qthebadwolf: (Default)
[personal profile] qthebadwolf
Title: Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Sherlock - 2/4
Rating: PG
Pairing: Sherlock/John friendship
Word Count: 4,376
Disclaimer: Sherlock belongs to Auntie Beeb and Uncle Moff; Sherlock Holmes belongs to the world.
Crossover: Harry Potter
Warnings: none
Thanks: Many million thanks to my brilliant beta/Brit-pickers, [info]bethia, [info]ilovewales, and [info]katead - all lingering mistakes are just me being awkward.
Summary: The day after John recovers from Molly's de-aging potion, Sherlock decides to repeat the experiment on himself. Things do not go quite as planned.

Notes: This story is a continuation of sorts to [info]alice_day's marvellous fic When the Bough Breaks, which I liked so much that my muse decided I had to write a sequel.

Previous chapter here.



The day went quickly downhill from there.

Deciding that their usual takeaway would be nutritionally imprudent for a toddler, John had tried to prepare lunch himself. This may have been a bad idea. He was only a marginal cook to begin with, and the frequent distractions of having to stop Sherlock from grabbing, destroying, deducing or eating anything toxic, dangerous, or just plain disgusting really didn't help matters any.

He was trying to make Sherlock relinquish his grip on an antique speculum that had somehow found its way into the flat when the smoke detector suddenly went. "Shit!" John had left some baby carrots steaming on the stove. The pot was now burned dry, smoke billowing up to the ceiling. John grabbed the handle, burnt himself, cursed, dropped it, found and donned an oven glove, and finally pitched the whole smouldering lot into the sink. Charred pot and cindery carrots hissed explosively as they hit the murky dishwater.

Next he grabbed a tea towel and flapped it frantically underneath the smoke detector. As if its ear-splitting racket weren't enough, Sherlock was now chiming in with his trademark shriek: apparently he found the detector's noise upsetting. Imagine that. Detector and detective wailed and shrieked at top volume; a perfect harmony of aural torture. John's temples throbbed. He wondered about the medical logistics of taking paracetamol intravenously.

Eventually, finally, the detector ceased its wailing. John tossed the tea towel aside just as his mobile rang. He looked at the screen, hoping it was Molly with news about the antidote…and couldn't tell who the caller was, because the display was in bloody Turkish.

The ringtone sounded again, which triggered another piercing shriek from London's only consulting detective…what, now any noise was upsetting? "Hush, Sherlock." John fiddled with the buttons on his mobile, trying to force his phone to make sense again. Nothing worked. It rang again. Sherlock screamed again. The terrier down in 222A got upset by all the noise and started barking, and Sherlock screamed at that, too. "Sherlock, be quiet! Please - " John squeezed his eyes shut and pressed the phone against his forehead. Ringing phone; screaming baby; barking dog. Lather, rinse, repeat. It was too much. He lost his patience for a vital split-second, and when Sherlock screamed again, John leant down and screamed right back at him to see how he liked it.

If John had expected any reaction at all, it would have been a look of cool distaste: a smugly superior eyebrow; a condescending grunt...a look that said, "oh John, really, how vulgar." Failing that, a louder, shriller counter-scream seemed the most likely response. Those things would not have surprised John Watson at all. But he absolutely did not expect what happened next.

Sherlock Holmes burst into tears.

His tiny face crumpled into a wavering howl of distress. The dummy dropped from his mouth and he put his little hands over his eyes, as though he could make the scary monster go away if he simply couldn't see him anymore.

John blinked dumbly. "Oh…oh, mate. I'm sorry." He knelt down, making his voice gentle. "I'm so sorry." John was used to Sherlock towering over him, both physically and intellectually. It was alarmingly easy to forget that this little version of Sherlock Holmes, with all his brilliant oddness, was still just a two-year-old baby.

Carefully, John put a hand on Sherlock's back. Much like the adult version, baby Sherlock didn't tolerate much physical contact, but he did seem to like having his back rubbed.

"Shhh. There. Bad John. The big shouty man's sorry; he won't scare you anymore."

John hushed and cooed, rubbing soft circles against the little boy's back until the worst of his fright had passed. As the startled sobs faded into hiccuping gasps, John suddenly had an idea.

