He thought it must be the Catallus that kept that chance encounter in his mind.
It had been two years. Two years, and there had been no further word, and if Mycroft Holmes had heard any rumours of interest, he had not passed them along. John Watson was relatively certain that any sane man would have long since given up, but he was clearly not sane, at least in this respect. He had, years ago, compared himself to Penelope waiting for Odysseus; that had quickly become far more apt than he liked to admit. Sherlock Holmes was, in all probability, dead. He would not come home. If Watson had any sense, he would try to get on with his life, stop living in the past, perhaps remarry.
Perhaps not. It was painful to think very hard about marriage again, at this point. He was just grateful that his acquaintances concluded that reluctance on his part was due to his very great love for Mary. A more apt comparison, if one kept to the Greeks, was perhaps Achilles after the death of Patroclus.
As it was, he found himself reading over the headlines in the newspaper, thinking of how much Holmes would have loved this Adair murder, were he here. It had every peculiarity and impossibility that would have attracted his attention. Even a moderately sane man would have left that thought and not followed up on it, but no, Watson had found himself hanging about outside the crime scene, listening to some foolish amateur spout off some utterly ridiculous explanation, and wishing he could have seen inside for himself.
And that had been when he'd realised how pathetic he was being.
But the man he had bumped into as he turned away, that gnarled old book-collector who had snarled and snapped at him as they both stooped to pick up the dropped and scattered books he had been carrying, that stayed in his mind. There was no reason for him to spend any particular thought on it at all. It had been the Catallus, Watson thought, that was the reason for his preoccupation.
He knew Catallus, after all. And who in the world could be prepared to face a book of Latin romantic poetry, which was often lewd and often involved two men, dropped nearly on one's feet when not moments before one was musing melancholically on a very similar illegal liason which may or may not still even be relevant?
It was nothing but coincidence, of course, but it shook him just the same.
Trying to forget the entire incident, Watson made his way back to his home, feeling haggard and tired, and for the moment glad that his practice was relatively quiet. As he sank down into the chair in his office, he pressed his hands against his face, telling himself that he felt nothing, because that was easier. He would spent the afternoon there, perhaps doing some writing -- he hadn't decided -- perhaps just trying to clear his mind.
Watson sighed, and reached for his pen, and some foolscap, and began scratch away.