The Earth rotates on its own axis once every twenty-four hours, producing sequential periods of daylight and darkness. The globe is divided into twenty-four different time zones, one for each hour in the day, to determine local times of day. The Earth orbits the Sun once every 365 days. Some cultures celebrate the conclusion of the resulting year and the beginning of the next.
There are a lot more complexities involved, of course, but John made Sherlock promise to remember at least the primary school version of the information. You never know, it could be important.
"Hello, happy New Year!" Molly shivered in her overly bulky fur-trimmed black parka as Mrs. Hudson hurried her from the cold London night into the 221 Baker Street hallway.
"Happy New Year, come in, come in!" Mrs. Hudson chuckled, taking the chilly bottle of wine Molly thrust into her hands. "I'm so pleased you were free to join us tonight."
Molly turned a sigh quickly into a self-conscious smile. "That's me, free! I, er, didn't bring anyone, either. Sorry. I hope that's okay."
Mrs. Hudson patted the flustered younger woman on the shoulder. "Never mind that, dear, it's just the few of us anyway. Why don't you take off your coat. It's nice and warm upstairs, the boys have the fire going. You can help me carry up some of the food."
Molly shrugged out of her coat and scarf, revealing a flatteringly form-fitting blue dress with what Molly hoped was an appropriate amount of sequins for the occasion. She patted her curled, upswept hair to make sure it was still in its place. She had tried to look nice, because you never knew, did you? Of course she was resigned to the idea now that Sherlock would never be more than her friend at best, and John, well… John was Sherlock's friend, wasn't he? But there was that rather dishy inspector. He seemed like a nice man, and he was apparently single again now. Mrs. Hudson was looking at her expectantly and Molly gave herself a mental jab. "Er, of course, what have you made? It smells wonderful!"
"Oh, just a few things! Cheese and fruit tarts. Pies. Some biscuits and, oh, just a few things. I do enjoy baking for other people."
It really did smell wonderful. Molly grinned and followed Mrs. Hudson into her kitchen. They emerged with armloads of edibles to carry up the stairs, where Molly could already hear conversation and laughter.
"What's Mycroft doing here?" Sherlock hissed loudly from the kitchen, his mouth full of chocolate macaron, as his brother entered the sitting room. John, leaning against the worktop next to Sherlock, rolled his eyes as he dusted macaron crumbs off the sleeve of his new maroon jumper. At least they'd missed his face this time, although he thought he should probably check his hair.
"I was invited," Mycroft said loudly, not bothering to pretend he had not heard. He nodded politely at Mrs. Hudson, who was exclaiming over how happy she was to see him as she took his coat.
"But why did you come?" Sherlock grumbled.
"I was passing by and it seemed as good a time as any to drop off these case notes." He gestured at Sherlock with a thick green file folder he had carried in with him and his eyes scanned the assortment of cluttered surfaces in the sitting room. "Where shall I leave them?"
Lestrade, standing in the doorway to the kitchen with his arms folded, tilted his head to regard Mycroft through narrowed eyes as Sherlock muttered sotto voce suggestions as to where Mycroft could put his file folder. "You had to drop off case notes on New Year's Eve?" Lestrade quirked an eyebrow and pursed his lips. "In the middle of a party?"
Mycroft cleared his throat and lifted his chin. "The work doesn't stop to celebrate the date, Detective Inspector."
Lestrade sauntered across the room and poured a liberal amount of a dark golden liquid into a short glass from the makeshift bar they'd concocted on John and Sherlock's desk. "Maybe it should stop long enough for a drink, now it's here." He held the glass out toward Mycroft.
Mycroft frowned down his long nose at sniffed at it suspiciously. "What is it?"
Lestrade pressed the glass against the knot of Mycroft's tie so that he was forced to hold it. "Just drink it, government, in the spirit of the festivities." He slapped Mycroft jovially on the shoulder and walked back toward the kitchen, whistling.
Mycroft blinked rapidly, his shoulder stinging a little. "Festivities," he crooned scathingly into his glass. With a covert glance around the room, he embraced his sense of fatalism and downed the contents in one swallow. The beverage felt both rough and warm. Mycroft's gaze slid toward the whistling sound coming from the kitchen, and he decided it wasn't an unpleasant sensation at all.
"So you don't make New Year's resolutions?" Drink in hand, John was hovering behind Sherlock as his long fingers clattered away at his laptop keyboard, trying to finish the latest entry in his Science of Deduction blog as Mrs. Hudson, Molly, Lestrade, and Mycroft chatted in the kitchen.
