Notes: So, I've found myself with a weakness for kid!fics, and Mrs. Hudson's character really is ignored far too much. This is my first Sherlock fic…so I really do hope I do a good job. If not, please tell me how I can improve; I shall try any way I can!
Usually I have a big long spiel to give to you guys before I start writing…but here I can't really think of anything to say. I hope my work speaks for itself.
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock. Sherlock, John, and all other characters and concepts from his contemporary universe belong to Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.
Chapter One: The One They Call When Things Go Wrong
Martha Hudson likes to fancy herself one of the most tolerant babysitters in England, possibly the entire United Kingdom. She's been kicked, punched, vomited on, screamed at, clawed at, had various foods thrown and spit at her, toys chucked at several crucial body parts including her head, and play-dough tangled into her hair while she was sleeping.
And that's been just in the last two months.
After all she's been through, she's sure most other babysitters would have cracked, but Martha's managed to make something of a profession out of it. She has no illusions that her penchant for being patient with difficult children has been spread around the neighborhood. It's obviously been spread around, from mother to mother, that Martha Hudson is a lovely girl and very good with Problem Children. At seventeen, she's already made a name for herself, which made a really good reference for getting into university on a developmental sciences degree.
She's gotten so used to being confronted with screaming children making a scene the second she walks in the door, that it's with quit a bit of shock, but also relief that the door to 221 Baker Street is answered by a perfectly sane-looking, brown-haired, grey-eyed boy whom looks to be about twelve. Nevertheless, Martha has never judged a child on his appearance, so she plasters a smile as wide as she can manage onto her face and leans down, flicking her long chestnut brown ponytail over her shoulder as she does so, so it doesn't whip the child in the face. "Hello. You must be Mycroft. I'm Martha Hudson."
About three weeks ago, she'd been called by a woman named Evangeline Holmes who said she was in desperate need of babysitting for her two boys, from nine in the morning to five in the evening until further notice. Martha almost didn't take the job, because she really should have been spending her time this summer getting ready for university on the fall, but Mrs. Holmes had just sounded so desperate that she had to. And really, it wouldn't be all that bad. She always found a way to have fun with the kids, even if they were terrors when she first met them. They eventually warmed up to her and agreed to behave if she promised to be nice and keep them amused.
The two boys are twelve-year-old Mycroft and five-year-old Sherlock. This is obviously Mycroft, and he seems pleasant enough. No sign of Sherlock, though, and Martha has yet to decide if this is a good thing or not. Sometimes, the worst ones are the ones that hide until the parents leave.
"I'm Mycroft," the child confirms, stepping aside so she can come in. She's surprised to see he's dressed in black dress pants and a crisp, white dress shirt. But, she guesses each child has their own sense of style and right about now is the age at which they develop it. "Please come in, Miss Hudson."
"Just Martha, dear," she says, stepping past him and into the house. She could tell from the outside that the house was oversized for a family of four—one of those big, brown-bricked ones that are popping up in subdivisions all over—but inside it's truly impressive. The entrance hall opens immediately onto two staircases, which head towards each other at a seventy-degree angle before meeting halfway upstairs on a small landing, which then has another staircase leading from it. The upstairs is fully visible, and Martha counts four bedrooms and one bathroom in a circular configuration. There are banisters on the side overlooking the entryway, and another set of banisters in the large space between two bedrooms. Martha assumes it looks over the living room.
She thinks she sees the door to the bedroom closest to the stairway move, but it could just be a trick of the light.
The room off to Martha's side is separated from the entryway by a pair of sliding doors, but they're open at the moment, so Martha can see the two couches, television, and family computer on the inside. The whole house seems to follow a theme of carrying browns and whites.
Two hallways, one on either side of the double staircase, go off into the house in separate directions. Martha can't really bring herself to process the odd directions the house goes off in, and so blindly follows Mycroft into the kitchen where, he claims, 'Mummy' is.
And Evangeline Holmes is indeed in the kitchen, which is a nice moderately sized one. There's a large stainless steel fridge, a long, vaguely circular arrangement of counters with a sink in the middle and cabinets above, a stove between two counters near the stove, a microwave above that, and a dishwasher across from the stove. A large, tall pantry sits next to the archway into the dining room, and another counter is next to that.
