I realized shortly after posting the first part that while I originally intended this as a one-shot, the story wasn't finished. Here's the second and final part, from John's POV. Slash.
Disclaimers: I don't own Sherlock's BBC series. Just playing with the characters.
Scars: Part 2
Sherlock refused to allow the hospital staff to do anything that threatened to reveal his scars. He had John liberate a second robe from the nurse, turned it around and tied it in the back, ensuring his arms and chest were fully covered. Then, for good measure, he threw a blanket over his shoulders. Before hobbling to the toilet or shower, he wrapped another blanket around his waist like a sarong. He ejected all visitors from the room not only when the dressings on his burns were changed, but also for simple things like blood pressure checks, something he refused outright halfway through the afternoon, in spite of the fact that it had taken nearly a minute of chest compressions to clear the fluid from his lungs and get his heart going again. The longest minute of John's life.
Mycroft left immediately after his rather awkward expression of support for his brother. Lestrade stuck it out a little longer, briefly relating a cold case of a twenty five year old murder-suicide that had apparently intrigued him.
"It was the husband's sister," Sherlock said, cutting Lestrade off mid-sentence. "Obvious, and clearly so because you had the woman arrested this morning. My brain wasn't deprived of oxygen for so long as that."
Lestrade's eyes widened, but he was smart enough not to ask how Sherlock knew.
"Text me when something interesting happens." Sherlock rolled over and threw the blanket over his head.
"Take care." Lestrade briefly rested his palm on Sherlock's shoulder.
John leaned back in his chair and opened up a medical journal he'd filched from the nurse's break room. After a minute of rereading the same sentence, an uneasy feeling came over him and he glanced up at the bed. Sherlock was staring at him, the focus of his blue-grey gaze making John feel for a moment like an experiment.
"Did you want me to read out from this?" John asked.
Sherlock leaned over the side of the bed. "Diagnoses and treatment for migration of Toxocara Canus in populations age 2-4. Should come in handy the next time someone decides to kill their kid with a roundworm."
"I tried," John said, letting his gaze drop back to the journal. The feeling of being watched didn't recede, so after a couple of paragraphs John looked up again. Sherlock's gaze had not wavered. John said, "I hope you don't think you're going to scare me into going back to the flat."
"Then that would be a waste of resources," Sherlock said, but his expression softened a little.
Of course, Sherlock refused to answer questions like 'tell me the name of the Prime Minister' (a basic Google search will reveal such information so why should I clutter my mind) or 'what medications do you take on a daily basis?' (My chart's over there. John, basic literacy is still a requirement of medical school, isn't it?). A steady stream of visitors from the Yard and various restaurants made John even more reluctant to leave a radius of the room where he could easily run interference.
Besides, he didn't want to go.
Mostly he sat at Sherlock's bedside pretending to read and when Sherlock slept, periodically letting his fingertips rest on the other man's wrist to verify his pulse. Not that the latter was at all necessary; the EKG readout above Sherlock's bed and pulse-oxidation monitor on his finger were far better at this than John, but he yielded to the compulsion anyway.
Sherlock refused to eat the hospital food.
After a skipped lunch and rapidly cooling dinner, John put his foot down, "I'll have Mycroft tell them to put in a feeding tube."
Sherlock crossed his arms over his chest, his hands fisted like a recalcitrant toddler. "They didn't find Moriarty's body in the wreckage."
"Who told you that? Lestrade?" And when? John had only left the room to use the bathroom and get pretzels and soda from the vending machine.
"He didn't have to." Sherlock sniffed. "So the question becomes how did Moriarty escape? I need data."
"You need dinner," John pointing to his night table and the tray of congealing meatloaf and jello.
Sherlock glanced at it and wrinkled his nose. "Food interferes with the deductive process."
"So does starving to death," John said, but he made an emergency call to Angelo's and paid a courier to deliver pasta.
With encouragement, Sherlock picked his way through half of it before falling into a light doze. John counted that as a victory and put the leftovers in the floor's communal fridge.