"Oi. Sherlock." He said it in a whisper, because he had learned that secretive tones piqued the toddler's interest. "Sherlock. Look at this."

John pulled his jumper up over his head. From between woolly stitches he could see the watery blue eyes, big and wide, wondering what he was up to. "Sherlock…where's John?" Slowly, John pulled his jumper back down. He could feel static electricity lift his hairs up as the collar rubbed down over his forehead, his crown…lower…"where's John? Oooooop…!" He made a soft escalating noise like a slide whistle; his pitch rising as the collar lowered. It passed over his eyes and now he had a clear view of little Sherlock's puzzled gaze upon him and good God if he didn't feel like the world's biggest idiot right now, but when there's a crying baby in the room a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

At last he gave the jumper a final tug. "Ah-boo!" His ears popped free, flapping in his imagination like Dumbo the baby elephant. He watched Sherlock for a reaction.

The dimples made a cautious reappearance.

John repeated the performance, and this time the dimples were joined by an extraordinary sound: at first he'd thought Sherlock had something in his throat. Then he realised Sherlock was laughing. It was the oddest laugh he'd ever heard. It wasn't bubbly and light like most baby giggles; it sounded like an infant monkey coughing up a hairball. John did the jumper-trick again, and again the coughing-monkey giggle filled the room. It made John laugh too just hearing it.

Their flat's front buzzer rang.

"Oooh, my goodness, ittle precious!" Molly's face lit up as John opened the door with baby Sherlock balanced on his hip. "I didn't think…he's so cute!" Her ensuing stream of twee high-pitched baby-talk was so shrill it made the terrier downstairs yelp again. Baby Sherlock frowned, put his hands over his ears…and, predictably, screamed.

John winced. "Please, could everyone just…not make any noise at all, for five seconds. Please. In fact if you could all stop breathing as well that would really help." John flipped the lock behind them as Molly walked into the flat.

"Oh." Molly composed herself. "Sorry. Squee attack. Just…took me by surprise there for a minute. So, this is where he lives. You live. You both live." She looked around at the mess and the few experiments John had deemed it medically unwise to disturb without the aid of a hazmat team, the polite smile frozen on her face. "It's…unique."

"I hope you didn't come here to comment on the decor." John lowered a wriggling Sherlock down to the floor. The infant detective immediately toddled over to retrieve his fallen dummy. "Some news on the potion, is there?"

"Oh! Yes. Right." Molly withdrew a long slender piece of wood from her lab coat. It looked like a polished tree branch. Molly gave it a fond smile. "Black ivy wood; Siren-hair core. They're really rare," she said proudly, and John had not the first idea what she was on about. "Of course, legally, I really shouldn't be doing this at all, what with the restrictions about doing magic in front of a Muggle, but the x-rays didn't work, and besides, when you drank the first potion his brother agreed to hush up any under-the-radar spells with the Ministry and…I'm babbling, aren't I?"

John smiled politely. Molly strode over to the kitchen where baby Sherlock sat placidly sucking his dummy and examining the mummified remains of a bit of dried broccoli that John's broom must have missed. "I can't believe I didn't think of this first. It's first-year stuff; simple as anything." Molly pointed the stick at Sherlock. John's stomach suddenly tensed.

"Hang on, what are you…what is that?"

Molly looked over her shoulder at him. "It won't hurt him. I'm just going to check exactly how old he is." She pointed the thin branch at him again and said, "Chronos Revelatum!"

All at once a series of numbers appeared on baby Sherlock's forehead, scrolling up and down like a slot machine. One by one the numbers fell into place and remained still. Molly took pen and paper from her coat and scribbled them down.

"Right! Thirty months, two days, fourteen hours and twenty-three seconds. So, if he was born at two fifty-three on the nineteenth July 1976, that should make the differential…" She did the calculations as the numbers on Sherlock's forehead faded away. "Ah! Perfect. Now at least I've got something to start from."

John blinked. "Wait, you…you haven't even started on the potion yet?"

"I've got the base brewing. I needed all the data before I added the really volatile ingredients." She casually flicked the branch at the dried broccoli in little Sherlock's hand. "And don't put that in your mouth. It's yucky."

