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2019 Advent Ficlet Challenge

Chapter Text

 

Sherlock sat at the kitchen table, tongue poking out of his mouth as he concentrated on the task at hand. John watched him from his chair in front of the fireplace, nursing a hot cocoa as he savoured the feeling of contentment. Flames lapped at the faux logs in the fireplace, throwing off real heat to ward off the winter chill.

John loved watching Sherlock when the other man was unaware of being watched. Focussed as he was on his task, serious intent writ on the lines of his forehead, the detective was in his element. Nothing could distract him until the deed was complete, and John had no desire to interrupt. This project was very important to Sherlock, and he was working with a deadline.

Night pressed up against the windows. Every few minutes one of the panes rattled from a gust of wind as the inclement weather did its best to intrude, to no avail. Their domicile remained cosy and safe.

Finally Sherlock raised his head and gave John a soft smile. John’s heart beat double time. Sherlock put down the scissors and lifted up his finished product: a chain of five perfect and unique snowflakes created from one sheet of construction paper.

“Is this adequate for Rosie’s school Christmas party?”

John’s heart swelled to the point of bursting.

 

 

 

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His wish is my command. It’s always been that way. His happiness, his desires, his needs… have always been my top priority. I’ve been told many times, by people with some authority, that our relationship is codependent and one-sided. I prefer to think of it as unconditional and accepting.

He is a flawed man, of course. Aren’t we all? That has never stopped me from wanting to be by is side every step of the way. Even when he would rather that I keep my distance. I have a lot to atone for; I am grateful that he allows me in at all. That he more than tolerates me is a gift that I will not take for granted. 

He believes me to be married to my work. I can’t fault him for that deduction. For many years I gave him no cause to believe otherwise. Sentiment, after all, is a chemical defect found on the losing side. I still believe it to be mostly  true. Mostly. 

He is a good man. I believe it is time for me to step away, and leave him to his happiness. He is in good hands, now. It’s time to let go of the task I’ve assigned myself since childhood.

I will always worry about him, constantly. He is, after all, my little brother. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Greg Lestrade stared at Martha Hudson. He was still processing what she had just said when:

“Oh Inspector, let me take that.” She reached for the store-bought dessert in his hands. “You don’t want that spoiling while you boys… get up to what you get up to.” She laid a finger on the side of her nose and winked.

Greg’s eyes wandered up the seventeen steps until they rested on the firmly-shut door. He swallowed.

“Did I get the time wrong? They said five o’clock - “

“You’re right on time, I’d say. Best hurry if you plan to join in! Christmas dinner will be in my flat, six o’clock sharp!”

Lestrade blinked as his mind went back to Mrs Hudson’s greeting of  five minutes ago:

“Good evening, Inspector! My, don’t you look handsome. I didn’t realize the boys were into this sort of thing, but the more the merrier, I always say!”

A crash sounded from the flat upstairs, followed by John’s Captain Watson voice: “Bedroom. Now.” Footsteps thundered across the ceiling (floor) until the slam of a door reverberated through the air, followed by ringing silence. Followed by the squeaking of bed springs. 

Ah. So Mrs Hudson was under the impression that he had been invited to that. 

“Mrs Hudson? If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to help you finish baking.”



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Sherlock grumbled as he continued untangling the mess of faerie lights that he had retrieved from the loft. He couldn’t remember the last time they had been used. They might even be Mrs Hudson’s, brought from Florida and never unpacked since. It didn’t matter; they were the only lights on hand, and Sherlock certainly wasn’t going to brave the streets on Christmas Eve.

John and Rosie would be here soon, and everything had to be perfect. This was their first Christmas as a proper family -- legal marriage and adoption having finally been accomplished -- and Sherlock hoped to have the decorating and gift-wrapping done before they arrived. Dinner was already in hand, thanks to Mrs Hudson; soft violin music played in the background; snow softly fell onto the streets of London. 

‘Perfect’ was well on its way.

Sherlock smiled to himself as he unravelled another string of lights. Who would have thought? Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective, married to Captain John H Watson and co-parent to a precocious little girl who was the spitting image of her father. Could life get any better?

