I wrote this with the White Stripes song "Icky Thump" on a loop the entire time. Can you tell? BEWARE: I played with a choppy, anachronic writing style, so hopefully it doesn't make your head explode. It's supposed to be erratic, like Sherlock's experience. Also, look at me, sort of playing with het! I don't even ship Sherlock/Irene, but…I think it sort of works here.

Sherlock is handcuffed to a bed in New Orleans. Naked. As he waits to be retrieved, he reflects on his tumultuous week spent chasing a clever, clever girl through Mexico. He misses John.


Sherlock stands in the shadows in the far reaches of a grimy alley, holding a strip of cloth torn from a T-shirt to the wound on his face with one hand and texting John with the other.

TXT MESSAGE TO:

JOHN WATSON

1:02 AM

Going to send you a photo of an injury. Tell me the best method of stitching it up. SH

TXT MESSAGE FROM:

JOHN WATSON

1:05 AM

I don't need a photo to tell you. Best method: go to the nearest A&E and have a doctor stitch it up.

Sherlock rolls his eyes, and then grinds his stiletto-heeled foot firmly into the base of the neck of the man lying on the ground before him when he starts to regain consciousness. The man cries out in pain and lies still again. John texts again before Sherlock can begin to reply.

TXT MESSAGE FROM:

JOHN WATSON

1:06 AM

Why are you texting from an unknown number? Whose phone are you using?

Sherlock glances regretfully at the remnants of his phone lying sadly a few feet away. He takes a picture with the phone he's using now of the man under his foot.

TXT MESSAGE TO:

JOHN WATSON

1:08 AM

My phone has just been broken. Here's a picture of the man who broke it. I'm using his.

TXT MESSAGE FROM:

JOHN WATSON

1:10 AM

What happened?

TXT MESSAGE TO:

JOHN WATSON

1:11 AM

I put him in place after he sexually assaulted me.

TXT MESSAGE FROM:

JOHN WATSON

1:12 AM

WHAT!

Sherlock smiles at the capital letters and combination of exclamation points. John is concerned. At least someone is concerned for him; he's getting annoyed with all this violence directed at him. This is the second man to try to attack him tonight. He wonders if it's because they're attracted to transvestites or if they actually think he's a woman.

TXT MESSAGE FROM:

JOHN WATSON

1:13 AM

Are you all right! Did he actually do anything? Is that why you need stitches?

The gashes on Sherlock's face throb beneath the cloth when his attention is drawn to them again.

TXT MESSAGE TO:

JOHN WATSON

1:15 AM

1. Yes, I'm fine.

2. Apart from shoving me into a wall and doing some extremely inappropriate groping, no.

3. No, these injuries are actually directly related to the case, and I'll regale you with the details later. Which brings us back to the reason I contacted you in the first place: need stitches. Tell me how.

He takes a picture of his face (he's glad this phone has a camera flash, it's very useful in this dark alley) and sends it to John.

TXT MESSAGE FROM:

JOHN WATSON

1:16 AM

Go to a hospital, Sherlock, and get your stitches there. And then hurry up and finish your case and come home. Mexico clearly isn't kind to you.

TXT MESSAGE TO:

JOHN WATSON

1:17 AM

I don't like hospitals. The only doctor I'll tolerate is MY doctor, and my doctor is on a completely different continent right now. E-mail me instructions; I'm returning to my hotel and my laptop.

.

He's not even surprised that the cuffs he wakes up in are of the fuzzy variety. He is, however, a tiny bit surprised that he's not wearing any clothes. And that a quick look around the room and a glance out the little window tell him he's not in Mexico anymore.

He takes a brief mental survey of himself, making sure he hasn't got any wounds that imply she'd taken advantage of him while he'd been unconscious—he wouldn't put it past her, she was very forward and had been quite obviously taken with him (who could blame her? Sherlock couldn't)—and is relieved to find nothing disproportionately sorer than before she'd drugged him.

Stupid, stupid, he'd been so stupid, so caught up in the excitement and fun of the game that he'd let himself slip and thunk—he knocks his head back against the headboard.

She'd won. He'd hate her for it if he could, but damn, she was good. He can't not respect her.

.

He doesn't take cases from Mycroft without a fight but when his brother shows up at 221 B with a manila folder already in hand and a lofty aura about him, Sherlock is curious enough to let him in.

He leafs through several crime reports from several parts of the world. He glances over mentions of kings and princes and CEOs and government officials and presidents and crime lords among normal civilians (with lots and lots of money, granted, but still normal). The girl's one of the best conmen out there.

He sees Warsaw and her name and he knows she's involved with Moriarty, which means the game is on again. He smiles at his brother before he can stop himself.

.

