Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas*
A/N Short Silly Christmas-y Fluff. I figure it will be a few chapters long, because I am constitutionally unable to write a one chapter story. In my head, this is a sequel to one of my earlier fics, Date Night. However, this fic can easily be read alone. Rated M to be safe (but is probably only a T) for mild adult situations and cursing, child kidnapping, and limited mild violence.
Maybe, if I am very good, Father Christmas will help me finish it by the 25th. Happy Holidays :D
Chapter the First
"This is waste of time," complained Detective Inspector Lestrade. "We've reviewed surveillance about a hundred and fifty times, Sherlock, and there is just nothing there.
"I see that I grossly underestimated your stupidity, Lestrade," said Sherlock Holmes, who studied the shadowy figure caught on a security camera during the kidnapping.
"Sherlock," muttered John in warning. The blond stood to one side with his arms crossed and blew a silent sigh out of his pursed lips. Honestly, he agreed with Greg, it actually did seem like they had reviewed the video a hundred and fifty times.
"No really," said Sherlock, speaking around his steepled fingers. "I thought Lestrade at least capable of counting to nine, which is in fact the number of times that we have reviewed the video recordings. There must be something…something we have missed!"
"Sherlock, there is nothing! A hooded figure sneaks up to the block of flats and disappears from view. Then he somehow he got in, disabled the camera, tied up the babysitter and made off with two little girls." snapped Greg Lestrade, who was beside himself with worry. This case hit way too close to home. Lestrade had called his ex-wife three times already to check in on his own girls. Thank God they were safe even if he would not be able to see them until well after Christmas.
"There really is nothing," repeated the detective inspector, quieter although still very frustrated. "Nothing helpful on the recordings. No clues at the scene. There's been no ransom demand. Nothing."
The two detectives glared at the screen and watched again as the masked, hooded figure crept up to the building and then vanished round a corner.
John sighed again. He could only imagine the heartache that the girls' mother and step-father felt right now. Not to mention the poor grandfather, who had collapsed with a minor coronary when he learned the news of the girls' abduction.
John was almost glad that the girls' father had died in Afghanistan nearly five years earlier. The kidnapping would have been a severe blow to any father. The former army doctor had worked under Major John Roberts only briefly. But even this tenuous tie to the family made it a bit difficult for John. That, and the involvement of children. He just couldn't understand, how anyone deliberately hurt children?
John massaged the worry lines etched between his eyes, before he tilted his head, cracking his stiff neck. Three days and three nights of chasing down phantom leads. Almost no sleep, practically nothing to eat…not that John even had an appetite. Who could think about eating with five and ten-year old girls missing? John checked the time and was surprised that it was already half three. Time to go and get ready.
"Well, I'm off," said Doctor John Watson slipping on his bomber jacket.
Two heads whipped around in surprise. Lestrade's mouth gaped open, and Sherlock glared with dangerously narrowed eyes.
"I thought we agreed that you would not be going out tonight with Mary," said Sherlock venomously.
"Nooo," said John with pursed lips. "You decided I shouldn't go. I decided that I should. End of discussion."
"Mary?" asked Lestrade, with a weary grin, "Mary Morstan? That cute blond internist? It's about time, mate. She's been trying to get you on a date with her forever." The detective inspector paused and his smile faded when he noticed that his office was about to spontaneously combust.
"It's not like that, Greg," said the blond doctor with a hurried glance at his flat mate. "I promised to escort Mary to this sort of party months ago. Actually, I agreed to go to this…thing, before someone came back from his…absence."
Shite, thought Lestrade. John still couldn't say the words 'Sherlock's fake death'. He was fairly certain that John couldn't complete a sentence that contained the both Sherlock and any word such as dead, death, die, dying, funeral, suicide…
Sherlock, very much alive, curled his lip contemptuously. "Doctor Watson has a secret assignation to dine with the lovely Miss. Morstan, which is rather surprising given that we are in close pursuit of a kidnapper…
John rolled his eyes heavenwards, silently begging for divine intervention. "We are not pursuit of anyone, Sherlock. There are no new leads . Nothing is happening at all, except you two bickering. I think you two can carry on without my assistance for a few hours. Furthermore, it's hardly a surprise; I've been telling you that I had plans on Christmas Eve for at least the last six weeks."
"You do not deny that it's a date and a dinner for which you have to dress up," said the haughty consulting detective.
