Authors Note: Yes, I too have fallen victim to the Christmas Fanfiction bug that's going around. Okay, so I realise that there's still...one, two, three...a few days til Christmas itself, but I figure that I'm not going to put anything up on Christmas Day itself, and today my school was let off for the Christmas holidays so this is the first day I've felt remotely 'Christmassy'. As good a reason as any, I suppose. I apologise for the shamelessly cheesy title, but Christmas Fiction titles just seem unwilling to lend themselves to me. And also for the somewhat cheesy ending. But, hey, it's nearly Christmas! If you're not in the mood for cheese, you're in the wrong holiday, my friend.
Anyway, I've rambled enough. So, please enjoy and if you'd like to take the time to write a review, that'd be a great early Christmas present for this particular girl. Also, an early Merry Christmas to you all.
Twas The Night
Christmas reminds us we are not alone. We are not unrelated atoms, bouncing and ricocheting amid aliens, but are a part of something which holds and sustains us. As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are with this aggravations, and people to whom we are worth the same. Christmas shows us the ties that bind us together, threads of love and caring, woven in the simplest and strongest way – Donald E. Westlake.
It was December 24th and Sherlock was already thoroughly sick of Christmas.
In fact, that was a lie. He'd started to become tired of Christmas…must have been November 3rd. Right after Halloween, and as soon as the supermarkets decided they needed something else to decorate the shops with and lure in the easily influenced customers.
He'd become thoroughly sick of Christmas around November 12th, when all of the decorations went up across London. When the London buses began sporting the Christmas adverts from the up-market jewellery stores. When Clintons decided to start throwing snowflake-spangled wrapping-paper and large, gaudy, seasonal cards around the place. And when, upon entering Scotland Yard, half of the desks of the Homicide Department were decorated in cheap, sparkly tinsel. (Honestly, the state of the Police Force these days…)
Now it was Christmas Eve. And he'd just about had enough of the whole bloody thing!
He didn't have anything against Christmas, per se. Rather, the whole foolish attitude towards it. The relentless 'Holiday Cheer' and the endless crusade that everyone fell for telling them to 'But something for that special someone'. The pageantry had always grated on his nerves. He'd be fine with the whole thing if it started on Christmas Eve, ended on Boxing Day. Even then, it still seemed ever-so-slightly pointless. A whole seventy-three hours where the whole city stopped. Even Scotland Yard went home to spend time with their families.
Criminals didn't stop. And a lot can happen in seventy-three hours. The rate of crime was always higher around Christmas. Depressing, everyone said, how could anyone do such things at Christmas? The real reason was, how could anyone not? Seventy-three hours was one hell of an opportunity.
He'd never particularly enjoyed the whole lengthiness of the holiday even as a child. The whole extended Holmes family milling around his parent's house; sleeping on mattresses on his bedroom floor; taking up decent lounging space on his sofas; irritating little cousins poking around his things and asking what does this do, Sherlock?
The actual day he'd never minded. He might have been an…odd child, certainly, but even he had appreciated the excitement on Christmas morning – sitting cross-legged in front of the fire in his pyjamas, bed-hair sticking up like a birds nest, and comparing the brilliance of his new microscope with Mycroft's boring little set of text-books. He had fond memories of Christmas morning. He enjoyed the smell of mince-pies, the picturesque quality of everything draped in snow, the shiny baubles hanging on the magnificent Christmas tree. The way his parents would get tipsy on mulled wine and slow-dance to the crooning radio in the corner, and both he and Mycroft would snatch the opportunity to sip at the wine themselves and feel ever-so grown up. Christmas Day, he'd enjoyed.
But it was easier for children to enjoy Christmas. They still believed in Santa, his elves, Rudolph and the rest of the merry troupe. He'd never forget the expression on his teacher's face when he'd managed to logic his way out of believing in Father Christmas in front of a whole class of seven-year-olds. (In fact, it was no wonder he'd never been entirely liked at school) So, as he'd grown older, the magic was lost. Come fifteen…sixteen, he'd been more interested in what he'd been receiving for Christmas than all the little traditions; Christmas cookies, garish light-up decorations, advent calendars, and the like. Still complied with them, they were still enjoyable, but the magical excitement surrounding them had disappeared.
