So the plot monkeys started planning this one after an offhanded comment from Captain Evil while we were watching Magic Mike—yeah, you see where this is going!
So this is my Valentine to you—what is better than some hot stripper Johnlock with a dash of Mystrade? Hope you enjoy! And Happy Valentine's Day, darlings!
Well, this is certainly not the first place I'd thought of going today, John thought to himself. He was standing off to the side, arms crossed over his chest as he watched Sherlock do what he does best.
They had been summoned by Lestrade to a club called Midnight Equilibrium, which catered to women and a handful of gay male clientele. When the club manager had come in early to balance his books, he discovered one of his dancers strung up from the stage lighting rig, murdered the tools of his trade…
"John…" Sherlock said as he leaned over the body.
That was the doctor's queue to put all those years of medical training to the test.
"What is this—oil? His body is covered in oil?" Lestrade asked as he peered over John's shoulder.
"It appears," Sherlock replied, deadpan. "But to what end I am unclear at the moment."
"It's a special lubricate used by exotic dancers," the doctor explained. "They oil up their bodies so that it glistens in the stage lights. Makes them look wet—it's supposed to be sexy."
When his statement was met with prolonged silence, John glanced up at his friends to find them both staring down at him like he had grown a second head.
"What?" he demanded, suddenly feeling self-conscious for sharing that knowledge.
"And why do you know this?" Greg questioned with raised eyebrows. "Frequent the gentlemen's club often, John?"
"What? No! I…ah, had…a mate at uni who…danced," John explained haltingly as he blushed profusely.
Sherlock eyed his flat mate curiously. He knew that John was lying, but he let it slide for the time being, as it wasn't relevant to the here and now of the case.
"So, male…dancer…twenty-three. Student at a local university. Working to support himself through his studies. The killer had to have been a man, considering the amount of strength it would have taken to hoist his dead body up to the lighting rig. Also, the person we are looking for happens right-handed, judging by the angle of the initial strangulation…about six foot three," the genius rattled off.
Lestrade leaned down to get a better look at the ligature marks on the victim's throat. "How do you like that? Strangled to death by underwear…poor sod."
John's gaze followed Greg's hand as it flitted over the bindings still tied around the stripper's neck. It was obvious that the killer had used whatever had been available for the strangulation, as the actual murder weapon was a g-string. The doctor found this oddly amusing in a sick sort of way. Oh, God—I'm beginning to think like Sherlock! This is just the sort of kinky thing he enjoys…
That thought startled him. He had thought of Sherlock in many ways before over the long course of their partnership, but kinky was never one of them. Wonder what he thinks of this…Nope! Don't even go there, John Watson! You will not think about your best friend and flat mate in that way! His mind scolded.
The truth was John's thoughts had been slipping down this road more and more frequently as of late. It didn't help that Sherlock kept giving him these odd heated stares whenever the detective thought John wasn't paying attention. Not one to abide by conventional rules of personal space to begin with, they had always been closer—quite literally—than the doctor had been with anyone else besides a lover. But now, when one invaded the personal space of the other, it seemed much more intimate than before. The sexual tension between them lately was almost palpable to those around them and it was nearly enough to make even the chastest and devote nun blush.
And God help them! They were now on a case involving the murder of a male stripper. Sherlock was a little too amused when they discovered where the scene of the crime was.
The man in question had resumed his study of the body; no doubt learning all there was to be gleaned from the corpse by now. Sherlock made a little humming noise as he noticed something.
"What have you got?" Lestrade asked.
"This man has had penetrative intercourse within a short while of his death," the consulting detective stated. "There are the tell tale fluids on his backside…"
John tried very hard not to think about that as he looked anywhere but at his flat mate or the body. He felt a faint blush creep up his neck. I'm a medical doctor for God's sake! What was my problem?!
"Hmm…jilted lover?" surmised the DI, thankfully ignoring the doctor's reaction.
"Not sure," was Sherlock's answer. "It's a possibility, but I need more information."
The genius suddenly stalked across the club to the bar where the manager was currently perched on a barstool, waiting for the investigation to wrap up. The man immediately stood upon seeing Sherlock approach.
"Mike Channing, club manager," the hulking six-foot-one brunette introduced.
"Mr. Channing," the detective greeted. "You were the last one to see Mr…Kelly? last night?"
"Well, he was the last of the guys to leave, which was usually the case. Alex always hung around a bit afterwards helping me shut down the place—last night was no exception."
"Did you see him leave the club?" Sherlock pressed.
"No, I left before he did."
The genius raised his eyebrows in response to which Channing just shrugged.
"That was actually the norm," he explained. "Alex would help me close down the bar and a lot of times he'd stay late to work on a new routine or whatever. He liked to be secretive with his material—didn't want the other guys to see his new act until the first time he performed it for the audience."
"What about his coworkers? Were there any problems between Mr. Kelly and the other dancers?" the consulting detective queried.
"Everybody got along as far as I could see. They all worked well as team, helping each other out when need be. All my guys manage to pull a few hundred quid in tips most nights so there's no real rivalry amongst them," was the answer.
John had been hanging back listening to the interrogation up until this point. He jumped in and asked the next question in Sherlock's long line of inquiries. "Did Mr. Kelly—Alex—have a significant other that might not have approved of his line of work?"
The manager turned and regarded John with a little more than passing interest. The doctor couldn't help but blush at the clearly appreciative look he received. It did not escape his notice, however, that Sherlock narrowed his eyes and frowned ever so slightly at the interaction. John doubted anyone but him would have noticed.
