Ever since their first Christmas, yes - the Christmas that John still referred to as the "Christmas of 'The Woman,' " John saved all the Christmas cards they received and put them in a box, and the following year he would string them up around the flat, now after twelve Christmases, (they didn't count the years when Sherlock had been gone) they had hundreds of cards. As Sherlock watched John put them up again this year, he realized he had never given John a Christmas card. Not one. He knew John didn't really care if he did or not, but suddenly he wanted, needed to. He jumped up from his seat, drew John into a quick, but sweet kiss, grabbed his coat from its hook and flew down the steps.
Why are there so many bloody Christmas cards to choose from? - S
And good morning to you, too, Sherlock - Molly
Don't tell me you are actually in an actual shop buying an actual Christmas card? - Molly
It's for John. Realised today I've never given him one. - S
How the hell do I get the right one? They have goofy cartoonish, overly sentimental, even some that actually play music - tinny, out of tune music, ridiculous. - S
Make him one. - Molly
What now? - S
Just write him a letter. On actual paper. In your own handwriting. - Molly
That sounds just ludicrous enough to work. - S
You're welcome. - Molly
"Don't stay up too late, love." John had kissed him, then ruffled his hair and went off to bed.
Sherlock glared up at all the shiny cards hanging on every wall, sitting on the mantle, blocking every doorway, he was sure John had even put some in the loo and the salad drawer - how was he supposed to compete with all the mass-produced perfection? Then he came to the realisation that he had never even written John a love letter - and why hadn't he? Because he knew John knew, surely the ring on his finger, all the years they'd been together, surely - Sherlock got up from the desk and moved silently to their bedroom. He stopped at the doorway as John looked up at him over his reading specs, and saw something in Sherlock's eyes that made him take off his specs and lay down his book.
He nodded and walked over to the bed, his eyes never leaving John's. "Do you know, how very much I love you?"
John rolled his eyes, and muttered, "of course I do."
"How?" Sherlock dropped to his knees next to the bed. "How do you know?"
John smiled his 'you're being an idiot' smile at him and threaded his fingers into his curls, tugging ever so slightly until Sherlock's eyes fluttered closed and he leaned into his hand. "Because you're still here."
Sherlock's opened his eyes and whispered hoarsely, "that's it?"
"No. Of course not, but, at the beginning, I was convinced one day you'd get bored of me, that I couldn't possibly be enough for you, I wasn't sure why you - but then when you - and then you came back - and you told me - and the first time you kissed me -"
"You still remember -"
John snorted. "I may not have a Mind Palace, but I do tend to remember those moments when my life changed forever, yes, of course, I remember. What's brought all this up?"
Sherlock shook his head, got to his feet and leaned down over John, kissing him until John moaned against his lips and pushed trembling fingers into Sherlock's hair. "I'll be right back, just need to do something, won't take me long, promise."
He returned to the front room, looked around at all the decorations; the tree, the twinkling fairy lights around the windows, the candles on the mantlepiece, though they were of the battery operated variety, they still served their function, and yes, even the multitudes of cards, and sat down again, taking up pen and paper and began.
This morning, I realised as you were hanging the cards, that I had never given you one, and went out to rectify that, but none of them seemed to say what I wanted to say to you. So Molly suggested I make you one - but I'm afraid arts and crafts were never one of my strong suits, so I came home, a bit stymied, then it struck me that I had never written you a love letter. I suppose people still do that? Even in this age of social media and 140 characters? So, here goes.
I don't believe in love at first sight, or happy fairy tale endings, well, because in the original German, most of the fairy tales end quite gruesomely, in one way or another - but, you have always been the exception to every one of my rules. Before I met you, I had always believed as long as I could think and reason, be of some use, that was enough, and then, you showed up in the lab that day, and I wanted, so badly wanted, needed you to like me.
And I didn't understand.
But the very next night, you found me, and saved me. You must have seen something in me that no one else ever had, something human, something worth saving - at some point, it may have even been that first night over dim sum, you became necessary, not to my mind, well, yes, to that too, but you became essential to that part of me that romantics would call my heart, or my soul, I suppose. I hadn't spent too much time in my life considering that part of myself before you, and then, over time, you became more important than anything or anyone else, but then I made the mistake of choosing the game over you, when it came to Moriarty, and I will never forgive myself for that lack of - I don't know, self-awareness, humility? I was arrogant enough to believe I could beat him without my heart, and though eventually I did beat him - it nearly cost me everything, for a time, it did. I lost you - and I made you believe -
A bit more than 140 characters, and not quite what I wanted to tell you, and yet, it is part of it, you - your love for me changed me, in ways I am still challenged by. I want to be a better person for you, because of you, I want to deserve your love and constancy, and I know as you read this, you will look up at me and shake your head - but there are times when I sit across from you and simply observe you, and wonder how the universe worked in such a way that I was fortunate enough to be in that lab the day you walked into it. I - there - I nearly wasn't there, I nearly didn't make it - the world at times had been too much and too little for me to breathe easily in it, until you. You somehow give me the space to breathe, and yet you know there are times when all I need is to be wrapped up so tightly in you that breathing seems optional, you seem to breathe for me. As illogical as it sounds, and perhaps a bit dramatic, there have been moments when you are the sole reason I continue to take air into my lungs and blow it out again.
Suffice it to say, you, John Hamish Watson-Holmes, are my life, my very world, my love. I am sorry if I ever made you think or feel otherwise.
He read it over a couple of times, then bit his lip. but folded it neatly and managed to find an envelope in the mess on his desk, scribbled John's name on it and placed it on his chair where he would be sure to find it in the morning. He looked at his watch and swore silently - it had taken him far longer than he thought, John was surely asleep by now. He sighed and undressed on the way to their room only to find John wide awake, waiting for him.
Sherlock slid into bed, gingerly removed John's specs, put them away, then took the book from his hands. "Very important."
"No. More important."
"More important than a case?"
"You are more important than anything, John." He gathered John into his arms then, and took a shattered breath, as John moved to cover his body with his own, pressing him deeply into the mattress, and kissed him as if he were breathing for both of them. "John..."
"Shhh, just sleep, my love, sleep."