Get It All in Writing
It isn't until he's about to leave the clinic and go home that John finds the envelope tucked into the inside breast pocket of his jacket. He pulls it out and inspects it: a smaller, square-shaped envelope, cream colored, with his name written in Sherlock's elegant handwriting across the middle. How odd. He opens it and begins to read the note written on matching stationery:
There is no particular reason for this note. Well, that isn't true. What I mean to say is, I have nothing to write that I could not just as well tell you in person. The reason why I chose a note instead of conversation is twofold: I've recently been reading up on Victorian literature and found certain customs practiced in friendships of that era rather relevant, and furthermore, it is easier to write about personal matters than to speak of them.
I want to tell you how much I love you. I know we exchange these words in person from time to time—not daily, since that might feel excessive and unnecessary—but I want you to have the words in writing, tangible and undeniable. I love you with all my heart, as I have never loved anyone in this world. Prior to our meeting, I had no idea I could truly love anyone. (I suppose, in some sense, I have cared for others, but that emotion is so faint in comparison to what I feel for you.)
A letter can do no more justice to my feelings than speaking them out loud could, but at least writing this allows me more tenderness than I otherwise know how to demonstrate.
You have saved me in countless ways, and I can no longer fathom being the man I was without you. Thank you. For everything. (Especially for marrying me, which still takes me by surprise.)
John is grinning like an absolute fool, his face glowing and his chest full of warmth. He refolds the letter, slides it back into the envelope, and heads out.
The following morning, after John leaves for work, Sherlock finds an envelope addressed to him waiting on top of John's upright piano. John hadn't mentioned his letter last night, although he came home with a bright smile and was especially keen on cuddling all evening. Sherlock knows before he opens this envelope that it must be a response, however. He finds his stomach flutters with nervousness as he pulls out the paper and unfolds it.
Thank you for your note. I think you're right: writing is better suited to this subject than speech. I know you probably did not expect a reply but I felt it only fair to give you one.
I hope you know how fully I appreciate and understand the value of your love. I'm unsure how I, of all unremarkable people, sparked that feeling in you—but I'm rather glad it happened.
None of this is what I had in mind for my life: you and our relationship and being married and helping you solve crimes. I never could have known, before meeting you, that I would find so much to enjoy about it all. It's absurd, but I honestly can no longer imagine being this happy any other way.
And I am happy. You must know that. I'm far happier than any man has a right to be; you have to be sure of how completely I reciprocate your feelings. I love you so profoundly, without comprehending how I am capable. But I suppose the logistics are irrelevant, yeah?
You are the most extraordinary person I have ever known, and I am honored beyond description that you agreed to marry me.
Sherlock's smiling, heart leaping in his chest. He folds the letter and kisses it, before returning it to the envelope. Later, he'll stow it away in a box he keeps in his room, but for now, he slips it into his pants pocket… In case he wants to read it again.
And then, the letters become a habit.
My Dearest John,
Even after sharing a flat for nine years and being married for four, I must confess that on occasion, I have these moments: where I look at you making tea in the kitchen or watch you after you've fallen asleep on the sofa with the telly on, and the most intense fear comes over me that all of this is a temporary illusion. That you will leave one day for a more normal life with a more suitable companion (a wife). I don't ponder the thought long, it's too unbearable, but I suppose it would be unreasonable of me to dismiss it as impossibility.
If, one day, you decide to go, I won't argue with you. You are free to do as you wish, always.
In the mean time, I will continue to savor my time with you as the happiest of my life.
My Dear Holmes,
Stop being a silly git.
I married you. Who does that?
A man who absolutely could not live without you.
Over the years, you have introduced innumerable new sensations to me. One of them, which continues to stand out despite it now being routine, is how eagerly I wish to go home again when I'm working without you. Which is not to say I enjoy my work less than I did before I met you; what I mean, is that I never had a reason to find my flats particularly inviting.
Our flat, however, is home. Besides your obvious physical presence, it is now firmly characterized by the both of us living there, so that even when I'm home without you, I feel as if I'm still somehow with you.
I hope it remains ours for many, many years to come.
My Good Sir,
If not for our flat, we would have never met. There is nowhere else I'd rather live—at least, until we retire. (Which you WILL do. Don't even think about getting yourself killed beforehand, I won't have it.)
Let me tell you something I haven't mentioned before, but which may amuse you: from time to time, when I go out shopping or to the bank or some other such place, a stranger will notice my ring and make some mention of my wife in casual conversation. And I can't, for the life of me, bother to correct them! I could tell them I'm married to a man but then they would get the wrong idea. Frankly, I can't be arsed to explain the facts over and over. I suspect they wouldn't believe me even if I did. Maybe I should follow your example and take the ring off when I'm working, but I'm too afraid I'll lose it or forget it too often or something. I like wearing it, besides.
By the way, the other night when you washed the dishes before I could get to them, that was good of you. Thanks again.
I care about my ring far too much to risk losing it on a case! (Besides, rings are rather inconvenient when one's work often involves fist fights, being kidnapped, etc. Too many gruesome possibilities.)