"I'm documenting some now," Sherlock raised an eyebrow and looked at John over his shoulder, nodding toward the text on the screen.
John peered at a jumble of chemical formulae onscreen, and started to read the title of the entry in progress, "Applications of Kinetic Resolution in Synthesis of—" He cut himself off, straightened, and sighed dramatically. Sherlock turned his head to hide his smile. "And you call us boring," John said, giving the back of Sherlock's curl-fluffed head a little thump with the heel of his hand.
Sherlock resumed his typing. "Are you suggesting I need to 'better' myself? Isn't that the point of your resolutions? What personal defects would you have me correct, then?"
"I would never dare challenge such perfection." John grinned when this earned him a glare. At least Sherlock had known he was taking the piss this time around. "Besides," He looked into his now nearly-empty glass and rattled the melting ice cubes. "Resolutions aren't necessarily about correcting. They can be about, I don't know, things you'd like to improve or…enhance, maybe. More of the things that make you happy. Less of the things that make you unhappy."
"What are yours, then? Drink even more tea?"
John shrugged Sherlock's drollery away in his usual manner. "Alright, mine for this year…there's making sure you eat at least three decent meals a week. Taking better notes on cases so that you don't have to whinge quite so profusely over the inaccuracy of my blog, ta very much. Oh, and start jogging again so that, er, I can keep up a bit better with your great stork legs when we have to go running off on another mad chase."
Sherlock turned in his chair and stared up at John, his brow furrowed slightly.
"See, like that, just about...making good things a bit better!" John nodded in apparent satisfaction at having made his point and he gave Sherlock's shoulder a little squeeze as he leant across him to pick up a second empty glass from beside the laptop. "I'll just refill these. You finish your blog and then you can be more sociable. Or at least pretend it."
Sherlock rubbed a finger thoughtfully over his lips and closed his laptop, watching John pour him a drink. John. Things that make you happy. His friend who smiled and laughed and helped and called him a prat and stayed. Who casually made all his New Year's resolutions about Sherlock. Whom he absolutely could not imagine his life without ever again. Wonderful John.
Sherlock thought of a resolution.
At the stroke of midnight, John offered a prettily blushing Molly a sweet, chaste kiss on the cheek. Lestrade squeezed Mrs. Hudson's shoulder and kissed her on the cheek as well. Then he lunged at John and planted a loud, wet kiss on his forehead, carolling "Happy New Year!" afterward. John giggled and shoved him away with an "Oi!" to everyone's general merriment and delight except Sherlock and Mycroft, who stood at opposite sides of the room with matching scowls. Fireworks flashed and popped in the sky outside.
Mycroft was standing by himself in the kitchen, surreptitiously poking at a dessert pie on the worktop—this one smelled like it might be strawberry—hoping a little of the filling might escape the flaky, golden crust. No one had cut into this one, so he couldn't sneak a taste without making his access attempt obvious. He glared at it for smelling so delicious.
He should go, anyway. He shouldn't have come in the first place. His excuse of dropping off casework was clearly absurdly transparent. What on earth had made him think for a second that he could show up here on New Year's Eve and have a little casual conversation about...whatever people had casual conversations about? Preposterous. Fortunately nobody had bothered to pay enough attention to his presence to notice. Nobody except Greg Lestrade.
Mycroft looked at the pie again, and then looked into the sitting room to see whether anyone—especially Sherlock—was looking at him as he was looking at the pie. Fortunately, Sherlock was safely and thoroughly absorbed in conversation with John.
"It must be nice, you know?" Lestrade spoke unexpectedly from behind him, and Mycroft nearly jumped out of his waistcoat.
"Having such a good mate like that." Greg nodded toward John and Sherlock, who were huddled together in their conversation by the fireplace. Sherlock's dark head was bent down toward John's fair one, their bodies leaning toward each other.
"Do you think so?" Mycroft replied, frowning at his brother and his obviously devoted companion. "I wouldn't know." Lestrade shifted his uncomfortably discerning gaze from John and Sherlock to Mycroft's face. The look was simply assessing, not judging, but Mycroft felt suddenly self-conscious. He schooled his features into blandness, but his feet betrayed his discomfort with an awkward little shuffle. "They have an unusual relationship, I grant you, but it is apparently beneficial for both parties."
Lestrade's eyes looked soft and warm, like melted chocolate. "Yeah, I wouldn't know either," he said quietly. "Wouldn't mind finding out, though. Sometimes unusual works."
