John/Sarah, Sherlock/John . 1,649 words . PG-13 . Sarah's pretty sure she qualifies as stupid.
She goes home that night and thinks, Well. It's certainly been one of the most interesting nights of her life, and a litany of firsts. First chinese circus, first kidnapping, first beating-a-man-with-a-big-stick and first getting-strapped-to-a-chair-and-shot-at.
Other than that, the date had been very nice.
Other than that.
She takes a long shower and then falls, gratefully, into bed, where she can wrap herself in blankets and return, a little, to the 'real world'. Oh, she knows what happened to her has been real - but it hasn't really hit her yet. Hasn't even started to sink in.
The second date won't be like this.
When he'd said that - then, of all times - all she could even possibly do was shake, and all she could think was, there won't bloody be a next time.
But it's not for the reasons he might assume. It isn't about the danger, though that's a consideration she'd have to take into account. She believed him, though, when he said it wouldn't happen. She believed that it was just a bad time, and he'll know better next time, and they perhaps won't plan a date right in the middle of an important investigation.
However, what she's managed to piece together - what she already started suspecting even as early as that first afternoon of botched professionalism - is that... there won't ever not be an investigation. There won't ever be a break. And she worries for him, really she does, but when it comes down to pointing the finger, there's only one man to blame.
At first, she merely thinks that Sherlock Holmes is selfish.
Very quickly, she comes to realize that he's selfish, high-handed, irresponsible, and childish - as well as being completely irresistible, and quite madly in love.
He's so jealous he's practically spitting with it.
And the worst part of it is - worst for her, at least, and her heart sinks utterly when she comes to understand - John is just as ridiculously besotted in return.
Oh, he doesn't know it. That much is obvious and she won't say a word, not if she doesn't have to, because denial or not, John Watson is charming and sweet and just about everything she's ever wanted. (Or perhaps he would have been, if it wasn't for Sherlock Holmes.)
But she realizes, as she follows them all the way home from the circus (by way of the police station) without once even being noticed, or talked to, that John is well and truly gone and she would be the stupidest woman on the planet to even consider pursuing this. She should just break it off now, and save herself the heartache later.
Call me stupid, then, she thinks, as she makes room on the cluttered kitchen table for trays to eat take-away on. But you can't blame me for wanting just a little more time.
All of that, and he still holds out hope for a second date. Still, even though she'd seen the utter panic in Sherlock's eyes, felt the way his fingers fumbled at the knots holding her hands behind her back and the quick, muttered press of his voice, hissing out John's name, the single syllable so full of raw emotion that, were she not completely hysterical at that point, would have brought her to tears.
She's never had anyone love her that much. Never, not once in her life. She doesn't think she could ever do it - if she'll ever see enough tragedy to truly understand joy, enough hatefulness and apathy to feel a love so strong it could break you. She can't empathize.
But she does know that love like that is a gift. Some day, John will realize. Some day, he will understand. He may not want it. He may convince himself that what he wants is her - her simplicity and understanding, perhaps, because frankly, that's all she has to offer. But some day it won't be enough.
Some day, he'll be pulled so deep into Sherlock Holmes that he won't be able to get away any longer.
She knows this, because it's starting to happen already, and she shouldn't let herself get carried away. She should do what any sane person would do, because frankly, this first date was a disaster and a half and she shouldn't - absolutely shouldn't - let herself get involved.
You're a very stupid woman, she thinks, and when he asks her out again the next day (to the actual cinema, on the weekend), she can't bring herself to say no.
I can't keep doing this, she thinks. I really, really can't. She stares at the front door, a towel wrapped around her midsection.
That's just it then? 'I've got to go'? No goodbye, no reason?
She suspects the cause, but it isn't until she goes to turn off the telly, to save electricity, that it's confirmed.
Well, he does live there, she has to remind herself.
But she knows in her bones that it isn't as simple as that.
He has her up against the kitchen counter.
It's the first really exciting thing they've done, actually, which isn't to say they haven't done... things, now and again, but the timing is always off and it just doesn't - but this, this is right, this is perfect.
Look, if she didn't like a little bit of excitement, she wouldn't have such a great wanking girlwood for soldiers. This is new and different and a bit racy, which is exciting, and he'd just got his hands under her shirt when -
Her door bursts open and five men in masks swarm in, all of them armed.
"Oh what the bloody fuck is it this time?!" she snaps.
"Sorry," their leader drawls. "We need to borrow your... boyfriend." It's clear he doesn't believe her, and even gives John a good look up and down, which is a feat, considering his eyes are almost completely covered.
"Like hell you will!"
If John's surprised, he doesn't act it - in fact, she could have sworn that he sighed when they first came into view. But now, now he's a little surprised. Surprised that she's pissed, or surprised that she's sticking up for him? Hard to say.
The drawling one taps a hand on his sniper rifle, and gestures to the others. They forcibly remove John from her hands, and he doesn't seem to be putting up much of a resistance. "It'll only be hell if we have to start shooting, and if you're good, we won't have to."
John isn't meeting her eyes. "Sarah-"
"And if he's good, he'll be just fine as well. Isn't that right, Doctor Watson? You know how this goes."
She feels something cold, sliding like silk down into her stomach. He knows. He knows what this is about and he isn't telling her, he came to see her in the middle of a case (but there's no such thing as in between, not with Sherlock Holmes) and now, yet again, she's the one to suffer for it.
"It'll be fine. It'll all be... fine."
He looks up at her just before they leave, and his eyes are full of pleading. But it isn't his safety he's pleading for, or her forgiveness.
He's pleading for her silence.
She watches them all as they file neatly out of her prim London flat, and one is even so good as to tuck a locksmith's business card into the remains of her ruined door. All that's left is the leader, giving her a very long, very critical look through his narrow band of sight.
"I'm going to call the police," she whispers quietly.
The man laughs. She hates men like this, men who think that, for whatever reason, they're somehow better than everyone else.
"Oh, sorry, you're serious. Don't bother. It won't do any good."
Her shaking hands clench the counter just that much harder. "What are you going to do with him?"
"John?" He peers out the window. "Nothing terrible. He's just the bait, you see."
The cold sensation spreads until it's seized her limbs and her chest and her throat. "...For Sherlock."
"Of course." Somewhere, under all that smooth black material, he's smirking. She knows it.
Silly girl. Stupid girl. Should have gotten out a long time ago.
That night, she drinks cold tea in front of the telly and wonders when she became a masochist, and how she could possibly hate herself this much; to hold tight to something she knows is already broken.
Maybe he'll call again, maybe he won't.
But if he does - if he asks her, in that rueful, sad sort of voice - she'll probably say yes. Until he figures out who he really loves - which, for all she knows, could be right at this second - she'll keep him as close as she can. Not because he needs her, and not because she doesn't deserve better. She knows it's none of those things.
Because, despite everything, it's worth it. For any moment of John Watson she's allowed to have.