Chapter 1: Cover
Cover art by the very lovely liveloveel.
There have been several fantastic artists and photoshop engineers who have designed cover art for this fic, but I'm keeping this one here because liveloveel was first and also because this size picture doesn't mess with the margins when I read on my iPad :-) Please do browse through the "related works" at the end of the fic for some of the other amazing pieces, though!
Chapter 2: Wednesday, Nov. 19th
So. Initiating contact on a dating site with a literal “dear John” seems like it would be a bad sign, wouldn’t it? I hope you’re willing to look past that, because your profile definitely caught my eye and I sincerely hope you’re not as boring as most. In particular, you put “friendship” first and “relationship” second and make no mention of your sexual prowess - which puts you in a distinct minority here, as I’m sure you’re aware. I find myself, too, in that minority - I’m British by birth, but unfortunately I’m likely to be traveling abroad for several more months, at the least, and a “hookup” (such an awkward word, reminiscent of fishing) is thus not appealing to me.
I will also address the ordinary concerns you might have:
1) I do identify as gay, although I have not been sexually active in quite a while. I’m neither in nor out of the closet; I simply don’t often seek out encounters of that nature.
2) I know that some gay men take issue with partners who are bisexual; I am not one of those men.
3) I am generally considered to be attractive, although I will probably not be comfortable sharing pictures of myself for some time, if ever.
4) I am none of the following: unemployed, abusive, financially destitute, stupid, or a convicted criminal. I am, I’m told, an annoying and overbearing prat on occasion, but I expect I should be able to downplay that quite adequately over a typed medium.
I do promise to be an interesting and entertaining long-distance partner, should you choose to write back. All this travel gets lonely and I very much miss both my native London and all the people who live in it.
Please do reply when convenient.
Chapter 3: Friday, Nov. 21st
Yeah, I really don’t know what to say to you, honestly. I’m glad you’re not a serial killer, I guess? I don’t want to get your hopes up, though - I don’t know what I’m doing on here. I didn’t intend to sign up at all, but one of my mates pretty much bullied me into it. I was in a kind-of relationship with someone for a long time and it ended . . . badly. It’s not something I talk about. My friend said I need to meet someone to get over it, though, and threatened to make up a profile for me if I didn’t do it myself, so here I am.
I don’t even know if I'm really bisexual. I’ve never actually dated a man. I had really strong feelings for one for a while, but I’m not even entirely sure what those feelings were. Putting down “straight” would have felt like a lie, though, so I didn’t. I guess that’s just a long way to say I’m kind of mixed-up and might arse out on you halfway through a promising conversation and don’t hold it against me, okay?
About me. Um. You saw my profile, so you know I’m ex-military and I’m in the medical field. I used to be an army doctor, actually, but I can’t do that anymore so I’m part-time at a local clinic now. It’s boring, but it’s better than an army pension. I feel like I should tell you what I do “for fun,” but I don’t really have an answer to that. I’m not a big drinker because alcoholism runs in my family and that’s not a path I want to go down. I don’t do parties or clubs or whatnot. I read, mysteries mostly, and I used to keep a blog but I haven’t touched it in a while. Honestly, I’ve got a good streak of “mope around my flat and watch whatever’s on the telly” going - I may be more boring than you hoped.
Tell me a bit more about you? Your profile was enigmatic at best - no photo, no hobbies, no favorite movies or authors. (Mine are James Bond and David Baldacci, FYI.) You don’t even say where you are, other than “not London.” Do you live abroad, or do you just do a lot of business trips? Do you spend your time in London when you’re not working?
PS - you say you’re not a convicted criminal. Does this mean you haven’t committed any crimes, or just that you didn’t get caught?
Chapter 4: Monday, Nov. 24th
Apologies for taking so long - I occasionally don’t have access to the internet for varying periods of time, and this weekend was one of those stretches. Suffice to say, I do very much appreciate that you wrote back. I’m on a redeye flight again this evening and I like having this connection between us, however tenuous.
As to your questions: I consider myself rather difficult to define, which makes it hard to summarize my life in a few easy sentences. I grew up in Devon. I always loved London, though, and moved there as soon as possible upon reaching adulthood. My hobbies are wide-ranging and varied, but I do tend to burn myself out quickly and move on to other things. The one constant is that I love acquiring knowledge. Academia was never a good fit for me so I got out as soon as I’d gleaned everything I needed from that environment. I do keep myself current on new information as much as is prudent - I’m considerably more intelligent than most, so it’s not really difficult to do so. (Humility, I will admit, is not one of my more major assets.)
I don’t have a residence in London at the moment, but I hope to return as soon as my necessary travel is concluded. I hate aeroplanes, to be honest. The crush of people in such an enclosed space, the inescapability of it all. I had a five-year-old vomit on me during my flight last week. It was horrible. The child then proceeded to interrogate me about my favorite ponies (why would I have a favorite pony?), my favorite superhero, my hair, my mobile, and my glasses. Particularly the last, which I find completely inexplicable. Surely myopia is a common trait in her country as well?
I regret to hear that your current employment bores you. Do you have alternatives? For all that I hate travel, at least my current occupation allows me frequent changes of pace and scenery. The changes aren’t always to my taste, but still. Perhaps you need a weekend away? Brighton may be a bit obvious, but it does have some fantastic restaurants. I can’t recommend a perfect vacation destination with any degree of accuracy without knowing more about you, but Brighton seems to appeal to everyone, or so I’ve heard.
PS - If it were the latter, I wouldn’t admit it, would I?
Chapter 5: Wednesday, Nov. 26th
That’s funny - I haven’t thought about Brighton for a long time, but my family used to go there every year when I was little. My sister and I were regular terrors most of the time because my parents couldn’t be bothered to discipline us both. I may have gotten the brunt of the punishment because she ran faster than I did, but that’s only because she’s two years older. I like to think my running speed at five or eight or twelve was on par with hers at the same ages. Mum finally gave up catching and grounding me as a lost cause sometime around my teen years.
So do you have a favorite pony? Or a favorite superhero? So far, all you’ve said about your appearance is that you have both glasses and hair. Which does rule out some fraction of the British male population, but it’s still not much to go on. I actually don’t have all that many pictures of me - not recent ones, anyway - but I went ahead and attached a few of the ones I do have to my profile. You saw the main one I put up there already, obviously. My hair’s a bit longer now. Verging on “shaggy,” honestly - I probably should do something about that one of these days. I’m also on the shorter-than-average side - hope that doesn’t put you off too much. Not that it really makes a difference when you’re on the other side of the world anyway, I guess, but I didn’t want you to feel unpleasantly surprised later if we ever do get the chance to meet in person.
I’m assuming by the time you read this you’ll have reached your new destination, wherever that may be. Are you a journalist, then? Arms dealer? MI6? I’m trying to come up with other jobs that would require constant travel for months at a time and I’m drawing a blank. Your work is pretty much guaranteed to be more interesting than mine, just because of the frequent use of aeroplanes if nothing else. Are you not allowed to talk about it?
PS - For all I know, the statute of limitations has run out on whatever it is you’ve done. I’m going to choose to believe you’re an arms dealer unless you say otherwise. I’ve been told (by several people) that I’m at my best with a bit of danger in my life. I'm rather afraid they might be right.
Chapter 6: Friday, Nov. 28th
Not an arms dealer. Some aspects of my profession require me to be circumspect about my actual location and duties, hence my vagueness and inclination to be camera-shy, but it’s not anything I think you’d disapprove of. I’m perhaps not supposed to say where I’ve been recently, but I will admit to being thoroughly sick of turkey, inferior mashed potatoes, and sickeningly sweet canned cranberry jelly (yes, it’s actually a food item some people eat voluntarily). Apparently the singular holiday has extended to a full week in this nation’s culinary world - to hold its own against encroachment by the Christmas season, I presume. I keep thinking popular seasonal music can’t get any more inane but every public sound system from October onward seems determined to prove me wrong. There’s a glurgy Christmas song about shoes which I’ve been forced to hear five times since I’ve been here. 5 is 4.75 times too many.
I do not have a favorite horse or a favorite superhero. I do have:
a favorite color (black)
a favorite book (Plato’s Republic)
a favorite composer (Jean-Baptiste Lully, who remains the only recorded human to die in a conducting accident)
a favorite mathematician (Descartes, who is incidentally one of the only people of the last millenium to be raised with Latin as his native tongue)
a favorite tea (Yorkshire Gold - not particularly the best flavor-wise, but it has nostalgia value and I can’t seem to find it anywhere outside Great Britain)
I actually have seen all the James Bond movies, although it wasn’t by choice. I found them tolerably entertaining. I have not read anything by David Baldacci, but I did pick up his latest at the airport on my way through this afternoon and will count on it to keep me entertained on my flight. With luck, I will be free from interference by any future young children.
You have a moustache in one of the pictures but not in the other - is that a recent development, or something you’ve grown out of? I realize it’s not my place to say one way or the other, since I’ve been so reticent about my own appearance, but you do look much better without. For what the opinion of a relative stranger is worth.
Chapter 7: Sunday, Nov. 30th
How is it possible to die in a conducting accident? Being a railroad conductor I can understand, but I would have thought professional musicianship to be a low-danger activity. I’ll admit your list of “favorites” isn’t what I expected, but I guess that’s actually kind of nice. I’d send you a box of Yorkshire Gold if I knew where you were (and if you stayed in one place long enough) - I used to drink it all the time but haven’t been able to stand the taste recently. I think I still have an untouched box in the cupboard. For me:
favorite food: pretty much any type of curry
favorite color: “off-white” was my stated favorite for ages, because it was the first color I ever learned that wasn’t one of the normal “named” ones (red, blue, green, etc). It made adults coo and giggle over me endlessly when I was small. I don’t know that I have a favorite anymore, but my favorite jumper (I wear jumpers a lot) is kind of an off-white oatmeal color and it always makes me think back to when everyone thought I was precocious and brilliant.
favorite book: a bit dated, but I’ve always been a fan of Agatha Christie. Introduced me to the world of mystery novels, actually. I must have read “Ten Little Indians” at least a dozen times, plus a few more when they retitled it and I didn’t realize when I picked it up but kept going anyway. It has a good twist at the end.
favorite musical instrument: my last flatmate used to play the violin, and made a reluctant convert out of me (when he played it well, which he was perfectly capable of doing but didn’t always bother). Never thought I’d be a classical music fan.
favorite Christmas song: I agree with you about most of the current seasonal pop music, but my mum had a chillingly beautiful record of “O Come O Come Emmanuel” - just the voice, no instruments or background singers - and I could just listen to it for hours. That song reminds me of Christmases before my dad died. Bittersweet, I guess, but there you go.
Do you have any family? Do they live in England, or elsewhere in the world? I have a sister, here in London, but we never really did get on well and I don’t see her much. I probably see her ex more often than I see her, honestly. I probably ought to call or something.
Chapter 8: Tuesday, Dec. 2nd
Lully didn’t actually die while conducting, specifically, but it’s still an interesting story. He was the court composer for Louis XIV and directed the king’s personal violin orchestra. Despite being Italian by birth, his work became the bedrock of the French Baroque style for a century afterward. He fell out of favor in court because of his homosexual tendencies and the changing politics congruent with Louis XIV losing power. His demise, though, was due to his tendency to keep time with a heavy wooden walking stick as he conducted. He thumped himself in the foot, got gangrene, and died. He left behind some beautiful work. (Listening to that makes me miss my own violin, actually - it wasn’t feasible to take it along when I entered this line of work, given my frequent travel, but I played rather well once upon a time. It's been so long, I've probably forgotten how.)
I do have family in England - my parents still live in my childhood home in Devon, and I have a brother in London. He and I don’t get on well either; one of the primary benefits of my current occupation is that I don’t have to see him. Maybe we need to introduce him to your sister - then we can avoid them both at the same time. I assume your sister isn’t the one who bullied you into starting a profile on this site, then? Because if she was, I find it hard to hate her for that.
I ought to run - I have a meeting with an insufferable prick of a man this afternoon and I’m going to need some time beforehand to mentally prepare so I don’t strangle him within the first five minutes of our acquaintance - but drink a cup of Yorkshire Gold for me?
Chapter 9: Thursday, Dec. 4th
I very much doubt your brother would be Harry’s (my sister’s) type - she’s mostly interested in alcohol and lesbians. In that order, unfortunately. Her ex-wife deserved a lot better, and I had a hard time being sorry that they split up. Like I mentioned before, I actually see her ex more often than I see her. It’s less painful.
I never really thought about it before today, but Harry is probably the reason I’ve always clung so tightly to being “straight.” I mean, she’s always been abrasive, but her coming out was violent and involved a lot of yelling and making mum cry. It was only a few months after dad died, so mum was crying all the time anyway, but Harry kind of went all-out. It felt like all I could do was to be the good son and date nice girls and get good grades and go to med school and do everything mum expected out of “the well-behaved one” so she wouldn’t be as sad all the time. It worked, a bit, but it also meant I was probably more straightlaced than I would have normally been. It wasn’t until I went into the army that I had a chance to branch out and do some soul-searching. And even then, I never really let myself acknowledge that I occasionally found guys attractive too, until I met my last flatmate.
