him in that, but she had very little confidence that Harry planned to stay sober for good. She was sober now, though, and that would do for today.
“I'm not going to stay long,” Harry said. “I just wanted to see the sprog, and be a good aunt for once.”
“You can stay as long as you like,” Sarah said.
Harry fished in her pockets. “Erm, I have a cheque,” she said, thrusting it over. “It doesn't cover all the debt, but I'll work on it.”
“Oh, no, Harry,” Sarah said. “No, you don't have to do that.”
“It's fine, I have the money,” Harry said. She nodded toward the door. “Petra's helping me budget, and we both decided I had enough to start repaying you. I have a job and everything.”
Sarah looked outside and saw Petra standing on the pavement. She was Harry's sober companion. She had lived with her for a few months post-rehab, and was now in a sort of detachment process, no longer living with her, but still there for moral support if needed. Apparently it was needed, today.
“Do you want to come in?” Sarah asked.
“No, thank you. Harry's going to do this one on her own,” Petra said.
Sarah nodded, understanding. “There's a caff on the corner, it's pretty decent,” she said. “If you want to get a cuppa.”
“Thanks, I'll check it out,” Petra said. “I'll be there when you're done, Harry, and you can ring me.”
“Thanks, Pet,” Harry said.
Petra walked off, and Sarah closed the door. Gladstone let out another growl. He was usually very friendly. Although, he did the same with Mycroft, according to John. Maybe he just didn't like siblings.
“Please take it,” Harry said, still holding out the cheque.
“Okay,” Sarah said. “Thanks. Why don't you come in and take a seat? Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, something fizzy? Water?”
“I'm not going to stay that long,” Harry repeated.
“Okay,” Sarah said.
John stuck his head around the corner. “What's—”
He looked past Sarah, and his face did a few expressions simultaneously. Something between dread and pleasure and surprise.
“Oh my God, Harry!” he said.
“Wotcher, Johnny,” Harry said. “Hope it's okay I'm here.”
“Yeah, of course,” John said. “You're always invited, you know that.”
Sarah wondered if she was the only one who could hear the bitterness in the superficially friendly phrase. 'You're always invited, but you never bother to come'. Harry stepped past her to him, and they engaged in a awkward hug.
When you stood them together, it was pretty clear they were related. Harry had the same pixie nose as John (which Abby had inherited, much to Sarah's pleasure) and the odd eyes that were brown and blue at the same time. She'd let her hair fade into grey now, which suited her. She was only four years older than John, but looked older from all the drinking. She'd lost a bit of her bloated look now, though, and was generally much healthier and better presented than when Sarah had seen her before.
“Mummy!” Abby called from the living room. “Look, Mummy!” She came running into the hallway, now clad, in addition to her butterfly wings and goggles, a little lab coat, with 'Abigael Watson, MD' embroidered on the pocket. “Look, Gramma gived me! I'm a good doctor.”
“Oh, wow!” Sarah said. “Wow, that's beautiful, Abs. Look at you. Did Gramma make that for you?”
Abby nodded. She suddenly noticed Harry, and her eyes widened. She ran for Sarah, and hugged her leg, looking at Harry uncertainly. Gladstone let out another soft growl.
“Do you remember Aunt Harry?” John asked Abby. He crouched down, and brought Abby over to him. “She's my sister. We went to her flat, do you remember that? You drew her a picture.”
“Hey there, Little Bit,” Harry said. “Happy Birthday.”
“Hi,” Abby said, shyly.
Sarah could only think of maybe three occasions where they had met, and one of them was when Abby was about six months old. Another was when Harry was so badly in the DTs in November, which had been quite upsetting to Abby, who didn't understand much other than Aunt Harry was sad and that made Daddy and Mummy sad. They hadn't brought her to the Christmas visit, as Harry had been in rehab and they decided it wasn't a place for Abby to go. John did bring her over to Harry's new flat after she came home, though, and had a brief visit. Sarah hadn't been there, but she was relieved that Abby's last exposure to Harry had been positive. It would hopefully make things easier.
“That's a pretty spiff outfit you've got on,” Harry said. “Are you a surgeon like Johnny?”
“I'm a doctor,” Abby said. “I help make feel better.”
“Brill,” Harry said. “I got you a present.” She held it out to Abby, who turned to look at John.
“Aunt Harry brought you a present for your birthday,” John said. “That's for you.” He took it from Harry. “Let's open it, huh?”
He encouraged Abby to rip off the paper. As this was happening, Sherlock appeared, obviously curious as to why everyone kept disappearing. Sarah felt a sudden surge of panic at the idea of Sherlock in a room with a recovering alcoholic. She shot him her sharpest look, and he gave her a 'what the hell?' look in response. He studied Harry, and enlightenment dawned. He turned and left without saying anything, and Sarah breathed a sigh of relief.
“Ooh,” Abby said, admiring her present. “Look, Daddy.”
“Yeah, crayons,” John said. “You like crayons a lot, don't you? And these ones are shaped like animals.”
“I hope they're okay,” Harry said. “I sort of only know that she likes to colour, so...”
“She loves to colour,” Sarah said. “We go through tons of them, they're very appreciated. Did you thank Aunt Harry, Abs?”
“Thank you,” Abby said, obediently.
“You're very welcome,” Harry said.
“Why don't you come and sit down, Harry?” Sarah suggested.
“No, I don't want to intrude,” she said.
“You're not intruding, you were invited,” John said.
“Listen, we were just about to have cake,” Sarah lied. “Why don't you have some with us?”
Harry looked nervous. John leaned in, and spoke quietly to her, putting a hand on her shoulder.
“Everyone will understand,” he said. “No one's going to judge, I promise. And if you can't do it, I understand that, too.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, okay,” she said. “I could have some cake.”
