"This... This looks nice."
"Glad you approve," Sherlock said, his eyes glued to the phone to read a text he just received as they signed in their name in the guest book at the front.
John ignored his flat mate's dry tone as he continued his perusal of the bar's interior. He has always thought gay bars would look sleazy, dark and tacky by default but contrary to his belief, the place Sherlock brought him to for a case looked like a cross between a posh restaurant and a gentleman's club.
"There's our subject, Mr Alexander Walt, fiancee to Ms Elicia Simpson: 2'oclock, booth table, dark hair, dark suit, drinking a Martini," Sherlock murmured, taking a seat at the bar with John following his lead.
"Which one?" John asked running his eyes over the place to cover the fact that he was studying the man they were spying for their client. At the table, there were three men and two of them had the same characteristics Sherlock mentioned earlier and all of them were present in the surveillance pictures their client has thoughtfully acquired for the duo.
"The more attractive one," was the detective's short reply.
John blinked, wondering why Sherlock was sure he would know which man was more attractive than the other considering that he was straight and that all men were the same in their attractiveness in his opinion. Nevertheless, John hazarded a guess, "Err... the one with the blue shirt?"
"Very good, John," Sherlock said, "We'll make a gay man out of you yet."
John rolled his eyes just as the bartender came over to take their orders and when the man left, the doctor turned back to Sherlock and said, "Thank you for the clothes, by the way. I hope it didn't set you back too much. These are very nice."
The doctor smoothed his palm across the arm of his jacket, feeling the luxurious texture of the cloth. A few hours ago before they left for the bar, Sherlock announced that John needed to change to fit in with the clientelle of the establishment they were about to go to, and truth to say, John was only less reluctant to tag along as soon he saw how beautiful the suit and shirt Sherlock gave him to put on. And when John saw himself in the mirror after he put on his new clothes, he immediately made a plan to wear it the next time he makes a date with Sarah. Or maybe he can impress 'Anthea' enough for a quiet cup of coffee without the implications of kidnappings, thinly-vieled threats and sardonic criticisms from either of the Holmes brothers.
"You're welcome," Sherlock said, giving a careless wave at the new clothes Sherlock fitted him with for the occasion, "You need to fit the part after all and the clothes you had left much to be desired."
John decided not to comment on the blatant insult to his normal attire. "Err... yes. Thank you again...So what's the plan? You never did say."
"An acquaintance of mine will be joining us and he will act as bait and attempt to lure Mr Walt for a clandestine rendezvous. If my acquaintance is unsuccessful, then we can bring this matter forth to our client, Ms Simpson, that her fiancee has truly discarded his desire for other mortal flesh, man and woman, other than her own."
"Mr Walt's a bit of a rake, is he?"
"So evidence shows. Pictures acquired has shown him being often around young and pretty men and women, usually male, brunette and waifish in appearance therefore pointing us to his type of preference."
"I see," John said, remembering the pictures scattered together with their mail on the kitchen table. The pictures were mostly taken during Walt's night out with his friends and often with an attractive young man glued to his side - a different person in every different occasion. The only few pictures of him and his senior associates, four older men all of them grey and weathered; and of him and his assistant, a slightly older man who looked quite plain and non-descript, were promptly discarded by Sherlock.
When their drinks came, John took a sip of his gin and tonic before asking, "If evidence has shown, then why bother with this farce?"
"I need to be sure," Sherlock replied, his voice sounding oddly subdued.
"Why would - oh, don't tell me..." John's eyes widened as Sherlock steadfastly refused to look at him. "You're still sore that Moriarty managed to bamboozle you into thinking that he was just a normal gay guy panting after the great Sherlock Holmes!"
John laughed at Sherlock's annoyed look and he only managed to temper his mirth when he realised he was bringing their target's attention to them.
"Shit, he noticed us!" John gasped, trying desperately to muffle his giggling.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Honestly John. Stop it at once. You can't keep giggling every time we're in a serious situation. I'm starting to despair your frame of mind."
"Me?" John protested, "You were giggling too the last time!"
Before Sherlock could talk back, someone interrupted them, a tone of apology in his smooth voice. "Sherlock. Sorry I'm late."
"Ah, James," Sherlock greeted the young man who took a seat on the other side of him, "Glad that you could make it. A drink?"
"Just a rum and coke thanks," the young man said to the bartender while John took another swallow of his drink and at the same time taking a look at the newcomer. He was a perfect fit for Sherlock's idea of Walt's type: dark-haired, slim and if John can be honest with himself, attractive in a too-pretty-to-be-a-man sort of way.
"So where's my target?" James asked, taking out a cigarette out of a silver case he kept in his stylish and elegant jacket.
"Third table to the left. The middle one."
The young man hummed in appraisal while John shook his head, torn between feeling exasperated that Sherlock gave this James-character simpler directions than he was given, and a little bit pleased that the detective thought him smart enough to be given an answer that could lead the way for further deduction.
