At roughly six o'clock in the morning, John managed to open one eye. The light in the living room was dim, and he was extremely pleased about this. He felt like he'd been chewing on cat litter, and his stomach was churning in a rather unpleasant way. Shifting his leg, he kicked out and his toe connected with something lumpy. It wasn't Sherlock, it was a cushion. With great effort, John sat upright, and flattened down his hair before rising to his feet with a wobble, and shuffling to the kitchen.
Sherlock was singing along to Live Aid on the radio, but it was clear he didn't know the words. On his hands he wore a pair of Latex gloves, clearly pinched from his latest investigation. He squirted copious amounts of kitchen cleaner onto the work surface before wafting a cloth at John in greeting.
"What are you doing?" John croaked, running a hand over his face. Sherlock giggled.
"I have no idea. I think I'm still a bit drunk," Sherlock admitted as he wiped at the sink. "I shall put the kettle on. John...it's Christmas!"
"Urgh! It can go away," John muttered.
"You look awful," Sherlock told him with a straight face, but his tone was highly amused.
"This is all Mycroft's fault." John knew it wouldn't take much more sobering up for Sherlock to recall that it was in fact John's fault. It was just easier to blame Mycroft. He gave a groan and put his forehead against the wooden tabletop. "Besides, it'll hit you later."
Sherlock shrugged at the comment, and filled the kettle.
"We should eat something."
"What is there?"
John headed to the fridge and found an onion, a half-eaten jar of olives and a small lump of cheese. John gave a little retch, and was pleased to be hidden by the fridge door.
"I heard that."
"Oh shut up! Right, for Christmas dinner today we are having cheese sandwiches."
Sherlock pulled a face.
"Cheese on toast?" John suggested instead.
It was only as John opened the bread did he realise that it was furry, and a very festive green. He showed it to Sherlock who blinked at him.
"It's mouldy," John explained. "And, as at least one of us is probably going to see it reappear at some point today, I suggest we don't eat it."
"Fine!" Sherlock huffed impatiently. "I'll go and see what we have in the downstairs fridge."
"Mrs Hudson's fridge," John corrected but Sherlock had already galloped out the room, and John could hear him slipping on the stairs and laughing to himself.
Sherlock was gone for a suspiciously long time. John even considered going to search from him, in case he'd passed out and was lying in his own vomit. However, John's legs wouldn't move so he just sat there instead, nursing his headache.
"The hunter-gatherer returns," Sherlock announced in a loud voice as he entered the kitchen. John shushed him with a scowl and then surveyed the selection of food which Sherlock was laying out proudly on the table. There was a half-eaten trifle, as well as a packet of bacon, some sausages, a small loaf of bread, two oranges, a bottle of milk, some peanuts and a cake tin.
"I think it is a Christmas cake," Sherlock said, shaking the tin and hearing the object sliding around inside. He wrenched it open and nodded in satisfaction. "This is breakfast."
John looked into the tin in distain, and then pulled out a piece of paper which had been placed down the side of the cake.
Don't think I don't know what you boys are up to! x
John grinned and showed it to Sherlock.
"I think I love her a little bit."
"I think I do too."
Sometime later, the pair sat at the table eating a bacon sandwich.
"I feel so much better now. We need sauce though."
Sherlock grinned and produced a bottle of tomato ketchup from his dressing gown pocket.
"Ok, that's a bit weird. Have you had that in your pocket all night?"
"No, of course not! I got it earlier, from downstairs."
Moments later, Sherlock garbled something with a mouthful of sandwich. John frowned at him.
"I have no idea what you just said."
Sherlock chewed quickly and swallowed a mouthful that was clearly too big. It made him choke. He sipped at his tea and then grinned.
"Oh yes, I completely forgot about that. We have no wrapping paper."
Sherlock mused on this for a moment.
"I have The Daily Mail."
The pair split the old newspaper and headed towards their rooms. John giggled as he made his way back down to the living room, where Sherlock had already placed his parcels beside their 'Christmas tree'. John took one look at the spider plant and burst out laughing. Sherlock scowled in irritation.
"John...John...John...pull yourself together! It's really not that funny."
John wiped at his eyes and sat beside Sherlock on the sofa. He looked up at his flatmate, sat expectantly beside him, and cracked up again. Sherlock huffed and sat back on the sofa, folding his arms impatiently.
"Are you done? Good. I want to show you what I've got for Mycroft."
John fought another laugh, and nodded for Sherlock to continue. Sherlock looked deeply serious as he showed John the first gift he'd found for his brother. It was a book. John frowned at it as he turned it over in his hands."
"'How to lose weight without even trying.' Yes I'm sure this will go down nicely," John said. Sherlock ignored the sarcasm and beamed widely.
