Walking home to Baker Street from Regents Park at half past two in the morning on Christmas Eve in the cold wearing tights, a tunic decorated with tiny edible candycanes and a pointy hat (tipped with a flashing red light) was the angriest, ragiest, sweariest elf in all of Christendom.
Trailing a little behind, despite his longer legs, was perhaps the strangest modern dance interpretation of a Christmas Tree the world had ever seen, clad from swan-like neck to black-slippered feet in nought but black lycra and artfully arranged fairy lights. The fairy lights were blinking. Artfully.
“If anyone should be cross,” said the latter in crisp tones, “It should be me.”
“You,” said the livid elf, known in his non-costumed person as Dr John Watson, “Are the one responsible for the mongoose pissing all over our clothes in the first place.”
“If I’d known a mongoose was involved before investigating the thefts,” riposted the lycra-and-lights-encased Sherlock Holmes, “I would have arranged a suitable receptacle for the animal.”
“Instead of which,” snarled John the Angry Elf, “You shoved it into our bag, zipped it up in there and let it mangle, chew, piss on and otherwise destroy all of our clean clothes and my wallet.”
The good doctor was absolutely correct in his summary, and the fact that he and his beloved were now striding home on a dark, cold, winter morning woefully underdressed for both the weather and public decency were fuel to his self-righteous fire. Their clothes would probably have to be burned, if they ever dried out: who knew that such a small animal could contain so much urine, and of such a pungent quality? John sincerely hoped the forty soggy, stinking pounds that had been in the wallet would be somehow salvageable. At present he couldn’t bring himself to hand them on to a taxi driver, especially on Christmas Eve, and Sherlock, the git, hadn’t bothered to bring anything so prosaic as money to the case.
A mongoose. Seriously. A mongoose. They’d gone to investigate a series of thefts during the week’s Christmas revelries in Regents Park, put on by an optimistic City of London for the benefit and delight of its denizens. Not normally Sherlock’s area, but the crimes had been carried out in strange and unlikely circumstances. That is, invariably wealthy women who had stopped to visit the festivities (often with their children) suddenly found genuine English adders curled up in the top of their handbags. Several women had been bitten and hospitalised, only to discover that retrieval of the handbags was thwarted by the fact that their handbags had gone missing in the melee. Handbag, snake and all had vanished into the crowd without explanation.
Sherlock had determined the best way to see what was going on was to dress up for the pageant and mingle backstage while his faithful blogger and main squeeze did the honours with the other elves in charge of crowd control. Between them they had spotted the park cleaner who moved among the hordes and managed to drop the snake – generally sluggish with the cold – into the bags of likely victims. He’d then scoop up the bag at the end of his articulated rubbish-collecting pole, disappear into one of storage buildings in the grounds and set his pet mongoose on the snake in order to retrieve the cash and jewels.
The end of the night’s work had resulted in the thief being bitten by his snake, the adder being killed by the mongoose, Sherlock scooping up the mongoose and shoving it rapidly in their kit bag for safekeeping, the mongoose expressing its opinion about that action all over their streetwear and John sustaining severely bruised shins.
To be fair, the shin damage was nothing to do with the case and everything to do with aggressive children who lacked the Spirit of Christmas and liked to kick grown men dressed as elves. It was as well John Watson was a disciplined sort of man who knew it was wrong to headlock nine year old children, no matter how sore the temptation. Besides, he understood that temptation all too well. He recalled doing some adult-elf shin-kicking of his own around 30-odd years ago.
John came to a crossing and stopped at the red light, despite there being no traffic, because he was on the whole, and when he wasn’t thinking about it, a law abiding fellow. The pause allowed his trailing partner to catch up with him.
“I have already apologised,” said Sherlock primly.
“I know,” grumped John, “I know you did. It’s just… “ He stood back and waved his hands expressively up and down his person, “It was bad enough being dressed like this while we were undercover at the pageant at the park. I feel like such a complete twat walking around London dressed like a fucking pixie.”
He looked up at his tall love with an expression between fury and dismay, only to stop dead at the look in his love’s pale grey eyes. The somewhat smouldering look of appreciation in those eyes, to be exact.
“Elf,” corrected Sherlock, “Not pixie. And the tights show off your legs. You have good calves.”
“I look like a berk.”
“And when you march, like you’ve been doing ever since we left Regents Park, the musculature of your calves and thighs as you march is very… appealing.”
Never let it be said that John Watson doesn’t know how to take a compliment. On this occasion, the corner of his mouth twitched up in a smile and the tension borne of embarrassment, anger, and goddamn freezing his bollocks off in the middle of the night, melted away like snow under flame. He became cheerful. He became bountiful.
