Winter in the TARDIS was always impossible to determine. Because as a rider, you had an internal clock, an internal calendar that continued on no matter what far reaching planet you decided to travel to. It could be blistering hot but you still knew it should be December. That was life right now, for John and Sherlock, as they traveled through time and space with a nice (though wildly eccentric couple) named The Doctor and Donna. Donna and John had hit it off like birds over breadcrumbs and if they weren’t wandering around the TARDIS while The Doctor gave them a tour and Sherlock asked questions, then they were lounging in one of the many galley’s drinking tea and discussing their lives when they we normal. Sherlock and The Doctor, while not as chummy as John and Donna, were just as intrigued by one another and equally as inseparable. They all knew this little journey with the Doctor would be short but Sherlock wasn’t going to pass up the chance even if it killed him.
This was their last day, the last hurrah and John had noted that it was technically Christmas Eve for them. Doctor, with a sad and forlorn look in his eyes, as if dreaming of a world farther away than any other he’d visited, promised he’d take the two men anywhere they wanted. John, content with life where he was really didn’t have any suggestions. Sherlock, though, did. He asked to go to a small little park, just outside of London. It wasn’t very far back, about thirty years, give or take (he was vague with John but specific with the Doctor) and then asked for one other stipulation. That until the last bell of the church chimed, The Doctor and Donna were to leave them absolutely alone. No meddling, no observing, no hovering. Just drop them off and pick them up later.
While confused, the Doctor agreed, ignoring Donna’s continuous questions. The TARDIS whooshed into life a few blocks away, tucked against a stone wall, allowing Sherlock and John to step out in private, away from onlookers from the street. Sherlock mumbled something once more to the Doctor who then nodded, shut the door behind them and left. “He isn’t ditching us here is he?” John joked quietly. Sherlock shook his head so seriously that John suddenly grew worried. Why were they here? What was Sherlock going to do.
They headed towards the mouth of the alley, walking without needing to be told, so used to following one another. Twin stars, constantly in revolution. On the street, John found that while this little outcropping wasn’t terribly busy (especially by comparison to London) it was still rather active with people popping about to get last minute gifts. Women in tweed dresses and tights. Men wearing suits and guiding their wives about. It was so odd. Familiar but new. He was in awe, because just being taken back to the past, however short and close it might be, was just as magnificent as going to new planets or the future.
While their clothes weren’t technically in fashion, they weren’t so out of sorts that anyone noticed. But as if that thought had already crossed Sherlock’s mind (and was deemed unacceptable) Sherlock slid his hand into John’s and laced their fingers. John looked up and smiled. Sherlock showing affection was not entirely rare but it was still special but Sherlock was looking down at him with such focus that he knew this was more than their normal shows. This meant something, said something and then John remembered that while this was normal and generally ignored during their time, it was definitely not right now. And as Sherlock dropped a kiss to his brow and tugged him away towards the park, they definitely had the attention of everyone on that street.
John kept close to Sherlock and while basic instinct was telling him to pull away so they blended in more, he knew this was significant for Sherlock and to pull away would be bad. So he held onto Sherlock’s hand, perhaps a bit tight, and followed his partner along the roads. They didn’t have any definite direction, walking one block, crossing the road, perhaps cycling back then heading forward again. John would have thought they were lost but Sherlock knew where he was going. And this was all part of the plan.
When John was just beginning to grow tired of the wandering, feeling it in his leg though he hated to admit it, Sherlock finally slowed down. People were still watching, though less now that the night had worn on. They ended up outside a nice hotel, with a small gated park. The park was simple, just for the children of hotel residents and consisted on a two seated swing set, a slide, and a whirl-go-round that looked as frozen as the slide. Nearing midnight, one would assume the park should be deserted, but against the odds there was one forlorn looking child, sitting on the swings, carelessly pushing his feet into the dry ground to make him swing ever so slightly. He was bundled up tight with his collar pulled up and his dark hair scattered across his brow. He looked both angry and sad, and so so alone. John frowned, turning to look for his parents but found none. Instead he found Sherlock, looking right at him.
He frowned when Sherlock’s hands came up to hold his cheeks but shut his eyes when they kissed, his own hands reaching out to hold the fur lined collar of Sherlock’s coat. The kiss was slow. Slow and so very sad and John had to pull Sherlock close just to try and comfort him even if he didn’t know why. They kissed and then broke and then Sherlock was kissing his cheeks and his forehead and his nose and his eyes and just all of him and John was trying to keep up despite how very lost he felt. He was only distantly aware of bells chiming and an older boy calling for the child on the swings to come back inside. It was midnight after all, not a proper time for any child to be outside. The child shot a look over his shoulder but returned his gaze to John and Sherlock, watching them, then the people around them, then running off back to the hotel. John saw it in his peripherals. He knew this was important.
The Doctor arrived not a few moments after, quietly approaching to tell them it was time to go. He also gave Sherlock a very pointed look but said nothing more. They returned to the TARDIS and after determining that they wanted to build snowmen on Pluto in celebration of Christmas, John and Sherlock retired to their bedroom for the duration of the trip. John didn’t push, he knew Sherlock would explain.
“When I was a boy, I was very independent.” He and John were laying in bed, Sherlock on his back with his hands under his chin while John was playing with (what he assumed) an alien version of the Rubix cube. He looked over though and knitted his brows.
“I could see that.”
“But being independent demands a certain loneliness.” He continued and John fell quiet. “I did not need people, I was quite capable of taking care of myself, but I often wished I could need people. I wished I could be normal. That I could care. That I could understand and vanish as everyone else does, look-a-like mannequins. They were happy mannequins, however replicated they might have been. And I wanted to be happy.
Mummy made us travel often, especially around the holidays. There were countless relatives to visit, business partners of fathers, old school friends for mummy. I hated it, always. Mycroft was my other companion and he was bearable at best. He knew how to make friends. I did not. But one Christmas I decided I had done enough pretending. I was never one to take part in imaginary games. I played with the real. With the facts. But I was still trying to be someone I was not. I attempted to be normal, though I knew that it was simply not for me. I was tired of trying to fit in just so others would not look at me. Just so I could vanish. And so I stopped trying.”
John swallowed. “What made you stop?”
“I remember seeing two people, unashamed and open about themselves, in public. I remember it was two men, displaying affections, throwing their relationship in the face of all onlookers. And they didn’t care. And they were happy. At the time I cared not for the fact of their sexuality nor did I care much for my own. But I cared about their courage and saw just a coward within myself. They were happy and hated. And I wanted to be both of those things but was disappointingly only one. So I decided that the world would learn to fit me in. They did not have to like me, they could hate me, throw slurs at me, demean me in every way possible, but by God they would not make me invisible. They would see me, recognize me, and I would be happy for it. They would look. I would make them.”
John licked his dry lips and then shifted so he could sit himself atop Sherlock’s lap. He held the man’s cheek and smiled. “Did one of those men happy to look strikingly like yourself?” He asked quietly.
“I do not remember. I was more fascinated with the sandy-haired war veteran trying to hide his cold-induced limp.” John slowly smiled more and leaned down to kiss him deep, relaxing under the warm touch of Sherlock’s hands on his hips.
“I see you.” He whispered, touching their foreheads together. “And Merry Christmas.”