AN/ Been hanging around this fandom for a while, so thought I might actually post something. Somewhat experimental in style, so please tell me if it doesn't work.

Summary: Some things, like the jump of your heart and the way he looks at you like he's burning, cannot be explained. But that's ok, because the world is fashioned from uncertainties and this is just another one of them. Post TGG. S/J

Pairing: John/Sherlock

Negative Capability

It starts with a chase, with a man, in a lab with a proposition and an address that will become synonymous with home; then, a pan shot camera move to a small restaurant called Angelo's. The man has high cheekbones, dark hair, and is sprinting off after danger, you pausing one, two seconds before following. Of course you followed him.

And months later, it continues with you running again, agitated steps, desperate. You fled the flat because your anger would have combusted, so you burn outside on the London streets, the outside air feeding the flame to climb higher, brighter, the world ignorant to your predicament. You are angry at him, and angry at you, and the two interlock in the centre like a Venn diagram, no longer mutually exclusive. You needed space to breath but there is not enough, your lungs constricted, surface area decreased. There is never enough air in your body around him. He displaces it somehow.

The road is dark, slick, and you chase the shadow lines that lurk one step down from the pavement in irregular cracks, charcoal choking up the gutters, overflowing. Your shoes are caked in it, every footstep you stamp wedging a souvenir of a stencilled print to lie, nestled with neighbours of dirt and trodden-down gum. At the edges of your vision, vertigo blurry, you corner blue green eyes that splinter in the mirrors of windows that are illuminated from within, a voice stalking you within your own head, that steeps your name in a tenor, dapples it so that has some meaning, some code, some puzzle. Everything is a game, but why this as well, you playing chess in a darkened room, making mistakes, moving the wrong pieces, him decimating the gradual defence of your pawns, and whose turn is it this time to take your heart and put it out of play? There is a crime scene where the organ once was. No ransom has been demanded, yet you are willing to pay for its return.

And you swear as you run, call him names in your head, unspeakable, acerbic on your tongue and bitter, traitorous and delightful because of it. You rewrite all other insults to include his title, the words reinvented with shiny new misery, the names on your lips that you bellow with the pores of your skin, the song of your exerted bones, and then you turn them back on yourself in a natural about turn. It is simpler to hate yourself than him. You stumble down a side street pulled straight out of the pages of a crime novel, scripted from extremes, all crisp morose dirty lines and grey bits that have stretched with hopeless longing to try and drag some light down to this level, and you catch the side of a bin with your foot as you pass, a flash point of pain, hearing the metal clang, reverberate, church bells in your forgotten cathedral.

The rain starts, flees from a puckered sky, and it is dirty. You admonish yourself harshly, don't you know he'll kill you in the end? Your name on a gravestone, all clipped marble, no character, no flesh, your name read out in a eulogy in an empty church. Harry would come if she could surface out of her stupor long enough. There will be no one to send condolence flowers to. Your name heavy on the air, a roar of restless memory, a ghost, made of light and words. There are no words for this. Your name the way he says it, you a subject that he cannot catalogue, what he thinks about you bundled slapdash, carelessly into a wooden drawer along with the things he doesn't say, calculations incomplete, things you can't say, and the recollections of golden moments where you both accepted that there is something in this partnership that strays the lines.

There might be a heart in his chest somewhere, a gap, a space, where the one he has stolen from you would fit perfectly.

You write your tales of adventure and intrigue but there is no end to this one. You don't like the way this tale is unfolding, can't choose the genre – is this a romance, or tragedy, or some messed up comedy at your expense? Someone once told you with a glassy eyed sobriety that emerges only after drinking that all stories are the wrong ones if you hurry them to their conclusion, but you were both wasted and twenty and thought your philosophies counted for something.

The answers are not forthcoming in the rain. You tell yourself, stop this, end this, move on and make do with lesser simpler things. It wont be perfect, no days to the tune of sweeping violins, the sound silver, tinted blue, no scratched out boundaries, positions re-evaluated, but at least it wont be this.

There is no answer, so you push on, running until you forget what you are running from.

