Regular disclaimers apply.
Spoilers: General post season four
Summary: For sonneta and ruralstar. Sonneta requested mention of Johnny's lack of cane; Ruralstar asked for a gen-fic. )
May!fic 5 of 31
"We really should get you a new cane," Bruce said as he settled the icepack above Johnny's kneecap. (How many times had he said that in the past year?)
"I don't need one. I've been doing fine, it's just..." He shook his head. "It's only acting up now because of twisting wrong when I fell. I just wasn't paying attention to that broken step."
Bruce rolled his eyes and sat down in one of the overstuffed armchairs. "Want me to spray paint the deteriorating concrete so you know not to step there?" Johnny glared at him. "Alright, that's a no."
Drumming his fingers on the chair arm, Bruce studied his friend's pale, exhausted face and considered how far he'd be able to press the psychic this time.
"You know, John, you might've fell this time, but it's not the first time your leg's acted up. Don't," he interrupted when the psychic's mouth opened, "try to deny it. I know you, and I can tell when you're holding back. You're damn stubborn, man."
Johnny laid his head against the couch armrest with a sigh. He remained silent for a few moments, then dragged a hand over his face. "It's fine," he said flatly. "I manage."
"Uh-huh." Bruce was not convinced. "So now I'm wondering if you notice that your body starts rebelling whenever you press in on this Armageddon stuff. There always seems to be a bottle of Excedrin sitting out after we've heard news about Stillson. Somewhat suspicious, don't you think?"
"Those visions are more intense, sure," Johnny replied. He glared at Bruce. "What are you trying to do? You know I'm not going in for that surgery. I can't do that!" He sat up a bit and fixed Bruce with a pleading expression. "We've covered this already, I'll probably lose the visions and then I can't make things right."
Bruce sighed. "John... Look, this isn't just on you. Even if it was, how much do you think you'd be able to do when your body starts giving out on you and you're in too much pain? I'm not asking you to get surgery. I am asking you to take care of yourself." He stood up to sit on the floor next to the couch. Taking Johnny's hand, he held it in both hands, disturbed by its lack of heat. "God, you're freezing!"
The psychic stared down at their hands, brow furrowed in concentration or pain—sometimes it was hard to tell, Bruce thought.
"I appreciate the concern," Johnny finally said. "I'm just not sure I can do all the pills and vices. I don't need to add a crutch to the other crap going on in my life."
"It's not giving in to help yourself out. If you can differ the pain... couldn't you focus better?" Something seized in Bruce's chest at Johnny's expression. He swore silently. "Listen, the pain is not part of the process. You aren't defined by the pain. Let it go, man, let me help figure something out."
Johnny stared at the icepack on his thigh and scratched at it distractedly. "I hated that cane," he admitted. Bruce breathed in sharply upon hearing traces of frustration and shame. "I don't want to go back to it."
Bruce looked away. He'd been the one to pick out the cane, cajoling Johnny with jokes in those early months. It hadn't seemed like Johnny had a problem with it; at least not until Christopher Wey appeared.
Steeling himself for the probable fight, Bruce turned back. In a firm tone he insisted, "You need to stop straining that leg, John. I don't care what you decide to use—I'll even keep off your back about pain killers if you follow through—but you must do something about this. Otherwise I'm telling Walt that he can give up on psychic counsel in the field. You sure as hell can't keep running around and clamber up ravines and stairs all the time."
"You don't get to make my decisions," Johnny warned, tugging his hand free. He moved his legs off the couch and let the icepack fall to the floor. Bruce didn't miss the grimace of pain.
"Maybe," Bruce agreed, "but you're hopefully smart enough to give up that stubbornness to realize that you can't keep going like this." He stood up and looked down at his friend.
Johnny refused to meet his gaze. "Go home. I'll take care of myself." He waved Bruce off. At Bruce's amused snort, he snapped, "I'm fine!"
"Whatever, man." Bruce backed up with his hands raised. Fine, if Johnny wanted to be like that... He turned to go but came back with a phone to set by the couch. "Think about what I said. And John?" It took a while but eventually the psychic looked at him. "Call me if you need something."
With that Bruce picked up his jacket and headed to the door. He decided he'd take a nap. Johnny would hold out as long as possible. Bruce knew he'd get the call sooner or later.