Art in the Blood.
Summary: Sherlock through the eyes of those around him. Not everyone is as blind as he thinks they are. Accompanying fic to "Art of the Reasoner". Ensemble-cast. One shot.
A/N: These are all the points of view that don't quite fit in the main story—Art of the Reasoner—because Sherlock takes centre stage there; here is where the others can shine. :)
"Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms."—The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Originally posted at Livejournal: 8 April, 2011.
It was one of those strange days where the sun was shining, warm and bright, yet rain fell from the skies from clouds you could only see from the corner of your eyes. The air felt humid and the taste of rain clung to his lips.
Lestrade cursed and doubled over, gasping for air. He swore it was only a second ago that he and Sherlock were right beside each other in the pursuit of a murderer and then he blinked and it seemed like the artist had disappeared.
The rains fell with more force, and his jacket was starting to soak. Yet the sunlight felt like it was blindingly bright, too, which was confusing and strange and he spun around on the spot trying to see—
He couldn't see where Sherlock had run off to.
Goddamn, he thought. A part of him really started to consider tacking on some form of GPS device into Sherlock's ankle or something, because this kind of bullshit was not okay.
Lestrade knew how to protect himself and others. He wasn't sure how Sherlock would react to a fight that was more than verbal jousting. Rubbing his eyes, Lestrade dismissed that idea, the concept that Sherlock wouldn't be able to hold his own.
That bastard would probably notice the shade of the criminal's shoelaces and discover some inherent weakness in them. So long as he wasn't too distracted by something that he wanted to paint.
Which sounded like a ridiculous thing to worry over, but Lestrade had seen it happen. Sherlock would just stop mid-sentence and drop everything and before anyone knew it, Sherlock would have paint soaked hands and eyes lit up with that odd intensity Lestrade recognised in himself, recognised in some of the people he worked with.
That burning need to reveal the secrets and get to the truth.
The next breath he took felt like he was inhaling more water than air, and he realised the clouds were starting to move across the sun. He had to hurry. Any sign of Sherlock would be soon eradicated by the rains and the absence of light. He would be damned if he had to see Sherlock in hospital again.
Then he saw the yellow dots dripping on the road and it took a moment to realise that Sherlock had left him a trail of breadcrumbs. The yellow dots were already beginning to wash away, but Lestrade kicked himself into high gear and starting running again.
Always running, he felt. Always two steps behind and in the wrong lane.
The colour changed—green spots now.
Lestrade shielded his face from the rain and ran harder, faster, ignoring how breathing was growing difficult, trying to scan for Sherlock in the midst of the weather-related chaos.
Always unable to see the way.
Red spots now, like blood on the pavement.
Couldn't quite see, that is, until Sherlock showed him how to.
Sally saw the madman and the genius, the artist and the freak, the anti-social and the person who cared. She wished she could split him apart into one or the other but he blended together so finely it hurt.
He was a strange balance of Ying and Yang. She'd once tried to tell him this, and he'd replied that he must have seemed to her like a study in contrasts. He then proceeded to tell her she was a study in contrasts too—detailing what a good daughter she was whilst figuring out she was sleeping with Anderson (again) from her perfume.
It took all of her self control not to slap him. He smiled and put an origami flower in her hair. She pulled it out, scowling, shoving it in her pocket. Later, she would open it and see the words, I'm disappointed. She knew he was referring to Anderson and she knew it wouldn't stop her. But the point of the matter was: he tried.
They had something unique. Not a relationship—God no, that would be insane, far too insane—but something that almost resembled a friendship. Almost, of course. Most of her friends she would love to share a pint with at the pub. Sherlock fell under the category of a friend because of those rare instances where she wanted to call him Leo more than she wanted to call him Freak.
Leo normally happened when something terrible had happened, something that made Sherlock more human than normal—a tragedy that pulled him down from his stand and evened him out with the rest of humanity.
Freak happened less often than before, but there were still times where Sherlock honestly unsettled her, scaring her in his worst moments.
