Elbows propped up on his knees, Sherlock heavily sighed into his hands. He did not even dare look at all the spilt jars and test tubes on the table. Whichever else was still standing constantly jumped up and down, what with the continuous commotion upstairs.
Twenty minutes. Twenty minutes in and his head was already hurting like the worst hangover he could ever imagine.
Who said it was a good idea to rent a Christmas movie for two noisy idiots in snuggies and a loud TV?
Giving up on the idea of actually finishing any work, Sherlock rose from his seat. He looked down and was pleasantly surprised to find his pants embarrassingly soaked. Perhaps not so pleasantly, actually. He looked up to find a big bottle toppling over the edge of the desk, the remains of the blue liquid inside dripping onto his seat. The label marked Benedict's reagent was soaked and the ink was slowly dissipating. Oh well. He'll just bug Anderson into getting him a new bottle, even though he had better means of achieving one. A chance to annoy Anderson in some way was just like a balm to his metaphorically-chapped-lips. Not that they ever were, John made sure of that.
Sherlock hurriedly dried his pajama pants with a wad of tissue, dismissed the thought after deeming it useless, and threw his blue robe over himself while simultaneously sliding his feet into the first pair of slippers he saw. Hopefully they wouldn't spot the big blue stain in the middle of his grey pants. They were his favourite pair, and he did not intend on changing them.
Just as he stepped out the apartment door to go to the upstairs bedroom, he spied Mrs Hudson out of the corner of his eye. She was sitting on the floor, desperately scrubbing on a tomato-sauce stain on the wall. He knew it was tomato sauce because he was there when it happened. Chuckling quietly, he turned to Ms Hudson and stood. She was making small noises of anger in her throat, and almost growled whenever her sleeves fell down to her wrists. She furiously rolled them up again and continued scrubbing.
"Oh, Mrs Hudson, you look like you're about to explode with rage! Calm down. Mr. Muscle there doesn't seem so muscular."
"Sherlock! Don't you sneak up on me like that!"
The floor creaked as he knelt beside her. "Sorry. Not really, though. How long have you been trying to take that off?"
She was not even dismayed by his not-so-heartfelt apology, but stopped scrubbing and exclaimed, "I don't even know! But I've missed a Top Gear rerun and I'm furious!"
Sherlock lightly patted her shoulder and stood up. Mrs Hudson's face softened as she looked at him.
"They're such a wonderful pair. Truly," she stood up and pinched his cheeks lightly, "And a loud one, too. Tell them to calm down or I will personally do it myself."
Sherlock started as she lightly slapped his cheekbone and sat down, as if she had not so lightly threatened him. She was indeed the balance of all things odd and amusing.
He put the thought aside and headed upstairs. The sound of laughter seemingly forced its way out of the confines of the walls and doors, and Sherlock braced his ears for the upcoming wave of ear-splitting crashes and shouts from the speakers, and unlocked the door.
Inside, the bright pink room was brightly lit, illuminating the vast amounts of purple teddy bears thrown around and the covers scattered on the floor. The TV, surrounded by multiple speakers, showed Tom and Jerry running in the midst of a kitchen. The poor cat was desperately trying to catch all the expensive china showering over him. Sherlock winced at the thought. If he was put in that situation, he would run for dear life. Damn the dishes.
But, just there, in the midst of all the commotion was all that truly mattered. John ran with a handful of stuffed animals in his hands, and seemed oblivious to the feathers that clung to his hair as he laughed and threw a small, pink giraffe towards the other side of the room.
Sherlock followed the flying giraffe with his eyes, until it landed ungracefully on a heap of blankets at the other side of the room.
Abruptly, with a bellow, a small body jumped up and vigorously threw multiple animals at John. Sherlock roared with laughter as three multi-coloured teddies hit John square in the face.
Standing there, cackling madly, a small girl proudly stood with her hands on her waist. Her wild and curly, dark blonde hair jumped up and down with her laughs. She wasn't even half his height but Sherlock always noticed that she automatically attracted a load of attention. Not taking a second to rethink his thoughts, he snatched the first teddy bear and threw it in her direction. She was startled and fell lightly onto the blankets, still laughing.
