Sherlock’s chest feels tight, his body boneless, and this terrible ecstasy is wholly foreign as he remains, as he breathes beyond probabilities and there is musk and ceylon and salt on his soft palate as he shivers, and he takes in all that is warm and worn and hateful and home: as he soaks in John and bathes away his transgressions where John’s shape fits not into him, no, not as he is but as he will be, as he will become, for this is timeless and ill-suited and inevitable as the stopping of hearts and the coming of spring.
“It’s rather like,” Sherlock swallows, his voice low, hoarse, strained; “it’s as if my lung capacity’s been halved. And there is static, static electricity running, sparking,” the breath he draws in is shallow, filled with gaps and light; “bursting through my chest, unchecked.”
John’s hand on him is an anchor and a threat, and Sherlock leans in to the whole of destruction and the promises of yesterdays in false stars against the dark.
“A humming,” Sherlock murmurs, a tone-trill in itself; “a humming of scales sometimes, soft chords, wingbeats,” he gasps, sharp. “Constant vibration, those unidimensional oscillating strings, connected in space and time and sightless,” and John’s eyes flutter when Sherlock’s fingertips brush the inside of his wrist; “and when I stand, my equilibrium folds, my feet are off-balance and yet the world is supersymmetrical, and your breathing is made of mesons and your heartbeat is pure bosonic resonance, infinitude, and my flesh is scaled in fermions and the attraction is quantum, the pull of you is so fundamental and undeniable that when my eyes close I can imagine you pressed against me and filtered through me and I want nothing less.”
John exhales like a stream of stardust and the dark dregs of creation, and Sherlock trembles for it, for the curse and the godsend in his arms that makes all things shadowed and so bright.
“It's not alone,” he confesses, more than sin: consequential. The fate of souls unsure, untrained, never taught to look before leaping, to think of a fall when there is blue and pupils yawn wide as all else shrivels in the cold. “None of this is alone and nothing is solitary and everything I’ve ever thought to possess and control is foregone in this, in these shackles like feathers, like fangs and gravity shed like skin.”
John’s mouth is acid and wonderment at the curve of Sherlock’s jaw, the wet shape of his lips a brand, and Sherlock’s throat is tense, Sherlock’s eyes are wide and his arms around John’s shoulders pull closer, demand, plead with magma and flares from the sun, the dark sides of moons to keep and endure despite all logic, all sense.
Sherlock exalts and condemns what this is, what this has always been and can never be and he wants, he needs, and he’ll die for this; and if he regrets it will seem small, effervescent.
He’ll perish in this trial by fire, and he will walk it, all will intact.
“And yet maybe it could protect something,” he’s breathless, and John’s palm is open, trust and force against the apex of him, the heel hard between the spaces in his ribs and there is fullness and there is matter and there are impossibilities in this universe, and Sherlock is not broken, he does not require remaking, he does not need anything to fill his gaps and yet, and yet—
“Maybe it protects itself.”
John’s fingers spread: a virus; John’s hand covers him, an armour.
Sherlock blinks too hard, and it’s mere physics that causes floods, that buries being, that heralds ends.
“I could kill it, John,” Sherlock fits the words, the truths and lies between the spaces in his teeth. “I could reach for a caress and my hands might twitch, might tighten,” Sherlock’s hands clench around nothing, crushing oxygen to meal between his knuckles, vicious.
John’s fingers unbend that hatred, make Sherlock small as they unfold those fists with patience, with surety, force and feeling and Sherlock’s heart hurts, the pericardium like a prison as he bleeds for John’s touch, for the violence of it, the tender whisper of skin against skin.
“I could strangle this and watch it gasp and I could wait for it, the spasms and the shaking and the still as the life seeped out and I don’t know that I would feel remorse,” Sherlock’s voice is diminished, Sherlock’s breath is thin, and he knows nothing and it is liberation and torment as all things are, as all this is, as John’s body near his body has been since the beginning.
“But I won’t,” he gasps; “I can’t,” and maybe it’s a failing, maybe it’s a fell wind and a hope, and if it matters, Sherlock’s mind is heavy, his breaths too small to think, his nerves too frayed to feel.
