If metal had a choice, if metal could make its choice and say this is what I want to be; if metal could stand up and say make me be that, then that would be this pair of handcuffs, of all things. The pair of handcuffs that joins Sherlock and John on their last night through the cold air of London. Because if metal had the choice to decide about its consummation, then it would demand to be transfomed into something important, something that changed lives, something definitive, something radiant and painful.
Something that only happened once. But once would be enough.
Sherlock and John are running for their lives, for their name, for their breath. Together.
The night sky is darker than ever, but there’s so much light in the streets that there’s no place to hide, no place to safely keep their name, their lives, their breath.
The night is as dark as the wolf’s mouth, but there’s no place to hide from the new Queen’s Mirror. The night is as sad as the Hunter, who was commanded to cut out Sherlock's heart and bring it to the press, still beating, red and glorious and simply human. The Hunter is not important yet, but she will be, tomorrow. She will count, tomorrow, when Sherlock needs her to get a deer heart (all hearts are the same) in order to fake his death (all lives end). The Hunter will take that deer heart to the press, so that The Sun doesn’t look for Sherlock on the Earth’s surface the next morning; so that The Mirror can tell Sherlock is dead, and there’s no blazing genius to threat the dull beauty of the masses. As that pulsing heart will prove that Sherlock was human, after all. That Sherlock was human, in the end. That all hearts are the same. That all lives end. That all hearts are broken.
But it’s not the next morning yet. It’s the night before. It’s now, and the night is dark and alive.
This is the last night, and Sherlock and John are running through the cold air of London. Sherlock knows this is the last night, but John doesn’t. There are so many things John doesn’t know. And there are just a few things Sherlock doesn’t want John to know, and this is one of them.
Sherlock and John are running, and between them there’s a metallic bond nothing can destroy, not even the worm in the apple, the poisoned doubt in the mind, persistent as a whisper; because if love is blind, then trust is deafening. And even if they weren’t handcuffed together, John would be running with Sherlock, and the certainty of it makes Sherlock’s heart beat as a deer heart, wild and fast and empty of malice. Sherlock has his heart in the throat when he says Take my hand, and the metal of their handcuffs shines proud and thankful, because that’s the instant, that’s the second, that’s the reason why if metal had a choice, its choice would be now and here.
Metal is a conductor, just like John. Metal conducts heat and electricity, and there is so much heat tonight, the last night, and (from Sherlock’s wool to John’s leather) there is so much heat that metal burns like ice against oversensitive skin. And there is so much electricity in John’s voice when he says We are going to need to coordinate that just his voice, just those seven words, could illuminate the entire world if it plunged into darkness. If something terrible (love, infamy, death) happened, plunging the world into darkness after tonight.
John says We are going. To need. To coordinate, and the We is so electrifying, you and me, Sherlock and John, the We is so mighty that charges of energy, of something wild and animalistic and silky, flow through the words that follow and it feels like opening a door to an unused room, an unfurnished room where the We could start a new life. It feels like opening a room closed for three years, thick curtains and the dust of the wait, everything untouched, waiting in the dark for one more miracle. But John doesn’t know about the dust of the wait yet. And Sherlock didn’t know about the unused rooms until tonight.
Tonight. John’s hand is grabbing Sherlock’s coat tonight, wool and muscle, bones and tendons, and blood, blood running under skin, blood rushing, blood responding at John’s commanding voice grabbing Sherlock’s coat, Sherlock’s will, Sherlock’s ability to think of anything that’s not the ductility of metals; of how much he wants to melt in John’s hands, in John’s voice, all over John, to be shaped without breaking, to be transformed into something different, into something stronger, something that is Sherlock and John together.
Metal is hurting the softest skin of Sherlock’s wrist, but John moves his hand and climbs the fence, and then both are on the same side again, as always, as it has to be, John by Sherlock’s side. Until the end. Until tonight.
Sherlock knows tonight is the last night, and last nights are meant for stupid things, but Sherlock is not stupid. However, there is so much heat, so much electricity tonight, that if he were stupid enough, or if Sherlock didn’t know this is their last night, or if Sherlock had a choice, a way of doing it that wouldn’t imply this were the last night, then, and only then, Sherlock would kiss John for the first time. Once. And once would be enough.
If Sherlock had a choice, then he would kiss John on the mouth; kissing him to claim him, to worship him, just to kiss him. Lips and teeth and tongue and heat, and electricity, and We. Are going. To. Need. And need, and need, and blood, and teeth, and need. To coordinate.
Once would be enough, and not enough at all, as soon as Sherlock kissing John turned into John kissing Sherlock, kissing back, opening, surrending, melting –the kiss changing into something better, Sherlock and John, against the wall, towards the we, the need, the want. Wool against leather, moving, fighting to be closer, their handcuffs clinking, their blood demanding; teeth, Sherlock’s teeth on the most tender place of John’s neck; and tongue, John’s tongue firing up a secret root of nerves in Sherlock’s earlobe.
