Chapter 1: Snowflake
A frigid breeze whips around a bleak London alleyway, tossing debris from overflowing bins in a swirling cyclone and beyond the crime-scene tape. The forensics team and uniformed police officers stand in a huddle off to the side, sheltering themselves from the brisk air with hands in pockets and jackets zipped up to their necks.
They’re well versed in Holmesian consulting procedure - if it could be deemed as such - and know to keep their gossiping to a minimum, or at least out of earshot from the Freak’s Assistant and Lestrade.
“Far too early for bloody Christmas songs. Not even December.”
“My neighbour already has her tree up, mad bint!”
“Think it’ll be a white one this year?”
Their gaze turns to the grey sky above; it looks eerily still up there as they shiver and bounce from foot to foot just feet away from a blood bath.
Sherlock’s focus is solely on the corpse; male, early-thirties, once hanging, cut down by a well-meaning binman. The bins went uncollected that morning. He ignores the whistling wind, the stinging burn on his cheeks and ears. Hovering near-by, John Watson stands waiting for his cue. There’s a lot of blood for what was first thought to be a simple hanging. A metallic tinge punctuates the cold breeze, which otherwise stinks of uncollected bins.
Sherlock’s head turns and their eyes catch one another’s; you’re up, Doctor . With rehearsed ease they slip past each other to confirm what Sherlock already knows. The cold temperatures had slowed the rate of decomposition, making John’s role just a bit trickier.
“Time of death.. I’d venture between two and three am. Excessive blood loss from severed femoral arteries in both legs. He was strung up before he was dead, poor bastard. These slashes on his legs.. I’d say it’s a box-cutter or a Stanley knife.”
Their eyes meet again and Sherlock nods in agreement. John stands and moves over to listen to the rundown he gives to Lestrade, a young PC taking notes a step behind him. Premeditated method, victim singled out approximately an hour before the crime. A napkin in the man’s left pocket could tell them where he had been in the hours before death and corroborated by CCTV. Sherlock left his most chilling deduction until the end; “This man won’t be the last and certainly isn’t the first. Act quickly. Call me when you know more, there’s nothing else we can do for now.”
Lestrade asks a few more questions as the forensics team began photographing the body and bagging evidence. The cold air continues to swirl around them as John day-dreams of warm tea and toasted sandwiches with cheese dripping from the crusts, of roaring fires and hot whiskies, of socked feet stretching out between two well worn armchairs.
Sherlock holds up the crime scene tape for him to duck under as they move towards the street to hail a cab.
“Potentially an exciting case,” he says, pulling his gloves back on as they walk.
“Christmas coming early for you?” John asks, a smile tugging at his lips. The wholly-inappropriate comment brings him back to their first case as Sherlock’s mouth turns smug.
“Oh I do hope so,” he rumbles. They share a laugh, walking closer than the once did.
John looks up a few inches, his eye caught by a single white snowflake, falling like a feather, which lands in the loop of a dark curl. Other flakes began to fall but he’s near transfixed on this one snowflake.
As Sherlock zeroes in on a cab with its light on in the distance, John can’t take his eyes away as more white flecks join that precious first flake. He is jolted from his thoughts as Sherlock jerks forward, sticking his arm out for the cab which pulls up in front of them.
John clears his throat, rights himself, and follows his flatmate and friend into the back seat.
“It’s starting to snow,” Sherlock muses absently, gazing out of his window as they peel away from the curb towards Baker Street. His mind is still back at the crime scene.
John looks out his own side before glancing at Sherlock; those first flakes melting to nothing in the blissful warmth of the cab. He hums in response and leans his head back, eyes closed.
In his reverie, he misses Sherlock glancing his way, picking out the flecks of white between the gold and silver strands.
Chapter 2: Wish
A consulting detective, his conductor of light and their six year old's Christmas Wish List - what could go wrong?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The clock on the mantlepiece of 221B Baker Street struck ten as the logs in the fireplace below popped and crackled with heat. Only one of the armchairs was occupied, but by two bodies.
“Read that one again, please.”
“Absolutely not. I’m deleting it from memory and the list.”
“Sherlock, she’s six - you can’t delete her wish list.”
“You vetoed the puppy.”
“Shut up and read it again. Pretty please.”
Sherlock sighed and recited back what Rosie had written in her six-year-old’s scrawl. The daughter of a doctor and Sherlock Holmes had little chance of possessing naturally neat handwriting, but her reading abilities were beyond her years.
“Pink, open parentheses, or silver, close parentheses, glittery wellies.”
“The one after that, you berk.”
“A pink umbrella, like Uncle Mycroft’s. I’m disowning her, sorry.”
