Sherlock’s 5th Christmas
“Sherlock Holmes you get out from under that table right this instant!”
Sherlock freezes. He looks around him trying to gauge what charges he might be able to wriggle out of.
“Now.” His mother insists.
All of his presents are in piles underneath the dining room table. One pile has been unwrapped. One pile has yet to be unwrapped. The last pile has been carefully rewrapped. Sherlock wonders if maybe he can manage to convince her he’s only tampered with the one set.
Sherlock scampers out from under the table. “Yes, Mummy?” He smiles as sweetly as he can, the smile that sometimes causes her to ruffle his hair and let his misdeeds pass unpunished.
“Would you like to explain yourself?”
Not really, Sherlock thinks to himself. He stays silent.
“Sherlock.” She gives him a stern look the one she gives when she is not going to ruffle his hair and let his misdeeds passed unpunished.
“I was going to rewrap them.” He tries.
“Rather poorly.” His mother chides.
Sherlock looks scandalized. He’s been really careful tearing the paper so it could all be carefully reconstructed.
“Fetch those presents and you can explain yourself while I set them to right.”
Sherlock does as he is told.
His mother sits down at the table. “Well.” She asks as Sherlock takes a seat beside her.
“Mycroft always guesses!” Sherlock pouts. “I wanted to guess too. I was going to wrap them agin. You would have never known the difference. I promise!”
“Mycroft does not sit under the table and unwrap his present.”
“But he always guesses right.”
His mother picks up a gift she was about to rewrap. She shakes it and then hands it to her younger son. “What does it sound like?”
“It’s a puzzle. I can see.”
“But you can also hear.” His mother says. “Shake it.”
Sherlock worries his lip as he shakes it. Then he takes a present from the still wrapped section and shakes it too. “This is the same!”
“So what does that mean?”
“It’s a puzzle!”
“Good. Now, only really naughty boys unwrap their presents before Father Christmas come, but really if you are going to try to get away with this rewrapping nonsense..."
Sherlock’s 19th Christmas
Sherlock wraps a scarf around his neck while throwing things haphazardly into a bag. He is a whirl of activity that doesn’t stop when he hears a knock at the door. A few moments later another knock comes. Whoever, is visiting him is not planning on leaving. “Come in.” Sherlock calls.
“Getting an early start?” Sebastian asks when he lets himself in. “It’s not like you to pack before you are halfway out the door.”
Sherlock continues riffling through his closet, throwing some things in his bag and other things on his bed… or on the floor near it.
“Sherlock?” Sebastian asks when a blue jumper lands on his head. “We might need this bed clean later.” He gives a teasing laugh.
“You won’t ever need this bed clean again.” Sherlock says as he tosses books from his desk onto the floor beside it.
“I thought after dinner tonight…”
“We won’t be doing anything after dinner tonight.”
“We were going to exchange gifts.” Sebastian reminds Sherlock. “I had to cancel last night. It couldn’t be avoided. But tonight, Sherlock, it’s our Christmas celebration. I’ve been looking forward to it.”
“Wrong.” Sherlock puts the two remaining books from the desk into his bag and zips it.
“I’ve not been looking forward to it?”
“Not last night."
“It couldn’t be helped,” Sebastian argues, exasperated.
“No, I suppose not… but no matter."
“I have no more desire for the telescope you bought me than I do for the venereal disease you picked up from the “couldn’t be helped” last night. Goodbye!” Sherlock puts the bag he’s been packing across his shoulder and walks out of the door without another word.
Sherlock’s 25th Christmas
“Hey freak.” Sally opens the door to her upstairs neighbor. “What do you want?”
She looks doubtful.
“Two lumps. For my tea. I’m all out."
“How many times have you been down here looking for teabags?”
“Since you’ve moved in or before when Alex and Alexis lived here?”
“Since I moved in.”
“You’ve been in here fifty times.”
“You mark it down?”
“How many of those times have I given you tea?”
“So what makes you think I’ll give it to you now?”
“You bought me tea, sugar, and a new kettle for Christmas.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Only to keep you from bothering me.”
“Yes.” Sally nods.
“If you give me the gifts now I won’t bother you again.”
Sally studies him for a moment before going off to get the gift basket. “It will be a very happy Christmas for me not having you down here every time you fancy a cup.”
“You’ll miss me.”
“Tell me again in 31 days.”
“That’s when the sugar will run out!”
Sherlock’s 27th Christmas
“Why are we doing this?” Sherlock asks as he sits across from his brother at a ridiculously overpriced restaurant on Christmas day.
“Dinner?” Mycroft asks as he nods towards the waiter and taps his wine glass. “It provides calories to fuel your body until breakfast.”
“You would know all about that.” Sherlock drains the wine glass in front of him so it will be empty when their server comes.
