“Mrs. Hudson, do you really have to put up a Christmas tree?”
“Sherlock,” Mrs. Hudson scolded, “you should know by now that decorative trees are somewhat of a tradition around this time of year.”
“Yes, I am aware,” he rolled his eyes. “But the simple fact that people annually cut down trees and drag them inside – only to hang glass balls on the branches and place gifts under – baffles me.”
“Ah. Well, dear, I happen to like them, and will place one in the corner of my living room, right there.” she pointed to the corner nearest the kitchen. She gave him a threatening look, “And there it will stay until Christmas is over. I'm putting one up quite late this year – it’s only three days until Christmas. Can you believe it Sherlock? Time flies.”
Sherlock grumbled, sipping at his tea.
“Hush, you. You should just be happy John isn’t forcing you to put one up in your flat, dear.” She chuckled, “Oh, I almost wish he had. That would have been a good fight to see.”
John walked through the front door, struggling under the mass of groceries. “Sherlock,” he called, “could you come help me with these?”
Sherlock remained silent, sipping at his tea in Mrs. Hudson’s living room. She slapped his shoulder. “Go help,” she hissed.
He frowned. “But then he’ll expect me to help him more often.”
She shook her head, walking out to give John a hand. Sherlock heard him shoo her away. “No, I'm fine. You don’t have to.”
“Nonsense,” she said. “I'm not too old to help.” She called louder, “And Sherlock’s not too young.”
Sighing, Sherlock rose to his feet and exited her flat. He walked up the stairs, passing John and Mrs. Hudson.
“Sherlock,” John said. “Aren’t you going to help?”
The detective shrugged. “You seem to have it under control.” He turned and strode into his flat, ignoring John’s grumbles.
John finally made it all the way up the stairs, and put away all of the groceries. “You want some tea?” he called.
“Sure,” Sherlock said, fiddling with his violin. He was distracted by the sliver of skin that flashed at him from under John’s jumper when he reached up to grab the sugar from the cupboard.
John opened the fridge, only to curse and shut it immediately. “Sherlock, there is an ear in the refrigerator.”
“Excellent observation, John.”
“It’s not in a container or a bag or anything! It’s just sitting there next to the milk.”
“Placing it in a bag would compromise the experiment. There’s also an arrangement of fingers and toes a shelf below it, if you’d like to complain about that as well.”
John glared. “Make your own tea. I need to call Harry.”
“Isn’t it a little early to be making holiday calls?”
John rolled his eyes. “I'm not wishing her a Happy Christmas, I'm only trying to find out where we’re getting together for Christmas this year.”
Sherlock sat up. “You’re leaving?”
“Well, yeah. We used to always go to our mum’s house, but when Harry and Clara were married we’d all meet up at their flat. Now, since they’re separated, I'm not sure where to go.” He paused, “Actually, I think my mum’s gone to spend Christmas in the Bahamas, so it will be just me and Harry this year.”
“I see,” Sherlock feigned disinterest.
“Right. Well, then I’ll just…” he trailed off, pulling his mobile out from his pocket. He dialed Harry, hovering in the doorway to the kitchen.
Harry picked up on the third ring, her voice scratchy. “Johnny.”
John winced at the name, shaking Moriarty’s image from his head. “Yeah, Harry, hello. How are you?”
She ignored his question, “What do you want?”
John noticed her words were slightly slurred. He frowned, “Harry, have you been drinking?”
“What does it matter to you, Johnny?” her voice was acidic. “You’re not my father.”
“Jesus, Harry, it’s not even noon. You can’t already b-”
“Of course I'm drinking, John,” she snapped. “It’s my first Christmas without Clara.” John hears the clink of ice against glass as she paused to take a drink. Her voice was hoarse, “You can bet your arse that I'm gonna bloody well drink.”
“Look Harry,” he tried to reason with her, “I know you miss her, but you can’t do this to y-”
“What do you know about missing someone? You’ve never known what it’s like to be in love. You’ve never had a serious relationship in your life.” She hissed, “You, with all your flings in Uni. You were always the one to sneak out of their room in the morning, weren’t you? You’ve never had someone leave you.”
“Harry, that’s not true. I do know w-”
She spat, “Oh, that’s right, you spend all your days pining after your flatmate, wishing for your love to be returned.”
John winced, “Harry.”
“You’re pathetic, John Watson. You look down on me for having a drink when you can't even work up the nerve to te-”
John quickly hung up the phone, swallowing. He took a deep breath, squaring himself before walking back to the living room.
“Is that a no to going over to Harry’s?” Sherlock asked nonchalantly.
John plopped down into his chair, resting his head in his hand. “It’s a definite no. I don’t feel like being yelled at for the next few days.”
Sherlock paused, working up the courage. “You know,” he said easily, not showing how nervous he was, “you can always come over to mine.”
John froze, and Sherlock’s stomach fluttered. “Really?” he asked.
“Your parents won't mind me tagging along?”
“It’s just my mum, actually, but not at all. Mummy loves the company, especially around the holidays. I'm sure she’d be delighted to meet you. She reads your blog, of course.”
“She reads my blog,” John echoed, still shocked by the offer.
“Mm-hmm. We’ll leave tomorrow afternoon, if that works for you. That should give you more than enough time to pack.”
“Leaving tomorrow? You stay with her? And – hang on – I haven’t even agreed to going.”
“Yes, we usually stay until the day after Christmas. And really, John, you’re going to say yes. You already have the next few days off from the surgery; there’s nothing keeping you from coming. I was just speeding up the process.”
John chuckled despite himself. “Fine, okay. You win. I’ll go pack now, yeah?”
Sherlock shrugged, going back to his violin. “As you wish.”
John began to exit, only to pause in the doorway. Sherlock’s stomach clenched. Had he changed his mind?
John turned. “If it’s a family Christmas, does that mean Mycroft will be there?”
Sherlock’s nose crinkled. “Let’s hope there’s a war that will keep him from attending. He usually doesn’t stay long anyways.” He stood, slipping on his coat. “I'm just going to pop out for a bit, I’ll be back in a bit.”
John nodded, and went upstairs to pack. On Sherlock’s way out the door, he heard John yell, “You better not be going out for a smoke!”
Sherlock smiled, and walked a ways down Baker Street. He pulled out his mobile and dialled.
“Sherlock?” a woman’s voice answered. “Is that you?”
“Yes, Mummy, how are you?” he said.
“Sweetheart, you and I both know you don’t really care.” Sherlock could hear the smile in her voice, and found himself smiling as well. “But, to keep up pleasantries, I am well.” She chuckled, “Now, what was it that you really called for?”
“I am bringing someone home for Christmas this year, and I need your help.”
Mummy immediately went into gossip mode. “Oh, is it that handsome doctor fellow that follows you around?” She whispered excitedly, “I told you it would work out.”
Sherlock’s face heated up. “Yes, it’s him. He needs a place to spend the holidays. His sister is a no good drunk and cancelled on him, and his mother is on vacation. He’s nowhere to go. And nothing’s going on between us.”
“And you want my help changing that?”
“Yes,” he cleared his throat. “I’ve come up with six – possibly seven – strategic places to hang mistletoe throughout the home for maximal optimized opportunities. Now, I need your assistance with the…”
Greg grabbed his overcoat from the back of his office chair, sliding it on.
Sally held up her hand. “Ah, and where do you think you’re going?”
“Lunch,” he said easily.
“What is it about Mondays, I wonder, that has you all dressed up and eager for lunch?”
He shrugged, trying to hide his smile. “I can’t imagine what you might mean. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” he tried to slide past her, but she cut him off.
“No, I know that excited look. You’ve got a date,” she gasped.
He shook his head. “It’s not a date.”
“But you want it to be,” she countered.
Greg didn’t answer, pushing past her to exit the building. A sleek black car pulled up to the kerb, and he slid inside.
Five minutes later found him at the normal café. Greg walked in, buying himself a coffee and a sub. His eyes kept scanning over the road outside.
Finally, another unmarked black car pulled up, and the British Government himself stepped onto the sidewalk. Mycroft was wearing his standard three piece suit, a matching umbrella in his right hand.
Mycroft and Greg met up every Monday for lunch, usually to discuss Sherlock. (Sherlock was aware their exchanges, of course, but they were harmless, so he didn’t give them much thought. Besides, he knew about Mycroft’s… affection towards Greg, and was attempting to set them up.)
Greg found it comical, how out of place Mycroft looked in the small café, but it was better than having a conversation in the back of a black government car.
Mycroft ordered something as well, and sat across from Greg. He smiled politely, “Hello, Gregory.”
Greg smiled at that. Mycroft insisted on calling Greg by his full name, despite being corrected many times. “Hello. How-” Greg’s mobile pinged, cutting him off. He frowned and glanced at it.
Mycroft watched as Greg’s jaw tightened as he read the message. He knew all of Greg’s expressions, and going by the narrowing of his eyes, this expression was Greg attempting to reel in his anger.
“What is it?” Mycroft asked.
“Nothing,” Greg set his phone down, but when he looked up, his eyes were hard.
Mycroft glanced at Greg’s tapping fingers, and asked, “What has your ex-wife done?”
Greg looked up, startled. He chuckled, “I don’t know how you do that. But yeah, it’s my ex-wife being a bi-” he cleared his throat, looking around, “jerk,” he finished lamely.
Mycroft took a sip of his drink, waiting patiently for more. Greg didn’t disappoint.
“Well, it’s just, this is my first Christmas without her – out first Christmas separated. We split up about…” he glanced skyward, thinking, “over nine months ago. And around five months back, she fought me for the house and car. She took me to court. I should have won them both, but somehow she got to keep the house. We were still waiting for the decision on the car.”
Mycroft nodded. He had read all of this in Greg’s file, of course, but the older man didn’t need to know that.
Greg continued, “I’ve been living in my new flat for about a while now, and she’s just sent me a picture of the order that came through. She gets the bloody car, as well.” He shook his head, “You know, I don’t even care about the car and house anymore. I hate them. Always have. I never want to see them again. Just-” he sighed, “she’s being such a raging cunt about the whole thing.”
Mycroft snorted, surprising the both of them. He quickly covered his nose and mouth with his hand, he face colouring. “Sorry.”
Greg grinned. “No, don’t worry about it. It’s not everyday I get to make you laugh. It’s nice to see.”
Mycroft smiled, “Well, if it’s any consolation, I'm sorry that your ex is doing that.”
He shrugged. “It’s not your fault. You know, it’s almost better that her and I didn’t have kids,” he sighed. “I wanted them, so badly, but she never did. That’s one of the reasons we split u-” Greg stopped suddenly, looking down in embarrassment. “God, look at me, unloading all of this on you. I'm sorry.”
“No, it’s fine. I don’t mind.” Mycroft smiled reassuringly.
Greg sighed. “Still, it’s always hard to spend the holidays alone.”
Mycroft paused, turning over the idea formulating in his head. “Gregory, it might be a little late to mention, but I’d like for you to know that you’re welcome to join me for the holidays. I go home each year to my mother’s house and stay there a few days. I'm sure she’d love the extra company.”
Greg had frozen. Mycroft was inviting him over? To his mother’s house? “I thought you hated Christmas,” Greg blurted.
Mycroft smiled tightly. He backtracked, “Yes, well, Mummy adores it, and she enjoys company during the holidays. If you don’t want to-”
“No,” he exclaimed, “that’s not it at all. I would love to, actually.” He blushed.
“Yes?” Mycroft asked. A genuine smile crossed his lips.
“Yeah, sounds great.”
“Excellent. I’ll have a car pick you up around eleven tomorrow morning. Pack for three or four days.”
Greg smiled, “Right, then. I'm actually scheduled to work for the next few days, but I'm think my boss will let me off.”
Mycroft’s smile turned nearly feral. “I'm sure he will.”
Greg paused. “Is Sherlock coming?”
The politician pursed his lips. “My brother hasn’t come to a family Christmas in three years. I don’t see why he would change that now.” He sighed, “Sherlock never does anything family related unless he has something to gain from it.”
They finished their drinks, and Mycroft walked Greg to his black car. “See you tomorrow, then?” Greg asked as he got inside.
“I look forward to it.”
Greg smiled, and Mycroft gently shut his door. It was only halfway back to his office that Greg realised they hadn’t even talked about what Sherlock had been doing.
In his own car, Mycroft let out a sigh of relief. He said yes!
He immediately pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialled the only person who could help him.
She answered, “Mycroft, dear, if you have called to say you can’t make it home this year, I will personally com-”
“No, quite the opposite. I'm only calling to say I've invited a guest.”
There was a pause. Finally, she asked, “A guest?”
“There’s no need to sound so surprised, Mum,” he grumbled.
“Oh, hush you. I'm allowed to be happy for my son. Now, what’s his name?”
Mycroft blushed. “His name is Gregory. He’s a detective inspector for the Yard.”
“Oh, how lovely, darling.”
He cleared his throat. “Yes, well, it’s nothing serious-”
“Mikey, don’t pull that with me. You wouldn’t be calling if it wasn’t serious.”
“He’s just getting out of a relationship – he’d never go for someone like me. I just-” he sighed, “I just want to make this a perfect holiday for him.”
“I’ll be on my best behavior,” she promised.
“That’s what I'm worried about.”
“Excellent work, 007.” Mallory smiled thinly. “Please see that you make your way to Q-Branch to return your equipment and Medical for the...” he gestured to the careless stitching job over Bond’s eyebrow and the blood still seeping out of his arm.
“Yes, sir,” Bond said.
He rose and exited. He didn’t particularly feel like dealing with the arsehats in Medical, so he made his way straight to Q-Branch.
His eyes widened as he got to the door. It was as if Christmas had thrown up in Q-Branch. Lights were hanging from the rafters and strung on techies’ desks, paper snowflakes covered one wall entirely, and right in the center of it all was an inflatable snowman that giggled.
“Shoot me,” he muttered.
Eve walked past him, and laughed when she heard his plea. “Happy Christmas, 007.”
Bond blinked. “Is it Christmas?” He gestured to the mess around him. “I hadn’t noticed.”
She smiled. “Hilarious. Q’s minions have a little celebration each year. They all cheer to not accidentally blowing themselves up.”
He shook his head. “Q is okay with this?”
“Q’s the one who throws it. He’s right over…” she pointed somewhere in the direction of the giant snowman, “there.”
Bond craned his neck, and caught sight of Q’s dark mop of hair. The boffin had a pair of elf ears on.
Eve laughed. “My thoughts exactly. So, you’ve any plans for the holidays?”
“Nothing special, Alec and I usually spend Christmas lying on our couch, watching crap telly and getting pissed. Wish us luck.”
“Oh, you haven’t heard?”
“Alec is still on his assignment in Peru. He won't be back for at least another week or two.”
Bond frowned. “No, I didn’t know that.” Sighing, he scanned the crowd. Q caught his eye and grinned, continuing to dance with some other techies. Bond smiled at his goofiness, watching the boy laugh at something a someone said.
Eve heaved a dramatic sigh. “Why don’t you ask him out?”
Bond snapped out of watching Q dance, eyes flickering back to Eve’s. “What?”
“You were staring at him for a full two minutes. Just ask him out.”
Bond spluttered, “I have no ide-”
“Oh, please. It’s obvious you like him.” She held up her hand to stop his protests. “Don’t you dare lie to me.”
Bond’s smile was almost sheepish. “Is it really?”
She rolled her eyes. “To everyone but him, luckily enough for you. Just go tell him.”
“I couldn’t possibly. I'm bad news, Eve. You know that.” He cleared his throat. “My track record with women isn’t all that impressive.”
“Well, it’s a good thing that Q’s not a woman, isn’t it? He can take care of himself.”
“I just can't.”
Eve was silent for a few beats, before quietly asking, “Is this about Vesper?”
Bond immediately stiffened. “Leave her out of this,” he hissed.
“James, you can't let her do this to you.”
He spoke through a clenched jaw. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Just…” she sighed, “think about what I said, alright?”
“Whatever.” He strode away from her, into the empty Q-Branch lounge. Well, it wasn’t empty at first, but the techies of Q-Branch tended to get skittish around the revered Double-O agents. They fled the room within thirty seconds of him entering.
He sat on the couch, desperately wishing that he had a drink in his hand. No Alec meant he’d have to spend the holiday alone. He sighed.
A voice sounded from outside the lounge, “Yeah, I'm headed out. I'm just going to grab a cuppa before I go.”
The door opened, and the Quartermaster himself walked in. Bond chuckled when he got a better look at what Q was wearing. Along with the pointy ears, Q had donned a horrid Christmas sweater. It had three kittens on the front, each playing with a ball of yarn. The little fairy lights on the sweater were actually functional, blinking cheerfully back at him.
Bond opened his mouth, but Q beat him to it. “If you're going to make fun of my sweater, don’t bother. The kittens meow Jingle Bells, and I will cheerfully torture you with them.”
“Okay, then. Never mind. Although, how does one come into possession of such a…” Q gave him a warning glare. Bond smiled, “a colourful sweater?”
Q shrugged. “It’s tradition. The minions gave me this one.” He walked over to the kettle, the small bells hanging off his elf ears ringing with each step. “So, what is it that has you hiding away in my lounge?”
“And…?” He rolled his eyes at Bond’s confused look. “Come on, if you were truly avoiding Medical you’d do it at home. Why are you really here?”
Bond shrugged. “I just don’t particularly feel like going home to an empty flat.”
Bond waited for Q to laugh at him, but he only nodded. “That’s understandable.” He sipped at the tea. “Well, I'm actually about to drive up to my mum’s house. My brothers and I normally spend Christmas there with her. Want to come?”
