Title: Shades of Truth
Pairing: H/W and W/people he doesn't care about
Genre: AU, slash
Rating: pretty much NC-17 all the way through
Warnings: It's all about (subtle-ish) prostitution, some non-con later on
Summary: Watson, disillusioned and returning from the army with bad memories and no money to start a practice, becomes an escort of a fashion. He's very good at what he does, but never counted on Sherlock Holmes turning his entire life upside down and taking his heart in the process.
A/N: Couldn't let this puppy lie. Cross-posted to Cox and Co. Used to be only on my lj, but who am i to deny the general ffnet public? Anyways, i had it partially posted on my Ready-made prodigy account, but here it is, now posted in full on my sister/twin pro-prodigy account .


It had started innocuously enough. Finished with the night's activities I had begun to redress while my partner lay in a languid repose upon the bed. It was no small feat to locate all of my apparel in such dim lighting, though I had retained my shirt during our excursions. I had begun to knot my tie before the mirror when heavy, masculine arms encircled me and a mouth nuzzled gently against my ear, the smell of our sexual congress assaulting my nose.

"Do you need money for a cab?" he asked politely.

I don't know what compelled me to answer as I did. It could not have been monetary concern alone because at the time I was still newly arrived to England and therefore, still maintained a purse full of my newly granted wound pension. I would be remiss and foolish not to think it had in some part been the result of the events that occurred in Afghanistan but as those memories were hardly agreeable I would not have allowed them to cross my mind. Perhaps it was simply his tone or the nature of the gesture itself. In any case, as it happened, I answered, "Yes."

My blush then was only half faked and I gave him a kiss as both a thank you and goodbye.

As my profession—if it could be called that—grew more and more into my preferred trade, I discovered it was easiest to extract funds from my female partners. The poor creatures, so entrapped by the expectations of their gender and by the inescapably conventions of society it took almost no effort at all to have them pressing folded notes into my hands, their hair about their face like wild halos, cheeks at the height of colour, and eyes bright with a fevered spirit they daren't ever express to the public eye.

"Here," they would gasp past the generous heaves of their bosomed breasts, "you've more than earned it."

With men it was somewhat difficult or to be fair, more challenging. If I had wanted to be tossed money for services rendered like a common rent boy, it would have been a simple enough task; however that was certainly not an experience I could stomach nor the sort of business I intended to conduct. My fees had to be given to me, freely and without the stipulating notion of a payment. It better suited my partners' sensibilities and it allowed me to maintain my rather iniquitous sense of pride and dignity. Those first few times, once it had become known what I did, I had made a point to actively seek out the more flamboyant of my ilk, however ill advised. A few nights spent with them and they were more than happy to outfit me in splendid suits and waistcoats, which were so essential to my trade. All I had to do was suggest that my attire was not suitable to attend the evening's opera or show and my lovers would supplement my wardrobe with silk ties and smartly cut suits which would be then taken out at a later date to lure another.

One would think that by my description I should have been a wealthy man, but it was not so. I had been living in hotels, which was convenient but very trying on my sporadic income. The reality of the situation was that although my partners admired the scars on my tanned and thin body, they were the result of massive wounds and illness. I was sometimes victim to relapses and more often than not my leg and shoulder needed time to recover from my nocturnal exertions. Why I did it was because for complex and not so complex reasons, I enjoyed it. Also, the other reality was that even if I hadn't been confined to convalescence, I had not the sufficient funds to purchase my own practice. Thus, I plied my trade as well as I was able. I am very good at what I do. I do not say this with the traditional pride that men often exhibit when boasting on the subject, but with a cool confidence in that when I set my mind to the task, it is rare indeed that I am not successful in my endeavors.

Predictably, one of the only times I was unsuccessful coincided fatefully with my first meeting with the enigmatic and mercurial whirlwind that I would later come to know as Mister Sherlock Holmes. At the time of course, for the reason I previously stated, I only saw him as a terrible nuisance.

I had been attending a gala or ball—something to that effect. Due to what occurred shortly after leaving the polite conversations and airy dance floor, I seem to recall very little of the actual occasion other than the fact I had been invited by a few of the ladies who had known me in order to attend to their friend, Bethany Andrews, who was a sweet young thing with a crown of strawberry blond curls. She was naïve, but eager. I vaguely remember we had barely shared a few drinks and two dances before we had ensconced ourselves into a most obligingly dark and empty room, which the house was happily abundant with.

