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Baker Street Imp (2/7)

BBC Sherlock

Rating: PG (very implicit slash)

Summary: John and Sherlock must work out what to do with Clara's precocious seven-year old niece, Immy.

Part 1

Immy was largely as John had expected: gappy grin, huge and eloquent eyes under a shaggy black fringe, yellow T-shirt with a cute black kitten on, shocking pink trousers, and a painfully grazed arm. As he rapidly bathed that, her detailed account of the numerous other cuts and bruises he spotted on her revealed that she thought it hadn't been a good day unless she'd fallen into or onto something. Not entirely sure that he wanted to know the answer, he asked cautiously:

"How did you manage to get so muddy, Immy?"

"There was this dog I was playing with in Hyde Park. He was great fun, only he was a kind of retriever, and he kept going into the Serpent lake and coming back and bouncing over me. My mum doesn't let me play with strange dogs, but Auntie Harry didn't seem to mind."

"What else has Harry let you do?"

"Not much, because I only got here on Friday evening, and we had to take Auntie Clara to the airport. Yesterday we went to the Tower of London and The Lion King and then the Hard Rock Cafe, and we had sticky ribs and it was so cool. And then this morning we went to Hyde Park, which was fun and we came home and had lunch, and we were supposed to go out for a boat trip, but Auntie Harry said she wasn't feeling very well, so we stayed here. And she was saying funny things, and she didn't make me tea, and I am really incredibly hungry right now..."

"I'll have a quick look at Harry, and then I'll make you some tea."

"But I really am, hungry and it's been hours and hours since lunch." There was a whine in her voice and tears were clearly near.

"You go and look at Harry, John," said Sherlock, sailing into the bathroom, "and I'll feed Immy. You don't need to show me where the kitchen is, Immy, because I'm very good at finding things out and I bet I can deduce what you like to eat." John took one look at Immy, spotted the signs of yet another female falling hopelessly in love with Sherlock, and went to check on his sister.


Harry was going to have a king-sized hangover the next day, John concluded, but was otherwise OK, which was a lot better than she deserved. By the time he'd cleared the worst of the mess from the living room, Sherlock and Immy reappeared.

It didn't take the world's greatest detective to conclude from Immy's face and clothes that her meal had included egg, ketchup, chocolate, and something blackcurranty.  John rather doubted it had included anything of real nutritional value.

"Do you know how to feed a child?" he asked Sherlock.

"Only one efficient way to feed a seven-year old," Sherlock replied. "They know what they like and they're old enough to tell you. You just show them things from the cupboards and ask what appeals."

"That T-shirt's never going to be the same again."

"I don't care!" said Immy. "I hate this T-shirt, but Mum makes me wear it. I think kittens are just so boring!"

"There's always one thing wrong," said Sherlock. "What's next?"

"I'll get Immy cleaned up and in bed. Do you think you could go round the flat and find the rest of Harry's...cache. You know where people hide things."


Immy looked even cuter once bathed and in her pink pyjamas with the chintz cats on – John was starting to recognise a theme here.

"OK," he said, "time for bed now, you've had a very busy day. I'll stay here tonight, so there's no need to worry about anything."

"My mum said I could stay up till Auntie Harry or Auntie Clara told me to go to bed."

"It's late and I'm sure you're tired."

"But Auntie Clara's not here and Auntie Harry hasn't told me to go to bed, so I don't have to."

"Yes, but Harry, your auntie, isn't in a fit state to tell you that. I'm telling you that."

"You're not my auntie."

"I'm your uncle, sort of uncle. Acting uncle. Medical advisor. And I'm telling you it is time for your bed."

"But Mum said it was up to my aunties, and I ought to do what Mum said, oughtn't I?"

Ten minutes later, John beat a retreat. It needed a sharper mind than his to solve this problem.


"From the number and condition of the empties," Sherlock announced, "and the state of this kitchen, I'd say your sister had been sober for at least a week, but started drinking again this morning."

"Sounds familiar," said John. "She'll be fine for just long enough to fool you into thinking things are different and then she'll get stressed and crash. I don't know  what Clara was thinking of." He had a pretty clear idea now of why Harry had got stressed:  caring for any seven-year old girl, let alone Immy, wasn't restful.