And those hideous Christmas jumpers his Grandmother had knitted him…at least they no longer were around to be inflicted upon him.
That was another thing. The presents. He hated shopping as a general rule, but shopping in December was all the worse. Mad, chaotic, much too close for his liking. And the giving of presents seemed stupid. Every year he received a scarf from Mycroft, and he bought his brother a new umbrella. (Although maybe this year he'd buy him a book for Weightloss – and maybe he'd take the hint) Oh, how positively exciting.
His overall disdain for all things 'Christmassy' was what now brought him to his current conundrum.
Wasn't it always John?
Now, he knew that John accepted most of his odd eccentricities. (He wasn't about to name them – there were far too many) But how do you explain to someone that the whole concept of Christmas is generally unappealing to you? Sherlock certainly didn't know how to do it. He'd never deigned to justify himself before.
To be honest, he hadn't really had a Christmas since his mother died when he was nineteen. He'd only arrived at his old family home for Christmas Dinner out of respect for her wishes to see both he and Mycroft. But after her funeral, there'd been no more obligations to turn up on December 25th and exchange presents. Since then, he'd spent most of his Christmas Days alone. Alone and bored. Because, no matter what the crime-rate was, the rest of the city stopped – leaving him with nothing to do!
But this Christmas was, he supposed, going to be different. Because now he had John in his life. Mrs Hudson, too. (What should he get Mrs Hudson…? Something nice. Maybe a jumper of some description. He'd have to return to this and think more on it)
And he could see how much John enjoyed Christmas. Simply the sight of snow falling had made his roommate's eyes light up with such child-like glee that had had Sherlock be hard-pushed to look away from John's face. Sherlock himself enjoyed the sight of snow, but in practicality it was damn irritating. Destroyed too much data. John had rolled his eyes at him when he'd muttered that, but the smile on his face had led Sherlock to believe he was more amused than annoyed.
John even took simplistic pleasure in the warm biscuits that Mrs Hudson brought up to them with claims that 'I've made too many, boys,'. Sherlock knew that, despite her scattered relatives and many friends, she kept making enough batches to bring them some after every one.
So, how did he explain his feelings on Christmas to a man who still took such enjoyment from the holiday?
He didn't make a murmur when John employed Mrs Hudson's help to string up tinsel across the banisters of 221, both humming different Christmas songs in varying keys. He didn't argue when the small Christmas tree appeared in the corner of 221b, adorned with mismatched baubles and a slightly wonky glitter star. He didn't even complain when the radio was constantly tuned into Christmas Hits, when Mrs Hudson began hanging oh-so-subtle sprigs of mistletoe under every doorway, or when a moronic dancing reindeer was placed in the window.
He'd managed quite well, he thought. But when, on Christmas Eve, John topped his skull, his skull, with a Santa Hat! A Santa Hat!...That was when he cracked.
"A Santa Hat, John? Really? Can you inflict any more of these pointless, idiotic, utterly moronic holiday traditions upon me? I've put up with the decorations, the tree, the constant singing that distracts me from every single thought that attempts to make itself known in my head! Can you not simply allow anything to remain untainted by your irritating holiday cheer? Or must everything fall victim to this disease?" He ran a weary hand through his hair, his eyes flashing and his chest heaving with the exertion of his shout.
He'd had enough.
Sherlock threw himself backwards onto the leather sofa, as though the mere thought of looking at that abomination on his skull had exhausted him, and twisted his arms across his chest in a display of distinctly childish petulance. He would have felt quite smug about his outburst, had he not caught sight of an unrestrainable smile of amusement tugging on the very edges of John's lips which the man ducked his head in an attempt to conceal it.
"What?" He snapped as John shuffled his feet and dug his hands into his pockets, that smile still lighting up his eyes and twisting his lips.
