A Rare Intimacy, Pt.II
A rare intimacy followed by an all too common goodbye.
Neither of them had bothered to close the curtains the night before and she wakes with the sun, the skyline of New York rising up in grey and rose before the glass.
His eyes are still closed and she takes the opportunity to study him; dark curls splayed out over her white pillows, long dark lashes resting upon pale cheeks.
He looks tired. Haunted. There are shadows under his eyes, mottled black and purple like bruises, and –
“Stop. Stop that.” He has not opened his eyes and his voice is still thick with sleep as he shifts slightly under her, a furrow in his brow even as his hands wrap around her thigh and hitch it higher over his hip. “Stop doing that…that thing.”
She had not realised that he was awake.
“How?” She asks simply, “How do you-” She does not bother denying it, there is no trace of incredulity or awe in her tone, there is no hint of a flush in her alabaster cheeks this morning, but there is interest. She is always interested in the way that his mind works.
He does not answer immediately. Her question only trails away because once again she has got lost in the small movements that he is making in an effort to wake up. The crease in his forehead becomes more pronounced, his eyelids are scrunched up against the intruding light and they refuse to open, his hand moves to her hip, pulling her closer…
It is not often that she is allowed to see him like this.
“Well, let’s see…” It is his voice that reminds her that she asked the question, low and deliberate. He starts and then he pauses, pursing his lips and brushing the hair from her eyes in a gesture that is almost inquisitive. “Your breathing, for a start… it’s not quite slow enough for you to be sleeping but you’re not moving around, so… You are awake, and looking at something. There is something poised about the shape of you. Something intent. You are not looking up at the ceiling, there’s nothing interesting there, nothing to hold your attention, so that can’t be it. It’s not the view out of the window because you’ve seen that view a thousand times before. I can feel your breath on my neck… It suggests that you’re positioned slightly above me, looking down, so either you’re looking at me or something about the embroidery on the pillow has caught your eye. Yes, it’s slightly uneven, but that’s hardly noticeable. Therefore… you must be looking at… me.”
His voice slows from its rapid deduction to a conclusion that almost sounds surprised, and he is hesitant as he opens his eyes, finding hers only inches away, fixed unblinkingly on his and narrowed as she tries to take it all in.
His eyes narrow back. The feel of her is all around him, in the slip and slide of the silk sheets over his skin, in the prickle of heat between their two bodies, in the heady smell of her perfume that lingers on everything. Drunk on it, he leans in closer.
Their noses are tip to tip, their lips mere millimetres apart. Her eyes flutter closed in anticipation but before any kiss is sealed, he begins to speak again, his voice little more than a breath. “There is more.”
“Yes…” His hands ghost up her sides, running his fingertips from her hips all the way up to the column of her throat in a way that elicits a shiver from her. Her eyes are open again, fixed on every movement of his lips as she waits for him to elaborate. “Yes… more than any of that, I know you… I know what you are like…I know what you do. I know you inside out…”
“I know you inside out…” At his words, a thrill runs along her spine and this acknowledgement that something does indeed exist between them is all that it takes, for the both of them. Her lips meet his in a desperate kiss and he responds immediately, drawing her closer, tumbling her down onto the mattress so that she lies below him, his hands framing her face. He is still tired and she can feel it in the way that his lips move over hers – it is less measured, less careful than it usually is.
Seconds, minutes, hours seem to pass.
It feels as if he is trying to commit her to memory, as if this kiss is a prelude to a goodbye, and even as she thinks it she feels him trying to draw away. Automatically her fingers tense, nails digging into his neck, but she cannot stop him pulling his lips from hers.
It has only really been a moment.
“Can’t we at least have this?” she asks, as if her words would ever be enough to seduce him into staying. “Can’t we have more than one night to ourselves?”
He is already shaking his head before she has finished, pushing himself upright again and kicking back the covers. He gets out of bed and turns away from her like he cannot meet her eye. “We’ve had all the time that we are allowed. We’ve had more. I never intended to come at all; I certainly never intended to stay. I have things to do.”
She lets him dress in silence. She cannot convince him and there is little point in trying, she has no whispers to send him on his way with, no promises to elicit in return.
“Goodbye then.” When he finally turns back to her, eyes the last things to rise from the carpet, she thinks that she can hear regret in his tone but she shakes that feeling off and climbs out of bed, crossing the room wrapped in only a sheet, her eye catching his, their fingers automatically twining around one another as if by prior consent.
“Sherlock, can’t you at least tell me where-”
“No. Goodbye,” he says more forcefully, dragging his coat on. He drops her hand to flick up his collar and knot his scarf just so.
“Goodbye, Miss Adler.” He tilts her chin up with two fingers and kisses her waiting lips softly, tenderly. Her heart wrenches at the gesture and he sees that in her face as clearly as if she had spoken aloud, but he does not stay.
He never does.
A flick of his Belstaff and he is gone, the tail of it whipping around the corner and out of sight.
He is always saying goodbye. And she has no choice but to let him.