I'm back again! I'm sorry if people have started to leave this story. I know it's a little depressing (understatement!). I just don't know how to write such a sad topic as a child losing their mother without it lasting for a while. Or what's discussed in this one. Good news! Healing begins in this chapter!

Chapter Eight

John had trouble sleeping for days after Joe's grandparents had stopped by 221B. He began to consider taking sleeping pills, but, every time he was awoken by one of Joe's nightmares, he knew he couldn't.

He'd only just gotten to sleep when a small hand shook him back to wakefulness. He opened his eyes to see Joe sitting up beside him. The boy pointed to the door.

It took a few moments for his sleep fogged mind to recognize the sound of water running. He slid out of the bed, knees popping. "I'll go check."

Joe nodded and lay back down, quickly falling asleep. John smiled. Progress.

He quietly left the room and peered into the rest of the flat. The sofa was empty. The sound of the water came from the kitchen sink. He looked to see a tall figure standing there.


The man turned to John with wide eyes. They were glazed over. His sleeves were pushed haphazardly past his elbows. His hands and arms, all the way up to his sleeves, were soaked and red.

"What's wrong, Sherlock?" he asked gently, trying to soothe him.

"My hands," he whispered, glancing down.

John bit his lip, keeping his swears to himself. He had an idea of what was going on in Sherlock's min. He kept his body language open as he slowly approached him. "Sherlock, why don't we dry your hands and go sit down?"

"John," Sherlock whispered, body slumping back against the counter. John took the dishtowel from the countertop and carefully took one of Sherlock's hands. He patted the skin down, taking inventory. Sherlock's skin was hot to the touch and raw. The skin around his nails had been scrubbed so hard that it had drawn blood.

"Come on," John said gently, leading him back to the couch, towel still wrapped around the man's hands.

"Was it a nightmare?"

Sherlock drew in a shaky breath. "I'm not a child, John."

He raised a brow. "Do you remember what I was like when I first moved in?"

Sherlock looked down into his lap. He knew all about the night terrors that had plagued John then. He could probably guess at a few of the newer ones.

John waited, still cradling Sherlock's swaddled hands between his own. Sherlock had seemed to have forgotten about them as his eyes grew haunted once more. He opened his mouth a few times, but nothing came out. He swallowed and began to force words out.

"I had not known that it would affect me so greatly. I have worked with death for so long…I thought it would be okay."

"Who was your first?" John asked.

Sherlock looked up at him desperately. John shook his head. He needed to speak. Sherlock looked away again. "After I left London, I went to Denmark. He…he was an older man, late sixties. He was dying anyway, but he was an immediate threat. I tried to shoot him in an alley and make it look like a mugging, but the gun misfired. I knew that he couldn't leave the alley. So I stabbed him. I watched him die inches from me and I couldn't not feel anything."

"Did you do anything after?"

Sherlock absently nodded. "I took the knife and wiped my prints off before tossing it in the sewer. I went back to the hotel room I had and scrubbed his blood off. I think I might have nearly thrown up."

John wrapped an arm around his friend's trembling shoulders. "The first time I killed someone was in Afghanistan. I was treating a local child while my squad got supplied. I was only away from them for a few minutes and I had just finished and looked at the child's face. She's seen a man with a gun come up behind me. I didn't hesitate and shot him. He was going to kill the girl and me and, though I knew that it was us or him, I still puked more than once that day. I dreamed about it and what could have happened for weeks.

"You're human, Sherlock. I'd worry if you didn't feel anything after it. I…couldn't be there for you before, but I can now. You're not alone anymore."

Sherlock's body collapsed against the back of the couch. "How do I forget?"

John squeezed his shoulder. "You can't. You learn to live through it every day of your life and try to remember better times."

"There's so much blood, John," he whispered brokenly. "I don't know if I could remember anything good after that."

John opened his mouth to reply (even though he still did not know what to say) when his bedroom door opened. Joe walked in, rubbing his eye with a fist. He sleepily crawled up onto the couch. John opened his arm not around Sherlock so the boy could sit in his lap. But Joe curled himself in Sherlock's, tucking his hand around a fistful of the loose fabric of Sherlock's shirt. John smiled.

"Then make new memories."

Sherlock glanced up at him and back down. "John, what…what do I do?"

"Put your arm around him and relax," John whispered. "I think he's trying to make you feel better."

Joe glanced up at him with a sleepy smile.

John released Sherlock's hands. They'd quit bleeding, though they still looked painful. He put an arm around the boy and left it there. John pressed his lips together to keep from laughing. Sherlock looked immensely uncomfortable.

They were all lulled to sleep by the flat's creaks and groans, the only sound other than their breathing.

I'm sorry that it's so short and late. Good news is that this is my only immediate project besides school. I start writing the next chapter tomorrow! Don't forget to leave a comment! I need the feedback!