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22 December 2011 @ 12:36 pm
fic: If the Eyes Had No Tears  
If The Eyes Had No Tears

The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears | John Vance Cheney

Sherlock bbc | girl!Sherlock, John | PG-13 | 8800 | beta: flecalicious | warnings: mentions of drug abuse; emotional break downsdisclaimer: the show and the characters aren't mine

If emotions are a weakness then I don’t know anyone who’s strong.  Every month Sherlock battles her emotions.



It had been a long case, a difficult one in some respects. They’d stopped the killer, arrested him for his crime, but not before the young man who had come to Sherlock for help had fallen by the wayside.

Donovan, as usual, had assumed the worst about Sherlock – the fall of Sherlock’s face at the news of the man’s death had been attributed to her supposed sense of failure and nothing deeper. Sherlock had played along; after all, she did feel frustrated and annoyed at her failure, it just wasn’t the full story.

She might call herself a sociopath but Sherlock knew that that wasn’t entirely accurate. A sociopath was how she presented herself to the world, her constant, public persona, but it was not who she really was. Sherlock felt emotions; she had just learnt that hiding them away was the better course of action than wearing them on her sleeve where anyone and everyone could pick them apart.

As a little girl she’d noticed how people always treated her differently to Mycroft. They were gentler with her, careful not to upset, but with Mycroft their parents had been sterner, harsher in some ways. The lesson seemed to be ‘boys were strong, girls were weak’. It wasn’t what their parents had intended to show their children but it’s what Sherlock had seen.

Sherlock grew to resent her brother; it wasn’t his fault he was treated any differently but the constant pandering she endured incensed her. When she was six she’d asked for a proper chemistry set for her birthday, just like the one Mycroft had but wouldn’t let her use. She’d unwrapped a doll.

Despite her parent’s wishes for a sweet little princess Sherlock had continued to conduct her experiments behind closed doors, late at night, hidden away. Mummy had not been happy when she’d come across the mutilated doll; looks of disappointment were unexpectedly painful, Sherlock had realised.

It wasn’t until puberty, however, that Sherlock really worried about how others would perceive her. As a girl she’d always known she was stronger than her parents thought she was and she’d always believed, as she experimented in secret, that when she grew up people would see her for who she was. She hadn’t factored in the effects puberty has on hormones.

In the months leading up to her first period she’d been overly emotional, every little thing upsetting her to the point of tears. It was frustrating and embarrassing; she was not this weak little girl she seemed to be turning into. If she was honest with herself it frightened her; she couldn’t cry forever, could she? At the time it had been even more terrifying, these overwhelming emotions coming out of nowhere, with no reason or logic behind them – surely this wasn’t normal, was she really as delicate as everyone implied?

Of course, once her period had come the fears abated somewhat and logic was once more on her side; no longer was it an unexplained mystery. There were still worries; if this happened every time people were bound to see her differently, how could they not?

She knew that if she wanted to be taken seriously, to be considered on her merits and not on this one flaw, that she needed to hide it. If people knew, she’d return to being that ‘emotionally fragile girl’ of her childhood.

It took her years to perfect the act but when she succeeded she swore to herself that not a soul would ever see her cry again. She took pride in her new, cold persona, labelled herself a sociopath to help sell it better – no one looked too closely at the truth if they were given a convenient label to use.

Of course it didn’t fool Mycroft. He’d known her as a child, known her throughout the emotional years, knew exactly what she was hiding and he worried, constantly. He kept a close eye on her, waiting for the day something would break; after all, suppressing emotions like Sherlock was doing was going to result in something snapping.

As it turned out Mycroft was right, though Sherlock would never admit it. Without a release the emotions just ate away inside her, driving her down. She refused to give in; there had to be another way to release the thoughts and feelings brewing inside of her.

Cocaine.

It had led to beautiful liberation; the world was open before her. She could do anything and everything she wanted and there would be no one to hold her back. She needed more and more and more; then she reached her limit.

She’d been helping out on some cases for Scotland Yard; it was easy, useful and, more importantly, fun. She made sure to act as sober as she could around them, blind as they might be, coppers are trained to recognise things like drug abuse. It wasn’t until Lestrade came over to ask for her help and found her passed out on the floor, track marks on display and needle by her side, that he’d even known she was an addict.

Mycroft had been furious, both at her and himself. Lestrade had simply been concerned. He insisted she be placed on a rehab programme but Mycroft refused. A rehab programme would mean opening up to strangers – Sherlock didn’t even open up to family. There was also the issue that Sherlock was smart and resourceful and unwilling; if she wanted to use there were no rehab centres secure enough to stop her.

Between them they decided to watch over her through her withdrawal. Mycroft provided the flat, removing all sharp objects not only for his sister’s safety but for those of the people watching over her. There was 24 hour surveillance, doctors on hand for emergencies and always someone there with her. Lestrade volunteered for a vigil whenever he could. Sherlock might not have been helping the police for long but he trusted her, most of the time at least. He’d always felt slightly protective of her; she was a friend, even if the sentiment wasn’t returned.

