Title: Bravery
Rating: T
Warnings: 'Supposed' character death, Angst, semi-graphic descriptions of violence, mentions of suicidal thoughts, spoilers for all six eps of Sherlock.
Characters: John Watson, Sherlock Holmes
Pairings: None, It's gen. I know, I was shocked too.
Notes: Um...This is kinda sad? It was also written around the same time as 'Contentment', which will be up tomorrow. Thanks to princess_aleera and jademac2442, as always, for the beta.
Disclaimer: Sherlock, John, all of their friends and the many places the visit do not belong to me. If they did, I wouldn't have to write fanfiction, now would I?
Summary: There are all kinds of bravery.

'Bravery is by far the kindest word for stupidity, don't you think?'

Playing that sentence over and over again in his brain had become some sort of crutch for John. Beyond the actual, physical crutch (his cane, which returned to his hand as if it had never left), this sentence had been there.

There are all sorts of bravery.

There was the bravery of a solider.

To plunge into the front lines to retrieve a fallen friend, to know that every time he did there was a chance, a fair chance, that he wouldn't be coming back. Tuning out the sounds of explosions and gunfire around him, ignoring the heat of the desert scorching his skin. Trying (and usually failing) to ignore the feel of hot blood on his hands. Holding in his mind that every man and woman on the table was someone's son, daughter, husband, wife. They had someone who loved them back home and wanted to see them not only alive, but in one piece.

The bravery of a solider was being terrified of death, but pushing through anyway.

Then there was the bravery of being a veteran.

Because politics attacked him the second he landed in Heathrow airport. There were protesters holding up 'get out of Iraq' signs (which was kind of funny, because everyone getting off the plane were Afghanistan veterans) and others holding 'we support our troops' above their heads. And while that's all well and good, none of the former soldiers wanted to see that. They just want edto go home and enjoy their families, or in John Watson's case, go home and ignore Harry's calls.

When you're a veteran, people are constantly surrounding you with their opinions. And when they aren't, there are soft, pitying looks. 'Oh he must have been through so much' they think. 'He must be so glad to finally be home.'

In reality, being back in London was almost as scary as being on the battlefield, because he had no idea what he was going to do next. How did one talk to people?

The next bravery he showed was something not many people could claim to have- Being the friend of Sherlock Holmes.

There was a very good reason not many can claim as much—Sherlock was something different entirely. Brilliant, mad, jumping and yelling and insulting. Cold, but warm where it counted. But to be his friend, John had to brave the unexpected. The occasional scathing retort or genuinely bitter insult, watching for when his flatmate's body inevitably gave in and the detective passed out were he was standing (there was the one time in Tesco's, and hadn't that been an adventure). Forcing the younger man to eat, the constant apologizing on Sherlock's behalf.

Once and awhile John's bravery faltered. Baskerville, when Sherlock had hissed that he 'didn't have friends', had been one of those. Most things John could ignore, but that had been one push too far and he'd given into the hurt. The fear that maybe Sherlock didn't see him as anything other than an extra pay check.

And John could tell he was in the midst of a new war. A new type of bravery was required of him now.

He had to live.

Live without the high-functioning sociopath and his insomnia. Face every morning knowing he was back to square one, alone and confused, directionless. Wandering London with a limp in his gait and a bitter, angry feeling in his chest. Alone with his own poisonous thoughts. What was the point? He needed the excitement, the thrill that Sherlock Holmes had brought back into his life. No one else could give it to him—No one else would know how.

He toyed with a lot of ideas. Badgering Mycroft into getting him re-enlisted was a popular one during his walks, but he never did anything with it. Joining the Yard was another. Sometimes he seriously considered a solo game of Russian Roulette, though he always backed down, because that was a Bit Not Good, wasn't it?

He moved back into the flat. He half-heartedly organized Sherlock's things.

He bravely waited for his miracle.