Summary: Christmas has arrived. John plans to meet his family. Sherlock does not. So John tries to find out why, and what he can do for his friend. Non-slash.
Warnings: Nothing that I can think off.
Disclaimers: I don't own Sherlock.
My very first Sherlock-fic so bear with me.
John looked up at Sherlock, not sure he heard right. The man continued to scribble down something at John's computer, as usual, and didn't look at him.
"Did you just say you weren't going to celebrate Christmas?" the doctor said.
"Dull," Sherlock responded and finished up whatever he was typing out. He leaned back, looking pleased, and then glanced up at John. The man was still staring at him. "What?"
"Dull?" John repeated. "Christmas is dull for you?"
"Yes. Quite. All the lights are additionally annoying."
"That's why I wasn't allowed to decorate?"
"Christ, Sherlock," the doctor said. "You don't even like the tiniest thing about Christmas?"
"No," the detective said, quite bluntly. "Why? Do you wish to decorate?"
"Not really, considering we don't have anything to decorate with," John said. "And I'm going for a family dinner on Christmas."
"I see. Will your sister be there?"
John sighed a bit when Sherlock mentioned Harry. She was clean, somewhat easier to deal with but she had been clean before. How long would it last this time?
"Yes, she will," he said. "What are you going to do?"
"You're just going to sit here in the flat?"
"I imagine that, yes," Sherlock said and went to lie down on the couch. He was still dressed in his suit but didn't look particular worried about that.
"That's no way to spend Christmas," John said.
"I will do so, and I have done so for some years," Sherlock said and pressed his fingers together before folding them over his stomach.
"Come on," John said. "Don't you at least eat with your family?"
"We used to," Sherlock said and tilted his head to the side as he stared at the wall. There was no way he could be fascinated with the wallpaper, he had spent too many hours staring at the bloody wall already.
"And?" John asked.
"We don't now."
Sherlock smiled a bit but there was no humour in it. He shifted, glancing over at John and then sighed.
"We've never been good at talking. None of us. And it would always end up with the same scenario, no matter how the evening began."
"And how did it end up?" John asked, softer now.
"Fighting," Sherlock said and did chuckle. "Once we got to the point of drawing weapon on each other. Mycroft was the voice of reason… or at least, he was until he had a duck for a fork. Mother was useless at aiming though so he didn't get hurt. But mostly it was just shouting."
The smile vanished from his lips. "It was about me," he continued. "The fights. Always about me. I tried to avoid mentioning anything about myself, what I was doing, how I was doing, anything from the past. I babbled, can you imagine that, John? Me, babbling?"
"A bit hard," the doctor admitted.
"Thought so. But I did rant about Mycroft, or Lestrade, or the weather, on anything not related too much to myself. But the fights always ended up the same way."
"Why was it about you?" John asked.
Sherlock grew tense. John saw that, the slight tightening of the jaw. The clouded eyes, the guarded expression, shifting of the body indicating he was uncomfortable with the subject. John was about to guide them to another topic, anything to relax his friend when Sherlock continued:
"Mother always wanted to know how she could have spawned a freak like me."
The silence was thick, but then Sherlock's mouth loosened and John was unable to stop it:
"Why I was born the way I am, why I wasn't like Mycroft, why I wasn't as perfect as him, why I was so cold and uncaring and different and weird. I think she hates me. Or, she isn't very good at showing why she would even love me. She smothers Mycroft, but with me she just looks at me like I'm some dirt on her floor. I feel like dirt on her floor when I'm in the same room as her. So I stopped going. Mycroft is still going, so I imagine they're having a good time without the freak barging in."
He cut off abruptly and stared up at the roof. John was speechless. Sherlock had sounded so distant when speaking, so monotone. Like he didn't care.
Only he did. His eyes told John so, and John hated seeing those bright eyes dull at cleverly concealed pain. The same pain that flared when 'freak' was thrown at him, when harsh insults reached his ears or glares cast his way.
"I'm sorry I asked," John said, and he honestly was.
"Don't worry," Sherlock said. "You were going to your family you said?"
"How are they?"
"Well… ordinary," John said. "You'd think they were dull."
"Nothing about you are dull, John," Sherlock said. "I'm quite sure they would be interesting."
"Yeah, well… yeah, maybe," the doctor said. "So… you're going to sit here alone?"
