Even after purchasing the ring it took Sherlock a few weeks to build up the courage and to figure out how, exactly, to propose. He kept the ring with him at all times, absentmindedly fiddling with it constantly. He was completely immersed in his own mind for three full weeks, so much so he didn't seeing the warning signs.

That semester he had an evening class. He would come home after the class and Dakota would be on the couch, reading a book to wind down after work. They'd eat dinner together and then study for a bit before heading to bed. It was a nice routine, but Dakota was spiraling downwards quickly from the stress of work, school, and family issues back home. Sherlock would beat himself up over not noticing for years, but he was so worked up over his plans to propose.

It was a Thursday. Sherlock had finally figured out how he was going to propose. He'd take her out for nice dinner, followed by a walk by the river. It was simple. It was not entirely original. But he knew Dakota would appreciate it. She wouldn't want anything fancy or over dramatic. He made reservations before going to the evening class for the next night.

He didn't really pay much attention to the lecture that night. Now that he had a plan the nerves had suddenly switched to excitement. He was going to get married, he thought with a grin. Sherlock and Dakota Holmes. All of his previous worries about the idea didn't really seem to matter anymore. They'd get through whatever they needed to. What mattered was that they were going to get married.

He practically skipped on his way home. He opened the door gleefully, ready to swoop to the couch and kiss Dakota happily on the lips.

But she wasn't there. He frowned slightly, the excitement still bubbling in his stomach despite her absence.

"Dakota?" he called cheerily, setting his book bag down and walking further into the apartment. The apartment was strangely silent. The excitement started to simmer down into worry.

"Dakota?" he called again, smile slipping. He checked the kitchen. No sign of her. The bedroom was also empty. Then he checked the bathroom and the excitement went swooping out from his chest into a coiled, sick feeling panic.

The bathtub was full to the brim with water and blood. Next to the sink were a couple of drug bottles. Dakota's legs were hanging out of the end of the tub, wet jeans clinging to skin.

Muttering incoherently in his panic, Sherlock rushed to the tub and dragged Dakota out, collapsing to the floor with her in his arms. He quickly took in her too pale skin and the deep cuts on her wrists, heart jumping to his throat and tears springing to his eyes. He started when she coughed quietly, eyes fluttering open.

"Dakota," he said brokenly as her eyes sought him out. Her mouth twisted weakly into a sardonic smile. She opened her mouth ever so slightly as if to say something, but Sherlock was shaking his head frantically.

"Nononononononono, Dakota, no, I'm so sorry, I love you, I'm sorry..."

Her eyes slipped shut slowly and her body shuddered in his eyes before growing too still. Sherlock choked back a sob and cradled her close, the ring box digging into his leg from the weight of her warm body.

A/N: Thank you again for reading. You (yes, you) are beautiful and brilliant. xoxo

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