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Reason Behind the Jumpers

Chapter Text

He expects Sherlock to notice eventually, immediately in fact. But he doesn’t, and isn’t that just the most surprising thing? He doesn’t notice all the times that John winces when he drags him to and from crime scenes by the wrists, the harsh woollen fabric of his jumpers catching and snagging in a way that’s both horrible but wonderful and invigorating at the same time – it’s always amazing that Sherlock is able to miss the small, quiet hiss of combined pain and satisfaction every time it happens.

Even more amazing is the fact that Sherlock apparently overlooks how every single shirt that John owns is actually long sleeved, how every jumper is just that little bit too big for him so that the cuffs hang and dangle halfway over his hands to give him a false sense of delusional security. Sherlock doesn’t notice how John subconsciously pulls at his sleeves in self-conscious actions that he’s not really aware of himself. Nor does he notice the way that it falls out of tempo after only a few hours anyway, only to return two or so days later when angry red marks are fresh on his arms once more.

If he ever had to go to hospital because of them, it’d be a dead giveaway but no, no. John is a doctor himself – he knows how to clean wounds, how to effectively disinfect cuts and sterilise them; he knows how to stitch too deep gashes together again. In true honesty, he’s sewn himself back together so many times now that he may as well have become a ragdoll himself quite some time ago.

It’s stupid that he still does it really, but it’s rather become a life-long habit instead of the addiction it is for some people. He started when he was thirteen and still getting used to life in secondary school, still trying to fit in with his classmates. One of the people in his class decided to make a joke about someone cutting themselves and, because John didn’t understand what his fellow student was trying to say when the rest of the class apparently did, he wanted to try it for himself – if not to understand then to see if it really was as easy to do as his classmates had made it sound.

He wasn’t even able to break the thin skin that lined his wrist until one horrid night when his sister had returned home drunk and shouting. His dad had bellowed so loud at her in return that the neighbours had visited the next day to see if everything the night before had been okay. His mother had cried originally, her wails high pitched and piercing in the darkness of the night. The day after she had been calm, collected, and had explained to the neighbours that everything had just been a bit of a misunderstanding between family members.

John, on that night, had stood from his bed and retrieved the blade from the pencil sharpener he had dismantled four days prior. He’d pushed it hard against the inside of his wrist and had dragged it slowly across the pale surface of the skin, firstly confused then secondly panicked as he saw the blood quickly rising from the thin crimson line that now adorned his wrist. The action had been repeated three more times before John had thrown the small sliver of sharpened metal across to the other side of the room. Blood had congealed on the skin of his wrist quicker than he had expected and – in his hurry to stop the flow – he’d pressed the fabric of his shirt against it.

When his mother had asked him where the darkened stain on his shirt had come from, he’d merely sheepishly smiled at her and rubbed the back of his neck in a boyish gesture before blaming it on a nosebleed. She’d shook her head and chuckled at him before tapping her index finger against his nose as she gently told him, “Tissues are for noses, Johnny – not t-shirts.”

It had got worse from there on in and, by the time he was fifteen, he’d escalated steadily from turning to the blade every six months to three months to one month to two weeks to every day, little red marks being added to different parts of his body in a steady current of slashes and gashes upon his skin. When he’d gone to University to study for his medical exams it had stopped all together, time instead being dedicated to the revision and memorisation of every bit of information his textbooks held. By the time he had signed up for the army, the scars had faded to barely there white lines. When he was fighting for the lives of both himself and his comrades, he didn’t need the blade to distract himself from anything because he was being distracted from the blade by the excitement and horror that exploded into colour around him.

And then he was shot.

He was sent back to the bustling, boring streets of London and the continuous, repetitive life of an average, overlooked civilian. He was directed to a councillor but she didn’t know and John sure as hell knew himself that he wasn’t ever going to tell her – she could work it out for herself, it was her job after all. Needless to say, he’d started again without fully meaning to give into the temptation around him.

When he’d moved in with Sherlock it had escalated to something he did every two or so days, because – while Sherlock and life with him likened to that of the noise and horror that a battlefield held – it wasn’t nearly so sufficiently distracting. The problem with habits is that it’s harder to stop than it is to stop an addiction. With an addiction it’s a craving for something; with a habit it’s a source of normality, a source of routine. Sherlock is probably the furthest away from a source of normality and routine as one could get.

