AN: Fellow readers! This is our Sherlockian Advent calendar gifted to all of you who are hopelessly sherlocked. Although it will only have 12 windows, which means that we will update the story every two days, we hope that you will enjoy our little Christmas treats as much as we enjoyed writing them! Have a nice Christmas time everyone!Summary: A dull Christmas silence has fallen over 221B. While John accepts it, Sherlock is bored and insists that nothing but a thrilling case could make him feel like Christmas. It proves difficult to get Sherlock to do all the Christmas trivialities and make it more than a tolerated distraction. But when a convenient murder requires his skills, Christmas seems irrevocably neglected.
The Christmas Compromise
Chapter I. A Christmas Promise
On Christmas Day, John got an unexpected call from work. He thought it might be an emergency, but eventually it was just Sarah Sawyer being nice. He could have appreciated it, hadn't he been in a train, next to Sherlock, who shot him a dismissive glare.
"Listen, Sarah" he said hastily, "I am honestly happy you called, but I believe this is not the right time… can I call you back?" She gave in without hesitation and the call was broken, leaving John with a heavy heart. He would have liked to talk to her and cutting her short like that seemed dreadfully impolite to him.
"What did she want?" Sherlock asked, giving John that inquisitive, observing look. He bowed his head, his elbows resting on his thighs, while he propped his chin on his entwined fingers; his eyes were probing.
"Oh, just asking me how I spent Christmas Eve, nothing more." John's answer was quick. He was still sulking – a really bad habit. Yet, he should know better than to be angry with his partner. Sherlock had done his best and to be fair, he didn't deserve being blissfully ignored while John would have a chat with a person, who wasn't even there. Mobile phones had the potential to ruin relationships, really.
There had been chaos as usual and yes, Sherlock had proven quite accurately how well-versed he was in forgetting everything over a case study. But he had fixed it, hadn't he? He had fixed it and in the end it had been…
"Nice. You said it was nice…" Sherlock said calmly after a while. "Did you mean it?"
Taken aback, John stared blankly, his mouth agape but he closed it instantly as he noticed. Sherlock's tone was more caring than he would have thought him capable of.
"Yes… yes of course."
"Would you have anticipated it?"
John didn't know what to make of the question, but Sherlock had never been one to read easily, his motives mostly unclear to everyone but himself.
"To be true… No…"
For a heartbeat, Sherlock looked as if he might be offended, but then a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. It spread into a grin and finally became a chuckle; his eyes were framed by those joyful wrinkles. It didn't take long for John to cling to the ease that washed over him and join in Sherlock's childish chuckles.
Advent 1st – Mrs Hudson had kindly asked John (them – she had asked them, Sherlock or John) to attach the Advent wreath to the front door. She stated that she was quite aware of being delayed in doing so, but according to her, the reason was simply that she had been hesitant to ask him or Sherlock to do it for her.
"You know, I am just not as good with attaching things as you are" she had said apologetically.
But John did it gladly. Gladly indeed, after bargaining about it with Sherlock. John was good at that, he had no problems with manual work, for his fingers were nimble and subtle enough to attach a bloody Advent wreath to a doorframe. Despite the cold, he had it fixed in a matter of minutes.
Cursing silently, he closed the front door. There was no snow but he thought to himself, that it was certainly cold enough for snow. Still, John declined Mrs Hudson's offer to make him a cup of tea after she had thankfully squeezed his frozen fingers. Sherlock was certainly in need of company – but he wouldn't get up from his chair.
"Sherlock?" John had left the door upstairs slightly ajar, but still he didn't receive an answer. Of course not. Growling he finally shed his jacket and opening and closing his cold fists, he climbed the stairs to their shared flat.
