John's smile is incredible. He looks away, but you can read him like a book, a book about a lonely ex-army doctor who you brought to life. That's something you've never, ever done for anyone before, despite Mummy and Mycroft's off-and-on insistence that you've given them reason to live at times. It's questionable, when it comes to them, but not when it comes to John.
He asks if you're sure, and he looks up at you because he's your John and he chuckles a bit because he knows he's more excited than he should be.
Your lip quirks up of its own accord and you say of course you're sure, don't be ridiculous.
And he asks if you hate Christmas, really, and you say that you really do. He gives you a look so warm and amused that you feel a bit of a high as you explain the details of the Christmas dinner he's just been invited to.
He giggles when you try to tell him who to avoid. He bites his lip when you demand that he stay near you at least sixty percent of the night. He challenges you, saying that he might find a different Holmes to be a better conversationalist, and you roll your eyes because you know that, with the exception of Mycroft, none of the other Holmeses are really all that dangerous, and John likes that about you.
Except for your cousin Maitane, you say, everyone already can afford their own rent.
John asks if she's attractive, and you laugh because Cousin Maitane is sixty-seven and more or less married to her bees. You say she'd probably give him a kiss under the mistletoe, just imagining John's discomfort causing another laugh to rise in you. You didn't laugh much before John, but you do now.
The ride there is lovely, and John is practically bouncing in his seat. He'd dressed rather nicely and asked you and Mrs Hudson what you'd thought. His shave is particularly good, and he smells just a bit like a spice-strong aftershave that works well for him, and his eyes are very alive. The cut of the suit is nice enough, if not perfect. He put a lot of effort into looking nice, which pleases you rather more than you'll admit to, even under extreme pressure.
John's cheek looks rather kissable as he peers out the window, his ear particularly deserving of whispers even you wouldn't be able to get away with without John making you explain yourself.
John looks nice against the scene outside. Somehow, you both know Christmas dinner means something, means John has become a fixture. The car ride ends, and you can recount the entirety of the conversation between John and you, but at the same time it feels as if the ride couldn't have been all that long, despite the evidence, because you'd gotten lost in your staring.
The air is crisp and cool on the way to the house, caressing your skin, the wind daring enough to play a bit with your scarf, but not willing to test you enough that you'll need to grab hold of the fluttering end.
You wonder what it feels like to hold John's hand through the leather of two pairs of gloves. Would you be able to feel the warmth of his hand?
Suddenly, you're in front of the doors and you've lost the chance to try it out. No matter; the two of you have time enough for such an experiment in the future. You'd only need to ask. He'd assume it was for a case, and that would be thrilling and dull all at once because John really doesn't know everything. But he's wonderful all the same.
Mycroft is late. An unexpected crisis popped up, so he's already called Mummy with his excuse. That means you get there first. Mummy is yours first, and her arms come around you, warm and strong like they've always been, and she kisses you on the cheek and you don't mind at all. Being first to see Mummy almost never happens, mainly due to the fact you rarely make the trip out to see her unless Mycroft is going to be annoying about it if you don't.
She's warm and you're receiving the hug that breaks the lull in son-aimed hugs she's had for what she thinks is too long, and she's cooing over you, and you don't mind because Mycroft's not around, so there's no real reason to feel embarrassed. John is just John. John's amusement is never really at your expense. He's the most loyal man in the world, and he's yours, and you're absolutely his, and there's nothing Mummy can do that could embarrass you in front of John, you don't think.
Mycroft is surprised to see John. He gets a little flustered, but recovers quickly, welcoming him, offering him a tour, and you bristle and say that if John needed a tour you could give it to him. You're not stupid; you can see Mycroft's attraction to John, but he can also see yours, so he's allowed to get as flustered as he wants, but he'd never make a move unless you said he could, and you won't say that, at least not in the foreseeable future.
John is yours, after all. You take John through the house, rolling your eyes when John kindly invites Mycroft along. Mummy is occupied with other family members, and you're safe in the knowledge you got her first, warmest I'm-Your-Mummy hug and Mycroft didn't.
John fumbles on the step, and you catch him, and he says, "Ta!" and he bats his lashes a bit and you grin because he's such a lovely man, in every way, and very dear to you, and Mycroft swallows and that feels wonderful because you know he secretly wishes he could have caught John, but, no, you're winning this Christmas dinner already and it hasn't really begun.
John loves your old room. It still has some of its odds and ends from your time there, a little shrine on the shelves. He sits on your bed for a moment and takes it all in, and you imagine what it would have been like to have John sitting there as you were both teenagers, both awkward and in need of some kind of reassurance. Also, both hormonal pits of endless desire who would have made use of the old mattress the bed had had back then, and your old teddy bear sheets that you'd kept well-hidden under a boring navy blue duvet. John would have laughed at the sheets, but he would have shut up soon enough when you had your fine way with him in them.
You still could, later, if he wants to, if you get the opportunity. But...John and you aren't together, you remind yourself. It just feels like you are sometimes. It's a very special feeling.
Everyone loves John. Well, they would, wouldn't they? Most of the family like him more than they like you, which should probably bother you, but you just feel proud. Proud because John is perfect, and you chose him, but most of all he chose you, and he's so worth showing off. He's sweet and kind of handsome and suave and a massive flirt and not good at forming long-lasting romantic ties and he's scarred and brave and still just a bit, just a tiny bit lonely.
He drinks and laughs and stuffs himself with food happily. He plays Scrabble and Cluedo and charades and doesn't want to leave you alone even to talk with Cousin Maitane, who he actually does get on with, if not romantically. So you follow him, even though she's being a bit dull, but John asks about the bees and she laughs and starts telling him about what fun it is to keep them and John watches your sudden fascination and smiles warmly and says he wouldn't mind trying to keep some bees someday, and you swallow because he's aiming the statement at you, right at you.