John laughed into his glass as he sipped his whiskey again. “It’s a practical gift…”
Sherlock withered him with a single look. “I’ll delegate that to my dear brother then, since it’s his terrible influence on her that made her ask for such a thing. Ow!”
A swift flick to the ear shut him up, as did the kiss that followed it.
After another ten minutes they had made their way through Rosie’s substantial list. Sherlock’s head lolled onto John’s shoulder with a sigh and he pressed a kiss to his neck. He felt calmer as he breathed in the musky, masculine scent of him.
“Should we do a list?” John murmured and pressed his lips into Sherlock’s curls.
“Mm, do we have to?” Another kiss, nuzzle and sigh.
“No but it could be fun.” John sipped his whiskey again. “We’ll take it in turns. It’s just a bit of fun. I know you’ve already got my present sorted.”
Sherlock is silent for a moment, neither confirming or denying the truth. “I want a serial killer. A fun one.”
John scoffs a laugh, “Nothing new there then. Let me see… I want a long lie in and breakfast in bed.”
Sherlock snorted in response. “Now that would be a Christmas miracle.”
They trade off suggestions and topped up their drinks, each item more fantastical or painfully ordinary than the last; new socks and pants, no more Anderson, dinner at the Ritz...
“Can I steal one of Rosie’s?”
“Is it the umbrella?”
John giggled and wrapped Sherlock tighter in his arms. “Go on, tell me.”
“I want a dog.”
Can John resist Sherlock and Rosie and their wish for a dog? Of course he can't.
Stick around for Chapter 3 'The More the Merrier' tomorrow.
Chapter 3: The More the Merrier
Christmas with family. A lazy morning without a care in the world.
‘Twas the night before Christmas - well, the morning of the night before Christmas, just after nine - and all through the Sussex cottage owned by Mr and Mrs Holmes, creatures were stirring all over the house.
Despite Sherlock’s feigned hatred of Christmas with his family, one thing he welcomed with open arms was how his parents insisted he and John have a lie in as they took charge of Rosie in the mornings.
Far from London’s rush-hour traffic, his parent’s home was blissfully (some would say hellishly) quiet. Old pipes banged as the house heated and dogs barked as they were let out to the garden, but the mornings were generally lazy and peaceful.
Sherlock woke slowly in the warmth of soft flannel bedding and John’s sleepy embrace. With a smiling kiss against his husband’s shoulder, he eased away and stretched out, relishing in the pops and cracks of his joints with a hum.
“Mornin’” John reached out a hand, smoothing over Sherlock’s belly before pulling him close again.
“Good morning,” he whispered back, running his fingers through John’s bed-head.
They lay in a quiet embrace for a few moments, until John turned from his stomach to his side to face Sherlock.
His face was creased from the pillow, hair messier than ever. “That was the best night's sleep I’ve had in a long time.”
“Mm, the nightcaps probably helped.” Sherlock smirked against his forehead, feeling John’s blunt fingers poke at his ribs. “My mother has a heavy hand with spirits and Dad just likes chatting to you.”
John smiled and kissed Sherlock’s throat. “I like being here,” he murmured, “With you and Rosie. They’re so good to her.”
“Mm, I believe Mummy is teaching her how to make French toast this morning,” Sherlock said through a jaw cracking yawn. “We can lie on a while more.”
Rosie’s laughter echoed up to their room, accompanied by occasional praise from one or both grandparent and the tinkling of carols.
Everything was perfect and peaceful and slow as they lay together, talking about how Christmas Eve would play out; a trip to the village after breakfast, bring the dogs out for a walk, supper once Mycroft showed his face, and a carol service at the local church.
Between lazy kisses and touches that grew bolder, Rosie’s footsteps bounded up the creaky stairs, followed by a hushed “Rosie, let them sleep in. They’ll be down soon.”
“Here comes trouble,” John murmured, giving Sherlock one final kiss before seven year old Rosamund knocked on their door as she bounded in.
“Morning! Happy Christmas Eve! We made French toast, Grandma and me! Would you like some? We made lots !” Clad in red tartan pyjamas and perfect blonde plaits, Rosie bounced onto the bed with them, insinuating herself between them. “Did you sleep well?”
“Excellent, darling,” John said, “We slept very well thank yo-”
“Oh bugger! Sorry boys, dogs incoming!” Called Sherlock’s mother from downstairs.
Preceded by thundering paws on the stairs, Cracker (their shaggy Jack Russel) joined them in bed as two Springer Spaniels burst into the room to see what they were missing.
“Oh do join us,” Sherlock said dryly as Cracker licked his forehead. Oh how he missed the bliss of two minutes before.
