So I got to wondering what else he might have thrown himself into if Finn was in danger...
I feel this fic should come with a massive disclaimer to the effect that I have only ever seen three episodes of this series (consider yourself lucky, I think I started writing Dukes of Hazzard slash after just one), and that everything else I know about the Josh/Finn, Josh/Tom relationships I have gleaned from rionaleonhart's LJ...
Title: Dog Days
Pairings: Josh Stevenson/Finn Sharkey
Rating: PG (swearing)
Summary: So for the 99% of my flist who won't have seen this, Kyle (George Sampson, WTF?) used his rottweiler to frighten a confession out of a girl who'd falsely accused him of something, and ended up biting a teacher (er, the dog did, not Kyle). Previously, he'd threatened to set it on Finn, although in the end Finn (and Josh) got through the eventual encounter unscathed. This fic assumes they didn't...
AN: I'm sure in the real world dog bites involve doctors and tetanus shots and things. This, however, is Waterloo Road.
"What did you say?"
Kyle span back to glare at them, and the fleeting relief Josh had felt as he'd passed them by drained into a frozen horror as the boy walked back towards them, twisting the dog's leash convulsively round and round his wrist.
The unfrozen part Josh's brain was telling him their survival depended on Finn not saying anything stupid in the next few seconds.
On reflection, they were so dead.
"Everyone's saying it you bloody pervert," Finn shouted. "You're not fit to be allowed out, never mind in school!"
Kyle had gone a twisted, volcanic shade of red and the dog was growling angrily, picking up on his mood. Some last shred of restraint inside him snapped, and he threw down the lead.
"Go on Manic, get him," Kyle urged savagely, and the dog sprang.
Josh had a fleeting impression of drooling jaws and maddened eyes as he flung himself against Finn, barging him sideways and then suddenly there was a hot snarling weight hitting him like a sack of sand and pain in his hand and somebody yelling.
Then the weight was gone, and the yelling resolved into Kyle's startled voice, dragging the dog backwards, looking horrified. Well trained at least, the dog slunk back to his heels, and Josh was left staring at the blood on his hand with a silent sick disbelief.
Finn took a pace towards Kyle, face like thunder.
"You. Are. Dead."
Finn took another step forwards and Kyle backed away, but Josh let out a single strangled sound that wasn't quite a whimper and Finn looked round at him.
Josh was standing clutching his hand to his chest, staring at the blood dripping onto the grass, face as white as a sheet. Torn, Finn looked back at Kyle, who was by now storming on towards the school.
"I'm gonna kill you and your lousy dog!" He stepped back to Josh, grabbed him by the shoulders. "Josh. Josh!"
Josh finally looked up, eyes wide and scared, starting to shiver.
Josh managed a nod, still numb with shock. Part of him wanted to throw up and part wanted to burst into tears and precisely none of him wanted to do either of those things in front of Finn.
"What the bloody hell d'you do that for you mad bastard?" Finn was yelling, still shaking him by the shoulders. "What were you thinking? It weren't you he were after!"
Josh just shook his head, a tight, instinctive movement, not daring himself to speak. Finn's hands were gripping him tightly, painfully, angrily, the only real thing in the world, and the pain was coming back now, flooding into his hand and he felt dizzy.
Finn looked down at the blood that was by now staining his own shirt, and then over his shoulder, glaring at the crowd staring in horror and swore at them.
"Somebody call a fucking ambulance yeah?"
It was the school nurse that patched him up, in the end. Once the commotion had finally attracted teachers - there seemed to be a disturbance going on somewhere else, and no-one seemed sure what - Josh was swiftly examined, judged not to be seriously hurt and sent to be cleaned up and disinfected.
It was a while before the news that his son had been injured got through to Tom. It was a further while, thanks to Kyle setting his dog loose on a rampage in the classroom, before he could get away to see him. Thus he was not in the best of moods when he strode down the corridor towards the nurse's office to find a strangely lonely looking figure slumped on the hard plastic seat outside.