"I do deny it's a date!" snapped John, who was becoming angry with his secret, new boyfriend as of one week ago. "Yes, there will be a dinner, and no, I probably won't be eating. Yes, I have to dress up. Look, it's a big-deal for Mary's... friends. They all get together for this big annual party. And every year, they quiz Mary about not having an escort, so when she asked me, months ago, I said yes. For the record, Mary and I are quite clear that we are just friends."
"Friendships can suddenly change into romantic liaisons," challenged Sherlock Holmes, with an intense stare at his flat mate.
Lestrade was suddenly, absolutely sure that he was missing something vital here.
"I will not be having romantic liaisons with Mary Morstan. She is not my type. AT ALL," said John in clipped tones. He glowered at the man who, despite all of John's previous denials, was in fact John's type. "Now, I am running late. I will have my mobile with me if there is an emergency. I will be home at about 2300 hours. Good night, Sherlock. Merry Christmas, Greg and thank you."
The short blond marched out of the office. It was never a good sign when John marched; it generally meant that the good doctor was trying to hide some upset. Lestrade wondered again about these two.
"So, um, you and JOhn?" Lestrade tentatively asked the consulting detective.
"I would like to interview the girls' mother myself," said Sherlock, completely ignoring Lestrade's question.
The detective inspector carefully considered the consulting detective's demand. On the plus side, Sherlock had been a bit nicer to witnesses and victims since his 'miraculous' return from the dead. And Lestrade would be there, ready to rein in the younger man if necessary. On the negative side, the poor mother was already on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and John would have been a much better choice as a reiner-inner for the consulting detective.
Still, they had no leads, and it had already been nearly seventy-two hours, since the girls were taken. The odds of a happy ending were dwindling rapidly. Lestrade was willing to try almost anything.
"Fine. I will call Sally, she's on duty for a couple more hours at the family's flat, in case the kidnapper calls with a ransom demand," said the silver-haired inspector. He ignored the supercilious Holmesian eye-roll. "I'll tell her that we're on our way," He decided to test the waters again, "It's a bit odd, that John would leave in the middle of a case like this, isn't it?"
Sherlock did not deign to respond. Instead, he jumped to his feet and swooped out of the conference room, startling a PC into dropping his files. Lestrade dry washed his face and hurried after his consultant.
John Watson stood in front of his mirror. His lips were pressed so tightly together that they appeared white. He could not go through with this. He owed Mary his life, but he could not go through with this…this…travesty! He shook his head, and the bells on the tip of his hat rang out merrily.
The doctor clenched his fists and his jaw, aching to shoot the green hat with its white, faux-fur trim and three, count them three, bright red jingling bells.
He gazed down with revulsion at his jaunty green boots, each with its own jingle bell. Bringing his gaze up, he glowered at the bright green tights. They were positively indecent. Who the hell decided that elves couldn't wear sensible trousers? The white trimmed, clingy tunic was barely long enough to hide his private bits. God forbid, if Father Christmas' helper had to bend over to pick up a present, because then his bum would be on display for the entire world.
This was humiliating. John Watson: Christmas Elf. Santa's Little Helper, St. Nick's sidekick.
John tried to remind himself that this was all for a good cause. This was a favor to a good friend, who had helped him get through the worst months of his life. This was for charity. This was for Christmas.
This was for the birds.
He shook his head in disgust, making the annoying bells ring. Grabbing the oversized trench coat, which he'd borrowed from Doctor Harrison specifically to hide the ridiculous costume, he made his way downstairs. Hopefully, Mary would be on time to pick him up, because John really wanted to get this debacle over with.
On the plus side, John's flat mate was busy down at the yard and would never see this get-up. On the minus side, his flat mate was very angry with him. Brilliant, one week into dating Sherlock Holmes, and they were already in the middle of a major domestic. Brilliant.
Inevitably, the interview was a disappointing waste of time. The mother could shed no light on the matter but did shed copious tears, which annoyed Sherlock, who was already on edge without John.
In an astounding display of self-restraint, Sherlock kept his annoyance to himself, and left the house with his coat swirling behind him. It was a pity that John had not witnessed his prodigious efforts to not publically announce that the step father was hiding his affair with his PA, that the mother had just started an affair with her German co-worker, that the babysitter was a drug addict and that Donovan and Anderson had resumed their illicit relationship.
Surely, John would have been proud. But no, John was with Mary. suspiciously, John had refused to tell Sherlock where or what he was up to tonight. The Doctor had forced Sherlock to promise not to follow him or stalk him or to ask Mycroft to do the same. Sherlock was proud that John had thought to add that last codicil onto the bargain. Really, John could be quite intelligent, for an idiot.
