John Watson very nearly missed his chance to meet the World's Only Consulting Detective. He sat on his lumpy mattress in his dingy call-room and massaged his thigh with both hands, trying to will some of the stiffness out of the muscles. Four weeks. Nearly a month of living here in this hellhole, trying to will up the nerve to volunteer his body every night, and never quite being sure whether he should be disappointed or relieved when none of the clients even spared him a second glance.
It's not that he wasn't trying – his contract said he had to, and if there was something John actually still had for himself, it was his bloody honor. He'd promised to see this through, to work at Madam Irene's bloody brothel and bloody well whore himself out as often as needed to pay off the bloody massive debts Harry had incurred while he was away, and now he was four weeks into his bloody contract and it was becoming obvious that a broken-down ex-army ex-doctor ex-somebody wasn't anyone the clients of Adler's bloody well wanted to associate with. Bloody hell.
Still, it was nearly seven, which meant it was time for muster downstairs. It was easier, somehow, to think of his new position in military terms – his superiors said go, so he'd go. They (well, she) said kneel, so he'd kneel. Surely suck some stranger's cock and pretend to enjoy it wasn't that much of a stretch.
Right. He went.
The dark-haired stranger looked dreadfully out-of-place in the ostentatious parlor. Irene Adler tended toward conspicuous displays of taste – not just one gilt-edged chair, but a whole regiment of them. Not just velvet curtains, but curtains and valences and draperies and a fabulously ugly velvet-lined abstract art piece over the mantel which would have screamed tacky in any other setting, but at Adler's just shouted “rich posh look at me spend your money here.” Everything designed to overwhelm, to intimidate.
The tall stranger, on the other hand, didn't seem much impressed by any of it. His crisp suit fit him perfectly, hinting at a lean build and a catlike grace as he moved. Had to be bespoke. The man came from money, then, and a great deal of it. Privilege as well, from the angle he held his head, nearly looking down his nose at Madam Irene. Nobody looked down at her like that – John could count on one hand the number of clients he'd ever seen even look her in the eye. She was a true dominant, a damn strong one, which meant the stranger was either frighteningly powerful or completely tone-deaf when it came to social rank. Based on the expression on the man’s face, John would have given even odds on either.
“Just for the evening,” the stranger was saying. John sat in his assigned chair – back corner, less likely to be seen and distract from the more attractive personal servants on display – and tried to watch without being obvious about it. Madam Irene was giving the stranger a long, assessing look.
“Public?” she asked.
“Formal benefit my brother is throwing.” The man didn't quite manage to hide his sneer at the word brother.
“Ah.” Madame Adler smiled – her calculating smile – and gestured elegantly toward the array of servants. “Your choice, of course – any of my employees would be more than capable of providing a suitable escort. Although, if you'd like my input . . .” The man arched an eyebrow and she let her statement trail off into nothingness.
“Not necessary. This is a rather unique situation, which I'd prefer not to explain in detail.” He turned away from her and stalked toward the rows of chairs, eyeing each servant in turn, hands clasped behind his back as if casually out for a stroll. There was something blatantly dangerous about him which had the hair at the nape of John's neck standing on end long before the man made his way past everyone else and came to stand before him.
“Ah.” His eyes narrowed and he stared at John for a long moment. “This one is new, correct?”
Madame Adler cleared her throat. “A few weeks, yes. He's not been contracted out yet.”
“And he's a sub.”
Her smile started to look a bit forced. “They all are, as you well know. Did you want a switch? You said on the phone you'd prefer-”
“No, this is fine.” The man never took his gaze off John. “I find this one intriguing. Afghanistan or Iraq?”
John blinked, taking a moment to sort out the fact that the last question was directed at him. “Sorry? Sir?”
The man's eyes hardened, and he tilted his chin up a bit higher. “Kneel.”
John's knees hit the ground before he even registered the dominant's command. He just barely retained enough composure to keep his eyes lowered and his mouth from gaping open at the strength behind the single word. Distantly, he was aware of the fact that he hadn't been able to kneel properly since before his injury, that he was now doing it with no pain whatsoever-
“He'll do.” The man twirled and wandered back toward Madame Adler, John apparently forgotten. “Draw up the paperwork – I might as well borrow him until morning; could have need for him later.”
“Of course.” Madame Adler snapped for her personal sub to come attend her. John kept his eyes averted, couldn't see what they were doing, could barely hear the murmur of their low conversation over the buzzing in his ears-
“Come.” The man snapped his fingers mere inches from John's right ear, startling him out of – well, something, anyway. “My taxi is waiting just outside the door – go sit in the back until I'm done here. You won't need your toy kit; I have my own.”
And that was how John Watson was contracted out to Sherlock Holmes for his very first night as a pleasure servant.