Sarah went back into the living room, where she had some curious faces looking at her. “John's sister is here,” she explained. “We were just saying hello to her. She can't stay long, so we're going to do the cake now so she can have a slice. Sherlock, why don't you come and help me?”
“I don't see—”
He put down his screwdriver, and followed her to the kitchen.
“Now,” Sarah said, once they were safely out of earshot. “Harry is a very skittish about this. This is the first time she's come, and we're going to make it a positive experience. So—”
“I will not deduce, I will not make any remarks I haven't thoroughly run through my checking station, and in general, I will not be myself,” Sherlock said. “I had already figured that out on my own, thank you.”
“Sorry,” Sarah said. “I just don't want to scare her off.”
“I have had to reintegrate myself into my family before under similar circumstances,” Sherlock said. “I won't interfere with her attempt. Well, I'll try not to, sometimes it seems fine in my head but it isn't fine when I say it aloud.”
Sarah stood on her tip-toes to kiss his cheek. “Thank you,” she said. “Cake's in the fridge, I'll get the plates and silverware.”
She and Sherlock got the candles on the cake—all three of them—and lit them. Sherlock carried it out, and everyone sang to Abby. Harry was in the arm chair, and seemed more relaxed.
“Make a wish, Abby,” Sarah said, as Sherlock placed the cake on the coffee table. “And blow out your candles.”
Abby mimicked John's demonstration of how to blow out a candle, and gave a few huffs before all three went out. Sarah winced, with images of either her wings or lab coat being set alight, but they were flame free. Everyone applauded, and Sarah served the cake out.
Abby's happy and messy consumption of her slice of cake brought everyone together by their amusement at it, and Alec and Molly teamed up with John to get Harry talking, and soon the atmosphere was back to one of festivity, if still a little strained on Harry's side of the room.
“I know about everyone else from Johnny's blog,” Harry said, to Alec. “So you must not be a member of the Scooby Squad.”
“No, I'm just an admirer,” Alec said. “I get in free because of Molly. To be honest, I do my best to stay out of it all.”
“Hear, hear,” Sarah said.
“I got a subscription to that magazine you write for, Johnny,” Harry said. “You're getting to be a really good, proper writer.”
“You didn't have to subscribe, I could have sent it to you,” John said.
“I wanted to support your efforts,” Harry said. “Maybe you could write a book or something; go on tour.”
“John is not nearly talented enough to write a full book,” Sherlock said. “He'd never sustain a narrative that long.”
“Cheers,” John said. “You're probably right, though. I have trouble even with the shorter ones. It makes so much sense when Sherlock explains cases, but then when you try to explain it to someone else, you suddenly realize how mental it all is.”
“Yes, thank you!” Greg said. “This has been my life. You ought to try writing a police report that doesn't make him sound like a complete nutter.”
“The fact that I am intellectually superior to everyone else does not make me insane,” Sherlock said. “I'm just operating on a different level.” He flipped his screwdriver in the air and caught it again. “It's not my fault you can't keep up.”
“Yes, we're all very jealous,” John said, deadpan.
“Here, Sherlock,” Harry said. “I know it's a cliché, but I'm actually pretty good with tools. I'll give you a hand and speed things up.”
The rapid exchange of looks around the room was a bit priceless. No one thought this was a good idea, but Sherlock held out a screwdriver, and Harry sat down and they went to work. Gladstone had stopped growling, but came over and sat protectively next to Sherlock, keeping a wary eye on Harry.
Mrs Hudson asked Molly more about her wedding plans, and that got everyone chatting again. Dr Butterfly Scientist skipped around in her wings, and visited all her guests, even Harry, who clearly was not very sure what to do with a child. Sherlock intervened and helped her communicate with Abby.
“There we go, Little Bit,” Harry said, when the doll house was assembled. “All ready to move in.”
“Yes, ostentatious, entirely unnecessary doll house is complete,” Sherlock said.
Harry held out her hand for a high five, and Sherlock looked at it with confusion. Abby, however, happily hit it, making everyone laugh. Molly volunteered to show Abby how to play with the house, and soon they were giggling and moving furniture around.
“I should run,” Harry said, looking down at her watch.
“You don't have to go,” John said.
“No, I'm...I have a thing,” Harry said.
“Okay, well, we won't keep you then,” John relented.
They went to the front door to say goodbye. Sarah came with them, to make sure John did it properly. He could get very hostile with Harry without even realizing he was being hostile.
“It was good to see you,” Harry said. “And nice to meet your Scooby Squad, finally.”
John's mouth opened, and the hostility was there, but he swallowed it, and smiled. “Yeah, we should try to get together more often,” he said. “Let Abby get to know her aunt better. Maybe dinner or something.”
“Yeah, we'll see,” Harry said. She and John exchanged another awkward hug, and Sarah made sure to give her a proper one. “You've built up a nice little family for yourself, Johnny. Good job.”
“Yeah, they're good,” John agreed. “Well, I like them, anyway. A bit odd, but good.”
“Odd is good,” Harry said. “Nothing wrong with odd.”
“Nope,” John said.
“Okay, well, see you,” Harry said.
“Bye,” John said.
She left, heading off quickly toward the direction Petra had gone. Sarah gave John a hug after he closed the door.
“Well, that was okay,” she said.
“I know,” John said. “Birthday miracle.”
“You okay?” Sarah asked.
“Yeah, I'm good,” John said. “It'll get better. We have a lot of work to do. If she can keep up with it all, we'll work on it. Besides, I got it good here, so...whatever way it goes, it'll be okay.”
“Odd, but good,” Sarah said.
Dr Butterfly Scientist arrived, holding a prism from the kit Sherlock had got her. “Look, Daddy, science,” she said.
“Yep,” John said. “Odd, but good.”