She was a virgin so when I delved beneath her skirts it was only to apply my mouth to her, which she enjoyed thoroughly. The extra stimulation from my moustache set her mewling like a kitten in heat. She was considerably more relaxed after that and moved to sit astride me as we resituated ourselves on an accommodating settee. I had voiced some discomfort at her sitting on my injured thigh so, very obligingly, she had moved up instead until she was more or less seated atop the ardent bulge in my trousers while she began peeling away my waistcoat and undoing my shirt buttons, lathering my newly exposed collarbone with her smoothly painted lips. When she pushed away my shirt from my shoulder her eyes widened and she ghosted her fingers along the starburst of pale, newly formed scar tissue.

"What happened?" she whispered.

"I was out of bullets and a Ghazi found me tending to a fellow soldier. His carotid artery had been nicked and my fingers were the only things keeping him from bleeding out. The Ghazi demanded I stand aside, probably to kill the private and take me prisoner. I refused. He shoved a knife through my shoulder and took my sword to behead the private, but I managed to wrench the knife from my shoulder and slit his wretched throat. The private died anyways."

My shoulder looked nothing like what a knife would have caused, but I knew by the way Miss Andrew's eyebrows sloped and the set of her mouth that my story, like many others I presented to my lovers, had fulfilled its purpose in alighting a keen fascination in her, which for some small space of time in this infinite universe, endeared myself to her.

"Oh, Nicolas. My God." She placed her forehead against mine and drew me into a long, drawn out kiss. When she finished I could feel the butterfly light brush of her lips against mine as she spoke. "I can make it better."

I wanted to smile at that. Doubtless she would have felt it so instead I met her eyes, hoping to God she would mistake my deprecating humour for haunting emotion. "Can you?"

"I'll try my best," she whispered, grounding down on my hips for emphasis and earning from me a hardy groan of appreciation when suddenly the door to our quiet room burst open.

Miss Andrews gave a startled yelp and dived to the side to take cover behind the carved back of the settee. For my part, I closed my eyes and counted to ten. There could only be two outcomes after all. Either the person who had caused the intrusion would leave or I was soon to be the subject of a rather justifiable thrashing. Thus it had been rather distressing to see that the intruder carried a gun, however much to my relief, it was not trained on me but the door I had assumed led to a spare bedroom.

"Aha!" he exclaimed. "I am here early then. I had thought that picking the door lock would have offset my meticulous timing."

He said it with such self absorbed, manic intensity that I am sure he would have said it had we been there or not. Bethany tried to say something and any other time I might have been gentler, but I might have well have been back on the burning desert sands by the way I immediately sought to silence her with my hand and adjusted my stance to shield her, watching the door warily.

It was mere seconds before that door too had burst open to reveal a man with a bowler hat and suspiciously wide brim that almost disguised the thin sliver of a black mask over his eyes. The first man raised his gun and opened his mouth to say something but had not counted on the second man to rush at him despite the danger. They both went down and I quickly pushed Miss Andrews towards the desk for cover as I rushed forward and kicked the gun away from their grappling hands where an accidental shot could play Russian roulette with all our lives. To add to this incoherent drama, a police man entered from the same room as the masked man and blundered towards the two men, whereupon the villain—as I had assumed for at that time I could not equate a mask with anything else, but of course now that I have donned one myself I know better—was able to grab hold of the poker from the nearby fireplace and swung it at the bobby who received it quite heartily in the cranial region and went down like a log. I was forced to catch him before he could damage his head any further. The villain then drove an elbow hard into the first man's sternum, quelling his struggle and allowing him to flee back the way he came. I had leapt to intercept him, but found myself instead on the receiving end of my own actions as the original trespasser tackled me about the waist, flinging me to the ground.

There had been a second where I had thought, 'This man would have made a good rugby player' when suddenly all my thoughts was on the man currently pressed against me from ankles to chest and everywhere in between. I briefly caught sight of an aquiline nose and the glint of silver in his grey eyes as he watched his assailant escape.

"We must let him go. Where he runs to holds the answers to this mystery," he said, his eyes flicking from the door to peer down at me.

Inexplicably, my face flushed as the gaze that belonged to the body that lay draped atop me met my own. When it comes to matters of the bedroom there is very little that embarrasses me. I have been fully nude before those who were practically strangers without so much as a hint of colour to betray me unless I had wished it. In fact, it had ceased to be even so much as a passing thought. However, this was most assuredly not that. This was something innocent without any hint of lurid connotation at all, except that there was.

He seemed either not to notice or to particularly care for the moment the sound of footsteps changed from the sharp stomp of wood flooring to the softened thump of grass.

"I must pursue him, good day doctor!" he called as he raced away into the night.

"My word, who was that man?" Miss Andrews questioned tremulously from behind her still semi-crouched position behind the desk. By the way her hands were clutching it with bone white intensity I doubted whether I could coax her from it.

I sighed. I had not the faintest idea. All I knew was that whoever he was, because of him, judging by Miss Andrews' trembling body, it was rather unlikely that I would be paid tonight.