Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Rating: Light R
Word count: 6330
A/N: Written for 221b_advent's 2012 round. Oh, and John's red pants snuck in here, somehow. Title is from Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You.
A/N the second: Makani has done a simply fantastic podfic version of this story that you can find here.
Summary: John's starting to think that Sherlock's taking these Holmes family Christmas traditions a little too seriously.
Though he didn't recognize it at the time, John's first clue was the tree.
John dragged himself up the stairs to flat with the weary sort of numbness that always came from a long shift filled with runny noses and wailing children. He wanted nothing more than to fall into his chair where he could spend the rest of the evening with a cup of tea and a brainless novel, thinking about nothing much at all.
Of course, that sort of luxury was in decidedly short supply when one had Sherlock Holmes for a flatmate, so John was woefully unsurprised when the door opened to the strong smell of pine and Sherlock's voice from the sitting room shouting, "You'd have less trouble catching the 6:17 bus if you did your paperwork over lunch!"
"That defeats the purpose of a lunch break!" John called back. He hung his coat up on the closest peg and headed towards Sherlock's voice. "And, as you no doubt already know, it's been a bugger of a day and I absolutely deserved a… what on Earth are you doing?"
Sherlock glanced over at John from where he was perched on the back of his chair. "I sincerely hope that was a rhetorical question."
John didn't bother responding, too busy staring around at the current madness taking residence in his sitting room.
Their flat looked like a bomb had exploded in it at the best of times, but now the detritus had taken on a decidedly festive cast: fairy lights trailed in haphazard coils across the floor, some of them plugged in and blinking merrily amid the chaos; tinsel in varying colours was draped along the length of the couch and spilling off to coil on the floor; the telly was buried under what John sincerely hoped was white flocking; and the kitchen table was covered in a flurry of bits of white paper. Two sturdy looking boxes were sat in the middle of the floor and John took a curious peek into the closest one to see that it was full of carefully packaged rows of very old, very expensive-looking ornaments in shades of red and aged gold.
The most striking addition, however, was the very large pine tree that had taken up residence to one side of the fireplace. It was only half-decorated, but already boasted several strings of lights - some of which were attached to the ones on the floor - a truly outrageous amount of tinsel and a collection of red-and-white paper snowflakes cut in impressively intricate patterns. Which explained the mess on the kitchen table, John supposed, though he was rather more interested in the fact that they seemed to have been made out of blood spatter patterns.
Sherlock clearly believed in personalizing his Christmas tree, then.
The man himself was balancing on the back of the chair like an acrobat: he had one leg kicked out to the side as a counterbalance while he leaned dangerously far over so that he could stick a garishly red star on top of the tree.
“Do you like it?”
John started. “What?”
Sherlock straightened up without leaving his perch on the back of the chair. “The tree,” he said. "Do you like it?"
“It's very you," John offered.
Sherlock made a face. "That's hardly my fault. I went through your things," he said candidly. "But you have no holiday paraphernalia of your own which made it difficult to make an even reflection on the both of us. I did take the liberty of procuring one ornament for you, though."
He pointed and John caught sight of a miniature Tardis hanging on one of the branches, incongruously blue amid the green branches and bloody snowflakes.
"Thank you," he said, oddly touched. "I know it must have been a real hardship to put a reality-defying blue box on your Christmas tree."
"Our Christmas tree," Sherlock corrected. He shifted his weight, careless of the way the chair tilted awkwardly beneath him.
John sighed. "Come on down from there, you great lump. There’s more than enough blood on that tree already without you adding to it by falling and cracking your head."
"The impact of a fall from this height wouldn't be nearly sufficient enough to cause arterial spray," Sherlock said, with an expression on his face that suggested he wouldn't mind testing it out.
"Well maybe my blood pressure going through the roof would be enough to do it."
“Don’t be so theatrical John,” Sherlock said, walking across the chair’s arms and stepping neatly to the floor.
