Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot- which is such a shame because I'm sure that they'd all have far more fun if I did own them.
Pulling his gun, John pushed the tuxedo clad man behind him and out of the line of fire and took his shot- at the same time as the assassin fired.
The bullet grazed his left bicep, causing him to drop the weapon, but he was satisfied when his mark went down with a hole between the eyes.
He placed pressure on his wounded arm and ran, he couldn't risk his identity becoming known at this point- not when he'd just killed a man to save the life of Jim Moriarty.
Making his way outside, and into the ubiquitous nondescript black car, he readjusted his flowing skirts as Anthea passed him a med-kit.
"Thanks." He said politely as the car took off.
"No problem...sister." John gave her a look, even though she hadn't raised her eyes from her phone, and went back to stanching the red flow coming from his arm.
He was going to need stitches, he realized just as he thought: How did my night devolve into this?
The day before:
"Don't worry, I've got it. Don't mind me." The blonde resident of flat B of 221 Baker street said as he brought several full bags of grocery items up the stairs and into his shared home.
He wouldn't feel so put upon if only he could get some help from his demanding flatmate once in a while.
Pushing open the door he saw a not uncommon sight sitting in his chair: Mycroft.
"Ah! Dr. Watson, so good to see you again." He said in that insincere tone of his. John was beginning to think the man spent more time in their flat than he ever did in his own.
"Hello." He said politely as he took the bags into the kitchen, and immediately backed out again.
"What did you do to the kitchen?" The blonde was very proud at how calm he was sounding.
"Sherlock... you do realize that I just CLEANED that kitchen, don't you? Took me nearly seven hours? I went through five gallons of bleach? Nearly poisoned myself on the fumes? Any of this ringing any bells?" For all his anger John was remarkably calm about walking into a kitchen coated with blood- from sources he'd rather remain ignorant of- and with another marathon cleaning session in his near future.
It wasn't as if he had expected anything to remain clean for long, he was more disappointed than upset that he would have to start cleaning again so soon, really.
It was sad that his life had been reduced to being the unpaid personal servant and nursemaid of his deductive genius of a flatmate.
"Of course I remember John, it is what gave me the idea for this experiment after all."
"What? Is your experiment to see how long it will take me to clean up this mess as compared to the last time, or is it to see how much dirt I can live with before I bludgeon you with scrub brush?!" Realizing he was yelling he tried to calm his breathing.
"The first, you would never use a scrub brush to kill me: too messy." Not knowing what to say to that, John just dropped his shopping and headed up to his room.
The last thing he heard before he was out of earshot was Mycroft's condescending voice.
"Dear brother, are you honestly trying to drive the poor man insane?" Slamming his door shut he refused to come out until he had calmed down.
It was late that evening, after Mrs. Hudson had complained enough about the horrific smell- John was lucky to have not seen the offal filling the sink or the pig carcass shoved in the stove- and made Sherlock ask his brother for a cleaning crew to come by and clean the kitchen to spotlessness once more, when John would finally come back down.
Taking a seat in his chair, and completely ignoring the git lost in his mind palace across from him, the doctor picked up the folder Mycroft had left behind and began reading.
He was on his second read through, and making mental notes of all the people they would need to keep an eye on, when Sherlock finally came back to reality.
"Put that down, you're not going. We agreed."
"And just when did we agree to that?" He asked as if he didn't know the answer.
"I've been in my room all afternoon, we never discussed anything. And I'm going. You'll need someone to watch your back." Turning a page he went back to reading, but of course the barmy bastard had to go and rip the folder from his hands.
"I said no, John. And I'll be fine on my own."
"Sherlock! Mycroft thinks Moriarty will be there, you can not go in alone!"
"Then I'll take Lestrade! At least he can make an arrest if necessary, all you can do is get strapped to bombs and make things difficult." Before John could say another word the tall detective had flounced out of the room and slammed his bedroom door.
All the while cursing the foolishness of genius John made himself some supper- Mycroft had even been generous enough as to restock their refrigerator with edible food(though there was really no telling how long it would all stay edible with Sherlock around)- watched some crap telly and went to bed.
When he got up the next morning Sherlock was gone, Lestrade refused to take his calls and he realized that he had no idea where the masked ball was supposed to take place later that evening so he couldn't even crash it.
