AN/ I'm quite sad that this is finished – although I'm not 100% sure about this chapter – and will most likely end up writing more Magic!John fics because I love the concept so much. An especially vicious plot bunny for a Study in Emerald AU reared its head as I was writing, so I'll have to go deal with that first. But until then, here's the final part for all you wonderful people who gave feedback and favourited this fic. If you have any comments, good or bad, please don't hesitate to review.
John does not move for the longest time. Again he is waiting.
Wanting Sherlock to say something. Fill in the cold space where the first confrontation ends, and where this one is overdue from starting.
He wants him to say something. Anything. Angered frustrated shouts and that fire in his eyes that is so often held back by logical rationality and control – John would take these and run with them, deal with his penance. Not this silence, a hollow thing like a collapsed star, the ashen lifeless shade of a black dwarf, embittered and frozen in the blank ebony canvas of infinite space, not the way Sherlock is still kneeling on the ground, having passed the unconscious form of Milverton a cursory, almost dismissive glance, how his gaze is upon the ground, then chronicling the damage done to the wall, and looking everywhere, everywhere but at John.
There is an absence here. Of words, of acceptance, of compassion, companionship – no man is an island but for the moment they are completely separate, achingly separate men who should never be parted – of thoughts of betrayal or fear or anger. There is just the silence.
And God, it's killing him.
"Sherlock?" John whispers finally, splitting the name into its compounded syllables. Sher-lock. Like a murmur, like a prayer. His voice is not the same one as before, is not strong and wise and powerful – formed from stone and sky and the weathering of ages – , but human, younger somehow, scared, tentative – built from the bones of insecurity, eternal doubt, the dizzying mortal weakness of the heart. Shy. "God, Sherlock, I'm sorry, I wanted to tell you..."
"Just..." Sherlock pauses, his voice neither angry, nor loud, but again filled with that absence, bland dull unflavoured speech, monotone, soft as down. All of the lights in the city flash red for a moment, linger on edge, wondering, watching, hoping. "Give me a minute John"
They both are silent. The sort of unnatural scraped out silence where time is a grieving mourning wraith veiled in black and unheeding to any professional things, and John cannot assign an estimation to how long they stand there because it feels like it could have lasted eons or just a few fleeting seconds. Like a dream, where you don't remember where the head of the circle, the beginning of the story starts, and where it's tail concludes the annular shape. It is like a dream, yet it is so obviously not, because John has met Morpheus, whose proud features bear so much resemblance to a certain consulting detective, and he knows the signature of the Endless. This whole catastrophe is all too clearly reality.
John does not know what to expect, expects nothing but knows a man – oh such a beautiful, brilliant man – like Sherlock Holmes always gives something. A quip, boast, insult, perception, an angle no-one else sees. Rarely a thanks, and even rarer a true honest compliment, but always something in the end; the answer to the riddle, the piece of the jigsaw, the whole sordid story of murder's in locked rooms and the darkest hearts and vices of people on display in the explanations of a detective who does not seem to care either way what they have done, only that the case is solved.
Sherlock doesn't even give John a glance. And the uncertainty for the time he waits for Sherlock to speak defines him as much as the silence does.
This is too much and not enough at the same time.
Finally Sherlock stands, unfolding his long form, smooths down the rucks and creases on the fabric of his dressing gown. Slowly, delicately, every movement concise and accurate and grating on every nerve that John possesses, every shred of dignity. Sherlock, please. Just say something.
And then, finally, he stares hard at John, the man, his flatmate, friend, partner he thought he knew.
Sherlock is rarely wrong. Correlations of relative data, overlooked portions of an endless stream of numbers and notations - "Her coat is slightly damp; she's been in heavy rain the last few hours..." he said in that first first case of many "...she has an umbrella in her left-hand pocket, but it's dry and unused: not just wind, strong wind, too strong to use her umbrella"("That's fantastic" the soldier with an appreciative smile blurts out, "You know you do that out loud?" the detective replies, but a second later, he's telling the man it's fine and meaning it) – and with the right data, Sherlock always reaches the right conclusion.
