The First Twenty-Five Days of December
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock.
Chapter One: Mistletoe
"I can't believe it is December 1st already! Are you still spending your holiday with me for Christmas, little brother?"
John Watson rolled his eyes and glared at his phone. "Harry, I am nearly four years older than you—"
"And four inches shorter!" His sister cackled, and John just huffed and finished tying his tie. When he didn't say anything for a moment, Harry murmured, "Don't be mad, Johnny. I do want you to stay with me. I haven't seen you in months and I know…I just know how lonely you are."
"Harry I'm fine—"
"Like hell you are! You live in that awful three room flat on the worst side of London, far away from everyone and you hardly talk to your friends and you never update your blog. I get it, you're sad because it's been a year and a half—"
"Harry…" John growled warningly.
"Can I just say something, please?" his younger sister begged. John carefully picked up his phone from the bathroom sink and trudged to his bedroom, dropping down on his uncomfortable bed.
"Go on then," he said, running a hand over his face.
There was silence on the other line, and then, "It's been a year and a half since you've lost Sherlock. I'm not telling you to get your arse moving and be happy again, I just want you to stop alienating your friends. You know that that Detective Inspector is sorry; he was just doing his job. And that lovely woman…Molly, is it? She just sent me an e-mail last week, wanting to check up on you, but you've been ignoring her. Is it true no one knows where you live or what you've been up to? Be honest with me, please."
"His brother knows," John choked out. He chewed on his thumbnail for a moment and then asked, "Did she really e-mail you?"
There was silence again. John stared blankly at the floor between his feet, his mind thinking about the people he had left behind. Greg Lestrade didn't deserve the open hostility from him. Sherlock would agree that the Detective Inspector was just doing his job, and he shouldn't expect anything less of him, as well as Sally and Anderson. Mrs. Hudson didn't deserve to be abandoned after a man she considered to be a son took his own life. And Molly Hooper, poor Molly Hooper. She had been in love with the sodding git even though he had treated her so harshly sometimes. She had been the closest person to Sherlock for years before he came into the picture; she knew him better than the man knew himself.
"You should be leaving for the tube in a few minutes, and I know you haven't brushed your teeth yet."
John glanced at his alarm clock and jumped up. "Shit!" he swore, his cane clattering to the floor. He bent to pick it up as his sister said,
"It was nice talking to you. I'll call you maybe in the evening next time instead of before your shift."
"Alright. I'll see you soon Harry. And thank you."
John was wrapped up in his own mind as he squeezed into one of the last available seats on the train. He placed his briefcase on the floor between his knees and tucked his cane into the crook of his arm. Then he dug his phone out of his coat pocket and stared at it for several long moments.
He felt tired. He looked tired. His hair grayed more in the last year and a half than it had since Afghanistan. And he was lonely. Truly lonely—worse than before Sherlock, because he now had a taste of what life was like with his best friend.
It was halfway through his train ride that he finally made a decision and typed a short message. 'Dinner?—JW'
He tucked his phone back into his pocket and looked up to observe the people surrounding him. There were six people standing up on the train altogether. There were a group of young teenagers towards the front of the train, and they were being loud and obnoxious. The passengers seated around them were watching warily. Then there was a slender woman standing somewhat close to him, her blonde hair cut short, only the ends peeking out of her knit cap. She had a backpack on and two shopping bags gripped tightly in her hands.
He looked back down to the teenagers at the other end of the train, and he felt irritation rising in him. Two of them were now shoving each other, obviously about to get into some kind of fight. As the train was slowing close to a stop, the group of boys ran to the back of the train, laughing.
One of them shoved the woman with two bags out of their way, and she stumbled backwards. John was close enough that he was able to reach out and steady her with his hands on her hips. When she regained her balance, he quickly dropped his hands. "Alright?" he asked gruffly, knowing how inappropriate it was to touch a stranger like that on the tube.
"Yeah, fine, thanks," she said, eyeing him up and down before sending him a small smile and moving towards the exit.
John realized a little too late that he was following the woman on the train.
Not necessarily following her. They were just walking in the same direction.
Well, he was following her until she stopped in the middle of the pavement and spun around to glare at him. "Why are you following me?" There was an edge of fear in her voice, and John immediately stopped in his tracks.
"I'm not following you, I promise!" he said. He quickly unzipped his winter coat and showed her his white lab coat before limping a little closer so she could see his identification. "I'm a doctor at the clinic right there," he said, pointing up the street. She scrutinized his badge for several seconds before she smiled bashfully at him.
"You can never be too careful of the freaks on the train." Her eyes widened and she quickly took a step back. "I mean, not that you're a freak or anything—oh dear…I've put my foot in my mouth," she said with a giggle.
John smiled widely at her, feeling his heart pick up a bit. "It's uhh…fine. You know you're right. Better safe than sorry and all!"
They held their gaze for a few moments before the woman looked away. "I better get going. I have to get this mistletoe sorted for my students."
"Okay…uhh…" John ran a hand through his hair nervously before balling his free hand into a fist at his side. "Have a good day then."
"Right. You too."
And with that, the woman turned and quickly walked away from him.
John ran his hand through his hair one more time before closing the distance between himself and the clinic and unlocked the front door. He always arrived about twenty minutes before the opening nursing came in, giving him time to check any work related e-mail, messages, and brew enough coffee and tea to get him and the other doctor and two nurses through the first few hours of the shift.
The building was quiet and John turned on the lights and went straight to his office, unlocking the door and opening it. He took off his coat and hung it up beside his door before fishing out his phone and making his way towards his desk. He plopped down into his seat and opened his bag, pulling out his computer. As it was booting up he looked at his phone and smiled.
He had one text message from Molly Hooper. 'Sounds lovely! I don't work tomorrow! You can come around for tea. :)'
His stomach growled, reminding him that he hadn't eaten breakfast yet that morning. He slowly typed out his response to Molly, telling her what time he would be around the next day, and then he settled into his desk and began his work for the day.
And if the image of the woman with two bags of mistletoe for her students kept popping up into his mind during quiet portions of the morning, he tried to ignore it.
He failed miserably.
A/N: I literally just finished a 30 Day Sherlolly challenge yesterday. And I am now going to attempt to write this. There was a Christmas 25 Day Challenge floating around Tumblr, and I figured, I'm crazy enough to want to write it! Each chapter title is the prompt of the day from the list. I'm really hoping to get this done before Christmas, which means hunkering down and writing daily.
And starting now, I'm going to try and respond to every review I receive, because I'm tired of being rude to the people who leave me comments!
As always, have a beautiful day!