Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock.
John came into the room and was immediately suspicious. He had often come upon Sherlock doing things that he had never imagined that anyone would do and so he had learned to take it all in stride, whether Sherlock was drinking tea out of half of a skull or painting with what looked and smelled suspiciously like blood. This, however, somehow managed to eclipse all of that strangeness with just how nominally normal it all was.
John blinked a few times just to make absolutely sure he had not started hallucinating. Well, if he had then this was one particularly stubborn hallucination that was here to stay.
"Sherlock, what are you doing?" John demanded finally.
"I don't see why you insist on asking questions to which you already know the answer, John," Sherlock replied, not bothering to turn to look John's way. "I should think that unless you've suddenly gone blind or deaf – in which case you should really let me know so that I may answer you in sign language assuming you know it as well – or perhaps struck with amnesia, you know perfectly well what I'm doing."
"No," John argued. "I know what anyone else in this situation would be doing. I have no bloody clue what you are doing."
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "I'm watching Rankin/Bass's 'The Year Without a Santa Clause.' What else could I possibly be doing, sitting here in front of the telly while the special is playing?"
"Do you actually want an answer to that?" John inquired. "Because I've just thought of five things that are ten times more likely than you willingly watching a Christmas special just in the last three minutes."
"I suppose I must surprise you, then," Sherlock declared.
John began moving again and dropped into a chair where he could see the television. "But…why are you watching this?"
"It is nearly Christmas," Sherlock replied.
John shook his head. "No, that is why virtually anyone else on the planet would be watching this. Why are you?"
"You were watching them a week ago," Sherlock began.
Another head shake. "No, Sherlock, I just said-"
"I wasn't finished," Sherlock interrupted. "I had not previously chosen to expose myself to such silly traditions or if I had I've since deleted it but I was rather afflicted with the most terrible case of boredom and you hid my gun so I was forced to pay attention to those specials of yours."
John stared at him. "You were upstairs!"
Sherlock merely blinked back at him.
John sighed. "Oh, never mind. And so…what? You decided that you liked them after all and so wanted to watch them properly? Like when you could actually see it?"
Sherlock shook his head. "No, actually, I found them rather infantile and even more so on the second time around. The animation is just inefficient, the constant songs are tedious, and they are very much a product of their times." He paused. "They also try too hard to create an entire story around Christmas songs. And I think that everyone at the North Pole in 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' are sociopaths."
"S-sociopaths?" John spluttered. "They are not!"
"I would try to convince you but the good people at Cracked agree with me and wrote an article about the very subject so I will refer you to them instead," Sherlock said and John's phone beeped to indicate that he'd just gotten an email.
"I don't want to read about Santa and the elves being sociopaths!" John exclaimed.
"But you'll watch it," Sherlock noted.
"No, I don't and they're not and…" John trailed off, shaking his head. "So if you don't like them then why watch them? I know you're bored but you have other options. Or do you just delight in sucking the magic out of Christmas?"
"I'm trying to solve a conundrum but I'm beginning to think that it's impossible," Sherlock said, sounding incredibly frustrated. "I mean, the only answer I can come up with is 'it's magic' and that is the laziest of all solutions. It probably is just a flawed premise to begin with."
"If we're talking about Christmas specials and Santa Claus then, yes, magic is a perfectly appropriate solution," John disagreed. "And what premise are we talking about?"
"Not every Christmas movie or special has this element but a great many of them do," Sherlock informed him. "Especially the ones that involve some sort of doubt as to the existence of Santa."
"And this element is…?" John prompted.
"Even though Santa Claus is real in these universes, there remain a great many people – including the parents of children – who do not believe in Santa Claus and that just does not make any sense whatsoever," Sherlock complained. "On the surface, I suppose they are trying to make it mirror our world where people over a certain age tend not to believe but it just does not hold up to any degree of scrutiny."
"Why not?" John asked blankly. "Santa Claus could be real now-"
Sherlock shot him a look.
"Look, I'm not saying that I believe but he could be," John said defensively. "And it would make no difference because the children would believe and no one else."
"If there were a Santa Claus," Sherlock said, his voice dripping with disdain, "then my brother would have not only been aware of this but have personally met the man." His tone turned suddenly thoughtful, "Of course, even if he had there is no guarantee that he would feel the need to tell me."
John was feeling like his childhood had died just a little bit. "But never mind that, why doesn't it make sense if a fictional universe with a real Santa for people not to believe?"
"I can concede that children or people with no children or who do not even celebrate Christmas might not believe in Santa Claus," Sherlock replied. "But so often it is the parents of children who do not believe and that is just absurd."
"But why?" John asked again. As per usual, the way Sherlock was going on was making him feel like he was missing something really obvious but he was pretty sure that he wasn't.
"Santa brings presents to all the children who celebrate Christmas," Sherlock explained patiently. "Which, judging by the specials, is actually all the children in the special's universe. Perhaps they all want presents. I certainly would not turn down a free present though I doubt that any of the toys would be anything I would have ever liked."
