So I first got the idea for this when it snowed a couple days ago. For most people, that's normal. But I live in a part of the country where I believed it was scientifically impossible for there to be snow. So Yay! It was a wonderful Christmas-y surprise. And then I randomly found the picture of Rupert Graves holding a baby and the rest is history, as they say.
(This was written very quickly before work. Also, I am American so please forgive anything that doesn't sound British).
The snow was falling thick and heavy. Lestrade supposed that meant enough people had wished for a white Christmas. He had to admit, it was beautiful. Colored lights hung in shop windows all down the street, twinkling cheerfully between the large flakes of snow. A gentle breath of wind stirred the air every now and then, lifting the snow into a brief dance before allowing it to cover the roads, the sidewalks, the buildings. Pulling his coat tighter around himself, Lestrade allowed himself a small smile, his breath coming out in a visible puff of silver. It was barely past eight, yet the area was nearly deserted. An occasional cab rolled by, but besides that, he was the only person out and about. Before he had made a conscious decision to go there, he found himself on the doorstep of 221B Baker Street. He hesitated, staring at the old door knocker and the scratch in the paint beside the B for a longer than a minute. He didn't want to intrude. It was one thing to arrive unannounced on any day, but it was something else entirely to do it on Christmas Eve. He turned around, leaving his footprints on the staircase as he left. No sooner had he reached the sidewalk then the door opened and a square of golden light spilled out into the night.
"I don't think it worked, John. From what I can tell-oh! Detective!" Mrs. Hudson's voice stopped him mid-stride.
Surprised, he looked back. Mrs. Hudson stood in the doorway, her red jumper standing out brightly.
"Mrs. Hudson," he greeted. "Sorry, I was just...uh…"
"Don't just stand there. Come in, come in!" she invited, stepping aside and gesturing with her arm.
"No, I wasn't going to-" Lestrade held up a hand in protest.
"Come along, dear. You must be freezing," Mrs. Hudson cajoled.
Unable to deny it, Lestrade gratefully accepted the invitation. Mrs. Hudson grinned and grabbed his hands as he came through the door.
"Merry Christmas, dear," she said. "You poor thing, your hands are frozen. I knew it. You go on upstairs and warm yourself. I've got the kettle on and I'll bring it right up as soon as it's ready." With that, she spun on her heel and hurried to the kitchen.
With little other choice, Lestrade mounted the stairs, relishing the interior temperature. The door to Sherlock's flat was open, so he walked through. Sherlock was standing by the window, silhouetted by the streetlights, his back to the room.
"Inspector," he said without turning around.
"Merry Christmas, Sherlock," Lestrade returned, sniffling as his nose thawed.
Babbling from the floor drew his attention to the middle of the room. Rosie was sitting on the rug, a blue stuffed hippo clutched in her chubby fingers. In her Christmas print sleeper, backlit by the fire in the hearth, she looked like a little angel to Lestrade. The picture was solidified in his mind when she leaned her head back to look at him, exposing her blonde curls and blue eyes.
"Have a seat," Sherlock said, stepping away from the window and pointing to the red armchair beside the fire.
"Thank you." Lestrade sank onto the chair, carefully stepping over the baby.
As he watched her play, the snow that had collected on his coat gradually melted in the heat of the room. When she giggled, he felt her infectious happiness tug his mouth into a grin and he couldn't resist bending down and picking her up. He settled her on his lap and she instantly dropped her hippo in favor of her new playmate. She grabbed his cheeks, grinning at her own game.
"John is-?" Lestrade asked as best he could with a child pinching his face.
"Helping Mrs. Hudson with the lights," Sherlock said before narrowing his eyes. "Why aren't you at the Yard?"
Lestrade reluctantly freed himself from Rosie's grip. "Oh. You're right. I should have taken this off first before I took the baby."
He shifted around until he could reach the gun still clipped to his belt. He took it off and set in on the mantle, next to the skull with a santa hat and the knife stabbed into a stack of papers. It then occurred to him that baby proofing the flat probably wasn't on the top Sherlock's to-do list. But it made himself feel better to keep the weapon out of her reach anyway. Sherlock was still staring at him.