"Really?" John asked, perching on the edge of the sofa and looking down at Sherlock with that annoying smile that told Sherlock John knew something he didn't. It was rare, and Sherlock didn't like it in the slightest. "A Santa Hat on the skull? That was what it took?"
"What?" He asked again, feeling more and more lost by every second.
"Sherlock, contrary to your constant insinuations, I'm not an idiot. Budge over," Sherlock moved his legs, allowing John to slide onto the sofa. "I guessed you didn't like Christmas,"
Sherlock blinked at him. "Explain,"
"It wasn't hard. The constant tutting whenever we came within breathing distance of Christmas lights was a pretty good indicator,"
"And you continued to dress our flat in ridiculous Christmas paraphernalia…why?"
John shrugged. "Amusing to watch,"
Sherlock's gaze took on that glinting quality that suggest that he was about to become lethally sarcastic. "Well, I'm glad I provided some service of entertainment to you, John. It really is my aim in life,"
"Don't be like that," John rolled his eyes, the smile still clinging to his lips. "If I have to put up with fingers in the toaster, then you can put up with a little bit of holiday cheer, Scrooge,"
"It was one time, John,"
"It was still disgusting. I haven't been able to stomach the thought of toast since,"
"I'm not the one who's irrationally protective over a skull," John nudged him in the side before leaning forward to reclaim his mug of tea. He spared Sherlock a wicked grin over the porcelain.
Sherlock huffed, but reclined backwards onto the sofa, kicking his legs onto a spare spot on the cluttered coffee table. "I went to a lot of trouble to get that skull-"
"I don't think I want to know,"
"-And," Sherlock threw John a pointed glance of Shut up. "And I'm not too keen on having my hard work trussed up in ridiculous hats, thankyou very much,"
John shrugged, plainly unrepentant. "But, still, I thought you would have cracked at the Christmas tree. Or at the very least, at the dancing reindeer,"
Sherlock allowed himself a smile, because John's grin was infectious. Damn him for that. "That one came close,"
"I think I actually saw your cheek twitch with the restraint of holding back the sarcasm," John laughed, the sound of it doubly as catching as his smile. He took another gulp of tea, and when the mug was lowered Sherlock saw his face fall into thought. "Why don't you like Christmas, anyhow?"
"It's not that I don't like Christmas," Sherlock tilted his head to one side, trying to figure out a way to cram his convoluted thought processes towards the holiday into one sentence. "More that it seems pointless. And why do you just give presents at Christmas? Surely, if you care about someone enough to get them a gift then you don't need an excuse to buy them one,"
John remained silent for a few seconds, seemingly thinking through his words. "So what do you like about Christmas?"
What was this? An interview? Composing his face, Sherlock spoke very seriously. "Well, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, of course,"
John rolled his eyes again. It must have been twice in just under two minutes. Almost like setting a record. "Oh, shut up,"
"Have you not accepted Christ into your life, John?" Laughter broke through at the very end of his sentence, and his face split into a wide grin. John attempted to muffle his laugh, not giving the detective the satisfaction, but simply looking at Sherlock's faux-earnest face made him snort with laughter.
Sherlock craned his head backwards, catching sight of even more of that damn mistletoe. "Did Mrs Hudson buy all of the super-market's mistletoe?"
John followed his line of sight. "Seems that way. Be very careful when opening the front door, there's about three trees worth hanging there. She is desperate for 'Married Ones', isn't she?"
The left side of Sherlock's mouth quirked. "I'm sure that's what she wants for Christmas, never mind a nice jumper,"
"I think that that pair of slippers I've bought her are going to fall short if that's the case,"
"Slippers'll do. She'll just have it on her list for her birthday instead,"
"But she won't have endless amounts of mistletoe to string about the place – her birthday's in April,"
"Thank heaven for small mercies," John took another swig of his tea, hiding his smirk behind the rim. "So, what've you got her instead?"
"Scarf. You think she'll accept that instead?"
