Greg isn’t sure what it is about the lad that makes him think of Sherlock. It could be the pale, lanky wrists poking out of the fraying black hoodie. It could be the way he’s leaning against the wall of the platform, apparently withdrawn from the rest of those waiting but with eyes that dart frantically over them all, gathering every last detail. Or it could simply be that he’s exhausted, in desperate need of a breakthrough on the case, and his thoughts were already half way towards the man he failed so badly.
He shakes his head. No, he won’t dwell. There's no sense in that. And yet his overtired brain will not let it drop, not even the arrival of the train and the fight for a place pushing the memories away.
A tube carriage, much like this one but less crowded thanks to the lateness of the hour, unfolds in his mind's eye. He thinks he might have been as tired then as he his now, but not so tired that couldn’t tell he’d been followed. His pursuer was in his late teens, possibly early twenties, his thin frame and the baggy clothing he was swathed in making it hard to tell. He’d assumed the young man was high and intending to either beg or steal some money for his next fix, had even opened his mouth to say as much, when the man got there first.
‘I don’t want your money.’ His voice was clipped and precise, with mellow, educated undertones. ‘I’m not stupid enough to try and steal from a police officer, Detective Sergeant Lestrade. I just want your undivided attention for the two stops you’re travelling … I’ll take your silent gawping as assent. You’re wrong. About the murder you’re working. That idiot of a forensic scientist who was half-heartedly looking for trace in the back garden had made up his mind it was the boyfriend and you’ve let him influence you. It wasn’t. You’re completely on the wrong track, something any imbecile with half a brain could fathom if they took the trouble to actually think for two seconds instead of running around like a pack of dogs in heat. What you …’
Greg hadn’t let him go any further, grabbing his arm and hauling him off the train at the next stop, in spite of the blisteringly worded protests the man had shared, very loudly, with everyone in earshot. Back at the Yard, over what seemed like a vat of coffee, he’d ascertained that the man’s name was Sherlock, that his immediate assumption about drug intake had, in fact, been correct, and also that he was in the presence of someone vastly more intelligent than himself.
It was the start of a friendship that benefited both of them in a myriad of ways and, if he’s honest with himself, brought a lot of joy into his life alongside the seemingly endless stream of insults and exasperating incidents. Except the ending had come just as unexpectedly as the beginning, if far more dramatically. Now he’d give almost anything to hear Sherlock’s voice again, to be told in no uncertain terms exactly how wrong he is and how much of an idiot he’s being.
Greg swallows, gritting his teeth and closing his eyes so hard against the onslaught of emotions that for moment he sees stars. Then he takes a shaky breath, grateful that the motion of the train somewhat masks the shaking of his shoulders, and forces himself to think about nothing but Molly and home.