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And Not Or

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Christchurch is relentlessly beautiful, all trees and sky and water, green and blue everywhere.

Sarah is speaking truths. They are sitting on the dock. She has her toes in the water and he stares at them as she says these things to him.

“I don’t know what I want with you,” she sums up. “And you don’t know what you want with me.”

“Yeah,” he mumbles. He wants to throw stones across the water but there aren’t any.

“He’s always at the edges,” she continues.

“Or in the bloody middle,” John says, letting out a mirthless huff.

“But it’s not a competition. Or, it doesn’t have to be.”

“I’m fairly certain Sherlock thinks it is.”

“I’m fairly certain it’s possible for Sherlock to be wrong.”

And then he does laugh. She makes him laugh, and this is awful. If he jumps in the water and slips under, will that make it better? Easier to hear? His toes seem huge next to hers. She has dainty toes.

“If he could ever understand that, or allow us both to be equally important to you . . .” She looks over to him. She won’t say more until he meets her eyes, so he does. He needs to know how that sentence ends.

“I’m very good at sharing,” she says.

He can’t quite parse that, but he knows instinctively what it could mean, what his response is.

His gaze is steady, his voice rough. “I love you.”

Her smile is sad. “And I love you.”

“And yet,” John says.

She looks away, down. “And yet.”