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There was a clatter from upstairs that shook the light fixture in Mrs Hudson's living room. The raised voice of Rosie's father followed shortly after, accompanied by the heavy thud of footsteps through the lounge of 221B.

“Mrs Hudson?” Rosie began. “Why do daddy and Sherlock fight all the time?”

Mrs Hudson put her tea down and took the girl’s hand in hers. “Sometimes, sweetheart, adults get frustrated with each other. They’ll be ok though, love. They always are.” Even as she said it she could feel the insincerity of her words. For a six year old, Rosie had always been far more observant than she had any right to be; truthfully, she was surprised she hadn't gotten the question before now.

John’s voice had faded now. Upstairs was silent.

“Would you like another biscuit, dear?”

 “Sherlock! We’ve talked about this. You know I’m going out tonight, why can't you just do what I ask? Why is everything so bloody difficult with you!” John’s angry shout reverberated around the kitchen from where he’d stormed down the stairs, throwing open every door on the way down.

Sherlock sat at the table, tense, and aware that Rosie was only a few scant feet away. She sat with her colouring books spread in a colourful array around her, back against John’s chair, staring at the enraged face of her father with wide eyes. Carefully, conscious of John’s seething, he turned and smiled a little stiffly at her. “Rosie, I bought you a new book the other day; it’s in your room. Do you want to go and find it so we can read it together later?”

Rosie stood quietly and brushed past John, not touching him, and made for the staircase. She stopped before she went up the stairs though, and got behind the bannister as much as possible while still being able to see through into the kitchen. The fluorescent overhead lighting made Sherlock seem stark and afraid as John’s stance became rigid, like he was gearing up for fight.

The shouting started up again, interspersed with hushed apologies that did nothing to quell John’s ire and she saw Sherlock visibly flinch when her father slammed his fist down on the table in blind rage. Sherlock seemed to be trying to make himself seem as small as possible, not meeting John’s eyes and hunching his shoulders. John calmed down eventually and left, although he still stormed down and out of the flat. Rosie managed to scurry up the stairs just before he saw her, but couldn’t hide her snooping later from Sherlock who made sure she was okay and told her not to worry about him when she asked.

 Molly had called earlier that morning and though she didn’t quite understand why, Rosie was glad she had some time to talk to her dad alone. Sherlock had left quickly which was good, she didn't think this was something she should say when other people were around.

“Daddy, why does Sherlock always flinch when you shout?”

John seemed taken aback. “Flinch, honey? He doesn’t do that.”

“He does! I saw him when you were angry the other day. He looked sad.”

John looked at her like he was just seeing her for the first time. And suddenly everything was terrible.

John Watson of The Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers and registered GP with the GMC had terrorised his best friend to the point where he was always on edge and feeling like he was about to be attacked in his own home.

He felt a tremor start in his hand and quickly clenched his fist, all too conscious of the movement.

“Are you sure, Rosie?”

“Yes.” She crossed her arms in the precocious way only little girls can. “You should say sorry.”

She’s entirely right. He should.

That evening after he’d put Rosie to bed, Sherlock still had yet to return. John had expected his day off from the surgery to be relaxed and without stress, but instead he’d spent the last several hours pacing and beating himself up. Now he set tensely on the sofa, waiting by the door for Sherlock to come up with a glass of whiskey in his hand. Objectively, he knew that probably wasn’t a good idea, but anything to take the edge off.

The front door opened, the sound of it and the ensuing rustle of fabric brushing against the walls muffled by the door between them. With barely a sound Sherlock was on the landing, hoping that John had gone to bed himself after putting Rosie down for the night, and quietly opened the door. John startled and looked up as he entered and they stared at each other for a few uneasy moments.

“John.” Sherlock greeted dismissively, going to march past and to the safety of his bedroom, but his forearm was seized before he’d even made it three paces.

“Sherlock, I’m sorry.”

Sherlock froze. He didn’t think he’d ever heard those words before. Even his eidetic memory couldn’t recall a time those words had ever left John’s lips before now, not in all the years they’d known each other.

John was quick to fill the silence.

“I’m sorry Sherlock, really. I didn’t know and if I did I never would have shouted at you like that again. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Please, I’m sorry.”

“You know I will always forgive you, John,” Sherlock whispered.

John slumped where he stood, ashamed.

“You shouldn’t.”

“No. I shouldn’t.”