It's nothing, comparatively, two fingertips. Not when they've held hands properly before. Or, at least, Martin has held Jon's hand. In both of his, close to his chest, or wrapping yet another bandage round it, or just squeezing it gently when his eyebrows look especially worried. But he hadn't known. Idiot he is, he hadn't known, and they hadn't talked properly. But now Tim's explained, and teased them both mercilessly about hand-frenching, and Jon's explained in his own adorable, clammed-up way with a lot of overly long words.
And now he's said I'd like to kiss you. So Martin swallows and blinks and thinks about it this time. It feels different to hold his hand out, awkwardly splayed and vulnerable in the evening in his bedroom, and wait for Jon to make the contact. He pays attention this time. To the shy, slow way Jon offers him his first two fingers, with the others curled gently into his palm, the way he looks at Martin like he's checking he's getting it. Then they both watch as Martin mirrors him, making sure he gets it right. He presses his middle finger up against his index, and curls the smaller ones shyly around his thumb, nestling it in against the pad of his palm.
Martin smiles hopefully, having to check for himself, of course, again, after spending the last few hours apologising. But he's not sure Jon catches it though - he is staring openly at their fingers. Martin follows his gaze and feels ridiculous and the amount of anticipation and sparkling excitement and nerves swimming in front of his eyes, just from this closeness without touching. Their fingers are just a hairsbreadth apart now, so the sliver of light between them is cast orange.
He doesn’t want to move first, actually, for once. Not that he’s always pushing or anything, or that he’s used to being left in the open when someone refuses to meet him in the middle. Well, no that is true, that would be one reason he’s already feeling more than he probably should as a medical officer about touching someone’s hand. But this was Jon’s idea and it feels like it’s a bigger step for him. It means more, doesn’t it. If they were both human it would just be touching his hand. Well, actually, that would really mean something still, to Martin it would anyway, maybe he’s weird, but -
Jon takes a breath and kisses him. Presses their fingertips together and sighs through his nose like he’s kissing.
If it wasn’t clear on his face it would be anyway just in the way the room seems to change. Nothing’s changed, obviously, but Martin can feel it - the stillness, the heat, the charge in the air. Not literally, but the one people make up when they ascribe significance to something, that then makes it real. This is that. A fairytale moment. Their first kiss. His foot could pop off the floor.
So he pays attention. To the warmth that spreads and mingles through their fingertips. To the way he’s relaxed, even as his fingers are tensed and his arm is outstretched awkwardly. The way their skin looks side by side and to Jon’s hands, that’s spent a lot of time looking at but somehow now it seems not nearly enough, right there with his own that he knows instinctively and consciously so little about. The way every little unique ridge of Jon's fingerprints feel against his. A bit rough, so that there’s friction and they won’t slide apart. Not completely dry, not sweating.
It’s touching hands really, isn’t it? Not even hands, just fingertips. It’s not really even a natural position to touch someone’s hand. He feels a bit silly, getting feelings over this when he must have touched Jon casually countless times. And thought about a lot more.
But he can’t not smile knowing what this weird little ceremony means. And when he looks up his smile breaks properly as he notices the tips of Jon’s ears flushing adorably.
He's going to say so because the smile is not one that's going to be easy to hide, but then he remembers Jon can hear him anyway. And sure enough now his eyebrows are knitting together.
‘I am not,’ Jon mumbles. It's weird how unobtrusive it feels to have looking and contradicting things Martin’s only thought. Doesn't feel at all like the mind reading he'd imagined with all the probing and nosiness. Easy, really.
‘You are,’ Martin tells him, singsong but he means it.
As he leans in a bit to make this clear, the angle of their pressed fingertips shifts. Enough to feel. They both inhale abruptly at a sliver more contact as Jon's finger slides to lie across the wrinkles inside two of Martin's knuckles now. The lines on both their fingers cross each other like an X.
It shuts them both up for a second, a little awed at something so little that means the world to both of them because it means the world to Jon. The sweet green is spreading over his nose and cheeks now -
'Stop it,' Jon says, without much bite. 'You cannot... you cannot blame me for my... physical reactions to this.'
'I'm not blaming you,' Martin promises him with a gentle tut. 'It's cute.'
Jon goes an even deeper shade of emerald, which is very cute, but it's also almost a bit of a shame to see that he's still his embarrassed uptight captain self. Not that Martin doesn’t love his usual uptight self, but he hopes Jon doesn’t feel guilty about this. Ashamed. Of himself, of Martin. On another day Martin would probably have taken his hand and squeezed it, but maybe that’s not the best idea right now. So he just holds in his laugh and tries to smile encouragingly. Of course he can't hide anything when they're touching like this, but it's not like Jon wouldn't have caught him anyway.
