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A Hesitation Waltz

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John’s internal compass, despite all the years and arguments, always points to Baker Street. The mismatched flat acts as magnetic North; his feet inevitably carry him there, up the steps (mind the fourth one-- it creaks loudly), and into the living room. Skull, pinioned bat, and encased bugs greet him as if to say, ‘ We can’t get away, either.’ Comfort rubs against his skin until it chafes. He loves it; he hates it. Emotion has never been his strong suit. The Watson men have always been quick to anger (the sharp crack of his father’s hand on his cheek stopped surprising him by the age of eight), but Baker Street and all it represents-- anger, happiness, despair, love-- leave him gasping, grasping, to even name what he feels. A bit of clogging in his throat. An itch on his knuckles. A flutter in his chest. His face hurts from fighting a smile, but also from gritting his teeth. Impossible.

Maybe it’s because things are different. They are different. They’ve always been a bit of a mismatched pair, but before their edges managed to meet, filling in grooves and cracks in one another. Now the differences are more pronounced, harder to make up for or balance out. He’s moved back in, but he isn’t alone this time. Rosie is a near constant weight on his hip, a presence he cannot and never wants to forget. But the changes came even before that. The two years apart changed them, of course, but even when Sherlock came back into his life, wild and like a ghost stepping straight from John’s memory, the difference was there and it has only become more pronounced with John moving back in.  

Sherlock’s quieter. Gone are the days of him shooting the walls or jumping up in a flurry of exasperation and coat tails. It’s not like the black moods that used to cling to Sherlock or even the silence that comes when he is stuck somewhere in the depths of his mind palace. No, this Sherlock just sits, experiments forgotten, doing nothing more than being in the same room as John. To cover up the silence, John flicks on the telly, a desperate attempt to get Sherlock to say something, anything, even if it is just a tirade about how the program they are watching is ridiculous. But he doesn’t. His eyes will track the action on the television as if he has never seen any of it before, as if the person is baffling in their actions, incomprehensible, and he is left to puzzle it all out.

Some days, Sherlock will just leave the flat. Not a word. He tugs on his Belstaff and leaves. He’s gone for hours and at first, John thought that it was just another aspect of this new Sherlock that John was going to have to learn. Before Sherlock would wander off, gone for hours-- days-- at a time, but John always felt a connection to him. A quick, tersely worded text to set John’s mind at ease or a favorite scarf left on the hook by the door reminded  him that Sherlock would be back. Now Sherlock leaves without a word, a whisper of  his coat vanishing out the door the only announcement that he is gone. No texts or exasperation. Sherlock had always loved walking around London, so perhaps it is nothing more than Sherlock needing more time on his own than he used to, just another aspect that John has to learn. After all, they had spent time apart; John certainly isn’t the same man he had been a few years ago-- before Barts, before Mary, before the baby, before...

But John is a worrier. He just is. Somewhere in his DNA there is a strand that’s labelled Worry, next to another strand that says Blue Eyes and Blond Hair. So, when Sherlock begins returning from his walkabouts in increasingly odd moods, John knows for certain that something is up. Some days he returns with a bounce in his step, eyes bright, and a smile tugging on his lips. Other days, Sherlock returns just as quietly as he left, only nodding a hello to John before disappearing into his bedroom, and the silence in the flat becomes all the more oppressive.

He starts searching the flat while Sherlock is gone. It’s then that he notices that Sherlock’s violin is missing, which just increases his worry even more. Sherlock loves that damned instrument, probably more than he has loved anything (or anyone), but it and its case are missing. He flips cushions, opens drawers, tosses socks. Nothing. No bottles, syringes, or little bags with powder in them. All he finds is a stale pack of cigarettes shoved in a back corner under the sofa.

Has Sherlock sold his violin? John wracks his brain, trying to think of the last time he heard Sherlock play anything, even just a rough screech of irritation, but nothing comes to mind. He hadn’t even noticed its absence and he should have. Christ, it used to be that he couldn’t get a word in edgewise because Sherlock was spending every second playing. Back when they first lived together, Sherlock would play like a man possessed, to the point that John worried that there must be blood saturating the strings from Sherlock gripping the neck so tightly.