John must have been more tired than he realised, because it looked like a bright blue light flashed from the end of the stick, surrounding the broccoli and transforming it into a little brown mouse. Sherlock watched the mouse squirm out of his grasp and scamper across the floor to disappear under a hole in the woodwork. The dimples and coughing-monkey giggle made a brief reappearance.

Molly giggled too, pleased at her own cleverness. John stared at the stick in her hand. It was a wand. A magic bloody wand. He'd only just about managed to get his head around the idea of magic potions, but this…this thing could transform matter, reveal data hidden in the body, repair broken objects...

He really could have used one of those things in Kabul.

"Right! Well, I'd better be going then." Molly stuck her wand back in her lab coat. John opened the door to see her out, feeling a twinge in his shoulder as he did so. It had been bothering him rather a lot lately, what with hefting a wriggly toddler about. He wondered if maybe Molly could…no. Definitely not. He knew nothing at all about the wizarding world, but John Watson had read his fairy tales as a kid. Magic never solved any real world problems. And if you tried, there was always some horrible side effect: she'd probably fix his shoulder, but accidentally end up giving him a hunched back and a third nipple or a hand that never stopped tapping out the rhythm to "shave and a haircut".

He leaned against the door frame. "Listen, how long, d'you think? Till it's ready."

Molly sighed. "Like I said before, two days. One and a half at the least. It's the kind of thing you really don't want to rush.”

"No. Right; of course. You're right. Take your time. Don't want to turn him into a newt or anything."

Molly tittered, leaning forward and adopting a squawky, crotchety voice. "He got better!" Her smile faded at John's blank stare. "...Monty Python? Little witchy humour."

"Oh! Yeah. 'Course." John rubbed his eyes. "Sorry; didn't get much sleep last night. Well. Take your time on the potion. Give us a buzz when it's ready."

He re-fastened the lock as she left, letting out a long slow breath and leaning with his back to the door. Two days. Two more days of keeping little Attila the Holmes out of trouble.

He didn't know if he could survive another two hours.

******

The firefight rages on. He hears shrieks of agony as men are hit or blasted with shrapnel. Where the hell is the bloody medevac? He weaves blindly through spraying sand and whistling bullets. He can't see his patient yet, but knows how to find him. Just follow the screams.

The young sergeant's torso is a jigsaw of gore.

"John."

They're too open here. Need cover. He grabs the young man's shoulder straps and looks behind him: there is no cover. The smoldering convoy seems to have vanished.

Something hits him in the head. A bullet pinging off his helmet, maybe. Bare-headed, he drags the young soldier as best he can, tracer fire zipping past his ear, but they're not going to make it; any second now he will feel the piercing sting in his shoulder as the bullet -

"John."

The strange something bonks him on the head again. He looks down. The wounded soldier has just hit him with his sippy-cup. He blinks. Surely a sippy cup is not standard army issue equipment. The young man speaks to him in a baby's voice, and then he is suddenly wearing Sherlock's face.

"John."

 Another head-bonk. John opened his eyes.

Baby Sherlock stood before him, placidly sucking his dummy, holding his empty sippy-cup out for John to fill.

John rubbed his eyes. It took a moment for him to untangle the threads of dream and reality. He was having a nightmare, and now he was awake, and his flatmate was still a baby. Right.

Wakefulness triggered alarm. How long had he been out? He hadn't meant to fall asleep; he'd only sat down on the sofa for a moment…the light drifting in from the window blinds suggested early evening. Late afternoon at best.

Okay. He'd only lost a couple of hours. More than enough time for baby Einstein to wreak havoc, but little Sherlock looked fine…just a bit impatient. John surveyed the rest of the flat. Nothing destroyed; no biohazards scattered across the floor. He rubbed his face again and took some slow, deep breaths, trying to calm his racing pulse. Then he lifted Sherlock up onto his hip and went into the kitchen. He felt a slight pang as he did it, realising that he'd just had the rare privilege of hearing Sherlock Holmes's baby voice, but had been too asleep to appreciate it.