Then there were the good days, where she would say Freaky Leo and mean the Leo more than the Freaky, days like those days in June where Sherlock had turned up with fingers decked out in a rainbow-spectrum of nail polish because he was testing some theory out on nail polish removers.
Sally did not have one reaction for Sherlock Holmes. Some days she hated him, some days she didn't. But indecision was part of being human and that was the best she could hope to be.
John walked into a room filled with bubbles. Sherlock was sitting in the midst of them, blowing more bubbles out of a fake pipe, looking completely at ease in his blue silk robe. The robe was ratty, covered in paint and looked like it had never been washed. Still, it suited Sherlock in the odd way that plastic pipe suited him.
It really must have said something about John that he barely registered any real shock or surprise at the state of his flat. Even when a bubble landed on his noise and popped, splashing his cheek.
"What's going on?" John asked. He was tired from work, slightly irritable because he was hungry, but his tone only held slight amusement with a dash of resignation. When you lived with a madman, you learned to register the bad days from the good.
Believe it or not, but bubbles didn't make it to the top twenty list of weirdest things John's caught Sherlock doing in their flat. However, that list is a story for another day.
On the couch, Sherlock sighed heavily and blew another stream of bubbles from his plastic pipe. The bubbles lit up from sunlight streaming through the window, the faint rainbow sheen like that of an oil spill.
"No case on then?" John asked, moving to sit in his couch, noticing that Sherlock had restitched his pillow again (and as always the pattern had changed; instead of the Union Jack it displayed the ugliest, lop-sided rendition of a dog John had ever seen—immediately, he mentally dubbed it Gladstone). "Nothing artsy to do either?"
A quiet sigh escaped his lips as he sat down, his hand rubbing away phantom pains in his leg. It wasn't bad enough he'd need a cane, just aching and a bit sore.
The look Sherlock shot him told John that he'd definitely heard the sigh, knew exactly what it was for, and somehow also answered the earlier question with a silent expression of, Of course there's no case—or art to do—you fool. Would I be doing nothing if there were one?
Another bubble floated down towards his, ghosting over his arm before disappearing on his sleeve. A wetness touched his ear and he realised that was another bubble.
Now this is ridiculous.
"Are you moping?" John asked, and when a frown appeared in Sherlock's expression, it confirmed that yes, yes he was.
Without another word, John left the room. He went upstairs to his bedroom and dug around his wardrobe. It was frankly ridiculous how many jumpers he had, but Mrs. Hudson had kindly knitted him some and Sherlock had given him a few that he had knitted in practise (something about learning to knit so he could cover monuments in wool, and he was pretty sure Sherlock had mumbled something about a skeleton – John decided not to ask that time).
When John found the bucket he'd bought a few weeks back, he grinned and grabbed another small box before making his way downstairs. Sherlock was already looking his way, ridiculous plastic pipe still blowing out bubbles. Smiling at the sight, John got downstairs and put the bucket of paint on top of a pile of what appeared to be old sketchbooks.
"It's chalkboard paint," John explained as Sherlock sat up rather suddenly, eyes glazing over into that I'm not quite listening but yes, go on look.
Holding up the box of giant coloured chalk, John continued with, "I figured you could paint one of the downstairs walls with this and then you've got a giant chalkboard to play with. Should keep you entertained for a while, yeah?"
A grin split Sherlock's face and without wasting a moment he stole the bucket and ran downstairs yelling about what he could do. The pipe left a trail of bubbles in his wake.
John laughed and set about making himself an early dinner. Sherlock didn't want to eat when he was busy, but John was sure he could coerce the man into eating some sandwiches or something.
Brilliant man, John thought, that Sherlock Holmes.
The bubbles floated up from downstairs for the rest of the night. John didn't mind them and when the ad break came on the television, he would occasionally pop them, Sherlock downstairs calling out guesses on how many John had gotten.
"You can't possibly tell from down there."
"I can tell you had lunch with Sarah from the stain of mustard on your shirt front."