Bond blinked. “Come? As in go with you?”
Bond seemed dubious. “To your family’s house?”
“Yes.” Q smiled patiently. “You won't be assigned anything for at least a week. You have the time.”
“No, I couldn’t. I don’t want to intrude.”
Q bit his lip, hiding his nervousness behind his cup. He sipped at the tea. “Oh, it wouldn’t be any trouble. Mummy always makes too much food, anyways.”
Bond pursed his lips. “I do want to see your family. It will be interesting to see what made you…” he paused, while Q raised his eyebrows. Bond cleared his throat, “you. So, yes, I will come.”
Q grinned. “Great. We can swing by your flat so you can pack.”
He nodded. “Let me grab my coat.”
Q pulled the car over to the kerb, glancing out at Bond’s flat complex. He whistled. “I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything less fancy.”
Bond laughed. “Are you coming up?”
“No,” Q rubbed his hands together. “I’ll keep the heater running. It is too cold.”
“Alright. Be back in a few.”
The moment Bond was out of sight, Q dug in the console for his mobile. He phoned Mummy.
She answered, “Quentin, sweetheart. Are you on your way?”
“Sort of. I had to take a small detour for a friend.”
“Ah.” Mummy paused, then fished, “And would this friend happen to be the agent you’re always raving on about?”
Q’s cheeks darkened, “I don’t know who you mean.”
“Of course you don’t,” she teased.
He cleared his throat. “Although, hypothetically speaking, if I were to have invited that friend over to spend Christmas with us, would that be alright?”
She laughed. “Yes, I suppose that would be just fine. It seems as if I'm playing matchmaker this year.”
Q stammered. “No, no. It’s nothing like that. I mean, we’re just friends, an-”
“Sure, sweetie. If you insist.”
He sighed. “Thanks, Mum.”
“No problem. I look forward to meeting him.”
Q glanced out the car, seeing Bond making his way back to him. “I have to go, Mum. See you soon.”
Q hung up, and popped the boot for Bond. The agent slid back into the passenger seat. Q saw the tell-tale bulge in Bond’s suit jacket.
“007,” Q said as he pulled out, “I am going to politely ignore the fact that you felt it necessary to bring a gun to my childhood home.”
Bond almost seemed embarrassed. He began to apologise, but Q stopped him.
“I mean, I’ve brought one as well, but still. That has to be considered rude somewhere. Or at least not normal.”
Bond laughed. “I highly doubt either of us has ever been considered normal.”
Mycroft and Greg arrived first. Mummy greeted them at the door. “Oh, boys, hello. Come in, come in.” She hugged Mycroft. “Mycroft, punctual as always.”
He smiled at her. “Hello, mother. The blankets?” he murmured in his ear.
Mummy whispered back, “Taken care of.” She kissed his cheek, and grinned when she caught Greg’s eye. “And hello to you. You must be Gregory.” She strode over and hugged him as well.
Greg was surprised at the sudden acceptance, and gently hugged her back. “It’s uh, I prefer Greg, actually. And it’s nice to meet you too, ma’am.” He awkwardly handed her the bottle of wine he had bought on the way.
Mummy grinned. “Oh, aren’t you just the sweetest thing? Mikey, I love him already.” She winked at her eldest. “Greg,” she corrected, “you can put your things in Myc’s room.”
“Oh,” Greg stuttered, “are we going to be sharing rooms?”
Mrs. Holmes smiled knowingly. “I'm afraid so. I’ve got a full nest this year.”
Mycroft seemed puzzled. “Are the in-laws coming?”
“No, dear, your brothers are coming.”
“Brothers?” Greg asked. “As in plural?”
Mummy chuckled. “Well, yes. Myc, you didn’t tell him?”
“Yeah, Myc?” Greg raised his eyebrows, “You didn’t tell me?”
Mycroft cleared his throat. “Gregory, why don’t I lead the way to where we’ll be saying?” He began to walk off.
Greg started to follow, grumbling under his breath, “You better explain, too.”
Mummy caught his shoulder. “Oh, don’t be too hard on him, dear. My youngest child is a bit of a secret.”
“Secret?!” Greg exclaimed.
Mycroft called from down the hall, “Not helping, Mum!”
Greg followed after him, muttering.
A few minutes later, the front door slammed open. Mummy sighed. Sherlock always hated using the doorbell.
Still, she hurried out of her study and rushed to meet him. “Sherlock!” She threw her arms around him.
He smiled at her. “Hello, Mum.”
“It’s nice to see you dear.” She couldn’t resist reaching up and pinching his cheeks. His smile turned into a grimace.
“Nice to see you too, Mummy.” He pulled away.
She eyed the short blond that followed Sherlock in. He smiled politely at her. “Hello, dear,” she said. She lightly slapped Sherlock’s chest. “Aren’t you going to introduce me?”
“Oh, yes.” Sherlock waved his hand lazily. “Mum, John. John, Mum. Now you know each other.”
“Sherlock,” Mummy hissed.
“What?” he asked innocently. She glared at him. He sighed. “Oh, as if you didn’t know.”
John, thankfully, seemed completely used to Sherlock’s antics. He stepped forward. “Hello, Mrs. Holmes. You have a lovely home.”
She chuckled. “Thank you. And just Mummy is fine. Mrs. Holmes was my mother-in-law.”
“Right,” he smiled. “Where can we…” he gestured to their suitcases.
“Oh, yes. Let’s see, we have two bedrooms left?” she asked herself.
Sherlock was disappointed. John couldn’t stay in his room? Maybe if he released some old chemicals into the last bedroom…
“Perfect,” John said. “Which one should I put mine in?”
Mummy laughed. “Oh, no, dear. You’ll be doubling up with Sherlock.” She turned to Sherlock, “Your brother should be here soon. Always late, he is.” She tsked.
John was puzzled. “Sorry, I thought Mycroft was already here. Was that not his car in the driveway?”
Mummy tilted her head. “His other brother. I did have three, you know.”
John turned to Sherlock, eyebrows raised. “No, I didn’t know. What a thing to leave out, Sherlock.”
Sherlock looked away. “Well, I can see that Mycroft has brought a guest over as well. Is it that assistant of his, perhaps? He can't seem to go anywhere without her.”
“Sherlock, don’t try to change the subject,” John said.
Sherlock frowned and looked around. “Hmm, not the assistant, then. I wonder…” He began to walk up the stairs towards the bedrooms.
“Sherlock,” John hissed. “I am not finished with you.”
Greg started to come down the stairs, only to stop short. Two very familiar faces blinked back at him. Mycroft, who was close behind him, sighed.
“Gavin?” Sherlock asked. He looked at Mycroft. “You invited Gavin?”
Mycroft gave an asinine smile. “His name is Gregory, and yes, I did.”
John got over his surprise first. “Greg, yes, hello,” he said awkwardly. “It’s good to see you.”
“You too,” Greg agreed. “Did Sherlock invite you?”
“Yeah. Harry’s in a rut.”
“Ah. Sorry, mate.”
John shrugged. Mummy caught both of their elbows. “Here, why don’t we go to the kitchen and crack open this wine.” Mycroft and Sherlock moved to follow, but Mummy gave them a warning glare.
As soon as Greg and John were out of earshot, the brothers turned to each other and began talking.
“I can’t believe you invited hi-”
“Me? What about you with your-”
“How could you do su-”
“Why don’t you jus-”
“How can you possibly thi-”
The doorbell rang, stopping them both. Mummy rushed back into the foyer. She swung open the door. “Q, darling!”
Q smiled. “Hi, Mum.”
“What, are you too good to hug your mother? Come here.” She pulled him into a hug. He smiled.
“I love you Mum. How’ve you been?”
“Kiss arse,” Sherlock muttered.
Mycroft shook his head. “You are such a middle child.”
“I’ve been well, thank you. And who’s this?”
Both Sherlock and Mycroft were surprised to see another man walk in behind Q. He was tall and built, with sandy cropped blond hair and blue eyes.
“SIS operative,” Sherlock whispered.
“Obviously,” Mycroft whispered back.
“This is a friend from work,” Q said. “His name is James. James, this is my mum and my brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft.” He smiled.
Sherlock murmured. “Quentin is attempting to court one of his agents.”
“And you’re trying to court your blogger,” Mycroft shot back.
“As if you can talk,” Sherlock hissed.
Bond strolled up to Mummy. He outstretched his hand, “It’s nice to meet you, ma’am. The name’s Bond. James Bond.”
Mycroft discretely typed the name into his mobile and hit send.
Mummy shook his hand, and he suavely leaned down and kissed the back of her hand. She chuckled. “You’re too kind.”
Q made his way to his older brothers. “Sherlock,” he greeted, “Mycroft.” They nodded at him, still eyeing his guest.
Mummy turned to her youngest. “I’ll help you carry your bags to your room. You and James will be sharing.” Mummy and Q walked off.
The moment they were gone, Sherlock and Mycroft swarmed James.
“What are your intentions with our brother?” Mycroft glowered at the agent.
Bond brought himself to full height and glared back. “I do believe that’s none of your concern.”
Sherlock’s eyes narrowed. “Our brother is our concern.”
“Would Q agree with that?”
Mycroft sneered, “You don’t even know his real name.”
“If it will keep him safe, I don’t need to know.”
Both brothers paused at this. Sherlock stepped back. “I like him,” he declared.
“I don’t trust him.” Mycroft’s phone chirped. He glanced at the screen. He sneered, “After all, Double-O agents are venerated for their skills in deceit.”
James’ hands clenched. “How do you know about that?”
Mycroft only smirked.
“Who the hell are you?” he hissed.
The ginger glanced at his phone again. “My, have you quite a file.”
James took a threatening step forward. “Would you like to be another name in it?”
Q came flying down the stairs, stopping in between Mycroft and James. “Please don’t kill him, James. He signs my paycheque.”
“He signs your paycheque? Who the fuck is he?”
Mummy came down the stairs. “Language, Mr. Bond.”
James turned and immediately put back on the charm. “James, please,” he smiled.
“Alright, James. Why don’t you come and help me in the kitchen?”
“I’d be happy to.”
He followed her to the kitchen, and was surprised when she turned and waved a finger at her sons. “Not you three. I want to spend some time with your boys.” She asked James, “Tea?”
“Yes, please.” James smiled, but stopped short when he saw the small man sitting at the table. “Watson,” he breathed.
John’s head snapped up, eyes wide. “Bond.” He marvelled.
James smiled. “Long time no see.”
“I was told you were dead, you bastard.”
James laughed and shrugged. “I came back. You know me – too stubborn to die.”
Outside the kitchen, the Holmes boys were huddled around the doorway, all trying to listen in. They gave each other puzzled looks.
“James was in the navy,” Q whispered.
“John, the army,” Sherlock said softly.
Mycroft mused, “Then how did they meet?”
Back in the kitchen, John had stood to give James a hug.
“Have you retired from the navy, then?” John asked.
James winced. He hated lying, but John was a civillian now. “Yeah, I'm into international sales, now. I travel a lot.”
John paused. He was no fool; he knew that James was lying to him. He just couldn’t figure out why.
James saw John’s inquisitive look and quickly changed the subject. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
John decided to let the matter drop. “I could ask you the same thing,” he teased. “I, uh, came with Sherlock.”
“The one with the red hair?” James asked.
“No, the one with red hair is Mycroft. Sherlock has brown hair. Greg here was invited by Mycroft.” Greg stood and shook James’ hand. They smiled at one another. “What about you?” John asked.
“Q asked me to come.”
John tilted his head. “Q?”
James seemed confused. “He said Sherlock and Mycroft were his older brothers.”
“Ah. Greg and I haven’t met him yet. We didn’t even know he existed until today.”
“Q,” Greg mused. “Bit of an odd name, isn’t it?”
James winced. The last thing he needed was people asking questions.
“Oh, I'm sure you’ll love him,” Mummy said. She winked and strode to the doorway. “He should be right here…” She stuck her head out, and all three of her boys reeled back, caught listening. She smiled innocently. “Oh my. What are you lot doing here?”
Mycroft was first to recover. He cleared his throat. “We were just wondering if we could… help. You. In the kitchen.”
Mummy laughed. “You boys have never asked to help a day in your life.” She turned, “Greg, John, this is my youngest Q.” Q waved awkwardly. “I'm sorry Sherlock and Mycroft decided not to tell you about him, but you’ll get to talk to him more later. For now,” she waved her sons away, “shoo. I'm having a nice chat with these beautiful boys you’ve brought home.”
She shut the door in their faces. “John, will you be a dear and help me chop the carrots? We’re having roast. James, if you could please peel the potatoes. And Greg?”
“Do me a favour and pop open that wine you brought. I think I’ll need it.”
Forty-five minutes later found them setting the table. “Shall I call them in?” Mummy asked.
John muttered, “They’ve probably been standing at the door since the beginning.”
Mummy chuckled, “Probably so.” She then called to the door, “Boys, wash up! Dinner’s ready!”
There was movement outside the door – and a few muted curses – before Mycroft strode in, fixing his tie. Sherlock and Q were right on his heels.
Q smiled innocently. “Looks delicious, Mum.”
He reached in the pan to snatch a potato, but Mum slapped his wrist. “Oi!” she snapped. “I said wash your hands, you lot. Now go. And no picking at the food before you're served.”
James had to turn away to hide his smile at the put-off look on Q’s face.
When the brothers came back, they all sat at the table. Mummy sat at the head of the table, and Mycroft immediately took his place at the other end. She told Greg to sit at Mycroft’s right, and placed Sherlock and John side by side next to Greg. She sat Bond and Q next to each other on the opposite side. Mummy winked at her boys.
Mummy hummed, taking another bite of the roast, “Boys, this is wonderful. Thank you for the help.”
They nodded, smiling. Greg said, “We’ve made some cake, as well.”
“Let’s hope its not fruitcake,” Q muttered.
Sherlock sniggered. “Here that, Mycroft? There’s cake. It’s a wonder you haven’t dug into it yet.”
“Oi!” Mummy snapped. “Be nice.”
Mycroft glared. “And what of you, brother dear? It looks as if you haven’t eaten a bite. Slipping back into old… habits, shall we say?”
Sherlock’s jaw clenched.
“Myc…” Mummy warned.
Mycroft smiled wolfishly. “What, Mummy? I’m just commenting on how I don’t want my brother to become anorexic again, that’s all.”
“Mycroft!” Mummy shouted.
Sherlock stood, throwing his napkin down on his barely-touched plate. “I'm done.” He stormed out of the room.
The room was silent for a few moments, before John stood. “I, uh, I'm just gonna check on him.” John left as well.
Q glared at his eldest brother. “That was a dick move, Mycroft.” His hands clenched under the table.
Mycroft pinched his brow. “Yes, I know.”
Greg leaned over and rested a comforting hand on Mycroft’s knee. “Come now, I'm sure he’ll forgive you. He always does, doesn’t he?”
He gave Greg a slight smile, and sighed. “I hope so.”
John found Sherlock outside, fumbling with his lighter. The cigarette was already in his mouth.
“Need some help?” John asked.
Sherlock froze, apparently not having heard John come out. “Not really,” he drawled. Still, the lighter wouldn’t light.
“Here,” John said. He pulled his own lighter out of his coat pocket and held it out.
Sherlock looked at it, face unreadable. “You don’t smoke,” he said slowly.
“No,” John agreed, “but you do.”
Sherlock paused, eyeing John wearily. “You carry a lighter,” he said, “because I smoke?”
John shrugged. “Well, why else would I carry it?”
A small smile flashed across Sherlock’s face. “Why indeed?” he mused.
There was a small pause. John took a deep breath. “Listen, Sherlock-” he began.
“Don’t,” Sherlock snapped. He turned away. “I really don’t want to discuss this with you.”
John sighed. “No, Sherlock, we need to. You don’t have to say a word. Just let me talk.”
Sherlock remained silent.
John moved to stand in front of him. “I think no less of you for anything that Mycroft said. The problems of your past are your business.” He cleared his throat, “Also, you’re brother is a douche.”
Sherlock smiled at John. He nodded. “Hardly a surprise.”
Inside, James cleared his throat. “I’ll just serve the cake, then.”
Q stood, “I’ll help.” They walked to the kitchen. Q turned to James, an apologetic look on his face. “I'm sorry you had to see that,” he said. “My family is crazier than me, and that’s saying something. Please don’t let them scare you away. I c-” He broke off and sighed, “Just, give them a chance, yeah?”
James smiled reassuringly. “No worries. My family is M and Eve – so really, who has it worse?”
“Well, when you put it that way…” Q laughed. “You get the knife and plates.”
When they walked back into the dining room, Sherlock and John were just sitting back down.
Q smiled at them both as he placed the cake on the table. James began to serve everyone a slice.
Mummy gave Mycroft a look, jerking her head toward Sherlock.
Mycroft sighed. “I apologise, Sherlock,” he said, clearly through gritted teeth.
Mummy rolled her eyes. “Good enough,” she muttered.
Sherlock smiled tightly at his older brother, then promptly picked up his slice of cake and shoved it in Mycroft’s face. “All’s forgiven,” he said easily.
A shocked laugh bubbled out of Q’s throat, but he immediately clamped a hand over his mouth at Mum’s glare.
Mycroft’s mouth was flailing. Greg pulled his napkin off the table and tried to wipe some of it off.
He shooed Greg’s hand away. “I’ve got it.” He stood, clearing his throat. “Excuse me.” He left, little bits of cake falling and leaving a trail behind him.
Mummy reached over and smacked Sherlock’s arm. “Sherlock,” she hissed, “go apologise. Now.” Sherlock sighed and exited. Mummy turned to her youngest. “Q, follow him to make sure he does.” He nodded and left, leaving the brother’s guests sitting at the table.