That wouldn't be a bad future, actually. Maybe John and you should pop by and see her at work sometime. You deleted the one time she'd shown you all the ins and outs of her bees, despite your interest, because Mycroft had been fragile and flinchy in his fear of the bees and, for strictly tactical puposes, you don't like thinking of him like that.
John, though, John would find them wondrous, just as you do. Beekeeping sounds nice. Of course, John would have to still be around when you retire, but perhaps things will work in your favor this time. You've never felt this way about anyone before. You've never had such a friend, never cared so much. That should honestly count for something, shouldn't it?
Cousin Maitane steals a kiss from John under the mistletoe. He's a little tipsy and very, very gentlemanly about it, and she thinks he's sweet, and she pats his cheek, and when John can't see it, she winks at you.
Good old Cousin Maitane.
You clear your throat, staring up at the mistletoe. It's a particularly lovely specimen, though not as lovely a specimen as John Watson all dressed up and tipsy and still charming, and neither you nor John seem to be able to move, all shy smiles and eye sex.
Someone shoves you toward John. You glance back. It's Mycroft, and his eyes say, "Happy Christmas." He's always in such a giving mood at Christmas. It usually makes you want to tear out your hair, but it's not so bad right now, because John is staring up at you and giggling.
"You can, you know," John tells you. "It's tradition, right?" He glances over your shoulder at Mycroft, who bows.
"Right you are, John," Mycroft says, crossing the room to watch over Uncle Alcott's shoulder as he plays Scrabble. Uncle Alcott's the best in the family. Mycroft is probably trying to pick up tricks for the next time the two of you play each other.
But, you have more pressing matters to attend to, such as John, who is indeed trying to press against you.
"Can't argue with your brother on that one," John says, and he leans up and he's so close and the kiss comes, chaste but lingering, and your hand somehow finds his shoulder.
John wants more! He comes back in for more, and you close your eyes and melt into it and you've deleted previous kisses, but your body remembers anything you'd happened to pick up in your youth, and you love it, you crave more, you don't care who's watching.
Cousin Maitane and Mummy are cheering when you open your eyes and finally take a step back. Your hand doesn't leave John's shoulder, though. John even looks at it questioningly, but you aren't moving it, for some reason. Then, finally, you are; it's back by your side, and you plead with your eyes for John not to regret kissing you under the decoration you'd always thought so pointless before.
"Your family must like me," John teases you.
"They do," you say quickly.
"That's good," John says, and reaches up to curl fingers through your hair. Oh! That's nice.
You melt under the touch. Your voice is languid as you ask, "And you like them too?"
"Yeah. One of them in particular."
You frown slightly. "Oh?" Perhaps he means Cousin Maitane.
John curls his fingers in the strands more purposefully, the slight tug feeling electric. "Of course, with all your brilliant work as a detective, you do realize that I mean you?"
Relief comes in a wash of sensation that makes you feel a bit weak at the knees. "Oh," you say quickly.
John grins. "One more, then, eh? There's not exactly a queue."
The kiss is even sweeter than the one before, even more encompassing, and your mind is floating, but he's grounding you with his hand in your hair that feels, frankly, incredible, though how could it feel anything less than incredible if it belongs to John?
You're staring down at him again, his lips swollen and red just like yours must be.
"That was our first kiss, everyone," John says with a laugh. He picks up his drink and holds it up. "Hope it won't be the last," he says, and your drink is too far away but Mummy's isn't, and she clinks her glass with John's.
"Oh, I am glad you're here," Mummy says to John. "I've heard all about you."
"From Sherlock?" John asks pleasantly, smiling.
"No, just from Mycroft, who tells me everything," Mummy says. "But then, Sherlock never liked discussing those he fancies."
You finally do feel a bit of embarrassment, but John is still smiling. Actually, the smile's grown larger.
"Sherlock usually causes some kind of ruckus by now, just to keep things interesting," Mummy Holmes says. "But not this year. You should come back every year, dear. You're so good for him."
Okay, you think you must be blushing. No, you've got to be.
Mummy gives John a kiss on the cheek and welcomes him to the family.
Mycroft is there suddenly, sighing. "Mummy thinks you're going to help keep Sherlock under control," he tells John. "She's got it all wrong."
"Poor Mummy," you say with a grin.
"You think I'll help you liven up the dinner next year?" John asks in a bit of a challenge, eyes boring into yours.
"I know you'll help me," you say with confidence.
John licks his lips. "Oh, and why's that?" he asks.
You dip John for another kiss. His hands grip at you in reflex before he relaxes into it. He groans quietly. He tastes of dessert. When you stop kissing him to just hold him and stare, he flushes and gasps silently.
"I think that's reason enough," you murmur. "Don't you?" You get him standing again, and he grips at your arm.
"Yeah," he says, "Yes. Quite."
Mycroft looks just a bit wistful for a moment, then buries the expression. Maybe he deserves the gift you bought him after all. "Merry Christmas, Mycroft," you say.
Mycroft rests a hand on your shoulder and the other on John's. "Happy Christmas," he says, and then slinks away to go watch Scrabble again.
You tug John to the sofa and sit, taking a moment to process everything that's just happened.
"Christmas dinners. Not so bad now, eh?"
"No," you say to John, carefully finding his hand, a thrill running through your entire body when he links your fingers together.
You catch Cousin Maitane and Mummy whispering and giggling about Mycroft and decide maybe it wouldn't be too horrible if Mycroft had a guest with him next Christmas as well; it's obviously what they're talking about. Maybe someday, when he least expects it, you'll return the favor and give him a shove.