“It’s amazing how ironic you don’t know you’re being. So,” John said then, before his good sense had the chance to kick in and tell him to belt up. “What’s this all about, then? Wouldn't have thought you'd be much of a fan of the holidays.”
Luckily, Sherlock never bothered taking offence to anything. "Of all the holidays fabricated by card companies and religious conglomerates, Christmas is one of the less tedious."
"Oh. Well, that's good," John said awkwardly. He tried again. "I've always liked Christmas, myself. The shopping centres are rubbish, but the rest of it's nice. I'm guessing Christmas is a big deal in the Holmes household?"
Sherlock shrugged. "It's traditional," he said, sounding bored half to death with the conversation, but he looked strangely expectant, like he did when he was waiting for John to give him a cause of death. And, well, John knew how miserable it felt to be doing up a Christmas tree on his own.
So he rolled up his shirt sleeves and took a thoughtful look around the room. "Guess I'd better help out or you're going to get distracted and wander off partway through and the flat will look like this from now till New Year."
"Untrue," Sherlock said, and John could see the hints of a slow, pleased smile curling his lips. “I have no doubt that Mrs. Hudson would be happy to help.”
“You want crocheted angels all over the tree, you be my guest. Not sure they’re going to match the crime scene theme, though.” John nudged one of the boxes. “These seem a little out of place, too. Heirlooms?”
Sherlock made a face. “Hardly. Mycroft dropped them off this morning.”
"Nice of him," John said, only half ironically. "We'll go out and get some more on the weekend. Maybe I'll see about getting a Dalek to go with my Tardis."
"Really, John, your obsession with substandard children's programming is quite unbecoming," Sherlock said, looking decidedly pleased with himself.
“I’m not the one making paper snowflakes,” John said. “Haven’t done that since I was a kid.”
Sherlock looked interested. “No?”
“No,” John said, and told Sherlock a story about the time he and Harry learned how to make paper snowflakes and absolutely filled the house with them. Sherlock responded by recounting a case wherein a man had found a diamond inside his Christmas goose and, together, they passed a pleasant evening decorating the tree and finding more permanent homes for all the other decorations Sherlock had strewn across the room.
John did wind up finishing off the tree himself after Sherlock got bored and crushed up a few of the ornaments to run experiments on (“Light refraction patterns, John”). It wasn't a quiet night with a book, John reflected, but there was a sense of satisfaction in seeing the sitting room done up for the season and John decided that he rather liked sharing Sherlock’s tradition with him.
Later that week, John woke up in the middle of the night to the far too loud sound of Sherlock's violin. It took him several long, muddled moments of blinking in the dark before he recognized the tune as 'All I Want for Christmas Is You'. He hadn't known there was a violin arrangement for that song.
John put a weary hand over his face. "Buggering hell."
Sherlock had segued into 'Last Christmas' by the time John had wrestled himself free of his bed sheets and pounded his way downstairs dressed in nothing but his pajamas. He was stood by the window in his dressing gown, his eyes closed and his violin singing sweetly under his hands. Despite himself, John hesitated for a half second to enjoy the rare spectacle of Sherlock playing his violin properly.
"Are you going to stand there all night?" Sherlock asked him, not bothering to turn.
"Sherlock," John said, with all the patience he could muster. "It is two o'clock in the sodding morning. Why in God's name are you playing Wham?"
"It's traditional, John," Sherlock said, without opening his eyes.
The ensuing row kept John up for another half an hour and nearly resulted in Mrs. Hudson throwing them both out onto the street for making such a racket in the middle of the night, but John managed to wrangle a promise out of Sherlock that he wouldn't play Christmas music between the hours of eleven p.m. and six a.m. without John's express permission, which he counted as a win.
Afterwards, tossing around in his bed and trying to find a comfortable position, John wondered if he perhaps should be more concerned about Sherlock's new enthusiasm for Christmas.