Sherlock Holmes was not, nor would he ever be, a religious man. God, no. Could you imagine? Hell, if there were such a place, would freeze over first.

However, for this moment, he was grateful for all of his blessings.

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John stood at the window, looking down onto Baker Street. He was still wearing that horrendous Christmas jumper from earlier in the evening. Sherlock frowned.

“Wind’s picking up,” John commented. “Going to be a -- windy Christmas. Harry cancelled because of the weather, so I guess it’ll be just you and me. Here for Christmas.”

John had a habit of commenting on the most obvious things. Sherlock rolled his eyes. 

“Well-spotted, John. We’ll make a detective of you yet. By the way, would you be in the mood for some film-watching tonight?”

John turned around, a baffled look on his face. “A film? You -- want to watch a film? Tonight?”

Sherlock sighed. “John. You know I loathe repetition.”

“Yes, I… I’m just surprised, is all. Did you… take care of everything you needed to, at Barts?”

How dull. Both Mycroft and John were under the impression that he was heartbroken. Well. He was, just not for the reason they thought. Sherlock tried very hard not to drown in John’s blue eyes when he answered him.

He knew he sounded callous, but it was better that than vulnerable.

“Yes. Irene Adler has been positively identified. She will no longer be a thorn in the side of the British government, or ours. So, John; what do you say to a spot of James Bond?”

 

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Rosie had been chosen to stand in as an angel for the local parish’s nativity scene. John wasn’t sure how this was going to work. At five years old, his daughter tended to be in non-stop motion from dawn until dusk. She wasn’t known for sitting still for any length of time, let alone standing outside in the cold for an entire 30-minute stretch. But she had been so proud to have been chosen, so here they were, both he and Sherlock, standing hand-in-hand in front of the makeshift scene.

Of course, all of the children had appropriate winter wear under their costumes. Rosie stood up straight, mittened hands in the prayer position as she solemnly regarded the Holy Family. She was clad in white choir robes, a gold circlet of garland resting on her golden curls and a pair of sheer homemade wings sprouting from her back. She looked, in a word, adorable.  

Thankfully the early evening weather was relatively mild. John’s mouth watered as he envisioned the hot drinks and baked treats waiting for them in the church basement afterwards. 

Sherlock bent down to whisper in his ear, “John. I thought this would be boring, but it’s surprisingly pleasant.”

John leaned into Sherlock’s warmth. “High praise indeed. Just wait until you get a taste of Mrs Hudson’s cinnamon buns.”

Chapter Text

 

Sherlock scowled at his reflection, putting the finishing touches on his face. The things he did, that he used to think he’d never do, all because he had fallen in love with a man and his adorable daughter. 

As a man of science, he absolutely refused to cultivate a belief in the supernatural with Rosie. Her father was also a man of science, so he followed Sherlock’s lead in this. 

However, when it came to childhood fictions, John insisted that Rosie be allowed a bit of indulgence. She was three now; Sherlock agreed to indulge this fantasy for another two years, but no longer.

“Once she’s in school, she’ll find out the truth soon enough. Best give it an expiration date, otherwise she’ll grow to resent us.” John had grudgingly agreed.

So today -- this.

He looked ridiculous.

His once ebony curls were now snow white, poking out from beneath the red velvet hat. The fake beard was itchy; his heavy red outfit was sweltering. The black boots didn’t fit well. And the icing on the cake -- black ash smeared on his cheeks and forehead.

Surely Rosie wouldn’t really think that he had just come down their chimney? Let alone believe that he was actually Father Christmas?

Sherlock huffed. Of course not. No child of his would be anything less than brilliant.

 

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He rarely allowed himself this sort of indulgence. His daily schedule was so demanding that he only ever had time for a shower. And always a quick one, not the sort of hour-long ones that Sherlock liked to treat himself to. 

Once a year, on Christmas Eve, he indulged without shame or regret. Put all of his appointments on hold, shut off his phone, left instructions that he was to be disturbed only during the direst of circumstances.

