Where We're Meeting

John Watson: "We don't know a thing about each other; I don't know where we're meeting; I don't even know your name.

They meet on a train.

It's early in the morning. John finds himself adrift amid the tide of passengers pouring along the platform at Kings Cross. A cross-section of the London population: every shape and age and size, they insert themselves messily into the neat chair-sized spaces on the awaiting carriages.

Remarkably he finds a seat in a relatively quiet part of the train, by the window, pleased when the space beside him remains empty despite the hordes of travellers boarding. As they stutter out of the station he even prepares to spread out and take full advantage of his apparent good luck at traveling without a stranger pressed close against his side. However it is at this moment that a dark figure swoops in and takes the empty place.

"Cutting it a bit fine aren't we?" John asks, attributing his own display of friendliness to his surprise on the sudden appearance of a stranger. Talking to a fellow traveller on a London train would usually be considered the height of social indiscretion; the stranger seems to know this and raises his eyebrows as he responds.

"Yes." His voice is deep and somehow befitting of his features – pale and dark in equal measure. "An unfortunate consequence,"

"Of?" John finds himself asking, intrigued by the turn of phrase.

"Keeping a low profile."


"I don't like to wait in busy stations,"

"Who does?" John asks somewhat rhetorically,

"Wouldn't do to be recognised." The stranger replies.

For a moment John is taken aback. He finds himself assessing the person in front of him. Whippet-thin and long limbed, clad in probably one of the more expensive suits John has had the opportunity to sit beside and swaddled in an equally expensive looking long coat and blue scarf. His hair is a mess of dark curls, framing a pale angular face.

"Should I recognise you?" John asks once his assessment of the stranger is complete. Model, he thinks idly. Possibly actor.

"Do you read the papers?"

"Not the tabloids," John answers honestly, having reached his own conclusions about where this character would most likely have been catalogued.

"Of course," His companion replies with the ghost of a smirk, John's statement seems to have pleased him for some reason. "But you are mistaken; you're unlikely to have heard my name in the gossip columns."

"Oh, I'm sorry…" John starts, abashed.

"Don't be. It was a perfectly viable deduction."

"Deduction?" The word lights something buried deep at the back of John's mind.

"You took in my appearance and the value of my clothing, as well as the fact that I am keen to remain unnoticed when travelling with strangers and deduced I held some kind of commercial fame. An actor perhaps?"

"Model," John corrects.

"Perhaps I should be flattered?"

"I…" John starts but finds himself completely adrift with what he could possibly offer as a response.

"No matter." The stranger saves John from his conversational floundering,

"So you're not an actor?" John asks, probably a little bluntly,


"Or a model?"


"So you're?"

"The only one in the world."

John believes this stranger is now being deliberately obtuse.

"Which is?" John asks.

"You really have no idea?"

"None," John responds immediately, beginning to grow tired with the whole exchange.

"And yet you've been back in the country for some time. Six months perhaps?"

"I..?" John is immediately interested again, but the stranger cuts him off.

"Tell me, Afghanistan or Iraq?"

"Sorry?" John asks once he's found his voice.

It is at this point that the catering trolley pushes alongside them in the aisle. The stranger's attention is immediately pulled away from John's gaping incomprehension.

"Coffee." The man says without polite preamble, aiming his words at the pretty female attendant poised above them wearing a pale but enthusiastic smile. "Black, two sugars," A pause, "Please."

John finds himself momentarily lost without the attention of this peculiar stranger and turns to watch the suburbs of London flash past the window, seeping into the ragged edges of the countryside.

"Can I borrow your phone?" The stranger asks suddenly, drawing John's attention back from the rush of scenery. He turns to find both his new travel companion and the catering assistant staring at him.

"Anything from the trolley for you Sir?" She asks brightly above them and for a second John is unsure who to answer first.

"Er, no," He aims at the uniformed woman in the aisle, automatically fishing in his pocket for his phone and thereby wordlessly answering his companion to the opposite effect, "Nothing for me thanks." He continues to her, casually handing over one of the most expensive and personal items he owns to a man he hasn't known for more than ten minutes.

The attendant smiles at him, a pleasant, pretty kind of smile that sits nicely with her delicate face and startlingly green eyes, before pushing her trolley away from them.

And John's eyes fall to the mobile phone already set out beside a steaming coffee cup on the tray table in front of the stranger, even while he sits typing frantically on John's own.

"There's no signal on mine," The stranger offers, without prompt or looking up.