How could he have not noticed that Sherlock was no longer waking him in the middle of the night with the violent bowing or making the violin sing, beautiful and heartbreaking? John curses his distraction. Just because he has Rosie to attend to, to worry over, doesn’t mean he can ignore every other aspect of his life. Midnight bottle feedings and walking her up and down the length of the flat when she is sick or cranky have taken over his life. And he doesn’t hate it, no. He loves being a father. But sometimes he feels like that is all he is now: a singular focus for a single role. When did he and Sherlock start to drift? When did this portion of the flat become just his and Rosie’s? When did he lose Sherlock’s friendship? As far as he can tell, Sherlock has been spiraling, plummeting, for God knows how long, while John has been sitting around the flat, stupidly failing to see the signs. Guilt pools in his stomach and with it comes anger, always hand-in-hand. Sometimes John wonders if he is capable of feeling either without the other, but this anger is restless, impotent in its focus. He doesn’t have a reason to be angry or a target for his anger. It simply is. He can’t be angry at Rosie, would never want to in point of fact. But he feels an anger at the entire damned situation. It’s shit and it leaves him pacing the flat, thoughts out racing his feet.

That decides it. He waits for Sherlock to leave one afternoon and follows him. He’s learnt a thing or two about following someone. Sherlock may be observant, but John is well practiced at blending in. Besides, Sherlock appears distracted. From his spot behind Sherlock, John can see his head bobbing, curls bouncing in time to a song that John can’t hear. John watches, entranced, by the flick of Sherlock’s fingers, composing and directing along with the car horns and traffic lights.

He makes one stop, at an old antique shop, where he disappears briefly inside. His violin case now in hand, Sherlock continues on his way. The case thumps against his thigh in time with his directing. One, two, three, one, two, three.

When Sherlock finally gets to his destination, John stops dead in his tracks in disbelief.

 


 

He isn’t keeping it from John. Don’t be ridiculous. Perhaps he hasn’t told John explicitly what he has been doing regularly, but John has other things to worry about. Once John and Rosie are settled into life at Baker Street, he’ll confide in John, but until then it seems cruel to tell him. It’s certainly not his first secret he has kept from John, though he does try now to be more open when John has the time. Never mind that John rarely has the time these days. He can’t be blamed, certainly not for this.

For all his initial worry over having a child in the flat, Sherlock does love Rosie. Children never judge and they have a curiosity about them that Sherlock wishes adults retained. The world would be less boring if they did. Still as much as he loves Rosie (and John, but God, he can’t even navigate that thought-- best keep it locked in the tower), there are some things he doesn’t know how to share with them, some things that still feel a bit too fragile. Some day, perhaps, he can put voice to it and share it with John, but no. Not now. Not with John still teetering between grief and anger, still off balance despite months of living at Baker Street. Besides, letting John in on the secret would perhaps reveal a bit too much, giving away a part of Sherlock that he guarded like an animal guards an injured limb.

No, this one thing is just Sherlock’s. Apparently, that’s a good thing or so Ella has said. No, not good. Healthy . A ridiculous notion that only a therapist would say, but still it does feel nice (ugh, an inward grimace) to have something that isn’t anyone else’s for a time. It doesn’t even belong to Sherlock, but to a version of him from long ago, a version that just as easily went by William. The thing is he had forgotten how much he loves dancing. He hadn’t been kidding with Janine. Dance had been an integral part of his childhood. Mummy insisted that he channel all that energy somewhere and so it had been ballet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, every week, until he was fourteen. He had loved it, the way everything quieted in his mind. His body was in charge, nothing but muscles and tendons stretching, air bellowing out of his lungs as he jumped and twisted. It was freeing. He wonders now if it was also how he learned to cope with the loss of Victor, but those memories are still muddled and strange. If he focuses for too long on them, they stretch and distort like a mirage. Dancing represents an innocence Sherlock had long forgotten. Like all knowledge that seemed frivolous, he eventually locked it away, forever to be buried in a dark part of his mind, past loss and drug use.

And then John and a warm night at Baker Street, with the curtains glowing from the setting sun, blew the locked doors open and unearthed it.

John is absolutely helpless when it comes to dancing. He may love music, but he can’t follow a simple beat. Sherlock knows this because John had pressed himself against Sherlock, cheeks twitching in amusement, and proceeded to stomp all over Sherlock’s feet while trying to practice the waltz for his wedding. He had winced, expecting Sherlock to lash out with an insult, but not with this. Never with this. With John’s hand tucked against the small of Sherlock’s back, the other clasping Sherlock’s hand, Sherlock had just smiled and said, “Again.”