So he rids away with all the short sleeve shirts he owns, even the ones he merely wore to bed once, and gives them to a charity shop a few streets away from the flat. He buys four new jumpers and Sherlock buys him a fifth one (navy blue and thick white stripes) as a present and he appreciates the gesture more than he probably should. He keeps the few button up shirts he owns and buys a fresh pack of razor blades from Tescos the next time he heads out of the flat to buy milk so that this way he can throw out the flimsy sharpened  metal he’s ripped from various other objects – sharpeners, small scalpels, disposable razors.

And that’s how he sits now, a fresh razor blade pressed over the healed but scarred skin of his wrist and all he can think about is how long it’s actually been since he’s last been able to cut this area (he’s starting to lose track of whether this is truly just a habit or if it’s starting to become an addiction now – if his self made excuses are falling down around him or not).

Sherlock has been playing the violin for the last three hours and hasn’t shown the slightest sign of letting up just yet so John feels safe in the knowledge that he won’t be interrupted during his sort of macabre form of a deluded ritual. He doesn’t drag steel across skin just yet, instead he lets himself get lost in his memories of the times he’s done this before, been in this exact position before, and it’s like he’s thirteen again with his ripped out pencil sharpener blade pressed to the inside of his delicate wrist but not yet possessing the strength to pull it across.

There’s a faint ringing in the background and the ceasing of a melody but he’s not able to fully pay attention to or acknowledge it. He’s never once actually cried whilst doing this and he’s probably not going to any time soon – not during the actual cutting anyway, he’s cried plenty of times afterwards when he was a child. What he’s aware of though, every time he does it, is a dull ache that grows and grows inside his chest and he’s pushed it down every time before, ignored it. But today it just physically hurts and drains him as it curls and tightens in his chest, behind his ribs. He grips the cold metal with his forefinger and thumb and is about to drag it across when—

“John, Lestrade called and there’s been—“

Everything stops.


He’s not entirely sure who it is but either he or Sherlock takes a sharp breath in. It’s only when it catches in his throat that he realises that it was, in fact, him. John doesn’t look up but he can feel the surprise in Sherlock's gaze as he stares at him, pins him with his eyes as he tries to unravel and make sense of the situation that has been thrown down before him.


“Get out, Sherlock.”


“Get. Out.”

There are a few moments of silence and when the first drop of water splashes and breaks against the unmarred and unbloodied skin of John’s wrist he’s completely and utterly confused for a few seconds. Then he realises he’s crying as the second drop falls to hit the metal surface of the razor and he feels so weak and so, so stupid. Sherlock still hasn’t left and John can practically hear the gears turning inside that genius mind of the detective’s as he tries to deduce just what exactly is going on in front of his eyes but fails to do so. John just stays still, fingers beginning to hurt as his grip remains consistently tight on the razor.

And then pale, white, nervous fingers curl around the wrist of the hand holding the miniature weapon of the self and then it’s being pulled away, his fingers loosening to let the metal fall from his grip and hit the wooden flooring of his bedroom with a soft, quiet ‘plink’. The companions to the first set of pale, white, nervous fingers grip the fabric of the jumper he’s wearing (navy blue and thick white stripes) and tug it back down over the exposed skin of his wrist, hiding the scars that a lifetime of abuse left in its wake.

The tears are rolling down his cheeks in a slow, steady and unstoppable stream now and no matter how hard he tries, he can’t quell their flow – nor can he control the way his breath hitches when he tries to suck a breath in to ground himself, steady himself, just a tiny bit. It doesn’t work in the slightest and he’s suddenly aware of everything around him, everything his environment has to throw at him: Sherlock hovering above him, nervous and unsure of what to do; a dull, unsatisfied numb feeling fluttering across the unbroken skin of his wrist; the burning sensation of yet-to-fall tears behind his eyes.

It’s overwhelming.

Then he’s all too aware of arms circling around him and pulling him close against the warmer-than-expected chest of his flatmate that continues to stand (continues to stay) in front of him despite the orders he gave for him to leave. John hesitates for a few long and stretched seconds before he brings his arms up to curl them around Sherlock’s torso and waist, hands fisting themselves into the blue, silken fabric of the supposed sociopath’s dressing gown.

John hadn’t expected the comfort but he welcomes it and – for the first time in far, far too long – he lets go and simply cries into Sherlock’s chest, strong arms and the bond of friendship encasing and protecting him.