He gets in the man's car with a winning smile, glancing carefully down the dirty street at the woman at the corner (she's watching, clever, clever, as much of a prostitute as Sherlock is, which means not at all, and Sherlock needs to keep his cover) as he pulls the door shut. He watches her in the rearview mirror and calculates how quickly he could move in these heels—

The punter starts to speak in low, raspy Spanish when he turns a corner, and Sherlock uses that moment to yank off his left shoe and stretch his leg over the center console to slam on the brakes and he grasps the man's hair tightly in his hand and swiftly slams his forehead down on the steering wheel three times until he's unconscious.

He yanks off his other shoe rather than waste time trying to put the other one back on, and he leaps from the car and runs back to where he was stationed at a full sprint (it's much easier to run in a dress, and the breeze is quite nice, he has a new respect for transvestites) and he bounds around the corner—

She's gone. The pool of orange light from her street lamp is empty. Sherlock swears.

.

Once upon a time, John might've thought the peaceful stillness and quiet brought about by Sherlock's absence was relaxing, but really it's just boring and lonely, so he's pleased when his cell phone pings and he sees Sherlock has texted him.

He opens the message and sees a pair of long pale legs in fishnet stockings. John's certainly not complaining because he thinks a woman's legs are one of the most beautiful things on the entire planet, but he is confused, because why the hell is Sherlock sending him picture messages of sexy legs? It must be for the case Sherlock's taken—he hasn't yet found out who it is exactly that Sherlock is chasing over there in Mexico—but he thought Sherlock would be a bit more appropriate than to take pictures of her legs and send them to John.

He thinks about responding with chastisement, but, well…those are some very attractive legs. He saves the picture and texts Sherlock.

TXT MESSAGE TO:

SHERLOCK HOLMES

6:37 PM

Nice legs. Whose are they?

TXT MESSAGE FROM:

SHERLOCK HOLMES

6:38 PM

Mine. I take it they look acceptable for a street corner?

Oh God. John hastily deletes the photo he'd just saved.

TXT MESSAGE TO:

SHERLOCK HOLMES

6:39 PM

What the hell are you wearing fishnet stockings and stiletto heels for?

TXT MESSAGE FROM:

SHERLOCK HOLMES

6:40 PM

I'm surprised you need to ask. Obviously I'm disguising myself as a prostitute. I needed to make sure my legs looked acceptable from an outsider's point of view.

John huffs in annoyance, embarrassed.

TXT MESSAGE TO:

SHERLOCK HOLMES

6:42 PM

You can have bloody told me that before I went and said I liked your legs.

TXT MESSAGE FROM:

SHERLOCK HOLMES

6:43 PM

That's not neither fun nor is it at all gratifying to me.

John drags a hand over his face and sends off one last text telling Sherlock to be careful and not to come back to London with an STD.

.

This is kind of like the sort of fight Sherlock sees on crap telly in those reality programs, except it seems that he's not the only one well-trained in hand-to-hand combat, and most people wouldn't approve of him hitting a girl.

But they're both in dresses, and she's actually rather formidable (Impressive, he thinks as she expertly dodges his punch in a way that's more like dancing than it is anything else) and, much like him, stronger than she looks.

His head cracks against filthy tile floor and he sees stars but he manages to spin and pin her, his hand up against her neck and fingers digging into her jaw.

"You're not wearing underwear," he says, fascinated, with his knee lodged up between hers underneath her dress, pressing against soft, damp flesh, well

"You like?" Irene Adler laughs (chokes), her throat vibrating against his palm.

"Just an observation."

And her knee comes up to match his and his vision goes black in agony for a moment. Women fight dirty.

.

He's in jeans again and it's dark outside the plane and his legs are jittery with excitement and—

"You got to relax, vato, this plane ain't going down, eh?" the young man in the seat next to him says with raised eyebrows, misinterpreting his nervous fidgeting for fear. "Aiming for the Big Easy, you got to take it easy."

"She's gotten ahead of me, she's so clever," Sherlock mutters, more to himself than to the man beside him, looking out the window and not even trying to stifle the manic grin that spreads across his face. "Clever, clever, clever Irene. She can't hide from me, though."

"Ohhh," says the man, smiling. "Novia bonita, yeah? Got a pretty girl waiting for you there?" He nudges Sherlock's shoulder companionably, and Sherlock can sort of appreciate it even though he's got it totally wrong, because he's one of the nicest people he's met in Mexico thus far, and he's not even technically in Mexico anymore.

"No," Sherlock says mildly, rubbing his palms excitedly on his jeans as he glances out the window again. "I don't do girlfriends."

"Oh. Ohhh." Rapid blinking. "Está bien, definitely."

Sherlock wishes John were here.

.

Irene's taken his clothes but she was kind enough to leave his new/borrowed/justly stolen cell phone on the bedside table. Sherlock cranes his neck to read the words she'd written on a slip of paper beside the phone.

I threw away all your fancy clothes. Sorry, I know they were probably expensive. But I kept your underwear, since I don't have any and it keeps a little barrier against men in dresses touching my lady parts.

"That was my knee," Sherlock mutters with an exasperated roll of his eyes.

