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He peered cautiously from the door frame, cradling a bowl of scrambled eggs he'd drowned in ketchup. Taking a forkful, he made his way to the couch and studied her movements. Her hands were moving gingerly over the delicate wrapping paper, not leaving an unwanted crease. The pieces of tape she used were carefully measured and were the exact size needed to get the job done.

This was one of the only indications left of Joan Watson's past profession.

Joan was either too immersed to notice Sherlock or she was choosing to ignore him. She continued her task silently, only making a satisfied hum when she placed the red bow on the bright gold box.

She continued to the next.

Sherlock examined the four perfectly wrapped presents that rested beside the coffee table.

Mum, dad, Gregson, Bell, He took another bite from his bowl and chewed slowly, wracking his brain to discover the owners of the last two gifts.

The only other person Joan talks to is Allistair, so that's one, Sherlock nodded to himself, The next one must belong to-


His head snapped up in attention, the fork half way to his mouth. "Yes Captain Watson, I am at your disposal."

She rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Of course you are, anyway I was asking you if you wanted tea. I'm making a cup for me."

"Yes thank you Watson, and have it be Ear-"

"Earl Grey, yes I got it." She got to her feet and eyed his bowl warily. "That looks like ketchup soup with egg bits floating around."

"Doyouwanfsum?" He said through a mouthful, offering the bowl.

Joan chuckled, "No thanks. Have at it."

She left Sherlock alone in the living room, her soft footsteps barely making a sound from the kitchen. When he heard her busy with the tea, Sherlock set the bowl aside and went to Joan's place of work. She had been sitting on the floor and had left the wrapping paper everywhere. He poked the wrapped gifts. As deduced, they all had the names he'd expected. A gold round box (Mom), two square boxes one in blue another in green (Gregson, Bell) and a red rectangle box (Dad).

The last two remained unwrapped, but their contents could not be deciphered from the outside. He saw two perfectly written names on tags beside the wrapping paper.

One read Allistair, the other read Sherlock.

"No peeking, or Santa takes the gift back." She handed him his cup of tea and sat back to work.

"Santa doesn't exist, even Bell knows that and he's an idiot." Sherlock took a sip of his tea while Joan choked on hers. "He's going to like your gift though; he's been in dire need of new ties."

"Okay, if you're gonna be guessing what the gifts are you're gonna have to leave the room." Joan shooed him away. "You'll spoil the surprise."

Sherlock went back to the couch and finished his tea, observing how meticulous Joan was about wrapping the last two presents. She put the last tags in their respective box and rose to take them upstairs.

She returned to find Sherlock stretched out on the couch watching t.v., his feet touching the other end.

"May I?" She motioned to her side of the couch.

"I'm not moving." He replied stubbornly.

Joan left herself fall on the couch and enjoyed an annoyed Sherlock struggle to remove his feet from underneath her. She gave satisfied smirk.

"How can someone so tiny weigh so much?" He cried while massaging his feet. "You're made of pure muscle."

"Maybe next time you'll move your feet." She retorted.

Sherlock made a mental note never to anger Joan to the extremes of fist fighting, given that ex-surgeon would probably win. He skimmed the channels and finally blurted what he'd meant to say when he saw his name on a gift tag.

"I didn't buy you anything you know." He surfed the channels aimlessly, waiting for Joan to speak.

"I know you didn't."

"Then you'll be returning the gift." He continued.

"No, I'll put it upstairs and give it to you Christmas morning." She replied.

Sherlock thought for a moment. "I still won't be getting you anything."

"I still won't be returning it." She persisted.

"Joan, I mean it. You can't guilt me int-"

"I asked if you wanted to decorate and you said no. I asked if we could put a small Christmas tree, you said no. I even offered to cook a nice meal and not let the holiday pass unnoticed and you refused." Joan stopped to catch her breath. "I respect your decisions and didn't push the matter but can I at least have this?"

Sherlock turned off the t.v. and stayed silent, both of them sitting in the dark waiting for the other to make a move. Finally, Joan stood and walked towards the door frame, her shoulders drooping slightly.

"If it bothers you so much, I can unwrap it and give it to you after so it won't be a Christmas gift," She sighed. "It'll just be something I saw at a store that I thought you'd like."

He closed his eyes and heard her footsteps echo in the hallway, then upstairs. The soft noise of the door closing and the bed creaking slightly told him she'd gone to bed.

Sherlock stretched out on the couch, placing his hands behind his head.

He went to sleep feeling like crap.

