Molly wasn't sure why this woman was in her morgue and found herself too speechless to ask. She stood in front of the doors, tall and thin, with her black hair twisted into an elegant knot at the back of her head. Her grey eyes, lined with black, stared at Molly, and her blood-red lips were twisted into a smirk. "Well," she said softly. "Miss Hooper, it's a pleasure to finally meet you."

"I—I'm sorry?" Molly stuttered. In her trousers and white lab coat she felt self-conscious and drab as she looked at this woman and the way her sleek black pencil skirt hugged her long legs and her white blouse offered the smallest hint of skin at her throat. As she walked in closer Molly noticed her pumps were as blood-red as her lips. "Who are you?"

"A friend of Sherlock's," the woman said, her eyes watching closely for Molly's reaction. She did her best not to let her face change. "Your name," Molly said. "That's what I was asking."

"Technically I've been here before," the woman said as if Molly hadn't clarified, letting her gaze wander around the cold, steel room. "I'm sure you can take a page out of his book and deduce it yourself." Those eyes came back to her and Molly felt herself flush under the look, letting her own eyes drop further down the woman's blouse.

Then, suddenly, she flushed deeper and tore her eyes away completely. "You're that woman," she said. "A—Adler." She remembered that day in the morgue all too well: the way Sherlock had asked to see the body itself, how his eyes, carefully blank, had run over the exposed, death-white skin of the corpse on the table from her throat all the way to her toes. That's how he had identified her, by her naked body, except it hadn't really been her.

A dainty white hand came into her vision expectantly. "Irene Adler, dearie," the woman said. "As I said, a pleasure."

Molly was mortified but manners told her to grasp the hand and give it a shake. Irene's skin was cool and dry, her grip light and ladylike, and Molly let go as soon as she could. "Pleasure," Molly whispered.

The scent of Irene's perfume receded slightly, her heels clicking. Molly raised her head again and hoped that the red in her cheeks wasn't so noticeable, but found herself examining Irene in a way she hadn't before. What was it that Sherlock had liked about this woman that he hadn't seen in Molly? She was taller and thinner, her skin whiter, and she was beautiful, no question about it; was it her physical appearance or her sense of dress? Or was it the way she exuded confidence? Molly had admittedly never been good at confidence. "Is there something I can do for you, Miss Adler?" she said finally.

"You helped him disappear, didn't you?" Irene said.

It took all of Molly's willpower not to look away again as her heart rate rose slightly. "I don't know what you're talking about," she said. "Disappear?"

"Oh yes, dearie." Irene walked slowly around her, her grey eyes raking over her as though examining an opponent, or a sculpture. Molly swallowed and resisted the urge to turn her head as Irene disappeared behind her. "We both know he's not dead, even if poor John believes it and mopes about in his flat all day."


"You're not a good liar, Miss Hooper." Then, suddenly, Irene's lips were at Molly's ear and she breathed "How did you do it?" in a hot whisper against her. A shiver ran down Molly's back as she felt a tendril of Irene's hair brush her neck. "I didn't—"

"Come now, Miss Hooper, we both know you're lying to me." Irene circled around in front of her and although Molly felt like this was an interrogation an amused smile still tugged at Irene's red lips. "Lying is a very naughty thing to do."

Molly could feel the blush creeping back into her cheeks and she dropped her head slightly to avert her eyes. Almost immediately Irene's delicate fingers took her chin in a surprisingly strong grip and forced her to look back up. The dominatrix's face was an inch away from hers. Molly could see every eyelash, every fleck in her eyes, could even see the trace of moistness the lipstick had left on Irene's lips, and she found herself strangely breathless. "Do you know," those red lips whispered, "what happens to naughty girls?"

Molly practically gulped. "What?"

Irene moved closer, her lips tantalizingly close, and Molly found herself tipping her face up slightly as if to meet them. Then The Woman pulled back and released Molly's chin, a coy smile playing on that mouth. "They get punished, darling," she said, and then she walked away, her blood-red heels clicking on the floor as she left the morgue. And as Molly gasped in a breath, she had to wonder if she would like that punishment, and if—and when—it would come.