Characters: Sherlock, Abby, Gladstone, John
Word Count 3,012
Summary: Sherlock keeps Abby busy so John can finish a column, and does his best to answer her questions about fish, belly buttons, mermaids, and the moon.
Author's notes: Set in the Abby 'verse.
According to the timeline I had to make to stop confusing myself, Abby Watson was born on April 20, 2015. So, in honour of this, have the fluffiest of fluff. This stemmed entirely out of a random snippet of conversation I had in my head between Sherlock and Abby, which I tried to work into three or four different fics, before just letting it run wild on its own and seeing what happened. Which is fluff. Fluffy fluff. I was also inspired by a few tumblr and reddit posts involving questions and kids. I thought Sherlock would be good with fielding those sorts of questions.
The problem with doing something nice for someone was that it set a precedent that only encouraged them to ask for more favours. For example, few months earlier, John had been desperately behind on the column he wrote and, with the deadline ticking down, had begged Sherlock to keep an eye on Abby while he devoted his attention to writing. Sherlock had agreed. It had gone well. It had set a precedent.
Now, this month, John was once again—if not so desperately—behind, and he'd asked Sherlock to supervise Abby again. Since Sherlock had set the precedent of being able to mind her, he didn't have an excuse to refuse. So, while John typed and muttered in the background, Sherlock made sure Abby didn't do anything to die. Or bother John. Unfortunately, that meant letting her bother him instead.
"Are you a fish?"
Sherlock lowered the newspaper he was reading to look down at Abby, who was looking up at him with apparent seriousness. "No..." he said. "I'm a human being. Allegedly."
Abby added another block to the 'Castle Made of Science' she was building with the element blocks. "Am I a fish?" she asked.
"No, you're also a human being," Sherlock said.
"Why?" she demanded.
"Because your parents encoded you with DNA that dictated you should be a human being," Sherlock said.
"I want to be a fish," Abby said, disappointed.
"You can't be a fish," Sherlock said. "Although, you do share 85% of your DNA with a zebra fish, so you could call yourself a mermaid."
Abby's face lit up. "Oooh!" she said. "Daddy, I'm a mermaid."
John was heavily into editing, and only responded with a distracted, "that's great, Abs."
Sherlock waited to see if that was the end of the discussion, and it appeared to be. He wasn't sure what had prompted it, but Abby had been prone to questions lately, and it wasn't out of character for her to ask something that unusual out of the blue. Sherlock was torn between finding it annoying, and finding the way her brain worked rather fascinating.
He lifted his newspaper again, and continued to read.
"Do you have a belly button?"
Sherlock lowered his newspaper again. "Yes," he said.
Abby smiled. "Me, too!" she said. "How old is your belly button?"
Well, that wasn't the follow-up question he was expecting.
"How old—it's the same age as me," Sherlock said. "Well, that's inccurate. It would depend on when my umbilical cord fell off and the scar formed, which means it's somewhat younger than me. But approximately the same age as me. That's, of course, if you're calculating by its presense on my body, and not the age of the cells that form it. Those are probably only a few years old."
"Okay," Abby said, then "can I see it?" which was a more normal follow-up question than the one she'd hit him with first.
"No," Sherlock said. "I respect your curiousity, but it doesn't seem wise to flash my navel at you."
"Mummy says you have to ask," she explained. She put on her 'enticing' voice. "I'll show you my belly button..."
"I don't want to see your belly button," Sherlock said. "It's not a fair deal."
Abby gave him sad eyes, but he stood firm. "Mummy has a belly button," she said. "And Daddy has a belly button. And Gramma has a belly button, but I didn't see it." She looked thoughtful. "I don't know if she really has one."
Sherlock grinned. "That's good. Never accept data without visible proof," he said. "That's sound scientific investigation. Why are you so interested in belly buttons?"
"I didn't know why," Abby said. "I didn't know why belly buttons." She poked her stomach. "Mummy knows. She says for feeding babies in mummies' tummies. Everyone has a belly button."