“Are they always like that?” James asked.
John and Greg exchanged a glance, before bursting into snickers.
“Worse,” John choked out. “Last time Sherlock poured his tea into Mycroft’s briefcase.”
Greg added, “The thing still smells of Earl Grey.” He wiped his eyes.
James shook his head. He turned to Mummy. “You must be a strong woman, raising that lot.”
She laughed, nodding her head. “They’re worth the trouble, though.” She winked, “They’re a lot to handle, I’ll give you that, but they are certainly worth it.”
Sherlock found Mycroft in the bathroom, washing the cake and frosting from his eyes.
He slipped the money into Mycroft’s coat pocket. “Thanks.”
Mycroft rolled his eyes. “Was the cake bit really necessary?” He picked another clump out of his hair.
Sherlock shrugged and smiled. “It made it believable.”
They were both startled by Q popping out from behind the doorway. He hissed, “You paid Mycroft? To act as if he blabbed about you past… condition?”
Sherlock straightened his scarf, looking completely unrepentant. “Of course. It was easier than me trying to tell him. Besides, I needed an excuse to storm away and appear vulnerable; I knew John would follow.” He smirked, “We bonded.”
Q pressed his fingertips to his temples. “You’re insane.”
“Maybe so, but-” he leaned in closer, his voice dropping to a whisper, “John carries a lighter. Not because he might need it, but because I might.”
“Congratulations,” Q deadpanned. He rolled his eyes, and turned to exit. “I'm going to go have a drink. Heaven knows I’ll need it.”
Mycroft called, “Offer your agent one while you’re at it. His file says he has an excellent taste in scotch. Macallan, if we have any.”
Q flipped him off.
“I tell you, it’s good to see you mate,” John said. “How did you even survive?”
“Not a clue,” James shrugged. “I woke up with an old woman over my head, chanting. She had pulled most of the shrapnel out of my body and patched me up.”
“Incredible,” John laughed. He nudged Greg, “When James and I were in Iraq, the buddies and I used to joke that he was immortal. He could survive through anything. Still can, apparently.”
Greg laughed. “So is that how you know John, then? You served in the army together?”
Both John and James paused at the question, exchanging nervous glances. “Something like that,” James agreed.
John slapped his forehead, laughing awkwardly. “Where are my manners? I never actually introduced you two. Greg, this is James Bond. He’s an old friend. James, this Greg Lestrade. He works as a Detective Inspector for Scotland Yard.”
They shook hands. “It’s nice to meet you,” James said.
Q suddenly stormed through the dining room and into the kitchen, muttering under his breath. He called, “Would anyone like a drink? Something a little stronger than wine?”
“Sure,” James called. “Have any scotch?”
Q’s curses increased.
“Make that two,” John said.
Greg shook his head. “Nothing for me, thanks.”
“Mum?” Q called.
“Wine is enough for me, thank you.”
Greg stood, “Here, let me take your plates.”
Mummy smiled at him. “You’re a dear. Thank you.” He nodded and left for the kitchen.
Sherlock and Mycroft strode back in, the latter’s face still slightly damp. “Have you two made up?” James asked.
The brothers looked puzzled. “Of course we have,” Mycroft said. “Why wouldn’t we?”
James opened his mouth to retort, but John caught his eye. He shook his head and mouthed, ‘Not worth it.’
Q came back from the kitchen, holding drinks. “Here you are.” He passed them out.
Greg came out as well. “Well, what now, then? We can put on the telly, maybe watch a Christmas movie?”
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Mummy doesn’t believe in television. She says it rots your brain.” In her seat, Mummy nodded. Sherlock sighed, “I wrote a paper for her when I was eight that held a multitude of evidence to the contrary, but she still refused to buy one. She ended up getting one just after Q moved out, but she hardly uses it.”
“Oh, it wasn’t that bad.” Mycroft said. “We only had to find other ways of entertaining ourselves.”
Q glowered. “One of those ways ended up with me breaking my leg.”
“Oh, have you still got a grudge over that?” Sherlock sighed. “I told you I was sorry. It was Mycroft’s fault anyway.”
“Oi!” Mum shouted. “You told me it was an accident!”
“It was,” Sherlock said. “I miscalculated how much force it would take to catapult a hu-”
“No, never mind,” Mummy declared. “I’ve decided I don’t want to hear it.” They all laughed. She said, “We have board games. Perhaps we can play Cluedo-”
“No!” John yelled. His ears turned pink as everyone looked at him. He cleared his throat. “Erm, I’d rather we not play that. Sherlock is terrible at that game.”
“I am not,” Sherlock snapped. “There is an obvious fallacy in the rules – did the makers of the game never consider the option of suicide? Evid-”
“Moving on,” Greg interrupted. “Do you have a deck of cards? We can all play poker.”
John perked up. “Oh, yeah. James, you were a shark at that game. Do you still got it?” he teased.
James shook his head. “I don’t play anymore.” There was a pause at his sudden dismissal. He avoided the other’s eyes.
John finally asked, “Scrabble?”
Both Mycroft and Sherlock groaned, while Q hissed, “Yes!”
“What?” Greg asked.
Mycroft answered, “Q has always been… superior at that game.”
“Which is why I love to play,” he said. “I don’t know why you complain, Mycroft, you and Sherlock have both read the dictionary cover to cover, same as me.” They all ignored Greg’s small exclamation of ‘Damn.’ “Maybe I just draw better tiles,” Q teased.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “It’s the only game we can play together without me wanting to gouge out my own eyes. I suppose I’ll play. Mycroft?”
He heaved a sigh. “If I must.”
“Count me out,” John said. “I’ve never been good at that game.”
“Me neither,” Greg admitted. “I just don’t have the patience, and it tends to be a long game.”
“That leaves one spot left,” Sherlock said. “James, are you going to join us?”
James pursed his lips. “Sure, I'm in.”
Greg muttered, “Your funeral.”
Q jumped up. “I’ll get the board.” He came back with the box, and gingerly set it down on the table.
Sherlock asked, “Which languages are we using this time?”
Mycroft hummed, “Let’s stick to English and the simple romance languages, shall we? It got too messy when we added in African dialects.”
“Agreed,” Q said.
“Whoa, can we just stick to English?” James asked.
Mycroft sighed. “Limiting, but I suppose we could. Greg, closest to A or Z starts?”
“Okay, then.” They all reached in for the tiles.
“Damn, I’ve got A,” Mycroft said.
Sherlock smiled, “T.”
“F,” Q said.
James grinned. “V.”
“Alright, James is first.” Sherlock slid the bag of tiles to him.
Mummy piped up. “This game is actually how Q got his nickname.” James’ head shot up, while Q’s ears went pink. Mummy winked at James. “He’s been Q for longer than you’d think. He would always manage to draw the ‘Q’ tile, and nine times out ten he could find a way to play it on a triple word score. Sherlock and Mycroft were convinced he was cheating.” She laughed, “Somehow, we ended up calling him Q when he was only about eleven. It just stuck.”
“Yes, he got a nice nickname, while we ended up with Shirley and Myc,” Sherlock griped.
John snorted. “Shirley? Really? Oh, that’s brilliant.”
Sherlock glared, “Call me that again and I’ll kill you.”
Mycroft picked imaginary lint off of his suit. “I hate to say it, but the same goes for you, Gregory. Myc is only the first syllable. Make sure you finish the name.” He flashed a threatening smile.
Q smiled. “Right, shall we begin?”
The game ended nearly an hour later, with Q beating the others by eighty-three points.
Sherlock grumbled. “I don’t know how, but you cheat.”
“Nope,” Q grinned. “Just admit that I'm better at something. You always were a sore loser.” He turned to James, “They made me play nure once, just to be sure I wasn’t hiding a remote”
“I am no- wait.” Sherlock paused. He glanced around. “Where’s Mum?”
“Gregory and John seem to be gone as well,” Mycroft said.
Q winced. “Oh, lord. Who knows what they could be up to?”
“Nothing good, that’s for sure,” Sherlock promised.
James laughed. “Oh, come on, it can't be that bad.”
Three sets of eyes flashed to him. They spoke in unison, “You don’t know our mother.”
A burst of laughter came from the living room, and the brothers took off towards it. They found Mummy sitting on the sofa, John and Greg on each side of her, with a large black book in her lap.
Greg looked up, grinning. “My god, Mycroft, you were such an adorable little boy.”
The brothers’ faces went pale.
James laughed. “What’s that then, baby photos?” He walked around the back of the couch.
John snickered, and pointed to one of the photos. “Oh, look there. You can see that he’s not Jewish.”
“Mum!” Mycroft bellowed, his cheeks a fiery red.
“Don’t worry dear, I'm showing them your brothers’ next,” she said.
John laughed. “Oh, yes!”
Mummy smiled, turning the page and pointing at another photo. “Ah, I remember this. This picture was taken when you got your first haircut. He was so afraid of the scissors. Wasn’t he sweet?”
Mycroft cleared his throat. “Don’t you think it’s time to move onto Sherlock’s now?”
Mummy pouted. “Oh, spoilsport. Fine.” She moved to put the photo album on the floor, but Greg caught it before she could.
“Mind if I look through this a little longer?” he asked.
Mummy grinned, ignoring her eldest’s cry of ‘don’t you dare!’. “I don’t mind one bit,” she said, passing it over. She then pulled out Sherlock’s, flipping it open. “Believe it or not, Sherlock was actually a very chubby baby.” John snorted, looking at one picture of a plump Sherlock holding a bottle with his feet. “He was a delightful baby – slept through the night when he was only four weeks. It wasn’t until he hit his ‘terrible twos’ that he turned into the nightmare you know today.”
“Hey,” Sherlock cried indignantly.
Mummy smiled. “Aw, you know I still love you. And I'm not stopping, so you might as well join us.”
Sherlock sighed, and moved to stand behind John. John giggled when he saw a photo of a four year-old Sherlock covered in chocolate frosting. “What did you do that for?” he asked.
Sherlock shrugged. “Bored.”
“Of course you were,” John laughed.
“Oh, Shirley, remember this?” Smiling fondly, Mummy pointed to a photo of Sherlock clutching a small plush bumble bee to his chest. In fact, he noticed that nearly every picture of Sherlock had that bee in it somewhere.
John felt Sherlock stiffen behind him. His voice was firm, “No.”
Q piped up, “Even I remember that thing, Sherlock. You loved it. You wouldn’t let it out of your sight.”
“What happened to it?” Greg asked.
Mummy shrugged. “It just disappeared. We couldn’t find it.” She laughed at the next photo. “This was when he got his first chemistry set,” she said. “Mycroft gave it to him. One week later, he lit his bed on fire – which I'm still not convinced was an accident.”
“It was an experiment,” Sherlock said. “And can we skip to Q’s?”
“I suppose. John, would you like to continue looking through this?”
“I would love to,” John said, grinning.
Greg laughed. “Oh my god, Mycroft, is this you on prom night? You look so scared!”
“Who’d you take?” John leaned over and peered at the picture. “Hang on. Is that… Anthea?”
Greg squinted at the girl’s face. “Christ, is that the girl in your car, Mycroft? I thought her name was Martha.”
“Who?” Q glanced at the page. “Oh, Tessa! I had forgotten you took her to that dance.”
Mycroft sighed. “Yes, and her actual identity is a secret. Well, was.”
James asked, “And she’s your assistant now?” He laughed. “You took your assistant to a school dance?”
“Well, she wasn’t my assistant then, and we had to have met somewhere. And John, Greg? I give her permission to shoot you if you call her by her real name.”
They nodded. “Understood.”
Laughing, Mummy opened Q’s album, purposefully skipping the first page that had his real name on it. She had to keep her baby safe, after all. “Q was born with a full head of dark brown hair, just like Sherlock. They take on after me, while Mikey looks more like his father.” The words seemed to slip out, and room paused at the mention of the Holmes father. She cleared her throat. “Q was actually born with blue eyes, until they eventually settled into green.
“He needed glasses by the time he was three,” she continued. “And now, you’re what?” she asked him. “Legally blind?”
Q nodded. “Nearly. Without my glasses I am just about legally blind. The doctor says I have maybe a year until it’s official.”
Mum smiled. “Q has always been fascinated by technology, just like Sherlock with chemistry and Myc with politics. We would give him toys when he was little and he’d simply break them to have a look inside.” She laughed, “I was always afraid he’d electrocute himself, or suck on the batteries.”
Q glanced down at the numerous electrical burns and scars on his hands and forearms, and frowned. He slipped his hands into his pockets.
“Oh, Q, here’s you with your first computer.” She pointed to a picture of an adolescent Q grinning as he held an old, rudimentary computer. “I nearly had a heart attack when the first thing he did was take it apart.” She chuckled, “Turns out, he had modified it. Made it 21% slimmer and 53% more efficient.”
John’s eyes widened. “Wow. Have you got a job, then, in the technological field? Must be a nice one, for how smart you are.”
James and Mycroft stiffened, while Sherlock smiled. Trust John to ask all the right – or wrong – questions.
Q, however, seemed perfectly at ease. He nodded. “Mmm, yeah. I do.” He paused. “Actually, believe it or not, I'm head of the TSS department at MI6.”
“Q!” Mycroft shouted. James was shocked that Q would just leak the information. Sherlock sniggered in his seat.
“What?” Q asked. “He was going to find out anyways. I just helped it along. Besides, he’s trustworthy. Both him and Greg aren’t going to go telling the world.”
There was a shocked silence after Q’s proclamation. Everyone was tense, eyeing John and Greg warily.
John simply held his head. “You Holmes. Too much for me to handle.”
Mummy chuckled. “Well, on that note, I’ll be heading off to bed. You lot should also go, soon.” She stood, discretely winking at Mycroft. He nodded.
John stood too, cracking his back. “I think I'm going to go as well. Sherlock, you coming?”
Sherlock smiled. “Put down the photo album and I’ll come.”
John pulled it out from where he was hiding it behind his back. “But I like it,” he teased.
“Down,” he stressed.
John sighed. “You're no fun.” He placed it back on the couch, yawning. “Alright, I'm going.”
“Me too,” Greg said. “I’ll be up in a bit.”
John nodded. “Goodnight.”
“Night,” everyone called back.
Upstairs, John stared at the one lone bed.
“Erm,” he scratched the back of his neck. “I can make a pallet for me to sleep on, if you’d like.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Sherlock said. “The bed is large enough for us both, and there’s no point in you waking up with a sore back.” He walked past John, fixing the blanket on the bed. “There, you can get nice and cozy.”
John asked, “Are you sure you’re okay with this?”
Sherlock shrugged. “We’ve slept in stranger positions, haven’t we?”
John laughed. “I suppose we have.”
Sherlock smiled. “I’ll change in the bathroom, you can get dressed in here.” He grabbed his bag, walking into the adjacent bathroom.
John chuckled, beginning to change into a simple pair of sweatpants and a RAMC t-shirt. He usually slept in only his pants, but he didn’t want to make Sherlock uncomfortable.
Sherlock stood in the bathroom, calming himself. It was only sharing a bed. Nothing more.
Nothing to worry about.
Nothing to get too… excited over.
Just incase, he wrapped his dressing robe a tad looser around his waist.
Sherlock took a deep breath, steeling himself. Before he could lose the nerve, he quickly opened the door and marched back into his room – only to stop short at the sight in front of him.
“Sherlock!” John yelled, blushing. He desperately tried to cover up.
Sherlock was frozen.
“Well don’t just stand there,” John snapped, grabbing his pants and quickly pulling them on.
Cheeks red, Sherlock stammered, “Er, I'm sorry – I didn't mean to, I mean, not that you wouldn’t – that we wouldn’t, simply,” he stopped himself, sighing. “I'm just going to go for a… drink of water. Excuse me.” He slipped from the room.
Once outside, Sherlock groaned. “Brilliant,” he muttered. “Just trod on in while he’s naked.” He walked downstairs, and began to bang his head against the wall. The lights were off; everyone else had also gone upstairs to go to bed. Sherlock sighed, and walked noiselessly to the kitchen.
“Ouch,” a voice hissed a few feet to his left. “Damn chair.”
Sherlock squinted in the dark, trying to see. “Q?” he whispered. A torch light was suddenly pointed at him. He winced. “What are you doing?”
“Sherlock?” Q asked.
“Yes, well done, now point that away, would you?”
Q aimed the light down. “Sorry. What are you doing down here?”
“I asked first.”
Q rolled his eyes. “You’re a child. If you must know, I was getting a glass of water.”
“With a torch? Seems excessive. Obviously you were trying to be secretive. So, I’ll ask again. What are you doing?”
In the faint light of the torch, Sherlock could see a small blush come over Q’s face. Q was avoiding his eyes. Now curious, Sherlock glanced around, calculating where Q would have been going had Sherlock not caught him.
He smirked, striding over to the thermostat. “Does it feel a bit warm to you?”
Q followed, seeming embarrassed. “Just a tad. I was going to simply turn down the heating a few notches.”
Sherlock chuckled, “Just enough to make a certain agent susceptible to… sharing body heat, perhaps?”
Q huffed. “Well, it’s not like you wouldn’t benefit from this as well.”
Sherlock opened his mouth to retort, but was cut off by Mycroft spinning around the corner, bumping into them both.
They all paused, eyeing each other warily.
Mycroft finally cleared his throat. He said awkwardly, “So, we all have the same goal, then.”
Sherlock nodded. “It appears so.”
“Then, perhaps,” Q said, “we should work together instead of against.”
Mycroft sighed, “Quite right. I think 18 degrees will do the trick, don’t you?”