There is a man, tensed, wound too tight and swaddled in a navy dressing gown, like he's cut the shade of dusk to selfishly wrap around himself. You do not doubt he has been up all night, waiting for you to come back; sleep is not his ally anyway, but that does not lessen the prickling sense of guilt. He knows what you did, will have read all he needs in your body language, in clues, details, like you are the corpse at a crime scene and he is deducing for the second time this week what murdered you, what temptations you felled to, and you are more ashamed at this, but still creep upstairs – miss the fourth and seventh steps where it scolds, denounces you – like you have anything to be sorry for, like you have been unfaithful.

You were at Sarah's, he says, and you whirl around to face him head on, defensive. He has no right to care, but ignoring him is the one thing you've never been able to, you coward; the one thing you always gave him was the truth should he ask for it, regardless of how heavy handed and poisonous it is because you could never give him any of the things you wanted to. Take my heart, it is yours. Take my hand, it is yours. Take my breath, I never needed it anyway.

Yes, you return his expression back at him, a flawed aching reflection like an imperfect mirror, eyes hardening, icy sheen of false indifference, your hands glossy with sweat, nerves across the back of your hands spidering out from the centre in a jittery shake. The tremors from the war return more frequently these days, but not for the same reasons as before.

Stop looking at me like that, you want to say, an afterthought that was always at the forefront, endurance tested, probed, checking whether you are strong enough to cram the words back down your throat, trap them inside a body already brimming and full, I am not yours, that ship sailed long ago when you made things clear. While I am flattered, you said, I remember, you should know I consider myself married to my work. So stop this fallacy, stop acting the jilted lover part because it does not work. There has never been an us, never will be. That ship never left dock did it, and you can taste the salty lies like tears. I am not yours, you want to say, I have done nothing wrong. You know you have, know there are things in this life that are more important than others, some thoughts brought out and examined in the light more often, and she is not the prefix of all these. Oh you love her, of course you do, why wouldn't you? When she smiles you can't help but smile back, and you find yourself contriving new reasons to have to brush against her, to touch her, to hold her. If you were younger, you might think that she was the one. But all too often you find yourself comparing her hair to darker shades of ink, and knowing she falls short in every aspect of scrutiny. You are a bastard for doing so; for being so inconsolably human, so fallible, for loving her and loving him and deliberately not choosing one because it's easier.

He is still looking at you like that, expression stitched up with poor spacing, the gaping wound still bleeding out, and you want this to hurt him.

This is all his fault.

Consider this place. The tiles on the floor, a slaughterhouse floor for the blood to drain away. The imprint of trapped halogen light on the surface of the chlorinated pool. It shimmers, like there is gold glinting from the bottom. Consider this place, the unlikelihood of it all, and why you are here, bearing the weight forced upon you at gunpoint, carrying the burden in the same unwilling resigned fashion as Atlas in regards to his punishment, your shoulders threatening to crumple, war wound flaring with magnesium bright sparks.

Consider the laughing man in a Westwood suit, the maniac, sing song voice like a children's nursery rhyme, and you know he is relentless, and you can't bring yourself to look at him, even with a flimsy lustre of bravado, because you know he won't stop, this is a game you're on the losing team for. Consider the dark haired man with an impregnable expression on his face, the gun in his palms, how his eyes flick between you, the doctor, and the madman. You can see the calculations, the numerical symbols, the probabilities of survival, the limited choices and how they may play out, streaming behind his eyes. For the first time, he looks unsure. There is one thing you want right now, and you're not thinking as you're about to be murdered, please God, let me live, but instead please, God, let him live, and inside it's like you're choking on matches that are struck internally. Inside it's like you're burning.

Consider all these but don't think too deeply. Consider how the bomb wired to you might just steal your life away with an unashamedly flashy motion, but don't let yourself be frightened. It's irrational, but don't do it. Breathe. Calm. Now – pack the fears away, bury them, lose them inside each other in order of decreasing importance, like matroyshka dolls. Later you can split yourself in halves, snapping into smaller and smaller pieces and let it all out, but not now.

Sherlock needs you, so be strong for the both of you.

And then later, fast-forward to when time has passed by its overture, come to the coda at long long last, you stitch his fears up so that they may heal with your reassurances. I'm alright Sherlock, I'm alright. You are a doctor after all. You joke, and he might be able to peer through your poor acting skills to the submerged culmination of tonight and what it means for the future, for you, for him, but he doesn't mention it. You ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool. People might talk. He smiles, and it is an analogy, deeper meanings told in an exclusive ancient language that you don't have the translation to, not just yet. This battlefield is quiet as he laughs, the guns halted for a moment, and with him here you think that everything might be ok after all.

