A/N: This is very much a fic of two separate halves. I haven't written the second half yet but it's getting on for midnight and unless I steam through it in the next hour it probably won't be up until tomorrow night. Had trouble with the title and summary of this one. It applies more to the second half so do stick around for that. This isn't just it. It's very much just not it. Also, I'm gonna continue to plug my tumblr, because it worked a treat last time. I'm flaignhan there too. Link in profile, etc.
He's glad to be out of the house. Tomorrow is going to be shit. He knows it. She won't like what he's gotten her, even though she's spent the last six weeks saying 'whatever you get me will be fine' in that voice that says 'if you don't get me exactly what I want, you'll be unwrapping a divorce'. No pressure, really.
Apart from all that, there's going to be booze at this little get-together, John assured him of that when he invited him. It's not that he needs a drink, (although a generous glass of scotch wouldn't go amiss) it's that he's never seen Sherlock drink. Or, more specifically, Sherlock drunk. Yes, he's seen him after he's been drugged by a dominatrix (normal day that was) and yes, in his younger days, he'd seen Sherlock be pulled in for a few things that have since been swept under the carpet, but merry drunk? He's never seen that. He's never seen Sherlock jolly.
Without fair warning, an image of Sherlock materialises in his head, red suit, white beard, hearty chuckle and rosy cheeks.
Greg stops, administers some mind bleach, and then continues walking, repressing a shudder. Maybe he doesn't want to see Sherlock jolly. But happy would be nice. Happiness that isn't triggered by a rush of adrenalin that comes with the thrill of a new puzzle. Happiness because at this time of year, everyone should be happy.
When he arrives at the front door, it is ajar, just a fraction, and the note under the knocker says 'Come up'. There is a little smiley face with a Santa hat doodled underneath it, and it doesn't take a genius to work out that it wasn't Sherlock who wrote that one.
The flat is wonderfully warm after the cold chill of his walk. The fire is roaring in the grate, and a mouthful of whiskey sees that he is warmed from the inside out. John introduces him to his girlfriend, and he spends a short while making vague small talk, before Sherlock eventually stalks in to join the party. John passes him a cup of tea and Greg feels his face contort into a frown of disappointment.
"Not drinking?" he asks.
"I don't think that's wise, do you?" Sherlock says darkly. "Given past events."
"Oh," Greg says. "Right."
He estimates that around eighty-seven per cent of the fun this evening had to offer has evaporated. He can't really argue though. Sherlock is, after all, doing the right thing.
John refills his glass and Jeanette appears with a tray of large mince pies. Greg helps himself to one and sits down. As he bites into the pie, he thinks the night might not be so bad after all.
She never had children, but she's making up for it now. The windows all have fairy lights around them and there are presents under the tree. She's gotten Sherlock a lovely pair of slippers, because he must get chilly walking around in just his dressing gown all the time. She's also gotten him a big pack of tupperware boxes, for all his experiments, because leaving them open in the fridge isn't right. Not right at all.
The gifts are sitting under the Christmas tree. She'd tried to get him to help her decorate but his only input had been to tell her when the branches were wonky. After a few minutes, he'd quickly grown bored and gone off to the kitchen to make a lot of noise.
Now though, she wants to show him off, like a proud mother. Because apart from the deducting and the sharpness and intellect that is about the same size as his ego, he's actually very talented boy.
"Go on, Sherlock," she says. "Please? For me?"
"Perhaps later," he says, taking a sip of his tea. "Everyone's talking."
Mrs Hudson's shoulders droop, her hopeful smile dropping. He fixes her with a piercing stare, before placing his cup back on his saucer and putting it on the table.
"Fine," he says. "Fine."
He picks up his violin and begins to play. Mrs Hudson claps her hands together, while John's snooty girlfriend raises an eyebrow. The inspector looks up, mildly surprised, and Mrs Hudson sits back in her chair, smiling broadly, her hands clasped in her lap. It always amazes her when he plays. It's as though he's not even thinking about playing, as though he picks up the violin, tucks it under his chin and his hands immediately know what to do. Never has she heard a foul note (apart from when he's trying to drive people out of the flat) and never has he forgotten a piece midway, despite never looking at the sheet music.
Oh yes, if he were her boy, she'd be very proud of him indeed. She is very proud of him regardless. But still the little bit of her that always longed for children wishes she could have nurtured a tiny human into a wonderful adult.
She makes do with Sherlock though, and that's more than enough.
