Sherlock hated the stupid hospital gown. It had taken a few days before the nurses even allowed him to wear it, saying it would irritate the wound, and during that time he had complained about being cold and 'improperly dressed' to receive guests (though he knew neither John nor Lestrade cared; Molly's gaze had lingered a fraction of a second longer on his torso than usual, her cheeks reddened slightly, but she'd otherwise made an outstanding effort to keep her eyes on his face.) Now, though, the damn thing itched and he almost wished he could take it off again.

He actually just hated the hospital in general. He spent a great deal of time at St. Bart's and didn't mind his work there, but being a patient was an entirely different story. It reminded him too much of his drug days – the needles, the watchful eyes, the terrible food, the beeping.

Speaking of which…He upped his morphine drip slightly and heard John sigh beside him.

"Don't you think it might be time to tone that down a bit, mate?" He asked pointedly. He and Mary weren't speaking, and John had moved into 221B in Sherlock's absence. John hadn't told him, of course, but he'd lost two pounds from stress and lack of proper cooking (which was good, in Sherlock's opinion; he'd started to put on a bit,) and the dirt on his shoes was typical of Baker Street, not like the grass stains he would have carried on him if he'd come from his new house. Sherlock resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the idea of domestic life. How dull.

"When you get shot, you can control the morphine," he replied nonchalantly.

"I have been shot," John pointed out. "And I didn't use morphine past day three."

"Well, that was rather stupid of you." John glared at him.

Since that evening with Mary at 221B, which had ended so abruptly with Sherlock's heart needing to be restarted on the ambulance, John had scarcely left the hospital. He had been Sherlock's constant companion, monitoring his medications, keeping him fed, managing visitors, checking in with the nurses, distracting himself from his marital woes…

…and driving Sherlock insane. John had changed in his few months of domestic bliss and the attention he had previously been doting upon his pregnant wife he turned to his injured friend. Sherlock had initially been pleased with the attention (when was he not pleased with attention?) but it quickly turned from amusing to overbearing. If he'd wanted his mother's company in his hospital room, he would have invited her.

On the other hand, it probably was time for him to back off the morphine. He really wasn't using that much, in his opinion. The problem was it took a lot for him to feel its effects; over the years, he'd built up a rather strong resistance to drugs. A minimum dose would have put John to sleep for hours; for Sherlock, however, it did little to dim the constant aching in his chest. Being shot hurt more than he'd expected.

Aware of John's gaze, Sherlock reached over and pushed the button twice, slowing the morphine, then raised his eyebrows, silently asking Happy? John understood and nodded, his frown still present but content for the moment to leave Sherlock be. It was, after all, his wife who'd put him in this bed.

Sherlock didn't understand why John was still angry with Mary. Sherlock had forgiven her and he was the one she'd nearly killed. She'd saved him in the end, anyway, by calling that ambulance. You two should have gotten married, John had said. John was wrong – he needed Mary. His obsessing in the hospital made that clearer than ever. Why couldn't John see it as well?

A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. He turned to John. "I didn't know anyone was coming today."

John looked equally perplexed. "I didn't either. Must not be Lestrade or Molly."

Sherlock snorted derisively. "Who the hell else would visit me? Maybe Janine wanted to rant some more."

"Sherlock, you did seduce her and propose to her just to sneak into her work place,"

"I did not seduce her!" He cried indignantly. It hadn't been seduction, really. She'd been interested in him at the wedding, that was obvious, and he'd just encouraged it a bit. She'd started it.

"Oh, good God, seduction is not generally your forte, little brother." Mycroft. Of course. Sherlock had a hazy recollection of Mycroft visiting earlier that week, when he'd still be under heavy painkillers. He vaguely remembered Mycroft pacing about the room a bit before settling in the chair beside him. He'd said something (Sherlock couldn't remember what) and, unless he was quite mistaken, had held his hand, a gesture that might have been intended to be comforting and something Mycroft would never have done if he thought there was even a slight possibility that Sherlock would remember. Sherlock stored that piece of information in his memory palace, to be used when the opportune moment arose.

Mycroft stood above him, looked him over once, and added, "Especially not like this."

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Thank you for your sympathy, Mycroft. It gives me strength at this difficult time."

"Just because you've been shot isn't an excuse to abandon all proper hygiene."


"Mycroft, don't upset your brother." A different voice. Oh, God.

His mother pushed through the door, all but dragging his father behind her, and approached the bed. She made a sort of cooing sound that made Sherlock want to crawl under the covers and never come out and leaned down and kissed his hair. "My boy," she muttered. "My baby boy. I knew this would happen eventually, I just knew it. Haven't I always said it, Siger, that he was going to get into trouble? He tells me I worry too much, but I know my boy and I knew something would happen." She kept her hand on his cheek, the other brushing his unruly hair back from his eyes, and, at that moment, Sherlock almost wished the bullet had killed him.

Her face was so sad, Sherlock almost felt guilty when he knocked her hands away from him. It didn't discourage her, though, no, not his mother. She took a step back and looked him over. "How big was the bullet wound?" And for a terrifying second he thought she might actually pull his damn hospital gown up to see it for herself.

