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09 July 2011 @ 07:37 pm
Fic: The Educational Freak Show  
Title: The Educational Freak Show
Author: stormyskies
Rating: PG (Medical oddities and I drop the F bomb twice.)
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, John Watson
Spoilers: None.
Disclaimer: I like to borrow.
Summary: Sherlock and John visit the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.
A/N: The Mütter Museum is a museum of medical oddities. It's ridiculously interesting and, I think, a very Sherlock place to go. Originally written for this post in the kinkmeme.

"No wonder you like this place," John says when he first sees the wall of skulls. "Think of the monologuing you can do."

A joke. John Watson enters the Mütter Museum and makes a joke. Sherlock can't help but feel pleased. And a little bit smug. Mycroft had made it only twenty paces in before saying (very loudly) that he "wasn't much one for walking today." His pallor told a different story.

"I do not 'monologue'," Sherlock replies. "I think aloud. It's a perfectly acceptable--normal--process."

John rolls his eyes and returns to the skulls, fascinated. He is almost against the glass, reading each placard and studying each skull. He mumbles to himself now and then, things like "how sad" or "extraordinary." But mostly he just looks.

He giggles suddenly, eliciting sour looks from the other, more serious patrons. "This one just says 'idiot'." He turns to Sherlock. "Though I suppose with you, they'd all say that."

"I don't have enough data to make that assessment." He reads one of the cards. "Though this one--'hanged himself due to love affair gone wrong'--I would have to agree."

They descend the stairs and into the larger part of the museum. There is a plaster cast of conjoined twins Chang and Eng. Below is their liver, preserved for all time. Specimen drawers are full of interesting things people had swallowed and later had removed: hair pins, carpet tacks, jacks. "Harry ate a marble once," John says, perusing the large collection of safety pins. When he sees Sherlock's questioning look, he adds, "To be fair, I did bet her a pound. But I didn't think she'd actually do it."

They continued to circle the lower main room, discussing the different specimens: the multiple cross-sections of a human head (complete with a preserved face), a giant colon (with Sherlock pointing out the spelling mistake on the plaque), skeletons and wax molds depicting all sorts of diseases and defects.

They come upon the wax mold display of eye maladies. One had a toothpick stuck right in the pupil. Sherlock leaned closer, "hmm"-ing. "Whatever you're thinking," John warns, "stop. I'm tired of cleaning vitreous humor out of the microwave."

Sherlock stands up straight, a definite look of annoyance on his face. But he doesn't push the issue. Instead, he wanders into the other room of the museum's bottom floor.

It's more of the same, really: varying body parts in different degrees of health all in jars. John points to a jar of eyeballs on a high shelf. "Suddenly I'm homesick."

"It was an experiment!"

"In how to ruin the microwave? She put that on our rent, you know. And the toilet from that severed hand fiasco--and no, I meant it then, and I mean it now: I don't want to know."

"Science is messy," says Sherlock simply, as if this explains everything.

"Hadn't noticed," John replies, looking at a collection of multi-colored organs. One of them is a striking blue. "Pretty."

"That's a lung, John."

"Yes, I know. I did attend medical school." He looks at it a bit longer, tracing the feathery capillaries with his eyes. "Doesn't mean it's not pretty."

Sherlock is about to make a comment about appreciating the beauty found in biology when young couple comes charging in: a tall, wiry man and his overly-bleached blonde girlfriend. "This is fuckin' disgustin'," says the blonde, her nose wrinkling. "Why'd'ja bring me here?"

"It's interesting," replies the man.

"They have babies in jars. It's not 'interesting', it's fucked up. Whoever came up with this museum is a freak."

"The Mutter guy," says the man. "The big painting when you first come in."

"Mütter," Sherlock corrects.

"What?" They both turn

"The umlaut over the U. It's pronounced 'ooo'."

Blank stares.

"It's on the pamphlet," Sherlock adds, though probably not to be helpful.

The man turns to his girlfriend. "What the hell--"

"Let's go back upstairs." John grabs Sherlock by the arm and drags him out of the room, skirting around a group of schoolgirls in navy jumpers and differently-colored shoelaces.