The withdrawal had been tough for everyone. There were long fits of crying interspersed with lashings of violence and apathetic despair but when Sherlock was declared clean it was only the beginning.

As soon as she was back in her own mind the cold persona returned, the blanket of emotionless indifference settling easily over her once more; it was almost a comfort after the months of losing all control. Mycroft’s surveillance was worse now. There were signs of drug searches at least twice a week, weekly visits from Mycroft or his assistant – even Lestrade was coming by with more frequency than was strictly needed.

It meant she couldn’t find relief at all. There was no possibility of returning to the cocaine with all this surveillance and to be honest Sherlock didn’t want to go back to that state; she liked the sense of control she had, something the drugs took from her. There was also no way she was going to break down into a crying wreck, not when Mycroft could send someone over at a moments notice.

She knew she had to do something though. A compromise with herself; she’d allow the occasional emotional breakdown as long as no one was aware of it. It was the only option she could see but it relied on the help of others. Reluctantly she called Mycroft.

“I need you to stop watching the flat.” If she had to talk to her brother she’d make this as quick as possible.

“Sherlock, how lovely to hear from you, but I’m afraid, as you well know, I can’t do that.”

“Of course you can; just don’t replace the cameras when I rip them out.” They weren’t hard to find after all.

“You’re right, I can indeed stop the security overview. However the fact remains that I won’t. You know why they are there or have you forgotten already, dear sister?” Why did he have to be such an insufferable prat when all she wanted was a little privacy?

“Of course I haven’t forgotten, thank you. I need some space, I can’t stand all this interference, it’s unnecessary and insulting. Just leave me alone.”

“I won’t do that,” there was a pause on the other end of the line. “I’m curious as to why you are making this request now. You’ve been at that flat on your own nearly three months now, why this sudden urge for privacy?” She could detect the subtle accusation in his voice, knew that tomorrow there would be another drugs raid when Lestrade called her out for a case.

“I’m not going to start using again,” the roll of her eyes was clear in her voice. “I need a proper release, in private, away from all your prying eyes. It’s not too much to ask, surely?” It was as close as she felt comfortable with admitting to her weakness.

Of course Mycroft knew exactly what she had in mind. “I can schedule for the camera in the bedroom to be switched off on occasion,” his voice was gentler all of a sudden, not pity as such – Mycroft knew to whom he was talking after all – but definitely a more understanding tone. “I refuse to switch off any of the others though, and if I have reason to believe you are back on the drugs again believe me when I say I won’t hesitate to re-instate previous security measures.” It wasn’t a warning to be ignored. There was just one more thing Sherlock needed to ask.

“Fine, but I need you to stop sending people round to watch me every other day. You have your cameras for that and I…”

“Done,” Mycroft interrupted. “It’s irrational to expect all visits to cease but I will stop sending my men over. Agreed?”

There was a long pause as Sherlock considered everything; no camera in her room and no more visits from Mycroft’s puppets; it was the compromise she had expected to get from him. “Deal,” and with that she hung up.

Later that day she ripped out the cameras ‘hidden’ in her room, grinning as she did. It was freedom of a sorts. The visits by Mycroft’s goons stopped – well, they stopped after one last drugs raid, Mycroft wasn’t an idiot after all – and Lestrade’s visits lessened as well.

Every time Sherlock needed to let out some emotions she would retreat to her room and break down in peace. It didn’t usually last long, the tears coming easily for her, but there were times when, as much as she knew she needed it, the tears refused to flow. It was occasions like that when her room took a pounding as she unleashed her pent up frustration at the walls and furniture. By the end of the outbursts she was finally able to sit and cry on her bed.

It wasn’t a perfect plan but it was working. The only problem was her landlord. The destruction she wreaked when the tears just wouldn’t come, although beneficial for her, was not so healthy for the flat. Mycroft offered to pay for the damage but she refused; she was perfectly capable of looking after herself, thank you very much. Still, when her landlord kicked her out of her Montague Street flat she realised she wouldn’t be able to afford a place on her own without Mycroft’s help.

That’s when she met Dr John Watson.

~ ~ ~

At first she’d been afraid of having someone else share her space; she’d finally escaped it with Mycroft and here she was voluntarily signing up for her privacy to be invaded, but then it wasn’t as if she had any choice.

John was a good man. Not only was he patient and well-mannered enough to put up with all her usual experiments – the medical background probably helped a lot with that – but he was kind and loyal (surprising, but pleasantly so) and loved the danger that came with her job. Still, she didn’t want him to think of her as some feeble, emotional wreck, so it was back to suppressing all emotion.

It was harder than she would have liked. After months of letting go, even if only occasionally, it was difficult to reign it all back in, but she fought it; there was no doubt in her mind that should John discover the truth he would treat her differently and she couldn’t bear that. She liked John, respected him even. He was smarter than the average person and far more intriguing; the thought of him looking at her with pity-filled eyes as she helplessly broke down in front of him filled her with fear.

