Title: The 3 Stages of Friendship - Stage 3

Author: starjenni

Disclaimer: Still not mine!

Warnings: Swearing.

Rating: T

Spoilers: The usual.

Summary: Stage 3 - Worry (or: in which John gets angry and talks are had.)

A/N: After having writer's block for days, it broke violently and now I'm posting the last part almost right after the second part! I hope you don't mind me multi-posting in a day, and thank you so much for all the lovely reviews I've been getting so far, I love you all!

3) Worry

It has been 3 and a half hours exactly since Sherlock was taken prisoner by a gang of vengeful black-market organ traders, 2 hours 21 minutes since he managed to call John's mobile, 54 minutes since John and the police burst into the gang's warehouse, 53 minutes since Sherlock was threatened with one of the trader's guns, 52 and a half minutes since John shot the trader in the head, 45 minutes since Sherlock was taken to an ambulance, and now it has been 3 minutes since John has refrained in his shouting at him to pause for breath.

In a minute, Sherlock is sure he will turn blue.

"Do you even realise," John is saying for the umpteenth time, "How close you came to being killed, Sherlock? Or does it not even compute anymore? Do you just do it so many times that you don't even register when someone points a gun at you? Or are you just blind as well as stupid?"

Sherlock gathers his orange shock blanket closer around him. He is thinking of collecting these, they're quite warm really, and he could swear he spends more time in one than out of one. It's raining but John apparently doesn't care, because he's marching up and down in front of Sherlock and his ambulance, bellowing his insults so loud that policemen walking past are giving him funny looks.

"You think you're so clever, don't you?" John is roaring. "You can't even be bothered to tell anyone what your plans are, even if its bloody obvious you were going to get kidnapped by those traders, but no, no you couldn't take the time to tell me, or anyone, Sherlock, where you were going, because we're far too slow to waste time on. Well, you're not going to be so bloody clever when a bloody bullet shoots you through the bloody head."

Even accounting for him being in the military, that's a lot of swearing for John. Sherlock takes careful notes, and wonders if he should have Chinese or Thai tonight. Thai seems tempting -

"Are you even listening to me?" John screams.

"Nope," says Sherlock.

Apparently this is the wrong thing to say, because John freezes, and then goes red. Sherlock rolls his eyes. "Look," he says, in what he hopes is a reasonable voice. "I don't know why you're shouting - "

"I'm not shouting!" shouts John.

Sherlock resists the urge to roll his eyes again. "Fine, right, getting upset, whatever." He sighs. "I do this all the time, John, I'm not going to change just because you're angry about it, so you can save your breath." He glances up at John, who has his arms crossed over his chest and is still looking furious. "I don't even know why you're being like this, you know I do this!"

John looks like he wants to hit him. "I was worried about you, you prat!"

"Oh." Sherlock sits back, wide-eyed. This hasn't even occurred to him.

Now John is the exasperated one. "Yes, Sherlock." He sighs. Sherlock doesn't have a clue what to say to this, so he looks dumbly down at his feet.

After a pause, John shuffles over and sits next to him on the back of the ambulance.

"I mean, that's what friends do, they worry about each other," he says.

"Friends?" The word leaps out of Sherlock before he can stop it, and sounds more affronted than he means it to. He doesn't look at John, but he can feel him hesitate beside him.

"I mean…whatever," John says, obviously trying desperately to cover up. "I mean if you wanted we could…or we could just…I don't know, be colleagues, I just thought. Anyway. Whatever. It's fine."

He coughs awkwardly and falls silent. Sherlock looks up from his concentrated study of his shoes, and looks at John, really looks at him. A small, shabbily dressed man, a normal man, normal features, normal everything. He's the sort of man who Sherlock wouldn't look at twice, he's the sort of man Sherlock should find dull dull dull…but he doesn't. Maybe it's the crease between his eyebrows, maybe it's the solid look in his eyes, even after such drama. Maybe it's because he is so obviously dependable, so obviously trustworthy, even if he trusts no one. Maybe it's all of these things. Maybe it's none of them.

"I've never had a friend before," Sherlock says numbly. He means it. He never has. No one near that close. The thought that maybe this man, sitting here, sharing his ambulance, is it, his first friend, maybe his only friend ever

His stomach clenches uncomfortably. He shouldn't have friends. Not him. He is too…and his job, what he does, it is all too…


But John isn't exactly a wilting flower. John is tough. And he is here and he is offering, and somehow, although he should, Sherlock can't say no. It's a weakness he never realised he has until now, but he needs a friend. He has spent too long alone. And John is perfect, no, John is more than perfect. John is…well, John. Somehow that fact is more than adequate.

"Do…do I have to do anything?" he asks. He has no idea how this friend thing is meant to work. He can tell a man's history in his face, his career and relationships by the state of his hands, but he doesn't know anything about this.

John looks at him; their eyes meet, and suddenly John relaxes. "Try not to get yourself killed is usually a first," he says, and smiles crookedly. Sherlock smiles back, because they both know that that rule is straight out of the window. It has to be.

"Anything else?" he asks.

John half shrugs. "Just…be you, I suppose. And let me shout at you."

Sherlock sits back and pretends to be thinking. The rain continues to fall. Eventually he says, "I suppose I can deal with that."

John giggles his quick, addictive giggle, and Sherlock finds himself grinning too. For some reason, although he really hasn't realised anything mind-numbingly extraordinary, although they haven't fallen at each other's feet with declarations of love, his stomach is churning with warmth, and for a moment he feels that rare feeling of one who believes that all is right with the world.

He shoves his hands in his coat pocket and leans down slowly until the side of his forehead is touching the edge of John's shoulder. John is warm, and just as comfortable as he looks, and the singular peace that Sherlock is feeling triples in size, especially when John smiles and shifts a bit closer. The streets could be crawling with the most exciting and thrilling of crimes now, and he wouldn't care one bit, he definitely wouldn't move from this spot.

This is where he belongs.