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Adeste Fideles - Advent 2019

Chapter Text

"Damn it."

Sherlock looked up from his study of the corpse. To his surprise, it was snowing, which meant that vital evidence would be eradicated unless he hurried.

John turned his eye upwards, glaring at the iron-grey sky as though he would prevent the fall of precipitation by sheer force of will. If anyone could do so, thought Sherlock, it would be John.

Something in John's glare unlocked the puzzle for Sherlock, and the deductions began to spill out.

As though aligned with his words, the snow fell faster, covering the ground and the body in a thin layer of white. Sherlock nodded at Lestrade, and his team sprang into action, bagging the body and running about to confirm Sherlock's conclusions. Sherlock stepped back, suddenly awkward and superfluous.

"Amazing."

There was snow on John's face. Sherlock could see every tiny detail of one snowflake, its crystal lines and edges clear against John's cheek. Then it transformed into a single drop of water, sliding down John's face.

Sherlock was suddenly, fiercely jealous of the snowflake. He wanted to sacrifice his uniqueness, everything he was, and transform himself to a more common form, if only for the privilege of melting against John's skin.

"You're cold," John said. He pulled Sherlock's scarf carefully around his neck. "I can always tell. Your lips are blue."

Chapter Text

"There you are, John - oh. Mrs. Hudson. Watson." Sherlock paused in Mrs. Hudson's doorway, frowning. "What are you doing?"

Rosie stood on a chair, an apron wrapped twice around her, stirring at an enormous bowl. Her tongue was stuck out in concentration, a miniature version of her father's. 

"Rosie's helping me with my Christmas cakes, aren't you dear?"

"I'm stirring in wishes!" Rosie crowed.

"I'm sorry?" 

"It's an old family tradition," Mrs. Hudson said. "You make a wish and stir it in. You want to stir it in very well, so that the person you're wishing for will have your wish in their piece." Her voice lowered confidentially to John. "It's more a tradition of convenience. I made it up because I was tired of stirring."

"Sh'lock!" Rosie said. "Do yours now!"

"All right then." 

Sherlock took the spoon in hand. He paused for a moment over the bowl, then began to stir with a manic energy, and for much longer than his patience would normally allow. After a long moment, John laid his hand on Sherlock's shoulder. Sherlock jumped as though coming out of a trance. 

"Right," he said, his face a bit red. "Let's go, John."

Mrs. Hudson watched them go with a wistful gaze. Then she clapped her hands together. 

"Now we add the secret ingredient!"

"Love?"

"Booze!"

Chapter Text

John couldn't believe how easily he was able to convince Sherlock to have another Christmas party. He had expected Sherlock to protest, or at the least sulk, but he had agreed easily, even suggesting people to invite. And when Molly had asked if she could invite her friend Susie, Sherlock had merely said, "The more, the merrier."

The result was a sitting room full of laughing people, well lubricated with a potent wine punch Mrs Hudson had made. Sherlock was playing the violin, and even taking requests, although he drew the line at Feliz Navidad. Rosie was reveling in the attention, wearing a red velvet dress that, with her blonde curls, made her look like a little doll.

A doll, who managed very well for two hours, and then John caught the wide-eyed, slightly frantic look on her face that said 'overwhelmed' and 'bed in less than thirty minutes or else'. He picked her up and cuddled her close, hoping to decrease some of the stimulation for her - and then saw Sherlock across the room.

He had been cornered by Susie, and seemed to be behaving politely, but he had the same look on his face as Rosie did.

John cleared his throat. "Sorry, folks, all good things must come to an end. Little one needs to go to bed."

 

Chapter Text

The guests had cleared out remarkably quickly, in deference to Rosie's impending bedtime. Rosie had made a token protest but gave into exhaustion and was soon out cold on her cot, bum up in the air, thumb in mouth. 

He came down to the sitting room to find that Sherlock had turned off the lights but for the fairy lights over the mantle, and the lamp, dim by the sofa. He was sitting in his chair, a glass of whisky in hand, and John could see a glass already poured for him. "Ta," he said with a huge sigh as he collapsed into the chair. 

