When John finished secondary school, he was at the top of his class. When the school posted rankings and everyone crowded around to look, he was the only one who wasn't surprised.
Even his teachers were surprised. "Oh, Watson? I suppose he has been getting high marks, but someone's must have been better. That Jones girl? No? What about the Weston boy? Hmm."
It wasn't that people forgot he was there, but his teachers did stumble over his name when they'd been teaching him for years. He did have a close circle of friends. It was just that he was unremarkable.
When he left for uni, he encountered a whole new group of people – ones who had not experienced the shock of noticing him. There, he was not top of his class, but they all noticed him after he proved his absolute calm in front of a panicked patient brandishing a knife.
The same thing happened during basic training, until he became the first to routinely shoot holes through the middle of a target. Even after that, his COs generally failed to send people looking for marksmanship help to him.
And every tour, every reassignment, every new surrounding, it happened without fail.
In fact, the same thing happened right up until he met Sherlock Holmes.
It had surprised him when Mike had called his name in the park, but in retrospect, he supposed that he and Mike Stamford were men of a type. Back at Bart's, before Mike had worn glasses, they'd been routinely confused for each other.
What was thoroughly unexpected was Sherlock's intense scrutiny seconds after their first eye contact. As the man left the lab with a wink and a flourish of his coat, John began to fall a little bit in love with the first person who had made him feel remarkable.
After he shot the cabbie, he felt it again. Standing at a crime scene, no explanation for when he'd shown up, retired military personnel – and no one even thought to suspect him. Except for Sherlock, who began to reel off deductions, plenty for the police to figure it out, but they just sailed of the crime scene and no one batted an eye.
In some ways, it was nice not having to think about being noticed. After his shot someone at a crime scene again (what was this? the fifth time?) and no one thought to run a ballistics test on, well, anything, he pointed it out to Sherlock.
"I've noticed that others fail to remark on you, despite your obvious capability in handling dangerous situations. Lestrade always seems to think that you weren't kidnapped or held at gunpoint or whatever it was this week because you betray no outward signs of distress."
"Why do you notice me, then?" John asked.
"Because you are extraordinary." In Sherlock's mind this answer was simple, but to John was novel and unanticipated.
It is safe to say that the nature of their relationship changed after that night.
It took a truly exciting, excruciating incident for Scotland Yard to notice the glory that was John Watson.
Sherlock had left the flat hours ago, apparently to purchase milk. He should have been back by now, so John left and walked to Tesco's. Halfway there, a flicker of blue in an alley caught his eye. Sherlock's scarf was caught on a chain-link fence and the only sign of a disturbance was heavy tire tracks in the dirt. His phone vibrated in his pocket.
Have been kidnapped. In shop basement in Camden. SH
Five minutes later, John is in a cab giving the vague direction of "Can you just drive around here until I tell you to stop?"
Fifteen minutes later, John is on the phone with Lestrade, giving a street number. "I'm going to go in. Goodbye." He hangs up on Lestrade's spluttered protests.
He has managed to find the correct shop by virtue of it being the only one in the area with an armed thug in front of it. These kidnappers are idiots, but Christ they are big. John walks around the block, approaches the guard from the dark, and manages to fell him with a blow to the back of his head. They have the same gun, so John takes the clip and pockets it for later before zip tying his wrist to a street pole. John comes prepared these days.
From there, he heads inside the store as the man outside is beginning to wake up. He slips through the aisles aiming for the crack of light visible at the back of the room.
There's another armed guard outside of the basement door as well. John takes him down with a kick to the solar plexus and a crack on the head, flying out of the dark with like a bat out of hell. John catches him on the way down to avoid the otherwise inevitable thud, moves him weapon a safe distance away, and securely attaches his wrist to a clothing rack.
He eases down the stairs, keeping to the outside to avoid creaking, gun at the ready in front of him. Sherlock is tied to a chair at the center of the room, surrounded on each side by four hooded men. One of them looks thoroughly pathetic – John could probably deliver a kick to his knee and he'd be out for the count – but the other three are rather more formidable opponents. Well, shit.
At that moment, the stair creaks under John's foot and they all whip around to stare at him. Immediately, he shoots one of the big ones in the thigh and leaps over the banister to catch another in the chest with his feet. Ouch. Should not have done that with a bad shoulder.
He lands awkwardly and is clipped in the face for his troubles. Wincing, he staggers to his feet and knocks the man across the face with his gun as a knee comes toward his abdomen. He absorbs the blow – damn, that shoulder again – as best he can, then brings a foot into his opponent's crotch. He cannot help but lean over, and John thanks him by putting a knee into his head.
John whirls around to point the gun at the last one, the kind of pathetic-looking one, who is now pointing a gun at him steadily. He hears a stirring behind him, leans, and drives an elbow backward, catching someone hard in the gut.
There is now a standoff, interrupted only by harsh breathing and whimpering from the one he'd shot. Guns pointed firmly at each other, John faces off with the hooded man. They glare at each other for some time, before Sherlock says loudly, "Oh, get on with it."
John drops to a crouch in the blink of an eye, firing towards the man's hand with a true aim.
"Sherlock, I just shot two people."
John's beginning to run out of zip ties, but he manages to gather them all up and securely attach them in a corner of the room, gaining a split lip and what will be a brilliant black eye come morning. That's not to mention the dirt and blood streaked across his jumper. He's had better days. He gets to work untying Sherlock's bonds.
Once free, Sherlock massages his wrists and remarks, "I would kiss you, but I think we need to get that lip sorted first."
John and Sherlock traipse upstairs and collapse on the curb outside of the shop. A minute later, police cruisers come tearing around the corner, sirens blaring, accompanied by an ambulance. The first cruiser pulls to a stop in front of them and Lestrade climbs out, looking panicked.
"What the bloody hell happened here?" he exclaims, taking in John's face and the thug still tied to a street sign.
"John subdued the kidnappers and extricated me from the situation, clearly," Sherlock drawls. "Now, if we could have a paramedic look at his face..."
When John's face is cleaned up a bit and he's holding a pack against him swollen lip, Lestrade comes to him after spending a time berating Sherlock. For what, John is not entirely sure.
"Do you realize that you just single-handedly subdued six men who were well-trained in martial arts and are wanted for a total of nine murders among them?" Lestrade asks him. "Where on earth did that come from?"
"Oh. I hadn't known. Um, what were you—"
"Christ, is that a wedding ring?" Lestrade's eyes are glued to his ring finger. "When did that happen? I thought you weren't seeing anyone!"
"Sherlock and I got married about three months ago. I've been wearing the ring ever since," John replies calmly as what seems to be every person on the street turns to him in astonishment.
After this, John is something of a legend around the serious crimes division.
The only dissenter is Anderson, who has still not wrapped his mind around why anyone in their right mind would want to marry Sherlock.
But then, John Watson isn't known for being totally sane.