The First Twenty-Five Days of December
Chapter Twenty-Five: Christmas Music
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock.
Christmas morning was an almost quiet affair for John and Mary. They each received phone calls from their parents and siblings as soon as the sun rose. Text messages from various friends, relatives, and coworkers also filled their inboxes, with Lisa reminding John that he needed to ask Mary about the work-related Christmas dinner. He did ask her as soon as he responded to the text, and Mary wholeheartedly agreed to the dinner invitation.
Because neither John nor Mary purchased a Christmas gift for each other, they spent the morning quietly eating breakfast in the kitchen before returning to lounge in bed and cuddle.
In John's opinion, a quiet Christmas and a cuddle were the best presents he could have received, second only to Miss Mary Morstan.
Just as John was beginning to drift off again, he heard his phone ring. He reached for it and his eyes widened at the text.
'Mrs. Hudson invited people to Baker Street for drinks tonight. Come if convenient.—SH'
"Something important?" Mary murmured, and John realized she must have noticed his stiffened posture. He tried to relax as he stared at his phone.
"Yeah. I don't know. Here." He handed her the phone and watched as she read the text.
She gave him his phone back, and after studying the message again for a moment, he replaced it back on the table beside the bed. Mary shifted around in his embrace and John tightened his hold on her. "Are you going to go?"
"Probably not," he said softly. "Wouldn't it be weird? I'm hardly talking to Sherlock and the last time I was in 221B I pretty much had a breakdown. I'd like to keep the shreds of my dignity intact, thank you." He paused for a moment, and then he nuzzled the top of her head. "Sorry. That was unnecessary and rude. I'm going to ruin Christmas if I keep talking."
"You won't ruin Christmas," Mary said softly. She ran her fingers through his air, pleased when she was able to get it to stick up in all directions.
"I need a haircut."
"No you don't. I know you're a military man, but the length of your hair is perfect right now. It could even be a bit longer." She scratched his scalp and John nearly purred beneath her ministrations. She giggled and kissed his cheek. "By the way, I don't think it would be too weird if you went to Baker Street tonight. You'll see Greg and Mrs. Hudson, who you haven't seen since this whole thing started. And I can have a quiet night in. I actually have some music scores I can study—"
"You honestly think I would go without you?" John asked, shocked. "You are the only reason why I'm still functioning and friends with Molly again. If I go there, you have to come with me. Besides, Mrs. Hudson adores you and would be disappointed if I showed up without you."
"If you want me to go, I will," Mary said, leaning up to kiss his chin.
"It's settled then. If I go, we're both going."
It was snowing lightly as John shifted around in the back of the cab, his hands going from squeezing his knee to squeezing his cane to covering his mouth. It was a repetitive motion going from knee to cane to mouth, but he stopped when Mary reached over and squeezed his arm.
He turned to look at her and he asked, "Can we walk the rest of the way? I just need to breathe."
Stopping the cab about a block and half away from Baker Street gave John and Mary a lot of time to meander to Baker Street. John kept his arm around Mary's shoulder, partly to keep her close and partly to shield her from the cold he was subjecting her to.
"How are you feeling?" Mary asked, as they were nearing the flat. John had his eyes frozen on the window of 221B that was facing the street. He could see Sherlock's back, and it was obvious that he was playing his violin.
"Alright. Okay." He forced himself to smile, and it turned genuine when Mary stopped them and she cupped his cheeks in her hands. She stared into his eyes for a moment, and then she whispered,
"You are really brave for doing this. Facing your friends after you've been hurt, and returning to a place that you still aren't quite comfortable being in. I'm proud of you, Doctor Watson."
"All because of you," John whispered. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, and with a renewed vigor in his step, he and Mary made their way to his former flat.
They let themselves in, John knowing that everyone would be upstairs in 221B and wouldn't hear them knock. He removed his coat, scarf, and hat, leaving them on a hook. He helped Mary out of her coat, admiring her simple gray sweater dress and black leggings with boots. "You look very pretty, by the way," John murmured, going towards the stairs.
"Thank you," Mary whispered, squeezing his hand.
Up the stairs they went, the sound of their feet on the stairs being disguised by the sound of Sherlock playing Christmas carols on his violin.
Mrs. Hudson probably prompted him again.
