He's not in the mood to put on a jolly Christmas grin. Or sing carols with Mrs Hudson. Or hear another not-that-funny story about Mike Stamford's kids. So he tells John he's busy. Sorry to miss the party--first one with John and Sherlock as an official pair and all--but there are always so many get-togethers around the holidays. Such a busy time . . .
That's a lie. He has no commitments beyond the usual Yard pub night, which falls a couple of days before Christmas this year, so everybody wears stupid Santa hats and reindeer antlers, and tries to catch Sally under the plastic mistletoe. Bloody childish bunch. But it cheers him up a little to be out with this particular dysfunctional family.
So now it's Christmas Eve, and he should have left the office hours ago. Everyone else skipped off early for the holiday. He stares at the jar in his hand. He'd ordered the Provençal honey months ago, soon after he and Sherlock returned from that last blissful holiday. When he'd imagined they might manage another couple of days alone sometime, if the city stayed quiet. He didn't expect it, mind you. Just thought maybe . . .
White skin, white sheets.
Black hair, black coffee.
Taste of honey and Sherlock on his tongue.
He can't seem to bin the jar and can't bear the thought of taking it home. The small kitchen cupboard in his flat won't hold all those memories.
As he walks towards the lift, Sally rounds the corner, wiping the sleeve of her grey tweed jacket over her eyes. Throws her mobile across the room, and it shatters to pieces. He doesn't have to ask who was on the line.
"And Joyful Holiday Wishes to you too, Sergeant Donovan," he says.
She glances up at him. "Oh, shit. Sorry . . . I didn't think anyone else was still here on Christmas bloody Eve."
"She leans on her desk, facing away from him. He stands still. He knows better than to offer a word or a hand at this point. After a minute or two, she turns around and puts her hands on her hips, asking "Aren't you going to Baker Street? Mrs. Hudson's making those plum tarts you like. Apparently, I have no other plans now, so we can go together. I'm in the mood to wind Sherlock up tonight." She's taking eye drops from her purse and grinning wickedly now.
He smiles and shakes his head. "Nah. You go ahead. I'm knackered anyway."
She knew about the thing with Sherlock. The only one who did, as far as he could tell. But they pretended she didn't.
"She nodded and put on her coat, then tucked her arm around his elbow as they walked towards the lift. "So what's that in your hand? Jam?"
He looked down and realized he still held the jar of honey.
"Oh, right . . . It's nothing. . . . Hey--why don't you take it? Give it to Sherlock and say Happy Christmas, okay?"
She looked at him sideways and pushed the button for the lift. He handed her the honey and she saw the French label, and looked at him again. "Just give it to Sherlock, then? You sure?"
"Yeah. No. It's for the pair of them, of course, but . . . yeah, just give it to John and Sherlock, and say it's in lieu of proper wages for all their work for the Met, okay? Remind him what cheap bastards we are. And tell him--them--Merry Christmas from me, okay?"
She nodded and brushed a kiss across his cheek as they parted at the front door. "Happy Christmas, Greg."
At six a.m. his mobile buzzed and he fumbled to retrieve it from the floor next to the sofa where he'd fallen asleep.
John's hungover. I'm bored.
Are you daft? It's Christmas Day. Bugger off.
Am summarizing old cases for web site. Need your memory, such as it is. I'll be at your flat at 7.
See previous reply.
Am bringing honey. You bring coffee and case files.
See you at the Yard at 9.