“Honestly, Sherlock. It’s Christmas. Mummy is out of the country. I wouldn’t eat anything in your kitchen. You are always so paranoid I’m going plotting to poison you. I thought going out was the most neutral Christmas dinner possible.”
“You don’t like me. I don’t like you. Why inflict ourselves on one another at Christmas?”
“If you didn’t like me you wouldn’t be here.” Mycroft argues.
Sherlock rolls his eyes and takes a sip from his newly refilled wine glass.
“So, anything new in your life?” Mycroft asks his brother.
“You would know if there was."
“Anything new in your life?” Sherlock returns the question.
“I couldn’t tell you if there was.”
“Quite.” Sherlock nods as their dinner arrives.
They spend several minutes in companionable silence as they eat their meals.
“Getting engaged.” Sherlock indicates a couple across the restaurant from them as he pushes his plate away.
“They’ll divorce without in a year.” Mycroft sighs.
“Yes, but they’ll have a really nice cake at the wedding. Maybe, he’ll take up with the caterer.”
Mycroft shakes his head, “Her, I think.”
“Oh, right.” Sherlock nods.
“Shall we exchange gifts?” Mycroft asks after the waitress comes with snifters of brandy.
“No time like the present for presents.” Sherlock smirks at his own joke.
“Every single year, Sherlock?” Mycroft sighs.
“Well then, you go. What did I get you?”
“The Art of War, again? This time in Farsi? Is it political or should I brush up on Finnish for next year? It will be in my flat when I arrive? Where?”
Sherlock takes a long draw on his drink.
“Behind the refrigerator, then?”
“How To Win Friends And Influence People?” Sherlock guesses.
“You would have preferred “Who Moved My Cheese?”
“I would have preferred money. But I suspect that is taken care of as well. Some sort of book code?”
“Do you want a clue for the starting page?”
Sherlock’s 34th Christmas
“I can’t wait to see what you’ve gotten me.” Sherlock grins at his flatmate.
John looks at Sherlock suspiciously, “you don’t know?”
“No. How could I possibly know?"
“I’m not sure.”
“Then I don’t know.”
“You don’t have a guess?”
“Not a single one.” Sherlock gives the most innocent look possible.
“You know.” John sighs. He hadn’t brought one of the gifs into he flat until 4 o’clock this morning. The other is still at. Mrs. Turner’s next door.
“How could I?” Sherlock shakes his head.
“I don’t know.” John sighs.
“I don’t know.” Sherlock says as sincerely as he can manage.
“I thought it would make you happy.”
“Why would you lying to me make me happy?”
“Mycroft said…:” Sherlock sighs. “I know better than to listen to Mycroft. How did you know?”
“How did I know what?” John asks confused. He hadn’t been surprised by the jumper but he is still quite perplexed by the other thing. He isn’t even sure what it is.
“How did you know that I’d guessed?”
“The crisper and the cupboard.”
“What about them?”
“There are oranges in the crisper, loads of them.”
“They don’t’ have to be for the juicer! I could just be feeling scurvyish.”
“And the dog bones in the cupboard?”
“For… “ Sherlock stops for a moment. His mind whirls as he tries to think up a reason for that particular purchase. “When does the puppy get here?”
Sherlock’s 37th Christmas.
John has considered not getting the man anything at all. John has considered buying unlabeled food and making Sherlock guess. John has considered buying a number of generic presents and then trading them with other people’s packages at the shops. He wonders when swapping things with unsuspecting shoppers became something he would consider. At this rate he’ll have his on drawer of police badges by next year.
When he tries to remember the times Sherlock’s been genuinely surprised he is hard pressed to think of anything that doesn’t involve a really well plotted murder. John has no plans to murder anybody. He thinks, maybe, if they were on a really, really good case, that Sherlock could be distracted enough not to figure out his presents. But hoping for a particularly grisly murder at Christmas feels particularly wrong.
He has tried everything in the years that he’s been with Sherlock. He’s stumped. He’s stumped enough to go to Mycroft for advice. It pleases him that Mycroft is genuinely surprised to find John waiting in his office at six am the first of November.
“Did we have an appointment?” The elder Holmes asks as he hangs his hat, coat, and umbrella.
“Very well. What can I do for you?”
“Have you ever surprised your brother?"
“More times than he would admit to.”
“Not since he was five and our mother caught him peaking at his presents…. Our mother had a way of wrapping…”
The dog licked John awake before dawn on Christmas morning. Sherlock was already sitting on the couch waiting for them hen John stumbled into the living room. “Did you put him up to that?” John asks.
“Me? Never!” Sherlock grins and John knows that the dog was doing Sherlock’s bidding.
“A little anxious this morning?”
“Christmas, John, Christmas!”
“You know what you’re getting. Why are you so excited? Why can’t you wait until there is sunlight?"
“It’s Christmas!” Sherlock repeats.
John settles into his chair. “Well, go on then.”
“We aren’t taking turns?”
