Sherlock had been labelled by strangers and acquaintances alike throughout his life with varying degrees of accuracy. Prodigy. Addict. Freak. Genius. Psychopath. He'd let the names roll off his back like the proverbial duck and water, only ever commenting when he felt correction was needed. ("I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.")
There were labels, however, that gave him pause.
Friend. That was one he'd never expected to wear, let alone have fit so comfortably.
Fake. Liar. He'd scoffed at those until Moriarty's machinations had forced him to deal with them in direct and public fashion.
Coward. The papers hadn't been as full of this as they had of the other insults, but this was the one that rankled.
He knew he was neither a fake nor a liar. But a coward?
From his hiding place behind the trees, Sherlock watched John standing at his grave, fighting tears and praying for miracles.
He faced the last accusation with an open mind. He looked inside himself, examined the epithet logically, and found it to be true in one important sense. He had been incapable of exhibiting love to the one person in his life who truly deserved it.
First things first. Finish what another had started. Once Moriarty's network was destroyed, he would come home. Then, for John, he would be brave.