God, this is going to sound so self-pitying, but you should probably know: I’m still not over him. You remind me of him a lot, actually - he was the one who played the violin, and he talked a bit like you do, with the long words and precise word choice and all. He probably would have liked that anecdote about Lully and the gangrene. He was brilliant and gorgeous and exhausting and he killed himself eight months ago. You haven’t been in England, so you probably wouldn’t have seen the papers, but it was all over the news - his name was Sherlock and he was a detective.
We were never “together.” Not like that, anyway - we were good friends (he called me his only friend, once) but I think he was asexual. Didn’t matter. He said he was “married to his work” so I respected that, but somehow I fell head over heels for the berk without so much as acknowledgement that he ever felt anything at all about me. He took a lot of pride in not feeling things, actually - had a habit of blurting out the most inappropriate, tone-deaf things in front of victims’ families - but under all that, he was really a very passionate man. Chemistry, logic, music. God, he loved that violin. I only wish I knew the names of the pieces he loved to play the most, so I could look them up and listen to them over and over again. I’d probably still be moping around the flat 24/7 if my friend Greg hadn’t pushed me into making a profile on here. (And I’m glad he did, truthfully - this kind of thing is impossible to say to someone who knew Sherlock, but I feel like I can say it to you. Like you’d understand, which is crazy, because we’ve shared all of, what? Half a dozen short emails?)
Anyway. Yeah. I don’t want you to feel like you’re competing with an ex-boyfriend, because it’s really not like that at all. I’m just . . . I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it. He died right in front of me, made me watch it all, and I doubt it even occurred to him what that would do to me. He was brilliant (seriously, bloody brilliant) and incredible and fantastic and unapproachable to everyone except me and I miss him so terribly sometimes I can’t even breathe. As time goes on there are times I don’t think of him, sometimes even the better part of a day, but then I do or see something that reminds me of him and that ache is back. You said in your first email that you liked how I put “friendship” first and “relationship” second - that’s because I need a friend a hell of a lot more than I need a fuck right now.
So. It’s late and I’m all maudlin and I can’t sleep and it took me two bloody hours to type all this because I can’t get my brain to turn off. Something else I picked up from him, I guess. I’m going to send this before I change my mind and delete it - you deserve to know how messed-up I am, even though I’m trying my best to hold it all in so nobody else can see. If you want me, you’ll end up with the messed-up bits too. Only fair to give you warning.
Chapter 10: Tuesday, Dec. 9th
I genuinely don’t know what to say. I’m sorry for your loss - that’s the standard phrase, isn’t it? And yet it’s so dreadfully inadequate. I had no idea you were grieving like that, and I am truly sorry if our correspondence has made it worse. I’ve been selfish, using these exchanges as little glimpses of home as I trundle about from city to city, hoping it could someday grow into something more. Do you feel the same? Or am I reading more into this than I ought?
I’m not sure whether it’s good or bad that I remind you of your friend. I’m honored, given what you’ve said, it’s just - I can’t be that man you were in love with. The way you describe him makes him sound . . . I don’t even know. That’s a hugely high bar for any mere mortal to clear. All I can be is me - and if being a sympathetic ear is enough, I’m happy to do so. I usually am terrible with this sort of thing, but I find myself truly wanting to try.
I’ve written and re-written the previous two paragraphs at least a dozen times, and they never look right. We’re separated by thousands of miles, yet it hurts me to see you grieving. (The miracle of near-instant electronic communication?) I have no right to complain of loneliness, in comparison. I will understand if you wish to discontinue correspondence, but please do know that even after such a short time, receiving an email from you has become, by far, the brightest spot in my day.
Chapter 11: Wednesday, Dec. 10th
No worries. I would be mad to expect anyone to fill the Sherlock-sized hole in my life - there was, and will ever be, only one of him. I just keep trying to remind myself that I was lucky enough to know him at all. Most people never got that chance. Plus I expect I’m mostly just working up to being properly maudlin because we’re so close to Christmas - this will be my first without him. My friend Greg (the one who made me sign up on here) is already scrambling to put together a “bachelor Christmas” for the two of us - he got divorced recently so it’s going to be a tough one for him too. We may just spend it watching bad “guy bonding” movies (Die Hard and half the 007 series?) or just take in whatever BBC One has to offer. There will probably be artery-clogging fried food, a few beers, and some manly thumps on the back when we feel dangerously close to being emotional. We’ll get through it somehow. Would be nice to actually meet you face-to-face - I’d love to invite you to come hang out and meet my remaining best friend - but the distance is actually kinda nice right now. I don’t usually go for “safe,” but . . . yeah.
It just occurred to me - are you religious? I’m guessing no, but it’s hard to tell through email. I’ve really only been to Mass when my grandmother dragged me and Harry along, and that’s been decades ago. I’ve got no problems with it, and I do believe in God in a sort of abstract way, but I’ve never felt the compulsion to do it in an organized manner. Do let me know if you’re Buddhist or militantly atheist or something, though, and I can try not to whinge about Christmas so much.
Chapter 12: Thursday, Dec. 11th
J: Hey, you there?
J: I just found that this site has a chat function.
W: Yes, I see that.
J: Never noticed it there before. Not sure how I’m supposed to tell when you’re online or not, but figured I’d take my chances and see if you’ve got time to say hi. Unless it’s the middle of the night wherever you are?
W: It is, but it’s the middle of the night (well, technically early morning) in London too. I’m only two time zones behind you right now.
J: Yeah, I don’t sleep well sometimes. I’ve been up a while - it’s fine. You can’t say what country?
W: I shouldn’t. Not currently in your hemisphere, though.
J: It’s okay. Although you still never told me what you do - is it business-related?
W: In a manner of speaking, yes, but not in the suits-and-Wall-Street sense.
J: God, you’re sounding like this bloke I know. All MI6 and cagey shit. Your name isn’t secretly Mycroft, is it? Because if it is, I’m going to drive over there and punch you.
W: No, definitely not. Although I’ll admit “William” isn’t the name I usually go by.
J: Is it your real name, though?
W: It is technically my legal first name, but almost no one knows that. I usually go by one of my middle names instead.
J: One of?
W: I have two. Both are terrible. Much like the name “Mycroft,” in my opinion.
J: Yeah, I can’t say I disagree with you there. Who would name their child “Mycroft,” anyway?
J: My middle name is “Hamish,” by the way, which is certainly up there somewhere on that scale. Since we’re sharing.
W: Family name?
J: Got it in one. LOOOOONG line of Hamishes on my mother’s side - her parents were heartbroken when their only child turned out to be a girl. It was my grandfather’s deathbed wish when I was born that I be named after him.
W: And your mother memorialized him with your middle name instead.
J: Not memorialized - he brought it up every time he saw me for the next twenty years. Old codger lived to 96. Two decades of guilt and “dying wishes” to work through. My stubborn streak comes naturally, I guess.
W: Well I promise my real name isn’t too embarrassing. I’m just hesitant to leave more of an electronic trail than necessary - I hope you understand. Many of the people I meet with would very much prefer to avoid my presence, and they can’t take precautions to do that if they don’t know who I am.
J: Ta, I got that. And it really is okay. I’ll just mentally narrow your likely career choices down to “MI6” and “UN Weapons Inspector.”
W: Either of those would probably spring for posher hotels than what I get.
J: Yeah, I suppose. Although I’m going to be disappointed if it turns out you spot-check industrial ball bearings or something ;-)
W: Did you just wink at me?
J: Not literally.
W: You winked at me.
J: I thought you came on this site looking to flirt?
W: I . . . just wasn’t expecting that.
J: I’m running on almost no sleep and you’re being coy about yourself. It seemed fitting.
W: I think I like this no-inhibitions side of you, then. Tell me something else that’s not already in your profile?
J: Hmmm . . . I shaved off the moustache?
W: Didn’t like it?
J: It wasn’t working for me. Plus it itched.
W: You look better without.
J: I feel better without.
J: I guess in some way I was trying to re-invent myself. Make a break with my old life, you know? But then I decided I didn’t want to re-invent myself into the type of bloke who would wear a moustache and not realize how stupid he looked, so I shaved it off.
W: I didn’t say you looked stupid, I just expressed a preference.
J: Well I didn’t shave it off for just you - it’s not like you’re here to see it anyway. Not yet ;-)
W: Another wink.
W: You need sleep.
J: Yeah, I know. Speaking of which, I’m gonna go and try for an hour or so before I have to go to work. Maybe I’ll get lucky and catch you around again sometime?
W: As long as you’re not using “getting lucky” as a euphemism for sex with someone else, yes.
W: Sorry, didn’t mean it like that.
W: I meant to say, I obviously have no claim over your personal life from ten thousand kilometers away, but in response to your last email: the distance between us is temporarily necessary but not optimal. And given the potential to have that distance reduced sometime in the near future, I’m not “seeing” anyone else right now.
J: You’re coming back to England soon?
W: If all goes well with my work. I don’t know when.
J: That’s good, though. And no, I didn’t mean “getting lucky” like that, you berk. I’m not avoiding meeting anyone, but I’m not seeking anyone out either. Honestly, this right here is about all I’m ready for.
W: Fair enough. I’ll try to respect that.
J: If you absolutely can’t restrain yourself and find you *must* use a winkey face, I suppose I’ll adjust.
W: I don’t see that happening.
J: I can dream.
W: May your dreams be good ones, then. Goodnight.
Chapter 13: Friday, Dec. 12th
My apologies if I gave the wrong impression during our chat yesterday. I said in my very first message that I haven’t had a sexual partner in quite some time - that is true, but it’s also accurate to say that I haven’t had a “relationship” partner in even longer. I’ve never really mastered the ability to flirt with any degree of subtlety and when I've tried, it’s almost never gone well. As a result, I tend to freeze when confronted with the type of playful teasing you employed. In an ideal world I could have taken a few hours to come up with the perfect responses (if I couldn’t already deliver them in the moment) and reciprocated, but so far that hasn’t worked either. In short: I beg you to please look past my awkwardness in this arena. Given enough time, I may even come up with something suitably witty to say back to you.
Also, as to the question in your last email: no, I am not in any way religious. My parents are, and my brother goes through the motions for appearances’ sake, but my parents’ religious beliefs played a large part in their refusal to accept my sexuality when I “came out” and I never quite forgave organized religion for that. They still haven’t entirely come to terms with me being gay, although my lack of romantic partners in recent years has allowed them to ignore it for the time being. If I’m being honest, I hate that they have the freedom to ignore what - for me - is such an unshakable part of my personality. I don’t get that freedom, although I try my best to mimic it sometimes. I have no objection to Christmas-the-holiday, though, as friends and companionship and love are valuable things worth celebrating. You never really realize how valuable until they become unavailable to you.
I’m sitting in an airport right now as I type this, actually. The variation in people around me is striking. Not just skin tone or age or other broad demographics - it’s remarkable how spectacularly self-centered human beings are. Hundreds and thousands of people all rushing from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible, many on their way to meet up with family and loved ones for the holidays, but they’re completely unaware of each other. At least half the people here have their noses buried in their phones (myself included), trying to stave off the awkward necessity of interacting with strangers. And yet they’re spending hundreds or thousands of pounds to fly halfway across the world to do what? To connect with someone.
It’s astonishing, when I think about it, how I can be in a sea of people within a hundred meters of me, yet the only one I want to interact with is you.
Chapter 14: Sunday, Dec. 14th
That sucks, about your parents. I don’t think my mum would have ever been “okay” with my sister coming out, but there’s no question that there were better ways to go about it. (Harry’s always been a bit confrontational and abrasive, so the announcement was totally “her,” but mum still hasn’t really forgiven her.) I've actually given some thought to what I’d say, if I ever got the chance to say it - probably silly, since my flatmate and I never really got past “good friends,” but there you go.
I guess we’ve been chatting back and forth long enough, so I’ll bite: anything you’d be willing to share about your past relationships? Disclosures, anecdotes, whatever? From what you’ve said it sounds like it’s been a while for you. Ever try dating a girl, or did you just jump right in to the whole “being gay” thing?
Hope it’s not rude that I’m curious . . . I think my adolescence was pretty typical in most aspects. I “dated” quite a bit, but mostly that amounted to some awkward snogging and a lot of bragging to my friends (mostly exaggerated). I’m kind of embarrassed about it now, actually - it wasn’t until I got into the army and was around blokes who really got into that lifestyle that I realized how much of an arse I was being to the girls I dated. I tried to tone it down, but one of the idiots I worked with in the field surgery termed me “Three Continents Watson” and the stupid nickname followed me around for ages after that. (For what it’s worth: not true.) I had a long-distance girlfriend for a while, when I was deployed, but that eventually fizzled and I never really had a “relationship” after that. A few dates here and there, yes, but my flatmate was a genius at scaring off anyone I dared to spend time with. I think he was angry I let someone else steal my attention away from him.