"Clara was thinking about living rooms, literally. She went off to a furniture trade fair in Cologne," said Sherlock.

"How did you work that one out?"

"Immy couldn't remember where Clara was going, but she could remember the flight number. Clara wouldn't have gone off like that unless it was something work-related, and the Interzum fair started yesterday. I may be able to track Clara down tonight, if you need that, otherwise tomorrow morning."

"Tomorrow morning's probably more realistic to get her back here, which is really not good," said John, rapidly calculating. "I can stay here tonight, but I'm at the surgery tomorrow from eight. I can't leave Immy alone, and Harry will be in no fit state for anything, even if I trusted her. "

"Would Lestrade know someone?" Sherlock asked.

"He'd have to take official notice, call in the child protection people, and I'd rather spare Immy that. OK, I'll just have to scrub the surgery, which Sarah is not going to be happy about."

"Can't you get Sarah-"

"Don't even suggest that. Asking your ex-girlfriend to help you look after your sister's ex's niece is not going to go down well, and tomorrow is not Take Someone Else's Daughter to Work Day."

"Mrs Hudson?"

"Our landlady, not our babysitter. I'll just have to stay here tomorrow and miss the shift. If you can get Clara back here sometime tomorrow, that'd be a help. Tuesday at the latest."

"Stay here!" Sherlock announced with horror. "I need you tonight, back in Baker Street."


"Have you forgotten the Mazarin Diamond?" Sherlock enquired.

"No, but unless Lord Cantlemere has lost the thing again, the case is over. You didn't even get murdered."

"But I've had some very interesting ideas about how we can refine Billy, in case we need to use him again."

John groaned. One Sherlock in the flat was bad enough, but two – even if one was a decoy animatronic figure nicknamed Billy – was worse. There were times when he wondered about putting a bullet through Billy's head first, before someone else did. He could always claim it was for research purposes.

"We can talk about that some other time," he protested.

"It must be tonight. A man's sanity is at stake!"


"Mine. This morning, while you were out, I ended up having a three-way conversation. Myself, the skull and Billy, and Billy was definitely coming out with the best lines."

"Sherlock," John said firmly, shutting his eyes and trying to focus on reality. "I have to stay here and look after Immy."

"You have to look after Immy, but Harry will be OK on her own, won't she? You wouldn't stay if it was just her?"

 "No, I wouldn't."

"And when she does wake up, you're going to want to kill her with your bare hands, aren't you?"

"She had a seven-year old to look after and she got drunk!"

"It's hardly going to help Immy is it, if her uncle and aunt are having angry bust-ups? The solution's obvious. Bring Immy back to 221B."

"Our flat isn't exactly child-friendly, Sherlock."

"Do you think this is?" Sherlock replied blandly. "Besides, you want to see our flat, don't you, Immy?"

Immy stood smiling in the kitchen doorway in her pink pyjamas, an irresistibly sweet picture from a magazine advert, and said:

"I really want to see Sherlock's eyeballs. Can I, Uncle John, they sound so gross?" She paused, and then added, with sudden heartbreaking pathos. "And I don't want to stay here, I don't feel happy here, I'd be much happier with both of you in your flat..."

She could give master classes in emotional blackmail to Sherlock, John thought, but he could hardly blame her for not wanting to stay here.

"Sherlock," he said, "go home, remove all the crime scene photos from the living room, and put anything remotely poisonous in your bedroom, preferably under lock and key. Immy's best sleeping in my room, so remove anything of yours that's in there as well. I'll sleep on the couch tonight."

He could see Sherlock absorb the additional message: for the purposes of tonight, they weren't a couple. Immy's mother might be OK with Harry and Clara, it didn't necessarily mean she'd be happy about a pair of unfamiliar gay men looking after her child. Then a sudden, more urgent, worry struck John.

"Oh," he added, "and dispose of the frogs."

"I like frogs!" Immy protested.

"Not in this state, you wouldn't. They're...past their best. If Immy's going to come we need to get the flat vaguely respectable."

"Anything else?" said Sherlock, miraculously unconcerned at the thought of tidying up.