When Mrs. Hudson arrived, John was absently checking his flatmate's pulse again.
"You're so sweet," Mrs Hudson said. Embarrassed, John pulled his hand away.
"Irrational." Sherlock yawned and rubbed his eyes.
"Same thing." Mrs. Hudson handed John a care package of slippers, oatmeal cookies and a brand new toothbrush and toothpaste. "I wasn't going root around the bathroom after what happened the last time," she said.
Mrs. Hudson stayed for close to an hour, during which Sherlock remained surprisingly civil. Before she left, she leaned over the bed and hugged Sherlock gingerly. He stiffened.
"Your burn, oh goodness I'm sorry!" Mrs. Hudson said, brushing aside the unruly hair on Sherlock's forehead. For a second, John was irrationally jealous. Mrs. Hudson said, "I hurt you, didn't I?"
"No," Sherlock said.
"It's getting late."
"And it's been a madhouse here since you woke up," Mrs. Hudson said, "what with all of your police friends."
"They're not friends."
"Of course not, dear." Mrs Hudson stood and began to gather her bags. "Do eat the cookies, Sherlock. You were too skinny before you went and got yourself blown up."
"Bored," Sherlock said when she'd left. "Where's my Blackberry?"
John shrugged. "At the bottom of the pool I suspect. You should try and get some more sleep."
"Can't. Idiot's going to be through with that machine in a thirty seconds."
"Just let them take your pressure. Being difficult isn't going to get you out of here any faster."
"Oh John." Sherlock's lips twisted into a sardonic grin. "You have no idea."
Two firm knocks sounded from the wall beside Sherlock's open door. A stocky man with copper-brown skin and close cropped black hair walked in pushing a portable blood pressure machine. He wore bright blue scrubs scattered with bubbly cartoon drawings of classic cars. "Mr. Holmes," he said, "Pressure check."
The assistant gave a hearty laugh. "I know these checks can get right tiresome, but we need it for our records. Can I have your arm?"
"It's criminally stupid to make the same query twice within a span of seconds with the expectation of a different response." The clipped enunciation of Sherlock's voice made each word agonizingly clear.
The assistant looked at John. "Cranky tonight, isn't he?"
Sherlock steepled his fingers over his mouth and nose and stared up at the assistant. "I give it less than a week before the pharmacy realizes you and your associate have been skimming."
The man's expression froze. "Where did you come up with that?"
"You're a medical assistant. Your job is to put pills in cups and harass people with meaningless tests. What business do you have carrying a prescription pad? Also, you're right handed, but there's an indentation on the inside of your left, middle finger where you've gripped a pen. The ink stain supports this. A poor attempt at disguising handwriting. You aren't able to forge the doctor in question's signature, though I assume his handwriting is disastrous enough that you think a substitution won't be noticed, but at least this way even if the forgery is discovered it won't be connected to you. In that you're mistaken. Even a moderately skilled forensic graphologist will make the connection."
As Sherlock spoke, the man's grip on the blood pressure machine went limp. "That's just ridiculous," he said, weakly.
"My advise is to resign before the week is out. You're not going to do your sister any good in prison," Sherlock said.
"I'll get the night nurse," the man said, and left.
When they were alone, John ventured, "Why don't you let me check your vitals from now on?"
"Be sensible Sherlock, you don't do a full minute of CPR without getting a good look at the chest and abdomen. I saw worse in Afghanistan."
The glare Sherlock gave John in response was cold enough to shatter flesh. Sherlock said, "Visiting hours are over at nine. Shouldn't you be heading home?"
"Who was it that remarked on the stupidity of asking questions when you already know the answers? Besides, our flat's a crime scene and I can't afford a hotel."
"There's always Sarah's."
"I'm staying here." John got up and pulled the other chair over, setting them opposite each other. He kicked off his shoes and put his feet up. "Turn on the telly."