Mycroft swallowed. "I suppose it might. Sometimes. For...people." He looked at his shoes, then at the ceiling, then cleared his throat and said a little too loudly, "Well, I should be going." Surely there were some countries that needed managing, something easier to accomplish than this business of human interaction.
"Yes," Lestrade dropped his gaze as well and nodded with resignation. "Same here. Crime doesn’t stop for the new year, either, unfortunately. And—would you like some of that?" Lestrade interrupted himself, grin reappearing, nodding in the direction of Mycroft's hand.
Mycroft glanced down to discover his pale fingers were absently caressing the ridged crust of the fruit pie. He snatched his hand back to his chest. "No, I…no!" He stuffed the offending hand in his trouser pocket, and then stuffed his other hand in its corresponding pocket just in case.
Lestrade's eyes were dancing. "I'll tell you what, government," he said quietly as he leant in, and Mycroft leant in too. Greg Lestrade was only a couple inches shorter than he was, but Mycroft tilted his head down toward him to listen more effectively to his low voice, auburn hair almost touching silver. "You give me a lift back to my flat in your posh car, and I'll carry that pie out with me, and we can split it."
Mycroft gaped, and Mycroft Holmes did not gape, especially not at a cheeky detective inspector and his...face...who was suggesting...what was he even suggesting? Mycroft Holmes did not gape and Mycroft Holmes was never one step behind in a conversation, even if he had just been caught fondling a pie.
Lestrade held his warm little smile, relaxed and utterly unfazed. "And I won't tell Sherlock about the dessert. Promise."
Mycroft drew himself up and deployed his most icily regal expression, sucking in a deep breath through his nose and preparing a volley of his most pungent verbal derision. He opened his mouth to crush the man's utterly inappropriate and frankly insulting familiarity and said, "I'll leave first. Wait five minutes and follow." There. That should put an end to that. Wait, what? "So I'll...be in the car, then." He nodded coolly.
Lestrade's grin grew quite a bit wider as he watched the British Government turn and sweep proudly from the room. Mycroft Holmes was a stuffy and plain-looking man, until you looked at his eyes properly. They were quite unusual. Fascinating. Beautiful, even. Lestrade pressed his finger into the middle of the pie and tasted a bit of the sweet filling.
Molly's face fell as Lestrade cheerfully make his goodbyes, obviously utterly disinterested in her sparkly blue dress, and for some reason carrying a whole pie out with him.
"I suppose I'll just be going home, then." Molly spoke quietly and a little mournfully to herself, but Mrs. Hudson, returning from seeing Lestrade out, overheard her.
"Oh, you too, so soon? I admit I did expect everyone to hold up a little longer! The night is still young, as they say."
"Well." Molly gestured at the rapidly-emptying room.
Mrs. Hudson patted her arm. "Did you not have a nice time, dear?"
"Of course I did," Molly lied, smiling bravely. Mrs. Hudson's expression remained searching, though, and when she tilted her head sympathetically Molly's face fell. "It's just… I thought maybe Greg…I mean, Detective Inspector Lestrade. I thought he might notice, you know, my dress again. But he didn't. I know, I'm being silly."
"Yes, you are being quite ridiculous." Mrs. Hudson said succinctly, nodding.
"I know, I—what?"
Mrs. Hudson crossed her arms and frowned. "Molly, dear, you're not going home to mope about your dress or your love life or anything else. You're coming downstairs with me, and we're going to drink that bottle of wine you brought, and I'm going to share a few words of wisdom with you."
Molly's eyes widened in surprise. "Er, like what?"
"First, I'll tell you about my sister's boy. He's tall, dark, and clever, just your type. And he actually prefers women, so that might be something new. And then I'll tell you about a brilliant, beautiful, and very self-assured young woman he might meet, and how he might just fall all over her rather than the other way around. Or she might not even fancy him enough and will prefer to go home and read a good book. Should you happen to meet him when he visits Sunday next, that is. And then we'll see where the next bottle of wine takes us."
Molly blinked, her mouth hanging open a bit. "Well, yes…that…that…sounds quite nice, actually! Er. Thank you!" She launched herself into Mrs. Hudson with a completely awkward and heartfelt hug.
"Do mind the hip, dear. Now come along."
It was relatively quiet in 221B now that all the guests had departed, save for the soft hiss of the fire and the occasional swells of feminine laughter from 221A below. Sherlock lounged in his green leather chair, legs crossed casually, swirling the dregs of his drink and lazily watching John settle himself opposite in his own upholstered armchair with a contented sigh.
