When John passed by his old Uni colleague Mike Stamford in the park, he had no flash of recognition, nor anything to suggest that John had once known the man. Mike recognized John, however, and called him over. John pretended to recognize him, and indeed he had a vague sense that this was someone familiar. They had a short and rather awkward conversation over coffee, and when John mentioned that he was looking for a flat and a flatmate, Mike perked up.
“You’re the second person to mention needing a flatmate today,” Mike said. “Who was the first?” John asked, a bit interested. “Come on, I’ll take you to meet him,” Mike said cheerily, standing up from where they had been sitting.
The morgue of St. Bartholomew’s hospital was not a place one expected to meet a potential flatmate, but that was exactly where Stamford took John. They passed by a pretty young woman in the hallway and she seemed to cringe at the sight of John, but John didn’t recognize her, so he merely gave her a polite nod and followed Mike into one of the labs. “Bit different from my day,” he said as he entered, remembering vaguely the labs at medical school. A tall, dark-haired man was bent over one of the microscopes, studying something. He glanced up quickly when John and Mike entered, but quickly returned to examining his slide. After a brief, awkward moment, he asked, “Mike, could I borrow your phone? Mine doesn’t get service down here.” Mike looked apologetic. “Sorry, mine’s in my coat.” “You can use mine,” John said, limping over to hand the man his phone. The man looked over John briefly as he took the phone in John’s extended hand. Their fingertips brushed slightly, and John felt a jolt of electricity run up his arm. Static electricity, he thought, shaking off the feeling. It did look like it was going to rain outside, so static was very possible. The tall man began typing out a text on John’s phone, and as he did so, he spoke rather abruptly. “I play the violin when I’m thinking,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t speak for days on end…Would that bother you? Potential flatmates should know the worst about each other.” John stared at him, then shot a questioning glance at Stamford. Mike shook his head, indicating that he hadn’t told the other man anything about John. “Who said anything about flatmates?” John asked, taking his phone that the man proffered. “Simple deduction,” the man said. “I told Mike earlier I needed a flatmate, and a few hours later he turns up with a man he went to Uni with, a man recently returned from the army overseas (Afghanistan or Iraq, by the way?), a man who obviously needs someplace to live and an army pension isn’t much to rent a flat on, so you obviously need a flatmate.” John stared at him, completely nonplussed. There was also something about this man, the way he rattled off the deduction about John so quickly and easily, and something in the man’s face told a part of John that he should recognize him… But nothing clicked and the feeling slipped away. “Afghanistan,” he said slowly. The other man wrote something down on a piece of paper, picked up a small stack of papers, and then headed for the door. “Seven o’clock tomorrow, then?” he said. He grabbed his coat off the hook and nodded to Stamford, who nodded back with a sly grin on his face. “Hang on a sec,” John said, a bit miffed. “We’ve only just met, and we’re going to go look at a flat. I don’t know anything about you, I don’t know the address, and I don’t even know your name.” The man stuck his head around the door and grinned. “The name’s Sherlock Holmes,” he said. “And the address is 221B Baker Street.” And with that, he disappeared.
Sherlock put his coat on as he walked down the hallway, his head spinning. John Watson had just walked into his laboratory after so many years, and he hadn’t even recognized Sherlock. Sherlock recognized PTSD immediately and assumed that was the cause of John’s not remembering, but Sherlock was heartbroken that he had meant so little to John that he could be wiped out. He knew that it was usually only family that survived trauma like John’s, but he hoped that his relationship with John would qualify. He should have known better, though, after that last quarrel they’d had. Sherlock could feel his heart breaking again, even though he didn’t think it had ever really healed. He pushed the feeling inside and tried to concentrate on what he had to do. Sentiment was a chemical defect found on the losing side, he reminded himself. And yet sentiment had prompted him to offer a flat-share with John. He hoped it was the right decision.