Title: Always Find You
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Pairing: None. Major characters: John, Sherlock, Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson
Word Count: 5,056
Notes: Unbetaed or Britpicked. Finished at the last moment. Feel free to point out any errors. Also I'm childfree so toddler John may not be realistic.
Written for prompt:A mad scientist captures John and turns him into a toddler. Sherlock rescues John but what is a sociopath to do when his best friend is now a child?
Disclaimer: Sherlock is owned by the BBC. The original concepts and ideas are owned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Summary: John is kidnapped and turned into a toddler. Sherlock rescues John and finds himself taking care of a toddler. The care and feeding of toddlers is more complex than Sherlock expected.
Always Find You Chapter One: The Care and Feeding of Toddlers
John had been missing for 2 weeks,23 hours, 40 minutes and 35, no 36 seconds. Sherlock had been keeping count in his head. It was one of things that Sherlock couldn't erase from his hard drive, even as it cluttered the information he was processing about the case.
There had been hardly any clue as to who had taken him and the scant few clues that he'd managed to find had all led to dead ends. None of them had led to John. Even Mycroft's CTV cameras hadn't yielded any clues, primarily because who ever had taken John, had done so out of range of the cameras.
The memory of the moment that he'd realized that his only friend was gone, haunted him even though he kept trying to push it away so that he could concentrate on finding John. Despite his efforts the memory kept replaying in the back of his mind.
He had been in one of his post case phases where he'd shoot walls and lounge on the sofa, focusing on the fact that life had no meaning and no purpose and how was he supposed to go on if no one was out there committing interesting crimes? One of the phases where it felt like his brain was rotting and he wanted to go back to the drugs that he'd given up in order to work with Scotland Yard.
John had tried to coax him into eating, watching crap telly, and sleeping. He had snapped at John. Then he'd done more than just snap, he'd said every vile and hurtful insult that he could think of to get John to leave him to his misery. He'd aimed at his trust issues, his sister, his PTSD, his psychosomatic limp, and his blog.
John's face had then taken on an expression of both pain and anger. His eyes had pierced Sherlock, with an expression that had made him want to curl up and die.
Instead, he'd said as John was already walking out the door, "You're such an imbecile I don't know why I bother with you."
The door had shut and that was the last time he'd seen his friend. For the first six hours, he had just thought that John was off at the pub, drinking and sulking. After all, Sherlock had been an arse and John often went off elsewhere for a while after one of Sherlock's fits. Then his phone had beeped, letting him know that he had a message on his phone. He opened it and there was a picture of John, bruised and bloody, with a note saying gotcha!
His hands had shook and he'd dropped the phone before picking it up and trying to get all the information he could.
He pushed away his memories as he joined in with Lestrade and the rest of the Scotland Yard team in hunting down this last clue. If this clue didn't lead anywhere he'd never find John, although he'd never stop searching for him. The kidnappers did not seem to want any ransom money and hadn't made contact after that first note.
Mycroft had managed to find an encrypted order from an unknown source (it wasn't Moriarty because he'd died in the pool where he'd once killed Carl Powers.) calling for the kidnapping of John that led to here. It could possibly have been someone in Moriarty's old network, although Sherlock was certain that both he and Mycroft had drawn them all out.
A science laboratory. Sherlock didn't like the conclusions his mind was drawing. He prayed that he was wrong, even as they reached the lower levels, even as a few people mentioned the test subject. John kidnapped to be a research aid. What were they testing? Would he find him unharmed? Would he find him alive? What if he'd been used to test the effects of lethal poisons? He forced his mind to still. He was in control it was pointless to speculate without data. Worrying was pointless and wasn't doing John any good. He took a deep breath and whirled around ready to get some answers, from the scientists and other workers that they had rounded up for interrogation.
There had been no sign of either John or a test subject. Sherlock's eyes began to sweep the room, looking for clues, anything that might lead him to his missing friend, even as worry and rage began once more to sit in his stomach. Why was it so hard to keep control when John was in danger? This caring lark didn't seem to be good for his mind, even as it was good for him in other ways.
