Later

Sherlock rounds the last corner back to Baker Street, having shed her disguise several streets ago. She pauses to catch her breath, but she doesn’t have time to.

Joan stands up on the tips of her toes and flings her arms around the detective’s upturned collar.

The kiss – their first kiss – is impulsive, warm and giddy.

The good doctor sinks back onto the pavement, arms still around the other woman’s collarbone. “Sherlock,” she starts, watching her cupid’s bow quiver in the cold, mouth parted and pink.

“That wasn’t how I’d imagined this — ” and then, “Oh, bollocks.”

Sherlock was taken by surprise for the twelfth time in her life. And so she doesn’t wrap her arms around Joan’s waist, or let her fingers tangle in blonde hair, or even kiss her back.

“…imagined..this..as in, previously…imagined..?” The taller woman licks her lips and gives herself a moment to think, and whilst doing so, her cheekbones flush scarlet.

“Joan, I…” she’s about to rattle off a few half-formed formalities, but she forgets them because she’s curious.

“What was that…for?”

The former captain opens her mouth to respond, but can’t quite form the words. She merely falls into old habits, disentangling herself from Sherlock and letting her arms fall by her sides – shoulders sliding back. The consulting detective continues to stare, so she tries again.

“Let’s go inside, yeah? S’bloody cold out. I’ll put the kettle on,” she says, even though her ears are still bright red underneath her hair and she hasn’t felt the fog for the last seven streets.

Once they’re inside, coats and scarves hung on hooks, Sherlock stays remarkably quiet and wonders if she should have a cigarette. She shouldn’t, obviously, in case Joan wanted to kiss her again – but, did she?

“…was I…did I not do something I should’ve, or, we could try again, I…”

Joan looks over her shoulder, having heard every word despite the din of water from the refilling kettle.

“Sherlock, it’s fine – are you blushing?” Then, the other words, a second behind the first, filter through the former captain’s thoughts. “…are you suggesting we try again?”

“A minor case of vasodilation, Dr. Watson, nothing to worry about, probably from the cold,” Sherlock says dismissively, although it doesn’t sound dismissive. She clears her throat and stands awkward and exposed in the middle of the room.

“Well, I was completely unprepared, Joan, and you left so quickly I can only imagine you found our kiss,” she pauses. “Unsatisfactory.”

“So, I propose we, or, rather, I, try again.”

Joan smiles in the corner of her mouth, clicks the kettle on and approaches her flatmate. “Maybe later?” The soldier asks, as gently as she can. “I think you’re still processing the first one,” she stands on her tip-toes again, though, to kiss her cheek. She moves away after a moment, to move the telly closer to her chair, then takes her place in it.

The steaming kettle summons Sherlock into the kitchen, and she makes tea, before hazarding a question over her shoulder.

“…how much later?”

Joan only rolls her eyes, flicking through the channels half-heartedly.

“Sherlock – come have a look at this. I think we’ve started a riot.”

The consulting detective takes long, easy strides into the room, one mug in each hand. She finds a perch on the arm of Joan’s chair, and then, they start to giggle.

And, Sherlock thinks, perhaps Joan is the most interesting case – most interesting person she will ever come across.

(So this evening’s piece is written for the wife. She’s been painting these last few days and has done a beautiful work with Lady Sherlock and Joan~. This is an accompaniment of sorts, and I borrowed some of her well-crafted words, so I can’t take all the credit for this little tidbit. I can’t write in the way that she can. You can find the wife’s work at artbyval.ca – the painting will be up soon if it isn’t already. And she’s open for commissions. Just saying. And I would like to sincerely apologise for any spelling errors, I wrote this one rather quickly.)

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