Mrs. Holmes is sitting on a stool at the extra counter, looking haggard as she scrawls something very quickly onto a piece of paper. When Mycroft clears his throat, she looks up and jumps a bit, before Mycroft says, "This is the babysitter, Mummy."
Then she smiles, laughing a bit at herself, and says, "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't expect you so early."
"I'm on time, I thought," Martha says, glancing at the digital clock on the stove. It's nine fifteen. She's actually little late.
"Oh, you are. It's just, in the past I never know when my babysitters are going to show up," she sighs, gathering her papers up. She has a very slight French accent, as Martha had noticed on the phone, but it doesn't make her difficult to understand.
She stands up off the stool and tucks it under the counter, to join two others, and turns to fully face Martha. "Well then. Hello, I'm Evangeline. You can call me Eva, if you want. The boys have just gotten up." At an indignant noise from Mycroft, she amends, "Okay, Sherlock has just gotten up; Mycroft has been awake since seven thirty, if you must know." She glances at her eldest son again, and he nods in satisfaction. She rolls her eyes a bit. "So he may be a little cranky or difficult, but that will stop once he's had a shower. I don't let him shower alone yet, but all you have to do it sit in the bathroom. You can do that, right?"
Martha smiles and nods. "I don't have any problem with it, Miss. I'm the oldest of four and I've changed the diapers of half the kids in this city."
"Oh, well that's good then." Mrs. Holmes gives a pleasing laugh, and picks up the last of her papers. "I'm sorry to say I have to go. I'm running late as it is, unfortunately they called me in early last minute and I barely had time to get Mycroft up and ready. I'm sorry the house is so dirty; it usually isn't like this."
Glancing around, the only out of place thing Martha can see is an open box of cereal, a used bowl in the sink, and one lone toddler-sized sock laying on the floor of the dining area. If this is what Mrs. Holmes calls dirty, Martha is terrified to see what she might call the organized chaos of her own home.
"Uhm, Miss," Martha says, before Mrs. Holmes can get too far away from her. She turns around and raises her eyebrows, smiling. It's a politely impatient version of Martha's usual, 'what dear?' expression, and the babysitter is quick to get out, "Do you have any…precautions for me? Anything you want to tell me?" She's trying to be gentle about it, with Mycroft there and all, but people who live halfway across town from her don't just call her on a whim.
Mrs. Holmes frowns. "Why? What have you heard?"
Martha shakes her head. "Oh, nothing ma'am. Really. It's just…I'm usually called when…well, there are certain circumstances surrounding the children."
Slowly and bemusedly, Mrs. Holmes shakes her head. "No…I don't think so. I didn't realize you were a specialist in anything."
Martha quickly shakes hear head, immediately feeling foolish. "No, no! I'm really not…er…ignore I said anything, Mrs. Holmes. Bit of a misunderstanding, sorry."
Mrs. Holmes smiles, shaking her head in return. Lots of head shaking, Martha realizes. "No, it's okay. You're just being thorough." Then she's off, into the hallway Mycroft led her through and stopping in the entrance hall to pull her jacket out of a coat closet Martha failed to notice on her initial appraisal, and to call up the stairs, "Sherlock!" When she gets no response, she continues, "Sherlock! Come downstairs and say bye to Mummy, sweetheart!" When there's ever more silence, she tries again. "Sherlock! Sherlock Isaac! Get down here this instant, young man!"
Mycroft giggles from beside her. Glancing at him, she smiles in spite of herself and chuckles, "What?"
"Sherlock loathes his middle name," Mycroft whispers gleefully. Loath is a pretty bit word for a twelve-year-old, she thinks but doesn't comment.
"Oh?" Martha murmurs. "And what's yours, then? Something completely non-embarrassing?"
This makes Mycroft scowl, and he crosses his arms in a very standoffish gesture. Then he appraises her, and she's shocked because she's never had a twelve-year-old appraise her before. Examine, yes, but Mycroft's looking at her like he's actually considering what benefit he will wreak if he tells her. Then he says, "Alright. I'll tell you. But only if you tell me yours, and you don't tell Sherlock. He's younger, so he doesn't know mine yet. He never will, if I have anything to say about it."