"Sherlock! Save me! We've got an insane war general, not a daughter," claimed John, gesturing with his hand for Sherlock to join him. John quickly knelt behind a table which was tipped onto its side as he saw their daughter getting up again. She held an insanely large and fluffy horse in her hands, which indeed looked like it was heading towards Sherlock.
As quick as he could, Sherlock dived to the floor, next to the bed. He did not have many stuffed animals here, but he had good protection from the bed. He could see from under it where the little girl's feet went. Seconds later, the horse landed half an inch next to him with a heavy thud.
He gasped with mock shock, and shouted over the bed, "Ella! I will get you for that!"
Ella giggled loudly, then put her thumbs on her temples and stuck her tongue out at both of her fathers.
Sherlock's eyes widened when he realized something. Ella would not run or make any sudden movements. She had her socks on and would risk falling flat on her face on the slippery wooden floor. He looked at John, who was laughing at their short exchange, still not noticing the flaw in the little girl's plan. He tried to get his attention without making it too obvious.
"Psst. Pssst. John!"
John calmed down, but was still smiling when he looked back at Sherlock. He tried to sign his plan, but gave up at the confused look on John's face. Instead, he just slowly mouthed his plan to John, hoping he would get it this time. That he did.
But Ella had already seen their exchange. She madly threw whatever was in her hands at them both, not knowing what their plan was, but certain that there was one.
Sherlock glanced at John, and then down to his hand, where he was signing off "3, 2...". Once he counted to one, both men jumped up and ran towards their daughter. She screamed excitedly, trying to counter-attack, but couldn't go anywhere. They both landed next to her, tickling her tummy until she was panting with laughter.
"Alright, alright! Truce, truce!" Ella exclaimed loudly, trying to push both her parents at the same time. She was a persistent little beast, she was.
John was also panting with laughter when he stopped and said, "cease the fire!"
Sherlock's heart warmed significantly as he looked at his family. Red in the face, and trying to steal the last tickles, they looked splendid. He coughed and stood up, putting both his hands out to help them as well.
"This is more exhausting than I thought it would be," started John. He pulled the blanket around them tighter. In the middle, Ella sniffed at her mug and scowled.
"Pops, will you blow at it?"
John took the mug and gently blew cold air so Ella could drink her hot chocolate. Or chocolat chaud, as she liked to call it. Damn Lestrade and his French.
Sherlock had demanded them to scooch in more but his left leg was still on the verge of falling off Ella's narrow bed. As an alternative, Ella was sitting on his lap and he was huddled up with John. Ella usually sat on his lap because he had the advantage of height; he could still watch the TV over her head where John would have to look left and right. Her untameable hair was no help, too.
And so Sherlock and John cuddled and watched Home Alone as their daughter sleepily laughed as she drank up her hot chocolate, often remarking that she deserved more marshmallows due to her recent discovery of how to improve John's pasta. That was the very same day some of the sauce went splat on the wall, however, and caused Mrs Hudson her distress. So she would usually only get one or two more. Didn't want to spoil the child.
After she had slept with her head on Sherlock's shoulder and her small hand curled on John's, the couple whispered to each other quietly. Well, mostly tutting and annoyance on Sherlock's part, with John huffing in annoyance. Eventually they settled on a deal and John moved out of the bed.
Sherlock lifted his head and whispered loudly, "Quiet, John, you idiot!"
"I'm not the one shouting with a child sleeping under their chin, for god's sake!"
Sherlock just chuckled. Ella could sleep through an earthquake if it was centred right under their building. Nonetheless, he tried to stay as quiet as possible.
John was trying to be as quiet as he could with the noisy wrappers when a hand grabbed his shoulder. He almost screamed, but he quickly held the hand and turned around to find Sherlock.
"You bastard," he breathed. His tone was a both humorous and murderous.
"Shhh. Not the end of the world, mind."
They both settled on the floor, trying to push the gifts under the tree. John turned his head to find Sherlock struggling: he couldn't do anything without being too loud.
"Huston, we have a problem." Sherlock dropped the parcel in his hand into his lap, which landed with a quiet thump.
"No kidding. Here," John answered, "let me."