(Okay - that’s not entirely fair, and he wasn’t as much of a narcissistic arse as I make him sound. I know it might look like he was jealous, but that really wasn’t it. At least, I don’t think so.) Either way, my so-called love life has been transient at best for quite a while now, if you don’t count the whatever-it-was with my flatmate. It’s hard to not make the logical deductions as to what that says about me as a person. I try not to think about it.
I’m not sure how I came across in my previous emails or when we chatted, so I’ll put it right here: I’m kind of enjoying the flirting. I’m definitely enjoying the friendship aspect of this. You’re obviously smart and I like how you look at things and your sense of humor is dry, just like mine. (I wonder if sense of humor corresponds to taste in wine? Sweet vs. dry?) It’s flattering to be your “anchor” to your home, truth be told, even if we haven’t talked about London much. I had a blog, once upon a time (no, I’m not going to link to it), but it kind of feels like I’m using you in that same “sending thoughts out into the universe” kind of way. Except the “you” part of the universe responds, and that’s . . . I don’t even know. There’s no words for how nice it is.
Anyway, all that is a long form of saying, don’t worry about whether you’re being subtle enough while flirting or if I’m going to suddenly get sick of writing to you. I need this little slice of humanity more than I really like to admit, and I’m not going to give you up without a fight.
Chapter 15: Monday, Dec. 15th
W: Good evening/afternoon (evening here, afternoon there, I believe) - let me know when you get home from work?
W: I’m happy to answer your questions, but I don’t really know how to do it in an email.
J: Oh, hi! I’m actually off today - was just tooling around on the internet. You know, looking up cat pictures and the like. Everything well with you?
W: I wouldn’t have taken you for a cat picture kind of person.
J: I was using “cat pictures” as a euphemism. I was mostly trolling news sites for ridiculously implausible stories I wouldn’t actually care about if I weren’t so bored. It’s an old habit.
W: You’ve got time to chat, then?
J: All the time in the world. Nothing ever happens in my life anymore.
W: Ask, then. I don’t know how to organize my thoughts on “disclosures, anecdotes, or whatever” - anything you particularly wanted to know?
J: It sounds so nosy when you put it like *that*, but . . . sure.
J: We can start with an easy(ish) one - when did you first realize you were gay?
W: That’s an easy one? I suppose for some people it might be. For me . . . mid-puberty, I suppose. I’ve never really read as “gay” and I tend to confuse people’s gaydar (I don’t know why anyone actually believes that’s a real thing).
J: So you were into football and rugby as a boy instead of pop stars and musicals?
W: My parents would have been equally dismissive of either. They were perhaps even more disappointed with my decision to drop out of university than they were when I came out.
J: So education was big in your house.
W: My mother has two doctorates and my father has three. They were positively shocked when my brother and I didn’t follow in their footsteps.
J: Your brother dropped out of uni too?
W: No, he did exactly as expected, got the degree he needed for his chosen field, but he didn’t see the need for more credentials either.
J: Right. So you came out as a teenager?
W: I had no actual experience - with either gender - for a long time. I was always small for my age, scrawny and with a lamentably big mouth. I’m still not good at figuring out when not to say things, sometimes. Back then it was worse.
J: You were smarter than your classmates were, I’m guessing.
W: Smarter than most of my teachers, too.
J: Yeah, I can believe that :-)
W: Then I hit puberty, and I shot up. I was still scrawny, but I became skinny and gangly and I had spotty skin and funny-looking features and I was hardly in a position to be attracting romantic attention from anyone.
J: In your first email you said you’re “generally considered to be attractive” - I’m guessing you grew into your height?
W: Oh, I’m still skinny and gangly. I just own it now.
J: Not gonna ask for a picture, because I know you’d turn me down, but you ought to know I’m trying very hard to guess ;-)
W: Guess away.
J: Right. So. No girlfriends, no boyfriends, and your parents fussed when you came out.
W: There was more to it than that.
J: Tell me?
W: I attended a boarding school for sixth form. (For all of my secondary schooling, actually.) A new school, where everyone didn’t know me from before. While there, I met a boy who made no secret of being attracted to me. Within a few months we were spending a lot of time in janitorial closets and out behind the gymnasium.
J: Dating, or just fooling around?
W: I thought the former. Turns out it was the latter.
J: I’m sorry.
W: Don’t be - it was a valuable lesson. The experience prompted me to finally “come out” to my family, though - I thought, at the time, that he and I would be together forever. Naive, I know, but I was sixteen and hopeful. Nobody had ever actually *wanted* to be in my presence like that before.
J: And your family took it badly.
W: They pulled me out of that school and found a different, more strict establishment for me. One which didn't tolerate “any of that nonsense,” as my father put it.
J: Did you stay in contact with your friend/boyfriend?
W: I tried, but he was very clear in letting me know that I had just been a convenient orifice and I was no longer convenient. It was an all-boys’ school and he “wasn’t gay” so it wouldn’t have lasted anyway. I was just the most gullible out of his limited options.
J: That’s terrible. I know I may have thought that way about some of my one-night-stands, back in my early army days, but I’d never have *said* it. And I cringe when I remember it now.
W: That remains my one actual “relationship,” for what it’s worth. I’ve had encounters since then, of course, but never with someone who wanted more than the physical.
J: You’ve been missing out - sex is nice, of course, but there’s something to be said for just sitting in companionable silence or sharing a sofa and yelling together at the telly. Having someone you can trust.
W: Is that what you miss about your flatmate?
W: Shit. Sorry, that was rude of me. I didn’t mean it quite so bluntly.
W: Pretend I didn’t just say that.
J: It’s okay. And yeah, I guess it is.
J: I’d never had that kind of companionship outside a romantic relationship before, but it was good. We fought sometimes, like anyone who lives together does, but I miss just having him around. For stuff like this - ribbing each other, chatting about nothing, and then every once in a while having a deeper conversation that gave me something to ponder for ages afterward.
W: That’s what it’s like in a serious romantic relationship? In your experience, at least?
J: The good ones, yeah.
J: Sometimes the sex is fantastic and you can’t stop thinking about each other - but if you can’t find comfort in the quiet times, too, it’s never going to work.
J: I guess it’s just as well that you and I figure out that compatibility now, while you’re jetting around to god knows where, so if/when you finally get back to England we can jump to the good part :-D
W: You’d still want me? After I’ve just told you I’m such rubbish at relationships that I’ve never had a real one?
J: There’s a first time for everything.
J: And I’m eager to see more of that awkward flirting you mentioned ;-)
W: I can definitely promise the “awkward.”
J: Don’t worry about it. I like awkward.
J: And now seeing that word three times in a row, it looks weird. Awkward. Awkward. Awkward. Awkward. Too many Ws.
W: You’re adorable.
J: Haven’t had that one in a while. Nowadays I’m just mostly “harmless” or “a dear” or “that poor John Watson.”
W: You’d prefer something else?
J: Irresistible? Talented? Sexy? *eyebrow waggle*
W: Please tell me you didn’t just actually waggle your eyebrows at your computer.
J: Well I did *now.*
J: You’d have to be here for the full effect.
W: I wish I were.
J: I wish you were too.
W: John, I have to go. I’m sorry. Catch you online again sometime soon?
J: I certainly hope so. Have a good night.
W: You too.
Chapter 16: Wednesday, Dec. 17th
God, it’s been a terrible day. Work was crazy, the Tube was shut down for forty-five minutes for some stupid reason, and my flat is terribly quiet and empty. The flu is going around, which means hordes of sick children descending on the waiting room all at once - you’d think the silence at home would be welcome, but it’s really not. I feel like a spectator while London bustles on around me.
I did want to say, thanks for chatting with me the other day. You were right - it was better to talk about things one at a time instead of me asking you to lay them all out in some soul-baring email. For what it’s worth, your family sound like idiots and I wish you hadn’t had to go through that kind of rejection. (Or don’t still - it sounds like they’re not really adjusted to you being “out?”) I shudder to think what my younger years would have been like if I’d had to hide any interest in sex or the like. Hell, that was practically what uni was for.
I wish you could tell me more about you. I understand that you can’t, and I don’t want to get you in trouble with your bosses, but is there anything more you actually can say? Describe your looks (in general terms) or tell me more about what you do or something? So far we’re up to “tall, has hair and glasses, travels a lot, and goes to meetings with people who don’t want to see him.” If that’s all you can say I’ll respect that, but it would be nice to have more.
You mentioned coming back to England sometime soon - any idea when? I figure I have until then to figure out how to make a best first impression ;-)
Chapter 17: Thursday, Dec. 18th
Wow, I’m not sure whether I’m up to being an entire universe yet. Maybe I should start with just being your solar system and go from there?
“Tall, has hair and glasses, travels a lot, and goes to meetings with people who don’t want to see him” is pretty accurate. I have that wonderfully British complexion that burns if I’m in the sun for more than two minutes, but I’ve spent enough time in equatorial countries now for my skin to have settled into a nice nondescript beige. My hair has bleached out a lot, too - generally I’m on the darker side of brunet, but (judging from your pictures) my hair pretty much matches yours at the moment. It’s probably not worth trying to visualize because my tan tends to vanish at the earliest possible opportunity whenever I spend more than a few days in a colder climate.
What else . . . hmmm. I already admitted to the gangly limbs and the funny-looking features. (I’ve always felt they were odd, anyway. Not so much that I stand out in a crowd, but I’m certainly not going to be a movie star anytime soon.) I’ve started growing out my beard a few times because it’s the custom in some of the countries I’ve been through and I’d look strange without one, but I look even worse with than without so I usually shave it off as soon as possible when I’m done with that particular location.
I wish I could tell you more about my work, but I really can’t. Perhaps I could explain more in person, someday. Mostly it’s traveling - sitting in airports, sitting in lorries, sitting on trains. A lot of sitting. I always appreciate passing through first-world countries because I can pick up books in English and can usually identify what’s in the food. (I do speak a smattering of other languages, but only three of them well enough for pleasure reading.) I end up having a lot of time to think about what life will be like when I can come back home. Still don’t know when that will be - it’s based on when I finish my current project, not on a specific date - but I very much hope to spend some time with you when I get back to London. A lot of that thinking seems to revolve around you, whether or not I should be concentrating on something else.
Apart from Brighton, have you done much traveling? I assume most of your military service was done abroad? Anywhere you’d particularly love to go someday?
Chapter 18: Saturday, Dec. 20th
Thanks - I can work with that. It gives me a vague face to think about when I see your emails, at least. You really speak four languages (including English)? Which ones? How many others do you know well enough to just kind of get by? I had a bit of French in school, but I’m pretty sure the only parts I remember are the dirty words.
I really haven’t done much traveling at all, actually. We weren’t exactly flush growing up, so Brighton was the one getaway from London we usually had. I did spend most of my army time in Afghanistan - it was primarily dusty and hot. Don’t get me wrong, there was some beautiful scenery too, but it’s hard to focus on the scenery when you or your friends are getting shot at. We shared our base with a bunch of American and Australian blokes, though, so I heard some stories. (Not just blokes - that’s where the “three continents” nickname came in; the med teams were more mixed - but even the women were generally “one of the guys.”)
As to where I’d go . . . California sounds lovely, from what the Americans said. I think it would be interesting just to take it all in - Americans are all this odd mix of brash and friendly. Plus the troops on base all seem to love British accents. Cheerio and pip pip and so forth - if it got me laid, I was never shy about playing it up a bit. Guess that wouldn’t work with you :-)
I guess I ought to admit: I’m a bit apprehensive about you. About this. Not because I don’t think we’ll hit it off in person, but because everyone in my life has spent two years hearing me swear I’m straight. (That flatmate, the one I was talking about before? Everyone always assumed we were a couple. EVERYONE. He never seemed to care, but it drove me crazy. I spent half my time reminding people we weren’t together but nobody ever believed me.)
Anyway, I’ve never had a coming-out moment - putting myself on here as “bisexual” is the wildest I’ve actually gotten, at least in that arena. I feel like when you get back to London, I’m going to muck everything up by introducing you as my “friend” instead of my “boyfriend” at some point when you’re expecting more and I didn’t realize it and you’re going to be pissed and assume I’m homophobic or something. Hell, I can’t even face the idea of what my sister will say if she finds out I’ve been chatting up a bloke overseas. She’ll call our mum and crow about it, probably. She’s like that.
So yeah, that’s not to say I’m backing out, just . . . shit. I know this is the stereotype of the middle-aged closeted bloke and I’m fitting it to a T, aren’t I? I don’t want to be an arsehole, I’m just afraid to make a big to-do about coming out as bi if it doesn’t turn out to actually matter. And, okay, I’m dreading what my handful of friends are going to say. I can deal with their initial laughter, but what then? Do they stop calling, worry that I’m ogling every time we go out for a pint? Does it die down after a while, or will they never look at me the same again?