Chapter Text

An addiction is something that can be summarised accurately in three words: unrelenting, unforgiving, and unloving. An addiction is not easy nor is it something that someone can completely control (if they were able to control it, it wouldn’t be an addiction at all, would it?). They ruin lives, they ruin bodies, and they ruin minds. This is something Sherlock Holmes knows all too well. He’s far more familiar with the comforting lull that comes from giving in to a long staved off urge, and he knows even more closely how that gentle bubble of security can quickly be popped and turned against him. Addictions are life consuming and very rarely truly overcome by the people they claim.

He’s known what addictions do to people from a much too young age and years of living with Mycroft. He has always been one for observing and watching and learning – why should it have been any different when he was five, six, seven, and eight...? He saw Mycroft’s relationship with food, how it claimed him and manipulated him. Even more so, how he let it. The constant diets that his brother always forced himself to stick by because he thought he was too ‘fat’ or ate too much.

He knows fully that Mycroft, as a teenager, used to go from starving himself to binging himself, starving to binging, starving to binging, all the way up until the day Mummy finally confronted him about it, told him he had to stop what he was doing to himself. Sherlock (aged twelve) had watched in utter amazement as Mycroft (aged nineteen) had agreed to stay at home for a year before heading off to University to let Mummy help him with his problems. It would have been sweet if it had worked, if Mycroft had wanted the problems to be fixed.

Mummy herself wasn’t exactly an ideal representation of someone without an addiction herself, but in hindsight Sherlock can see that it was more of a habit that she’d build up over the years which led her to cover herself in layers of cosmetics every day. Looking back, he supposes that’s why Mycroft is the favourite son – because he never questioned her on why she spent four hours in the mornings readying herself, why she needed to put on a mask, why she needed to look good when it was just Sherlock and Mycroft there with her.

She’d never once answered him; instead she had merely smiled sadly into the vanity mirror and busied herself with blending the pale foundation over the skin of her face.

His father had been worse. For the five short years that Sherlock had known him before he’d disappeared, he had never once seen the man without smoke falling from between his lips. He smoked and Sherlock almost willingly followed in his footsteps. At first it was learning to tell which of the three tobaccos his father had put into his pipe on a particular day through judging the colour of the ashes and the smell of the smoke, the next it was wondering what it would be like to smoke it himself, to taste the dancing clouds. He didn’t find out in the five years he knew his father, or in the five years that followed his removal from Sherlock’s life.

Sherlock first began smoking when he was fifteen at a Christmas dinner when his Uncle Hamish had fallen asleep, drunk, in an armchair that the main living space of the Holmesian mansion held within it. He’d seen the cigarette held precariously between the forefinger and middle finger of his Uncle’s hand and – being as helpful as he so obviously was – Sherlock had plucked it away from the grasp that had loosened with sleep. He’d had every intention of the action following to have been putting it out before it just so happened to cause a house fire.

But he didn’t.

All of two steps had been taken towards the fireplace in the centre of the room’s largest wall before Sherlock had been distracted by the way the embers managed to glow a reddened orange yet yellow at the same time. The first drag he’d taken had burnt its way down his throat, stung, and made him cough. The second drag he’d taken had almost made him choke but it had been far better than the first. The third drag he’d taken had bordered on feeling pleasant. And, by the end of the cigarette, he’d almost wanted another.

The addiction was easy to fuel for the few years where it was illegal for him to buy cigarettes purely for the fact that most of the shops never asked him for ID when he purchased the packets of thin, paper covered tobacco. His mother was far too busy worrying over her appearance and the how the house looked and the income to notice the habit and he had no cause for concern with Mycroft as he was at University, but for a few days every year. By the time he’d found out, it was perfectly legal for Sherlock to smoke and there was absolutely nothing Mycroft could do about his brother’s life choice except complain about it.

Something that was a little less than legal that Mycroft could probably do a lot about was the cocaine.

Sherlock can’t even remember how he started with that but he’s rather sure it was some time during his stay at University and that Sebastian Wilkes was probably the one he could blame for it. Income was practically disposable, especially with their family backgrounds, so they could easily afford to pay for the expensive drugs.

