A Kiss and a Cuddle Should be Sufficient

Chapter 1

Author's Note: Happy New Year, all. Yes, I'm sorry I'm so late, but the sentiment is there, nevertheless. This is my first offering of 2013 and I hope you like it. Chapter 2 is a bit strong. You have been warned.

Remember you can also find me at AO3 as Evenlodes_Friend.

Sherlock had been playing his cards very close to his chest.

'Made any progress?'

'I'll let you know.'

He hadn't let John have his laptop back for three days. Three days spent, incidentally, behind the locked door of his bedroom.

'People are dying, Sherlock,' Lestrade called, pressing his cheek to the wood.

John rolled his eyes. 'You won't get anything out of him,' he said.

At which point the door flew open and Sherlock barged through in a flurry of blue silk dressing gown.

'Hey- Where-' Lestrade shouted after him.

The bathroom door shut with a slam, then opened again briefly.

'John, we are going out. Lestrade, you can make an arrest tonight.'

Then it shut again. There was a momentary pause, and then the sound of the shower filled the flat.

John peered into Sherlock's room. His laptop was lying in the midst of the rumpled sheets. He went in and picked it up.

'The bastard has let the battery go flat,' he groaned.

Lestrade shrugged. 'Normal service resumed, I suppose,' he grunted and slouched off.

'You can't go in that,' Sherlock snapped.

John looked down at his clothes. He was wearing a perfectly reasonable outfit for a smart event, which was what Sherlock ordered. Chinos, button-down collar shirt, tweed jacket.

'Why not?'

'We aren't going to some Islington dinner party, that's why.'

'Well, perhaps if you told me where we are going?'

Sherlock breezed past him, taking the stairs two at a time.

'What are you doing now?' John called up.

Sherlock's voice was worryingly muffled. 'Choosing you something suitable to wear!'

'Oh God!' John gasped and raced up. It was as bad as he expected. Clothes everywhere, and Sherlock with his head in the closet, flinging out more. A smart white shirt, recently ironed, described a neat arc.

'Haven't you got anything vaguely presentable?'

'You're putting all that away again, do you hear, you fucking vandal?' John could feel his blood pressure scaling new heights.

'Ah!' Sherlock plucked out a collarless black shirt and held it out to John imperiously. 'This, and the dark jeans.'

'It doesn't fit.' John crossed his arms and set his jaw. 'It's too tight. Pulls at the buttons.'

Sherlock's face lit up. 'Perfect!' he trilled.

'Dear God, you're not serious? I'll look like a middle-aged gay on the pull!'

'Aha,' Sherlock grinned, pushing the shirt into his hands as he made his escape.

When John came downstairs again, he was duly dressed as required and feeling very uncomfortable. When he reached out for his tweed jacket, the shirt placket strained and patches of pale flesh were exposed.

'I can't go out in this, it's indecent!'

'Not the tweed,' Sherlock said, snatching it away. 'The black donkey jacket, I think.'

'There goes any credibility I had left,' John grumbled, and followed him out of the house.

Four men have been killed. Strangled, to be precise. By person or persons unknown. The killings appear to be entirely random, the victims have nothing or no one in common, at least as far as the Met can work out, and those are the hardest crimes to solve. The only common factor is the modus operandi. Strangulation with piano wire.

'Garrotting, to be technically precise,' Sherlock corrected John in the cab.

'So where exactly are we going?'

'To a party,' Sherlock said, staring hard out of the window, which he always did when he was only giving John half the story because he knew the unspoken half would piss him off acutely. (You get to pick up on these little things when you've lived and worked together as long as John and Sherlock have.) So John stared out of his own window, quietly fuming, knowing he was being taken for a ride by his friend as well as the cabbie.

Bankside. Behind the Globe Theatre. A fancy conversion of a Victorian warehouse, all glittering glass and spotlights.

John and Sherlock entered through a prism-cut door with etched panels, beautiful, swirly, stylised representations of Shakespeare's London. In the middle of the foyer was a table and behind it stood a man. A naked man. Actually, John noted, to be fair he was wearing a black silk bow tie. And a tan.

'You must be Sherlock!' His eyes were flaring flirtaciously.

'You must be Darren,' Sherlock glowed. John had seen this before, Sherlock doing his charm thing. 'I've been so looking forward to meeting you.'

'Oh, mutual, darling.' Darren looked John over with a shamelessly obvious expression of desire. 'And who is this?'

