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"Inspector," Sherlock said. He blinked breezily, just the faintest flicker of eyelids to betray his surprise, but there was nothing on his face but bland indifference as he leaned to the wall, the long lines of his body sloping through an easy, careless facade. "I thought this was Molly's shift."

"Yeah, well." Greg shook the file under his arm, halfway proffering it across the room. He knew there was no sense in trying to lie, not to Sherlock, but still found himself unable to help wanting to try, to delay this conversation as much as he could. "I found a few forms that were missing your signature, for the Culverton Smith case, and figured if I was coming over here anyway I might as well let Molly take the night off. Happy birthday, by the way."

"Oh, God. John told you." With a heavy, heavy sigh, one that embodied every last bit of suffering in the whole entirety of the world, Sherlock flounced his way back down, sinking into the depths of his armchair and covering his face as if Greg had just told him he was being arrested for murder. Actually, no, because Greg had already been there, done that, and Sherlock unquestionably looked more distraught now than he had back then. "Giles, if you ever make any sort of affair about the sentimental anniversary of my birth, then I will buy myself a five thousand euro cake and I will do so with your credit card. Best of luck to proving it, even with my confession."

"It's Greg, and your brother will reimburse me. Greg."

Sherlock rolled his eyes with another careless huff, face propped against a hand and gaze drifting away. Greg took the opportunity to hand the file over- there actually were a few forms that needed Sherlock's signature- and it was only then, with the detective sufficiently distracted, that Greg was able to slow down and really, actually look at him.

By Sherlock standards, it really wasn't all that bad. If he'd been a stranger on the street, Greg wouldn't have even looked twice. Three or four stitches over his left brow, and a fading mark on a high cheekbone that had softened to a mottled green and yellow. Soon, it would be gone entirely. His left eye itself was a virulent red, the blood vessels burst and grotesque, but the swelling had gone down completely and despite how terrible the eye looked, Greg knew that it didn't hurt. Greg had seen him in hospital, too, days ago, when they'd needed his statement and Sherlock had needed dialysis and in-patient detox and someone to wake him up every two hours to make sure his brain wasn't bleeding, and he'd looked okay, then, too. The bruises red instead of yellow, his forehead bandaged over the stitches. Greg had seen him look worse after walking face-first into a door at a crime scene.

After having watched that damn footage, Greg knew now that was just because the full extent of the damage had been hidden under blankets and pajamas, just as it was hidden now underneath a button-down and a silk dressing gown.

The real worst of it, though, was right there, for everyone to see.

His knuckles were clean.

Sherlock fought like a wild animal, always giving as good as he got. He punched and kicked and bit with the violence of someone who'd been trained by a combination of the streets and MI6's best, never failing to defend himself, and more brilliantly than that, almost never failing to win. Greg hated to admit it, but he was pretty sure Sherlock could lay him flat without even trying. All the black eyes and split lips that he'd seen on Sherlock over the years had come along with bleeding scrapes on his knuckles and very often a broken finger or two, because no one could get away with punching Sherlock Holmes without getting punched back.

And now, as Greg watched his long, lithe, musician's fingers spiral out his signature on line after line, his hands were unblemished.

He hadn't raised one hand to defend himself.

If his mind hadn't already been made up, that would've done it for him.

"Well, that's that, then. Isn't it?" Sherlock clicked his pen, letting it slide down into one of his bottomless pockets as he turned back to him with a flicker of a smile. "I already solve all your cases for you; the least of what I ask for you is to take care of the paperwork- please don't tell me that now, you can't even do that."

"No, no, that's all, thanks. Sherlock Holmes: Paperpusher Extraordinaire. Saving Gotham City, one file at a time."

Sherlock gave him a look that just about eviscerated him in half, and it was all Greg could do not to snicker.

Unfortunately, that was also the end of whatever peace there was going to be for this visit.