But just as before, suppressing all that emotion didn’t help. It was just how it had been before the drugs; she was on edge almost constantly. It was worse when she didn’t have a case; there was nothing to focus her mind on other than the brewing turmoil inside her head. She couldn’t stand moping about the flat as her mind ate away at her.

She grabbed a can of the yellow spray paint she’d taken to use as a comparison during the last case and painted a yellow smiley on the wall – it was the perfect counterpart to what she was about to do to it. Grabbing John’s illegal firearm she fired shots into the wall – eyes, nose, mouth. The only problem was it reminded her too much of the destruction she had caused when she was having trouble letting go; she could feel the emotions building up inside her at the memory. Why – bang – was – bang – she so – bang – weak – bang.

The next thing she knew John was wresting the gun away from her; how had she missed the sound of his return? She swallowed down the tears rising to her eyes; now was not the time – she would not cry in front of John.

They argued. She’d needed to take her emotions out on something, someone, anyone; John had just been the closest and easiest target available. When he stormed out Sherlock had been worried she’d pushed things too far; was this his breaking point? If so it seemed uncharacteristically low. He’d said he needed some air and he hadn’t taken anything with him other than his keys and wallet so yes, just a cooling off period – perfect.

With John gone and the flat to herself she could have the breakdown she so desperately needed.

Then, of course, there had been the explosion.

With all the police and a very concerned Mrs Hudson running about the place Sherlock’s emotions were once again placed back under lock and key. There was no way she was going to lose it now; she had no desire to see the eyes of the police looking at her with concern and platitudes. She didn’t need consoling, she just needed space.

The next morning, just as things had started to settle down again, Mycroft decided to stick his nose in.

“I see Doctor Watson wasn’t in at the time of the explosion.” He was already sitting in what had become John’s chair as Sherlock came out of her bedroom. She’d known he was there - it was very hard to move silently in an old flat like this - and only Mycroft would have entered uninvited and casually taken a seat waiting for her appearance.

“He needed some air. I believe he went to Sarah’s.” Her tone was bored but mildly indignant. She wasn’t in the mood for one of Mycroft’s conversations right now. She’d grabbed her violin as she came out of her room; if she had to sit through this she wanted something to distract herself.

“Why are you here, Mycroft?” she asked as she made her way over to the chair opposite his. She didn’t really want to be sat so close but it was her chair and she was damned if she was going to move for him. “Don’t try and tell me it’s about John, I know you already know everything.”

“Of course not, Sherlock. I was simply remarking on his absence. There’s a case I need you to look at for me...”

“Not interested.” Sherlock interrupted as she began tuning the violin.

With a sigh Mycroft continued, “We both know you’ll take the case eventually anyway. That’s not the only reason I’m here. I’m worried about you.”

“For the last time, Mycroft, I don’t need your concern, I am perfectly capable of looking after myself. I’m not an invalid.”

“I know you’re not,” his tone was appeasing; always the diplomat, “but you need to stop suppressing everything. You remember what happened last time you tried doing this and how well that worked out, I’m sure.” Of course she remembered; she might have deleted unimportant details from when she was a child, but drug abuse and subsequent withdrawal were not so easy to forget. “You were perfectly happy letting go in private before, why not now?”

It was unfair of him; he knew she hated others seeing her like that. Didn’t that fact answer his obvious question? “I didn’t have a flatmate at the time.”

“Honestly, Sherlock, you have got to stop being so ashamed of it. I hardly doubt John will treat you any differently; he’s rather a dependable sort.” They’d had this conversation several times before; it always seemed so simple to Mycroft, as if Sherlock was just being silly for not wanting to be seen as some emotionally helpless woman.

“I don’t need another person who looks at me as if I’m made of glass and might shatter at any minute. It’s bad enough with your constant ‘concern’, as if I’m still a child who needs minding. As for Lestrade, ever since he saw my lapses he’s always checking up on me; less so now than he used to, but it’s still irritating.” She was angry now; the build up that she’d been waiting to release last night came bubbling to the surface again. Grabbing the rosin she began applying it to the bow; the repetitive motion helped to calm her.

“I don’t suppose it has ever occurred to you that I care about you because you are my sister? I assure you I would be just as concerned for your well-being if you were my brother. I have never once thought of you as weak, Sherlock. Childish, yes; a fool, certainly, but never weak. As for Lestrade, his concern for you couldn’t possibly be that of a friend, could it?” She could hear the frustration in his voice. Part of her wanted to believe him, and to an extent part of her did, but there was always that voice in the back of her head telling her she was weak, that she should be better than this.