However, upon re-examining the crime scene, the consulting detective had found a single, short red hair in the girls room, which did not match the hair of any family member, nor that of the babysitter. Sherlock had also found two tiny smudges of dirt on the door jamb and a some greenish threads caught on a nail in the doorway. Possibly, the kidnapper had fallen against the door jamb as he absconded with the two missing girls.
The tall brunet dropped onto a stool to begin his investigations. Then he looked up at Lestrade, who still hadn't left.
"Why are you here, Lestrade?" asked Sherlock, his head tilted to one side.
"Because you've got evidence there. I'm making sure…"
"No that's not it," said the consulting detective, studying the older man. "You've been texting all evening. Ever since John left in fact."
"Oh for God's sake!" said Lestrade. "I am here because that hair and those threads are official evidence taken from a crime scene. AND, I promised John that I wouldn't let you leave my sight until he got back around 11 tonight. He's checked in every fifteen to twenty minutes, I might add. So, would you mind telling me what is up with you two?'
"Nothing is up, Lestrade," said the cold, impassive detective. He turned back to the microscopic examination of the hair. Inside, he was jumping up and down and proclaiming that it was Christmas, which ironically, it was.
John was worried about his flat mate/boyfriend. Was Sherlock John's boyfriend? Never mind.
Perhaps, John wasn't on a date after all. And even if it was a date, John's constant texting of Lestrade would insult Mary and ruin the date. And best of all, John couldn't be 'getting it on' with Mary, not if he'd promised Lestrade that he'd be back by 11. John was always conscientious; he always kept his promises. Ergo, John would be home by 11.
The consulting detective smirked when Lestrade's mobile alerted an incoming text. Apparently, John was a very inattentive date. Apparently, JOhn was more interested in Sherlock Holmes than in Mary Morstan. Sherlock hummed happily as he prepared the slides.
John was bored. Well he was alternately bored and mortified. This Christmas Eve would live in infamy, and JOhn did not owe Mary another favor, not for the rest of his life.
Mary and John, both wearing matching elves costumes, had helped Father Christmas and several other volunteers dish out a traditional Christmas dinner for homeless clients. John might have almost enjoyed it, except that Beatrice, a sixty-something-ish widow, had pinched his bum three times. And the night was still young.
Finally, it was time for the presents. It was touching to watch the faces of the youngsters, who each received warm coats and mittens plus a new toy and book. It was heartwarming to give blankets and mufflers to the elderly men, who lived rough in spite of this awful weather. It was mortifying to have Father Bloody Christmas grab his bloody arse and promise to come down John's chimney for Christmas. And John couldn't do a thing about it, without ruining Christmas for all of these people.
With a big smile plastered on his face, John managed to quietly issue a death threat into the ear of Father Christmas, who choked on his next Ho Ho Ho. Santa's Little Helper, his bells jingling merrily, marched to the other side of the room to box up the left-overs for take away.
Then, just when it couldn't get worse…it did. Connie Prince's idiot brother arrived. Mr. Prince had become a popular television celebrity after the death of his beloved sister. Mr. Prince hosted a nightly talk show, and tonight's feature story was typical, mindless, feel-good holiday fare. John shuddered and tried to plan his escape.
The television host postured in front of the tinsel covered tree, ensuring that the cameras caught his good side. Kenny Prince was wearing a hideous red and green jumper, which JOhn secretly admired. Unfortunately, the jumper clashed with the tree. It took a couple more minutes to reposition the host, the lights and the camera.
Kenny began to speak into the microphone, "Testing. Testing. Hemmm. Hemmm. All set? Hemm. Hemmmm. Yes? Right. Oh welcome, welcome, my wonderful, loyal audience. Have we got a special evening in store for you," He gushed, smoothing down his thinning hair. "Here, at one of London's busiest shelters, the staff of St. Bart's outpatient clinic is donating time, gifts and talent to help Father Christmas spread Yuletide cheer. I promise you, we will meet with Father Christmas himself. And I can't wait to introduce you to the gorgeous little elves who are making this night so very special for all these lovely people"
John kept his head down, hoping the jingle bells wouldn't give him away. The little elf cravenly hid behind Beatrice. She was thrilled with his company.
"No, No, No!"
"It makes no sense. Where did the hair come from, if not the kidnapper?" the consulting detective asked himself.
"It has to have come from the kidnapper!"
"SHERLOCK!" yelled the red-faced detective inspector. "That's impossible. The hair came from a dog. Are you suggesting that the kidnapper was a dog? A dog wearing green clothes?"
"Dear God," said Sherlock. "You've suffered irreparable brain damage from prolonged contact with Anderson! Text John and tell him to come here at once!"
