|Fic: "How I Met Your Uncle" - John/Sherlock, OC - PG13
||[Jan. 18th, 2011|04:37 pm]
Title: How I Met Your Uncle
Pairing/Characters: John/Sherlock, Original Character
Word Count: 3,000
Notes: This is a fill for the following kink-meme prompt: Twenty years in the future, John tells someone the story of how he and Sherlock first met. What does he exaggerate, and what does he leave out? Does he talk about falling in love at first sight, or does he talk about how infuriating, frustrating, and downright insane his future flatmate seemed? Is Sherlock present, or does he just overhear John, feeling more in love with him than he thought he could ever be [...] ? Also, whoever wanted to see kid-fic from me, I think this is as close as I'm ever going to get. Enjoy!
Summary: Hindsight is 20/20, and sometimes even sharper.
Waiting is always the worst part, and Harry is rarely punctual.
John clears the table and scrubs down the work-top twice that morning, the first time on account of remnants from (Sherlock's uneaten) breakfast, and the second time on account of Sherlock blitzing through a handful of necropsies on some bees they'd recently found deceased. Elisabeth is allergic to bees, and, as a result, she's skittish even around dead and captive ones. In spite of Sherlock's best attempts to lure her out to the hives, the girl always shakes her head fiercely and sticks out her tongue.
How very like her mother—well, there's the rub. How very like Harry. In spite of the fact that Clara had carried her and Watson DNA had figured nowhere into the equation, Elisabeth takes so much after John's sister that it's often infuriating.
That doesn't mean he doesn't love her as fiercely as if she were his own daughter.
Elisabeth has been spending summers with them in Sussex ever since she'd been old enough to walk, talk, and ask questions. Her arrival thirteen years ago had come as both a shock and a delight, not least because everyone had expected Harry and Clara to encounter far more difficulties in overcoming their uneasy past. Harry had left alcohol behind by then, however, and her days of straying were over.
Elisabeth had grown from a bright toddler into an even brighter young woman. She'd be a real stunner someday: her glossy black hair, grey-green eyes, and faintly cinnamon skin had led Sherlock to believe that the sperm donor had been of Kashmiri stock. What Sherlock loved best about her—and John was sure Elisabeth knew it, too, even though Sherlock would never say it in so many words—was her relentlessly inquisitive nature. She'd often watch Sherlock work, sometimes long into the night, until she fell asleep across from him at the kitchen table and John found it necessary to carry her upstairs to bed. Sherlock would often follow them, fond and lingering.
The doorbell sounds all too soon, breaking John's reverie.
"Hey! Uncle John!" echoes a young, familiar voice from outside, followed by the restrained, tongue-in-cheek pummeling of small fists against the glass. "Anybody home? You guys aren't still in pyjamas, are you? Because that would be weird!"
John swears under his breath, drops the tea-towel in the sink, and rushes to answer the door. "No, we're not in pyjamas," he says, throwing his arms wide as Elisabeth launches herself at him, grinning from ear to ear. John kisses the top of her head as he spins her around, noting how much heavier she's gotten since her last visit.
She's had a growth spurt, he thinks, setting her down when his shoulder finally screams in protest. My God, she's looking me straight in the eye. And it was true: she was shorter than John by half an inch now, and if she kept going, she'd be looking Sherlock in the eye next. "What have your mothers been feeding you?"
"The usual," Harry says, her arms folded across her chest as she steps inside, but doesn't bother to shut the door behind her. "Fish and chips, pizza, Clara's homemade pasta. She's still a picky eater. Sherlock's been a bad influence."
Elisabeth pulls a face. "Mum, shut up. He is not. He doesn't eat anything."
"Then it's veggies for you, Liss," John sighs, flipping her ponytail over her shoulder.
"Uncle Sherlock won't eat them, either," insists Elisabeth, crossing her own arms, a perfect, stubborn mirror of Harry. "You'll be eating them by yourself."
"Watch your mouth, love," Harry chides, but her tone of voice is fond as she hugs her daughter goodbye. "And do as Uncle John says. As for Uncle Sherlock, you'd better think twice before listening. Be good." And, with that, she's gone.
"Mum's in a hurry today," John observes, shifting her suitcase away from the door.
"She's got some meeting in the city," Elisabeth says. "They're closing a big sale."
"Then she's not likely to bother us, is she?" John asks. "Come on, you must be starving. Unless you had lunch on the way? Don't tell me it was McDonald's."
"I wanted McDonald's, but Mum said no," pouts Elisabeth.