Q shook his head. “Better go 16 just to be sure.” He turned to Sherlock, smiling, “John looks like a cuddler.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Was it you, then, that hid the blankets?”
Mycroft chimed in, “No, actually, that was me. I asked Mummy to put all but one blanket per bed in her room until we leave.”
“Brilliant. I knew I liked you for some reason,” Sherlock said.
“Can I get that in writing?” Mycroft asked.
“I'm afraid not. Good night and good luck.”
They retreated to their bedrooms.
Greg walked out of the bathroom, hair still slightly damp from the shower. He shivered. “It’s a bit cold, isn’t it?” he asked Mycroft, who was now lounging on his bed, reading.
Mycroft shrugged. “Not particularly.”
Greg glanced at the bed, frowning. “I’ll take the floor, then, yeah?”
Mycroft didn’t glance up from his book. “There’s no need for that. We’re both adults – I think we can handle sharing a bed.”
Greg scratched the back of his neck. “Aren’t there any other blankets?”
“You can check if you want. There’s a closet at the end of the hallway where we store extras. There should be some in there,” he lied.
“Right, okay. Be back in a second.” Greg left the room and quietly made his way to the closet. He glanced inside. Empty.
Greg smiled. Just his luck! He had been trying to think of an opportunity to get Mycroft to let him sleep with him on the bed – only for one to land right in his lap. This was the perfect excuse.
Mycroft glanced up from his book when Greg walked back in. “Any luck?’
“Well, as I said, we’re both adults. Nothing to worry about.”
“Right,” Greg agreed. He lifted the blanket and slide under. “Are you going to join me?”
“In a little while. I'm just doing some light reading.”
Greg glanced at the title of the book. Biocentrism, by Robert Lanza, MD. He chuckled. Light reading?
He grabbed the book from Mycroft’s hands, placing it on the bedside table behind him. “You’re on vacation,” Greg said. “Take a break.” He patted the bed next to him.
Mycroft shook his head, smiling, and slipped into bed as well. Might as well enjoy it while it lasts.
Sherlock walked back into his bedroom, and chuckled when he saw the state John was in. The doctor was sprawled out on the centre of the bed, face down in between the pillows, snoring away.
Sherlock smiled endearingly. When John had first moved into 221B, he slept like a soldier – back ramrod straight, arms folded over his stomach, completely on alert. He didn’t move once throughout the night; only a small twitch in his fingers would indicate when he was having a nightmare.
It took ages for John to be comfortable enough with his surroundings – and Sherlock – to be able to let himself relax when he was sleeping. Now he slept sprawled out, comfortable, and vulnerable.
Sherlock pulled back the blanket, gently trying to push John over. John frowned in his sleep and grumbled.
“John,” Sherlock whispered, “scoot over.”
John’s protests were muffled by the pillow. Sherlock pushed a little harder, and John rolled over slightly, mumbling, “Arse.”
Sherlock smiled. He climbed into bed, picking up John’s arm. John groaned, grabbing Sherlock around the waist and hauling the brunet toward him. John smacked his lips sleepily, burying his face in the crook of Sherlock’s neck.
Q was right.
In Q’s bedroom, James sighed.
Q sat as his desk, laptop sitting in front of him, clicking away.
“Put away the computer,” James complained. “The tapping is annoying.”
Q didn’t look up from the screen. “Asking me to put away the computer is like asking you to put away your gun. I'm incomplete without it.”
James granted him that. “Do you ever sleep?”
James rolled his eyes. “It’s going to be a cold night. You better bundle up tight. Is there a crack in your window? I can’t figure out why it’s so cold.” He walked over to the window and held it hands out, feeling for a draft.
“It’s always cold in the house this time of year,” Q lied. “Something to do with the insulation. But you're right; I should get to bed.” He reluctantly shut down the laptop.
“Thank you,” James said.
Q climbed into bed, and looked at James expectantly. “Coming?” he asked.
“You don’t mind sharing?”
Q gave a small snort. “007, I've been in your ear while you’ve killed a target with your bare hands. I think we’re way past worrying about privacy.”
James laughed, and slid into bed as well. “True. Is this the only blanket? It’s freezing.”
Q turned away to hide his smile. “I'm afraid so. You’ll just have to think warm thoughts.”
Once she was sure the house was asleep, Mummy snuck out of her bed and grabbed the bag of supplies Sherlock had requested she buy. He had emailed her a detailed list of instructions on where and how to hang the seven branches of mistletoe, and she planned to follow them to the letter.
After all, if John made Sherlock happy, then she was more than willing to help them get their happy ending.
In the morning, the Holmes brothers were sure to be the first to wake up. They each stealthily got out of bed and met in the kitchen.
Q pinched his brow. “Do any of us even know how to cook?”
Mycroft shook his head.
Sherlock sniffed. “It’s just simple chemistry. It can’t be that hard.”
Thirty minutes later found them each covered in batter and some sort of sticky substance coating the walls and a portion of the ceiling. Sherlock’s hair was practically glued to his forehead, and one of Q’s lenses was smeared with something blue.
Mummy came out of her room, yawning. A small crash from the kitchen caught her attention. Curiousity peaked, she made her way across the living room and to the kitchen.
And then immediately wished she hadn’t.
She immediately took in the sight of her ruined kitchen, and added it with the guilty looks from her children. Her eyes narrowed.
Mindful of the guest’s sleeping upstairs, she kept her voice low as she hissed, “What the hell do you lot think you’re doing? Look at the state of my bloody kitchen. Sherlock, was this your idea? I’ll tan your hide - don’t think I wont.”
Sherlock wrung his hands, only serving to spread more of the batter-like substance around. “We just wanted to make them breakfast in bed,” he said, uncharacteristically quiet.
Mummy softened. “Goodness, boys. Why didn’t you just wake me up first? You could have saved yourself a great deal of time.”
They seemed embarrassed. A glop of something fell from the ceiling and landed on Mycroft’s head. He grimaced.
She chuckled. “You boys go clean yourselves up. What was this supposed to be, pancakes?”
Q winced. “It was actually supposed to be a quiche. But I think pancakes sound wonderful.”
Mycroft and Sherlock nodded, and Mummy smiled. “Pancakes it is, then. Go get clean.” They waddled off, all slipping slightly on the tile floor. She called after them, “If you lot get any of that on my carpet, you’ll be on your hands and knees cleaning it.”
“Yes, ma’am,” they said.
Nodding to herself, Mummy got to work on saving breakfast.
Fifteen minutes later, Mummy was handing each of her children a tray, complete with two stacks of pancakes, hot syrup, and two cups of tea.
They each thanked her vehemently for the save, and she laughed and shooed them away back to their men. Now all she had to do was figure out a way to remove stains from metal cutlery…
Sherlock walked in just as John was starting to rustle, and hurried over to the bedside. He watched, entranced, as John reached out to Sherlock’s side of the bed. Even still half-asleep, John frowned when he was only met with empty sheets.
Even if it was only subconsciously, John cared for him as well.
Gently, Sherlock set the tray on the bedside table, and placed his hand on John’s shoulder.
John’s eyes snapped open, years of training and living in hostile zones forcing him to jerk awake all at once. A strong hand flashed to grab Sherlock’s wrist, rendering his arm immobile. John’s pupils shrank, and quickly zeroed in on Sherlock.
Sherlock smiled reassuringly, mentally cursing himself for not thinking of John’s reactions. “It’s just me,” he said lamely.
Now understanding that he wasn’t in any danger, John sagged from his attentive state. He heaved a sigh, eyes blinking sleepily. “Sh’lock?” he muttered.
“Yes. I’ve...” he paused, unsure of how to proceed. “I’ve brought you breakfast.” He reached over and brought the tray closer to John.
John perked up at the smell. “Food?” he asked. Before Sherlock could answer, John pulled back suspiciously. “Did you poison it?” he asked.
Sherlock sputtered. “What? No, I-”
“Is it for an experiment?”
“What’s wrong with it, then?”
Sherlock huffed. “I didn’t make it. Mummy did.”
John instantly brightened, sitting up. “Oh. Yum. What is it?”
Sherlock rolled his eyes, setting the tray across John’s lap. “Pancakes.” He climbed back into bed, talking one of the plates and cups of tea.
John dug in. “Delicious. Very thoughtful of her.” He smiled at Sherlock around a mouthful of pancakes. “Tell her I said thank you.”
Mycroft entered his room, smiling at the sight of Greg still sprawled out across his bed. He walked over, being sure to make a bit of noise so Greg wouldn’t up too suddenly.
Greg rolled over, groaning. His eyes fluttered. “Mycro...?” he mumbled.
“Right here,” Mycroft said. “Sleep well?”
Greg nodded sleepily, smiling. He suddenly grimaced and wiped away the remaining drool from his chin. His eyes flashed up to Mycroft’s, embarrassed, but Mycroft pretended not to notice.
Mycroft smiled awkwardly, and showed Greg the tray. “Erm, I thought you might like some breakfast.”
Greg looked down at the tray, eyes widening. “Oh...”
Mycroft’s smile faded. He backtracked, “Of course, if you’re not hungry, that’s fine too.” His voice sped up as he became more nervous. “Maybe you’d rather have tea? Or coffee? Or if you don’t like pancakes I can-”
Greg cut him off, sitting up and enthusiastically grabbing one of the plates. “No, this is perfect. Did you make them?”
Mycroft sighed in relief. “No, Mummy did. Our attempt at breakfast is probably dripping from the walls.”
Greg laughed, cutting up his pancakes. Mycroft tentatively sat on the bed next to him, and started on his own food.
Greg asked, “Our?”
“Sherlock, Q, and myself,” he clarified.
Greg nodded. “Well, this is fantastic. Thank you, for the, um,” he bowed his head, blushing slightly. “For the food. It was nice of you.”
Mycroft smiled as well, hoping to hide is responding blush behind his cup of tea.
Q opened the door to his bedroom, not bothering to be quiet. He knew James would already be awake.
Sure enough, James was sitting up in bed, his disassembled gun lying in front of him. “Good morning,” he greeted. “Is that for me?”
Q rolled his eyes. “Yes. It’s pancakes.”
James grinned. “Breakfast in bed? You sure know how to keep a man happy.”
“Hey now, don’t expect this to happen again,” Q warned. “I’m not your servant.”
“No,” James agreed. “You’re much better than that.”
Q chuckled, handing the tray to James. “Shut up and eat, before I take it away.”
While Bond began to eat, Q looked at the dismantled gun curiously. “Something wrong with it?”
“No, just passing the time. I didn’t bring my cleaning kit, or I would have done that, too.”
Q scrutinised the pieces. “Hm.”
Instead of answering, Q reached out and quickly put the gun back together. He held it out to James, proud. “I used to borrow Sherlock’s gun and time how fast I could take it apart and put it back together. His was a different model, of course, but the mechanics are basically the same.”
Bond blinked. “Oh. How old were you?”
“And Sherlock let you borrow his gun?”
“Borrow is more of a relative term. I stole it from him, but he’d always figure out when I was planning to nick it and hide the bullets.”
“Good on him, then. I’d hate to see a loaded gun in your hands.”
“I’d probably end up shooting Mycroft,” Q shrugged. “Nowhere vital, but it would still make me feel better.”
Once they had finished eating, Q went into his bathroom to change.
James rolled his eyes when he saw what Q was wearing. The brunet was in another of his horrid Christmas jumpers - this time it was a fireplace on front, with an actual LED screen embedded for the lit fire.
He grinned when James grimaced at the sweater. “Like it?” he asked. “Eve got it for me.”
“It’s...” James began, trailing off when he couldn’t think of a nice enough word. He shook his head. “Let’s just go downstairs. I think I heard the others already make their way down.”
The pair walked downstairs, finding the others sitting in the living room, mugs of hot cocoa huddled in their hands. The temperature had seemed to gone back to normal, James noticed.
James sat next to Greg. “I was freezing last night.”
Greg nodded. “Same here.”
“Where’s John, then?”
“Over in the kitchen. He’s giving Mrs. Holmes a hand with the dishes.”
“Bond?” Q asked, “Will you please fetch me another cup of tea?”
James’ eyes narrowed. “Is this payback for the servant remark?”
Q’s lips twitched. “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”
He rolled his eyes, but rose and snatched Q’s cup.
He walked to the kitchen, rounding the corner, and was immediately pushed against the wall by a livid army doctor.
“What’s this about, Watson?”
“Cut the crap, Bond. I know you’re not really in international sales,” he hissed the words. “I can see the Walther in the back of your trousers. What do you really do?”
The hold John was keeping him in could have been easily broken - and John knew it - but he was giving James a chance to redeem himself by not struggling.
When James didn’t answer, John continued, “You were so bloody good, James, I doubt the service would have just let you go. I know you; you’d rather shoot your brains out than be stuck in some boring desk job. Tell me the truth, who are you really working for.”
James ignored him. “What about you, then? You were a damn crack shot, John. Not to mention a brilliant doctor. I see the Browning you’re armed with. What happened to you? I know you planned to stay in the army until you were fifty.”
John’s grip tightened slightly at the reminder, before releasing James completely. He sighed. “I got shot. Shoulder. Damn near shattered my clavicle. My scapula was just nicked. My hand has terrible tremors every so often - so my work as a doctor was out. Had a limp that was completely in my head. They sent me home.”
“Wham, bam, thank you, Ma’am,” James muttered, and John snorted in spite of himself.
“Don’t I know it,” he said. “Anyway, once I was home-”
Sherlock rounded the corner, surprising them both. “He then came to work with me,” he finished. “Also, John, he’s a SIS agent. How do think he met Q? I read his file. It’s rather impressive.”
John held his forehead. “Does Mycroft know about this?” he asked.
Mycroft suddenly appeared. “Of course he does. I was the one that retrieved his file in the first place. A friend of his actually saved my life a few years back. Political scandal. Q - the old Q - sent Alec Trevelyan to retrieve me from where I was being held. He made such a mess, but was efficient enough.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “I knew you didn’t have the flu.”
It dawned on James. He chuckled. “Oh. I remember that. He said he saved some ponce who criticised his methods as soon as the gag was out. He wanted to put it back in.”
Sherlock turned to Mycroft. “I would have just left you to rot.”
Mycroft sighed. “And this is why, brother dear, you are not in charge of the nation’s security.”
“And you are?” James asked.
Mycroft smirked. “Well, someone has to be.”
Sherlock continued to muse, “I wonder if Q wanted to leave you there, as well.”
“I was sorely tempted to,” Q said, popping up from behind Mycroft. “But, like I said, he is the one who signs my paycheque. It would take too long to get M to sign it.”
“I’m glad you both care so much,” Mycroft said dryly.
Greg walked around the corner, bumping into Q. He blinked in surprise, looking at the small group of huddled men. He sighed. “I’ve missed something, haven’t I?”
Sherlock was the first to answer. “Not really. James is just an assassin who works for Q, who works for Mycroft, who - as always - is the British Government.” He strode away.
The rest of the group stared at Greg, waiting for his reaction.
Greg sighed, shaking his head. “Right, then. Who wants tea?”
They all returned to the living room, Mummy sitting happily in her chair. “So,” she clapped her hands excitedly. “What’s on the agenda for today?”
John spoke up first. “Greg and I were actually thinking that we could pop into town for a bit, maybe catch up on some last minute Christmas shopping. James?” he asked, a peace offering.
James took it, nodding at the doctor. He smiled. “That sounds brilliant. Q, do you mind if we take your car?”
Q shrugged. “Not at all.”
“We’ll stay,” Mycroft announced, and his brothers nodded. “The shops in town tend to be busy this time of year-”
“And Sherlock is banned from most of them,” Q finished. Sherlock rolled his eyes.
“Alright, then. We’ll be off.” John stood. “Mrs. Holmes, do you need us to bring back anything?”
Mummy smiled. “You’re too kind. Will you please buy some eggnog? I seemed to have forgotten it.”
John nodded, and they headed out.
Once the Holmes boys were sure that their guests had left, they formed a huddle in the centre of the living room.
“I haven’t gotten him a gift,” Sherlock said, worriedly. “Normal people, they like receiving presents on Christmas, right?”
Mycroft looked bemused, though he was just as worried. “Yes, Sherlock, that is the general idea.”
Sherlock groaned. “I have no idea what to get him. Do you think he’d like an interesting case? I can sift through some old files.” His eyes lit up, and he turned to his older brother excitedly. “Mycroft, you must have someone that needs to be offed, right? Can you at least make it interesting?”
Mycroft grimaced, “Sherlock, I think John might appreciate something a little less… gruesome for Christmas.”
Sherlock threw himself back on the sofa, huffing dramatically. “As much as it pains me to ask this, will you two help me?”
Q tried to console him. “Don’t stress too much, Sherlock. John likes you. He would be happy with anything you got him. Just… try to keep it from being a biohazard.”
Sherlock nodded, thinking. He sighed. “And you, Q? What did you get your agent?”
Q sighed. “Nothing, yet. Maybe he’d just like some bullets.” He turned to Sherlock, “Do you still have those throwing stars?”
Sherlock shook his head. “I melted them.”
“Damn,” Q cursed. “I have absolutely no idea what to get him.”
Mycroft cleared his throat. “I… might require assistance on choosing a gift as well.”
“What did you have in mind?” Q asked.
The ginger smiled sheepishly. “I was thinking, perhaps, an umbrella?”
His brothers blinked, before speaking simultaneously, “No.”
Mycroft frowned. He rubbed at his forehead. “What if I gave him a picture frame?”
“A frame. With, well, a picture of him and I. Or something of the like.”