"I see," Sherlock said. "So, you're conducting an invesgitation to prove her theory. Fair enough."
"Do fish have belly buttons?" Abby said.
"No, only mammals have belly buttons," Sherlock said.
"Does Gladstone have a belly button?" Abby said. "Is he a marmal?"
Gladstone, who was asleep by the fireplace with all four paws in the air, stirred at the sound of his name and rolled onto his stomach. He looked expectantly at Abby, and, when no command came, put his head down and went back to sleep.
"Yes," Sherlock said. "But you wouldn't be able to see his navel on him. It would be covered by fur, and very faint. Dogs have different navels."
"Do mermaids have belly buttons?" Abby asked.
Sherlock found that more difficult to answer than one would have expected, given the nature of it. Mermaids didn't exist, of course, but they were depicted as existing, and he'd never made a survey of whether or not they had navels in those depictions.
"I think I'd have to conduct more intensive investigation than I'm willing to commit to in order to answer that," he said.
Abby consider this as she added some more blocks to her castle. "I'm a mermaid," she said. "I have a belly button."
"What you've done there is called a deductive fallacy," Sherlock informed her. "You've made assumptions based on limited knowledge. You've created a false syllogy."
Abby looked a little lost and he realized may have gone over her head.
"It's fine," he assured her. "You've made an attempt, we all have to start somewhere. It's clever of you."
Abby beamed. She rose on her knees to better engage him, and put her hands out to keep his attention. "I have eyebrows," she said. She leaned forward to study him. "And you do too! Mine go like this:" she raised her eyebrows up in a surprised expression. "And like this:" then lowered them down in an angry expression. "Do yours do that?"
Sherlock mimicked her, and raised one and then the other and wiggled them. She giggled very loudly at this, putting her hand over her mouth in mirth.
"You have silly eyebrows," she said. "Why eyebrows?"
"We have eyebrows to keep rain and sweat from our eyes," Sherlock said. "The arc shape diverts the moisture to the side of our faces, so it doesn't run into our eyes and block our vision. It keeps them dry."
"Like a brolly!" Abby said. "Brollies keep me dry."
"Yes," Sherlock said. "That's a good metaphor."
Abby touched her eyebrows and repeated that they were brollies a few times. He assumed she was committing it to memory or running the idea through her brain to see if it worked for her. Her lack of internal monologue was something Sherlock also found interesting and annoying. On the one hand, he'd discovered that she viewed the different elements on her blocks as people and given them personalities and characters—"Helium is very sad today; Hydrogen is coming to cheer him up"—which was a form of synethesia he wondered if she would outgrow, or continue to use as she grew up.
On the other hand, her constant chatter could be distracting if he was trying to accomplish something.
Overall, Sherlock found childcare very up and down.
He lifted his newspaper up again and made some headway into the uninteresting goings on in the world.
"No, that doesn't make sense," John muttered in the background. "That's not even a bloody word, Watson. Did I write this when I was pissed? Why do I do this? This isn't fun. Do I really need the money? I should quit. I'm a terrible writer. Why does anyone even care about this?" He groaned and put his head in his hands. "What's a synonym for pale?"
"Pasty," Sherlock offered. "Gray. Blanched. Dull. Faded. Faint. Pallid—"
"Pallid! Pallid, that's good," John said. He typed, "P-A-L-L-I-D. No, that sounds better. Yeah, that's not rubbish. I can do this."
"You can do it!" Abby said, throwing her arms up in encouragement.
"Thanks, Abs," John said.
"You're welcome," she said.
Sherlock scanned through the obituaries carefully, looking for anything suspicious. Aside from a woman who was clearly hated by everyone who met her judging from how falsely sweet her memorium was, there wasn't anything that bore further investigation. Disappointing. He folded the paper up and handed it to Gladstone, who took it to the recycling bin and returned for praise with a wagging tail. Sherlock rubbed his head and scratched his chin, and picked up his tablet to see if anyone had e-mailed or posted to John's blog. He felt a small hand on his knee.
