"John, it's important."
I looked up from the laptop screen, regretting it immediately. His eyes, blue and beautiful and...and damn it, not that look. Not that unwittingly adorable look on his stupid face that just...God, I wish I had more will-power than this.
"Sherlock, if I get up from this chair you're going to ask me to get your phone or something trivial like that."
"I swear to you it's important," he said, eyes closed again, fingers pressed to his lips.
I stood, stepping over to the couch, looking at him expectantly.
He looked up at me, expression unreadable. He reached out, taking my hand and pulling me closer to him. "Come here."
"I'm here, what-?"
"No, I mean come here," He pulled me down and close, hugging me to him. I laid down more comfortably, resting my head against his chest, exhaling slowly.
"So, why am I here, exactly?" I whispered.
"I've given up drugs and cigarettes, the latter for you and I need a stimulant to help me think," he whispered. I frowned.
"And being close to me helps you think?"
"Holding you helps me think," he whispered. "Smelling your skin and just...just being here with you helps me think. Now be quiet." I tried not to smile, but he was blushing at it was nearly impossible not to.
I shut my eyes, just letting myself rest against his chest, sighing quietly, happy to help in this instance. His long, slender fingers combed through my hair, soothing me without much thought in the matter. I listened to his heart thud rhythmically in his chest, his warmth seeping through me, letting the drowsiness of the past few days finally sink in. I'd ignored it until this point, in fact it was something I'd learned to live with.
"Go to sleep, John," he said quietly, his voice low and rumbling in my ear.
I closed my eyes again, settling in, feeling his arms tighten around me. He rested his cheek against the top of my head, humming contentedly. "I didn't think you were one for cuddling," I chuckled.
"Holding and cuddling aren't the same thing."
"You're nuzzling your face in my hair and holding me as tightly as you can. I think that's called cuddling," I teased. He huffed a short sigh.
"Whatever it is we're doing it doesn't happen often so why don't we both just enjoy it, alright?" He said quickly. I smiled again, feeling I'd won in some small way. I tried not to grin when I felt the blanket on the back of the couch and draped over the two of us. He rubbed my back, still stroking my hair, lulling me to sleep.
"Sleep, John. Shh..." I looked up at him, leaning toward him to meet his lips. He kissed me lazily. "Mmn. We should do this more often."
"That's not all we should do," I said softly, smiling a little. He smiled back, shaking his head a little.
I could live with that.
I slowly fell asleep, soothed by his gentle breath and his touch. "I love you, Sherlock."
"And I love you." He hummed softly, a lullabye I'd heard him playing yesterday, tapping out a tempo on my back.
John cried into his pillow, clutching at it, his heart aching terribly.
This was his hell. Every night came with either nightmares of Sherlock falling. He would run and run and run as fast as he could to catch him, screaming at him to stop him, to save him. Sherlock, don't. Sherlock, you don't have to die. Sherlock, you and I can run away together. Sherlock, I want to be with you forever. Sherlock, please, I love you.
Nothing stopped him. Nothing saved him. He was never enough to save him.
He never got to apologize for saying those awful things before. "You machine!"
He clutched his pillow tighter, sobbing harder. "Sherlock..." He whispered. "Please..."
Unbearable. That's what his life had become. Unable to move on, unable to set foot in that apartment without falling to his knees and crying. Too long he'd lived like this and it hadn't gotten any better. The only thing that had changed was his way of getting around. His limp had come back the following day after...after it happened. He didn't think about him at work, didn't think about him until he was home. Alone. All alone again with nothing but a bloody coat and scarf hanging in the closet.
And more than ready for death.
"Well," John said breathlessly, stopping beside me, watching the cab speed away from us. "He won't get that far, will he?"
"No, of course not. Not with a target like that on his back. It'll only be a matter of time. Lestrade isn't that thick..." I scoffed, shaking my head. "Never mind, he'll call me in..." I checked my phone. "Fourteen minutes and thirty-six- thirty-five seconds."
"Then what should we do until then?" he sighed.
I looked around as to where we were, finding that we were in the back of a popular club. The song playing inside echoed to the alley around us, adding a sort of atmosphere to the decaying food and trash. It was slow, soft. I smiled, reaching out to him and taking him by the waist.
"This is what we'll do," I said softly.
"What, dance?" He said, cynical.