“I was saving this till we got home,” he said, “But to be frank with you, they’re sticking me in the ribs.” John reached into his tunic and pulled out two large, thick candy canes. “I nicked them from Santa’s goody sack” – the one from which the professionally jolly Santa had passed treats to the undeserving, shin-kicking children in the front row – “for you.”
Sherlock’s eyes lit up. Candy canes. Two of his favourite things – sugar and peppermint – all in one delicious, efficient package. He seized both canes and promptly stuck the stem of each of them straight into his mouth.
John looked like he was going to protest at the wanton greed of it, but then he just stood there, watching Sherlock suck on the twin ends of two candy canes, holding each by the curved handle with such a look of bliss, that he could do nothing but stare. And stare. With pretty much the same avidity with which Sherlock, until a short while ago, had been watching the doctor’s vigorously marching and muscularly appealing legs.
Sherlock made a noise that John interpreted as ‘thank you’. The street lights finally changed and the two men crossed the empty street, still heading for home.
Now that he had stopped striding across London like Elfland’s version of Napoleon, John fell a little behind Sherlock’s longer, sloping stride. He didn’t have to, of course. He was used to walking faster to keep up, but Sherlock’s observations on marching musculature had given him an idea.
It turned out to be a good one. Because John’s long, lanky love wearing nothing but a long black leotard and a set of gently blinking Christmas lights turned out to have an appeal all its own when seen from the rear. This was primarily because John’s crime-detecting, sugar-addicted honey bear had a plush, luscious arse that was shown off to particular advantage in nought but lycra and strings of lights draped in delicious curves around that charming acreage.
John could have sworn that Sherlock slowed down and… wiggled. Oh yes. And then Sherlock glanced over his shoulder, still sucking on the stems of two candy canes, his lovely lips pursed into a so-not-innocent pout around the cane, and they… stared some more. John at Sherlock’s pursed mouth. Sherlock at John’s open lips and faintly panting mouth. John at the line and sweep of Sherlock’s back and arse; Sherlock at John’s fine legs, braced slightly apart as through ready to leap into action at a moment’s notice.
Sherlock was not wrong.
John, being what passed for the responsible one, waited until they had made it off the road, at least. And then leap into action he did, closing the distance between them in four marching strides that showed his calves to most excellent effect. He placed his hands on Sherlock’s hips and kept on marching until his front was flush to Sherlock’s back. He slid his hands around Sherlock’s hips and, gently but implacably, pulled Sherlock closer still.
Sherlock wiggled again. His pursed lips made a wanton sucking sound against the stems of the candy canes, both involuntary and encouraging.
John grunted a little, pressed his face into the thin sheen of lycra covering his lover’s spine, and wrapped his right arm around Sherlock’s torso, hugging him close. An observer might have thought they couldn’t get much closer, but that observer would have been impressed with just how wrong it was possible to be.
It was at this point, in a room at New Scotland Yard, that one Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade became involved in proceedings. Well, ‘involved’ is probably too strong a word, given the physical distance between him and the pair attempting to get their hips to occupy the same physical space over near Baker Street. He certainly took an interest. Because he had known of their case in Regents Park, and received the report from a constable who couldn’t stop laughing about how the Great Detective had solved the case but been forced to walk home in a pair of black longjohns, traipsing after a furious elf.
Better keep an eye on them, Lestrade had thought to himself. God knows what kind of trouble those two can get up to on Christmas Eve, dressed like a pair of pantomime extras. It wouldn’t do to let them get beaten up by louts on their way home. Besides, Greg thought, I might be able to get a couple of screen caps from the CCTV footage. That’d cheer up the squad members who had drawn the short straw to work on Christmas Day. It’d probably keep even Sally Donovan cheerful until at least New Year.
So DI Greg Lestrade logged into the system and, after a little while to get the hang of it and work out which route they’d taken home, he finally caught up with them at the corner of Marylebone and Baker Streets.
And what Greg Lestrade saw was this.
He saw Sherlock dressed in black and flashing lights standing tall like an alien Christmas Tree while John, in the character of a short, energetic elf with a flashing bobble on his hat, appeared to be trying to climb him. Oh. Not climb.
And he saw Sherlock tilt his head back – and what was that sticking out of his mouth, for God’s sake? – and Greg could just about hear the moan, despite the very obvious lack of audio on the CCTV. The sound goddamn near vibrated through the image. And he saw blunt, sure hands slide down lycra-clad thighs, and up, and down, skimming past but not touching the lycra-clad crotch while the lycra-clad arse rolled and swayed against the elf wrapped around his body like Christmas wrap. And all the while, fairy lights blinked and a single red light swayed against the nape of an elven neck.
And Greg saw Sherlock take the whatever-it-was out of his mouth, turn and wrap John up in return, leaning down, and John leaning up, and up, and the two of them kissing like… oh, god, like they were all alone in the world, the two of them, and needed nothing but each other, but needed each other so completely that oxygen was clearly a far, far distant second on the list.
