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Christmas Miracle

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The worst had happened.

Mycroft felt as if the reality was threatening to come apart at the seams in his hands.

He had been holding it together for so long, cradling various pieces carefully and cautiously in his long fingers and now the threads were unspooling and all that because he forgot one thing. One tiny, insignificant little thing.

One simple overlooked detail.

Monthly evaluation of the state of John Watson's mental health. Done by Mycroft Holmes under the guise of a friendly visit.

It was December. Christmas. Time for everyone to relax - well, maybe not everyone, but his staff definitely deserved some time to relax and be with their loved ones.

He postponed it until January. Why bother the poor soldier.

Why indeed.

Who would have expected the broken-down, depressed man to make a spur-of-a-moment decision and board the Eurostar - who would have suspected that man of having spare 200 quid? Who would have made sure to check on his location on Christmas Eve of all days?

Mycroft sighed.

He should have done it.

He should have invited John - at least for a dinner, or a coffee.

Or maybe even an overnight stay, just to make sure he made it through the most cheerful holidays in the year.

From the state of John's flat, he hadn't really unpacked anything since moving away from Mrs Hudson's house, as most of his worldly goods were still in boxes, except for a small amount of clothes thrown in disarray to the bed.

John Watson sensed a weakness in the security on that holiday and legged it to the continent. As long as he kept on the ground and in the EU countries, he would not be noticed. He could find private accommodation all around Europe, especially once he got to some of the cheaper countries like Czech Republic or Poland, he could easily find locals speaking reasonable English, he could...

...or, by now, he could be floating face down on the French side of the Channel.

And then Mycroft Holmes would have some explaining to do.

"Put our people on the ground in France. Find him."

 

#

 

John slept like a baby.

That is, uneasily, wincing at every louder sound and kicking his legs in all directions.

Fortunately for him the nice lady running the little guesthouse didn't question his explanation of 'no family and I really don't want to bother my friends these days' and happily assented when he asked for his breakfast to consist only of a few slices of toast and a cup of coffee.

"I didn't want to make anything big anyway," she sighed. "Most people called off their reservations at the last minute, so I was happy to have you and that other gentleman for these few days."

John sighed and nodded.

"As long as he doesn't bother me, I won't bother him," he said softly. "I wish to sleep a lot, eat reasonably and maybe sit outside and watch the snow. I... My life was so weird for the last year, I can't seem to pull myself together. I thought I could take some air, away from the big city, consider my next steps."

"I hope you do," she gave him the key and pointed to the stairs. "Room three. Room nine, completely opposite from you, is that other guest. He is spending his vacation away from his family, you see. It was his own brother that had dropped him off, ensuring me he will be no bother, but he was in an accident and wants to be away from people during holidays. If you ask me, he looks like he overdid on this or that. Mostly that" she tapped her elbow a bit.

Ah. A druggie. Well, not the first addict in my life and probably not the last one.

"If he feels poorly, let me know," he suggested. "I am a doctor, even on vacation."

"Ah," she brightened. "Very well. Thank you, then, doctor Wilson."

"Absolutely."

Wilson was close enough to his own name to ensure he would recognise people asking for and too simple for the likes of Mycroft Holmes to even consider probable.

Well, he would hopefully have a few days without surveillance, at least until they caught up with the fact that he had sold his train ticket to some poor sod with a last-minute family emergency. The bloke seemed quite ready to risk boarding the train with a ticket printed for a different name and had paid him four times the original price, so John could now afford this little rest in the little country hostel away from civilisation. The fact that he had most probably sent Mycroft's people chasing ghosts across France was just a bonus.

At breakfast - rather late - there was only one another person present, indeed. When John arrived, a somewhat tired-looking man sat there already, facing the window, picking at his breakfast. As John looked on from over his own plate, he traced the tremor plaguing both his hands, a painful limitation of movement in his back and shoulders and, as a topping to that painful cake, a rather ugly, rattling cough.

After the meal was done, John lingered over his coffee and the stranger stood up (helping himself by leaning heavily on the table) and slowly, shuffling his legs, moved to the couch where he lowered himself with a painful grunt, which in turn triggered another attack of coughing.

After dithering for a few minutes whether such an intervention would not be treated as a breach in etiquette, John decided to just approach the man with a simple suggestion, nothing else. He stood up, folding his newspaper as he went, watching the furniture around him in order not to seem too intrusive to the poor man.

"Sir, I'm so very sorry to be so direct, but, as a professional, I feel must advise you to contact your GP and have that cough checked out. Sounds like beginnings of a nasty pneumonia."

"Ah," a well-known voice said and John finally looked up at the reclining man. A pair of fevered, pale eyes turned to him and wide, pink lips stretched in a painful smile. "I'm afraid my regular physician is not available," the husky baritone was barely audible. "I won't have a chance to see him anytime soon."

The tall man turned slightly, stretching on the sofa cushions, closing his eyes and huffing quietly and painfully.

John found himself unable to even utter a sound.

"I wonder why you are here, actually," the apparition of his dead friend mused. "I used to hallucinate about you in that prison, you know? Well, you do know, obviously, as you are a part of my own mind. Yet I feel compelled to talk to you aloud - makes other people nervous, if you can imagine."

John slowly sat down on a small stool he had dragged from underneath a coffee table and reached out, checking Sherlock's fever with the skin of his wrist.

