First of all, I've to thank my friend Umbry for her help while translating *3* This is my first attempt to translate something in ages - why I wasn't born English? ;3; - and I hope you'll enjoy my fic! Sherlock BBC doesn't belong to me - baaaw.;_;! - but to those proper geniuses of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss 333
Wonderful betareading by purplefeen!*_* Thank you so much!
Bury The Pain Under An Orange Blanket.
"Even though I hold the weight of the whole world on my shoulders." (Like Toy Soldiers, Eminem)
The cane in his hands is cold; a piece of ice unused for too long. Dreadful, because it's something that would have had to support him for his whole life, or so it had seemed to him. He sighs, leaning on the bed, lapsing into an exasperated snort, his arms tightening around his belly to hold the unpleasant feelings in. He could get rid of them if he wanted to – shooting against the wall like Sherlock does when he gets bored, or shouting into the pillow like he did in his hospital room when he still was in Afghanistan.
He huddles up into a fetal position on the mattress, as springs creak under his weight, goaded by the pain – there is a confused world in his head; hanks over hanks, black and blue woolen threads, dots of red light that dash off in front of his eyes, in the little John inside his mind. His own world brings him down, in places where he would never want to return; in the worst hell a man can face while in life.
He would sleep, but he knows he won't be able to. He could ask Mrs. Hudson to make him a chamomile tea, but in the end, he doesn't feel the need to bother her or to see her, or anyone else. Sherlock is outside the room, maybe in his own, maybe on the sofa gripping his own hair, he doesn't know. Afghanistan is reflected in the glassy surface of a pool, the APMs in the parka full of explosive; a false step and boom, John Watson powdered – together with who knows how many people, with Moriarty, with Sherlock.
His leg hurts, and so he allows his hand to slip and hold onto his thigh, tighter and tighter, hoping for this new pain to chase off the old one; hoping they override each other, disappearing from his body, from any other place.
One pistol shot. Two, three. Sherlock is not in his room then, judging from the sound of gunshots. He should tell him something; Sherlock knows he risks being throw out of his home – John can't afford to pay the rent alone, and Sherlock knows it, so why does he keep putting his wallet at stake as he does, along with his life and that of others?
Why can't he just stay quiet sometimes, and let the others do their job, with their longer timetables and their slower brains? Another shot, and his fist nervously hits the wall, and the plaster stings his flesh, letting the anxiety concentrate on a unique point for a useless moment, making his scratched flesh burn.
His stomach crumples again, stronger. Fear pours into his veins again – how can he be assured that that madman won't be back to end his job? Getting away with a gauze on his head and some scarring is not enough to call himself saved by a miracle. He stopped believing in God with the smell of burned corpses and decaying bodies; he knows that there won't be anything ready to save him.
He swallows acid; the creak of the springs squeaking against the silence. He would rather be dead now. It would be simpler than withstanding the heavy blanket of nothing he's carrying, two days of total and involuntary isolation, going out just to go to the bathroom. Sherlock watches him while he turns around, when he leaves his room; he notices his glance with the corner of his eye every time; but Sherlock doesn't say anything, doesn't do anything. He just contemplates the nothingness, he uses the violin as a torture device, and he shoots the wall, and moans while his arm welcomes three, four, five nicotine patches.
He doesn't talk – John knew it would happen, and in the end it's not the first time it happens, in months of cohabitation. But this time is different, because silence has caught them by surprise, as death that was going to take them away. There is shock, but it's just shock, it'll pass. The blanket wasn't enough, but it doesn't matter, it'll just pass. He told him, Sherlock told him, before all collapsed in muteness; and since it's Sherlock who said those words, then he has to believe them.
But he can't even do something as simple and dull as believing in the words of his own flatmate.
He screams against the wall, a shout waning and merging with the white of the plaster; he feels his eyes pricking, they hurt, he squints them, red lasers blue threads black threads water bomb. He opens them again; he can't breathe anymore.
More acid slides into his throat.
The noise of the lock snapping allows his lungs to restart, to get air and spit pain, Sherlock's hoarse voice coming to his ears like a panacea – or like a poison, he still can't understand.
Maybe he doesn't want to understand. His voice isn't different from a thousand voices he heard while in Afghanistan, it disperses in the cries always present in his mind. He gives a look at the wall, there where he hit it. There's a tiny drop of blood that slips along the relief while it slowly dries out. He's not answering – there is a yes? pushing against his vocal cords, a glimmer of voice that would like to leave his mouth, only God knows what he'd give to tell him something.
