Pens Out

Apr. 8th, 2011 06:28 pm
javiiaevelyn: (221B)
[personal profile] javiiaevelyn
Title: Pens Out
Summary: John's therapist has determined that blogging isn't helping him rehabilitate.  It is her decision that John needs to do something to supplement writing or he won't accept that adventure isn't part of his life anymore.  It's a pity John finds drawing quite boring - mostly.
Original Prompt: By [ profile] sostrangechild on my fic "Not Quite Safe" here: "John takes up drawing as a hobby in the little time he gets to himself. Tiring of drawing trees, the kettle, and the chemistry apparatus, he begins to draw Sherlock when the man is deep in thought, and won't move for days. Being this focused, he doesn't notice John at first, but discovers John's sketchbook a few days later. He routinely steals it from there in. :)"
Notes: This didn't turn out quite what [ profile] sostrangechild  was expecting, methinks.  And it was prompted about 6 months ago now, so just a little late, but I know that [ profile] sostrangechild  had to spend today doing lovely fun things like tedious and boring assignments all day, so this is to make her day just a little brighter, hopefully (given it's not exactly what's expected, but the prompt is there!  Just not... obvious...).  Strange, this is for you!
Also, I do imagine the stolen picture would look like this, but author's rules say look at it after reading.
Word Count: 2664


"John, please.  Writing a blog obviously isn't working for you."

John mumbled in response.  He was sitting in the room of his psychiatrist - a psychiatrist whom both his roommate and his roommate's brother, the two smartest men he knew, had recommended he fire numerous times - staring at the shag carpet and wishing she could just drop the subject.  What was writing a blog supposed to prove except that he lived with the most insane man alive, and that his life was so far from normal it wasn't funny, the complete opposite of what she keeps saying he should be doing.

"John, please listen to me."  He mumbled in assent.  "I believe that blogging is not working for you.  Do you agree?"  He mumbled again.  "John-"

"Yes, yes."  He cleared his throat.  "I agree."  She gave him a look.

"Good. Now, blogging will help you, but I believe that in order to have the full effect you must supplement it with something."

"Supplement?"  She put her clipboard down, leaned forward, and fixed him with an intense glare.  This was important then.   Or he was supposed to think it was.

"Yes, John, supplement.  Drawing is proven to be very relaxing, and it redirects attention to something relatively harmless."  He paused, trying to stall.

"Why didn't you suggest this right at the beginning then?"  She sat back and twitched her eyes.  John was long convinced that this was her way of suppressing her exasperation with him - a quasi not-quite eyeroll.

"Because writing one's experiences is usually enough.  It is clear however that you, you personally John, need something more."  John was back to staring at the carpet.  He always found he grew bored extremely quickly in this room.  This sounded just like more of the cockablaney bullshit his psychiatrist usually spouted.  Why hadn't he fired her again?  Oh yea, needing to prove that Sherlock wasn't right about everything.  Well, that worked out well, didn't it.

"Yes, you're right.  I'll try the drawing.  Maybe it's exactly what I need." Can I leave now?  She stared at him suspiciously.

"Good.  Would it be alright to show me some of the pictures?  I think it would be good to have at least a dozen pictures by our next session.  Just stills, would be nice, maybe."  It was never really a question.

"Of course.  Erm, I'm sorry, but I have a patient-"

"Yes, of course.  Good day John."  Gritting out a greeting, John exited the room as hurriedly as he could without seeming rude.  Two more weeks before he'd have to set foot in that building again.


"John, really, did you even try?"

John scowled.  His therapist was sitting across from him with his sketchpad in her lap, looking through the first set of drawings he'd done.  She'd started sighing after the third picture, each one a little louder and more disappointed.

"John, the point of this is to help you express emotion and adjust to normal life by putting yourself in the place of the object.  It will help you to accept the normality of every-day things.  A vial and test tube rack are not every-day things, John."

John grunted, gaze shifting from the carpet to his shoes.  He knew that.  The original plan was to start with drawing traditional things to get used to the idea of still life, then progress to normal, every-day things to get used to the idea that the kind of excitement he'd got in the war was no longer a part of his life.  Then, when he'd accepted that, he could start expressing emotion through drawing more and more abstract pictures.  It was supposed to be a slow process, and she'd explained it all to him last week.  Unfortunately, the last vase that had inhabited 221B Baker st had lasted all of 20 minutes and the closest thing to a bowl of fruit they had was week-old Chinese takeaway in plastic containers, so the first part of the plan couldn't really happen.  Particularly since he was trying to keep his new drawing habit secret from his roommate, which essentially meant he was confined to his room.

"It's also not going to help if you draw them the night before, which is what I suspect you did."  She finally looked up from the sketchpad, staring at him accusingly.  That assumption actually wasn't correct.  He'd done them all at three in the morning a week and a half ago when he couldn't sleep.  John opened his mouth to correct her, then snapped it shut and nodded instead, staring at the floor again.

