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Behind your Ribs

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For a moment all Sherlock can think is that he loves John- loves John’s body with every inch of his own body: he loves John’s hands with his hands; he loves his scarred shoulder with his own scarred back; he loves every toe on John’s feet beneath his thick woollen socks where they rest on the rug stretched in the direction of the hearth with his own pale, chilled toes.

He wants, in this moment, to take his scalpel from the table and cut a neat, thin line from John’s throat to his stomach, break open his ribs, and climb inside him to make a home between his lungs, beside his still beating heart, and then stitch him up from the inside and live in him awhile. And he thinks (fleetingly) that the only loss would be to never again see what John’s eyelashes look like on his outsides when the light from the fire catches them and makes shadows across his cheeks. The flames make it look like his eyes are dark and deep, like he’s thinking something secret and almost sad.

Sherlock isn’t taken to fancies- to romance, or to poetry, he never has been, except… Except he’s captured by the dustmotes in the firelight settling in John’s hair, and then he’s captured by the way John’s brow creases when he catches Sherlock staring, and then he’s captured by John’s voice when he says Sherlock’s name softly as though he’s something important, and then he’s breathing, breathing, breathing, breathing like he was drowning and now all of a sudden he isn’t.

Time pulls and stretches about them. The seconds between his heaving breaths and John’s hands finding his hands somewhere in the (awful) space between them stretch wide and infinite and then pass by in a shuttered blink. John’s face twists from confusion to concern and back again, and Sherlock feels as though he sees every miniscule movement like the frames of a film- slow and staccato- and then John’s hands are on his face, and in his hair and his lips are on Sherlock’s lips and then he is speaking and Sherlock needs a second to catch up to hear-

“You scared me, then, for a second. I thought something was the matter.”

It takes him a while- an embarrassingly long while, to find his own voice, in his throat that has closed tight shut at John’s voice. “Something is the matter.” He says, eventually, and wishes it wouldn’t come out so raw.
John begins, he thinks, to reply- mouth forming the start of a question, lips curving so beautifully around the jagged edges of a ‘W’ and softening along the ‘H’, and then Sherlock loses himself again and interrupts before he has chance to hear the gorgeous word from John’s gorgeous mouth and instead gives his comparably paltry offering. “It is unforgivably wrong, John, that I cannot love you from your insides and your outsides at once.”

His voice surprises him- vehement, this time, bitter- his resentment at the constraints of his own existence. “It’s wrong that I can’t taste your eyelashes and-”

 

This time, it is John who interrupts him: “Why can’t you?”
“What?”
“Why can’t you? Taste my eyelashes? Who says?”
“Well it’s-”
“A bizarre request, I grant you, but it’s-”

“Just a bit!”

“That doesn’t usually stop you.”

“You would let me.”
“Yes.”
“Taste your eyelashes?”
“Yes, Sherlock, if you wanted. It isn’t even worth the question, I would-”
“Why?”
“Why what?”
“Why would you let me?”

Here John pauses. He looks about. He fidgets- his hand flexing against his thigh where the muscle is tight because he is kneeling on the floor and it’s his bad leg and Sherlock feels sick to his stomach that it is wholly possible that John could be hurting, in this moment, when Sherlock loves all of him with so much clarity that he wants to count the fine gold hairs on the tops of each of John’s thick fingers where they grow sparsely between his first two knuckles, and-

“I would let you, Sherlock, because if I could slip into you like a bath then I would, and even once I’d done it I’d drink the water so I could have all the bits of you inside of all the bits of me forever.”

 

Sherlock thinks about it. He thinks about being a bath and surrounding John on all his sides and of how he could lap gently at all the bits of John he wants to like the back of his knees and the freckles in a patch on his ribs, and the marks the tops of his socks make on his ankles- and then he thinks about John drinking him down like tea so he could stay inside him, with all the bits of Sherlock and all the bits of John washed off and mixed up together in his stomach, and then he leans forward and ever so gently presses his lips to John’s forehead, then his eyebrow- then leans back a breath to make sure that his eyes are closed, before he licks, just a little, just to see, and then-
“You’re a strange one, Sherlock Holmes.”

“Yes, John.”
“How was it? Do you want to… Again, or… Somewhere else?”

“It was okay. Salty. A bit.”
“Mm.”
“Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” There’s a pause. John wipes his eye on his sleeve, sniffs, reaches out and sips his tea- gone a bit cold now, Sherlock supposes, after everything.

“Would you really? Drink me.”
“Mm. If it were real. Yes. I would.”
“I was thinking. Before. About living in you. Behind your ribs.”
“Mm. Sounds nice. Bit loud, maybe. Lots goes on in there.”
“Yes.”
“I wouldn’t mind, though. If it were real.”
“No?”
“No. I wouldn’t mind it at all.”