"Same fee?" James asked as he lit his cigarette, the small fire from the lighter highlighting his high cheekbones for a short moment.
"Of course," Sherlock told him just as John tugged at his sleeve to whisper in surprise, "He's a rent-boy?"
"He's highly professional and discreet, John," Sherlock replied, "I can only trust him with this task."
John looked back at James, the young man smiling congenially at him like a young master than a person who could probably seduce even a straight man into a night of debauchery.
"A drink, compliments from the gentleman over there."
The three blinked in surprise as a light-coloured drink was slid in front of them and after a moment of pure bafflement, they looked to where the bartender was pointing at and saw that it was the man who they were stalking, raising his own drink in their direction.
"That was easy," John commented.
Quietly, Sherlock pushed the gin and tonic towards John and said, "It's for you."
John stared at the drink now paired with his half-finished gin and tonic in puzzlement. "What?"
"It's your order. So I gather it's for you," Sherlock's eyes widened in realisation, "He's attracted to you! Of course! It's the assistant!"
John was even more confused. "What? Who? What?"
"The assistant, John! Oh how can I be so blind! The other men were just a distraction to who he really wants!"
James arched an eyebrow. "Why now?"
"A final adieau before he gets shackled with someone he does not love," Sherlock said, "If he can't get the real thing, why not go for someone who looks like him."
John paled. "B-But... Sherlock, I can't! This wasn't in the plan!"
"Isn't buying a man a drink in a gay bar enough evidence of his desires?" James asked.
"Of course not," Sherlock said, giving the rent-boy a condescending look, "He must at least plans to bed a person who is not his fiancee for Ms Simpson to want to call the wedding off."
"I-I can't be-bed him!" John sputtered. "I'm straight!"
"So you keep saying." Sherlock sighed in annoyance. "It's not too difficult John. Just give us a few compromising shots and we'll call it a success. You don't even have to take your clothes off."
"You can take all of the fee Ms Simpson promised us for your services rendered," the detective pressed.
"Service ren- No Sherlock! NO!"
Three hours later John was walking away from the bar, pissed off, embarrassed and utterly humiliated. A few metres back Sherlock was catching up to him quickly with his longer strides and behind him, James the rent-boy was following in a more sedate pace.
"John! Wait up!" Sherlock called.
John ignored him for a few seconds before stopping and whirling around so quickly that Sherlock nearly crashed into him.
"Y-You- I never-!"
In the middle of John incoherency, Sherlock flipped open the small device in his hand and pressed play to watch what John was most certain the scene where he was being kissed and groped within an inch of his life by an armourous man in a suit worth three months of his salary at the public clinic. It was when Walt managed to stick his hands in his pants that John had had enough and pushed the man away, practically running out of one of the bar's private room where Walt dragged him into.
"Clear pictures, clear sound. Nothing to be mistaken other than adour of a cheating significant other," Sherlock said, sounding pleased.
"Amateurish," James scoffed, peering over Sherlock shoulder. John's insides seem to shrivel when he heard himself in the video, his whimpering mixed in with the sounds of rustling cloth and Walt's panting. "I was surprised the man wasn't turned off by it."
"On the contrary," Sherlock said, "Our client's fiancee seems more excited because of it. John fits his assistant's image perfectly. Painfully heterosexual, honest and plain."
"I just want to go home and wash myself clean!" John raged, finally managing to find his tongue, "And I'm burning the clothes straight after!"
"Me, I'd rather have a wank," James said, "Now that I've seen it, the idea of pushing a straight man down and having your way with him is quite sexy."
John turned to James with a mixed expression of panic and annoyance as the young man looked back at him with with leer and amusement.
John threw his hands up in disgust before turning away to stalk off. "Ugh! I'm going home and try to forget this ever happened! We will never speak of this incident again!"
Just as he thought that that would be the end of it, John heard Sherlock call out. "By my estimate all physical evidence will disappear in two weeks time."
The doctor turned around and looked at Sherlock blankly.
"The love-bite, John," Sherlock said at the same time James was motioning vaguely at the area of his neck.
Instantly John clamped a hand on his neck where he distraughtly remembered Walt sucking and biting at just a few minutes earlier.
"But this is just wonderful!" Sherlock enthused, "However pedestrian the case is, I at least am able to learn how to focus myself into studying the psyche of a gay man. Moriarty's ploy merely made me realise that I've grown lazy and what lurks in the surface is not what it is bound to be."
"Good on you, then," John said in a dead-pan tone, "Just ... great... "
"Would you be amiable in helping me with another experiment, John?" Sherlock asked seriously.
"Oh! Can I join?" James asked in an all too cheerful manner.
"The more the merrier," Sherlock easily acquiesced.
John gave them a hateful look before he around and walked away without another word.
"John? Is that a yes?"
John held up two fingers and continued to distance himself from the madness that is Sherlock Holmes.
"Is that a homosexual euphemism for a yes?" John heard Sherlock ask James. James snickered.