"That's different," John replied with a laugh, almost indifferent now to Sherlock's casual observations. He popped another bubble and called out, "You can't possibly predict how many bubbles I catch."
"Nineteen!" Sherlock replied without missing a beat.
John slapped another bubble and replied, "Wrong! I got twenty."
Footsteps came upstairs and there stood Sherlock, paint-stained, chalk dust down his front, eyes dancing with energy and silken robe sporting a giant rip in the sleeve. Bubbles floated around him, pipe stuck between his lips as a brush jutted out from behind his ear.
"Honestly, John," Sherlock admonished, walking to the television set to turn it off. "That's immature."
"Why'd you turn that off?"
"I'm done. Don't you want to see my drawings?"
"Chalkboard drawings," John said slowly, a smile quirking up his lips. "And you call me immature."
Sherlock scowled and John laughed and all round it was a normal night at 221B Baker Street.
Molly didn't like Sherlock when she first saw him. He wasn't quite her type. She liked guys with a little warmth, guys who could flirt blindfolded and who would want to hold her hand in public. She appreciated the small things.
Except Sherlock flared hot and cold at her; fondness at her kindness and indifference when there was something else to be done.
Hot water rushed into the mug, releasing a cloud of steam and warm coffee smell. She liked her coffee with lots of milk and no sweeteners. Sherlock liked it black, with sugar cubes.
She loved the light and he liked the dark.
Not her type. Not her type at all.
But then she watched him work, such passion and life and soul that she was entranced.
No one should have eyes so bright, so intense. His pencils were like an extension of his very body, working flawlessly, as if they understood what Sherlock wanted to do and were three steps ahead of him.
For want of a better term, Sherlock was intense.
She was once like that, in her early years as a med student. Molly remembered that burning entrancement with the human body and the fascination of the veins and the tiny little interlocking systems that led to life, to living.
Even so, she wasn't alone with the amazement of life. Yet Sherlock seemed to glow as he marvelled over the wonder of death. The idea that one little flaw, one snapped vein, the right virus strain, and poof! Life was gone and all that was left was a decaying corpse, all its colours leeching out into the air.
Bright lights gave an entirely alien and sterile feel to her workplace. He added colour to the world, even as her arms as elbow deep in a cavity and her gloves are stained red, he still seemed to burn brighter.
It was unhealthy. He wasn't her type, she wasn't his, but still.
Paints were not allowed near the bodies because she wasn't sure whether she could stop herself from asking him to paint the corpse. She was still enough of a professional not to allow that, regardless of the pleading faces Sherlock would pull as he tried to get his way.
Sherlock said he would paint her one day. She wanted that attention fixated on her, watching her move, watching her breathe. She wanted the weight of his gaze, the complete weight, not just the sideways glances he threw her way, the polite nods and smiles she sometimes received.
She just wanted.
Thankfully, she was not so far under that she felt like she needed it.
Mycroft had been there from his beginning, had survived through the attempts of self-destruction and he hoped he would die long before the eventual end. He loved his brother more than anything in the world, and perhaps all that existed in other worlds too. It was a trying affection, usually unwanted and fought against.
It was tiring, fighting Sherlock for Sherlock's own good. That was a very one-sided battle, where Sherlock didn't care and sometimes Mycroft felt like he cared too much.
Mycroft did it anyway, unable to watch and do nothing. There was a tragedy in how much lost potential Sherlock had. If he concentrated, if he could stand the tedium of society, he might have become something great. A high ranking politician, an acclaimed scientist, perhaps a real law enforcer instead of a mad artist who ran around chasing criminals.
Instead he had a brother who threw paint in his face and knew obscenities in every language. Well, perhaps he was a bit harsh. Sherlock wouldn't flourish in a career in which he was not so passionate. Politics would drive him insane; he was never one for the subtleties of the sport.
If asked, Mycroft might describe his relationship with Sherlock akin to being two men standing either side of a rushing river. No matter how loud Mycroft shouted, Sherlock would barely listen. No matter how hard he tried to build a bridge or a boat, he could never cross the insane currents and get to Sherlock. So close and so far, all at the same time.