Before she could respond the slam of the front door alerted them to John's arrival. There was no way she was going to continue this conversation in front of John. "I don't care what the case is, I simply don't have the time." To Sherlock's relief Mycroft followed her lead and let their earlier conversation drop.

~~~

Then of course Moriarty's games began. Perfect timing in Sherlock's opinion, a delicious distraction. Even so she could feel the pressure within her build, almost rising to the surface after failing to save the old lady. She'd won and then it had been stripped away, the sense of failure almost proving too much. She was grateful both Lestrade and John couldn't see her face while at the same time hating herself for wanting John's hand to rest on her shoulder rather than the chair.

It had been closer than she'd have liked, but nowhere near as close as she’d come to losing her precious control when John had stepped out to greet her at the pool. Her mind had frozen, only for a moment, but it had been enough. Her first thought had been that John, caring, dependable John, was Moriarty. She refused to believe it; how could she have missed something so important for so long?

That was when she’d seen the bomb and her mind had frozen for a completely different reason – one wrong move and she’d be responsible for his death. Not that she wasn’t already to blame for putting him in this situation, but he was still alive right now and that’s how she intended him to stay; all she had to do was focus.

She almost lost control as John’s voice broke – worry, fear, stress, panic? – but she pushed her own emotions aside with the ease garnered from years of practice. Moriarty, she had to focus on Moriarty. He was drawing this out for a reason, of that Sherlock was certain, but there were too many variables, too many possible explanations to be sure.

Then he left, casually strolled out, leaving them alone. She could feel her facade begin to waver – John, she had to check on John.

“Alright? Are you alright?” She needed to get him out of that bomb; told herself it was the risk of remote detonation that was to blame for her panic – logic – a lie.

“I’m fine, Sherlock. Sherlock!” John was safe, the semtex vest now lying down the other end of the pool. It was over, he was fine – they were fine. Moriarty, she needed to chase Moriarty. Leaving John to come down from the adrenaline rushing through his veins she ran off through the door Moriarty had taken. An empty corridor. She’d left it too long, been distracted by John and now Moriarty had escaped. There was no point in dashing down the corridor; there were too many exits and not enough evidence to determine what route he had taken.

Frustrated, she returned to John’s side, pacing the length of the pool – she had to think. There must be something, some clue to follow, if only her mind would stop chasing all the possible consequences of the last few minutes.

“Are you okay?” The question threw her slightly at first. Why would she be anything other than okay? John had been the one strapped to a bomb, forced here against his will; she’d come voluntarily, knowing the risks.

“Me? Yeah, fine. Fine.” Of course she was fine. If John Watson could sit there having been strapped to a bomb and keep his voice even then she could too; after all, she was the sociopath. “That, uh, that thing you,” she knew her voice was shaking – adrenaline, that’s all it was, an involuntary chemical reaction, nothing more, “you offered to do...that was good.” It was the closest she could come to a heartfelt thank you, even if seeing John throw himself at Moriarty to save her life had almost stopped her heart.

“I’m glad no one saw that.” Non-sequitors were usually her domain, not John’s.

“Hmm?”

“You ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool. People might talk.” The familiarity of the joke settled something inside her; it was known territory, a safe place bringing her back from the overwhelming deluge of thoughts assaulting her.

“People do little else.” She couldn’t hold back a smile. No one had ever been able to put her so at ease with as little effort as John Watson did.

Then the flicker of snipers’ lasers reappeared, joined once more by the sing-song voice of Jim Moriarty. Oddly enough Moriarty’s sudden reappearance made it easier to focus. It gave her a task, something other than the cycle of possible consequences to occupy her mind.

More talk and then one final glance at John – an apology, a thank you and a need for reassurance in one look. “Probably my answer has already crossed yours.” Her aim fell from Moriarty to the vest lying at his feet. There was something off about the look he gave her – he was smiling. She’d missed something, had to have done, it was the only explanation of the facts.

There was a sudden gunshot from the balcony above them. Sherlock’s eyes flicked to John in panic but saw only a pair of equally frightened eyes checking over her. Not one of them then. Spinning back round she saw Moriarty round the corner towards the exit. She fired one shot before giving chase, leaving John back at the pool.

The shot hadn’t been part of his plan, you didn’t need to be a genius to realise that. She followed him down corridors and past changing rooms, firing whenever she had the possibility of a hit. She wasn’t John though, didn’t have his years of training. By the time Moriarty had made his way out into the open she’d only been able to graze him in the leg, not bad enough to cause him any severe problems but enough to give him a slight limp. Sherlock had to smile at the symmetry. She’d missed her chance, though, as he was picked up by a waiting black sedan. In movies - well, the ones John watched anyway - she’d have fired at the fleeing car, but there wasn’t any point. She didn’t have a sure enough aim to take out the tyres and firing an illegal handgun in the middle of London was just foolish.

She didn’t head back inside to the pool, instead making her way round to the front entrance of the building. There was John, as she’d known he would be, waving off the nearest paramedic whilst explaining what had happened to a furious Lestrade and curious Mycroft.

John spotted her first, trailing off mid-sentence as his eyes looked her over for any signs of injury. Alerted to her presence, both Mycroft and Lestrade shifted their attention from the doctor onto her.

“What the bloody fuck, Sherlock?” Anger, just as she’d expected from Lestrade. “Why on Earth did you think running off to meet a known psychopathic bomber without telling anyone was a good idea? I thought you were supposed to be a genius!”

“You’re here, aren’t you?”

“Only because I thought I’d check that bloody website of yours in case you’d heard anything.”

“Well, there you go.” Honestly, she really did worry about the police force’s stupidity at times.

She ignored Mycroft’s chastisement – “people prefer to be forewarned about these things, Sherlock,” – as she made her way to John’s side.

“Everything alright?” The similarity to their conversation before rang loudly in her ears.

“Fine. I take it you didn’t catch up with him.”

“Obviously.” John’s face twitched minutely in irritation. She didn’t like it. “I grazed his leg, he’ll have a limp for a short while,” John smiled slightly at that, as she’d known he would. “He had someone waiting for him. The trail’s gone cold.”

“We’ll get him next time.” His voice was confident and sure, no trace of the night’s events. Sherlock didn’t fail to notice the ‘we’ and felt a twinge of guilt at having left him out of her plans. It had been in an attempt to save him, but apparently no matter what she did that wasn’t how their relationship worked.

“Yes.” There was nothing more to say.

During their exchange Lestrade had been called away, leaving only Mycroft for Sherlock to deal with.

“Lestrade has the snipers in custody, barring the one that made the mistake of trying to shoot my men. That one is on his way to meet your acquaintance, Molly Hooper,” Mycroft told her. “I suppose I should be grateful that you gave me the missile plans before you ran off to meet Moriarty, although if you do something like this again I will force you to accept that damehood.”

Sherlock didn’t deem that with a response, impatient to get out of there and be back to the flat. She needed some space, some room to think. She knew John would be there but at least she could lock herself away in her room. The emotional tension had been building for too long now; she needed a release before her control would no longer be enough.

Mycroft seemed to notice her agitation, letting her go with a simple, “remember what I told you the other day.” She didn’t need the reminder.

Turning back to John she asked, “home?”

“Home,” he replied with a small smile as they made their way out of the noise and hustle of the police area to find a taxi on the main road.

