It has to be perfect. It has to be just the right thing, something he wants but doesn’t even know he wants it. Not too expensive, or he’ll balk at it, but not too cheap either, or he’ll think I don’t take it seriously, this whole–this whole thing.
December had snuck up on Sherlock this year, and suddenly he has found himself smack dab in the middle of a Christmas market, watching John close his eyes, smile on his face, breathing deep and slow to catch the scent of cinnamon and gingerbread, the bright sparkle of fairy lights and streetlamps painting him with reds and golds and greens in turn.
He is gorgeous, utterly gorgeous, and Sherlock feels horrendously unprepared.
How do you choose a Christmas gift for the person who deserves everything, who deserves so much more than you can possibly give them?
It had been John’s idea, a fond elbow to the side and a kiss to the temple late that afternoon with a suggestion to go poke around the booths before holiday shopping begins in earnest and the crowds get too crazy, and watching John take it in–the shoddy wooden stalls masquerading as chalets, the street vendors carting around overpriced, watery hot chocolates, the boughs of pine trees stapled to the stalls and draped in lights and red velvet–with a look of sheer boyish delight makes Sherlock’s stomach flip-flop. When John takes him by the hand and tugs him into the flow of it all, Sherlock can’t help but smile back at him and follow.
The evening is cold and a bit windy, but at least the drizzle stopped several hours ago. The wind turns John’s cheeks a ruddy pink and doesn’t seem to bother him at all. He jokes and laughs and flits through the displays of shiny mercury glass trees and overdressed Victorian angels, dragging Sherlock behind him, leaning up occasionally to kiss the corner of his mouth and rubbing his thumb over the back of Sherlock’s hand absently and Sherlock is totally entranced by the simplicity of his happiness.
Together, they pick out a handmade ornament for Harry, suggesting sillier and sillier options (Santas wearing Hawaiian shirts and baseball caps, reindeer with light-up noses, snowmen with branches sticking out of wholly inappropriate places) before finally settling on a set of lovely crystal stars with gilded edges. For Mrs Hudson, they pick out three matching stockings to hang from her fireplace–soft white for her, deep blue for Sherlock, and a dark forest green for John, all hand-crocheted in the same pattern.
As for John himself, he looks at a lot of different things, but he doesn’t really seem to connect to anything. He runs his fingertips over huge thick socks and jumpers knitted with fair isle designs and even spends ten solid minutes shaking up a display of snow globes, one by one, but he doesn’t really stick to anything that Sherlock thinks he might actually want. Of course, Sherlock hardly expected to find the perfect gift for John in a wooden stall on the riverside in Southbank, but still. A hint at least would’ve been nice.
In Christmases past, Sherlock has given him practical things, interesting things. Books, scarves, a new alarm clock for his bedroom when his old one started to get fussy at the snooze button. Last year he’d gotten him a pass to an underground, top secret shooting range, so he could practice with his gun and a couple of other firearms, in exchange for five solid favours for Mycroft. John had taught Sherlock how to stand and shoot, correcting his stance with a hand on his shoulder and on his hip, and the silence in the empty shooting range had been deafening, and three days later John had gone to Sherlock’s parents’ house and pretended to forgive his wife.
That’s over now, Sherlock reminds himself fiercely. Over and done.
This Christmas is different. This Christmas they are different. This will be the first Christmas since John had kissed Sherlock months ago, so gentle and cautious and hopeful, in the rain outside 221B, the day he’d come home for good. I’m sorry we had to wait so long, John had said, God, I’m so sorry, I feel like we’ve waited forever.
So it has to be perfect. He wants John to feel like the wait was worth it. He wants John to know that he’d have waited longer, as long as it took, that he’d have waited forever, for John.
What do you give a person when you want to give them the rest of your life?
And Sherlock stands there, in the middle of a Christmas market as John hums along to Silent Night, John’s hand warm in his with fingertips a little gritty from the cinnamon-sugar doused churros they’d shared, and thinks, oh, that’s–that’s an idea, isn’t it?
Day One: Shopping for presents
Pop by everyday during the 25 Days of Fic-mas at 3:00 p.m. EST for the next installment!
I was trying to do some editing on the tumblr versions of a good old fashioned happy ending, and because I am really bad at technology, I accidentally deleted some of the original posts. This means that any post that was reblogged with a Read More cut will now fail to redirect to the original post in its entirety.
It’s okay–I have the reblogs, of course, so I haven’t lost any of your lovely comments or anything like that. But sadly, folks will no longer be able to read the fic in its entirety on tumblr.