A/N: This is pretty much canon for both the books and movie. I tried to interweave dialogue from the movie and cases from the books into it equally.

I also tried to write a bit in Conan Doyle's style while still adding my own spin and style to it all, I hope I did an okay job with that.

Enjoy~!

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Indubitably

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I.

The first and only time she doesn't seek him out on her own is before they've ever even met. The King of Bohemia is the one to tip him off.

It is the beginning; the first of many insightful and highly educational encounters with one Ms. Irene Adler. The former Mrs. Irene Norton, Vandle, Romanov, Krouch, Crum, Stein and Barton. Criminal mastermind. Freelance psychotic. In Holmes' words.

Sherlock is quick to deduce her pastimes, her rap sheet, her current plots and schemes, even where she was born, though there have been many living arrangements between now and then (and he can easily puzzle nearly each and every one of them).

But even the great detective Sherlock Holmes cannot deduce her. Cannot dissect her thought process, or even motive; but perhaps the reason for this is that she has none. Even Sherlock Holmes cannot find Irene Adler's weak spot.

But more on that later. He tracks her to a shockingly demure household not a mile from his own Baker Street.

He sets right to picking the lock. Not twenty seconds in, it swings open. "Why hello there," she is a beautiful woman. Even his exclusively rational, cataloguing mind can recognize that much. "You must be the great Detective Sherlock Holmes that I've heard so much about." Her accent is American and vaguely he wonders where exactly she'd heard of him before and what that could possibly mean, but she's already leading him into a cozy salon, suspiciously so.

Clinically he notes every detail of the room, every nuance in her movements and every lilt to her voice. He catalogues any and all information in his mind for further riffling later. Facts are important; the littlest ones, the easiest to overlook, are usually more so.

"Is there something I can help you with Mr. Holmes or is this a purely social visit?" She asks in a sweet soprano voice, completely personable. Also, completely false.

"That would be considerably strange considering that we have never been introduced Ms. Adler."

"Soon to be Mrs. Norton, Mr. Holmes," She corrects lightly. There is a challenge in her smirk. She is hiding something, he knows without a doubt.

Sherlock Holmes can read people yes, easily so. However, he does not know people. Sherlock Holmes knows facts. And only facts. There are times when those around him wonder if he himself is the exception. Often, they doubt it.

"I would appreciate it greatly if you return the incriminating photograph you stole from the King of Bohemia. You intend to use it for blackmail am I right to assume?"

"Indubitably," she does not deny, her expression and tone is frank. In the back of his mind Holmes is noting every possible hiding spot in this room alone. There are approximately 412. "Very clever Mr. Holmes," her brightly painted lips curve into an antagonizing smile. "But you will never find it."

This marks the very first time that the great detective Sherlock Holmes has ever felt the urge to hit a woman.

Irene Adler tends, and to this day continues, to have that precise effect on most people left in her company for extended periods of time.

Frustrating.

He returns later, in disguise of course. Watson, his ever faithful companion, serving as his lookout.

His plan is fool-proof- not that he is a fool -and ingenious. He knows this.

All it takes is a false fire.

When one knows that their home is in peril they reach for whatever it is that is of most value to them.

She reacts accordingly.

Later he returns, breaks in during the wee hours of the morning and ransacks the hiding place.

Thieving from a thief, Sherlock rationalizes, is not thieving at all when one is stealing the thieved object in question and returning it to its rightful owner.

When he lifts the mahogany wood it does indeed contain a photograph, but not of Ms. Adler and the King of Bohemia in compromising position. No, that is untrue. It is simply the wrong photograph. It is a portrait of the lady herself.

Along with it is a letter addressed to him.

It read that he would not find what he was looking for any day soon, perhaps better luck at a later date. She wrote that she had already married her husband and was now, happily, Mrs. Irene Norton. She clearly stated that she held no ill will for the King of Bohemia and that that particular bit of blackmail would only be utilized if the man in question incurred her wrath.

However, it was not the resolution of yet another case that rooted in his mind.

He has been outsmarted.

And so the moniker of The Woman was born. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It is not, as Watson soon comes to realize, that he feels any form of love for the former Irene Adler, simply a budding and overwhelming respect for the only person to ever outsmart him.

He asked the King of Bohemia for her photograph.

II.

The second time Sherlock Holmes' path crosses with that of Irene Adler (or rather, Irene Norton) he doesn't have to wonder if it was a purposefully orchestrated encounter.

"Fancy meeting you here Mr. Holmes," her smile is as much a mask as it had been in their first minutes of acquaintance.

"Mrs. Norton," he tips his hat with a smirk, not letting on the upset to his world she had created with a mere placement of photographs and a few simple words scrawled across some old parchment.

"I am no longer married," she announces, "actually. I am Irene Adler once again."

