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"Things I like about you? Hm. You’ve a rather nice smile, even if it can get a bit smug. Your sense of humor is lovely, even if I’m on the receiving end of some of your more scathing remarks, you’re eyes are gorgeous, you’re always on time, and oh… yes… You have a great arse."
His breath hitched and his fingers tightened over the fabric of the sheets below, giving him some sort of anchor, a tactile reminder that he was real and John was real and so was this contact between them. He didn’t close his eyes though it would have been the appropriate thing to do with their faces so close - and it seemed a little ridiculous that there were still guidelines of etiquette when proximity was as reduced as it was now, so Victor could count every wrinkle that creased John’s features, every gold-dipped lash - but kept them open, even widened them a little, so he could drink everything in about here and now.
For the first time in a long time, without realizing he was doing so, Victor submerged himself in the present by the press of John’s nose against the side of his own and the weight of his hand against his sharp jawline. When John pulled away it almost knocked him off-kilter, but he managed to maintain the reality, closing his eyes just moments before John opened his own out of sheer coincidence, or maybe because some part of him knew John would open his eyes to see him gazing on.
And John was right. As much as Victor felt like he’d lost, as much as he yearned to go back to what they had before…even then it wasn’t perfect. It was rushed and desperate, the thing of men running out of time. Now they had all the time in the world, almost too much, laid out at their feet, narrowed down by their own scars and their puffs on cigarettes but nothing else. Not yet, anyway.
"I’ll come find you then, and we can start over and…know each other properly," he promised and opened his eyes slowly again to see John. He reached out and lifted John’s hand, carefully, but he didn’t hold it intimately, just loosely, casually, in a firm yet gentle grip. If they were going to reconstruct, they might as well start from the bottom.
"My name’s Victor Trevor. I’m from Norfolk but the place hardly exists anymore, so I’m not quite from anywhere, and I’m not quite going anywhere either." He paused, licked his lips. "What else did you want to know when we met…?"
John looked down where their fingers were touching, joined together loosely at the place where it all began what seemed now like an age ago. Everything that happened rushed through his mind, like he was dying, his life was flashing before his eyes, but it wasn’t really death, it was a second start, and it wasn’t his life, it was what he gave to Victor, many chapters that had been closed, only to give way to this newest one.
Handshakes, cups of tea, polite conversation, the crackle of Victor’s voice through a speaker phone, the rush of cold wind down their backs while they walked in the early spring of Russia, the splash of colour that was Victor’s window across the street and up a ways in the dead of the night while they exchanged texts, the fear that gripped him as he had to kill without hesitation to save Victor’s life, the breeze that poured through the car as they left London, the sunrise on the rooftop in norfolk, ash across Victor’s cheek, rushing through Europe, stopping to gaze at stars as if they weren’t both living on borrowed time, the kisses, the shared moments, the shifting glances, the blossom of something quick and desperate, Kirill, the knife, Norfolk again, the healing, the intimacy shared for the first time there, the sinking feeling when he heard the name ‘Sherlock’, what he thought for sure would be his last chance at intimacy with Victor, the way the thunder rolled, like foreshadowing for what was yet to come, and then Victor’s hurt, his disappointment, and finally…
That door shut and John closed his eyes, squeezing Victor’s hand as he pulled him into his arms and crushed him in an embrace. He buried his face against the crook of Victor’s shoulder and pressed his hands against that prominent spine, feeling out the vertibre like they were a love letter written in braille and he was the blind man reading their secrets even if they were not meant for him.
"Hello Victor," he rasped back, his words muffled, "I’m John. Just John… I’m from everywhere… Which is a nicer way of saying nowhere… ah hah…"
He lifted his head and met Victor’s eyes.
"What’s your favourite colour? And season? What books did you love as a boy? What lullabys did your mother sing you to sleep with? What did your father scold you for? What did you want to be? Who… Who are you, Victor? I want to know it all.”