Sometimes he takes alternate paths that lead to irregular conclusions that don't fit, so he scratches that, renew – look again – and then it all fits, slots into perfect place. It is a discomforting experience to have been kept in the dark so long. To have been wrong, not just in one case, but for months, months of being around his subject, cataloguing everyday patterns and habitual motions – John has tea first thing, then a shower every morning, and only at night when he's been rushing and when it's been a bad night with more nightmares, his tea always has less milk and one sugar more than usual... – so how could Sherlock have missed this?
John cannot imagine how Sherlock is going to react to being suddenly and jarringly comforted by a whole world he knows nothing about. Sherlock understands human motivation, knows the science of deduction, of murder and puzzles; a man of rational mind, logical. He puts his faith in chemicals and the tell-tale signs from mud tracks and marks on the body and the condition of wedding rings. He could never have even begun to believe that there is a world beyond and beneath him, where there are trolls under Tower Bridge and sorcerer's marking the wallpaper of his living room. It is not a matter of the knowledge not being important, isn't like the solar system that Sherlock so conveniently deleted from his mind. It's a whole other world. A secret.
And John didn't tell him.
"That was real, yes?" Sherlock asks. He chooses every word with care, reigning in a tight control, owning every word that slips from his mouth. His eyes are hooded, lights hiding in shadowed corners, pupils wider than normal in the dark dawn, wreathed by a corona of grey, and John's magic is tempted to reach out again, readtasteknow stronger than he ever has before what Sherlock is thinking. John knows the words to peel back the layers of a mind, knows how to root out falsity ; it's ambiguously moral magic, charms the doctor has always steered clear of – do no harm, John promised when he became a doctor the first time, and every time after that – but there is a glinting vehement desire to know, now. Know whether Sherlock is mad, or angry, if he'll leave, if John will be left with a hollowed out Baker Street all too neat with none of the disorganised chaos that Sherlock leaves in a trail of entropy, silent rooms and no thrill, no Sherlock and emptyemptyempty and he just can't stand the waiting any longer, waiting to know, to hear his fate.
But he doesn't say the words to charms to reveal in truth the opinions of Sherlock, never has. Because it's not his right to invade the detective's privacy like that.
"Yeah" he replies finally.
"You're a sorcerer" Sherlock reiterates, and he looks embarrassed that he's said something he imagines is so painfully obvious considering what he's just witnessed. Sherlock Holmes is never one to say aloud what is obvious, except when he's unsure perhaps, feels the data is corrupted or that he might be saying something wrong. Yet his voice is not unsure, and the statement itself is so matter-of-fact that it's frightening. Sherlock's eyes gleam, but the lighting is off.
"Warlock" Johnmurmurs correctively, and if Sherlock asks he'd go into the minutiae and details of the whole hierarchy of power – Warlock's are the strongest, sorcerer's are cheap-trick magicians who learn the basic craft or steal it. God, Sherlock, I'm sorry, I was born with this, I can't help who I am... – would tell him everything. No secret he has kept was ever as big as this one. "I'm a Warlock"
There is another pause. Pregnant, like a cloud heavy with rain before a downpour. John's heart hurts, and everything feels heavy, a weighted internal fear. The London magic that lingers outside on the doorstep in the form of a nameless alley cat, whose owners didn't keep her long enough to give her a name, so instead she was claimed by London, mangy fur stretched over delineated ribs, senses the emanating emotions from the upper Baker Street rooms, and it's an uncomfortable waiting period, as though the height of summer.
Not the airy summers where the sunlight dapples windows and pavements and every pedestrian glows in short sleeved shirts and light fabric trousers or skirts; no, it's the uncomfortable choking heat worsened by the spluttering engines of cars on every road, the tarmac sizzling, where every window makes a room a desert conservatory, and everyone hopes for rain. London outside frets over what it cannot control, because humanity can be pitiless, dismissive, and it would never expect it of Sherlock – London child, ours, John's, Sherlock of 2-2-1-b, who holds his heart like a garrison, knows cobbled roads and sprawling city lore – but in the end, he is only human.
