i. and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
moon /mun/ n. a celestial body trapped (but stable) in the gravitation well of a planet.
Galaxy, star, planet, moon. All irrelevant. (But John says he’s wrong.)
John likes to look at the moon. Sometimes as his head cranes up to follow the clean light, his shoulders square back and his steps become more measured, and then Sherlock knows he’s thinking about desert skies, smooth as ink and unclouded by the glow of London. And what Sherlock wonders is whether that sky, soaked with blood and adrenaline, is still calling for its Captain John Watson, for soothing words and a cool hand on a forehead, for bandages growing darker, wearing their stains like badges of courage – of survival.
He doesn’t know, and he does know, and it doesn’t even matter because Afghanistan has lost its hold on John, let him go with a quirk in his trajectory that led him straight to Sherlock.
Sherlock looks at the moon because John looks at the moon, his own gaze sliding up to mirror John’s, because they’re as firmly bound together as a satellite to its primary, as a planet to its sun, as a star to the hollow of darkness at the centre of a galaxy.
Most orbits are elliptical; Sherlock’s has John at both foci.
And when the sun sets, when the moon rises and casts silver threads on Sherlock’s lonely form, it’s not astronomy that Sherlock dreams about (even though the flash of a supernova should overwhelm every neuron of the optic nerve) – it’s John.
ii. and whatever a sun will always sing is you
sun /sʌn/ n. a self-luminous celestial body (a star) around which planets revolve.
The sun is shining on the day that John buries Sherlock. (Although that’s not quite true, because the body does not make the man, and John has never buried his memories.)
It takes light eight minutes to travel from the sun to the earth; and if the sun were to suddenly disappear, the earth would continue on its path for another eight unknowing minutes before realising that it has been orphaned, abandoned, left without an anchor in a vast, formless void.
John is still revolving around the space-which-used-to-be-Sherlock.
And what Sherlock wants (needs) (does) is to return, with brilliance flaring (coat collar turned up) and radiating white-hot life, before the emptiness of vacuum envelops John – to fill once more the skies of John with the clash of ions that swirl green and red over frozen ground – to arrive as the day begins anew and the glow of dawn filters gloriously through the clouds, forcing John to marvel and awake –
– to find before John is irrevocably lost.
iii. and the sky of the sky of a tree called life
sky /skaɪ/ n. the upper atmosphere of the earth.
There is no proper boundary between “sky” and “space”; the two smoothly fade into one another, molecules mingling, and only when you look back and see the earth gleaming blue, edge curving into the sharp arc of a circle, can you know you’ve crossed from the realm of clouds to the realm of stars.
The division between “Sherlock” and “John”, on the other hand, is much more obvious.
When there’s a breathless laugh and a triumphant grin, and the whole of London beneath pounding feet – when the weight of a pistol is steady in careful hands, hard focus crystallising out of sacrifice and the willingness to die – when there are words spoken, and words not spoken, and words that should have been spoken, and words that need not be spoken –
Perhaps Sherlock and John are like the root and the bud, the bark and the leaf, needing the other to be whole, to grow, to act, to live.
They know where each other ends. And they don’t.
iv. and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
star /stɑr/ n. a large, self-luminous celestial body.
If the universe were not expanding, the night sky would not be sheer darkness pricked by isolated points of light, but a blazing sheet of luminosity.
But the universe is expanding, and has been for 13.7 billion years, ever since the singular moment that changed everything.
And just as the fabric of space-time carries each star away from every other at a breathtaking pace, Sherlock carries John through the puzzle-piece of crime scenes, and John carries Sherlock through the minefield of people, and they carry each other through the lies and the truth, the law and the crime, the mind and the heart.
Their story is a wonder, a disaster, a sport*, something so new it's never been seen before in this world.
It’s only been just discovered (not even long enough to receive a proper name), and its hydrogen-fueled intensity has yet to dim.