He fell asleep still puzzling over the issue, the tune of 'Driving Home for Christmas' lilting in the back of his head.
Do you need these fairy lights? SH
John blinked at his phone's display. He'd just sat down for a cup of tea and a sandwich before his next patient and the precision timing of the text almost made him wonder if Sherlock had surveillance cameras on him. Which was preposterous, of course - Sherlock would never ask Mycroft to help him spy on John - but John couldn't help a chuckle that was half impressed and half despairing as he typed out a response.
The ones on the tree?
Don’t be stupid. SH
Then no, John sent back, against his better judgment. Since moving in with Sherlock, it seemed like John's better judgment never won any arguments anymore.
A thought occurred to him and he sent off another quick text: Don't set the house on fire.
Sherlock didn't respond, so John simply shook his head and turned his attention to his lunch.
His tea had gone cold. Of course.
When John next had an opportunity to check his phone several hours later, he had four texts from Sherlock and a missed phone call from Mrs. Hudson. With a feeling of resigned trepidation, he looked at the texts first.
Do we own a ladder? SH
Never mind, found my climbing harness. SH
The structural integrity of the gutters leaves something to be desired. SH
Are firemen always so tedious? SH
The final text had been sent about fifteen minutes ago and Mrs. Hudson's message had arrived just a few minutes beforehand. John forwent listening to it in favour of collecting his coat and going to find Sarah. He had a pretty good idea of what Mrs. Hudson had to say, after all, and this seemed like a conversation that would be better to have in person.
Coming home, he sent to Sherlock on his way out the door. Do NOT get arrested again.
His phone beeped. Spoilsport. SH
Faintly, John wondered if that was part of the Holmes Christmas tradition as well. He really wouldn't have been surprised.
"… he tore off a good three feet of guttering off the front of the building," John was telling Lestrade. They were at a crime scene and Sherlock was busy doing something arcane with the victim's collection of antique fountain pens. John shook his head. "Christ, with the number of fairy lights he had strung out there with him, I'm lucky he didn't manage to set the entire building on fire."
"Doesn't seem to have slowed him down any," Lestrade said.
"Got away with a handful of scrapes and bruises, mostly," John said. "Wrenched his right shoulder a bit, but not seriously."
Lestrade nodded. "S'a bit odd, isn't it, Sherlock decorating for Christmas?"
John shrugged, a little awkwardly. "He's been really keen on all his family traditions, and you know what he's like when he gets an idea in his head." John chuckled ruefully. "I kind of wish I hadn't told him off for playing Christmas songs in the middle of the night, now. At least that didn't involve the fire brigade."
Lestrade arched an eyebrow. "The Holmes family has Christmas traditions?"
John chuckled. "Amazingly, yes. Doesn't seem like a Holmes sort of thing, does it?"
Only instead of joining in with John's amusement, Lestrade gave him a thoughtful look instead. "Funny thing," he said, in a casual tone of voice that was anything but. "The first Christmas he worked with the Met, I asked him what he was up to and he told me that he didn't waste his time with all that," Lestrade raised hands to quote, "'holiday claptrap'. Said that the only good thing about Christmas was all the murders that came from putting people in close quarters with family members they couldn't stand."
"Huh." John frowned. "Maybe he was lying?" he tried, knowing it was weak even as he said it.
"Maybe," Lestrade, sounding no more convinced than John had. "Gotta say though, even they had 'em, I don't think fairy lights would be high on the list of Holmes family Christmas traditions."
"Well I don't know then," John said, sounding dangerously close to peevish. "Knowing him it's probably some sort of experiment about the impact of holiday cheer on ex-army doctors."
Lestrade give John a significant look that John didn't particularly want to try and interpret. "Maybe," he said again, then glanced back over the room and frowned. "Sherlock, put that back!" he hollered, heading over to where Sherlock was apparently stealing a very large paperweight off the desk. Sherlock, of course, looked entirely unrepentant.
Rolling his eyes at the absurdity of his life, John followed after him to do damage control.
