Welcome to 221B Baker St

Art Imitates Life

"Thanks, mate." John told his taxi driver and handed the man his cab fare in exchange for his luggage. The doctor smiled as he looked up at the familiar flat, grateful to see that 221B Baker St. was still in one piece after spending two weeks away from it. Well, at least on the outside. If Louise had also somehow managed to keep Sherlock from shooting up the walls again or blowing anything up, then he was definitely going to nominate that girl for sainthood. He started to reach out to open the door, when it suddenly swung open, revealing the bright and cheerful girl in question.

"Welcome back, John~!" She sang cheerfully, springing forth to give him a friendly welcoming hug. "How was New Zealand? Did you have fun?"

Well, at least he knew someone had missed him.

"Oh, yeah. You know how it is over there…" John said, smiling broadly. It was good to be home. "Lots of sun, lots of sheep…"

"Lots of long walks with Sarah without any third wheels?" Louise asked, waggling her eyebrows while giving him a playful nudge in the ribs. She was feeling loads better now that she was back on her meds and seeing a proper therapist again. She was really glad that John hadn't had to see her like that. He had enough to worry about already. This holiday seemed to have done him some good though. He looked well rested, and he finally had a bit of color in his face, thanks to that warm New Zealand sun.

John just grinned in response to her little quip.

"Oh, you." He said, nearly blushing, as he opened the door and they began carrying his bags inside and up to the flat. Every now and then, she could really catch him off guard with that frank directness of hers. "So, how were things on your end? Did Sherlock behave himself, or am I about to walk in on murder scene?" He asked curiously, raising an eyebrow.

"No, it was fine, actually." Louise replied, smiling wryly. "We hit a couple of snags here and there, but we're both still alive and un-maimed, and the flat's still in one piece too, though it still smells like tobacco…"

"Tobacco?" John asked. Did Sherlock relapse while he was away?

"Yes. While you were gone, he decided to some experiments, one of which involved an analysis of two hundred and something different types of tobacco ash. I had to leave before I choked on all of the smoke." She explained, still slightly chagrined over the fact that everything in the flat now reeked of nicotine, even though a whole week had passed since then.

'Sounds like it's been hard on you these past weeks." John said, smiling sympathetically.

"It wasn't all bad." She replied, shrugging. "He also taught me some basic judo moves in between cases. There was this really interesting one involving a melting laptop—"

"—Louise, what have you done to my…" Sherlock began to call out to her as the two of them entered the flat with John's luggage in tow, trailing off when he saw that their long absent friend and flatmate had returned. "Oh, John. Good. Just back from New Zealand?" Sherlock asked casually, before turning back to Louise. "What have you done to my sock index? I thought I asked you not to rearrange it when you were moving your things in with mine."

"I didn't. They were like that when I opened the drawer." Louise replied somewhat defensively, crossing her arms.

"Wait, sorry. Who's moving in with who?" John asked, thinking he clearly must have misheard. For the past month she had been living with them, Louise had been alternating between sleeping on Sherlock's bed when he wasn't using it and the couch, and she had been storing a few articles of clothing she had managed to accumulate here and there in a cardboard box that John let her keep in his closet, so people wouldn't trip over it.

"Well, since Louise and I are technically married now, it only make sense for us to share the same room, don't you think?" Sherlock said, as though it should have been completely obvious.

John's jaw literally dropped. He just stood there, staring at the two of them in disbelief, while Louise face-palmed. Just what the bloody hell happened between these two while he was gone!?

"Sherlock! I thought we agreed to let John get settled back in before we dropped that bomb on him!" Louise Holmes scolded her husband, a little concerned for John's mental wellbeing. The poor man was so shocked, he almost looked petrified.

"B… B-But… how!? Why!?" John finally managed to stutter.

"Mycroft." They both replied matter-of-factly, as though it should explain everything.

"… Y-You don't mean Mycroft made the two of you…?" John asked hesitantly, glancing between the two of them.

They nodded.

