John ignored the deep, intense voice of his annoying flatmate as he went about making his morning tea.
The sky out was that pearly shade of grey that promises snow: he could already anticipate the cheerfully pungent air waiting for him outside, the peculiar quality of cold that heralded a white sprinkle over the city. Glancing out, he could see the cheerful blinking lights of the decorations through the windows opposite theirs. Only two days to Christmas, now.
He wasn't going to let Sherlock ruin the mood.
Not for anything.
He opened the fridge and ignored the severed hand in a bowl, neatly tucked next to his butter, with practised ease. There was no point arguing: he simply resigned himself to toast with nothing but jam. Or, make that toast with nothing at all: jam that odd shade of green was likely not jam anymore, no matter what the label claimed. Labels had no hope of keeping up with Sherlock's experiments.
A dramatic crash testifying to just how bored Sherlock was drew John from his quiet musings. He sighed.
"Was that the vase Mrs. My-Husband-Might-Be-Cheating-On-Me gave you as a thank you gift?" he inquired mildly, bringing a cup of tea for Sherlock into the living room along with his own.
There was no answer, unsurprisingly, so he let it go and put the cup down on a haphazard stack of books near the couch where his mulish best friend was at once sprawled and contorted on himself: a feat that a part of John's brain found vaguely fascinating.
"John, I'm bored."
"When are you not?" he sighed again, lowering himself on his armchair and savouring the hot warmth of his mug. He disliked cold as a rule, but there were little moments like this – cradling a hot drink in chilled hands, watching flames dance in a hearth on the rare occasions he had a chance to, taking a walk in a whirlwind of snowflakes – that really made winter worth it.
"When I have a case!" came a dramatic declaration from the tangle of limbs that was Sherlock.
John blinked, needing a moment to retrace the conversation he hadn't been aware they were having and recognise where his flatmate's comment fit in it.
"That was a rhetorical question, Sherlock!" he exclaimed dryly.
"Well, it wasn't a rhetorical answer," retorted Sherlock petulantly.
John made vaguely soothing noises as he sipped his tea. Sometimes it worked.
This time it didn't.
Sherlock glared at him outraged, then jumped up from the couch with one of his characteristic bouts of feverish energy and started pacing the room like a caged panther, literally jumping on the furniture when it got in his way.
John closed his eyes, just to avoid the risk of getting dizzy watching that pale blue dressing gown flapping furiously, and continued savouring his hot tea. There was no need for any input on his part. Sherlock was going to start ranting any minute now...
"Why can't someone have the decency to become a serial killer?"
Case in point.
"Don't let anyone hear you say that," warned John, knowing it would do no good, but having to try anyway.
Sherlock went on ignoring him: "A really juicy triple murder, now that would be something... or a locked room mystery, maybe... why can't anyone commit a decent crime?"
John opened his eyes to watch his best friend throwing his hands in the air dramatically. Probably despairing over the current irritating goodness of people.
"It's Christmas," he offered tentatively.
"Oh, God, you can't possibly believe in all that ridiculous 'goodwill to men' stuff," scoffed Sherlock.
John wisely didn't answer. In his opinion, it was a fact that Christmas season just made everybody more inclined to feel happy with their lot, even if only for a short time. Well, mostly everybody. But still, there was something in the combination of luminous reds and rich greens, of golden shines and glossy tinsels, of Christmas carols and brightly-coloured gifts, that very simply made people friendlier, happier... for a while.
There was no way to put the feeling into words Sherlock would understand, though, so he simply repeated: "It's Christmas."
"Four serial suicides in a row is Christmas, John! A rush of frenzied shopping that supposedly celebrates a man who preached the renunciation of worldly goods is just hypocrisy."
John sighed. "I'm just trying to say that you shouldn't expect people to feel vicious with stockings hanging in their living room and the fragrance of gingerbread cookies in the air, or to commit some brutal crime when there's snow in the yard and strangers shouting 'Merry Christmas' to those who pass them in the streets."
Sherlock glared disgustedly at John and muttered something along the lines of "Ridiculous!"
He stopped his restless pacing to glare out of the window for a moment: "There are about 7 billions people in the world and only 2.2 billion of them are Christian of any denomination so why is it that everybody seems convinced there is something special about this date?"
"There's more to Christmas than religion, Sherlock."
"It's a religious commemoration," pointed out the consulting detective with his usual fastidiousness.
"Perhaps, but when it comes down to it, Christmas is about family, warmheartedness, togetherness, friendship: it's about working together towards something good; about giving the best of themselves in the service of others and reaffirming the ties with your loved ones." He shrugged slightly with a small smile: "These are values anyone can share and that's what makes Christmas special. Belief in a specific deity is not required."
Sherlock sniffed disdainfully.
"No!" said John calmly, but raising his voice just enough to make his point heard. "Nothing you will every possibly say will make me change my mind on this. Christmas is special and that's all there is to it!"
Sherlock pouted. "Still don't see why criminals should stop committing crimes because of it!" he muttered petulantly.
John snorted a laugh into his mug. "They don't. See?" he waved the newspaper as evidence. "Several frauds, couple cases of embezzlement..."
"Drug possession..." he continued in an overly-innocent voice.
Sherlock glowered at him.
"Shoplifting all over the place..."
"Dull, dull, dull!"
"At least three instances of assault and battery..."
"Oh, God, please spare me!" shouted Sherlock in his typical exaggerated way. He grabbed the frame of the window and gazed out at the street below with loathing: "Look at that," he murmured in disgust. "Quiet. Calm. Peaceful. Isn't it hateful."
John chuckled: "You're insufferable, you know that?"
"I need a case, John. I need it!"
"So text Lestrade and tell him you'll solve a couple of the shoplifting ones," John joked.
Sherlock only just barely beat back a scream of pure frustration. "I mean a good case!" He hit the frame with a fist, again and again: "A murder! An international smuggling ring! Something!"
Then he rounded on John with a look of utter despair: "John, my brain is rotting as we speak, I can feel it. I. Need. A. Case!"
"You could always ask Mycroft for one of his," said John lightly.
The resultant glower would have incinerated him on the spot if such a thing was even remotely possible. John chuckled again and folded up the paper he'd glanced through.
There was a pause of glum silence in which he enjoyed draining his tea with a contented sigh.
"I need a case!"
"And I need to go," replied John easily, getting up and gathering his things.
"Go? What do you mean, go?" Sherlock stopped suddenly the pacing he'd just resumed and glared at him, looking completely outraged.
"To the clinic," specified John patiently. "You know, my job?"
"Dull!" spat Sherlock, collapsing on the couch once more.
John shrugged. Truth be told, he wasn't at all sorry to have an excuse to leave his flatmate to his own devices for a while. No matter what that would likely mean for the safety of his laptop, Mrs. Hudson's furniture, or the flat in general.
"See you later!" he called back. He got no reaction, but that was Sherlock for you.