He sat Sherlock down on the counter and fetched some juice. John wondered why Sherlock hadn't just got it himself…God knew the clever little git was smart enough. Then John saw his own handwriting on the shopping list magneted to the fridge door. Probably, like so many of the other little chores the grownup Sherlock Holmes was more than capable of doing but never did, it was simply easier to get John to do it for him. John shook his head and handed Sherlock his sippy cup.

"Lazy-arse. If they handed out pennies for sloth; you'd be a billionaire by now."

John put the juice back in the fridge. Then, just as he turned around, baby Sherlock leaned forwards…and deliberately slid off the counter.

"Sherlock!"

John hadn't played rugby for years, but the flying tackle he performed would have impressed several professional leagues. He held Sherlock up, ignoring the screaming nerves in his shoulder, checking frantically for injuries, images of London's only consulting detective growing back into his normal body with a broken limb or a concussion flying through his mind.

Sherlock was laughing.

John stared at him for a moment. He remembered one of the first texts his flatmate had ever sent him:

Could be dangerous. - SH

Oh. So that's how it was.

"You think that's funny, eh?" Sherlock did. John smiled back. "You think that's funny? Well what about this - wooooo-OOOOOP!"

He gave Sherlock a little bounce and then leaned forwards, dipping the little boy backwards down towards the floor. Sherlock squealed in delight. Gravity snatched his downy curls, flinging them asunder in a wily Gorgon mane as the toddler's head nearly touched the linoleum.

John repeated the motion a few more times, baby Sherlock's odd little coughing-monkey giggle ringing through the flat. John looked down at the blissful little face. Sherlock never spoke about his father, and somehow John couldn't imagine Mycroft playing with his little brother like this. John wondered for the first time if Sherlock had ever known what it was like to have a daddy.

He dipped the little boy downwards one more time. Then his shoulder gave a warning twinge.

"Sorry mate, that's it for now." He set Sherlock back on the floor. Sherlock toddled over and grasped his trouser leg, giving it a fierce shake. Again.

"Not right now, mate. Ride's broken down. Maybe later. " Another fierce tug. Again!

John knelt down to face him. "Uh oh. Now you've done it. You've unleashed…the Tickle Monster! Arrrrr!"

Very gently, he reached out and wiggled his fingers along Sherlock's ribs and tummy. Sherlock squealed and ran away…then looked back after two steps to see if John would do it again. John did. He chased the little boy around the drawing room, the odd shrieks and giggles echoing through the usually drab room like a butterfly through a mourning chapel.

Their front buzzer went again. John hitched Sherlock back up onto his hip and went to answer it.

John Watson had never seen Mycroft Holmes appear anything less than genteel. Collected. In control. At the sudden sight of the toddler on John's hip, however, the most dangerous man Sherlock Holmes had ever met looked like he'd just swallowed a lemon.

"Oh my…good…dear Lord." Mycroft actually put a hand to his mouth and giggled, like a sheepish teenager frightened by a silly horror film. "Oh my goodness gracious...you've really gone and done it, haven't you, you little monster?"

John widened the gap in the door. "I take it you're not talking to me."

"Remarkable…completely remarkable." The elder Holmes made an effort to collect himself and strode inside. In one hand he carried a large-handled shopping bag; the other held his ever-present brolly.

"What's that?" John nodded at the bag as he locked the door behind them.

"Presents from Mummy," Mycroft answered in his slow, careful drawl, leaning his umbrella against the door. "Well. Not exactly presents. They're on loan." As John watched, he extracted several books from the bag and laid them out on the sofa, followed by some long flat boxes that looked like they'd seen better days. Sherlock suddenly wriggled to be set down, and John let him toddle back into the kitchen to retrieve his dummy from the floor.

"I see he's gone back to sucking that wretched thing," Mycroft observed with his back to the kitchen. "Still, I suppose it has its uses. Mummy used to dip it in gin to make him sleep."

John gave him a look. "You are joking, right?" Mycroft's only answer was an enigmatic smile. John shook his head. "How did you know? About him being a baby, I mean. Molly tell you?"

