A Christmas party co-hosted by Sherlock was certain to be a unique experience, regardless of how negligible his contributions were. Lestrade had been pretty sure that Sherlock was allergic to Christmas, accepting Lestrade's small presents in the past but only with significant snark. So when Lestrade showed up at 221B, he was pleasantly surprised to hear Sherlock playing Christmas music. Apparently Mrs. Hudson was disappointed that Sherlock hadn't worn antlers, but Lestrade would have been gobsmacked by that sight.
John's latest girlfriend was present also, though Lestrade wouldn't be surprised if the relationship didn't last beyond the evening. Prolonged exposure to Sherlock in a social setting was not for the faint of heart.
Lestrade heard the door downstairs and realized that the final guest must have arrived. When he'd spoken with her briefly earlier in the week, Molly had seemed quite excited at the idea. The poor girl had such an obvious crush on Sherlock, who was never going to return her affections, but who didn't mind complimenting her to get what he wanted.
Molly removed her coat, and, Lestrade was embarrassed to realize afterwards, he gawped. Well, she was certainly trying to show Sherlock that she was not a girl, but a woman. She didn't get any reaction from Sherlock though, who seemed more focused on John's blog, going on about a counter. Lestrade offered her a drink in an effort to distract her.
When he returned with her glass, Molly said, "Thank you. So are you and your wife going anywhere over the holidays?"
Lestrade cleared his throat. "Well, actually, she and I are getting a divorce, so we're not doing much of anything together anymore," with a self-deprecating smile.
As looks of sympathy appeared on Mrs. Hudson's and John's faces, Molly stammered, "I'm s-sorry. I d-didn't know. I—"
"No, no, of course not," Lestrade interrupted her. "It was only a recent decision. You couldn't know."
There was an awkward pause before Sherlock burst out, "Let's have presents now! That appears to be the main reason for celebrating the holiday, along with an inexplicable desire to overdose on sentimental nonsense and gorge oneself on comestibles." He continued to chatter on about who should sit where, while he received fond looks from all who knew Sherlock and recognized what he was attempting to do. Except for John's girlfriend, who looked like this had sealed her opinion of Sherlock as unforgivably odd.
They had just settled in to exchange presents when Sherlock received a text announced by a sound that was rather embarrassing in mixed company, not that it seemed to bother Sherlock in the slightest. He crossed over to the mantelpiece, picked up a wrapped present, and then left for his bedroom. Lestrade and John exchanged glances before John went after Sherlock to check on him.
After a few minutes, John came back out looking concerned and then stopped as he realized everyone was looking at him. "Umm… Something came up. Sherlock is busy right now. Let's just go on, yeah?"
So they opened the presents in front of them, while Sherlock's pile remained untouched. After the gift exchange was over, there seemed to be nothing left to do. The atmosphere was uncomfortable with John's girlfriend obviously being peeved, John desperately trying to lighten the atmosphere, Mrs. Hudson making excuses, and Molly telling jokes. Very shortly, Molly said, "I n-need to go now. I-I only had a little time to stop by. Things to do you know." She gave an awkward smile as she moved toward the door. "Happy Christmas everyone."
Jeannette stood up. "Well, John, this has certainly been a flop thanks to your flatmate." She continued on as John began to protest. "I'm tired of everything in your life centering around him. I don't need a man who's already taken. Don't bother calling me."
John sighed and sat down in his chair while Mrs. Hudson began to fuss over him. Lestrade moved toward the kitchen, "Mrs. Hudson, could you help me a minute?" When she had joined him, he said quietly, "I don't want to be rude, but I thought maybe in light of John's breakup and my... divorce, maybe it'd be good for us to just talk as two blokes."
"Oh certainly, dear," Mrs. Hudson said. "And I am so sorry."
"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson. Let me escort you to the door," as he smiled and held out his arm. She let out a little giggle and then said good night to John.
After she'd left, Lestrade sat down on the sofa. "How'd you convince her to leave?" John asked curiously.
"I gave the impression you and I were going to talk about the breakups of our relationships."
"Do you actually want to do that?" John asked with raised eyebrows. Lestrade looked at John in a way that questioned his sanity. "Yeah, me neither. Though you know, I am sorry that…" John trailed off.
"Thanks. Now whose ringtone is that?"
John paused for a second at the change in topic, "Uh, Irene Adler's."
"Really, and she gave him a present."
"Yeah and one he wasn't too happy to get. I heard him tell Mycroft that she was going to die tonight."
"Well, that doesn't sound good. Sounds like it could be a danger night. Mind if I hang around for a bit? I could help you get things back in order."
While they straightened up, they searched the kitchen and then the living room for any contraband. They had just been taking a break when Sherlock finally came out of his room, heading straight for his Belstaff, not even looking in their direction.
