And here, as promised, is part two! :) This part is a lot shorter, but it's really only to finish it off anyway. Thank you all so much for your brilliant feedback on this fic - I was really nervous about putting it up, so it all means a lot.
Again, this wasn't written as slash, just friendship as they panic about the fact that one of them might die. But, again, you can read it as slash if you so wish. :)
He looked terrible, limping in like that. Absolutely awful, there was no doubt about it.
There was the dull thud of the crutch then a click of his heel every step he took. He leaned on his arm for support, trying to keep himself upright and failing - he was leaning slightly too far to the right all the time. He wore tracksuit bottoms and a plain white t-shirt - completely out of place on him, he didn't look complete without a ridiculous woolly jumper around his neck. Anybody could tell he wasn't comfortable in his clothes, he wanted to be in something different, cleaner, smarter. His hair hung slightly over his forehead where it had grown too long - positively shameful for a military man like him, but he didn't look like he had the energy to care. His hair was dirty, too, something not to be expected from him. But there were cuts and gashes across his face and arms - smaller ones littering what seemed like every space available, and larger ones on his forehead, cheek and upper arm, just poking out from under his sleeve. They were clean and stitched, but they roughened him up - something else which he couldn't have appreciated.
But still, as John Watson shuffled in in his old man's slippers, Sherlock Holmes couldn't have been happier to see anyone in the world, ever.
He pushed himself up so he could see John properly, and for the first time since he came in, John looked up. The noises which came with the limping came to a halt, and the two men's eyes met - sharp, icy blue and warm, concerned brown.
And John Watson smiled.
He grinned - a smile which must have hurt, as it reached the gash on his left cheek. However, it lit up his face, chasing away the shadows of the much older man in considerable pain and welcoming back the John Watson Sherlock knew. He stood there, leaning on his crutch at the foot of Sherlock's bed, smiling like that, and Sherlock couldn't help but smile back.
"Good to see you awake." John said, still grinning.
Sherlock ignored the pain shooting down his arm and shrugged lightly. "Do you really think you could get rid of me that easily?"
John threw his head back and laughed - a real, John Watson laugh, which could change the atmosphere in any room. Sherlock couldn't fight the chuckle that he caught, the laugh was too infectious.
"Of course not," he said, regaining composure, "the great Sherlock Holmes, defeated by a bomb?" He waved his hand in dismissal. "Pfft. As if."
Still smiling, he made his way around to the seat on Sherlock's right. He still groaned a little as he sat down - Sherlock couldn't help himself.
"You don't have to be here, John." It came out a lot more clipped and anti-social than it had sounded in his head. But that was the case with most things Sherlock said. Now, usually he'd just leave it - he usually didn't care whether people liked him or not. But, as John's eyes snapped up to meet his, confusion in them, looking completely shocked and offended, Sherlock's own eyes widened in horror. Before he could speak, though, John did.
"Right," he said shortly, a clipped laugh following, "well then. I'll just... erm, I'll just go-"
As John put his hands on the armrests of his chair to heave himself up, Sherlock twisted himself over so that he could put his hand over John's, effectively stopping his movements. Sure, it hurt like hell, but he didn't want John to leave.
"That's not what I meant." he continued, locking eyes with the doctor, "I just meant - well, you don't look... you seem," Sherlock sighed, falling back onto his bed in a more comfortable position, "You're injured too," he said quietly, "I just... I want you to get better, too."
Sherlock fixed his eyes on the ceiling, panicking internally that what he had just said was entirely too soppy for one man to say to another man - what, with all the hand holding, well...people might talk. He still wasn't adapt enough at handling social situations, least of all with a friend - if he could definitely count John as one of those, that is.
His panic subsided, however, when he heard John laugh.
"Shut up, Sherlock. I'm fine."
Sherlock looked to John out of the corner of his eyes and had to mirror the smile across the older man's face. As he pushed himself up again, John spoke as if nothing had happened.
"Seen anything of Mycroft?"
Sherlock grinned again. "Not since I woke up." he replied, fighting the laughter, "I think I offended him."
John nodded. "I think you did."
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Well, he needed to be told! Did you hear him?" Sherlock mimicked Mycroft's voice, albeit badly, "You didn't get here quick enough, I can have you fired, don't you know who I am? Blah, blah, blah. Such a dull aristocrat."
John threw his head back and laughed, but Sherlock's face showed no sign of amusement. When he calmed down, John made a point.
"You can't call him an aristocrat, Sherlock - you're both from the same family!"
Sherlock shrugged. "Hmm," he said, looking at his own lap, "doesn't make us anything like each other."
