A/N Argh, so I love this ship, but it's so damn rare! This is my little attempt at writing them. It feels a bit awkward and lopsided to me, but please review and let me know what you think!
Rated T for sexual references and kissing
Disclaimer I don't own Sherlock or any associated characters, events, etc.
Jealousy was never something that got in the way of Irene Adler's intentions. Simply enough, she didn't consider it a very reasonable thing to get worried about, since she had the means—that was, the body and the skills—to fix any incident of someone preferring another over her. There were few—very few—who could safely say that they had no interest whatsoever in the Woman, no matter their age, gender, or sexuality. She carried with her a sort of universal appeal, something impossible to be ignored, hidden in the whispers of silk lingerie and the snap of a leather riding crop, the gleam of scarlet lips and shine of ebony hair. Some were initially indifferent, or even repelled by her, but she won them all over in the end.
All of them, except, it would seem, for Sherlock Holmes.
And that was where the problem lay, because Irene was a woman used to getting what she wanted. When the thing that she desired the very most happened to be out of reach, she'd take in anything and everything around it, trying blindly to satisfy herself with all but the single object—or, in this case, person—which she genuinely wished for. It was a chaotic pattern, a dangerous one, and any one of Sherlock's associates had cause to be reasonably concerned for themselves. The dominatrix was a rolling die, prone to land on whichever number, whichever face happened to jump out of her. If she couldn't have the detective himself, she'd need a good enough substitute—not necessarily one like him in terms of body or personality, but rather a man or woman who knew what Sherlock was like, who could tell her all about him over the sweat-stained pillow, understand her pain for not being able to have him herself.
Someone close to him. Someone who knows him. Someone who cares about him.
John Watson—boring. Greg Lestrade—dull. Mycroft Holmes—tedious. Jim Moriarty would have been the obvious option, if not for his being in all ways Irene's equal. If Sherlock was hard to get, Moriarty was a near impossibility. As intrigued as she may be by him, he would match her too easily. No, Irene needed someone unsuspecting, someone who wouldn't know what they'd gotten into until they were in the bed with the riding crop and hopefully little else.
Her smile when she finally found the perfect target would have been enough to make anyone tremble.
Oh, this was going to be fun.
One thing that Irene hadn't counted on was rain.
It was heavy rain, too, dashing furiously against the long, sleek black rain jacket that she'd pulled on at the last moment. An umbrella shielded her carefully styled brunette hair, making sure it remained firm and glossy in its elaborate twist, gathered at her pale neck. She narrowed her eyes, long, curved lashes sticking slightly as she fought to see more clearly through the torrential downpour that separated her from St Bartholomew's Hospital. A few brisk steps later, she was pushing open the door with one perfectly manicured hand, sliding her umbrella shut with the other and ducking inside, coming up with a sigh of relief.
Without farther hesitation, she set off down the long hall, heels clicking along the linoleum with an unshakable sense of purpose. She moved with a posture unbefitting of a woman who was meant to be dead, but that didn't matter. Even if someone did catch sight of her, they could easily dismiss her as a simple look-alike of the supposedly deceased Irene Adler. They had no foundation for the belief that she had survived the terrorist cell that intended to behead her. People, she had discovered, tended to believe what they wanted to. And, right now, there was hardly a person on the face of the earth who wanted Irene to be alive.
The thought made her grin.
The journey to the morgue was quick and easy, one that she had already memorized while poring over floor plans. She didn't want to have to stop and ask for directions, not this time around. Soon enough, she was at the door, unable to contain a light smirk as she glanced at the nameplate on it. A second later, it was closing behind her as she calmly stepped inside.
Molly Hooper jumped at the noise, turning around from a computer quick enough for her high-gathered ponytail to lightly slap her already flushed cheek. Her wide eyes flickered up and down Irene's figure, looking as though they weren't sure how to react to the sight presented to them. It was subconsciously, Irene noted, that her previously slumped shoulders straightened up a bit, and that she rubbed her lips together lightly as if to confirm that makeup was dispersed evenly over them.
A bit self-conscious, are we, now?
"Um, h-hello," Molly greeted cautiously, swallowing and touching the end of her ponytail with two slim fingers. She looked ready to say something else, then bit it back, clearly waiting for the other woman to make her own introduction.
"Irene Adler," the dominatrix purred. "Yes, you recognize the name, don't you?" she added when the expected disbelief flashed over the coroner's face. "Last time you saw me, I was a corpse… and I've managed to resurrect myself twice since then, haven't I, now?"
Molly gaped openly. "A-Adler? But… you can't be her, she's dead, she's dead for real this time… even Sherlock says so…"
"Oh, yes, Sherlock." Irene's painted fingernails trailed along the table that she stood next to as she raised her eyebrows, watching Molly from underneath her lashes. "Let's talk about Sherlock, why don't we? You're interested in him, aren't you…? I can see that, I know you are. I've read your little online diary. Darling thing. It's clear enough that you're fascinated by our favorite detective, now go on… tell me. What exactly is it about him?"