"So, Detective Inspector." Sherlock steepled his fingers together under his chin, picture perfect from his dress shoes all the way to his steady, calm smirk. Only the angry, jolting twitch in his little finger betrayed the withdrawals that he knew were still raging, just underneath the surface. "Are you going to tell me why you're really here? Or are you going to embarrass us both by continuing to pretend that I don't already know?"

Never let it be said that Sherlock Holmes let anything lie in his entire life.

"Let's see," Sherlock went on, his voice smooth and slick, watching him with narrowed eyes and a twitching finger when Greg did not leap to respond at the first opportunity. "You've been to see John. Rosie was with him; I can smell her from across the room. Now, you might've gone his way to collect the same signatures that you needed to collect from me, but you very clearly have something on your mind, something that you are reluctant to say. It is a very recent development, because Molly didn't mention this yesterday, and you think I'm going to react badly, hence your reluctance. Possibly a hiatus on cases? No," Sherlock said, with a dismissive flick of his hand, "you've already told me, no case files until I'm off the methadone. Which, once again, is patently ridiculous, but you already know my opinion on the matter. Or a problem with the Culverton Smith case? No, no, you'd have told me that already- but it is something to do with John-..."

"Oh, for Christ's sake." Greg sagged backwards to hit the sofa, covering his face with one hand and not even trying to hide his own exasperation. Sherlock was still Sherlock, it seemed, and there was nothing more reassuring than that. "Turn your brain off for one second, would you? It's only- look. I just want you to listen to me for a few minutes, here, Sherlock. After I've said my piece, then I'll shut up, and you can deduce and yell at me as much as you like. Okay?"

Greg had gone into this knowing it was going to be tough. The tense look on Sherlock's face, the way his eyes narrowed and his jaw tensed, his stiff posture curling inwards just a little more, told him the detective's defenses were already raised, which was just great. Really. Fantastic.

If they got out of this without a shouting match, it would be a bloody miracle.

Greg took a deep breath, willed himself to grasp as much patience as he had left, and started.

"I want you to tell me what happened in the mortuary again. In your own words, Sherlock."

"The mortuary?" In a blow that was almost comical, Sherlock's building hostility fizzled away, evaporated away in an instant. He stared back at Greg with slightly wide eyes, shoulders fallen slack. Whatever he had been expecting, it was clearly not this. "So it's related to the Smith case after all? Is he pressing charges?"

"Sherlock," Greg re-iterated quietly.

The detective's frown flickered briefly, but he was still listening, at least, and Greg would take whatever small victories that he could. "I already told you," he said, after several beats of confused silence. Sherlock was a brilliant actor, so possibly it was just a facade, but he really did seem to have no idea what this about. "In fact, I believe I just signed my statement on what happened in the mortuary. I do abhor repeating myself, Lestrade, you know this, so-"

"So don't repeat yourself. Don't repeat your statement. I told you, in your own words- not whatever you knew the investigation into Smith needed to hear. ...What happened in that room, Sherlock?"

Sherlock blinked back at him, evidently nonplussed. More to get away from that gaze than anything else, to turn so Sherlock couldn't read his every last thought plain as day right there on his face, Greg rose to his feet, heading towards the mercifully cleared kitchen for tea. He didn't want Sherlock to read his reaction and adjust what he was saying because of it. He didn't want Sherlock to see the look on his face and abruptly start interjecting just the right amount of discomfort and difficulty into his retelling, spinning it just enough that Greg would wind up second-guessing his every move since he'd seen that tape.

He needed to hear Sherlock's honest account of what he thought had happened in that room.

"It's... as I've said," the detective returned at last, the words slow and unsure. Fishing, for whatever answer Sherlock was guessing he wanted. "I had intentionally overdosed some minutes before hand, and experienced a temporary, drug-induced psychosis. Therefore, my recollection of the events in question is obviously suspect, and should not be considered accurate in the police investigation."

"Okay." Greg set the kettle to boil, his back still carefully turned. "And then?"

"Then what, Lestrade?"

"What do you remember, then? It may not be accurate, got it; thank you. I'll keep that in mind. But what do you remember happened next?"