The things he can just manage to remember from University are mostly just little snippets of moments in the dorm rooms with him and Sebastian as not-really-friends consuming line after line after line of powdered cocaine. It’s all so much of a blur that he can’t even recall what subjects he studied or what qualifications he gained – if any – from the mostly forgotten and definitely wasted five years of his life.

After University, he hadn’t stopped but he had been down one person to share the high with. The addiction carried on until one night, when he’d done at least ten long lines of the powdery substance, he’d come dangerously close to an overdose and had passed out. When he’d awoken he was in hospital with a pointedly unimpressed Mycroft frowning at him from the chair settled by his bedside. “This has to stop,” he’d heard Mycroft say and it had, for the most part.

Sherlock was clean for three months and in those three months Mycroft had introduced him to Lestrade and helped him set up step as a Consulting Detective. It had gone well for all of three months and he should give his brother more credit for what he’d done to help him, but what they had was a strong sibling rivalry and one of those isn’t so easily broken.

However, when the cold cases and the fresh ones ran dry after he’d solved as many of the crimes as his abilities at the time had allowed, there was nothing left for him to do; nothing that would effectively keep his mind occupied. So he’d created his own seven-per-cent solution of cocaine and around five millilitres of water that he’d taken to injecting three times a day in between cases. The surprise was that it hadn’t been Mycroft who had found out first this time; it had been the newly acquainted DI.

“You can’t do this,” Lestrade had said, frown on his features as he’d stared at Sherlock’s slumped figure in his chair.

“I’ve already done it,” Sherlock had replied and, even now, he compliments himself for having had a coherent and rather good retort when he’d had a needle thrust under the skin of his arm at the time.

The downside was that Lestrade had told him, after that particular incident, he needed to get clean or he’d stop letting him come on cases – he refused to be associated with a drug addict – and that had set Sherlock straight on his tracks. He’d lasted a year, fighting with wanting to but being unable to. And then he’d had a brilliant idea: get a flat share.

It was ingenious and really, he should have thought of it a lot, lot sooner. So he’d headed down to St. Barts to complete one of the many experiments he’d been conducting at the time knowing that he’d see Mike Stamford the. He'd waited then mentioned it to him and the next thing he knew John Watson was being introduced to him and had stepped straight into his drug craving life.

Wonderful, fascinating, complicated-but-ordinary John Watson who could so easily be mistaken for any other member of the population, lacking in brains and so utterly boring. But, after only a few hours of knowing him, Sherlock could tell outright that he was anything but. An ex-army doctor has promise to be interesting, but an ex-army doctor with a psychosomatic lip that Sherlock could make go away was just brilliant and it only got better when John shot the cabbie to save his life after knowing him for not even a day.

They’d had curry that night and Sherlock had predicted the fortune cookies (and got them right, of course). It’s the first time in his life he can equate to being truly happy.

As pathetic as it may seem, the simple bond of friendship makes it so much easier for him to control the want for drugs and almost enough to stop the more legal craving for a cigarette but not quite. He can safely say he’s glad he met John, glad he allowed even this one person into his life, because he couldn’t have received anyone better than he had.

But even then, the cutting comes as a surprise.

One second he’s playing the violin, the next the phone is ringing and Lestrade is calling to tell him there’s been a murder in Camden Town (“locked room, should be right down your street”), then he’s opening the door to John’s room, slipping the phone into one of the pockets of the dressing gown as he begins to announce:

“John, Lestrade called and there’s been—“

But that’s as far as he gets because John is sat there, razor pressed firmly against the inside of his wrist and Sherlock can see the white flashes of scars that reside there, gentle in a pack that’s just waiting for additions to be made. He stares because he can’t help it - he’s shocked into stillness as he tries to assemble the facts into some sort of order so he can try to find out what the hell is happening and why it’s happening and how he missed this if it’s been going on for so long, which it has (a long, long time judging from the littering of scars). How the hell did he miss this?

“John...” he says before he really thinks because it’s the only word he knows right now, the only word that is whirling around in his head as he tries to make sense of it, the person, and the actions.

“Get out, Sherlock,” is his friend’s reply.

“John,” Sherlock repeats, more firm this time.

“Get. Out.”

He stays still because John doesn’t look at him when he says it, won’t look at him. But it’s easy enough to see the tears as they roll down the still-tanned-from-desert-sun features to hit against the still present tanline on the doctor’s wrist as his hands begin to shake. Sherlock’s throat goes dry and constricts as his chest tightens in a way that physically hurts. He hears Mycroft’s words – “caring is not an advantage” – break in through the barriers of his mind and he supposes that no, it’s not, not if it hurts like this all of the time.