High. Probably 39. Maybe more.

"John..." that little rumble made him almost mushy inside.

"Sh-sherlock," he whispered. "You are sick."

"Obvious enough, even to an untrained eye," the detective whispered back, with barely a trace of his usual haughtiness. "What difference does it make?"

What difference did it make? Whole world of fucking difference.

"If you do not get treated with antibiotics, you may die," he pointed out. "Why did Mycroft dump you here? Why not bring you to his house in London?"

"Oh, you know why, don't be tiresome," Sherlock coughed again.

"Indulge me."

"For one, I didn't feel it very important to tell him I am... He would have taken me to some nasty secret hospital... And he doesn't want me in London... He feels I'd be unable to stop myself... He doesn't want you to see me," Sherlock pouted. Honest to God pouted. "He seems to be labouring under impression that you will immediately spill the fact that I'm alive. I don't... I don't think you would. Would you? John, if you were real, would you have betrayed me?"

He picked up these long, trembling fingers and squeezed them, just a bit.

"Never," he whispered, looking up just in time to see Sherlock Holmes' eyes fill with tears.

"It hurts, John," he whimpered. "Sometimes it all hurts so much. I want to go home, but I have to finish the job first. They can't know I'm alive, you see. It will be all for nought if they find out I'm not dead... You will wait for me, won't you? You will be fine? Mycroft tells me you are doing well. I'm not..." he lowered his voice a bit. "I'm not sure he is always telling me the truth."

"I will be fine," John assured him. Because he would be, now. He would be much better now.

"Good," Sherlock rested for a moment, breathing heavily. "I didn't want to leave you like this," he added. "It was awful."

"Don't worry," John pressed a kiss to each knuckle and rested his forehead against them. "I don't blame you."

Fingers of the other hand carded through his hair.

"You are hurting," the detective stated slowly. "Mycroft isn't telling me the truth, is he?"

"No, he isn't. He is worried about you and probably about me, too. Maybe doesn't want you to worry."

"Good to know," he mumbled, his hand dropping away, but not before it caressed John's cheekbone. "I will... know how to... approach you..."

"Approach me?" John cautiously fished for more information.

"When I... come back..." the smile on Sherlock's face was so small and tentative that is was next thing to non-existent.

"I will be waiting," John assured him. "Just... get yourself through whatever it is that you are doing, please. Come back to me."

"Always," Sherlock whispered. "I will always come back to you."

 

from: John Watson

to: that insufferable prick

Send him a proper doctor right the fucking now, before his system gives in. He needs antibiotics.

 

from: that insufferable prick

to: John Watson

I'm afraid I don't understand this order. John, where are you? Please come back to Calais, we'll pick you up.

 

from: John Watson

to: that insufferable prick

Have never been to Calais. Now stop messing around and get a practising doctor out here, it's pneumonia, he is barely breathing. It seems he had finally accepted that breathing isn't as boring as it used to be.

 

from: that insufferable prick

to: John Watson

Ah.

 

from: that insufferable prick

to: John Watson

For what it's worth, I am dreadfully sorry, John.

 

from: John Watson

to: that insufferable prick

Not as sorry as you will be if I learn that you've ignored the fact that he was feverish and just left him here without any help.

 

from: that insufferable prick

to: John Watson

I assure you, I was not conscious of his state of health. He demanded no guards or support to be placed in the hostel, wished to be left alone in order to rest. ETA: 45 minutes.

 

John brushed a sweat-matted curl from the hot forehead.

"I will wait," he said softly. "I'd much rather go with you, but I can see how it wouldn't work very well with the secrecy and trying to blend in with the locals, wherever you are going. And if you being alive is such a secret, then me 'dying' right now would have been seen as too weird to be a coincidence, wouldn't it? Well then, I'll wait," he leaned closer and pressed a kiss to the sweaty temple. "I think I know what I will ask Santa for next year."

"Hmrg?" Sherlock opened one eye and looked at him blearily.

"A well-dressed consulting detective, preferably whole and healthy, if one can be found," John traced some line on Sherlock's palm. "May be underfed, I will make sure he gets plenty of rest and appropriate food."

"Any conditions?" Sherlock whispered, slurring a bit.

"None at all. Well, 'alive' is the basic one. Everything else I can work with."

"I'll try," Sherlock sighed deeply. "If one wants... a present... it is traditional to write a letter to Santa, isn't it?"

"Well, yes. That is what all good children do."

"Ah..." Sherlock frowned. "I haven't been very good this year, John. I won't get my wish then."

"Doesn't matter. You can tell me, so if Santa decides you don't deserve a gift, I will find you something."

Sherlock's eyes looked at him with feverish intensity.

"Whatever I want?"

"Within reason."

"Ah... That may be a problem."

He squeezed the water-soaked towel and replaced the warm one on his friend's forehead.

"That depends on what you want to ask for," he quipped lightly.

"Oh, for something unique," Sherlock murmured. "I need... an army doctor... preferably a short-tempered, jumper-wearing one... Alive and reasonably unharmed, if one can be found... but I've heard it may be a challenge these days... so I will settle for alive."

Silence fell for a few minutes.

"I think I can persuade Santa to deliver something that will fulfil this specification," John whispered. "Now, try to get some sleep."