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What You're Worth

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This was a typical evening at the Watson residence. It always started after dinner, when John was washing the dishes. Usually it started with a simple comment, sometimes John didn't even have to say anything. Everything he did was wrong, everything he said was wrong, every opinion he had was wrong. He could never do anything right, he knew that. This particular October evening it had started when Mary was looking through John's bag.

"What is this?" Mary held up a stack of folders that she had pulled out of John's bag.

"Oh... erm... those are just some files I need to go over tonight." John said without thinking. The second the words left his lips, he regretted it. Mary didn't like him doing work at home. She was always pestering him about work.

"Why didn't you do that at work?"

"I was busy with patients all day; time got the best of me." John hurried with the dishes, not wanting to give Mary something to throw whether it was at him or the wall. He knew this was turning into a fight, everything turned into a fight.

"I'm busy all day too and yet, somehow I am able to finish my work AT WORK." Mary began to yell. This was about the time that John started apologizing, trying to end the argument but Mary never let that happen; she always wanted to make sure John felt miserable afterwards. She always succeeded in doing that.

"I know you do. I'm sorry; I won't let it happen again." John made a mental note to finish his paperwork first. He thought he might be able to persuade his co-workers to help him with it. John finished putting the dishes away, did one last scan of the kitchen before concentrating on Mary. Why did I ever get married, he thought to himself.

"You better make sure it doesn't. Honestly, all I want to do is come home and be with you and you won't even let me have that. I never got to see you during our first two years of marriage because you were out shooting people in the middle of a desert. Do you know how lonely I was then?" Lonely enough to shag everyone in town, John thought. He knew Mary was dishonest and that she had cheated on him more times than he could count but something held him from leaving her, maybe it was the constant reminder that no one else could put up with him.

"No you don't know. Your whole bloody military career was a joke. You got one bullet wound and came crying home. You could have stayed there, helping to win the war. I think you should have been dishonorably discharged. You didn't leave with honour; you have no pride left after leaving on such a minor injury. Sometimes, I wished you had just died out in that desert, and then I wouldn't have to put up with the nightmares and the anxiety attacks. At least then you would have died with honor. Everyone is always saying how 'heroic' you are, but you're not. You are a coward, John Watson, a coward who got himself shot. Only idiots get shot, John." She continued. John was used to this by now; sometimes he even believed what she said about him. Everyone thinks that only women get abused in relationships but John knew otherwise. She didn't hit him; she would hurt him with her words. Occasionally, she would throw something at him but mostly she would yell. John didn't say anything in reply; he knew she wasn't done yet.

"And another thing, you barely do anything at your certain job, clearly." Mary held the folders up again. "I wouldn't call you a doctor; you don't help anyone, you just give them pills. You bring in less money than I do. You are worthless, John, completely and utterly worthless. I wish you wouldn't come home some days, so then I could move on. You don't know how miserable you make my life." She was still yelling. The impact of the words finally hit John. The lump in his throat appeared, followed by the pain in his chest. Today, he believed these things were true. He was worthless; he stayed with Mary because she was the only one that would ever love him, if she even did love him. Mary had a look of disgust on her face. John refused to show his pain to her, to let her win.

Mary gave up and walked into the bedroom, leaving John standing alone in the living room. When he knew that Mary was in the shower, he allowed himself to cry. He wiped the tears away as quickly as they fell. John had learnt how to cry silently, the only sound that was made were John's deep inhales of air. Crying didn't make him feel any better though; he was ashamed of himself and knew in that moment that he was pathetic.

Sherlock, with his riding crop in one hand, advanced down the hallways of St. Bart's. He was in need of a doctor to help with the cause of death on his current case. Sherlock hated the cases that Mycroft gave him, they were always boring, nothing to keep his mind from wandering. Sherlock pissed off most of the doctor's at St. Bart's so he needed to venture to sections he never visited, like the surgical warden. He was lost in his deductions of his cases, so much so that he failed to notice the man walking towards him, texting. Sherlock never missed any detail; he was always focused even when he was multitasking.

When Sherlock collided with this man, he was shocked. His riding crop flew from his hand, and the man's mobile followed it. The man fell to the floor while Sherlock held his position. Sherlock calculated the fall and the man would have a bruise on his right hip in a few hours and his shoulders would be sore for two-three days. The man appeared to be struggling to get up so Sherlock offered him a hand.