He would have endured broken toes and started the music over and over, if it meant John’s hands stayed where they were. They acted as an anchor, keeping Sherlock’s racing heart in his chest, as John fumbled through each step and attempted to dip him, an effort that resulted in a pulled muscle and a fit of the giggles. Pressed that close, Sherlock registered each shiver and jerk of John’s body as he tried to contain his laughter. Glory sang in Sherlock’s bones, resonating with John’s smile and the golden glow of the flat. That moment he carries with him as a talisman in his darker moments, a brilliant burst of light in surrounding darkness, still unsullied even when bookended by nothing but loss and heartbreak.

He hasn’t danced since then and he has had plenty of opportunities to do so. No, none of them are the right dance partner, so he has contented himself with just watching. As he watches, John and he dance away in Sherlock’s mind, surefooted in a way that Sherlock knows is pure fantasy. They’ve never got to practice their movements until they blended together, flowing from step to step. Someone once told him that dancing and sex are one and the same. Both require trust and an intimate knowledge of your partner’s body. He trusts John with his life (and his body, if John would let him). Would John say the same about him? Perhaps once. Trust is as fragile as glass between them, but in Sherlock’s mind, where they dance in perfect time, he and John fit together like old lovers.

He shakes the melancholy from his mind; instead, he focuses on the feel of his violin strings under his fingers as he quickly goes through the scales and on the weight of the wood on his shoulder. Today, it’s a wedding between an elderly couple, a second marriage for them both. The dance hall is packed with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Delighted laughter rings out across the room. The bride leans against her new groom, both of them smiling softly at their large family. There is no formality here: no tables bursting with flowers, pasted on fake smiles, or uncomfortable dresses and suits.

So, Sherlock plays them something light and fun, which speaks of new life and hope. It’s not a waltz; they had specifically asked for something the young ones could dance to, so Sherlock draws his bow across the strings and spins his way through one pop song, then another. One of the granddaughters squeals in delight and grabs her sister’s hand. Soon the floor floods with people giggling, hands waving in the air. He ends with a song that was popular in the newly married couple’s hayday. They grin at each other and dance just as vigorously as everyone else.

Once he finishes, he hops down from the stage, making room for the DJ. One of the groomsman, he thinks, shouts for him to stay and join in on the fun even as Sherlock shrugs on his coat. He manages a quick smile and a shake of his head and he is left alone once more. He’s a ghost simply haunting the feast and it was past time for him to leave. He leaves just as quickly as he entered, payment already tucked in his coat pocket.

 


 

Sherlock bloody Holmes was playing at weddings. Weddings , plural. Last week was the Ramseys’ wedding party. This week it’s apparently the Hutchinsons’. At first, John thinks these are people that Sherlock has solved cases for. Why else would he willing play at other people’s weddings? (He tries to tamp down the jealousy and hurt; it’s silly to be upset about Sherlock playing for other people.) Sherlock doesn’t need the money. They have had a steady stream of cases since his return (thank God). John maybe isn’t working as much as he would like, but it wasn’t like he was begging for Sherlock’s card like he had when they first moved in together.

But no, these are strangers, relatively speaking. Sherlock has obviously spoken to them prior to meeting with them. Whether through text, email, or face-to-face, John isn’t sure, but each couple is delighted to see him and before Sherlock can duck out of the party, they hug him and pat him on the cheek. Sherlock smiles.

Smiles .

No, the only explanation is that Sherlock likes playing at weddings, likes the pomp of it, the happiness, the ridiculousness of ritual, and the fact that Sherlock would like something so sentimental is the strangest thing of all. A memory of Sherlock bent over perfectly folded napkins flashes in his mind. John had chalked it up to Sherlock’s usual weirdness at the time, but the memory is now colored differently. Awkwardness transforms into stress transforms into a mix of wistfulness and sadness. John finds himself examining each exchange between them, each moment surrounding he and Mary’s wedding. Had Sherlock always looked a bit sad and at a loss? The question hounds him and so he shadows Sherlock again and again on his little trips across London.

John knows full well that it’s not really any of his business, but he can’t help it. His curiosity is peaked. He follows Sherlock to one wedding, then two, then three. This one’s the fourth in line and up until now John has had to pretend to be boyfriends and cousins twice removed. This time he doesn’t think as quickly and is mistaken as one of the catering staff. It’s a bit odd, but it lets him actually get a good look at Sherlock, instead of casually hiding behind a potted plant.