"Well. Happy New Year, Sherlock," John said, raising his glass. Sherlock leant forward and clinked his glass against John's.
"Happy New Year, John," he said softly. "I wanted to tell you. I've…made a resolution, after all."
John took in and responded immediately to Sherlock's energy, serious and a little…on edge, perhaps? His expression turned curious and watchful, but he kept his voice light. "Have you? Let's hear it, then."
Sherlock swallowed and examined his glass intently. The firelight flickered on the angles of his face and throat. He took a deep breath and raised his eyes to meet John's steady, patient gaze. He swallowed again. "I resolve to tell you…."
John's brows rose slightly in anticipation. Sherlock's face twitched around the effort to find his next words, and his already wide eyes took on a startled look. "Tell me…what?" John prompted softly, uncertain of whether he should be feeling hopeful or terrified. This was Sherlock Holmes, after all. He could come out with anything from "I enjoyed the party" to "I've used your mattress to dissect another mummified cow."
Now, say it now, Sherlock thought. His teeth clamped down on the words. His throat tightened. His tongue wouldn't work. He pulled his chair closer to John's and stared at him, willing the words from his own brain into John's. "Just…to tell you, John. After this...time. And now I realize. I should tell you."
"Okay…?" John shook his head in bemusement. He peered at Sherlock's face closely, as he was lately usually much better at interpreting Sherlock's expression than his words. Intense, definitely. Nervous? That was different. "Whatever it is, you can tell me." Was he…upset? Hungry? John scooted his chair closer to Sherlock's for a better look at his eyes in the soft light, and then— "Oh," he breathed, and sat back abruptly. "Oh?"
Sherlock ducked his head and muttered, "Well, I have a year, don't I? If I should...proceed, that is?" He picked at the fabric of his trousers nonchalantly while his neck and shoulders grew more and more visibly tense as he waited for John's response.
John huffed a laugh and felt his cheeks growing warm. His chest felt warm, too. His feet felt warm. It was all over him, the warm. It transformed his face with a radiant smile. "Once you've made a resolution, you should definitely see it through. You don't technically have to wait the whole year, though, you know."
Sherlock nodded, peeking up at John from beneath his long black lashes, his cheeks turning delightfully pink.
John grinned deliriously.
"And then after that, the telling part, then for next year…." Sherlock cleared his throat. "Er, apparently…there's…a New Year's Eve tradition. At, er, midnight. It seems…good. And I missed it this year and…I don't want to miss it again. So, for next year?" He cast a charmingly uncertain look at John.
"I resolve to make very sure that you don't miss it next year," John promised, and now hope flared unsuppressed on both their faces. "Although, as I'm sure you know, it'll be midnight in, I think, Brazil in about thirty minutes. So. There's still this year. An opportunity. If you're feeling...globally...inclined."
Sherlock bit his lower lip and nodded solemnly. "And then it will be midnight again in...Argentina."
"And then New York." John scooted his chair closer.
Sherlock's expression took on a dreamy, distant look. "Chinese New Year is in February," he offered, pulling his chair toward John's. Their legs were touching now. "That should count."
John smiled and rested his hand on Sherlock's forearm, letting his thumb move softly around the curve of Sherlock's wrist. "You know, it doesn't have to be only on New Year's."
"Oh," said Sherlock, his heart fluttering wildly. "That's…good, too." He felt like every hair on his body must be standing on end. He let the tips of his fingers brush the front of John's knee. When John didn't flinch, he pressed them in again so that his middle finger nestled against John's patella.
John nodded and shifted forward in his chair. "I think it's going to be a good year." Sherlock felt John's breath tease the skin of his throat when he spoke. He was looking at Sherlock's mouth.
Sherlock checked his watch and then fixed John with a desperate, frustrated glare. "It's still twenty-two minutes until Brazil."
"Then I'd like to take this opportunity to wish a very happy New Year to somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean," John whispered, and touched his lips to Sherlock's. Oh, and New Year's was so much better than Christmas. Sherlock made a ridiculous needy sound and pressed himself hungrily forward into John as one thought tumbled through his mind: I love you. I love you. I love you. It was going to be easy to say it now, as soon as his tongue was free again. In fact, was probably going to be hard to stop. He shivered and sighed into John's mouth as warm, strong hands pulled him closer. He had all year to tell him. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. He could tell him a lot.