This is a companion piece to my other Sherlock fic, "Time to Play." If you haven't read that yet, please do so before reading this! Thanks, and happy reading! :) Reviews make me happy.

John sat, unmoving. Sherlock paced holes into the carpet, absentmindedly running his thin, pale hands through his mopped curls. I wonder if he realizes he does that so much.

"John, what did he do to you?"

He'd expected nothing less than the blunt force of his question. Sherlock had made it quite clear over the past few weeks that the abuse John had suffered at the hands of that sick, delusional bastard wouldn't be forgotten about. For once, Sherlock was playing therapist to the man who felt the annoyingly constant need to mother the man who put his life in danger three to five times a week. And that's during a good week.

Sherlock had to applaud John's stoicism and stubbornness. He had thought that he'd deduced every fact knowledgeable about the army doctor sitting in front of him. Hell, he was acting more stubborn than Sherlock could ever manage to. The pride of the soldier. Something that Sherlock had always believed to be one of John's most admirable qualities. Not his favorite, but one that definitely deserved recognition. But right now, Sherlock wanted nothing more than to break it. He wanted to make the walls that guarded John's nightmares to explode, to crumble down to dust so that Sherlock could see, could understand.

John wasn't letting him understand.

Sherlock paused near the mantle, extending a long index finger to touch the skull that had been his friend for so many years, before John had come along and forced him into a reality where it was actually possible to maintain human contact without repulsing or confusing people. Not to say that John was always completely happy or comprehending of Sherlock's erratic behavior and often-biting words, but he was never, ever disgusted with the consulting detective. His unrelenting nature to always be nothing less than John Watson had made Sherlock think that he was living with one of the simplest creatures alive. As easy to see through as his skull, with no expectations of what was needed of him. Sherlock appreciated John as a breathing sounding board; it was loads better than speaking to a once-but-no-longer-animated object that couldn't compliment him on his brilliance or offer conjectures that sometimes forced Sherlock to doubt that the entire human populace was stupid.

That was what placed John in that neutral gray area in Sherlock's mind, the zone where he couldn't differentiate between what was truth and what was just observation. Because Sherlock had learned that despite what he observed about John, not all of it was fact. If there was something that Sherlock loathed with all of his being, it was not possessing all of the facts. It was the reason why Sherlock was behaviorally inconsistent; he always managed to discover something that overthrew any preconceived notion about John that he'd already had. It frustrated and fascinated him at the same time.

"Sherlock?" John's quiet voice seemed to scream at Sherlock. He hadn't realized how silent his mind had become.

Sherlock suddenly knelt down in front of John, gray eyes locking with molten blue ones. Maybe, if Sherlock actually tried seeing instead of observing (how ironic, considering the amount of times Sherlock spent ordering Inspector Lestrade to do the reverse), John would finally open. The sooner that he would stop being such a…mystery to Sherlock.

"Sherlock," John repeated, sighing heavily as if the weight of the world was dropped upon his shoulders.

Well, with a flatmate like Sherlock, it practically was.

Their gaze never broke. All Sherlock could discern from John's eyes was the pain, the misunderstanding. Sherlock could never begin to comprehend what John had been through in Afghanistan, but even thinking about what James Moriarty had done to John was…like something existing against all laws of nature. It should never happen to someone like John, someone as normal, trusting, gentle, someone who understood so much while understanding so little. In those moments, Sherlock wanted nothing more than to seize the man and hold him so that maybe, just maybe, his nature would seep into Sherlock, warm his soul and compel him to recognize the heart that had grown in place of that huge, gaping hole in his chest that life and all of its consequences had put there.

So, Sherlock did the only thing he thought he could do at the moment. For once, he didn't speak, didn't question, didn't deduce, didn't think. If he had, he probably wouldn't be squeezing John's hand to death, grasping the only thing that anchored him to this reality.

"John," Sherlock whispered, "make me understand."

The smaller man closed his eyes, severing that untouchable bond they'd shared moments before. "This isn't something that I can just…say, Sherlock."

"Why not? Why can't it be said?"

John could see that he was trying furiously to identify what he could do instead of vocalizing it.

"It's not something that I can draw, write down, or act out through charades either."

Sherlock's answer sounded so small that John visibly winced. "I need to understand, John. No one can hurt you and get away with it."

"Someone already did, Sherlock," John said, a little too harshly.

The detective dropped John's hand as if it was Moriarty's own, stepping back to resume his pacing. John's blond head drooped, coming to rest on his hands. The stark warmth of the right one sent a small electric shock through his body. He couldn't help but lean a little more heavily on that one.

"Look, Sherlock," John began gently, "I know that it's killing you that your brain can't seem to fathom what happened to me. But you can't just use your brain to help you get it. This isn't transport, Sherlock."

Sherlock sank into his chair, mirroring his flatmate's position. "John." His voice sounded strangled, like it was his dying breath but there was yet more to say. "Please. Help me."

In all of the few months that he'd shared a flat with Sherlock Holmes, there had never been an instance where he had been requested for his assistance. It had always been "John, pass me my phone," or "A cuppa for me, John," or "For the love of God, John, observe for once in your life!" Of course, John had asked Sherlock for help numerous times; the percentage of those times that Sherlock had actually paid attention to John's requests was…small, to say the least. However, it was never in John's soldiering nature to deny a plea for help. Even if that plea had escaped Sherlock Holmes's lips.

John chose the most careful way he could explain to Sherlock what Moriarty had done to him.

"He hurt me, Sherlock. He broke me."

At the sound of those words, Sherlock jumped from his armchair and catapulted himself into John, wrapping his frame around John. The sheer surprise at the detective's actions knocked the wind out of the army doctor. He couldn't bring himself to return the fierce embrace.

"John, I…I'm…"

"I know, Sherlock."