In which Sherlock deals with a therapist, Elizabeth deals with Sherlock dealing with a therapist, and a therapist deals with Sherlock and Elizabeth dealing with each other.
"I am not going to a useless therapy session." Sherlock growled, refusing to take one step inside the office building. The only reason he had even gotten out of the cab was because the meter was running and I wasn't going to pay for us to sit there all day, and the only reason he had even gotten in the cab was because I literally dragged him by the scarf inside of it. By-passers were beginning to stare the longer we stayed just outside of the building; Sherlock was still adorned in his Belstaff and scarf even though it was not nearly cold enough for the heavy material, which seemed to make the situation appear even stranger.
"Yes you are." I quipped back, pressing my hands into his back encouragingly, but sternly.
"Why? We're just going to sit there for an hour and a half while some psychologist tries to psychoanalyze me and our relationship dynamic. Completely useless. I doubt it's even a real science - "
"Oi, can it. Ellie is lovely, really nice and patient. Besides, we're not here for a couples session, we're here because you need to talk to someone, and if it's not me, then it might as well be her. We're already ten minutes late, will you stop being a child and - "
"I AM NOT GOING IN."
Since Sherlock was not going to go to Ellie, Ellie came outside with three metal fold-out chairs and decided that we'd do the session outside for everyone and the Queen to here. I sat next to Sherlock, who was sulking up a storm; splashes on red were painted across his cheekbones, his pupils mere pinpricks and his already unruly hair was an absolute mess due to the wind. "Hello Sherlock, I'm - "
"Ellie Heartwater. Thirty-five years of age, divorced once, ex-husband has custody of the child. Your lawyer said it was because of your demanding career, but your hands say it's because of your recurring struggles with bulimia." Sherlock interjected bitterly, barely giving her a glance as he spoke, even though personal deductions were his favorite thing in the entire world. My jaw fell open and my stomach clenched; Ellie, however, barely had an emotion flicker across her face as she crossed her legs. Before I could apologize, I shut my mouth, because she would say this wasn't about me. It was about Sherlock.
"Are you done?" she asked with a slight smile that was unreadable to me, but probably an open book to Sherlock, who was still refusing to look at her. "Well, you seem like the forward kind, so might as well cut to the chase. Elizabeth thinks you're displaying the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder,"
Sherlock gave a little chuckle at that, swiveling his head around to look at her now. "Of course she does. People tend to see what they're looking for."
"And what is it you're looking for, Sherlock?" Ellie asked, pushing back her loose, blonde hair securely behind her ear. "Other than a way out of this."
Sherlock fell silent at that, because I don't think he was expecting the question (for once), or because he didn't want to give the answer. Finally, he opens his mouth a few times before spilling out, "A way to preserve smallpox cultures in the fridge without contamination."
Now, up until this moment I had been silent for several reasons, the biggest one being that Ellie would tell me to if I ever opened my mouth. But when I heard 'smallpox cultures in the fridge,' I sincerely lost every ounce of self-control I possessed and spewed a litany of curses at the madman, including the phrase, "If you don't kill us before the week's out, I'll kill you, and I won't even have to use a sixteenth century virus."
Needless to say, from that point on, it became a couples session despite our numerous corrections ("Yeah, we're not a couple.") that Ellie vehemently chose to ignore. She made us talk about our living arrangements, the problems that occurred, and the possible solutions we could both contribute to, all in the middle of a London sidewalk where any passerby could hear. Sherlock spent the majority of the time rolling his eyes or huffing disdainfully, while I was half serious and half wishing we weren't in a public setting.
"He has these moods sometimes," I sighed, rubbing my temples as Sherlock stiffened in my peripherals. "Where he's absolutely intolerable, and nothing I say or do seems to help. He won't talk, he won't eat, he can't sleep, and it just... like, it's tiring to come home to that after a long day. And they aren't often, but they do take a lot out of both of us, and - "
"Well you're wrong there."
"Okay, I'm sorry, they take a lot out of me - "
"No, not that. You do help. Just by being there, but especially when you..." he flailed his hands near his head as a desperate attempt to get words across without actually having to say them, and thankfully I understood what he was talking about: the times he would force his head into my lap so I could play with his hair until he drifted off, only to wake up a few hours later and begin his tyrannical reign all over again. And while I thought I understood that it helped him, to have verbal confirmation, to hear that my efforts were not gone to waste finally helped me understand it. Sherlock hadn't had many friends in his life, and even less physical affection, which (despite his claims of "it's just transport") is actually healthy for the body. "You should see me when you're at work."
My eyes flicked up to Ellie, who seemed properly curious now, like she had found something to work with. It was all there in her body language; she was leaning forward more, resting her elbow on her thigh as she clenched an excited fist under her chin, blue eyes sparkling due to the rare London sun as she gnawed on the inside of her perfectly-applied pink lips. "How often do you both actually talk about how the other makes you feel?"
Sherlock's head shot up at that, scowling and crinkling his nose at the mention of talking about feelings and whatnot. "Why does everyone feel the incessant need to talk about everything? Everything people need to know is right in front of them, but they can't see it."
