Characters: John, Abby, Mrs Hudson, Sherlock, Sarah
Word Count 3,670
Summary: Abby's dance camp is having a family day. John and Mrs Hudson show up to be proud, but it remains to be seen whether Uncle Sherlock is going to join them.
Author's notes: Set in the Abby 'verse.
A visitor to my journal (I don't know how to link to Google+ users, sorry!) mentioned she'd liked to see an 'Abby's first dance recital' fic. Inspired by some of my memories of summer dance camp when I was little. It also gave me a chance to do more with Mrs Hudson in this 'verse. Short and fluffy.
“I swear to God if I hear that song one more time I'm going to go properly mental,” John muttered to Sarah.
He peeked into the living room, where Abby was skipping through her ballet routine for the tenth time in a row, but ducked back before she saw him. No one was allowed to watch her practice.
“Instead of just the improperly mental you are now?” Sarah replied.
“Yes,” John said. “Full-on mental. Proper mental.”
“It's only a few more days until the parents day,” Sarah said, giving his back a pat. “You can hang on until then. You lived with Sherlock for years, this can't be the thing to tip you over the edge.”
“Sherlock didn't play the same song--” John said. “No. He did. He did play the same song. On the violin. The same notes, over and over again, all night long.”
Sarah rubbed his shoulders. “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to trigger flatmate flashbacks,” she said. “Everything will be okay. She'll do her little recital, and it will be over. I won't even get to see it. I hate having a real job. I miss out on all the best stuff.”
“I have a real job,” John objected. “Three of them. Detective-blogger- doctor.”
“None of them prevent you from watching your daughter's first dance recital,” Sarah said. “It's not a real job unless it causes you to have guilt about neglecting your children. I want full HD video coverage.”
“I'll make sure to do multiple angles and put a soundtrack on it,” John promised.
He peeked out into the living room again, but Abby saw him this time, and stopped mid-twirl.
“Go away, Daddy!” she said. “No looking! I'm practising.”
“Sorry, sweetheart, I was just making sure you were okay,” John said. “Maybe you should take a break? You're practising very hard.”
“I'm being better,” Abby explained. “So I can be good for the show. I practice once more.” She went over to the MP3 player and restarted the song.
“I'm going to take Gladstone for a walk,” John said.
“Gladstone isn't here,” Sarah said.
“I know,” John said. “I'm going to Baker Street and getting him and taking him for a walk.”
“Sherlock, guess what?” Abby asked.
“If I can remember the flow of recent conversations, and deduce from your current state of dress, I imagine it has something to do with dancing,” Sherlock replied.
Abby giggled. “Yes!” she said. She handed him the card in her hand. “You're invited!”
John watched Sherlock as looked over the card, which was pretty fancy for a three week dance day camp for 3-5-year-olds. It wasn't even a proper recital, just a chance for parents to come in and watch on the last day, and see the little routine their kids had learned. Abby was allowed to invite three people, and since Sarah wasn't free, Abby wanted to bring John, and Gramma, and Sherlock. John had made sure she understood that Sherlock was very busy and might not be able to come, and it was okay to be disappointed, but she shouldn't feel like he didn't like her.
“Some sort of recital?” Sherlock asked John.
“Yeah,” John said. “You don't have to come, Abby knows you have lots of work to do.”
“But I'm invited?” Sherlock said, as though he wasn't sure.
“Yeah,” John said. “Yep, that's your invitation, right there in your hand.”
Sherlock nodded, and put the invitation down on the kitchen table. “I'll come if I can,” he said.
Abby lit up, and clapped her hands. “Yay!” she said. “It's going to be very fun, Sherlock. You'll like it. I know how to dance, now.” She put her arms in an arc over her head and stood on her tip-toes. “That's a revelay.”
“Relevé,” Sherlock corrected, with a French trilled R. He glanced over to her, and nodded. “Your technique is good, but your neck might be too short to be acceptable for a professional dancer.”
Abby cocked her head, and John could see her trying to figure out what that meant. John stepped in before she had her dreams crushed fully.
“Why don't you go down and give Gramma her invitation?” John said. “So she knows when to come?”
“Okay!” Abby said, and hurried off to the stairs, running on tip-toe, ballerina-like.
“You shouldn't have said you'd come if you're not going to come,” John told Sherlock.
“I said I would come if I could,” Sherlock said.
“I know, but you've got her thinking you're going to come,” John said.
“Why is that a problem?” Sherlock said.
“Because she'll be disappointed,” John said.