"Oh," Holmes blinks. Whatever he had been expecting; it had not been this apparent entretoire. "My condolences then."

"Oh don't be dreary," her mouth curves into a pout. Her tone is mocking, but not of him, but of the sorry man that she had wed. "He was boring and jealous. No fun at all," her cheeks puff out and Holmes has no doubt that she played her bride-groom like a lyre.

She is quite the little actress.

"I beg your pardon Miss," he raises an eyebrow, "But I am quite busy, as I am already working a particularly stimulating case. I must be off."

"Do you mean the whereabouts of that society of red-headed idiots?"

Sherlock Holmes is a considerably quick study. And he has learned over his short acquaintance with The Woman that she always seems to know far more than she should.

"Why yes, in fact." Their dialogue is forever careful. Each word is spoken slow and meaningfully. Sherlock, in his attempts to analyze her, Irene in her attempts at not bursting out into quite un-ladylike chortles.

The difference between these two great minds is that Irene Adler may not be able to tell exactly what one ate for breakfast by looking at one's pocket watch, but she can gouge reactions, she can interpret signs. While Sherlock Holmes knows facts, Irene Adler knows people. Known adversaries are far easier to swindle, she has the experience as evidence enough.

Another difference; Irene can read Holmes perfectly; as if an open book. While she, in turn, remains an enigma to him.

"One of the members has extorted money out of the organization thus they lost their funding. In lieu of remaining to see the reactions of their red-haired compatriots, the instigators have left London in favor of somewhere safer." She explains, "Which means that your case is solved, your client is out a few crowns a month and you my dear Holmes have some free time to accommodate an investigation by my instigation."

His stare is level as he gazes at her, "What is it that you want from me Ms. Adler?"

Her smile is true this time, "I need you to find this necklace for me." She hands him a picture. He more than half expects the picture to be a sketch of a largely expensive, obviously stolen jewel, but nay, he is mistaken.

The sketch is a simple oval locket, with the bud of a rose embossed in the face.

Irene thrusts a sack of coins into his palm and leaves for the door. "It's a pleasure doing business with you Mr. Holmes!" she calls, headed for the door of 221b Baker Street and was about to pass the threshold when he stopped her progress.

"I did not say I would take the case."

She shoots him a winning, masking smile, "Consider it a gamble."

Instantly she has disappeared into the bustle of Baker Street.

Later he confides in the good Doctor, Watson just as he does most days (or at the very least when it suits his addled agenda and potentially addled brain).

"The woman who outsmarted the great Holmes at his own game," This amuses Watson to no end. In truth, it's highly enlightening as well. "Well, are you going to take the case Old Boy?"

Watson has never seen Holmes so frustrated and intrigued by one sole person, let alone a woman. It is a new and thrilling experience to observe and comment on.

"The Woman is usually up to something," Holmes muses, and Watson suspects that he is no longer speaking to him, "However, this is not her usual tomfoolery. She wants something from me this time, of this I'm sure."

"What could she possibly gain from such a charade, Holmes?"

"Elementary my dear Watson," he says with a smile that, quite frankly, unnerves Watson. This is a Sherlock Holmes itching for adventure and conflict. "We will take the case, and indubitably it will lead us to what Ms. Adler wants," his eyes sparkle with mischief, "Or rather, what she would prefer we were unaware that she wants."

Watson's sigh is one of an exasperated man. He doesn't suggest that perhaps she just really wants the locket.

Holmes either doesn't notice or doesn't care.

As it so happens it is not the locket she wants, but the key inside the locket. With a triumphant smirk Holmes shows his companion the hidden token and gloats.

With another exasperated sigh Watson congratulates his friend with a sarcastic barb in his voice. "Well done old chap, you found her secret. What will you do next?"

"Why," Holmes blinks and stairs at the doctor as if he'd asked something utterly ridiculous, "give it to her of course."

Watson is taken aback, "Truly?"

"Well yes," he affirms, "She hired me to find it, and I did."

"Of course," Watson approves, "How very gentlemanly of you."

"Now all we must do is follow her to see what the key unlocks."

"Is that what it does?" his tone is sardonic.

"Well yes," Holmes continues to look and speak to him as if he were particularly slow, "Keys tend to open things, come now dear Watson. Keep up."

So Watson follows the great Sherlock Holmes.

And watches with barely concealed amusement as he is outwitted once again by The Woman. He finds himself admiring the young miss, who so easily, as if a mere specter, disappeared into the night.

III.

The third time Holmes and Adler's paths cross is not because she has hired him, or because they have stumbled upon the other.

Holmes has absolutely no grasp on her hidden agenda, her possible gain by initiating such an encounter, and yet, he is sure she has one. Irene Adler always does.