Martha laughs and says, "Okay. Mine's Justine. It's not all that bad, but I like Martha a lot better. And you?"
"Pascal." The distain with which Mycroft says his middle name is comical, and Martha's left chuckling when a black head appears at the top of the stairs (This whole time, Mrs. Holmes has been counting down from ten, threatening to come upstairs if Sherlock isn't down in that time) and whines, "Mum-my!"
"Don't you Mummy me, Sherlock Holmes. I'm running late as it is. Please come downstairs, I want you to meet the new babysitter."
Sherlock eases his way down the stairs, and he's so tiny he has to reach up to grip the banister. Martha barely keeps herself from cooing. However, he's eyeing her very carefully, and when he reaches the first landing he continues down the staircase closes to his mother. Martha tries not to feel insulted by reasoning that he's only five, and he's probably not very good with strangers at this age.
He also happens to be in a blue tee-shirt, grey sleep pants, and a very oversized blue dressing gown. Mrs. Holmes sighs as her youngest son reaches the bottom of the stairs, and picks him up to settle him on her hip. "Sherlock, why are you wearing Father's dressing gown?"
Sherlock rubs at his eyes and mutters, "Because it's warm. And it smells like Father." Then he looks up and sees his brother, and promptly spits, "And not like Mycroft who's not Father and has no right to boss me around like he is just because he's older and bigger, and besides Mycroft smells like horsedung."
Mycroft's face turns red, and it's obvious he's going through an astronomical effort not to rip his brother out of their mother's arms and throttle him. Instead, he stomps past them, up the stairs, and into his room which turns out to be the one to the right of the bathroom. The door slams in his wake, and Mrs. Holmes sighs.
"I'm sorry, Martha. The boys haven't gotten along since…well…"
"Since Father left and Mycroft became a gigantic pillock."
Martha frowns, because since when to five-year-olds know the word pillock, but Mrs. Holmes just sighs and sets her son down. She drags the dressing gown off his body to minor protests, and carries it further into the house, returning almost a minute later sans gown. Sherlock is still in a full-on pout, and Mrs. Holmes gives the all-too familiar, "I don't deal with this right now," sigh before patting Sherlock on the head, kneeling to kiss his cheek, and standing back up. "I have to go now, love. This is Martha; she's your new babysitter. Be nice to her, please."
Sherlock stares at her, clinging to his mother's pant leg with one hand. "Hmm. She has a dog and she still lives with her parents even though she's old enough to have moved out, she recently had a haircut but doesn't like it, which is why she probably has it tied back…probably because someone else made her get the haircut. Maybe her mummy but probably not since her mummy wouldn't let her tie it up if was the one who made her, so maybe it was because her boyfriend wanted her to…he's cheating on you, by the way."
"Sherlock!" cries Mrs. Holmes. "Sherlock Holmes, what have I told you about deducing people?"
Sherlock frowns at the floor and mutters, "To not do it."
"Oh…good God, Sherlock, I can't deal with you when you're like this. Please, please behave for Martha, and apologize!"
Martha, for her part, is trying not to look shocked, telling herself that it's just the ramblings of a young boy, but Wallace has been detatched lately…She shakes herself, easing away from that train of thought, she sighs and says, "It's okay, Mrs. Holmes. He's just being a lad…"
Looking relieved that she isn't about to lose her babysitter before the job even started, Mrs. Holmes separates herself from Sherlock, ruffles his hair one last time, then opens the door. "Bye, I'll be back around six. Give my love to Mycroft."
"As if!" Sherlock cries just as the door closes, and when it's shut all the way, he sticks his tongue out at it. When he's done with that, he turns around to stare at Martha for a second, before saying, "Hello."
"Hello." Martha smiles. At least he's being civil. "How are you?"
Sherlock seems to actually consider how he's doing, stead of mindlessly answering 'well' like most children would. Eventually, he says, "…Tired, hungry, lonely, and angry."
