Sherlock's breath slides along my skin, his mouth soft near my Adam's apple. I unfurl my fingers in his hair, the only part of him that cannot feel any pain. He is alive under my bruised hand. His hair smells of formaldehyde and nicotine and black tea. My mouth is on his scalp, the thin, quivering skin covering his skull, encasing that brain, that deep, insufferable, brilliant mind I love so much.
I have been here before, with other soldiers on the battlefield. I know this feeling: the slick, crimson pain in my shoulder, my breath shooting back and forth in my lungs, the needing: hold on, hold on.
And we have been here before, Sherlock and me. My Browning heavy in my hand, aiming at the cabbie's heart. Sherlock's voice, booming in the black tramway. The chasing through the hallways, shouting Sherlock's name. Moriarty's voice scraping my eardrum. The bloody flecks in that damn pill. The slow, soft trickle of sand into a bowl. Sherlock's hands shaking against my skin. Red laser sights flickering like fireflies.
We have been here before, and we will be here again.
My hands curl around the back of Sherlock's thin neck, feeling the tendons give under my touch, tracing the lines of his skin, the soft white bandage. My mouth presses into his mind, my eyes closed, his ragged breath underneath me. I feel his heart inside of me, pumping steady, a small homing beacon. And it is there that I lock in my breath, matching time to his. I cannot remember a time when his breath was not there, this man full of whirling, vibrant wildness.
I am not that John Watson anymore, the one afraid to breathe alone, the man who now comes only in my nightmares. I am not that man whose silent desperation sliced into his skin, ripped him into the limping stillness of an empty room.
I do not want to remember him.
I want to remember this, this always, this spark that happened when I walked into Bart's, when I handed Sherlock my phone, when he unclosed me: this thin, bright line of joy cracking open inside me. How lead feels like when it turns to gold, the molecules suddenly shifting into something new. What Lazarus felt on the morning of the fourth day. The taste of life, the taste of danger on my lips, shining like raw sugar.
Sherlock stirs underneath me, sighs softly, his beautiful blood beating from his heart through his throat to my lips, pulsing softly in a four-count rhythm, echoing, echoing, in my own body, my own blood. We are alive. We are alive. We are alive. We are alive.