Mummy, who had been quietly sipping at her tea, decided to step in. She said gently, “Mikey, dear, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Giving him a picture would be so… unfeeling. It’s as if you were to say you didn’t care about him at all.”
Mummy smiled patiently. “Just think, boys. What did they say they wanted?”
Sherlock was face down on the sofa, in a strop. The last case from the Yard had seemed promising at first, but had turned out to only be an open and shut domestic. Crime of passion. Boring.
Sherlock had promptly came home, changed into pyjamas and his dressing gown, and fallen face first into the plush cushions.
John sighed, walking to the kitchen to make them some tea. He called to the living room, “Are you hungry, Sherlock?”
“Eating is boring,” came the muffled response.
John tried to remember the last time he saw Sherlock eat, frowning when he couldn’t recall. He needed to get some nutrients into the younger man.
He walked back into the living room, shaking his head. “What if I made it interesting?” he asked. “Russian roulette. I make six sandwiches, poison one of them, and you keep eating until you chicken out.”
Sherlock turned to give his blogger an acidic glare. “While I admire your effort,” he said, “I know you wouldn’t actually let me eat the poisoned one, therefore making it not dangerous or interesting at all. Boring.” He flopped his head back into the cushion and spoke against the fabric, “Knowing you, none of them would be poisoned just so I would eat all of them. You’re too predictable.”
John huffed, crossing his arms. He rolled his eyes. “Would you just eat something?”
“No,” Sherlock snapped, his voice slightly muted. “And don’t roll your eyes. It doesn’t suit you.”
John’s hand twitched, but he calmly crossed the room to stand in front of the window. If he could hold off from killing his flatmate for one more day, he should receive a medal.
He frowned when he saw a car drive by, a large Christmas tree strapped to it’s hood. Was it Christmas time already? He considered asking Sherlock if they could put a tree up in their flat, but instantly dismissed the idea. He didn’t want to pick that fight.
John sat down in his chair, wondering if Sherlock would let him have a tree if they used bones as ornaments. Maybe the skull could be the topper, he mused. “What do you want for Christmas, Sherlock?” he asked absentmindedly.
Sherlock turned his head to study John. “A good case,” he declared. “I’m bored. If you wish, you could kill Mycroft in the most interesting way you could think of. I promise to keep his eyes out of the butter dish.”
John didn’t answer, and an awkward silence fell on the room.
Sherlock sighed. “I realise that it is considered courteous to return social niceties such as these, so John, I ask you, what do you want for Christmas?”
John blinked, honestly not expecting the question. He thought for a moment. “I don’t know,” he said, and Sherlock huffed. John continued, “Nothing special. Maybe some medical textbooks? I’m not picky.”
Then the kettle whistled, and that was the end of that.
Mycroft and Greg sat at the café, at their usual table. Mycroft was nothing if not a creature of habit.
Mycroft smiled at Greg as he gave his order to the waitress. His eyes glanced at the small wreath earrings she wore, and he grimaced. Christmas time meant that everyone was unnaturally cheerful, and it always annoyed him.
Still, he could handle it if it meant that Greg was happy.
“So,” Greg said, his fingers tapping away on the table. “What’s on your Christmas list this year?”
Mycroft shook his head. “I don’t celebrate Christmas,” he said simply. “I hate it. It’s pointless.”
“Oh.” Greg studied the table, looking perturbed.
Mycroft immediately felt bad for being so blunt. He cleared his throat. The words felt sour in his mouth, but he asked anyway. “Gregory-” he ignored the annoyed glance he received for using Greg’s full name, “what would you like for Christmas? Anything you have your mind set on?”
Greg seemed pleased that Mycroft asked, and the ginger was instantly glad he did. “Oh, I’m not sure...” Greg said, and then laughed as he thought of something. “Actually, what I’d really like is-”
The waitress returned with their drinks, and Greg patted his pockets to find his wallet. He stopped speaking, a frown on his face. His jaw flexed.
“I’d like for your brother to quit stealing my bloody badge and cuffs,” he hissed. “He took my wallet this time, as well. I’m going to murder him.”
A bemused smile on his face, Mycroft smoothly paid for the both of them.
The politician watched as Greg clutched the warm tea to him, thanking Mycroft feverously. Greg even told Mycroft he ‘owed him one.’
Mycroft had never been more proud of Sherlock’s kleptic tendencies.
Q stood at his desk, eyes scanning over the CCTV footage in front of him. Bond was walking through the crowded streets of Miami, weaving in and out of the crowd.
Q was silent at the moment, letting the agent concentrate on keeping an eye on the target he was trailing. “Left here,” he said quietly, watching on screen as James did exactly that.
Bond continued to follow for a few more minutes, following Q’s instructions.
“You’re a bit quiet today,” Bond commented, ducking into a cafe just at the target turned around.
Q hummed in agreement. “I’m just trying to make sure you don’t walk into a trap. The last agent the CIA sent to tail this guy is still missing.”
James snorted. It must have shown something about his mental state that he laughed at the prospect of death. He sincerely hoped transcripts of his missions weren’t sent to Psych. He didn’t want to scar one of the poor workers for life.
“Heavy pedestrian traffic ahead,” Q warned. “I’ll keep you posted.”
“Relax,” Bond said. “I’ve done this a thousand times. I know how to not lose a target.” James smoothly maneuvered through the crowd, ignoring the jovial vibe of the crowd around him.
One man on the sidewalk smiled at him, wearing a horrid red suit and a fake white beard. He shook his handbell, and gestured to the charity fund collection bucket near him. Bond shook his head, swiftly moving past.
“Ah, yes, Christmas,” James said mockingly. “A time for giving. And what do you want for Christmas, Quartermaster?”
Q muttered, “I want for you to bring me back my equipment in one piece. Just this once. It’s all I ask.” Bond could hear small clicks from Q’s keyboard. “Oh, and Father Christmas is sneaking up on your six with a knife. It seems you’ve been spotted.”
James sighed. “Well, fuck.”
The next few minutes were a bit of a blur, mostly made up of grunts and heavy breathing from the agent’s end, and (not so) helpful comments from Q’s.
“You might want to avoid the alley coming up on your right, there are more waiting for you there… No, I said avoid it, not rush right in… Oh, that’s real mature, throwing your Walther. It’s not as if I worked hard on that, or anything… Did you just let yourself get hit? Or are your skills slipping? Maybe you need to put more time in at training…”
When Bond finally get a break, he panted, “You know what? I’ve changed my mind. I want you back to being quiet.”
Q was muted for only a few moments, letting James have a small reprieve. Finally, he broke the silence by asking, “And you? What would you like for Christmas, 007?”
Q was genuinely curious about what the agent wanted, but the question was poorly timed, as more men with guns came barreling around the mouth of the alley.
James swore. “Right now, I’d really like for you to get me out of here.”
Q couldn’t resist. “Relax,” he mocked. “I’ve done this a thousand times. I know how to not lose an agent.”
Bond’s answering growl was worth it.
Q frantically typed, mind racing for options. He grinned. “It seem Christmas has come early this year, Bond. Run about nine metres and turn right. I’ll cover you.”
James grinned. “Excellent.” Trusting Q, he began to sprint. The electrical wires overhead crackled and snapped, falling on Bond’s pursuers. “Have I ever told you how terrifying you are?” he asked.
He could practically hear Q’s grin. “Not nearly as much as you should,” he quipped.
James chuckled. “As for the Christmas gift, I’ll also take some peanut brittle, if you’ve got any.”
Q’s voice was dry, “I’ll see what I can do.”
John, James, and Greg walked lazily along the sidewalks, looking through windows to see if anything caught their eye. They chatted idly, John and James getting caught up; Greg and John exchanging stories about Sherlock and cases.
It was finally noon, and none of them had found anything to give to their Holmes. They had all found small things for the others - James had even suggested things for John and Greg to get Q, since they hardly knew him - but none of them had found that one gift to give. Each of them were starting to feel slightly disheartened.
Greg pointed to a nearby diner. “Do you want to stop for some food? Take a break?”
James and John nodded, and they crossed the street and sat at a corner booth. Greg watched, bemused, as both John and James subconsciously positioned themselves to have the best vantage point of the diner. James was more subtle about it than John, but both scanned the layout of the room, noting the exits and people.
Greg chuckled at their near identical actions, and two sets of blue eyes snapped to him.
John’s lips twitched. “Something funny?”
Greg shrugged, evading the question. He asked James, “So, how did you meet John? Were you an army friend of John’s?”
James shook his head. “I was in the navy, actually. John and I met by chance on an assignment near the Persian Gulf. Our platoons had to coordinate to make an efficient attack.” He glanced at John, smiling. “John saved my life, actually. I had a gunshot wound to my abdomen - pretty gruesome thing, the bullet shattered against my twelfth rib - but John refused to let me die.”
“No,” John shook his head, “you refused to die. All I did was put in a few stitches.”
James rolled his eyes. “He kept my organs inside my body, and then carried me for nearly a mile.”
John only shrugged goodnaturedly. Clearing this throat, he quickly changed the subject. “Greg, mate, my didn’t you tell me you were… well, with Mycroft.”
Greg blushed. “We’re not together. He just invited me to be kind, that’s it.”
James guaffed. “I’ve seen the way he looks at you, man. He didn’t invite you just to be kind.”
“Besides,” John added, “Mycroft rarely does things just to be polite. He wouldn’t have asked you to come unless he wanted you here.”
Greg’s ears were tinged red. A waiter came and took their orders, and Greg turned the tables. “What about you then, John? Coming with Sherlock?” he accused. “Mr. ‘I’m Not Gay’.”
James suddenly laughed. “Is that what you told them?” he asked John. “That you weren’t gay? Oh, you always did play on semantics, didn’t you, Watson?”
Greg grinned wickedly. “Go on.”
“No, don’t,” John nearly begged.
James looked back and forth between the two; one eager, the other mortified. He smirked, announcing loudly, “Three Continents Watson, that’s what we used to call him.” John groaned. “He already had the nickname when I met him, and I got to see first hand how true it was. John doesn’t lie when he says he’s not gay. He’s bi. Well, he’s more of a Jack Harkness, really. I’m sure if we had aliens-”
“That’s enough!” John announced loudly. “Oh, look, our food.” He nearly lunged for his plate as the waiter brought it to them, and quickly stuffed his mouth.
Greg laughed, but decided to give the doctor a break. “Where to next?”
James shrugged. “There are still a few shops left. But if we can’t find anything there, I don’t know what we’ll do.”
John suddenly perked up. “What if we bought each other's gifts?”
Greg blinked. “I think that defeats the purpose.”
“‘No,“ John shook his head, “I mean, once you find a gift that you want to give to Mycroft, you can give me the money and I’ll buy it and wrap it so he’ll think it was my gift to Sherlock. Greg, you can do James’, and James will buy mine.”
James was dubious. “That seems a little… excessive.”
“No, I think it’s perfect,” Greg said. “If we don’t do that, they’ll just end up guessing their gifts.”
“Alright, then,” James shrugged. “Now, all we have to do is actually find the gifts.”
Mummy Holmes smiled at her sons sympathetically. They were spread about different parts of the living room; Sherlock huddled on the sofa, Mycroft perched on a chair, and Q hanging upside down off the back of the loveseat.
“This is too hard,” Sherlock declared. “John is getting a new jumper for Christmas, and he is going to like it.”
“Sherlock,” Mummy scolded. “Think about what John would want. What would mean the world to him?”
Sherlock tugged on his hair. “I don’t know!”
“What would make him happy?”
“Alright, what makes him unhappy? Can you give him a gift to fix that?”
Sherlock pulled on his curls for a few seconds more, before gasping. “Oh,” he whispered. Then, louder, “Oh! Yes!” Sherlock stood, crossing the room to lay a large kiss on his mother’s cheek. “You’re a genius,” he murmured.
Mummy smacked his side affectionately. “Off you go, then,” she laughed.
Nodding, Sherlock nearly ran from the room in excitement.
Q groaned. “Well, that’s one of us helped, but Mycroft and I are still fucked.”
Mummy sighed, walking over to stand in front of the inverted son. “Let’s try the same thing with you then,” she said, bemused. “What does James like?”
“Sex,” Q said bluntly, and Mycroft choked on his tea from across the room. Q didn’t seem phased. “But I’ll save giving him that until we’re actually together.”
Mummy shoulders shook with laughter, and she said softly, “Well, that seems like a reasonable plan. But, what else does he like?”
Q pondered for a moment. “He likes guns, of course. But there’s not much more I can do to his Walther - I have that baby modified within an inch of its life. Anymore and it will short circuit…” he sighed. “I suppose I can modify a palmprint detector on his rifle for him as well, but that’s a bit old hat now - no point in essentially doing the same thing twice. He likes knives as well.” Q asked, “Do you think he would like a collection of knives?”
“That seems a bit impersonal, don’t you think?” Mummy asked gently. “Unless you were to get them all engraved with his name or something.” She paused. “Then again, it’s probably best if he didn’t have his name on the knives he uses to kill people, isn’t it?”
Q laughed, nodding.
Mummy continued, “Is there something else you can give him along those lines that is a bit more… you?”
Q thought back, racking his brain to think of something that would work. He paused. “I might still have the blueprints for that...” he mused. He grinned at Mummy, flipping over off the back of the seat and kissing her on the cheek as well. “I think that will work rather nicely. Thank you.”
Mummy smiled, and Q flitted out of the room.
Mycroft rose from his seat on the chair, crossing the room to stand in front of his Mother. He cleared his throat, trying to seem nonchalant. “Do you think… you could assist me as well?”
Mummy smiled, holding one arm out and patting her lap with the other. “Come up and we’ll see.”
“I’m much too old for that.” Mycroft scowled, as if affronted by the offer, but Mummy knew her son better than that. She simply kept her arms open, waiting.
After a few moments of internal debate, Mycroft finally sighed and gently dropped into his mother’s lap. She grinned, wrapping her arms around him.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” she asked.
Mycroft grumbled, “Let’s just hope Sherlock doesn’t take any pictures.”
She chuckled slightly, and stroked Mycroft’s cheek. He sighed.
“I missed this,” she said. “You don’t come around nearly as often as you should. Q comes around more often than you. Sherlock, recently, has been putting in more of an effort.”
“I’m not a child anymore, Mother.”
She hummed, “You may not be a child, but you certainly are my child. And Mikey?” she asked.
He looked up at her inquisitively.
“I’m happy for you. This… Greg. He’s good for you. You’re more happy than I’ve seen in a long time.” She paused, bopping his nose playfully. He scowled at her, but couldn’t stay mad for long. She finally said, “And Greg seems very happy, too.”
Mycroft finally gave in and rested his head on her shoulder. He sighed. “He won’t be happy if I can’t find the perfect gift for him.”
“Oh, nonsense. He’ll be happy whether you give him something big or small. He’s just content to be here with you.”
“This is his first Christmas without his ex-wife, he told me. I don’t want to make him feel as if I’m… trying to replace her.”
“Darling, I doubt Greg thinks that. He wouldn’t have told you yes if he felt like that.” Mummy smiled, “Besides, from what you told me about that wife of his, I doubt he misses her at all. Their marriage went up in flames after she cheated.”
Mycroft nodded, before suddenly sitting up. “Flames, you said?” he mused.
She gave her son a stern glare. “Mycroft Holmes, you better not be planning to kill someone.”
Mycroft picked himself up from her lap, already drawing his mobile from his pocket. “No, no, nothing of the sort,” he said dismissively.
“Mike...” she warned. He only grinned at her, swooping down to hug her. She chuckled. “Oi, too much of that and I’ll think you’ve gone soft.”
“Never,” Mycroft promised, and strode out of the room, phone pressed to his ear.
Mummy reclined in her chair, sighing happily. Her boys would do just fine.
After finishing their meals, John, Greg, and James continued searching for gifts.
John suddenly paused, peering curiously through the window of one of the shops. He grinned.
Greg asked, “What is it?”
John gestured with his chin to the small object sitting in the shop window, and Greg squinted at it. He chuckled. “Is that…”
John nodded eagerly. “Almost exact.”
“What are the odds…” James mused, having seen it as well. “In a toy store, no less.”
Giddy, John quickly walked inside to claim his prize. James and Greg wandered the store, looking around. James paused in the board games section, laughing at his luck.
Greg peered over his shoulder. “That’s perfect, mate.”
James seemed almost nervous. “Do you think he’ll like it?”
John walked over to them, toy successfully taken from the display shelf. He saw what was in James’ hand, and beamed. “I don’t think he’ll ever put it down.”
James puffed out a sigh, relieved. “Good. That’s good.”
“I guess that leaves me, then,” Greg said. “Somehow, I don’t think Mycroft would appreciate something from a toy shop.”
“Quite right,” John laughed. “Let’s go check out, and then we’ll help you look for a gift.”
As promised, Greg purchased James’ gift to Q, and James bought John’s to Sherlock. They all agreed they’d pay each other back after Christmas. Finally, they left the store and continued walking along the street.
They roamed in and out of shops, searching for Greg’s perfect gift to Mycroft. “Do you think he’d like this?” John asked, picking up a silk tie.
Greg pursed his lips. “I don’t know. He already has so many; most are probably at least three times as expensive than that.”
“But none are from you,” offered James helpfully.
Greg sighed, and repeated, “I don’t know…”
John patted him over the shoulder, “Come on, then. We can keep looking somewhere else.” They started to make their way to the exit, when Greg paused.
He squinted at something over John’s shoulder, and laughed. John and Greg turned around, curious, and chuckled. On the top shelf was a picture frame with tiny umbrellas as the border.
John smiled, “I think he’ll love it.”
Greg nodded, eager. “And I think I know just what to pair it with. Come on!” Greg snagged the frame and they started to walk to the check out. “Only one more stop and then we can go home.”