This part of your story concludes in your Baker Street quarters, with a doctor and a detective. You and him and the sky outside stretching out miles, forever, rain crawling out of clouds and draining down gutters, licking down the window. It cleans, washes everything anew. This is all there is. You and him. You in the smaller chair with chemical stains on the arms and a grotesque burn after one of his more spectacular experiments. The man himself sprawled supine along the couch, hands clasped as though in prayer.

Hold on. Go back, rewind. Look again. Closer this time. Pay attention to the details.

You are biting your nails, and your thoughts are a continuous car crash. The chassis rolling, over and over and over and you imagine that this might stop because you are dizzy now; there is glass embedded in your knuckles, the sound of the engine ringing like a phone call you wont pick up – it'll be him, him over there not meeting your eye, not saying anything at all – and you clinging a weak buckling frame, waiting for it to end, for confidence to show. He is pausing, uncertain, straying in an ellipsis – a dot, dot, dot that hasn't concluded yet. You are bleeding to death in the corner. He is holding the knife although he doesn't know it.

Hold on, go back, back to the beginning. Look again. You got a girlfriend? Girlfriend no. Not really my area. Closer this time, think, watch. So you've got a boyfriend? He stops, pauses, doubts how to answer, tilts his head to the side. Focus on his eyes, read what is written there, and at the same time watch a hundred other moments that betray him. That, er, that thing, that you... that you did with the... er, you offered to do, that was, er... good.

Look again. I will burn you, the madman promises, I will burn the heart out of you. Him, face composed: I have been reliably informed that I don't have one. Look, closer this time. But we both know that's not quite true. Watch the way he reacts, the stiffening of his shoulder, his eyes that flick, almost imperceptibly to you. Pay attention to the details, think.

The answer is hidden here. You know it.

You could be wrong. Could have stayed with Sarah instead of breaking it off, could have been mostly happy; bored, normal, dull, never content, but grounded. He could not be interested, not in the way you want.

He might have seen something he wanted in you once, and has checked again since, looked closer, studies your soul, laid bare under bluster and all those times you do not meet his eye. May have studied you using the most powerful telescope so that he stops seeing you as a whole man, instead sees the places, the inferior cells, wounds and scars, and so decides you fail to measure up to what he would be hoping for. He might love you, but in a way you can't understand.

But you are tired of the unfulfilled hopes sprung out of harmless cowardice that hurts no one but you and him. Stop, you plead, stop, breathe out, dash these dreams for a moment and think...It is not the time for thinking anymore. Go on, move, and your legs stretch out, and you rise up, going forward, to him, a surge of motion in a natural direction. He sits up, maybe knows what is about to happen, but you suspect not by the surprise on his face when you lean over him like you're falling, kiss him, mash your lips together and make the puzzle fit.

This might ruin you, and this might kill you, but this possession of your heart and soul might be the making of some man who is new, better than the old you was. And you include your hopes and wants in the kiss, reread his actions, how he is not pulling away, how he pushes into this, breathes out like he's sighing with relief. You hear him murmur your name in the luxury of momentary space between your lips, a seduction of all your senses and there is no reason for this, and every reason for this where you turn defiant to the world and demand, just for today, let me have this, let me do this right.

This is not the end, not conventionally, yet nothing between you has ever followed the straight lines, and there will be sequels after this. And you admit to him you love him with words that have never existed before now and his hands are trembling in response against where they're planted against the side of your face. And this could be a mistake, and a year from now you could be kissing dead lips or not be kissing him at all, but you are weak, both of you, human, and right now, this is as right as it feels, as close to being in love as you deserve. Nothing of anything else matters anymore; not the future or the slow motion collision of two completely difference men, but just this; this kiss and his hands and the heart that you no longer are in possession of, all of this and you finally accepting that there are things that will never be resolved completely, will never be able to be ordered, sorted.

There is just him and the way he sighs against the skin of your neck, holds you, bruises your lips in his eager hurry because you've both been waiting for this so long, and it's the only thing you've ever wanted to horde for yourself.

There will be the time for words, but that will come later.