Note: Darken and Richard aren't brothers in this AU. Because. It's my AU and I do what I want.


The Matrimony Plot

Climbing out of the motorcar he had hired for the evening, Richard Watson stepped onto the paving stones of the footpath outside 221-B Baker Street, rather chuffed to see his old friend Darken Holmes on this, the eve of his marriage. 'His' referring to Richard of course, for it was well known to anyone that knew him (and quite a few people that didn't) that Darken Holmes would never get married, and in fact could not stand to be in the same room as a woman for more than one hour unless she was either engaged in activities below his belt, his sister, or perhaps both.

Still having a key, as Richard had once upon a time lived with Darken at 221-B, he let himself in, not wishing to disturb Darken's sister and housekeeper, Jennsen, and knowing Darken himself would never answer the door. To his surprise (or perhaps not surprising at all), the entryway was completely filled with potted plants of all varieties.

"Where am I? Can you see me?" came Darken's voice from amongst the foliage.

"I am not playing this game, Darken," Richard called, assuming this was one of Darken's mad experiments, or else he was just quite mad.

It happened, upon occasion, that it would seem to all as if Darken had completely lost any and all marbles he may have once possessed, but this was so often followed by a particularly genius stroke of genius, that most people didn't seem to mind.

"What are you doing here?" Darken called again.

Richard spied a pair of glittering blue eyes between a fern and some sort of climbing vine on the bannister of the staircase, and made his way over, deftly using his walking stick (which cleverly concealed the Sword of Truth within) to push plants out of his way. "I am here for my stag party as you well know. I'm getting married tomorrow, or have you forgotten?"

Darken made a face as if he had been forced to eat something particularly foul and most likely made in America. "Kahlan. Marriage," his nose wrinkled. "What say I strangle you now, and have done with it? Or, if you like, I can jump upon your back and drag you down the rest of your days."

"Yes, yes, Darken, I know. Put your coat on, there's a good lad."

"I don't want my coat! If I want my coat, I shall get my coat!"

"Your arms will get cold in that... what is it you're wearing?"

"Do you like it?" Darken asked, coming out of his hiding place at last. "I haven't named it yet, but it's going to be all the rage." He did a little twirl, modeling the red brocade and velvet…dress? Robes? Whatever it was he was wearing.

"It looks like you're wearing a vest and a skirt," Richard said, a blush suffusing his cheeks as he caught sight of a rather large expanse of Darken's muscled chest.

"Don't be so pedestrian, Richard. You have no sense of fashion at all. How many copies of that suit do you have?"

Richard looked down at his suit – brown with a blue shirt and tie, as pressed and crisp as he had worn it when he was one of England's Seekers of Truth, a little nickname they had for the spy service. Of course, Darken Holmes had deduced that Richard was a Seeker within moments their first meeting, damn him.

"There is nothing wrong with this suit. You used to like this suit. Kahlan thinks it suits me quite well, as much as a suit can suit someone," Richard protested, his lips twitching as he observed the look that passed over Darken's face at the mention of Richard's betrothed.

Darken frowned, turning on his heel with a great flourish of his…attire, "What does Kahlan know of men's evening wear? Bah! I don't know why you want to marry her at all."

"Enough!" Richard followed him. "That is quite enough. Now put on some proper clothes. We are going out for my stag party."

"If we must."

"I do insist."

At that, Darken stripped off his vest, baring his chest. The skirt went next, unceremoniously pulled down to his ankles.

"Darken, aren't you wearing undergarments?" Richard squeaked, swallowing hard and turning his back.

"Of course not, Richard. Have you ever known me to wear undergarments?" Darken asked, then exited the room, bellowing for his sister to bring him a fresh shirt.

Used to her brother's eccentricities, Jennsen Holmes drifted serenely down the hall, stopping to say hello to Richard, offer him tea, and then drifted off again with a remark about hoping Darken would sit still long enough for her to comb his hair.

"He's been in a frightful state since you moved out, Mr. Watson," she had confided, calmly picking up her brother's discarded clothes. "He misses you."

"I miss him too," Richard said to himself sadly, going to the desk to caress all the odds and ends that represented their adventures together. There was the broken Night Wisp orb from that unfortunate case of arson. And here was the spice box that had been exchanged for the second Box of Orden in the Tamarang Museum Robbery.