John fumbled sideways until he was closed to Sherlock and tried bending forward to snatch the parcel. He tripped on his own legs and landed to his side, accidentally bringing Sherlock down with him. They quietly righted themselves, the parcel in John's hand and Sherlock's robe open, and looked at each other.
They fell into silent giggles.
John's stomach ached, as he held his arms against them. He couldn't stop. He looked up to see Sherlock's face red, his brilliant smile stretching from ear to ear.
"Is that- what is that?" John was pointing at a dark blue stain in the middle of Sherlock's pants. "Don't tell me you peed yourself blue..."
Sherlock's ears reddened more as he looked down at his pants. "If you weren't such noisy gits..."
Their fit was interrupted by Sherlock's phone ringing. They both looked at his robe pocket as he reached in and read the new text.
I know you're awake. Or at least I hope you are.
Report immediately, we've got a serious one.
"It's Lestrade. Gee Lestrade. Apparently there's a case."
"Greg, Sherlock. His first name's Greg, I swear."
Sherlock just narrowed his eyes at him as he pushed the last box under the tree.
"Look, can you find someone to look after Ella while I go change? And get you some new pants while I'm at it."
"No. You do it. And I don't need a new pair of pants."
He huffed. "Fine. But I don't need a new pair of pants."
John rubbed his nose and walked to their bedroom as Sherlock reached for his phone. Deeming a text useless, since she most likely wouldn't look at it, he put the phone against his ear. It only took a couple or rings before she answered.
"Sherlock! Hi, I wasn't expecting you to call so late. How's it going? It's technically Christmas-"
"Molly, can you come over and look out for Ella for me? We've got a case and need to go."
She stuttered for a bit before she spoke. "What? I've got a-It's date night for me, huzzah."
She was quiet. Sherlock felt a bit guilty. Just a bit, however. Not enough to be of any effect.
"Alright I guess. I'll be there in a minute."
He muttered a quick thank you and hung up as John came back.
"Molly's on her way."
"She's such a sweetheart." John threw his blue scarf to Sherlock, which he snatched midair.
Sherlock waited by the stairs as John went up to Ella's bedroom and kissed her goodnight. He was too on edge to do anything right now. Murder on Christmas? Bless Lestrade.
They hurried downstairs and found Molly waiting. She had never even asked for their address, yet ever since the first time she came to watch Ella, she knew. It was a bit odd but Sherlock turned a blind eye to it. Molly and her shenanigans.
He threw her the key, which she barely caught, saying, "Alright, Sherlock! John! See you later. And happy Christmas!"
They waved to her hurriedly and caught the first taxi they could find.
"Hi, Greg. What were you doing here on Christmas?"
Lestrade glanced at Sherlock. "I wasn't, actually. I was at home with my wife. Ever since that PE teacher left we've been on okay terms."
"Oh, shut it, Sherlock."
"Didn't say anything."
"So what's the case? It's getting late," John interrupted.
Lestrade straightened up. "Found a body near the tube. One of those abandoned station, you know. Right mess, it was." He handed them a folder. "Made quick work of getting the body in and taking the pictures, people were noticing and were crowding a bit more than usual."
"Of course they were."
Lestrade and John turned their heads to Sherlock. "What?"
"Look at him," he pointed one long finger at the picture, "look at his clothes."
Both men took note of the vibrant robes. "How colourful."
Sherlock was quiet for a few seconds. John could almost hear the gears turning in his head.
Sherlock dropped the files in John's hand and started towards the door.
They barely caught up with his big steps when Lestrade asked, "Royalty? You can't possibly mean..."
"I most certainly do." He increased his pace and ran outside.
John poked Lestrade's shoulder. "What in the seven hells is he talking about?"
Lestrade looked at him as if he had grown two heads. "Don't you read the news? We have a small royal family visiting from Albania. Cousins of the first family. That's one of their sons."
John stood in his place, his heart feeling as if it stopped.
They really didn't need to get involved with another royal family.
"For fuck's sake..."
It had not taken them a while to get into the inevitable chase.
Once they had arrived at the crime scene – Sherlock did not even want to take a look at the body, claiming he knew what he needed to know- they looked here and there to find the occasional clue or an insult from Sherlock.