Like a nuclear war. 

It felt good to treat himself like this. No wife, no child, no pet to make an unscheduled interruption. He did have Christmas Day plans, but this night was his and his alone.

He had been thinking about getting a cat, though. This place did feel a bit empty and lonely at times. Feline companionship might be welcome, at some point. Perhaps even company of the human sort.

How long had it been since he’d let that particular thought cross his mind? He must be getting sentimental in his old age. 

Well. If Sherlock could manage it, why not him? Maybe that would be a good New Year’s resolution. If he couldn’t have one Holmes -- perhaps the other?

Gregory Lestrade closed his eyes, tilted his head back, and sighed as he gave himself over to his nice, warm bath.

Chapter Text

 

John had been fairly indifferent to Christmas during most of his adult life. His family situation had never been the best, and once he became a soldier, more often than not he spent the holidays overseas. After he returned to London, wounded and broken, most of his Christmases did not stick out in his mind as especially festive. In fact, his very first Christmas back turned out to be the worst of his life. He spent it alone, in his bedsit, depressed and utterly useless. 

Even after being brought back to life by a mesmerising consulting detective, Christmases still managed to be … well, not the *best* days, by any reckoning. His first Christmas at Baker Street had the potential of being very nice, and indeed it had started out that way. But then Irene Adler happened, and it all went to shit.

The best Christmas in recent memory had been just after Sherlock’s return from the dead, when John had been in the presence of the two people he loved most in the world. All of the ones since had been dreadful. That is, up until now. 

The flat was festive, merry and bright, thanks to Mrs Hudson. And this year, with the presence of both Sherlock and Rosie, he once again had two of the people he loved best.

Chapter Text

 

Once a year they do this, and Sherlock absolutely loathes it. He endures it, though, for the sake of his little found family. The last thing any of them needs is more tension surrounding the holidays. The season is already fraught with enough ghosts of Christmases past, no need to add more to the collection.

The indignity only lasts an hour or so; it’s a small price to pay for keeping the peace. 

If they skipped it, there would be hell to pay, especially from the youngest member. If it weren’t for her, several annual rituals would have fallen by the wayside years ago, Sherlock is sure of it. He’s oddly grateful that they haven’t.

Sometimes happiness creeps up on you like that. And sometimes the feeling is so unfamiliar that it takes years to recognise it for what it is. 

None of that, of course, means that he enjoys this particular torture. 

He grimaces at his reflection. Clad in a red jumper with a silver bell sewn on the front, he looks truly appalling. Especially with the antlers he finally allowed himself to be bullied into wearing. At Rosie’s insistence, “Uncle” Mycroft will be joining them this year. Sherlock just wants it all to be over and done with. Until next year.

Annual Christmas portraits deserve to be photo bombed. 



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“John! This isn’t funny!”

“It kinda is, Sherlock.” 

“Help me! I’m stuck, and it’s all your fault!”

“Hey, it wasn’t my idea for you to take things this far. Dressing up as Father Christmas was one thing; surprising Rosie by actually popping out of the fireplace? Completely barmy.”

“Oh my god. Oh my GOD! John! I can’t breathe!”

“You’ve got plenty of air, Sherlock, you’re just claustrophobic. You know this. Slow, deep breaths. In… Out. In… Out. Great. You’re doing great, Sherlock.”

“Are you doing anything to help me get me out of this ridiculous situation?”

“I’ve texted Mycroft. A team’s on its way. He suggests that you stay as still as you can. No wiggling, that’ll only make things worse. Hmm. Sounds like he’s speaking from experience. Did he  - ”

“Oh for god’s …. Why did you contact him ?? I’ll never hear the end of this.”

“You should have thought of that before you attempted something so daft!” 

John was trying not to giggle, but it was hard when the only things he could see of Sherlock were the bottom halves of two black boots suspended in mid-air. 

“It was your idea to let your daughter believe all of this Christmas nonsense! You made me dress like this!”

“Yes, but I didn’t make you crawl inside the chimney, you utter berk!”