John's brain exploded. He had just received one shock per minute too many.

"Hello? John…?" Louise asked, waving her hand in front of his vacant eyes, concerned. She hoped they didn't just break the poor man. Was it really that shocking that she and Sherlock could ever get together?

"Perhaps we should have started from the beginning?" Sherlock suggested belatedly, finally noticing the severity of the state their friend was in. John must have let his imagination run a little too wild, judging by the amount of 'appalled' that was mixed in along with the 'confusion' showing on his frozen face.

"Gee, ya think?" Louise deadpanned rather sardonically. This was exactly why she had asked Sherlock not to do what he just did!

—∞—

"… Does Mrs. Hudson know yet?" John finally asked once Louise and Sherlock had sat him down and properly explained everything that had transpired while he was gone to him. It made a bit more sense now that he had heard the whole story, but it was still hard to believe such a thing could really happen. He half wondered if Mycroft had recently sustained some sort of head injury…

"Oh, yes. She was thrilled." Sherlock deadpanned, earning himself a nudge from his petite wife, silently telling him to behave himself. You never knew when Mrs. Hudson might pop in for a visit, and it wouldn't do to have her overhear something that might hurt her feelings now, would it?

"We kind of edited the version of events we gave her. I didn't want to upset her…" Louise said, smiling apologetically at John.

"No, I think you made the right call." John said, shaking his head to let her know he wasn't upset with her. Sherlock had been the one who dealt the fatal blow, after all. "And at least we no longer have to worry about you getting deported now, do we?" he added on a lighter note. No point in brooding over something that couldn't be helped, right?

"Nope! And, poor Lestrade doesn't have to keep going on with that wild goose chase we sent him on either, since my new ID popped up in his search and let him know that I'm supposed to be an orphan, and I was passing through London while apparently attempting to backpack my way around the UK, while taking a year off from my college in America."

"Oh, is that so? That's rather adventurous of you." John commented, smiling wryly. What an elaborate cover story.

"I know, right? It certainly explains why I own a North Face jacket." She joked, grinning slyly.

RING—! Whoever rang the doorbell must have something urgent to discuss with the inhabitants of 221B, because they pressed it for half a second at maximum pressure.

"Either of you expecting anyone?" John asked. It couldn't be Sarah. She was most likely still at her place, unpacking or sleeping off jetlag.

"It's a client." Sherlock stated, eyes glittering with excitement, as his lips curled up into a smirk. Having to rehash the past two weeks' events with John had been so incredibly dull, that he was more than ready to be rescued from this ever increasing feeling of boredom that had begun to creep over him by the promise of a new challenge. The flurry of pounding footsteps up the stairs echoed like thunder as the door to their flat flew open.

"—You're in!" A dark-haired young man of approximately twenty years of age announced excitedly upon bursting into the room. Sherlock narrowed his eyes slightly as he scanned their visitor for clues. This young man was obviously a college student, an artist, sharing a flat with two roommates and a jumpy cat, and… not a client. Sherlock clicked his tongue in disappointment as he lounged back in his chair, while John blinked in surprise, and Louise said,

"… I'm in? In what?" She had no idea what her new friend and fellow aspiring artist, Barry White, was talking about.

"The gallery! Jayson Burns' Gallery! When he dropped by the studio to take a look at some of my paintings, he spotted yours and said he had to have them! He wants to put 'Cognitive Dulling' and at least two others on display! Your work's gonna be in a real gallery!" Barry exclaimed, laughing, and grabbing her hands so he could shake them with such vigor, that John was half afraid her arms might fall off.

"Get out!" Louise shouted in disbelief as a grin stretched across her face. "That is so totally awesome~!" She sang happily, bouncing up and down with her hyper friend in a strange sort of celebratory dance. It looked like pooling their funds to share a rented space for an art studio together had been worth it after all.

John glanced at Sherlock, wondering what they were talking about. What studio? Since when did Louise have a studio? But the genius detective wasn't looking at the two artists or John. Was it just the doctor's imagination, or was Sherlock… sulking? He wasn't getting jealous again, was he?