“Boys I am so sorry. Ginny. Theo. Out.” Mrs Holmes was pink-cheeked and mildly out of breath in pursuit of the dogs as she stepped into Sherlock’s childhood bedroom. “Oh look how cosy you three, four! are.”
John smiled up at her, “Any chance of a cuppa? We’ll be down in a sec. Ro, go down with Grandma and we’ll be down very soon.”
The crunching of gravel beneath tyres was barely audible over the chatter of Rosie and Violet, and the beating of tails against the hard floor.
“Violet, Rosie! Boys!” Sherlock’s father bellowed, “My goodness, Mycroft’s arrived.”
“Oh do send him up, the more the merrier.” Sherlock grunted as Cracker used him as a launch pad. The dogs were off again, down to see the newest visitor, closely followed by Rosie.
The room emptied as quick as it had filled, leaving Sherlock and John alone in their bed once again.
A hefty sigh was followed by the spontaneous sharp squeak of old springs which grew steady as John began to laugh. His laughter was addictive and Sherlock curled up against his husband, laughter creasing around his eyes, his abdomen beginning to ache in the best way.
Chapter 4: Lights
Tangled lights always cause an argument, even in 221B
“You’re just making it worse, give them to me.”
“Please tell me how this could be any more of a mess than it already is.”
A stare-off ensues, brows furrowed and lips pursed.
“If you’d put them away properly last year we wouldn’t be having this conversation, Sherlock. The tree would be bloody decorated by now.”
With a dramatic roll of his eyes, Sherlock thrusts the veritable knot of lights into John’s hand.
“Last year I didn’t want decorations. Last Christmas I was high, off my tits, and..”
“You were on your own.”
Silence. Both sigh.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped like that. We’ll untangle them. Or buy new ones.”
Sherlock installs himself back in his chair, head in hands, elbows on his knees,“It’s my fault, I twisted your words.”
The ball of lights is left forgotten in John’s chair before he makes his way to his knees in front of Sherlock. He covers Sherlock’s hands with his own and presses their foreheads together.
“I want Rosie to have a perfect Christmas. Lights included.”
“I want us to have a perfect Christmas. Rosie and the bloody lights included.”
Sherlock moves one hand to cup John’s cheek, stroking gently. “Every other Christmas we’ve had to date has been categorically shit.”
“Mm, a bit.”
With a wry smile Sherlock gathers John into his arms, feeling his warmth radiating through the blue flannel of his shirt. He enjoys being held for a moment before speaking again.
“I think we can manage it. Together.”
“The nice Christmas?”
“I meant the lights, but Christmas too.”
There are few things cuter than an almost three year old in an angel costume - particularly an angel costume complete with a fluffy tulle skirt, wings and a halo.
“Remind me why she’s dressed as an angel…”
“She had to have it.”
“You mentioned, but why ?”
“You have met your daughter? I’ve definitely heard you try to reason with her, usually over something boring like broccoli or tidying her toys.”
“I tried to distract her as we passed the costumes but she’s like a heat seeking missile.”
“Did you compare a toddler with a weapon of mass destruction…?”
“We’ve both changed her nappies, John.”
Said angelic toddler made her way over to the two men sitting on the sofa, made sure they were paying full attention, and did a little twirl and bow for them before going back to inspecting the shiny baubles on the Christmas tree..
“Very nice Rosamund. You have to admit it’s the cutest thing you’ve possibly ever seen, John. Come on.”
“I don’t disagree.”
“Then why the face.”
“It’s a bit… religious. Like Nativity play..”
“And that is…?”
“You’ve deleted it, haven’t you?”
“Yep.” Sherlock popped the ‘p’.
“School kids do a play about the story of the birth of Jesus. Sing some hymns… It’s a bit holy. I was a King in my one, I was five.”
“I haven’t a clue, sorry to waste your time. A crown would suit you”
Rosie returns to hand John a bauble she removed from the tree, “Oh oh. Fell off!”
“Fell off? Fell into your hand? Aw no, let’s put it back on then,” John said, scooping the girl up into his arms. He smooched her cheek and grinned, loving the sound of her giggles.
Sherlock watched the pair bring the bauble back to the tree and hang it up high together. He watched as John pointed out some of the other decorations; a small violin, a shiny disco ball bauble, a reindeer. He watched Rosie get distracted by a small satin ballet slipper, passed down from Sherlock grandmother, and watched her point it out to John, who gasped and stroked it with his finger, “Wow that’s a pretty one.”
Sherlock smiled, watching John and the little angel fit for the top of the tree. His heart hurt, so full of love for them. As he gazed at them, John extended one hand out, inviting him in.
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