Music transforms Sherlock. He’s brilliant, of course, and always a bit not of this world, but with his violin tucked under his chin, he becomes more human. The notes ground him. Haughtiness gives way to a vulnerability only the closest to Sherlock know to recognize. Despite what Donovan and Anderson claim, Sherlock is capable of great emotion and it is no more apparent than when he plays. Neither he nor John are particularly open with their feelings. It’s just not who they are, but here, right now, John peers into Sherlock’s heart and sees the tender edges of raw emotion. It’s too intimate by far, and John feels his neck heat in embarrassment from invading what appears to be such a private moment. He isn’t fast enough at blending back into the crowd and when he looks back at the stage where Sherlock is playing a ballad, he discovers Sherlock looking at him. His face gives nothing way, neither shock nor dismay. Sherlock plays on, eyes now fixed on John's face. His arm never sags, his fingers never stumble.

John’s chest tightens. An exquisite pain jumps from his stomach, causing his breath to catch. It’s a bit like that sudden rush of adrenaline right before a fall: bright, sharp, and beautiful. Sherlock always has had that effect on him. He makes John feel terrifyingly alive. Sherlock plays on, the ballad transforming into something light and beautiful and it too dances along John’s skin. The notes caress him, a gentle lingering touch, that promises at more. More what, he can’t fathom, but his clothes threaten to suffocate him as Sherlock’s long and beautiful fingers quiver along the neck of the violin. The song slowly comes to an end, a high note that trails along John’s spine. He licks at the bead of sweat breaking out along his upper lip, only to notice the way Sherlock’s eyes follow his tongue, a look unmistakable in its heat and desire. Caught by the sudden flash of insight, the tray in John’s hand tumbles to the floor. The loud clang draws the attention of everyone in the hall and John quickly bends down to pick it up. The fumble breaks the spell John is under and leaves his face flushed.

Caught, John ducks away. He should have known better than to follow Sherlock. If he had wanted John to know, he would have said something. This isn’t anything dangerous, no criminal hiding in the wings or drug-fueled binge. This is… well, John isn’t entirely sure what this is. He has glimpsed at something that wasn’t meant for him. It can’t be. Sherlock doesn’t feel that way-- John corrects the thought even as it enters his mind. Sherlock feels, deeply in fact. But like that? Towards him? He splashes water on his face, trying to fight down the flush of heat building in his gut.

 


 

He knew John had been following him, though he isn’t entirely sure how long he had been doing it. At the last wedding he had played, he glimpsed the familiar sight of John’s blond head vanishing out a doorway. No mistaking that swagger, even when John was trying to be inconspicuous. When Sherlock arrived back at the flat, he debated about telling John finally, half-expecting John to bring it up himself. After all, the cat was out of the proverbial bag. Best time to come clean, really.

But then John didn’t bring it up. In fact, he stayed oddly silent about it, busying himself instead with putting Rosie to bed and then with eating his own dinner. Sherlock had waited, a bit dumbfounded, at the entrance to the kitchen until John had finally smiled at him and asked if he was planning on standing in the doorway all night.

The next day, Sherlock had purposefully put his coat on a little slower, giving John the time to ask him where he was going or to even comment on yesterday. John, however, continued to play with Rosie on the floor, moving blocks around in a zig-zag to his daughter’s delight. Strange. John has always commented on Sherlock’s odd behavior with a quick ‘not good’ or an exasperated shake of his head, but for once John has said nothing at all, like what Sherlock is doing matters little to him. Perhaps it is yet another sign of them being out of step, ill-practiced at living together and navigating each other’s space. Sherlock forces his hands to gentle as they tug his collar up, though he cannot keep from slamming the front door with a bit more force than needed.

The Hutchinsons are courteous and happy to pay him before he takes the stage; all the better because it means a quick exit. He presses his lips in a fine line and tries to get lost in the music. Traditional, if a bit boring. He tightens his grip on the bow while the happy couple take the floor. The two women are all smiles and teary eyed, both lost completely in one another’s eyes. Sherlock shuts his own. The sight of them entwined is little comfort. Where seeing two people happily dance through a waltz would usually give him at least a sense of happiness, now all he can imagine is John. His John dipping someone else. The memory of Sherlock teaching him to dance is overridden by another one: John slowly, and with perhaps more concentration than warranted, turning Mary across the dance floor with a sense of purpose, them increasingly moving away from him, each step a mile. He swallows around the bile slowly rising in his throat and finishes the song with his mind forcefully blank.