They were close, once. Close enough that Sherlock would once explain all the secrets in the canvas and allow him a glimpse into a very exclusive world. Perhaps Sherlock was more innocent then, only allowed those concessions because he knew no better.
Yet it did feel quite meaningful, listening to his brother ramble on about artists ranging from Bosch to Schiele, talking about colours and textures and the sheer vividness of the world. Sometimes Sherlock made Mycroft feel out of his depth—because while Mycroft was a very clever child, always bright and full of knowledge, there was something rather brilliant about Sherlock's relentless passion.
His brother never ever claimed to be a writer, but the things he wrote in his art were entrancing to Mycroft, a little window into his brother's mind. Their father saw that too, probably understood it all more than Mycroft, but he didn't mind. He knew Sherlock was his own flavour of genius, one that wouldn't control governments but one that could perhaps go down in history.
And then... life happened. In the gap of not-quite-limbo between him working and Sherlock trying to survive the tedium of school, they drifted apart.
When he came back from work and the familiarity of home cloaked him again, he realised that something had changed. His brother was more erratic, his entire body humming with movement, his eyes never staying in one place, always flitting here or there like it was all so much to concentrate on.
Mycroft was no longer welcome in the little private world.
All he was permitted to do was watch as his brother tried to destroy himself. Perhaps though, not intentionally; the drugs were a bad choice, and becoming addicting to them was hardly beneficial, but he couldn't allow himself to think that Sherlock was actively suicidal.
Because self-destructive he could work with, he could help. Suicidal was beyond his reach, something he felt would be too much for him to handle. Mycroft, for all his brother cajoled about controlling the government, was only human.
Isn't it human to try protect your family? Even if it is from themselves.
Anderson didn't hate Sherlock. Not really. They definitely acted like they hated each other, but really, hate was too strong a word.
Loathe, perhaps, but not hate.
There was something that absolutely irked at him. Sherlock didn't care about the science of forensics. He didn't care about the people; victims, family, friends or otherwise. Hell, he didn't even give a damn about the entire concept of justice.
From what Anderson could see, Sherlock just liked painting corpses and liked fucking with people's minds. There was something unsettling about a man who revelled in the dead and whose eyes promised to strip away your every secret.
Sally had tried talking to him about it, tried explaining that it was just how Sherlock was and how he shouldn't be so bothered by it. To an extent, she had a good point. What does personality and motivation matter when it got the job done?
But the thing was: life wasn't that simple. Sherlock had every ability to one day decide that a corpse would be so much more beautiful, so much more elegant, graceful and bloody artistic if he made it himself.
There's this look in his eyes when he saw a fresh body, killed in an interesting and usually gruesome way. It's intense fascination and fierce sense of glory in it. It's not right, Anderson thought, not right at all.
Anderson was always on the lookout for that day, for the day Sherlock snapped and went on a killing rampage. Because that's what unsettling most of all; he honestly wouldn't understand, wouldn't get why that was wrong.
For the sake of art, Sherlock would do anything.
Sometimes morals were the only thing that separated them from animals.
Her mother always told her to wait before having children.
"Awfully messy things," she had said. "Expensive, too."
Mrs. Hudson had to suppose that was the only good advice she'd gotten from her.
There were many things Mrs. Hudson could overlook, but her husband killing people and then trying to con her as being the murderer was not one of them.
Actually, the murders she might have been able to forgive. The betrayal, not so much. Didn't Shakespeare once write, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? She wasn't a writer or a reader, but that line always did resonate with her.
Her grandfather always said a child needed a village to raise it. Of her family, she loved and respected him the most of all. Perhaps that's why, even with a string of lovers after that horrible incident in America, she could never bring herself to have a child alone.
Or maybe it was just because she felt quite lost in the isolation and before she reconciled herself to that fate, time had already decided her moment was passed.
What if she didn't wait? What if she did bring a child into the world, a mix of homemaker and murderer?