Greg didn’t think he’d ever seen such a tactile kiss in his life. Kisses are naturally tactile, but in this sublime example of the genus, every part of their bodies that could be touching were in fact touching and also moving in short, pressing, agreeable, wriggly movements. Greg found that he was panting a bit.
He also wondered if this has gone past a bit of a laugh, and past watching that the Baker Street Boys didn’t get into strife on their scantily-clad way home and was lurching now into voyeur territory. Just as his right hand hovered over the power switch (and his left seemed to be hovering over his own crotch, which surprised the merry hell out of DI Lestrade when he realised) the two men came up for air.
Greg watched them watch each other. He watched as both of them drew back and… looked down. And he watched them move slightly further apart, still looking down, and then without thinking he bent close to the screen and peered at the exact spot where the two of them were staring, and noticed at last the thing that they had noticed.
Which was that one of the tiny decorative candy canes sewn haphazardly over John’s elf tunic had become detached from the tunic and reattached itself, by its hook, to Sherlock’s person. To the new, bold, straight-up and magnificently insistent protuberance in the black lycra. Because lycra really has no defence against an erection that insistent. Especially not if it’s old lycra, from a case at a ballet school some six years previous, and the lycra was not as structurally sound as it might have been.
Greg realised he was leaning rather too close to Sherlock’s crotch, even if it was on a CCTV screen, and withdrew like a scalded cat.
On the screen, he saw the John –the-elf regarding the candy cane with a very interested expression.
He saw Sherlock-the-column-of-lights also looking at the candy cane with an even more avidly interested expression.
He saw the two men look at each other.
And he saw them simultaneously look up at the CCTV camera which of course they knew was positioned above and to the left of them beside the traffic lights.
And then he saw Sherlock reach for something at his back and the fairy lights stopped blinking. Then he and John grasped each other’s hands and moved very quickly to the inky shadows under trees and the awnings alongside the shops of Marleybone Road, very much on the way back to 221B, and Greg was a bit relieved and a smidgeon disappointed until…
Two inky shadows seemed to collide and mash up against a tree trunk, and the fairy lights started blinking again.
If CCTV had captured sound, this is what Greg would have heard:
“How did you even turn those lights on again?
“We’ve jammed…the power pack… against the trunk…”
“Nope. Can't turn 'em off. Jammed on.”
“Forget the goddamned lights! Stop talking! I want your mou….oooooooooooooooh.”
“Christ. I could hang a coat off this. Are you even wearing underwear? You’re not. You went commando at a kids’ Christmas party. I have to… mmmm… mmfff… dear god, I love you, even if you are the wrongest man in the universe.”
“You like it that…ahhhhhhhh. Oh John, yes, John… John… Jooooohhhhnnnn…”
“God. God. You’re going to goddamn melt the lycra with that thing. Sweet Christ, this is… oh god. How do I get into this... Oh. Dear. God.”
For those of especially acute hearing, that exclamation was followed by the sound of a pair of excellent teeth meeting through thin cloth and, an instant thereafter, the cheerful sound of thin, elderly, elasticated cloth tearing. And also a bit of a growl.
Speech was then abandoned for a while because that mouth was busy doing other things. So the lights were left, blinking prettily, draped around the outline of a wanton detective, plastered to a tree while a small and determined elf chewed egress through a leotard and finally found satisfaction.
DI Lestrade heard not a word or a sound of this, and he saw almost nothing and at the same time rather a lot, as a pantomime in lights played out.
There in the darkness, in the secluded and unobtrusive shadows under the trees, a lone red light dipped, then dropped half a metre down the column under the trees and began to hover at the midway point.
And around thirty seconds later, a string of reignited fairy lights flashed, and while the top and bottom strands seem to have become plastered to the side of a tree, the ones in the middle were doing some vigorous, rhythmic horizontal swaying. Shortly after that, the little red light began to sway back and forth in a complementary rhythm.
Lestrade swallowed. Hard. Harder. Thought about turning off the CCTV. Wondered what would happen if the two of them got picked up for indecency at 3am of Christmas Eve and there was no-one to bail them out. It seemed a reasonable excuse, anyway. It’s not like he could see anything, anyway. Just the shimmy and slide and bobbing of the pinpoints of white and red; a starfish of flashing fairy lights, and the little red flashing light homing in and out and in and out and in and out… it was mesmerising.
And then the lights all seemed to freeze, like pinpoint stars in the night sky (which were never seen in London) and Greg thought that, all in all, it might be a good idea to get home. Quickly. Very, very quickly. Oh yes.
Sherlock and John’s Christmas evening did not quite end there. Oh no.