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The Eye of the Beholder

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Back in bed, John feels fatigue pressing down on him like a lead blanket. He is asleep for what feels like hours when again he feels a cold breeze in the room.

Opening his eyes he sees the curtains billowing out into the room. He turns his head left and right fearful of what type of new companion will show up.

John suddenly finds himself on the front stoop of the Holmes family estate in Devon. John has been here many times before. Although, after 10 years of being made to feel just as much a part of this family as his own, there are times, right in the middle of it all, when he still has to pinch himself to make certain he is awake.

But right now, he is very, very certain that he is not awake.

As he looks around, John realizes that guests are arriving for the Holmes family annual holiday party. Lots and lots of guests. John thinks back to the first year that he and Sherlock had been flatmates. Sherlock had recently been discharged from hospital right before Christmas. Sherlock recovering from being injured during a very difficult case. That Christmas had been very quiet, there was no party at the Holmes estate that year. That had been a very special Christmas to John, as he first realized what he felt for Sherlock. Looking back, he was again glad there has been no bloody holiday party, getting his mind around his new relationship with Sherlock as difficult enough, he didn’t need extended family to negotiate.

John looks around as the guests are welcomed in. He can see Mrs. Holmes and Mycroft, laughing and smiling. Various aunt and uncles that John had recognized from years past. And a few young children running about. Who do these children belong to?

There appear to be quite a many children at the party. But no, John realizes, just two little boys, it just seems like more, as they jostle about and carry on amongst the adults holding canapes and highball glasses.

It looks like a great party, the kind he’d be sure to enjoy. John finds himself smiling as he hopes that he and Sherlock are here somewhere…

John walks through the party, the guests unaware of his presence. In the front sitting room, the one with the big Christmas tree, John sees a very pretty woman talking to Mrs. Holmes. The woman is holding a baby girl—in a frilly Christmas dress.

The boys barrel past, almost knocking into him. John side steps them before realizing he does not have to, he is not really here.

All of sudden, the older of the two boys is shouting behind him, “Uncle John! Uncle John! There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you!!” And turning, John sees himself, laughing and smiling, scooping the little boy up in a great big hug.

John turns back again to see Sherlock, of all people, on the floor, wrestling with the younger of the two boys, who is squealing and laughing and turning red. John watches Sherlock jump up from the floor with a frightened look on his face. He turns to John with an imploring look, “It’s ok Sherlock really-- you can’t hurt them that way, they are really quite sturdy at this age.” John watches himself call out. Thus reassured, Sherlock and the younger one immediately return to the pretend wrestling match. As John watches the spectacle, he isn't sure who is having more fun, the 4 year old or Sherlock.

The pretty lady walks up to Mrs. Holmes and hands her the baby. Mrs. Holmes hands her drink to Mycroft to turn and take the baby. The pretty lady kisses Mycroft on the cheek.

The baby is chewing on Mrs. Holmes pearls, and she doesn't seem bothered by it in the least. .

John overhears Mycroft and his wife discussing plans to fly to the US, as she is going back to Harvard for a semester, to be a guest lecturer on dead languages.

In a cold sweat, John wakes up to find Sherlock had tossed his arm over John’s chest. The sun showing tiny pink rays through the curtains. Sherlock opens his eyes and looks at John, “Are you alright, John? You tossed and turned all night, mumbling in your sleep.”

Relieved to hear Sherlock speak rather than be dead asleep, John says, “Honestly, Sherlock I got no sleep at all. I feel like I have been on a journey.”

Sherlock gives a quiet chuckle. “Well, where did you go?” he asks, swinging his long legs over the side of the bed as he gets up to go to the loo.

“Kandahar, Devon, London…” John says slowly, dreamily, turning over, folding his pillow in half.

“Well, that is quite a trek, no wonder you are tired.” Sherlock responds, absentmindedly. “Are you ready to go to Devon today? Mycroft has someone he wants everyone to meet. A dried up old colleague, no doubt.”

“Maybe it’s the girl from Harvard? That should be fun. You can tease him.” John says as he lays back down on the pillow, closing his eyes and smiling to himself.

Popping his head around the doorframe of the loo, Sherlock laughs derisively, “What are you on about? What girl?”

“Oh, the girl that he…. never mind. Sometimes, you have to look harder…” John begins, mumbling to himself mostly, closing his eyes, breath evening out.

By the time Sherlock gets back to bed, John is fast asleep. As the early morning light creeps in to the bedroom, Sherlock gets back in bed, pulling the blankets up around them both and curling himself around John.

“Yes, I know. Sometimes you have to look harder for your present.” Sherlock says, arm around John as they both fall back to sleep on a cold London morning.

Devon can wait, a bit.