Christmas at Holmes
Sherlock was bound and determined not to spend the holidays with family. He'd made it quite clear to John that under no circumstances would they be visiting Mummy that Christmas. It was Mycroft's turn and that was that. He was particularly humbuggy about it and so John, after one innocent enquiry brought a near-tirade down upon him, let the matter lie. That didn't stop him being disappointed, however. Not that he ever said so. Not that the slightest peep of regret or protestation crossed his lips. Which made it all the more shocking when Sherlock did a full about-face on the subject.
"I'll be going out to Mummy's the morning of the 24th," Sherlock announced out of the blue over breakfast. He didn't look up from the newspaper as he spoke. He simply stirred sugar into his tea and went right on reading. "Expect me back on Boxing Day. Sooner if I can manage it. You needn't come. It's bound to be enormously tedious."
John knew better than to draw attention to the sudden change of plans by expressing surprise, never mind interest. "All right."
Companionable silence fell between them once more. John was on his third slice of toast by the time Sherlock added, "Of course, if you're looking to escape spending the holiday with your sister or something equally dire, I suppose you could come."
"Mm. I'll let you know." Inside he was delighted. Outwardly, he showed no sign of it.
"Don't try to be coy, John. You've been hoping for this for weeks."
John lips turned up in a tiny half smile around his bite of toast, acknowledging without speaking it aloud. He took a swallow of tea before replying. "You're doing your own gift shopping for your mother this year."
John loved Christmas at the Holmes' estate. The enormous evergreen tree inside and its carved ice doppelganger outside were a particular delight. The best part, though, was the array of gingerbread houses that the local children decorated. He looked for a particularly peculiar one as they passed through the front foyer. Not seeing one, he slowed, falling behind Sherlock. He frowned. They were all so disappointingly traditional this year.
"Where's Ford's?" he muttered under his breath.
"I couldn't get any of the kids to cooperate this year."
John smiled and spun to face the young ghost of his partner's eldest brother.
"Hallo, John," Sherrinford said with a sigh.
"No one wanted to play this year?"
"No. They were all stupid and naff and boring."
"Maybe they just wanted to do their own thing this time."
"No. They were stupid. And naff," Ford reiterated firmly. "And boring."
"Okay." There was no point arguing the matter. Ford might technically be older than Sherlock, but he was still the adolescent he'd been when he'd died. Much of his point of view was still the black-and-white of a child.
An idea occurred to John. "Any chance there's an extra house left over? One no one decorated?"
"Dunno. Maybe. Why?"
John shrugged. "Dunno," he echoed. "Maybe you and I could decorate one together."
Ford perked up considerably. "You mean it?"
"Of course I do. I wouldn't offer if I didn't."
"I'll make sure there's a house for us."
Ford shimmered and vanished at the same time Sherlock poked his head back into the entry hall.
"John. Are you coming?"
"Right behind you."
"What on earth were you thinking?"
John smiled placidly across the formal dining table. His and Ford's creation took pride of place at the centre of it, surrounded by what should have been seasonally appropriate ornamentation. Somehow the holly and ivy didn't quite jibe with their creation, although John still considered it festive. "What do you mean?"
They'd not gotten a proper Victorian house to decorate like the children had, but Ford had used his spectral influence to convince the cook to put together what remained of the gingerbread building materials into two small structures, one with four sides and the other with three, and neither particularly plumb. He'd even gotten her to fish out the biscuit cutters he wanted to make the appropriate figures for the display. John had charmed a kitchen maid into providing him with the leftover decorations and bags of coloured icing, and they were on their way. Together, he thought they'd come up with something rather special.
"I admit they're a tad anachronistic."
"At the gingerbread birth of Christ? It's all ridiculous."
"That was rather the point, actually."
"No imagination, this one," muttered Ford from the chair to John's left.
Sherlock went on, unaware of the ghost's critique of his creativity. "Your choice to place the crèche next to a brothel escapes me."
"See? Told you so."
The house of ill repute had been John's addition to Ford's design. Dinosaurs in place of all the people from Ford; a shepherd dino eyeing the "Girls!" sign on the adjacent building from John. Both had giggled uncontrollably the entire time they'd worked on it. God only knew what the servants thought about his behaviour. Although if they hadn't gotten used to John's odd ways by now, what chance was there?
"Who's to say the inn where the stable was located wasn't actually a bit more than advertised in the text?" John said in perfect imitation of sincerity. He nearly lost it when both Ford and Sherlock burst out laughing.
Sherlock regained enough composure to speak. "All right, John. You win. If nothing else, I look forward to the expression on Mycroft's face when he sits down for Christmas supper and finds himself staring at a dinosaur in a thong."
That sent all three of them into a fit of giggles.
"It's a good thing Mummy likes you," Sherlock said eventually.
"A very good thing." John grinned.