"To a successful party," Sherlock said, raising his glass.

John gazed at Sherlock. Curious: though the tension was seeping out of him now, it was clear that the party had terribly uncomfortable for him. John wondered what it was like for him, being around that many people, with deductions flying around the room like bees. He wondered why Sherlock had agreed to the party.

The fairy lights spangled across Sherlock's face and in the amber whisky. There was a word wandering around John's mind but he was too tired and buzzed to force it to his lips. 

Sherlock blinked, then drained his glass. "Good night, then."

As he left, John realized what the word was.

Beautiful.

Chapter Text

"Sorry I missed your little soiree the other night, Sherlock," Mycroft purred as he stirred his tea. 

They were in one of Mycroft's exclusives clubs, where old money and snobbery lay in the air like a choking fog. It made Sherlock want to scream, run about, knock over tables. 

"Just call it a damn party, can't you?"

"However you wish. Apologies, nonetheless."

"So you didn't attend, but I am the one being punished by being summoned to your stupid club for lunch?"

"I understand from Mummy you won't come to Sussex until St. Stephen's Day? Spending Christmas with a toddler instead?"

"She's better behaved than you are."

Mycroft ignored the jab, infuriatingly. "Since you won't be there on the day, I thought I would give you your present now."

"Oh God. How quickly can I break it?"

Mycroft slid a small black box across the table. Sherlock sighed impatiently, opened it - and found himself speechless.

"I had it fixed and polished, but you will still need to wind it daily."

"Grandpere's watch," Sherlock whispered.

"Yes."

"But he left it to you."

"I remember you playing with it, as a child," Mycroft said softly. "It should be yours."

Sherlock remembered sitting on his grandfather's lap, the smell of his pipe. He stroked the watch, not able to look up.

"Thank you, brother."

Chapter Text

John was fastening the zipper on Rosie’s dress when he heard a familiar thumping from downstairs, which transformed into footsteps racing up the stairs to his room.

“John! Lestrade just called and it’s a triple-”

Sherlock stopped dead in the doorway, nearly falling over himself with his abrupt halt. Rosie looked up at Sherlock with her adoring grin that never failed to make John smile. 

“I’m an angel, Sh'lock!” she said, twirling around. 

She was in a white dress, with tiny fake pearls and smocking over her torso, and wings of feather and glitter, attached to her shoulders with sturdy elastic. She turned again, clearly delighted with her disguise as a celestial. 

“I can see you are,” Sherlock said, his voice suddenly lower and more serious than it had been earlier. “But you’ve made your wings visible on this occasion. May I ask why?”

“Her nursery is doing a nativity this afternoon,” John said. “Sorry, Sherlock.”

Before Rosie could register what John meant, and before her face could droop with disappointment, Sherlock tugged his scarf off. “Well. I hope you will allow me to attend, Watson.”

“Are you sure, Sherlock?” John said. “I mean, I never thought you believed in such things.”

Sherlock looked down at Rosie. “I don’t,” he said softly, “but there are other things in which I believe.”

 

Chapter Text

Molly was pleased to see Sherlock at Rosie’s nativity. Surprised at first, but then not – he was also Rosie’s godfather, after all – but it was good to see him there. 

She was half watching the children on stage, flubbing their lines and staring wide-eyed at the audience, and half watching Sherlock. His focus was clearly on Rosie, and Rosie alone. 

She pondered what had happened since the horrible business with Sherlock’s sister. Sherlock had explained, in an unadorned but soft-spoken account, of how they had all been manipulated. And oh, it had hurt, but deep down she had known that Sherlock’s words weren’t truly from his heart. Just as she had known, deep down, from the moment she had seen John Watson in the same room as Sherlock, that Sherlock’s heart would never be hers. 

But a friend like Sherlock Holmes was a friend like no other.

John and Rosie had moved back with Sherlock, and it was good for John, she could tell. The waves of sadness from him radiated a little less every day, and Rosie clearly blossomed at 221B. 