"And what does Mummy say?" John had always found her addition of the extra syllable as a way of distinguishing between Harry and Clara endearing. Sherlock had always found it tiresome, but he'd never say so. He'd learned how to smile and mean it.
"Mummy says it's okay once in a while. She's more likely to give in."
"Well, I can assure you that I agree with Mum wholeheartedly for once," John tells her. "I'm going to take this upstairs to your room while you have a look through the fridge and pick out what you'd like for lunch, all right?"
Elisabeth starts for the kitchen, and then hesitates. "Uncle John, is there...?"
John does a quick mental tally of the fridge's contents, shaking his head in relief. "No, nothing scary. I made Sherlock clear out the petri dishes last night."
"No bees?" Elisabeth asks, her brow still furrowed.
"No bees," says John, firmly, and kisses her on the forehead. "Go on."
John deposits Elisabeth's suitcase quickly on the bed, pausing to rub his shoulder. It's less tolerable than it had been twenty years ago, certainly, and he's grateful that their days of chasing criminals down dark alleys and across perilous rooftops are well and truly over. It hadn't been easy to get Sherlock to settle down, and John wishes it hadn't involved one too many near-fatal injuries and no dearth of threats from Mycroft. John hears Sherlock's footsteps in the hall behind him, doesn't bother to turn as Sherlock's hand lifts his out of the way and takes over massaging John's shoulder.
"I heard Harry's car pull into the drive," Sherlock says, "but I didn't want to come down and interrupt. Things tend to remain more peaceful when you deal with her."
"It wouldn't have been interrupting," John tells him. "She's missed you, too."
"Harry?" asks Sherlock, wryly, and John can picture the twist of his lips. "Not likely."
"No, idiot. I meant Liss."
Sherlock kisses the back of John's head and gives his shoulder a pat. "Tell her I'll join you both shortly. I've nearly finished the article. They won't be calling what's been happening to honeybees a mystery for much longer."
"Sherlock, that's fantastic," John says, turning just in time to press a kiss to the corner of Sherlock's mouth. He trails across the hall to his study, already in a thoughtful daze, still clutching a book in his free hand. John watches him go.
"I heard that," Elisabeth says as John descends the stairs. "Is he working on something important? Will it make everybody hate him? I love it when that happens."
"Yes, they'll hate him," John sighs, joining her in front of the open fridge. "But they'll thank him for it, too. This problem's been puzzling scientists for thirty years."
"I can't find any of your honey in the cupboards," says Elisabeth, annoyed.
"We sold the last of the most recent batch, but there's more on the way."
"Make Sherlock go collect some later."
John pulls out a chair for her. "Sit down. What do you want?"
"I wanted a honey sandwich," Elisabeth mutters, reluctantly taking a seat.
"What about a ham sandwich with mustard? Or cheese and pickle?"
"Boring," she says, and her intonation stops John dead in his tracks. That's new.
"Then what'll it be, Mistress Fussy?"
"Don't call me that," Elisabeth protests, but she's grinning. "Have you got curry?"
"How did you—"
"I can smell it. It's Mummy's recipe. I'll only eat it if there are no potatoes in."
"I made it without potatoes," John said, pulling out the container. "Sherlock won't eat them, either. Unless they're chips, of course. Another thing you two have in common."
"Uncle John," asks Elisabeth, "what's the scariest thing you ever found in there?"
"Are you sure you want me to answer that?"
"Yeah. Because I can't imagine anything scarier than that mouse cut in half."
"Way back in the day," says John, slowly, "when we first started living together, he..." He pauses, turning to look at her. "You're not going to believe me if I tell you."
Elisabeth sticks out her tongue. "Try me."
"A head," John manages, concentrating on the task at hand. "A human head."
Elisabeth makes a strangled noise, but she regains her composure quickly.
"In this fridge?"
"No, in our old one. Do you remember Mrs. Hudson?"
"Yes," Elisabeth says. "Your landlady. She died when I was four."
"That's the one. It was when we lived in Baker Street."
"I never even got to see what that place looked like," Elisabeth says.
"We have very fond memories of living there," John replies.
"Were you guys a couple when you moved in together?"
John takes a moment to marvel at the mature, measured quality of her words. A couple. Moved in together. Such an idea would've struck John as absurd twenty years ago, let alone at thirteen. What a brave new world they inhabit now, indeed.