"The size of a bullet," he muttered. She glared, hands on hips.

"Don't be smart."

Throughout this exchange, Mycroft stood smugly to the side, a half-smile on his face, watching his brother being coddled by their mother. Sherlock flashed back to a day at the park when he was all of six-years-old, of Mycroft telling him not to be stupid and just go down the slide, it wasn't scary, and finally pushing him, of him tumbling head first and scraping his face, and of his mother swooping in to pick him up, scolding his big brother as Sherlock smiled smugly. Payback, brother mine. Sherlock could almost hear him saying it.

She was contemplating whether to kiss him again, Sherlock could see it in her eyes, and silently thanked his father, his quiet, ordinary, sane father, when he said, "I'm sorry, I don't believe we've met."

John blinked, apparently taken aback by the sudden appearance of the entire Holmes family. "Oh, uh, right. I'm John, John Watson, I'm Sherlock's, uh, friend."

His father smiled widely and reached out a hand for John to shake. "Dr. John Watson, of the famous blog. I quite like it. It keeps us up to date on what Sherlock is doing." A pang of guilt shot through him. Or maybe a pang of pain, it was hard to tell at the moment. Don't up the morphine with them here. Then she'd start about the drugs again. Best to keep them distracted with John.

"Yes, my friend, John Watson. He keeps me out of trouble."

"Obviously not all trouble," his mother interrupted. "Not that we blame you at all, dear, he's always been a handful. Always falling out of trees and jumping onto trains… Never shot, though. Oh, God, my boy." She reached down and stroked his face again. Sherlock shook her off.

"Not even John can stop a bullet, I'm afraid," he said. "He keeps me company here, though. Never a dull moment in room 121. What are you both doing here? I thought you were on a trip somewhere."

His mother stared at him, aghast. "My youngest son is shot, hospitalized, and you think I'd be able to enjoy dinner and a show?"

"I wouldn't want you to cancel your plans for me."

"Of course we cancelled our plans for you," his father added, frowning slightly.

"It just convinces us that we need to be around more, quite frankly," his mother continued. "Someone needs to keep an eye on you and obviously Mycroft isn't doing it." A sputter of indignation from Mycroft was ignored. "We're considering buying a place here in London, since you two never come out to see us. That way we could be here while you're recovering and we'd be able to see both of you more often."

Because they grew up in a rather ordinary household with rather extraordinary intelligence, with no one but each other to share their thoughts with, Sherlock and Mycroft understood each other quite well, more so than Sherlock liked to admit. At time like this, though, the fact that they could communicate entirely through side glances was useful.

Two raised eyebrows from Mycroft. We have a problem.

The corner of Sherlock's mouth tilted upwards. Obviously.

A slight head tip to the left. Give them something to keep them happy.

Sherlock's lips narrowed. A little sacrifice now to spare us a lot of pain later.

A small nod. Exactly.

Sherlock calculated that he had three seconds before his mother continued on, thereby convincing herself and their father to move to London, one step away from just dropping by to say hello, bringing some friends over, making weekly dinner plans. Sherlock shuddered.

Images flashed before his eyes. A birthday card he forgot to send. A message erased from his machine. Mycroft's private jet was unavailable. Give them something give them something give them something.

His mother looked at him, her bottom lip trembling. His father took her hand and squeezed it.

John sat on his left, alone.

And suddenly he knew how to solve both his problems.

"Actually, I was thinking of coming out to the cottage once I'm released from the hospital," he said quickly. "I thought a bit of fresh air, a change of scenery, would be good for me."

His mother beamed. "That's a wonderful idea! Why, we could do Christmas! Christmas dinner! Just like old times." His father nodded along with her.

Sherlock put on a smile. "I was thinking the same thing. You've still got that spare room, haven't you?"

"Of course."

He turned to John. "Perhaps you and Mary would like to come out as well?" He didn't give him time to come up with an excuse. "You have no relatives. We both know she doesn't have any relatives. You don't want to be all alone on Christmas, John!" He added with exaggerated concern.

His mother clasped her hands together. "You must, I insist. You should spend Christmas with your friends and Sherlock so rarely brings his friends around that I really must insist."

"Sherlock so rarely has friends…" Mycroft muttered under his breath.

John sat, mouth slightly agape, for a moment. His eyes flickered briefly to Sherlock and shot him a disparaging look, but Sherlock knew he wouldn't refuse, he was far too polite for that.

"Oh, well, yes, wonderful, yes, that sounds wonderful, Mrs. Holmes. We will be there. Me…and my wife."

"Violet, dear, no need for such formalities. Well, I'm delighted. I'll have my boy and his friends at the house for Christmas."

Mycroft smiled appreciatively. Crisis averted.

Crisis averted indeed. His mother would be distracted in the next few weeks preparing for their visit and would forget her ideas of coming to London permanently. Mary and John would have to spend some time together. He'd have to be released from the hospital by then; his mother would see to that. All that remained, then…

"And, of course, Mycroft will be there," Sherlock added gleefully. He sent a sickeningly sweet smile towards his big brother, now glowering at him from the corner. "It wouldn't be Christmas without Mycroft."

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