But there was something about Sherlock; as if he was constantly clothing himself in sackcloth and ashes and soot, and covered it over with a Spencer and Hart suit. 

She worried terribly about how deeply he had been burnt.

Chapter Text

The old flat had a chill in the air – John had turned down the heat since no one was there. Not quite cold enough to see his breath in the sitting room, but enough that he had to rub his hands together to warm them before he took up the pen to sign the sales papers.

It hadn’t been hard to find a buyer for his and Mary’s old flat, once he’d gotten around to it. A young couple, their first flat together after uni. They were glowing with excitement and potential as they signed.

“I hope you’ll be happy here,” he said.

It was raining as he made his way back to Baker Street – not quite sleet but not quite rain either. He was wet through and shivering when he finally unlocked the door to 221B.

The fire was lit, the heat and the light warming him immediately. Sherlock and Rosie were nowhere to be seen, then he heard a splash and giggle from the loo.

“All right, John?” Sherlock called.

“Yup, no problems,” John said. “Hi Rosie!”

“Hi Daddy! Sh’lock let me put all my toys in the bath!”

John smiled, and felt a deeper warmth spread over his body, from the inside and not from the fire.

“We’re learning about depacement!”

“Displacement,” Sherlock said solemnly.

“And buncey!”

“Buoyancy.”

 

Chapter Text

“Boop boop,” Mrs. Hudson said, tapping on the door. “May I borrow Sherlock for a moment?”

“What do you need, Mrs. H?” John said from the kitchen.

“Don’t take it personally, John, but I need the star on the top of my tree.”

John laughed. “Then Sherlock’s your man.”

Sherlock followed Mrs. Hudson downstairs with only a minimum of grumbling, but placed the star with no complaint, adjusting it until it was perfectly straight.

“Lovely,” Mrs. Hudson said, as she stepped back to admire it. “Perfect, dear, thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Sherlock said. “Now if you’ll excuse me…”

“It’s so festive,” she continued. 

Sherlock sighed. “Yes, I suppose.”

“It’s wonderful to have John back, isn’t it? Just like old times.”

“Yes.”

“And little Rosie. Having a child around at Christmas really brings out the joy of the season.”

“I have no basis for comparison.”

“You’re more relaxed and happy since they moved back in, you know, dear.”

Sherlock had no reply, and got the distinct sensation he was falling into a trap.

“So.” Mrs. Hudson turned to him. “You know what you have to do, don’t you?”

His eyes went wide with apprehension. “I – I don’t-”

“Yes you do.” Mrs. Hudson took him by the arm and led him to the sofa. “You know exactly what I’m talking about, my boy.”

Chapter Text

“You can tell from the splatter pattern on the wall this was a crime of passion of jealousy obviously the killer struck from behind with an improvised weapon my bets are on the garden shears check the garage they’re likely missing then dig in the garden under the roses he’ll have buried them there but you know I could solve all of this much faster if you had just called me earlier instead of waiting until the scene is completely ruined by all you lot trampling about and destroying evidence it’s a wonder any of you graduated from police school or whatever you call it you’re all a bunch of incompetent fools now show me the victim’s toenails that will indicate whether she was actually having an affair or whether it was all in the killer’s fervid imagination come on come on let’s go!”

Lestrade stared at John, who shrugged.

“He got into Rosie’s Christmas candy – overindulged. But I expect the sugar drop will hit him any-”

“John, we’re leaving,” Sherlock said, slurring somewhat. “Anderson looked at me.”

John gave the address to the cab driver, and turned to Sherlock, who looked a little green.

“I ate too much candy,” Sherlock moaned. “I feel ill.”

“It’s only once a year, Sherlock,” John grinned.

Sherlock gave no reply but a tiny burp.

 

Chapter Text

John, are you home?

Have been for an hour. Where are you, on a case?

Not as such.

What’s the matter?

I wanted to put fairy lights up on the house, as a surprise for Mrs. Hudson and Watson.

And?

And it’s a lot more slippery up here than I thought it would be.

You’re on the roof???