The sudden cry of a toddler startled them all. Sherlock noticed a slight movement under a desk and moved towards it, even as the scientist laughed about how Sherlock had taken his lover away from him but he'd taken Sherlock's lover away from him in return. Did everyone think that he and John were more than just platonic friends? Mrs. Hudson did. Mycroft did. Moriarty had. All of Scotland Yard seemed to, as well as almost every restaurant they went to for dinner. Part of him wondered how he and John behaved that gave off that impression to almost everyone. The other half of him was staring under the desk in shock. As his brain tried to make sense of the data he was seeing.
The toddler was John. Sherlock could tell instantly. The scar from the bullet that had shot his shoulder was still there, as well as a birthmark that John had on his right wrist, told him so. John wasn't wearing anything but a diaper and the sight of the shivering child and the bruises that covered him, caused him to nearly shake with a cold rage. Some of the bruises had been made while he was an adult but other bruises had been made recently judging by the shade that they were. After he'd been turned into a toddler, they had hit him with fists and grabbed him roughly with fingers.
John first, he'd deal with the bastards later. For now, he'd get John safe and warm and then he'd find out who did this, why they did this, how they did it and how to reverse it.
"Sherwok," the toddler lisped, his arms reaching out to be held.
Sherlock smiled at the toddler's mispronunciation of his name as he removed his jacket to wrap the shivering child in.
"John," he said as he wrapped the child up in his coat and held him in his arms. The child had just started to snuggle up against him when he noticed the others. John clung to him and began to whimper with fear as he tried to avoid being seen by the scientists who had obviously hurt him.
"It's okay John, I'm here, I won't let anything happen to you," Sherlock soothed, while planning the ways that he would torture those scientists if he could get his hands on them. They would feel pain. They would pay. They had kidnapped John, altered him and abused him. If he could get his hands on them, once his questions were answered, oh yes, they would pay. John's frightened cry and trembling body brought him away from his revenge plans. John now, vengeance later.
"I've found you," he whispered, "You're safe."
He wanted John to feel safe. He wanted John to know that he would always find him. The child began to quiet and calm, burying his face into Sherlock's shoulder and sniffling quietly.
However, he really wanted his John back. His best friend who was a few years older than him, because he had no idea what to do with a child. The John that he need to apologize to and make it perfectly clear that he knew why he bothered with John, because John was his best friend. His doctor. The one that he cared about and for above all others. The one that he needed to bounce ideas off of, to run into and out of adventures with, to investigate cases with, to get dinner with, to laugh with, and most of all just to be with.
What he did know was that there was no way John was going to get taken away from his sight. No matter how little he knew about children, how could he possibly allow someone else to care for him? What if they hurt him? Or he got frightened? He remembered Sherlock and trusted Sherlock. He couldn't just abandon him to someone else.
Sally Donovan tried to get close to John and take him away but John had shrieked and turned his face further into Sherlock's neck. He was frightened of Donovan. Clearly he didn't remember her. Part of Sherlock felt glee, John had known and trusted him right away, but clearly he didn't remember the others. He wondered who he'd remember.
He glared at her until she backed off. John was frightened therefore she needed to go away, far away.
"While you handle the rest, I'm going to take John back to Baker St," he said, as he got up,carrying John, who had decided to wrap his arms around Sherlock's neck. They could deal with scientists for now, get them arrested and hauled off he could question them in the morning. John needed to go somewhere he'd feel safe. He need to go home.
Lestrade started to argue that Sherlock didn't have a claim to John... And Sherlock was about to point out all of the flaws in his logic, after all, John was legally an adult with a legal residence with Sherlock, when John interrupted both of them.
"Home!" he squealed, clapping his hands. "221 B Baker St! Home!"
"Well done!" Sherlock praised. "That's right, we're going home."
