Sherlock was very much enjoying a lie-in when he was rudely awoken by John shaking his shoulder and ruffling his hair.
"Sherlock." John hissed in a loud whisper. "I need you to get up."
"What...wha…why? What's happening?" Sherlock mumbled as he shuffled up and rested on his elbows, flicking his hair out of his eyes. Had something happened? Something to do with a case? "What is it, John?" He asked sternly, much more awake.
"Nothing serious, don't worry." John reassured, holding out a steaming cup of tea to Sherlock, which the man took. "Well, not too serious, but right now it seems like the end of the bloody world."
"John, what…?" Sherlock asked, slightly irritated since John had woken him for, apparently, nothing much at all.
"I've been called into work last minute; someone's sick and they're low-staffed. But we've got our party tonight and I'd planned on doing the decorations today. Sherlock, do you think you could do them for me?" John asked. Of course, it might have been a question, but John was basically telling Sherlock to do it. There was no choice.
"Yes, 'course." Sherlock muttered, blowing on the tea and taking a sip. He resented the fact they had to have a party in the first place. Don't people always go on about Christmas being something to spend with the ones you love? The only person Sherlock really loved, rather than liked or tolerated, was John. So, why can't he just spend the Christmas period with him, in their flat, lying in bed or on to sofa, cuddling, and not socialising? But that's what partners do for each other, isn't it? Or so Mrs Hudson had told him; they do things to make the other happy, and at that moment, Sherlock wanted a happy John, rather than the stressed John that had been inhabiting the flat for the past couple of weeks, worrying over everything Christmas. Sherlock decided to do the decorations.
"Thank you, Love." John said, placing a quick relieved kiss on Sherlock's lips. "I'll be back about 5, hopefully. I've left a list of decorating supplies on the desk. See you later." And with that John was gone, and Sherlock was left pondering just how tedious this day might turn out to be.
Sherlock had made the terrible mistake, he realised, as he stood in the decorations aisle of his local supermarket, of leaving the list at home.
Normally, not a problem for a man who has such a impeccable memory, but Sherlock had completely forgotten to do more than glance at the list, and he had only one thing from it banked in his mind: paper-chains.
Sherlock looks down the aisle, and sure enough he spots paper-chains of various design; he curled his lip at the ones decorated with tiny Santa heads, and instead choose simple, metallic blue and silver ones. Those were much more to his taste. He picked up one packet and chucked it into his empty basket, then he paused.
John hadn't specified how many paper-chains to get. Sherlock didn't want to mess up and get too few. Better safe than sorry, he reasoned, as he grabbed all the remaining packets and chucked them in his basket as well. The problem was, seeing as Christmas was drawing closer, the aisle was packed with people looking desperately for their own decorations, which meant Sherlock had a few cross glances thrown his way. He paid no heed.
Now, what else was there?
Sherlock returned to Baker Street feeling rather triumphant. He was carrying three bags laden with decorations; most of them being paper-chains, which he dumped down on the kitchen table. Blowing his slightly sweaty fringe out of his eyes, he traipsed through into the bedroom and changed back into his pyjamas, seeing as he did not have to go out again all day. It was rather cold in the flat, so Sherlock raided John's half of the wardrobe and pulled on one of his partner's jumpers. It was warm and soft and smelled of John, even if it was a bit short in the arms. To finish off his look, Sherlock also stole a pair of John's woollen socks.
Much more comfortable now, Sherlock sorted himself out with a cup of tea and padded through to the living room, lugging his bags with him. The room itself was draped with fairy lights, twinkling with warm light, and a christmas tree stood in the corner, behind Sherlock's chair, decorated mainly in John's taste, but Sherlock had added his own ornaments here and there; a skull bauble, a miniature violin decoration, a small magnifying glass attached with string Molly had gotten him last Christmas.
Now, where to get started? He reasoned paper-chains was probably the best place, and so Sherlock laid out all ten packets on the floor in front of himself. He frowned as he realised how much effort had to go into making the decorative garlands; each paper-strip had to be folded and joined to the next one in a chain using his tongue. With 90 strips per packet, he might be there for a while.
Best get started then.