~~~

As soon as they’d arrived back at 221B John had started making two cups of tea. Sherlock just wanted to lock herself in her room and let everything go, but if she left now John would be suspicious – even worse he’d think it was a direct cause from tonight. Undoubtedly he’d think she was weak. He might not say it, might not roll his eyes and mutter derogatory, sexist remarks, but he’d look at her with pity, would try and comfort her as if gentle words would calm and soothe her. It was neither what she wanted nor what she needed.

So she sat and accepted his tea, nibbled at the edge of a biscuit, cursorily discussed the evening’s events and carried on as normal. Thankfully it wasn’t long before John decided he needed a shower; no doubt trying to wash away the feel of a semtex vest, the slight scent of chlorine and fear. He’d make his way to bed afterwards; most likely he’d worry about nightmares of Afghanistan and just as likely he’d end up sleeping peacefully through the night – the result of his biggest adrenaline high since his return from service.

As soon as she heard the cascade of water coming from the bathroom Sherlock made her way to her room, locking the door behind her. She could feel the tears tugging at the corner of her eyes already – she wouldn’t need any help falling over the edge tonight.

She let go of her control, released the mental dam, letting every thought she usually kept buried shoot to the surface – you almost killed your best friend, your only friend...would you even have cared?...would you have cried for him?...probably not...freak...the loss of Moriarty is worse, isn’t it?...to lose the chance to bring him down...how does failure feel?...weak, so weak...remember them laughing at you, “freak’s off again”...no one listened...no one cared...no one ever wants the weak... – round and round in her head.

She could feel the tears burning at the corner of her eyes. The thing that always made it worse was that she knew none of it mattered, knew that she was stronger than this. The thoughts filling her head were the result of chemicals in her body and nothing more and yet they had so much control over her. As it always did that thought broke what little was left of the barrier, tears now flowing freely down her face. She sunk down onto the bed. Her knees would start to shake any minute now; at least if she was already sitting she wouldn’t have the added humiliation of collapsing onto the mattress.

She couldn’t see; tears were obscuring her vision, but she could taste the drops on her lips, feel her shoulders shake, her breathing hitch. She swiped at her eyes, careful not to rub too hard or else she’d leave them red and puffy or smear the waterproof mascara across her cheeks.

After a minute or two she could feel the tears start to dry up, but she knew there were more to shed. That familiar tension was still there – lessened, certainly, but not gone. She forced her mind to think back on anything that could help – childhood memories were often the best, held the strongest emotional weight. The despair she’d felt coming off the drugs was another perfect weapon in her arsenal. The tears increased in strength once more; now all she had to do was keep them going until she was drained, until the tension she’d been carrying for the last couple of days had been shed completely.

The problem with crying fits are that no matter how quiet you intend them to be, once you are in full flow you’re simply a passenger along for the ride. She’d thought she was safe, locked away in her room, drowned out by the sound of the shower. Apparently she’d miscalculated.

“Sherlock, are you okay in there?” John’s voice was gently inquisitive; it reminded Sherlock of the voice people used to calm skittish animals. She would have laughed if she hadn’t been desperately trying to stop crying. Funny how it could take so much effort sometimes to set them off, but when she really wanted to stop she couldn’t.