"She'd prefer you to stop destroying this flat,"
"She'll have to make do with the scarf,"
Sherlock grinned, rumpling his hair absent-mindedly with his left hand as he stretched. When he reclined back into his usual position, a soft thump on his stomach made him look down. Shiny, covered in snowflakes, and very badly wrapped, there lay a present on his abdomen. He cocked his head to one side, eying it for a few seconds, before looking back up at John.
"I figured that, knowing you, you'll find something entirely mad to do tomorrow, so here; Merry Christmas," John smiled, but a faint tinge of embarrassment hid beneath the expression.
Sherlock looked back to the present, sliding his fingers dexterously beneath the huge amounts of sellotape and unwrapping the present in silence, not quite sure what to say. He was even less sure what to say when he opened it. A pair of black leather gloves, almost identical to those he'd owned up until a few weeks earlier when an experiment had gone horribly wrong and had overflowed onto his nearby gloves. It was simple, practical, and that spoke volumes.
Sherlock hated sentimentality. Maybe hated was too strong a word, but 'severely irritated by it' did just fine. Showing affection through knick-knacks and flowers just seemed so very asinine to him. Sherlock felt a small smile tug on the barest edges of his lips as he slid one of the gloves on and flexed his fingers. John knew him well enough to buy him something he'd use. And the swooping feeling in his chest that accompanied this realisation was...odd to say the least, but didn't dampen his smile.
"I…" He stopped, completely at a loss for words to say. "…Thankyou, John,"
John's ears flared red at his words, and his head ducked. "Well, you hadn't replaced your old ones so…" He shrugged awkwardly.
The slight tinge of discomfiture was enough of a reason for Sherlock to slide a hand under the sofa and withdraw the lumpy package he'd hidden from John beneath. It was oh-so elegantly wrapped in too much newspaper and too little sellotape. The newspaper was stained, dog-eared at the edges, and looked so entirely haphazard that John had to laugh, even as unexpected relief flooded through him.
Sherlock gritted his teeth, the unsettling feeling of embarrassment irking him. He didn't like it, not one bit. So, with practised ease, he smirked and threw the package at John in much the same way his roommate had done to him. "Merry Christmas, John,"
John, cheeky git, prodded it, looking suspicious.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "It's not going to explode,"
John just raised his eyebrows at him, as if to say 'Well, it is you', and undid the unorthodox wrapping paper to reveal a bulge of red wool. "A jumper?"
"I was the reason that your other red one got ruined," Sherlock shrugged, this being as close to an apology as John was ever going to get on the matter.
"You're the reason my jeans are ruined as well,"
"Don't push it,"
John laughed, the sound prompting a chuckle from Sherlock too. "Thanks," He grinned, but the word resonated in the air between them.
As Sherlock nodded once, and turned away, John kept an eye on the other man. And, as he did so, a thought occurred to him. Now, he didn't have Sherlock's deducing skills, but he thought he knew enough of the man to safely guess that, for Sherlock, giving presents wasn't something he did lightly and not without careful consideration of all the variables (Or some such rubbish that Sherlock always spouted whenever he did something remotely human). So, this jumper was probably a lot more than just a jumper.
But it was soft, and looked very tempting, so John put aside all philosophical wonderings for the lagging first few days of January, and simply grinned to himself. John was amongst the dying few of London who appreciated a good jumper, and this was a very good jumper.
"C'mon," John finally said after he'd pulled said jumper on over his shirt and sufficiently ruffled up his mop of mousy-brown hair. "It's Christmas Eve, there's got to be some kind of crap telly on that can put the boredom at bay for a few hours,"
Sherlock rolled his eyes, sparing his roommate a lazy grin, and reclined impossibly further into the depths of the sofa as John sought out the remote and flicked the channel to some cheesy Christmas flick. It was simplicity itself to ignore the movie until it became a blur of motions and muted sounds to him, and he was free to lose himself in his own thoughts.
Yes, it was December 24th and Sherlock was already thoroughly sick of Christmas.
But, he thought as John chuckled half-heartedly at the utterly moronic film and he found himself smiling just in response to the sound, there was maybe some worth to be found in having someone there to share it with.