Lestrade was shocked. He'd never seen Sherlock show that much enthusiasm without there being a dead body or a series of dead bodies involved. On the other hand, Sherlock carrying for a child was a truly frightening prospect. Lestrade opened his mouth to point out the hazards of chemicals and the severe psychological trauma that living in a house full of body parts might do to a young child, but Sherlock had already dashed off with John and caught a taxi.
Sherlock pulled out his phone, supporting John with one hand as he texted with the other. As much as he was loathe to admit it he needed his brother.
Mycroft needed to draft up papers, arranging for Sherlock to care for John until he was once again an adult, either through the reversal of what the scientists had done or through time.
Sherlock hoped it wasn't the latter. John was rather cute like this and clearly smart. Since he'd remembered Sherlock and his address but hadn't remembered Donovan or anyone else, and had in fact been wary of them, which was a sign of the child's vast intelligence. But Sherlock needed his doctor. The person who took care of him, made sure that he ate food and rested. The one who tried to drag him out of the worst of his moods... The person who he'd never really shown much appreciation for. His blogger without whom he was lost.
They were nearly home. John was most of the way asleep, his head resting on Sherlock's lap. Sherlock was running one hand, idly along John's back, while he read up on the care of toddlers on his phone. Thank god for Google. There was a lot of work to be done. Apparently, young children, had a tendency to get into things they shouldn't and ingest poisons and other household cleaners, so he'd have to remove all of his chemistry lab equipment elsewhere. Perhaps he'd buy the basement flat, 221C, and use that as a lab. When John was back to himself, hopefully in a few weeks, he'd appreciate having a kitchen that wasn't used as a makeshift lab, a microwave that didn't sometimes have eyes in it, and a fridge without severed limbs in it. John after all sometimes wanted to cook food, or didn't want the milk next to a severed head, when he drank his tea.
Also, children had a tendency to chew or eat things with small parts and asphyxiate themselves.
"John," Sherlock whined at the toddler who was nearly asleep, "do you know how much work this going to be? Surely you are smart enough to only put food in your mouth. "
John woke fully up and looked at him, giggled and clapped his hands. He was complaining and John was giggling at him, it felt almost like normal, now if only John were his right proper age, not clapping and calling him an...
"idiot!" John squealed. Sherlock laughed. Clearly, his John was still in there. Only John had ever alternated between calling him brilliant and calling him an idiot.
They arrived at the flat. Sherlock paid the cabby and got out carrying the still giggling child.
The black car was parked nearby, which meant Mycroft was probably inside. Mrs. Hudson's face when she opened the door and her words confirmed it. "Oh, Sherlock dear! It's true then. Your brother had said, John was toddler but I didn't believe it..."
As she spoke she got closer to John and Sherlock and Sherlock made himself ready to offer comfort when the child freaked out. John however didn't get frightened of their landlady, oh no, he'd giggled and reached for her. Sherlock transferred him over as John spoke, confirming that he did remember her.
"Mist Hudson! Not our houthkeeper!" he squealed. Mrs. Hudson beamed at John. "That's right, dear," she confirmed.
It would be easier to deal with both his brother and baby proofing the flat if he didn't also have to deal with watching John as he did so.
He interrupted, Mrs. Hudson and her cooing of nonsense at the toddler. He wasn't certain he wanted John to learn a bunch of nonsense if he was going to be stuck growing up again slowly, but he'd deal with that later. For now, it couldn't hurt.
"Could you watch him for a little bit?" Sherlock asked in his nicest voice with his most pleading face.
"Just this once dear, I'm your landlady, not your babysitter," she agreed.
"Thanks, Mrs. Hudson, " he called before he began to walk upstairs with all the enthusiasm of a man facing his execution.
Not only was his archenemy up there, sitting in his living room in John's chair probably, but he had to ask said archenemy for a favor. At this point, an execution, might be preferable.
"Mycroft," he greeted trying to keep his voice fairly polite. He was going to need his brother's assistance after all.
"Sherlock," his brother greeted, looking him over.