"Which is it – Afghanistan or Iraq?" The stranger doesn't raise his eyes from the screen as he returns to the original topic.

"Afghanistan." John responds automatically, "Sorry, how did you…?" He continues,

"A simple deduction." The man states, finishing what he is typing and handing back John's phone.

"A…?" John starts, bewildered.

"Much as you did earlier, though I doubt you realised you were doing it. You observed my apparent fame in my clothes and concern at being recognised, while I read your military career in your face and your leg and your brother's drinking habits in your mobile phone."

"What, my brother?" John is lost.

"Yes, although it's not him you're currently leaving London to visit." The strangers continues, as if what he is saying is as easy as informing John of the quickest way to the nearest post office, "You wouldn't go to him because you don't approve of him – possibly because he's an alcoholic; more likely because he recently walked out on his wife."

John can only gape.

"How could you…?" He finally manages to stutter.

"It's simple John,"

"It's… wait a minute, you know my name?" John feels faintly as if he's entered the twilight zone.

"I'm sorry, that was very rude of me. Can I call you John? Or would you prefer Mr Watson? You can't still be using Captain?"

"It's Doctor actually, but…" John is so lost in the conversation that it doesn't seem fitting to begin to unravel it.

"There's always something," The stranger continues, thoughtfully, tipping his head gently to one side.

"Look, how could you know?" John starts,

"I didn't know, I saw." The stranger says, his stare level until he lets his eyes flick up momentarily to the luggage rack above their heads. John understands:

"You've seen my pack,"


"How did you know it was mine?"

"Putting aside for a moment the likelihood that it is yours, being that it sits directly above the seat you have chosen: your haircut, the way your hold yourself, even when seated, says military."

"You knew about Afghanistan?"

"Your face is tanned but no tan above the wrists. You've been abroad, but not sunbathing. The fading of the tan lines and the relative lack of upkeep on the haircut however say you've been out of the military some while, six months perhaps, definitely not yet a year. Wounded in action I'd wager from the cane you have hidden down the side of the seat and the fact that you've been making do on just a military pension since your return."

"And how do you know that?" John is hovering on the edge of being insulted.

"The same way I know your name."

"It's written on my pack."

"The fact that you are using your old army kit bag on a simple visit to your parents tells me you've not had the time, inclination or income to buy replacement luggage."

"This is getting ridiculous, how can you know I'm going to visit my parents?"

"I didn't, I suspected, you however just confirmed it. I did know about your brother."

"Hmm?" John says in response, giving in to this bizarre turn of events now,

"Your phone," The stranger nods in the direction of John's jacket pocket where he had replaced it earlier, "It's expensive, e-mail enabled, MP3 player, but you're on an army pension – you wouldn't waste money on that. It's a gift then.

"The engraving,"

Harry Watson, From Clara xxx

"Harry Watson: clearly a family member who's given you his old phone. Not your father, this is a young man's gadget. Could be a cousin, but you're a war hero subsisting purely on an army pension in London. Unlikely you've got an extended family, certainly not one you're close to, so brother it is. Now, Clara. Who's Clara? Three kisses says it's a romantic attachment. The expense of the phone says wife, not girlfriend. She must have given it to him recently – the model's only six month's old. Marriage in trouble then – six months on he's just given it away. If she'd left him, he would have kept it. People do – sentiment. But no, he wanted rid of it. He left her. He gave the phone to you: that says he wants you to stay in touch. But you're not going to your brother for help: that says you've got problems with him. Maybe you liked his wife: maybe you don't like his drinking."

"How can you possibly know about the drinking?"

"Another shot in the dark. Good one though. Power connection: tiny little scuff marks around the edge of it. Every night he does to plug it in to charge but his hands are shaking. You never see those marks on a sober man's phone; never see a drunk's without them."

Finished, the stranger reaches out to take a drink from the coffee on the table in front of him. John stares.

"That…" He finally stutters out "That… was amazing."

"You think so?"

"Of course it was. It was extraordinary: it was quite extraordinary"

"That's not what people normally say."

"What do people normally say?"

"'Piss off'"

John can't help but smile at this bizarre stranger and their bizarre conversation.

"You had time to see the engraving?" John asks, remembering those moments before as he handed over the phone.

"You were making eyes at the waitress."

"I was being polite,"

"Whatever you say."

There's a pause.

"Well," John starts eventually, "You seem to know," He pauses, "Everything, about me. And I don't know a thing about you."