"I'm used to being alone," Sherlock said quietly. "Besides, Mrs Hudson will come up and have something for me to eat. She thinks I'm wasting away."
"You bloody are," John said. "It wouldn't hurt to eat more than toast, you know."
Sherlock chuckled at that, and it made John smile a bit. It soon dimmed though when thoughts of Christmas returned. He hadn't known Sherlock for that long, it was his first Christmas living with the man and yet he felt rather sad at Sherlock's low expectations of Christmas.
"No experiments you will be conducting?" John asked.
"Well, I probably will do a few, if I'm bored," Sherlock said. He didn't say anything about wanting a case. That was unusual. Most of the time he loved to tell John how only a case was worth his time. It was almost a bit worrying when he didn't.
Sherlock closed his eyes now and breathed in deeply. He looked almost peaceful, if a bit stiff on the couch. John tried to return to whatever he was doing before the topic, but he didn't quite remember what. He had forgotten it in order to listen whole-heartedly on Sherlock.
"You were reading the book," Sherlock said and pointed. "You put it away once the discussion began."
It sounded like he meant it and they returned to the silence.
John wasn't really happy about leaving Sherlock, despite the man shooing him away.
Finally he started putting on his jacket after making sure he looked fine, while Sherlock hadn't even gotten out of his pyjama and robe. He looked to be half-sleeping and had ignored four texts from Mycroft so far ("too early to be important, probably texting under the table so mother won't spot him").
"I don't know when I'll be back," John said.
"Don't do anything stupid?"
"Would I ever?"
"Yes," John dead-panned. "You would. Just… don't blow up the flat."
"Mmm," Sherlock mumbled and laid his hands to rest on his stomach.
"I mean it."
Sherlock didn't answer this time, but John smiled anyway. He then walked out of the flat and hailed a cab to his destination.
On the way there he noticed he was slightly nervous. Shouldn't be that surprising, really; he hadn't been to see his parents a while, and hadn't really spoken to them either. Not much to Harry when he came to think about it. At the beginning, when he had just gotten back, she had been drunk almost all the time, and when not drunk, angry and easy to lash out on others.
Her words back then still stung when John was having a bad day. He pushed it away and looked outside. She had changed. He was giving her a chance. Somewhere deep in his heart a snide voice reminded him he had given her far too many already.
John stepped up slowly onto the steps to the house and his mother Sybil opened. She looked healthy, and she smiled seeing him. He had kind of lied to Sherlock earlier, that I would just be his parents and Harry. He could already hear the chatter inside. Seems like it would be full house. He wasn't sure why he had lied to his friend. Maybe it was because Sherlock always seemed so lonely. Only a brother that annoyed the hell out of him, and barely any mention of their parents.
He was swept inside, and the greetings started. He wondered if he would make it into the dining-room within the hour, and looking around at all the people, he began to doubt it.
Sherlock studied the roof of the flat. It wasn't all that interesting, he had looked at it before, but he didn't feel like getting up from the couch. John was probably eating by now; Mrs Hudson had come up with some pie before going away for the next two days so he was alone right now.
He had been before. Lots of times. Sherlock closed his eyes. When he was younger, and still lived at home, Christmas had been tense at the best. Careful conversation, tight smiles, only relaxing when dinner was over with and the guests for the annual get-together arrived. His mother lost sight of him, drank too many glasses of wine and could pretend he didn't exist. It was good for her, and in some ways, it was good for him.
It had some side-effects though. He started leaving the room, started pretending he didn't exist either. Found a corner of the house to hide in, and slowly isolated himself, building a wall around his heart and over time, losing touch with his emotional state. Or maybe he had just forced the emotions on himself in a try to look normal. Kids did that. Pretend to be like everyone else.
Of course Sherlock hadn't done a good work of it. Look at him. If he had played normal he probably would have been at his parents' house, eating dinner, talking about boring things, discussing Mycroft's work. He would have a normal job, a normal flat, a normal life.
God, he felt so sick with the thought he nearly vomited. Sure, he would have the approval of society but the boredom would have driven him mad.
And he wouldn't have met John. Dear doctor Watson. What would Sherlock do without him?
Well, probably fail to eat. Sherlock opened his eyes and glanced over to the kitchen, where he knew the pie was waiting. Mrs Hudson knew better than trying to open the fridge. Of course, unless she wanted a heart attack at what she might find in there.
