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Double Exposure

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Snug in his thickest oatmeal jumper and water-resistant anorak, John raised his iPhone, trying to line up a perfect shot of the Eiffel Tower. It felt odd to be in civvies, alone. He'd spent the last eight years more or less always in uniform, always in a group. His furloughs had nearly always been spent with a few Army buddies, someplace warm--much like the desert he'd been posted to for most of those eight years.

Paris in the fall was almost magical in how different it felt to all he'd experienced. Little lonely, though. John shook off the gloomy trend in his thoughts and snapped a pic, wishing he had someone to take a snap of him with the Tower behind him. Wishing he had someone to do an obligatory selfie with.

"There you are!" an unfamiliar male voice called, just before a tall, lanky man with a swooping coat and a mess of dark curls descended on him. John just managed not to flinch as the stranger encircled him with his arms, pulling him in to an intimate hug. "Just roll with it," the man whispered urgently in English. Aloud, he spoke, "Sorry to keep you waiting, sweetheart--traffic was a bugger."

"Oh, um, that's fine...dear."

He smiled down at John, his bizarrely light eyes warm, "Let's get a few photos and then go up, shall we?"

"Sure," John mumbled, still off-kilter. As the stranger put his arm around John's back, and pulled him close, John held up his iPhone, angling the front camera towards them. They smiled, the man's cheek pressed fondly to John's hair. "Gonna explain?" John muttered, smiling.

"Later, for God's sake," the man muttered, "we're being watched." John experienced a familiar frisson of excitement at the indication of potential danger. Holidays were all well and good, but he'd missed the action. "We should kiss," the man said in a low tone, "Really sell it."

John pinked, "Um, okay," he almost squeaked. While his experience with men wasn't unheard of, this man was wildly outside of his league. Cupping John's jaw tenderly in his large palm, the man smiled down into his eyes, looking love-struck and affectionate. John probably looked like he'd been hit by an IED. Stunned, he closed his eyes, afraid of betraying how damned eager he was for this kiss to happen, sham or not The first touch of their lips was...incredible. Maybe it had been too long since John had been kissed, but damn. Damn. Swallowing a needy whine, John was unable to resist leaning into the kiss, going up on his toes ever so slightly. The dark haired stranger kissed like a fucking dream. Lost in the moment, John was startled when he heard a familiar shutter sound. Pulling back, he saw the man had taken a picture of them with John's iPhone which had been in his hand. God, he hadn't even noticed the man taking it from him! Face hot, John swallowed, annoyed and a little aroused.

"There, we'll add that to our Instagram account over lunch. Shall we?"

Nodding dumbly, John followed.

 


 

"You've got to be kidding me!" John breathed, seeing a familiar face swoop down on him as he stood in front of the Coliseum. It had been three days since that bizarre encounter in Paris and he'd been unable to think of little else.

"Sweetheart!"

"Don't you sweetheart me," John growled.

"No time for a lover's tiff," the man murmured, kissing John as casually as if they did it all the time. Louder, "You're a saint, I'm so sorry I'm always late!"

"You disappeared," John sniped, hating that he automatically put his arm around the man as he angled them to get the Coliseum behind them. Hated too that he smiled brightly as the man took a selfie of them. "I turned around halfway up that bloody staircase and you had vanished!"

"Long story," he dismissed John's annoyance. Smiling blindingly, he accosted an older woman, "Oh I say, would you mind taking a shot of my boyfriend and I?" Twittering at them, she did so, insisting on taking several--looking over the phone to fuss at John for scowling. The man elbowed him subtly, and John smiled, plotting murder. "Thanks ever so," the man fawned at the woman, taking John's phone and slipping it into John's pocket.

Taking a firm hold of his wrist, John tugged him toward a café, "Explain. Now."

Coffees in hand, they sat on a low wall, a little away from the crowds. Pinning the man with his sternest look, John brought every bit of his former Captain persona to the fore. "Name?"

"Sherlock Holmes."

Having just taken a sip of hot coffee, John spluttered. "Bloody hell!"

"I see my reputation precedes me." He lifted a sardonic brow.

"You're supposed to be dead! It was all over the internet!"

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm very much alive, as you can see." The man--SHERLOCK HOLMES--spread his arms with a smirk.

John glared at him, "Now I really need an explanation!"

Sighing as if it were all too tedious, he launched into a rapid-fire account of his cat-and-mouse game with Moriarty--who was in fact a criminal mastermind, and not the mild-mannered actor Richard Brook. Fascinated, John let his coffee grow cold. "So what exactly are you doing chasing me around Europe and kissing me?"

Sherlock smiled slightly, "Maybe I just like the way your lips feel?"

Fighting the urge to smile like an idiot, John snorted, "Somehow feel that's not your game."

Sobering, Sherlock finished his coffee. "It's rather more serious than that--I'm both on the trail of, and being chased by, a rather dangerous man by the name of Moran."

"Who's he?" John asked, wishing he'd drank his coffee while it was hot. It was growing cold, and dark, and his stomach rumbled with hunger.

Apparently hearing it, Sherlock stood, "We shouldn't talk about this where we could be overheard--let's go back to your hotel room and eat."

A rush of hot prickles swept John, who struggled not to show it, "I should make you buy me dinner before I let you into my hotel room."

Lowering his already extraordinary voice to a purr, Sherlock said huskily, "We'll need something to rebuild our strength after..."

 


 

 

Five months later...

 

Shifting from foot to foot, John kept a smile nailed to his face. He hated dressing up in a monkey suit and posing for photos, but his only sister's wedding to the love of her life called for it. Never mind that it was their second wedding. Harry claimed the first hadn't counted, since they'd both been drunk in Vegas at the time.

Now, twelve years, three stints in rehab, one divorce and two years of couple's counseling later, they were trying it again. Sober, glowing with happiness, and being treat to a fairy-tale ceremony and reception. Courtesy of Clara's extremely wealthy parents, hosted at their frankly stunning "summer home" in Louisville, Kentucky. "We just adore the Derby," Clara's mum had explained, her honeyed Southern accent sounding unchanged after more than thirty years married to an Englishman and living in England. "Clara's always loved this house...so of course we insisted on having the wedding here."

"Hmm," John had agreed, sipping at his sparkling water and wishing he could have an ale. Not that he wanted to threaten either Harry or Clara's sobriety, but he was bored almost to tears. Weddings were literally one of the dullest social occasions he could imagine and the fact that he was in the wedding party meant he couldn't slink off. Save me, John thought, letting the bridesmaid he'd been paired with, a lanky brunette named Janine, tug him towards the dance floor. Too bad she wasn't a different lanky brunette. Squashing down the wistful thought about Sherlock, John smiled at Janine and grooved awkwardly to the music.

He felt his mobile vibrate in his pocket, but ignored it until the song ended. "Gotta take this," he said, and escaped gratefully. Lingering at the edge of the dance floor which had been erected under one of the huge white marquees on the emerald lawns of the Darby's horse farm, John glanced at his mobile. "Miss me?" the message read. Confused, John raised his head. Movement caught his eye and in complete surprise, he stood, jaw sagging, as Sherlock, dressed to the nines, strolled across the lawn toward him.

Gently closing John's mouth, Sherlock smiled down at him, "Well...did you?"