'This does not seem very fair,' Jon says, but he is. smiling a bit now too, which means something teasing is coming. 'It follows logically that you would have the same reaction if I kissed you how you'd like.’
‘I like this,’ Martin reassures him first, before the rest of the sentence can run away with him (it very quickly is). ‘And I wouldn’t.’
But Jon raises an eyebrow at him and it would be a very bad lie even if he couldn’t see the many, many images of Jon kissing him and him kissing Jon that have been going round in Martin’s brain since about his third day on the ship. The latest one, here in the very real private of his room after all the talking, is clearer perhaps than any before. He feels it, every detail, like it’s going to happen from this exact spot. Sees the way the light would come through Jon’s hair from this angle, the one he’s standing in, knows how the difference in their height would feel now that he’s stood this close, rather than watching his own fantasy self have what he can only dream about. That image... yeah, yeah he would blush, probably, to get to have that. He can already feel his cheeks warming thinking about it.
But it's far more fun to lie isn't it? And maybe hope to be proved wrong.
'I would not,' he repeats, then, putting on his best Jon-voice, 'I'm in control of my emotions.'
He expects Jon to scoff, or pout at him (which he’ll get in trouble for thinking instinctively is adorable and kissable). But instead Jon does neither of those things, probably because he can already predict the response. Instead he uncurls his fingers, and slowly, gently, without breaking any contact, walks each finger over Martin’s to turn his hand over. When all their fingers are touching, four points in space now, not just one, he closes the open space of his palm so that he’s holding Martin’s fingertips in his hand as if to lead him into a dance.
Martin watches all of this as quietly as he possibly can, not moving except to let his thumb come and rest on the knuckle of Jon’s little finger. His mind is going crazy, crazier knowing it’s being heard and, if not understood (which would be fair enough, given the tangles and screams and... mess of feelings and images it’s producing). Pictures of them dancing, of Jon sweeping him onto some floor or other. A beating tattoo of oh god god and I like you I love you I want you I care about you and the deep disbelief and awe in his chest . Silent screaming a vibrato over the top of it all. The way their hands look now in the dimmed light of the cabin, different from the harsh bright white of their professional life. The way his hand is warm and safe and happy. Someone likes me, Jon likes me, and he’s holding my hand and flushing like he really cares and -
Well, Martin thinks to an abrupt stop when Jon looks up at him with his big saucer brown eyes rimmed in that adorable, kind of sexy purple, it’s fair enough that he’s going red now, isn’t it?
He wouldn’t have minded being teased a bit for it honestly, it’s working if Jon’s idea is to get back at him for the compliments he can’t take. But meeting his eyes, Martin can see that he’s seen it, all of that nonsense mess of affection and giddiness in his head. He draws in a breath that sounds a bit shuddery. But the softness pooling in Jon’s eyes looks a lot like the awe he feels. The nerves in his stomach melt over with happy gold.
Then Jon lifts his hand to his mouth, and Martin holds his breath as a kiss is pressed to his knuckles.
The sight is something in itself but he’s not at all prepared for how the little feeling is... well a lot. Jon’s lips fit either side of the point of his knuckle - the top one dry and resting delicately, the bottom one gently sucking so that the soft wet inside slides against Martin’s skin. It seems to go on for ages, though it can’t be more than seconds because Martin doesn’t breathe the whole time.
When Jon pulls off with a soft click he doesn’t go far, looks back up through his eyelashes with Martin’s hand still held close to his mouth. He only looks a little bit smug. Neither of them say anything but he lifts his other hand up in something that could be a point or a tender gesture. He stops just short of Martin’s face, which, predictably, understandably, is very pink now.
‘There,’ Jon says, quiet still into their reverential silence, like he’s not quite ready to ruin it with his jokes. ‘Physical reaction.’
‘Yeah,’ Martin breathes, ‘well. Can’t blame me.’
Jon lets his hand come to rest, the back of it pressed softly to Martin’s cheek. ‘You’re warm.’
Martin tries not to scoff at him, or go redder. He fails on both counts. ‘Well, yeah,’ he half laughs, shuffling a bit. ‘This is... I mean you were too!’
‘My body temperature regulation is more sensitive to cold than-’
‘Yeah, yeah, right, but also... I mean, this, right?’
Jon looks away from him for a second, dropping their clasped hands away from his face between them. It’s still cute, the colour his ears go, but it makes Martin a bit sad watching grapple with the shame. Martin sighs, squeezes his hand.
And immediately worries that’s too much now. What’s squeezing if touching is kissing? Oh, god, he said he wasn’t going to do that, he’s not trying to -
Jon squeezes his fingers back, and the shifting air feels cool against the spot where his mouth has been. He lifts his head again.
‘Yes,’ he says. An admission, but a firm one. ‘This.’