Yes

I’m coming outside.

Where are you?

Right by the chimney. It’s the only thing I can grab onto.

Stop laughing.

STOP LAUGHING.

I can’t hear you, it’s too high.

How did you get up there?

Up the fire escape.

But there’s a gap between that and the roof?

I climbed.

Oh my God. You are one of a kind.

And you can’t climb back?

Obviously.

Tell all those people to go away. NOW.

Apparently Mrs. Turner has a ladder. Just hold on.

I haven’t much choice, do I?

That ladder’s not long enough. It won’t reach the roof.

You’re right. Hold on.

What are you doing now?

 

~

 

“No, John, don’t!”

“Wow, it really is slippery up here.”

“Don’t scare me like that!”

“You should talk.”

“Well, that’s great. Now we’re both up here. Did your grand plan include an idea of how to get us both down?”

“Just didn’t want you to be alone.”

“Oh.”

“And Mrs. Hudson’s called the fire brigade.”

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe you’ve never seen A Christmas Carol before,” John said as he slid the disc into the machine. 

“When would I have?” Sherlock said, picking a single piece of popcorn from the bowl. Rosie took a handful that seemed impossibly huge for her tiny hands.

“We watched it every year, Harry and me,” John said. “I could probably recite every word of it by heart. It was the only Watson tradition, really.”

Somewhat predictably, Rosie fell asleep within ten minutes, her head pillowed on John’s leg. Sherlock sat with his feet on the sofa, peering over the tops of his knees, unusually silent for the whole film. 

When the film neared its end, and Scrooge was capering through the streets of London, John risked a sidelong glance to Sherlock. Were his eyes slightly watery, or was that a trick of the light?

As soon as the words ‘The End’ appeared on the screen, Sherlock jumped up. “Bunch of sentimental claptrap,” he snarled, and strode to his room, shutting the door firmly.

John sat and stared after him for a moment, a little shocked and unsure what Sherlock’s eruption was about. He shrugged. 

“Wonder what he’ll make of It’s a Wonderful Life,” he murmured to Rosie as he lifted her in his arms. “Come on, little one. Time for bed.”

 

Chapter Text

Heavy snow blanketed the streets and trimmed the tree branches with lace. Rosie’s cheeks were living up to her name, and every flake that landed on her face made her laugh again.

They were walking to Regent’s Park, John on Rosie’s right, holding her hand, and Sherlock on her other side. Every ten paces or so, Rosie would shout, “One! Two! Three!” and John and Sherlock would swing her between them, making her screech with delight.

Each were holding her hand with their own dominant hand, and their combined strength gave Rosie’s flights altitude that delighted and petrified her in equal parts, but as soon as she landed, she would call out again, “Again!”

The moment she saw the playground, however, she ripped her hands from their grasp and ran, the sight of her usual swings and slides covered in thick snow giving them fresh life in her eyes. Soon she was so absorbed in her play with her friends that she paid no more attention to the two men who lingered at the edge of the yard.

Sherlock and John stood for a long moment, staring at the little girl as she played. Then Sherlock took a deep breath, and took John’s hand into his own.

John turned to stare at him for a moment, then smiled and squeezed back.

Chapter Text

John closed the door to his room on Rosie sleeping peacefully. His hand still felt warm from Sherlock’s hand in his, neither of them letting go the whole walk back from the park. He could hear Sherlock pacing downstairs, and he let out a huge hissing breath. 

Something was changing. 

He thought about the way Sherlock’s hand felt in his; the warmth of Sherlock next to him; his smile as he watched Rosie play. 

Something was changing. John wanted it to change.

He raised his head high, and went downstairs.

Sherlock saw him coming, and stopped pacing. John walked over, stopping in front of him – not touching, but closer than they ever had before.

The whole flat was suddenly, abruptly quiet. No carols playing from Mrs Hudson’s flat, no traffic from the street, no grumbles from Rosie. Just him and Sherlock, standing still in the middle of their sitting room. 