John wouldn't need to point out repeatedly that, according to Sherlock, it was his task to tend to all kinds of domestic work. It mattered not whether it was doing the groceries, cooking or tidying and cleaning up the flat. Sometimes, John faintly wondered, how Sherlock would organise his everyday life, when left to his own devices and additionally, how Sherlock had managed his household before John had come around. Having Sherlock positively using him as a handyman, however, was bothering him, as a matter of fact, but something seemed to prevent him from bargaining and complaining at every possible moment. One could say, John had come to terms with it at some point, as he had seen that discussing with his flatmate fell on deaf ears in the majority of cases.
When John entered the living room, Sherlock still hadn't moved as much as an inch. It was baffling John, how Sherlock could be so restless and agitated, burning with eagerness and almost hyperactive on some days and then again so lazy, tired and demoralised on others. He was even dozing off occasionally, refusing to eat or to leave the flat – in every way, his current state should be decidedly worrying. But John had stopped worrying at some point. He tried to be content with the idea that Sherlock's mind and body would simply go into Standby after a long period of working constantly without any satisfying break. It would only be natural. The battery that was his mind needed charging from time to time. But on the other hand, John thought, Sherlock was more like a working tool, lying still and untouched until it was to fulfil its next task. John was just glad that, for now, his boredom didn't make Sherlock get any ideas. John should see to it that it stayed that way.
"Sherlock, you really can't go on like this!"
Silence. The air was stuffy, so John walked across the room to open one of the windows. The smell of roasting onions and burning them in the process was surely not to stay inside for more than two days.
"John, it's cold. Close the window." It was the first reaction he had gotten in hours and truly, John hadn't expected Sherlock to be especially sensitive when it came to draught.
"You are impossible, really!" John said, angrily, sitting down face to face with his flatmate.
"I am bored…"
John furrowed his brows. "Bored. Alright, when you're bored, why don't you just… get the groceries for a change or help Mrs Hudson with her Advent wreath?"
"That won't help…"
He didn't understand but he wasn't distressed, as it occurred to be nothing new to him. Mostly, when Sherlock was that short-spoken, he preferred to be left alone. But this time, John simply couldn't do him that favour. It had been too long. Putting his palms together, he looked at his partner: sitting still, staring, his knees pulled to his chest, his head bowed and his chin resting on one hand he had draped over his knees. His hair was tousled and he was still wearing his tartan dressing gown and blue pyjamas.
"You really need to go out…" said John with a sigh.
"And do what?"
"Christmas is approaching… We could go and see the Christmas markets soon and when the time is right, we might get a Christmas tree together… Just have a nice time… what do you say?"
Nothing. "I need a case…"
"Sherlock…" John wiped his face with both hands, exasperated, "Your existence doesn't depend on cases… You need to give yourself a break… Christmas is a case-free time, okay?"
"Christmas should be a case."
Slowly, John shook his head to himself, shifting uneasily. Sherlock wouldn't agree and he was certainly doing it as a matter of principle.
"Fine…" John said, "You have any plans for Christmas Eve this year? Any invitations?"
"Mycroft will be out of country. He being unavailable makes it unlikely for me to expect any invitations…"
For once, John was glad that his sister Harry was as occupied as Sherlock's brother, since it meant that there was a high possibility for both of them to have time for one another during the Christmas holidays.
"Then we could make our own plans. The city is so nicely decorated, I really think you should see it. It might cheer you up…"
The silence that followed, was once again unbearable. John was trying hard and still it felt like Sherlock was disregarding his efforts by giving no reaction at all to his ridiculous notion.
"John, close the window, please." Please? Without a second thought, John got up, scolding himself inwardly the moment he did it as he walked towards the window to soundly close it again. It displeased him that, in order to get what he wished, he felt the need to act respectful and obedient towards his companion. But frankly, it mostly contributed to something that came as close to success as it could. It was evidently beneficial to be gentle with him in a state as fragile as this.
"So, do you want to go to a Christmas market with me some time? Get a Christmas tree and all?" John repeated, carefully.
"Well, I need something to do…"
"Promise?" – "Fine."
Even though, it momentarily felt like an achievement, John shouldn't have bought that right away.