AN: I own nothing here, duh. Severe adult content/explicit self-harm. Don't like, don't read, but if you do, please R&R :)

Everyone always thought Sherlock was a sociopath. Because that's what he always told them. Because that's what he wanted them to believe. Because that's what he needed them to believe.

Only Mycroft knew how bad it truly got sometimes, and that's only because of the few times he chanced upon Sherlock on what he now referred to as a "danger night". And that was part of the reason Sherlock couldn't stand him so very much–he knew some of Sherlock's deepest secrets, and he could exposed them whenever he wanted for whatever reason he wanted, whether it be blackmailing him into doing his bidding or simply reminding Sherlock of the control he had over him. Which, to Sherlock, was merely another reason to avoid doing anything for Mycroft at any and all costs. Especially now that John was in his life. His best friend. His only friend. He refused to let Mycroft ruin that for his own vindictive, manipulative reasons.

Sherlock could never let John know–he didn't think he could bear it if John ever found out, and particularly if he found out the same why Mycroft did. He didn't think he would ever be able to bear the anger, the disappointment, the sadness, the disgust, and goddamn it, not the pity. Never the pity. Not from John, of all fucking people.

And yet, even with the soul deep terror of John finding out, it never stopped him. Hell, sometimes it only encouraged it, that shame and embarrassment he felt whenever he thought of what his flatmate would say should he ever find out.

But still, on the days when his head wouldn't stop, in its endless deducing and perceiving, and his chest felt like he would never breathe again with the weight of everything he knew–everything little thing he saw and felt–he would still lock himself in his room, in his bathroom, with his little illicit black box, and indulge in so many things he knew would destroy him in the end. So many things that already were.

It started in middle school, like with most wayward souls, when Sherlock, and all his peers, truly started to realize just how different, how extraordinary, he was, even though no one else, including Sherlock, really saw it that way.

While he had always been smart, observant, his entire life, middle school was the first time he really started deducing, starting seeing, knowing, all the little details of his classmates' lives. How the main bully, Jameson, was abused at home by his drunk father while his mother slept her way through the apartment complex, which was why he never had any money of his own and so readily went after Sherlock's abundance of it that his mother always left to the nanny to give him. And then how pointing out such things led to a broken nose, bruised ribs, and a quick trip to lonely lunches for the rest of the year.

And that's when school, a place of learning that he had loved, became an absolute hell. Because he scared everyone away. Because he was a freak. A friendless loser that everyone hated. Even his brother refused to play with him growing up, or "hang out" as they started to get older. And it didn't help that his father worked nonstop and his mother was busy either faking her way through luncheons and social functions or in her room, tranquilized out of this realm.

So, it's really not too much of a surprise when he turned to books, and began learning as much as he could about everything he possibly could, as far away from school as he could possibly get. He had even started reading fiction, mysteries, horror, cheesy romances he knicked from his mom's bookcase that were far too adult for most kids his age, books on science and philosophy, history texts, and anything else he could find.

Which is where he first came across the concept. Self-harm. He already knew plenty on drugs from his mother and the overheard conversations of his peers. But self-harm, cutting, burning, picking…that was…new to him.

And then he began finding it more and more in the novels he read. And he began to see the appeal more and more. But he never actually tried it; he was scared to, scared he'd go too deep or do some really horrible damage or something. That was until he and Mycroft got into a fight. After he had just had a fight with mum that morning. Followed by the nanny swearing under her breath about how much of a "complete fucking circus freak" Sherlock was. And then another trip to the Dean's office after correct his teacher once again and earning even more frightened and disgusted looks from his classmates.

So yeah, when he got home and went out to hide somewhere in the expansive garden of the expansive Holmes estate with a good book, he didn't really want to deal with people, especially not his indifferent, newly asshole-certified teenage brother.

But Mycroft had had a bad day too, and coming home to find that some of his new gadgets–birthday presents, actually– had become the latest in his genius little brother's experiment binge, he was furious and out to pick a fight with someone. With Sherlock, specifically.

"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU]" Mycroft screamed as he finally found Sherlock, curled up under a willow tree with his latest book, after having to hunt for him for a good twenty minutes after finding his decimated presents.

"What?" Sherlock asked, startled out of his literary reverie, and already taking on a quiet, submissive tone. He just wanted to go back to his book, forget the world for a while. Have the world just forget him for a while, just leave him alone. But the world apparently wasn't in a wish-granting mood.

"MY FUCKING PRESENTS, YOU FREAK! I mean, seriously, do you have to ruin everything you touch? Do you do it on purpose or is it just another freakish talent you possess?" Mycroft snarled, yanking Sherlock's book from his protective grasp and hurling it away from them and into a nearby puddle.

"I…I was just curious–I had read about the possibilities of long distance communication without the use of radio waves and I just needed a–" Sherlock's shy whisper was cut off quickly though.

"ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? My presents, my fucking birthday presents, and you ruined all of them! You can't just wait til your own goddamn birthday and destroy your own fucking shit? You just have to ruin mine? Honestly though, I mean seriously, tell me, do you try to be this much of an irritating, impossible, freakish, little chit or does it really come naturally to you? And if the latter, who do you think you get it from, hmm? Mum in her usual comatose state or dad who's not even here to the point where he's probably not even own father anyway? But let me guess, you've already deduced all of that, haven't you?" Mycroft had stooped down and was face to face with a shaking, silently crying Sherlock, and holding him by the collar of his school uniform's shirt.