The best she could manage was a lessening in their ferocity. “I’m fine. Go away, John.” She’d been aiming for controlled and irritated; she sounded shaky and emotional.

“Don’t lie to me Sherlock, I can hear you crying in there. Please, just unlock the door. I want to help.” The worst part was he sounded genuinely concerned; no doubt under the misapprehension that this was all a result of the night’s events, a reaction to the stress. It didn’t matter; there was no way she was going to unlock that door no matter how much part of her cried out for comfort – she was better than this.

“No. It’s all fine, remember? Just...just leave me alone.” She hated the hitch in her voice, but although she’d slowed the tears they refused to stop entirely.

“Look, if it’s about tonight, none of it was your fault. We’ll catch Moriarty. You’re brilliant; I don’t care what you said about the trail going cold, I know you can do it.” Apparently John knew her better than she thought he did. “And if this is about me, I made my choice when I shot that cabbie, I know what I’ve signed on for. None of it was your fault.”

“Of course it’s not my fault.” The ‘idiot’ was left unspoken.

“Then what’s this all about?” He sounded honestly confused. Well, it had taken her a while to make the connection between each attack; she couldn’t expect someone else to figure it out that quickly.

“I can’t explain it.” Honesty couldn’t hurt. When she’d been younger she’d made up plausible explanations, things normal people got upset over. She’d lost count of how many times her grandmother had died. “Just leave me alone.”

She could hear his heavy sigh through the door. “Alright,” he said after a short silence, “I’m leaving. Goodnight, Sherlock.”

She didn’t bother to answer, instead dabbing at the last of the moisture lingering in her eyes with the back of her hand. Rising on shaking legs she made her way across the small room to the mirror propped up by chemistry books and those listing the more interesting murders history had produced. Her eyes were slightly redder than usual but her mascara had somehow survived intact, the barest hint of a smudge under her left eye; there were tear tracks down her cheeks and a scattering of small damp patches on her blouse.

The worst was over. John’s interruption had meant that she could still feel the faint remnants of her earlier tension, but it wouldn’t be enough to result in another attack before she was back to her usual self. For now she was done.

She cleaned herself up as best she could using the face wipes she kept stored in her room, waited until she could hear the soft snores from upstairs telling her John was asleep before taking a shower to wash away the pool and her tears.