You mentioning the dishes gave me an idea: making lists of things I appreciate about you (that's the sort of thing one customarily includes in love letters, isn't it?).
- Doing the shopping usually because you know how dull I find it.
- Telling me how brilliant I am, even in public.
- Being instrumental to me on a case, with your knowledge of areas I care nothing for.
- Being the only person I know with enough wit to amuse me.
- The way you run your hand up my spine and rest it on the back of my neck, when you're standing next to me as I sit.
I like your list idea. Here's mine, to start:
- You learned how to be kind for me.
- You trust me to work with you, even though you are far more brilliant than I am, and maybe I slow you down.
- Your smile.
- Your cooking.
- The way you've made me more alive than I ever was before we met.
I'll be sure to run my hand up your spine more frequently.
Do you get scared as much as I do?
You Beautiful Human Being,
I don't know. How often are you scared?
I know I'm the only thing your fear is rooted in. And I apologize.
I'm probably scared less often than any other sane person would be in my position, but it happens enough. Naturally, every time I know you're in danger.
Which is far too frequently.
You're right. I only ever really fear for you. I used to be fearless. I miss it sometimes.
Don't apologize. Being afraid for you is an insignificant price to pay for having you with me.
Thank you for comforting me, when I let you know I need it. There's nothing else to be done about the risks, but you do make me feel better.
Aren't we absurd? Fearing for each other but never for ourselves.
The only thing for it is to lose each other at the same time.
Jesus Christ, Sherlock. Don't do this to me. You better bloody wake up soon. I can't handle the waiting. Every time feels worse than the last. I keep thinking I'll get used to it, we've both been in hospital or nearly died so many times, but I'm not used to it at all.
I just want you to look at me so I know you're all right. I keep thinking stupid thoughts like, What if he dies and I never see his eyes again?
Fuck. I need you. I need you so much, it hurts to breathe when I face not having you.
A secret: every time something happens to me, I feel so immensely glad (when I'm conscious enough to have feelings). I'm glad it's been me again and not you. I don't care how selfish that is.
Except—there's always this moment, just as I wake up from unconsciousness, where I'm filled with the most powerful terror from not remembering whether you were with me before, not knowing if you were hurt too.
I couldn't survive you. The end of you will be the end of me.
PS: Thank you for holding my hand when I come back.
I miss you. I've been utilizing these last few days of your absence to go out on dates but at this point, I find I'm more interested in going on another one tonight so that I don't have to be at home alone. (I would appreciate it if you not tease me about my pathetic sentimentality).
I warn you: when you come back, I'm going to want to hug you and hold you far more than usual, for a few days. You'll just have to put up with me.
I should leave the country more often. Being without you for almost a week intensifies the pleasure of our affection upon our reunion. Your constant touch these last few days has been most welcome.
I'm sorry we had a row. I shouldn't have been so hot-tempered. I can see your logic about the syringes; it just makes me uncomfortable to think you might use again. But you're a grown man and I really have no right telling you what to do.
Please forgive me—I hate it when we don't talk.
Apology accepted. I'm sorry about the syringes. I'll get rid of them before you come home.
I'm glad you're not angry at me anymore; it's really the worst feeling.
And I hate sleeping in my bedroom.
A new case! But I'll tell you about it later. I've just met the most fascinating client—Mary Morstan—and I think you should meet her. She just so happens to be totally and exclusively in love with her (female) best friend, who indeed returns her feelings and lives with her, and yet she is completely heterosexual. We got to talking about my marriage, to which she subsequently confessed to me (with emphatic relief) her own similar situation. She complains of always having to shag different men, since remaining with one often leads to the male developing feelings for her which she cannot (or will not) reciprocate.
I find her tolerably intelligent, and her appearance seems to match the kind most recurring in your previous dates.
You see where I'm going with this.
My Dear Sherlock,
I want to thank you, with the most heartfelt gratitude, for trusting me enough to refer me to Mary. I think she and I are perfectly suited to each other's needs in a sexual partner. We like each other, we understand each other in a way neither of us has ever been understood by our respective lovers in the past (for our individual states of partnership), and I think we'll be friends. You, of course, could tell even before I realized it myself that I've grown tired of serial dating. My interest in sex isn't what it used to be anyway, but I think with Mary, a very satisfying routine may be agreed upon.
Who would have guessed that there were others like us, in love without the shagging bit? It never occurred to me to look.
I love you more than ever. After a decade, you surprise me, in the best of ways.
Time for another list of things I appreciate:
- When you play the piano. (You're quite good, and it soothes me.)
- Your unfailing loyalty.
- Your astounding patience for my antics.
- When you take my hand in yours and kiss my knuckles.
- You making the tea every day.
- The way you hold me as I fall asleep.
Here's my list:
- How you make me laugh.
- How brilliant you are at the violin, when you play it properly.
- The sound of your heart beat.
- The fact that you are far more human than you let on.
- The way you let me see all of you, as no one else does.
I adore you,
The words "I love you" are no longer enough.