Maybe he should eat some of that pie. If he didn't, he would have both Mrs Hudson and John on his case later. But he didn't feel like moving. Dilemma, dilemma. Sherlock counted absently in his head, but wasn't quite sure of what. A sound from his phone signalled a message, most likely another from Mycroft. He did find the days with their parents tediously boring (same old routine over and over and over again), and insisted on bugging Sherlock about it.
The detective hauled up the phone to read what his brother had to say. He had ignored the earlier ones, but now it should be around lunch and Sherlock answered on those, if just to escape Mycroft's wrath afterwards (the wrath being Mycroft kindly 'kidnapping' him and forcing them to eat dinner together at some expensive whatever restaurant). As Sherlock didn't fancy expensive dinner nor Mycroft's droning about politics and the world, he replied to the texts with minimum sarcasm.
Then he made an attempt to get up, to at least eat a small piece of the pie. Just enough so John wouldn't tell on Mrs Hudson.
John was surrounded by his family, everyone was happy but something was missing. He had already caught himself three times when he turned to ask Sherlock something only to realize his friend wasn't there.
Thinking about the detective sitting alone in their flat was becoming too much to bear. John knew what he had to do.
He was out in the hall when Harry cornered him, holding a glass of water in her hand. Better than alcohol but most of the family members still looked warily at her, expecting her to lash out or having downed some drink only they were supposed to have.
"You're going," she stated.
"Yeah. I just… I have to be somewhere."
"Don't have one," John said. "You know that."
"Then your flat-mate, that crazy guy."
"He's not crazy," John sighed. "Just… a bit different from the rest of us."
"Crazy," Harry repeated. "Honestly, I've read his website. He sounds like an annoying one."
"Oh, you have no idea."
"Then why are you going?" She sipped some water as he got his jacket on.
"Because he's lonely when he shouldn't be," was all John replied.
Sherlock startled a bit when the door opened. His head tilted as he saw John and the man's grin.
"Finished already?" the detective asked before glancing at the time. "It's not even time for dinner."
"Well, I got stuffed at lunch and decided to cut out early."
"Liar. You didn't leave because you were satisfied with the hunger, nor that you had any real need to leave. Your family obviously didn't annoy you yet you're here."
"Don't go analysing things," John warned. "And close your eyes."
"Close your eyes."
"For whatever reason?" Sherlock asked, now sitting up.
"Surprise. Close them."
Sherlock looked ready to protest when John sighed, not in a bad way, and continued:
"Trust me. Just close your eyes."
The detective was still for a beat or two. Then his eyes slipped closer and John grinned, pleased. He had learned early Sherlock was reluctant to close his eyes in the company of other people, so that he did it for John, it was a joy to see.
John placed the gift on the kitchen table and sighed as he saw the pie barely touched. Sherlock hadn't eaten all day. Good thing the doctor had managed to find a grocery shop still open. He glanced out in the living room area. Sherlock was dressed in his pyjama and robe. That wouldn't do.
He walked out and took Sherlock's arms, pulling him up. Sherlock didn't open his eyes but did tilt his head to the side.
"You need to get dressed."
"I am dressed."
"Well, better than that," John said with a smile and pushed him past the kitchen and to his room. "Suit up."
"Am I allowed to open my eyes?"
"When you dress, yes, but don't look into the kitchen."
Sherlock was itching to do just that but refrained, glancing at John in confusion. The doctor just grinned at him.
"What are you planning?" Sherlock said, peering closely at him.
"You're the smart one; figure it out. And get dressed."
John pulled out the shopping, smiling at himself. He knew Sherlock almost never ate, but today there would be no chase, no case to ponder about so Sherlock was going to eat. Even if it wasn't typical Christmas dinner. If anything, it was unhealthy and too sweet.
The unhealthy was mainly the take-out he had grabbed from a nearby Chinese place. The too sweet was the assortment of biscuits he had bought. Sherlock's favourites.
He managed to set all that up and place the gift near Sherlock's plate when the man appeared again, dressed in a dark suit with one of his pale blue shirts. Eyes flew over the table, calculating and found the gift.
"You bought that for me," he said.
"But not today."
"How come I didn't see it before?"
"Because Mrs Hudson was my partner-in-crime," John said. "She kept it in her flat."
"She's not here."