Sherlock breathed in, and opened his mouth to speak - and his phone trilled. The sound was absurdly loud, and they both jumped. 

They both glanced down at the phone.

“Lestrade,” Sherlock said. “Case.”

“I can’t – Rosie,” John whispered. “Go. I’ll be here.”

Sherlock pressed his lips together, then grabbed his coat. Before he left, he looked at John, and John stopped breathing with the intensity of it. 

“I’ll be back.”

 

Chapter Text

It was midnight, and for the first time in his life, Sherlock didn’t want to be on a case.

It was an interesting case, no doubt. Possibly a seven. He hadn’t taken the breath to huff at Lestrade and his police minions, but had plunged himself into the clues as soon as he had arrived. He had hoped to solve the case at lightning speed and return to Baker Street, but instead the case had unfolded like a kaleidoscope puzzle, expanding and shifting into increasingly complex patterns. 

He imagined John standing in the sitting room, exactly as he had left him, as though in a movie that he had paused. He tried to concentrate on the evidence, but navy blue eyes kept appearing in his imagination, sparking with life and something he had never seen before. He wanted to curl up in the midnight of those eyes; if he could rest, he could rest there. 

He found himself thinking about the way the fairy lights in the sitting room had shone on John’s face, making his hair and eyelashes glow with silver, dancing in his eyes like tiny flames. 

What would have happened next, if Lestrade hadn’t texted? Was the moment wasted, gone forever?

He hoped not. He bent over the corpse and, just for now, forced his emotions at bay.

 

Chapter Text

John had tried watching telly, updating his blog, even playing solitaire. Nothing helped.

It was well past midnight, and no word from Sherlock.

Two years ago, John would have resented that he wasn’t along on the case. One year ago, he would have worried about Sherlock’s well-being without John there. But now… he still wished he was there for the case, there to protect Sherlock from any potential danger. But now he really wanted to be with Sherlock.

Even when Sherlock had left, it had been too late to call someone to stay with Rosie and let John go with him. But perhaps this was better; better to leave all this tension, all this – change – leave it here in the Baker Street sitting room, to be picked up again when Sherlock returned. 

But oh, how John wanted him to return. He wanted to see what would happen next.

So much had been left unsaid for months, years. Apologies, clarity of intentions. Declarations. Definition of terms. 

John lifted his chin. No matter how late it was, he would not go up to his room. He would not close his bedroom door on the next scene. He would wait for Sherlock. 

He made another cup of tea and sat on the sofa. The streetlights shone through the sitting room windows, cool and bright. 

 

Chapter Text

It wasn’t quite dawn when Sherlock crept into the flat. His first thought as he approached the sitting room was why the lights were still on. John was a stickler for turning off the lights before turning in. If Sherlock left the lights on in the loo for more than two minutes after exiting it, there was inevitably a lecture about ‘hydro costs’ and ‘waste’. 

But the fairy lights still glittered over the mantle, and the lamp was on, illuminating a lump on the sofa – a lump of oatmeal jumper and denim that was snoring slightly. 

Sherlock stood in the middle of the sitting room for a full minute in astonishment. John had not gone to bed in pique. He had stayed up, drinking tea and reading, judging from the evidence on the side table. He had waited for Sherlock. 

He carefully took the blanket from the back of John’s chair and laid it gently over John. He considered going to his own room, but then decided that if John could wait for him, he would wait for John. 

A wave of exhaustion flooded over him. He lay down on the sofa, his head on the opposite side from John, folding his legs around John’s like a puzzle piece. 

Sherlock fell swiftly into sleep, next to John, under the same blanket.

Chapter Text

“I think he’s waking up, Daddy.”

Sherlock blinked and focused on Rosie’s grinning face, inches from his. Despite being groggy from sleep, he smiled back. 

“Go brush your teeth, Rosie Posie,” John said from the kitchen.

Sherlock wondered momentarily why he was on the sofa, and then the whole evening came back to him: holding John’s hand, John’s eyelashes in the glitter of fairy lights in the sitting room, the case, John asleep on the sofa. Just as the last image returned, John came and sat on the sofa, his hip pressing against Sherlock’s legs, still tangled under the blanket.

