image/34752531325 I'm sure other people will write stuff inspired by this art and it will be much better but I just had to. Title from Sunday Morning by Maroon 5, which I listened to repeatedly while writing this.
He doesn't have a name because Sherlock Holmes would never do anything as arbitrary and ridiculous as give a name to a figment of his imagination. Instead he calls his paintings more practical things like "The solider" showing a short, blond man in army fatigues, a devastatingly beautiful wound in his shoulder. Sherlock quite likes the face he's given the man in the painting but it is the wound that the eye is drawn to.
He's drawn this unknown man no less than fifteen times. He's drawn him as a child, all wide-eyed innocence with muddy knees and smudged face. He has no idea where the idea for this man came from but it feels like he's always been roaming around in Sherlock imagination, insinuating himself into Sherlock's dreams.
No one knows about Sherlock's little hobby except for Mycroft, the nosy git, and his mummy who encouraged her sons to excel in all things. Growing up without friends, Sherlock has had a lot of time to perfect his art. It is after his first bullying session where he walks away with two broken ribs, two black eyes and a split lip that Sherlock locks himself in his room and paints himself a friend.
He doesn't think while he paints, he lets his paintbrush glide over the canvas effortlessly. He can hear Mummy knocking at the door, asking him what's wrong but he tunes her out. Soon Mycroft joins her and threatens to break down the door if Sherlock won't come out. Knowing he means it, Sherlock hurries to finish before he is interrupted, smearing some of his own blood coming from his lip onto the painting.
It is the first painting of this blond haired man that Sherlock ever drew and whenever he is feeling lonely or frustrated with the world, he paints his friend.
One night in his early twenties, after a weekend drug binge, Sherlock crawls home feeling wretched but unable to sleep. He pulls out his art supplies and draws his friend looking at him disapprovingly, hands on his hips and a scowl on his lips. He's unsure why he draws him this way, it doesn't make Sherlock feel better nor does it make him want to quit using the drugs. But it is the first time in a long time that he speaks to his imaginary friend.
"You don't understand." He says softly, fingertips just barely brushing over the canvas, careful of smearing it. "I need it. Please stop looking at me like that."
For some reason the look of disappointment on his imaginary friend's face is worse than the one's he gets from his family. So Sherlock hides the painting away, uncomfortable of how it makes him feel guilty.
The first person to see Sherlock's work outside of his family is his uni friend Victor. Victor insists he should change his major from Chemistry to Art but Sherlock is too rational for that. He doesn't show Victor the pictures of his friend but he finds them anyway.
"Who is this?" He asks, holding the one where his friend is in a taxi, looking solemnly out at the rain against the car window. "An ex-boyfriend?"
"He's no one." Sherlock informs him, taking the painting away and putting it back in its proper place. He's got them ordered chronologically of how he thinks his friend's life goes.
"Clearly." Victor doesn't believe a word of it but his smile is kind. "The way you draw him, it's almost intimate. As if you two are the only thing in the world. It's lovely."
Sherlock has never thought about it but he's certain Victor is accusing him of being in love with a figment of his imagination. It's ludicrous obviously but that night Sherlock dreams of him being real.
His friend climbs into bed with him, carefully pulling back to covers to slip in next to him. Sherlock immediately reaches out to touch him, his fingers skipping over his features. He feels real and for some reason that pains Sherlock, making his chest constrict.
"I think you want to kiss me." His friend says through lowered lashes.
"Why would I want to do that?" Sherlock asks, unable to keep his fingertip from tracing his friend's lips. His friend smiles against his fingers.
"The normal reasons someone wants to kiss another person."
"You're not a person, you're not real." Sherlock insists against the data at hand. His friend certainly feels real in that moment. Sherlock wishes the light was on so that he could get a better look.
"I could be."
"How? I invented you when I was eight years old."
His friend takes Sherlock's hand and kisses each fingertip before pressing a gentle kiss to the center of his palm. He looks almost sad as he speaks again.
"Maybe one day we'll find out."
After what Victor said, Sherlock takes precautions to make sure no one sees those paintings again. He keeps them in a crate, ordered correctly and kept safely hidden. No one but him sees them until he moves into Baker Street.
The movers are a bit careless with his things and the crate containing those paintings is dropped onto the sidewalk, breaking and splintering into pieces, the art spilling across the concrete. Sherlock and Mrs. Hudson work together to pick them up with the mover doesn't even apologize.
"Oh darling, your lovely work. I hope nothing is damaged." Mrs. Hudson handles them with care, which Sherlock appreciates. "You ought to hang these up, they're wonderful."
"I don't like to display my art." Sherlock says shortly, hugging the paintings he has to his chest. They're precious to him and he doesn't like to share, especially not these paintings.
"Is this your young man?" She inquires politely and Sherlock blushes when he sees what painting she's looking at.
He's only drawn his friend naked one time. He's in Sherlock's bed at University, partly covered in shadow. He's lying somewhat on his side, on arm pillowed under his head while the other is resting on his stomach. The sheets are twisted in his legs, leaving most of him exposed.
Sherlock had painted this particular picture after Victor had broken up with him. His friend was always a source of comfort in difficult times and this was no different. It was the first time he had put himself in one of his paintings, making his shadow the one cast over his imaginary friend.
In real life, he had discovered cocaine and rebounded by letting Sebastian Wilkes use him. It wasn't one of his prouder moments but he couldn't erase it, no matter how hard he tried. It almost felt like his imaginary friend wouldn't let him, if such a notion wasn't completely ridiculous.
