It had been a long day and Lestrade was lying on his sofa contemplating having a shower before bed. He was trying to muster up the strength when he heard the tell-tale scraping against his front door that meant Sherlock was outside, picking the lock. When the sound stopped and Sherlock did not materialise, however, Lestrade padded over to the door and peered through the spy hole. He couldn’t see anyone outside. Frowning, he cautiously opened the door.
Sherlock was sitting with his back against the wall next to the door to Lestrade’s flat with his head in his arms and his knees drawn in tight to his chest.
“Sherlock?” Lestrade crouched down next to Sherlock and gently placed his hand on Sherlock’s shoulder.
“I couldn’t get into your flat,” Sherlock mumbled into his arms. He was trembling and Lestrade was starting to panic.
“You never have a problem getting into my flat. I know that because you turn up with alarming frequency when I’ve just got out of the shower. In fact you’re about ten minutes early today, I was just about to have one before bed.”
Sherlock did not respond.
“Come on, lets get you inside.” Lestrade placed his hands under Sherlock’s armpits and hauled him to his feet. Sherlock swayed on his feet and looked at Lestrade through bloodshot eyes. Lestrade swore under his breath and helped Sherlock inside, steering him towards his bedroom. Sherlock crawled under the covers and Lestrade’s chest ached; Sherlock looked every inch like a lost little boy. Lestrade sat down next to Sherlock and ran his fingers through Sherlock’s curls.
“You want to tell me what’s wrong, Princess?”
Sherlock drew in a deep, shuddering breath.
“The dog’s back.”
Back when Lestrade and Sherlock first became, well, whatever they are, boyfriends doesn’t sound quite right and neither does lovers, Sherlock had sat Lestrade down and warned him about his black days. Depression. Sherlock referred to them as like a dog that kept following him around; always in his line of sight, reminding him of what was lurking under the surface, until it caught up with him and he’d get into his bed and not get out for five days. Thankfully these days were rare and Lestrade’d only witnessed them twice before in their three year relationship.
Lestrade rubbed soothing circles into Sherlock’s back. Sherlock responded well to tactile stimulation, it gave his mind something to focus on instead of the dark thoughts swirling around.
“How long has it been coming on?”
“Couple of months. I was ignoring it, pushing myself to keep going. I realise now it was a mistake. I feel so awful, Greg.” Sherlock had started shaking again and fat tears were dripping down his face. Lestrade gently pulled back the covers and climbed into bed behind Sherlock, wrapping himself around him, arms and legs providing just the right amount of pressure that Sherlock needed to feel safe and not crowded.
“Want to tell me what’s going on inside that head of yours? Maybe it’ll let some of the darkness out if you share it with me.”
“Hopeless. I am utterly hopeless. I feel broken and, god. Terrified. It’s crept into my bones and I’m so fucking scared.” Sherlock had screwed his eyes tight shut, as if he were in great physical pain. Lestrade ran his hand up and down Sherlock’s arm, from the tips of his fingers right up to his shoulder and back. This calmed Sherlock down slightly and he opened his eyes, peering up at Lestrade.
“You won’t leave me, will you Greg?”
Lestrade’s breath caught in his throat.
“’Course I won’t, Princess. I’ll always be here for you and don’t you forget that. I love you.”
“I know you do. I just- I can’t. It doesn’t get through when I feel like this. I’m falling, Greg, I’m falling and I’m going to hit the ground sooner or later. I feel like I’m dying.”
Lestrade hadn’t noticed he was crying until a tear trickled down to the corner of his mouth and he tasted the salt. He licked it away and pressed his entire body to the back of Sherlock’s.
“I’ve got you, Sherlock. I’ve got you.”
Sherlock’s breathing was starting to even out as he was succumbing to sleep.
Lestrade felt angry. With who, he couldn’t say. He just felt angry that someone as brilliant as Sherlock could feel so horribly alone and frightened. He wished that he could carry it for Sherlock so Sherlock didn’t have to. He’d swap places with Sherlock in an instant if he could, so that he were the one crying and shaking and breaking into tiny pieces if it meant Sherlock would be spared. It broke his heart watching Sherlock become so frightened. Lestrade pressed a kiss to the back of Sherlock’s neck and quietly arranged himself so that he could keep a vigil over Sherlock until he awoke in the morning. He was Sherlock’s protector, and he’d watch over Sherlock every single night for the rest of their lives if it meant Sherlock felt even the smallest bit more secure.