Intimacy was not something with which the Universe had presented Sherlock Holmes many opportunities to experience. At least, not until John Watson became his lover. And by intimacy, we are not talking about sex. The Universe had presented Sherlock Holmes with plenty of opportunities to experience sex. From evil geniuses and lesbian dominatrices, to mousey pathologists and predatory journalists, they all fell at his feet. The fact that he had not taken them up was his own choice.
Sex was something he was familiar with, then, at least as a concept pertaining to the perpetration of crime. John very rapidly clued him in on its other aspects. And there can be little doubt that Sherlock took to it like a duck to water, as they say, and quickly became, if not an expert, then certainly an enthusiastic experimenter. Expertise quickly followed, of course, much to John’s delight. So far, so good. The sex part of the relationship was not a particular shock.
It was the intimacy that shook Sherlock’s world to its very foundations.
Case in point: a lazy Sunday afternoon. Sherlock had never experienced a lazy Sunday afternoon either, until he had met John. Lying about in bed, dozing, sloping about in pyjamas and eating bacon sandwiches for brunch over the papers, all these things came to John as naturally as being a crack shot. He was born with his eye in.
On this particular Sunday, Sherlock was being treated to post-coital lazing about on a particularly grand scale. They had barely got out of bed all day. The afternoon sun fell in shafts onto the bedroom floor and across the rumpled sheets. John was lying on his back, softly asleep.
And Sherlock couldn’t keep his eyes off him.
The smooth stretch of skin on the side of his body, with its faint satin sheen. The slight upward curve of his lower ribs. The lush hair across his belly. The sweet brown nubs of his nipples. The reassuringly steady pulse in his throat. The gleam of newly born stubble along his gently rounded jaw. The pale shiver of eyelashes against his cheekbones as he slept. The delicate scent of his body, warm and human and slightly spicy. The scatter of white hairs in his fringe that fell back from his forehead. The sweet slope of his nose, the tender curve of his upper lip, still a little swollen from Sherlock’s earlier kisses. The way his lips parted at every outbreath, a little puff. The tiny creases behind his ears. The indentation of the TB jab scar on his upper arm. His solid hands resting on the white sheet. The brown trench where he had cut his finger last week climbing over a fence behind Sherlock (a pathetically easy case but an intriguing chase at the end), and it still had not healed. The pitted, raised, white, red, shiny, dull, poignant scar that dented his left shoulder.
All of it, shocking and ordinary and familiar and heartbreakingly, breath-takingly beautiful.
But most of all, there was the beguiling, dazzling knowledge that Sherlock could simply sit there and look. For as long as he wanted. Whenever he wanted.
When John woke, an hour or so later, he found Sherlock curled by his side, eyes wide, transfixed by an everyday miracle.