It’s late (technically “early” but I gave up on sleep ages ago) and once again I’m rambling. I hope you don’t mind. Part of me wants to just not think about all this until you get back to London, to wait and see whether the whole gay sex thing is as appealing in reality as it is in my head. And part of me keeps saying that no matter how much you and I seem to connect, I should give it all up now because I’m crap at keeping relationships going and once I inevitably bollocks this up, I’ll wish I hadn’t opened this Pandora’s box so being “straight” would be easier. But I’m going to cling to the third part, the part that says I think I could actually really like you. And I know I like this back-and-forth we have, no matter how distant. Because I don’t want to be that arsehole, and because I’m hoping to God you might just be worth it.
Chapter 19: also Saturday, Dec. 20th
Damn, just ignore that last email from me, okay? I was up all night (again) and my brain was a bit fuzzy and I’m getting more overemotional the closer we get to Christmas. I came across as a right prat and I don’t want you to get the wrong impression of me. I’m not usually that whiny, I promise. I’m a lot more palatable once I’ve had some sleep.
Chapter 20: Sunday, Dec. 21st
I can’t just ignore your email, but I do understand where you’re coming from. In my very first message to you I said I was neither in nor out of the closet. That’s true, but it also means I don’t have to deal with friends second-guessing me - most of the people who care about me have no clue what goes on in my more personal life. (I’d say “sex life” but there’s not been a whole lot of that, either.) A point to think about: if your friends all assumed you were in a homosexual relationship with your flatmate anyway, what makes you think they’d treat you any differently if they had their suspicions about your orientation confirmed?
Right, so, earlier questions and lighter topics: languages. My brother and I grew up bilingual in English and French, and our mother began teaching us German early on as well. Once I got old enough for school I found I excelled at languages in general - I particularly liked Latin, especially when I found how much scientific jargon has Latin roots. Those four (English/French/German/Latin) are the ones I’m most comfortable with.
As to others - I taught myself Chinese (well, Cantonese) from some books one summer when I was ten or so, just to prove I could (and to prove I was smarter than my brother). My pronunciation is atrocious, or so I’m told, but I do still find my studies were useful. Cantonese and Mandarin are identical when written, so when I’m in Beijing I can pretend I speak Cantonese and when I’m in Hong Kong I can pretend I speak Mandarin - both allow me to just write instead. In any case, I then switched over to learning Russian so I’d have a basic understanding of Slavic languages, although I never advanced to the level of a native speaker. Someday I’d like to learn at least one language from each major branch - linguistic classifications are often arbitrary, of course, but it would give me a broader base to work from. My background in French and Latin, for example, means I can usually understand Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian, although not necessarily well enough to understand local idioms.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to dump you with quite that much information about my linguistics history. Suffice to say, it’s something I excel at, and you’d be surprised at how often people miss nuances even in their own language. It’s the one thing I’ve been able to indulge while I’m abroad - I may not be able to always find much that reminds me of home, but immersive environments are perfect for cementing new foreign words and it keeps me from being too dreadfully bored. I’d give it all up in a heartbeat, though, if I could indulge in more familiar pastimes instead. I’m finding I may be sentimental like that.
This is the third time you’ve been on this site during what is the middle of the night for you in London - are you dealing with insomnia? I would normally assume hastily-regretted midnight emails to be a product of late nights at the pub, but you said you don’t have the most open relationship with alcohol so insomnia sounds more likely. I’m sorry, if that’s the case - I’ve always been a light sleeper, too, and I go through bouts of my biorhythms just giving up on me entirely. Especially when I’m under stress. I do hope our correspondence is decreasing your stress rather than adding to it?
Chapter 21: Monday, Dec. 22nd
Don’t you dare try to blame yourself for my crappy sleep schedule. I guess I am stressed out, but it’s not what you’re thinking. I came back from the army with a hole in my shoulder (have I mentioned that detail before? It barely bothers me at all anymore, but there’s still a visible scar) and a diagnosis of PTSD. Which I think is generally crap - I’m nowhere near as bad as those poor blokes who jump at shadows and can’t hold down regular jobs - but it does mean I get roaring nightmares every once in a while. It was down to just one a month or so, last year. Lately the nightmares have been worse, but again I think it’s just because we’re getting closer to Christmas and everyone is feeling so fucking jolly and I’m . . . not.
Sorry, I’m not really that much of a grinch. Normally I like Christmas, actually - this is the first year I haven’t put up any decorations at all. Not really any point - my flat is embarrassingly dull anyway, so a few cheap sprigs of fake pine aren’t going to change much. I went a bit minimalist after I moved out of my last flat - too many memories for everything else. I’ve basically got a few pieces of furniture, the necessities in the fridge, and my laptop. My ex-flatmate’s brother has something worked out with my old landlady so he can keep Sherlock’s things at the old flat for a while longer, which means I haven’t had to face the “what do I DO with all this junk I’ve accumulated?” question yet. One of these days he’ll get sick of paying London rents for what amounts to a storage building, and then I’ll have to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Part of me wants to ask for a thing or two of Sherlock’s, just to remember him by, but I think if I did that I’d never get all the way over him. Maybe something I can lock away and just be comforted by knowing it’s there.
That’s really cool about all the languages, by the way. I don’t think I’d be able to keep them all straight. And it’s fantastic that you’re getting to use what you know, although I can understand just wanting to get back to England. The rare occasions I got leave in Afghanistan, it never felt like “home” even when I was surrounded by British soldiers wanting to do British things like have a proper cup of tea or talk about the latest Premier League news. It wasn’t damp enough to feel like London, at any rate.
I’m working extra shifts this week - everyone else has families to visit over the holiday, and I figured it would help me get my mind off other things. My friend Greg has threatened me with a truly ridiculous amount of alcohol for our “bachelor Christmas” - I guess I should be glad his new flat is only half a mile or so from mine. Makes the inevitable shuffle home less unbearable. I haven’t actually done the “drink to get drunk” thing since uni - just a pint or two in a pub here or there with mates. Greg’s a police officer, which means he’s probably got Olympic-level alcohol tolerance. I’m not even going to try to keep up.
So yeah, that’s my life right now. I purposely waited for a reasonable time of day to send this to you :-) (At least, it’s reasonable here - not my fault if you’re in Hong Kong or something at the moment.) Write back soon?
Chapter 22: Tuesday, Dec. 23rd
Just got your email - is now soon enough? Today was - pardon my French - bordélique. There’s not really an English translation - somewhere between “messy” and “fucked up,” perhaps? The last few days, actually. My latest round of meetings did not go well and now I’ll have three times the work trying to clean up the debris. I didn’t let myself check for anything from you until I’d worked things through to a stopping point, mostly to prevent myself from refreshing my mailbox every ten minutes when I needed to be focusing elsewhere.
I’m not really looking forward to Christmas either. I hate being away from home, I hate not being able to do anything productive while I wait for a bunch of idiots to straighten themselves out, and I hate that I can’t spend it with you. Not that I’d presume to commandeer your holiday, of course, but it would be nice to spend it with someone who is actually in my presence voluntarily. Nobody celebrates it here (Christianity is not the dominant religion) so at most, Christmas will be just a date on the calendar. I’ll probably spend it somewhere uncomfortable, waiting. Again.
I hope you don’t hate me for saying this, but your former flatmate - “seriously bloody brilliant” or not - was an idiot for letting you go. I’m glad you have a friend to get you through the holiday. You shouldn’t have to spend it alone.
I’ll try to remember “bordélique” - sounds like a useful word. It describes my life for the last several months. It’s getting better, though.
Any chance you could call? Or text? I’m at +44 79 5590 5099 if you’re able. I can’t talk while I’m at work, obviously, but I can usually find time to text a bit in between patients depending on how busy we are. It’s okay if you can’t, but even text would be nicer than having to log in here and check for new messages every ten minutes :-) I’m on shift until five today (no idea what that would be in your current time zone) and then again on Boxing Day. The clinic is closed on Christmas, so at least I’ll have a bit of time to myself in between.
My sister called yesterday. Kind of out of the blue - she does that sometimes, and we make awkward chit-chat for a few minutes until she invents an excuse to go. I don’t know whether she had something specific to say and just never got around to saying it or whether she was just feeling guilty that we’re not really in touch anymore, but it saved me the trouble of calling her in some misguided burst of holiday spirit. Does your family do a big Christmas here without you?
I’ve been on the fence about what to get my friend Greg for Christmas. Part of me wants to just show up tomorrow with a six-pack of beer and call it good, but part of me feels like I ought to do something more. Maybe something we can destroy together in an Office Space-type catharsis. Or maybe that’s a terrible idea when combined with beer. Haven’t made up my mind yet. (If I wait much longer, all the stores will be closed for the holiday and it will be a moot point, so that may affect my final decision . . .)
Anyway, on the off-chance you’re in Fiji or something and are half a day ahead of me, have a tolerable holiday. I hope your wait is short and your meetings are fruitful.
(Bonus points to those of you who recognize the phone number as Jennifer Wilson's from "A Study In Pink!")
Chapter 24: very early Christmas morning, Thursday, Dec. 25th
Merry Christmas. (Middle of the night there, I know, but technically the 25th.) I can’t call or text, but I promise I’ll be thinking about you today. Enjoy the party and the companionship. I’ll try to write more later.
Chapter 25: much later that night, Thursday, Dec. 25th
J: Merry Christian!
J: Ducking autocorrect
J: My spelling goes to shit when I’m pissed
W: You’re on your phone? Still at your friend’s “bachelor Christmas” party?
J: On my way home now
J: No snow, but it’s ducking freezing and drizzly
J: I may just start saying “ducking” now
W: Merry Christmas to you too.
J: You’re not in a meeting, are you?
W: No, just more interminable waiting. I’m sitting in my room browsing the internet and waiting for a phone call. Which probably won’t come until tomorrow.
J: Good. Because when I get home I’m gong to get my laptop and sit in bed naked and tell you all the filthy things I want to do to you.
W: You are?
J: One sec, opening door
J: Sorry about that - phone screen too small to walk and type at the same time. On laptop now.
W: Is the screen too small only when you’ve been drinking “truly ridiculous amounts of alcohol,” or is your eyesight going?
J: Duck you.
J: And yes, I typed that on purpose this time. I like it.
J: No, seriously - what are you wearing? Because I’m on my bed now and I took off my jacket and shoes because they were wet but I want to be taking off more.
W: What else is left?
J: Brown corduroy trousers, tan socks, brown button-down, and my off-white jumper. My socks are damp too.
W: No pants?
J: Not that you can see while I still have my trousers on ;-)
W: Lord, now we’re into the winking faces again.
J: I want to know what you’re wearing.
W: Right now, from head to toe: my glasses, an uncomfortably stiff grey t-shirt, and plaid pyjama trousers. And my wristwatch.
J: No pants? ;-)
W: Are you going to try and find out?
J: Hell yes. We’re doing this.
W: What is “this,” exactly?
J: Have you never had cybersex before?
W: No - I’ve never had anyone offer.
J: Good, then I’ll be your best ever
J: You can start by taking off your shirt. Pretend I’m there doing it.
W: How would you do it?
J: I’d straddle your lap and kiss you until you started making little breathy noises
J: and then I’d reach down and run my hands over your hips, teasing the shirt upward until my hands were under the hem
J: and I’d slide my palms all the way up your sides and along your arms, pulling the shirt off as I went
J: As soon as the shirt was over your head, I’d be snogging the hell out of you again
W: You’d knock my glasses off doing that, if you didn’t take them off first.
J: You wouldn’t need them - now do you feel about blindfolds?
W: I’ve never tried?
J: We can save that for a different time, then. I want lots of times with you. For now, I’d be grinding down into your lap as I kiss you, our cocks pressed together through our trousers
J: and through between zero and two pairs of pants, depending ;-)
W: Where would I be putting my hands? Around your waist, I presume?
J: You’d be too surprised to do anything at first, caught up in the way my tongue felt in your mouth. But then you’d go between running your palms up and down my back and trying to cop a feel on my arse
J: Which wouldn’t work yet, because these trousers aren’t cut right
J: They’re not my favorite but I’m told they make my arse look good
W: I think your jumper would be in the way. Take it off.
J: Did you take off your t-shirt?
J: I could break the kiss long enough to tear my jumper off, then, and unbutton my shirt
W: Oh, I think I’d be helping with that. I could see the buttons better than you could.
J: Not while I’m snogging you, you couldn’t. But okay, you’d get my shirt opened and tug the tails out from my trousers and we’d be naked chest to naked chest while I squirmed in your lap.
J: I don’t have a hugely hairy chest - lighter side of moderate, and it’s blond enough you can’t really see it well - but you’d be able to feel the hair abrade your nipples as we pressed together
W: I’ve hardly got any chest hair at all.
W: And as tanned as my face and arms have gotten, the rest of me is still terribly pale.
J: Tastes the same no matter how tanned you are. I’d work my kisses downward, from your mouth to your jaw to your neck to your collarbone to your chest. Licking behind your earlobe, to see if you like that.
W: That . . . makes me shiver just thinking about it.
J: Fuck yes. Think about how I’d make you shiver, how I’d make you close your eyes and pant for breath. And when I’d mapped out all your sensitive spots on your neck, I’d lick and suck your nipples, one at a time, using my fingers to play with the other. Back and forth.
W: I thought you said you’d never actually done this with a man?