"So sorry about that. I was busy, hope you're alright." Sherlock said, retrieving his riding crop from the floor. He glanced up at the man. Nametag: John Watson. Steady hands: Surgeon. Coat still white: newly hired. Haircut, short and standard: army. Wedding ring: married. Ring is scratched and damaged, clearly not taken care of: unhappy in his marriage. Bags under eyes: hardly sleeps. Strange bruises on arms: abused. Constantly looks at floor: insecure. Outfit, picked out by his wife: controlling wife. Though he seems concerned about his wife, like he was also checking up on her: his wife must be unfaithful.

"I wasn't paying attention either, I was texting." John holds out his phone.

"Your wife?" Sherlock asked even though he knew the answer.

"Yes. How did you know?" John looked puzzled. Sherlock had seen that look a thousand times, every time he deduced someone, they gave him that look. Sherlock had fooled himself into thinking Dr. John Watson would be different.

"Well considering you're married and your wife is rather controlling, she'd be the only one to text you during your shift, probably to check up on you." Sherlock explained.

"That's brilliant." John was baffled by this man, he knew everything about him and they'd never spoken before.

"That's not what people normally say."

"What do people normally say?"

"Piss off." They both laughed though Sherlock isn't sure why he's laughing. Soon the laughter died out and a silence fell between them.

"I'm John Watson, though you probably already know that." John looked down at his nametag. He extended his hand to Sherlock.

"Sherlock Holmes." The two men shook hands. Sherlock noted that John follows all social protocol.

"Nice to you meet, Sherlock Holmes." It only just occurred to Sherlock that John was a doctor. A smile formed on Sherlock's face.

"Doctor John Watson, DOCTOR JOHN WATSON!" Sherlock shrieked with joy. "Could you help me? I'm a consulting detective, the world's only. I have a case and I need a doctor's view on things. Would you be willing to help?" This was so out of character for Sherlock, usually he just demanded that people do what he wanted but now he was asking, kindly, for help.

"I suppose I could help. It would have to be after my shift. I end in about two hours, if you don't mind waiting." John was just going to text Mary that he was ordered to help Sherlock. She'd think he was working, not volunteering to help someone. She hated how John could never say no, to anyone; she told him that made him weak and spineless.

"No, that's great. I have so work to finish up in the mortuary. I have to see how long it takes for bruises to form after being hit with a riding crop."

"Oh, I thought you just carried that around for looks."

"Of course not, that'd be foolish. Meet me in the forensic lab after your shift?"

"Sure thing. I'll see you then." John turned to walk away. Sherlock waited until John had turned the corner before heading down to the mortuary. He felt bad for John, considering all he knew.

Sherlock was halfway to the mortuary when his mobile rang; he knew exactly who it was. Took two minutes and twenty six seconds, Sherlock thought as he answered the call. Mycroft was always watching him, tracking everything he did and everyone he spoke to; it was rather annoying at times.

"What do you want, Mycroft? I'm busy."

"I would not get involved with Dr. Watson if I were you."

"I already know; that's his problem, not mine."

"It makes working with him very difficult, though it'll leave his wife with some extra time to shag her co-workers."

"Mycroft, this is none of your business. Sod off."

"Don't let your temper get the better of you, Sherlock. We both know I'm right."

"I know that you're meddling in things that you should keep your nose out of."

"Sherlock, his wife would kill the both of you if she ever found out."

"How do you know John won't tell her?"

"He's scared to bring home paperwork; he's not going to tell her that he's decided to help a detective with his cases."

"He might."

"Don't fool yourself into thinking that, Sherlock. Holmeses are better than that. I thought you were smarter than that."

"I am. Stop annoying me. I have work to do. Go eat some cake or something, just leave me alone, you prat." Sherlock ended the call before Mycroft could respond. This was Mycroft's way of showing he cared, but all it did was piss Sherlock off. He didn't need someone watching over him all the time like a child. Mycroft knew that if he insulted Sherlock's intellect that Sherlock would get angry. That was one advantage Mycroft had, being his brother gave him the knowledge of everything that pissed Sherlock off.

Sherlock decided to forget about Mycroft and focus on his experiment until he had to meet John in the lab. The time passed by quick enough; Sherlock made his way to the lab twenty minutes early to analysis some fibres he had found. He hypothesized that there would be traces of hydrochloric acid on the fibres.

John stepped into the forensic lab and was pleased to see Sherlock fiddling with one of the microscopes. He looked nervously at the ground before looking up to see Sherlock was staring at him. He could feel his gaze on him but surprisingly it didn't make him uncomfortable. Sherlock noticed John's expression and returned his attention back to the fibres under the microscope. His hypothesis had been correct, naturally. John was clearly waiting for Sherlock to speak first.

