Unexpected Talents (Sherlock BBC Fanfic)

Sherlock knew that John was a neat writer - he'd seen examples of the doctor's handwriting on enough notes, in enough notebooks and even on his prescription pad - which Sherlock had promised upon pain of John Being Truly Angry With Him to never touch again. He knew that there was a common myth about doctors having really bad handwriting, just as he knew that the poor writing skills came from trying to jot down relevant symptoms and treatments in long hand. Why medical schools didn't demand their students take a shorthand course was beyond Sherlock - surely that was a simple fix to a common problem? John pointed out that they were too busy teaching their students not to kill people by accident to ensure that they could write quickly and neatly.

Sherlock's riposte that doctors weren't supposed to kill people on purpose did not go over well. John informed him that he was 'very not good' and left for a solitary walk that ended in several pints at the pub. Sherlock made tea the next morning in apology and they didn't speak of it again.

Sherlock became aware of John's graphic skills when he got into an argument with Lestrade over a crime scene. John sketched a floor plan onto the back of a napkin so quickly and accurately from their descriptions that the DI shot him a mildly surprised look before using it to prove his point - which Sherlock promptly shot down. After that, Sherlock would mutter 'sketch it' to John when they were at a particularly complex crime scene and would receive a floor plan which he could annotate with the relevant forensics information at his own leisure.

Sherlock kept every rough layout that John did for him in a separate folder, each one neatly labelled with the crime, date and principle people involved in John's precise script. Sometimes when Sherlock need to think and the skull was being uncooperative, he took the floor plans out and flipped through them idly. It was like having John nearby in a way.

He didn't realise that John drew - actually drew real people and objects - until they came across a witness that absolutely refused to speak to the police or look at the files in Scotland Yard to see if the criminal she had spotted matched Sherlock's suspect. On the point of becoming irrationally furious with the woman, Sherlock had been sent out be John to 'walk it off' and fetch some coffee from the local Costa. When he came back a good forty minutes later, John was sitting with the woman, putting finishing touches on a sketch that was so lifelike as to be almost a photograph. John was speaking quietly to the witness, using his 'doctor' voice that even Sherlock found soothing on occasion, tweaking lines and shading here and there before getting her to sign a statement on the bottom that this was the person she'd seen.

It was a good thing he did - she was killed that very evening by the criminal she'd seen, but her picture and the criminal gallery in Scotland Yard were so accurate as to grant DI Lestrade the warrant he needed to arrest the criminal.

"You draw well," Sherlock said several days after the case finished, "You didn't take lessons though."

"No," John grinned, "I'm not going to ask how you know that - I suppose the great grandson of Verner would have some idea of the standards that an artist was trained to, if they took the study seriously."

And Sherlock was so astonished that John had worked out his connection to his great grandfather that he dropped the topic for a whole month while he tried to work out how it had been done. In the end it turned out that Mycroft had mentioned it in a text when his older brother had spotted John sketching at a crime scene.

It wasn't until John had the misfortune to twist his knee quite badly when tackled down a flight of stairs by a performing arsonist that Sherlock got the full measure of his friends talent. Sherlock was going through a 'must have quiet to concentrate' phase while John recuperated at the flat, which was a bit unfair on his flatmate all things considered. John couldn't have the telly on, nor the radio, nor conversation with his engrossed flatmate, and there was only so much reading he could do in one day. It wasn't until the experiment had run its course and he'd written the accompanying scientific article that Sherlock emerged from his academic fugue. John had recovered enough to be back at work by that point, but had left behind a sketchbook, shoved under the union jack cushion haphazardly.

When Sherlock was intent on a discovery, that was usually enough to keep an object from his notice. When he was winding down from his discovery, shoving something under a pillow was like a red rag to a detective. He had the sketch pad out and had curled in his armchair with it on his lap in the space of seconds, one hand skimming over the cheap paper cover for a moment before opening to the first page.

He found himself there, bent over the kitchen table, measuring with cool precision and a pipette into a beaker. The background was a blurred outline of the kitchen, merely suggesting that he was in a room, his own self the focal point of the sketch. John had captured him perfectly - not just his physical appearance but also his mental. It was really quite extraordinary. The flat was in the next few pages - various parts of the front room in meticulous detail, the stairs and landing window shaded with careful attention to light, the view of Baker Street from one of the windows in fluid lines, capturing the movement on the street at rush hour like a camera that had been set to take a time delayed picture.

Mrs Hudson sat on the couch with tea and a twinkle to her eye, Lestrade leaned on the roof of a squad car, Lestrade and Sherlock argued over a napkin on which a rough map had been sketched. Harry leaned on Clara's shoulder, the family resemblance unmistakable. John's favourite tea mug sat on the coffee table beside a stethoscope and his army issue weapon. A grouping of soldiers in various states of undress played poker at a rough table by lamplight. Mycroft leant on his umbrella, his assistant in the shadows behind him, clutching the ever present blackberry. An Afghani child grinned beneath a headscarf, wearing a ManU shirt. Sherlock again, lounging on the couch with his phone, a cup of tea and a plate of hobnobs. Mrs Hudson, standing in the middle of their front room, adjusting Sherlock's scarf for him, that fondly exasperated look on her face that warmed his tummy. The look on his face was also faintly fond, though it was controlled.

There was a noise at the door and Sherlock looked up, startled. John was there, taking his coat off and eyeing Sherlock with apprehension.

"These are..." Sherlock had to stop and clear his throat, wondering if he was coming down with something, it was so tight, "These are good."

"Thanks," John shrugged, "They're just..."

"Can I keep them?" Sherlock interrupted, not wanting to hear John belittle the works of art. John was modest about things that weren't considered normal for army doctors and war veterans. Sherlock didn't like to hear anyone put down his friend's abilities, especially not John himself.

"Sure, if you want," John nodded, surprise crossing his face for a moment, "I take it you finished your discovery?"

"Yes, I'll tell you about it at dinner," Sherlock leapt up, "Put your coat back on."

He swept past his own coat, heading for his bedroom. He had an old tin chest that he'd picked up somewhere or other - it contained some of his more private files and papers. The pad would be perfectly safe there.

END

Disclaimer - characters and settings as depicted in BBC series not mine. No money being made. Plot is mine.