J: Been watching a lot of gay porn, though - I’ve picked up a few things
J: I can extrapolate from past experience
J: Are you sitting on your bed yet?
W: I am now.
J: Lean back against the wall. Imagine how I’d feel moving over you. Caging you in, knees on either side of your hips, making you strain for it. Totally at my mercy.
J: I’d use my tongue and work my way downward from your chest to your stomach, tracing your ribs and muscles and whatever I can reach
W: More ribs than muscles, I’m afraid.
J: My chest would brush over your cock as I worked, just enough pressure to feel good but not enough to make your breath catch. Yet. What are your pyjama trousers made of?
W: I assume they’re cotton.
J: Thick? Thin? Fuzzy? Silky?
W: Relatively thin, slightly fuzzy.
J: Reach down and rub your palm - flat - over your cock through your trousers. Imagine it’s my chest pushing down on you. I’d pay special attention to your navel, teasing you until you squirmed under me, desperate for me to keep going. Use your other thumb in your navel, press and swirl it around a bit.
W: That’s oddly erotic.
J: Damn right.
J: When I’m good and ready, I’d back up a bit and grab you behind your knees to pull you down flat on your back
W: I’d probably be staring up at the ceiling and trying to remember how to breathe. You sound . . . exceedingly thorough.
J: I’d hook my thumbs in your pyjama waistband and ease them down your hips. Pants too?
W: Plain black cotton boxers.
J: They’re all coming off. And then I’d lie between your legs and pin you down by your thighs and just take a good, long look.
J: What would I see?
J: Go ahead and take them off now. Imagine I’m there.
W: You’d see that I have an erection, obviously.
J: Describe it.
W: I’m uncircumcised, like most non-Jewish British males. Average length, slightly below-average girth. Dark pubic hair, clean but not shaved or landscaped or whatnot.
J: But you’re hard now, right? Not just hypothetical?
W: Very definitely so. You paint a vivid picture.
J: I’m hard too. Typing one-handed as I palm my cock, thinking about you. Which you wouldn’t be able to see, yet, because my trousers are still on.
W: Have you looked long enough yet?
J: Hoping for me to touch you yet?
W: Most definitely.
J: Imagine I do, then. I’d trace the creases at the tops of your thighs with my fingertips, ever so gently, and trail my fingertips right over your bollocks and up the underside of your cock. Teasing. Do it now - pretend it’s me.
W: Have to do it one-handed - I can’t type and masturbate at the same time.
J: Typing one-handed is definitely an expected part of cybersex. It’s good practice.
W: What am I doing with my hands while you’re exploring me?
J: You can’t reach much more than my head, but you’re threading your fingers through my hair.
W: Massage your scalp for a moment for me, then. My fingers would spasm when you hit any particularly sensitive spots while you’re touching me. I’d definitely be trying to touch you back, any way I could.
J: Ooh, yes
J: My hair feels all tingly now
J: That’s nice
W: Your spelling has improved since the beginning of this conversation.
J: I’m too bloody horny to be drunk anymore. Need more.
J: I’d run my fingertips up and down your cock a few more times, watching how it moves and listening to the sounds you’re making, then I’d lean down and lick.
J: Are you wanking yet?
W: Hell yes. I never thought you’d
W: It’s good.
J: I never have, before, but I want to. Want to see what you taste like, how your hips would move when I tongued you and sucked and teased. Picture my hands still moving over you as I tasted you, touching everywhere you’re sensitive, your shaft and your bollocks and the insides of your thighs. Everywhere.
W: You’d make me come in less than a minute. If I were as keyed up then as I am now.
J: Oh no you wouldn’t
J: I’d keep teasing you much longer than that
J: Just light enough to keep you on the edge, not enough to tip you over
J: If I did that - if I had you naked and writhing and frustrated - would you let me fuck you? If we were together like that?
W: I’d probably be throwing the lube at you and trying to make you hurry.
J: I’m not much for hurrying - I think I’d draw it out
J: Slipping a finger in your arse, nice and tight, enough to make you squirm
J: Maybe with my mouth still on your cock
J: I’ve heard anal is even better than normal straight sex - would you like to be my first?
W: I’d like nothing more in the world.
J: Lick your finger, then, and touch your arse. Just enough to pretend. Might as well assume I’ll be brilliant at it.
J: God, yes. Beg me for it. Watch me slick up my cock and just barely press, just enough to make you feel empty, waiting for it
W: I wouldn’t be able to hold still - I’d be squirming down onto you if I could.
J: Oh, you couldn’t. I’d still have you pressed down into the bed, flat on your back. Legs up in the air, I suppose - we can improvise depending on how flexible you are
J: Now there are a million other things I want to try
W: Get through this one first.
J: Oh, I’ll be seeing to you thoroughly, make sure of that ;-)
J: Think about how I’d feel sliding into you, though
J: I’m making a tight fist right now
J: Pulled out my lube to wank, pretending it’s your arse
J: You feel amazing
W: I can’t
W: I want you
W: God, please
J: Close your eyes and imagine it’s me. Pounding into you. Leaning over you and licking your nipples while I see to that beautiful arse.
J: I’m a doctor; I know how to find a fucking prostate
J: For medical reasons, usually, but I’ll make an exception for you
J: And by “exception” I mean with my cock
J: You’d be barely able to keep up with all the sensations - you’d just be focused on how amazing I feel inside you
J: Inside you and maybe around your cock, too, my hand wanking you just right
W: That was amazing.
W: I don’t usually swear, but . . . fuck.
J: Did you come imagining me?
W: I’m too tall for you to lick my nipples, but yes.
W: From your pictures, you look about 5’6”. I’m too tall. If your cock was in my arse, you wouldn’t be able to reach much higher than my fifth rib unless I was leaning over.
J: Oh my god
W: The rest of it was excellent, though.
J: Right, I feel like I ought to say something profound or sappy or witty or something
J: But right now I’m just knackered
J: Can we do this again sometime?
J: Okay, going to clean up and go conk out
W: Goodnight, John. Thank you. And merry Christmas.
Chapter 26: Friday, Dec. 26th
I’m kind of afraid to look over the chat logs from last night, for fear they’ll be way more embarrassing than I remember. Was it good for you too? (I know that sounds like a cliché, but I mean it - that was fantastic.) Can we try that again sometime? It definitely makes the distance more bearable ;-)
I hope it wasn’t too out of the blue, at least. Greg and I got to talking yesterday and I realized if I was ever going to able to face you in person, I needed to “come out” to at least him. I was expecting a bit of either gloating (like “Oh, I always knew you were shagging your flatmate”) or for it to be awkward like he was worried I’d start hitting on him. It was actually neither - he just gave me a (somewhat drunk) hug and said he hoped I’d be happy and to let him know when I was ready to date again because there’s a male co-worker of his at the Met (did I mention he was with the police?) who was worth meeting and was incidentally single. Not how I thought it would go, suffice to say. I didn’t mention you, but I think he guessed there might have been a practical reason for me blurting out “I’m not actually straight” with no warning whatsoever. To be honest, I kind of had you on the brain all day.
Catch you online again sometime soon?
Chapter 27: Monday, Dec. 29th
You’re starting to worry me - did I horribly misread this? Us? I know you said you liked that I put “sex” last but I didn’t get the impression you were actually against it . . . you were flirting with me some, right? I’m terribly sorry if I made you uncomfortable. Like I said, I don’t often drink all that much, and when I do it always makes me second-guess everything afterward.
It’s been a relatively quiet weekend here, which I guess is pretty normal. The usual number of idiot injuries at the clinic (stories that start off “my brother-in-law dared me to . . .” or “I got this new thing for Christmas and I didn’t read the directions”) but nothing too serious. We’re not an A&E, much as people seem to treat us as one.
Anyway, it gave me a lot of time to think, and I can’t help spending most of that time thinking about you.
Write back soon?
Chapter 28: Thursday, Jan. 1st
Happy New Year. Still really want to hear from you. I sincerely apologize for overstepping on Christmas - can we go back to what we had? The chatting and bantering and whatnot? I miss that.
Chapter 29: Wednesday, Jan. 7th
J - William?
J - Okay
J - I knew you probably wouldn’t be online, but I was feeling hopeful
J - Have a good day, wherever you are.
Chapter 30: Thursday, Jan. 15th
I have no words to express how sorry I am that I haven’t been able to write back to you. Things went poorly very soon after we chatted on Christmas, and I was unavoidably detained for what felt like forever. I promise that my nearly every waking thought was of you. Far from our Christmas chat being unwelcome, it was the one memory which bore me up through some very difficult times. I hate that my silence made you doubt yourself - I can think of no universe in which I would not have participated wholeheartedly in that endeavor with you, real or imagined. I sincerely apologize for my prolonged silence.
The bad news: I’m going to be spending some undetermined amount of time in hospital. Not in the country where I was injured, thank goodness - I’m at a very good facility in Switzerland right now, and I will be here until I’m well enough to be moved to London. Which is the good news: despite everything that happened, I did manage to finish my project and I’m now free to return home soon.
The end of this endeavor means some huge changes for me, both privately and professionally. It also means I can be a bit less guarded about what I say, although - John - I want to be there in person when I tell you all the more meaningful bits. So much nuance is lost when we only have words on a page, and I don’t want to miss a single nuance when I finally get to see (and kiss?) you for real.
My phone and laptop were both unfortunate casualties of the last few weeks, so my internet access will be spotty until I can replace them, but I am making the ability to communicate with you my absolute top priority. Second is healing as quickly as possible so I can reassure myself you’re actually real.
Chapter 31: Friday, Jan. 16th
Oh, thank god! I mean, I’m not happy you got hurt (badly? What happened? Are you going to be okay?) but thank you for finally writing back to me. I kind of worked myself up into a real state over the last few weeks, that I had pushed too hard and totally missed the fact that you weren’t as immersed in our chat as I was. I still feel bad about that - I swear I’m never going to drink again - but I’m ridiculously relieved to know I didn’t bollocks up a perfectly good long-distance (friendship? relationship?) just because I’m an utter arse and I’m pathetically lonely.
I’m definitely excited to meet (and yes, kiss!) you in person, whenever you are able to finally come back to England. Although . . . when you say you’ll be “moved to London,” does that mean you’ll be a long time recuperating? I’d be happy to come visit you in hospital, wherever you end up here, but I’ll totally understand if you want to wait a bit and have a first date under more normal circumstances. I hope that, whatever happened, you’ll make a full recovery. (I’m going to assume - since you didn’t give details - it has something to do with your mysterious arms-dealer job and you can’t talk about it? How much less guarded is “less guarded?”)
The weather here has actually been gorgeous for January recently - partly sunny and only a few scattered bouts of rain and warm enough to not need a coat as long as you’ve got a decent jumper on. I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but you couldn’t ask for better convalescing weather than in London right now.
Get reliable internet soon and maybe we can chat again? (Doesn’t have to be like on Christmas, obviously - although I wouldn’t object - but I like knowing you’re thinking about me at the same time I’m thinking about you. Which, truth be told, is getting to be “always.”)
Chapter 32: Saturday, Jan. 17th
“Hurt badly” is perhaps a matter of interpretation, but I’ve certainly had better days. The primary concern is the second-degree burns: as a doctor I’m sure you already know they usually take a few weeks to heal, but special circumstances in my case mean the recovery time may be longer. I managed not to break anything, surprisingly, although it was a close call. If you had been here with me you probably could have saved me some pain and quite a bit of convalescence. As it was, I had to make do with substandard and delayed medical attention - and I’m paying for it now. Yes, the incident was a direct result of my not-at-all-an-arms-dealer job, but I really would prefer to tell you everything in person - I have no confidence that I could explain it all here. Text is a poor substitute when compared to seeing you for real, and the damage to my larynx precludes any meaningful long-distance conversation for the foreseeable future. Right now I find it impossible to verbally communicate in anything above a whisper.
Are we really reduced to talking about the weather, though? I’d much rather hear more about you - anything, really. Something true. There has been an appalling lack of truth in my life as of late, and it only serves to highlight how desperately I want to get home to London.
Chapter 33: Sunday, Jan. 18th
Thanks to my years of experience and my advanced medical degree, I can’t help but notice that burns plus a damaged larynx usually equals a fire. The injury to your lungs is almost certainly just as much of a concern as the second-degree burns, isn’t it? I don’t know how much help I could have been in person for that, although I’ve certainly had plenty of practice bandaging up all manner of burns/cuts/scrapes/knife wounds/etc. Both because of my time in the army and because my flatmate was more of a klutz than he thought he was. I would prefer that our first in-person meeting didn’t require either of us requiring medical care, but honestly it wouldn’t be the first time. I had a girlfriend get kidnapped on our first date once. (Strangely enough, we still managed to become friends and coworkers after that. She’s the only one at the clinic who has never tried to set me up with someone, though.)
Something true . . . I went to a wedding this weekend. Same coworker, actually - she’s technically my boss, although it doesn’t really feel that way most of the time. It was odd, to say the least. Her new husband seems like a decent enough bloke - reasonably handsome, owns a string of hardware stores, likes tennis - but it’s weird to see her settling down with someone else. Even though I never really had a chance in hell with her, not after the kidnapping incident. (And, truth be told, that’s fine with me - she and I wouldn’t have worked out anyway. We’re better as friends.)