John heard Mary's breath falter once they stepped into 221B, and he wasn't certain if it was because the Christmas decorations encompassing most of the flat, or Sherlock's playing. The two of them stood in the doorway during Sherlock's performance, and before Mrs. Hudson could thank him, Mary whispered, "That was beautiful."
Sherlock's eyes snapped open and he stared at John in obvious surprise; no one thought he was coming, then.
"John and Mary!" Mrs. Hudson cried, jumping to her feet. She enveloped Mary in a gentle hug, kissing her cheek in greeting before turning to John.
They shared a look for a moment, and then Mrs. Hudson had her arms around John, squeezing him tightly. He breathed deeply and took comfort in Mrs. Hudson's embrace. Then he pulled away, kissing her cheek. "Happy Christmas, Mrs. Hudson."
"Both my boys," she said, wiping at her eyes. "Best Christmas an old woman could ever ask for."
Mrs. Hudson sent John a watery smile before she looked at Mary. "Are you hungry, dearie? I've made sandwiches and we have cake. A lot of cake."
Mary sent John a look and he nodded his head once. She took that as a sign that he was alright and she followed Mrs. Hudson into the kitchen. John steeled himself to face the room, and after a deep breath, he turned. Sherlock was preoccupied with his violin, but Molly was smiling at him tentatively. Lestrade was busily pouring a second drink into a tumbler.
One drink won't hurt. John closed the distance between himself and Lestrade and took the offered drink. "Hey," John said, easing down onto the sofa.
"Happy Christmas." He lifted his drink in salute, and the two of them downed their drinks.
"You must be Mary!" Molly said happily, and John looked over to see her crossing the room and helping Mary and Mrs. Hudson with their plates.
"I am! And you're Doctor Hooper, right?"
"Right, but you can call me Molly!"
With Mary sitting beside him, conversation flowed easily amongst those sitting in 221B. Sherlock provided a musical accompaniment to their talking, taking requests when Mrs. Hudson suggested them, but for the most part playing Christmas themed music. John was relieved that Mary was getting along well with Lestrade and Molly. And under regular conditions two years ago, John would have been relieved that Sherlock hadn't hurled any unfortunate deductions in her direction.
The silence from his best friend—former best friend?—was unsettling.
"I'm going to get some water. Does anyone want anything?"
After a chorus of "No's" from his friends, John got up and went to the kitchen. The glasses were kept in the same cabinet and he filled the glass with water from the tap. He flinched when he heard Sherlock say, "Excuse me." The sound of his footsteps entering the kitchen seemed to echo around the flat.
There was utter silence from the room the two men exited.
John placed both hands on the edge of the counter, realizing he left his cane on the floor beside the sofa. He didn't dare turn around, not sure what Sherlock was going to do or say. The silence stretched on for a long minute, and John could feel the tension creeping up his shoulders, pulling his muscles tight.
Sherlock cleared his throat and said softly, "I know you wouldn't have put your hands on Molly." John let out a breathy laugh; that was not what he was expecting. He thought he would hear harsh words about his attire, because he always hated Christmas jumpers, or something idiotic about Mary. "I was frustrated because I wanted you to talk to me like…like before."
John shook his head. He couldn't bring himself to say anything. "It has come to my attention that I handled my—uhh return badly." John heard him shift his feet, a telltale sign that he was uncomfortable. "I know—I've always known that this would hurt you. But—"
"You had no choice," John spat, the words tasting foul on his tongue.
"Just because you knew doesn't take away how I felt for the year and a half I thought you were dead, Sherlock," John growled.
John clenched his fists tighter against the counter. He heard Sherlock moving again, and then he felt a hand on his shoulder. Sherlock's grip was tentative as if he wasn't sure the touch was allowed. "I hope one day you can hate me a little less."
John pivoted quickly, his face contorting into a look of disbelief. "Hate you? God! I wish I could hate you Sherlock!" He was shouting, and he knew he shouldn't be, but he suddenly couldn't control the volume of his voice. "You are my best friend and no matter how bloody angry I am at you, I can't change that!"
He was breathing heavily and he could feel tears prickling at his eyes. He desperately needed air, and quick. From the corner of his eye, he could see Mary creeping towards the kitchen, a look of concern on her face.
Sherlock's hand suddenly dropped from his shoulder. "You still consider me your best friend?" His voice cracked and he had to clear his throat to continue. "Even after the torture I put you through?"