"Well, I'm not sure I completely understand what just happened, but… congratulations?" John offered as he turned back to Louise and her friend, smiling wryly.


"I fail to see why I must come along as well." Sherlock stated bluntly, resting his head on his hand while he lounged languidly in his chair, already bored with the prospect of their plans for the night. Standing around uselessly in an art gallery and sipping wine while looking at random paintings wasn't exactly the consulting detective's idea of a good time. It sounded dreadfully dull. And it felt as though Louise was taking forever to get ready. Perhaps it was because she had decided to actually put on some makeup for once… But just how much was she planning to put on? It wasn't like she needed it.

"Uh, maybe because Louise is your wife now, and this is really important to her?" Watson suggested, giving the brilliant but socially inept detective a look to let him know that much should have been obvious. "Besides, it's not like you had anything better to do. Aren't you even the least bit curious about what her work looks like?" Neither of them had actually seen her paint anything before. Since the fumes from the varnish and turpentine could get really overpowering in a small space without proper ventilation, Louise had decided to spare them all the health hazard and wait until she could afford to rent a separate space to work in before taking up oil painting again.

"Hmph." Sherlock huffed lowly, crossing his arms, as he avoided his stare and glanced out the window. Although he could see John had a point, truth be told, Sherlock Holmes had never really cared much about art (unless it related to a case) and he didn't really see the point of it, but he knew admitting this out loud would most likely disappoint Louise and hurt her feelings, so he had very wisely chosen to keep his mouth shut. She could become just as passionate and excitable about art as he would when given a puzzle worth solving. So, even if he didn't understand why it held such an appeal for her, Sherlock could at least somewhat comprehend that her art was just as important to Louise as his cases were to him. And, the same way he needed an audience for his brilliant deductions, she needed one to admire her work as well.

John smiled wryly as he watched Sherlock. John could tell he was actually showing a remarkable amount of self-restraint for once. Perhaps Sherlock really did have more feelings for Louise than he cared to admit, after all…?

"Okay, sorry for the wait, guys. Everyone ready to go?" Louise asked as she walked out into the sitting room to join them, she finished putting on her second earring.

"My God." John said, speechless at the sight before them, causing Sherlock to turn and take a good look at her as well. The detective's eyes widened slightly in surprise. Instead of her usual messy bun, Louise had let her hair down and set it in loose, flowing curls that complemented the classic and mature style of makeup she had applied perfectly. The little black dress she had on was simple and relatively modest, but it accentuated and highlighted all of her curves (without drawing too much attention to the fact that she was somewhat lacking in the breast department) in a very attractive and flattering way… and the way those heels made her legs look... If he didn't know any better, he might think he was looking at a completely different person! The petite and bubbly young woman, who often had the misfortune of being mistaken for a highschooler, that they had all become so familiar with had somehow transformed into the very image of a sophisticated and mature social butterfly.

"What? … Too much?" Louise asked a little nervously when the two men just kept staring at her, wondering if she had gone a little overboard.

"No, no!" John said, snapping out of it. "You look fantastic!" He quickly reassured her, smiling proudly. It was like the little sister he had never had was suddenly all grown up and ready to make something of herself.

"Yes, you finally look your age." Sherlock added dryly, trying to hide his surprise. John frowned as he shot Sherlock a look of disapproval, silently scolding him. Why did Sherlock always have to—

"Really? Yes!" Louise exclaimed, grinning impishly, as she pumped her fist in the air triumphantly. John blinked. Oh… apparently, that had been exactly what she had wanted to hear, after all… These two really were well suited to each other.

Sherlock hid a smirk. Ah, there she was. The real, more playful Louise was finally starting to shine through from underneath all of that posh polish.

"Shall we go, then?" He asked as he stood from his chair and smoothed out his suit. "It would be a shame if you were late for your own party, don't you think?"


