The Christmas Soldier Ch 6
A/N: Thank you again to everyone who has read and reviewed and favourited. You are all wonderful, and I am going off to enjoy Christmas feeling all happy and glowing, and like I can get my novel published next year. Cross your fingers for me xxx
Warning: okay, I lied, it's just a fluffy ending.
Lunch was a buffet, with hot punch to warm the frozen fingers of those who had spent the morning out. Sherlock and John stood quietly together, watching the family line up before the heavily laiden tables.
'I feel like I've got a neon sign over my head,' Sherlock whispered out of the corner of his mouth. 'One that says: 'I got royally fucked this morning by THIS gorgeous man. And an arrow pointing to you.'
John giggled. 'No one can tell. Trust me on this one.'
He had not, of course, reckoned with the shrewd eyes of Aunt Alice. She came in late, went to join the end of the line, and then stopped, arrested by the sight of the two men standing so close together in the background of the scene. A knowing smile spread over her wily old face.
'Oh, Jesus,' John groaned.
'I thought you said no one could tell.'
'Yeah, well, I guess uncanny deduction runs on the family, love.'
'I'm definitely having a neon sign made.'
'Shut up, or I'll do it to you again.'
'That is not a disincentive.'
Sybil was standing in the porch, surveying John and Sherlock's baggage. She picked up the suit carrier with John's mess dress in it, and brushed it down needlessly with the palm of her hand, as if it was a way of offering tenderness by proxy.
'Are you sure you won't stay?' She pleaded. 'I don't like to think of you two going back to that cold, empty flat tonight.'
'Mrs Hudson will have kept the home fires burning for us,' John told her.
'Or at least kept the heating on,' Sherlock added, and hugged his mother with a fondness she did not seem to be expecting in the slightest. It made her rather tearful.
'Oh, my dears,' she murmured, dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief she pulled from her cuff.
Aunt Alice came up, beaming. 'Now you'd better take care of him, Sherlock,' she told her great nephew. 'He's too good to lose, this one. No shooting up, or whatever it is you get up to. Proper behaviour from you from now on, do you hear, or you'll never keep him.'
John went beetroot.
Sherlock kissed her dutifully. 'I promise I will behave impeccably.'
'And make sure he sees his mother more often,' she said, turning to John. 'He's a wastrel and a rake.'
'Oh, absolutely,' John told her, giving her a peck on the cheek. In return he got an enthusiastic hug.
The black limousine slid up to the door and Mycroft got out, scuttling through the sleet to the door.
'Clive is ready for you now,' he said, brushing wet snow off his shoulders. He shook John's hand formally as Fingers appeared to scoop up the bags. 'We had a bit of trouble starting her, must be the cold. Take care, old chap,' he said. 'Keep a close eye on him for me.'
John grinned. 'I shan't.'
And then Mycroft did something completely out of character. He hugged his little brother.
'Be careful,' he admonished.
'Aren't I always?' Sherlock said, looking a little abashed.
'Brat,' Mycroft told him, almost fondly.
And then they scrambled out through the icy wind, for the warm fug of the back seat of the car. John paused before he got in, waiting for Fingers to finish loading the luggage so that he could shake his hand warmly.
'Good luck with that parole board,' he said.
'Thank you, sir. Happy New Year to you.'
'And you.' He leant forward conspiratorially. 'Don't let the old bat get too sloshed.'
Fingers glanced up at the family standing in the porch, and then smirked at John.
As they pulled away, John glimpsed Deplorable Derek and Sublime Susanna, as he had christened her, waiving at the drawing room window.
'Well,' he said, sitting back. 'You okay?'
Sherlock was looking out of the window at the Hall as it receded from view.
'Not that bad, was it? John ventured, seeing the sadness in his lover's eyes.
'It got better,' Sherlock said, his voice slightly hollow. When the vast house had vanished behind the high hedges and the car had slid smoothly out onto the village road, he turned to John. 'Maybe next year it won't be so hard. Maybe there'll be fewer memories next time.'
'We'll have some happier ones to look back on, anyway,' John agreed.
'Hmm,' Sherlock conjectured, getting a naughty glint in his eye. 'On that subject, how are we going to keep ourselves occupied for the next hour or so?'
John found himself being pulled into the detective's lap. 'Erm, we could play i-spy?'
'I have a better idea….'
And it was.
Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Oh, and don't we have something to do on New Year's day at about 8.10pm….?