He waited for the inevitable 'You're a lot more alike than you'd like to believe' speech, which - to Sherlock's dismay - he always recieved on the back end of a rant about his older brother. Yes, they were brothers, and yes, there was a certain relationship required in that. But no, that didn't mean they actually had to show that they gave anything more than a passing acknowledgement to one another.
Some people just didn't understand.
John, however, didn't say any of that. Instead, he continued with, "He told me about your childhood - you know, when you were asleep."
Sherlock's eyes snapped up to John's with what he hoped was a stern look in them. "Yes." He said, "I heard you."
John's eyebrows nearly disappeared into his newly-grown fringe. "Really? You could hear us?"
"Yes," Sherlock said impatiently, "I could hear you. And be assured that most of what he said was lies."
John smiled. "So you didn't stalk him and his girlfriend when you were seven?"
Sherlock decided not to answer that. John laughed again.
"That's irrelevant. Her parent's impending divorce was obvious."
John made a dismissive 'hmm' sound, which Sherlock chose to ignore. Instead, he carried on.
"What I meant was the bit about me, Sherlock Holmes, always being my parent's favourite." He let out one, sharp laugh, heavy with something close to irony, sounding more like a bark than a laugh. "As if."
John was listening again now, resting his chin on his hands, his elbows on the arm of the chair he was in. He raised one eyebrow. "No?"
Sherlock shook his head. "If you were my parents, who would you prefer?" he asked, bitterly, "They wanted another Mycroft when I was born - another intelligent, rule-following seven-year-old prodigy who was so intimidating even at 8 years old that even his teachers at school tried to not cross him. And what did they get instead? Me."
John, apparently, didn't know what to say to that. So, Sherlock continued for him.
"The anti-social, obnoxious, high-functioning sociopath with an addictive personality and the knack for getting on the entire population of the world's last nerve."
The silence fell again - Sherlock felt something akin to guilt twinge in his stomach when he saw the silent pity in John Watson's eyes. Sherlock had put him in an awkward situation again, hadn't he?
God damn social graces to hell.
He let his eyes wander out to the window on the opposite wall, showing the rest of the ward on their daily business. Nurses scurried past, holding bedpans and syringes, wheeling people and machines to and fro. As Sherlock tried to focus on every single passing individual and their mundane lives, he almost forgot about the man sitting next to him.
"I'd choose you."
His voice was quiet, just loud enough for Sherlock to hear. Sherlock turned to face him; he could feel his eyebrows up near his hairline in surprise.
"S-sorry?" he stuttered.
John's eyes met his. "I'd choose you," he repeated, "Over Mycroft, I mean. As my favourite."
Sherlock felt his mouth was probably hanging open, but there wasn't an awful lot he could do about that.
John shrugged. "Mycroft might be intelligent, intimidating and have the entire British government under his left thumb. And probably, the entire European parliament under his right one. But," he paused, looking away, "I mean... at least you're interesting."
"Well, he's lazy, isn't he? Mycroft, I mean. He communicates with everyone through his PA and gets his younger brother to do his legwork. Not to mention he can't stick to a diet to save his life." John smiled, Sherlock stared. "I bet you any money that if it were the other way round in this situation, Mycroft wouldn't have come out of this explosion alive."
Sherlock swallowed. "Oh."
John didn't seem fazed by this new revelation, but Sherlock was staggered. This overwhelming show of emotion before him had shut him up - John had told Sherlock the truth, the emotional, personal truth, and he didn't even seem bothered.
Now that was something even the great Sherlock Holmes couldn't understand.
"Dr. Watson? Really, what are you doing?"
John looked up to the nurse in the doorway grinning. "Visiting my good friend Sherlock Holmes, Nurse Kendall. Why?"
Sherlock was still paralysed by John's display of... affection, for need of a better word, that he only half-listened to John's conversation with the nurse. He did notice, however, when he got up to leave.
"Where are you going?" It came out as a reflex.
John smiled down at him as he got to his feet. "Nursey nurse wants me to get back to bed. She was very insistent - something about a doctor wanting to see me. Don't worry though, I'll find a way back." And with an ear to ear grin, he turned to leave.
And as Sherlock Holmes lowered himself carefully back into a lying down position, he was forced to admit to himself that he'd been wrong all along about himself. He couldn't be the lonley, sociopathic wanderer any more. He couldn't count having no friends as one of his greatest achievements, and he couldn't lock himself up alone for days anymore just to spite Mycroft.
Because their was someone else who seemed to care now. Someone who clung on steadfastly and seemed fairly stuck.
But most of all, Sherlock was forced to admit that he might actually care back. That he'd actually made a friend.