"Sharkey. What the hell are you doing here?"
Finn looked up, immediately mutinous. "Waiting for Santa Claus aren't I, what'd you think?"
"I'd have thought you'd done enough damage for one day." When he'd heard Finn had been involved, there had been no doubt in his mind whose fault it was Josh had been hurt. Maybe this would finally make the boy see sense about his choice in friends.
"It weren't my fault! It were that mad bastard Stack!" Finn sat up, indignant.
"No, it's never your fault is it Finn?" Tom scowled.
But Finn, for the first time, sounded unsure. "It shouldn't have happened. Not like that. It weren't s'posed to be him. I never - " he looked up, familiar and welcome anger pushing out the uncomfortable doubts. "Silly sod pushed me out the way! I never asked him to! Anyway what you having a go at me for, it's Kyle you should be harassing, him and his fucking dog."
"Kyle will be dealt with. The dog - is being destroyed."
"Should bloody put him down an' all."
"That's enough, Finn. One more word out of you and - " Tom shook himself, irritated at getting distracted like this. Reached out to open the door.
"Don't tell him." Finn muttered quickly.
"You what?" Tom shot an irritated glance back.
"About the dog. Don't tell him. He'll be upset."
Tom opened his mouth to retort, then hesitated. He'd been going to let Josh know immediately, wanting to reassure him he didn't have to worry about the dog ever hurting him again.
But - damn it Finn was right. He glared at him, resenting the fact that a mouthy yob he couldn't stand should dare to know his own son better than he did.
A mouthy yob who'd been attacked himself, regardless of whether he deserved it. A mouthy yob who'd been sitting here patiently for what must have been nearly an hour, to make sure his friend was alright, whether he'd admit to it or not. A mouthy yob who had Josh's blood on his shirt, who hadn't gone after his sworn enemy but had stayed with Josh until help came.
Tom sighed, and gave a brief nod. Went through the door.
Josh was sitting on the edge of a table, watching as the nurse pinned the final folds of a sling in place. He looked up as Tom came in, and managed a watery smile.
"Josh. You alright?" Tom eyed the sling in alarm and Josh shrugged.
"Yeah. Mostly just a scratch really. It's not like I lost an arm or anything."
Tom hesitated, grasping for suitable words of comfort. "Does it hurt?"
Josh shrugged. "It's okay." He slid off the table and they stared at each other awkwardly.
"You could have been killed!" The words burst out involuntarily, and Tom cursed himself immediately, as Josh looked away, expression tightening. What the hell had he said that for? He'd meant to say I'm proud of you, of what you did, it was brave, and stupid, and what the fuck were you thinking? Although maybe not that last bit.
"So could Finn," Josh was saying, defensively. "I didn't want it to hurt him."
"You think he'd have done the same for you?" Tom demanded, because if you're going to screw up a conversation, you might as well stamp it well down and nail the lid on afterwards.
Josh glared. "He's my friend. What does it matter?"
Tom gave in, shoulders sagging slightly as he rubbed his eyes. "Yeah. I know. I'm sorry." He held up his hands in surrender. "Friends?"
"S'pose." Josh smiled, reluctantly, and came closer, pushed gently against Tom's side with his uninjured shoulder.
Tom pulled him closer, gave him a rather awkward one-armed hug. Sighed.
"There's someone outside waiting to see you."
Stepping out of the door, Josh's eyes widened as he saw Finn waiting in the corridor. Had assumed he'd have been long gone.
Finn nodded to him, eyes flicking warily to Mr Clarkson and back. "Alright mate?"
Josh nodded, smiling, and this time it reached his eyes. Tom forcibly suppressed an unreasonable spike of jealousy and sniffed.
"You two want a lift?"
Josh looked at Finn, and shook his head. "No thanks. We'll walk?" Finn nodded assent, and Tom shrugged.