John breathed in the smell of home in relief as he closed the front door behind him, shutting out the cold air. A long day of sick patients and not-so sick patients who believed, rather obstinately, that they were sick, and John was very much hoping that Sherlock had sorted the decorations for their party so John could just grab a shower and freshen up before their guests arrived.
There was a mechanical clatter as the door to Mrs Hudson's flat opened and the woman herself poked her head out, looking rather amused.
"Hi, Mrs H. You alright?" John said.
Mrs Hudson chuckled a little. "Perfectly fine, dear. Looking forward to your party tonight: I'm just about to do my hair."
"Good to hear." John said.
Mrs Hudson gave him this mischievously look as she said. "Looking forward to seeing the decorations." With that she shut her door. From behind it, John could hear her tinkling laughter.
"What….?" John muttered, utterly confused, and very much hoping she wasn't implying that Sherlock had made no effort to do the decorations, like he should have done. Almost cautiously, John ascended the seventeen stairs to 221B. The living room door was closed, so John sidled into the flat through the kitchen door.
"Sherlock?" John called. He could hear a shuffling sound from the living room, and so with a little trepidation John turned to peer around the doorway.
His jaw dropped.
Paper-chains were hung from wall to wall, creating a curtain-like drape across the ceiling. They also hung across the wall, across the bookshelves, the mantelpiece, the skull painting, around the doorframe to the kitchen, and now John came to notice it as he followed the trail with his eyes, were also creeping across the ceiling of the kitchen, too.
Sherlock stood in the eye of this paper-chain storm, wearing John's jumper and a pair of his socks, sleeves rolled up and hair a mess. Sweat beaded his brow and he looked rather exhausted.
"John." He said, one finger holding a chain in place, a drawing pin in the other hand. He gestured around the room. "Is this enough? I forgot the list, and I hadn't memorised any of it, except for paper-chains, so I bought all of them. I wasn't sure how many we needed, and YouTube didn't offer anything helpful, so it just went with this." He explained, gesturing to the room, looking rather flustered.
John stepped further into the room; he could barely see the ceiling through the rows of metallic paper. He could feel a bubble of laughter rising from his chest. It was one of those laughs that came gutturally from within, filled with so much joy John could not contain it, and it rose out of his body in raucous volume.
Sherlock frowned as John guffawed, letting the paper-chain in his hand fall as he tried to deduce what John was thinking: lines on forehead, stressed from work; bags under eyes, tired from work; eyes light and joyful, all of that gone in the face of what he is witnessing here. Ah, so that was…..good?
"John?" He asked, twisting his hands together.
John continued to bawl with laughter, hands on knees, gasping for breath. Sherlock had to admit he was getting rather worried that John might start to hyperventilate.
"John!" He repeated, slightly irritated now seeing as he had no idea what was going on.
"Sorry." John said between jittering breaths. He raised himself up full height, and wiped his eyes with the back of his hands. "Sorry. It's just…...it's so you."
Sherlock frowned, a stab of hurt in his chest. "You don't like it."
John shook his head. "No, I do. I love it. It's so you, it's perfect."
Sherlock's frown deepens. "I don't think those two things are compatible, John."
John stepped forward and shook his head. He took Sherlock's hands in his own. John's hands were cold from the outside, and Sherlock squeezed them to gift them with his own body heat. "They are to me. This is perfect, because it is so you. And you are perfect to me."
Sherlock scoffed, but there was a pool of warmth healing that stab of hurt in his chest. John interrupted him before he could rebuff. "No. It's true. No, it's not exactly what I had in mind when I asked you to decorate, but it's perfect."
Sherlock breathed out a sigh of relief. He hadn't let John down. On the wave of giddiness, he decided to admit, "There's also about fifty balloons in the bathroom; from research is saw one could make an arch out of those, but that didn't quite work out, so now they're just all ."
John started up laughing once again. Sherlock couldn't contain his own laughter now he knew that it wasn't in scorn. Sherlock might not have done the decorations exactly right, but John was smiling, and laughing, and that made the hours of assembling paper-chains worth it for Sherlock.
"I love you, John." He admitted, feeling uncharacteristically soppy.
"I love you too, Sherlock. I have to warn you, though, you will have to socialise tonight to explain all the paper-chains." John replied, and he drew Sherlock in for a kiss.