He only opens his eyes when the applause finish and he hears more people taking the floor. He allows himself a sip of water to wash the taste from his mouth and subtly rubs his palms along his slacks. A dirge would be more appropriate for what he is feeling, but certainly not acceptable at a wedding. A bit not good, Sherlock . Quiet. He shakes his head once and prepares to play again. As he raises his bow, he sees John across the room. Sherlock frowns. John isn’t hiding, but slowly placing drinks onto a table. Hiding in plain sight? Ridiculous. Nothing about John is plain. Is it simple curiosity that drives John? Or a responsibility to check up on him, old worries resurfacing about fattening him up and checking his sock drawers?

Or, a voice somewhere down a dark corridor in his mind whispers, because he wants to hear you play. Play for him, Sherlock.

Méditation from Thaïs builds in him, the notes coming easily, though with a somber, soulful resonation. He lets the vibrato speak for him: love and loss, triumph and failure, longing for water and a bit of rest after so long a journey. He would follow John into the desert, walk through fire, sacrifice to any God. He would gladly kneel at John’s feet, if only given the chance, and worship him with each breath. If Massenet had written this to be a religious experience, then he will use it to rejoice in John. Each note will be a hymn, a prayer of desire, and offering with only the barest of hope it will be accepted.

John finally notices Sherlock’s eyes on him. From the stage, Sherlock can see the way John’s throat bobs with a distinct swallow. Sherlock presses harder on the strings and leans into the music, flourishing his bow as the notes grow in pitch, rising higher and higher.

John freezes, eyes wide. A sign, a miracle, a trace of the holy sings through Sherlock. A prayer long ignored finally answered. John steps toward him as if entranced. The space between them narrows; a strange dance slowly forms: a beat and John breathes deep, matching Sherlock’s sways to the music. Give and take, back and forth, the ballroom shrinks to just the two of them. With the final note, Sherlock gasps for breath, surfacing from deep, warm waters that enveloped him. Across the room, John looks just as tired, just as drenched and wanting.


 

John paces. Twelve steps, turn, twelve steps. He tries to not think of it as a dance, but his feet betray him. They match the beats of the DJ’s music now filtering from the open windows. He should return to the flat. He promised Mrs. Hudson he wouldn’t be gone all evening, though goodness knows she is always happy to watch Rosie. He wars with himself, getting quickly caught in the quagmire of doubt.

He… he loves Sherlock. He does. Always has in the ingrained way he knows the Earth revolves around the sun. But this is new, he thinks. Surely he would have noticed Sherlock’s feelings for him. Surely, he would have noticed his own feelings for Sherlock. He runs his hands through his hair and grips the short hairs at his nape. There was a time that he thought maybe there was more to their relationship than friendship: stolen glances, a brush of fingers, the shock that ran through him any time he and Sherlock locked eyes. But it had fizzled, drowned out by broken trust and half-apologies. They are finding their way back to each other, but the path has been treacherous, uneven, and slow going.

He stops short. He wants the path to smooth out. God, he wants things to be more than what they were before. They can’t continue to function as they are: two spectres of men who existed years ago, pretending at being younger and less scarred. They have wrinkles now and bear the brunt of hard years, but he wants to love Sherlock for all of that. He doesn’t need the cold and aloof detective he first met; he needs the more human Sherlock he sees peeking through the cracks, the one that smiles softly at Rosie and who loves to play at weddings.

“John?”

He jerks his head up. Sherlock stands hesitant in the fading sunlight. His fist clenches tightly around the handle on his violin case. Sometimes John glimpses a version of Sherlock that must have existed when he was a child, unsure and vulnerable, and in the setting sun, John watches a series of emotions flutter across Sherlock’s face, the last of which he can only call hope.

“I didn’t.” John swallows, trying to collect his thoughts. “I didn’t mean to ruin this for you.”

He isn’t sure which ‘this’ he even means anymore. He gestures wide at the world as if that only can summarize everything of the past year.

“Ah. Well, I suppose I should have known you would start following me. Mycroft never can stand to not know what is going on. Suppose he set you on me fairly quickly.” Sherlock straightens his spine, as if bracing himself for an unseen blow.