"Text him yourself, Sherlock. You've got a phone," said Lestrade, burying his head in his arms on top of his desk. He was just so tired and so frustrated by this case. He was so worried about those missing children. And JOhn Watson was so going to pay for leaving Lestrade alone with this mad man.
"John won't answer my texts,' said Sherlock pouting. "I need someone here who at least has half a brain!"
"No, John needs to come at once. We are on the verge of a solution; we have the clues…"
"What a canine kidnapper in a green jacket?" asked Sally echoing the detective inspector.
Sherlock looked up and glared down his nose at her. "You are all idiots," he said contemptuously. "The kidnapper was not wearing green. Did you not look at the fibers? They were green, khaki and brown." He stopped traipsing back and forth and looked expectantly at them. Seeing their blank looks. he rolled his eyes and resumed pacing.
"Does sound echo inside your empty little heads?" continued the detective. "The man, we'll assume it was a man for now, statistically it will have been a man, was wearing camouflage. He is possibly a hunter, possibly a militia want-to-be or…."he prompted again.
"Um…military?" suggested Sally uncertainly.
"Military or ex-military!" said Sherlock decisively. "It isn't hunting season and we're in London, ergo the kidnapper has real or imagined ties to the military, and he owns a red-haired dog, probably a pit bull…"
"Oh he's just making that up!" whined Anderson.
"Anderson go home; you are not only lowering the IQ of Lestrade, but of the entire building," demanded Sherlock, whirling around. "Lestrade, I need to talk to the family again."
"It's past 9 o'clock! You can't keep botherin' them," said Sally.
"Do you honestly think they will care? If it leads us to a breakthrought…"
"Sherlock is right," said Lestrade. "Of course we need to talk to the parents again, if there is any chance it will help. I think PC Schmidt and that counselor, Moira Denhem are with the family tonight. Sally, call Schmidt and have her get the mother on the phone." Sally frowned and stepped out the door, her phone in hand.
Greg dragged his hand through his hair and continued speaking, "Anderson, there's really nothing else you can do right now. In fact half the people in the office out front, are not even on duty. It's Christmas. Lets send some of these people home…"
"We want to be here, Lestrade," protested Anderson, his face candid for once. "This case struck a nerve for a lot of us. My own sister lives only a mile away from the Berry's flat. My sister has three children…"
"No one will be able to contribute to this case if they are exhausted," said Sherlock. The room went silent, as Anderson and Lestrade looked at Sherlock in surprise. "That is what Doctor Watson would say... Obviously, I don't care."
Sherlock turned his back to the room to maintain the illusion of his sociopathy.
"Anderson," said Lestrade, shaking his head, "as long as you're here, talk to people and suggest that they go home. Tell them to get some rest and spend time with their families. It's a suggestion, not an order…yet."
"And Sherlock, what are you looking for in those files?" asked the detective inspector, rubbing his aching forehead.
"Military connections. Red dogs. Thespian connections."
"The smudges: wax, glycerin, acacia senegal gum, Iron oxides, Bismuth oxychloride, several dyes." Sherlock looked up at Lestrade. "Face paint, so could be an actor."
"Oi! Oi! Lestrade, get out here!" yelled Sally. Lestrade ran for the door, closely followed by Sherlock. Sergeant Donovan held her phone loosely in her hand. She, and everyone else in the room stared at the telly mounted on the wall.
"Donovan what is it?," asked Lestrade exasperated. "I don't have time for this."
Sherlock tsk'ed loudly.
"It's the Kenny Prince Show," said Sally. "Shut up and watch…there, there, there he is!"
And there, on the telly, handing out a boxed dinner to a homeless woman, was JOhn Watson MD, dressed in green tights and tunic. The ersatz Christmas elf bent over to put a parcel in the woman's tote. The camera focused in on the elf's green clad bum. Kenny Prince sighed loudly.
"And that, dear viewers, is a package I'd dearly like to unwrap Christmas morning," said Kenny Prince. followed by canned laughter.
"Yeah, not bad attall," murmured someone in the room appreciatively.
Sherlock growled. Lestrade was sure that he heard Sherlock Holmes growl.
"Ho ho ho, what's your name, little elf," Kenny asked the elf.
The crimson faced elf slowly stood to attention, making the festive bells on his hat jingle softly. The elf scanned the room and clenched his fists. "John," he said.
"Ohhh, Johnny Jinglebell Elf!" said Kenny, thinking he was very clever. "And will you come put a present under my tree this year? I've been ever so good." The canned laugher rolled.
