I have a huge kink for hair, and you probably shouldn't read this if you don't have at least somewhat spiritual attitude to your hair. disclaimer: the title of the first part is from a movie The Order. the original quote is in Italian. a girl who was a painter and had terrible migraines wrote it across one of her paintings. the title of second part is a reference to a song by Rolling Stones. the main title and the title of the last part are referencing the story of Samson and Delilah from the Bible which you are probably familiar with. if you aren't, educate yourself at wikipedia, they have a nice page about the subject. I should probably also point out that I prefer reviews to favourites. thanks for reading!

I. Love tears the veins in my brain.

Sherlock Holmes comes back from the dead with fire and blood and tears.

He is standing in the doorway of their flat (except that it's only John's flat now, and it hurts like a bitch), and John barely pays him any attention when he steps past him with a mug of tea in his hand.

"You know, even hallucinations can get boring after a while," he says conversationally. "It probably isn't healthy to talk to you, but if I think about it, I'm really talking to myself, aren't I? So nothing unusual here." He sits down and stares curiously at the gaunt dark figure looming in the doorway. "You look terrible," he comments. "What happened to those posh suits? It's probably my fucked-up subconsciousness acting up, anyway. You look just as horrible as I feel."

The hallucination opens his mouth, then shuts it again.

"No point trying to speak," John advises him, sipping his tea. "My hallucinations never talk. Ella says that's a sign of being very assertive. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing, though."

"John," croaks the ghost of Sherlock, and the voice is remarkably close to the real thing, John notes. He still remembers, even after all this time.

"Well," he says, looking around the sofa for the remote control, "maybe not so assertive after all."

But now the hallucination is stepping into the room, weirdly distorted and not at all like the pictures of Sherlock John guards in his mind, looking far more like a painfully beautiful caricature of the long-gone man - skin too pale, eyes too bright, patches of stubble like bruises, and what happened to the hair? It's far too long, obscuring half of the haggard face like a hood; and the ragged clothes a cruel parody, the dirty leather coat and a length of tattered fabric swathing the neck.

"John," says the ghost, and his voice is stronger now. "John, it's me. I'm sorry. John. I'm alive. I'm here."

From then on, things are a bit confusing; John remembers black spidery hands pulling him up from the couch, the spilt tea burning his thigh, a hard body against his own, a pair of lips fluttering across his face, warmsoftherealivealivealive. He remembers the crack his hand makes when it connects with the angular face. He remembers pulling him down to the floor, tearing dirty clothes away and finding skin, hothardherealivealivealive, gasping Sherlock, Sherlock, oh, God, Sherlock, too long hair curling around his wrists like manacles of black iron. He remembers Sherlock pulling his gloves away with his teeth and bony fingers wiping tears from his burning cheeks.

II. A man of wealth and taste is a selfish bastard.

Sherlock Holmes comes back from Hell starved to the bones, with a collection of scars on his white skin and ghosts of silver in his hair.

He is older, John notices roughly five hours later, older than just three years being dead can justify. There are wrinkles around his eyes, thin as gossamer. The intensity behind that silvery eyes that once burned so bright and so terrifyingly reckless has calmed down somehow, became a steady glow, just as bright as before, but somehow more quiet, perhaps a bit tired. John remembers seeing the same change in the mirror after returning from Afganistan. Hell has its price, he supposes, and so does coming back.

There are scars, too, many of them. A few are from before; a couple of chemical burns, pockmarks from the needle, a white line where a bullet had grazed him across the ribs in The Pool, thousand years ago. But others are new - a faint slash of silver right across the sharp right cheekbone that somewhat, absurdly, suits him; a vivid red line carved down his flank that makes John's stomach clench in fury; another one on top of his thigh, probably from a stab with a knife; countless others, small and practically harmless. The most recent are bruises and cuts around his thin wrists, obviously from being handcuffed; and John remembers Sherlock once telling him that this particular pattern means that the restrained person was able to unlock the cuffs.

John smooths the stray curls out of Sherlock's sleeping face, and the fingers around his other hand tighten momentarily. "Don't let go of me," Sherlock warned him before unwillingly succumbing to a light slumber. "Hold my hand and don't let go. Don't let go."

There was no need to worry. John isn't planning to let go ever again.

He buries his free hand in Sherlock's hair, which is crawling across the pillow like a nest of shadow snakes, dangerous and captivating at the same time. John isn't sure if he likes it, but he certainly cannot keep his hands away from it. He suspects he is wary of it because it's just another thing about Sherlock that's changed. A casual observer might have a hard time recognising the old Sherlock in this gaunt, exhausted man. The pallor of the skin is now unhealthy rather than attractive, the long limbs alarmingly thin and not merely slender anymore, uneven stubble across once cleanly shaven jaw, the hair long and unwashed and stiff under John's fingers; wrinkles, scars, grey hair. Only the eyes are still the same.