So yeah. It was a nice wedding. I went by myself, mostly because I didn’t want to have to find a date for the weekend whom I had no intention of actually dating again. I’m worse than terrible at dancing, so I avoided that, but the food was good and the cake was amazing and Sarah looked so incredibly happy. She’s going to be gone on her honeymoon for the next week, which means I’m working extra shifts at the clinic, but I truly do wish her all the best.
Tell me something true about yourself?
Chapter 34: Monday, Jan. 19th
W: Obviously you’re not there right now, but I’ll keep this window open just in case
W: You were right about this site - they really ought to include some way to tell whether a potential “date” is online or not. This “message them and blindly hope” setup is less than ideal.
J: William! Sorry, I was out.
J: Give me a minute to put groceries away and I’m all yours
J: Sorry to make you wait
W: It’s not like I’m able to do much else at the moment
J: Bored out of your skull?
W: You’re a doctor. You must know what hospitals are like.
J: Spent a few months in one after I was shot. Yes, I know exactly what they’re like.
J: I get the impression you can’t say what exactly happened, but can you tell me what your injuries were? Besides the (I assume) smoke inhalation and burns?
W: Depends - will it win me more sympathy if I say I’m in horrible pain? Or should I shrug it off and take the more masculine “it’s just a few broken bones” tack?
J: Berk :-) Did you really break something? Wouldn’t expect bones to mend in just a few weeks.
W: No, nothing actually broken. The short version is that there was a fire, I got out of the building, but I ended up having to walk quite a ways to alert my employer of my predicament. The resulting sand and dirt in some of my wounds has increased my risk for infection - hence the lengthened recovery time.
J: Ooh, yeah, that can be bad. Was I right about the smoke inhalation?
W: No lung damage, but yes.
J: I’m sorry.
W: Don’t be - fire isn’t usually a recommended means of concluding a business transaction, obviously, but in my case it simplified a lot of things. And enabled me to finish what could have been a tediously long professional slog. Even with the recovery time, I’ll be back home sooner this way.
J: Sounds like you don’t particularly like your job.
W: It’s necessary, but I hate it. I keep traveling and traveling and everywhere I go is not London.
J: You love this city that much?
W: It’s the only place I’ve ever felt I really belonged. The first time I visited, as a child, I ran away from my nanny and spent two hours just wandering around Regent’s Park by myself. It felt like home, even then.
J: Jesus! How old were you?
W: Young enough to be picked up by a police constable who thought it was odd I was without an adult.
J: Did you do that often? Wander off?
W: Only when I was bored. I didn’t much like that nanny.
J: You grew up with nannies, then?
W: My parents were - and still are - very busy most of the time. Both are world-renowned in their fields, and neither had all that much time to devote to actually raising their children.
J: Hence all the boarding school.
J: I guess that’s one area I was lucky, then - my parents both doted on me and my sister, until my dad died. Mum hasn’t ever been quite the same since, but she still does her best. She knits me a lot of jumpers.
W: Do you wear them?
J: I do wear a lot of jumpers :-) There’s something about a short doctor in a wool jumper which really helps patients relax enough to tell me the truth about whatever their issue is.
W: Are you good, then?
J: Depends on what I’m asked to do ;-) I can’t perform field surgery anymore, which is why I ended up back in London in the first place, but I do wish I got to see more than mystery rashes and sore throats every once in a while. I’ll admit I get a bit of a thrill out of the patients who have something terribly embarrassing and are trying to hide it from me.
W: Like what?
J: Without giving away specifics on any given patient - usually it’s some sort of STD they say they contracted from zombie mosquitoes or licking the toilet seat in a pub loo. They almost never admit to fucking the neighbor or the secretary or what have you.
W: They’ll admit to licking the toilet seat in a pub loo rather than saying they’ve had sexual intercourse?
J: “It was a dare.” It’s always a dare.
W: Your patients are idiots.
J: A statistically significant percentage of them, yes. Idiots tend to need more medical treatment because they do idiotic things on a fairly regular basis.
J: You ever injure yourself doing something stupid? I think everyone has to have at least one childhood A&E story.
W: Actually, no.
W: My second and subsequent nannies were hired for their knowledge of first aid and emergency medical care. I never had to go to the A&E as a child.
J: . . .
J: What happened to the first one, then?
W: It wasn’t entirely my fault.
J: Let me guess - she was the one who ended up making the A&E trip?
W: This would make a better story in person. So I could see your facial expressions and know when I should stop talking.
J: Okay then
J: I’ll look forward to hearing the whole thing. Embarrassing childhood stories make excellent first-date fodder.
W: And you’re looking forward to a first date with me?
J: More than I like to admit, even to myself
J: I hope that doesn’t scare you off too much
J: I mean, I’m not pinning all my hopes of forever and ever on you, of course, but you’ve been the only person to actually make me feel *happy* since my flatmate died. Even if it doesn’t work out between us, I can’t regret having taken this chance.
W: Even if it means a sexual identity crisis?
J: Even so.
J: It wasn’t that much of a crisis, anyway - more of an acknowledgement of what’s been lurking under the surface for years.
W: That you’re attracted to men too.
J: That I’m *potentially* attracted to *some* men. It’s not the same as it is with women. Took me a while to work through how that worked, exactly. I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
J: Have you ever been interested in women (or any specific woman) the same way you are to men? Or are you gay all the way through?
W: “All the way through” makes it sound like my left foot or my arse or my spleen could be heterosexual and the rest of me not
W: but no, as a general rule, I’ve never been sexually interested in women. There have been one or two for whom I’ve at least seen the appeal, but I’ve never been tempted to act on it.
J: How about when you’re doing all this traveling - do you go to places where being gay is illegal? Do you have to hide it?
W: Homosexuality is varying shades of illegal in much of the world. I really don’t come across as “gay,” though, so there’s nothing to hide.
W: Truth be told, I have an unusually low libido. Always have. It doesn’t bother me to go without sexual stimulation for fairly significant periods of time. I’ve never been desperate enough to take risks anywhere that might have caused me trouble, so it’s not been an issue.
J: So you just . . . don’t? Whenever you’re traveling? Don’t you travel pretty much all the time?
W: I did say upfront that I don’t often seek out encounters of that nature. You, John, are a glaring exception.
J: Want to be an exception again tonight? ;-)
W: Much as I’d love to say yes, I’m not really in a position to sex chat (or whatever it’s called). I’m still hooked up to a vitals monitor, and someone would probably notice if my heartbeat suddenly sped up.
W: Among other things.
J: Shit, I’m sorry. I totally forgot. Now I feel like a complete arse.
J: You’re not overexerting yourself chatting with me this long, are you?
W: Not at all
W: Actually, that’s a lie. I’m exhausted. But I don’t want to say goodnight.
J: Don’t, then.
J: You get some sleep and we can both leave this window open and you can imagine it’s me sitting with you.
W: That’s strangely sweet. Thank you.
J: I’ll be here until I head to bed. Get some rest.
J: It’s midnight here
J: At the risk of the text alert waking you up, just wanted to let you know I’m signing off for the night
J: Write to me tomorrow?
Chapter 35: Tuesday, Jan. 20th
Thank you, for last night. For staying with me (electronically, at least). Strange how a hospital can get so lonely even with people in and out every half hour - I woke up this morning and grinned stupidly at my screen for quite a while, just thinking about you. About finally getting to see you, to touch you. For knowing you’ll be able to touch me.
I will say I’m surprised you didn’t react more when I admitted to having a low libido. That has always seemed like a point of contention (and eventual mocking) before, the few times I’ve had the option of something approaching a relationship with anyone. Maybe you’re just too polite to say anything. I don’t offend easily, so please don’t feel like you need to hold back on my account, but I appreciate you not having made a joke about it - I know lack of sex drive is hardly an enticing trait in a partner. All I can promise is an honest effort to work around it - I am a fast learner when I put my mind to it.
What would you do, if you could? If I were there in London already with you, if I weren’t injured, if we had already dispensed with the formalities of a first date and dinner and any remaining awkward chatting? If we were back at your flat (or mine), and I were in your arms? Would you hold me close? Kiss me until my knees went weak? Seek out all the places on my body where you can touch and nip and nuzzle and make me cry out? Low libido or not, I’ve been imagining it endlessly. Imagining you hovering over me, pinning me down to the mattress, full of possibilities. I don’t know how many times and how many ways I’ve dreamed and daydreamed about how it would be, how I would react.
I think - at least at first - you would have to be the one to take charge. You’ve almost certainly had more experience than I do with kissing and touching and actually showing affection, and I want to get this right. You’re worth getting it right for. You’d have to show me what to do, how to hold you so we can communicate with more than just words. But if you’ve never done this with a man before, we’ll eventually come to a place where mine is the voice of experience, and then I can be the one teaching you. I can touch you and tease you and show you all the ways sex with me isn’t anything like sex with a woman, and we’ll both learn more about each other than we could ever have learned in a thousand emails back and forth on a distant website. Our chat over Christmas has already eclipsed anything I’ve experienced before, and I can’t even imagine how much better the real thing would be.
I’d better stop there - I’ve been typing this in fits and starts all morning, whenever the nurses leave and I have a few minutes to myself, but I wasn’t kidding about the vitals monitor. I don’t want to give them any reason to hold me one second longer than is already medically necessary. (How’s that for “something true?")
Chapter 36: much later, Tuesday, Jan. 20th
God, you’re killing me. You may need to read this gradually, because this is exactly what I would do if you were here in my flat:
I would drag you inside and kick the door closed behind us. I would whirl you around and slam you back against the door, pressing us chest-to-chest. I don’t care if I have to lean up to kiss you - hopefully within a very short while your knees would indeed go weak and you’d slide down a bit and I’d get a better angle. Either way, I would be (I am) so ridiculously keyed up about the opportunity to get off with you, I don’t think I’d give a damn about the little details like that.
I think my first priority would be just making you breathless. My mouth on your neck, your earlobe, your jawline, your collarbone - nipping and teasing until you were panting and squirming under me. I don’t think, that first time, I’d even want to wait long enough to get our clothes off - if I were doing my job right, you’d be slumping down to the floor unless I kept you pressed up against the door anyway. I’d tilt my hips back just enough to get my hands between us, to get your flies open and my fingers down inside. You’d be so warm, so hard already - might make you shiver, even, at the feel of my palm closing around your cock inside your pants. I’d wank you the way I like it, letting you feel exactly what I did to my own cock at Christmas, pulling myself off on my bed while chatting with you. And how I did it a few times (more than a few) since then.
Not all the way until you came, though. I like to think I’d have more control than that. I’d keep going just until you were breathless and desperate, until you lost all ability to be coherent and your pulse was racing under my tongue as I sucked on your neck. And then I’d growl a command in your ear for you to stay still, and I’d drop to my knees between your legs, and I’d swallow down as much of your cock as I could. I’ve never actually tried that, you know, but I think you’d forgive me my inexperience in light of how bloody far gone you’d already be. I know how I like it and I love the thought of trying to replicate that for you.
What sounds would you make, if I sucked you off? Would you moan and roll your head from side to side, or would you bite your lip and stay completely silent? Would you be able to control your instinct to thrust into my mouth, or would I have to pin you against the door with my hands over your hips as I took my time absolutely demolishing your self-control? Would you even be able to stay upright? I hope so, because I’d want to take my time learning what you taste like, what your cock felt like against my tongue. How much of you I could fit before gagging, and whether I could increase that amount the longer I worked at it. Whether you liked it better if I kept wanking you while I sucked or whether you preferred that I fondle your bollocks, tracing lightly with my fingertips or rolling them in my palm. I definitely would want to learn what you tasted like when you finally came, whether it’s sweet or sour or bitter or salty. And then I’d let go, and you’d collapse down to the floor in an unsteady heap, and I’d pull my own cock out of my pants (and oh, I’d be aching by that point), and I’d wank myself off kneeling right there in front of you. Coming on the rug, if that’s what you wanted, but preferably coming on your cock and your stomach and all over where my mouth had just been. And then we’d both groan and lie flat on our backs on the floor next to each other, just our hands touching, and we wouldn’t have to say anything because all the awkward “do we want to do that again?” talk has already been said. Because of course we’d want to do it again. Always.
Anyway, that’s what I’d do if you were here. I may yet. I’ll certainly be thinking about it until you’re finally in London.
Chapter 37: Wednesday, Jan. 21st
I hope you’re happy - I read your email and it brought three nurses all running to check and see if I was alright. It took some fast talking to get them to leave me alone so I could finish. (Except I couldn’t finish finish, not here, and I can’t decide whether I hate you now or I’m just that much more determined to get out of this hospital bed.)