"You know I'm not an actor." The stranger points out.

"I'm not sure that counts. What about your name?"

The stranger seems to waver, before deciding with a slight tip of his head: "Sherlock Holmes," He offers,

John gapes. He has heard of him:

"The private detective."

"Consulting detective." Sherlock corrects, "The only one in the world."

"I've seen you in the papers."

"I thought you might."

"Is that how you do it?" John asks,

"Do what?"

"Solve all those crimes."

"If you are to believe the papers the police solve the crimes."

"But you…" John searches for the word "…consult?"


"By doing…" John gestures wildly, taking in the two of them, his bag, his cane, his phone. "By doing, all that?"


"Well." John's not quite certain how to go on. "I didn't recognise you without the hat."

Sherlock rolls his eyes: "That damn hat."

"Is there a story behind it?"

"None at all, it was just another attempt at reducing the likelihood of my getting recognised."

"Didn't exactly work?"

"It rather backfired."

"So now you're worried about being recognised at train stations?" John offers,

"And asked about why I'm not wearing my hat."

"Sorry about that."

"It was inevitable that it would be mentioned at some point."

They pause.

"But that can't be the only reason?" John continues,

"That I don't wish to be noticed? No."

"So…?" John presses,

"Let us just say it's currently particularly important that I keep a low profile."

"And that's why you're leaving London?"

"Yes, partly."

"Only partly?"

"I hear Edinburgh is lovely this time of year." Sherlock replies in a voice that belies emotion.

"So do I," John says, meeting his eye, "Shame this isn't the Edinburgh train."

"It's not?" Uncertainty flashes across Sherlock's steel eyes.

"Leeds." John can't help but smile. "Did you not deduce that?"

"Well," For the first time Sherlock seems a little ruffled around the edges.

He pauses.

"I suppose there's no harm in taking a round-a-bout route." Sherlock concludes.

A moment of silence.

Sherlock breaks it again: "So Leeds is your destination?"

It seems that after they have covered the larger topics they have now fallen back into small talk.

"Yes," John nods "To see my parents."

"But you aren't from there." Sherlock says, a statement not a question.

"You don't need to be a detective to deduce that."

"You don't have an accent."

"No, you're right, I didn't grow up there."

"They moved," Sherlock offers


"And you haven't seen them since you've been back in the country." Sherlock's apparent knowledge catches John by surprise again.

"You worked that out from the way I blow my nose?"

"You haven't blown your nose."

"No," John pauses, "I, that was an attempt at a joke."

"Oh." Sherlock blinks in response. "I didn't catch that,"

John can't help but smile at this man who seems to know so much about people, without knowing anything at all. "So how did you know?"

"You seem," Sherlock replies, pausing momentarily to search for the word: "Nervous."

"And that couldn't be because of a baffling conversation with a stranger?"

"You invaded Afghanistan; I doubt I could inspire any level of nervousness."

"That wasn't just me," John interjects,

"Parents however, are another matter entirely." Sherlock continues as if he hadn't spoken.

"Aren't they just?"

There's a pause while they both contemplate the back of the chairs in front of them. John watches as Sherlock shifts himself slightly in his seat, his long limbs trapped in a space not designed for them.

"You aren't traveling first class?" John asks.

"Neither are you." Sherlock points out.

"You know why I'm not."

"And you know why I'm not." Sherlock counters, urging a response as if teaching a lesson.

"You're keeping a low profile." John answers.

"And you're keeping an eye on your wallet."

"And you don't get on with your parents?" John attempts to apply this theory of deduction a little further.

"What makes you say that?"

"Your immediate assumption that my nervousness could only involve the people that raised me."

"I suppose that isn't the conclusion that everyone would draw." Sherlock acquiesces.

"No." John pauses, pondering the relative propriety of pressing the matter, then deciding to anyway: "Was I right?"

"Partly." Sherlock replies unhurriedly, "My mother and I have a… frosty relationship. My father died when I was small."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Don't be, he and I had an even more difficult relationship than I currently share with my mother."

"I'm sorry to hear that as well."

Sherlock stares back at him for a moment.

"Is there a reason why you are visiting your parents?" Sherlock asks,

"You can't deduce that?"

"It's not an infallible science."

"But it is a science?" John asks,

"The science of deduction, it's something I've been attempting to catalogue."

"Sounds like it would be an interesting read." John responds genuinely.