James nudged him, giving Greg a knowing look. “Home, huh?”
Greg scowled, though his cheeks tinged pink. “Shut up.”
By the time John, James, and Greg arrived home, it was nearly dinnertime. They had bought gift wrap and wrapped the gifts prior to returning - so no prying eyes could peek into shopping bags.
Mummy kindly opened the front door for them, and they set their gifts down under the tree. At the sound of their arrival, the Holmes brothers were drawn from their rooms and into the living room.
James noticed how the brothers’ eyes immediately snapped to the gifts, and was suddenly glad for John’s idea to switch them around. Q was scrutinizing the gifts that James had wrapped - which were actually John’s gifts to everyone. As if he had read his mind, John caught James’ eye and winked.
Mummy caught the movement and smirked. She glanced at the clock, eyes widening. “Oh! Boys, it’s time!”
Sherlock and Q groaned, while Mycroft sighed.
“Time for what?” Greg asked.
Mummy clapped her hands. “It’s tradition,” she said, bustling off.
Greg looked to Mycroft, who sighed. “Every year since Mummy had me, it’s been a tradition to take a family photo on Christmas Eve. She won’t let us get out of it.”
Q nodded. “Once, she had Mycroft kidnap Sherlock because he refused to come. Sherlock wasn’t pleased, but she got her picture.”
“And I always do,” Mummy promised, hurrying back into the room with a duffel bag cradled in her arms. She thrust it upon Q, and then positioned herself in the chair in front of the mantle place. Q sighed, and made quick work of removing the tripod and camera from the bag and setting them up.
Mycroft moved to stand behind his mother, Sherlock standing to his left. They both ignored her jabs of them dwarfing her small frame. Q set camera up, gave the remote control to Mummy, and took his place next to Mycroft.
The brothers smiled (well, Mycroft smirked, Sherlock looked bored out of his mind, and Q grinned) at the camera, waiting for Mummy to take the picture.
Finally, Sherlock became impatient and frowned down at his mother. “What is it?”
She sniffed. “I’m simply waiting for everyone to get in the shot, that’s all.” The boys blinked, confused, and Mummy huffed at John, James, and Greg. “Well?” she asked, “What are you just standing there for?”
“What?“ John asked.
“You’re family too, you know. Come on, get in the picture, you three.”
Slightly shell shocked, the boys walked over, standing awkwardly on the outskirts of the frame.
Mummy sighed, and positioned them. She placed Greg to stand next to Mycroft; the pair’s hands may have brushed once or twice behind the cover of the chair, but neither felt the urge to pull away.
She moved James slightly behind and to the side of Q, and the agent immediately placed his hands on the younger boy’s hips, drawing out a startled gasp. Mummy smiled covertly.
Lastly, she tugged John over to stand behind Sherlock, mirroring Q and Bond. “Oh, wonderful idea, James. John, if you’d please put your hands on Sherlock’s waist.” John blushed, but did as told. “Yes, like that, perfect.” She grinned at them, and sat back down in her chair. “Smile,” she said, and snapped the picture.
And, for the first time in over twenty years, everyone looked happy.
Dinner was served half an hour later; most of that time was spent by the brothers trying to examine their presents when they thought no one was looking.
They sat at the table, Greg volunteering to help serve. As they ate, John smiled at Mummy. “I have to admit,” he said, “you are an excellent cook.”
Mummy smiled and thanked him at the same time Sherlock muttered, “It was catered.” Mummy scowled at her middle child, and whacked him on the arm. James and Q sniggered.
Sherlock tried to stop eating a quarter into his meal, but a glare from John had him pouting and spooning more food into his mouth.
A few minutes later, James reached over and swiftly snatched Q’s mobile out of his hand from under the table.
“Q,” Mummy chided, and Q lunged to get it back. James smiled cheekily at him and promptly sat on the phone.
“Like that will stop me,” he snapped, before blushing when he realised what he said.
James grinned. He opened his mouth to retort, when Mycroft’s mobile rang. The room went silent, and Mycroft glanced at the screen. “Excuse me,” he muttered, and lifted the phone to his ear.
“Mycroft!” Both Mummy and Greg scolded, but Mycroft waved them away.
He whispered to them, “I’m only putting the final touches on something. Won’t be long.”
Mummy huffed, rolling her eyes. “Q, dear, will you help me clear the table?”
Q nodded, and smiled when James stood to help as well. They cleaned up quickly, while the others made their way back to the living room, chatting idly.
Sherlock saw that John was about to walk through a doorway with mistletoe strung over it, and he matched his pace to John’s, falling in stride with the blond. They were just about to cross, when John stopped suddenly, turning around. He smiled sheepishly at Sherlock, muttering, “Forgot my drink.” Sherlock sighed, and waited for John in the living room. Mycroft gave him a knowing look.
Q and Bond came back, debating on whether it was actually possible to use sound waves to clean dishes and produce. Sherlock and Mycroft immediately jumped in, while John and Greg sat back and listened.
Mummy walked into the room, smiling. She had one more trick up her sleeve. “Oh, why don’t you play a song for us, dears?” she asked her sons.
They paused their conversation, groaning, but were silence with a look. Mycroft cleared his throat. He began, “I didn’t bring my-”
“Oh, nonsense!” Mummy interrupted. “You still have your old one in your closet, don’t you?”
He sighed. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Then go get it,” she commanded, and he strolled up to his room. “Do you have yours, Sherl?” she asked.
He nodded. “Always, Mum.” He rushed off to grab his violin.
“And what do you play?” James asked Q.
Q smiled, and led them to a small room off the living room. A beautiful mahogany baby grand piano sat in the corner. “I play the piano. I first started getting into computers because the hand movements were similiar.”
To Greg’s surprise, Mycroft came back downstairs with a cello case in his hand. “I didn’t know you played,” he said, taken aback.
Mycroft seemed slightly embarrassed. “I began when I was twelve. Sherlock liked the look of the cello, but it was too big for him. I managed to convince him that the violin was simply a tiny cello that you had to hold differently.”
John chuckled, and Sherlock walked through the door, ’tiny cello’ in hand.
Q sat on the bench, finger running over the keys, testing the tune. He smiled. Still perfect. “What did you want us to play?” he asked Mummy.
She smiled knowingly. “I do so love your rendition of Schubert’s Ständchen. Would you play it for me?”
Q’s eyes flickered to Bond’s, praying he didn’t know German. But Bond seemed unaware, and eager to hear them play.
“Sounds good,” Sherlock said, voice tight. He drew his violin up to his chin, waving his bow with a flourish. “Q, start us off?”
Q nodded, hands positioned over the ivory keys. He took a deep breath, and began to play.
The music was soft at first, Q gently pressing the keys on the piano, gradually getting harder. Then Mycroft joined in, low and haunting. Sherlock matched Mycroft’s notes, the two instruments seeming to blend into one. The song was heartbreakingly beautiful. It was an entreaty; a plea.
James made his way across the room, and gently sat down on the bench next to Q, giving the younger man enough room for his arms to move across the keys. Instead, Q slid over, pressing their hips together. The brunet looked up from the keys to beam at James, fingers not missing a beat. James’ lips twitched into a smile as well.
Sherlock moved as well, his body swaying to the music as he came to stand in front of John. John had often heard Sherlock play before, of course, but never like this. Sherlock looked completely absorbed in the song, his eyes slipping closed as he played. John was fascinated. He made a mental note to ask Sherlock to play it again for him when they were back at Baker Street.
Greg’s eyes were wide as he watched Mycroft play. Greg had often heard Mycroft called clumsy (usually by Sherlock), but he found that hard to believe as Mycroft’s fingers nimbly moved across the strings, bow drawing out beautiful music. He caught Mycroft’s eye and held it, a pleasant blush spreading over both their cheeks.
Mummy sat in her chair, watching her boys and their partners. She smiled. They were perfect.
After the song was over, the Greg, James, and John demanded more. The next hour or so was spent by the brothers playing more music, with occasional solos and duets. James even joined Q for a sloppy version of chopsticks.
Mummy yawned and glanced at the clock. “Goodness, it’s late. I must be getting to bed.” She stood, kissing her boys on the cheeks. “You remember the rules, right?” she asked, quirking an eyebrow at them.
The brothers responded in unison, “Don’t wake Mum up before eight o’clock or we’re grounded.”
She nodded, smiling. “And don’t you forget it.” With one last wave, Mummy left for her bedroom.
“Do you want to play cards?” Greg asked the group. Remembering James’ earlier outburst, he amended, “It doesn’t have to be poker. We can play blackjack instead.”
John nodded. “I’m in. But you can’t let this one here play with us.” He gestured to Sherlock. “He cheats like a madman.”
Mycroft gave a small smirk. “Who do you think taught him?”
James quirked an eyebrow at Q. “Do you know how to count cards as well?”
Q didn’t seem the least bit embarrassed. “Of course.”
Greg groaned. “Fine. John, James, and I will play. You three,” he waved the brothers away, “go do something else.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “We’ll play our own game - with our own rules.”
Q strode over to a shelf and brought back two decks. He handed one to James, and began to shuffle the other.
Mycroft snatched the deck out of his hands. “Greg,” he asked, “will you please check the deck?”
Slightly confused, Greg flipped through the deck and counted. “There’s one missing,” he said, frowning. “An ace, I think.”
Q sighed. “Damn,” he muttered, sliding the card out from his sweater sleeve. Mycroft smirked triumphantly.
John’s eyes widened. “Jesus, Q.”
Q shrugged, unabashed. Mycroft grabbed the cards from him. “I’ll be dealer.”
“Oh, joy,“ Sherlock muttered.
They played for just over an hour, only having to pull Q off of Sherlock once. John finally stood, knees creaking. “Alright, then. I’m tired. I’m off to bed.”
“I’ll be there in just a moment,” Sherlock said. John nodded, walking upstairs. The rest said their goodbyes as well. Sherlock made it to his room just as John was walking out of the bathroom, now changed into his pyjamas.
Sherlock grabbed a change of clothes, smiling as he passed John. “Red pants, huh?” he teased, recalling the pair John had hastily dressed in last night.
John flushed. “Mention those to anyone and I’ll kill you.”
Laughing, Sherlock said, “But then where would you get your danger fix?”
John only grumbled at him.
Sherlock exited the bathroom, seeing John already in bed. The doctor was reclining against the headrest, eyes closed and head tilted back, obviously in deep thought.
Sherlock climbed into bed, wondering if John was going to try to sleep elsewhere. John roused from his thoughts, but only smiled at Sherlock and held up the covers for him. Sherlock grinned, sliding in. They laid on their sides, facing each other.
“What was that song earlier? Stend-chen?” His pronunciation was choppy.
“Ständchen,” Sherlock corrected.
“Right. What does that mean?”
Sherlock’s palms sweated, suddenly nervous. He cleared his throat. “It’s German,” he said weakly. “It translates to ‘Serenade’.”
“Oh.” John blushed, looking away. There was an awkward pause for a coulple seconds, until he joked, “At least it wasn’t Rache.”
Sherlock paused, before bursting into laughter. John smiled, glad the air was cleared. Sherlock sighed. “I honestly don’t know how Lestrade puts up with Anderson.” He paused, thinking, “Or Mycroft, for that matter.”
They chuckled. The pair sat in silence for a few minutes, content.
John glanced at the window, smiling when he saw snow falling. “You know,” he said conversationally, “most kids have trouble falling asleep on Christmas Eve. I was never like that; I was always out early. Harry was the opposite. Her and I shared a room, and she would constantly wake me up with her excited tossing and turning.”
“Did you think that if you went to bed sooner you could wake up sooner?” Sherlock asked.
John shrugged. “Maybe. I think it was more because my father always told us that if we weren’t asleep when Father Christmas came, he’d skip our house.”
Sherlock chuckled, and John swatted his shoulder. “Don’t laugh, I actually believed him.” He sighed. “How old were you then, when your parents told you?”
Sherlock gave him a dubious look. “You think I needed to be told? No, my parents tried to keep up the whole Father Christmas sham for two years, until I got tired of them lying and told them to stop.” John’s eyes were wide, but Sherlock only shrugged. “Mycroft congratulated me. He also told me he had figured it out sooner, of course, but the man never misses a chance to gloat.”
John laughed, but it was cut short by a heavy yawn. Sherlock smiled affectionately. “Sleep, John.”
John blinked sluggishly. “Are you going to sleep as well?”
“Promise me you’ll get at least a few hours?” he pleaded.
Sherlock conceded. “Alright.”
John smiled. “Thanks.” He closed his eyes, rolling onto his stomach. It took him under ten minutes to fall asleep.
Sherlock stayed awake, lying on his back, arms folded over his stomach. He wasn’t quite ready to sleep yet. He spent the down time tidying up his mind palace, even going so far as to make a new room dedicated to this vacation.
He was drawn back from his mind by a whimper from the other side of the bed. Frowning, he looked over to see John clutching his pillow, a distressed look on his face.
Shit. It had been a while since John had last had a nightmare, Sherlock thought. This one seemed like a particularly bad one, going by how much John was shifting around on the bed.
“John,” Sherlock said. “John, wake up.”
John mumbled slightly in his sleep.
“John,” he said again. He set his hand on John’s shoulder, drawing a startled cry from the man as his eyes flew open, panting.
Sherlock winced at the loud cry. At home, it wasn’t uncommon for John to wake up shouting, but there wasn’t anyone around to here. Sherlock pretended he didn’t hear them, and told Mrs. Hudson to do the same.
Now, he was certain he heard movement from the next room, and footsteps in the hall.
John’s quick breathing slowed down just as the door flew open. James was through first, gun in hand. His eyes scanned the room for threats, before settling on John and Sherlock in bed. Lestrade came in the room after him, Q and Mycroft following him.
Sherlock motioned for them to be quiet as he soothed his hand over John’s back. John sat up, blinking. His eyes bounced between Sherlock and the small group at the door. “Oh,” he said softly, blushing.
“We’re fine,” Sherlock snapped at them. “Just a nightmare.”
“Sorry,” John muttered.
Mycroft smoothed out his pyjamas, still breathing quickly from running across the hall. “Nothing to be sorry for,” he said easily.
John leaned over to squint at the clock, then chuckled. 12:28. “Happy Christmas, everyone.”
“Happy Christmas,” they repeated.
James suddenly turned around, pushing everyone out. “Goodnight,” he called to John and Sherlock as he shut the door.
“I’m sorry about that, Sherlock,” John muttered.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
John shook his head. Sherlock laid a comforting hand on John’s head, rubbing his fingers through the sandy hair there. John sighed, tension easing from his body. “Thanks.”
“Anytime,” Sherlock promised. Slowly, he slid closer to John and wrapped the doctor in his arms. He hummed a soft tune in John’s ear, and tenderly patted his back.
John’s eyes slipped closed, his breathing starting to become slower. He snuggled closer to the detective. Half asleep, he mumbled, “Sherlock?”
“If you try t’ open your gifts b’fore mornin, I’ll kill you.”
Sherlock chuckled. “Okay, John. Now sleep. If you don’t, Father Christmas won’t come,” he teased.
James woke up gradually, eventually noticing a slight pressure on his chest. He opened his eyes, slightly surprised to see a mop a dark brown hair two inches from his face.
Q, his mind supplied. He hadn’t realised that the boy was a tad heavier than he looked, but slotted nicely into James’ bulky frame. Q’s chest was lying slightly on James, his head tucked under James’ chin.
James raised his arms - having to detangle one from Q’s hair - and wrapped them around the boy’s back.
Q stirred, humming softly. James smiled, running one hand up and down. Q sighed, eyes fluttering, and seemed to wake up slightly.
His eyes popped open suddenly, causing James to startle. Before he could ask what was wrong, Q whispered, “It’s Christmas.” His eyes flew up to James’, a grin spreading across his face. “It’s Christmas!” he repeated, slightly louder.
He rolled completely on top of James, bouncing slightly in excitement. “Christmas,” he said again, just for fun. He then twisted out of James’ arms and right off the bed, throwing on a pair of pyjama bottoms over his pants before heading to the door.
“Where are you going?”
“It’s tradition,” Q called over his shoulder, exiting the room. Sighing, James got out of bed and followed him.
He found Q just outside of Sherlock’s bedroom, tiptoeing inside. He slid in behind him, noting Sherlock’s sleeping form and John’s absence from the room. Q slowly neared Sherlock, staying surprisingly light on his feet. He then leaped onto Sherlock, startling the detective wide awake.
“Sherlock!” Q said loudly, his face mere centimeters from Sherlock’s. “Sherlock, wake up! Wake up, it’s Christmas!”
Sherlock groaned, looking comically disorientated. He held a hand up to his head, voice not amused, “Aren’t you a little old for this?”
“Never,” Q promised, and ignored Sherlock’s tiny ‘kill me.’
“Where’s John?” James asked.
Sherlock threw an arm over his face dramatically. “Probably downstairs, making tea.” He peeked an eye out to peer at his younger brother. “Go do this to Mycroft and maybe - maybe - I’ll let you live.”
Q laughed, jumping off Sherlock and striding to the door. “Happy Christmas,” he called, grabbing James’ hand and leaving the room before Sherlock tried to throw something at them.
They crossed the hallway, stopping outside Mycroft’s bedroom. Slowly - even slower than he had entered Sherlock’s room - Q opened the door and peeked his head in. He smiled when he saw his eldest brother and the Detective Inspector spooning, still asleep. He backed out and closed the door.
James was confused. “You’re not going to do the same to him?”
“Are you kidding?” Q gave a small snort. “He’d skin me.”