III. Samson's curls

Sherlock Holmes comes back to the world of the living with a kiss and a bath and a pile of Chinese takeaway.

John gets with him into the bathtub and washes him and holds him in the hot water; and later, he puts on some clothes and sits on the toilet lid while Sherlock shaves and cleans the dirt from under his fingernails. It is a curious sort of catharsis, watching some of that tired, filthy persona fade away and some of the old Sherlock seeping through.

Then, Sherlock is picking up a pair of scissors and eyeing his wet mop of hair with determination, and before John knows it, he is jumping up and snatching the scissors away. "Don't!"

Sherlock looks at him like he's gone completely insane. "I look like a sheep in serious need of a trim," he says. "Scissors, John."

"No." John stuffs the scissors down the back of his trousers and pushes a hand into Sherlock's heavy hair, massaging his scalp and enjoying the way long strands curl around his fingers. It has grown quite long indeed, almost covering his shoulder blades, and it isn't as curly as it was while short; it is more wavy now, straight in some places. Long story short, it looks wild and completely untamed and John abruptly decides that he likes it. Very much so, thank you. "Why did you grow it out in the first place if you don't like it?"

"I was on the run." Sherlock is almost purring with pleasure already, skinny shoulders visibly relaxing under the onslaught of John's hand in his hair. "I haven't exactly had time to do my regular monthly trip to the hairdresser's. Besides, it has proved useful as a part of my disguise. Long hair hides a person's face well, and Moriarty's henchmen were looking for a cultured, well-groomed gentleman in expensive clothing. An unkept, ragged traveller was as far from this as I could manage." He tips his head down, presses his cracked lips against John's brow. "But now I want my old life back, if you don't mind."

"What? No - it's just -" John doesn't know how to explain it, he really doesn't; besides the fact that Sherlock looks devastating with long hair, there is something deeper that makes cutting all that dark richness away a crime. Samson and Delilah. Strength and beauty and humiliation, Pashtun women beaten in the streets for associating with foreign soldiers, their beautiful long dark braids cut off. Sherlock going to Hell and back, a black crown of night placed on his head.

Sherlock's eyes narrow. "I see."

"No, you don't." John grabs a handfull of Sherlock's hair, soft and scented from the bath, and raises on his tiptoes to burry his face in it. "This is a medal," he whispers. "Along with the scars and wrinkles around your eyes. You are beautiful like this."

John knows Sherlock's resolve is softening when he hesitates. "But it's distracting," he complains. "It gets into my eyes all the time and it looks terrible."

"Why don't you leave it like this at least for some time?" John suggests. "A week or two. And if you still don't like it then, I'll personally make you an appointment at the hairdresser's."

Sherlock sighs. "If I haven't grown to like it in three years, I won't learn to like it in a week, either."

"Think of it as a personal favour, then. God knows you owe me one." John smirks and waves the scissors before Sherlock's face. "Now sit down."

For a moment, it seems like Sherlock is thinking about arguing, but in the end, he snaps his mouth shut and sits down on the toilet lid.

Sherlock's eyes are closed and his face is completely, utterly relaxed, and John falls into a strange sort of trance, snip snip snip of the blades and the feeling of soft hair under his fingers, Sherlock's quiet breathing, dark eyelashes fluttering on white skin. He carefully cuts away the brittle ends, shortens a few strands around the face so Sherlock won't complain about the hair getting in his eyes anymore. Little dark wings fall on the floor around them, and suddenly, John is choking on love, merciless and sharp ache in his throat and his chest, and he has to stop, put a hand on Sherlock's shoulder for support, leaning his cheek on the top of his head and almost gasping for breath, eyes screwed shut, I won't cry, damn it, once was enough, I won't, I won't. He can almost feel the veins of his heart stretching out through flesh like greedy snakes, coiling around Sherlock's limbs, binding him to John, never leave me again, damn you.

Thin, hard arms wrap around him and Sherlock hugs him tightly, one palm slowly rubbing up and down his back. Then he speaks, and John can feel the rumble of words against his collarbone.

"You do know, John, that in some cultures cutting each other's hair is a crucial part of the matrimonial ceremony?"

And John starts laughing. He is laughing when Sherlock pulls him down into his lap; he is laughing when they topple over and land on the floor with him on top; he is laughing when Sherlock is tugging his trousers off and he is still grinning when they curl into a knot on the floor later, sweaty and sticky and with bits of Sherlock's hair stuck to them and quite clearly in need of another bath.

"Which means I must cut your hair as well," Sherlock says, eyes closed and a look of absolute bliss written across his face. "Just to get even, you understand."

"Sod off, my hair is short enough as it is." John snuggles closer.

"Indeed." Sherlock's fingers card through his short hair, damp with sweat. "May I propose a shave, then?"