"Surely you know how," I scoffed.
"Of course I know how, I just... I didn't expect it from you, I suppose."
"Just come here, John."
He leaned his head against my chest, sighing softly. "Alright, alright." I held him close, still holding his back, rocking slightly in circles, just a simple step that was simple enough to follow.
"You're wonderful, you know," he whispered. I scoffed again. "I mean it."
"Just dance with me, John. Who knows when we'll do it again," I said gently. I lifted his chin, stroking his cheek with my thumb before pulling him into a kiss. It was dry, soft, chaste...beautifully wonderful. My heart swelled and I found myself smiling at him. I pressed our foreheads together, letting the music be the only sound between us.
He looked at me with his sweet, patient smile, nuzzling into my chest. I kissed his hair, smiling when he held my cheek.
"Why are we doing this?" John asked. I smirked at him.
"Why not?" He giggled again.
"I love you."
"I know you do," I said, mouth beside his ear, nipping lightly to make him laugh again.
It was simple, dancing back here away from the rest of the world, feeling each other, innocent in our intentions and...and completely in love with the other.
His soft hair, the gentle musk of his skin. The slightly rough fabric of his canvas jacket, a bite of stubble on his chin, lips satin soft and so pink. So very pink and they tasted wonderful. Delectable, even. They pecked at my neck, his warmth radiating into me, snuggling close to me. It was normal now. So normal, so ordinary. Most couples do this, I suppose, dance. Couple. Doesn't seem to be the right word for it.
Couple /kup-uhl/, noun, verb, coupled, coupling: two of the same sort considered together; pair. Two persons considered as joined together as a married or engaged pair, lovers.
Origin: Middle English Anglo-French c(o)uple Old French cople, cuple, Latin: copula a tie, bond (see copula) v. Middle English couplen Anglo-French co(u)pler, Old French copler, cuple Latin copulare-
John. John Babtiste. John Smith. Johann Sebastian Bach. Back to the Future 1985. 1984 by Orson Welles-
I looked down at him, snapping out of my daze. "Whats wrong, darling?"
"Your phone is ringing."
I sighed, irritated. "I was in the middle of something."
"You were not, your mind was going a million miles an hour."
"I was getting around to thinking about you," I whispered. John smiled.
"Answer your phone before Lestrade has a conniption."
Another song started inside, a slow, steady beat. I peered at my phone, which claimed brightly that I had three missed calls.
I pressed down on the top button, silencing it and shutting it off. "I will..." I held him again, shutting my eyes. "After this song."
Sherlock opened his eyes. The cold, dank concrete room he was forced to hide in this week was as lonely and sad as it was when he them previously, trying not to remember yet another gut-wrenching memory of being with John.
A tear fell down his cheek, knowing that somewhere his doctor was all alone again, wrought with guilt and pain. Harbored anger and resentment that would come back the second he laid eyes on him again.
The lump in his throat was large. Disassembling this web took too long. He'd been lonely, so very, very lonely. Those first few months he talked to John nonstop, forgetting that he actually wasn't there this time. He was gone. Locked away somewhere he couldn't reach.
His nightmares had returned, no doubt. His limp as well. His mind...his mind would be mangled, his heart tattered and broken.
"No, no..." He whispered.
He hadn't slept in days, hadn't had a good sleep since he "died." Every time he tried he found himself waking in the night with his hands searching for a small, warm body to curl against, to hold if he pleased, to be held if he asked gently.
He missed him so much so very, very much. His heart yearned for him, mind and heart at war as to whether or not he could see him.
Just one more peek, one more little look. You saw him at the graveyard look at him one more time.
So I can see the damage I've done? So I can see what anguish he goes through every day because of me? He hasn't moved on, he hasn't grieved properly to let me go. He won't say goodbye. What's the point of seeing him when it'll only torture you more.
I deserve every ounce of pain I receive for this. He's so...God, I JUST WANT JOHN BACK! WHY CAN'T THIS ALL COME BACK? WHY CAN'T IT BE OVER YET?
He buried his face in his knees, tearing at my hair, hair he'd cut and dyed those years ago, clothes that weren't his. Not speaking to his brother, or Mrs. Hudson, or Molly, or The Woman, or Lestrade, no one. Absolutely no one. He was all alone. Again.