"I thought so. I also found this." He handed John a silver, engraved cake slice.
Sherlock's phone began to ring, and the presents were momentarily forgotten as the pair jigged around to the tune of Jingle Bells. It stopped abruptly.
"Oh," exclaimed Sherlock.
"Text him, tell him to phone again," John suggested, handing over a glass to Sherlock who eyed it warily before sipping it.
"I'm ignoring him, John, remember?"
John's response was interrupted by his own phone ringing on the coffee table. Sherlock attempted to dance to the ring-ring tone, but soon gave up.
"It's not quite the same," he admitted as John took his turn to drink. He pulled a face of disgust. Drinking vodka at seven in the morning was not a good idea!
Sherlock wasn't disappointed for long as, seconds later, Jingle Bells filled the room again.
"He's persistent isn't he?" John spoke up over the ring tone.
"I need to stop this," Sherlock said as he threw himself about. "I feel so sick!"
The phone stopped ringing and they sat back down on the sofa.
"Right, where were we?"
Sherlock shoved a parcel into John's chest in excitement. John stared down at the gift, wrapped clumsily with newspaper and duct tape.
"Uh...thanks. Is it a CD?"
"Don't guess, just open it," Sherlock told him sternly.
John opened it to discover the face of Susan Boyle smiling up at him.
"Lovely. Thanks, it's very...me."
Sherlock beamed. John was handed another package and inside he found a pair of navy leather gloves.
"I think these are ladies gloves," John told Sherlock.
Sherlock shrugged in disinterest before passing over John's final present. As the paper was torn away, John found a small Tupperware box which contained a packet of tablets.
"Sherlock...are these Mrs Hudson's pills?"
"Yes. I thought they might help."
"With what?" John laughed. Sherlock shrugged again.
"I don't know. I panicked. I'll put them back. She needs them more than you." He tapped a finger against his temple suggestively.
As John gave Sherlock his own gift, he gave a little jig of excitement. John opened his mouth to speak, but Sherlock had begun to rip the paper off with great speed.
"Binoculars. Excellent, I shall keep them with my telescope." He looked at John through the lenses. John grimaced and turned his face away.
"Spoken by the founder of perverts and stalkers dot com," John muttered to himself. Sherlock pretended not to hear.
"You've done surprisingly well John. What's next?"
Sherlock was handed his next and final gift. It was clearly a shoe box, and as Sherlock shook it he looked up at John with an intrigued smile.
"Have you tried to be clever?"
"What do you mean 'tried'? I am clever."
Sherlock destroyed the paper and lifted the lid of the cardboard box. He gave a laugh of delight. In the box sat Sherlock's skull, grinning wildly with a festive red bow stuck to its ivory dome.
"Perfect, absolutely perfect. Only you could get away with giving someone a present that actually belongs to them, John Watson."
"Good, I'm glad you like it. Make the most of it, it's going back before Mrs Hudson comes home tomorrow."
Sherlock smiled sadly and placed the skull beside the spider plant. John had to admit he'd been surprised when he'd found it downstairs. He was also surprised that Sherlock hadn't spent his own five minutes searching for the skull instead of a present for John. It made him feel a bit fuzzy inside. Perhaps the alcohol was wearing off?
Suddenly, they heard a loud rap at the front door. Both men turned to stare at each other.
"It's Mycroft," Sherlock hissed. John wasn't sure how he knew this, but was interrupted before he could ask. "What should we do? We don't have a designated drinker for this. No, come back here!"
John had made his way to the window and had begun to peep through the closed curtains. Sherlock pulled John away by his arm and glared at him in panic.
"Ok...Ok...here's what we're going to do: You're going to answer the door and tell him I'm not here."
John blinked up at Sherlock.
"He'll know I'm lying. Why can't you go?"
"Because I can hardly tell him that I'm not in, can I? Honestly John, you really are an idiot sometimes."
John considered this for a while, as another knock echoed up the stairs.
"Maybe he'll go away?"
"Or, more likely, he'll order the Secret Service to break the door down."
"God, I wish that wasn't true."
Sherlock paced the floor and then stopped suddenly.
"There's only one way to solve this."
John nodded in agreement and they faced each other seriously.
"One, two, three...Ha!" Sherlock cried. "Scissors wins!"
John scowled in defeat.
"John, you're so predictable. You pick Paper every time."
John mumbled under his breath as he headed down the stairs and wrenched open the door, trying hard to offer Mycroft a smile as he came in to view. The pair stood in an awkward silence for a brief moment.
"Hello, John," Mycroft ventured. "Sherlock sent you to answer the door, I presume?"
"Yes, he's upstairs," John said bluntly.
"JOHN!" came the bellow of disbelief from upstairs. John beamed.