Oh dear, she would sometimes think. Think of the child the two of us could have had.
They would be mad children, perhaps drawing her own gentle disposition with the insanity of her late husband. Or perhaps she had gotten that the wrong way around.
Not that she could have children now. Oh no. She wasn't a specialist in these things, but there's a time in every woman's life when they know that possibility is gone.
Wished she had children, though. Someone to dote on and love, cherish, care for. Grateful that it wasn't with him, yet occasionally she would dream about it. Yes, she still dreamed about him, even after all these years.
Still had the odd nightmare, too. Not so bad these days. Normally a nice afternoon tea with Mrs. Turner from next door would be more than enough to get rid of those shivers.
When she was feeling particularly imaginative, she would sometimes entertain the idea that their child would be a little something like Sherlock. A ridiculous idea, of course, but she couldn't help notice how his cheekbones matched that of her husband's and how those bright blue eyes could have easily belonged to her grandmother.
Then again, all humans looked quite the same, in the end, didn't they?
Sherlock though, and she was not quite sure how aware he seemed to be of this trait, tried so desperately, desperately hard to work and make every person an individual. She'd seen his books, seen the downstairs flat and how full of detail everything he ever did was.
There was a need for him to show that everything was different. Two people could be the same from a shallow perspective, but he always dug deeper, looking at their hands, the lines around their eyes, their scars and the edges of their sleeves. Whether that was from a personal experience of alienation or from some psychological issue, Mrs. Hudson wasn't sure (never claimed to be a therapist, after all).
Mrs. Hudson wondered whether she should one day point out to Sherlock that whilst he always lamented loudly and despaired for humanity, his art contradicted him.
His art told the world for all that cared to look, Everyone is beautiful and unique.
But Mrs. Hudson wasn't an art critic either, so she could be quite wrong.
Something told her she was right in this case though.
It was an unspoken fact in the Holmes household that Sherlock was always the odd child. Gifted was one term thrown around, disturbed was another.
To be honest, there were quite a few theories, but Violet didn't care. Those who thought there was something inherently wrong with him could go burn in a fire for all she cared. Not that she would voice that opinion; she always worked to be the perfect lady when there was company.
Tap tap tap. Her tap shoes clicked musically as she walked; a rhythm in sync with her breathing and her heartbeat. She spun her heel and rapped her toes to hear the sound again.
There was a sliding noise of metal against wood. Violet smiled and turned again, hands in her pockets as her eyes watched her feet spin and twist and turn. Who needed music when sharp clicks of metal had beats enough to dance with?
Curious eyes looked at her from the door. Sherlock was growing up so quickly, she thought with some degree of sadness. He was getting her curls, dark ringlets falling below his ears. Siger had often said that Sherlock was growing to look like her.
"Mummy, what are you doing?"
Violet smiled and said with a singing lilt to her voice, "I'm dancing, darling. Would you like to join me?" Tappa tap tap.
Sherlock was shaking his head, but Violent slid towards him and picked him up in her arms. He was getting heavy, but he was still just skin and bones—such a thin child, and she wondered whether he was eating right.
Twirling on the spot, she hugged her son close to her chest, hearing his quiet, breathy giggle. It made her smile. The child was all elbows and knees, but he was warm and just so alive.
She continued to spin as she pressed her nose into his hair. He smelled like a special blend of charcoal and peppermint. His hands were still small though; tiny, fragile things that clasped at her arms as she spun and spun and spun.
"Whoops," laughed Sherlock, and Violet slowed in her steps to see what her son was talking about. "It was an accident."
Smears of finger paint lined her arms, reds and yellows and blues. Violet grinned though, and Sherlock's smile was shy in response.
"It's beautiful, my darling," she hummed softly. "My little artist, you are."
He giggled and she only hugged him tighter.
Every mother thought their children were special. Violet knew hers were.
They were at the National Gallery. It was an idea that had been stewing in his mind for a while. It took a little effort to get the time off—he didn't want to take Sherlock on a weekend, when it would be much busier—but the result was worth it. They were mostly undisturbed the entire time and Sherlock's enthusiasm could be released in full.