The case took Sherlock an entire four days to solve. John spent most of that time either working at the overwhelmed surgery, standing around watching Sherlock be brilliant, or slogging through what had to be thirty years worth of shipping manifests for reasons he didn't entirely understand himself. The case ended with a cab chase through the centre of London that ended with the suspect's car in the Thames, the suspect himself in custody and John feeling generally battered and bruised from a dust-up with a pair of men half again his height.
It was brilliant.
On the morning of the fifth day, of course, John shuffled wearily down the stairs, eyes burning and body aching as he remembered that despite what both med school and the army had tried to teach him, John could not successfully substitute adrenaline for sleep.
He yawned his way into the sitting room where Sherlock, for reasons unbeknownst to mortal man, was hanging belly up over the arm of his chair with his hair brushing the floor and his legs tucked up under him on the cushion. His dressing gown was pooling on the ground below his head and John suspected that it was only the cross of his arms over his arched stomach that kept it from sliding off completely.
"That's not good for your brain," John said as he staggered into the kitchen. He flicked on the kettle and pulled two mugs down from the cupboard, wincing at the stretch on strained muscles.
"I'm hardly in any danger of getting a blood clot in my brain at this angle," Sherlock's voice answered. "I once hung upside-down in a tree for six hours waiting for a suspect."
"That's because you're a madman." John stared at the fridge. "What are the chances that I'm going to find milk in the fridge?"
"Lovely." The kettle clicked off and John plunked a teabag into each mug. He then spent the next several minutes watching the tea steep.
He wasn't nearly awake enough to be awake.
There was a rustle of fabric and a thump from the sitting room which John's brain translated as the sound of Sherlock dismounting from his chair.
"Alright out there?" John called as he fished out the tea bags and pitched them in the rubbish bin. Sherlock didn't answer that, so John shrugged to himself and went back into the sitting room, a mug in each hand.
He found Sherlock sitting on the floor, long legs stretched out under the table and the rest of him slumped back against the chair.
John shook his head. "Some days I think you've deleted how furniture works." He placed the mug into Sherlock's outstretched hand.
Sherlock sniffed, ignoring him in favour of drinking his tea.
Content to be ignored, John settled himself into his chair to enjoy his own cuppa. He sat and reveled in doing nothing for a time - Christ, he was knackered - before becoming reluctantly aware that he was going to have to get on with his day at some point. Sherlock had abandoned his tea half-drunk on the floor - John would have to remember not to trip over it - and was currently occupied with staring at John like he was a murder victim.
John didn't bother fidgeting under the scrutiny. "Yes?"
"Hmm?" Sherlock flicked a dismissive hand. "Nothing of importance."
"Bollocks." John set down his empty mug on the table and fixed Sherlock with a look. "What have you done and why are you waiting for me to notice it?"
Sherlock smiled. "We'll make a detective of you yet, John. Did you know that you never look up when entering a room? I can understand that it wouldn't have been of particular importance in Afghanistan, but I would have thought that someone of your below average stature woul-"
"Yes, yes, thank you. Prat." John looked up.
Sherlock had strung a sprig of mistletoe from the ceiling, almost in the centre of the room. It was strategically positioned so as to be entirely in the way regardless of which direction a person was trying to walk and John could tell right away that it would require some incredibly circuitous routes to avoid it.
He rolled his eyes back down to Sherlock's expectant face with a sigh. "Really? Mistletoe?"
Sherlock gave him a narrow, defensive look. "It's traditional."
"I am not ducking and rolling in our living room, Sherlock."
Sherlock shrugged his 'I'm not listening to you because I don't care about your piddly human concerns' shrug. "Then I suggest you find an alternate solution."
It was far too early in the morning for this. "Come along, then," John said with a put-upon sigh. He heaved himself out of his chair and walked over to Sherlock. He bent down - and wasn't that a turn up? - to press a quick, chaste kiss to the corner of Sherlock's mouth.