"I'm almost done here, John. I'll only be a few more minutes." Sherlock didn't look up from the microscope.

"Alright. So what exactly do you need my help with?" John had been curious as to what Sherlock could possible need from John when he was already so intelligent. John had googled him after he'd returned to his office; where he'd found his blog The Science of Deduction. It was an interesting blog but Sherlock mostly used it to show off his deduction skills to the world.

"Well I need a doctor to help me analyse bodies, I mean I can do it myself but I wouldn't be as in depth as you could be."

"I can certainly help with that. Just let me text my wife so she knows I'll be out late." I'll be running late, sorry. The boss gave me extra patients today. I'll be home as soon as I can. I love you, John texted to Mary. He'd tell her tomorrow, when she wasn't going to get upset with him.

"I think I'm done here." Sherlock looked around, he could leave his experiment here; no one would be in the lab to mess with it. "Shall we go? The body is in the morgue at the Yard."

John nodded. Sherlock walked over to John, stopping for a moment before leading the way. John knew that this was the start of a friendship, whether he wanted it to make or not. This was the first of many adventures they'd have together; the consulting detective and the doctor, a perfect combination.

John tried to be as quiet as possible as he walked into the flat. He knew Mary would be waiting in the living room for him, waiting to start yelling at him. Time had yet again got the better of John. Sherlock had offered to buy him dinner after they had finished up at the morgue. John had accepted without even thinking about Mary and now he was regretting it. She was giving him the look, the look that meant he was in trouble and nothing could help him.

"Where have you been? I've been worried sick." Mary yelled. Her face was flushed and she was wearing a different outfit than she had on in the morning. She's cheating on me again, John thought. It broke his heart that she cheated on him; it broke his heart more that she didn't try to hide it from him. It was like she wanted him to know. They hadn't had sex in a few months, mostly because John couldn't stand the feel of her against him. She still tried to seduce him though and when he denied her, she'd find a co-worker who would satisfy her needs. John still loved her though, he didn't know why but he did.

"I texted you that I was given extra patients today. There was nothing I could do; I would have lost my job if I didn't." John tried to explain but knew it was pointless.

"I thought you'd be at work for an extra hour or two, NOT FIVE. IT'S ELEVEN AT NIGHT, JOHN. YOU COULD HAVE BEEN DEAD IN A GUTTER SOMEWHERE." Her face was cherry red now. This was going downhill, quickly. "YOU ALWAYS DO THIS TO ME, JOHN. LEAVE ME ALONE, WORRYING ABOUT YOU! HOW DARE YOU? YOU ARE A TERRIBLE HUSBAND."

John remained expressionless, he held back his emotions from Mary. Showing her his feelings would only give her more power over him. He tried to distract his mind while Mary continued to yell at him. His mind drifted to Sherlock, the brilliant detective. He thought back to what happened at dinner. Sherlock was charming though he didn't know it. They had laughed together and it had been the first time in a long time that John had genuinely smiled. They discussed the case and John got to know Sherlock a bit better.

"JOHN, ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?" Mary screamed at him. John diverted his attention from his daydream back to Mary. He nodded at her. She was still steaming with anger.

"Of course I am." John replied.

"DON'T LIE TO ME. I KNOW YOU WERE OFF IN YOUR OWN WORLD. IF YOU SPENT HALF THE TIME YOU DO DAYDREAMING, MAYBE YOU WOULD HAVE GOTTEN PROMOTED BY NOW."

"Mary, I've only worked there for three months."

"CLEARLY YOU AREN'T PUTTING ENOUGH EFFORT IN. YOU NEED TO PROVIDE FOR ME, JOHN. THAT'S YOUR JOB AS MY HUSBAND. AND YOU CAN'T EVEN DO THAT. I HAVE TO WORK TWICE AS MUCH JUST SO WE CAN PAY THE BILLS. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT DOES TO ME? I'M STRESSED OUT ALL THE TIME AND IT'S YOUR FAULT." Mary picked up the lamp sitting on the end table. She ripped the cord out of the socket and threw the lamp at John. It hit him square in the forehead, right below his hairline. John pressed his hand to his head as the blood started streaming down. He could feel it drip from his hand. Mary yelled something John couldn't make out and stormed out of the flat, taking her purse with her. John sunk to the floor, his back against the couch. His head was beginning to feel fuzzy and he was suddenly drowsy. A small puddle of blood was on the floor next to him. Slowly the light faded from his eyes.