These crying sessions always left her exhausted and since it was the end of the case she simply settled under her covers, letting herself drift off to sleep. Tomorrow John would have questions. She’d answer them truthfully, she decided, or at least as truthfully as she could. He knew now and it was time to put him to the test – everything comes to an end after all.

~~~

“Morning,” John’s voice came from the living room door. Sherlock had been up for an hour already, impatient to find some clue as to Moriarty’s whereabouts. She’d already managed to trace several crimes back to him but had gotten no further in understanding the layout of his criminal empire. “Do you want any breakfast?” John continued as he made his way into the kitchen. “Before you answer, bear in mind that I know for a fact you haven’t eaten anything more than a few biscuits in the last couple of days.”

“Some toast will do,” she replied without looking up from the computer screen, continuing her hunt for information.

A few minutes later John came back in, handing her a small plate of buttered toast and a mug of freshly brewed tea before returning a few seconds later with his own breakfast. “New case?” he asked between mouthfuls.

“Not new, no. Moriarty.”

“I thought you said the trail had gone cold last night?” John asked, confused.

“I did. However, that is not to say there isn’t a trail out there somewhere and now I know what to look for.” There, another crime bearing all the hallmarks of the consulting criminal, but yet again no ties strong enough to be of any real use. Frustrated, she continued her search. She knew it was a long shot but if she was going to catch him she couldn’t rule anything out.

“You’re...? Sherlock, let it rest. I’ve no doubt that we’ll run into him again at some point and you can start chasing him all over, but for now just take a break.” John’s tone was exasperated but he didn’t understand. This wasn’t a distraction, this was something that she had to do; after all, did he want a repeat of what had happened at the pool?

“I’m fine, John. I am simply trying to save lives.” Well, she was trying to catch Moriarty; saving lives was a beneficial consequence, but the lie might appease John. “I thought you wanted me to care more?”

“I did - I do - but this isn’t the way to do it. I know you, this manhunt will become an obsession. I know what happened at the pool affected you, I know you’re not as cold and detached as you want people to think. Let him go, Sherlock.” He sounded sincere as he begged her to move on, tried to preempt her obsession with Moriarty. He didn’t have all the facts though, incorrectly attributing what he had heard last night to what had happened at the pool, as she had known he would.

“What you overheard last night had nothing to do with Moriarty or the pool. I already told you that, so please don’t make assumptions based on faulty data.” Taking a sip of her tea she resumed her internet search, doing her best to ignore him.

They fell into an uncomfortable silence, punctuated by the occasional crunch from a bite of toast or dull thud as a mug was put down. Caught up as she was in her search and the worry of the conversation she knew was coming, it took her far longer than she’d have liked to notice something was off about this morning. It was a Thursday; John had the early shift at the clinic on Thursdays and it was already approaching half nine.

“Why aren’t you at work?” she asked, looking up from John’s laptop.

“I, uh, what?” The sudden resumption of conversation had thrown John.

“You have the early shift every Thursday and yet you are here when your shift started almost a half an hour ago.”

“I took the day off.”

That wasn’t right. John very rarely took the day off unless it was to run around the city with her. “Why?”

“Why? Sherlock, you do remember I was kidnapped and strapped to a bomb by a psychopath with snipers aiming at me last night, don’t you?” John’s tone was incredulous.

“You said you were alright.” Yes, he had been a little shaky after she’d removed the explosives but that was down to the adrenaline pumping through his bloodstream. It would have cleared his system by now.

“I am alright, physically at least, but Christ, Sherlock, I was strapped to a bomb and thought I was going to die – again. I think the least I can do is take the day off work.”

“You enjoy the danger.” She knew he did - it had cured his psychosomatic limp, the tremor in his hand. What was different this time that he had to take the day off work?

John let out a bitter laugh. “Yes, I do. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t still affect me though.”

“Oh.” That made sense, she supposed. She’d told John that heroes didn’t exist, she knew that, but apparently she’d forgotten to take her own advice with Doctor John Watson. The reminder of his own weaknesses reassured her.

There was a small pause, more comfortable than the last, as Sherlock took a sip of her tea. John was looking at her with curious eyes as he tried to understand that quiet ”oh”.

“Do you, I don’t know, maybe want to talk about last night?” He was flustered, partly due to the topic under discussion, but also partly due to fear over how she’d react. “It’s fine if you don’t,” he added hastily, “just if you do, well, you know I want to help, don’t you?”

Yes, she knew it; she also knew that this was decision time. She could either keep quiet, shift the conversation back to their usual banter safe in the knowledge that John wouldn’t bring it up again or she could confront this head on.

The deciding factor was that this wasn’t the last time it would happen. Every month, or thereabouts, she’d need a release again; she couldn’t hide them all from John. He would keep his word, would never ask after her tears again, but it would inevitably form a wedge between them. Everyone had secrets but when you knew there was something important someone was hiding from you it was hard not to resent them. John was a good man - he’d try not to let it get to him - but it would and one day something would snap and John would leave, or he’d stay but their easy friendship would be over. It didn’t leave her much choice.

Gently she shut down the laptop and wrapped her hands around the cooling mug – seeking comfort from inanimate objects, how much further could she sink?

“I’m not sure how best to explain it.” She couldn’t meet John’s gaze but she saw the startled surprise on his face. Whether at her admittance of not knowing something or at the fact that she was talking about it, she couldn’t tell. “I’ve never had to explain it to anyone before. You’re a doctor, so you know all about women’s cycles and hormones,” she began.

“Wait, are you trying to tell me that last night was down to PMS?”

She hated that term; it was all too frequently used as an excuse, a joke. “Would you let me finish?” she snapped.

“Sorry, I...sorry. I won’t interrupt again.” John looked genuinely apologetic at his interruption.

So she explained it all. Right from the beginning, from those first frightening months of not understanding what was happening to her to her methods of choice in trying to control it.

“What you heard last night,” she continued, “was my compromise. No more drugs and no more locking it away. I do it in private now; after all, no one will take a female consulting detective seriously if they know that she’s liable to burst into tears at the drop of a hat.”

Setting down her now empty mug she opened the laptop up again. “So there you go, now you know all about it and realise just what a ‘weak and fragile girl’ I am.”

“You’re not weak.” John’s voice was blunt, almost as if he were in shock. Then again, maybe he was; after all, Sherlock wasn’t usually one to open up about these things. She gave a small derisive laugh in response.