He pulled a syringe from my pocket. A syringe filled with something that could help him escape emotions he had so long perfected not feeling. So easy to put inside of him. So easy to get rid of this pain.
But it always came back. Stronger, harder...
"JOHN!" He screamed, sobbing softly. He just wanted him back. He just wanted him back.
The belt tightened around my upper-arm. "I just want him back, I just want him back..." The syringe slipped in so easily, surrounded by other swollen dots from previous entry.
It was almost over, almost done with all this horrible mess of untangling a web and killing those who needed to be.
"John. John. John. Please. John."
The drug took over his mind, his mind palace exploding with facts and images that weren't related to what hurt him the most.
"Please, please, please..."
Not soon enough. Not when I love him this much.
"Sherlock, you don't have to do this if you don't want to. If you're not ready that's fine. I told you, it's all fine."
"No," he said, shaking his head. "No, I'm fine."
I let my hands carefully, gently touching his chest and his arms. His skin was soft, creamy, beautiful. He was trembling, mouth set and determined, eyes vulnerable. So vulnerable. The same eyes one has when they're looking the loss of their virginity in the face.
"Sherlock," I said softly, touching his cheek. "You're shaking."
"Adrenaline," he dismissed.
"If you're afraid you can tell me."
"I'm not afraid. Sex doesn't-"
"Shh..." I touched his cheek again, cradling his face and kissing him softly. "Sherlock, just...Just come here, please." I caught his lips, holding him as close to me as I could get him. Cradling him. I could feel how afraid he was, the hesitation, afraid that, that...
"I don't know what I'm doing," he confessed quietly. "I don't know how to please you or...or really how to please myself. I just don't know how, John."
I held his face, looking steadily into his worried eyes. "Sherlock, don't worry about it, about any of that. For once, let me take care of you, let me take care of everything. Trust me."
He stared at me, swallowing hard. Nervous. "Alright," he whispered.
I kissed him softly, carefully lying down with him. "I promise, I won't hurt you. And if you want to stop, tell me, okay?" He nodded rapidly.
He was beautiful. So soft and innocent with every touch, his arousal and want keeping him clawing and moaning in such an obscene way. He literally never felt like this before, never felt so much at once.
He bucked and writhed beneath me, shutting his eyes when I ran my fingers through his curls, screaming when I touched him in particular areas.
"John, oh, John, what are you doing to me?" He breathed, gasping, shuddering.
"Do you want me to stop?"
"No, no, never. Please, don't ever stop!"
When it was over he was gasping softly beside me, slicked in sweat right along with me. He curled against me, kissing my chest.
"Not so scary, eh?" I offered. He shook his head, expression blank.
"No. I rather enjoyed connecting with you like that," he whispered, shutting his eyes, tired, warm and worn. "I love you, John." My heart swelled again, petting back his curls, kissing his forehead.
"I love you too." I held him close, watching his face as he fell asleep. So young, peaceful and gorgeous. His elegant, thin fingers clutching at the blanket. God looking at him was like watching a work of art. It was cliché, and stupid, yes...but...God look at him.
I closed my own eyes, feeling the soft rise and fall of his chest, wishing that this moment would never end.
Silence. Tea for one. Quiet clicks of keys on the laptop of empty words and ignoring ignorant messages from people saying that Sherlock was a fraud, a liar, a freak, a con-artist.
He never believed a word of it not even when...especially when it came directly from Sherlock's mouth. The tears in his voice echoed in his ears, the apartment around him still so silent and dead. Gray and dead. Just like his life. Just like his heart. He couldn't take much more of this.
Once again he found his eyes wandering to the desk drawer, knowing about the firearm that rested inside it. Loaded with an escape. Maybe not a gun, that's so messy. Pills maybe. He could get those easily. Slit his wrists.
Jump off of Bart's roof.
Seemed simple enough for him.
To leave him all alone here.
With no one.
"WHY, GOD DAMN IT!" He slapped the laptop, every ounce of his rage channeled into that hit, sending the device flying across the room where it shattered against a doorway.
He fell to ground, pounding his fists on the floor, sobbing aloud, chest aching. "WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME? WHAT DID I DO WRONG? FUCK, SHERLOCK, WHY WASN'T I ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU STAY?"
He stayed there, supported by his hands, sobbing. "Why did you have to go? How am I supposed to keep going without you here?"