And they would need to coordinate, because John’s thigh pressing between Sherlock’s legs would be a terrible idea, an amazing idea, Sherlock groaning and wanting, and wanting, and wanting to take that smug grin off of John’s face, so he would lift his left arm over John’s head, forcing John to do the same, metal shining, burning, up and up, pinning John, punishing him, John’s nape touching the wall with a soft thud, his mouth no longer smug, his lips parted, breathing heavily, flushed and waiting, his throat exposed, his body arched, his mouth open and hungry.
They would definitely need to coordinate, because John would be hungry for Sherlock, hungry for everything that Sherlock would give him, mouth and neck, hands and cock, skin and sweat and blood and heat and heart; Sherlock would give him everything, everything that John asked for –he would make John ask for it, he would make John name it, he would make John say all the dirty words, all of them, and Sherlock would devour them, devour John, whatdoyouwant, kissme, fuckme, biteme, swallowmewhole, but tellme, tell me, until everything sounded wet and dirty, until even Sherlock’s name sounded like a forbidden word, Sherlock, a taboo word in John’s mouth.
John’s mouth. Once. And once would have been enough.
But tonight is the last night, Sherlock has no choice, and that means this is the story of a kiss that never happens, the kiss and everything else that the kiss would have brought, everything that John would have asked for; everything that Sherlock would have given him. Nothing of that happens, and the kiss, the kiss falls, sad and heavy like a body, it falls in the land of the kisses never given, where it belongs.
The kiss ends in Sherlock’s list of things he doesn’t want John to know. It’s not a long list and it’s not written anywhere because it’s changing all the time, and because it’s the most secret thing Sherlock owns, something he would never want John to find it, days later, years later, a crumpled paper hidden under the mattress, that revealed, written in pencil, all the things John wasn’t allowed to know:
- I smoke when you’re away.
- I wanted to be a pirate.
- I actually approved of Sarah.
- I was the one that left those unpleasant comments on your blog. I was jealous.
- I wasn’t. I just wanted to see you sulking for a bit.
- I was jealous. I always am, when it’s about you.
- I’m not brilliant at kissing. I know you imagine I am, but I’m not. You’d have to teach me.
- I loved Jim Moriarty for a second. For more than a second.
- I could have picked our way out those handcuffs whenever I wanted.
- I wanted to kiss you that night.
- There’s a certain way you treat all the simple things in the world that is entirely obscene, like the way you stroked the fence rail on the last night, the night I wanted to kiss you, or the way you grip your gun, or the way you wrap my heart. You treat them as if they weren’t simple things. And they are, John. They are.
- I really did want to kiss you that night.
Sherlock really does want to kiss John tonight, the last night, but he jumps right before a bus instead. Because jumping before a bus is less dangerous than kissing John on the mouth, and because this is the story of a kiss that doesn’t happen. Sherlock jumps before a bus, and John follows him because they are handcuffed together, but also because John belongs at Sherlock’s side, and with handcuffs or without them, John has no choice.
If John had a choice, he would kiss Sherlock tonight. Because kissing Sherlock is more dangerous than jumping before a bus. Because John doesn’t know tonight is the last night, but he knows Sherlock wanted to be a pirate and he imagines Sherlock has to be a fantastic kisser. And even if he had known this is the last night, even if he hadn’t known Sherlock wanted to be a pirate, even if Sherlock happened to be a terrible kisser; if John had a choice, he would kiss Sherlock, maybe not tonight, but he would choose Sherlock’s mouth, Sherlock’s heart, Sherlock’s life, every time.
If John had a choice, if something terrible (love, infamy, death) happened after tonight, he would choose to believe. If John could make his choice, then he would believe in one more miracle and he would deny all the fairytales, except the story of a consulting detective, the only one in the world, who was amazing, extraordinary, who could see through everything and everyone but who didn’t know a thing about the Universe, and he always lost playing Cluedo; and who was the most human being ever known; an idiot who would bite the poisoned apple just to prove he was clever; who would jump off a building just to prove the world, the mirror, the sun, that he was an idiot.
He is an idiot.
If John had a choice, he would believe in the present tense.
If John could stand up and say don’t allow me to forget, then he would never forget the note, the call, and the night before, the darkest night, the heat, the electricity; the pain of the lack of Sherlock, which goes further than the elastic limit of a body. And he would deny the fatigue in metals, the strain, the rain, the sky, the mirror and the sun. If John had a choice, he would believe in the alloy.
If John had a choice, this would be the story of a kiss that happens once, once you’ve eliminated the impossible, because then, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Even after a funeral, a tomb of granite that John touched as if it weren’t a simple thing; even after three years of dust and rust, of thick curtains and nights that never were as dark as that last night through the cold air of London. If John had a choice, this would be the story of a kiss that waited three years to happen.
If John had a choice, this would be the story of a kiss brought back from the land of the kisses never given.
It’s a good thing, then, that John has a choice.