"Were you ever going to tell me?" Sherlock asks abruptly, eyes sharp and voice even sharper. It takes every iota of John's control not to flinch at that. If he didn't know the detective, the doctor would think the tone he was using was one of indifference. Cold like concrete, stone, cut off like the slats over boarded windows. Yet this is the important question, and John hears the hint of betrayal there, disappointment, like he expected something of John and the doctor let him down.
And that hurts, stabs, twists in his gut, a scalding spasm under the cage of his ribs, wounds as much as the silence. This is what has bothered Sherlock the most about the whole thing. The fact that John kept this from him; something so big, important, such a part of him.
John thinks of lying, but Sherlock would know, would read it easily because John wouldn't even try to hide it, and even so, he's so tired. Of hiding, lies, holding back, pretending, of endless cycles of secrets and playing the fool, idiot. It's not fair on either of them.
He straightens, pulling his shoulders back from their tensed up posture. "I wanted to"
"That wasn't the question" Sherlock is giving him no leeway. Not that John deserves any.
"Probably not" He admits quietly. "You weren't meant to ever find out"
"Why?" Sherlock's lips tighten, form a thin line that cuts across his face.
John knows why, as he's rationalised it to himself often enough, but he doesn't know how to put it into words. He's never been good with them.
"Why, John?" Sherlock takes a step closer, John tempted to move back in sync, away, far away, to not have to deal with this. There is a desperation there in Sherlock's posture, the man bristling not with anger (that may come later) but with a need to understand, to figure out motive, reasoning. Sherlock's long fingers clench, tuck themselves into his palm to make a fist, and his eyes aren't moving from John's face, and the doctor knows that Sherlock is taking every motion apart for clues, every twitch of his jaw or tension in his posture; Sherlock is reading him, divining from the way John is half turned away from him, like he can't bear to look at him and see the hatred, is reading him like John can read runes and the threaded charms stitched into pentangles. And Sherlock can read an entire man's life from merely a glance, and John knowing that feels so vulnerable under the smoky gaze of the detective.
"Because..." John fumbles for the right words, fidgeting with his fingers, combing an errant hand through his hair. Why is this so hard? "well, because... it's magic, Sherlock." He gives a sigh, adjusts his stance so his weight is distributed onto the other leg, closing his eyes for a resigned moment before he speaks again.
He thinks about saying something along the lines of 'You wouldn't understand, Sherlock' but that would be false, and perhaps rile the detective. Because Sherlock would be able to understand. He makes a living out of being able to understand, and one thing he doesn't tolerate well is other people assuming things about him or questioning his abilities. Sherlock is completely capable of working through this.
"People don't... don't take finding out well" John starts slowly, and Sherlock doesn't interrupt him so he continues "They either get frightened and try and kill me, or run away screaming. I got used to it after a while but it doesn't mean I want to deal with it if it can be helped. The rare ones that say end up regretting it. "
Sherlock stiffens at this, his hands unclenching and then tightening further. John thinks he might be affronted by the fact that Sherlock thinks John could possibly imagine him reacting in such a mundane and pedestrian manner, but he doesn't even think that Sherlock could be angry on his behalf that the doctor has been treated in such a manner. John isn't looking in Sherlock's eyes, deliberately avoiding them, and so misses the barely noticeable flash of fury in the detective's expression, born from the way John said those words, described the reactions of stupid, unimportant people like it was nothing. Sherlock doesn't believe for one second that John has 'gotten used to it'.