"There," he said, straightening. He yawned. "Now we don't have to dodge around it for the next two weeks. If I make you breakfast will you eat it?"
Sherlock stared up at him, looking absolutely gobsmacked, and John chuckled a little as he made his way into the kitchen.
Then his brain caught belatedly up to what he'd just done and it took all of his willpower to keep from groaning aloud. His immediate impulse was to take it back, try to laugh it off as a joke, but he knew that drawing attention to it was only going to make the situation even more awkward. Besides, he reminded himself, it was all transport for Sherlock, anyway. He was more likely to throw a wobbly about the fact that John had ruined his fun in watching John dancing around trying to avoid the bloody mistletoe than over a silly little kiss.
So John ignored the unbecoming heat he could feel rising in his cheeks and focused on finding something uncontaminated in their fridge to make for breakfast. And if he could feel Sherlock's eyes burning a hole in his back the entire time, well, that actually wasn't all that unusual.
A few days later found John working on his laptop and tuning out the sound of Sherlock watching telly.
Sherlock yelling at the telly for being moronic was far from an unusual occurrence at 221B, and John had long experience with ignoring it. He was using the rare opportunity to use his own laptop to type up the notes from their most recent case. He was tempted to title it 'The Long Swim', but he suspected that Sherlock would hack into his blog - again - and change it to something else if he tried.
"John!" Sherlock shouted, cutting through John's calm, and John rolled his eyes. He should have known that Sherlock wouldn't tolerate being ignored for much longer.
"How can people watch this drivel?"
John didn't bother looking up. "What has popular culture done to offend you this time?"
Sherlock waved a dramatic hand at the telly. "This! Those men are, without doubt, the most ignominious excuses for criminals I have ever seen. And that child is loathsome to the extreme. Are all Americans this insipidly useless or do they save that for special occasions?"
The more unimpressed Sherlock was with something, John had noticed, the more extravagant his word choices got. A glance over the top of his laptop revealed that Sherlock was watching the robbers in Home Alone get their arses kicked by a booby-trapped house while the main character laughed. " I've told you about slapstick comedy before, Sherlock. It's supposed to be funny. Why are you watching this?"
"It's traditional to watch Christmas movies in December," Sherlock said, glaring at the telly and sounding incredibly put out.
John blinked at him. "And you picked Home Alone?"
"I selected an assortment," Sherlock said, nodding at a precarious stack of DVDs that was obeying the laws of physics by only the slimmest of margins. Knowing Sherlock as he did, John was fairly certain that he'd done that deliberately. "I had thought that a film about burglary would be at least vaguely interesting, but I clearly underestimated the ability of popular entertainment to be utterly asinine." Sherlock looked only moments away from a truly momentous pout and John couldn't help a ruefully fond smile.
"I always thought this movie was kind of rubbish, too," he admitted, saving his file and closing his laptop. He climbed to his feet. "Let's see what else you've got."
"I'll probably hate them all," Sherlock warned as John went over to examine the stack of movies.
John grinned at him over one shoulder. "That part of the tradition too? I'll give it a think and see if I can come up with anything that you might like. For now, how about this one?" He held up a copy of The Nightmare Before Christmas. "You might enjoy the humour. Or we can find a Christmas special on the telly, instead."
Sherlock shrugged dismissively. "Pick something that you like. At least one of us ought to derive some enjoyment from this undertaking."
"I don't understand why you're so intent on doing Christmas things you don't like," John said, sliding the DVD into the player and moving to the couch. "Budge over."
Sherlock shifted obligingly, then immediately squirmed around until he had John arranged to his liking.
"Not actually furniture, Sherlock," John reminded him as Sherlock wiggled his feet under the cushion on the opposite side of John's lap.
"Hush, John," Sherlock said and John surrendered without further protest. Of all the ways he entertained Sherlock on a daily basis, watching the telly together was one of his favourites. And he did like this film, though it had been a while since he'd last seen it.