"I must admit to some," Mycroft paused for dramatic effect, "unease about giving you custody of a small child. Even if that child is your doctor Watson."
Sherlock opened his mouth ready to argue and make his brother see just why he needed to be the one to take care of his best friend, when a series of screams began to sound.
"John," Sherlock breathed. He was out the door and to Mrs. Hudson's door just as the cries and screams began to form a word.
Mrs. Hudson's door opened and Sherlock gathered John in his arms. John clung to him and the screaming stopped and the crying slowed down. Sherlock rocked him back and forth, rubbing his back as he did so.
He could feel Mrs. Hudson and Mycroft's eyes on him but that didn't matter.
"Bad dream?" he asked the toddler.
"The monsters... hurt..." the toddler said.
"I came for you. The monsters will never hurt you again, John. I promise," Sherlock soothed.
John began to fall asleep with his head resting on Sherlock's chest.
"Thanks for watching him, Mrs. Hudson, I'll take him upstairs now."
He walked upstairs and sat in his chair. He thought about setting John elsewhere but it didn't feel right to move him. Besides what if John woke up and got into something he shouldn't, or had another nightmare? No until John felt safe here at home, Sherlock wouldn't leave his side.
Mycroft followed him upstairs. His entire expression had changed from earlier. Clearly, the sight of him comforting John had eliminated any doubts, Mycroft had about Sherlock taking care of the toddler.
"I'll have the papers drawn up," he said, "he'll need a doctor's appointment. I'll schedule an appointment with a discrete pediatrician, probably later on today, if not tomorrow."
With that said, his brother left, content on having the last word.
Sherlock held John for the entirety of his two hour nap. He made plans as he did so. John was wearing a diaper, so Sherlock didn't know if he was potty trained, he might be and the diaper was just because his captors didn't have the time between abusing him to let him go to the loo. God's Sherlock hoped he was potty trained. He'd need to get food, arrange for toddler supplies, arrange to have his lab moved downstairs or elsewhere, interrogate the scientists and figure out who the scientist meant when he said that Sherlock had taken away his lover. Was his lover a criminal Sherlock had helped capture? Sherlock hadn't recognized him but there was always a chance that he'd been a little to distracted with John.
John, who was making him feel more protective towards another being than he'd ever felt in his life. He didn't understand the feelings that he felt when he looked at John when he was like this. He felt protective. He felt the desire to gather John up and keep him safe from harm. He felt the urge to make him laugh and smile. He'd never really felt the urge to do this around other children. Not even when he'd come across other abused and injured children during the course of his work on cases.
He'd usually let one of the yarders take care of the child, while he finished up his case and left.
Was he so involved because it was John? He was forced to admit to himself that John had always been able to draw feelings from him. John was one of the few people who could get him to genuinely laugh or to feel worry. Of course when John was a fully grown retired ex-army doctor, who packed a gun and didn't mind shooting a serial killer or two to save Sherlock's life, he certainly didn't engender the feelings of protectiveness that Sherlock was currently feeling.
Suddenly Moriarty's voice from that day at the pool replayed themselves, "I'll burn you. I'll burn the heart out of you,"
And Sherlock's reply, "I've been reliably informed that I don't have one," And Moriarty's answer, "We both know that isn't true..."
Has John all along been teaching Sherlock to care about others? To teach him how to get in touch with his feelings? To express them at times? How to care about at least one other person? Was it only more pronounced now that John was vulnerable and a toddler?
Sherlock was startled out of his thoughts by John grabbing his fingers with his little hand.
"Gotta go potty," he said.
Sherlock got up and escorted him to the loo quickly. He didn't want to deal with any accidents.
Much to Sherlock's relief, once John was set on the toilet, he was able to take care of things himself. After that, he only needed help washing his hands and he was good to go. Sherlock dressed him in an old shirt of his that he cut down to an appropriate length. It was baggy but still better than John wearing nothing but an old tea towel that Sherlock had arranged to be like a cloth diaper.