Before he really realises what he’s doing, he’s stepping forwards and has John’s left hand grasped between his pale, white, nervous fingers. He squeezes just so and the razor blade drops from John’s grip to fall against the bedroom’s wooden floorboards with a soft ‘plink’. Sherlock takes hold of the end of the jumper sleeve that exposes John’s wrist, noting briefly at this is the one he brought him when noticed John’s sudden infatuation with the woollen clothing article. Now he knows the reason behind the jumpers.

Gently, he rolls the sleeve down back over the scarred wrist in a gesture that he hopes says ‘I understand that you don’t want me to see and I won’t unless you ask me to.’ And then, before he can really control it, his arms are wrapping around John’s form and he’s pulling John’s head down to rest against his chest. He holds him close and, after a few moments, he feels muscles shift as John raises his arms to reciprocate, hands fisting into the blue silken fabric of Sherlock’s dressing down.

Sherlock presses his cheek against John’s hair and sucks in a breath as he tightens his arms around his friend. He briefly entertains the notion that this is likely the most glad he’s ever been in his life to have disobeyed someone’s orders for him to do something.

He’s not sure how long they stay like that, or when he starts mumbling choice words into the sandy strands of John’s hair, but he does know that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because, as much as he loathes admitting it, John is his friend and – sociopath or not – Sherlock will be there when he needs him because he cares.


Chapter Text

After what Sherlock would prefer to refer to as ‘The Incident’, things are more than a bit awkward between both him and John of them. Sherlock sits stoticly on one end of the sofa, silent, whilst John sits leaning against the arm of the opposite side, sipping tea nervously. Neither of them knows what to say really, not after what happened last night. Sherlock knows that he had thought to himself, no, that he'd just about full out promised himself that he was going to be there for John when he needed him but this intense scale of emotion is far beyond his scattered area of expertise. He wants to help, it's just that he just simply does not know how to.

Turning his head as discreetly as possible, he looks over at John, studying him in stolen fractions of glances. It’s easy to tell from the tense, straightened posture of the man next to him that his flatmate is blatantly uncomfortable – nervous. While his eyes are aimed towards the flickering image on the television screen, he’s not actually watching or paying attention to it; he’s thinking, lost in his own mind and probably worrying over what happened last night – just like Sherlock is. John’s fingers grip tight at the handle of his mug, skin stretched taut over his knuckles, turning them white. Sherlock frowns, furrows his eyebrows, then sighs and stands up before stepping in front of John, thighs pressed agains the rim of the coffee table.

His flatmate is so lost in his own mind that he doesn’t even notice the fact that Sherlock is in front of him until the detective’s fingers slide and curl carefully over his own on the mug, causing him to jump slightly at the contact and slosh little droplets of lukewarm tea across his jean-clad thighs. Sherlock lowers himself down in measured, calculated movements to perch on the edge of the coffe table in front of John, keeping the movement of his body slow as if he’s fightened he could scare John at any moment, cause him to run away from him. After a few seconds of Sherlock twirling nonsense patterns over the back of John’s hand with his fingertips, the doctor lets out a shaky breath. Sherlock feels his grip on the mug loosen a bit beneath his palm and he breaks the contact between their hands to allow John to move and place it carefully on the table a few inches from Sherlock’s hip.

There are a few tense moments of silence that remind Sherlock of the disdainful look Mycroft had given him when he’d found out about the cocaine; withdrawn, disappointed, cold. It makes him feel uncomfortable and he furrows his eyebrows, fingers feeling useless with nothing to do. He's not thinking clearly when he decides to curl them around John’s hands, but he feels he makes the right choice when John squeezes his fingers gently. He hopes the gesture is reassuring and not demanding – hopes it shows that he’s here for John and that he wants to help him. Fingertips stutter into movement as they begin to trace the same nonsense patterns as before, only they are copied onto John’s palms now as opposed to the back of his hands.

John looks like he wants to say something, the corners of his lips twitching as the words are forced to stay in his mouth, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallows and thinks over what the words are actually going to be. When he glances up, Sherlock gives him a barely there smile and keeps eye contact, willing John to talk because he really does want to help him.