James chuckled. Q bounced back to their room, nearly skipping. “So you really like Christmas, don’t you?”
Q smiled. “I do. Mycroft has always hated it, and Sherlock hates everything - but when I was younger they would both smile and pretend they liked it to make me happy.” He sighed, turning to look James in the eye. “Christmas is the one time that I can act goofy and wear wretched jumpers and have no one think less of me for it.”
James leaned forward. “Just to clarify, you do know they’re terrible, right?”
Q protested, “They’re not that bad.”
“For god’s sake, Q, the last one had a LED screen in it! I’m afraid of what today’s will be.”
“That’s for me to know, and you to wince when you find out.”
John walked up the stairs, carefully keeping two cups of tea from spilling on the carpet.
Q turned to him, smiling. “Besides,” Q said, “John will wear them with me, right?”
John looked up, finally noticing that he wasn’t alone. He blinked. “Erm, sorry. What?”
“John, don’t tell me you’re going to wear one of those horrid jumpers, too,” James complained.
John glanced back and forth between Q and James, taking in Q’s pleading look, and shrugged. “Sorry, mate, but it’s tradition.” James groaned, and John passed them to walk to Sherlock’s room, throwing Q a wink over his shoulder.
He entered, shutting the door softly behind him. Sherlock was sitting up in bed, scowling off into space. “What happened,” John asked.
Sherlock turned his glare to John. “My younger brother is heavier than he looks.”
John paused, then shook his head. “I don’t want to know.” He handed the cup to Sherlock, “Here’s your tea.”
Sherlock hummed happily, lifting it to his lips and sipping at it. “Thank you,” he said quietly.
John smiled. “It’s my pleasure.” He paused. “Listen, Sherlock, about last night-”
Sherlock stiffened, avoiding John’s eyes. “I apologise, John, if I overstepped my bounds.”
John shook his head. “No, I was actually going to say that it was good - fine, I mean. Great, even.” He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “Just - thank you, I guess.” John cringed at the silence in the room.
Sherlock’s voice finally sounded out, “You’re welcome.” John looked over to see Sherlock smiling into his tea.
John grinned. “Well, I’m going to go get dressed, then.” He opened up his suitcase and found the jumper he promised Q he’d wear.
Sherlock groaned. “No, don’t wear that.”
“Oh, I’m wearing it.”
“I’ll disown you!”
“I’m shaking!” John called, entering the bathroom.
Greg woke up to the feeling of Mycroft gently stroking his fingers through his hair. He sighed peacefully, stirring.
Mycroft’s fingers stilled. “I apologise,” he muttered, drawing back his hand.
Greg sighed sleepily, “No, no, it’s fine.” Yawning, he turned around in the Mycroft’s arms to face him, and the politician couldn’t help but to smile at the sleepy look on his face.
Greg rubbed at his eyes, blinking slowly. “Happy Christmas,” he mumbled.
Mycroft smiled. “Happy Christmas, Gregory.”
Greg frowned, “It’s Greg.”
“Same difference,” Mycroft teased.
Greg rolled his eyes. “What time is it?”
“It’s a quarter to eight,” Mycroft said without hesitation. “Q will probably wake Mummy up the moment it turns eight - no doubt he has already woken up Sherlock.”
“Doesn’t he do the same to you?”
Mycroft gave him a dubious look, “No. He learned his lesson when he was nine.”
Greg paused. “Do I want to know?”
“Most likely not.”
“Okay, then,” Greg laughed. “Do you want to go downstairs?”
Mycroft nodded. “Yes. Let me get dressed, and then we’ll go.”
Greg frowned when he saw what Mycroft had picked up. “You’re not going to wear a suit on Christmas, are you?”
“Why not?” Mycroft seemed confused.
“Well, Christmas is usually a time to be relaxed and comfortable. This isn’t Buckingham Palace,” he teased. “So you can drop the three-piece suit.”
Mycroft gave the clothes in his hand a dirty look. “I suppose I could wear something a tad less formal…” he trailed off, reaching down to grab something else. “Would a two-piece suffice?”
Greg stifled a groan. Instead, he asked, “Why don’t you just borrow something of mine?”
“Would you mind?”
“Not at all,” Greg assured him. He reached over and pulled out a grey long-sleeved NSY t-shirt. Mycroft smiled.
“I’m going to go downstairs,” Greg said. “Would you like a cup of coffee?”
“Yes, please. I’ll be down in just a second.” Nodding, Greg left. Mycroft walked in front of the mirror, shrugging on the shirt. The fabric smelled wonderfully of Greg, and Mycroft knew he would have to resist sniffing it while he was downstairs.
Sighing, Mycroft exited his room just as Sherlock left his. Their eyes scanned the other, and Mycroft’s face flushed.
“Is that one of Lestrade’s shirts, brother mine?”
Mycroft did his best to hold his ground. “And if it is?”
Sherlock’s eyes flickered to the stairs, and he smirked. “Well,” he said, slightly louder, “if I were to steal some of John’s clothes, at least I would fit into them.”
Mycroft frowned, looking down at himself subconsciously. Maybe Sherlock was right - maybe he should go change back. After all, he paid his tailor very well to hide that extra bit of tummy.
Greg was suddenly there, next to him, having come up the stairs sometime during their conversation. “Piss off, Sherlock,” he snapped, throwing an arm around Mycroft. He whispered, “You look great.”
“Are you sure it’s not too tight?” he asked hesitantly.
“No, it fits you just fine.” He smiled, “It looks better on you than it did on me.”
Mycroft threw a smug look at Sherlock, who rolled his eyes and mouthed, ‘We’re even.’
They walked downstairs to the living room, where the others were lounging on the sofas. Sherlock glanced about the room. Q was nearly bouncing in his seat, James having to hold him still, while John was most likely in the kitchen - no doubt making them all breakfast and planning to insist that they all eat.
Sure enough, John came out to the living room - wearing an awful red and green striped jumper - with plates of French toast, passing them out. He handed Sherlock his with a look that said, ‘You better eat this or else.’
James offered to brew some coffee, which Mycroft, Greg, and John eagerly accepted. Greg put more wood in the fireplace. They chatted quietly, enjoying the company, until the grandfather clock next to the mantle chimed that it was eight o’clock.
Q froze, then quickly thrusted his plate into James’ hands. “It’s eight!” he whispered, dashing down the hall to Mummy’s room.
“Oh, lord,” James whispered.
Everyone was silent as they heard the small squeak of the door, and then winced as Mummy shouted, “Q, what the hell you do think-”
“Happy Christmas,” Q said, running back to the living room and plopping back down next to James.
Mummy came storming down the hall, face livid, and stared down her youngest son. He smiled bashfully at her, and offered her a plate of food. He asked, “Breakfast?”
She took a calming breath, speaking stiffly, “You, young man, are lucky it’s Christmas. Someone, please get me a cup of tea.” She levelled a glare at Q. “I am going to get dressed. If you disturb me me before I come out of my room, I will put you over my knee.”
Q blushed, looking down. “Yes ma’am.”
She turned, starting back down the hall. Without turning her back, she called, “Sherlock, step away from there.”
Everyone turned, catching Sherlock jump away from the gifts under the tree.
Fifteen minutes - and thirteen impatient huffs from Q (Sherlock counted) - later, Mummy strode back into the living room.
Q jumped to his feet, but she held up her hand. “Ah. I am going to eat breakfast first, drink my tea, and then we can begin with the gifts.”
Q pouted. “If you insist.”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re such a child. I say the same thing every year, dear. I don’t know why you think it will change now.”
Sherlock leaned over, whispering in John’s ear, “She loves to do this to him. She draws it out as long as she can.”
John chuckled quietly. “Was he like this as a child, as well?”
“Worse.” They snickered while Mummy chewed slowly on her breakfast.
She hummed. “Mm. Thank you, John. This is wonderful.”
“It was no trouble,” he said. “It’s one of the few things I can make.”
Mummy nodded. “I imagine you and Sherlock eat out a lot, then.”
John laughed. “We do. Especially when I’m not sure what in the kitchen is actually clean.”
Sherlock sniffed. “You constantly disturb my mould cultures looking for clean dishware.”
“There’s mould in the cupboard?”
“Well, where else was I suppose to put it?”
“Anywhere but next to the plates!”
“Relax. Nothing that is in there should kill you. I think.”
Q interrupted the impending argument. “Oh, good. Mummy, you’ve finished the French toast. Let me take your plate and we can get started.”
John stood. “I got it,” he said, taking her plate instead. He walked to the kitchen.
Q clapped his hands. “Perfect, now we can-”
Smiling sweetly, Mummy interrupted, “Oh, but I haven’t finished my tea yet. You know how I get without my tea.”
Mummy lifted the cup to her lips, and grimaced. “Dear me. It seems my tea got cold while I was eating. Mycroft, darling, would you mind brewing me another?”
“Mum,” Q hissed.
She blinked innocently at him. “Yes?”
“Do you think you could still drink it if it was simply reheated in the microwave?”
Mummy gave an affronted look. “Darling, you know it doesn’t taste the same. No, I’ll have a fresh one.” She gave Mycroft a look that said, ‘Go do this, now.’
Mycroft stood, but John suddenly bustled out of the kitchen, two cups in hand. “Here you are, Mummy,” he said, handing her one. He gave the other to Sherlock and winked at Q. “I already had the kettle boiling; Sherlock usually takes two cups in the morning.”
Q grinned, and looked at Sherlock. “I like this one. You should keep him.”
Quirking an eyebrow, Mummy sipped at the tea. “Mm. Not bad.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes as John sat down next to him. “She means she likes it.”
They sat patiently (more or less), letting Mummy finish her tea. Finally, she set her empty cup on the coffee table and sighed. “Well, I think I’m ready now. Q, will you do us the honours?”
Q was nearly vibrating with excitement. He sat in front of the tree, passing out gifts. He made sure to leave the gifts the brothers had gotten for their partners (and vice-versa).
Q glanced at the gift tags, pausing. He looked up at James accusingly. “You tricked us.” Sherlock and Mycroft leaned forward curiously, finally noticing the incongruence between who wrapped the gifts and who they were actually from. Sherlock scowled.
James shrugged, “Don’t blame me. It was John’s idea.”
Three sets of accusing eyes turned to John, who held up his hands in surrender.
He shot a glare at James. “Just throw me under the bus, why don’t you?”
Mummy laughed, clapping. “Oh, I love it. John, brilliant work.”
Mycroft eyed Mummy suspiciously. “Did you have anything to do with this?”
“Nothing at all,” she assured him, smiling. “Q, darling, don’t stop passing them out. You were so eager to get started.” Muttering under his breath, Q did as asked and dished out more gifts.
Sherlock received a shadow box with the bones of a hand pinned in place from Mummy, a pentamix rubik's cube (a gift from Q), and a children’s book about the solar system (from Greg, who roared with laughter at the put out look on Sherlock’s face). Mycroft gave him a first aid kit and a large bottle of Paracetamol - to which John laughed and thanked him for. James gave Sherlock a gift card to his favourite tailor shop, with the name of his recommended tailor attached. Sherlock’s eyes immediately flashed to the last of his presents, the lone box still under the tree. He wished he could open John’s gift to him now, but had to settle for trying to deduce what it was.
Mycroft was given a large tin of cookies from Sherlock (who reminded him not to eat them all at once), a new briefcase from James (which he was assured was completely bullet proof), and a new bow and bowstring wax from Mummy. John gave him a boxed set of the classic Doctor Who - as he had recently found out about Mycroft’s affinity for it. Lastly, Q got him a small device that instantly cancelled all recording or broadcasting signals within 100 feet (which Sherlock immediately tried to steal).
Q got a large box of his favourite Earl Grey - a gift from Mummy - and a hairbrush from Mycroft (who gave him a stern look and said, ‘Please use it’). Sherlock gave him a functioning mini Dalek, to which Q laughed every time it bumped into James. Q was instantly planning the numerous modifications he could make to the small thing, and Mummy immediately told him that he couldn’t have it kill anyone. Greg (after a helpful suggestion from Mycroft) gave Q a set of Gryffindor robes and scarf. James had a feeling he would see Q wearing those in the office quite often. John, having heard a lot about Q’s position from James’ rants, gave Q a t-shirt with the word Overlord on it in bold lettering.
John was given a spray bottle (from Mycroft, to use on Sherlock if he misbehaved. They would find out later that it was actually quite effective). James gave him more bullets for his unregistered Sig (to which Greg replied with a shocked, ‘But John doesn’t own a gun.’ Sherlock had snorted, stating, ‘Of course he does - what do you think he used to kill the cabbie?’ John’s face flushed bright red, and Greg shouted at him for a good few minutes after that). Greg, once he got over his near-aneurism, gave John a boxed set of the five The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books. Greg swore up and down that John reminded him of Arthur Dent, but John just couldn’t see it. Mummy gave him a jar of her homemade blackberry jam (‘No, Sherlock, you will not be putting toenails in this one’). Q got him a customised left-handed back holster - the sight of which threw Greg into another fit.
James received a bottle of his favourite scotch (a gift from Mycroft - James didn’t even want to know how Mycroft knew that). Sherlock gave him a more of his preferred cologne (once again, did not want to know). Mummy gifted him with a set of diamond cufflinks, and Greg - after hearing about James’ beloved Aston Martin - got him a gaudy pair of furry dice. John gave him a deck of (supposedly) indestructible cards. James promised he’d put the cards to the test by playing with Alec. 006 had a bad habit of burning the deck if he lost. And maybe the table. Occasionally the chairs, as well.
Greg was given vodka (from Q, who winked and said that it was his preferred drug of choice when having to deal with his brothers). Greg was only partially surprised when James gave him a gun, but nearly had a heart attack when the blond reached over and pulled the trigger. A small flame harmlessly fluttered out the barrel, and Sherlock rolled his eyes, muttering to himself about how a fake gun could fool any idiot. Grinning, Greg took the gun and ‘shot’ at Sherlock a few times (okay, so maybe more like nine times, but honestly, who was keeping count?). James chuckled, “It’s meant to light cigarettes, but I suppose it could do as a stress reliever.” Coincidentally, Mummy gave him a case of cigars (the same brand he had seen M smoking on various occasions), and John gave him a pair of boxers with little handcuffs printed all over them. Lastly, Sherlock - much to everyone’s amusement - gave Greg a box full of name tag stickers, complete with the bolded greeting of ‘Hello my name is’ and a large blank space for Greg to write his name. Sherlock honestly couldn’t understand why everyone was laughing. He was only trying to be considerate. Really.
The boys gave Mummy a new comforter set (from Mycroft), a scarf (from Sherlock, of course), and a new pair of shoes (a gift from Q, who assured her that they were modified to not hurt her fragile feet). John, James, and Greg had all pooled together to buy Mummy a necklace that had Mycroft, Sherlock, and Q’s birthstones on it. She smiled at them all. “Oh, it’s precious. Thank you, dears.” She clapped her hands together, “Now, boys, I want to see what you’ve each gotten for your man.”
John and Greg blushed at that, while James sat straighter and grinned.
“Q,” Mummy said, “I think I’d like to see Mycroft and Greg go first. Would you get them their gifts to each other, please?”
Grinning, Q reached to do as she asked, but found only Gregs gift to Mycroft. He frowned. “Mycroft, where’s your gift to Greg?”
A small blush settled on the ginger’s cheeks. “My gift to you if a little hard to explain.” His eyes flicked down to his watch. “Actually, it should be on the TV by now.” He stood and strode over to the television, flicking it on.
Greg blinked. “Oh god, Mycroft, what did you do?”
“Nothing they can prove,” he replied easily, changing the channel to the news station.
A woman with obviously fake blonde hair walked on screen, giving the forecast for the day, and then the camera panned over to the main broadcasters.
“And now for our main story,“ a man began. The television cut over to an aerial shot of a demolished house, smoke still rising from some of the ruins.
The man continued, “Reports say that there has been an explosion in Central London at around four o’clock this morning.”
“An explosion?” Mummy echoed, eyes wide.
“Oh my god,” Greg said. “Thats… that’s my house. My old house.”
John leaned forward, squinting at the screen. “The one your wife won after the divorce?”
Greg nodded, and the camera zoomed in on the firefighters putting out the remaining flames. The announcer spoke again. “The explosion began in the garage, where a gas leak from the vehicle was ignited. The rest of the house caught fire soon after. What caused the spark has yet to be determined, but investigators assure us that there was no foul play involved.”
A female announcer’s voice said, “Thankfully, there were no injuries caused by this explosion, and the fire damage was limited to only the home and property. The owner of the home, Tabitha Walters, was out of the house at the time, apparently called away to her mothers just an hour before the explosion.”
The camera swapped back to the newscasters, smiling jovially at the camera. The man leaned forward, “For more on this story and an interview with Ms. Walters, tune in at noon. That’s all the news we have for now, and have a Happy Christmas.”
The television cut to a commercial, and everyone was quiet with shock. Mycroft reached over to turn off the TV, snapping them all out of it.
Greg blinked. He turned his head to Mycroft, eyes wide. “You did that?” he said quietly.
Q chuckled. “Well, he probably paid someone else to do it.”
Neither Mycroft or Greg seemed to hear him, one looking apprehensive, the other staring in awe. Greg asked again, “Did you do that for me?”
Mycroft looked terribly nervous. Finally he answered, “Yes.”
Greg suddenly sat up, grinning madly. “Thank you. I can’t believe you did that. I always hated that blasted house.” He chuckled at the unintentional pun.
The tension now released from Mycroft’s shoulders, and the ginger schooled his expression to look nonchalant. “It was no trouble.” Neither of them could will away the faint blush on their cheeks.