"Merry. Christmas." spat Johnny the Elf, at Kenny Prince. His blue eyes blazed under his fully lowered brow.
"He's gonna punch 'im," muttered Donovan. The Yarders held their breath, waiting for the smack down.
Then John fixed a fake smile on his face and motioned a lady Elf over. The Yarders sighed with a mixture of relief and disappointment
"Merry. Christmas," Johnny Jinglebell Elf ground out again, before he marched away with military precision, his bells ringing cherrily with each step that he took. The camera panned back, to show Kenny leering happily as Father Christmas goosed his little helper, making him jump. More canned laugher played over a bleeped expletive.
Sherlock definitely growled.
"How can they show this tripe on Christmas Eve?" muttered one of the PC's.
"Turn it off," said Lestrade wearily. "And I don't want any of you taking the piss out of John. He's volunteering there on Christmas Eve, handing out food and toys…"
"No, leave it on," said Anderson."They've promised that there's going to be excitement in the next segment. I'm betting Father Christmas gets a black eye from our favorite little fairy."
Sherlock moved in, only to be blocked by Lestrade.
"What? I'm on Watson's side this time!" protested Anderson, who really looked confused. "Elves are fairies. He's dressed as a fairy. Anyway, I'm not the one who said anything about his tight little arse." He looked pointedly at PC Firth.
"It weren't me," Firth denied immediately, casting a worried look at the consulting detective.
Fortunately for PC Firth, Kenny was back on-screen, jovially harassing a pretty blonde, who was dressed just like John.
"Mary, Mary, my Caroling Elf, tell us," said Kenny, "in your own words, why you're all here on Christmas Eve." He gave Mary a big, one-armed hug.
"Well, yes," said Mary, looking decidedly ill at ease. "We, erm, Well, Father Christmas wanted us to give a little party here for the kids and their families and erm, everyone in the area." She got another hug from the host. "But, now Father Christmas has to, uh, go and start, um, erm delivering all those toys. Yes. He has to go now."
"Looks to me like Father Christmas started partying early," muttered Donovan.
Father Christmas was being escorted to the door, supported on one side by a scowling Johnny Jinglebell Elf and on the other by a sturdy volunteer. They passed the tables and a short line of people getting packages of leftover food.
" Ho, Ho, Ho!" yelled the jolly Santa, giving John a big hug.
"Ohhh, I see what Father Christmas wants for Christmas," said Kenny, to more canned laughter.
Ho, Ho, Ho!" boomed St. Nick.
John, Father Christmas and the stout volunteer stopped at the last table. The camera panned again to show the procession in the back ground, while Kenny's face filled the screen, twittering more nonsense.
In the background, Johnny the Elf let go of St. Nick and leaned forward. John pushed his hat back as his brow creased in concentration. The doctor turned elf stared down a grey-haired man with dark stubble on his face. The man glowered at the elf, and then his dark eyes widened.
John the Elf Watson shoved Father Christmas roughly into the volunteer, forcing both men to stumble backwards into the Christmas tree.
The camera panned in as John snarled, and climbed over the table, knocking a plates of biscuits to the floor. The grizzled man, wearing a grey-green parka turned and fled. Johnny Jinglebell Elf, pushed the pretty blond elf out of his way and tore through the door after the homeless man.
"Ohhh, Johnny Jinglebell Elf must like a bit o' rough…" blithered Kenny.
"Turn the damn thing down," shouted Lestrade. "Is this live or…"
"There was a clock on the wall behind Prince, it was off by only thirty, thirty-fve minutes," said Anderson.
Sherlock raised his eyes in surprise that Anderson could actually be useful. "Lestrade, when was the last time John texted you? Where is that church located?" demanded Sherlock who was already texting.
"What church?" asked Donovan, who was already on her phone.
"Oh, please! The shelter's obviously part of a church, probably in the basement. Look at the pictures of saints and the crosses all over the walls. Look at the paltitudes displayed…"
"Hey, those are quotations from the Bible," protested someone.
"You think John's in trouble?" interrupted Lestrade. He did not want to get Sherlock on one of his anti-religious diatribes.
"Of course he's in trouble. He's all alone, chasing after a man for unknown reasons, while dressed as a fairy wearing green tights!" snapped Sherlock. "Obviously he's in serious trouble. We haven't a moment to lose!"
A/N *The song, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is from Meet Me In St. Louis. Music by Ralph Blane, Lyrics by Hugh Martin
Reviews, like stocking stuffers, are always appreciated.
Disclaimer I don't own the rights to Sherlock.
End Chapter one