John deserves that. He glances back at the building where the DJ has switched to something a bit slower. “At Last” slowly filters through the windows, a bit faded out here in the dark, but still recognizable. He takes a step toward Sherlock. “Mycroft had nothing to do with it. I got curious. But once I knew…” He shrugs, helpless.

“Once you knew?” Sherlock eyes narrow, his brain obviously whirring away at a new puzzle.

“Couldn’t really stay away, could I?”

Sherlock inhales with a sharp sound. “Oh.”

Another step. “I’ve always loved--” Step. “Watching you play.”

“Me play?” Sherlock blinks and searches John’s face. He tentatively takes his own step towards John.

“You always manage to say a lot with just a few notes. That song you were playing in there. Not sure what it was.” John nods towards the ballroom; Sherlock rolls his eyes at his lack of basic musical knowledge.  “But I think I understand what you were trying to say. If I am totally wrong, you need to tell me. Promise me, Sherlock.”

John only gets a quick nod in response. This close he can hear Sherlock’s quick breath, an in and out that speaks more of a marathon and less of simply standing still. John slowly hooks his fingers around Sherlock’s and pulls the case from his hand. It comes easily, though John can feel a slight quiver in Sherlock’s hand. Or perhaps that is his own. Hard to tell where his nerves end and Sherlock’s begin. He places the case reverently at their feet.

With one last step, John comes fully into Sherlock’s space. Careful, John.  He's not sure who the thought is really for: him or Sherlock. One thing at a time. He rests his hands on Sherlock’s hips. “Is this all right?”

Sherlock manages a small, strangled yes. His own hands stay limp at his sides, though his entire body speaks of barely restrained motion.

John drags his right hand up Sherlock’s side, feeling each rib and muscle hidden away by Sherlock’s shirt. His mouth sticks to the roof of his mouth and he swallows around the sudden strange dryness. Courage, he thinks, comes in many forms. This isn't a battle, no, but it is a fight of willpower and trust. “And this?”

“John.” In Sherlock’s mouth, his name sounds like a confession. It escapes his lips with barely more than a whisper, but he fills it with a plea for mercy, a cessation of the sweet torture burning in his chest.

“Mm?” John brings his left hand up, letting it finally rest on Sherlock’s neck. His thumb runs back and forth over the steady thrum of Sherlock’s pulse, a beautiful aria of his own making. How he had thought of the skin along Sherlock’s neck, the way it would feel under his palm. He could spend hours simply touching this bit of skin, mapping it with his hands and lips. He lets himself imagine it, slowly feels his walls crumble to the beat of Sherlock's racing heart. 

“Is this-- are you-- I don’t.” Sherlock eyelids fluttered. He shakes his head, trying to order his thoughts. When he speaks next, it comes out more gravel than sound. “What do you want from me?”

John stills his exploration. He has always been a man of action, but here he searches desperately for the right words. The moment stretches, thin and tenuous, threatening to break at the wrong word, the wrong gesture. Sherlock doesn’t press him, but his body is strung tight, ready to flee. John digs deep, seeing long, dreary days flashing before his eyes and a lone headstone sitting under a tree. He smells an empty and dusty flat, barren of life. What has he always wanted to say, but never could bring himself to take the final leap? The words finally come easily to him. “Anything. Everything. Whatever you are willing to give me.”

He pulls Sherlock down into a kiss, pouring years of distance and quiet longing into the touch of their lips. Sherlock’s hands fly to his shoulders and pull him closer before tangling in John’s hair. It’s a messy affair, lack of grace made up with enthusiasm. He pulls Sherlock closer still, their bodies pressing hard against each other. It’s not close enough, but the anger and frustration of the years finally break free in John, and Sherlock moans softly into his mouth as if he too is finally is being granted a sort of healing.

Sherlock pulls away first, lips brushing once more against John’s, before disentangling himself. John mourns the loss of him in those few seconds. “You said anything.”

John finds Sherlock’s hand, entwining their fingers together. “I did.”

A blush grows on Sherlock’s cheeks, easy to miss in the red glow of the sun. His eyes dart away before hesitantly landing his gaze on John's face once more. “Will you dance with me?”

John gives Sherlock’s hand a tight squeeze before pulling him close. “Of course. Always.”

The music eventually dies, fading into twilight and then night. The days spin out ahead of them, a road less broken, and the two of them continue to dance, now and forever.