“I, um...about last night,” John says, looking away for a brief second before looking back to Sherlock’s eyes, “I’m...I’m sorry you had to...” Sherlock stays quiet, waiting patiently for John to finish. He knows how hard articulating in this sort of situation can be. “Sorry you had to see me like that,” John ends weakly; his voice is shaking from what Sherlock suspects is nerves.

“John, I assure you that you have in no way made me uncomfortable. It’s my fault for walking in on you anyway – I should have knocked,” Sherlock mumbles, being the one to look away this time as he drops his gaze to their laced fingers, fading tan looking dark in comparison to alabaster skin. “If nothing, at least I know a little bit more about you than I once did.”

It seems that John doesn’t quite know what to say so a silence stretches out between them once more, tight but not as uncomfortable as the last few have been. Sherlock breaks it by carefully saying: “You can talk to me at anytime you need to. I’m willing to for you, John.”

Fingers tighten slightly around his once more and John smiles softy – shyly – at him for a moment before he ducks his head to stare at their hands along with Sherlock.

“I’ll be sure to keep that in mind, Sherlock,” John replies, then pauses, lips pursing for a few seconds before he speaks up again, “And if, um, if you ever need to talk to someone as well...” He trails off.

“I know, John,” Sherlock smiles and slips his fingers out from in between John’s, smoothing the tips gently over the palm before standing up from the coffee table and stretching languidly. He moves into the kitchen and asks “Tea?” as though the beverage can solve every present problem in life. He wouldn’t be surprised if it could.

Eventually, John does talk to him about it, but only after they have engaged themselves in a particularly disturbing case. They sit on opposite ends of the sofa once more, although it's obvious they are more relaxed in the presence of one another than they had been previously.

They have been sat for the last three hours watching (well, not really watching as neither of them are really paying attention, their thoughts caught up in the details of the murder of the fourth victim of the seral killer they had been trying to track down, still alive when they had arrived with Lestrade but her injuries too much to be treated. She was dead within minutes.They managed to catch the killer) night-time television which, needless to say, is undoubtably just as bad as day-time television usually is. John huffs a sigh from between his lips and stands up to turn the television off before dropping down again onto the soft surface of the sofa.

“I think I’m ready to talk about it, properly,” John says and instantly Sherlock knows exactly what ‘it’ is, “That is, if you, um, if you want to.”

“John,” Sherlock says, exasperated though there’s a soft smile pulling at the corners of his lips, “I’m ready to talk about it whenever you are.”

John smiles brighter than Sherlock believes he has ever seen him smile before and it makes his heart ache in a way that feels strangely pleasant even though it tugs at his insides and makes his chest feel too full.

The next few hours are spent with John telling Sherlock his story: how it happened, why it happened, when it happened. And Sherlock listens attentively throughout the entirety of it, making comments and asking questions here and there but ultimately allowing John to carve the path the conversation takes. When it appears John has told him all he thinks is worth saying, Sherlock fiddles with both their sets of fingers (which have somehow come to be touching at some point in this whole ordeal) before smiling sadly and beginning to relay his own tale about the drugs.

He feels strangely elevated afterwards.

A month after ‘The Incident’, Sherlock watches as John walks into the kitchen with a small white plastic box clutched in his left hand. He stands in front of the kitchen bin for what must be at least fifteen long, silent minutes with no explanation regarding what hes doing before foot presses down onto pedal and the lid pops open. A shaking hand is held over the finite abyss before fingers unclench from around the box and let it drop, hitting the bin liner at the bottom with a slight crackle of plastic. The foot is withdrawn from the pedal and the metal lid clangs shut loudly. It takes Sherlock until John presses his palms over his eyes to realise that the box contained his razors; he’s trying to stop.

Sherlock stands up from his seat in front of the microscope and takes small, hesitant steps forwards until he’s standing next to John. He lowers a hand to rest gently on his friend’s shoulder before he decides this calls for more comfort (he’s beginning to learn how to gauge how much John needs in certain situations). The hand slips around both of John’s shoulders and pulls him gently to Sherlock’s chest, so his temple is resting against the fabric of Sherlock’s shirt. John lets out a shaky sigh and turns his face slightly towards the fabric.

“It’ll get easier,” Sherlock mumbles quietly, not registering that he had spoken the words until his own ears hear them being said aloud.

“I know,” John replies.

Sherlock just holds him closer.