“I won’t because just thinking it, John, merely voicing the unthinkable twists the heart in my chest, steals the space in my lungs and it’s necessity, do you see?” Sherlock grasps John’s hand on instinct, and it sears and saves and shocks; Sherlock brings it close and settles it nowhere, holds it up and inspects it, observes and sees so little, too much and his own fingerprints are foreign, now, skewed and contorted and yet when John’s fingers line with his, they match, and it’s nothing perfect save the making of wholes.
“It’s not a preference, not a choice, it’s not desire or compunction or the touch of something real and it’s so fragile, John,” and it’s a sob, Sherlock cannot deny that, it is a sob and its twin when John leans and presses lips to the meeting place, the breaking point between Sherlock’s clavicles, soft and light and never-lasting. “It’s so timid and yet it is everything, it holds all things as it holds nothing, can bear all things and yet will crack beneath all pressure, and if this is everything then the world is made of glass and steam and my blood is water and sand and it’s all erosion and slow decay except for this,” and Sherlock gasps, and the loosing is cataclysmic; Sherlock sighs, and John’s cheek is pressed against his cheek.
“You remain the most mysterious piece of this puzzle,” Sherlock whispers, and John’s skin is rough, his stubble coarse and Sherlock’s heart stutters as it traces, collects samples of his skin and savours, moving up as the tip of John’s nose traces his cheekbones, delicate and damning. “More than evolution and the inception of the universe, more than the darkness after death,” Sherlock breathes against John’s jawline, lets his tongue taste poison and life.
“You are endlessness and eternity, and I don’t think I could bear it if boundaries crept back in,” Sherlock pulls John against him, chest to heaving chest and if it feels like drowning, Sherlock will learn to hold the ocean in his bones; if it feels like weightlessness, Sherlock will grow wings; “I think that I would crumble if I ran through you until my heart gave out and still somehow reached an end.”
John’s breathing stumbles, hitches, and Sherlock draws him up, leans down and looks him in the eyes and that is purgatory, that is the sky and black holes and the unknown, and Sherlock’s pulse races for it, wonder and lethal force and John’s hand reaches, cups Sherlock’s cheek and holds, holds, and oh, this is breaking.
“Whatever awaits beginning, John, whatever the blackness is or isn’t,” Sherlock exhales and John breathes him in and he wants to tell John no, wants to make John stop because John cannot risk the mingling, John cannot fall in his stead. “For all the certainty of an end, I am yours, for longer than flesh endures,” Sherlock nips John’s lip; John moans, and it’s salt in open wounds; “for longer than stars burn,” and it’s balm on weeping hearts; “for longer than the last note in the false symphony of this life and the next,” and Sherlock voice cracks and John kisses him full and it is agony, it is everlasting life.
“Every ion and instant and in-breath and ischæmic shift of being as this world spins and you alone remain constant, I am yours, for all that I shouldn’t be,” and John looks back, and he knows without words, he feels without walls, and whatever has grown in Sherlock is consuming him and rebirth is painful; “for all that I cannot be,” and death is release.
“I am yours beyond all proofs and posits,” Sherlock shakes, stripped bare, but John is all dualities, John is the answer to the questions unasked. “I am yours for all that it will ruin us both,” and where Sherlock laments, John rejoices; “I am yours because all things belong within this harmonised mayhem and I belong to you, John Watson,” and where Sherlock cowers at revelation, John basks in long-held truth.
“I belong to you.”
There are cords in the muscles when John holds to him, clings to him; there are dendrites in the minds when they press in, when movements coordinate and mouths meet; there are strings in the hearts when they pummel and pound up against each other, seeking, and if their realities resonate, and if a planck is nothing and everything when they meld and if even the strings will break, and reality will founder, the inalienable fact is that they will remain. The unthinkable, untenable, unbearable truth is that through all horrors and breathless awe, they will endure: unending, untethered.
Sherlock’s chest cracks open for the weight of it all, but John dwells there, now, keeps what’s inside safe and yes. Yes.
This thing protects itself.