Theirs was a special bond, not quite like that between brothers, but equally as powerful. And then came that night, when Richard had confessed the depth of his affections. Holmes of course, had to be difficult about everything, which was why Richard had moved out and formed an understanding with Kahlan in the first place.

He did wish it hadn't been necessary.

Richard heard the unmistakable sound of Darken barging down the stairs with Jennsen fussing after him, and turned, hands on his walking stick and a smile on his face, "Shall we crack on then?"

"Yes, yes of course, Richard of course. To the car!"

"Darken no!" Richard ran after him. "You know what happened the last time you drove! And would you please get your coat!"

But it was too late. Darken had already climbed up behind the wheel, and was putting on his driving goggles. "Honestly, Watson," he drawled. "Who needs a woman when I have you?"

Richard flushed, pressing his lips together in a tense line as he climbed into the passenger seat.

-l-

Despite Richard's reservations about Darken's driving abilities, they arrived at their destination without killing either themselves or anyone else along the way.

Denna's Den, Richard read from the sign at the front of the rather seedy looking brick building. "Darken, have you brought me to a brothel!"

"Of course I have," Darken answered, one eyebrow raised over his driving goggles. "Where else does one go for a stag night if not a cesspool of gambling, drinking, and whores?"

Richard sighed. "How many times must I tell you that I will not let you watch me with some poor woman who has to do this for money?"

Darken pouted, dramatically flinging back his hair and throwing one muscled arm about Richard's shoulders, "But it is to be our last night together without any cares! Come now. Do it as a wedding present."

Richard pushed him away, "I'm the groom. You're supposed to be getting me gifts, not the other way around."

"It's always 'me, me, me' with you, isn't it?" Darken remarked as he climbed out of the motorcar. "I'm cold. Give me your coat."

"I told you to bring yours. You can't have mine now just because you didn't listen."

"I am quite certain that I would remember if you had told me to get my coat," Darken sniffed.

Recognizing that Darken was teetering on the edge of one of his dark moods, Richard groaned, but surrendered his coat.

-l-

"You know, Darken, this isn't as awful as I thought it would be. The dancing is interesting, at the very least," Richard smiled, smoking a cigar and watching Sultry Salindra do a fan dance.

"Yes, yes, of course…" Darken muttered distractedly, his eyes darting to and fro in a way that Richard recognized. He was taking in every detail of their surroundings, putting his not insubstantial intellect to work.

In short, he was paying no attention whatsoever to Richard.

"I quite like that outfit. Perhaps you should get one. To go with the vest and skirt ensemble you were modeling earlier."

"Yes, yes," Darken muttered.

"And then you can take up a career as a dancer, leaving me free to run off with your sister," Richard frowned, irritated.

"Yes…what?" Darken turned to look at him at last.

"I asked when the rest of the lads are getting here," Richard lied. "My grandfather, Chase, Inspector Lestrade…"

"Oh they're not coming," Darken answered, his gaze fixed elsewhere once more. "And besides that, Inspector Lestrade is a woman and doesn't belong at a stag night unless she wears feathers."

"I would dearly love to see you say that to Cara's face. You know what she thinks about your attitude toward women."

A twinkle in his eye, Darken put a hand on his hip in a girlish manner, saying in a high falsetto, "Shut your gob, Holmes! The only reason you don't like women is that you are well aware you are incapable of holding the attention of one."

Richard put a hand over his mouth to hide his grin, feeling mildly guilty to be laughing at Cara's expense.

"Feh," Darken concluded, downing his brandy. "I should think it's obvious that our dear inspector quite agrees with me about women. Why else would she surround herself with men?"

"She doesn't surround herself with men, Holmes," Richard said for perhaps the three hundred and twenty sixth time. "She just so happens to work with a lot of men. There is a difference. The same as if you or I took up dancing professionally. I should think most of our companions would be women."

"Yes, yes," Darken said, no longer paying attention.

Richard sighed. "The lads weren't busy, were they?"

"No."

"You didn't invite them, did you?"

"No."

"We're not here for my stag party, are we?"

"No."

Scrubbing his hand over his face, Richard took a bracing swallow of his drink, then gazed angrily at Darken. "You know, sometimes I don't know why I bother. Do you even care about me at all?"

Shocked, Darken turned his blue eyes upon the other man. "Of course I care about you."

"Then how could you forget about my wedding? How could you, my best man, forget to plan my stag party?"