To his surprise Sherlock did. They watched reality shows until the news came on. Sherlock's deductions about the participants, their sexual habits, dysfunctions, sibling relationships, and the possible laws they had broken in order to land themselves on the various shows had John laughing until his chest hurt. Occasionally he would glance at his flatmate, and the expressive angles of his face, the delicacy of his fingers, his patented sardonic smile, sharpened the pain in John chest, his stomach, to something sweet, possessive, and agonizing.
Falling into step with Sherlock on his madcap adventures, fighting to keep that brilliant mind alive, had given John purpose he hadn't had since Afghanistan. When Moriarty had strapped the bomb to John, he'd been afraid-organisms were biologically wired to avoid death-but he also understood about sacrifice; so long as Sherlock lived, John could die knowing his death had meaning. He'd thrown himself at Sherlock, certain that his own body would shield Sherlock from the worst of the blast, but the explosion had wrenched them apart, and through some fluke of physics John had come through ears ringing and barely singed.
When he'd surfaced, Sherlock was floating half a pool away, face down and bleeding. John had dragged Sherlock out, tore open his flatmate's shirt, wrenching melted skin from the burn opposite his heart, and started chest compressions. It took one hundred and three compressions before Sherlock coughed. In that limbo, John had faced a colorless present that stretched on and on past bearing.
Losing ones purpose hurt, John knew intimately, but not like that.
"I can't sleep with you staring at me so loud," Sherlock said, and threw a pillow at him.
It hit John square in the face.
"Take this thing too," Sherlock said, tugging at the blanket over his shoulders. "They keep these rooms too hot."
John smiled, and his cheeks warmed. Sherlock leaned forward, wincing a little as movement irritated his burns. John grabbed the corner of the blanket and pulled it free. As he sat back down, Sherlock turned off the main room's lights. In the semi-darkness (patient rooms were never completely dark), John draped the blanket over his chest. It smelled of hospital laundry and Sherlock. John closed his eyes.
John woke sometime later to Sherlock thrashing. He whimpered. His eyelids fluttered violently, and fingers twitching, he kicked, tangling his feet in the blanket.
John shook his flatmate's shoulder. "Sherlock!"
The sleeve of Sherlock's robe had ridden up on his arm, revealing a pair of circular burn marks. Brilliant, courageous, idiotic, self sacrificing, arrogant, suffering: more vividly than any words, those scars illustrated Sherlock's spirit. John touched them. Sherlock shouted, "No!" His eyes shot open, and he shoved John back. "Get away from me!"
John stumbled, hitting the edge of one of the chairs hard enough to bruise. When he'd caught his balance, he turned back to the bed again.
Sherlock sat with his back against the headboard and his knees drawn up to his chest. "I deleted it," he said, and his voice cracked. "It must be the drugs. I deleted the incident."
"Nightmares are normal." John took a step towards the bed, and seeing no protest, sat gingerly on the edge of it. "May I?" he said, and took his flatmate's hand.
Sherlock turned his head away, his lashes damp, but he didn't pull his hand away.
"You can't delete your feelings about it. Not emotions like that," John said. "I know."
"I am a sociopath. I don't have feelings. None of consequence."
"Whoever had made that diagnosis was an idiot," John said, and suspected he was staring at the culprit. "Those boys tortured you."
"Pain is the body's response to certain stimuli."
"You're not a sociopath."
"That's your sentimentality speaking. The murder was a puzzle, and ultimately an uninteresting one."
"What was the dog's name?"
"The dog they killed. What was its name?"
For a moment, Sherlock only breathed. "Her name..." His hand clenched around John's and he said, "Juliette."
John leaned towards his flatmate, cupped Sherlock's jaw and turned him so they were face to face. "Look at me." When Sherlock opened his eyes, John said, "You have no idea how amazing you are."
"Please." Sherlock said, "I'm hardly modest."
Sherlock smiled. "You keep saying these things out loud."
"Hella good looking."
"Now I know you're an imbecile."
"Absolutely," John said, and kissed him.