He's thought about honesty. Thought about it and found it useful at times and downright worthless at others and now, as he sits on the floor in front of the sofa, he wonders if he should be honest with Watson. Not that he's been particularly dishonest about anything - omissions aren't lies, really, especially when the subject wasn't any of her business to begin with - but lately he's been feeling the weight of this truth, like a car slowly pressing down on him, an inch at a time, and just when he thinks he'd adjusted and can breathe, it lowers again.

"It was my fault."

Behind him, he feels Watson stirring, can imagine the way her head slowly rises out of the book she's been reading for the past three days, the one she's been looking forward to. He can see the way her brain would snap to, disconnect from the book and focus on what he's saying, because Watson is his friend, even when he doesn't deserve one, and especially when he doesn't deserve a friend as unfailing as former-Doctor Joan Watson. He swallows and waits, staring at the wood panelling his legs are sprawled over.

"What was your fault?"

Her voice is soft and concerned and she knows what he's talking about, of course she bloody well knows that he's about to talk about Irene, but damn her to the very depths of hell, she's going to make him say it, isn't she? He swallows again and licks his lips and says, "Irene, her death - it was my fault," and Watson is quiet for a moment before she says, "You didn't kill her, Sherlock," and he just says, "I as good as, really," and he lifts his hands from his thighs and picks at his fingernails absently.

Watson asks, "If she were here, would she blame you?" and he says, "No, and that's the hardest part of it, isn't it? Knowing she would forgive me," and Watson places a hand on his shoulder and squeezes once, with just enough pressure that he closes his eyes and thinks, Amygdala, amygdala, amygdala, because now she's not just listening, she's interacting and it's more than he can stand, really, and the pressure is better and worse all at once and a moment later he lets out a long breath and feels like maybe this wasn't such a horrible idea.

He says, "I don't know why I feel like I should tell you any of this," and she says, "She loved you a great deal, didn't she?" and he laughs, because none of this is funny but he can't think of anything else to do but laugh. So she asks, "How do you feel, when you think about her?" and he answers immediately, "Alone," and he feels Watson shift her position, move so that she can stand up, and then she's sitting in front of him, book left on the sofa and she's watching him.

"Me too," she says, and he nods and says, "But you can fix that, we both know you can. You were supposed to call him today," and she shrugs and says, "I'm still scared," and he says, "So am I."

She looks at him like she's sad, and he doesn't want her to be sad because she's the only friend he has, really - even Allistair isn't someone he would talk about this with, and he hopes she knows, he hopes Watson understands what this means, that he's talking with her about the single most painful experience of his life.

She reaches out and takes his hands and says, "You know that I'm here for you, right?" and he nods because he doesn't know what to say, and that's rare, and she continues, "You really can talk about anything at all, anything you need to talk about," and he bites his lower lip and says, "I loved her. Very much. So much, Watson, that I cannot accurately describe how much she meant to me," and Watson scoots closer and keeps holding his hands and asks, "What's your favourite memory of her?"

He thinks about it, because there are so few that he really has, at this point, and sometimes he can't remember if he made one up or if it really happened and that angers him, that his mind was tainted so by anything, especially something he voluntarily put into his system, and after he's thought about he tells her, "We took in a play, once. It was rubbish - the actors were horrible, half of them seemed to miss their cues, the other half forgot lines, and the director seemed to not notice much of any of it. We left during intermission, ordered takeaway, and sat in a park, huddled together and feeding each other with our chopsticks, laughing at what a horrible experience that had been." He smiles sadly and blinks once, twice, then lets his eyes focus on Watson. "We were almost completely broke, and there wasn't enough money for a cab - so we walked nearly a mile back to my flat, because it was the closest," and she smiles at him and says, "Sometimes, the nights when you have no money are the best times you spend together."

He closes his eyes and says, "She died, because I loved her," and Watson asks, "Did someone kill her because they were jealous?" and he shakes his head and tells her, "No, they killed her because I wouldn't back down on an investigation," and he hears Watson's sudden soft gasp and feels her fingers tighten against his and he keeps his eyes closed because he doesn't want to see the look in her eyes. "We were threatened, and I was going to... but she told me I couldn't, told me I had to see it through, and they-" He swallows against the golf ball that seems to have embedded itself in his throat. "-they went after her. It was horrible and gruesome and..." He shudders and feels the tears, hot and unwelcome against his cheeks, and he shudders again and feels Watson's cool, soft fingers wiping them away. Her voice is quiet when she asks, "Did you catch them? Solve the case?" and he nods because he can't trust himself to speak and he lets himself be pulled into a hug, because friends do that, they hug each other when one or both are upset, and he clings to Watson and leaves a wet spot on her shoulder that he apologises for and she continually tells him isn't important.

When he pulls away first, she lets him go, and she doesn't stop him when he stands up and goes into the kitchen. He returns a few minutes later with several napkins, and two bottles of water, and he sits down and she moves next to him, their backs against the worn old sofa, and he thinks that perhaps, honesty between friends is a worthwhile pursuit