"Sherwock? Wanna play game?" he asked afterward.
Sherlock smiled. Even as he quickly ran through ideas of games that he could play with John. Hide and go seek seemed a risky option, at least here where there were small things that John could put in his mouth and choke on, or things that he could ingest that would poison him.
Then he had an idea... if Mrs. Hudson would go along with it.
"We might," he answered John. He grabbed John's hand and together they toddled downstairs and knocked on Mrs. Hudson's door.
She greeted both her boys and was delighted when she heard Sherlock's idea.
The basement flat was clean and not to dusty. There were no cleaners, poisons, or small parts that John could fit in his mouth, in short it was a perfect play room until he got their flat fixed up.
"The game, Mrs. Hudson, is on!" Sherlock said with glee. As he began to count with his eyes closed and John giggled and tried to find a hiding spot.
Mrs. Hudson laughed all the way to her flat. She'd never thought she'd see the day that Sherlock Holmes would be so happy about something that didn't involve science experiments, dead bodies, or putting bullet holes into her wall paper.
It was easy to deduce where John was hiding after all the toddler hadn't been quiet about opening the cabinet, or climbing into it. Also John was giggling slightly even though he was trying to hide it with his hand.
Despite knowing where John was hiding, he made a big show of looking everywhere for John. He made a lot of noise and talked to himself as he fake searched.
"I wonder where John would be. Is he in the sink? Clearly not." Finally the giggling got so loud that Sherlock dropped to ground and opened the cupboard door.
"Here you are! I was wondering where you were." John giggled and crawled out of the cupboard, throwing his arms around Sherlock's neck.
Then it was John's turn to count. John made it to the count of five and Sherlock hid in the bathtub, making sure to keep his jacket dangling off the edge of the tile.
He heard John looking in the cabinets and smirked. He tried to picture himself cramming into the cabinets. He winced as he imagined how cramped it would be.
Finally, John toddled towards him.
"Found you," John said.
Sherlock gathered John up and tickled him as they walked to the other room to start the game again.
John collapsed on top of Sherlock both of them were laughing as Sherlock tickled him.
Then sadly Mycroft interrupted the moment by knocking on the door.
Once Sherlock opened the door, Mycroft handed him the papers that awarded guardianship of John to Sherlock until John returned to his proper age or turned 18 again.
"He's got a doctor's appointment in an hour. I took the liberty of buying some clothes, a car seat and a play pen for him." Mycroft added.
Grudgingly, knowing that one day soon, Mycroft would call in a favor and he'd have to pay for his brother's generosity, Sherlock thanked his brother.
He looked into the bag with the clothes in it and had to hid a smile.
It was like Mycroft had shrunk down John's clothes to just the right size. There was a black and white striped jumper and a pair of khaki trousers.
"I'll wait upstairs, while you get him dressed." Mycroft said as he shut the door.
Sherlock dressed him quickly. As he'd pictured when he had imagined the outfit, John looked like he'd been shrunk down to toddler size in a right proper John outfit.
Afterward, they were driven to the doctor's office in one of his brother's many nondescript black cars. This time, John was in a car seat, which he did not like.
He made a series of vocal protests, but stopped when Sherlock told him that he hadn't a choice. He'd then contented himself with staring at Sherlock and making faces.
Sherlock made faces back and soon John was laughing once more.
Then they arrived at the doctor's office and that's when John became the toddler from hell. Apparently, John either didn't like rooms with a lot of strangers on it or he recognized right away that he was in the waiting room of a surgery and he didn't want anything to do with that, thank you very much.
Sherlock recalled that after the Moriarty incident that John had made a terrible patient when he'd been in the hospital. He remembered John saying that doctors made the worst patience. Well apparently toddlers that had once been doctors, made even worse patients.
Or, he thought as he noticed the lab coat wearing people, perhaps the lab coats reminded him of the scientists.
He'd gathered John up and was trying to comfort him. John was clinging to him.
"No wanna get poked..." he whimpered.
