Title: Never Too Late (1-3/?)
Characters: Sherlock, baby!John, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade, Mycroft, variations on that theme
Rating: K
Word Count: 221b each
Warnings/Spoilers: kidfic, ghastly amounts of fluff, oblique references to slight (non-graphic and non-sexual) child abuse
Summary: Continuation of A Messy Business. Due to Mycroft's scientists' experiment-gone-wrong, John is not going to revert to his adult age instantaneously, but gradually age over a projected period of about four week. Sherlock finds himself in the position of caring for a child for a month, and much to everyone's shock comes through with flying colors.
A/N: I didn't get to most of the original prompt in my previous drabble series. Hence, the continuation. Title comes from the quote

"It is never too late to have a happy childhood." ~Tom Robbins, 1936


Sherlock Holmes, private consulting detective and currently babysitter/foster parent extraordinaire, was by this point accustomed to snatching brief sleep periods whenever and wherever he could find. No longer was he able to go without sleep for days on end, not when he had a hyperactive child to look after and train into a normal childhood. In consequence, just as easily as he'd trained his body to not crave sleep, he'd now altered that programming to include regular, if abbreviated, sleep schedules. Granted, said sleep schedules usually ended with a three-year-old (give or take a few months at this point, he was no longer quite certain) pouncing on him, asking him loudly if he was awake, but it was a small price to pay to be fully alert for dangers to his young charge.

This time, however, namely the early hours of the morning in a chilly September day, he was awakened by a completely different set of motions and sounds. Sherlock blinked sleepily, trying to reel his brain back from its bizarre dreamland (this was why he hated sleeping, that twilight zone where his mind was completely unguarded), and then began to sit up, before realizing what it was that had penetrated his slumber.

Curled up on top of him, sniffling quietly into his sleep shirt, was a little warm body.


As he sat up, John murmured a protest and clung to him spiderlike. He quickly put a supportive arm around the child.

"What is it?" he asked, alert instantly, as he tried to pry the small hands off his shirt in an effort to see John's face. "Did you have a nightmare?" They'd been few, but vivid, as the abnormally growing body had been trying to assimilate the increasing memories of an adult.

The mop of blond curls, the only portion of the child's head he could see, shook vigorously.

"What, then?"

"Hurts," was mumbled into his chest.

"What hurts?" He had learnt patience over the last few days, but when it came to the care of another life – this life – he rapidly lost that patience having to repeat himself. "What hurts, John?"

The little one refused to answer, only cried a little; he could feel the small but growing damp patch. He gentle prized the child's fingers out of the fabric and lifted him, examining his face. John wasn't truly crying in pain, he knew the sound by this point (an active little boy liked to climb, he'd found out the hard way), so there must be something less tangible than a scraped knee or banged head.

Wait.

He sniffed again, and realized he smelt the faint traces of blueberry.


"Does your stomach hurt?" he asked, trying desperately not to laugh.

John looked shiftily about, one finger in his mouth, and Sherlock had the bizarre visual-over of the adult clearing his throat and whistling innocently.

"Did you eat the rest of Mrs. Hudson's pie when I specifically told you not to?" He had to give the child points for disposing of evidence, at least.

"Nooo…"

"John."

"YesImsowwy!"

"Sorry," he corrected automatically. The impediment only told now when John was emotionally upset, which showed Sherlock clearly how the little one was far more upset about his actions than their consequences.

"You mad?" John asked hopefully, and it broke his heart.

From the child's cringing the first time he'd gotten frustrated, he'd deduced that John's parents had not disciplined properly. No child should feara parent's reactions; John's reaction bordered on suspected abuse. But by now, John had learnt that while Sherlock was strict about his few rules, his punishments fit the crimes.

Now, he chuckled and half-reclined, toddler cuddled against him. "No, I am not 'mad'," he answered, ruffling John's hair. "But you'll get no sympathy from me, you understand, if you have a stomach-ache. It is entirely your own fault."

"Was bad," John agreed dismally.

"Naughty, yes," he said. "But I highly doubt, John, that you could ever truly be bad."