Darken shifted in his chair, clearing his throat and waving to the server for another drink. "It was not forgetfulness so much as willful suppression, I assure you."

His mouth going dry, Richard heard himself say, "If it upsets you so much, you know all you have to do."

Darken's drink arrived and he knocked it back in one go. "Right then. I know exactly what to do," he said, thumping his glass down on the table and standing up.

With a sway in his step, he grabbed the nearest server and slugged him, sending him crashing into the next table over.

"Darken, you've gone mad!" Richard cried as he too stood, pulling the Sword of Truth from its hiding place within his walking stick.
"Seeker!" an outcry went through the brothel, as patrons and crooks took the sudden brawl for a raid by the authorities.

The next few moments were chaos as tables were overturned, dancing girls ran, and fights broke out in every corner of the bar. A beefy fist made connection with Richard's eye, and he went down, brandishing his sword to keep the crowd from trampling him.

"Darken!" he shouted once he was back on his feet. Fighting his way to the stage, he jumped up, hoping to use the height to spot his dark haired companion.

"Behind you," Darken's voice rumbled in Richard's ear, sending a shiver down his spine. Richard turned to see the man step calmly from the stage curtains as if he hadn't just started a riot. "There's no need to shout."

Sheathing his sword, Richard grabbed Darken by the lapels of his coat, shaking him, "What in the bloody hell are we doing here!"

"I told you to stop shouting," Darken replied. "I believe that the Denna who owns this brothel is one and the same as the infamous Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime. I merely needed a distraction to sneak a look at the record books."

Richard realized that Darken was so close he could feel his breath.

Darken licked his lips.

"Is that it?" he asked. "No outraged speech about forgetting your stag night and bringing you to a brothel to work? No whining about dragging you into another of my schemes against your will?"

Richard kissed Darken.

Then he punched him in the gut.

Wheezing, Darken began to laugh. "You know you're happier here with me in London's underbelly than you are with that, that… Kahlan." He pronounced her name as if it was the most insulting of epithets. Raising his hands, he assumed a boxing stance, feinting at Richard's right before taking advantage of the slightly taller man's swollen left eye and delivering a sharp uppercut to the chin.

Richard thrust his walking stick between Darken's legs, knocking him to the floor. "You act like I broke your heart. But I seem to remember that it was you who told me love is nothing more than a distraction you didn't want!"

Darken swept Richard's feet, then rolled to sit on top of him. There was a brief struggle before Darken was able to pin Richard's arms above his head. Looking down at him with burning blue eyes, he said, "I still don't understand why you left the next day."

Utterly gob smacked, Richard replied, "Because I love you, you bloody great idiot!" He gave a heave, his abs straining he head butted Darken, then rolled them once more so that it was Richard who sat atop Darken, pinning Darken's hands to either side of his face.

"That doesn't make any sense at all." Darken sounded a bit dazed.

But then it didn't matter, words didn't matter, because Darken was kissing Richard, and Richard let Darken's hands go so that he could cup Darken's cheeks, and there were fingers tugging at his clothes and something hot and insistent pressed into his thigh, and there was no telling how far things would have gone if the room hadn't gone silent at that precise moment.

Darken and Richard turned their heads to the side to see that the brawl had come to a halt after the arrival of Scotland Yard, and the entirety of the room had been watching them for who knows how long.

They were on the stage, after all.

-l-

Richard woke in the motorcar with a black eye, a bottle of whiskey between his legs, and his coat tucked around him. Darken was driving, his hair sticking out all over the place and dried blood on his upper lip, no doubt from a bloody nose.

Richard groaned and shifted, then flushed red when he realized his bare arse was against the seat of the car. "Darken, where have my trousers gone?"

His own voice sent a spike through his head.

"I'm wearing them," Darken replied, sticking his arm out to signal that they were turning.

Richard blinked confusedly. "Then where are your trousers?"

"Haven't the foggiest."

"Jennsen will be upset you've lost another pair."

"I plan on telling her it's your fault as soon as the wedding is over."

"The wedding!" Richard sat bolt upright, then groaned, swallowing convulsively to keep from being sick.

"Don't worry, Watson," Darken said. "Knowing what an upright fellow you are," he leered, his tone of voice giving the word 'upright' more than just the usual meaning, "I have driven us to the church. We shall arrive momentarily. I'll nip in and tell her you've died, and then we'll be back at Baker Street in time for lunch."

"We are not telling her I've died," Richard huffed, shifting to rest his head against Darken's side.