"And I got a spare key. Come on, before it gets cold. I know you don't like to eat but you're eating now."
Sherlock slowly came to the table and slid down on one of the chairs. John seated himself as well.
"I haven't bought you anything," Sherlock said quietly.
"We were in the theatre last week," John said. "The play I wanted to see. You said it was Mycroft who forced the tickets on you and why let it go to waste. That's where you didn't expect me to become suspicious."
Sherlock raised an eyebrow.
"You bought the tickets," John said. "I asked Mycroft. You have a habit to try have me think he's the one pushing things to you, and you splurge them on me because you yourself can't be bothered with them. That's mostly lies. You buy them, and you invite me. This theatre, the one I wanted to see, he didn't even know about it."
Sherlock looked away. Then cleared his throat uncomfortably before saying:
"I underestimated your wish to know."
"Sherlock, I'm not mad about it," John said. "I just wanted to say thank you. It was a nice play, and I'm glad you endured the boredom just to please me."
"But how did you know the theatre was my gift?"
"Yes," the doctor said and began to eat at his own portion of food. Sherlock carefully began as well.
"That doesn't make sense," the detective stated.
"I know. Eat."
Sherlock looked a little lost, and bewildered that John actually was there so the doctor gazed straight into his friend's eyes.
"I know you said you don't care if you're lonely or not, or that you're used to it. Doesn't mean you have to be. I spent hours with my family, alright? I just wanted to spend a few with a friend."
The detective tried to see if he was lying but there was nothing but the truth in John's eyes. So he nodded, and slowly began to eat. In the end, he left more than half of it but John didn't complain. It was far more than usual after all, and he packed the rest away to get Sherlock to eat the day after. Usually it worked. With some bribing of course.
"You want to open the gift now?" John said. "I'll put on some tea with these biscuits."
Sherlock seemed lost, but then nodded and reached for the gift while John wondered how long since Sherlock actually received a gift. As he waited for the kettle to boil he listened to the detective carefully opening the package.
It was a simple gift, really. But practical. Sherlock liked practical.
It was a scarf. A soft, dark blue one that John had felt immediately would fit his eccentric flat-mate's looks. Elegant and simple.
"Thank you," Sherlock said quietly.
"It's nothing, really. Those tickets weren't exactly cheap."
"But you enjoyed yourself."
"Then it's alright. You have to be rewarded somehow for putting up with me," Sherlock said with his half-smile and John chuckled.
"Yeah, I guess. For all the heads in the fridge and shot smileys in the wall."
"That only happened once."
The kettle boiled. "I know, I know, but next time you get bored you'll have to search a little harder for the gun. And no, it's no in the shoebox in the left wardrobe, far down, in my room."
Sherlock closed his mouth with a snap. John hadn't even turned around. Then the detective grinned and said:
"Then I guess I won't be as bored while searching for it."
"Who knows?" John said as he poured hot water into two cups before adding tea bags. "You just might be entertained just searching for it."
"My dear doctor, just searching never satisfies me."
He had to admit that was true, and added milk and sugar, already knowing Sherlock's favourite, and sat down again. Then he took a double-look. Sherlock had wrapped the scarf around his neck and now cradled the cup with both hands.
"Normally people would put a scarf by the door, where they keep their other scarves."
"I know," Sherlock said.
"You really like it that much?"
"It's my first gift in seven years," Sherlock said and looked up at him. "Mycroft always gives me money; he never knows what I want. So yes, I quite like it."
John swallowed the lump in his throat. Seven years. Had he been celebrating Christmas alone for seven years? And he couldn't have lived here at Baker Street for that long. So where did he live before? John was quite sure Sherlock hadn't had a Mrs Hudson to give him pie either.
"Mycroft dropped by before," Sherlock said, startling him. "When I was alone, before here. After being with our parents he came by. Sometimes with food. He wouldn't leave until I ate some of it."
"He's got big enough of an ego as it is."
"As do you."
Sherlock rolled his eyes but didn't deny it. "But he was the only visit I have. I don't exactly have friends. Lestrade texts though. I think he likes me."
"That's a bloody miracle, giving how much trouble you get him into," John snorted, and Sherlock actually laughed a little. John smiled as well.
Maybe not quite what he had expected of the day, but it wasn't too bad either.
My very first Sherlock-fic. I hope it was decent enough, and Merry Christmas everyone!
Until another time,