"That's what I tell people, though I fear I struggle in the art of actually producing prose that others both understand and enjoy."

"Why is that?"

"People are idiots." Sherlock answers succinctly.

"Well, if you go into writing it with that kind of attitude I'm not surprised they don't enjoy it."

"I'm not good at… sentiment."

"By which you mean?"

"Emotions, feelings."

"But those aren't necessary in a book about science?"

"My thoughts exactly." Sherlock pauses, "However people seem to demand a certain level of sensationalism…"

"Oh, you mean description, context…"


"Without them you'll struggle to keep a readership interested."

"You seem to know something about this?" Sherlock asks,

"A little, I have a blog."

"Many followers?"

"None." John responds without emotion. "Nothing happens to me."

A pause, punctuated with a crackling announcement for the next station. They have to wait until it's finished to continue.

"You're avoiding the question," Sherlock says once the toneless female voice has finished warning passengers to mind the gap between the train and the platform.

"I've forgotten it." John admits.

"The reason for your visit?"

"To my parents, yes, you couldn't deduce it."

"You're still avoiding the question."

"What do you deduce from that?" John asks,

"It tells me it's something you don't wish to talk about."

"Well spotted."

"Which tells me it's either illness, scandal or money." Sherlock continues, "Although that is conjecture at best."

"Not good at getting a hint are you?"

"It depends on the context. Deduction is usually an exercise in 'getting the hint'"


"Then no, I have been most reliably and repeatedly informed that I am not."

John turns to look out of the window again, they've pulled into a station and John can watch the faces on the platform on the other side of the glass as if watching a film playing for his own amusement: an old man and equally weathered looking golden retriever, a family: three boys under the age of ten and a harassed looking mother, a young woman with pink hair and a battered looking suitcase, a pretty brunette and her boyfriend, holding hands.

"My mother isn't well." John says finally, turning back.

"I'm sorry to hear that," Sherlock immediately mimics the same sentiment that John had offered previously, as if parroting emotion he isn't familiar with.

"But," John sighs, "I guess it's also about money; care isn't cheap."

"And are you? Going to… help?" Sherlock seems to be struggling,

"I'm not sure what it is I'm going up to do." John says, turning to the window as the train begins to pull away and watching as the faces of those left behind blur into obscurity. "It's not as if I'm in much of a position to help out, financially, as you took great pleasure in pointing out."

"I didn't mean to be, indelicate." Sherlock says roughly,

"Hard to be reminded," John looks back at him, offering a conciliatory smile "Maybe if I'd done better with myself over the last few months and been able to send something home she wouldn't be… Well she wouldn't be as sick as she is."

"Then there would be no need for you to visit them."

"You said it yourself, we're not close."

"Did I get anything wrong?" Sherlock asks suddenly.

John can't help but smile, perhaps this was this strange man's way of attempting to spare John's feelings by changing the subject – back to himself.

"Harry and me don't get on." Johns starts, "Never have. Clara and Harry split up three months ago and they're getting a divorce; and Harry is a drinker."

Sherlock can't help but look impressed at himself "Spot on then. I didn't expect to be right about everything."

"And Harry's short for Harriett."

Sherlock goes very still: "Harry's your sister."

John can't help but smirk.

"Doesn't look like this particular incident is going to make it into that book of yours then?" He asks,

"Which book?"

"The Science of Deduction."

"Oh, this isn't the kind of thing that will be included." Sherlock replies straightforwardly. "I'm sure I will have dismissed this soon as unimportant. Deleted it."

"Oh," John says, vaguely stunned "Well, thanks for that."

"Meeting a stranger on a train is hardly the stuff that great mysteries are made of."

"I'm sure you could sensationalise it a bit."

"I've told you I don't do that,"

"How do you know I'm not some kind of serial axe murder on the side?" John asks playfully.

"You are a wounded ex-army doctor on route to visit his sick mother; you do not fit the profile of a serial axe murderer."

"Oh, I'm not sure, didn't that guy from Psycho have a thing about his mother?"


"It's," John looks at him for a moment, before realising this man isn't faking it, "It's a film?"


"Something you deleted?"

"Probably, if I was aware of it in the first place."

"Not a fan of the cinema then?"

"Not generally."

They're interrupted again, this time by the ticket inspector; a bear of a man who seems to struggle to fit himself down the aisle of the train.

"You realise this isn't the Edinburgh train?" He asks in faint Cockney accent as he scrutinises Sherlock's ticket.