"Please try harder next time John.  And get a bit of variety."

John glared at her.  "There is variety."

She stared at him again, the condescension in her gaze clear.  "You have a picture of a window, a bed, a closet, four mugs, two bedside tables, a jumper thrown over a chair, chemistry equipment and a bookshelf.  Did you move from your room at all?"  John shook his head.  She sat back with another huff of disappointment.  "Well.  Next time I don't want to see anything that looks like it could have come from your bedroom.  Variety, John."  He nodded.  "I'll see you in a fortnight with another twelve drawings, yes?" Another nod. "Very well.  Have a good day John." Another nod before he left the room.  Another fourteen days before this happened again.


This week his therapist didn't even open the book without giving him a suspicious glare.  The last three sessions had gone the same way as the first time he'd shown her drawings.  He was still trying to hide it from his roommate, which meant that he wouldn't leave his room.  His therapist had realised he was drawing pictures found on the internet in the last session and in retaliation had doubled the amount John was supposed to bring.  He'd drawn 10.

He stared back defiantly and jerked his chin slightly, and she stifled a sneer and opened the book. The first few pages she looked both resigned and self-righteous.  Then her expression changed.  She studied the picture for nearly a minute, then spun the pad around and shoved it at John.

"This."  He stared at the picture.  It was a quick sketch, just a basic outline scribbled down before the image had been lost.  John had hijacked the kettle to  draw in his room, but after over two months of household objects and the view of the trees outside his window he'd progressed to drawing the handle in intricate detail before staring out the window in boredom.

It was then that he'd caught a glimpse of Sherlock on the other side of the street.  Back half turned, collar flipped up, staring intently while the wind whipped his coat and hair around him in defiance to his stillness - John had nearly knocked the chair over to grab the sketchpad and start scribbling feverishly.  He hadn't even managed to get Sherlock's legs down before the man's unpredictable movements caused him to bolt for the end of the street, but the few lines on the paper seemed to capture the entire image.  John had then sunk into the chair, staring at the place Sherlock had been standing until an aeon later.  He'd returned to drawing the kettle to get the image out of his head.

John's hands tightened on the book, hoping his therapist wouldn't demand to see more.  The next night he'd drawn another image, filling in the outline of the coat with detail, colouring his hair, filling in the unseen expression - the image just wouldn't leave his head.  And the final product, legs still missing, drawn under the flickering yellow light in the dead of night - it seemed just as intent as the man it was supposed to represent.

The therapist waited for him to look at her before speaking.

"More like this John.  I'll see you next time."

He looked back once on the way out of the room.  She was staring at her writing pad, pen poised as if to write.  It was the first time she hadn't been scribbling notes as he left.


The weeks progressed.  John continued to draw objects, moving into drawing people.  Just parts - an ear, a hand, two legs touching on a park bench.  His therapist continued to point out the ones of Sherlock.  It had turned into a game - draw as little of the other man as possible, try to make him seem as much like someone else as possible.  There was no real point, his therapist had no way of knowing he was the roommate John alternatively complained about and avoided discussing.  She still managed to always point the pictures of him out.

Their cold war about drawing had mostly ended.  She'd still berate him about the fact the only pictures he'd draw in his apartment were done in his room, he'd still try to do as little as possible.  The problem was that drawing inanimate objects was just boring.  Even drawing other people was boring.  The only thing he could draw without thinking about anything else was Sherlock, and since he could hardly ask the other man to pose, John ended up scribbling images of him from memory.  Sherlock in the rain, crouching over a body, hailing a cab, dismissing Anderson, pacing the apartment.  A hundred fragments of memory found themselves on paper, then torn out of the book and hidden in the top of his wardrobe.  The only ones that stayed in his book were the ones of singular body parts, of course drawn in exquisite detail, that created the bare minimum of what he was told to have drawn for that session.

And he could never show the scraps of Sherlock to anyone.  His therapist would likely call him obsessed and repressed.  Harry would decide he thought about Sherlock too much for a heterosexual friendship.  Mrs. Hudson, Angelo, Lestrade and any of the Scotland Yard would take it as conformation about their non-existant sexual relationship.  Sally would be deeply offended.  Mycroft would probably have him disposed of for daring to take an interest in his little brother.  And Sherlock - god only knows what Sherlock would do.

This week he'd drawn another of Sherlock.  He'd been lying on the couch, staring into space, muttering.  John had made tea, checked his emails, wrote in his blog, cleaned up, sat down, started reading a book and finally stared at the other man for half an hour.  Nothing he did got his attention and the man was perfect to draw.  As still as any object but with a hundred times more presence, and he was completely oblivious of his surroundings.  So John had gotten his sketchpad and drawn him.  Then Sherlock's violin, a piece of cold toast on a plate, the skull and Sherlock again.  Then he'd gotten Chinese and had a chat with Mrs. Hudson.  He'd left it in the sketchpad.  Maybe because it was real, and not a memory.  Either way, he didn't tear it out.