Sherlock slung his arm loosely around John's shoulders. 'This is John.'

'Well, hello John!' Darren could not have been more camp if he had been wearing a woggle. Which he was not. John noticed that the tan was an all-over tan. Completely all over. Despite being a doctor, John didn't know you could tan there. Amazing what comes out of a bottle these days, he thought, and managed a smile. Unsure as to what the hell he was supposed to be doing, he decided to play along and rip Sherlock's head off later. He slipped his arm around Sherlock's waist and squeezed.

'Sherlock's boyfriend,' he added, as if he wasn't making himself clear enough.

'Of course,' Darren smiled, apparently reading a subtext that wasn't there. 'It's all the same here.'

To John's amazement, Sherlock then handed over a sizable wad of cash, which Darren stashed in a drawer on his side of the teak designer table.

'So, are we playing tonight?' He asked this, trying to conceal his hope with nonchalance.

Sherlock gave John a fond glance before he answered. 'Oh, just watching tonight, I think. John likes to watch.'

'And you like what John likes,' Darren fluttered. 'You will let me know if you change your minds. I'd love to join in.'

'You'll be first on our list if we do,' Sherlock grinned.

Darren scooped something out of another drawer. 'Here's some party hats,' he said. 'Just in case.'

He dropped whatever it was into Sherlock's hand.

'Mmmm,' he said, examining the haul. 'Blackcurrant flavour. Haven't come across those before.'

'Oh, they're my favourite,' Darren tittered salaciously. 'See you boys later!'

He even did a little waive with his fingertips.

John managed to peer into Sherlock's palm before he tucked the haul away in his jacket pocket. Condoms. They were halfway up the stairs before he grabbed his friend's arm, and jerked him to a standstill.

'What the fuck are you playing at? What is this?'

'Going undercover,' Sherlock snapped back. 'Try to look natural.' He slid his arm tighter around John's shoulders, pulling him in against his thin body as if in a gentle intimacy. John marvelled, as he often did, at how Sherlock's actions were at odds with his words.

'What are we going under cover at? This – what is it?'

'Ok, you are my boyfriend-'

'I'd already established that!'

'And we are here to watch a gay group sex party.'

'What?!' John almost squeaked.

'Keep your voice down, you idiot! The victims do have something in common, John. It just took me a while to find it. They were all voyeurs. They liked to watch gay sex. They all attended this party the night they died, but declined to participate.'

'What do you mean, this party? You just paid to get in!'

'It's a regular meeting, once a week. People pay to take part or watch, as they prefer. All vetted, all very safe, and the perfect environment for the killers to scope out their victims.'

'So we know it must be someone on the guest list?'

'Yes.' Sherlock was starting to mount the stairs again when John pulled him back.

'So how did you get on the guest list? Are you a regular?'

Sherlock laughed softly. 'When did you notice me doing anything regularly?'

'Hang on, you told Darren I liked to watch.'


'So, I'm the bait?'

'Don't worry, you're perfectly safe.'

'I know that, I can handle myself, thank you very much. It's just you might have thought to tell me first.'

'Are you suggesting that if I had told you we were going to watch a gay orgy, with the expectation of you attracting a sexually motived killer, you would have been perfectly fine with it?'

John scowled at him for a moment, then threw up his hands. 'Alright, what do you want me to do?'

'Act natural. We are in love, it's your kink and I'm indulging you. You don't have to take part, just be a bit lovely-dovey and try to blend in.'

'Blend in? I'm a straight man at a gay orgy and you want me to blend in?'

'The previous victims managed it.'

John shook his head. 'Yeah, and look what happened to them. With piano wire.'

Sherlock huffed as a man appeared above and trotted casually past them on the stairs. He was wearing a rubber g-string. He didn't seem to notice them, but Sherlock pulled John a little closer just in case, brushing his lips along John's hairline. When he had gone, they eased back, and John felt his face burning.

'So what are you going to do?' he asked.

'Look for potential assailants, and act as if I'm enjoying watching you get turned on by watching other men fuck.'

'Great,' John grumbled. 'Tell me again where this was in the flat rental agreement we signed together?'

'Oh, for heaven's sake, just put on your happy face, and let's get this over with,' Sherlock groaned. 'People are dying, remember?'

Tomorrow, Sherlock and John have to convince the killer of their 'veracity' as a couple…