John tried to think of something Santa could have brought to Sherlock that he would enjoy and came up empty. "I cannot imagine you ever playing with any kind of toy ever."
"Don't be absurd, John," Sherlock retorted. "Even I was a baby at some point and less than discerning."
"So Santa bringing everyone presents makes what unbelievable and how?" John prompted.
Sherlock nodded, getting back on track. "Even if Santa only brings one present to every child then the parents are always left with one present that they know they did not buy. Let's say a fire truck, for example. Are they truly so stupid that they cannot remember what they buy or, year after year, they assume that the other parent has bought the fire truck? What about single parents?"
"I…don't know," John admitted. That was actually a pretty good point.
"If a mysterious someone is leaving your child presents then you either call the police or you believe in Santa Claus," Sherlock concluded. "It's pretty basic."
"I guess the parents just don't put that kind of thought into it," John said, shrugging.
"Then I really have to question their parenting skills given that this relates to their children and their children receiving strange presents," Sherlock sniffed.
"I really don't think that there's any point in judging the parenting of fictional characters," John replied. "Especially when these aren't actually characters so much as implied characters that must exist for there to be parents who don't believe in Santa in these specials."
"And it gets even worse with things like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny," Sherlock said, really warming up to the topic. "Though, admittedly, there aren't a lot of Christmas specials on them. I could, perhaps, believe that there exists a mass idiocy where people are incapable of remembering what they did and did not buy for their children but are they also to miss someone leaving painted eggs with candy and coins in them everywhere? And what about the Tooth Fairy? I don't even like children and if I knew that someone was taking a child's old teeth and giving them money for them then I'd be forced to conclude it was some sort of deranged personality and call the police. But I suppose they assume that someone else did all of this, too."
John's head was spinning. "I…know you don't like to hear this but you really are over-thinking this."
Sherlock, long-maintaining that such a thing was impossible, crossed his arms stubbornly. "I am not over-thinking anything. They are the ones who are under-thinking things to the point of being criminally negligent."
"But they, unlike you, are not actually real so what they do and do not think about really shouldn't be occupying so much of your time," John insisted.
Evidently that point was 'boring' as Sherlock simply chose not to address it. "And let's not forget the specials that, after one missed Christmas, have everybody immediately stopping believing. One missed Christmas after years and years of Santa faithfully proving presents and suddenly no one believes."
"Well, can you blame them for being disappointed?" John asked.
"Disappointed?" Sherlock repeated. "No, of course not. But stupid? Absolutely."
John gave a long-suffering sigh. "How does this make them stupid?"
"If Santa Claus does not exist then their parents must have been the ones providing presents all these years," Sherlock said reasonably. "And quite a few presents, too, if they really notice that one year he didn't provide any. And if their parents were the ones providing all of the presents then it would make no sense for one year nobody's parents to give them any presents with no explanation. So, really, the most likely scenario is that some evil force was interfering with Santa." He paused. "Or at least that Santa died or something. How old is he again?"
John gaped wordlessly at him for a moment. "There is no universe in which that is the 'most likely' scenario."
"Sure there is," Sherlock argued. "Not this universe, perhaps, but we're talking about the universe in which Santa is real and gives people free presents but the ungrateful children stop believing him at the drop of a hat. If I were one of those children and I knew that Santa only brought presents to those who believed then I would never stop believing."
"Really? You?" John couldn't believe it. "You'd accept Santa Claus on faith?"
"Not just faith," Sherlock corrected. "There is plenty of documented evidence for the existence of Santa in these stories. And even if I wasn't absolutely sure, if not believing could cost me presents then why would I want to risk it?"
"Because you wouldn't think that you were risking it because you would think that there would be no Santa," John told him. "That's kind of what not believing in Santa means."
"Then I would be an idiot because I was in a universe where I was wrong and I don't appreciate being accused of idiocy, John," Sherlock said, narrowing his eyes.
"I am not even apologizing for that," John said flatly. "That was not even remotely an insult and you know it."
"I think that it might have been, very remotely, an implied insult," Sherlock contradicted.
John threw his hands up in the air. "Really! In that case, anything anyone says ever could be an 'implied insult' if you think hard enough about it!"
Sherlock looked faintly pleased. "Ah, you're beginning to catch on. That's a terribly useful thing to remember."
John glanced at the screen again in time to see the ending credits play.
"A Christmas Carol is on next," Sherlock informed him. "Would you like to watch it?"
John spared a moment to consider just what Sherlock would make of Scrooge being expected to save everyone around him, instantly care for and wish to cure Tiny Tim, and his sudden transformation at the end and couldn't completely hide his horrified expression. "I'll pass. You've destroyed enough of my childhood for one afternoon."
Sherlock merely shrugged. "Your loss."
John headed up the stairs to his room and, just as he was about to close his door, he faintly heard Sherlock saying, " 'Dead as a doornail'? What's particularly dead about a doornail?"