P.S.,

Flex those muscles, babe, and you can get your phone back and tell your boyfriend to come get you. ;)

It's been a while since he's really exerted that much strength, but it feels good to hear the loud crack of the bedposts splintering. He's glad Irene's cuffs are soft.

.

"All right, now—tilt the screen, I can't really—the lighting in there is really horrible, are you sure there's no better…?"

"The bathroom is the brightest in my hotel room, I can't do any better."

"I can't believe you hate hospitals but have absolutely no qualms about stitching wounds up on your own without any local anesthesia."

"It's fine. Have I done all right?"

"Tilt your screen a bit more—other way—sod this crap webcam—yeah, it looks…it looks fine, it'll do. I completely disapprove."

"Yes, yes, so you've said. I'll let you redo them when I'm back in London, will that make you feel better?"

"Probably not. Are you going to tell me what exactly happened to your face?"

"Irene happened to my face. We had a slight altercation. Banter was exchanged. I commented on her corset, she insulted my disguise, I insulted the size of her chest."

"Er, wow. So that's why she did that to your face?"

"Oh, no, she only slapped me for that comment. After which I admitted to lying and said from a purely objective standpoint her breasts were a credit to her sex. Fingernails were involved in the resulting slap that time, but I think it was more out of propriety than true umbrage."

.

"Stop being a brat, Sherlock. I'm short on money, and the only way I can come get you is to use Mycroft's private jet, on which you will come back to London with me whether you like it or not! Honestly. You're lucky Big Brother loves you. I think you'd be surprised at how thoroughly you've got him wrapped around your finger despite the way you behave towards him."

.

Sherlock is overcome with a strange sense of déjà vu as the room and Irene swim awkwardly before his eyes.

"You drugged me," he accuses mildly, trying to set his wine glass down with as much dignity he can manage as he hangs onto the table for support.

"Only a little. You'll wake up. I'm not really into that whole murder thing, regardless of who my boss is." She smiles and pushes him ever so slightly, and he staggers, guided into a chair.

"Stupid," he slurs.

"Yeah, but hey, I'm flattered you got all stupid because of me." She pats his cheek, and then says, "Since you'll probably never see me after this, and it'll probably be a while before I get such a handsome, brilliant all helpless before me—" Her hands cup his face, squishing his cheeks, and her mouth is mashed against his, her tongue warm and visceral pushing past his lips.

"Ngk," he murfles stupidly, bewildered. Why'd she have to go and do that for? Americans. He feels violated, but then again, maybe it's payback for the unfortunate placement of his knee before—

And then his mouth is free, and while it's a relief, it's still an oddly empty feeling and he suddenly wishes John were here. He frowns disapprovingly at Irene (she had no right kissing him, that's the third time he's been sexually assaulted in Mexico) before his eyes slide shut and he pitches forward into darkness.

.

TXT MESSAGE TO:

JOHN WATSON

4:40 AM

I'm naked in New Orleans. Come get me.

TXT MESSAGE FROM:

JOHN WATSON

4:41 AM

Is that some sort of strange attempt at sexting me?

TXT MESSAGE TO:

JOHN WATSON

4:42 AM

Don't be stupid. But I am wearing fuzzy handcuffs. Summary of the case: Irene Adler is quite possibly cleverer than I am. She's gone. She ran to New Orleans, I followed. She drugged me and handcuffed me naked to a bed. Come. Get. Me.

.

John is startled when his phone rings rather than makes the little plink! sound to indicate a text.

He answers it with, "You're actually calling me? Thought you preferred to text."

"I'm alone, naked in a building in a large city in a country I've never visited before, and in need of some comfort. Your voice is the best thing I've heard in a week."

"I'm touched."

"Shut up and tell me how you've been. Give me every wonderful, boring detail of your week."

.

"I'm not surprised. Meeting someone on his intellectual level makes him very reckless," Mycroft sighs. "Anthea will escort you home to pack him a change of clothes. A jet will be waiting in ten minutes."

.

On the mantelpiece next to Eve the Skull is a picture John can't help but let his gaze linger on anytime his attention is expressly drawn to it: Irene Adler in a lacy corset and garter belt, all round hips and red lips and curly brown hair and simply the epitome of sexy.

John retracts his previous statement to Sherlock; for all that Mexico was unkind to him, Mexico was definitely very, very generous to Sherlock indeed.

.

It's quite possibly either the most hilarious or most pathetic thing John has ever seen in his life when he opens the door and Sherlock Holmes throws himself at him, stark naked.

"Oh, thank God," he sighs heavily into John's shoulder, inhaling deeply as if to absorb all the normalcy he'd been lacking in this past week.

"Erm," John says awkwardly, laughing a little. He grips Sherlock wiry bare arms and holds him away. He pointedly hands him the bag of clothes and then raises a hand to tilt Sherlock's face just so, peering at the amateur stitches on his cheek. "You're all right?"

"Much better now."

.

Sherlock actually takes a nap while he waits for John to come. That's what beds are for, anyway.

.

"Remind to not to ever leave you behind on a case again."

"Why?"

"I missed you."