Anachronic order, yaaay! I'm like Quentin Tarantino, man.
"I suppose sooner or later you'll have company up there on the mantelpiece." John tilts the skull in his hands at an angle, trying to envision the expression she'd wear if she had a face. "Sherlock's keeping a nice gentleman in the freezer at the moment, the nutter." He laughs quietly, a scuff of breath as he shakes his head in disbelief; John still hasn't adjusted to knowing that his flatmate can store a human head in the freezer like a chilled ready meal. John, could you fetch me a frozen dinner while you're in there? They're right beside the head. If any hair's frozen to the package, snip it off with scissors, don't tear it.
John rubs the flat of his tongue against the roof of his mouth, trying to get rid of the imaginary taste of frozen corpse hair out of his mouth. Mmm, Salisbury steak with a side of chilled cadaver. Delicious.
"Maybe the two of you will hit it off once he joins you. He's handsome for a decapitated head. Sherlock won't tell me his name—God knows why—but he looks like a Charles, to me." He smiles at the skull. "Charles and Eve. I think those sound nice together."
Eve doesn't tell him if she thinks it sounds nice. Her gaping eye sockets just peer blankly at him as if to say Sherlock is the nutter, you say?
John puts her back on the mantelpiece then. Talking aloud is rather therapeutic, he can see why Sherlock does it, but when a skull starts to judge him, John thinks maybe it's time to take a break.
"I'm not giving that thing back to him! It's horrible!"
"It's not that horrible. It…it adds, er. Character. Yes. And he'd like it back."
"If Sherlock wants his skull back, then he can come ask for it himself. And he can hear me say absolutely not for himself as well."
"Please, Mrs. Hudson."
"No, no, I won't have it."
"He's going to cry."
"Oh, Dr. Watson, you'll have to try much harder than that."
"I have a legitimate job that I need to wake up in the mornings for! If he keeps me up to ungodly hours of the night just talking, or even wakes me up at three AM to ponder something aloud, I'm going to kill him. And myself. And possibly several innocent bystanders."
"Oh—just—ooh, that thing is—oh, fine, but you warn him, John, that if I catch him down here with that awful thing tucked under his arm again, I will have him evicted."
"You're golden, Mrs. Hudson."
The clock reads 1:22 AM when John staggers out of his bedroom, hands clapped over his ears, to find Sherlock pacing across the flat with his violin under his chin and his bow pulling across the strings. Sherlock is a fine violinist, but it's incredibly loud and it's 1:22 AM for God's sake.
He stands there, unimpressed, in the doorway until Sherlock takes notice of him. He barely spares him a glance. "Ah. Good—" he peers at the clock, "morning, John."
"Is the violin necessary at this hour? Really?" John asks flatly.
"Yes," Sherlock answers simply, playing another tune. "I recall asking how you felt about the violin before you moved in."
"I don't recall answering."
"Hmm." He continues playing. John's eyebrow twitches.
"Sherlock. It's one in the morning. Either go to sleep or put the violin down."
Sherlock sends him a sideways glance, and then snorts quietly and keeps playing his stupid violin. John is instantly reminded of his sister and knows exactly what Sherlock's glance and snort meant: "You're not the boss of me."
He's living with a child.
"Can you pretend to be an adult for a moment? I have to get up in just a few hours," John says exasperatedly.
"And look at you. You've got a head-start." There's a gleam in his eye that indicates Sherlock is, in fact, enjoying himself a bit now. John frowns at him, and Sherlock rolls his eyes. "I don't want to imply that I pick favorites, John, but the skull doesn't complain nearly as much as you do."
"That's because she's dead," John says dryly. "And I have to admit, I'm slightly envious of her right now. Now, put the violin away and let me sleep."
Sherlock narrows his eyes at him and inclines his head. He turns his nose up (what a brat, John thinks) and starts to play again. "I stand corrected. I do pick favorites. I prefer the skull."
"Molly tells me Sherlock stole you from her university when she was a first year," John says to the skull. "Apparently that's how they met. It certainly charmed Molly. Probably because stealing the head off of a skeleton in a school seems much less…er…creepy than stealing the head off of a skeleton right out of the grave."
He sighs, rolling the skull around in his hands. "Name's John Watson. Molly said your name was Evelyn Fairchild. Mind if I call you Eve?"
Eve doesn't answer, naturally, so John calls her that. He wonders what his therapist would say if she knew he was opening up more to a stolen human skull than he ever opened up to her.
Probably something along the lines of That's very nice, John; in fact, it's so nice that I'd like you to talk to these gentleman in the white coats, because, hey, that's what John would say to himself.
He presses the adhesive red bow to the crown of Eve's head as he steps over the threshold of the building, shaking snow out of his hair and shivering from the cold. He holds the skull behind his back as he trots up the stairs to the flat.
"Sherlock, are you home?" he calls.
"Yes, I'm here," comes Sherlock's reply. John pokes his head into the flat and looks around for him. Sherlock is sprawled languidly on the sofa with John's laptop open.
"I know it's still about two weeks until Christmas," John says, "but I got you a present today."
Sherlock sits up at once, studying John's face sharply, obviously thrown. After all, it wasn't until today that John had decided to get the skull back from Mrs. Hudson, and it wasn't until an hour ago that John had decided to make a present out of it and gone down to the store to get a stick-on Christmas bow. He had given no hints or clues for Sherlock to discover. He has taken him completely by surprise.
John can't help but feel a little smug.
After a moment, Sherlock says, "Oh. I…well. I didn't get you anything."
"Don't worry about it; this was just a spur of the moment thing. Anyway," he clears his throat and holds out the skull, "happy Christmas."
"Oh!" Sherlock lurches from the sofa and leaps over the coffee table with his long fingers outstretched. "My skull!" He wrenches Eve from John's hands excitedly (John will re-teach him manners later, but right now he lets it go) and cries happily, "Oh, you've rescued my skull!" He kisses the yellowish bone (ew) and clutches it close to his chest, as if it's the only thing in the world he truly loves.
It is by far the strangest gift John has ever given to anyone, and Sherlock's reaction is the happiest he's ever gotten from anyone. John can't help but smile as Sherlock springs onto the coffee table, gazing into Eve's hollow sockets so adoringly that John is very nearly made uncomfortable watching.
"I take it you're pleased?" John smirks.
"Incredibly!" Sherlock agrees. He heaves a great, happy sigh, smiling at the skull, before finally mellowing out and turning to look at John. "Thank you, John, this was very kind of you." And for a moment, Sherlock Holmes looks…awkward. "Should…should I have gotten you a gift as well? I didn't think we were exchanging—"
"Don't bother," John says easily, waving away Sherlock's question. "This is also a present to myself."
"How so?" Sherlock tilts his head curiously.
"Well, I'm hoping now that you have your skull back in your possession, you'll stop waking me up in the middle of the night to talk at me."
At that, Sherlock purses his lips and holds Eve out in front of him, studying her face (or lack thereof). His eyes dart from Eve to John many times, critically, until finally he lowers the skull and says to John, "We'll see."
Sherlock doesn't stop. John and Eve have become very good friends because of it. She's a good listener.
"It's official," he sighs to her. "Madness is contagious."