A/N Well, I've finally done it- I've decided to start posting the sequel to "Crystal Cold." c: Yay! I'm not as happy with this complete work as I was with the original, but I still like it, and lots of you wanted to see this, so... ta-da? The S/J gets a lot more real in this than in the first story (which, if you haven't read, I highly suggest you go check out now so that you aren't completely lost), but it's still pretty light and very gradual. There isn't much else to say, really- but please do review!
Rated T for violent references, mild language, and snogging
Disclaimer I don't own Sherlock or any associated characters, events, etc.
John Watson had spent a lot of time in hospitals over the course of his life, being a medical doctor, but that didn't mean that he wasn't allowed to hate them. It was a deep disgust at which he now regarded the massive, overly sanitary buildings, something that could only really sink into a person after they'd been confined to them for an extended amount of time. The stinging scent of too many cleaning supplies would become a constant, as well as the monochromatic white-and-gray tones that seemed to fill all of the space, contrasting only with workers' sickeningly turquoise scrubs.
And yet, despite all the work towards keeping the place clean, it couldn't manage to shake off the fact that it was, quite simply, a realm for the sick. Coughs resonated through every room, spreading from others like the contagious germs against which such a fierce war constantly raged, as did the sobs of relatives that came only with the worst of news. It made John uncomfortable. He didn't belong here. He was far from fatally afflicted- in fact, the injury that he had now, a bullet wound, was something he'd experienced before, in practically the exact same location. That first time, he'd been shot in Afghanistan, as a soldier.
This round was a bit different. Well, notably different. He'd been shot by an incredibly dangerous and still-at-large psychopath, in a walk-in freezer at Davidston Farms Preparation Facility, a meat factory just a few streets away from the Baker Street home that he shared with the third man to be in the freezer at that time: Sherlock Holmes, the world's one and only consulting detective, and also, John had reason to believe, Europe's biggest snob. Possibly Earth's. He- most likely- wouldn't have been injured at all had Sherlock had not decided impulsively to stalk off over a small argument that had happened to flare between the two of them. Frustration was understandable, but whipping around and abandoning John to cope with an armed madman that would surely be appearing at any moment... well, that was just a little extreme.
Of course, immediately after Moriarty had shot John, Sherlock had come back, and, well, gotten them both out single-handedly.
If he was going to deal out gratitude, John might as well thank Detective Inspector Lestrade and Sergeant Donovan of Scotland Yard just as much. If not for Lestrade's planning and Donovan's surprising role in leading the team, they probably wouldn't be any farther than if Sherlock hadn't made it to John in time. But as things were, both of them had escaped, and the worst of the deal was this stupidly long time in the hospital.
No, that wasn't true, and John knew it, as much as he wanted to avoid the thought.
Sarah. Sarah was the absolute worst part of it all, but everything about any memory of her was so horribly painful, a thousand times worse than the gunshot in his shoulder, worse than... well, most anything he could imagine. Practically more than he could comprehend. It was a numb agony, a sort of hollow sensation, as if fully embracing it would literally be beyond his capacity. Unimaginable, and yet, for that reason, not entirely there. It took over every little fragment of his emotional capacity, and more beyond that. Sometimes, it seemed like he just couldn't keep going like this. It was impossible to hold together physically.
But he did, because he had to. While one part of his mind was constantly a storm of denial and utter confusion, of pure pain, the rest forced itself to keep going, to keep moving on. John didn't have a choice. He had a life outside of Sarah, a life before her, and would have one after. That was what he constantly told himself, since it was pretty much the only thing he had to hold onto at this point.
Don't be stupid, he chided himself as that thought surfaced for the millionth time. He had everything to hold onto. His sister Harry, for one, his job- the one that Sarah had given him... and Sherlock. Of course, he had Sherlock. For now. Really, it was amazing that the detective was still alive. He'd been through countless adventures of a similar type, but he'd gotten through just fine.
Sarah, on the other hand, hadn't even lasted for one...