He feels his glance on his back, he can nearly feel the wheels of his brain moving fast to elaborate any hypothesis that saves him from that awkward silence. When Sherlock comes closer, John feels his muscles freezing. He wants him, he doesn't want him.
He's a bomb, he's going to explode; him, Sherlock, the whole house.
Sherlock's touch on his shoulder makes his voice leave his chest, but not the way he wished. He nearly feels like a monster, while he shouts the strongest no that has ever left his mouth, his arm snapping back, to shove him away. His stomach is closed, turned over on itself so many times that John doesn't know if sooner or later everything will come back to where it was before.
Hearing him leave the room in silence almost breaks his heart, but he can do nothing. There's the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he selfishly doesn't want to have to bear Sherlock's problems as well. He swallows air and it's like much too big morsels scratching against his throat; the drop of blood still on the plaster has given up.
It's such a bother, his heart pulsing in his throat.
He closes his eyes. Behind the eyelids Sherlock's face is staring at him; his eyes wet, his lips under his teeth – a surreal image; it will never exist in reality.
John is almost sure that in a short while, he's going to begin hearing gunshots again, and this time he'll be aware that he's the reason.
He cocks an ear and waits. He waits for the next explosion, hoping it will be the last one of his entire life.
But it doesn't come. He opens his eyes at the same moment in which something warm falls onto his body – orange.
Shock. It'll pass.
"Hold it on your shoulders, it doesn't work on me, but they say that it makes people feel better." There is the creak of the mattress filling his ears, but this time it sounds so different; Sherlock sinks there, between his bent legs, the blanket protects him from the contact.
He doesn't know whether to turn over, whether to wait for him to say something or do something, or to go away. He stares at the wall hoping that a mirror will appear – he couldn't stand to look in his eyes at the moment. Sherlock's sigh tickles his nose even though he's looking away, oddity of the brain and the heart going hand in hand.
John sees him without the need to look at him, he guesses his movement thanks to the metallic noise of the mattress – now he's bent on his hands, now he's gripping the air, now he's standing upright again; maybe he's looking at him; it's the cheek to tingle, this time.
"Are you okay?" Sherlock asks.
He noticed his hoarse voice before. He supposes it's for the silence alternated with the screams, maybe he didn't drink anything when they came back home – possible, considering that he usually mistreats his body in ways that not even a madman would dare.
He connects, later, that sentence to the first time Sherlock said that to him, in that pool, with the same tone full of the humanity of which John didn't believe him capable. His heart jumps a beat, before starting to run at breakneck speed and make his ears buzz.
"Don't talk rubbish." Sherlock hisses, pent-up anger at John that condenses on his lips. "You're not fine. If you were fine, you'd complain. You always do that, but not now. You're not fine."
John moves so slowly that Sherlock doesn't perceive his movement - he keeps on looking out of the window, shutters half-closed so as to let enough light in, keeping him from tripping over the chair or his shoes.
He grips the blanket so tightly that his knuckles turn pale. When Sherlock turns to watch him, John has gained at least ten years in pain and tiredness. "Why are you asking me, then?"
There's a note of sarcasm in his voice that cheers Sherlock up a bit. At least, something hasn't changed yet.
"It's my fault."
John turns at those words, the metallic noise not being a problem anymore, his blanket protecting him from everything now. His glance stops on Sherlock's neck, on the bloated vein that slips under his shirt and pulses blood and blood and blood, dashing off the brain and not letting him think.
"Sherlock, it's not-"
"Well, you've had a good dose of idiocy too, there's absolutely no doubt. But it's my fault, if you're in this state. I'm not a hero, I told you. And I didn't protect you as I should have, for you've leant on a false hope that obviously I gave you."
John's gaze slides off the diaphanous hand to the other one, his mouth full of too many feelings to let some word escape. He holds his hand and lets go of it following his own rhythm, asynchronous, unpredictable. He gets lost on looking at it – he observes the white gauze that wraps it, and he loses recognition for a moment, turning back hours that look like years.