As he finishes playing, she breaks into applause. "Oh that was lovely, Sherlock," she says as he puts his violin back on the stand. He offers her a brief smile before picking up his tea again.
Perhaps, if she's lucky, he shall play once more before the night is out.
He almost chokes on his beer when she takes her coat off. He had no idea that under that lab coat there had been a waist, and hips, and a small, but perfectly lovely chest. For the first time, he thinks to himself that Sherlock could do worse. A hell of a lot worse.
Sherlock's being irritable with everyone, and when John tells Molly about his sister finally sorting herself out, Sherlock has to spoil it.
Deep down, John knows that this is just the latest in a long line of Harry's attempts to give up the booze. She'll be fine for a week, perhaps two if she's feeling really determined, but then life will be unkind, or difficult, or frustrating, or just there, and she'll pick up a bottle without even trying to think of an alternative. John knows this. Which is why the only reason that Sherlock remains un-punched is the fact that it's Christmas, and they have guests, and he wouldn't want Jeanette to think he's some sort Neanderthal brute who solves everything with his fists.
But then again, after the name débâcle, perhaps a fist to the face is exactly the sort of thing that will ensure that Jeanette stays the night.
Before he can weigh up the pros and cons, Sherlock has turned on Molly.
"Take a day off," he tells him, as Greg sweeps in with large glass of whiskey and puts it in front of Sherlock. John frowns. It almost looks as though Greg's trying to get Sherlock drunk.
"Shut up and have a drink," he says, but Sherlock ignores him. He continues to reduce Molly to nothing as his speech speeds up, and he stands, approaching her. It's like he wants to really nail it home that just because it's Christmas, it doesn't mean she can be happy, and she especially can't be happy when it's the one thing that Sherlock doesn't know how to do.
John looks around, because surely, surely, he can't be the only one that knows that that dress is for Sherlock. The present on top of the pile with the ribbon, that's for Sherlock, and the bow in her hair, the lipstick, the effort, it's all for Sherlock. Mrs Hudson is watching with a worried frown, as though she wants to look away. Greg is downing the last of his whiskey. Even Jeanette, who has only met Molly for the first time this evening, knows.
Sherlock plucks the present from the bag and starts to inspect it.
"- obviously trying to compensate for the size of her mouth and breasts..."
John feels as though someone's just thrown a bucket of icy water over him. He can't imagine what Molly must be feeling. Everyone is frozen in position, as though time has stopped purely to let everyone take a moment to realise what a heartless bastard Sherlock really is.
But they all already knew that anyway.
But then something amazing happens. Molly Hooper, who won't say boo to a goose, who flusters over the smallest of things, manages to hold it together after being torn apart like a carcass in a lion's cage. She doesn't lose her composure, doesn't shed a tear, and then she speaks.
"You always say such horrible things. Every time, always...always."
What happens next is even more amazing. John can barely believe his eyes, and then calls into doubt whether his ears are functioning properly. And then he wonders if his entire brain has decided to play one huge trick on him because actually, it's not Christmas, it's April Fool's Day, and this all a big joke.
Sherlock swallows, takes a few nervous steps, and then finally meets Molly's gaze.
"I am sorry. Forgive me."
John resists the urge to drop his jaw as he looks between the two of them. Sherlock steps forward, closer to Molly, so close that John thinks that he might kiss her.
"Merry Christmas, Molly Hooper."
And he does. He presses his lips softly against Molly's cheek, and she stands there, shell shocked, while they all watch in silence.
And then his phone goes.
It might have been funny, were it not for the fact that Molly's wine glass is shaking in her hand. Within minutes, Sherlock has shut himself in his bedroom, and Molly is making her way to the kitchen, presumably to get a hefty refill. The poor girl deserves it after all.
Jeanette pokes him in the side, and he looks down at her. She nods towards the kitchen, where Molly is leaning against the counter, hand over her face, shoulders shaking.
"Oh no..." Mrs Hudson says. "Oh no..."
Greg sets down his glass and moves over to Molly, pulling her into a hug when he reaches her. She sobs into his chest and an uncomfortable lump forms in John's throat.
"All right..." Greg says quietly, rubbing her back. "It's all right..."
"Don't take it -" John starts to say, then realises how stupid it is. How can she take it any way other than personally? What is the size of her mouth and breasts, if not personal? "You know how he is, he's not worth getting upset over, he's really not."
Greg leans back from Molly and tilts her chin up so he can meet her eyes. "What John's trying to say, is that he's a dick."
"Yes," John says, nodding emphatically. "That is absolutely what I'm trying to say."