Of course, they'd hardly got two minutes in before Sherlock huffed and complained, "Singing, John, really?" but John had been expecting that. He gave Sherlock a comforting pat on the knee, then settled down to watch the film, Sherlock's objections providing an enjoyable secondary audio track for the plot.
The less said about Sherlock's Christmas pudding experiment, the better.
Christmas morning dawned quietly overcast and John took the opportunity to laze in bed for a while, in no real hurry to get up. The house was suspiciously quiet, which usually meant that Sherlock was either tearing around London and getting into trouble, doing his best corpse impersonation on the couch or, rarely, sleeping. John was absolutely not above taking full advantage of the calm. God knew it happened rarely enough round here. He settled into a light doze, enjoying the opportunity for a bit of a lie in.
It was close to ten when he eventually hauled himself out of bed and padded downstairs in his dressing gown. Sherlock's door was shut, which didn't mean much, and the sitting room was empty which took one possibility off the list. Their festively macabre Christmas tree sat jauntily in the corner and John detoured on his way to the kitchen to plug in the lights. It was Christmas, after all; they could afford the extra electricity for the day.
John's morning passed much like any other that didn't involve Sherlock: he ate breakfast, read the paper and failed utterly at solving the crossword puzzle. He saw neither hide nor hair of Sherlock the entire time, which made a strong argument for him actually being asleep for once; if Sherlock had been out, John would have received at least one peremptory text by now. John couldn't actually remember the last time that Sherlock had slept this late without coming off a multi-day case and no sleep in over two days, but he shrugged off the oddness and went to have a shower.
Of course, he clearly should have known better than to trust things to be that straightforward, because when he emerged from the bathroom and headed up to his room to get dressed, he discovered that Sherlock had, for some godforsaken reason, laid out some clothes on the bed for John to wear.
The concept of Sherlock picking his clothes wasn't actually one that John objected to as much as he should have; this was nowhere close to the worst liberty Sherlock had taken with John's person. The clothes were actually his, which was a bonus, and, though the jumper was not quite as festive as the one John had been planning on wearing, the outfit as a whole was tidy and perfectly serviceable.
The part he objected to was that Sherlock had, for some even more godforsaken reason, also selected John's underwear for him. Which would have been awkward enough for John, ta very much, but Sherlock had apparently decided that none of John's pants were suitable and had bought him a new pair. That was red. And tight. With white trimming.
John looked at them for a long moment, then turned to his dresser to get a proper pair. It was about then that he discovered that Sherlock had also made some… retractions to his wardrobe.
Namely, all his pants were missing.
John closed his eyes and took a deep, fortifying breath. He then spent the next several minutes turning his room upside-down looking for a different pair of pants, without success. He went back to the bathroom, still in his towel, and was dishearteningly unsurprised to find that, while he'd been in his room, his pajamas and dressing gown had vanished and the laundry hamper was empty.
"I hate my flatmate," John muttered to himself and stomped into his bedroom again.
Left with the option of going without underwear until the shops opened tomorrow or wearing the bloody red ones, John reluctantly shed his towel and pulled them on. They fit snugly but not uncomfortably and John decided that he never, ever wanted to know how Sherlock had known his size.
John finished dressing quickly, as though he could pretend he wasn't wearing red pants if he covered up properly. Then he squared his shoulders and, calmly, opened the door.
"Sherlock!" he bellowed, charging down the stairs.
"Good morning, John," Sherlock said, not looking up from the book in his lap. He was fully dressed and sitting there as though he'd been up for hours. He had a pen in his right hand and was tapping it idly against the edge of the book's cover. John could see Sherlock's decisive handwriting scrawled in the margins and bold strokes drawn through full lines of text. "I want tea."
"You wa-" John reined in his incredulity with an effort. "I'm not making you tea until you give me back my clothes."
Sherlock glanced up at him. "Why?"
