“Dad? Father? Anyone home?” Hamish set his bags down with a thump just inside the outer door to 221. It had been a long train ride down from Warwick; the train had been full of people heading back home for the holidays. When he’d arrived at the train station here in London, he’d been met by Anthea and escorted to one of Uncle Mycroft’s ubiquitous black cars. He’d been surprised not to see his parents at the station figuring that Father would have deduced his plans, but then again, he’d not told them when he was coming home in hopes of surprising them. He knew he’d never get past Uncle Mycroft, but he was glad that his uncle hadn’t spoiled his surprise.
“Hello?” he called again, heading up the stairs. The door was locked, and he had to dig in his pockets for his keys before unlocking the door and stepping through to the quiet flat. He took a deep breath and felt his shoulders lose some of their tension at the familiar scent of home. Hamish poked around a bit at his father’s onging experiment on the kitchen table as he pulled out the kettle and set some water to boil. Running back downstairs for his bags, he made it up just in time to switch the kettle off before pouring himself a cuppa. Wandering over to the sofa, he sat down and grabbed the nearest book (one of Dad’s novels) and started to read.
Hamish snapped awake at the sound of his parents’ voices coming up the stairs. They were arguing good-naturedly about what Dad was going to convince Father to eat this evening. Hamish quickly sat Dad’s book back on the table and sat up straight, knees bouncing with excitement. It took all he had not to burst out the door and grab both of his parents in a hug on the stairs, but this way would be better.
Their voices got louder as the door swung open and they moved into the kitchen. Sherlock stopped in his tracks, pushing John behind him.
“What? What is it?” John asked, the teasing tone gone from his voice.
“Someone’s in the flat. The kettle’s not where you left it.”
Hamish winced. So much for my surprise, he thought as Father turned then and saw him sitting on the sofa.
His father’s eyes went comically wide as he gasped in shock. “Hamish!” he cried as he took three long strides across the room, embracing his son tightly.
John was just behind them, smiling up at Hamish over Sherlock’s shoulder. “Hello, love,” he said as Hamish snuck one long arm out and pulled him into their embrace.
“What are you doing here?” Sherlock asked when he had found his voice again. “We weren’t expecting you for another two days.”
“Should I go back then?” Hamish teased.
“No!” Sherlock exclaimed, “No, no of course not. I’m just shocked you’re here.”
“My exams were over earlier than I had thought, so I came home today rather than wait.”
“We’re glad you did,” John said. “The flat’s been too quiet without you here.”
“And not decorated! It’s only two weeks before Christmas⎯why haven’t you decorated yet?”
John glanced significantly at his father, and a look of understanding flashed across Hamish’s face.
Sherlock cleared his throat. “It seemed too odd to decorate without you here. This is the first time in eighteen years you’ve not been begging us to decorate as soon as the first of December came round.”
Hamish smiled at his father. “Well, I’m here now, so let’s get started! Have you even brought the boxes down?”
Sherlock shook his head.
“Then I’ll start bringing them down. Dad, can you put on some music?”
John put on the old Christmas CD they’d played every year since Hamish was born and soon the sounds of “Silent Night” drifted through the flat as Hamish brought in armloads of boxes that were still labeled Tree and Not Tree in his shaky child’s handwriting.
“We can go get a tree later this afternoon, if you want,” Sherlock offered as he started pulling out the candles and their wreath rings. John rummaged around until he found the Santa hat, now a little threadbare, and clapped it on his head, grinning at Hamish.
“Of course I want to. Did you ask Uncle Mycroft for a car?”
Two hours later, the whole flat was decorated. Sherlock sat down at the table and prodded at…whatever it was that was sitting innocuously in a Petri dish while John did some of the washing up. Hamish helped dry the dishes, and for a while, all was quiet as they worked. Sherlock broke the comfortable silence with a request for Hamish to fetch a set of gloves from the wardrobe in their room.