"Oh alright, we'll do it your way. Much messier. I suppose you'll have to talk to her for ages about how it's your fault and she'll likely cry on several people. I'm not letting her cry on me."

"She's not going to cry on you," Richard snorted. "I doubt she wants any part of her to touch any part of you."

Darken smiled. "It seems that there is one thing Miss Kahlan and I agree upon."

Darken parked the car outside the church and then went in search of trousers for Richard. As soon as he disappeared through the doors, Inspector Cara Lestrade climbed into the vacated driver's seat, staring straight ahead.

"Richard."

"Cara," Richard answered nervously, taking in her somber look and serious tone.

"There's something I have to tell you," she continued, still not looking at him. A muscle stood out in her jaw as she pursed her lips. "Kahlan wanted to do it, but I thought it only honorable that it come from me."

"What is it, Cara?" Richard asked, heart pounding. Self-consciously, he adjusted his coat to make certain that no one could see his unmentionables.

"I love her. And I've told her. And I've convinced her to marry me instead," Cara blurted out. She looked at Richard at last. "I want you to know that if you ask me to, I will step aside. You have been a good friend to me in the past years I've worked with you and Holmes."

Richard broke into a wide grin that sent a throb of pain through his swollen eye. "That's great, Cara! Our plan worked!"

Cara frowned, her brow wrinkled in confusion. Only now did she notice Richard's disheveled appearance. "What plan? Why are you so happy? And why do you look so…awful?"

Before Richard could respond, Darken burst through the side door of the church, waving a pair of trousers above his head.

"Here you are, Richard," he said, tossing them into the other man's lap. "Lestrade. How are you? Don't touch my driving goggles."

"Holmes," Cara returned, reaching out to pluck up the driving goggles in question and placing them on top of her head. "Why does Richard need trousers?"

"Because he's naked from the waist down. Why else does a man need trousers?"

"Cara," Richard flushed purple. "I can explain."

Pursing her lips, Cara said, "Explain." Never had more disapproval and promise for violence been compressed so efficiently into two syllables.

"It was Richard's idea," Darken proclaimed.

"Now, just a minute!" Richard held up the trousers as if they would shield him from Cara's wrath. "Let's not forget that you came out here to tell me you've stolen away my fiancé on the day of my wedding. We should all be glad that everything has worked out so neatly!"

"Neatly?" Cara narrowed her eyes.

"Richard is moving back to Baker Street," Darken supplied, snatching his driving goggles from atop Cara's head and putting them in his jacket pocket.

"Ah," Cara said. "That is rather convenient."

"Now that you mention it, yes," Darken agreed. "Almost too convenient."

They both stared at Richard.

"Kahlan suggested it!" he exclaimed, still hiding behind the trousers.

Cara began interrogating Richard, while Darken looked on. It was eventually revealed that the entire wedding had been a sham from the start – a plot concocted by Richard and Kahlan to goad their true objects of affection into admitting their feelings.

"Marriage most foul, a matrimonial plot to curdle the blood," Darken snarled.

"Our relationship wasn't a lie at first. But then Kahlan got me to admit I still had feelings for Darken – You know it's impossible to lie to her, Cara, or you will soon enough – and she told me that she'd been waiting for you to propose for years and it all… came together."

"Of course it did," Darken made a show of inspecting his fingernails. "It's all been rather obvious. I knew all along."

Cara glared. "As did I."

"Don't make me laugh. Why did you spend the last few minutes interrogating my dear Richard if you already knew?"

Cara opened her mouth to argue, but then Kahlan's voice could be heard within the church. "Cara? Did you find Richard?"

"I believe I hear your doom calling, Lestrade. That or your wife. Same thing, really."

With one last glower, Cara got out of the driver's seat of the motorcar and made her way to the church doors. "You'd best get dressed and inside in the next few minutes, Richard. You're the new best man."

"You hear that? You've usurped my position," Darken looked down at Richard, a small smile twitching his lips upwards.

"You really didn't know, did you?" Richard grinned. "Richard Watson and Kahlan Amnell pulled one over on the great Darken Holmes."

Darken frowned, then leaned down to give Richard a sensuous kiss, pulling the trousers he had found for Richard from the Seeker's slack hands. "Just for that," he whispered in Richard's ear. "You can't have these trousers."

Then he dashed into the church.

"Holmes! Bring those back! Holmes!"