John pinched the bridge of his nose to stave off the headache he could feel brewing in the back of his head. "Because you can't just take my clothes, Sherlock. It's not on."
"I hardly see the problem," Sherlock said, scribbling something in his book. "It's a perfectly practical solution."
"Pract-… Sherlock, you've stolen my pants."
"I provided an alternate pair."
John counted backwards from ten. Then started back at ten again.
Sherlock turned the page.
"Why," John said, with all the calm he could manage. "Have you taken all my underwear?"
"It's traditional to dress festively for Christmas," Sherlock said.
"And it's obvious from your general demeanor and your inability to dress yourself in anything that isn't checkered or knitted that you would have chosen some garish and ill-considered example of sartorial horror to wear to commemorate the holiday. I've determined a more pleasant alternative. Red and white are traditional holiday colours, after all."
John stared at him. "You're absolutely unbelievable."
Sherlock turned the page. "You're welcome."
John waited. Sherlock crossed out an entire paragraph and wrote WRONG across the top of the page.
John took a deep, calming breath. "Sherlock, what is this all about? You can't tell me that you… wore red pants and watched Christmas telly and hung up fairy lights and all that to celebrate Christmas as a kid."
Sherlock shot him a withering look. "Of course not, John, use your head. Can you honestly imagine Mycroft and I singing carols in front of a Christmas tree in matching knitted jumpers?"
Which was pretty much what John had been thinking all month, actually. "You deliberately made me think that all this… madness was what you did with your family."
"It's hardly my fault that you're so easily deceived."
John cast his eyes briefly to the ceiling in a desperate bid for patience. "Sherlock. Can you please just tell me what's going on? Because I'm totally at sea."
To John's eternal surprise, Sherlock closed his book and considered the cover for a long moment.
"John," he said finally, obviously choosing his words carefully. "I have never had the opportunity or desire to… spend Christmas with someone. When I was growing up, Christmas was a tedious affair that had more to do with dinner parties and inebriated relatives than any sort of 'merriment'. As such, I find myself unequipped to know how best to celebrate the holiday."
John stared, openly caught off guard. "Are you saying that all these different experiments were your way of figuring out how to celebrate Christmas… with me?"
"As always, John, you've done a masterful job of pointing out the blatantly obvious," Sherlock said scathingly.
John ignored him. "So you've been, what? Trying everything to see what you liked best?"
"If that was the case, you'd be wearing a jumper with reindeer on it and there'd be a plate of sweetmeats on the mantle for Father Christmas."
"Right, of course. So… how did you decide which ones to try?"
It had to be John's imagination that Sherlock looked somewhat discomfited by the question.
"I simply assessed each tradition based on the degree of pleasure we might reasonably expect to receive from it and selected the ones that had the most overlap," Sherlock said. "The results were all well within my projected parameters."
John blinked. That… was a surprisingly thoughtful way to go about it, actually. He ran his thoughts back over the different 'traditions' Sherlock had tried out and discovered that, yes, most of them had turned out okay in the end. Even the-
"Wait." John looked up and this time he was absolutely certain that Sherlock looked nervous. "All of them?"
John swallowed hard. "The… mistletoe too?"
"Yes, John!" Sherlock snapped, his entire body strung taut. "The mistletoe too. The very nature of 'all' automatically predicates the inclusion of every element of the experiment." He threw his book on the table with an emphatic slam and jerked to his feet.
"Sherlock, wait," John said, before Sherlock could run out on him. If they didn't do this now, John knew, Sherlock would vanish for a day or two and, when he came back, there would be no mention of any of it ever again.
Sherlock stilled. "Yes, John?"
It took three steps to bring John up to Sherlock. His heart was thudding wildly and John realized that he felt the same way now as he had the first time he'd fired a gun: terrified, delighted and wildly exultant.
"John?" Sherlock said. John had never dreamed that he'd be the one to put that expression on Sherlock's face.