Why? Why did everything always manage to come back to her? His mind had been like this, spiraling in endless loops, for the majority of the three weeks he'd been hospitalized. He'd be getting out the following Saturday, but, truly, it was getting hard to believe that he wouldn't be entirely insane by then. An attempt at walking had occurred exactly twice, to near-disastrous results. It wasn't so much the physical injury, he thought, as the emotional one.
Get over it. Those were the words echoing through his skull day and night, incessant, taunting. Get over it. Get over it. You've been in the war, you've seen people die... so many. Even more since you came back to London. This shouldn't be any worse than those.
You're thinking like Sherlock.
Yes, that was the sort of attitude that his flat mate would take on. People die every day, good people. What makes her so much better?
Well, John may not be any sort of psychological expert, but he knew himself well enough. And therefore he was all too aware of the fact that, at the moment, he was utterly devastated. Whether or not it was reasonable to feel so, he did. I just do. Wish it wasn't that way, but it is.
Get over it.
Why was it so hard to just go along with those three words?
Presently, he sighed, relaxing back into the pillows on his bed. He was due to take an assisted walk around the building in ten minutes or so, and it would be nice to give his legs a stretch. His whole body seemed to be heavy with disuse lately, and he could only imagine how disgusted Sherlock would be when he finally returned to Baker Street, only to be completely wiped physically. How long would it be until he was capable, both in body and mind, of jumping back into the world of crime? It seemed leagues away, like some far-fetched dream that he could only half remember. Part of a different life.
Sometimes- like now- Sherlock seemed to be no more than part of that dream as well. He'd visited John a grand total of one time, and it had only lasted for a quarter hour or so. A few hundred seconds of half-awkward relief on both of their parts that they'd actually escaped the freezer alive, stumbling moments during which neither of them knew whether or not to mention Sarah. It was bizarre. John supposed that people would be handing out their condolences to him, meaningless apologies and hasty, falsely regretful murmurs. He was one of them now, one of those people who'd lost someone close to them. Would people start avoiding him, out of worry that they wouldn't act sensitive enough? Was that what Sherlock was doing? He still felt like the same John Watson. He didn't need- or want- special treatment. In fact, someone to talk to would be wonderful. Harry was in America at the moment, visiting one of their cousins in New York, but she'd phoned with the news that she'd be there for him in a few days. That was something, but she still wasn't quite what he was looking for.
If Sherlock would listen-
But that thought was so ridiculous that he cast it from his mind without another thought. Sherlock wouldn't listen. It wasn't his fault, he just wasn't the type of person to do that sort of thing. Not one for comforting. Why should he be? He was, after all, a self-proclaimed sociopath who treated death as though it were no more significant than a paper cut. He had better things to do than listen to John's misery. Much better things to do.
He'd just have to wait for Harry. A few days wasn't long, after all. He was a soldier. He could cope.
The door to his little, private room- they'd probably made it that way for mourning purposes or something of the like- snapped open just then, and an energetic young nurse with red hair in a sloppy ponytail came near-bounding in.
"Mr.- oh, sorry- Dr. Watson," she greeted him brightly. "I'm Daisy Rutherford, I'll be watching your back- well, your shoulder"- She grinned there- "on our little corridor stroll today."
Daisy was all too appropriate of a name for her. She was certainly sunny, and spoke in short, bouncy little bursts. Judging by her enthusiasm and the fact that he hadn't seen her before, she was probably new to the tedious job of nursing...
That's how Sherlock thinks.
An odd mixture of anxiety and fondness washed over him at that thought, but he shoved it down, instead smiling tightly at her. "Great." That was the most he could manage lately- brief, one- or two-word responses. The most he could manage without... well... he wasn't sure what would happen if he were to try to string together multiple sentences. Probably something disastrous, though. Which was why he avoided it. That seemed to be the best method, lately. Prevention. It was soothing to think that he could completely stop something from happening if he focused himself the right way.