James frowned, pulling his mobile out of his pyjama bottoms. “Are you the reason I got a message at two in the morning asking if I was available for a ‘quick assignment’?”
Mycroft had the decency to look slightly chagrined. ”I just told them to get it done. I didn’t know they would contact you.”
James chuckled. “That is terrible abuse of your position and influence over MI6.”
“Perhaps,” Mycroft agreed, and looked down his nose at James. “But only if you can prove it.”
Greg laughed, nervously fiddling with his own gift for the politician. He gave a hesitant smile, and passed his gift over.
Mycroft glanced down at the small gift in his hands, apprehensive. His mind drew a blank as he tried to quickly deduce what the gift could be. He frowned at it.
Greg cleared his throat awkwardly. “Well, go on, then. Open it.”
Mycroft picked the small bit of sellotape off of one end, lifting the paper. Greg smiled when he realised Mycroft was being careful to not rip the paper.
Mycroft slid the gift out of the package - and froze.
It all felt a little anticlimactic, really. He held in his hand a… picture frame.
Mycroft’s head was reeling.
A picture frame.
A picture frame?
It was a nice frame, of course. The border had little umbrellas on it - was Gregory making fun of him? The quality of the wood, he supposed, was nice as well. Average.
The picture itself was nothing special. It was a shot of Mycroft and Greg at John’s birthday party, in 221B. They were smiling - well, Greg was smiling; Mycroft was making a face that could pass for a smile. Or indigestion.
‘Giving him a picture would be so… unfeeling.
Mummy’s words circled in his head.
‘It’s as if you were to say you didn’t care about him at all.’
Gregory had given him a picture. A picture meant…
‘Didn’t care about him at all.’
Oh. Well, it was best Mycroft found out now, wasn’t it? Before he became too… invested in his pursuit of Gregory.
Greg waited as Mycroft simply stared at his gift. An awkward silence filled the room; Greg’s teeth worried his bottom lip. He waited for Mycroft to move, to smile, to do something.
Mycroft suddenly looked up, right into Greg’s eyes. “I don’t understand.” His voice was thick.
Greg stuttered, “I-It’s a picture. Of us - well, of course it is, you can see. You have eyes. It was taken at-”
“Yes, at John’s birthday party,” Mycroft interrupted. “I know, I was there.”
Greg seemed to relax slightly. “Oh, good. You recognise it. Please, fl-”
“I don’t understand,” Mycroft repeated. God, how he hated repeating himself. ”Why would you give a person with eidetic memory a photograph?”
“Well, if you could just flip it-”
“A picture? Really? Obviously you don-”
Greg huffed, raising his voice, “Just flip the damn thing over, would you?”
Confused, Mycroft turned the frame over in his hands. He frowned at the small silver object taped to the underside. “A key,” he said.
Greg shuffled in place. “Yes.”
“A key. A key to what?”
Greg scratched the back of his neck. “Well, um, it’s a key to my flat.”
There was a pause.
“I mean, well,” Greg continued, “it’s sort of symbolic - and I know you don’t really go for symbolic things. But I had to try-” he cut himself off, waiting for a reaction from Mycroft.
Sherlock spoke up, “Why would you give him a key to your flat? He can easily break in anytime he needs. He’s done it to Baker Street plenty of times.”
“Yes, but, I this means that -” he took a breath, “-this means that I want him there.” He peeked up at the politician, smiling slightly. “That you’re welcome to pop by anytime - you’ve got your own key, after all.”
A rare, almost sappy smile crossed Mycroft’s face. “I see,” he mused. “Thank you, Gregory. I will make good use of this.”
Greg heaved a sigh of relief, a soft blush tinting his ears. “You better.”
Mummy smiled to herself, happy for her eldest. She said, “I’ll be right back, dears, I forgot the camera. Carry on without me.” She rose and exited from the room.
Q was nearly bouncing with excitement. “Us next,” he declared, picking up his gift to James and passing it over.
Sherlock tilted his head, “I thought we were going from oldest to youngest.”
Childishly, Q stuck his tongue out. “Mummy’s not here to enforce it, so suck it up.” Sherlock chuckled, raising his hands in mock surrender.
Grinning, James handed Q his gift. “You first.”
Q eagerly ripped the paper, pausing when he saw the ceramic wrapped carefully in tissue paper. It was a cream-coloured mug, with Q10 printed on one side, and the Scrabble letter distribution on the other. In the bottom of the mug, a little red square said, ‘Triple Word Score’.
It was perfect.
Q looked up to grin at James, who smiled back. James said, “I saw it yesterday, and just thought it was fitting.”
Q nodded. “I love it. Now the minions will never mistake my tea for theirs again.” James laughed. Q nodded to the gift in his hands, “Your turn.”
James studied the present. It was a rectangle, only about the length and width of his hand. Thin, too. “Hmm,” he mused. “What is it?”
He lifted the box to his ear and shook it, listening for any telling noises. Q’s face instantly shifted into one of horror, and he lurched forward and batted the small box out of James’ hand.
Before James could ask what the bloody hell Q thought he was doing, Sherlock stepped forward and yanked Q back by a fistful of his jumper. The quick jerk caused Q’s new mug to slip from his hand, shattering on the hardwood floor.
The sudden explosion made everyone jump. James turned to see Q’s gift to him spitting out sparks and hissing. There was a black mark on the floor were the small box had detonated.
Everyone seemed to spring into action at once. Sherlock began cackling, Greg sputtered in surprised, and John just sighed. Mycroft simply looked bemused.
James turned to Q, eyes wide. “Did you just try to kill me?”
Q shook his head emphatically, gesturing helplessly between the ruined gift and James. His mouth gaped like a fish.
“Oh, shit!” Greg’s eyes were on the tree, causing everyone’s head to turn.
Sparks had jumped onto the bottom branches, igniting the dry needles. Sherlock nearly fell over in mirth, while Mycroft blinked at the fire, bored.
John, the only level-headed one of the lot, crossed the room to retrieve the fire extinguisher from the kitchen. He sprayed the white foam over the tree, putting out the flames.
Everyone was silent for a beat, before Sherlock broke it by bursting into laughter once again. John followed soon after, and then they all were snickering.
James turned to Q, smiling, “Can I at least know what my gift was?” he teased.
Q blushed. “It was the original prototype for an exploding pen. You’ve been asking for a while now, and I just thought…”
“You didn’t think to secure it in the box?”
Glaring playfully, Q snapped, “I didn’t think you’d shake your gift.”
James laughed. “Well, it was definitely a success,” he said. “If that was in my pocket, I’d be dead.”
Q giggled, spurring on another round of laughter from everyone.
That was, until, Mummy came back into the room.
A loud gasp cut into their mirth, and they swivelled their heads to see Mummy standing in the doorway, her face quickly turning red. Mummy’s eyes quickly took in the room, narrowing when she saw the state of her tree and Q’s guilty face.
Her voice was low, controlled. “Quentin Sherrinford Holmes, what the hell have you done to my bloody tree?”
Q twisted his hands nervously. “It’s just a little fire, Mum.”
“You promised me that you would never do that again.”
“Actually, I promised you I’d never use a flamethrower on your tree again. This was an explosion. Completely different. Relax.”
James sat back in his chair, unabashedly enjoying the show.
“Relax?” Mummy hissed. “You can’t tell me to relax after you’ve just blown up something,”
“Mycroft just blew up a woman’s house as a courting gift, and you didn’t yell at him,” Q nearly whined.
Greg and Mycroft both blushed. Greg caught Mycroft’s eye, jerking his chin to the door. He mouthed, ‘Want to get out of here?’ Mycroft nodded, and they slipped outside.
They stood in silence for a few moments, before Greg turned to Mycroft with a teasing smile. “So, a courting gift, huh?”
Mycroft flushed, stuttering, “I- well, maybe- but we-”
Greg laughed. “Oh, come here, you big lug.” Boldly, Greg pulled Mycroft to him and kissed the politician senseless.
Mycroft’s eyes were stuck open in surprise, staring at Greg. The silver-haired man caught him looking, and winked. They both smiled into the kiss.
They finally broke apart, blinking away the haze. “Oh,” Mycroft muttered. Greg grinned.
“Gregory, I have to say…” Mycroft paused, and Greg shifted nervously. ”If you ever tell anyone that I am the one responsible for what happened to that harlot’s house, I will deny it and you will find yourself so deep in a government facility you won’t know left from right.”
Greg smirked, pinching the younger man’s cheek. “You’re adorable when you make threats.” Mycroft rolled his eyes. “Do you think your mum and brother are done going at each other’s throats?”
“It’s doubtful. They can go on like this for hours.”
“Indeed. But, we should probably go in anyway. If we can’t get them to stop, we can at least enjoy the show.”
Greg laughed. “You’re terrible.” Shrugging in agreement, Mycroft held out his hand. Greg took it, and they walked back inside together.
Sure enough, Mummy and Q were still going at it. Mycroft winked at Greg, and they sat on the sofa. Mycroft whispered, “I haven’t seen her this angry since Sherlock poisoned everyone at our last family reunion.”
Greg chuckled. “How old was he?”
“Twenty-six. We haven’t been able to get anyone to come back for another reunion.”
Greg nodded at James, who seemed over the moon by the turn of events. “He looks happy.”
“He’s most likely elated that Q listened enough to get him an exploding pen.”
“I think he’s more happy it exploded.”
They snickered, and Mycroft nodded, “He is a special agent, after all.”
“I’m still having a bit of trouble believing that.”
“I’ll give you his file later. Is you promise not to freak out.”
“Is your brother safe?”
Mycroft nodded immediately, “Yes. James is a competent agent, and - as much as it pains me to say it - Q is in good hands.” Greg smiled, and grabbed Mycroft’s hand in his.
Mummy cut herself off mid-sentence, sniffing. “And what is that god awful smell?“
Q blushed, eyes flickering to James. “There might have been some peanut brittle in there as well.”
That seemed to set James off. The agent rose, swiftly crossing the room to spin Q toward him and plant his lips on the brunet’s. One hand tangled in Q’s hair, while the other tilted Q’s jaw up.
The room was silent, everyone blinking in surprise at the pair. John wolf-whistled, and Mummy cleared her throat loudly.
They finally pulled apart; Q blushing, and James grinning. James murmured, “After we’re done here, I’m going to take you into town to get you another mug, and you can show me those blueprints.”
Q nodded, eyes slightly glazed over. “Okay,” he agreed easily.
James smirked. He whispered, “It’s a date, Quentin.”
Q’s eyes widened, and James smiled wolfishly. “Blast,” Q muttered.
James pressed one more quick kiss to the younger man’s mouth. “Don’t worry,” he assured, but there was a mischievous spark in his eye. “You secret’s safe with me.”
John cleared his throat awkwardly, “Does that mean it’s our turn?”
Mummy laughed and nodded. Sherlock stood, smoothing out invisible wrinkles from his clothes. “Well,” he said sarcastically, “I don’t know if we can do a display such as that.”
John shook his head. “Shut up, Sherlock.” He glanced at the remaining two gifts - which were thankfully on the far side of the tree and mostly unharmed by the fire and foam.
Sherlock tried to hide his nervousness. “You first,” he said, pushing over a large present. The box went up to John’s knees, and looked heavy.
John’s eyes widened. “Goodness, Sherlock, what is it?”
“I believe the point of gift wrap, John, is for you to not know what it is until after you’ve opened it.”
John smiled, and muttered affectionately, “Smart arse.”
Sherlock became tense as John began to open his gift. He rambled, “This gift is more for the both of us - well,” he stuttered, voice speeding up, “a gift for me, really. I mean, I’ll be the one using it but I hope you’ll find it useful as well. I hope you’ll enjoy it.”
Q chuckled. “Only Sherlock would buy someone else a gift for himself.” Sherlock shot him a glare, and Mummy reached over to flick her youngest on the arm.
Undeterred, John ripped off the paper. He blinked at the metal box that greeted him. “It’s a… mini fridge?”
“Yes,” Sherlock nodded, jittery. “Read the sign.”
Confused, John ripped the paper more to see ‘Body Parts Only’ written in Sherlock’s messy scrawl.
Sherlock said weakly, “No more toes in the butter dish.”
John looked up, shocked. “Is this an entire space for your experiments?”
Sherlock shifted in his seat. “Yes.”
John grinned. “Thank you, Sherlock. It’s wonderful. This is very considerate of you.”
The detective smiled, shoulders sagging in relief. “Just don’t expect me to start buying milk.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” John laughed. He scooped up the last present, suddenly nervous. What if Sherlock didn’t like it? James and Greg caught his eye and smiled reassuringly.
John handed the gift to Sherlock, biting his lip. “It’s nothing special,” he muttered. “It’s certainly no tiny fridge or exploding pen.”
Sherlock gingerly opened the gift, pulling out a small plush bumble bee. It looked like an exact replica of the one seen in all the pictures of Sherlock when he was younger.
Sherlock stared at the small toy, eyes wide. “John,” he whispered, unable to tear his eyes away from the tiny bee. It was only about the size of his hands, with tiny white wings and an off-centre smile.
The detective blinked up at John, clutching the bee to his chest, and very slowly rose to his feet.
“Sherlock?” John questioned, standing as well, but the brunet only shook his head. Without saying a word, Sherlock walked out of the room and up the stairs.
John stood, mouth gaping, and looked around the room for help. Everyone was looking as shocked as he was. Mummy smiled sadly at him. “Well, go after him,” she said.
John left the room, quietly following Sherlock.
Q looked to his mother. “Will they be alright?”
She nodded, “Oh, yes, dear. They’ll be just fine.”
John found Sherlock in his bedroom, holding the small bee tight in his arms. John knocked on the doorframe, “Sherlock?” he said softly.
Sherlock ignored him, and John strode over to the bed. He placed his hand gently on Sherlock’s back. “I’m sorry, Sherlock,” he said. “I-If I had know that it would make you this upset, I wouldn’t hav-”
“No,” Sherlock interrupted. His fingers stroked the bee subconsciously. “I- where did you find it?”
“It was in a toy shop in town. Last in stock. I saw it on accident, and thought that, well, since you lost your last one that you might-”
“I didn’t lose it,” Sherlock said.
“I said I didn’t lose it,” he repeated. “I… I loved that bee. I would take it everywhere. Father-” Sherlock sucked in a breath, as if steeling himself. John had never heard Sherlock (or Mycroft, for that matter) talk about their father before.
“Father,” Sherlock continued, “was not a nice man. He was cold and distant. Mycroft protected me from him most days, as father was very unhappy that I wasn’t well behaved. Q was only a small child at the time; he doesn’t remember much of our father.
“Father had told me that he wouldn’t buy me a new chemistry set, and I threw a fit.” He rolled his eyes. “I was upset that Father supported Mycroft with his stupid croquet hobby, but wouldn’t support me with mine. Father… he told me that I was acting childish. That I needed to grow up. He threw the bee into the fireplace and made me watch as it burned.”
John gaped. “Jesus.”
“I never told Mycroft or Mummy what happened. I just let them think that I lost it.”
“Sherlock,” John said sympathetically. He rubbed his hand up and down Sherlock’s back.
Sherlock sniffed slightly and wiped his eyes, glaring at the wetness on his fingers. “Look at that,” he said softly. “You’ve gone and made the sociopath cry.”
John scoffed, “You know no one actually believes your self diagnosis, right? Well, maybe Anderson, but he’s an idiot,” John joked, and Sherlock smiled slightly.
“Thank you, John, for this,” Sherlock said, gesturing to the bee. He still hadn’t released it from his death grip.
John poked the taller man in the side. “Oh, look at you,” John teased, “you’re feeling sentiment.”
Chuckling, Sherlock shook his head. “No, I’m not.”
“You are!” John crooned. Sherlock swatted him away.
“Yes!” John laughed, and poked him again.
“I’ll leave,” Sherlock threatened, putting one foot on the ground.
“I’ll follow,” John promised.
Pausing, Sherlock looked at John in awe. “You will, won’t you?” he asked. Sherlock was amazed that anyone could put up with him for as long as John had.
“Of course I will,” John assured him.
Sherlock’s throat felt tight. “Thank you.”
John grinned. “Sentiment,” he sang.
Sherlock huffed. “That’s it.” He got up, bee still in hand, and made his way to the door.
“Aw, don’t be like that!” John pleaded playfully, and ran after him. They stopped in the doorway, grinning like fools.
Sherlock opened his mouth, probably to give John a long speech, but abruptly paused, eyes flickering up. John followed his gaze.
There, hanging over them both in the top of the doorway, was a small bundle of mistletoe.
“Oh,” Sherlock said quietly.
“Would you look at that?” John mused.
Sherlock shifted slightly. “John, I think you should know of the custom to ki-”
John laughed. “Oh, shut up,” he said, and pulled the taller man down for a kiss.
Sherlock stood back up, surprised, and then smiled down at John, looking rather please with himself. He tried (and failed) to look nonchalant. “Well, that was convenient.”
John narrowed his eyes. “You put the mistletoe there, didn’t you?” he accused.
Sherlock looked unabashed. “It was only my idea. Mummy helped.”
“Of course she did,” John laughed. “Come on, let’s get back downstairs. Your mum is probably worrying.”
Sherlock shook his head, “No, she’s overjoyed that all of her sons have finally decided to partner up.”
“All of them?” John asked. “You mean Mycroft and Greg, too?”
“Of course,” Sherlock gave John a look that said obvious. “Didn’t you see them walk in holding hands?”
John blinked. “No. How could I have missed that?”
“Because you’re an idiot.”
John batted his eyes dramatically. “Yes, but I’m your idiot.”
“I suppose you are,” Sherlock smiled.