"I won't allow them to hurt you," Sherlock promised.
John quieted then although he still shot Sherlock looks that he recognized as John's I'm not happy with you right now but I'll do this, looks.
John's stomach let out a loud gurgle. Sherlock stared for a few minutes before calculating out that John had been in his care for about six hours and he hadn't eaten.
Sherlock wondered what one fed a toddler. John was usually the one telling him to eat and getting him to eat healthy, not the other way around. Food was fuel to keep his transport going, he didn't really care what he ate.
"After this how about we get some ice cream?" he asked.
"Yea! Ice cream! John squealed. Suddenly he was happy again and giggling once more.
The doctor already knew of their situation. Well most of it. He knew that Sherlock was a detective, that John had been found this morning and that the bruises were not from Sherlock's hand. This was good because the last thing he wanted was John being taken away from him after some doctor decided that he'd abused the child.
The doctor also thought that John's old bullet wound had been inflicted when John was about a year old. Horrifying but thankfully untrue. A year ago, when John had been in Afghanistan, he'd been a man of 35 years old. Sherlock didn't correct the doctor however.
Besides the bruises, John was thankfully okay. His temperature was normal, his body weight, his speech patterns. Everything was fine until he the doctor went to give John a vaccine.
"No," Sherlock said.
At the same time John yelled, "No!" and jumped down from the table, barely being caught by Sherlock and curled into his arm.
"But the boosters will protect his immune system against infections," the doctor argued.
"No," Sherlock said.
He picked up John and walked out of the office, paid the receptionist and walked out the door.
He didn't know what harm the vaccines would do if he were over vaccinated, after all he'd been vaccinated as a child and his wound carried over so odds are his immunities did as well.
What he did know was that he'd promised that no harm would come to John and he'd meant it. He wouldn't break his promise.
He wasn't certain what he'd do if John stopped trusting in him.
They stopped for ice cream on the way home, Sherlock ordered John a cookies and cream cone, while he ordered a rum raisin also on a waffle cone.
They ate their ice cream. Sherlock kept having to wipe John's face and hands. John managed not to get any ice cream on his sweater.
Once they arrived back at the flat, Sherlock began to wonder if it was a bad idea to feed small children ice cream. John's eyes were wide. He ran around in circles, squealing and giggling and being unwilling to stay still.
Sherlock decided to keep one eye on John and to play his violin. Perhaps music would calm him down.
Half way through his third song, John tugged on his leg. He carefully set his violin down in it's case.
John climbed into his lap, wrapped his arms around Sherlock's neck and kissed his cheek.
"Love you, Sherwock," he said.
He then lay his head down on Sherlock's chest and fell asleep.
Sherlock kissed John's forehead and stroked his hair. He put his coat, which was in reach, on top of them both.
Then, he grabbed his cellphone and began looking up sugar consumption and three year old children.
Apparently, giving them to much sugar was a bit not good.
Children he decided, should come with a care sheet, like the ones you got when you bought an animal from a shop.
He should be feeding him vegetables, grains, fruits and other parts of a whole and balanced meal. He should also be eating several mini meals several times a day.
The care and feeding of toddlers, was clearly very complicated.
Not that he couldn't figure it out, he was a genius after all. He'd treat it like an experiment. A very complicated experiment. One that he didn't want to explode, destroy or bring to harm in any way, shape or form.
Tomorrow he'd begin feeding John different foods and he'd chart John's reactions. Ice cream he decided, was a limited food.
He wasn't certain he could cope with wild and crazy John every day.
That was when an ad on the side caught his eye. A yellow jumper with a bumble bee on it? He clicked the link and decided that John had to have it... oh and they had a matching stuffed bee? Oh John needed that too.
He arranged for them to be delivered by tomorrow and decided to do some more research on toddler proofing a flat.
Play Pens that looks like cages, gates to keep him out of places, was he trying to keep John safe or to keep him in a little toddler prison?
The care and feeding of toddlers was quite complex, but tomorrow he'd master it.