"And to answer your question, they let me off early. Apparently we were having a slow night and Gatiss' team can handle it," Lestrade said.
"But you're a senior officer with no family to speak of. You have nothing else to do on a holiday, shouldn't you be the one working?" Sherlock pointed out.
Lestrade sighed, used to the other man's inconsiderate phrasing. "I asked if they wanted me to stay but they said a twenty-two hour shift was more than enough and I didn't need to make it a thirty-hour shift."
Sherlock frowned at him. "It was twenty-three and a half hours."
"What?" Lestrade asked, attention divided between the consulting detective and the baby intent on unraveling his scarf.
"You started your shift twenty-three and a half hours ago. The crease on your-"
"Alright," Lestrade stopped him before he could launch into his full explanation. "Twenty-three and a half. But how did you know about my wife?"
"Ex-wife," Sherlock corrected.
Lestrade swallowed and looked away. "Ex-wife," he agreed.
"It was obvious," Sherlock huffed.
Lestrade tipped his head back, blinking at the ceiling. "She finally did it. Moved to America."
Sherlock nodded, as if he had known what was going to happen. Of course, he probably had. It didn't take being the world's only consulting detective to know the end was near. Lestrade had seen the writing on the wall. He hadn't been happy about it, but it hadn't surprised him.
"Said she needed a change of scenery. I hope she finds what she's looking for," Lestrade murmured, watching as Rosie's eyelids drooped.
When she stuck her thumb into her mouth and burrowed against his chest, he wrapped a protective arm around her to ensure she didn't tumble off his lap as she drifted into a deep slumber.
"What are you doing here?" Sherlock asked, though his tone was curious rather than hostile.
"I was looking for a drink. Couldn't find one," Lestrade said.
"Probably because you're in the wrong part of the city," Sherlock returned.
Lestrade smirked. "Probably."
"Although, you started out in the right one. So the question is, why did you park your car near your favorite pub and then walk all the way here?" Sherlock inquired shrewdly.
"How did you know that?" Lestrade asked, blinking sluggishly at him.
"The snow on your coat," Sherlock answered smugly. "I saw it when you came in. Once I had calculated the rate of the snowfall, while taking into account the fabric of your coat, it was easy to determine the distance you had walked."
"Right." Lestrade nodded, well-accustomed to Sherlock's nearly inhuman ability to know facts about other people. "I didn't mean to-" he paused to yawn. "To come here. I just wanted to take a walk before I had my drink, you know. Just wanted a bit of fresh air."
"Fresh air? In London?" Sherlock quirked an eyebrow.
"I wasn't going to come. Honest. It just sort of...happened," Lestrade slurred, body gradually relaxing as the hours he'd spent awake caught up with him.
The corner of Sherlock's mouth curled up and he wordlessly crossed the room to retrieve his violin. As he passed it, he flicked off the lightswitch, leaving the flat illuminated only by the glow of the fireplace. By that time, Lestrade had lost his battle with sleep, his head bent forward until his chin was resting on the top of Rosie's curls where she lay snuggled to his chest. With the ghost of a smile on his lips, Sherlock drew his bow across his violin, softly playing a Christmas carol. A minute later, Mrs. Hudson came up the stairs, carrying a tray with tea and biscuits.
"John thinks he's almost got it figured out," she announced as she set the tray in the flat's kitchen area. "We should have them back on in no time. I've brought the tea for…" she trailed off, coming to notice the dim lighting and Sherlock's gentle playing. She stepped into the other room and smiled at the pair on the armchair. "Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever seen?" she whispered.
Sherlock acknowledged her assessment with the barest tip of his head, taking care not to break the rhythm of his song. Mrs. Hudson folded her hands in front of her, content to take in the scene-the snow falling outside the window, the crackling fire, Sherlock coaxing a beautiful melody from his instrument, and Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade asleep with little Rosie on his lap.