"We're buying our own ornaments for the tree," John said and Sherlock blinked. John permitted himself an internal grin for catching the great Sherlock Holmes off guard. "The ones Mycroft gave you are far too easy to break. And old fashioned."
The faintest hint of a smile started at the corner of Sherlock's mouth. "Mycroft always did have bad taste."
"I quite like the Christmas music, but we're sticking to our no overnight concerts rule. I'll find you some Christmas telly that you might like," Sherlock snorted and John amended, "Or at least enjoy taking the mick out of. You're never going anywhere near the gutters again, but we might try making gingerbread. Harry and I used to help my nan make gingerbread when we were kids. I can get the recipe."
The quietly hopeful expression on Sherlock's face made him look more vulnerable than John had ever known him to be. "Anything else?"
John nodded. He pointed up with a shaky grin. "Oh, look. Mistletoe."
Sherlock arched an eyebrow. "I trust that you're aware that mistletoe only 'works' once."
John shrugged. "We're making up our own Christmas traditions, aren't we?" He plastered on a thoughtful expression. "Unless you don't want to, of course."
"John," Sherlock growled and, for the first time, John didn't fight the thrill that shivered down his spine in response.
He arched up at the same time as Sherlock leaned down and, when they met in the middle, it was with what felt like a lifetime of emotion between them. Their teeth clashed violently and it was more than a little awkward until John grabbed Sherlock's head between his hands and angled him in the right direction. Then it was all lips and heat and tongues, heady enough to make John's knees weak.
Sherlock proved himself to be as fast a learner in this as everything else; he swept through John's mouth like he was planning on moving in permanently and John resolved to be embarrassed later by the needy little groans he was making.
Not that he let Sherlock have his way entirely. John was bloody good at this and he knew it; he used every trick he knew to reduce Sherlock to a shaking, shuddering mess and considered it a job well done when Sherlock wrenched his mouth away with a wondering, "John."
John summoned a cheeky grin. "Yes?" he said, only to have the word turn into a groan halfway through when Sherlock's mouth fastened onto his neck, teeth digging in just enough to make John's nerve endings spark. John's head tipped to the side, giving Sherlock access, and John's hands found the buttons on Sherlock's blood-dark shirt at almost the same time as Sherlock's talented fingers danced over the button on John's trousers and peeled down his zip.
The sound Sherlock made when he saw John's ridiculously red pants went straight to John's prick in a way that made them feel suddenly very tight indeed. "Perfect," he said and, Christ, but he was going to kill John with that voice.
"I'm starting to think," John gasped, muscles jumping as Sherlock's hands cupped him teasingly through the fabric. "That you had an al- Jesus fuck - alternate motive for buying these p-pants."
He could feel the edge of Sherlock's smile against his skin. "As always," Sherlock murmured, mouthing warm circles down the length of his neck that were absolutely going to bruise. "You insist on being walked through all my reasoning."
John managed a shaky sort of laugh that was more heavy panting than sound. He dared anybody else to do better when Sherlock Holmes had his hands down their pants and his teeth digging into their neck. "Got there in the end, didn't I?" He trailed one hand down and ground the heel of his palm against Sherlock's crotch and felt a little thrill of pleasure down his spine when it made Sherlock's breath hiss out sharply. "This one of our new traditions?"
Sherlock pulled back enough to look John in the face. "If you think that this-" his other hand skimmed down the back of John's trousers to press hard between his buttocks and John arched his back with a strangled growl, "is going to be a once-a-year occurrence, then you are sadly mistaken."
"G-good." Sherlock's hand moved again, rubbing lightly, and John swore. He tangled his fingers in Sherlock's hair and yanked him in close, nose-to-nose. "Happy Christmas, Sherlock. Let's go back to bed."
Sherlock's expression, what John could see of it, anyway, was a welcome mix of smug, fond, happy and vaguely stunned. John looked forward to seeing it as many times as he could. "An excellent idea. Happy Christmas, John."