"Wow." John said once they had arrived at the gallery, impressed. It's a good thing Barry had warned them all to dress up ahead of time for the show's opening night, because this was beginning to look more like a formal black tie function than just a plain, free art gallery for aspiring young artists, as he had claimed it was. A lot of the men were in tuxes, and most of the women were even more decked out than Louise.

"Yeah." Louise agreed, slightly taken aback. She hadn't been expecting this, either.

"It's because of the auction." Sherlock deduced confidently after brief glance around the gallery and the crowd. They had even set a side a section of the gallery and filled it with a speaking podium and chairs for the event.

"Oh. I see." Louise said, also spotting it now that she had finally come out of her 'awestruck Cinderella' mode. "I guess Barry forgot to mention that little detail."

"How…? Oh, nevermind." John said, shaking his head. "I don't know about you two, but I'm going to get some of that free wine." Louise laughed.

"Sounds like a plan to me." She said, smiling.

"Can you have alcohol with that combination of medications you are on?" Sherlock asked.

"Yes, but not a lot. My meds turn me into a real light-weight." Louise explained, smiling wryly.

"Lou-Lou, darling! You're looking simply divine tonight." Barry said playfully as he sauntered over to join them, grinning broadly. He was wearing a rather nice tux, especially considering he was supposed to be a poor art student.

"Hey, Barry. How many times do I have to tell you not to call me that?" Louise asked, smiling wryly, clearly chagrined. That nickname had always embarrassed her ever since her grandmothers first started trying to call her that in front of her friends as a child.

"Lou-Lou?" Sherlock asked, smirking slightly. He knew ammunition when he spotted it.

"Oh, great. Now look what you've done." Louise told Barry, resisting the urge to face-palm.

"It's only been a few minutes, and already the balance of power on our little household has suffered an upset." John said, smiling ruefully as he shook is head at their antics. Barry's slipup was definitely going to come back to haunt her before the night was over.

"Oops. My apologies." Barry said lightly, not looking the least bit like he meant it. "Sorry, love, but I just couldn't help giving you a hard time after seeing the blinding crowd that's gathered around your paintings, while my poor sculpture is just sitting all on its lonesome."

"You are such a drama queen, Barry." Louise said, smiling wryly, as she rolled her eyes at him. "It's mean to tease me like that."

"It's no lie, Lou!" Barry insisted, feigning exaggerated hurt over her doubt. "Come one, then. I'll just have to show you." He added, taking her by the wrist so he could lead her. Sherlock immediately latched onto her other wrist, acting as anchor to keep Barry from spiriting her away.

"… What are you doing?" Louise asked after a brief moment, slightly surprised. She hadn't really been expecting that. Neither had John or Barry, for matter.

"…'What', indeed." Sherlock said, surprising even himself, though he did not let go.

"Well, anyway…" Barry said after beat, "My sculpture and your painting are on the same side of the gallery. So, shall we all go together, then?" He suggested, deciding to take the hint Sherlock had unconsciously dropped that he didn't want to share Louise, and let go of her before a tug of war started.

"You chose this one to enter?" Louise asked a little dubiously when they saw it, arching an eyebrow. 'Avarice' by Barry White was a rather large, heavy, and precariously perched sculpture of a grotesquely obese and realistic piggy bank standing up two long and spindly little hind legs, with a posture and expression that was just the right blend of 'human' and 'inhuman' to give the casual observer the creeps. Although it didn't appear to be a part of the original bronze sculpture, a white, wooden wedge had been added in underneath one of the feet.

"I didn't choose anything. This was Mr. Burns' idea. He said he'd had his eye on it for months, ever since he happened to catch a glimpse of it when he came by to look at some of my paintings on a previous occasion." Barry explained, holding his hands up defensively. "He's usually only willing to take my paintings, so I was just happy he let me enter a sculpture for once, since that's what I'd rather be known for. Unlike you, I'm rubbish at creating my own original works when it comes to the brush."

"I'm sorry, but is there a problem?" John asked, wondering why Louise had reacted that way.

