Christmas was here and Lestrade had taken an early visit to Dorset to visit the family for a Christmas celebration because he had work shift on the actual Christmas Eve, Day, and Night. It was a sort of unspoken rule with the boys down at the Yard; the poor bachelors with no Christmas dates had to take Christmas shift to let everybody else with families go home.

So, here Lestrade was, Christmas with the family celebrated, and back in his office first thing on Christmas Eve. It was depressing.

he really wished that criminals would just sit down at home with their families and their friends and eat Chrismas dinner, drink eggnog, sing carols, unwrap presents, and realize that they have people who love them, and that they don't have to go on random killing sprees.

But unfortunately, that didn't happen on the Holiest of Nights because he had a new pile of casefiles on his desk that wasn't there the night before. Testimony of the crimes of Christmas past. He wishes he'd just wake up from this bad dream but, forget flying pigs, that would only happen if said flying pig flew to the North Pole and brought back his red-nosed flying reindeer friend.

But that's not exactly going to happen either. It was okay to fantasize, though, wasn't it?

Donovan, who was also one of the singles, walked in. "We've got a real cold one here." she said, "Got called in five minutes ago."

Lestrade looked at her, eyebrow raised. "'A cold one'?" he parroted disbelievingly. "That's horrible, Donovan, even for you."

Donovan shrugged. "I'm full of fun. I'm single and stuck clearing dead bodies on Christmas, why shouldn't I be?"

Everybody was a little bit crabby today.

"Please don't tell me that's what I think it is." Lestrade growled around his scarf as he approached the crime scene and ducked under the crime scene tape.

The victim was wearing a red costume lined with white. And an artificial white beard. Donovan smirked bitterly. "Someone killed Father Christmas."

"Okay." Lestrade rolled his eyes as he stomped his feet to retain blood circulation. 'Question the elves and reindeer, I'm going to check out the sled!' he thought wryly but didn't say.

He crouched next to the stiff corpse. "ID?"

Donovan shook her head beside him. "Besides Santa Claus? Nothing, no ID. He wasn't carrying his wallet."

Lestrade poked at the red costume. "No pockets." he grunted.

"He's wearing jogging sweats under that, nothing in those pockets either." Donovan nodded.

Lestrade leaned over and pointed at the victim's hand with his pen. "Wedding band. See if somebody's realized he's missing." Donovan nodded and scribbled something in her notebook.

Lestrade moved on with his observations. He grunted and observed the victim's shoes next. "Cross check missing persons with medical records, see if any of them live in wheelchairs."

"What?" Donovan looked up, blankfaced.

"The top of the shoes are worn and dirty but the bottoms arn't. No dirt, no mud, no snow stuck to them, and the grips arn't worn out. They're perfectly clean." Lestrade stood up from his crouch and looked toward the street. "He was probably killed elsewhere, brought out here in a car, or something, and dumped." looked up to see Donovan looking at him uneasily. "You can say it, get it out of your system." Lestrade sighed.

"You're beginning to sound like Holmes." Donovan deadpanned.

Now it was Lestrade's turn to stare. Since he had returned, Donovan had took to calling Sherlock 'the consultant' or 'the worse half of the Baker Street Duo' and other such monikers. "Not 'Freak'? I mean, I'm glad and all..."

Donovan blustered a little and waved him off. "I'm going to check up on..." She gestured to the victim. "You know."

Lestrade nodded at her and watched her leave.

Holmes. She called him 'Holmes'.

He grinned happily.

Well, they found out who their victim was but not why the crippled man was in a Santa Claus costume. The suspects were Hell to handle, nobody wanted to be bothered with death and murder during Christmas, after all. They were annoyed, grouchy, and at times even rude. Lestrade had to bite his tongue sometimes to keep himself from calling them 'Scrooge'. Repeatedly.

Come on good Sir, help a poor copper out, it's not like he likes doing this on Christmas either.

He sat down wearily in a cafe for a little lunch break and watched people pass by his warm window seat. People hurrying around laden with colourful Christmas presents, children pressing their cold little hands and noses into shop windows, staring longingly at the toys displayed, couples walked arm-in-arm, giggling around cups of hot chocolate.

Lestrade propped his head up on his hand and just watched the world pass by his window seat like a larger than life snow globe.