"No," John says, realizing suddenly that Elisabeth has never heard the story. "In fact, we didn't even know each other, as such, when we moved in together. Uncle Sherlock was looking for a place to live, and so was I, but neither of us were in a position to rent alone. A colleague at Bart's introduced us, and the rest, as they say, is history."
"Oh," Elisabeth says. "Mike. He comes to Mum's Christmas parties, yeah?"
Damn it, but she's sharp. John laughs, feeling slightly giddy.
"Yes, as a matter of fact. It was Mike."
"Was Sherlock working at Bart's?"
"Only in the sense that he'd charmed his way past the staff and set up shop in both the mortuary and in one of the laboratories. He's very good at getting what he wants."
"Yep," Elisabeth says. "Like me." Even her smile has Sherlock written all over it.
John programs the microwave and then turns to face her, leaning against the work-top with his arms folded across his chest. By the way Elisabeth's looking at him, it's clear that she's thinking of her mother, and it's then that it occurs to John what a perfect mess of similarities they've all become. It's glorious.
"Don't you want to know the good bits?"
"You mean there are better bits than a head in the fridge?"
"Yeah. I mean, don't you want to know if it was love at first sight?"
Elisabeth sniffs haughtily. "There's no such thing."
That's Clara talking, John thinks. "That may be true," he agrees.
"But you guys are so besotted," Elisabeth teases. "That's what Mum says."
"It wasn't always like that," John admits, fetching an oven mitt for when Elisabeth's curry is done heating. "You can imagine that finding human body parts all over the kitchen on a regular basis didn't necessarily endear Sherlock to me at first."
"Ew, what? More than just a head?"
"Fingers in the freezer. Eyeballs in the microwave."
"Are you sure Uncle Sherlock's okay?"
"As okay as he'll ever be," John laughs. "These days, it's just bees and mice and bats. He doesn't have access to the mortuary at Bart's anymore, and there's no way the local coroner was having any of it, not way out here. People would talk."
"He helps people, though," says Elisabeth, thoughtfully. "I guess that makes it okay."
I'd better tell your mothers to keep an eye on you, thinks John, worriedly. He carries her curry over to the table and plops a spoon in it, just shy of splashing Elisabeth's shirt. She squeals indignantly, flinching, and then settles into relieved giggling.
"So," she says. "Why did you fall in love with him?"
John pauses in the middle of scrubbing out the microwave, listening intently to the floorboards just above their heads. He knows the sound of Sherlock's every movement by now, no matter how slight. He's listening in on them, and he's probably been listening for at least the past ten minutes, perhaps longer.
"Lots of reasons," John admits, and resumes scrubbing. "First off, he developed the bad habit of letting me follow him around. Second of all, I developed the bad habit of saving his life. Do you know how some people just have the knack of getting you to do whatever they want you to do, and you don't even know why, don't even question it until you realize that it's because they somehow knew you wanted it, too?"
Elisabeth stares at him blankly. "No."
"Well, don't worry about it," John says, washing his hands quickly under the tap. "Someday, you will." Sherlock is halfway down the stairs now, no longer attempting to hide his approach. Elisabeth breaks into the most heartbreaking smile John's ever seen, and she's out of her chair and in Sherlock's arms at the foot of the stairs before John can tell her to mind her manners. It's rare that Sherlock will indulge her addiction to full-body hugs, but right now, he's clinging to the girl like she's his everything, his world entire. It's at least half a minute before Sherlock releases her, asks her how she's been, and tells her she had better get back to her curry.
"Missed you," says Elisabeth. "Can I see what you're working on when I'm finished?"
"Yes," Sherlock says, joining her at the table. He glances briefly at John. "Now, what dreadful half-truths, inaccuracies, and lies has Uncle John been telling you?"
"He's telling me about how you met," she says. "About how you fell in love."
"Well, for my part, it was quite simple," Sherlock tells her. "Once he'd come into my life, I couldn't imagine it without him. Isn't that what you were trying to say, John?"
John nods, determined not to grab Sherlock and snog him right there.
"More or less. It's complicated, wouldn't you agree?"
"Complicated isn't good, though, is it?" Elisabeth asks. "At least Mummy says it's not."
"In our case," Sherlock insists, "complicated is perfect. Wouldn't you agree?"
He's looking at John again, and this time it's with barely disguised adoration.
"I know better than to contradict you," John says, stepping over to the table.
Sherlock takes hold of his hand and kisses his knuckles.
"Smart," Elisabeth says, grinning. "You guys are pretty disgusting, you know that?"
Every day of my life, John thinks, leaning gratefully into Sherlock's embrace.