Wyatt looks up at Doc from across the table. Doc's eyes are closed, smoke slowly coming out of the cigar in his mouth. Doc's coat is hanging back by the door, his hat perched next to it. The saloon is silent. Milt Joyce had asked them both to watch over the place while he was gone, but business had been slow.
"Doc?" Wyatt asks, making sure the other hadn't fallen asleep. Doc opens one eye to look at him and Wyatt could swear he felt his heart was on fire.
The two of them had been friends for a while now. Wyatt always denied any sort of more-than-platonic feelings he felt for his handsome friend.
There he rebukes himself. Doc has a good way of reading his thoughts. He had always been afraid that Doc would somehow see his less… holy thoughts.
"Yes?" Doc asks tiredly.
"Huh?" Wyatt starts.
"You said my name. That usually means you want something," Doc says smoothly.
"Oh! I'm sorry, Doc. I just thought that you were-" Wyatt tries to say.
"Finally dead?" Doc supplies with a dark chuckle. Wyatt stares at him for a second before laughing quietly. Nobody could make him laugh like Doc could.
"I'm afraid I'll have to burst your bubble, Wyatt. I am unfortunately still alive," Doc tells him. Wyatt feels himself frown as Doc reaches for the bottle of whiskey. It is half empty, but that's all Doc's work. Wyatt rarely touches the stuff.
Wyatt asks, "What do you mean, unfortunately?"
Doc shrugs, now more focused on pouring his whiskey. He often complains of Joyce watering it down. Whenever Wyatt tells him that if it bothers him so much he could just stop drinking Doc gives him that fabulous smile of his before telling him he should know him better by now. Doc was smiling that way now.
Soon more thoughts were plaguing Wyatt's thoughts. He thought back to Fort Griffin where he first met Doc. People sometimes ask him how he and Doc manage to get along, considering how different they are. Wyatt feels himself frown again. How did the mange to get along?
"Well, I'll be," Doc's deep drawl interrupts Wyatt's thinking. Doc is obviously a little bit drunk, but not so much that he has no control of his words. "It seems to me that you're having one of those…" Here Doc waved his glass around absentmindedly, searching for the right word.
"What're you saying, Doc?" Wyatt asks defensively.
"What do they call it? Some sort of sudden realization?" Doc frowns slightly. He hadn't found the right word, Wyatt could tell from looking at the disapproval on his face, but he had gotten the point across.
"I was just thinking-" Wyatt starts. Doc laughs slightly, which turns into a cough, which turns into many coughs. Wyatt watches him closely. The consumption will kill him someday, Wyatt knows. Wyatt avoids talking about it because Doc does. His heart hurts as he watches Doc cough. His friend eventually straightens out, wiping his mouth with his handkerchief.
"You ok, Doc?" Wyatt says hesitantly. He and Doc can talk about most things but Doc refuses anything that even resembles pity.
"Fine," Doc says shortly. Wyatt backs off.
A few minutes and a glass of whiskey later Doc speaks again. "You were thinking?"
"I was just wondering why you decided to be my friend," Wyatt says. "I know why I'm your friend, but why are you mine?"
Doc stays silent for so long Wyatt is afraid he said something wrong. Doc eventually sighs. He looks at Wyatt and Wyatt stares back.
"You truly want to know." His words weren't worded as a question but more like a tired statement.
"I do," Wyatt prompts.
Doc sighs again. It must be only a few seconds before he speaks again, but it feels like eternity.
"Even since I was diagnosed with consumption I lost all hope. I was tired. The longer the disease dragged on, the more hope I lost. There is truly no point, Wyatt. We all die eventually. I know my fate. I know what God has decided I will die from. I feel like with each sin I commit he adds another damnable, miserable day to my life," Doc starts in a dismal tone. Wyatt leans forward, worry clenching up his gut.
"I accidentally made a name for myself. I decided to die quietly, off to the side. But God would not even allow me that simple request. Instead I am cursed with a lightning hand. Oh, what I could do without consumption!" Doc laments. "I would be invincible. But all men need a weakness. That is a simply fact of life. So I must accept mine."
"You're a bit off topic," Wyatt says quietly.
Doc stares at him for a moment, his drunken brain obviously trying to compute what Wyatt said. He nods quickly.
"I have forgotten how we got on the topic. Won't happen again. But I lost hope. I made a name for myself. No one would believe if a random drunkard killed the Doc Holliday. I needed to encounter a legend, somebody who should be able to kill me. Then Shanssey introduced me to the Wyatt Earp. I thought I could withhold information from you, get you drunk, get you angry, and say something to make you shoot me. But you don't drink. You don't get angry with me. And you don't shoot people," Doc says with a sigh. "It was selfish of me to wish for you to shoot me. I tried to get you angry during our first meeting. You were only annoyed. Then I started to like you, Wyatt Earp."
"You wanted me to kill you," Wyatt states. Doc nods silently.
When Wyatt didn't say anything, Doc continued. "It wouldn't technically be suicide. If I made a big mistake perhaps you could kill me with no regrets. Then I found I didn't want you to get angry. I wanted you to be my friend. But I can't…" Doc waves his hand around. "I cannot… express. So I acted. I saved you. Because I feel for you, Wyatt Earp. You're my best friend. We did not become friends under the best of circumstances but we are still a we."
Wyatt stares at him. Doc had called them "we." Doc thinks they're a pair.
"We're friends, Doc?" Wyatt prompts.
"Best of friends." Doc reaches his hand out to Wyatt. Wyatt stares at it for a second before hesitantly taking it. Doc grins at him, a type of smile Wyatt has never seen on his face before.
"Thank you, Doc," Wyatt says. Doc grins at him before bringing Wyatt's hand up to his face. He gently kisses his knuckles before standing up.
"If you'll excuse me," Doc says, grinning at Wyatt's shocked expression. "I must leave. There are fools to sucker out of money."
"B-but- you s-" Wyatt stammers. Doc blows him a kiss before walking out of the saloon. Wyatt stares at the door long after Doc is gone.
"Shit," Wyatt whispers. What was Doc doing? Did Doc feel how he did?
His question is answered a few minutes later. Doc stumbles back in, drunk as a skunk. He sits next to Wyatt and extends his hand to his friend. Wyatt eagerly takes it.
"Doc, do you need to go to bed?" Wyatt asks.
Doc smirks at him. "Only if you'll come with me, lover boy~" He slurs drunkenly, his lisp exaggerated by the amount of whiskey in his system.
"John Henry Holliday!" Wyatt squeaks, shocked at his friend's blatant flirting. Doc gets up, presumably to continue flirting, then falls back into his chair with a cough. He extends his hand to Wyatt and Wyatt takes it again.
"Actually, Wyatt Earp, I truly need your assistance to get to bed. Carry me?" Doc asks. Wyatt can't help but smile at his friend and nods in agreement.
Wyatt ends up supporting Doc to Doc's hotel room, Doc giggling drunkenly and giggling. When Wyatt tucks him in Doc grabs his hand one more time.
"Stay by me?" Doc asks. Wyatt stares at him before nodding with one of his rare, wide smiles. Only Doc could get one of those out of him. Wyatt sits by Doc's bedside and looks at him.
"You should smile more often," Doc mumbles, falling asleep almost immediately. Wyatt smiles softly and pushes some of Doc's sweaty hair off of his face.
He knew his friend would die eventually. But he would not be the one to kill him. He would do whatever he could to keep Doc out of harm's way. That he promised.