It was a slow day at the diner, when the waitress saw her favorite customer walk in.
Head bent low, his hair unkept, Dean Winchester made his way to his usual booth in the corner.
"Same as always?" Sally asked cheerfully.
Dean nodded and sat in his secluded booth away from the rowdy groups and questionable conversations on the other side of the diner. The hunter had frequented the diner before. Sally remembered him clearly. He started coming with a tall gangly looking moose of a fellow, an older man wearing a cap that looked like his dad and a confused looking man in a trench coat with a twisted royal blue tie. They had stopped coming abruptly.
It had been only recently that he started coming again, and only once with the same group, except the man in the trench coat.
Cas? Sally tried to remember as she got his slice of pie. Is that we he called him?
She couldn't remember.
As she made her way towards Dean with the usual beer and slice of pie, from the corner of her eye she saw a new face appear.
A small man. Dirty blonde hair and a tired face made his way toward the table across from Dean.
"What will it be?" Sally asked after setting the meal.
"What do you recommend?" His voice made her heart ache. It wasn't the warm English accent, though they have been known to do that, it was the underlined sadness to it that made her stop and stare.
"Today's soup is alright, made it myself."
"That'll be fine thank you."
As Sally left to the kitchen, John Watson studied his surroundings and shook his head. He was supposed to be on holiday. Sarah had been pushing him to get a break after the incident, and he had finally agreed, if only to shut everyone up. He had enjoyed the first few days of his trip, but after awhile, he decided that he didn't want to be alone after all. He only like being alone with Sherlock.
What am I doing here? He asked himself. I'm so far away from home.
Even the notion of home was distant. 221 B wasn't home, it was a simply a place to keep stuff. His home fell from a building months ago.
John Watson took out his leather bound notepad and began to skim the pages, stopping every now and then to make modifications. It wasn't until he saw someone else's writing that he stopped to read the notes.
John, this title is stupid, change it now.
This is not how the case happened!
Embellishing the facts are we?
Your stories are worst than that vampire novel. No, I'm sorry, that was harsh.
Your notes are silly.Make me some tea. Please.
"Sherlock you idiot." John smiled and continued to read the notes in between the margins. He didn't notice when his soup was delivered, or when his tears started to join his meal.
"Who was it?"
The gruff voice brought John out of his reverie and he realized he'd been crying. It took him longer to notice who had made the question, and whether he should answer.
Dean waited patiently. Taking bites of his pie and playing with the fork. From the moment he heard John speak, he knew they were in the same boat and John was sinking.
"Are you spying on me?" John started, "Working for Mycroft are you?
"Tell your boss he can piss off," he said standing from his table, "I am well away from his jurisdiction."
"Woah, wait what the fuck is a Mycroft?" Dean asked defensively putting his hands up. "I just saw you all sad and figured you'd like to talk."
John looked around embarrassed. "Oh, look mate, I'm sorry, I just thought-" He shook his head. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"Try me." Dean offered John a seat. "Name's Dean.
John smiled and took the seat.
"I'm-" John wondered whether he should trust this man. He was, after all, a stranger. No guarantee if this "Dean" wasn't working for some top secret sector of the government that would somehow lead to Mycroft. But as he studied Dean, he knew they were in the same spot.
"John." He finally answered. "Dr. John Watson."
"Pleased to meet you John," Dean said lifted his beer in salute. "So, what's your story?"
"Well," John took a deep breath, "I'll give you the abridged version."
"I met a very clever man. I killed for him, made tea, and once I almost got blown up with him." John flipped through the notepad, stopping when a newspaper clipping picture of him and Sherlock came out. John passed it to Dean. "We did many foolish things and along the way we became best friends. I was a broken soldier, and he-" John stopped, taking a deep breath, "he managed to put me back together." John stopped again, choking back tears. "And now he's gone, but I'm still here."
Dean nodded slowly. "Same here." He said, taking another bite of pie. "Except Cas usually did all the killing."
"Yeah- sorry, what?" John's confusion made him look almost childlike.
"Nevemind." Dean said shaking his head. "So you're taking a vacation from all the tabloids huh? I figured they would want to discredit you somehow, just like they're trying to do with Sherlock." Dean took a drink from his beer. "You haven't kept up with your blog."
"Well, it all seems pointl-" John stopped and eyed Dean suspiciously. "How do you know about my blog and about-."
"My brother works in…" Dean thought of a way to put Sam's job in simple terms. "research, he's always online and ran into Sherlock's website, great stuff on there. Ways to tell someone's profession, that tobacco ash article was helpful too."
"He'd be glad to hear someone agrees." Said John chuckling. His uneasiness going away. "So your Cas is-"
"Gone." Dean concentrated on his beer not making eye contact with John. "Gone. Won't find him waiting by my car. Won't hear him ask a dumb questions. Won't hear him make weird jokes that are only funny in Enochian." Dean started laughing at that last one but his smile faltered. "Won't take him out for burgers either."
John sat silent not wanting to interrupt Dean's thought. Not wanting to say anything and have his voice break, because the pain that Dean was going through was the same he felt. This man, who at first glanced looked like nothing more than your typical alcoholic, understood John Watson's pain completely.
Dean finished his beer in one gulp and stood. He motioned at Sally. "Sally, give my friend a beer. Add it to the tab."
"Well John," he offered his hand. "Pleased to meet you."
John shook his hand. "Pleased to meet you too and sorry for you loss."
Dean nodded and walked towards the counter. He came back seconds later with a napkin and pen. "Can uh, you sign my napkin? Sammy is gonna flip when I tell him I met you."
John chuckled. "This is the first time this has happened you know, in America of all places." He signed the napkin,
From Dr. John Watson, to Sam, keep up the research!
"Thanks," Dean took the napkin and headed towards the door. "And John, we believe in Sherlock too."
John smiled and nodded. He turned back to his cold soup and beer.
Dean got into his car and put the napkin in the glove compartment. He felt better. Like a part of his burden had been lifted. John had been the only person he had opened up to since Cas had gone.
Baby steps, Dean thought, baby steps.
Sam came out of the dingy motel room as Dean parked the Impala. He took the napkin out and handed it to Sam.
"Shut up," Sam started as he read the message. "You met-? Are you serious? Oh my god how is he?"
"Okay you need to stop the fangirling 'cause I'm not having it." Dean warned. "I'll take the autograph back and forge my name instead."
"Alright, alright." Sam said, holding the napkin to his chest and walking into the room. "By the way, I found some stuff on the barghest we're tracking."
As Dean joined Sam to the book ladden table, he reflected on the days events and decided that John was a very lucky man.
His Cas was gone and there was no getting him back.
Dean, being a member of the famed "Homeless Network", knew that Sherlock Holmes, was very much alive.