Sherlock put down his pipette, and turned, looking very confused. “If she'll be disappointed if I come, why did she ask me to come?” he said.
“She'll be disappointed if you don't come,” John clarified.
Sherlock opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, paused, and John could see his brain working furiously, as though he were trying to fathom out a particularly trying clue. “I'm going to have to start the conversation again, because I can't figure out what you're trying to tell me,” he said. He picked up his invitation. “Is this an invitation to Abby's dance recital?”
“Yes,” John said.
“Am I invited to attend it?” Sherlock said.
“Yes,” John said. “But--”
Sherlock held up a hand to stop him. “I've conveyed my intention to come if I am able to come,” he said. “Correct?”
“Yes,” John said. “But--”
Sherlock waved the hand. “Do you not want me to come?” he said.
“No,” John said. “I mean, coming is fine, but--”
Sherlock waved the hand more insistently. “So, what you're saying is that I have been invited to come, I am welcome to come, and Abby will be disappointed if I don't come,” he said.
“Yes,” John said.
“Well, then, I don't see how I'm going to upset her when I come,” Sherlock said.
“Wait,” John said, holding up a hand in return now. “You're going to come?”
Sherlock looked around the room as though searching for someone to share in his wonder at John's stupidity. “I said that! I said I'd come if I could come!” he said. “I thought I wasn't supposed to make firm promises. I put a proviso in, what am I doing wrong now?”
“Nothing,” John said. “Nothing. Sorry, I just figured you were being polite about not coming.”
“John, when have you ever known me to be polite about anything?” Sherlock said.
“Sometimes you try with Abby,” John said.
“Do I?” Sherlock said. It was evidently news to him. “Hmmm. Well, in this case, I wasn't. I will come if I can. That is my plan.”
“All right,” John said. “You know there will be kids there, right? Little children. They won't be good dancers. They'll probably misbehave and be loud, and happy. They'll giggle.”
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “I am aware.”
“Well, why do you want to come then?” John said.
Sherlock held up his invitation. “I was invited,” he said, and that, it seemed, closed the matter entirely.
As John had feared, Sherlock had a case on Friday morning. He wasn't there when John took Abby over to Baker Street to collect Mrs Hudson.
“He said he was going out,” Mrs Hudson said. “That's all I know. I did remind him about the recital, but you know you might as well talk to the wall sometimes. Especially when he's excited.”
“I know,” John said.
There was no point in fussing either way. Abby was too excited and nervous about her performance to be very upset that Sherlock wasn't there. They all left for Happy Feet Studios, and John sent a text to let Sherlock know what was going on. He didn't get a reply.
The dance camp was a two hour class in the morning, three times a week for three weeks. It covered all types of dance, and was more just moving about to music. John and Sarah were looking for something to keep Abby busy over the summer, while she was out of pre-school. They were also, admittedly, trying to boost up her 'experiences' for the impending interview for St Vincent's school. John wasn't sure if they could actually deny Abby a place there, but all the other parents with children Abby's age talked about basically having a little toddler CV in order to get into anywhere good. They weren't going to stress Abby out about it, but some dance lessons, and a few weekend visits to the science museum's kids' days, and maybe a kids' concert or two wouldn't hurt anything.
Abby seemed to be having fun, at any rate.
John and Mrs Hudson joined the rest of the guests on the benches lined up the near the walls of the studio while Abby hurried over to join the rest of the kids. She greeted a girl with 'hi, Fatima!' and threw her arms around her. Fatima replied with an equally delighted 'hi, Abby!' and hugged her back.
“Is she your daughter?” a woman in a hijab asked John. “The little blonde girl?”
“Yes, that's Abby,” he said.
“We've heard a lot about her from Fatima,” the woman said.
“We've heard a lot about Fatima,” John said. Abby had become very good friends with her, and John had heard new facts every day about Fatima's life. She was the same age as Abby, and had an older sister, and was 'mooslim' (John had offered a bit of education on that last fact).
“I'm Fatima's mother, Rashida,” the woman said. She put her hand on her heart and inclined her head.
“John,” John replied, echoing the gesture. It was something he was used to from being in Afghanistan, where you didn't shake hands with a woman unless she offered first. “Nice to meet you. This is a friend of the family, Martha Hudson. She's sort of like Abby's grandmother.”
“It's very nice to meet you,” Mrs Hudson said.
She offered a hand to shake and Rashida took it, giving her a warm smile. She took a seat on the bench next to Mrs Hudson.
“Is Abby enjoying her lessons?” Rashida asked.
“Yeah, she's having a blast,” John said. “It's been dance non-stop for the past month.”