"I'm going potty," Abby informed him, solemnly.
"All right," Sherlock said. "Noted."
Abby toddled away to the stairs up to the second floor. John encouraged the use of that loo over the one attached to Sherlock's room, because of his 'no dead bodies, no dead body parts' rule, and Sherlock could never guarantee his loo was free of either at any point in time.
She returned a few minutes later to put her hand on his knee and tell him she'd been potty. He congratulated her. She went over to the drawer in the coffee table where Mrs Hudson put all the things she left behind on her visits to Baker Street. She pulled out a box of playing cards and put it to her ear.
"Hello!" she said. "How are you?"
She wasn't speaking to him or John, so Sherlock didn't respond. She walked around the living room, talking with the box held to her ear.
"What are you doing, Abs?" John asked, as she passed by his chair.
"Talking on the phone," she replied.
"Ah," John said, with a fond smile. "Who are you ringing?"
"Erm, a mermaid," Abby said. "A princess mermaid."
"What's she up to?" John asked. He leaned back in his chair and cracked his shoulders as he stretched his arms out behind him.
"She's talking to me," Abby said. "And eating chips. Her mummy made her some, before she went to work."
"That was nice of her mummy," John said.
"She has a belly button," Abby said. "And so does her mummy."
Sherlock grinned down at the tablet screen.
"Do you want to talk to her?" Abby asked John, holding out the box.
"I'm a bit busy," John said, returning to the keyboard. "Tell her I said hello."
Abby relayed the message, and carried on her one sided conversation, which mostly consisted of fake laughter and saying 'yes' and 'I know!' in varying emotional tones. She paused as she passed by one of the windows.
"Oh no, the moon is here," she said.
"The moon is what?" Sherlock said, looking over his shoulder.
She went over and climbed up on the sill. "The moon didn't go to bed," she said.
Sherlock couldn't figure out what she meant, and got up to investigate, coming up behind her to look. Ah. The moon was visible in the sky, along with the sun.
"That happens sometimes," he said.
"Why?" Abby asked.
"I don't know," Sherlock said. "Probably something to do with the angle of the sun going around the Earth or...no...does it go the other way around? Well, one of them goes around the other, and the moon does something like that as well, and sometimes you can see them all."
"Maybe the sun is sad and the moon came to make it feel happy," Abby put forth.
As much as Sherlock knew about the solar system, that seemed as viable an option as any other. "Maybe," he said.
He'd already anticipated the next question.
"Does the moon have a belly button?"
"No," Sherlock said.
"Is the moon a marmal?" Abby said.
"No. It's..." Sherlock began. Once again his knowledge of astronomy failed him. "The moon. It's a moon. It might be a star. But it's definitely a moon. The moon is a moon."
Abby gave him a very sceptical look. "Do you know the moon?" she asked.
"No," Sherlock admitted. "The sky has no effect on my life; I don't care about what goes on up there."
"It's very high," Abby said, apparently deciding to educate him. "You can't touch it. There are lots of stars, and Daddy doesn't know how many. They make pictures. Daddy will tell you about them, if you ask."
"I'll save that for the next time I want to kill some brain cells," Sherlock said.
Abby turned on the sill and wrapped her arms around him, sticking her face into his chest. It was rare that anyone was that comfortable and spontaenous in his or her physical affection for him, but Abby's hugs were always given with reckless abandon. Which was another up and down thing. He didn't care for hugs, but he enjoyed that she cared enough to give him hugs. He liked the idea of them more than the actual practice.
"Sherlock, do you know something?" she asked, sticking her chin in his celiac plexus as she craned her head back to look up at him.
"Yes, I expect so," Sherlock said. "I know most things. The moon aside."
"It's almost my birthday," Abby said.
"Oh," Sherlock said. "No, I didn't know that, either."
"I will be four," Abby said, holding up four fingers.