So when he returns to 221B Baker Street without the steadfast Watson to play buffer, he is not happy. This is perhaps because he is unaware of the pleasure Watson gleans from watching his dabbling in normal human interaction. It is one of only four things that he is unable to do.

He knows. He counted.

"Hello Holmes, miss me?" She asks, and her eyes glint as she looks at him just so. He feels annoyance for this woman. The Woman. And yet, also grudging respect.

"Always a pleasure, Adler," he figures that they have reached a point at which he may drop the vernacular. She is on par with any man, and to treat her- or call her –any differently would be an insult.

"Indeed, Holmes," she seems thrilled with their exchange, for a reason unknown to him.

"May I ask what was in that safety deposit box?" He breaks the silence and though he knows he is being remarkably polite; he cannot help but wonder why it is so, in the presence of a criminal.

"You may ask," she replies, "But my answer may dissatisfy you."

"No answers dissatisfy me Adler." This, however embellished with a cocky smirk, is true.

"The Duke of Camborne's trust fund."

"Of course," he laughs. And she laughs with him.

It is then that his eyes fall upon the portrait she had given to the Bohemian King that he himself had kept. It is right on display in the mess of contraptions that has become his abode. And she has yet to see it. He thinks this is probably best and so quickly he hides it in the back pocket of his coat.

"I married again by the way."

Of course she had, this was typical pattern; this was something that Sherlock could deduce about The Woman, something he could understand and profile. "The cousin of the Russian Tsar this time, if I am correct- which I usually am."

Her smile is its usual venomous, double edged sword. "Yes, in fact. Tsar Nicola doesn't like me much."

"I don't expect he enjoys you calling him by a girl's name either."

"Touché."

"So what is it that you came for today?" Curiosity is a familiar feeling for Holmes. He enjoys the simplicity of the excitement of not yet knowing, but being on the verge. This is the feeling that drives every case.

"Am I not allowed to visit an old friend?"

"Is that what we are?" This was a new development.

Where a normal woman would have found this reaction insulting, Irene simply deems it a quirk. This is who Sherlock Holmes is; a man with little tact outside the careful execution of his own careful planning. It is indeed very funny, she thinks privately. "Yes."

She heads for the door, but just as she brushes past him; far too close in fact, inside his personal space, she stops. She is not much shorter than him; this is the first thing he notices with The Woman so close. This is odd, considering he had known her true height, without the high heeled leathers, at first glance. He had been able to gouge her weight, age and career choices in the very same glance.

And yet, it still strikes him as odd how she is nearly level with him. It is ironic, he knows.

Irene Adler reaches behind him and grasps the frame, pulling it from its hiding place.

As she leaves she sets it upright on a mahogany chest of drawers.

It is merely moments later, when his impeccable recall kicks in and he realizes that she had stolen his wallet.

For a moment he wonders how in the world she was able to distract him so.

The next is dedicated to wondering if his judgment was always so clouded as of late or if this was new.

The third moment is a simple, audible and resigned sigh.

The third time they meet Sherlock Holmes isn't quite as annoyed as he should have been.

IV.

The fourth time is over a year later and he still refers to her as The Woman, over her given name. One reason for this is because he truly has no idea of her current surname; another is because truly, it is a habit and a deserved title more than anything else.

They had spent far too much time together, far more than they ever had. It just seemed that no matter where he went for a fortnight; there she was. And it was entertaining yes, Irene Adler-Norton-Brown-Hedgewigg-whatever she was calling herself at that moment, was a mystery, if nothing else. And Sherlock Holmes was a man who enjoyed them. The banter was quick and clever, stimulating in its ability to keep him on his toes.

He isn't entirely sure how it happened; this is not a new feeling to Holmes. But for The Woman to have the same affects as his drugs, as the injections…this is a startling development, one which, for all his great powers of observation, he cannot explain to himself.

Somehow the sharp glares that are exchanged along with the poison bite of words and angry banter turns to contact. Her hands are cold; they brush against the skin of his neck as those very same, criminally dexterous digits fist in his shirt, yanking him towards her with strength.

He has been kissed by a woman before. But not by The Woman. And most certainly never like this.

This is harsh, and broaching on inappropriate. Her hold is tight, her mouth violent and before he is aware what has happened, it is over.

The next time he finds himself initiating it.

There is biting and grabbing, angry exchanges of words they don't mean and as per their usual interaction they are arguing exceptionally articulately for two people in such states of upset (and undress).

Sexual tension. This is the term that Watson bestows upon the frothing electricity coursing under his flesh. Later, when all is said and done and he learns of what has come to pass between the con artist and his dear friend.