Chapter Text

As John slowly gained consciousness, his hand raised to touch his forehead. There was dull pain in his head. The events from last night entered John’s mind as he looked around; there was dried blood all over the ground and his jumper. John realized it was morning, judging from the sunlight streaming in through the blinds. He couldn’t find the effort to even sit up. Luckily he didn’t have to work today.

He just lied on the ground for awhile, before he couldn’t take the pain anymore and slowly sat up. As he sat up, the room began to spin along with a slight dizzy feeling. John took a couple of deep breaths before standing up, using the couch as support. His knees shook as he walked towards the bathroom.

Once in the bathroom, John assessed the wound. It was a mild cut, not even deep so he wouldn’t need stitches, slight bruising. His jumper was completely ruined which he was rather distressed about considering it was one of his favorite’s. He rinsed the blood off his face before tossing his jumper in the trash. John looked over the wound one more time before heading to the bedroom. He stripped out of his trousers and threw them in the hamper. He grabbed a green button-up and a pair of grey trousers to wear. His head was still throbbing by the time he had finished dressing.

John was about to head to the kitchen before his mobile vibrated on his bedside table. He picked up his mobile, hoping that it wasn’t Mary. He was pleasantly surprised to see a text message from Sherlock. I got a new case, could use some help. Breakfast? –SH, Sherlock had texted. John gave a weak smile to his mobile before replying, I’d love to help. Meet you at the diner near the Yard in half an hour? –JW. He didn’t remember giving Sherlock his number but that could be because of the lamp hitting him. John looked through his other messages, three texts from Mary, two missed calls from her and a voicemail. He reluctantly clicked his voicemail to listen to the message, John, darling, I’m sorry about last night. I was stressed about work and I took that out on you. I’ll make it up to you tonight. I’ll even make dinner. Please call me when you get this. I love you. This was so like Mary. She’d get angry then apologize and beg him to forgive and he always forgave her no matter what she did to him. He was just going to ignore her for a bit.

Tea didn’t help John at all. He needed to relax and tea usually did the trick. Today, however, nothing could calm his nerves. Part of it was that he was still very much so upset at Mary and part of it was that he was going to meet Sherlock soon. John had no idea why Sherlock made him feel this way, they’d only just met. When John was around Sherlock, he felt happy and Sherlock had sparked a feeling inside him that he just couldn’t quite put his finger around.

*

The diner was relatively small, it had only ten tables. Apart from a few cops on break, Sherlock and John were the only ones in the diner. John had ordered eggs benedict, and a coffee. John had offered to buy Sherlock something but he insisted he only wanted tea. John quietly cut his eggs as Sherlock sipped his tea. Some food in John’s stomach helped his nerves. While John ate, he snuck glances at Sherlock.

Sherlock had noticed John’s injury instantly. Surface wound, not even a millimeter deep: blunt object. Cut just below the hair line: object was moving at 10 km/h and badly thrown. Bruising in shape of object: the base of a lamp. So his wife, in a fit of rage, had thrown a lamp at him. Traces of dried blood still on his forehead: John hadn’t tended to the wound until recently. Sherlock decided he’d ask about his forehead though he knew John would make up an excuse, victims of abuse always defend their abusers.

“John, what happened to your head?” Sherlock nursed his tea, cupping the mug in his hands.

“Well…” John had to think of something, something that Sherlock would believe actually happened. “I slipped… in the shower. I’m so clumsy sometimes. I hit my head against the tile. I’m fine though. My wife, Mary, she cleaned me up.” John could tell Sherlock wasn’t paying it. He faked a smile and hoped Sherlock would drop the subject.

“I see, well I’ve deduced that it should be completely healed in two weeks. So John and Mary Watson? When did you two get married?” So her name was Mary, Sherlock thought. His throat felt blocked and his breathing became more rapid. Wait, what was he feeling? Was this what jealousy felt like? Why he was jealous? Sherlock Holmes did not have emotions, especially not jealousy.

“Oh no, she didn’t take my last name. She’s still Mary Morstan. Umm… we met in college. She was an English major doing her master’s degree and I was applying for med school. She was 24 then and I was 25. We got married four years after that so… about 8 years.” John knew the exact year that they got married. It was the year everything changed. When Mary and he were dating, she was lovely and kind. Then when they got married, she slowly started to despise him until eventually, she started abusing him. At first, it was nothing; when she got mad she’d grab his arm and yell then things escalated to throwing books and pushing him around. John never fought back, because a gentleman never hits a lady.