A family of four passed by. Two young children, one boy, one girl, twins by the look of it, chased each other with tiny handfuls of snow, shrieking in delight. Their young parents huddled into each other for warmth, kissing briefly in the swirling snow, giggling about how romantic it was before their two children made faux-retching noises, tongues stuck out, faces scrunched up in vague disgust.

Everybody laughed. Lestrade quickly turned and stared at his table's surface, embarrassed at observing such a private family moment. He sighed. Nobody to spend Christmases with, that was kind of hard to forget at this particular time of year.

He shook his head and got up and paid for his meal, politely wishing the waitress a Merry Christmas before returning to his case.

"Keith Heather, this is Detective Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard!" Lestrade called out that evening as he pounded on their suspect's door. Donovan was crouched behind him, ready for an attack. "Open up!"

They heard something, a door, or window, slam shut inside the flat and a metalic clang from somewhere further. He and Donovan exchanged glances. "Fire escape." Donovan voiced his thoughts and she took off down the stairs to cut off Heather's escape from the ground as Lestrade expertly kicked his door down, baton in hand.

The flat was empty, he opened the window and climbed out onto the fire escape to see their suspect agilely climbing away. Lestrade growled and set chase. "Why do they always run?" he wondered aloud to himself as he clambered down the rusty fire escape.

By that time, Heather had reached the snowy ground and took off like a bat out of Hell. Lestrade saw Donovan pursue a second later. He jumped the last few feet to the ground, landing in a slight snow drift, and set off after his sergeant.

Donovan was gaining fast on Heather until a sharp turn took her feet straight out from under her. She hit the ground with a heavy 'thud' and let out a sharp breath of pain. She was back on her feet in a flash as if nothing had ever happened, only, there was a dark glint in her eye that promised an unnecesarily rough takedown of the suspect if Lestrade didn't get to him first.

He cut himself away from the path Donovan was marking out and skidded down a back alley, a shortcut he had learned from chasing after Sherlock. He popped out onto the main street just as Heather was approaching and neatly clotheslined him.

Heather went down with a satisfying 'oof'. Donovan caught up to them a moment later and helped Heather into the cuffs slightly tighter than strictly necessary. Lestrade didn't say anything about it.

"You okay?" he asked her innocently.

"I am now." Donovan huffed back with a grim smile. "You know, you'd think people would consider it too cold to go outside today." she said as they packed their suspect away into the back of a police car. "Most people would just burrow deeper into their beds and go back to sleep, but no! They have to go out and kill Father Christmas!" Donovan ranted, rubbing her hip where she had fallen.

"Do you-..." Lestrade began and was cut off by a raised hand and a sharp look from Donovan.

"Sir, if you ask me if I want ice for this, the answer is 'no'." Donovan grumbled.

Lestrade laughed.

"Oh, Gregory!" Mrs. Hudson greeted cheerfully. "I'm so glad you could make it! Come in!"

Lestrade dusted a light layer of snow off his shoulders and shuffled into the flat. "Is everybody here?" he asked.

"That sweet pathologist, Molly, is on her way and Mycroft is still refusing to come." Mrs. Hudson leaned in conspiratorily. "He was muttering something about 'National Security' and 'irresponsible little brothers', I think he and Sherlock had another spat about a case."

Lestrade chuckled. "Is that why he didn't come to the Christmas party during the Adler case?"

"No, that time, he simply was not invited." Mrs. Hudson sniffed plaintively. "Sherlock wouldn't allow it."

"I can imagine." Lestrade drawled as he shrugged out of his heavy top coat and let Mrs. Hudson hang it up on a rack.

Just then, the door opened and Molly shuffled in, smiling brightly. "Oh, hello! Merry Christmas!" she greeted cheerfully and Lestrade gallantly helped her out of her coat.

"Hello, Molly dear." Mrs. Hudson greeted back warmly. "The boy's are both upstairs, why don't we go on and join them?" She took Molly by the arm and took her up, Lestrade trailing behind. "Not wearing that dress from last year? Pity."

"Oh no, not this year." Molly blustered, picking at her plain, creme-coloured turtleneck. The 'I'm not aiming to impress this time' was not said, but was still understood.

"Shame, I think you looked really nice in it." Lestrade piped up from behind.

"Gregory was gaping in shock, I think." Mrs. Hudson teased, throwing a look over her shoulder.

"Guilty." Lestrade said, hands upraised in surrender. "But still, you're looking very good, Molly." He smiled.

"Thank you." Molly flushed. "You're looking well, too."