 

Chapter Text

 

Mycroft Holmes didn’t particularly like Christmas. He didn’t enjoy social gatherings, professional or familial. Religion earned from him only scorn and ridicule. He wasn’t known to be an especially charitable person. 

Admittedly, he did enjoy music, and there was quite a lot of that to enjoy during the season. Being a theatre-lover meant there were a plethora of shows to indulge in as well. Also, he had a reputation for being a very generous boss as the year wound down and holiday bonuses were given out.

But other than that…. He did not enjoy the trappings of Christmas. More accurately, he loathed the expectations that came with it. He preferred spending Christmas Eve alone, sipping brandy in front of a roaring fire. Christmas Day was generally spent holed up in his home theatre, drinking in his favourite black-and-white films whilst enjoying some excellent duck from his favourite take-away joint. 

This year, however...

A text alert sounded. Mycroft smiled as he picked up his phone.

 

Bah humbug, Mr Grinch. We still on for tomorrow night?

 

Mycroft’s smile stretched into a grin. Two weeks ago, Inspector Lestrade had finally worked up the courage to approach him, and here they were.

 

You are mixing two entirely different Christmas tales, Inspector.

 

Not so different, really. Same message.

 

Point. Tomorrow, 7 pm. Don’t forget the Baileys.

 

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Family.

It had come to mean different things, during varying points of her life. And yet it had never been traditional.

Take her first adult relationship. She and Margaret had always been close, but one Christmas Eve they had taken it to the next level. For the next two years, it had been the two of them against the rest of the world. Both of them being orphans, they had been each other’s only family. 

Then she had met Frank, and boy hadn’t that been a ride. The marriage had been short and childless, but the most exciting time of her life. 

Now, she had a different sort of family, and she felt more settled than she ever had before. Sherlock and John were like sons to her. For a little while, Mary had been like a daughter. And little Rosie -- that little girl brought out the maternal instinct in her more than all the rest.

Even Mycroft was tolerable these days, his sharp edges somehow blunter and his sharp words softer.

All of them were here, tonight. For her annual Christmas Eve do. Including Violet and Siger, bless them.  Still in love after all these years. It was nice to know that ‘traditional’ still worked for some. And there was the Inspector and his lady love, Miss Hooper, cooing at each other in the corner. 

Content and fulfilled, Mrs Hudson curled into her armchair and sighed. This holiday was turning out to be quite brilliant.





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Billy didn’t have physical eyes anymore, of course, but his spirit could venture far and wide -- at least, within the confines of Building # 221 on Baker Street. He reached out with the tendrils of his metaphorical mind, and waited.

The basement flat never contained anything worth noting beyond a mouse or two, so he quickly moved on. No one stirred in 221a either, although he could sense two living occupants. Ah, yes. Mrs Hudson and… Well. Good for her. It was about time.

His consciousness drifted up the seventeen steps to the flat where he himself resided -- on the mantel, with a Santa hat perched atop his skull. Would you call it *his* skull, when he himself was nothing *but* a skull? Ah well; those were thoughts best left to philosophers.

One tiny being occupied the upstairs bedroom, where once there had been two. She was rarely still during the daylight hours, but right now she was held within the throes of sleep. The large downstairs bedroom, for many years containing just one soul, now cradled two. They, also, were motionless save for their breaths.

Not a creature was stirring in all of 221 Baker Street. Even the puppy lying on its bed under the Christmas tree was lost to the Sandman. 

Billy felt contentment in all 22 of his bones.

 

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Christmas shopping was a nightmare, and Sherlock never did it. But his year, he was. And it was all down to his moody, aggravating, handsome, charming flatmate. 

Had he said that last part out loud?

No matter. It boiled down to the fact that Sherlock wanted to go Christmas shopping. That particular desire had not flared for the past twenty Christmases. 

How completely inconvenient. Mycroft would no doubt mock him.

Sherlock swiftly suppressed thoughts of his brother down deep where they would, hopefully, die a quick death. He had no time for such things. He needed to buy a gift.

