John has one picture of Sholto. Just one. It’s worn and yellow around the edges from all the times he’s caressed it and shoved it back in his wallet. They’re both laughing in the photo — that is, John can see his hand on Sholto’s arm, where he knows that he was staring at the other man like he’d just seen the light and never wanted to go back.
It was foolish, of course, but sometimes John would hold it in his hand, pretending that Sholto could feel the warmth, after everything had gone to hell. He’d try not to remember that that was the last time he’d seen Sholto smile. That photo lived with John, day and night. With each crease it gained, each speck of dirt, John would panic, as though he’d lose something of the man he’d loved if his image fell apart. He’d wipe it clean and try to steady his heartbeat and ignore the fact that he could no longer quite remember his smell or his breathing. It was not until the day that he met Sherlock Holmes that he finally tucked that photo into a drawer, worn and loved and old, and let it be that way.