Martha's face falls. "Well, none of those are good, are they?" They sit in an awkward silence for a moment, before Sherlock shrugs and swings his arms back and forth. One thing she's noticed in the very short amount of time she's been acquainted with Sherlock is that he can't seem to stay still for very long. She watches him do this for a second then finally makes up her mind about what she wants to say and ventures, "Well…I can fix a few of those things. I can make you some breakfast and you can go down for a nap at, say, noon?" She doesn't want to put him right back into bed, especially not right after he's eaten, and noon is optimal napping time.
"No," Sherlock answers promptly.
"…No to what?" Martha asks, furrowing her brows. "A nap? You must take a nap, Sherlock. If you don't you'll be too tired to play later."
Sherlock scowls. "I don't play. I don't have any friends to play with. All I do is sit inside all day and stare at nothing and it's so boring that sometimes I just want to rip my hair out. The only time anyone ever talks to me is when they need something from me, and the other kids are so dumb that they never have anything interesting for me to do."
"Well that's not very nice," Martha remarks, crossing her arms. Sherlock echoes her position and before she knows it she's having a staring contest with a fiveyearold and, blast it all she's pretty sure the five-year-old is winning.
"Anyway, though, I wasn't talking about the nap, Martha. I was talking about the…everything. I don't like food and I don't like sleep. Digestion and sleeping are a waste of my time."
"But you just said you were tired and hungry."
"Those were observations. I didn't say that I wanted to do anything about it, did I?" Sherlock mutters, crossing his arms and frowning at the ground. "Gosh, Martha, pay attention."
Martha sighs, and rubs her forehead because she's pretty sure she's just realized who the problem child is. Advancing upon Sherlock, she kneels in front of him and says, "Alright, Sherlock. What can I do to get you to eat? Because you must eat, dear, or you'll get very sick. Just a little spot of cereal, okay? Or some toast. Do you like toast? I can put some jam on it, if your mummy has some."
"I like jam," mutters Sherlock, staring at the floor, and the child is actually standing in front of her, weighinghisoptions. She doesn't think she's ever seen behavior so atypical of children as that of the Holmes brothers. She doesn't know whether to find it extraordinary, amusing, concerning, or a little of each. Her little mental debate comes to an end, though, when Sherlock finally looks up and says, "Okay, I'll have a piece. But only one, Martha, and it has to be buttered too. It's too dry otherwise."
Picky eater, it would seem, but not crazy-picky like some kids, so Martha counts her blessings. She's just glad she's gotten Sherlock to agree to eating something without too much of a fight.
"Martha?" he calls just as she's about to slather the jam on. Martha hums, and Sherlock says, "Cut of the edge bits. I don't like them."
By 'edge bits' Martha is assuming he means crusts, and so takes a knife expertly to them, because she has yet to meet a child who actually likes the crusts, so this is unsurprising. She's learned how to cut them off with minimal damage to actual bread, and she nibbles on the crusts herself as she finishes the toast up, and places it on the counter in front of Sherlock.
He stares at it for a long moment. Not eating it, just staring. Martha eventually gets impatient and says, "Sherlock, I made it for you, now you have to eat it. You're not leaving this table until you've had at least a few bites."
"I will eat it, Martha. Once you cut it in half."
Martha gives a long, all-suffering sigh and goes to get the used knife out of the sink, leaning over Sherlock's little shoulders and says, "Diagonal or down the middle?"
"Hm…I'm feeling diagonally today."
Martha smiles a bit, in spite of herself, and cuts it carefully. Sherlock hums happily and picks up one half, beginning to munch. Martha decides to leave him to it in favor of wandering about and getting a layout of the house. On the other side of the kitchen there's the dining area, which isn't so much a room as it is a nook, separated from another sitting room, this time with no telly, by a half wall upon which are pictures of Sherlock, Mycroft, and the whole family together. There's a man one picture, a tall, tall man whom sits with a baby Sherlock on his knee and a younger Mycroft between himself and Mrs. Holmes. This is obvious Mr. Holmes.