She helped him out of the bed and shakily onto the ground. His shoulder twinged, but he tried to put it aside, instead concentrating on moving forward. He wasn't even sure why they felt the need to give him an escort. It wasn't like his leg was wounded, after all. Not even to a psychosomatic degree this time around; the limp had vanished completely a while ago, and his therapy sessions had ended, as well. He hadn't felt the need for them anymore, not since he had a life of action back. A life with Sherlock.
Of course, Sarah's death had changed everything. He might be seeing Ella again quite soon.
Daisy held the door open for him as he leaned into the hallway, checking up and down for anyone he could crash into. On sighting an elderly couple, presumably visitors, shuffling along, he pulled back into his room, waiting for them to pass. Again: prevention. It worked wonders.
Once the coast was clear, John stepped into the wide, carpeted area. Abstract paintings hung on the pale turquoise walls, most seeming to be bubbly, swirly, and blue, which created a sort of oceanic effect. It was obviously supposed to be calming, but it reminded him of the ice. Ice, and endless stacks of frosted packages of bacon, each with the same cheery image of a cartoon cow on it. That cow, as innocent and friendly as it was meant to appear, was one of the most terrifying things he could picture at the moment. It brought too much back to the surface of his mind, too much that he had to struggle to force back down.
"We're just going to go for about twenty minutes," Daisy Rutherford announced in a voice that seemed a few notches louder than necessary, looking at her watch. "Don't want to strain things too badly. And remember, it's good to move your arms a little as we go- but don't stretch or flex- that could keep you in here for a lot longer if it reopens anything. And as big of a pleasure as that would be for us, I'm sure that you'd rather return to your normal life, wouldn't you?" Her teeth shone brilliantly white.
Pleasure. Sure. Even considering himself slightly more than a burden, John really couldn't bring himself to believe that he was in any way an asset to the poor hospital workers. They probably argued about who got to go on shift to bring food to him or check the bullet wound. All those who did certainly seemed awkward, and got their job done as quickly and wordlessly as possible. Things didn't used to be like that. People actually used to like him. But now... well, it was probably the Sarah thing again. He was a different kind of person now. Apparently. He didn't really feel like a person at all, but... well...
Get over it.
The constant words again, always pounding away inside his head. Sometimes, it seems like they were never really gone, but instead a rhythm now as familiar as his heartbeat, repeating ceaselessly until it was unnoticed. Get over it, get over it, get over it. Meaningless sounds, as lacking of conscious instruction as the steps he was now taking, down the hall, or the part of his brain receiving Daisy's constant babble about her other patients, her family life... seemingly anything to keep him occupied. She didn't seem to register that he wasn't paying the slightest fragment of attention.
"So then Violet tells me that I'm not even getting paid for the overtime work, which is, of course, ridiculous- though I'm not complaining- I love getting to work with patients," she gushed. "Though they're not all as charming as you, I daresay."
He glanced sideways at her, trying to keep his inner disbelief from spreading onto his face. If his lack of any reaction whatsoever to her, well, existence was charming, then he certainly didn't want to think about what the others she worked with were like. Comatose, perhaps?
This struck him as rather funny, and he had to stifle a small laugh, though, of course, the small step towards amusement only made the return of the throbbing depression a thousand times worse. His throat tightened, and he had to shift his mind to new waters, tracing the wavy turquoise pattern etched onto the hall's carpeting with his eyes. It was soothing after a while, and he managed to relax back into the constant state of numbness that he was used to.
Just let me go home. The stupid shoulder's fine.
Just let me see Sherlock.
Because that was the thing. He needed someone. Who it was didn't really seem to matter at this point, as long as it was someone other than yet another horrible, overenthusiastic nurse- or worse yet, one who preferred not to acknowledge him at all. He didn't want to be treated as 'the patient,' or 'the victim.' Just as himself. It didn't seem like too high an order.
Daisy's chatter continued for the next ten minutes, before he was returned to his bed, feeling, if anything, worse than before. She left with good wishes and a promise that he'd be out of the hospital in a week. Then he was left alone again, with only the switched-off TV and the words.
The horrible, constant, unforgiving words...
Get over it.