Greg sat alone in his flat, looking morosely at the tiny plastic tree he’d put up in the corner. The divorce had been finalized months ago and from what he understood the kids were spending the holiday in Switzerland. Maybe she’d let them call him later. More likely not. Even if they were long past the little-kid excited about Christmas stage, it still didn’t feel right to be alone on Christmas morning.
As if in answer to his thoughts there was a knock on the door. Greg blinked out of his reverie and frowned, wondering who would be calling on him this early. And on Christmas. Setting his drink aside he stood and stretched before padding his way to the door.
As soon as he opened it he wished he was wearing more than pajama bottoms and a stained t-shirt, given that Mycroft Holmes was on his doorstep in a full suit. “Err, good morning?” Greg managed.
Mycroft raised an eyebrow at Greg and offered him a shiny and perfectly wrapped box, complete with a ribbon.
“Thanks,” said Greg, accepting it and still wondering. “Uh, do you want to come in?”
“I’d be delighted,” said Mycroft.
Still confused, Greg went and put the present under the tree. “I’ll, just, I’ll be right back.” He hurried down the short hall to his room, digging out a much nicer shirt and some trousers before slipping into the bathroom to fix his sleep-mussed hair.
By the time he returned to his front room, the place was looking brighter with a few lit candles that Mycroft had apparently brought with him, as well as a silver bell ornament on the tiny tree.
“Um, Mycroft…” Greg started only for there to be another knock on the door.
Giving Mycroft a slightly suspicious look, he opened the door to find Molly, bundled up against the cold and carrying her own small gift. “Merry Christmas,” she grinned.
“Thank you,” said Greg, stepping back so she could come in and wondering if he should introduce the two before realizing that no, they already knew each other. “I’ll just get some tea, yeah?” He set the present down next to Mycroft’s and slipped into his kitchen.
When he returned with mugs he found the room was lit up brighter still, that another ornament had been added to the tree (a cat wearing a santa hat), and that Molly and Mycroft were sitting on his sofa chatting comfortably. Greg pinched himself after he set down the mugs, but they remained where they were.
Anderson showed up next, then Sally. More ornaments (a dinosaur from Anderson, a disk with a picture of Victorian London from Sally), more candles, more friendly chatter in his formerly gloomy front room. Anderson passed out candy canes as Molly took out some Christmas crackers from her bag. Greg broke one with her and put the crown Mycroft’s head, as it seemed only proper.
Mycroft attempted to give Greg an imperious look, but it only sent Greg into giggles as he sat back down next to him, laughing so hard he was almost crying.
There was one more knock on the door. Greg wiped his eyes and got to his feet.
On opening the door he was pulled into a hug by Mrs. Hudson. “Merry Christmas,” she said, kissing his cheek before letting go. John and Sherlock stood behind her, John holding what smelled like a basket of food and Sherlock with three presents, almost as neatly wrapped as Mycroft’s.
Greg took the basket into the kitchen and unpacked enough lunch for all of them. Stepping back into the front room he smiled at the last three ornaments on the tree: a bulldog, an angel and a replica London skyline. Greg looked around the brightly lit, full room, suddenly blinking back tears.
Mycroft smoothly got to his feet and came to his side. “Merry Christmas, Gregory,” he said quietly.
“Did… did you do this?” he asked.
“One could say that you did. You’re a good man, and a good friend, to many people.” He gently touched Greg’s arm.
Greg threw his arms around him and hugged him. “Thank you.”
Mycroft mumbled some sort of excuse as he gently rubbed Greg’s back.
“Hey Greg, your mobile’s ringing,” John smirked as he looked at them. Mycroft blushed and stepped away from Greg. As he went for his mobile, Greg couldn’t help but notice the way Sherlock narrowed his eyes.
Ignoring Sherlock for the moment, Greg picked up his mobile and stepped into his bedroom.
“Merry Christmas, Papa,” said a cheerful voice on the other end of the line.
“Oh.” Greg sank down to a seat on his bed. “Merry Christmas Michelle. Is your sister there, too?”
“I’m here,” she said. “Miss you, Papa.”
“I miss you too, very much. How is Switzerland?”
“Cold,” they said unison, then laughed quietly. “Mum is sleeping,” said Michelle. “But we wanted to make sure that we called you.”
“Well thank you for that. Did you get your presents?”
“We did, and thank you. Mum says we can come see you when we get back from this trip.”
Greg’s heart ached, and he hoped it was true, though he wouldn’t bet money on it. “I’d like that, sweetheart. We’ll just have to see, okay?”
“Okay,” they said. There was a noise somewhere behind them. “Oh, Mum is waking up. We’ll talk to you soon.”
“I love you,” said Greg quickly, “and I’m very proud of the young ladies you’re becoming.”
“We love you too, talk later.” The phone cut off and Greg looked down at it as if he could will it back to life.
There was a knock on the door a few moments later. Greg wiped his eyes. “Come in,” he said, voice gone a bit rough.
Mycroft carefully opened the door, bringing him a cup of tea. “Are they well?”
“Seems so,” said Greg. “Said their Mum might let them visit when they get back to England.”
“But you don’t think they will,” said Mycroft, softly, sitting next to them.
“Their mother is nothing if not selfish,” muttered Greg.
“Your eldest is going to Uni next year, isn’t she? Your ex-wife won’t have much control over her comings and goings then. I know it’s difficult.”
“Yeah, it really is.” Greg sighed and looked at a photo of his girls on his dresser, taken perhaps ten years earlier. “They’re growing up fast.”
“And they know you did everything you could, no matter what your ex says. They’ll turn out fine, I know it.” Mycroft gave him a small but genuine smile.
“Thanks,” said Greg, sipping his tea.
Mycroft reached up and carefully removed the paper crown, placing it on Greg’s head instead. “Merry Christmas, Gregory.”
“Merry Christmas, Mycroft. Thank you. For all of this.”
Mycroft shrugged. “They all wanted to do it. When you’re ready, I do believe Mrs. Hudson brought some of her excellent pie.”
Greg smiled and wiped his eyes. “I’m ready.” He took a breath and stood up. Mycroft got the door for him and headed back out to the warm glow of the family he’d found in his friends, reaching back to take Mycroft’s hand and tug him along.
Reaching the front room, Greg found that Sherlock was wearing a crown of his own now, as was Molly. He paused, seeing how relaxed they were, at how right it all felt. Mycroft squeezed his hand. “We’re here, Gregory,” he murmured.
“I know,” Greg smiled back and joined the conversation, grateful for all that he had.