"Bollocks." And that expressed his sentiments exactly.
As it wasn't yet ten in the morning, and the party was to start at seven, John did something he had promised himself and Sherlock that he would never do: he asked Mycroft for help.
Well... more like demanded it once he had made it to the man's office.
"Dr. Watson, what a pleasant surprise. And what can I do for you this fine day?" The 'minor government official' said as he continued to look over some documents. Even upside down and from across a large desk John could see that they were papers that he could be accused of treason just for knowing about.
Clearing his throat he got straight to the point.
"Sherlock has refused to let me protect him tonight, and has decided to take Greg with him instead." He didn't miss the sudden tightening of the ginger-haired man's jaw at the mention of his lover being put into such a dangerous position, John wanted to feel bad about using this bit of information to his advantage- he really did- but making the most powerful man in Britain squirm was just too much to his advantage at the moment.
"And so you come to me. Why, may I ask?"
"Yes, well... I want you to get me into the ball. I want to be able to watch Sherlock's- and Greg's'- backs, and preferably without them knowing I'm there until it's too late to send me packing."
"That can all be arranged. You do know what the goal tonight is going to be, don't you?"
"Yeah, I managed to read that part before Sherlock took the folder away: 'The Prince's engagement announcement is going to be used as a front for a terrorist cell to buy weapons.' I believe that sums it up. O, and there is a chance Moriarty will be in attendance as well." The elder Holmes brother finally looked into the ex-soldier's eye at this.
Giving a nod at whatever he saw there, the British Government stood and led the way to a private car; handing John a copy of the information he had given Sherlock the day before as they walked.
"Do memorize the faces- though I'm sure you don't need to do so for the one we have no photograph of- the ball is a masked one so it won't do you much good, but there is no excuse for not being thoroughly prepared." John opened the file as he slipped into the spacious backseat of Mycroft's private vehicle.
Not bothering to ask where they were headed as it was probably well above his security clearance anyway, John simply began to reread what he had been reading the night before and tucking the faces away in his minds eye for later.
It was going to be a little like IED spotting, he realized: Try to spot the camouflaged threat while not being distracted by all the places that it could be hidden.
Tonight was going to be lovely he just knew, and he didn't even know what he was going to wear yet.
"We're taking care of that now." Mycroft said, speaking up for the first time since they had entered the vehicle and seeming to read John's very mind.
It wasn't nearly as creepy as it would have been back before he had met Sherlock, he thought as the car came to a stop inside of an underground- and very private and highly secured- parking garage.
"Shall we?" The umbrella carrying man said as he stepped out of the vehicle and led the way to a private elevator.
Not knowing where they where going, or what to expect once they got there, John just kept reading until the doors opened onto the third floor.
It was a tailor's shop.
A very high-end, ultra-exclusive, if you don't wipe your bum with one hundred pound notes we don't even know that you exist, nose in the air, overly posh tailor's shop.
A pair of socks from this place probably cost more than John would earn in a year.
"Two years, actually. But don't worry, you're not the one fitting the bill today." Mycroft assured the stunned blonde as he walked passed the snobbish counter worker and through the curtain to the back room. John quickly followed.
The backroom was almost as upscale as the front had been, the only real difference being the racks of already made clothes hanging ready to be perfectly fitted to their new owners.
"Now we need to find you something to wear that Sherlock won't immediately see through to see that it's you." The tall man said as he headed over to a rack of fine suits.
But John started walking over to the opposite wall and began looking at the clothes hanging there.
"A dress, John. Really?"
"He'd never expect it was me."
"Yes... but could you pass yourself off as a woman for hours at a time?" At that John just smirked and turned to the besuited man, shifting his center of gravity and the timbre of his voice as he did so- causing not one, but both of Mycroft's eyebrows to join his hairline.
"I was in the Army sir, and soldiers will do, and have done, most everything to pass the time and stifle the boredom of our down time." John now had a soft, husky voice with a slight Scottish bur that just dripped sensuality, he accompanied it with gentle hand movements- not the over-done gestures of drag queens- that sealed the illusion of this person being an elegant Lady.
The only thing ruining the effect was John's short military hair cut and frumpy male clothing. He was even the perfect height to put into high heels without making him look disgustingly tall for a woman.