Off from the living room there's another hallway, and the first room is the laundry room. It's a tad more messy than the rest of the house, with shoes tossed haphazardly in the doorway and a slightly overflowing hamper in one corner. But it's still rather neat, and more pristine than Martha's wash room on a good day.
Further down the hall, there's another door which upon inspection is locked, and on the other side there's an open room, with a mahogany desk, a comfy-looking office seat, a closed laptop, and a floor-to-ceiling window looking out on the back yard. If forced to hazard a guess, she would say this is Mrs. Holmes' home office.
On her way back down the hall, she stops and stares at the locked door for a second. As she's turning back around, she hears, "That's Father's office. We don't go in there."
Mycroft his standing at the front of the hall, and he's looking very cross—or, well, as cross as a twelve-year-old can make himself. He continues, "Mummy has lost the key, so we can't get in there anyway. And don't try. The first time Sherlock did, Mummy gave him a spanking."
"Do you…know why?" Martha asks, leaning against the wall.
"No," Mycroft mumbles. "Mummy won't tell us, just like she won't tell us why Father left. We just woke up one morning and he was gone. Mummy was on the front porch crying…it was the middle of winter, and she was in the snow in her nightgown. We went to go get Father and he wasn't in the house. Mummy came inside after a while…and she sat in the living room for days and didn't talk to anyone. It was awful. When she finally started talking again, she wouldn't let us talk about father, and she locked up his office, and all his stuff inside of it. That's why she hates it when Sherlock wears his dressing gown. She forgot to lock it up, and now she's lost the key so she can't put it in there either. She keeps putting it on the high shelf in the laundry room but Sherlock still manages to get up there."
Martha's face is the very image of pity, but she's sure not to let Mycroft see it, because she's honestly not quite sure how he'd react to such a thing. He seems incredibly prideful, for a twelve-year-old, and probably wouldn't take very kindly to looks of pity from a babysitter he's only known for an hour.
While she's looking at the floor, schooling her features, Mycroft disappears. She only looks up again when the doorbell rings and, praying it's not someone looking for Mrs. Holmes, she walks through (Managing to get slightly lost while she's at it) to the entryway and opens the door.
There's a younger girl standing there, probably Mycroft's age. Her curly dark brown hair is pulled back into a set of pigtails and she's holding something that looks suspiciously like a walkie-talkie. As Martha watches, the walkie-talkie dings and a voice comes over it, saying, "This is Queenie One to Assist One. Come in, Assist One. Do you copy?"
"Queenie One this is Assist Two," the girl says into the walkie-talkie promptly. "I have just arrived at Assist One's place of residence and am waiting for entry clearance. Copy."
"Anthea!" whines the person on the other end. "You were supposed to be at his house twentyminutes ago! I have to go eat lunch soon! Copy."
"Shut up, Elizabeth, you're not supposed to drop character!" Anthea, as is apparently her name, scolds. "I'll be inside in a minute! What do you need, anyway? Copy."
"Phil won't talk to me, I need Mycroft to talk to him!" Then, a second later, "Oh, copy."
"Oh Lord…" Anthea sighs and rolls her eyes, before seeming to notice Martha for the first time. Tilts her head to the side. "Hello. Where's Mrs. Holmes?"
"Work," Martha says slowly. "Uhm…can I help you?"
"I'm Anthea. I need to talk to Mycroft." She cocks her head to the side, as if daring Martha to say no, and Martha shrugs, figuring it can't hurt to let Mycroft have a friend over as long as they don't wreak destruction upon the house, and neither of them look to be the kind of child to do that.
Anthea steps into the entrance hall, and Mycroft comes around the corner, sees her, and immediately drags her upstairs into his room, their heads pushed together and conversing quickly in a language that might not be English. She watches as they go, until eventually the door closes behind them. She's left there, very confused and slightly worried that she shouldn't let them stay behind closed doors. They're only twelve, yes, but weirder things have happened.
"Don't worry." That's Sherlock, leaning around the corner at the other end of the hallway leading to the kitchen. "They're not going to do anything untoward. They're…in some weird club. I don't know, it's all secretive."
"…Since when do five-year-olds know what the word untoward means?" muttered Martha, staring at Sherlock with a raised eyebrow. She's not sure she even knows what the word means, aside from the fact that it's somehow synonymous with impure.