"Yeah. It's a puppy crusher." Louise stated bluntly. Despite what he had just said, she had seen enough of his work to know that Barry had a lot more skill as a painter than he did as a sculptor, even though he seemed to prefer the later.

"A puppy… what?" John asked incredulously, thinking he must have misheard.

"Puppy crusher." Barry repeated, smilingly wryly in amusement at the look on John's face. "It's a turn of phrase one of her old art teachers came up with to describe unbalanced sculptures, or I've been told." He explained, glancing at Louise.

"Right. I think he used such a horribly graphic name to stress how dangerous unsteady and wobbly sculptures can be if they fall on a living being. Sucky craftsmanship can maim and injure if they fall on someone. He wanted to make sure we would keep that in mind, especially while designing the 400lb concrete sculptures we had to do for our final projects. It's hard to forget a phrase like 'puppy crusher', don't you think?" Louise explained, smiling wryly.

"Your art teacher sounds like he would get along splendidly with my old drill sergeant." John chuckled, amused. You could always rely on Louise for an interesting story. She truly was a magnet for the strange and unusual… Wait, did that mean there was something strange about him?

"Um…" Louise said, furrowing her brow slightly and biting her lip, when she realized someone important was missing. There was a noticeable lack of snarky comments. "Where's Sherlock?"


"'Cognitive Dulling' by Louise R. Holmes." Sherlock read aloud from the label beside a certain oil painting. It hadn't taken long for him to grow bored since this event was proving to be just a dull as he had predicted, so he had decided to go ahead and explore at his own pace rather than wait for the others.

It hadn't taken long to find the only piece he really cared to see. It measured 30" x 40"—large enough to make an impression on the viewer without being too obnoxious. The painting gave an overall impression of being very dark, grey, somber, and faded out, but if you looked closely, one could tell she had hardly used any actual black or grey paint. Louise had instead layered many different thin layers and glazes of complimentary colors on top of each other to give the painting a subtle depth that straightforward black and white would not have been able to achieve alone. Also, though there seemed to be some kind of figure within the layers of paint, everything was so hazy, as though the viewer were peering through some kind of smoke of fog, that it was extremely difficult to make out who or what the figure was. It could be anything and nothing all at the same time. What each viewer saw would depend on the individual's psychology, like a Rorschach test. It was actually quite clever… but there was something about it that made the genius detective feel somewhat uneasy…

"Amazing, isn't it?" A tall, relatively handsome and exceedingly well-dressed man with ginger hair said as he stepped up beside Sherlock, gazing up at the elegant painting with open admiration. "It's filled with so much of the artist's emotions—it's so powerful, so potent—the perfect storm of loss, confusion, struggle, worry, frustration, doubt, and even a hint of fear. The longer you stare at it, the more it feels like the painting is drawing you in, like you're going to be swallowed up. It's so strong that you can practically feel and understand what the artist must have felt while painting this, as if her emotions were your own. It must be terrible, feeling your own senses fail and abandon you like that."

Sherlock glanced at the man out the corner of his eye. He knew full well what cognitive dulling was, but hearing it put that way certainly helped explain his own sense of unease upon seeing Louise's painting. If Sherlock Holmes had a fear, it would be this—having his own mind turn against him and betray him by losing its lucidity and ability to reason. It must be frustrating, indeed, having a clever mind, yet being unable to use it as one wished, like trying to use 20/20 vision in fog. Even if you had the potential, it was virtually useless if you could not use it.

"Ah, there you are!" Louise exclaimed brightly upon spotting Sherlock by her painting. John and Barry weren't too far behind. Was it just Sherlock's imagination, or did John look relieved, as though he had been prepared to defuse a bomb and just discovered it was a dud…? "So, what do you think?" She asked. "Be honest with me. I can take it." Participating in some brutally honest critiques during her college art classes had helped her develop a thick skin, and it was good for an artist to receive constructive criticism on their work, since it could help them spot areas of weakness in a piece that they may have overlooked.