Twenty minutes in, Sherlock stilled and ordered them all to be quiet.
Once they got the gist, they tried following to where he was looking. He was looking straight into a group of trashcans and plastic bags.
Lestrade offered to go and check it out, and once he took one step, Sherlock growled loudly as a tall, black figure jumped out and ran into the nearest side street.
Furious, Sherlock shouted at Lestrade to stay where he is and call for back up. He grabbed John by the hand and ran. John was panting after a while, and his hands a bit sweaty, but neither really wanted to let go. Sherlock ran after whatever he had seen and John blindly ran with him.
Unexpectedly, they heard gunshots. Sherlock ducked, pulling John with him, much to his dismay. There was a chorus of "Sherlock Holmes, you are the most annoying little shit..." as they half-crouched.
Three turns later they saw the man Sherlock had spotted. Except, he was not alone. He stood in the middle of about a dozen men, mostly clad in black. One was wearing bright blue robes, with small diamond-like crusts threaded on the sleeves.
Sherlock almost threw John behind a fence, out of everyone's sight, and moved towards the men.
Five minutes later the sounds of fighting and guns filled the air to the brim.
Sherlock, seemingly unharmed, held John and walked away from the fight. Much to John's obvious confusion. And then, as if on queue, two police cars drove in the narrow alleyway and started quieting everybody down.
Sherlock did not explain a thing as he and John walked home.
They woke up to the sound of a particularly high pitched scream. Slowly, they turned into screams. Multiple screams. John jumped out and ran, but Sherlock stayed. He knew exactly what those screams were.
"OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD!"
As he walked out, bleary from the sleep, he saw John and Ella on the floor. Ella was grabbing at the wrapping, just barely reading the cards, while John had a big smile on his face.
"I guess you like the gifts?" asked Sherlock, somewhat sarcastically.
The little girl looked up at him, her face glowing, and her hair as wild as ever. "Obviously."
Her parents chuckled, as she reached in a box and came out with a knitted scarf. That one was left by Molly the previous night, along with two other boxes for John and Sherlock. She had told them right before she left.
"Wow. Pink. How unpredictable."
"Sherlock Holmes, the extraordinaire," said Ella, as she wrapped the scarf around herself.
An hour later after unwrapping all the gifts, all three of them sat huddled on the couch. Ella covered the three of them with a purple blanket she had gotten from John, who was reading the morning papers. They sat in comfortable silence until Ella spoke up.
"How come Molly laughed when I told her I wanted to be like you guys when I grow up?"
John looked at Sherlock, as they were both caught unaware by the random statement.
He asked, "You want to be like us when you grow up? How?"
"Well, all you ever do is sit around. It's not like you actually ever go out unless it's to drop me off or buy groceries."
They were both so shocked at what their daughter thought was a fact that they just fell into another laughing fit. Their daughter looked so confused and just nervously laughed.
Somewhere along the line, John passed the newspaper to Sherlock. He calmed down slightly and looked at it. On bottom of the third page, it had two large pictures. One of a young man, blonde, wearing orange robes, and another of a man in his forties. He was wearing tattered blue robes and was in the midst of being arrested. Under the pictures the caption said, "Prince Alan [right], known for his dabbling in political fights, arrested before dawn after his participation in the murder of his own nephew was confirmed by authorities. His nephew prince Zek [left], third in line for the Albanian throne, was found near station under construction. His funeral is scheduled in the near future. Prince Alan and his cronies are to stand in court in Albania the next month.
Sherlock threw the newspaper to the side. Prince Alan was such a joy talking to. A man jealous of his young nephew's power in the world, he had arranged for his discreet death by some inexperienced assassin. It was obvious that he was a very paranoid man. A few words here and there had Prince Alan panicking and trying to shoot everyone in his own group. It had taken some effort for him to figure out where they were standing, some more effort in talking to him, and a bit more in dragging John across the back streets of London. At the end of the night, he had crashed into bed, hardly hearing anything Molly or John said. He just promptly fell asleep.
He looked at his daughter, who was being squashed with John's embrace.
"Oh, Ella. You lazy little minx!"
They ended up in a tickle fight that left them all exhausted and red in the face.