Mycroft gaped like a fish for a full ten seconds- which John equated to half an hour in normal people- before refinding his voice.
"So... so, a dress then." Without adding anything else he began looking at several of the flashier options, but John had his eye set on a dark blue and purple one buried deep amongst the others.
"This one." He said with finality as he saunted- and Mycroft didn't even know where the doctor had learned to do that with his hips- over to a mirror to see how well it matched his height and complexion.
It was perfect.
With an attached collar piece that was part of the design his Adam's apple wouldn't need any other covering, the lapels down the front would help mask his otherwise flat chest; the skirt gathered at the hips and flared out like a true ball gown should and would make his waist seem more femininely curved, but the best part about it was the color.
It was mostly midnight blue, and really brought out his eyes, but had trimmings of purple lace here and there that drew the eye to all the right places. There was also little hidden golden thread embroidered designs across the bodice and in the folds of the skirt.
The whole thing weighed a lot since the skirt was so elaborate, but it was nothing compared to a heavy field pack so that wouldn't be a problem.
As John was admiring his selection in the mirror, Mycroft was busy on his phone making the rest of the arrangements needed and getting the tailor to set up for an emergency fitting.
John only became aware that things were happening around him when a hand came to rest on his elbow.
"If Sir would care to change into his dress we can begin the fitting." The assistant tailor- the actual tailor was busy discussing with Mycroft the importance of a firearm access slot- pointed John to a curtained off dressing room to change in.
Coming out wearing the dress- it needed to be let out in the shoulders and taken in in the waist he already knew- he was met with the sight of several boxes of shoes, open and all matching the dress and just his size.
For the first time John began to wonder just how many other men got dresses made here.
"If Sir will select the shoe he wishes to wear we can begin the fitting." Knowing it was necessary- if the dress was hemmed up to showcase high-heels and he ended up wearing flats that could spell disaster for the fabric that would drag on the ground- John began to look over the selections.
"No stilettos- I've never mastered running in them- but no flats either- I'll need at least some height to see through the crowd." It was the sixth pair that he tried on that just screamed perfection.
An off color- neither purple nor blue, but could be either depending on the light that hit them- a thick heel that would give him maneuverability but was still fashionably acceptable and a platform piece under the toes that connected solidly with the heel.
They gave John an extra twelve centimeters(six inches) of height but didn't strain his legs enough to be painful- they were in fact much more comfortable than the combat boots he was used to wearing.
Once the shoes were on and strapped in place around his ankles- he would need to remember to get tights before tonight, though he would bet anything Mycroft already had some on the way- he stood on the pedestal and let the artists do their worst with their stick-pins.
Half an hour later he was let go to change back so that they could sew their changes into place, and that was when Anthea arrived to whisk him away for a spa treatment- it was the first time John had ever seen her smile with genuine amusement.
She dropped him off into the hands of some over enthusiastic women that simply cooed at him as they gave him the works.
Mani/pedi first, accompanied by a facial, body waxing- he swore revenge on Mycroft for that- a deep tissue massage- he knew it was a small apology for the waxing- and eyebrow reshaping- he made a mental note to just shave them off the next day and tell everyone that it was Sherlock's fault.
Anthea then picked him up and took him to a flat- a safe house John supposed- where Mycroft was waiting for him with tea, as well as his dress and accessories.
"I took the liberty of acquiring you a new gun for this evening." The seated man stated as he indicated for John to look over the sidearm laying on the table.
John almost mistook the Sig laying on the white table cloth to be his own, but quickly dismissed that notion when he noticed that this particular weapon had no serial number- it hadn't been filed off, it had just never been stamped in the first place.
"Now, about to tonight..." Mycroft began once the ex-soldier had satisfied himself that his new gun was in working order, fully loaded and with the safety on.
John listened as he started in on the tray of finger sandwiches- and pretended not to see Mycroft taking more of the tiny cakes than might be healthy- and was taken through the plan for the evening.
He wasn't to engage any of the terrorists or their contacts, if he saw them doing something illegal then he should just try to remember it and tell Mycroft about it afterwards.