Mycroft gave him a pitying look. "Child's play, Doctor Watson, if you'll forgive the pun. Not two days after your own little run-in with the Fountain of Youth; I'm sure my brother must have been madly curious. Plus the unanswered calls, and of course the revelation at the play park." A cloud passed over his elegant features. "That childish screech was the bane of my youth. It interrupted my studies; alarmed my friends; disturbed my slumber and haunted my dreams. Trust me when I say that I am unlikely ever to forget its unholy cadence as long as life endures, whether in person or muffled through the speaker of a mobile device."

A half-smile twitched John's face in spite of himself. He knew how Mycroft felt, and he'd only been living with Sherlock Holmes the Amazing Human Air Siren for a single day. "So what have you brought us? Mrs. Hudson's lent us plenty of clothes already," he said, not mentioning the pushchair and welcome supply of nappies…thank God for the seemingly inexhaustible supply of Hudson great-nieces and nephews.

Mycroft turned and opened the lid of the topmost box. "The great trouble with toddlers, Doctor Watson, is one of imbalance: their intellects far outstrip their motor skills at this age. The resulting tantrums for which they are infamous result not from temper or spite, as some would readily believe, but out of frustration at their own limitations." He spared little Sherlock a dark glance. "Though faced with that odious little hellion, I daresay Doctor Spock would have eaten his own baby book."

Sherlock looked up. He held Mycroft's gaze for a moment…and though no reaction showed on his face, John could have sworn that he understood he had just been insulted. Mycroft went on.

"The solution, then: provide them with something to stimulate their minds, while not overtaxing their developing physical abilities. Decrease the differential." He held up the box. Inside were hundreds of small, thick white cards, each rounded on the ends. John turned one over. On it was a simple black and white drawing of a duck. Another card showed a drawing of a pencil.

"Matching memory cards. Same principle as the child's game, only more complex. This version was used to train Her Majesty's agents in the field to sharpen their perception. Sherlock had bested and was bored with it by age three, but it should keep him well occupied for now."

One by one, Mycroft went through the boxes. There were jigsaws with specially-designed segments made larger and easier for little hands to grasp. There were spatial puzzles, logic problems, an abacus, and something that looked very like a sliderule with a safety bumper on it to prevent tiny fingers from being pinched inside.

"What about the books, then?" John sorted through them. They looked like a first-former's school textbooks: the topmost volume was Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Level One. "Well, that should make a charming bedtime story. I'll give it my best, though."

"Oh, he won't need you to read it to him." Mycroft said casually.

John blinked. "He…you mean…he can read?"

"Of course."

"At this age? But he can't even talk yet!"

Mycroft shrugged. "Einstein never said a word until he was four years old. Perhaps Sherlock simply doesn't have anything worthwhile to say."

John chuckled. "Never stopped him before." Something occurred to him then. "So wait, you're saying…he can understand us? He can understand everything we're saying, right now?"

"Oh, undoubtedly. At this age, I'd say he's got a larger comprehensive vocabulary than your average Arsenal fan."

John gulped. He rather regretted a few things he'd said in the past 24 hours now, like calling Sherlock a lazy-arse. Somehow it seemed unsporting to call your flatmate names when he couldn't, or wouldn't, answer back.

Mycroft leaned back on his heels. "Well then. Hopefully all this will keep him entertained until such time as our young lab witch can brew up the antidote. And if not, well, that's why bedroom wardrobes have locks." He smiled grimly.

John could only manage a half-grimace. "Hey, speaking of locks, where's Sherlock? It's too quiet in here." He looked around. Eventually a small curly head appeared at the far end of the sofa. The little bottom attached to it was noticeably barer than before: apparently Sherlock had grown impatient waiting for a nappy change and abandoned the sodden relic somewhere in the flat.

"Oh, Sherlock," John despaired. "Come on, let's find you another one."

Mycroft smirked. "Oh, I wouldn't bother. He used to drive our housekeeper mad. Poor woman would find used nappies mouldering away in the strangest places months after he'd tucked them away. The whole house was a minefield of distressing odours with no apparent source." He leaned down to the toddler with an unpleasant gleam in his eye. "Cost us four separate cleaning staff and eight nannies by the time he was house trained, didn't you, you little dybbuk?"

Sherlock said nothing. He merely stared at his brother while John applied a wet-wipe and awkwardly tried to wrestle a fresh nappy onto a toddler who was still standing up. And squirming about. And walking away.