"I-" Sherlock let out a strained, frustrated sigh, clearly losing his patience. "I must have grabbed a scalpel."

"Must have? You don't remember?"

"No. But, I'm told it's what happened, and you all have no reason to lie. John, thankfully, was available to disarm and- subdue me."

There was another short silence. Greg's skin prickled.

"...And?"

"And- what?" Sherlock asked. By all means, he sounded completely perplexed, with absolutely no idea why this interrogation was even happening. "I lost consciousness after that point, Lestrade; what, are you asking after my fever dreams, too?" He scoffed under his breath, a derisive sort of chuckle, but it wasn't funny.

"He got the scalpel away from you, like you said. He disarmed you." Against his better judgment, Greg nudged himself around just enough to frown at him, watching the confusion flicker in blue and red eyes. "And, yes, at some point, you passed out. What happened in-between?"

Sherlock's mouth thinned. "Clearly, you have something you want for me to say, Lestrade. Given that I have no idea what that is, I recommend that you say it for yourself, and get on with it. Preferably before you waste any more of my time."

So Sherlock was going to make him say it, then. Possibly, by the confused irritation weighing through every syllable, honestly did not understand what was wrong himself.

Yeah, Greg told himself, this stops now.

The kettle whistled, sharp, strident, and Greg glimpsed Sherlock twitch, just out of the corner of his eye. Tea. Plastic cups, until Sherlock's hands had stopped shaking; three sugars, until he stopped needing the sugar high. Avoiding his gaze when he headed back over, because Sherlock was too damn perceptive for his own good and Greg couldn't help but worry that the second their eyes met, Sherlock would know everything and kick him out before he got through a single more word.

"Sherlock," he said again, once the cups were situated, the silence between thick enough to cut with a knife. Sherlock was staring at him openly now, and it wasn't welcoming. Greg, with another steady breath, dropped to his knees in front of him, and finally met his eyes again. "I saw the tape for myself. And what I saw was John assaulting you."

"Assault-" And now Sherlock spat out an actual laugh, derisive and mocking, and he rolled his eyes as if Greg was possibly the stupidest person he'd ever met. "As I recall, I was coming at him with a scalpel. He defended himself-"

"He hit you until you went down and then he kept hitting you, Sherlock. He stopped defending himself the second he got the scalpel away from you. He wasn't hitting you to restrain you, he hit you to hurt you, and he had to be pulled off you because he wouldn't stop." He stopped once, gritting his teeth to forcibly swallow back the anger that wanted to surge through. Not here; not now. "Do you want to know why I watched the tape, Sherlock? Why I finally looked at it myself? Donovan."

"Sergeant Donovan is a sanctimonious-"

"She watched that tape because she wanted to see you get smacked around a bit, and then she came to my office herself because she was concerned- about you, Sherlock! She watched that tape as a police officer and was just as concerned and disturbed as I was, and frankly, I'm even more disturbed now that I'm hearing you defend it." Greg sat back to stare in wordless challenge at the shellshocked look on Sherlock's face, blank and devoid of anything at all but utter disbelief of the words he was hearing. "Self-defense? He could've killed you!"

Sherlock scoffed again, mouth twisting as if that was the most ludicrous thing he'd heard in the world. He pushed to his feet, and Greg did not miss the angry tap of his hand against his thigh, shuddering against withdrawal, or the protective curl of his other arm about his injured chest as he wrenched stiffly, sorely upright, still in pain. "Given that I was, at the time, dying of an intentional overdose?" He rolled his eyes down to Greg, back already turning with a flourish of his dressing gown. "I'm really not sure what all the fuss is about."

"The fuss, Sherlock, is that if you two were anybody else, John would've been arrested a week ago."

"Oh, please. There was talk of charging me; now I'm supposed to bel-"

Suddenly, Sherlock stopped short. His voice rose through a hitching, manic fervor, arcing higher until it cracked on the turn of a step, and then he just froze, stock still on the spot with a frisson of tension shuddering down all the way through him from head to toe. He vibrated like a violin string plucked at its most taut, stiff and cold as ice.