Silence answered back.
John trudged out of the bedroom, sniffling before sitting down, hastily opening his laptop. "Sorry, didn't mean to fall asleep." I frowned, cocking my head at him, curious. "Anything on the Barber's glasses yet?" His voice was thick, as if he were talking through his nose.
"Not yet," I muttered, still watching him.
"I'll see what I can find," he said, breaking into a quiet coughing. I stood from my chair, stepping over to him.
Puffy eyes, flushed cheeks, stifled coughs and labored breathing, two- three shirts, fighting urge to grab the blanket behind him, fingers pale, cold, eyes bright and weary.
"John, you're ill," I said firmly. He looked up at me.
"And how is that going to help with the case?" He said, coughing. I shook my head, taking the computer from him.
"Sherlock, we don't-"
I wrapped the blanket he'd been eyeing around his shoulders before bending down and scooping him into my arms.
I took him back into the bedroom, setting him down and tucking him back in. "You're sick. You're of no use to me if you're not well. I need you to get that way, not make yourself worse."
"I'm fine," he protested, pouting. I pressed my lips to his forehead.
"With a 101.3 degree temperature?" I challenged. He sighed, huffing in frustration. I kissed his forehead, offering a small smile when I backed away.
"I can't believe you actually noticed, or cared really. Human vulnerability really isn't your thing," he chuckled, sniffing. He looked rather adorable like this, all tucked and wrapped up, drowsy, handsome.
"I only pay attention to the work. That's what's most important to me-"
"And you need me to help with the work, which is why you bothered with this," he nodded, wilting. I shook my head, holding his face.
"John, John, John," I whispered. "You see but you don't observe. I don't need you to help me with the work. I can't do the work without you. You're the most important part of it. Therefore you are the most important thing to me. Don't you understand?"
"Why?" He said, confused.
"I've told you. I'd be lost without my blogger." Another kiss on his clammy cheek. "I'll put the kettle on and get you some medicine, alright? Just rest." He lied down, relaxing, looking absolutely miserable and rather cute all at once.
I took his hand briefly, giving it a squeeze before leaving the room. I was getting rather good at this feeling nonsense.
Naked and bleeding on the floor, broken. Another attempt for justice, another try to untangle part of the web. He was closer than he was before but...
It had to be human trafficking. Had to be something like this that hurt this much. Physically and mentally.
The door opened.
He writhed in the cuffs, trying to slip his bloodied wrists out of them to give him an edge. Something to help him fight right now.
"This is the best you've got?"
"I know he looks worse for wear, but trust me, he'll heal right up."
"You might want to do yourself a favor and spend more time keeping your merchandise in good shape instead of testing it."
"I do apologize, Miss Adler. Now, are you interested in buying, or...?"
"Give me a moment. I don't buy without thoroughly checking the product."
"As you wish."
The door closed again.
There was a beat before she moved, rushing to the fallen man in the middle of the floor. "Sherlock," she whispered, gently turning him over, touching his cheek. "It's alright, it's alright now." She carefully peeled the tape from his lips, unlocking the handcuffs hastily with a key retrieved from her cleavage.
"John," he croaked.
"You and I both know you can't see him right now," she said softly.
"How did...did you know I...?"
"Please," she scoffed. She opened the purse at her side, taking out his clothes. "Put these on." He moved slowly, shakily, his face bruised and beaten. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Trying to...get the owner..."
"He's part of it? Moriarty's little gang members?" He nodded. "The man that was just in here?" Another nod. She helped him get into his clothes, being as careful as she could. "I'm going to help you, alright?"
"I won't be...be in your debt."
"Too late," she finished buttoning his shirt. "If this will help you get back to your doctor then I'll help you."
"Because I care about you, remember?"
The door opened again. "So, Miss Adler, have you-?" In the three seconds that followed he laid eyes on Irene, looked to Sherlock then back again before the bullet ripped through his body, the quiet phink of the silencer echoing through the room.
Irene hauled Sherlock up, half-dragging him into the hall and toward the door.
"Oy! What're you doin' down there?" A voice called. Irene huffed a sigh, the man's shoes tapping on the linoleum as he jogged down the hall toward them. She shoved the door open, holding Sherlock up to steady him.
"Run," she said firmly. "Run and don't look back."