"Right then. See you at home?" He walked off down the corridor, Josh and Finn following at a slower pace.
"Pretty major bandage," Finn said after a pause, grudgingly impressed.
"Bit over the top really," Josh confessed with a sheepish smile. "I'm alright."
Finn snorted, grinning. "Nah, I bet you die of rabies. It's an 'orrible death, they reckon."
"Shut up!" Josh grinned back, pushing Finn with his shoulder and being pushed back, Finn's hand grabbing him not-quite-roughly by the neck, the warm fingers against his skin a secret pleasure that strengthened his smile.
"Do you reckon it'll scar?" Finn asked as they pushed their way out of the doors. "That'd be way cool."
They were sprawled on the waste ground, watching the light fade into early twilight, talking about nothing in particular. Josh had taken off the surplus to requirements sling and Finn was fiddling with it, folding and twisting the material in his hands, wondering what it might come in handy for.
His mind kept wandering treacherously back to the events of earlier. Specifically, Josh's part in them. He felt itchy, uncomfortable.
"S'pose you want me to say thank you," Finn blurted abruptly, into a brief silence.
Josh blinked at him, taking a second to work out what he was talking about. "No," he objected, hurt. "Did I say that?"
Finn fidgeted. "No good at thank you's."
"Just as well I didn't ask for one then in't it, you twat?"
"Why'd you do it? You could have been really hurt!" Finn stared at him, defensive and uncomprehending that anyone should possibly care enough to risk themselves for him. He'd always felt on general principles that the universe owed him, but at the same time assumed it was always going to be a bad debtor.
Josh shrugged self-consciously. Because I care about you. Because I'd do anything for you. Knowing Finn wouldn’t want to hear it. "Why d'you think?" he said in the end, quietly. Not looking at him.
Finn eyed him suspiciously for a second, then smirked.
"Cos you're a soft-headed poof?"
Josh felt an involuntary smile tugging at his mouth. What would have been an insult on anyone else's lips somehow managed to come out as the closest thing Finn had to affection.
"Guess so, yeah," he agreed, smiling. Finn gave a brief, loud burst of laughter, rolling closer to him on the scrubby grass, sitting up until they were side by side.
"Does it hurt?" he asked, curious.
Finn looked sideways at him. "A bit as in - like buggery-fuck?"
"Yeah," Josh admitted softly, after a second's hesitation.
"Shit." Finn stared at the ground, scuffing the earth with his shoe until he'd made a hole. He felt like he owed Josh, for this, and it was a feeling he hated, owing anyone anything. Being under obligation. It was like they had a hold over him.
He needed to do something. To pay Josh back, as soon as he could. Even things up. Didn’t know what though. Wasn’t anything Josh wanted, as far as he knew. Could beat the shit out of Kyle Stack for him, but kind've sensed Josh might not take that in the spirit it was intended.
Nothing else he wanted. Apart from...
Finn snuck a quick look at his friend, shiftily. Apart from that. Which was never going to happen. But - for the settling of a debt?
He screwed up all his determination, and took a deep breath.
"Yeah?" He looked round, and Finn ducked in to deliver a hard, fleeting kiss before pulling back and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand vigorously.
Josh was staring at him disbelievingly, all startled smile and wide eyes.
"It don’t mean nothing, okay?" Finn snapped. "It were just a thank you."
Josh nodded hasty understanding.
"And if you bloody tell anyone I did that I'll bloody kill you."
"I won't tell." The smile had seeped into Josh's voice. He looked down at his hand, then back at Finn. "Hey," he said quietly.
"What?" Finn glared at him, daring him to make something of it.
"Doesn’t hurt any more," Josh murmured, eyes teasing.
Finn's glare gradually faded and he snorted. "Come on y'bender, let's go. I want me tea."
Josh let Finn pull him up by his good arm, still smiling. A world in which Finn had reverted to insults was somehow a lot easier to comprehend than one in which he might actually feel something for him.
They walked away down the hill side by side.