"People get hurt because they know, Sherlock" John continues, and his eyes are misty and lost for a moment in recollection. Too many memories and a disproportionate number of negative ones. Shouting, embittered phrases echoing in a plain room with a wooden door – Get out of my sight! – A clock flung from a mantle, it's face smashed and splintered – Demon! they scream, Demon! and John believes them – "They get hurt and they blame me, and they're right"
"I am not most people" The detective growls out, and at those words, John deflates visibly.
"No" he murmurs, in a tone almost scraping a whisper, devoid of all energy, small, shrunken words lacking fire. There is the arm of the couch nearby, and he sits down on that. He feels weary, a lethargy he would renounce and brush off if it didn't burrow so deep. "No, you're not"
John waits for lacerating words that he knows are coming. Some verbose, cutting narrative from Sherlock, sentences sharded, edged, and the continued long silence that sets in again, worse than obvious hatred, and his thoughts are a dank pit of increasing desperation, unchained, cranking out tightly held beliefs – because this is an old story and this is how the plot goes now – like an over wound watch, the ticking staccato, tumbling over each other, fast and furious as an argument, delving straight into his own masochistic thoughts – he's going to leave you, will hate you, and there is nothing scared or special in the promises you made to each other, not now, and all you'll have left, you coward, is the cool touch on skin where he last pressed a kiss like you ever meant anything to him...
"What happens now?" Sherlock says finally. It's like an ultimatum, and it's barely a question in its shape and form, more a command for a response.
John considers this. He had assumed that he would have little choice in the outcome – jolting doors, slamming loudly, the world morphing into a charnel house, – and merely thinking about it has John bracing himself against the side of the sofa to ground himself. "It's your choice. I can make you forget that this ever happened if that's the choice you make"
Sherlock stiffens in vespertine stillness. "You would do that to me?" The suffix without my permission is all too clear. His words lilt, the query imbricating into something new, a buzzing question under the skin of his words, honed serious. It's asking only what it needs to. Would you force me to forget this?
John shakes his head, a graceless motion, a clear defined response. No. "Only if you wanted it." He shuffles on his seat, face rinsed with the burgeoning dawn "If not, I can leave... I mean, I don't have much stuff so it wont take long to move out..."
"John" Sherlock stops him. He has moved closer, defying John any personal space. The constants of the noun grate and merge together, coalesce into something that isn't just a name. It's a meaning, a promise, an utterance that has power – there is magic in names, that goes beyond etymology (John, meaning God is gracious, Sherlock, meaning fair-haired; neither fit the owner by definition, John has no faith in God, whether He exists or not, and Sherlock's inky whorls resist his titling), but have power because it's the one true thing that belongs to a person, the first thing given to them after life. Sherlock says John and it means so much more. "I do not want you to go"
"What would you have me do?" John replies, wretched and hating how pathetic he sounds. Yet Sherlock for a moment does not respond, and reaches out to touch the skin of John's hand that rests on his knee, strokes the ridges of his knuckles in a surety of touch that surprises John.
"But what about... this?" John waves his free hand, "What about us?"
Sherlock frowns, gimlet eyes boring into John "Does this revelation mean that you no longer wish to be with me?"
"No!" The negation comes out harsher than intended "Of course not..."
"Then why should you feel that it would work the other way round?"
"You... you aren't angry?" John asks, and there is a hint of vulnerability in his voice, something glass-spun and fragile. Sherlock gives a small smile, or his approximation of one, a softening of his taut features, an upturn of the corners of his mouth.
"Don't be an idiot" he replies, and John has to smile at that, wetting his lips, moving to interlace his fingers with Sherlock's. He needs the assurance of touch, and Sherlock responds as though he's read the doctor's wishes, acting as a lodestar to slot their bodies closer, allowing the presence of each to saturate the space remaining.
