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Marvellous feeling, this.

Something new. What joy! After all these years on Earth; something new under the sun.

(Around which we are currently travelling at an average speed of 18.5 miles per second.)

(Trying hard not to think about what relevant piece of information may have been displaced by stubborn refusal to delete this bit of meaningless trivia.)

Beside him in the bed, John is sound asleep.

Companion. Late Latin. Literally; bread-fellow. Same with the Germanic equivalent; meal-mate. Etymological identicality--another joy. Replaced an older word meaning travelling partner. John was both. A companion at the breakfast table and on the train. Gefera. Wayfarer. Gemate. Eating at the same table. Mate. One of a wedded pair. Com-pan-ion. With bread.

Accompany. Take as a companion. Campaign? No--Competitor. Strive in common. Still common, still com. With. Together. Yes. Those are not new. Competitors. Rivals. Rival--One on the opposite side of the stream. Mycroft. The Cabbie. Moriarty. We were made for each other, Sherlock. No--we were made to strive against each other; strive in common. Com-mon. Com-pete. Petere. Strive, seek, rush at. Petition. Request. Solicitation, supplication. Require. Want. Wanian--To diminish. To be lacking. Shortage. Deficiency. Need. Needs. Niedðearf--necessity, compulsion. Dearth. Niedling--slave.

Needs.

"Humans have needs, John, it's hardwired to the human condition. As flattering as it is to know that you don't think of me as such--"

"As what, as human?"

"No one else does. And wouldn't it be convenient if they were right?"

Sherlock opens his eyes. John is on his back, one hand resting above his solar plexus, rising and falling in a rhythm that Sherlock finds undeniably peaceful. Soothing. He can't explain it (yet) but that doesn't mean he can't appreciate it. It's a fact. John's breathing is a comfort to him. His eyes close.

Comfort. Confortare. Com-fortis. To strengthen much.

It has been obvious (to him) for quite some time that he and John had swiftly left behind any kind of arrangement that was easy to define. "Flatmate" has not been adequate for many months.

He wasn't sure what had prompted him to hurl the words at John, You are not my lover, when John was trying to care for him. He believes now--and there's that word, belief, which tastes so brassy and unusual against his tongue--that he said them in bitterness; that they were intended to sting.

And the way John's face had crumpled and then gone slack had made him think that he had succeeded.

But he hadn't left Sherlock's side, that night. Had not let Sherlock drive him away. Had spent the night in bed with him. After rubbing gentle doctor's fingers through his hair and calling it giving him a brain massage.

Brain massage. What a lovely idea. John frequently had them. Lovely ideas. It was a part, a vast and constantly surprising part, of the attraction. The world, through John's eyes, was a wide and wondrous place. So if I could just massage your brain… He'd said. Massage--amassar. Knead. Massa--dough. I am dough in John's steady hands and my kneaded body rises to the warmth of him.

…only

…not in any way that is accurately described by those words.

Words are fallible.

In bed with John, touching John, made his body a lovely place to be. This is the physical embodiment of the moments when he and John were, for lack of a better phrase--and here, in the sleepy half-dark of his well-rubbed brain, he can forgive himself a thought he would never allow to see the light of day--sharing brainspace.

And it's all right. All this touching, sharing, emoting. Because it doesn't interfere with his work. Because nothing is changing. Because John doesn't require anything of him. Because John does not desire the male form.

It's his mind. It's the work. It all cycles back to that.

It doesn't matter that one of the earliest uses of the word join was to evoke the concept of sexual union. From the very same morpheme comes such spectacular signifiers as yoke and jugular. Binding, significant words.

(Also, joust. To rush together--compete.)

(Delete that. Words hold the power to fascinate. Nothing more.)

Beside him, John shifts in his sleep. Sherlock does not open his eyes; sight would add nothing to this experience. He knows what John looks like. Would recognize him even with the structure of his face as badly damaged as Heather Waters' had been.

Which will never, ever, happen.

Sherlock goes very, very still.

He presses cautious fingertips to John's chest, and lets the unstuttering rhythm of his heart carry him back to sleep.