"Please, do come in."
They found Sherlock curled up on the sofa, the blanket pulled up to his chin. John gave him a smug smile. Sherlock scowled up at them both.
"Happy Christmas, Sherlock."
"John, would it be possible to have a word with Sherlock in private, please."
John nodded and left the room, feeling a sudden wave of sympathy for his flatmate.
"Have you been drinking?"
"Yes. Go away."
"You haven't been answering my calls."
Somewhere in the kitchen, Sherlock heard John giggling.
Mycroft sat down on the other end of the sofa with a weary sigh and stared at him silently. It made Sherlock feel uncomfortable.
"Go on then," Sherlock prompted after a while. "Say your piece and then go." The silence continued. "Oh, for goodness sake. If this is supposed to be making me feel guilty it's not working." Sherlock pushed himself up with his elbows and glared at his brother. "What would you have me do Mycroft? John is on his own on Christmas day. I can't leave him here alone just to please you – or Mother, for that matter – so I'm staying here. I want to be here. With John. Me, John and our spider plant. It's called being a good friend, but I suppose you wouldn't know anything about that."
Mycroft regarded his younger brother.
"Are you quite finished?"
"Sherlock, did it never occur to you to invite John along with you?"
Sherlock scoffed loudly.
"Mycroft, John is my friend. I would never, ever subject him to that! We're happy here, thank you very much. Now go away."
"I suppose you'd better make the most of it," Mycroft said quietly as he rose from the sofa.
"What exactly is that supposed to mean?"
"Well, Sherlock you've been with John, what, nearly a year now –"
"Ten months, three weeks and six days."
"–And I'm very proud of that. Mummy is very proud of that. We're all so proud. But we're not entirely naive to the fact that this is just a phase, and that one day soon you'll get bored. Or, more likely, John will come to realise that he's a good, decent, normal man who could have a much better life than chasing your heels. So, enjoy your day Sherlock. I shall remind you of this next year." Mycroft looked down at his brother, who was staring angrily at the ceiling. He turned and left the room.
A moment later, John poked his head through the kitchen door.
"Has he gone?"
Sherlock groaned and hid himself under the blanket.
"Hey, what's wrong?" John sat himself down on the floor beside the sofa.
"Nothing," said the blanket. "Everything is just great. I'm hung over and my brother is a prize imbecile. I need to sleep."
Sherlock's form rolled over to face the back of the sofa. John frowned.
"Are you grumping?"
"No, I'm sad," Sherlock replied indignantly. "There is a difference."
"Don't be sad. It's Christmas. You're not allowed to be sad at Christmas."
"That's obviously untrue," came the muffled response. A silence fell and Sherlock waited for John to get up from the cold floor, but he didn't. Instead he leant his head against the sofa are and let out a long sigh.
"Did you give Mycroft his presents?" John asked after a while. Sherlock laughed into the sofa cushion, despite himself, and then sat up. The blanket fell from his face revealing his dishevelled hair.
"No. It's probably for the best."
"You're not going to leave, are you?"
The sudden question caused John to frown. He tipped his head back to look up at Sherlock, who was looking down anxiously.
"I couldn't be anywhere else," John replied.
"No, I didn't mean today."
"Neither did I," John said quietly and Sherlock smiled. "Well...we're far to sober for this level of 'deep and meaningful.'" He scrambled up from the floor and sat down next to Sherlock.
"We finished the vodka," Sherlock pointed out.
"Ah yes. Well, how about a sausage sandwich and a cup of tea?"
"Thank you, John."
"I never said I was making it."
That afternoon they sat under their blanket with the bowl of trifle balanced between them and two tea spoons. The television had been switched on.
"That's our Queen," John told Sherlock.
"Yes, thank you, I know that!" Sherlock scowled in indignation and John laughed.
John woke Sherlock up as the Queen's Speech ended, simply to inform him that he'd fallen asleep.
They sat for some time in a comfortable silence. The street was quiet below them as the people of London celebrated indoors. John turned to Sherlock, half expecting him to be asleep again.
"Thank you for today; for not leaving me on my own."
Sherlock gave a little smile to himself, wondering how much of his conversation with Mycroft had been overheard.
"You're welcome. We should do this more often. Perhaps without the vodka."
"Or the spider plant."
"Why? What's wrong with the spider plant?"
"Nothing...Sorry...Maybe next year we could get a proper tree?"
"Maybe," Sherlock replied, trying hard to fight the sudden hopeful feeling in his stomach. It was probably for the best if they took one festivity at a time. He rested his head on John's shoulder with a sigh, and took his hand. It was cold, and John frowned at Sherlock's sudden clinginess as he rubbed the hand in between his own.
"What's your plan for New Year's Eve?"
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year x