"Now don't go flirting with him, dear." Mrs. Hudson admonished teasingly. "He's got his eye on Mycroft."

"Mrs. Hudson!" Lestrade blushed in mortification.

Molly just giggled brightly at them.

It was nearing eleven o'clock, Christmas Dinner was eaten, presents were exchanged, hot chocolate was passed around for all, and the lights were considerably dimmer compared to when they started out that night.

Sherlock and John were curled up in their respective armchairs by the fire, talking in low murmurs and nursing their beverages. John was picking absently at the jumper Mrs. Hudson got for him and saying something about 'Vatican cameos'.

Nobody, except for the two of them, really understood what they were talking about. They exchanged meaningful glances and chuckled quietly. Sherlock reached over absently and curled the tips of his fingers innocently into John's new jumper and John swatted him with an affectionate snort. It made Lestrade just a little envious of them.

Mrs. Hudson was talking to Molly about recipies and smiling dutifully at her awkward mortician jokes. Lestrade himself was just loitering around, enjoying the warmth and the opportunity to relax, but he was beginning to feel out of place, being the only one in the flat without someone to talk to so he excused himself with quiet partings with Mrs. Hudson and Molly. He didn't want to disturb Sherlock and John.

He bundled up and trudged out into the street to where his car was, fully intent on going home...

...Until he saw the wrapped present in the shotgun seat. He was going to give it to Mycroft but he hadn't come around to Baker Street to pick it up. Lestrade sat in silence for a moment, contemplating.

Then, he started his engine and drove off in a different direction from home.

Mycroft was roused from his annual tradition of sitting by his fireplace with a drink and reading A Christmas Carol by the doorbell ringing. He frowned. He wasn't expecting company. He stood up with a slight sigh and walked to the front door and opened it.

Lestrade was standing there, shifting uncomfortably, snow blending in with the silver of his hair. The copper gave a small, unsure smile. "Hey, Merry Christmas, Mycroft."

Mycroft blinked. "Merry Christmas, Gregory."

Lestrade bounced a little on the balls of his feet and awkwardly held out a wrapped package. "Christmas present." he said in explanation. "Um, I was going to give it to you at Baker Street but you didn't show up so..." he shrugged a little. "...Just thought I'd come by and drop it off on my way home."

Mycroft took the extended gift unsurely. When was the last time he recieved a gift?

"Well, um, thank you." Mycroft cleared his throat. "For the gift... and for coming all this way to give it to me."

There was a slightly claustrophobic silence before Lestrade broke it. "Yeah, I should go now, shouldn't I?" he grinned, awkwardly.

"Oh no, please, come in." Mycroft blurted, embarrassed for his lack of manners. "You've come all this way, I'm afraid I've inconvenienced you. May I offer you tea? Coffee?"

"Thanks, Mycroft." Lestrade smiled. "But really, it's fine."

"Oh, good." Mycroft smiled self-depricatingly. "I was starting to worry a little. Merrim always cooks around here, I'm quite notoriously..." Mycroft trailed off, thinking the better of it. "Well, let's just say cooking is not my strong suit."

Lestrade laughed. Then he stopped and tried to peer around Mycroft's form. "You're having visitors?" he asked curiously.

Mycroft peered over his own shoulder at the house he knew to be empty. "No I'm afraid not."

"Oh..." Lestrade pursed his lips in that thoughtful way he did when he found out something new about the Holmeses. Like when Sherlock told him there were only three separate instances, since moving out of the Holmes family home, when he celebrated his birthday before he forgot it. His own birthday. "Say, you wouldn't want to get out for a bit, would you?" he asked Mycroft. "I saw a Starbucks on the way over here, might want to get warmed up before the drive home."

Mycroft contemplated it for a moment. "I suppose... I have been craving hot chocolate." he admitted. "I wonder if they're still open at this time." He glanced at his watch.

"Dunno." Lestrade chuckled, shrugging his shoulders. "It looked open."

"Then, I guess we must find out." Mycroft sighed in fake resignation. "Wait a moment while I look for my coat."

Lestrade entered the foyer and waited, leaning against the wall, as Mycroft shuffled off somewhere. He glanced at his ghostly reflection in the small glass panes on the front door and just let himself fantasize, just for a moment, that coming here on Christmas wasn't an unplanned occurance.

Then, Mycroft returned with his coat, breaking him out of his fantasy. "Shall we go?" Mycroft asked.

Lestrade grinned back. "Yeah, let's."