"I'm sorry, I…I won't touch your stuff, ever again, I promise, I'm sorry, I–" Mycroft struck Sherlock across the cheek, the sound echoing among the surrounding trees.

"You're bloody well right you won't! You're never to touch my things ever again, understand? Good." With that, Mycroft shoved Sherlock away from him and inadvertedly, his head into the tree he had just been reading against. Before he could began to care about his brother's current state, Mycroft swiftly turned and walked back up to the house, leaving a shocked and hurt Sherlock behind.

Sherlock crawled over to his book where it had fallen, ruined, with tears streaming down his face as he slowly picked up his beloved book. Clutching it to his chest, Sherlock went back to his previous spot, and began to sob uncontrollably, already knowing that no one would hear because no one else would care or be bothered enough to come find him again.

After a while, once Sherlock had calmed down to mild hiccups and most of the tears had dried or been wiped away, he stood slowly and unsteady on his legs, as if Mycroft had struck those too instead of just his face, and made his way back to the house and up to his own room.

Fearing yet another confrontation, he locked the door so no one could get in (he changed out the lock so that only he had a key) and made his way to his bed. Once he sank into its welcoming depths and wrapped himself snuggly in his warm comforter, he began to think. And remember all those things he read, the things that always seemed like they'd be too much for him. And they started seeming closer and closer–easier, even.

As his mind began to close around the idea, he rose from his bed and made his way into the adjoining bathroom. Even though he was still in middle school, the bathroom was as fully stocked as any male bathroom. So Sherlock had no trouble finding a shaving set in one of the bottom drawers.

With shaky, yet determined hands, he pulled out the elegant black box that would eventually come to represent so much darkness in his life. He undid the latch to exposed a expensive, old-fashioned shaving set his father had absently gotten him and Mycroft when they had each turned thirteen, even though neither would had use for years later. Or, at least, not the intended use.

Sherlock brushed his mop of dark, curly hair out of his eyes as he pulled out one of the handled razors. He made quick work of the mechanisms and freed the individual razor blades. They were easier to work with. At least, that's what he told himself as he finally began to hesitate. He gently rested the blade against the soft skin of his forearm and paused. He knew the basics: shallow cuts, quick with just enough pressure, make sure everything's clean, clean and bandage afterwards, avoid major veins and too many at once, etc… but facing it all in reality was ever so different than reading about it in all the various novels.

But then he began to think back on the events of the day, then on his life in general.

None of them care, they've made that much clear. Even my goddamn family hates me. Mum doesn't give two shits about me. Father gives even less. And Mycroft out-right hates me now. He's right; I am a freak. Just like Ms. Owens said this morning. Just like everyone always says at school. So why bother? Not like anyone would care, anyway. And maybe it'll actually help, like it does for some of the people in the books. Maybe. But even if it doesn't, just another thing I fail at, another reason to hate myself along with everyone else. The thoughts tore through Sherlock's mind in rapid fire, becoming more and more self-loathing until his shoulders were wracked with sobs once more.

Before he had time to hesitate again, he repositioned the blade, pushed down, and quickly pulled it across the skin of his forearm.

He gasped at the pain. At first. But as the blood began to bubble up and drip down his arm onto the floor, he began to relish in it. Because it was like someone had turned this little pressure valve in his head and had released some of the unending pain from deep inside. But only just a little. So he quickly did it again, sliding the blade a few centimeters below the first. And again, the pain quickly turned to relief as the blood from that cut joined onto the mini stream of the other, dripping onto the floor as it began to coagulate there.

But for Sherlock, it was only the beginning, as he continued to slide the blade across his forearm, taking his time to savor each one, and letting the endorphins start to take the pain from one cut away before starting the next.

For the first time in his meager life, his was the one in control of the pain, not someone else.

But the pain never really stopped coming, even as a grown man, sitting beside his bed at 221B Baker Street with John only just downstairs. Yet even as a grown man, he was still a freak to everyone around him. Always unwanted, and always having that made oh so clear to him. Actually, John was one of only a few people that didn't absolutely despise his presence, let alone continued company. But even John couldn't stop the ever-flowing torrent of Sherlock's mind, mostly because he could never possibly understand just how much of the genius's mind was constantly drowning and how little of his mind was ever present in reality of their cases or work.

No, as Sherlock sat beside his bed in the middle of a random afternoon with his lovely, damning, elegant, black box, there was truly very little of his mind that wasn't drowning. Which is why, as he sat there shirtless and crying, cleaning the dried blood from some of his razor blades, he didn't really care where John was.

Because John wasn't there, with him, helping him, holding him–anything.

But then again, as Sherlock slid the blade across part of his abdomen, opening up a new wound below the previous ones that were still so fresh as to barely even had a fully formed scab covering them yet– he didn't really ever want John to ever see him like this or anything remotely close. Sherlock would do anything possible to prevent that from ever happening.