The following days passed without mentioning Christmas or the presents that rested safely in Joan's closet.

Joan acted as normal as ever and made no indication that the conversation had ever happened. Sherlock seemed to be the more affected of the two, dodging her eyes whenever she looked towards him, and quickly changing the channel when a holiday themed commercial came on.

In fact, he was so adverse to the holiday season that he nearly had a heart attack when he entered the police station one Sunday morning. He was greeted by the receptionist wearing a Santa's hat and flat out refused the candy cane she offered. When he entered the main office, he was shocked to see every inch of the station decked out in decorations, the tree taking center stage.

"Gregson what is all that?" He asked revolted, barging in his office, "It's like Santa's little helpers vomited in here."

"How dare you?" Gregson said in mock outrage. "I chose most of the decorations in here."

"Well I like them," Joan piped up playing with a snow globe. "You should've seen my home for this season. You'd think it was Santa's workshop."

Sherlock shifted uncomfortably in the spot.

"Well anyway, I came to return your books I let me borrow." Sherlock unloaded a set of books from his bag and onto Gregson's desk. "Joan is making me clean up the apartment and I found these lying under my bed."

Gregson nodded and thanked him for returning his books, overlooking Sherlock's wording of how he got them in the first place.

"Thanks for returning them; I hope they were of use." Gregson led them out. "By the way, do you guys know of someone that might be looking for puppies, maybe needs 'em for a Christmas gift or something?"

They shook their heads in unison.

"Oh, well if you do let me know," He added, "My neighbor's dog just had puppies and she's looking to give some away."

"We'll give you a call if we do." Joan assured him.

"Thanks." He closed his door then opened it and added as an afterthought, "Oh, and be careful of the mistletoe, I know we hanged some around here."

Sherlock practically ran out.

"Sherlock?" Joan called from the front door as she wrapped his scarf around her neck, a large bag at her feet. "Sherlock I couldn't find my scarf so I'm borrowing yours, okay?"

She lifted the bag of gifts and opened the door. "Sherlock, did you hea-?"

"Lost scarf. Borrowing mine." He called back. "Sherlock understand Joan."

"Sherlock be good while Joan out?" She called back sarcastically.

He took a few seconds before he answered, "Sherlock not burn house down."

"That's a relief." She whispered as she closed the door behind her. The last thing she needed was to pass Christmas Eve on a pile of ash.

Joan closed the gate behind her and flagged down a taxi, not noticing Sherlock's gaze following her from his window.

She arrived to police station first and found Bell and Gregson huddled over Gregson's computer screen.

"Ms. Watson, anything we can do for you?" Bell asked, taking the opportunity to crack his back as he straightened up.

"Don't tell me Sherlock's missing again." Gregson rubbed his eyes sleepily. "We haven't slept all night and can't handle a kidnapping at the moment."

"No, Sherlock's fine, I just wanted to pass by and give you some holiday goodies." She pulled the presents from her bag and handed them to their respectful owner. "Just a gift to say: Thanks for not having Sherlock and myself banned from New York City."

"Ms. Watson you shouldn't have," Gregson took his box and shook it. "I don't have anything to give you."

At that moment his phone rang, causing him to give an exasperated smile. "Speak of the devil." He went outside to take the call.

"Yeah, me neither." Bell took his present and gave her a hug. "Thanks."

"You're welcome. Remember to open it 'till tomorrow morning!" She grabbed her bag and walked towards the door way. "And don't worry about getting me anything, just as long as you keep calling Sherlock back is enough for me."


It took her longer to arrive to the Talisman Book Store because of the long line at the post office. She knew her parent's presents wouldn't arrive on time but she figured it was the thought that mattered anyway.

She arrived to the book store with a lighter bag and a bright smile. She'd put plenty of thought into Allistair's gift and hoped he was just as enthusiastic when he opened it the next morning.

"Joan!" Allistair cried from across the street. He ran across the road and gave her a hug. "Come here for some last minute shopping?"

"Nope, just here to deliver something," Joan greeted him with a hug and a peck on the cheek. "Wait where did you just come from? I thought your shift started earlier."

He gave her a mysterious smile, "Oh, I've just come from doing an old friend a favor."

"Oh, well," She took his present from her bag and handed it to him. "Hope you like it, and if you don't, then lie and say you did."

"Ooh, sit tight dear, let me get your gift from the back room." He led her to a table and called a cup of tea for her while he left for her gift.