"Where are you going, Sherlock?" John asked.
Sherlock spoke as he put on his coat and scarf. "My brother has requested my presence at the morgue to identify a body." Lestrade and John exchanged glances.
"Do you want me to come with you?" John put his book aside and stood up.
"No." Sherlock was going out the door, before he corrected himself, "No, thank you."
Lestrade began dialing Mycroft's number before Sherlock had even finished going down the stairs. Mycroft confirmed that the body was thought to be Irene Adler's, and unsurprisingly agreed that it was a danger night. "Well," Lestrade suggested, "Why don't you search your room and the loo, while I search Sherlock's room?"
"My room?" John asked. "Why would he put anything in my room?"
"Last place you'd expect to find something is in a shoebox in the back of your own closet or under your mattress or taped on the top of the trim above the window. You wouldn't believe some of the crazy places he's stashed things."
By the time Mycroft called to say that Sherlock had taken the cigarette, they were done searching. "I better get out of here," Lestrade said. "You can call if I'm needed, no matter how late. But having me still here waiting is likely to upset him. But if Sherlock complains about his sock index, you can tell him that I know how to do a search and put things back where I found them."
Disaster seemed to have been averted. According to John, Sherlock was composing melancholy tunes, but nothing worse had happened.
Lestrade was working longer hours over the week between Christmas and New Year's since he didn't have family to spend the holidays with anymore. Actually, he had been sleeping at his office until he could find a new flat. He had told Donovan about the divorce, asked her to pass it on to the team and tell them that he didn't want to talk about it. So, while busy at work, he could forget that he couldn't go home, except of course, when he received a tasteful condolence card from Mycroft.
He stopped by to check on Sherlock and see how he was doing and found him with his violin. Once Lestrade said that he didn't have a case for him, Sherlock pointed out a wrapped box with his bow and said, "I didn't have a chance to give you Mummy's present at the party. Take it with you."
Lestrade had never actually met Mrs. Holmes, but she knew of him through Mycroft. Since Sherlock had been clean, Mrs. Holmes had been sending Lestrade a gift every year. Always very tasteful, not too pricey, with a nice handwritten note thanking him for looking out for her boy.
"Sherlock? What was Molly's present to you? If you don't mind my asking."
"Ah, she made it herself?" Lestrade inquired.
Sherlock furrowed his brow. "Did you know she knit?" He definitely sounded perturbed that Lestrade might have known about one of her hobbies when he hadn't.
"No, but once I knew what she'd given you, I deduced it," Lestrade said, deliberately using Sherlock's word with a smirk.
Sherlock half-scowled, "How? Did you see knitting needles in her purse? Did she reference it in conversation? Did—"
"No, none of those things," Lestrade interrupted the tirade. "By her personality. She thinks handmade gifts are more special. And, uh…." Lestrade hesitated before going on, "you do know she has a crush on you?"
"You don't encourage it, do you?" Lestrade asked as Sherlock raised his eyebrow. "I mean, do you flirt with her or take advantage of her crush to get your way, which would signal to her that she has a chance with you?"
"I don't flirt with her," Sherlock huffed as he turned away.
"Well, see that you don't. It would be plain mean to do to a nice girl like Molly. You're better than that. And anyway, Molly's too good of an ally to set up like that. If you build up her hopes too high, then you run a greater risk of losing her assistance when they're dashed."
The next day, Lestrade was in the morgue to check up on a case and was about to leave when Molly said, "You know Sherlock was in here a few days ago to identify a woman's body."
"Yeah…" Lestrade said with a questioning tone.
"Well, see the thing is her face was all bashed in, and so she wasn't identifiable. But, Sherlock asked me to show the rest of her, and then he identified her by," Molly stumbled over what to say next, "not her face. H-how could he do that? I mean Sherlock wouldn't have—"
"My understanding is that Sherlock accidentally saw her," Lestrade cleared his throat, "without clothing. And being Sherlock, I'm sure he, uh, noticed just like he notices everything. So, I wouldn't assume it had to mean anything, but…" he sighed, "Molly you're a nice young woman who deserves a man who'll respect you. And this woman is the first he's paid attention to, and she's not what anyone would consider girlfriend material. He enjoys battling wits with her, but she'd turn on him in a heartbeat. I just don't see him ever in a normal boyfriend-girlfriend relationship," Lestrade smiled sadly at her and left.
He knew he'd dashed her hopes, but he was certain that Sherlock had been taking advantage of her. Better to try to turn her away now then for Sherlock to encourage her now and make a dog's dinner of it later. Still, when he remembered her crestfallen face as he left, he felt like he'd kicked a puppy.