"Is there any way you can get a friend of yours to drive over and pick us up? I'm not getting into a cab on my own with someone else's pyjama-clad daughter, that's the sort of thing that gets you in jail for life, but I'd rather not have to get Immy dressed up again." Getting her undressed had seemed to involve far too much discussion as it was.

"Hatty Doran's our best bet," said Sherlock, "best motorcycle courier in London."

"Immy's not going on a motorbike," said John, which got a series of sulky snorts from Immy. Had he really just agreed to have her and Sherlock stay in the same flat?

"I'll sort something out with Hatty," said Sherlock. "Don't worry, John and I'll see you later, Immy."

Once Sherlock had gone, Immy turned and smiled at John. "This is going to be a really cool adventure."

"Yes, but you need to go to your room now, Immy."

"It's not my bedtime. Oh, do you mean to pack? I'll need some help."

"I'll come and help you later. But anyhow, go to your room now. It doesn't matter if you don't go to bed, you can just read a book or something."


"Imogen Parmar, believe me, you do not want to watch me put an alcoholic to bed."

"What's an alcoholic?"

Shit, thought John. "It's a bit complicated. Ask your Auntie Clara to explain sometimes. But now go to your room."


Hatty Doran was black-haired, with large dark eyes, a beautiful mouth, and a lot of motorbike equipment in her arms. 

"Hi, Dr Watson," she said, "your chariot awaits. Well, it's really a Yamaha with a Sauer double sidecar, but it'll do you for tonight. Afraid I've only got a helmet for you, but I've brought some leathers as well for your niece. Reckon they'll fit, Sherlock said seven but teeny. Why's she in her PJs?"

"My Auntie Harry-," Immy began.

"It's a long story," said John, "but I ought to get her to bed as soon as possible. So you can get us back to Baker Street?"

"Sure. How long are you in London, honey?"

"All this week."

"If you want her to try some off-road riding, I could arrange that, Dr Watson. Very reasonable rates, for a friend of Sherlock."

"Immy's seven!"

"My youngest started at  four, when she could reach the pedals. You wanna have them be motocross stars, you start 'em young, before they worry about falling off."

"Ms Doran, I...can you please just take us home?" said John. It had never before seemed relevant that Sherlock knew people not only willing to do crazy things, but do crazy things accompanied by small children.

"OK, let's get moving then."


Back at 221B, John found that his bed had been mysteriously kitted out with a frilly sheet, a pale pink duvet, and even a teddy bear. He told Immy to start unpacking, and went hurriedly back downstairs to the living room to thank Mrs Hudson, and get her out of the way before Immy started complaining. He thought she was just out of earshot before Immy re-emerged, dragging the bear by its fluffy jumper:

"I don't want a teddy-bear, I'm not five. And anyhow, I always sleep with Ruby. You did bring her, didn't you Uncle John? She's green and gold and the cuddliest toy rattlesnake you could have, and you wouldn't believe how long her forked tongue is."

"I brought her," John said, "she'll be in your bag somewhere. Now go upstairs and try and get some sleep, because you promised Sherlock you would."


 John groaned when the alarm clock went off. 6.45 am, and he had to be at the surgery by ten to eight. Not much time to waste, and...why was he sleeping on the sofa, anyhow? Then he heard a child's voice from the kitchen, and the memory of last night slammed back into his sleepy brain.

He rapidly showered and dressed, and then psyched himself up to go and investigate. When he got in the kitchen, still rubbing his eyes, and trying to sound coherent, he found Immy dressed and eating Cheese Wotsits. Sherlock was still in his dressing gown and drinking coffee, and announced as John went in:

"If you can't get real eyeballs, then the best alternative is to peel some grapes, put them in a plastic bag and give them to your friends in the dark, for them to feel. You can have some uncooked sausages in there as well, the sort that are linked together, they're not a bad substitute for intestines, at least for someone who's never felt the real thing. Do you want some toast, John, we've got quite a lot spare? Immy decided she didn't want any."

"A slice, I haven't time for more. I've got to get to the surgery...," John's voice trailed off as he remembered. "I forgot all about phoning Sarah last night, didn't I, to cancel the shift? OK, I'll do it now. Unless Mrs Hudson..." He had vaguely hoped Mrs Hudson might rally round, or even her friend Mrs Turner from next door, that'd been why he'd left it. Which had been stupid of him.