"You really don't need-" She began but Allistair was already gone. She took a sip of tea, but before she could take a second drink he was back with a striped red bag laden down with a ridiculous amount of frills.

"Don't open it today dear, and if so wait 'till midnight." He said warmly, he handed her a box wrapped up in the crossword section of the newspaper. "This one's Sherlock's though you should probably wait a few days before you give it to him. Just to be safe."

"Thanks Al," She gave him another hug. "And have a Merry Christmas."

"You too sweetheart."


When the cab dropped her off at the apartment, she was certain that she'd been dropped off at the wrong one.

The light up wreath on the door had her blink several times before she opened the door.

It was her turn to have a heart attack.

"MERRY CHRISTMAS!" Sherlock jumped from out of nowhere with a Santa's hat flopping around on his head.

Joan jumped outside the apartment, slamming the door behind her.

"Joan?" Sherlock's muffled voice came from inside, "Did I say it wrong? Is the hat the wrong shade of red?"

Joan took a deep breath and stepped inside.

"What the-?"

The whole apartment looked like a department store selling Christmas decorations. The stair case was lined with lights that looked like icicles all the way to the top. Bits of white fluff lined the walls making it look like a winter wonderland and she gasped at the sight of giant snowflakes dangling from the roof.

Sherlock linked his arm to hers and led her to the living room where a train was circling a fully decorated towering Christmas tree. The television screens were all set to a fireplace channel and even Angus was in the holiday spirit with an elves hat perched on his head.

The consulting detective anxiously waited for her response, tiny beads of sweat running down his forehead. Allistair had rushed to help him decorate the moment Joan left for the police station, barely making it on time to catch Joan when she made her last stop. Sherlock knew he'd screwed up before but he had tried really hard to make it up to her and if she didn't like it-

Joan wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him in for a hug.

"I love it!" She cried happily, she stepped back and that's when she noticed the bruise forming on his forehead. "Sherlock what happened to your forehead?"

"Oh that," He mentioned like it was of little importance, not taking his arms from her waist. "Had a little accident while hanging the snowflakes in the hall. By the way, we need a new ladder."

"Maybe next Christmas," She said laughing.

"Ah, which reminds me!" Sherlock dragged her to the tree and sat her down inside the tiny railroad tracks. "Close your eyes, no peeking. I'm bringing your present."

"But I thought this was my prese-"

"Don't be silly Watson," He called from the staircase. "And eyes closed or you'll spoil the surprise."

That's my line.

Joan closed her eyes and waited patiently. Soon enough she heard his footsteps in the living room. She felt him kneel before her, his arms outstretched before her.

"Sherlock what-?" That's when she heard the bark.

Her eyes opened up to see an adorable white and brown bull dog wearing a red bow. The pup moved his little paws frantically, trying to reach Joan's arms.

Joan gave a squeal of delight and reached out for the pup, cradling him in her arms. The pup playfully gnawed at her loose sweater, delivering tiny barks. She stood with the dog in hands and followed Sherlock to the kitchen, observing him through the door frame. He was busy at work getting their dinner ready. He turned and gave a sincere smile.

"I'm afraid I owe you the home cooked meal," He said sheepishly. "I had this ordered from the take out place down the road."

"Did you buy food for Gladstone?" She asked, stroking the pups neck.

"Gladstone?" He said in surprise. "Yes, his meal's right here." He pointed to the bowl sitting next to their table.

Even though the table was set, Joan didn't move. Sherlock went to her and started petting Gladstone.

"Gregson said he's got all his shots and is one of the healthiest from the litter." He told her quietly. "I'm glad you like him."

Joan stared at him without saying a word then slowly moved towards him. She could see the panic forming in Sherlock's eyes and gave him a reassuring smile. He smiled back so she took the opportunity and gently pressed her lips to his. There was only a moment's hesitation before Sherlock responded, moving his lips softly against hers. More tender than even he thought he was capable of. Gladstone's playful growl and tiny paws pushing against Sherlock's vest made them break the kiss.

Sherlock gazed at her with a question in his eyes. She motioned to the top of the door frame, the mistletoe hanging mischievously.

Allistair, Thought Sherlock. Must of hung it when I was decorating the hall.

He cleared his throat and shook his head to the table. "Dinner's ready."

"Smells great." Joan set Gladstone on the ground and both watched as he sprinted towards his bowl of food.

Sherlock grabbed her hand and pulled her close, swooping in for another kiss.

"Happy Christmas Watson," He whispered with a smile.

She laughed, "Merry Christmas Sherlock."