But for the moment the great Sherlock Holmes is brought to his knees, because a feeling is not something one can deduce from clues. It isn't like seeing through a lie, or a truth even. It is something inside him and inside Irene he is guessing. So he calls out her name, her true name, because he does not know what else to call her.

Irene Irene Irene

That is who she is to him. There is no explanation, and no condolences offered with the sting of not knowing. He loathes the feeling and he vows, or rather his subconscious does that he will find out exactly who Irene Adler-Norton-Brooks-Romanov-whoever she is and lay this case to rest as well.

And then, for one brief eternity there are no thoughts running through the mind of Sherlock Holmes, only blank nothingness and an explosion of light.

Panting he stares at her, and where there was once a wall of false nuances, of carefully executed movements to lead him astray. Irene is simply a woman in that comfortable cocoon of time; out of breath and naked before his very own eyes. Her smile is different here. Tired and sweet and something is glistening.

Not love.

Neither one of them is capable of something like that. Love is for optimists, for idealists like Watson. Love is a chemical reaction that takes place in one's own mind. It is simply a motive, to Holmes. And, he is sure, that that is all it will ever be to him.

No, the glint in Irene's eyes is not that of love, or even affection. But it is an understanding of the man that he is.

It is fair to say that he cannot return the favor just yet, because unlike him who has no true secrets of his own; who displays the flamboyance that is his true nature like a brooch, the sly Ms. Adler shows merely what she wants others to see. She hides behind a mask of intentions.

For the first time in his life Sherlock Holmes falls asleep beside a woman.

In the morning, he does not wake up beside one.

The fourth time that they meet; Holmes is somehow hurt, for the first time, at their parting, though he unaware that that is what that throb means.

This time his Faberge Egg is nowhere to be found.

V.

The next time they meet Holmes has decided something.

He will never be outsmarted by The Woman again.

"Was that-?"

"Yes."

Irene Adler had returned.

"Watson! Help me!" And already he was jumping out of windows and into bins of coal.

This time around she wasn't working alone; this was a new development that he filed away for later. What he couldn't shake, however, no matter how hard he tried, was how afraid she looked. He has never known Irene Adler to fear a man.

While this should have concerned him, he feels that it is righteous retribution, in a way.

But ever so slowly, the deeper he delves into all of this, the more obsessed he becomes. With knowing.

Knowing Irene and knowing circumstances. He is having fun.

These people are with him in a quest of mystery and adventure, and he finds himself thinking that this is something that he could do for the rest of his life, if they remained consistent characters in his dealings.

He can admit to affection now. Somewhere along the way, between Blackwood, an explosion and the pattering of scurrying feet through the sewers, he discovers his own base humanity. He is no longer simply Sherlock Holmes, greatest consulting detective of all time. A logical machine. He is a man. A man with friends. Friends who understand him.

And he in turn, is beginning to understand them.

This is when he finally solves the mystery of Irene Adler's reappearance.

It hurts. Holmes has never known betrayal before, and he finds that it has no sound or sight or smell linked to it. It is intangible and inside him; it tastes like vinegar.

She has lost his respect the instant he comes to these conclusions.

As he tucks the key down her shirt he watches her cry for the first time, "You'll miss me."

Idon'twanttorunanymore she had said. She had lied. Irene Adler was always running.

"I will," it's ironic.

He doesn't want to dwell on it though, doesn't want to see her again for a very long time. However, what's shocking in this ironic twist of fate and circumstance is that even though he has finally unraveled at the very least a large part of the mystery of Irene Adler, there is no closure here. No ending. There are still questions he wishes to ask, and he doesn't have to wonder if there will always be a mystery to The Woman.

In their back and forth battle of wits and wiles, the give and take of their unspoken competition, it is only once they've met a fifth time that the great detective Sherlock Holmes finally wins.

A/N: I had fun writing this ^^ and it was an amazing movie.

But y'all are a bunch of dirty minded perverts XD All of you had your slash goggles on while watching that movie (Yes, I'm talking to you Pip!)

I have nothing against gays obviously, but Watson's getting married and Holmes spent the entire movie pining for Irene. BRO-mance people! Sorry. Rant over. They do act like an old married couple though, I can admit that.

-sigh- anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading it!

Some Facts:

- Sherlock Holmes in the original series was in fact a drug addict.

- The case with the redhead's society is actually real.

- The portrait featured in the fic and the movie is actually canon, given to him by the King of Bohemia at his request, the narrative mentions several times that it is one of his most prized possessions.

- He does actually refer to Irene as The Woman.

- The Tsar of Russia's name was Nicholas. The feminine of that name is Nicola.

- A Faberge Egg in this day and age is priceless.

I'm a regular fun fact fountain^^ Yay alliteration!

Now that I've bored you to tears; have I converted you yet Pip? 'Cause I'll keep trying!

Haha.

Boom.