“Fatima as well,” Rashida said. “It's nice for them to have something to keep them active and busy while school is out. Fatima and her sister take swim classes, too, and her sister does karate. I've been running hither and yon all summer.”
“We've just got Abby to worry about,” John said. “But she keeps us pretty busy.”
“She's a lovely girl,” Mrs Hudson said, affectionately. “She's so bright, and just a joy to have around. She's very clever.”
Rashida smiled. “Fatima says only good things about her,” she said.
John tried texting Sherlock again, and this time got a very short answer of 'I know! -SH'. So, John couldn't do any more than that. Hopefully Abby wouldn't be too disappointed.
The teacher, Miss Helen, called the class together, and gave a little speech to welcome the guests, and began the class as normal. They started with stretches and warm-ups, including one that just seemed to involve the kids jumping up and down and shaking themselves enthusiastically to music.
There was a lesson about counting music, clapping to the beat. The parents were invited to take part in that as well. There was an exercise where the children had to dance like animals, pretending to be elephants or giraffes.
“I know I'm biased, dear,” Mrs Hudson said to John. “But I think Abby is very good.”
John was thinking that himself, and wondering if it was just him. She was pretty graceful, and very serious about each task she was given, and seemed to be right on the beat.
“Yeah,” John said. “She's not bad.”
The class went on, with a little acting exercise to mime different things-- Abby was quite good at that, too, presumably from having watched Sherlock's overreactions. John could see some of Sherlock's mannerisms when she was pretending to be surprised or angry, and some of his own and Sarah's mannerisms, too, though not performed to the same extravagant extent. He guessed Mrs Hudson could pick them all out as well, because she started to laugh behind her hand.
There were more direct dance exercises at the barre, with arms in different positions and pointed toes, and some combinations across the floor. There was also a 'follow the trail' exercise, where they all moved in a circle, tiptoeing or galloping or skipping, pretending to climb a mountain trail or racing down a hill. John filmed on and off for Sarah to see later on, but he didn't want to miss it all by looking through his phone the whole time.
Everyone had a little break after the first part, and a snack. Abby brought Fatima over to meet John and Mrs Hudson, and Fatima introduced Abby to Rashida.
“You have a very nice hat,” Abby told her.
Rashida grinned, and touched her hijab. “Thank you,” she said. “This is my favourite one.”
Abby ate her snack on the floor in front of John. “When is Sherlock coming?” she asked. “I'm going to do my performance soon. I want him to see me.”
John couldn't say this was a time when he'd most liked to have punched Sherlock in the face, as there were certainly times when he'd wanted to more, and indeed had punched him. However, he was very enthusiastic about the idea.
“Sherlock had to work,” John said. “So, I don't think he's going to come. But I'm going to film it on my phone, and we'll show it to him later on, okay?”
Abby pouted a little, but wasn't too devastated. “Okay,” she said. “But you're going to watch?”
“Me and Gramma are going to proper cheer you on,” John promised.
“I'm looking forward to it!” Mrs Hudson added.
Abby brightened up. “It's going to be fun,” she said, and John wondered if she was trying to psyche herself up. “I've practised lots. So I know what to do.”
“You're going to be great,” John assured her. “And we're going to be very proud of you.”
“Yes, it's very brave just to get up and dance,” Mrs Hudson said. “You're a good girl, Miss Abby.”
Abby straightened up, confidence boosted. She finished off her snack, and joined the rest of the children for the second half of the class. They'd been working on 'dance journals', which were scrapbooks of bits cut out of magazines and costume catalogues that inspired them. Miss Helen asked each of the students to explain one thing about their journal and why they'd chosen it. This was the sort of thing Abby wasn't very good at. She was less shy since she'd started preschool, but talking in front of a group of strangers would be hard for her. Fatima went ahead of her, and John thought that helped.
“This is a pretty dress,” Abby said, pointing to a picture in her book. She talked directly to John and Mrs Hudson, who both smiled encouragingly. “It's sparkly. Glitter is goniochromatic. That's why it's pretty.” She nodded, and sat down again, leaving a somewhat baffled silence in her wake.
John was biting his tongue so hard not to laugh at her that he was worried about drawing blood. He couldn't laugh. It would shatter her confidence. He gave her a wink and thumb's up instead. He was glad he'd filmed that. After he punched Sherlock in the face, he was going to show him that clip.
There was more dancing and more exercises, and finally, the show. Miss Helen let all the children go to put on their costumes, and explained about the concept of the dance, which was fairies dancing in a garden. All the guests got their phones out in preparation now, and Miss Helen dimmed the lights in one part of the room, so that the far end looked more like a stage.
All the children came out, decked in various wing and crown accessories. Abby had chosen some butterfly wings for herself, and looked very serious as she took her starting position. John raised his phone to make sure it was well- focused.
The familiar music started. John patiently told himself he could get through one more round of it. It was 'the Flower Waltz' from The Nutcracker. According to Sherlock, at least, who demanded to know why John was humming it one day after having spent twenty minutes listening to it on a loop before he'd met him for a case.
Abby did very well. There wasn't a lot to the choreography, and the dance was very short, but she skipped and twirled and jumped up and down at the right times. Miss Helen was off to the side, and all the children watched her to follow along with what she was doing. Abby didn't as much. She knew what to do.
“Whooo!” John cheered, when the dance came to a close. He couldn't clap because of the phone in his hand, but Mrs Hudson gave a solid round of applause.
Abby glowed and beamed, and did a little curtsy with the other students.
“Now, we're going to give our students an extra big round of applause,” Miss Helen said. “And we'll do our cool down stretches.”
After those were done, Miss Helen called each child up by name, and gave them a stamp on their hand, and a certificate for completing the camp. John snapped a few photos of Abby getting hers, and doing her little curtsy to Miss Helen. She was the last student called (one of the curses of being a Watson was that you were always last to be called), and then Miss Helen dismissed the class. All the kids ran to their parents except for Abby, who ran to the door.
“Sherlock!” she cried.
“What?” John said.
He leaned around Mrs Hudson, and sure enough, Sherlock was lurking in the doorway to the studio.
“Oh, good boy,” Mrs Hudson said, happily.
Abby threw herself onto Sherlock's legs, and he gave her head a pat. He also presented her with a rose. John managed to snap a photo of that, too, once his surprise wore off. Abby hugged the rose to her chest with her certificate, and ran to John, pulling Sherlock by the hand.
“Daddy! Sherlock brought me a flower,” Abby said.
“It's from Barts' flower shop. Molly made me,” Sherlock said, in an almost desperate defence of the action. It wasn't a cover-up, John knew Molly may have literally force marched him to the shop.
“That was very nice of him,” John said. “He must have seen how good you were.” John shot him a look, questioning how long he'd been there.
Sherlock nodded that he'd caught the show. “I had a break while waiting for test results,” he said. “Molly told me I had to come. You know how she gets about these things. There'd be no working with her.”
That was a cover-up. Sherlock had come because he wanted to, or at least to be polite to Abby.
“I can't stay long,” he added.
“You don't need to,” John said. “We're done. You saw the important bit.”
Abby showed them all her certificate. “It says my name!” she said, pointing.
“That's great, Abs,” John said. “We'll put that up on your wall in your room.”
Abby admired her flower and certificate and looked very content with life. Sherlock smiled slightly.
“Are you going to join me now?” he asked John. “I didn't ask earlier because I knew you'd be doing this.”
John didn't know precisely when Sherlock had started being able to discern those sorts of things--that John might prefer other activities to case- solving--but he'd noticed that he'd finally got the hang of it. John didn't have to blow him off as much, which was nice.
“You go ahead, John,” Mrs Hudson said. “Miss Abby and I will go and get some ice cream to celebrate her performance, and we can go back home together.”
“Yay!” Abby said.
John held out his arms to give her a hug, and she threw herself into them. “You did such a great job,” he said. “I'm very proud of you.”
“Thank you,” Abby said. “I'm happy you see'd me! Can Fatima come for ice cream, too, Gramma?” She glanced at Sherlock, and corrected herself to “May she?”
“If her mother says it's all right,” Mrs Hudson said.
Abby hurried off to invite them. John put his phone away, and joined Sherlock, who was already at the door to the studio, ready to go.
“Thanks for coming,” John said.
Sherlock shrugged. “It didn't affect anything,” he said.
“Made Abby happy,” John said.
“I meant with the case,” Sherlock said. “It didn't interfere.”
John couldn't tell if he was bluffing about that, but it didn't matter. Sherlock had drug up enough humanity for the day, let him go back to robotically taking down evildoers.
“Is she good?” John wondered, as they walked out. He figured Sherlock would have a better opinion than him.
“It was hardly dancing,” Sherlock said. “But she might be good, if she continues. It's over now, though, right? That was the last day?”
“Yeah,” John said. “We're done.”
“Good,” Sherlock said. “Perhaps her conversation will move on, then.”
“Oh, it should,” John said. “She starts gymnastics next week.”