Character(s): Watson, 3 unnamed OMCs
Summary: Watson hates waiting.
Author's Notes: BBC Sherlock universe. Entry for Watson's Woes July writing prompts; fill for July 9 prompt: "Stress/exhaustion or stress management." Can be read as a companion to my July 8th response, Late.
Word Count: 797
John was uneasy. His feet were wet from melting snow, his arms were sore from where he had been dragged, his head hurt from the blow—well, no. He decided to admit it. He hadn’t been hit all that hard, really; the gun in his ribs had done most of the distracting until his arms had been immobilized, and when he discovered that the gun was in fact a beer bottle—well, that was embarrassing. He’d been grinding his teeth for nearly an hour now, and most of the headache was probably from that. Take two Panadol and call me in the morning. Right. Physically fine, but mentally uneasy. Nothing to do but wait. He hated this.
The best swordsman in the world doesn’t fear the second-best, but the worst, because there’s no telling what the crazy bugger will do next. John had been captured before—plenty of times. He’d been threatened, beaten; he could practically write a ten-best-chairs-I’ve-been-tied-to list. He knew captors. He knew what competent captors would do to him. Usually they’d make him wait, first. He hated that.
These blokes, however, were not competent.
The lack of a (real) gun meant he didn’t need to worry about his head getting shot because they hadn’t been arsed to learn what a safety was. The lack of more beer bottles meant he couldn’t hope they’d drink themselves into a stupor and let him work his way free. The lack of any real activity suggested they didn’t know what to do next; the humiliating inefficiency with which they’d captured him suggested they didn’t know what they were doing at all; the fact that they had nevertheless done it suggested that if someone else had told them what they were doing in the first place, he didn’t have the resources to use anyone better. That was comforting, at least. Nothing to do but wait. No matter how badly his captors knew the game, this part was always the same.
He watched them. They were playing cards. They even played cards badly. He didn’t know what they were playing, but they were arguing about the rules. The man who had used a beer bottle on him (he ground his teeth again) was dealing. He dealt badly, counting laboriously, dealing clumsily. He started to turn the second card up, but the fellow on his right elbowed him and muttered something about Tuesday. The dealer turned the second card down again, flipped up the third card and continued dealing. After six cards he did the thing with his fingers that you do when you can’t tell right from left. Then he gave the player on his right another card.
John waited for someone to object, but no one did. He lost interest in the game and started examining the room. The windows weren’t covered, but it was dark by now and he couldn’t see out. The cement floor seemed to leech warmth from his feet, and his damp toes got colder and colder. His arms were tingling and his head still ached. At the card table the dealer gave out another round of cards, and one of the players gave his card back. John started tracing cracks in the floor with his eyes, and began to tap his toes. The dealer snapped at him to be quiet, so he did. He found himself grinding his teeth and reminded himself to stop. He hated waiting.
He started trying to work his way free of the bonds. The players were more absorbed in their game, now—or absorbed in something. One of them was counting on his fingers. The dealer seemed to have lost interest; he had opened what looked like a GPS app on his phone, and was looking back and forth between it and his cards. The third was reciting, “thirty days hath september . . .”
The twine was too tight around his hands to loosen. His fingers started to go numb, and his mind began to torment him with the rest of the words to the rhyme. Then it moved on to the ABCs. Then he found himself in an endless loop of head, shoulders, knees and toes. He started singing under his breath, and found himself somehow transferred into a tune from Mary Poppins. His knees began swaying in time to the tune.
At the card table the dealer had a small house of cards building up in front of him, and the other two were holding their hands very carefully and looking at him intently. The dealer’s house collapsed in front of him, revealing three jacks. The other players both shouted in delight. One of them yelled, “A shralk!” The other pointed and laughed. The dealer stomped away from the table, and grunted, “I bloody hate waiting.”