"I spent last summer reading the dictionary," remarks Sherlock, sliding along the wall to deposit himself in front of Martha. "I already know more words than all the kids in my year…And my teachers…"
"Well I should expect so, seeing as you're only in Reception," mutters Martha.
Sherlock rolls his eyes. "I'm not in Reception,Martha! Reception is for babies."
"Yes, of course, you'll be going into first year then," chuckles Martha.
"No," Sherlock says, staring at Martha as if she's particularly dim. "I was only in Reception for a month and then they put me straight into third year…I'll be going into fourth, not third."
"How smart are you?" Martha asks, rather alarmed.
"Very," is all Sherlock says. Then he adds, "Mycroft is too." Looking displeased, he admits, "Mycroft is actually smarter than me…but he's lazy so it doesn't count." He looks completely convinced, so Martha isn't going to argue the point with him.
"What year is he in, then?" Martha inquires.
"Eleventh," Sherlock says very deliberately and slowly, as though Martha has missed something obvious, and from the way Martha's eyes boggle, he obviously thinks his theory is confirmed.
"So your brother's going to be at university in two years?" demands Martha.
"Three have already accepted him," remarks Sherlock, staring with boredom at the floor.
Rubbing her face, Martha has to wonder what she's gotten herself into. Here she is, stuck with two super geniuses, one of whom won't eat, won't sleep, deducespeople, is constantly staring at the floor, and seems to love being difficult. And then, on the other side of the spectrum, the other one locks himself in his room half the time, has the posture of a forty-year-old government worker, has weird, walkie-talkie-wielding friends, and drifts around the house as if he doesn't want to be seen.
"We're a bit of a handful," mumbles Sherlock, leaning against the staircase. "We've had three babysitters since Father left, and they all said we were incorrigible, obnoxious, and one of them even called us demonic…or, well, me. They didn't really see Mycroft all that much." Sherlock looked up and said, "I heard one of the women down the street talker about you…the same one who suggested you to Mummy. You're the one that people call when all else fails, aren't you?"
Martha can't help but laugh, because that sounds so much like the premise to some silly action movie ("She's Martha Hudson. The one they call when things go wrong.") but sobers and sighs, sliding down the wall to sit on the floor. Sherlock joins her. "Well…yes. But, if it's any consolation, you're not near the worst…You're just…you're special, Sherlock. You and your brother. And that's not a bad thing."
"Thank you," mumbles Sherlock. "You should break up with your boyfriend, by the way…he doesn't deserve you."
Martha isn't about to question Sherlock, because she's sure he'll tell her something she doesn't want to know. So instead she just nods and mutters, "I'll think about it."
Mycroft and Anthea come running down the stairs then, and they're halfway out the door before Martha yells, "Oi! Hold it! What are you two doing, then?"
"Emergency," Mycroft says. "Matter of national security, must go!"
"That means two members of their stupid little club are having a row and they'll be grounded if the fight escalates," sneers Sherlock. Martha sighs and waves that, yes, Mycroft can go. After all, he's twelve and this is probably the safest subdivision on this side of London. Mycroft and Anthea book it out the door, Sherlock wanders off to sulk in response to Mycroft getting his way, and Martha rests her head against her knees.
This is going to be harder than she thought.
When, two weeks later she catches her boyfriend in the act of banging one of the girls they went to secondary school with, Martha tries not to tell Sherlock 'you were right' and Sherlock tries not to say 'I told you so.'
But Martha does say, "Thanks for the warning."
And Sherlock replies, "You're welcome."
End Chapter; TBC
End Notes: I'm terribly sorry if I got any of the British school terminology wrong. Here in America, we have grades instead of years and I guess what you call reception we call kindergarten. Or maybe I'm just confused, I'm really just unsure. Feel free to correct me!
John will come in next chapter. I was going to introduce him this chapter, but I decided against it because I really just wanted to set up the relationship between the boys and Mrs. Hudson. Lestrade will be int the next chapter too, more likely than not, along with all our favorite Yarders. So please stay tuned!
I hope you enjoyed. ^_^