"I could not be mad at you" Sherlock murmurs, "I just would rather you had told me. It is a part of you. And I love and accept everything that is yours" An ample smirk "Even your quite frankly awful taste in light entertainment programmes"
John laughs, lightly, a consoled sense of calm threading through him, knowing that if Sherlock is making jokes then maybe he is forgiven. He pauses again, indulging a thought idly that blooms fully formed with delicate petals into an idea. Then he fixes his eyes deep into Sherlock's, and sights what he expected to see there; the curiosity that still tarries, the wonder, like the aroused spur of a case or a new clue, a puzzle, something to solve, to work out, present in the animated dancing light of his pupils and the shades that came with them, the adventurous, esurient thirst to know. No one has ever wanted to understand John before. Has never looked at him with a glance that tries to take him apart. It humbles him.
"Would you like to see?" he asks. Sherlock tilts his head infinitesimally, blinking, his own version of a shocked pause. John does not need to clarify what he wants to show the detective.
"You would let me?"
John nods, and there is no need for words at this point. Removing his hands from Sherlock's grip, he places them either side of the man's face, his palm resting on his cheeks. He glances at Sherlock for a moment, just one selfish moment for him to absorb everything, before he leans his forehead against Sherlock's.
"Close your eyes" he whispers, and Sherlock smiles at him with such an expression of such complete trust John finds it hard to breath for a moment as dark lashes flutter closed on the doctor's bidding. John shuts his eyes, the magic sparking inside of him, bubbling and fizzling in his blood, impatient, then breathing out with a forbearing air, he allows it to flood through, following an unspoken command. There is a lambent golden shudder as John's magic connects with Sherlock, a glorious, sliding, fit of two halves.
And Sherlock is suddenly able to see everything.
John shows him a history that spans centuries, lifetimes, old lives and ancient languages, shows him every man he has ever been, the changing chameleon faces – blonde hair flaxen as straw... green eyes like the first day of summer that shimmer with gold... the men he has been but always the same person beneath the skin –, admits to a listening Sherlock his qualities and his so very human faults.
He presents to him images of empires that fell in blood or strife or were forgotten and blew away like the dust that remained, ages and rule of kings that lasted millennia able to be shown in a flash of colour, shows him the past he remembers like a childhood - gaslight and horse and carriage, the jolt of hansom cab wheels over cobbles – shows him the Beneath and the Below, the hidden things of London – the ghost station of the underground between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn, the Seelie court and the Faery paths in St James Park.
With a degree of pride, he shows Sherlock the London magic, strays and lingers on this, allows Sherlock to experience it; the touch of glossy metal, the grey slapping waters of the Thames, then the after-taste of smog and flickering phosphorous, the ways the stars are distant sentries in the sky and through them humanity gains a glimpse of its own insignificance in the monolithic scope of the universe.
And then the images hasten, flickering like the light from a camera obscura, and Sherlock's breath hitches at the assault, at the sheer amount of data to take in and compute. But John makes sure the transition is easy, wrestles control so that the glimmering pictures slow enough for Sherlock to take in. After a moment's self consultation, John invites Sherlock to go a level deeper, to share in sensations, not just the surface images. His magic questions the detective, making it clear that it is completely in Sherlock's hands, and he can feel Sherlock nod after a moment under his hands.
And then John shows him what no-one has ever been able to know before, exhibits every facet of his being for the scrutiny of another soul; the loneliness, the waitingwaitingwaiting that is as mournful a lament as the singing of ghosts on the Circle Line, shows him the beauty of the magic, John's magic, how it supports the foundations of every part of him, lets him sense for a fleeting second the incomprehensible feeling of power, that drives some mad with greed or desperation, and how close John has come to this at times.
How near he got to just snapping, his carefully sculpted restraints breaking because someone tried to hurt Sherlock – how he could barely speak at the Pool, silent not from fear, but because the magic was baying, like acid trying to burn out of him, overwhelming him, and him able to do nothing but drown in it until he collapsed unable to sustain the tension and heightened pressure.
And then, kinder, he trails one hand away from the side of Sherlock's face and instead takes his hand, locking their fingers, and tells him honestly, with a magic that cannot lie, how much he loves him. How Sherlock made him stop waiting and start wanting – John shows him the want, the crushing burning heat of it, like a bullet wound eviscerating the skin of his flesh, like being dowsed in flames that do not char skin, the orange light throwing into relief every line, every inch, every mark on Sherlock, from the hollow dip of his neck to the jutting bones of his hips, all of it John's.