"John, this is wonderful."  He looked.  She was smiling, her eyes softening.  She was, predictably, looking at the picture of Sherlock.  His hands were tucked under his chin like he was praying, too-long legs hanging off the edge of the couch, eyes closed.  He almost looked asleep.

"John?"  She was looking at him expectantly now.

"Yes?  Erm, I mean yes, it's alright."  He shuffled, eyes drawn to the floor again.  The therapist didn't seem to notice, just looking back at the drawing.

"This is exactly what we've been working for John!  The emotion in this, the presence of the person - you obviously care very deeply about him.  Actually, this reminds me of that first drawing, the one of the man facing away from you."  She rifled through the book, right to the very beginning.  John was once again finding his shoes very interesting.  He looked up when the sound of pages flicking was replaced by the sound of the pad closing.  She was staring at him in faint disapproval.

"John, you know I've asked you not to take pages out of your book."  He straightened in surprise and took the pad from her, rifling through the pages to find the sketch.

"I didn't take that one out."  He stopped at the page where it was supposed to be.  It wasn't there.  He looked up at her in disbelief.  She took the pad back, closed it and stared at him until it became uncomfortable.  John looked back at the carpet.

"Well, it's missing now."  He glanced up and back down, this time ashamed rather than bored.  Her gaze said she knew he was taking other pictures out.  She waited in silence for a while longer, then sighed and gave the pad back to him.

"I guess it must have fallen out.  I've told you to be more careful with the pad.  Spilling tea on it doesn't show that you care much about it. Do try to be more careful."  John put the pad away while his therapist continued to write notes.  In a few instances some of the pictures had been smudged, and one looked like it had tea spilt on it.  But it smelt more like it had been dropped in chemicals.  And once he couldn't find the pad when he'd looked for it, but found it later in a different hiding spot.

Sherlock hadn't said anything about it though.  And John could justify smudges and tea.

The picture he'd drawn based on the sketch was missing too.  John left without looking at his therapist again.


This time she didn't even open the sketchpad.  She'd asked the usual questions about his life, jotted down his answers and some observations, listened to him complain about the stupidity of people sure they're going to die from a cough and a headache.  She asked about how his blog was coming along, gave some suggestions and made her own comments, and when it came to the point where she'd usually look at his drawings she took the sketchpad from him, but instead of opening it she shut her own folder, stacked them on top of each other and leaned back in her chair.  He stared back at her, unnerved.  She smiled.

"I don't think I need to look at your drawings this week."

John blinked and stared at her.

"Do you think I need to?"

He blinked.  "Um, no?"

She smiled, obviously trying not to laugh, and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.  "I think the drawings have achieved their goal."

Silence.  She looked like she'd be perfectly happy to sit there staring at him for days.  "Um, yes?"

"Good.  I think you can stop now.  It would still be good for you to draw, even if only because I believe you enjoy it, but only draw what you want to from now on."

"So, not the kettle?"  John blinked as she smiled and laughed.

"They're very nice drawings, but no.  Not the kettle.  Have a good week John."  His therapist handed John's sketchpad back and began to write in her notebook.  John nodded and rose, intent on getting away, having a nice cup of tea and putting this entire experience down to lack of sleep.

"John."  He turned back, door half open.  She didn't look at him as she continued to write.

"Did you ever find the missing picture?  It's my favourite."  He had.  Had actually found both.  One was under a pile of books on top of the kitchen cupboards above the bench, the other in Sherlock's room in a flower press.  Both carefully preserved and in places no one was likely to look.

The stack of pictures he'd drawn of Sherlock and hidden didn't look like it had been tampered with, but the area around the box they were in was slightly less dusty then the rest of his wardrobe.

"Yes, I did."

She nodded without looking up.  "That's good."

John smiled.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-09 02:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was so pretty T___T I love how Sherlock was so present in the story (drawings aside) without ever being actually there. I especially love that he's hidden John's drawing in a flower press. Too cute~

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-16 03:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thankyou! ^.^ I wasn't sure if he was in it enough, to be honest. It sort of turned into John being unhelpful to his therapist, but I didn't really want to actually put Sherlock in for some reason. I'm glad it worked and that you enjoyed it!


Date: 2011-04-09 06:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you darling! I was good today and didn't log on until now, so this was a perfect reward for finishing my assignment! :) Such a cute story.

Re: *flails*

Date: 2011-05-16 03:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Glad you like it! And that I finally finished the fill XP.

Anyway, ta. Have a good one, don't work too hard!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-04-10 12:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Subtle, beautiful.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-16 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-04 09:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
WOW!!! That was fantastic!!!

It's made me want to draw now!!! ^_^

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-16 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ooh, link me to the drawings! Thanks! :D.


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Javiia Faey Evelyn

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