Sherlock was about to reply when the redheaded stranger beside him cut into their conversation.

"Excuse me, but are you the artist?" He asked Louise curiously, glancing between her and Sherlock, clearly wondering what their relationship might be.

"Oh, yes, I am." Louise replied, a little caught off guard, as she actually looked at the man standing beside her husband. "And you are…?" She inquired, smiling politely. He was looking at her with such open admiration, she wasn't quite sure how to react. His smile was genuine, but there was something about the look in his eyes that made her feel a bit uneasy. Should she offer to shake his hand or run and hide?

"I am—" the man began to introduce himself, only to be cut off by Sherlock.

"—Mr. Jayson Burns." The detective finished, putting on a polite smile, as he stepped in and shook the man's hand, noticing Louise's uncharacteristic hesitation to do so herself. Mr. Burns furrowed his brow slightly in confusion as he glanced between the petite woman he had been addressing and the tall man currently shaking his hand. Who… what…? "Why, yes. How did you know?" Burns asked, bemused. He wasn't that famous, was he?

"Oh, don't get him started." John mumbled, praying the future of poor Louise's artistic career wasn't about to take a swan dive thanks to Sherlock's mouth.

"As I moved through the gallery, I noticed you were going out of your way to greet various guests. A tailored designer suit, genuine Italian leather designer shoes, well groomed, manicured fingernails on rough hands full of calluses and stress marks, your golden cufflinks, and that pinky ring with the substantial canary diamond on it all tell me that you're a successful entrepreneur who used to perform heavy labor with his hands, but who can now afford to hire staff to do the work for him instead. And, judging by your attire, you've clearly got money to burn. Funding a small gallery like this should be no problem for a man who can afford a diamond of that quality and size. It also helps that your cufflinks have the initials J.B. engraved on them—'J.B.' for 'Jayson Burns'." Sherlock explained effortlessly, stunning the man before him. In fact, both Mr. Burns and Barry were now gaping at the brilliant detective with unabashed astonishment.

"Bloody hell… Louise told me you were quick, but I had assumed she was exaggerating..." Barry said, shaking his head, as he stared at Sherlock with wonder and tried to get ahold of himself. "I see now that I was grossly mistaken."

"Obviously." Sherlock replied drolly, suppressing a smirk, as he raised an eyebrow at his wife. So, she talked about him, did she…?

"I'm sorry, but who are you?" Mr. Burns asked, glancing between them, wondering how they knew each other. Even Barry seemed to know more about the situation than he did.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Burns. This is my husband, Sherlock Holmes." Louise said, smiling apologetically, as she rather belatedly introduced them. "He's a consulting detective, as well as something of a showoff." She explained, shooting her husband a look, slightly chagrined. Couldn't he turn it off for just one night? John smirked slightly at that last little barb she threw in.

"And, this is our friend, Dr. John Watson." Louise added, motioning to John.

"Cheers." The good doctor greeted their host.

"Ah, I see… Well, I must say, Mr. Holmes, I find myself as deeply impressed with your observational skills as I am with Mrs. Holmes' artistic ability." Mr. Burns said affably. What a formidable couple. "Oh!" He said, a little startled when he realized his secretary was signaling him. "Is it that time already? Please, excuse me. It appears it's time for the auction to begin. It was a pleasure meeting all of you." Burns told them, smiling and nodding to each of them in turn as he excused himself and left to take care of business.

"So, what do you think?" Louise asked Sherlock and John, now that they had had a chance to see her work.

"I… think I'm glad you're seeing your seeing a psychiatrist again." John said slowly as he took in the depth and darkness of the painting. "I mean it's beautiful, but it makes me…"

"Feel like you're being drowned in a pool of a tragic sadness and beautiful melancholy?" Barry finished for him.

"Yes. Yes, something like that." John agreed with a wry chuckle and he forced his attention away from the magnetic painting and back onto the people with him.

"Hmm. Yeah, I'm thinking maybe I should burn it." Louise said, frowning slightly. "It seems to have an odd affect on people. It might be dangerous for one person to own it for too long…"

"I think it's brilliant." Sherlock said honestly, causing the others to glance at him.