"No Mrs. Hudson, he's not mine."
"From the way he's looking at you in this painting, I doubt that very much." She tells him with a knowing smile, handing him the painting. He doesn't bother to correct her.
221B is much too big for just him. He tries his best to fill it with his stuff: his science equipment, his books and other various odds and ends he's acquired over the years. But there is still the empty bedroom upstairs that bothers him when he's alone in the flat.
He eventually turns it into an art studio. He hasn't painted with any sort of regularity but he likes the idea of having the option to. It would be more logical to use the space for his science equipment but since he hardly uses the kitchen, it houses that particular paraphernalia just fine. He places his paintings around the room for inspiration and encouragement. Fifteen different ranges of his friend stare back at him.
I think you want to kiss me.
For some reason the words echo in his head, almost as if the entire room is whispering them to him. He grabs a new canvas and places it on his easel. He starts with the familiar bits, knowing his friends face better than he knows his own. This time he paints him as if he's face to face with Sherlock, inhabiting not just the room but the flat with him.
He loses himself in that familiarity, painting almost entirely from memory. He paints him naked and honest, no barriers between them. The same mangled flesh from his time as a soldier scarring his left shoulder. His steady, capable hands from years of being a doctor. The lines of his face from long work hours and nightmares of wartime.
When Sherlock finishes the last brushstrokes, he sits back and looks at his work. A tiny gasp escapes from his lips. It's beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Sherlock isn't one for modesty but he isn't really complimenting his artistry. It's his friend, he looks absolutely stunning and even though the paint isn't dry, he can't stop himself reaching out and running his thumb over that bullet wound.
"John." Sherlock has no idea where the name comes from but he breathes it out almost as if it comes from the very depths of him. It's hardly spoken into the air before the single word is stolen from his lips. A firm mouth presses against his own and Sherlock lets out a noise of surprise from the back of his throat.
A strong hand cups the nape of his neck and pulls him forward and the paintbrushes he has been holding clatter to the floor. The person kissing him is so close that he can barely make out anything more than their eyes. Luckily, he would know those cobalt blue eyes anywhere.
John pulls back just slightly and smiles against Sherlock's lips, his thumb running over Sherlock's cheekbone. "It's about time."
Sherlock is sitting in his black leather chair, staring incredulously at his kitchen. John has borrowed his blue silk dressing gown and is currently making tea, in Sherlock's kitchen, being very real and no longer in Sherlock imagination.
He's gone upstairs three different times to check the canvas he had been working on. The background is still there but John is missing because he is in Sherlock's kitchen. Sherlock can hear him walking around, opening cupboards looking for mugs.
He races downstairs and out the door to 221B, taking the steps two at a time. He knocks frantically at Mrs. Hudson's door and when she answers he drags her upstairs without another word. She protests but Sherlock needs to know.
"Can you see him?" he whispers harshly as he shoves his landlady towards the kitchen.
"Oh, it's your young man!" She says cheerfully, clapping her hands together with glee.
John ducks his head to hide his smile but Sherlock sees it anyway, Mrs. Hudson as well he suspects. "Hello. Would you like some tea?" John asks politely, going towards the cupboards with the mugs.
"Oh no dear, I wouldn't want to intrude." Mrs. Hudson turns down his offer and spins back around towards Sherlock. She speaks under her breath so John won't overhear. "I'm so glad you've worked everything out. You always sounded so lonely up here all by yourself."
She pats him on the arm before heading back downstairs. Sherlock stares after her dumbstruck until John walks into the sitting room and hands him some tea. Their fingers brush as the mug is handed over, an affirmation that John is, in fact, there.
With his free hand, he grabs John by the arm. 'How?" he demands. "How?"
"I don't know." John shrugs and lifts his tea to his lips, taking a sip.
"This is impossible."
"Clearly it's not."
"What do you know about me?"
"Well, nearly everything. Don't know a whole lot about the first few years. But I know when you were eight years old some boys hurt you something awful. I know you got your heart broken by a boy named Victor. I know your brother Mycroft worries about you and you resent him for it. I know about the drug addiction and your work as the world's only consulting detective. I know every moment of love and pain and anguish and frustration you've ever had. I know because you poured it all into me."
"Why are you here now? If you knew how miserable I was, why didn't you come earlier?" Sherlock asks, annoyed at having had to go through life alone.
"I couldn't." John responds apologetically. "I couldn't get through. I tried before but I never could. For some reason this last time it worked. Did you do something different this time?"
"I – I gave you a name."
"Oh, I always had a name, you were just too stubborn to say it." John grins up at him fondly.
"So what happens now?"
"I believe you have a spare bedroom."
"Then where would I put my art supplies?"
"Well if you cleaned some of this mess up, I'm sure we could find a place for it." John looks around the flat in a state of disarray. Mrs. Hudson has done some tidying up but she is resolutely not his housekeeper.
"Or you could just share my room." Sherlock takes John's tea from him and places both mugs on the desk. He then grabs John around the middle and pulls him close.
"You just don't want to give up your studio." John shakes his head good-naturedly. "I can tell you're going to be a pain to live with."
"If you've known me my whole life, that shouldn't be much a surprise." Sherlock tells him unapologetically.
"True and yet I'm still glad I made it through." John's arms encircle Sherlock's neck and he pulls him down. The gap between them closes as their lips meet. John puts his thumb against the pulse point in Sherlock's neck and Sherlock puts his on the point on John's wrist. They aren't wholly surprised to find their hearts beat in perfect unison.