Notes: Written for the SH kink meme on LiveJournal in response to this prompt: "Watson/Irene/Holmes. Pre-movie. 5 times Watson has accidentally seen Irene Adler (at least partially) naked. (Suppose she and Holmes didn't always have 'their old hotel room' and it was quite a relief to Watson when they finally started taking their business elsewhere after there were several incidents...especially because Irene didn't seem to mind starting to get to know both of them pretty well the more she was around, but he's sure living together shouldn't mean sharing everything...)"

For the sake of this fic I'm ignoring the fact that there's obviously no bedroom directly connected to Holmes and Watson's sitting room, at least not in movieverse...because I fail. Haha. And Holmes and Watson share said bedroom, which is ridiculously not canon and more of a silly reference to how Robert Downey Jr. said they do in some interview, leading to some crazy fan rumors that there are actually deleted scenes showing this. LOL, fans.

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five times john watson quite unintentionally saw irene adler naked
(and one time it wasn't so unintentional)

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I.

Returning from an errand in the early afternoon, Watson thinks he hears someone moving quickly about inside the chamber after he comes up the stairs to the door. But when he goes inside, he is immediately exasperated to find Holmes barely dressed and still in the chair where he passed out to sleep the night before as if he hasn't moved since, lounging in the dark with all the curtains drawn closed.

"Have you forgotten that you did commit to work on a new case two days ago?" Watson asks wearily as he starts to take off his coat and gloves. "You may be far too brilliant for such lower creatures as myself to be able to follow your methods, but I'm still quite sure it's impossible for you to reach any conclusions by sleeping on it many extra hours into the day."

"Watson..." Holmes speaks up only to start to protest as he starts whipping the curtains open, spilling bright light into the room.

"And Mrs. Hudson just mentioned something to me about another client we supposedly met with yesterday? Holmes, please tell me you didn't take another case before you've barely begun the other."

"Yes, about that..." Holmes's words start to sound a little urgent. "Perhaps I'd better explain—Wats—"

His speech cuts off when Watson yanks back the next curtain, bringing out a short yell. The strong contralto voice comes from a young woman who was formerly hiding just to the side of the window behind the curtain. She has rich curls of brown hair falling loose around her shoulders and a striking face, the likeness of which Watson easily recognizes after regularly seeing it in the photograph Holmes has peculiarly cherished ever since his unforgettable first encounter with her, which is at the moment frozen in a startled but also vaguely amused expression.

She is also completely naked from head to toe.

As Irene Adler immediately grabs the curtains to cover them back around herself just from the neck down, Watson spins back around with a somewhat shell-shocked look, as if he is too taken aback and embarrassed at the same time to form an adequate reaction right away.

Irene, however, recovers from the mishap rather quickly, and Watson hears her say comfortably, "Pardon me, doctor. Allow me to get out of your way..." Then she casually moves around the room to gather her clothes as he stays rigidly still with his back to her, meanwhile facing Holmes and fixing him with an aggressively annoyed stare that does not waver the entire time she gets ready to leave. Holmes just stays where he is relaxing in the chair, nonchalantly tapping his pipe on his knee while occasionally watching Irene out of the corner of his eye, with a look in which Watson can see wariness and captivation somehow remarkably intertwined.

Before she leaves, she turns to Watson with the most shameless and relaxed smile, as if the untoward way they first acknowledged each other moments ago didn't happen at all. Extending her hand, she says, "It's lovely to finally properly meet Holmes's colleague I've heard so much about."

He takes a moment to react and grasp her hand lightly and briefly, neither shaking it or kissing it in his slight disorientation, and manages only to awkwardly say, "Pleasure."

As soon as she is out the door, Watson opens his mouth for the impending outburst but is immediately silenced by Holmes holding a hand up and hissing, "Shhh!"

They both stay still and silent a moment, Watson looking perplexed and impatient and Holmes leaning slightly toward the door as he seems to listen intently. The departing footsteps down the stairs become momentarily arrested after the first couple steps before they resume again, getting fainter as she descends down the rest of the staircase.

"Whenever she arrives or leaves, it is always the same," Holmes observes in a tone of frustrated bewilderment, seeming to talk mostly to himself. "While coming up or going down the stairs, she always stops for a moment on the sixteenth step, or sometimes the fifteenth...What does it mean?"

Making no sense of his ramblings and not caring in the least anyway, Watson finally brings up the more pressing matter. "That...That woman was Irene Adler!" he says, seemingly struggling to state the ridiculousness out loud as he gestures toward the door with an incredulous look.

"Obviously. Is there any other?"

"Or formerly Miss Adler, that is...What was she doing here? With you?"

Holmes raises his brow innocently. "She's...our other new client, of course."

"Oh, I should think not! Whatever she is, she's certainly nothing of ours, but your problem. How long do you think our landlady can remain convinced she's coming round here for business purposes? There is such a thing as a reputation that those outside of your deranged world sometimes think of."

"Yes," Holmes agrees, looking almost like he is taking the words seriously. "Which is precisely why it's quite out of the question for us to meet at her current place of residence, where we can't say we are meeting for business purposes at all."

"She...has a place of residence? In London?"

"Oh yes. She has returned here to stay indefinitely."

Watson shakes his head, overwhelmed. "Is she not somewhat recently married, Holmes? I'd think you needn't be reminded, as you were actuallypresent at the wedding disguised as a beggar, if I do remember and have it documented correctly."

"Indeed, she is recently married. Recently divorced, too."

He lets out a heavy sigh. "And with the kind of deviousness you know her to be capable of, you really think this is a good idea? You think you cantrust her?"

"Of course not," Holmes answers calmly, rising from his chair and starting to idly pace around the room. "But generally, one can trust any person below their own level of intelligence, even if it's a person with feeble and poorly executed intentions to be untrustworthy. I'm sure you can't begin to understand the pleasure someone like me finds in for once having the company of someone I know perfectly well I cannot trust."

With his last words, his eyes linger briefly on her picture where it sits a few feet away from him on the table. Watson can only shake his head again, giving up.