I’m making good progress, or so I’m told. The respiratory damage was less severe than they initially thought, so - even though I’m still hoarse and can’t take a deep breath - I’m assured I won’t have any permanent issues. My larynx sustained significant bruising, but it’s already getting better. I can actually make noises above a whisper now. The rest of me is recovering about as expected - the majority of the burn damage was on my back and legs, i.e. thicker skin which ought to recover with minimal (if any) scarring. That’s still with the caveat “if all goes well,” but I see no reason to assume it wouldn’t.
During our last chat, you said “everyone has to have at least one childhood A&E story.” What’s yours? Or are you saving it for that all-important first date, to make a good first impression? (By the way: not necessary.)
Chapter 38: Thursday, Jan. 22nd
Believe it or not, I’ve got plenty of A&E stories to spare. I was kinda “that kid” - you know, the one who always managed to injure himself in spectacular ways. I played both football and rugby at various points, which provided me with technicolor bruises for most of my teen years, but I think my first A&E visit was around age 3 or so. Harry (my older sister) and I were playing outside a lot that summer, and somehow she ended up with a plastic water gun in the shape of a pink elephant. It was a pretty decent size - I don’t trust my childhood recollection all that well, but maybe a good half a metre long? - and heavy plastic. We lived in a nice little ground-floor flat with a back garden at the time, and the two of us were running around squirting each other. Somehow Harry got it in her head to climb the tree - we only had one - and squirt me from up high where I couldn’t reach her. Except when she got up there her fingers slipped and she dropped the water gun directly down onto me. I was looking up at the time (of course), and it hit me just over my eye. Bled everywhere and of course I started screaming.
Anyway, Harry ran inside to find mum, but (from what I’ve been told later), mum couldn’t understand what was going on because Harry just kept saying “I dropped an elephant on John and it hit him in the eye!” and Mum didn’t know about the elephant water gun so it just sounded like nonsense to her. We did go to A&E and I got stitches over my eyebrow and Harry was terribly put out about the whole thing because they had to sit and wait for hours. I don’t remember any of the A&E part, but I remember Harry pouting the whole ride home. Perhaps that’s not as scandalous as what you imagined I’d have done - no actual idiocy involved - but I’ll save my other stories for another time ;-)
I’ll try to hold off on the “sex chatting” if you prefer - can’t scare your nurses again! - but I do wish you as speedy a recovery as possible. I’m forcing myself to not check this site until I actually get home from work, most days, or I’d be spending all my time daydreaming about you and not actually able to focus on my patients . . .
Chapter 39: Friday, Jan. 23rd
Somehow I’m not entirely surprised you were “that kid.” You seem the type. Football and rugby - you were popular, then? Seems like the athletes always are. I was, at best, tolerated when necessary - I learned early on that not everyone liked to know when they were wrong (including adults), but it took me a long time to realize that I could decrease the frequency of the bullying if I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t always, of course, but at least I figured out the correlation.
This is just a quick note to say I’m finally back in England! Not, unfortunately, London - apparently I need coddling for another week, so I’m being shuttled to my parents’ house in Devon. They’re gone, of course, but the lovely couple who act as housekeeper and groundskeeper have been pressed into service. I’m quite sick of lying around on my face to “let the burns on my back breathe,” but after the hellish journey here I find the prospect of lying down again is less appalling. It took me most of the way to type this on my phone - my residual dexterity is enough for a regular keyboard, apparently, but this touch screen is a nightmare. (The damage to my hands wasn't as severe as elsewhere, but they're still a bit sore.) Focusing on writing to you is the one thing keeping me from going feral on everyone involved in transporting me, I suspect.
See you in about a week?
Chapter 40: Saturday, Jan. 24th
A week? Like this week a week? Let me clear my schedule :-) (Only half-kidding with that - let me know if you get bored in Devon. I can take a day and take the train down to see you, if you’re up to having visitors? I’ll understand if you want to wait, but waiting isn’t always my strong suit.)
Related question - does the fact that you’re no longer in hospital mean you’re not hooked up to a vitals monitor anymore? Because if so, I can think of some interesting ways to keep you occupied. Since you believe writing to me is helping your recovery, and all . . .
Chapter 41: Sunday, Jan. 25th
W: Not hooked up to a vitals monitor anymore.
W: Also not being disturbed by strange nurses every half an hour.
J: You can’t even begin to understand how happy I am to hear that ;-)
J: I couldn’t stop thinking about you today, knowing you’re so much closer but not yet here
W: My thoughts exactly.
J: I know you’ve alluded to having a lower libido a few times, so please understand that I wasn’t *only* daydreaming about sex
J: I’m just so excited to finally meet you in person
W: No need to apologize - there’s nothing like being on 24/7 medical surveillance to make lustful thoughts all the more tantalizing
W: I read back over your email and had a furious wank pretty much the moment I was left alone in my own bed
W: It didn’t really help
W: Every time I close my eyes, all I can see is that mental picture of you holding me back against the door with your mouth on my cock
W: God, I can feel my heart rate increase just thinking about it
J: Jesus, why’d you have to go tell me that? Now I’ll never last out the week.
J: Want me to come visit? I wasn’t kidding about rearranging my work schedule
J: (Again, probably not for that - if you’re still recovering and all - but just to finally meet each other?)
W: I really wish we could, but I don’t think it would be advisable
W: I don’t want our first meeting to be while I still croak like a frog and can’t sit up straight for more than ten minutes at a time
W: When I do lay eyes on you for real, I intend to snog you senseless
W: Or at least try
J: I may have you at a disadvantage, there - I’m a very good kisser
J: I’d lay good money on me not being the one going senseless first
J: Any particularly vulnerable spots? Behind your ear, perhaps? Corner of your jaw? Just over your carotid?
W: It’s . . . been a while. I guess you’ll just have to find out. (I’m a big fan of experiments . . .)
W: You? Any erotic weakness I should know about?
J: I’m not so sure it would be smart for me to tell you
J: You’re better off finding them out for yourself
J: But - if it counts as an erotic weakness - I am terribly ticklish in exactly one place on my body.
J: It’ll be up to you to figure out where ;-)
W: The hollow in the small of your back, just above your arse?
J: Would you rather find out over chat, or do you want to discover it in person yourself?
W: I don’t really need to answer that.
J: No, you really don’t.
J: I know exactly what you want to do.
J: You want to strip me naked and run your hands and mouth all over me, learning every square inch. Testing to see what makes me laugh, what makes me squirm, what makes my breath hitch
J: You want to wrap your fingers around my prick, want to watch me gasp and close my eyes and arch my back
J: You want to roll me over, trace the shape of my back, knead my arse with your palms, run your fingertips over the insides of my thighs so I twitch and groan and hoist my arse higher in the air like an offering
J: Where you go from there is up to you ;-)
W: . . . Fuck.
W: I know precisely where I’d go from there.
J: Tell me.
J: In detail.
W: I would lick one long stripe down your spine, nape of your neck to the small of your back, enjoying the slight tang of sweat from the amount of foreplay we’d have been engaging in already.
W: I’d run my hands up the backs of your thighs, twisting my palms inwards so my fingertips skate up along your femoral artery and just barely brush your bollocks when I get to the top.
W: I’d keep them there, though, tracing tiny circles against your perineum and the base of your bollocks, just enough to make you twitch and grumble at me, enough to make you spread your legs further apart.
W: And then I’d dip my head down and lick from there all the way up the crack of your arse, holding you down as you jerked upwards. I’d settle in and pull your arse cheeks apart and see how much I remember about rimming.
J: Bloody hell. I suspect I’d be damn-near incoherent.
W: Oh, I’d keep going until “damn-near” became “completely and totally.” Running the flat of my tongue over your hole, circling around, teasing with just the tip, hot and wet against you. Ever had anyone do that to you before?
J: Never. But bloody fucking hell, I can imagine it. Will be imagining it for the next week.
W: Do. Imagine my tongue worming its way inside you, slick and insistent. Imagine my hands dipping further down to fondle your bollocks, nudging them back and forth between my fingertips, kneading them with my palms. Imagine my hand sliding just that little bit further forward to wrap around you, to give you that perfect amount of pressure.
W: Imagine being trapped between my tongue and my fist, not sure whether you want to push backward against my mouth or fuck forward into my fist. Both relentless, whichever way you go.
J: Fuckfuckfuck. I’m so hard right now. I’ve got my hand down my pants and I’m positively dripping. Going to wank with it, imagine it’s your hand.
W: Me too - I’m literally biting my tongue, keeping it forward in my mouth, imagining it’s probing inside you as far as I can reach it
W: Come for me, John. Picture how I feel against you and come.
J: Oh god
J: Right, that does it. You have to get better now, so you can show me that in person.
J: Perhaps even teach me so I can turn the tables a bit?
W: You’d want to?
J: Pretty sure I want to do absolutely everything to you
J: In fact, your turn to imagine me doing that. Imagine me pinning you down to the bed as soon as I’d recovered from that obscenely fantastic orgasm, nudging your legs apart with my knees, and returning the favor.
J: Trying to replicate all the little licks and swipes and kisses I felt you do to me.
W: I . . . fuck.
J: Exactly ;-)
J: Picture it, William: I’m splayed over your lower body so you can’t get away, not that you’d want to, and my tongue is warm and mobile over your arsehole
J: My hands are everywhere - your hips, your thighs, your bollocks, your cock
J: Might shove a pillow under your hips so you have something to rut against
J: And I wouldn’t stop, even when you were crying for me, even when you were begging for release
J: And then you’d finally hit that peak, and I’d hold you there for ages, just desperate and needy, before I’d finally squeeze your cock in just the right way and you’d come screaming into the mattress
W: There are no words
W: And nobody better come check on me for a while, until I’ve had a chance to regrow my bones. I’m pretty much liquid now.
J: You can’t see my face, so you’ll just have to imagine my smug smile.
W: I’ll do that.
W: God, I’m going to have to explain away the wet spot on my pyjamas.
J: Oh, I imagine your housekeeper/groundskeeper/nurse/whatever will know exactly what we’ve been up to.
W: Not much I can do about it now, other than blush.
J: I may not know what you look like, not really, but I’m going to try to imagine you blushing anyway. In my imagination, you’re adorable.
W: Thank you?
J: It was a compliment, I promise
J: But I need to get going (and I, unlike you, have the freedom to go throw a few choice things in the wash . . .)
J: I would say I’m counting down the days, but you don’t really have a specific day you’ll be “recovered,” do you?
W: Not really
W: The doctor comes again on Thursday, though, so I should have an update then.
J: Don’t make me wait until then to hear from you?
W: I won’t ;-)
Chapter 42: Monday, Jan. 26th
Have I told you yet that you’re a marvel? Because if not, I’ve been remiss. I find myself contemplating all sorts of details about you - the texture of your hair, your taste in ethnic cuisine, whether you’re still good at football and rugby and if so, whether you have an outlet to play. (If you do, I want to come watch all your games.) All the endless little things that we can’t easily share with each other over an internet connection but which come up over the course of an in-person relationship.
And - to be honest with myself, which I’m not always - I’m also terrified. Because I’ve resolved not to lie to you, ever, even when it would be easier. You’ve been so amazingly open with me and I’ve never had anything like that before - I don’t want to lose this. Us. Whatever that means. I’m worried that you’ll see me and talk to me and I won’t be what you want, that I’ll have disappointed you, and losing you now will be even harder than it would have been if we had never created this history of correspondence.
(You should probably know that I’m not normally like this. Feelings and emotions are not my strong suit, nor is introspection. You bring out something in me, John, that wants to be a better person. I want to be good enough to deserve you. I want you to like me, not just for the persona I can present online, but for who I am without that safe distance between us. The idea of being absolutely myself with you is terrifying and exhilarating all at once.)
Write back soon? No need for empty assurances that all will be well - we both know that we’re running off hope at this point. I just like hearing from you.
Chapter 43: Monday, Jan. 26th, about ten minutes later
Apologies - that was maudlin, and I shouldn’t have sent it. Ignore my last email (except for the part in which I implore you to write back soon).
Chapter 44: Monday, Jan. 26th, later that evening
Not a chance ;-) I think it’s fair to say that unconditional acceptance is what we all long for, at some level. I know I’ve got my fair share of nervousness about meeting you in person, too - at least you’ve got pictures of me, you know my face and my job and all the little bits of myself I put on my profile. I’m immensely looking forward to actually seeing what you look like (outside my imagination), hearing your voice (even if it’s not quite back to normal), and hearing more about the parts of your life you can’t share with me here. And I do understand - there may be parts you can never share with me. I know a few blokes with jobs like that (well, okay, one, but he’s really frighteningly powerful and secretive) and at some point you just have to shrug and say “Right, I trust you to tell me whatever I actually need to know.” If that’s what you’re worried about, please be reassured I won’t nag you to spill state secrets or whatnot. It means a lot that you feel so strongly about not lying to me - I get the impression that lying may be a significant part of your job. I find I rather like the idea of being your exception, your little island where the normal rules don’t apply. I promise not to abuse my position, if that’s the case.