"GO!" She pushed his chest, shoving him outside.
He sped through the densely wooded area, entire body aching so much. Branches whipped at his face, thorns catching on his already tattered clothes. Roots clawed at his feet, tripping him over and over again. Somewhere in the distance the sound of an explosion reached his ears.
He fell against a tree when he could run no more, choking on air, gasping hard, trying not to sob. "God...oh God..." He missed him. Still. If John were here it wouldn't hurt so much. John would hold him even if he told him he was alright. John would...would smile at him, make him laugh about it, or ask him what they needed to do next to keep him focused.
Now all he wanted was another needle and more drugs to keep him from this madness. He shuddered, wishing it didn't hurt so much.
It was never soon enough.
"Why can't you ever just apologize?" I bellowed.
"For what this time?" He said calmly.
"For- what do you mean for what?"
"If this is about the widow-"
"No, Sherlock, it's not about you verbally and emotionally brutalizing some poor woman who just lost her husband," I said sarcastically.
"You're angry with me," he stated. I stared at him, furious. "John, I've explained to you before, caring about these people will do nothing for them."
"But you don't care about anything! Just getting the case solved because there's nothing else you can do with your life!"
"And without my cases you'd still be limping around London alone." He was so stoic, so void of any emotion as he stared at me, the slightest inflection of anger in his voice. His words stung. I still shouldn't have said what I did.
"God, you just can't do it, can you? Can't get past the ego, huh? Well you have absolutely nothing to be egotistical about! You're brilliant, so what? At the end of the day you're a pathetic, lonely freak that's only got one friend because I'm the only one stupid enough to stick around!"
He looked at me, and I know he was hurt. I know what I said hurt him. I know that. And I just stood there, gaping like some stupid fish.
"Are you through?" He didn't wait for an answer. He turned away from me, taking his violin in hand.
He started playing over me, cutting me off. I sighed, staring at his back.
"Sherlock, please." He played louder.
I shook my head, grabbing my jacket before heading for the door. "FINE!" The door rattled when I slammed it behind me. The music followed me out to the street. I stalked away from it, away from him, not going anywhere in particular just walking to calm my nerves.
It took hours for me to wander back to Baker street, the guilt overwhelming. He was right, I did know how he felt about caring about these victims. Or Lestrade, or sometimes Mrs. Hudson and sometimes myself. I just...just needed to accept it.
The house was dark and quiet when I came home. So silent. Eerie.
He was lying on the couch, his eyes closed, breathing even.
"Sherlock?" I said softly, sitting on the table across from him. No answer. "Sherlock, I know you're not sleeping." Still nothing. "You curl up and sleep facing the left, you and I both know you can't sleep like this, now stop. Please."
He opened his eyes, smirking a little. "Very good," he said softly. He sat up, not meeting my eyes. "You're learning, John, I'm impressed."
"Sherlock..." I looked at him, waiting for him to look back at me.
There it was. There's the pain I knew was there, right here in the sitting room where the orange light of the streetlamps could be seen. He looked so sad. Damn, it.
"I'm sorry," I said, looking at him steadily. "I didn't mean what I said-"
"You meant it, that's why you said it," he said quietly.
"But, I didn't...I know who you are, Sherlock. I know how you behave and...and I should be alright with that by now. You're not pathetic and you were lonely until I got here, but so was I. If there's anyone out of the two of us that's pathetic and lonely, it's me." I took his hand. "You're not a freak. You never were and I should have my arse kicked for saying that to you. You're brilliant and wonderful. You're fascinating and I'm so, so sorry for what I did."
He smiled slightly. "I'll try harder," he said softly. "to be sorry and...care."
"Don't," I said, shaking my head. "You won't solve them right if you do. Don't do that."
"Then what do you want me to do?" He sighed, lost.
"Forgive me for being thick and asking you to change who you are," I teased. He smiled back.
"I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I lost you," he whispered. "I'd sit and talk to myself all day long and revert back to injecting myself just for a hallucination to bounce ideas off of. I need you. You're...You're everything to me, John."
I looked at him, slightly skeptical of what he was telling me. I combed my fingers through his hair, hating myself.
"I'll do my best not to speak to you like that again," he whispered. I squeezed his hand, kissing his forehead.
"I still love you if you do."
