Disclaimer: As mandatory with these things, I have to say upfront I do not own Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the characters therein nor the places or plot events spoken of. That all belongs to Guy Ritchie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, their benefactors, etc. etc.

A/N: Well, I think I'm there. I think I've finally made it to the point where I can't continue the random drabble fic any longer. I am going to mark this as completed. I think thirty chapters is good enough. However, it does not mean I am finished with Mr. Holmes or Dr. Watson. Oh, no. Indeed I am contemplating an OC-family drabble fic for the duo, in which I fully resurrect my OCs and center around them. Something more defined than this has been. I'm not sure when I will start work on it, but it should be soon. In the meantime, I thank all of you who have been faithful and still read this hodge-podge of randomness.

Who knows? Maybe I'll reopen it in the future. Thanks again.

Prompt: Two old men having a chat.

"I've decided to finally accept your creative drivel for what it is, my man."

"Glad to finally have your approval," I grouse in good humor, setting my tea cup down. It is rare for my friend and I to see each other in London now. He has his exploits in the Sussex Downs with those infernal bees, and I have recently begun to instruct fledgling doctors at the hospital. My own practice consists of a few token families, since the passing years have taken a terrible toll on my body. I can feel the tear of my wounds much like I did when I first acquired them in the Afghan War. I grimace to think about it, my leg twitches in mute appeal to be stretched. "It only took you thirty-five years."

"Conducting research on bee behavior is not always enough at the Downs, man. I am nothing if not thorough, Watson, and I had to be completely sure that what you were writing about me was indeed trash, or such as I found, amusing anecdotes."

"Amusing now. I distinctly recall your very public denouncement of them when you were handling that one particular lady's case..."

Holmes smirks. "Only because she revered you as a literary demi-god. Come now, fellow, it would have done you no good to have that type of comment go to your head."

I glare and narrow my eyes, conscious that the creases around them are becoming deeper as I do so. What does me no good is to point out that his own self-confidence and arrogance has inflated his ego to the size of a dirigible. Instead, I stumble on another thought and grin.

"I'm sure Irene Adler would readily agree with that sentiment, sir."

His smile turns bitter, his dark eyes become glassy as he remembers her. She's been gone for years, now, but even I can still remark the pain of her passing affected him. "True enough."

We sit in silence, sipping our tea at the cafe. Idly he regards the passersby; the young fellow had slipped off the walk in Cheapside and damaged his ankle, while the young woman had her hair singed by her dresser. I listen to all this, the observations rolling off my back when once I would have listened with rapt attention. A body can get used to anything, I suppose. I rather enjoy the peace of it all, of being able to endure my friend's insightful ramblings without the danger of being shot or chased or murdered by way of excessive dancing (years on and I believe I'm still paying for that one, as my war wounds so often remind me).

Once, long ago, it was nigh impossible to make him come out for something as trivial as tea and a chat. There was nothing better he liked than solitude and quiet contemplation. If I were still a betting man (which I confess to still having the temptation gnawing at me from time to time, but not so much as it used to), I would wager that he still does.

But there is a difference between solitude and loneliness. I certainly know this to be true.

No wife and the children no longer at home, it is a wonder that I can actually get out of bed some mornings, and I cannot blame it on my ravaged leg. I can only wonder how he bears it out in the country. He's had his little adventures out there, of course, and he's often brought me out at his expense to assist him, but it's not the same as before.

"Come, let's walk."

I take him up on his suggestion, leaning heavily on a new cane. My trusty snakewood has finally been put to pasture, the steel blade rusted from lack of use. In this day and age, a blade is virtually useless, and I am in no shape to charge into a fight. No drunken routs on the floor for me, no sir.

But as we walk, and exchange comments, I feel as though no time has passed at all.

We are two young man, our different lives and outlooks brought together by a need for adventure and the determination to deliver true justice when all other sources failed. I am not gray-haired, and he is not sagging due to hundreds of cases solved and thousands of secrets kept.

Inevitably, we find it again. Baker Street. We skirt the Underground entrance, drawing ever closer to the past. The sounds of trains seem distant, the rattling automobiles turn into the clip-clopping horses they replaced. Neither of us have been here in fifteen years. Our old flat is bordered up now, a sign telling of its condemnation. I view Holmes closing his eyes, deep breaths filling his chest, and I know he is remembering it as it was.


The beautiful staircase, the numerous pictures, the second floor studies that harbored my blooming practice and his agency. I wonder if the chemical stains are still imbedded in the floors, if the old teapot is still in the grate. I know for a fact that the VR is still puncturing the wall, patriotism living on even though the Queen has long been dead.

After we permanently evacuated the place, Mrs. Hudson sold it off, moving to the North country and cutting off all communication to us. Well, to Sherlock, anyway. For a few more years, I would receive the occasional letter from her, but she passed away not long after that. It is too bad, for 221B's new owners, numerous as they were from what I understand, chose to let it get to its broken state. After so much happened within those walls, the bastards couldn't be bothered to keep it up. So much damage, so many trials, and it takes negligence from strangers to tear it down, brick by brick.

"We could save it," I murmur quietly. Sherlock finally opens his eyes, looks at me. I glance back at the building, pointing at it unnecessarily with my cane. "You and I have the funds for it, and we could-"

"No," he rejects me firmly. "It's beyond us now, John."

I nod, taking his coldness in stride. The past is the past, no sense trying to bring back what you can't. But the wistfulness in his face, which even he at his most devious couldn't hide, tells me how much he wishes he could. I know my own expression is mirroring his.

"Come on," I prompt him gently, tugging his sleeve. "No one needs to see two old men getting worked up on a public walkway."

He chuckles, though the look remains. "Indeed, they do not."

We wander away, lost to the past and our thoughts, when Holmes just stops dead in his tracks. The sudden quirk of his eyebrows make me feel concerned.

"What is it?"

He blinks. "I can't remember if I left the stove on."

I can't help it, a barking laugh flies out of me, shaking my weary body as I do so.

"Knowing you, you probably did, old man."

A/N 2: I will point out that in the original stories, it is posited that Watson married not only once, but possibly twice, and one would think that one of those marriages would have produced children. So at least there's that. Oh, well...have a good night, or day, depending where you are, and I'll catch you guys later!