With a charming smile, Channing replied, "Not that I was aware of. He never talked about anyone special. Though Alex was a favorite among both the ladies and the few men who frequent our establishment. He did have a reputation for going 'above and beyond the call of duty'—if you know what I mean…"
"I'm not sure I understand what you mean," Sherlock confessed, clearly annoyed.
Mike dragged his eyes away from John reluctantly to address the detective. "The other guys talked about how Alex took extra side gigs for certain clients—they would pay him for…additional services rendered."
"You mean they paid him for sex?" John clarified for his partner's benefit. He was unsure whether the genius would have picked up on the innuendo, seeing as how incredibly naïve he seemed to be on the topic.
The manager's eye swiveled back to meet the doctor's. He nodded. "That's what I heard. Not sure how true it was, but the other guys…they talk."
"Thank you Mr. Channing, you've been most informative. When will the rest of your staff be in today?" Sherlock abruptly asked in a waspish tone, effectively shutting down the conversation.
"They usually start strolling in around six. We don't open until eight, so they have time to prep and work out any kinks in a routine," Mike stated.
"Good. I'll be in later to question your staff," Sherlock declared. He latched onto his blogger's elbow and pulled him towards the exit with a "Come along, John."
The doctor didn't respond, but he was rather pissed at his flat mate's behavior. Not that Sherlock wasn't normally rude and had a complete disregard for social conventions, but this seemed different somehow.
Lestrade met them at the door. "I'm going to have the forensics team finish up here and then I'm going to turn the place back over to the manager. There's nothing else you need to see? I'm going to suggest that they open tonight as usual…perhaps we can scope out the 'usual crowd' and see if we can get any further leads."
"Excellent decision, Detective Inspector," the genius commented. "I was going to suggest just that. I have a feeling our murderer will make a reappearance. We shall be back at six to question the rest of the staff."
With a nod, Greg agreed. They took their leave, letting the officers do their job dealing with the aftermath.
John was glad to exit the club. He was grateful for the fresh air—or rather, as fresh as air is in London. He had never been claustrophobic, but the last few minutes inside had seemed stifling, like the walls were closing in on him. He couldn't quite pinpoint the cause of his distress, but John knew without a doubt it involved his partner and this particular crime scene put him ill at ease.
Sherlock hailed a cab in no time, as usual, and they were on their way back to Baker Street. He was in a talkative mood today apparently, for he started prattling on about the details he had gleaned from the scene. Normally John would have been fully invested in the deductions that the genius threw out, but right now he couldn't find it in him to care. He just tuned out the detective and watched the city speed by, lost in his own thoughts.
"John! John! Did you hear anything I've just said in the past five minutes?" Sherlock inquired, the annoyance clear in his voice. If there was one thing he hated more than anything, it was being ignored—especially if the person ignoring him was John.
"Hmm?" the doctor asked as he turned away from the window to finally look at his partner. The thunderous look he received did nothing to settle his nerves.
"Honestly! What is your problem today?"
"My problem?! What's my problem?!"
"Yes—you've been behaving rather strangely since we arrived at the crime scene."
"I have? What about you? What was that back there, Sherlock?"
The consulting detective's brow creased as he frowned, studying John. "You were distracted the entire time we were there."
John shook his head. "Not what I meant. You were overly rude to the manager right there at the end—after he'd been nothing but nice to you. Did it ever occur to you that the victim might have been a friend? Can you at least pretend to be considerate when we question the staff later?"
"Given the circumstances I believe I was suitable cordial," was the response.
"What?" John exclaimed incredulously. "No, no you weren't. You were rather rude, in fact."
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Only because he was distracted. The moment he became aware of your presence, his concentration level slipped."
"So this is somehow my fault, then?"
"No, John! I am merely stating a fact."
"What was that about then, Sherlock? You're going to have to tell me because I'm lost."
That piercing gaze roamed his face for several charged moments before it was gone when the detective turned to stare out his window.
John sighed and resumed watching the city pass by. It was clear the conversation was over; he wasn't going to get an answer to what was going on in his friend's head. Perhaps its better this…not sure if I really want to know anyway…
Sherlock gritted his teeth, not seeing anything on the other side of the window. How could John be so willfully ignorant of the things around him? First, he was clearly hiding something about his knowledge of striptease—what? Etiquette? Wrong word—preparations? Closer. John was embarrassed by his knowledge…
The genius wasn't completely unaware of the needs and desires of other men. John was a healthy adult male who had certain requirements. It was nothing to Sherlock if his partner saw fit to attend such dens of iniquity—that was his business, after all. Perhaps it was that he had shared such intimate knowledge in front of his friends. This was definitely something they had never discussed—although he could only speak on his own personal conversations with his blogger. God only knew what John and Lestrade got up to on those pub nights of theirs.
Alright, if Sherlock was being completely honest with himself—and he was trying to make a sincere effort with concern to John—he was jealous. Yes, the great Sherlock Holmes was jealous. The look Mike Channing had given the doctor was decidedly more than friendly. In fact, he'd go as far to say it bordered on full-blown lust. The consulting detective didn't want anyone else looking at his blogger like that—John was his. As usual, the doctor was blissfully ignorant as ever.
This was most distracting and it annoyed Sherlock more than it ever had in the past. This case was shaping up to be not only challenging, but interesting as well—and instead of concentrating on what information he had just learned from the crime scene, here he was thinking about his bloody feelings and John. This simply wouldn't do.