When Hamish started digging through the wardrobe, he found a large box. Thinking maybe the gloves were in there, he opened the box and gave a little gasp when he saw what was in there.
Carefully folded on top was the jumper he’d given Dad all those years ago. He lifted it out and rubbed it between his fingers. It was getting a little threadbare and worn, and had obviously been packed away to keep it in good condition. He leaned down and inhaled, smelling Dad’s aftershave and a faint hint of Father’s cologne. He smiled a bit and set it carefully aside. Underneath the jumper was a very familiar trunk. He opened the lid and smiled, blinking back a few unexpected tears as a wave of memories washed over him. He remembered the painstaking, careful labels he’d given everything, the long nights of writing up their cases into the book, the sorting of all the photographs he’d found. He and Father had added to this trunk over the years⎯there were now five books and three photograph boxes⎯and Hamish knew Father had likely written even more that Hamish didn’t know about.
A soft noise behind him made him turn, a bit wide-eyed at being caught poking through his parents’ things. Dad gave him a smile and said, “Your father thought you’d got lost back here. What’s going on?”
“Look what I found.”
John crossed over to him and sat down slowly on the floor. When he saw what Hamish had in front of him, he smiled again, reaching out to run his fingers over the trunk, the jumper.
“I didn’t know you’d kept this,” Hamish murmured as he flipped slowly through the very first book he’d written, smiling as he remembered certain cases.
“Of course we kept it. We’ve kept all of the gifts you’ve given us.”
“Have you really?”
“We wouldn’t do anything else. Your father’s looked through those books at least once a month since you’ve been away at university.”
“He’s not handling me being gone very well, is he? I mean, when you both came up to the Castle for your visit a couple months ago, he seemed almost manic. And that’s my fault⎯I’m the one who left.”
John closed his hand over his son’s and said roughly, “Don’t you dare blame yourself, Hamish. It’s not your fault to live your life⎯it’s what we both have wanted for you ever since the first time we held you in our arms. Your father misses you, yes, as do I, more than either of us can put into words, but your presence is still here with us, in the things you’ve given us, in the joy you’ve brought us. I carry a piece of you with me always, as does your father.”
Hamish wiped away a tear and threw his arms around his father. “Thanks, Dad. I love you too.”
“I know you do,” John said. “And besides, if we miss you, we give our bears a wee cuddle, or I’ll wear my jumper.”
“I thought that jumper still had too strong a scent of your aftershave for you not to still be wearing it on occasion.”
“Not often, mind, as it’s getting a bit worn and I want it to last.”
Hamish let go of his dad and sat back, still sniffling a bit even as he smiled. “Will you wear it today? And at Christmas?”
“Of course. Here, help me up.”
They stood, and John carefully pulled off his jumper and replaced it with the one Hamish had given him twelve years ago. His eyes closed for a bit after the jumper was in place. When he opened them again, Sherlock had joined Hamish in their room.
“I’ve always loved that jumper,” Sherlock admitted as he pulled first his son, and then his husband into a tight embrace.
After a long moment, Hamish brought his head up and said, “Don’t we have a tree to buy?”
His parents laughed as they broke apart, Hamish’s arms going around his parents’ shoulders.
“I believe we do,” John said as they walked out of their bedroom and into the sitting room to gather up coats, hats, and gloves. John reached up and jammed Hamish’s hat down over his son’s curls, just as he had done every year, and met Hamish’s grin with his own.
Two weeks later, Sherlock and John each got a new jumper from Hamish, John’s a pale blue, Sherlock’s a deep plum, and oddly, they both broke out in huge grins as they immediately pulled them on. Sherlock reached behind him and pulled out a flat box from under the tree.
“Here, open this one,” Sherlock said, handing the box to his son.
Hamish opened it to reveal a dark green jumper that was an exact match for his parents’ and smiled as he, too, pulled it on and felt the warmth of his parents’ love surround him.
This series is dedicated to ununpentium, whose ideas I shamelessly stole when writing it. ♥