“I’m too sleepy to unwrap anything. You do yours. Make me a cup of coffee. Then I’ll do mine.”
“Coffee?” Sherlock laughs. “Not even trying this year?”
“What do you mean?” John feigns ignorance.
“You drink tea in the morning.”
“I drink plenty of coffee. This morning I need the added jolt.”
“The extra jolt provided by my new espresso machine!”
“Something like that.” John nods as Sherlock begins to unwrap in a mad frenzy.
“This is rather good.” John says as he sips his latte.
“I’ve been reading up on the internet….”
“I bought some flavored syrups… and whipped some double cream… just in case.”
“It’s good.” John says. “You’re happy with your gifts?”
“Very.” Sherlock takes a seat in front of John. “I am very happy with everything you have given me.”
“You aren’t cross that I guessed?”
“Not at all.”
Sherlock leans forward and kisses some whipped cream from John’s upper lip. “Thank you!”
“For the espresso machine?”
“For not being cross.”
“Time to open mine?"
“Yes. You sit. Enjoy your coffee. I’ll get them. I think you’ll be pleased. I hope you’ll be pleased.”
“I have no doubt I will be.” John takes one from the bottom of the stack,
“I think this is a wooly green jumper.”
“Close…” Sherlock stares into John’s eyes, trying to gauge his reaction.
“It’s lovely.” John puts the jumper on over his shirt. “You like it?”
“It’s green!” Sherlock shouts.
“It’s very nice green. I like it. You don’t like it?”
“It’s nice. It suits you.” Sherlock says, puzzled.
“What’s the problem?:” John takes a drink to suppress a smirk.
“It suits me.”
“I bought blue.”
“I like the green.”
Sherlock shakes his head, “I thought I bought…”
“Next please.” John holds his hand out to refocus Sherlock’s attention.
Sherlock hands over the next gift, his eyes not leaving the package as John begins undoing the wrapping.
“You worried this might turn into a rabbit?” John asks with a laugh.
“A green one.” Sherlock admits. He seems relieved when John pulls out a heavy old book.
“Poe?” John asks.
“No!” Sherlock grabs the book.
“No?” John bites his lip to hold back laughter.
“This isn’t it. It isn’t it at all!”
“It isn’t an early edition Poe?”
“It’s not what I bought?”
“You don’t like it?”
“Perfect isn’t good?” John takes another swallow of his coffee. It’s getting cold. It’s still delicious.
“It’s not…” Sherlock turns the book over and over in his hand. “I must’ve… I couldn’t have… I looked at some Poe. They were about the same size so maybe I mixed them… but I couldn’t have…”
“Exactly the same size.” John interrupts.
“What?” Sherlock stares, confused.
“Almost to the gram.”
“This book here is the same size as…”
“…The book I bought you?"
“This isn’t the book I bought you. I bought you an early edition of Henry Gray’s…"
“Anatomy… I know.”
“It wasn’t a first but it was beautiful, the illustrations…“
“It’s a beautiful book.” John taps Sherlock on the shoulder and waits until the man makes eye contact. “The best book anybody has ever gotten me, really.”
“But….” Sherlock turns the Poe over in his hand.
“And I hope you like that even half as much.”
“You bought this for me?”
“And you wrapped it in paper like….” Sherlock finally understands. “In the same paper. You unwrapped your presents and replaced them with… the jumper too, you took out the blue one and replaced it with the green?”
“The jumper, of course, would be the same size and weight… but the book?”
“Stroke of luck. I took the Grays to the bookstore round the corner to find something of comparable size. The clerk thought I was returning it to buy the other book you’d looked at. This isn’t the same one you were looking at. It’s a slightly different edition. This one was a better match for size. It’s a nice edition, though. It has two wood engravings… but if you want to exchange…”
“No!” Sherlock took his book and held to him as if John might take it from him. “You liked the Grays?”
“I love it, still. I keep sending you out for milk so I can run upstairs and look at it.”
“The milk… I thought you were nervous about the espresso machine…” Sherlock laughed. “This is the most amazing thing…” He slides closer to John and gives him a long, slow, deep kiss. “For me, you went to all this trouble…” He trailed off taking John’s lips to his again.
“So, shall we see what’s in that little red box right there?” John asks when they break apart for air.
“It’s for me?” Sherlock asks but he’s already grabbed it and is tearing into the paper. “Not cufflinks then?” He looks up at John, still a little flustered.
“It singular?” Sherlock has the wrapping off but he’s shaking the box.
“I don’t know what it is.” Sherlock says with glee. “I’m savoring.”
John takes a deep breath, waiting for Sherlock’s reaction.
Sherlock looks down at the open box and up at John, uncertain.
“I was thinking,” John bit his lip. “I could wear the cufflinks at the wedding.”
“Our wedding.” Sherlock says, running his thumb over one of the two simple gold bands in the box.
“If you’ll marry me.”