"It'll piss off...irritate Sarah," said Sherlock, "which isn't very helpful for my plans."

"Well, I can't take Immy with me, and I can't leave her here alone...No, Sherlock!" John said, as the alternative suddenly hit him.

"She's spent two days with your sister and coped. Are you really saying I'm less responsible than Harry?"

"Yes...no. Maybe."

"Don't you trust me, John?"  Sherlock's smile was bland, but there was a tiny edge to his voice. John had spent months, after all, trying to introduce Sherlock to the concepts of normal behaviour, consideration for others, caring for people. When he'd first met Sherlock he wouldn't have left him in charge of anything living, even if he'd offered. Now...

"OK," he said, hoping he wasn't being rash. "You can look after Immy today. But just stay here in the flat, both of you, don't answer the door, don't let Lestrade come round. Sherlock, stick to the children's channels on TV and try to get Immy to have at least one portion of fruit and veg at some point. My shift finishes at half-four, I can be back by half-five, so it's ten hours or so. Not ideal, I know, but I'm sure you'll manage. Immy, you stay here, and do what Sherlock tells you, as long as it doesn't sound too silly, and, and just don't go anywhere or do anything. Is that OK?"

Two voices announced in almost simultaneous response: "Boring!"


John decided after a couple of minutes that he didn't have time to argue with Sherlock, let alone Immy; he'd probably miss half his shift anyhow, in the time it'd take to get her to agree to his plan. So he took the line of least resistance and concentrated on practicalities: making sure Immy had their address and phone number, and knew what to do if she got separated from Sherlock, and reminding Sherlock of the basic concept of a balanced diet for a child. And also coaching Immy to say that Sherlock was her mother's brother, not her mother's sister's ex-partner's brother's flatmate. He wasn't sure whether to be reassured or alarmed at how quickly she picked up her new identity. A final brief argument about where they should go, and then John had to hurry off, as Immy started to discuss all the animals she wanted to see at London Zoo.

John still wasn't sure that any plan involving Sherlock,  a seven-year old girl, and London Zoo was a good idea. On the other hand, there were worse ones: Sherlock, a seven-year old girl, and the Greenwich planetarium; Sherlock, a seven-year old girl and the London Dungeons. Or worst of all, Sherlock, a seven-year old girl, and a mini motorbike. 


Part 3



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
Oh John. I don't see any way he can win against these opponents.

Though my favourite line is the one about the conversation with the skull and Billy.
Jan. 17th, 2011 07:55 am (UTC)
I only stuck the Mazarin diamond case in at first because I vaguely remembered the name as intriguing - and then I re-read it, and there's the waxwork of Holmes (which also turns up in another of the stories), and I realised that Sherlock needed an updated version of that. I have a feeling that 'Billy' may end up appearing in other stories as well in the future, he's just too handy a prop to waste.
Jan. 16th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
yes, John is clearly doomed...

It had never before seemed relevant that Sherlock knew people not only willing to do crazy things, but do crazy things accompanied by small children.

I hope he can keep his mind on his shift!
Jan. 16th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! Really entertaining.
You've really captured the way John and Sherlock speak and act.
I can hardly wait for the next part. :)
Jan. 16th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)

Yay part 2! I love the way John uses Immy's full name to get her out of the room while he's putting Harry to bed.

And Hatty Doran's youngest! I hope we get to see more of Hatty, and perhaps said youngest!
Jan. 17th, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
I think the full name bit comes instinctively to parents, and maybe to anyone who has to deal with small recalcitrant small children. You need the formality as an attention-getting device.

I have a feeling, now I've got Hatty Doran as a motorcyclist and courier, that she may be handy for other fics as well. Though it would help if I was better at writing US characters, and I'm not sure I can get really small motorcyclists into my stories easily.
Jan. 18th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)
*happily volunteers for Americanism help*
Jan. 20th, 2011 10:52 am (UTC)
I may take you up on that at some point - I have one very helpful US-picker, but it's always handy to have another one. But my current fics on the boil don't have any American characters that I can remember.
Jan. 29th, 2011 02:05 am (UTC)
2 children taking care of each other.. yeah.. very worring thing! lol
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )