Title: Never Too Late (55-58/?)
Characters: Sherlock, baby!John, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade, Mycroft, variations on that theme
Rating: K
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 weeks. 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: Title comes from the quote "It is never too late to have a happy childhood." ~Tom Robbins, 1936

Much cajoling and a lime ice-lolly from the (thankfully finger-less) freezer finally coaxed John back into bed. Lestrade then turned his attention to Sherlock, and within five minutes he had also crashed, still fully-clothed, and was snoring obliviously.

The DI grinned, plugged Sherlock's mobile in, and quietly left, hoping to get a few hours' sleep himself before heading to the office. Hopefully Sherlock would get some rest too, or he feared for the man's patience levels the next few days…


Sherlock Holmes was a light sleeper, except on those rare occasions when his mental hard drive literally shut down to prevent crashing. It did not take more than the flushing toilet to alert him that he probably should check on his sickly young charge.

Rubbing his eyes, he raised the other hand to the door and nearly fell inside when a small bundle of sniffly pajamas pulled it open.

John shrieked and scooted backward from the looming figure.

"Scared me!"

"My apologies," Sherlock mumbled wearily. "I had presumed you might require assistance; I perceive I was in error."

John blinked.

Sherlock woke up and rolled his eyes. "I thought you might need help, John; obviously not."

"I don' need help using the loo!" the child exclaimed indignantly.

Whyyyyy did Lestrade abandon him to dealing with an affronted six-year-old, Sherlock mentally bewailed.

By 14:00, Sherlock was tearing his hair out, John was stroppy and verbally mourning his bed-and-couch-bound state loud enough to be heard in the entire 200 block of Baker Street; and when Lestrade finally answered the thirty-fourth SOS from Sherlock and arrived at 17:00 with Chinese takeaway, he was slightly creeped out by the almost worshipping enthusiasm with which he was greeted by the resident self-professed sociopath.

"Thank God," Sherlock growled when he appeared at the top of the stairs.

"'Strade!" A fluttering blanket coiled 'round his legs as John barreled into them, and he smiled down at the upturned face.

"How're you feeling, kid?" he asked, handing the bags of takeaway to Sherlock.

"Icky," was John's answer, with a well-practiced pout.

Sherlock dug through the bag with a sceptical eye. "Chicken-fried rice, no onion?"

"Yes, Sherlock," he sighed, extricating his legs from John's grip.

"I want egg rolls!"

"You want a sedative," Sherlock retorted, slumping onto the couch with his rice and chicken clutched protectively to his chest.

"Long day?" Lestrade asked mildly.

"Sherlock made me stay in bed all morning!" John complained, tugging at Lestrade's trouser leg.

The DI plopped him into a chair and shortly had him situated with a makeshift bib and a carton of Chinese. "You're sick, John. That's what sick little boys do."

"I'm better!"

"You still have a fever and have been exceedingly cranky," Sherlock said 'round a mouthful of rice.

John stuck a chicken-covered tongue out at him, and began digging through his rice carton for the bits of mushroom. He had flicked a dozen out onto the chair-arm before Lestrade caught him.

"Did Sherlock give you your antibiotics this morning?" he asked, after scolding the child for his actions.


"Yes, Lestrade. Mixed into his nutrient shake at breakfast. Also, a bath, cough syrup, and chewable vitamins. Have I forgotten anything?"

"You fo'got to gimme my biscuit at lunch," John piped up, spraying rice in a twelve-inch radius.

"Horror of horrors," Sherlock muttered dryly.

Lestrade chuckled. "Apparently he's feeling a bit better. Has your brother told you anything else about him, Sherlock?"

"No. He appears to be on schedule for a four-week retransformation, give or take a few days." Sherlock stretched slowly. "There is little any of us can do to accelerate the process, as his delay is an entirely unknown factor."

John sneezed suddenly, and his fork jerked, spilling rice down the side of the chair.

"Whoa, easy there, kiddo. Here." Lestrade wiped the child's face, much to John's grumbled disgust. "I've a case I need your opinion on, by the way," he added over his shoulder.

Sherlock jerked upright, eyes bright.

"Why didn't you say so when you came in, Lestrade?" Sherlock demanded in irritation.

"I had this little octopus wrapped around my legs," he retorted, ruffling John's tousled hair. John smiled up at him, plastic fork buried firmly between his teeth. "Notes are in my coat pocket…yes, right, of course you can get them," he muttered, as he was pounced upon.

Sherlock retreated with his precious notes, takeaway forgotten on the coffee-table. John raked the fork from between his teeth and then paused, looking surprised.

"Okay, John?"

"Somefing's weird," the child replied, frowning.

"John, do not put your fingers in your mouth; it is highly unsanitary," Sherlock admonished absently.

"Ow!" John's face scrunched up. He wiggled his jaw, then poked his tongue against a front tooth. "Is loose!" he exclaimed.

Lestrade grinned. "Have fun with that, then," he told the top of Sherlock's head.

"Mmh. Lestrade, really, it's pitifully obvious that the sister-in-law is responsible. Must I do everything for your people?"

"Considering your opinion of them, you have to ask?"

"Good point. John?" The child had squirmed off the chair and clambered up beside Sherlock.

"Don' feel good," John said, face upturned woefully.

"Annnnd here we go again," Sherlock sighed. "Detective Inspector, be so good as to give me a twenty-four hour head start once you find my brother's body?"