"Donovan was right. Stay away from me. When you recover, you just move out, go to Sarah's; I'm sure she will very glad and-"
"Sherlock, stop thinking for others, for God's sake." And it's the first time Sherlock doesn't interrupt him. John sees his lips in profile, leaning out of his cheekbones, his eyelashes lowering slowly, before he starts to watch the world again. John rolls his eyes and stares at the ceiling, his hands slipping on his face. "Stop talking as if my world revolves around you."
"Don't talk silly, I know you've got your head to think with."
"Then stop talking bullshit."
They snort together, ironically. Sherlock turns again and watches him, and John's heart skips another beat – stress, it's only stress. It'll pass.
He's got warm eyes, Sherlock. It's the first time – John thinks this is the first times' day.
"That blanket is useless, isn't it?"
And the silence, again. Their minds elaborate words upon words that will stay closed there forever; they're aware and they don't do nothing to change the situation. They chew air in sync, whole sentences that caress their tongue before slipping once more down the throat, and disappear in the acid of a stomach empty for days.
"Don't speak. I'm trying to think."
It's not hard to understand what he's thinking about; this is really the day of novelties, if John can read his mind just by watching his eyes. He reads every single word in his head, and his name occupies the biggest place.
His brain sends wrong impulses to his leg because of the tension; in a hiccup of pain, he arches over his stomach, hands nervously rubbing down his thigh knowing perfectly that it will be useless.
Sherlock would touch him, but he's afraid – to hear him screaming again, to be shoved away, to hear John saying he doesn't want to see him for another two, five, a hundred days.
It's a thouroughly irrational fear, Sherlock convinces himself; repeating that thought mentally, and he does it; he reaches out his hand on the blanket, he rests it on the doctor's leg and John leaps up, avoiding his gaze. "It's been hurting all day long. Don't worry, tomorrow it'll pass," he whispers, fearing the wall could hear him.
"I've disappointed you."
In that moment, Sherlock looks almost like a random generator of stupidity. John sighs, his head leaning on the wall to find comfort. He doesn't think he will stand him any longer; he can't stand listening to him talking that way, Sherlock who's always firm on anything, Sherlock who's always right about everything.
Sherlock moves his hands like a madman that can't explain normality. "I've disappointed myself. I couldn't avoid that man taking you, I couldn't-"
"It's not your fault, Sherlock, God."
He almost doesn't realize when his flatmate turns completely and grabs him by his collar, lifting him from the bed. Sherlock shakes him like a puppet, his eyes red and dry because of sleepless nights. "You could have died, John. You could have died." He repeats it, every time his arms moving back and forth, fingers trembling in anger. "You could have died, and I couldn't have prevented it."
He holds on to Sherlock's arms, his eyes full of incredulity. Everything John wants to say dies in his throat, choked from the anguish strangling him. Sherlock talks softly, he whispers, hoping for the fear to be kept from even himself – he tries to give his voice a normal tone, as if it just was a simple, useless chat. But his pupils are dilated in an almost worrying way, his wrists sweat-soaked. John isn't alone, because Sherlock keeps seeing Moriarty in other faces as well. And in John's, he sees the face of a corpse. "You could have died and I…"
John can't take it anymore. He doesn't want to hear another word, his head stopped working as it should have long ago. He leaves his arms to hold his face – he looks a lot more haggard than usual, pale like the walls surrounding them – and he nestles him, occupying his mouth and stopping him from saying more. "I'm not dead, Sherlock," he says with his lips, before he kisses him, before he holds him so tight he would be afraid he might hurt him; but he doesn't mind, not in that moment.
The pain in his leg heightens, his stomach is mush and his heart doesn't have the will to follow, but he doesn't mind. There's the war in front of his eyes when he closes them, it's been like that for ages and it will be for the rest of his life – and he's used to it in the end, he just has to become familiar with new elements, but he doesn't care about the time it will take, he doesn't care about the wounds, and the pain, and the fear of dying. Not now. "I'm not dead." He repeats, breathing hard, his forehead against Sherlock's. His face is wet; he trembles.
Sherlock looks at him with despair painted in his irises, his fingers digging in John's arm and hurting him. John tries to give a faint smile, but it looks more like something worrying, because he's devastated, from the look of the rings under his eyes and his lips nervously bitten. He takes the blanket and puts it on both of them, and then he lets Sherlock collapse over him, pretending not to hear the scream of his fear. He holds him tight, his breath filling the air and makes it suddenly warm and motherly.
"It's just shock." He says softly, a kiss on his temple. "The blanket will help, this time."