“You’re not weak, Sherlock. If emotions are a weakness then I don’t know anyone who’s strong.”

“Most people aren’t overwhelmed by them every month.” She’d been like this her entire adult life, did he not think she’d heard these platitudes before?

“It’s not your fault. You said yourself it’s caused by hormones. I hardly think involuntary chemical reactions can be used to define someone’s character.” Science, chemistry – he was choosing his arguments well.

“Look, it happens and now you know why - can we drop it?”

“Of course,” John answered as he rose from the table, stacking his mug on his empty plate, “but just so you know, I’ve never thought that you were weak and I never will. Now, eat your toast,” he finished as he made his way into the kitchen.

With a smile she picked up her toast, taking a tentative bite before calling out to the kitchen, “It’s gone cold.”

“Well, that’s hardly my fault, is it now?” came John’s reply. Taking another bite Sherlock let herself get lost in the hunt for Moriarty’s trail, reassured that John wasn’t about to start treating her any differently.

~ ~ ~

It wasn’t until five months later that John overheard another one of Sherlock’s releases. He hated that she called them ‘break downs’. To him it sounded like something evil, something unwanted, but they weren’t like that at all. They were more like a necessary release.

He hadn’t expected Sherlock to tell him about them and in all honesty when he’d heard of the lengths she’d gone to to hide it in the past he often found himself wondering why she had opened up to him at all. Still, he was glad she had, that she had trusted him enough to make herself that vulnerable. It was strange how none of his past girlfriends had really opened up to him the same way Sherlock had that morning and no, they were not dating, no matter what everyone seemed to think.

When he came back early from doing the shopping one Saturday afternoon and heard the tell-tale hitched breathing coming from Sherlock’s room, he knew immediately what was going on. He knew she liked to hide away during these moments, knew she feared what others would think of her if they discovered her vulnerability. It wasn’t weakness though; John would never think of Sherlock as weak – a crazy, brilliant idiot, yes, but never weak.

He knew Sherlock liked her privacy at these times but he couldn’t just sit here and listen to her sobs through the door. The obvious answer was to go out again – he wouldn’t have to listen and Sherlock could cry in peace. Just the thought of leaving her like that, so callously, made his insides writhe in guilt.

Dumping the bags on the kitchen floor (good luck finding space free of experiments on the table or counters), he made his way to Sherlock’s bedroom door. His hand hovered over the door handle, unwilling to make that last small movement. It felt like a terrible invasion of privacy, which it was of course, but it wasn’t like Sherlock didn’t invade his privacy day in day out. Then again, that was just who Sherlock was. With a deep breath he tried the handle – most likely it would be locked anyway and John wouldn’t have to feel guilty at all.

The door swung open easily.

“Sherlock?”

She was sitting on the end of her bed, pillow lying next to her, just touching her left leg - it looked a little battered. Her hair was mussed and her cheeks were wet with freshly shed tears. As John entered she looked away and punched the pillow; not without some force, John noted.

Knowing that Sherlock would have locked the door beforehand whether he’d been out or not if she really wanted to be alone, he stepped further into the room, gently closing the door behind him. He was a doctor, an ex-army doctor in fact; he was used to dealing with overwhelming emotions in others, but he’d always known what to say then. When telling a patient bad news you could console them with cures and treatments, and if there were none, well, at least you had some idea of the problem. With Sherlock the problem wasn’t so clear; you couldn’t talk down hormones. It didn’t help that John was sure that the usual platitudes and soothing gestures would be shrugged off by Sherlock as patronizing – she hated repetition on the best of days.

As he sat down on the bed next to her he decided the best course of action was to play it by ear – let Sherlock take the lead. Once he’d settled down Sherlock leant into his side ever so slightly. The close physical contact seemed to calm her; the tears still fell but the violent hitches in her breathing subsided. Slowly John wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her in a little closer. To his surprise she let him, turning her head into his shoulder as the tears continued to fall down her cheeks – onto his jumper now.

He didn’t say anything; nothing seemed to fit. Instead he just sat there, arm around her shoulders as she cried herself out. It wasn’t long until the trembling stopped and she began to pull away, dabbing at her eyes with the back of her hand. Finally she turned to face him.

“Thank you,” she whispered. It was a dismissal; John rose from the bed and made his way back out to the kitchen to pack the shopping away.

Before he opened the door and broke the atmosphere in the room he turned back to her. “Any time,” and with that he left.

~ ~ ~

Sherlock was sat on the end of her bed, leaning against John’s side with her head tucked up against his shoulder as she shed her last few tears. When she’d reluctantly explained it all to John she hadn’t expected for things to work out as they had. He never mentioned it, ever. Not in accusation (not that she’d expected him to do that, but with John sometimes you just couldn’t tell); not in derogation and, perhaps most surprisingly, not in consolation or pity either. It was as if it had never happened.

That is until that time of the month started to come around once more. Even then it was never really spoken of; they’d simply found a new routine. Sherlock would still break down in her room but the door was never locked and she no longer waited for John to leave the flat; in fact, sometimes she even made sure he was there. As soon as the sobs became loud enough to be heard through the wooden door John would enter and just hold her until she cried herself out. Sometimes he’d hush her when she was feeling particularly vulnerable but most of the time they sat in silence, punctuated by the sounds of Sherlock’s sobs.

There were still times when she needed her own space, when she just wanted to lash out and smash her fists into something, times when John decided to stay well clear, but on the whole Sherlock couldn’t remember a time when she’d been this happy with herself.

Just then the quiet buzz of a phone could be heard. Pulling away from John’s side she checked her phone, dabbing at her eyes to clear them so she could see the screen properly.

Double murder. Need your expertise. Royal Opera House. Hurry. GL

“Lestrade has a case for us. Coming?” she asked. She headed over to the mirror to remove all traces of the tears still clinging to her cheekbones.

“Sure, let me just change my jumper,” John replied. Rising, he made his way out of Sherlock’s room and up to his own. Grabbing her coat she waited for John to reappear.

“You know some people might think we’re a bit weird,” John said as he came back down the stairs to join her as they made their way out the flat and into the street.

“Oh?”

“Yeah. I’ve always kind of liked weird though.” John smiled as Sherlock waved down a cab.

“Crime scene?” she asked, grinning at him.

“Crime scene,” he agreed.


-- Fin --