“Case solved?” John said softly. 

“Yes,” Sherlock said, equally softly. John’s eyes were so very blue in the morning light.

John pressed a cup of tea into Sherlock’s hand. “I’ve asked Mrs Hudson to pick Rosie up from nursery. I have to go into the surgery but I wondered if you would like to have dinner tonight.”

Sherlock was dizzy with all that John was saying, and all that he wasn’t saying. “Yes. Please.”

John nodded and stood, and Sherlock grabbed his wrist. “You’re – you’re wonderful,” he said.

John’s smile lit up the room more than all the fairy lights in the world. “As are you. See you tonight.”

Rosie waved at still-stunned Sherlock from the door. “Tomorrow’s Christmas, Sh’lock! Bye!”

Chapter Text

John looked at his watch for the hundredth time that day. Time was moving like treacle, when he wanted it to race to 5:00pm, when he could meet Sherlock for dinner – and everything he hoped that meant. 

But no, it was only 3:37, and he had at least five more patients. He sighed and rang for the next one. 

An old man shuffled in, and John noted to himself to ask the man about arthritis and sciatica, no matter what he had actually come in for.

“Mr. Sigersen? How can I-”

“Oh Doctor Watson, terrible, terrible!”

“What’s terrible?”

“Pain in my stomach.”

“When did you last eat, sir?”

“Oh, it’s been days and days.”

John’s head jerked up, staring at the man’s face. It was a field of wrinkles, and white wispy hair, but there was something about the nose…

“I see,” he said, sitting back. “Any other symptoms?”

“My hands are so terribly cold.”

John smiled as his heart melted. “Well, I think I know a potential cure, Mr. Sigersen, but could you wait until say, 5:00?”

“Oh no, that’s too long, too long altogether.”

John tried to ignore the old man’s twitching lips, and slapped his hands on the desk. “Well, there’s nothing for it, then. We’ll have to head off immediately.”

“Well, Doctor, whatever you think is best.”

Chapter Text

John had worried that dinner with Sherlock would be awkward, what with all the weight that it carried. This dinner was unlike any other dinner he and Sherlock had shared – would it be heavy with anticipation, or nervousness, or, worst of all, misunderstandings. They had had far too much of that over their history.

But dinner was relaxed, filled with conversation about last night’s case, and today’s shift at the surgery, and their plans to travel to Sussex to the Holmes’s cottage. Sherlock was breathtakingly beautiful by candlelight, and John was warm with happiness and hope.

All at once, however, Sherlock stopped talking and tensed, his eyes hooded and wary.

“Sherlock? What is it?” John said, his stomach knotting with fear.

“I didn’t get you a Christmas present,” Sherlock blurted.

John blinked.

“I’ve been in every shop in Soho, and looked everywhere, and I can’t find anything that’s… it needs to be perfect, you see. In the past, I didn’t care, about Christmas, or presents, but now – it has all this weight, it needs to mean something, and I can’t-”

John reached across the table and grabbed at Sherlock’s flailing hands. Sherlock stared at him, wide-eyed.

“I don’t need anything, Sherlock. This-” he shook Sherlock’s hands gently, “- this is all I need.

“What I want from you, you can’t buy.”

Chapter Text

Sherlock and John walked home slowly, not stalling or delaying, but with an unspoken desire to let this perfect night be drawn out as long as it could. 

Sherlock’s hand was wrapped around John’s, his long fingers bare and cold, but holding tight. Snowflakes flew all around them, settling into Sherlock’s hair like a whisper.

“Do you like winter, Sherlock?” John said, hypnotized by white snow in black hair.

Sherlock didn’t answer for a long moment, looking up at the Christmas lights on the street.

“I didn’t used to,” he said at last. “Winter used to mean school break, which meant being away from the bullies, but home was silent and boring – I suppose no one knew what to say to me, then. 

“In the years when I was… in a bad place, it meant always being cold, because I’d never have enough money left over to pay for heating. I still don’t like being cold.