When he spun back around to face Greg again, the look in his bruised, bloodied eyes was absolutely nothing short of livid.

"You were over to see John, before you were here."

Quiet, so thick and foreboding Greg could've heard a pin drop downstairs in Mrs. Hudsons' flat.

Sherlock's dangerous eyes flashed, and that was it- that was the end.

"What have you done?! What have you done, Lestrade?!" The detective flurried past him at a manic pace, a round of tremors jerked through him all the way as he shoved straight past Greg like he was nothing more than a box to be moved. "What did you do to John?!"

"What do you think I should've done to him?"

"What do I- I think you should've left him alone, Lestrade!" Sherlock pressed his phone to his ear for only a heartbeat, his breaths loud and starting, then tossed it away with such vehemence it was miracle the screen didn't shatter on the sofa. "His phone is off! What the hell is this, Lestrade, you've no idea what you're playing at- what is this; did you think you could, could, could just arrest John, then show up over here and expect- expect what? For me to thank you?!" Sherlock spun about again, pacing about like a caged and feral dog, breathing so hard through gritted teeth Greg knew it was straining cracked ribs, but the detective was several worlds beyond caring. "All a waste of time, anyway- Mycroft will get the charges dropped-"

"Mycroft?" Greg had been planning on sitting silently, letting Sherlock talk himself out and dig himself a grave, but at the mention of the older brother he just couldn't take it lying down. "Sherlock, the only reason John hasn't already disappeared into a sudden opening in, I don't know, bloody outer Mongolia, is because Mycroft knows how upset that would make you!"

"Upset?! No, no, Lestrade, I am not upset- I am livid!" Sherlock laughed shortly once, a harsh bark of incensed rage, and then he was pacing again, all the shakes that he'd finally gotten under control suddenly back full force. "How dare you interfere! How dare you meddle in that which you were not asked to!" He swirled about to scoff again, vibrating as if he might like to tear Greg apart with his bare hands. "No help from brother dear, this time? Doesn't matter; this still won't go anywhere. You're even stupider than I thought if you think you have me as a complainant or cooperating witness, Lestrade."

The look on Sherlock's face still suggested that speaking up right now really was not a great idea, but Greg still just could not stop himself from pushing. He wanted this reaction, to get at what was underneath, and if Sherlock hated him for it, then, well, that was just the consequence that would be dealt with later. "I don't need your cooperation," he pointed out, mildly and neutrally as he could. "That video is all that I need."

Sherlock snorted like an angry dragon, all coiled tension and manic fury. "Then you don't have that video anymore. It's already gone from your servers, or will be by the time you get back to the Yard. Then I'll take to twitter and amass public pressure for you to drop the case. I'll- for god's sake, Lestrade!" Breaths hitched even faster, now, Greg was almost reminded of the Sherlock that he'd seen on that video, a crazed panic tearing him over the edge or perhaps just driving him to willingly jump off. His voice cracked as he spun again, tearing his fingers through his hair. "What were you thinking?! What about Rosie, John's the only parent she has, and after all they've already been through- after everything I've done to him, and this is where you draw the line?! I wrecked his life, he's only just forgiven me and now he's going to think- to think I-..."

"To think what?" Approaching Sherlock would surely be a catastrophically foolish idea, so Greg stayed where he was, safe in John's usual chair and staring his friend down, right in the eye. "Think that it isn't actually okay to beat someone you call your friend black and blue?"

"HE WAS ENTITLED!"

That outburst, at last, robbed Sherlock of whatever bare threads of energy and outrage he'd ran himself off of until now. He let it out with a roar that was soul-deep and animal, his fist cracked against the back of the sofa to finally yield the panic that simmered underneath every last inch of his prickly, furious shell. Sherlock spun to sag against the wall, braced upright only by the strength of one hand and sheer force of will, head hung and shoulders hunched like a beaten dog.