John tells Sherlock how it's like a chase, a hunt, like the rush of energy when a final spell is cast, the ultimate syllable uttered, lets him know of the violence, strain, fury when Milverton was going to kill Sherlock, dare try and take what was his, tells him the extent of how John Watson is tied to Sherlock Holmes now; how he feels that this cycle of never-ending rebirths might be the last because he finally has this, has Sherlock, and that knowledge is glorious, and heady and as virulent as his magic.
And then John disconnects from Sherlock, drawing his hands away and their flesh which serves as the conduit apart, the detective panting, more an initial soft gasp from exertion and the jolting emergence from someone else's mind. Sherlock doesn't say anything immediately, is most likely lost in thought, mulling through all the things he has discovered tonight that he was never meant to see.
John is pallid, chilly in his boxers and thin cotton shirt, and is beginning to find the intermittent tremor in his left hand is returning along with the daylight outside, he imagines from exhaustion – he's out of practice using up so much Magic and connecting for long periods with another, especially attempting to convey the multitude of data and emotions and processes – and he longs for his bed, for the indent where his body lay that had been just the correct temperature to doze off when he had been there last, to adjust his pillow and fall back asleep so he can re-cooperate before having to deal with an awake Milverton tomorrow.
Sherlock doesn't speak for an elongated stretch of time, and for a moment, John is concerned he messed up, that he showed the man too much too soon, overwhelmed him, frightened him off. But then Sherlock is not a man who can be easily intimidated and after a moment the detective looks up, eyes bright, clear like a cloudless night sky, vast and burning with an eager starlight, and he says;
"That was... er... that was good"
John laughs at the hesitant nature of the man's words, before Sherlock straightens, his posture all ramrod lines and flat plane angles.
"My turn?" he asks.
You don't have to, John would start to say, his mouth starting to form the words, but Sherlock cuts him off with a raise of his hand, a quick glance, I want to written there in legible copperplate script, crisp as parchment.
So mustering up the gleaming wavering reserves of magic, sensing them ripple through veins and arteries – and London magic lends a hand to prop him up, weaving a grey pulsing thread that shimmers with trapped colours like spilt oil into the golden sanguine emanation of John's – the doctor reaches out once more, resting their forehead's together, clenching Sherlock's hand tighter in his own, and uncertainly, starts to read Sherlock.
The pace is protracted, intentionally passive, allowing John to test where he can and cannot go. A man's mind is a fortress of self, and he's never felt comfortable imposing on someone else's privacy.
Imagine a door blocking what you don't want me to see, he informs Sherlock with distracted concern – wanting to do this right – but he senses a smirk and a well-known roll of the detective's eyes, as though the idea of blocking John's path anywhere, denying him anything is illogical. As such John encounters no doorways, although he knows that Sherlock would be able to subconsciously conjure them should he desire.
John spends less time studying the errant winding passageways of Sherlock's head than he is tempted to, but he's all too aware that it drains Sherlock's energy too, not helped by the first inklings of the detective coming down from the adrenaline rush of nearly being killed. Aware of time constraints, he checks only through the things that matter to Sherlock, a cursory passing to all but what is at the forefront of his thoughts and therefore the most accessible.
Surprisingly, thoughts concerning John are there, evanescent shifting incomplete shapes and emotions that merge and form and collapse, brilliantly obvious – even though it's difficult, as he suspected, to navigate his way around the synapses and corridors of Sherlock's mind, because the twisting roads take him to rooms that seem utterly random, and John gets a glimpse, however fleeting, of how the genius of Sherlock works, his great leaping deductions, his connection to every sense to aid him in his discoveries.