Right, so that got a bit deep for a Monday evening :-) As for your other questions - no, I don’t play football or rugby anymore, although I’d love to. I got offered a chance to sub in for someone on the New Scotland Yard’s departmental football team about six months ago, actually, and it was nice to get muddy and sweaty for a bit. If they ever need somebody for more than a game or two, I’d jump at the chance. I’m out of practice, but then so was everyone else playing. (And - if it isn’t bragging too much to say so - I look much better in football shorts than any of them did. In case you needed an incentive to come watch.)
It’s hard to say whether I was “popular” in school or not. I was never ostracized, but I didn’t have a lot of close friends, either. Especially after dad died and Harry came out and everything - it was just too much effort. I would say I was more like the guy everyone was happy to eat lunch with but who never talked about himself. I’ve always been good at putting a pleasant face on things, whether or not it’s how I actually felt.
Get better soon - doctor’s orders!
Chapter 45: Tuesday, Jan. 27th
Those may be the first “doctor’s orders” I’ve ever been eager to follow! It is good to be “home,” of sorts, but I haven’t actually lived here in years so it’s really not the same. It’s my childhood room, with my childhood possessions, but now it feels more like visiting a past version of me than it feels like “mine.” I attended boarding schools for most of my education, so “my” room was really only a place to stay during summers and holidays - and often not even then, if we were traveling elsewhere. I got my carers to drag a television in here yesterday afternoon, so at least I can watch crap telly and pretend the hours aren’t dragging by. (Oh, and you were right - my parents’ housekeeper gave me a very definite side-eye when she saw the state of my dirty laundry after I chatted with you. I think she and I are both going to imagine very hard that the other one doesn’t know a thing about sex or orgasms and it will make us both much happier people.)
Chapter 46: Tuesday, Jan. 27th, later evening
Glad you worked out a compromise - I had a particularly traumatic experience when I was thirteen or so and had my first wet dream and my mum saw the sheets and insisted on “the talk.” Coincided with when I first started just doing my own laundry. There are things you never want to hear your parents say, you know? Semi-graphic descriptions of their birth control choices over the years are definitely one of them.
A lady came into the clinic today with a second-degree burn on her arm. Made me think about you and wonder how you’re healing. Nothing infected? No new scarring? Getting better?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, as we get closer to meeting in person, but I’ve just got to say - I hope you realize I don’t care how you look. I’m assuming there’s a deeper reason behind you not being willing to share a picture or talk on the phone with me, and I want you to know that I don’t care if you’re overweight, if you have a lisp, if you have scars, if you’re self-conscious about your body, whatever. I’ve got my own scars, some of them even visible, and I’m in no position to complain about yours. Really - it’s all fine. So if that’s something contributing to your nervousness, stop.
Chapter 47: Wednesday, Jan. 28th
More details when the doctor comes, but everything is much better than it was originally. Still a little pink, but mostly nothing you’d notice unless you knew to look for it.
I’m fortunate that my parents never attempted “the talk” with me - my brother gave me a copy of Gray’s Anatomy when I was seven and let me figure it out on my own. My family is not very good at talking to each other.
Also . . . thank you. For understanding, about the photo thing. I promise I’ll tell you everything when we meet.
Chapter 48: Wednesday, Jan. 28th, later that evening
J: You there?
W: Yes - I mostly just keep the chat window open now, since I’m always within reach of the computer.
J: I had a crap day
J: Wish you were here
J: Could use a nice warm body to curl up with tonight
W: What happened?
J: Kid came into the clinic with pretty clear signs of abuse
J: Wouldn’t talk about what happened, of course - one of those “accidentally walked into a door and then accidentally fell down the stairs and then accidentally smashed my hand repeatedly with a brick” types of things
J: He was maybe ten or eleven - pretty clear this had been going on for a while. Possibly his whole life.
J: You can ask and you can pry and you can suspect, but in the end there’s really nothing you can do other than report it and then let him go home with his abusive parents and hope he doesn’t get hurt when the investigation finally gets launched, however long that takes
W: Let me guess: new patient, hopping from clinic to clinic so no one doctor has a full history of the boy’s injuries?
J: I suspect so
J: I’ve just seen too damn many people like that - a lot of women who think that’s just the way relationships work, kids who have never known differently
J: My parents may not have been the world’s most nurturing or the most supportive, but they did love us both. I have to give them credit for that.
W: Mine are constantly disappointed when my brother and I don’t do what they expected, but at least that means they care. As much as they’re able.
J: I miss my sister. I know that sounds stupid - she only lives an hour away - but there it is
J: We were never *close* close, but we were still siblings
J: Alcohol has kind of taken over her life now, though, and I’ve had to make myself take a step back
J: I can’t make her stop being an alcoholic. Her (now ex-)wife couldn’t make her stop either.
J: I miss having even the little bit of relationship we used to share.
W: Lonely, John?
J: Shove off ;-)
J: But yeah, a bit
J: I’ve got my mate Greg, who is trying really hard to include me as a friend for pub nights and such
J: He’s the one who invited me to play football with the Yard :-)
J: But other than him, I really don’t have a lot of friends anymore
J: I kind of withdrew from the social scene after my flatmate committed suicide and by the time I got my feet back under me, everyone else had moved on.
J: Right now my life is mostly going to work and then sitting around at home
J: And chatting with you :-)
W: At the moment I just have the latter two of those.
W: Although in my case, it’s more like “sitting around in my parents’ house, feeling like a guest even though they’re not here.”
J: You could sit around my flat with me ;-)
J: I promise the same telly shows you’re probably already watching
J: Plus I make a good pillow
J: I want to just snuggle up with you on the bed (or sofa if I had one) and stop thinking for a while.
W: I wish I could. I truly do.
W: Although hopefully not long now until I’m well enough to come to London.
W: If I’m pronounced “healed enough” tomorrow, could we try a first in-person date this weekend?
W: I don’t even know what or where to suggest, but I don’t want to wait any longer to see you.
J: Yes, absolutely
J: Let me know when
J: (See my above comments on my exciting life - it’s not like I have a packed schedule)
J: Nothing happens to me anymore
W: I’ll tell you the moment I know
W: Sit with me? Here?
W: Not as good as being able to touch each other, I know, but I like knowing you’re there.
J: Of course I will
J: I’ll be here as long as you want me.
W: Thank you
W: Goodnight, John
Chapter 49: Thursday, Jan. 29th
I’ve been cleared! The doctor said the only scarring will be a bit on my hip, which was already cut when it got burned. It’s minimal and I imagine I’ll be able to forget about it entirely in time. The rest of me doesn’t hurt at all anymore (as long as I stay current on my paracetamol). I should be able to come to London tomorrow, time dependant on how soon I can get out of here.
Does Saturday evening work for you? I’m still not up to anything particularly physical, but I don’t care. I want to see you. Need to see you. I would say tomorrow, but I don’t know how much the travel will set me back healthwise.
Chapter 50: Thursday, Jan. 29th, later that evening
That’s fantastic! Saturday would be excellent - I want you at your best for our first kiss ;-) Meet for dinner? What do you like?
Chapter 51: Friday, Jan. 30th
Anything. Absolutely anything. You.
Chapter 52: Friday, Jan. 30th, evening
You’ll have to wait until we get done with dinner to get a proper taste of me, I’m afraid ;-)
Let’s say 6 PM tomorrow - there’s a Japanese steakhouse two blocks from my flat. Mikawa on Essex Road. You’ll have to let me know who you are, since you’ve seen pictures of me but I’ve seen none of you.
Can’t believe you’re finally here.
Chapter 53: Friday, Jan. 30th, later evening
I’ll be there.
Chapter 54: Saturday, Jan. 31st, very late
W: I know I deserved that, but I can explain
W: I'll leave this window open until you come back
Chapter 55: Monday, Feb. 2nd
I'm sorry. Those are the words you're waiting for, right? I don't regret doing what I did, but I know it hurt you - and that, I truly am sorry for. Please, let me explain. Don't throw away everything we had before and everything we built together while I was gone. Call me? I tried your old number - the one you gave me in December - but my texts wouldn't go through.
Chapter 56: Monday, Feb. 2nd, later that evening
W: I didn't lie to you
W: I said what I had to when I jumped, but everything after that - I never, not ONCE, did I lie to you
W: You mean too much to me for me to let you throw this away in anger
W: Please let me explain
Chapter 57: Tuesday, Feb. 3rd
Texts still won't go through and neither will voice calls, which I assume means you blocked unknown numbers entirely rather than talk to me. My emails bounced. You've left this account open, but I see you've changed your information to say you're looking only for women instead of saying you’re bisexual. Is that it for this, then? For us? Please, let me explain.
John - it was all because I had to. Surely you know I would never have left you if I'd had another choice! Moriarty needed me to fall, to fail - and despite my best efforts to not have a heart, he saw through my lies before I did. He saw how I felt about you. He'd ensured that either I died or you would. You and Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson - but although I would have been devastated if I had lost them, I would have actually died if I'd lost you. At least this way I had a chance of coming back.
I used Mycroft's resources and connections to start taking apart the remains of Moriarty's empire one player at a time. I kept tabs on you as best I could, from various points around the globe, but I didn't really understand what losing me had meant to you until Mycroft mentioned how Lestrade had talked you into trying a dating website. John, I couldn't help it - I *needed* to hear that you were all right, from your own lips (or keyboard, as the case may be). The deception was necessary, but I hated every second that I couldn't tell you how I really felt - especially after learning that apparently I am the biggest idiot in London, because I could have had you and I left instead.
I want to see you again. You're what I've been fighting *for*. I'd let you punch me again, a hundred times or a thousand, if it meant you'd let me apologize in person.
Chapter 58: Wednesday, Feb. 4th, very early morning
I suppose you expect me to just forgive you now, is that it? No need to worry, John, I was just kidding, you're so gullible, let's have dinner. Just a magic trick, look at the funny little man falling apart because he's not brilliant enough to see through it. And ooh, the fun! Let's taunt him further, tease him with what he can't have, let's make him pour his bloody heart out to a stranger and then surprise! I'm back, wasn't I clever?
Fuck you, Sherlock. I changed my profile back to "straight" because apparently the only two men I've ever felt real sexual attraction for both turned out to be the one person I never want to see again. I’m not ready to look for more. I suppose I knew it was you, on some level - you did leave all the clues for me to find, I just didn’t put them together because I knew it was impossible. You were dead.
Congratulations, you're alive, well done, now leave me the fuck alone.
Chapter 59: Thursday, Feb. 5th
Right after my funeral, you came to my grave and talked to me. You asked me for one more miracle: "Don't be dead."
I'm going to ask you the same: one more miracle. Forgive me, John. Forgive me even though I don't deserve it, one more time, like you've forgiven me so many times before. You've forgiven me for leaving you behind (both physically at crime scenes and intellectually on cases), for everything I do at the flat, for being self-centered and rude and an utter arse and through all that, you've been willing to stay by my side.
One more miracle, John. Please.
Chapter 60: Friday, Feb. 6th
Why? Why should I trust you? I know better than to expect you to change, but suddenly it feels like I never really knew you anyway.
Chapter 61: Friday, Feb. 6th, late evening
Here’s my declaration: I’m wildly, illogically in love with you. That part never has and never will change. I’m still the same man, but I don’t want to hide from my emotions anymore.
- William Sherlock Scott Holmes
Chapter 62: Saturday, Feb. 7th
221B. 8 PM tomorrow. Don't make me regret this.
Chapter 63: Sunday, Feb. 8th, 7:30 GMT
Leaving Mycroft’s now. And . . . thank you. Even if you can’t forgive me, thank you for at least letting me see you one more time.
Chapter 64: Monday, Feb. 9th, first thing in the morning
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
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That’s really all I can say - the response to this fic has been amazing, and I’ve loved each and every kudos and comment you all have left for me. I feel like this has been a collaboratory piece, with all of you as co-authors. If you’re not reading this as a WIP, I highly recommend going through and spending some time delving into the comments sections of each chapter - everyone there will be able to give you a much better impression of what it felt like to go through in “real time” than I ever could.
You may have noticed that this fic is now part of a series - I had originally intended to leave it here, but I find myself wanting to figure out what happened during some off-screen moments, too :-) There will be three follow-up works (not letters): The Hiatus, The Date, and The Apology. And since we’re already here and I do love writing smut, I’m going to do them in reverse order. Subscribe to either the series or to me as an author to get updates as I finish them - I’m not planning on quite such a frantic pace as I’ve set here, but I promise they are all on my to-do list for the near future. I’m also on Twitter as @wendyqualls - I don’t often post about fanfic, but I do update on my “real” writing.
There have been a fabulous number of spin-offs, AUs, "fix-it"s, and other works being created in the wake of this fic - I love seeing how the community here is all coming together to support each other's creations. If you want to write/draw/create something, please feel free to tag it as "inspired by" Dear John and I will make sure it's added to the list of links below.
This has been an amazing ride, thanks largely to all you wonderful people who have turned Dear John into an actual community of readers. It’s what every writer dreams of. I’ve got plenty more Johnlock (smut and otherwise) up in my other fics here on AO3, but this experience has been unique and I will always cherish it.
Addition to the "works inspired by this one" links at the bottom: this beautiful vid by @shirayuri09.