“Why didn’t she take your last name? Isn’t it customary for the woman to take the man’s last name?” Sherlock knew little of social protocol or customs but was sure that women always took their husband’s last name as part of an ancient custom of ownership over the woman. John’s tone when speaking of their marriage: she had started to abuse him after approximately two years. They were happy as newlyweds but that quickly faded. John has been dealing with this for six years. Suddenly, a rage built up inside Sherlock. Mary would pay, in one way or another, for what she did to John. Sherlock didn’t understand why he felt so protective of John when they’d only just met but he knew he’d do anything to help John escape from her.

“Usually, yes but Mary works as a publisher and she said it’d be complicate things so we decided that it would be better if she just kept last name.” Or because she didn’t want anyone to know she was married, John wanted to say. He had never met any of her co-workers, he had never even been to her office; she didn’t let him. She would make any excuse possible to stop John from coming to her office.

“Oh what publishing company does she work for?” Sherlock tried to sound interested in the conversation but his mind kept drifting to all the things Mary probably did to John over the years.

“Erm…” Why was he having trouble remembering where she worked? “She works at… Bitter Lemon Press. So what is this new case about?” John desperately wanted to change the subject from Mary and him.

“Right. A politician turned up dead in his hotel room. My brother, Mycroft, gave me the case. We’ll have to keep quiet about it though; don’t want the press to find out. We can head over to the hotel after this. My brother will fill you in on all the details before we go examine the body.”

“Sounds good. I’m almost done.” John ate faster, taking big gulps of coffee between bites.

“No need to rush. I’m still nursing my tea.” Sherlock gave John a smile.

John paid for the meal before he had finished eating. Sherlock offered to pay his share but John simply said that it was the least he could do after he’d paid for dinner last night. Then they headed to hail a cabbie.

*

For such a high class hotel, it was unusually dead. Only employees were wandering around. John looked towards Sherlock for any clues but he only smirked. Minor position, my arse, Mycroft, Sherlock thought to himself. He had really outdone himself this time, closing down the whole hotel; that must have required countless phone calls and bribes. Mycroft would definitely be upset that Sherlock had brought John but he would just have to get out it.

They stepped into the lift after Sherlock received a text from Mycroft telling him the crime scene was on the tenth floor. Mycroft eyed Sherlock down as the two approached the room. Sherlock refused to meet his gaze. John awkwardly followed Sherlock.

“My dear brother, I thought we agreed that you wouldn’t.” Mycroft glanced towards John for a split second. John somehow knew it was about him being there.

“I thought I told you it was none of your business. We are being rude. Mycroft, this is Doctor John Watson. John, this is my brother, Mycroft. He is the British government.”

“Pleasure. I hold a minor role in the government.”

“Sure when you’re not too busy being the secret service or the CIA.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Mycroft.” John interrupted. He feared if he didn’t that the two brothers would start a fight.

“So can we get into the crime scene so John and I can examine the body?” Sherlock was getting impatient with Mycroft.

“Once, John understands the importance of being discreet about this, yes.” Mycroft leaned against the umbrella he has in his hand.

“I already told him that he can’t speak a word of it to anyone.” Mycroft gave Sherlock the look. The same look he’d given him as a child; it was the look that Mycroft gave him when he thought Sherlock was being foolish and Sherlock hated it.

“I promise I won’t say anything to anyone.” John pleaded.

“Not even Mary, John.” Mycroft stated. John was confused as to how Mycroft knew his wife’s name but assumed he had access to his information if he was the British government.

“I know.”

“Then you may proceed. I expect results, Sherlock, soon.” Mycroft said as Sherlock and John entered the hotel room.

*

Four hours, two cab rides and a chase around town later, Sherlock and John had found: the cause of death- poisoning; the real crime scene- politician’s office; and the murderer- his assistant. The assistant ran after they questioned him and got half way across town before Sherlock and John caught him. When they did catch him, they managed to get a confession out of him. The assistant had grown tired of his boss’ ways and how he would make him lie to his wife when he was having affairs so he decided to rid the world of one arsehole.