Greg, knowing Sherlock's moods the way he did, knew all there was to do was to bide his time, and wait until Sherlock had calmed down enough to listen.

When the detective's breaths had finally returned to something roughly resembling normality, his back still turned and his shoulders still trembling, he tried again.

"Sherlock?"

"Fuck you," the younger man rasped.

Standing there like that, back sloped and breaths ragged and head down, Greg could only remember back to the last and only time, he'd ever seen Sherlock like this before.

Sitting on his couch in the middle of the night, risen from the dead and with international fame to his name, holding ice to his lip, and devastated.

John had been devastated, then, too. Sherlock had not been alone, in hurting that night. And John's pain had been, almost entirely, Sherlock's fault.

That night, really, was where all of this had come from. It was how things had gotten so out of control, so bad, and why Sherlock had never once acted himself to stop it. It was why Sherlock said John was entitled. It was why Sherlock, even now, thought that John had been hurt again, and in the horrified slump of his shoulders and misery thrumming through him from head to toe, interpreted it as his fault.

Greg waited a few moments more in silence, the edge of his attempt at a smile brittle.

Then, when Sherlock finally heaved out another massive breath of a sigh, his shoulders trembling and his fists white, he went on.

"The reason John didn't answer his phone, Sherlock, is because he's currently at the park with Rosie."

Sherlock went so still, time itself could have frozen.

"...What?"

"He's at the park with Rosie," he repeated calmly. "He didn't want to be called out to the clinic or bothered by anyone else, so he turned his phone off, just before I left."

Another few moments passed in complete, utter stillness. Greg could've sworn he felt the temperature in the room drop ten degrees.

Slowly, inch by inch, Sherlock shifted back around- just enough for one bloody eye to meet his, dangerous and unforgiving every bit of the way through. "He's okay?"

"Yes."

"You're not pressing charges?"

"No, I'm not."

Sherlock blinked. Greg stayed carefully calm and relaxed, unmoving himself, because Sherlock again looked as taut as a bowstring, tied so tightly that one flick of a finger would be enough to shatter him.

When the confusion faded, that same ice-cold, slippery anger, once again, settled in. "Then what, pray tell, Inspector- was the point of all this?"

He still didn't risk standing. But he did meet Sherlock's eye, dangerous as it was, willing to bet that he was more bark than bite at the moment and if he did this carefully, he might just be able to coax him back down. "I went to John's flat to talk to him, Sherlock- that's all. I promise. He's my friend, too, I don't want to hurt him- and I know that you're right. He has been through a lot. He has had the toughest few years imaginable, and right now he is a single parent to a baby girl who really needs him and I would never want to take her away from him." He leaned forwards again, just a little, waiting for the glint of relief in Sherlock's eyes to fade, to know he was still being listened to. "I also told him that I would have him up on charges, if he ever laid a hand on you again."

Sherlock tensed all over again. He inhaled sharply, a crack of air sucked inwards through gritted teeth, the exact same near-hyperventilation as before. His fingers tensed and curled, withdrawal trembling in his hands, cold and clammy in the sweat that sheened on his face, and Greg knew he was having to exert an almost herculean effort not to punch at the sofa or wall again.

"I. Don't. Want. This." Sherlock clenched his jaw and shook, the words a near snarl of unforgiving desperation. He was desperate, about this, even if Sherlock only knew how to express it in spat words and seething anger. "Inspector, I know you are acting out of some misplaced desire to- to protect me, or some other such rot, but I can not possibly be any clearer: I do not want this. It's my life!" he cried. "Mine, not yours, my choices, not yours-"

"And it is your choice, Sherlock. But, need I remind you of how badly it ended last time you got assaulted by a Watson, and you told me to stay out of it?"

The detective stiffened violently. "That is hardly relevant- and it turned out beautifully, Lestrade, do not twist-"

"It ended with you on a plane to your death because you'll apparently sacrifice anything for John's happiness, far beyond and including your own, but yeah, other than that, beautiful."