John covered his face, nodding his head even as his shoulders shook with soundless sobs. He was startled when he was suddenly enfolded in Sherlock's arms. "I apologize, John Watson," he said, his voice wavering.
As John was blowing his nose, he realized that everyone was no longer in the sitting room.
"Mrs. Hudson took them downstairs to look at her new blanket," Sherlock said from his perch on top of the table. He was watching John warily, unsure how the doctor was going to react while emotionally compromised.
John just rolled his eyes. "Mrs. Hudson's blanket must be fantastic, then."
"It is, actually. I purchased it for her."
John couldn't help but chuckle. He tossed his tissue into the rubbish bin and then leaned against the counter.
"It's lonely here," Sherlock said, suddenly looking away from John, staring at something across the room.
"I know." John sounded tired and he saw Sherlock wince.
"Not good?" he asked.
"A bit not good."
"When can you move back in?" John snapped his gaze in Sherlock's direction, his brow furrowed. "Even worse?" Sherlock asked. His lips quirked up slightly.
John stared at Sherlock hard for a moment. Even though he was smiling just slightly, he could see how vulnerable his friend was by asking him to come back to Baker Street. He could only imagine what the man went through while he was out doing whatever it was he was doing. We need to talk, and soon. "I'll think about it," he said after a moment, trying to hide his smile as Sherlock visibly relaxed, slouching a bit. "Things are different now, Sherlock. I'm very serious about Mary."
"Of course. We'll have rules."
"Rules?" John lifted an eyebrow in confusion.
"I would like to have sexual intercourse with Molly as well in the flat. We can create a schedule."
John shook his head, covering his eyes. He could feel his cheeks turning a bit pink; they never talked about sex to each other. "We are not synchronizing our sexual schedules. Who even suggests that, Sherlock?" After a moment, he looked at his friend. "It wasn't a one-off then? You're serious about Molly?"
"As serious as a heart attack."
And then they started giggling.
Just like old times.
John turned around slowly. He was standing in the middle of his old barren bedroom. The bed was still there as well as the wardrobe, but he took everything else when he moved out. The room was cold, the window open so John could breathe.
John watched as Mary entered the room and crossed it slowly. "Sherlock said you needed a bit of air. I thought I would come up and make sure you're okay."
John nodded his head. He held out his hand, and Mary took it. He squeezed it. "He asked me to move back here, with him."
"You should do it."
He turned and looked at her in surprise. "You miss him, and he's your friend and you two obviously mean a lot to teach other. And if I want to be honest, Baker Street is ten times closer to my flat than yours."
"That is true," John said.
"When you're ready, of course," Mary added.
John hesitated for a moment before dropping Mary's hand. He moved to his old bed and sat down slowly. "My life is very different with him, Mary." He hadn't been able to keep a relationship going longer than three months. Even if he wasn't running around all the time with Sherlock, working cases (if he ever did it again) and working at the clinic would put a strain on his relationship with Mary.
Mary joined him on the bed. She resumed their contact, placing her hand on his arm. "I'll adapt. You're much too important for me to let go, Doctor Watson."
"Miss Morstan," John breathed. "To think, twenty-four days ago, I was the freak on the train following you to work. And now…" John very gently cradled her cheek in his hand. He could see her eyes sparkling wetly, and he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers. When he pulled away, he whispered, "I love you."
Mary returned his kiss, her hand moving to rest on the back of his neck. "And to think, Doctor Watson," she whispered, her voice choking up. "I bought you a matching green hat and scarf before I ever said," she paused to take a quick breath, "I love you too."
John carefully wiped away her tears with his thumbs. "Happy Christmas," he whispered happily.
A/N: Thank you to each and every person who read, reviewed, favorited, or followed this story. Your reviews and kind words have been a blessing for me. I hope that I've done a kindness for the John Watson/Mary Morstan ship, because I'm now irrevocably in love with them.
I hope S3 does them justice! Because if not, I'm just gonna have to write the fluffiest fanfiction based on this pairing, with splashes of Sherlolly thrown in as well! (Because we can't forget them, can we?)
I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve, a BEAUTIFUL New Year, and so on! And thank you, thank you, thank you for reading this! As always, I appreciate every word you've said to me.