Once upstairs, they wander into the room adjoining the top main room and are greeted by a large gray mummy who looked to be perpetually screaming.

"'Soap Lady'," Sherlock reads. He skims the rest of the sign, glancing back at the mummified woman. "Interesting... supposedly her burial conditions changed her fat to a soap-like substance."

John is looking at the shrunken heads. "Again, whatever ideas you're getting, no."

Sherlock lets loose a petulant huff and forcefully sticks his hands in his coat pockets. He goes to find John.

John is in the other room, looking at the array of medical machinery implemented throughout the ages. There are wicker wheelchairs and electroshock machines encased in heavy walnut. Birthing chairs (both he and Sherlock skip that one) and spectroscopes.

They ended up in the gift shop, the museum quite suddenly over. John blinked at the selection. "Is that..."

"Soap in the shape of the Soap Lady, yes," Sherlock finishes. He grins mischievously. "Shall we get one for Mrs. Hudson?"
sabrinaphynnsabrinaphynn on July 10th, 2011 12:35 am (UTC)
So THAT is why I thought I saw Sherlock on the train last month!!! ( yep, I live near Philly)
Very nicely done.
most excellently twisted: Holmes sciencefanbot on July 10th, 2011 12:48 am (UTC)
Fun! I want to go there.
Are they going to stop in Knoxville Tennessee and visit the Body Farm? I would gladly show them around town.
fairywriterslashfairy on July 10th, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC)
pennin_ink has a Body Farm fic here http://pennin-ink.livejournal.com/6206.html#cutid1

Edited at 2011-07-10 01:46 pm (UTC)
most excellently twistedfanbot on July 10th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
Ooooooh! Thanks!
HurrySundownhurry_sundown on July 10th, 2011 01:26 am (UTC)
Oh, well done! Lovely voices and completely IC behavior. I must say though, that I'm with Mycroft on this one. I once stumbled upon a shrunken head in a museum and had nightmares for days (okay, so I was 10). The soap lady would be cool, though - we have a soap man at the Smithsonian.
DarthHelloKittydarthhellokitty on July 10th, 2011 07:00 am (UTC)
Heh, I have sort of an attract/repel relationship with these sort of things - I'm super curious about seeing them, but then they haunt me later... So I haven't been to the Mutter, but I've thought about it!

I know Sherlock would love it, and John would be fine with it. And everyone else (even Mycroft) would be freaked out! Perfect.
fairywriterslashfairy on July 10th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
"That's a lung, John."
"Yes, I know, I did go to medical school."

Yes, yes he did. John always knows more than he lets on Love it.

Of course Sherlock wants to get Mrs. Hudson soap in the shape of the Soap Lady.
lastwordy_mcgeelastwordy_mcgee on July 10th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
I loved this, but I have one tiny concrit for you:

"I'm not cleaning up eyeball... mess" -- I suspect you mean vitreous humor. John would know what it's called : )
annastormyskies on July 11th, 2011 03:46 am (UTC)
He would indeed! I knew I should have taken that anatomy class in high school. :)
lastwordy_mcgeelastwordy_mcgee on July 11th, 2011 12:49 pm (UTC)
LOL -- I love how you fixed that line. Well done.
Jinkamoojinkamoo on July 10th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
I've been to the Mutter Museum before with mein mutter. ^^ Fascinating place and a good place to go in Philly. I love Philadelphia. Much cleaner than NY. I remember being horrified by the Mutter. The ancient forms of gynecology were particularly alarming. Surely no god may exist where men can shove such brutal things up a lady in the name of science!

It seems exactly the sort of place Sherlock (and even John, for altogether different reasons) might gravitate to if they were in the area. Neither of them would be particularly irked by the displays, though they might prod Sherlock's imagination in unsavory ways.
bugeyedmonsterbugeyedmonster on July 10th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
Of course Sherlock and John would go to the Mutter Museum. Ha! And you just know that Sherlock is going to try to do a few experiments based on what he saw.
bugeyedmonsterbugeyedmonster on July 10th, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
Seconding the "Sherlock and John visiting the Body Farm" comment. Sherlock would love it.