An oddly melancholy look crossed Mycroft's face as he watched John struggle. He was quiet for a long time. Then he said, very softly, "Father left around this time, you know. When Sherlock was about this age. Simply couldn't cope." He attempted to force a smile onto his face. It looked painful. "Let's hope, Doctor Watson, that you are a better man than he was."

The elder Holmes made his way to the door. "Goodbye, Doctor Watson. Do try to keep him from damaging his old toys too badly; Mummy would be most upset."

John quickly got up from the floor and tossed the wet wipe in the bin, hurrying to catch Sherlock's older brother before he could leave. "Right. Listen, Mycroft, I was thinking…you're one of the few people that knows how to handle him, and I've already missed a day of work. So if you've got some time tomorrow…"

Mycroft's laugh was unexpectedly loud. "Oh no, Doctor Watson. I've lived through that hellish little tyrant's reign once already; I've absolutely no intention of reliving that particular nightmare."

"Right. Okay." John's face fell. He hadn't phoned Sarah yet to tell her he'd need at least two more days off. She was the most understanding boss on the planet, but clinic shifts needed filling, and he knew he couldn't play the boyfriend card much longer before it cost him his job. "Well. Thanks for the books and stuff. Glad for the help."

Mycroft smiled. "Not at all." He reached down for his umbrella…and the smile abruptly dropped from his face. John looked down.

He knew it had been too quiet in the flat. It seemed that while they were talking, Sherlock had not only slipped out of his nappy, but smeared its contents on the handle of his brother's umbrella.

The look of disgust on Mycroft's face was a thing of utter beauty. John looked across the room at Sherlock. The dimples shone like twin beacons on either side of the dummy.

John hurriedly fetched some more wet wipes, furiously stifling a grin. Mycroft snatched them up with his clean hand, snarling in the direction of his giggling baby brother.

"Charming," he seethed, wiping himself and his brolly clean and striding from the room in a huff.

When he had gone, John leaned down to Sherlock. "Well done, mate." He ruffled the boy's hair, and London's only consulting detective crawled up onto the sofa and began to read An Elemental History of the Solar System.

John couldn't help but smile at the irony.


On to part 3...




Q

Date: 2012-03-05 05:31 am (UTC)
keladry_lupin: (LOL (Martin))
From: [personal profile] keladry_lupin
Attila the Holmes! Brilliant! I like that Sherlock's reading about the solar system, too.

Date: 2012-03-05 09:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] qthebadwolf.livejournal.com
I do not envy anyone who had to look after Sherlock as a toddler; he must have been a royal little handful. To say the least.

And yeah, it was probably the last time he ever read anything about the stars and planets, when he was two. I like to think he rearranged the solar system baby mobile over his cot because it was scientifically inaccurate.

Date: 2012-03-05 10:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennelldhalrbj.livejournal.com
This is great. It's easily the most enjoyable thing I've read for ages. What's more I have 3 of these at home {2 year olds I mean} plus a baby, a 4 year old, a very intelligent 5 year old who could read at the age of 2, and 2 older ones as well, and I could do with the magic wand. All of them are at Schule or Kindergarten right now except baby who is watching the wash for me.

Date: 2012-03-05 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] qthebadwolf.livejournal.com
Glad you're enjoying! And glad it rings true to a genuine parent...it's been quite a while since my babysitting days, and to my knowledge I never looked after any kids with Asperger's.

(I tried to follow the showrunners' lead where Sherlock's diagnoses were concerned and keep it vague, but I did definitely put some Aspie traits in just to satisfy my own conviction that Sherlock's gone his entire life with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome.)

Date: 2012-03-05 01:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thesmallhobbit.livejournal.com
I suspect that John's going to have his work cut out for him for the next couple of days - especially if this toddler understands a lot more than he's letting on.

Date: 2012-03-05 07:12 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-05 02:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] solara-karrde.livejournal.com
Bwawawawawawa! Gives a new meaning to "Little Shit"!!!

Date: 2012-05-25 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hecateb1.livejournal.com
I'm really surprised John didn't deck Mycroft

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