Sherlock's socks have been wet since before dawn. He's pretty sure he fractured his toe against the pier railing. He's ridiculously cold.
It's all worth it though, because he showed them. Showed them by showing them. He went to that crime scene and saw what everyone missed and it doesn't matter it took all day, it doesn't matter no one said thanks, what matters is he showed them again and now maybe they'll call before a scene's so messed up that—
Sherlock stops thinking at the hot soups neatly lined up on sandwich shop shelving and looks at the short man beside him. Doctor. Soldier. Lives alone. Single. Unemployed.
Sherlock's about to do the expected: offer a marginal nod and turn away, when the small man does the unexpected: He plucks up a little round soup container and puts it in Sherlock's trembling hands.
"The far back corner's the warmest."
Sherlock's already pressing the mushroom soup to his belly and doesn't realise it. He's also moving to the far corner, little man forgotten, because suddenly his teeth are clattering and he can't make them stop.
He puts the soup on the table and stares at it because he's trying to remember something he's forgotten. He—
The little man again, holding out plastic cutlery. Why is he doing this?
"Get the wet shoes off as soon as you can, you'll warm up faster."
Sherlock watches the man nod, a quick bob of the head, and turn away awkwardly, his cane in the way of a woman pressing past.
Sherlock counts the small man's steps. One, two, three, nearly gets to four before he realises he wants to say something, something he hasn't heard today, maybe thank—
"How can I tell if I've fractured a toe?"
The limping man with the quiet eyes turns back, already looking down, so familiar with helping strangers, so lost now there are no strangers to help, and he goes carefully to one knee in an over-bright sandwich shop and says, "My name's John. How long ago was the injury? Can I take off the sock? Ah, this is a bit not good. Does it—"
It does. It did. And eventually they did.
But first there was soup. A cane loaned. One case. Then two.
Sometimes John wonders what would've happened if he hadn't stopped for coffee that day. If he hadn't seen a stranger trembling. If he'd kept quiet like he told himself to do.
Yes, sometimes John wonders…
In 7,094,514,678 I said there was no place or time in which John and Sherlock wouldn't have met. The lovely Amity Who asked me to write a for instance—how else might they meet? This is the first in a series of reimaginings. Please let me know what you think, thank you! P.S. Amity's inspiration bore even more fruit! The Day They Met and also The Night They Met. Thank you so much Amity!