Sherlock used the opportunity of her having relaxed her grip to push her away and swing her down to the floor again. "Yes, that's probably right," he said. If a bit surprising. He didn't keep much track of time, but her having existed for four years seemed both too long and too short a period.
"Do you want to come to my party?" Abby asked.
"I expect I'll be forced to," Sherlock said. "What kind present do you want?" She was probably old enough now to tell him, so he wouldn't have to decide himself. That always took more time than he liked to devote to thinking about other's desires.
"I want to see your belly button," Abby said.
"No," Sherlock said. "Four-years-old is not old enough to make that any more of a good idea. What else do you want?"
"Just that," Abby said. "And a unicorn."
Well, it seemed he'd be having to devote some time to thinking about others' desires after all. Maybe some sort of book on anatomy, if she was so obsessed with it.
"I'll see what I can do," he said.
John threw his arms up in triumph. "Done and dusted. Get in," he said. He looked down at his watch. "Nine hours to spare, even. Looks like we can rest easy, Abs, we'll be able to afford dinner."
"Yay!" Abby said, throwing up her arms in the same gesture. "Let's get chips!"
"You know what? That sounds brilliant," John said. "You've been a very good girl, we'll get some chips. Do you want some chips, Gladstone?"
Gladstone leapt to his feet and trotted over, tail wagging.
"All right, let's all go and get some chips then," John said. "Chips for everyone."
"You're giddy," Sherlock told him. "You get like this when you write for too long."
"No chips for you," John said. "Only chips for people in good moods. Are you in a good mood, Abs?"
"Yes!" Abby said, spinning in a circle.
Gladstone gave a bark of excitement.
"All right, then," John said. "Chips for everyone but Sherlock, because he's a downer." John rose and started to shut down his laptop and pack it up. "Oh, speaking of being a downer, Abby's birthday is Saturday. We're going to be doing a kid's party thing for her and her friends form school, but on Sunday we're going to do a family thing. So, you're coming for that."
"Is that a question?" Sherlock asked.
"No, you're coming to it," John said. "It's a fact."
"All right," Sherlock said. "But you'll have to remind me."
"I know," John said. He slung his laptop bag over his shoulder. "Get your lead, Gladstone. We're going for a walk. And Abby, you pick up any mess you made."
Gladstone hurried to the hook on the wall to retrieve his lead, and Abby started to put her blocks back in the box. John tidied up some of the other things she'd moved around, and helped her get her shoes on.
"Thanks for watching her," John said. "You're getting good at it."
"No, I'm not," Sherlock said, quickly. He couldn't further cement the precedent, the next thing he'd know they want him as a babysitter. "It's awful, and I don't enjoy it."
"Yeah, she's a nightmare," John said. "Kicking, biting. I don't know what I was thinking; obviously it was an ordeal. You're a monster, aren't you, Abs?"
"No, I'm a mermaid," Abby said. "Sherlock says so."
"That's academic," Sherlock said. He pointed to the stairs. "Everyone out of my house."
John grinned. "Yeah, okay," he said. "See you on Sunday."
"Mmm," Sherlock grunted. He put himself back in his chair and picked up his tablet as a sign he was done being sociable.
His cheek was suddenly wet with a kiss from Abby, who stood on tip-toe next to the chair. "Bye, bye," she said.
"Goodbye," he said, mustering a smile for her.
She smiled back, and skipped away with John, Gladstone following with his lead in his mouth. Sherlock relaxed once he heard the door close. Now he could get back to what he was doing before he was interupted.
"Fingers?" he asked himself. "Was it fingers?"
No, he couldn't remember. It couldn't have been that interesting. In fact, he might have been rather bored when John had come rushing in with Abby. Oh well, he'd figure it out if it was that important. In the meantime, he might as well get Abby a present while it was on his mind. It would be gone soon enough. He started browsing online shops for anything interesting. He probably couldn't get her a unicorn, but surely there was some sort of body part book she might enjoy.
Or maybe he'd get her a mermaid. That way they could settle once and for all whether they had belly buttons or not.