Sherlock cursed under his breath, something that sounded foul and German and murderous, and spun away again, hand thrown up in the air. The other he pressed to his chest, back to Greg, his breaths measured and strained, and Greg bit his lip. It was easy to forget, when faced with Sherlock's erratic, manic energy and utter inability to do something as mundane as show weakness, that he was still healing underneath all of that, and it wasn't just what John had done. John had hurt him, yes, that was why Greg was here in the first place- but Sherlock had nearly killed himself.

For the third time in as many years, he had nearly killed himself, for John.

Greg knew it then as surely as he'd known it all the way back when, the first time Sherlock had overdosed.

Either it stopped now, or he just might well end up dead.

This time, after everything Sherlock had done for him- after everything Sherlock had done for John, after all the hard work and effort he'd put into himself- Greg was going to try and stop it.

"Sherlock," he implored quietly. Come on, lad. For once in your life, listen to me. "Let's recap, for a second."

"I had no interest in hearing this the first time, Inspector; what makes you think I have any desire to hear it again?"

"I just told you that I wasn't going to do anything to John. Not unless he did something like this to you again," Greg said, pressing on straight past the sulky grumble of a protest. "And, you apparently think that's such an inevitability, it made you react like this."

Once again, Sherlock went very, very still. He still did not turn back to face him, his back ramrod straight, and fist curled and tapping so tightly against his side, his knuckles had gone white.

This time, Greg was pretty sure what was going on under the surface, in that ridiculously overactive brain. He knew Sherlock wouldn't say it, but he knew exactly what Sherlock was thinking, because he'd already said it.

And it was something that had to be addressed, now.

Greg got warily to his feet, not approaching all the way but lingering back, just in case. "Look," he said, scratching a hand through his hair. "I know you don't have all that much experience with having friends, Sherlock. But, John being your friend does not entitle him to the right to hit you. It gives him the duty not to."

"After all that he's put up with-"

"No. No. Don't say, not one more time, that he's allowed." He almost spat the words out in near-disgust and approached again, heart lurching in his chest. "Christ, you seem to forget, I know all that you've done to each other, I know that you've hurt him, too, and I'm still telling standing here telling you, that doesn't make one lick of a difference. There is nothing that you could've done to him to make what happened in that mortuary okay."

Sherlock still looked away, and Greg swallowed hard, squashing down the rest of that speech. The line that Sherlock had not killed Mary. The line that Sherlock had not thrown himself off that rooftop to hurt John and he had been apologising for it constantly since anyway and that John wasn't the only one of them who'd suffered in those two years, he just seemed to be the only one of the pair to be allowed to acknowledge it.

That speech was going to have to come from John, for Sherlock to sit still enough to hear it.

Time to move on.

"Sherlock, I know you don't want this, and I know you're angry with me for interfering. I'm not asking for a thank you." Greg held both his hands up in a gesture for peace, still making sure to keep his distance. "But this is the second time in two years that John has beaten you bloody, and it's the second time you haven't cared, and it's the second time you've acted like it was just an inevitability of John having to put up with you. Which is not something that friends should say about each other, by the way. I'm not going to wait for a third time."

Sherlock huffed under his breath and did not reply, his back still turned and fist tight. Greg pushed on again. "I want you to promise me something."

"And I want you to stop talking."

"Charming. Sherlock, if this happens again, I want you to promise that you'll fight back. You'll do what you can to stop him, and then, you'll tell someone what happened. Me, Mycroft- whoever, just so long as you tell someone-"

"I do not need your protection," Sherlock snarled.

Greg grinned weakly again. "I know you don't. I know you can stand up for yourself perfectly well, and I know the reason you don't is because you just don't care. It doesn't bother you. Which is actually not good, by the way, so long as it doesn't bother you, well, I think it's just going to have to bother me." He broke off for a few moments, giving Sherlock the chance to argue again. When no violent protest came again,he risked another attempt at a smile. "If it helps at all, Sherlock... John agreed with me."

And that, finally, melted a hole in Sherlock's furious defenses.