Finally able to be inside without his heart crushing under the weight of it all, John Watson stepped through door to the flat, looking around. Nothing had been touched. That face on the wall was still looking back at him, violin still resting contentedly in it's place. The dust was minimal, everything still tidy and where it had once been.
He smiled a little, knowing he would need to thank Mrs. Hudson for this later.
The ghosts and echoes weighed around him, thick and wet, suffocating. He shuddered softly, shutting his eyes.
It didn't feel like two and-a-half years. It felt like Sherlock was going to come barreling through the door with another bloody harpoon or come bouncing and bubbly about some new exciting case Lestrade had presented him and his need for John's assistance.
But it was a memory, only that. Just a memory.
Something that would never happen again.
He closed his eyes, falling back into his usual chair, taking the pillow emblazoned with the Union flag in his arms, squeezing it.
This hurts, he thought miserably. This hurts so much, why am I doing this to myself? Oh, God what is happening?
There was a soft knock on the door. He sighed, preparing himself for the encounter with Mrs. Hudson.
"Hang on," he called, standing slowly. Another knock. "Just a second, Mrs. Hud-"
He opened the door.
Instead of seeing a short, kindly redhead he was staring up into bright blue eyes, and a haggard face. His eyes grew to the size of saucers.
The gun clattered to the floor, the assassin sliding down the wall with it, bloody, empty, dead. He was dead.
It was done.
I laughed softly, tears welling in his eyes.
I ached, bruised and battered, lip split, back, arms, chest and legs all covered in contusions or lacerations.
But it was done.
It was over.
Everything was here now. All the evidence to prove Moriarty was real, he did frame me, he did threaten my friends and my love. And all of his work was now undone.
I could go home.
"John," he said, trying sound stronger than he was.
The doctor stared at him, pale, shaking.
Sherlock. Just as was before. More tired, though. In his eyes, his hair mussed, faint hint of stubble on his chin. Tired, weary, and...and something else. Broken.
Sherlock looked back at his shattered doctor, who looked so small, so scared, so desperate.
"You're here," the soldier said, lips shaking. "You're...are you real? No. No you can't be, you can't really be here. I saw you jump, I-"
"John," voice quieter than before, using the doorway to support himself. He slowly reached out, taking his hand and pressing it to his cheek. "I'm real." John shuddered, fingers grazing over his cheeks, through his curls, tears falling down his cheeks. Sherlock's already beaten heart clenched again.
The detective stared at him, leaning into his touches.
"You..." John began, his hand slipping away from his face. "You bastard!" Sherlock barely had time to wince before John's fist collided with his jaw, sending him staggering back, slipping to the floor.
John grabbed his shirt collar, hauling him up to a sitting position. "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME? DO YOU KNOW WHAT I'VE BEEN THROUGH? HOW LONG I WAITED FOR...AND YOU WERE HERE THE WHOLE TIME?" Another punch. Sherlock accepted whatever was thrown at him, knowing he deserved every second of it.
"John," he whispered, looking at his fist as he drew it back again.
The doctor stopped, truly looking at Sherlock again.
Weary. Worn. Hurt...no, physically hurt-
"Oh god." His grip weakened, carefully cradling his face. "Sherlock, what's happened to you?"
"I did it," he said, smirking a little, revealing a shadow of his former self. "I proved who he was, John. I proved Moriarty was real. So...so I could come home."
John shook his head, cautiously helping Sherlock up, helping him into the flat, setting him on the couch. He sat down across from him on the table, looking at him steadily.
"You're really here," he breathed, still so small, fragile even. Sherlock smiled again, nodding.
"You really think I would leave you, John?" He said, touching his cheek.
"I...I was all alone again," he trembled.
He couldn't take it anymore. Sherlock fell to his knees in front of him, wrapping his arms around John's waist, sobbing into his chest. "I'm sorry, oh god, John I'm so sorry. You don't know how...how much it's hurt me to be away from you this long. I've...John, damn it, I'm so sorry."
"Sherlock, hey, hey," he soothed, kissing the top of his head.
"Please forgive me. Please, John, I can't live like this anymore. Please!"
"I do. I do, it's fine," he lifted his chin, holding his cheeks in his hands. "It's all fine."
Sherlock smiled before chuckling softly. John laughed with him, pressing their foreheads together.
"I missed you."