Awkwardly, like he's walked into a room to see something he shouldn't, the doctor wants to stumble back the way he came, out and away from this place, because he knows how private the detective is, how uncomfortable the man would feel should John be privy to his innermost considerations of the heart.
But the man whose thoughts he is reading internally gives a long-suffering sigh, and his presence is there to guide John, and if he had a corporeal form in the indescribable intricate map of the detective's mind, John can tell Sherlock would have grasped his hand, be pulling him alone, like this is another case and they are chasing the shadow lines on the city street again.
Watch, he smirks at John. And although he is not proficient in any natural talent for the craft, he's picked up the basics, has studied from a master and estimates the rest with all the skill of a quick learner. Only Sherlock, John thinks with a smile, but he keeps that one to himself, as really, he shouldn't have been surprised.
And so Sherlock takes control of the images this time, rushing straight into things tinted with star bursts of emotion with no warning. The world's only consulting detective shows John the shock, wonder when he saw John as he truly was – and John has never seen himself from another perspective and it makes for a curious study –, and the whole image of John, eyes shimmering gold, strength like pillars that have stood the sands of ages in his tone, is highlighted not by fear, never fear, because Sherlock could never be frightened of what he knows will never hurt him, but stranger emotions than John could ever have imagined. Awe. Surprise. A vision of John that is not some eldritch ghoul, unnatural, fearful and glorious and so even more frightening for it.
Instead, Sherlock shows him how beautiful John's magic makes him look, the soft downy hair of his scalp fading into a lighter elegant shade, his whole body glowing somehow with a light buried just beneath the skin, pulsing with magic and energy. Sherlock lingers on this, the positive things, the heraldic noble qualities that Sherlock has always seen in John and has always valued for what they are.
Then deeper, he goes, leading the pursuit, down warrens and pathways, further and further, and John is trusted implicitly with more intimate things, the things Sherlock in all his detachment keeps to his chest; the isolation he has trained himself to mostly ignore, the fragility of genius that needs an audience and so rarely gained one before John arrived, the misunderstandings and the mistrust that come with the job and the man and the leaping deductions he makes, like mechanical magic tricks in circuses and fairground shows, but so much better than that.
And because this is the chance he has at his fingertips, Sherlock takes the time to show John all the things that bring him happiness, allow the doctor to share in them; a trilling violin air, swooping, entrancing – Allegro, Tremolo, Adagio, the mournful codetta – his appreciation for the city, their London – Sherlock's landscape of high-rise buildings, backstreet's and alleys and black taxi's crawling through traffic, John's underground arcana of covens and gathering places that seep with the smell of musty parchment and candle wax, with the soft dust of chalk - how when fog swirls in from the river, it eddies over the black concrete like a caress.
And he shows him how he can appreciate the beauty of stars – the ancient light formed from the fusion of hydrogen, sources of energy long extinguished and forgotten – because they make him feel like he's not the only one who is alone in the city and then, how that changed when he met John and felt companionship/attraction/love finally, finally after so long – and stars became a symbol of light in an unremitting darkness, unwavering and fearless, and Sherlock was no longer alone.
Sherlock shows John Watson a faint indication of what that blistering virulent love feels like, the quenching of the hunger of a man who has been starving without realising, and it is brutal and overpowering and unquestioning. I love you, it would say, but the words, the sentiment are simply semantics chosen to present an ideal, and John just focuses on drowning in the innate sweeping nature of what is mirrored in his own heart.
John resurfaces to reality light-headed and dead on his feet, bones aching, heavy and tired, but there is a warm smile on his face. Fond, unlined with any self-doubt. Sherlock too is giving his own version of the sentiment, a relaxing of all his hard angles, allowing the shutters of rationality to drop for a moment, although it threatens to slide back into a frown when he takes in the pallor of the doctor's skin. John smirks, and touches a hand to the detective's cheek. I'm ok, Sherlock, he translates the thought through contact and the sensation of a caress alone. And he means it, has never meant it more, feels contented and free, and more, more than ok.
John Watson finally feels whole.