 

But what?

 

Nothing too expensive. John was a man of modest tastes, and appreciated practical gestures over sentimental ones. But also not something mundane that spoke to little effort being put into it. John was a friend, and friends deserved thoughtful consideration.

Sherlock avoided all of the big stores that would guarantee large crowds and unwashed masses of people. He strolled into a family owned boutique not far from Baker Street. Best to start out with something close to home, and if he didn’t find what he was looking for he would just move on.

He saw it almost right away. Stunned, he reached out and stroked the soft cashmere scarf that was the same colour as John’s eyes.

 

Midnight blue.

Chapter Text

 

Sherlock Holmes made a living out of wondering about things. Concerning crime: wondering and figuring out the how, who, why, where, and what of the thing. Everyday details and happenings rarely escaped his notice either. Insatiable curiosity and vivid imagination led him down many a fascinating path. He couldn’t seem to help himself from poking and prodding until he came up with a satisfying conclusion.  

Right now his thoughts were focussed on one man who was presently at work and expected home within the hour.  Sherlock’s brain was currently in a loop of what if, what if, what if… .

His self of a year ago would have been appalled. Sherlock Holmes did not indulge in fruitless ruminations. 

 

Do the thing, and then you’ll know.

 

Easier said than done. Especially when the minute hand on the clock refused to move.

Christmas Eve. Appropriate time for “the thing” to be done, in Sherlock’s mind. It would be just the two of them tonight; Mrs Hudson had graciously offered to host the little one until tomorrow morning. So. No time like the present, and all that rot.

Sherlock sat in his chair, counting down the minutes. And couldn’t help but wonder what John’s reaction would be to the object sitting in the palm of his hand - a ring nestled within a little black box.



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Rosie would not settle, and John was exhausted.  He had just finished a double shift, and as soon as he walked in the door Sherlock had thrust Rosie into his arms, exclaiming  “A case, John!” before bounding down the stairs into the night. He went through the whole bedtime routine, hoping afterwards to finally get some hot food into his belly, and maybe even a cold brew. 

Alas, it was not to be. 

Bath time and tooth brushing occurred without incident, as did the donning of pyjamas. John undid Rosie’s braids and brushed her hair, hoping the sensation would be soothing enough to relax her into sleep. 

Then the books came out. As soon as John finished one story, Rosie demanded another. And another. And -- oh god -- another.

She was not fussing, throwing a tantrum, or otherwise acting unhappy, so John didn’t have the heart to tell her that enough was enough. She was just a little girl, enjoying time with her daddy, whom she hadn’t seen all day. 

 

No, John didn’t have the heart.

 

He was startled awake a little past midnight when Sherlock walked in the door. Rosie was cradled against his chest, still awake and babbling. The detective took one look at them, and reached out his arms. John gratefully handed his daughter off, and stumbled into bed.



Chapter Text

 

How the hell did he manage to get himself into these kinds of situations? Ones where all he wanted to do was escape back to Baker Street, surrounded by his microscope and other scientific paraphernalia. Where everything looked, sounded, and smelled like home.

Thank God for John, the one who made all of this bearable.

Mummy and Father had insisted that he and John attend this year’s holiday party at their home. Normally it wouldn’t be so bad, but this year, for some godforsaken reason, they had decided to invite the entire extended Holmes clan. Granted, there weren’t that many, but even 15 extra people crammed into the limited living space pushed the boundaries of *anybody’s* sanity.

Even John, who could effortlessly work a room like nobody’s business, was starting to feel the strain. 

Sherlock casually took a sip of his eggnog, then leaned down and whispered in John’s ear. “Cousin Bernie over by the fireplace -- no, don’t look! -- has been cheating on his fiancee for over a month now. The man wearing antlers? That’s Uncle Maynard; his son-in-law was caught embezzling funds from his business just last week. Oh, and Mummy is about to announce that we’re all to go carolling.”

John’s look of amusement immediately switched to panic. “Oh God. Seriously?”

“Yes. Are you ready to attempt a breakout?”