"Enlighten me, oh enlightened one." I replied seriously, actually turning my body to face him. He was still just as moody, but it had turned into a defensive kind that always lead to him blurting out something (like the time he disdainfully told me I made tea well). Sherlock huffed again and slunk further down in the metal chair (extremely uncomfortable for long amounts of time), trying to fold in on himself until he disappeared. Traffic provided a soothing white noise that I had gotten used to, and even though people were still giving us curious looks, Ellie's lack of acknowledgement towards them helped me filter them out as well. But for Sherlock, who saw everything, filtering things out probably wasn't that simple, and his mind was probably sorting out everything at once, just compounding his fitful persona and not helping the situation at all.
"They do little else," I smiled, and he relaxed for a microsecond before tensing up again in his slouched position.
"But people have a hard time acting."
"I still don't follow."
Sherlock groaned and sat up, ruffling his hair and twining the curls between his elegant fingers with vicious tugs. "Most people say they would die for someone, but very few actually would."
"Very few people ever have the chance to make the decision," Ellie interjected calmly. "So how can you say you know what your decision would be? Fantasy is often very different from reality once the situation is placed in front of us."
Flashbacks that had rooftops and long coats with bone-chilling phone calls replayed in my head, and my nails dug into my palm until I could feel the half-crescent indentations bordering from pressure to pain. She was right, no one ever really knows how they will react to a situation until it's placed in front of them, until it's threatening to swallow them whole so they may never return -
"I have not had many friends in my life," Sherlock cut back. "But the ones I have had cannot be described through value. They put up with much more than should ever be allowed in a relationship, they endure me and my oddities, they do the impossible on a daily basis. So yes, Doctor Heartwater, I have and will do the impossible for them in return, even if that requires me to die in the process."
And though his tone was absolutely demonic, his words were not, and I found myself staring hopelessly at a man who never seemed to find the proper words except when angered. He was my own Lazarus, back from the dead. He had never explained to me how he did what he did, or even how he did it, but the majority of me didn't want to know for a while. At some point, yes, I would need to know, and at some point he would tell me, but right now we weren't there yet, and that was okay. Ellie just smiled at the corner of her mouth and said, "Well, Sherlock. It's been a pleasure. I would say I would see you next week, but I highly doubt that."
"Seems eight years of schooling taught you something." he quipped back with a tight smile, rising from his chair and hailing a cab with such ease that I still had to believe he was part wizard in order to do so.
"Sherlock?" I called from the living room, stretching my back after an unplanned nap on the sofa. A series of noises from the kitchen served as a reply, and I wandered in there to find him hunched over a microscope and two graduated cylinders of colorful liquids bubbling just out of arm's reach. "Are either of those toxic?"
"Lovely." I shifted my weight from leg to leg, unsure of what I was even trying to say or why I had even come in here. I had wanted to say something to him, something to let him know that I understood what he was trying to say back there during the therapy session. And also to thank him for not tearing into Ellie quite as much as he could have, despite the fact that it was probably a giant challenge.
"If you've got something to say..." he sighed, sitting back from his microscope and looking at me in a way that could only be described as... gentle. He wasn't harsh or demanding (he usually was when he was with the microscope), nor was he isolated and unreadable. In fact, to my surprise, he was gentle. The lines in his forehead were relaxed, eyes open and pupils slightly dilated, shoulders not scrunched up to his earlobes, and fingers not anxiously drumming on his knee or tabletop. There was almost a boyish quality that took over his face when he was like this, like I was seeing Sherlock when he was six-years old and still trying to figure out how to make friends (it took him a long time).
"Just, um, the session today. I know that wasn't really your area, and you didn't go willingly, but you did suffer through it and well... thank you. Even though we didn't actually end up helping you through whatever you're going through. And um, the thing about doing impossible - "
"Very few things are impossible. Improbable, yes. Impossible, unlikely." he interrupted softly, as if he was trying not to wake someone in the next room. I felt like we were back in his bedroom again, showing me his tattered skin for me to drink in privately; it was a heady feeling, being Sherlock's friend, flatmate, sometimes letting misplaced self-righteousness creep under your skin. Because to be the one person that he lets in, even when the rest of the world is shut out... it was nearly enough to make me feel special at times.
"Okay, Spock," I smirked, carefully putting out a hand on the table to steady myself. There was a sudden realization that Tom was gone again, and a dull throb went through my chest. I missed him, tolerably, but I still missed having the closeness that another person brought. He had helped me through the most difficult time in my life, and I couldn't just erase three years without erasing Tom as well. "I asked you not to be dead. At your grave." I began, switching subjects slightly at the memory of it. "And here you are. Seems pretty impossible, don't you think?"
Sherlock paused for a moment before replying, "The human race is a stupid one, filled with a surplus of sentimentalities that distract from daily life."
"The locket you got me for Christmas is sentimental," I counter, pulling it out from under my jumper so he could see it. "So far you've done the impossible and sentimental for me."
And instead of biting something back, or arguing that neither of those deeds were actually impossible or sentimental, he simply smiled slightly and said, "I'll have tea if you're making any," before returning to the cultures underneath his microscope.
Well then. I'll just fling myself into the sun now. I literally could not seem to write this chapter, holy hell.