Title: Their First Meeting
Disclaimer: Don't own anyone.
Pairings: Sherlock/John epic friendship, could be pre-slash if you squint.
Warnings: Swearing (Stamford has a surprisingly filthy mouth on him!)
Spoilers: SPOILERS FOR ALL EPISODES.
Word Count: ~1300 words.
Summary: Sherlock and John met before A Study In Pink…but still at St. Bart's.
'During this period, Watson himself was a medical student at Bart's and he was probably present at some of the classes which Holmes attended, although they never became acquainted. However, they may well have passed each other on the stairs leading up to the chemistry laboratory…' - Holmes and Watson, June Thomson, p.33
Sherlock hated students. He had when he had been one, and he especially did now that he was no longer one. They all seemed far younger than him, somehow, even though he was almost exactly the same age. But then everyone had always seemed younger than him in a way, even mother and father, with their constant demand that he go back to university, how would he learn - how immature, he thought, it was such a naïve way to look at life, to think that he - Sherlock Holmes - needed to follow patterns to learn. No, it was better this way, he was sure it was better. He had broken rules and patterns all his life, he told his parents, he might as well break this one too.
They had given up on him, amidst mutterings of disinheritance. Mycroft, to be fair, had at least stayed in touch, but mostly to gloat about his PhD and deflect Sherlock's jibes about his diet.
Still, it was better. To break free and join the hubbub of London, to brave the crowds of babbling idiots populating St Barts, to listen to what he wanted, do what he wanted. He had charmed his way into the good books of most of the lecturers already, so they just left him do what he wanted. So unlike university, with its rules.
Still, it was a bit depressing how these students especially - the ones who were meant to be intelligent, who were learning medicine and the fast, cold rules of science that Sherlock so admired - still managed to act like morons. He swore, if he heard one more conversation about how drunk blah-de-blah had got at blah-blah's party, he was going to throw something valuable from somewhere high.
It was worse when it was near exam time. It was as if all the students had suddenly realised they should probably go to some lectures if they wanted to pass this year and had promptly come out of the woodwork in their droves. It was so distracting.
Today was a prime example. Sherlock had come to one of his favourite lectures, books in arms, to find the corridor outside the lecture hall was stuffed full of people, all chattering far too loudly for his taste. He huddled against a wall and scowled at the world.
Someone bumped into his back, and said in a familiar voice, "Oops, sorry Sherlock!"
Sherlock looked around into the round, friendly face of Mike Stamford. Stamford was a large, perpetually cheerful medical student, who everyone seemed to know and like. He had a sort of amiable, affable nature that drew people to him constantly. Even Sherlock liked him, which was saying something.
"It's fine," he said, trying not to sound too warm but failing miserably. "Stamford, do you know - "
He was cut off by a loud laugh behind them, and then a group of guys rushed forward, seized Stamford's bag off his shoulder and ran for it down the corridor, hooting with laughter. The crowd of students cheered raucously and Stamford, round face red but grinning, shouted, "You utter cocks!" and followed in surprisingly hot pursuit for his bulk, knocking into Sherlock accidentally and making him drop his books.
Sherlock gritted his teeth in annoyance and bent down to retrieve his books, but as he did so, a new voice behind him shouted, "Mike, you idiot!" and then he heard a shuffling and looked sideways to find another student kneeling down to help him pick up the books.
The student was short, with dark blond hair, a slightly upturned nose and a straight line for a mouth, and he was dressed in a rather ratty knitted jumper. When he handed Sherlock some of his books, Sherlock found himself transfixed by a pair of dark blue eyes.
"Sorry about him," the stranger said, with an easy smile. "Mike's a bit of a moron."
He proffered the books to Sherlock, who took them slowly. "I know," he said stiltedly, feeling awkward, and stood up. The stranger followed him. He was short, shorter than Sherlock by a head.
"You know Mike?" he asked, rearranging his bag by his side.
"Doesn't everyone?" Sherlock said a bit too quickly, feeling stupid, but the stranger laughed.
"Yeah, Mike's like that," he said. "Oh sorry - my name's John."
He stuck out a hand. Sherlock took it stiffly. "I'm - " he started, but then someone else from further down the line of people yelled, "Come on, John, all the good seats'll be taken!"
"Argh," said John, dithering. "Sorry, got to go, really don't need to miss this lecture!"
"Yes," said Sherlock blankly. He felt like a complete moron, but for some reason he was utterly tongue-tied in front of this completely ordinary, rather rumpled, student.
"See you later," said John cheerfully and left, taking all the sunlight with him.
Sherlock stood, silent, as the rest of the students filed into the lecture hall.
He couldn't quite shake the fact that he'd just missed something important.
It's the morning sun shining through the window of 221b's living room and lighting up John's profile that makes Sherlock realise. He stops halfway through an experiment, stares, remembers, then leaps through the living room, reaches over John's newspaper and grabs his flatmate's chin in an iron grasp, turning it this way and that in front of the light.
"Ow," says John. And then, "Owww - Sherlock, what are you doing?"
John's eyes in the light look exactly the same as they did all those years ago. Sherlock beams. "It is you," he says. "I wondered if it was."
"What's me?" John says, as clearly as he can when Sherlock is crushing his jaw. "Sherlock, can you stop that?"
Sherlock looks at John, then drops his hand. "Don't you remember?"
John rubs his jaw, looking sulky - being manhandled by his flatmate is clearly not his favourite way to start the day. "Remember what?" he asks.
"We met at St. Bart's," Sherlock says.
"Yeah I know, I was there," John replies, still grumpy. "Are you high or something?"
"No, I mean before that," Sherlock insists. "We met before that in one of the corridors."
John frowns, realising Sherlock is being serious. "Did we? I don't remember."
"You helped me pick up some books," Sherlock tells him. "Just briefly."
John smiles angelically up at Sherlock. "Made an impression, did I?"
"Someone that short is certainly memorable," Sherlock retorts, poker-faced, and gets swatted in the face with John's newspaper for his troubles.
"Piss off," John says, but he's grinning. "Go on, then, what was your first impression of me?"
Sherlock blurts the answer out rather than thinking about it first - a rarity. "That you were kind."
"And when you met me in St. Bart's after that?" John has that tone of his - the one where he is as pleased as punch but is trying not to show it.
Once again, Sherlock speaks before he thinks. "Exactly the same."
This time John doesn't bother hiding it - he grins from ear to ear. Sherlock sniffs and looks away, but can't fight the little giddy whirl going on inside him.
And the rest of the morning passes in relative peacefulness.