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To Keep From Sinking

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He had done many things he regretted over the years, many things he looked back on with regret and remorse. He suppose he shouldn’t have, considering why he had done them, but he did. That was the truest sign he was not a high functioning sociopath, he supposed. The fact he felt bad about doing horrible things to people meant he had a conscience, meant he was more normal than not. It meant that he was capable of being a fully functional human being. He managed to put the things he had done behind him, for the most part, move on with his life. It was easy enough: tuck them into a dark and desolate corner of his mind palace and just leave them there.

But the things that had been done to him, on the other hand, were harder to let go of.

He tried to push them away, keep them in the dark, desolate corner, but they wouldn’t stay. They would creep out at the oddest times, triggered by the most mundane things. A car would backfire and he’d be back in Mozambique, hearing gunfire spraying the otherwise silent streets, feel the slug go into his side. He could hear two sergeants arguing at the Yard over a theory on a case that had nothing to do with him and he’d be brought back to Los Angeles, to the two thugs fighting over his immobile body that one of them had knifed dangerously close to his spine.

And sometimes there wasn’t even a trigger. Sometimes there would be complete silence and he would let his mind wander and he would shut his eyes and he was there, in whatever dangerous situation his mind decided to trap him in while his eyes were closed, living through it all over again, every last detail: all the sights and sounds, the smells and feelings on every inch of his body…he would even feel the temperature and taste the things he tasted when he was there. It was so vivid, like a waking nightmare. And then he’d either snap out of it or be snapped out of it and then he’d shake it off as best he could and go about his business.

He was good at putting on the face. He was quite good at it, actually, the impassive face of boredom, that he didn’t care about the world around him, just the select few in his orbit. To the majority of the outside world he must have appeared fine. No one asked for details of the world’s only consulting detective’s travels; they must have imagined it as though it was a spy thriller, with all of the intrigue and drama and none of the pain and misery. Let them. It was easier that way.

His friends, though…his friends had to know something was amiss. He could see it in their eyes, in the way they looked at him. It hovered in their gazes, the concern they had for him, varying in levels depending on what they caught him doing. He’d slipped back to heroin once, before this mess with Moriarty…surely he might do it again, would he not? And, perhaps, they had good reason to worry. He knew there was a problem, that he shouldn’t be like this. But it wasn’t a major problem. It wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle. He could focus on other things, pull himself out of his moods. Keep a stiff upper lip, as his brother had always said when he was young. He would persevere, as he always did.

Moriarty was behind him. Twice now, forever removed from his life…hopefully. Magnussen was behind him, too, and good riddance for that. He had a bright future to look forward to, he was told. John and Mary had had their daughter, a beautiful child they’d named Catherine. She was one of the few bright spots in his dreary days. He had his cases again, the consults with Scotland Yard and the private cases with John, and now with Molly, as the Meat Dagger was well and truly out of the picture. Good riddance to him, she deserved better. All in all, there was more to look forward to in his life then there was to detract from it.

And yet he scarcely wanted to take part in it.

Today he lay on the sofa, still in his pyjamas and dressing gown, dozing and yet not really trying to sleep. He seemed not to have the energy to move. Too little sleep, he supposed, though that had never been a problem before. Perhaps too little food, though he didn’t have much of an appetite. That wasn’t strange, though when he did want to eat it took a great deal of effort to do more than make some toast and smother it with orange marmalade or, if he was absolutely starving, call for takeaway. He heard the door opened and turned, wanting whoever it was that was coming in to turn right back around and go away. He only sat up when he saw that it was Molly, and she was carrying a large plastic sack of food. “Molly,” he said quietly.

“You’ve been rather quiet, and John said you might not have eaten,” she said, reaching up and tucking some hair behind her ear. “I…um…I went to an Indian restaurant for lunch, with friends, and I thought you might like something too. There’s some chicken berry Britannia Biryani, some mahi tikka, some prawn koliwada, some lamb samosas, some gunpowder potatoes…and there’s a lot of garlic naan and steamed basmati rice.”

“Thank you,” he said before turning back to face the back of the sofa. “You can put it in the kitchen.”

She nodded and then took it into the kitchen. She began taking the containers out of the sack and then paused. “I…are you all right, Sherlock?”

“I’m fine, just tired,” he said. He appreciated the food and he supposed he appreciated the concern but right now he just wanted peace and quiet. He wanted to be left alone. “I’ll talk to you later, all right?”

“All right,” she said. She finished what she was doing and then turned and left the kitchen, making it to the top if the stairs. “If you need to talk, Sherlock, you know you can call me. I’m always there for you.” He stayed quiet, and after a moment she went down the stairs and left the flat. He shut his eyes and tried to doze off again. If he was very lucky, perhaps he could get some sleep without flashing back to a time he didn’t want to think about. He could only hope.