"He... what?"

"Yep," Greg reassured easily. "He said that he was glad you had someone looking out for you, and believe it or not, Sherlock, he doesn't feel good about what happened, either."

That was an understatement, actually. A massive understatement, but once again, that was a sentiment that was going to need to come from John himself. Maybe a proper apology from John would force Sherlock to acknowledge that there was something to apologise for, and maybe seeing that John felt horrible about what he'd done and wanted to get help so he'd never do it again would manage the same, but even if not, Greg was not going to do that bit of heavy-lifting for him. John was going to have to make amends himself.

"He misses being friends with you, he said," he prompted again. "He's not happy, right now, Sherlock. I know you did all of this to help John," and as bloody self-sacrificing and dangerous and not-good as THAT is- "and- even if you might not see it right now- this will help him a lot more than you offering yourself as a punching bag."

Sherlock frowned briefly, eyes flickering in a narrow blink. "You've been spending too much time googling," was all he said, the words low and his stitched face, back to perfectly unreadable. He stared at Greg for several moments, clearly unhappy, but the aggression did seem to be gone, and for a heartbeat, Greg thought the genius was actually allowing himself to listen to what had been said.

Then, with nothing more than a mild eye roll and puff of air, hostility bled away into little more than the dust on John's chair, Sherlock pushed ahead, nudging him carelessly aside as if he were nothing more than an inanimate object. Without a single word, the detective tilted backwards to flop against the sofa, eyes shut as his fingers steepled under his chin again, silent and detached in his usual thinking pose. He didn't say anything back to him, didn't acknowledge his presence in any way, and Greg found himself just shaking his head, the own stress tightened his heart melting at long, long last, into relief.

Sherlock didn't have to like it, and he didn't have to welcome it. He didn't even have to agree, that what John had done to him was not okay- a small, uncomfortable knot in Greg's stomach murmured that Sherlock, in fact, still couldn't. Not right now.

But, it seemed, he was at least willing to listen, even if it was only for John's sake, and not his own.

For now, that was going to have to be good enough.

He touched a hand to Sherlock's shoulder briefly, then wordlessly retreated back across the room to John's chair.

Sherlock's flounce to the sofa had been unusually stiff, his motions carefully restrained and slow underneath his usual dramatics, and even now his expression was tight with an element of tension that had not been there before. Greg found himself fingering the blister-pack of pills in his pocket, to be kept there and exchanged between minders until Sherlock could be trusted with his own medication again. "Do you want a methadone?" he asked quietly. It wasn't meant as a painkiller, not really, prescribed to wean him safely off the heroin, but John had told him it was as good as Sherlock was going to get, right now. "Mrs. Hudson said it's been long enough for you to have another."

Sherlock was silent and his face still, for several moments. "I want," he said back, just as quietly, utterly flat again, "for you to get out of my flat, Lestrade."

So, the anger wasn't as gone for as he'd hoped, then.

Having anticipated this possibility as well, Greg just shrugged with a faintly sad smile, not even bothering to protest. To be perfectly honest, if he was in Sherlock's shoes, he'd probably want nothing at all to do with him right now, either. "Mrs. Hudson is still downstairs. I checked, before. She said she'd be okay with staying with you for tonight, too." He paused for a beat, hands twisting nervously in his lap. "Is that what you want?"

Another tense few moments of silence. Wordlessly, almost like a snake, Sherlock slitted his eyes back open to glance straight sideways at Greg's chair.

Then, he shut his eyes again, and murmured, "No."

He rolled to his side a breath later, curling up with his back again to the rest of the room and his head cradled in the crook of his arm. For anyone else, it would've been downright rude. Even for a recovering drug addict who was plainly miserable, in pain, and wanted to be doing anything at all else in the world but this.

For Sherlock, Greg knew it was as close as a thank you, as he was ever going to get.

Greg sagged in silent relief, mentally giving Sherlock's wild life expectancy another solid boost back up- this time, higher than he'd ever, ever had it before- and went back to his tea.