“Then I found The Work, and winter only meant snow getting in the way of clues, or freezing would preserve footprints in mud, and so forth.”

“And now?” John said.

Sherlock turned to face John, brushing snow from his fringe. “It’s different now,” he murmured, drawing John close. “It means more, now.

“Because of you and Watson, I am happier than I ever have been.”

Chapter Text

Their route home was hastened, walking more quickly, urgently, with small breaks every block or so to snog under a lamp post. 

“I still can’t believe this is real,” John murmured as he kissed along Sherlock’s jaw. “Like a dream.”

“Shall I pinch you?”

“Noooo. Well. Maybe later,” John said, to see Sherlock blush. 

That blush, warming red over Sherlock’s ivory skin, make John stop. “I used to roll my eyes when people talked about Christmas miracles,” he said. “It all seemed so trite. Miracles didn’t happen, it was all just hard work and bad luck and just… getting on, you know?”

“Yes,” Sherlock said, understanding and not understanding.

“But here you are. Here we are. Despite all that’s happened. Despite – all I’ve done. I don’t deserve this. Or you.”

Sherlock kissed him again, carefully and soft. “The realm of miracles is not my area of expertise,” he said. “But my understanding is that one doesn’t deserve a miracle in order to have one. That flies in the face of what a miracle is for. Because if that was true, you would never have come into my life in the first place. Your very existence is a miracle for me.”

John’s eyes went soft. “And you are mine,” he said. “And our next miracle, God willing, will be in our bed.” 

Chapter Text

Sherlock couldn’t catch his breath, hitching and shuddering. The muscles in his body, large muscles in his legs, tiny muscles in his hands, couldn’t stop twitching. His skin prickled hot and cold, and he was awash in sweat.

He looked over at John, who appeared to be in a similar state. He was staring up at the ceiling, eyes unfocused, chest heaving. 

“God,” John panted. “Dear God. Holy Mary.”

Trust John, he thought, to express Christmas-related sentiments after sex on Christmas Eve. 

It all hit him at once. John was here, in his bed. After years of pining, which he now knew was mutual, John Watson was the lover of Sherlock Holmes. Surely this was the most momentous thing to have happened in history since the birth they would celebrate tomorrow. 

John seemed to have recovered somewhat, and gathered Sherlock into his arms. Sherlock found himself surrounded by John’s skin, his scent, his limbs. He ducked his head into John’s neck, overwhelmed.

“Hey,” John said, solicitous and murmuring, “hey, you all right?”

Sherlock realized his eyes were damp, but when he got the courage to look up he saw that John was in a similar state. 

“Sentiment,” he whispered. “John?”

“Yeah?”

“Love you.”

John smiled with this whole body. “Love you too.”

Sherlock sighed and relaxed completely into John’s arms. Bliss. 

 

Chapter Text

Rosie had fallen asleep, sugar dotting her mouth, her new stuffy firmly under one arm, stretched out over Sherlock’s lap, her head pillowed on John’s leg.

She had woken up early, and hadn’t been fazed at all by finding Sherlock and John in the same bed; rather, she was pleased at the convenience of only having to run to one room to wake them.

Christmas Day had passed in a way familiar to all households with children: a chaos of shrieks, wrapping paper flying everywhere, biscuits and sweets partaken throughout the day with a shrug and the refrain of, “It’s Christmas. Why not?”

Far from being overwhelmed by the chaos, Sherlock had gleefully participated, playing on the floor with Rosie and her new toys as enthusiastically as if he were a toddler himself. John couldn’t stop gazing with adoration at his daughter, and his lover and best friend.

Finally, Rosie’s energy had come to an end and she was now ‘flaked out’, as Mrs Hudson said. John’s arm was around Sherlock’s shoulders, and their heads were tilted together, smiling, eyes closed in equal parts happiness and exhaustion.

Click.

Later, Mrs Hudson would frame the picture and they would place it on the mantle, a memorial of their first real Christmas together.

But all Mrs Hudson said at that moment was, “Bless.”