"Yes, I have been informed." Sherlock replies.

"You'll…?" The inspector starts to ask,

"Change trains at Leeds, yes,"

"Ok then." He hands it back. "Say, you're not…?"

"No." Sherlock cuts in quickly. "I just look a little like him."

"Oh," The inspector looks a little put out, "Guess that makes sense. They say Sherlock Holmes is a genius, can't see him getting on the wrong train,"

Sherlock glares at the man in response as he turns away to check the tickets of the passengers behind them. John can barely suppress his laughter:

"A genius?"

"So they say." Sherlock almost hums in response.

"Who can tell I have a sibling with a drinking problem from my mobile but knows nothing about Hitchcock or finding his way to Scotland?"


"He's a director."

"Oh, films again."


Another pause, they both watch as the ticket inspector lumbers up the carriage, punching tickets and chatting as he goes, until finally, he disappears out of sight.

"So you live in London?" John asks as he realises they've not spoken in some minutes, falling back to a default position of small talk.

"Yes." Sherlock offers succinctly.

"So," John pauses, waiting for further information. "Whereabouts?" He asks when nothing is forthcoming.

"Baker Street."

"Very nice." John nods, as if in agreement, "Prime spot, must be expensive."

"The landlady, she's giving me a special deal."


"Yes, owed me a favour."

"Something to do with the detective thing?"

"You could say that."

There's another pause. Sherlock is fiddling with his phone, then his eyes slide to John.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Sherlock begins rather sarcastically and John is sure he sees him roll his eyes fractionally, "Now I'm supposed to ask where you live?"

"That's usually the way these things go."

"How tedious," Sherlock says, almost to himself.

"Hampstead." John offers, realising the rest of the journey will be a boring one if he decides to take offense,

"Village, Heath, South or West?" Sherlock asks.

"West. The dodgy end."

"You mean Kilburn."

"Not that dodgy."

"Do you like it?" Sherlock is obviously making an effort,

"It's cheap, while I look for work."

"The Royal Free?" Sherlock asks, referring to the hospital. For an instant John is faintly surprised that Sherlock has remembered this detail, provided as quickly as it was, before he remembers who he seems to be talking to.


Sherlock's eyebrows rise, his gaze shifting back to the handle of the cane just visible beside John's leg. John nods minutely; glad he doesn't have to say it out loud.

"Thought I'd try for some locum work," John continues instead "Local GP surgery, but nothing yet."

"And now you're heading North."

"Not for long." John replies "What about you?"

"I'm not looking for locum work."

John smiles, "No I mean are you going to be in the North for long?"

"As long as I need to be."

"A case?"

"Post case. Lying low."

"Sounds a bit like exile."

"Feels a bit like exile."

A pause.

"You're not leaving anyone behind in London then?" John asks and then wonders where the question came from.

Sherlock is obviously as surprised by it as John is, he doesn't respond.

"I mean, you're on your own…" The conversation falling back to him, John finds himself floundering again. "I mean. You live alone?" John mangles a cover.

"Yes." Sherlock's no-nonsense answer doesn't help matters,

"Good, I mean, I don't mean..." John doesn't quite know what he's saying.


"I don't mean good, I mean, fine, it's all fine"


"You're unattached, like me."

There's a silence then as Sherlock contemplates what John is saying.

"Oh," Sherlock seems to realise something "John, um," And starts to struggle conversationally as much as John had previously, "While I'm flattered…"

"No," John cuts him off quickly, before realising the force of his word and clearing his throat gently, "I'm not asking, no."

"Right." Sherlock responds uncomfortably.

Another silence. John curses himself for ruining what was remarkably becoming an interesting conversation. He turns his attention away again to the view outside the window. Greyer now than it had been in London and stretched out thinly across miles of flat fields extending in every direction.

"Look, sorry," John decides after a few moments, turning back with a tight smile, "Let's just ignore that whole bit shall we?"

Sherlock nods once.

"Perhaps we could start again?" John asks. Sherlock looks dubious, so John holds out his hand: "Hi, I'm John."

"I don't remember you saying that the first time," There's a smile haunting at the edges of Sherlock's mouth.

"No, but it's complicated to go through all the deductions again. This way is simpler."

"I suppose it is." Sherlock tentatively takes the offered hand, "Sherlock." He says resolutely. John can't help noticing how cool those long fingers feel wrapped around his.

"Pleased to meet you," John says,

"And I you," Sherlock seems to be playing at cordiality.