"Dad, look at that," Sherlock said, eyes wide with awe at a Canaletto. "The use of shadows—" and he would stop halfway between sentences, train of thought always derailed by some other detail, something needing his full attention.
Siger smiled when his son pulled him along, taking him to one of the Turners on display. Sherlock seemed fascinated by the more realistic pieces, hardly stopping to appreciate the slightly abstract or surreal paintings lining the walls.
"What about Van Gogh, Sherlock?" Siger asked, pointing to the Sunflowers painting with a small group of tourists standing before it. "Don't you think that's rather brilliant too?"
Shrugging, Sherlock made a non-committal noise before turning back to Turner. Siger couldn't help the fond smile that split his face. Right now, the boy was obsessed with realism but perhaps he could one day see the beauty in surrealism or interpretive art.
"I don't understand why Van Gogh—" Sherlock started before cutting himself off with an irritated sigh. "I just don't understand his work. It's chaotic. The brushstrokes don't tell me—" Again, Sherlock snapped his mouth shut before finishing.
Looking down at his son, who was studiously ignoring his curious look, Siger said, "Some called the man insane, and others called him a genius."
"I don't care about what other people think," Sherlock dismissed. "But what do you think?"
"Me?" Siger asked. His son nodded and there was an odd impatience in his eyes. "I think the man was a genius brave enough to show the world what he really saw, instead of what they wanted to see."
For a long moment, Sherlock looked deep in thought, as if he were working over some complex puzzle, trying to figure out the answer. Then his head snapped up and he cried out,
"—Look at that Rembrandt!"
Thus the father/son moment dissipated and Siger felt himself dragged off towards another painting.
To think, he had once wanted one of his children to follow in his footsteps and become a doctor. He knew Mycroft well enough to see that his eldest wanted a job that didn't get his hands so dirty, and that Sherlock didn't want something so rigid holding him down.
Both of his children were complete free spirits, though both almost opposites in what they considered free.
Details. It's all in the details, as any good art appraisal should demonstrate. Fakes can be seen in the lack of flaking paint, the too-bright colours, and the addition of what shouldn't be in the picture. Chipped stone, too smooth marble, a shine that should've been worn away with time.
All of humanity was fakes, shadows of the real thing, farces for society. That's the problem, Moriarty thought. He could tell that everyone was phony, he could see the cracks in the paints, in their eyes and occasionally he could say that their very souls were laid bare before him.
There's only so much blatant lying and stupidity one can take before one snapped and decided that the human gene pool needed a little cleansing.
Ha, gene pool. If only it were as simply as adding a little chlorine to make the world a better place.
A feral grin crept across his features, and his eyes flickered over to the dog in the corner of the room. John's face was hard, trying so hard to play tough when Moriarty had him covered in explosives.
Wasn't that beautiful? Layer upon layer of destruction held together with plastic and wires.
His psychiatrists had once said to him that you couldn't sculpt from human bodies. That it wasn't right, it wasn't art but a travesty.
Jim really loved proving them wrong. The dead could be transformed into works of art. Thrilling cold statues of flesh, blood and bone. One of a kind and yet so easily replaceable. They literally took lifetimes to make. Each body required the sacrifice of a human life. There's nothing quite like it – Sherlock should be able to understand that.
He should even understand that there's something rather exhilarating about making the living into art though—the terror and the fear and their final moments showing the world the true meaning of life.
"Come on now, John," Jim said, quietly, because a soft command was always far more unsettling than a barked one. "It's time for the grand unveiling."
Because this wasn't just a game.
It was a display, a gallery boasting of all the things Jim Moriarty could do and promising so much more.
John's death would be the centrepiece of the night.
A/N: Ugh, jumping from so many different POVs gave me writer's whiplash. I'm pretty sure some POVs melded together at points, if that makes sense. *Sigh*.
Hope you enjoyed~! This was rather fun to write. :-)