Mycroft sent a police car to retrieve the murderer and called Sherlock to let him know they’d done a splendid job and he’d arranged dinner at an exclusive restaurant his treat. John decided to go even though he knew he had to be home soon; he hadn’t told Mary he had the day off, she’d expect him to be home in a few hours. Though he didn’t really care about Mary at the moment, Sherlock was doing a good job of distracting him. Sherlock might not know what he was doing to John but he was helping him in a way John had never imagined possible. John was actually happy and Sherlock actually made him laugh. John was being reminded of emotions he’d forgotten about long ago.

Dinner was marvelous. The food was spectacular and delicious. There were no uncomfortable silences; Sherlock and John talked the whole way through. John told Sherlock about his times in the military and Sherlock told John about how he invented the job of consulting detective. At times, Sherlock thought John was… flirting with him; not that he really knew what flirting looked like, he’d only ever read about it. Sherlock tried to deduce John’s feelings but didn’t know where to start, he was so inexperienced with feelings and such; he made a note to do more research. John made Sherlock feel, something no one had succeeded in doing in his whole life.

The evening was cut short, by John and Sherlock didn’t have to ask to know why: Mary. John apologized and assured Sherlock that he’d text him tomorrow. He said he’d make it up to him another time. Sherlock told John that he didn’t mind but a part of him wanted to stop John from going home to her; maybe then he’d be safe, maybe if he was with Sherlock, he’d feel safe.

*

John walked through the front door, expecting Mary to be waiting to yell at him. So he was surprised to see her nowhere in sight. He checked the kitchen and it was empty, though a faint smell of baked chicken lingered. He pulled off his jacket and placed it on the chair in the living room. He crept to the bedroom, assuming Mary had fallen asleep. When he pushed the door open and stepped through the doorframe, John was shocked.

There, on the bed, lied Mary. She was wearing skimpy lingerie he hadn’t seen before, it was red and black; though most would say she looked sexy, John was still disgusted. John couldn’t believe she was trying this again; this was what she’s do after they got in a huge fight: she’d try to seduce him and assume that would fix everything. She repulsed him; he shuddered at the thought of even kissing her. There was no way this was going to happen. John didn’t want Mary anywhere near him.

“Hello handsome.” Mary said in a seductive tone.

“Mary…” John began.

“Shh… John. Come here.” Mary crawled across the bed and pulled John towards her. Once he was close, she pulled him on top of her, wrapping her legs around him. John tried to pull away from her, gently. Mary kissed his neck while placing one hand on his shoulder and one on the back of his neck.

“Mary, no.” John took her hands off of him but that only caused her to start tugging off his trousers.

“John, baby, it’s okay. I’m going to make everything better.” She whispered as she unzipped his trousers, letting her hand wander in.

“No Mary. Stop. Not today. Not any night for that matter.” John untwined himself from Mary. She grabbed him again, more aggressively. Instead of pulling him on top of her again, she pushed him down on the bed and climbed onto him. John tried to be gentle while attempting to get her off of him; he didn’t want to hurt her. She clearly wasn’t listening to him, too distracted with her hands down his trousers.

“Mary, I said no. I’m not going to have sex with you. Sod off.” John had a stern tone. Finally, Mary stopped. She looked up at him in anger.

“I’m trying to be romantic. I’m trying to make this marriage work.”

“Shagging isn’t going to help anything. I’m still upset with you. You threw a lamp at me.” John finally was able to pull himself away from Mary. He immediately climbed off the bed.

“I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry, okay? I’m just really stressed out, I thought this would help.” Mary started to pout. 

“Just because you say sorry doesn’t mean I’m going to forgive you instantly. If you didn’t notice, there’s a massive gouge on my forehead. I can’t deal with this right now. I’m leaving.” John headed for the door but Mary jumped off the bed and grabbed his arm.

“Baby, I’m sorry. I know you’re not going to forgive me right away and you shouldn’t; I shouldn’t have done what I did. Please, don’t leave. I love you, more than anything else in the whole world. Please stay.” Mary pulled him into a hug but his arms stayed at his side. She kissed his neck again. “I love you so much. I could never bear to lose you. Just tell me you’ll stay. I need you, John.”

“Fine.” John hated himself, more than he had ever hated himself before. He was the cliché abuse victim and Mary knew it. She could do whatever she wanted to him and he’d always forgive her; in the end, he’d always come running back to her like he was the one that needed her. Why did he go back to her? He didn’t need her; he could easily survive on his own. He went back to her time after time because he had been made to believe that no one else would love him; that Mary was the best he was ever going to get. That was the truth of his world: no one could love a worthless man like him.