"Although you already know everything there is to know about me." John counters,

"I thought we weren't going through the deductions again?"

"Let's not, no."

"Though if this were the beginning you wouldn't know I already knew those things about you."

"You have a point." John says, "Perhaps I recognised you from the paper."

"You hadn't, you thought I was a model." Sherlock is definitely repressing a smirk.

"I do remember, it wasn't very long ago."

"Two hours."

John is a caught short.

"What?" He asks,

"It was two hours ago." Sherlock repeats.

John looks down at his watch, confirms that it has indeed been two hours.

"I hadn't realised."

"I think the old adage is: Time flies…"

"When you're talking to a bizarre genius?" John finishes.

"I feel I should take offense at the word 'bizarre'"

"It was meant politely."

"I'm sure it was. As far as these things can be meant politely."

John smiles.

"So two hours means…" And even as John starts the sentence he is interrupted by the same toneless female voice over the train loudspeaker, announcing their imminent arrival at Leeds.

They watch each other as she speaks.

"It means you have reached your destination." Sherlock says as the last words of the announcement die away.

"And you've barely managed half way." John replies.

"Well I doubt the next leg of the journey will be quite so stimulating."

"Stimulating?" John asks.


"Not the word I'd use."

"Really? What word would you use?"

"'Confusing' perhaps?" John offers "'Complicated'?, 'Vaguely awkward'?"

"That's four words."

"I am a man of words."

"You are a blogger." Sherlock remembers,

"If a man blogs and there is no one around to read, is he really a blogger?"

Sherlock's mouth twitches with the makings of a smile: "One of the great unsolved mysteries."

The other passengers around them are standing now, retrieving bags and coats, fussing with children and belongings. John can feel the motion of the train slow, watching out the window as the platform reaches up in welcome along it's side.

As it rolls to a halt around them and they stand at last. John realises as he follows Sherlock from the carriage that this is the first time he has seen the other man on his feet; somehow his height doesn't surprise him.

"Well," Sherlock says moments later as they stand awkwardly facing each other on the platform.

"Well," John repeats.

"It's been very, pleasant, speaking with you." Sherlock continues, haltingly.

"And it's been very confusing, complicated and vaguely awkward speaking with you," John repeats with a smile. Sherlock matches it slowly.

John shoulders his bag. "Good luck with the rest of your journey." He continues,

"And you," Sherlock replies.

"And good luck with the consulting detective thing."

"Thank you."

"If you ever need a blogger…" John starts playfully,

"I'll consider it." Sherlock responds a little too seriously.

"No, I mean, I wasn't, fishing or anything…"

"Of course not."



"You have a website?" Johns asks, feeling faintly ridiculous.

"Yes." Sherlock replies. "The Science of Deduction,"

"Yes," John agrees, thinking back, wondering when it was he had assumed it was a book. "Well, I might have to look it up sometime."

"And I can find you online?" Sherlock asks, "If I find myself in need of a blogger?"


There's another awkward moment.

"Well," John puts out a hand "It's been good to know you Mr Holmes,"

"Sherlock," Sherlock corrects, taking it, "Good to meet you too, John," But suddenly his smile fades, his cool fingers around John's tightening as he steps forward to drop his face close to John's ear. "John," He says again, this time in a voice that is more intimate than a stranger's should be, "Can you hear me?"

"I'm sorry?" John asks, breaking their contact abruptly and stepping back.

"I said it's been good to meet you." Sherlock replies levelly.

"You did. But then…?"

"But then what?" The confusion on Sherlock's face is evident.

"You…" John starts, stops.

"Are you ok?"

"I'm, yes, I didn't…" John feels dazed all of a sudden. "I thought I heard…"

"You must have misheard me, the noise…"

And as Sherlock mentions it John notices: the chatter and the shouts and the rumbling of trains all around them.

"Yes." John agrees finally.

"I should get my train." Sherlock looks uncomfortable,


"Perhaps we'll meet again someday."

"Perhaps we will." John says.

They contemplate each other again.

"Goodbye, John" Sherlock says heavily.

And turns to walk away.

John watches him go for a long time, a tall figure in a long coat cutting a dramatic swathe through the throngs in the station. It's not until that figure disappears from view that he realises he's standing alone on a train platform, a heavy pack on his back and a far-away look on his face, watching a man he'd only just met on a train. And that his cane is still tucked ashamedly beside the seat he'd met him in.