His first and sole priority was to protect Sherlock and DI Lestrade, and John heard the unspoken plea in those words: Please don't let either my baby brother or lover get hurt tonight, I can't risk sending an agent in to do this as that would tip my hand; but you are disposable and able to get the job done, so do it.
As much as it rankled John to be consider disposable, in this situation and with this man he truly was.
By the time they had escape plans, code words, a fake name as well as history all worked out it was time for John to begin dressing.
Alone in the bedroom he stripped down to his birthday suit, and began building his new identity.
The silk boxer-briefs were a relief to see when he opened the box- he had been slightly afraid Mycroft would make him wear panties- and they fit like a dream.
Next was the garter belt and stockings- again a dream, only this one a bit more erotic- followed by a thigh holster that he would be able to reach through a special slit in the fabric of his skirt.
The dress itself was next. The tailor had even been able to add padding under the lapels so that now, with the bodice tightly wrapping his chest, he looked to be well endowed.
Walking out to the sitting area for his shoes, hair, mask and makeup, John decided to start playing his role now so that it would be in full swing by the time he was at the party.
Swishing his hips, and holding the fabric of his skirt up off the ground, John was pleased to see Mycroft's assistant finally look up from her phone for more than a few seconds.
"Now darling, you mustn't strain your eyes so with that device. You never know what you might miss if you never look up." As Anthea almost dropped her phone in surprise at John's sultry voice, the doctor didn't miss the way Mycroft was staring once more.
"If I wasn't seeing this with my own eyes I'd never believe that it was you, John." Giving Mycroft a flirty grin just to see the effects it would have- he turned red at the ears and had to avert his eyes- John sat down to let Anthea get to work on his hair and makeup.
The hair was fairly easy: pin his own short hair under a cap, set a wig in place- blonde to match his normal hair color, but swept up in a pile of curls and ringlets; a few of which hung down to frame his face- and attach it in such a way that it wouldn't move or fall off.
John just knew it was going to be more of a pain to remove than it was to get on.
The makeup was next: foundation to blend his skin tone to one uniform color, shadowed eyes to match his mask and dress- John hated the eye liner and mascara brush with a vengance- light blush and deep red lips that could almost be mistaken for being coated in black blood they were so dark.
Once she was done the brunette gave John a genuine smile and then immediately picked up her phone.
Slipping his shoes on and grabbing his mask he made his way over to the mirror.
"Now that, my dears, is what I call a pretty face." He said in his soft Scottish accent as he stared at himself.
Mycroft was right, he realized. Given the clothes, his new posture and now the hair and makeup even he didn't recognize the mysterious Lady in the mirror.
And Lady he was. His years as an officer gave him a certain bearing, and in heels that translated to an almost regal carriage.
Turning back the the other occupants of the room as Mycroft cleared his throat, John wandered over to see what was in the box he was holding.
"Put on your gloves and give me your hands." Doing as he was directed he put on the lace gloves and extended his hands.
Mycroft then opened the box and, before John could make a noise of protest, started to place the gems inside upon him.
It was a full set of matching sapphire and black diamond pieces that blended in with his overall disguise and yet made him stand out more.
A ring on his right ring finger, a bracelet on his left wrist, an ornate necklace that didn't detract from the gowns own neck piece, a pair of danglely clip-on earrings and finally a small tiara that sat nicely in the wig.
"The tiara as well as the necklace have tracing devices hidden within them, so if you run into trouble or foul play we'll still be able to find you." Relieved that the jewlery was more of a necessity than just more window dressing- they had already discussed how bugging John was out of the question because of the tightness of security at this event, and getting John cleared to carry a gun had taken all the influence he had over security- John placed his mask on- midnight blue satin trimmed in royal purple that covered him from mid forehead to just passed his nose- he let them know he was ready.
"Come on, I've a flatmate that needs to be looked after and a friend that might just need rescuing- if only from Sherlock himself." Taking the arm Mycroft offered him as the Lady he was, John let himself he packed away into a black car that would take him to the ball.
As the car pulled to a stop, and before the driver could open the door for him, he checked one last time that he had everything: gun, phone, flirty smile. All check.
As his door opened he took one last steadying breath and got out to join the party full of wolves with a smile on his face.
AN: I originally intended for this to only be a oneshot, but as it just kept growing I decided to break it up into chapters.
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