"Really?" Louise asked dubiously, though he could tell she was pleased.

"You mean, you understand it?" John asked, feeling a little surprised.

"I believe so." Sherlock replied, somewhat surprised himself. He usually had a bit more trouble understanding the emotional side of things, but the feelings Louise had put into the painting projected themselves so strongly, that even he felt something looking at it. "I must say, you did a marvelous job giving form to such an abstract concept." He told his clever little wife.

"Why, thank you." Louise replied with a wry smile, feeling immensely pleased with herself at the moment for having managed to get so much genuine praise out of him for something that didn't involve a corpse.

"And what are these?" John asked, gesturing to the other two paintings by her that were on display. They were titled 'Tequila' and 'Screwdriver'. "Abstractions inspired by having one too many cocktails?" He asked humorously.

"They're not abstract, John." Sherlock said, furrowing his brow slightly as he turned his attention to the loud and colorful paintings. "These paintings are highly realistic."

"What?" John said, furrowing his own brow in confusion. They looked like Kandinsky crossed with Woodstock.

"While Sherlock was cataloguing the different properties of numerous alcoholic beverages, I took a peek at some of the slides. This is what I saw." Louise explained. Sherlock had been having a bit of trouble with the different color names past the primaries and secondaries since he had 'deleted' most of them.

"Huh." John said, staring at the gorgeous colors and shapes before him.

"I know, right?" Barry said. "Who knew booze could be so beautiful."

"I have more flavors back at the studio." Louise said. "I think the 'Piña Colada' is my personal favorite. It looks like bunch of butterfly wings."

"Oh. Sounds lovely." John said.

"Oh, looks like they're starting the auction." Barry said, glancing over in the direction Jayson burns had just left in. "I'm going to go see who buys what. Later." He told them, walking off with a wave.

"Some of Barry's paintings are being auctioned tonight. He likes to make sure they're going to a good home." Louise explained when she noticed the semi-curious look on John's face. "A lot of the work being sold tonight was done by art students like him—you know, still lifes, master copies, and so on. The kind of generic assignments you do while you're still in school. It's supposed to be a form of charity to help them pay the bills I guess. Barry's really good at copying master paintings. You'd swear it was the real thing just looking at it, right down to the signature, so his usually sell like hotcakes."

"I take it he is a better painter than he is a sculptor, then?" Sherlock asked. That giant pig of his seemed terribly unbalanced.

"Oh, yeah. Much better." Louise confirmed. "He's like a genius. He just has trouble coming up with original subject matter. For some reason it's easier for him to find inspiration when sculpting even though it's harder for him."

The three flat mates ended up staying later than they had expected to. Several buyers who were more interested in Louise's paintings than the auction had appeared, and it had taken some time to sort out all the offers and decide who was getting what. Fortunately one of the employees at the gallery was there to help, because Louise came dangerously close to having a row with one man who insisted he had to have 'Cognitive Dulling' even though she didn't want to sell that one just yet. She felt the man was already a bit too unstable to be able to handle having it all to himself.

"You should have just let him have it." Sherlock told her while the watched the indignant man being escorted out of the gallery by a couple of security guards, one of whom Sherlock recognized as an off duty police officer. "He was offering quite a lot."

"Money isn't everything." Louise replied with a shrug. "And I don't want my painting getting a bad reputation because I sold it to a nut who might off himself after staring at it for too long."

"Nice. Very sympathetic." John said, a bit concerned Sherlock's callousness might be rubbing off on her.

"Sorry. I guess I'm still miffed he called me a 'crazy bitch'." She replied honestly. John nodded his head. Okay, he could understand that. Louise was a bit sensitive to the 'C' word after everything she'd been through. They decided to wait a little longer before leaving to give the man time to give up and go home if he was still angry enough to try to attempt waiting outside so he could jump them when they left. He appeared to be the vindictive type.


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