John is sitting on his armchair, Sherlock is sprawled on the sofa, and The Joshua Tree is blaring through the apartment.
Apart from U2 and their state of sluggishness, as though they've been washed up on a shore, the picture is cosily familiar. Although any other day, Sherlock lounging on the sofa would mean he was thinking, or bored. John sitting on his armchair would mean he wanted to relax from a day's work, or read the morning paper. Not today.
They haven't turned on the telly. They don't talk. Tea is the only welcome food in their stomachs right now.
John's finished his but is still nursing his RAMC mug absently, and he doesn't have to look to know that Sherlock's only drunk three quarters of his, and that the remainder has been left to grow cold on the floor.
Sherlock never drinks all of his tea, John reflects, and he doesn't know why. It's a relatively uninteresting and comfortable thought that perfectly suits the mood he's in right now, so he keeps on with it. Sherlock always leaves exactly a quarter of his tea behind. There are countless cups and mugs in the kitchen to prove it, with a well-defined ring-shaped stain on the inside, like a waterline, exactly three quarters of the cup down from the brim. John doesn't like waste -- being in the army would do that to you -- so he’s tried serving Sherlock three quarters of a cup instead. But then Sherlock will simply drink three quarters of those three quarters, and the cup will obstinately stand unemptied. In the end, John has given up and gone back to preparing full cups.
Funny how they've been working together so far, John muses. Compromises and everything. Domesticity.
Take the music they're not really listening to, for instance. John doesn't know if Sherlock likes it at all (very probably, he doesn't) he just knows that Sherlock at least tolerates it better than the carols that Bono and his mates have replaced. John can't help it, he likes carols at Christmas, as he likes cake for his birthday, or rain in London at any time of the year. He believes in tradition.
The Joshua Tree is Harry's gift, and he already had the CD, but as a soldier, strict observation of Christmas truce is something deeply ingrained in him, so he didn't make any remark and accepted the gift gracefully. Going as far as to listen to it now wasn't compulsory, but it felt right. Christmas-spirited.
He supposes Sherlock abides by Christmas truce too, on some level, because they still went at Mycroft's on Christmas Eve, despite Sherlock's loudly advertised resentment towards his brother. It seems it's the only time of the year that Sherlock allows himself to make such concessions.
Mycroft's wife, as it turned out, is an excellent cook, and she insisted for John and Sherlock to bring back home some of the honey-glazed ham and venison terrines she'd prepared. Incidentally, it is what they've had for lunch today, with some stale bread and biscuits, since John hadn't done the shopping and there was barely anything else left to eat. Even though the food had been frozen and defrosted in the microwave (and despite its being placed beside dodgy body parts in the freezer), it still tasted great. As they were eating, Sherlock had pointed out that it went without saying that Mycroft, insatiable glutton that he is, could only have married a good cook.
It's a peculiar image, Mycroft being married, John contemplates, not thinking too hard, though, as Trip Through Your Wires starts playing on the stereo. Sherlock has scoffed at his theory that maybe Mycroft is having an affair with that lovely PA of his. Mycroft's too lazy for that, according to Sherlock, and even though he's a manipulative and devious bastard most of the time, he still believes in certain values, in an outdated, almost Victorian way. His wife may be nothing more than a convenient arm accessory for cocktails and receptions (well, and a provider of good food too) but he wouldn't cheat on her. Go figure.
New Year's eve John spent at Harry and Clara's. He hadn't asked Sherlock if he wanted to come along, although the invitation was extended to him, but presumed his friend had better things to do with his time. Harry had promised to kick the habit and she and Clara had decided to give it one more try. Their relationship was still fragile, and in the end John was glad he had spared Sherlock the awkwardness. Especially when he excused himself after dinner for not being able to stay until midnight -- he gave no official pretext, he just said he had to go -- and Harry hugged him goodbye, and melted into tears.
When John came back home afterwards, he found Sherlock sleeping on the couch, his face hidden under the leather-bound book he'd been reading. John took a look at his watch; it was a little past midnight. It would have felt too corny to wish Sherlock a happy new year while he was sleeping, so, with great care, John simply removed the book from Sherlock's face and brushed a stray lock away from one of Sherlock's eyelids, then he went to bed.
Digestion is slowly settling now. Maybe it is time to take a good nap. Or move. Or speak up. Ask Sherlock about his three quarters rule. Or his resolutions for the new year, just to see him roll his eyes and make a comment about how pedestrian John is and how ridiculous this custom because of whatever "scientific" bullshit observation, just made up. Or maybe it is time for John to start making plans, organise stuff, put some order in other stuff.
He knows he should, maybe.
But he likes it so far, simply being in Sherlock's presence, Sherlock looking content with John's. The two of them for once at peace, as the world outside is hungover, lazy and still, on this quiet afternoon of January the first.