"I'm sorry, I… I don't know what you… I have work to do," Molly stammered uneasily. "I'm not sure how you got in here, but… you can't just barge into the morgue, see, you need to—"
"I don't let rules hold me back," Irene cut in smoothly. She advanced, noting that the mortician backed up a bit farther, watching her unblinkingly. "That's what I am, really, a rule-breaker… but we both know that already. Don't bore me, Miss Hooper. I asked you to tell me about Sherlock. Go on, then. What is it that you find so enrapturing?" She couldn't be sure exactly why she was asking these questions. All she knew was that, for once, she didn't just want to cut to the physical part of the interaction she had initiated. She was interested—interested in what Molly had to say.
If Irene had been a less proud woman, she might have reached the conclusion that she was looking for sympathy. But she was arrogant, haughty, even, and so such a realization remained far away.
"Sh-Sherlock?" Molly repeated, stepping backwards automatically and ending up standing uncomfortably close to the wall, the edge of a table digging into the base of her spine. "Well… I don't… who says I find him… enrapturing? I should call someone… tell them that you're here, that you're not dead…"
Her hand was halfway to a phone before Irene's met it there, long fingers wrapping around her delicate wrist, scarlet nails cutting in and intercepting the racing pulse there. "Bit excited, are we?" Irene murmured, her deep crimson lips barely moving. Molly had completely frozen, watching her with wide, unblinking fawn's eyes. Irene gazed back levelly, her stare pale and cold.
"Why are you here?" Molly whispered.
"Because I want to know, Miss Hooper. I want to know what intrigues you so much about Mr. Holmes. And do you know why that is?" She didn't even wait for Molly's half-whimpered no. "Because I want him, and I can't have him. And if I can't have him, and you can't have him, do you realize what that leads to? Even you can't be stupid enough not to come to the right conclusion there."
Molly flinched as if stung. "What… what do you mean, even you? I'm not… stupid…"
"No? Then prove it to me." Irene's face was icy, raptor-like, chiseled. "I'm going to ask you this one more time, and if you do want things to go easily, I suggest that you answer properly. Tell me about Sherlock, love. Why do you like him so much?"
Molly's head jerked slightly as though she was tempted to pull away, but she didn't. "I… I like… everything about him," she finally choked, looking a good deal more scared than she had any reason to be. "His intelligence, his voice, his looks… his rudeness, even," she added with a very forced laugh, a petrified smile tugging slightly at her lips, and looking more like a grimace than anything else. "He's just… he's Sherlock, you know? There's not anyone else like him… not really…" A shadow seemed to fall over her eyes, and the almost-happy expression slipped from her features, making way for a quiet upset. "He doesn't… well… I'm not sure he knows how I feel about him… that I even exist, really." Her lab coat shifted on her thin shoulders as she gave a light shrug. "I know I shouldn't be upset over it, but… well…" Then she shook her head, suddenly and sharply, as if dislodging a thought that had made its home there. "It doesn't matter. I'm strong, I can get through something like this. Just a crush, really. They hold the greatest of us back."
Irene wasn't moving. She stayed in the exact same position as before, lips parted, gripping Molly's wrist, watching her with hard eyes. Her chest heaved up and down slowly as the other woman's words sank into her.
There's not anyone else like him… not really… I shouldn't be upset over it… I'm strong… they hold the greatest of us back… the greatest…
"I'll bet he really liked you, though," Molly added, sounding a bit desperate. Her mouth was downturned, and she looked almost as though she was speaking through tears, despite her clear eyes and voice. "It seemed like that… he was upset the first time you were supposed to be dead, really upset. And I bet he is now, too…"
"He's not," Irene murmured, the tiny twitch of a smirk tickling her mouth as she remembered the flash of his snowy green eyes from over the dark fabric that had served as a mask.
When I say run, run…
"Well—never assume anything too fast, right?"
Something had gone out of Irene, and Molly's words had been the thing to take it. She suddenly didn't want to take this woman back to her house, didn't want to bring out the handcuffs and the riding crop and pin her against the pillows until she screamed for mercy, didn't want to tease her and torture her and taunt her until it grew unbearable.
She just wanted to kiss her.
And so she did, going through the movement in the careless way that showed just how many times she'd done it before, with all variety of people, all matter of genders and ages. Molly's breath began to come rapidly as the other woman's lips brushed against hers, the air flowing between their mouths, a tingling tickle. Irene pressed in harder, bringing them fully together, the tip of her nose running along Molly's cheek as she ever-so-slightly loosened her grasp on her wrist, feeling life flood back into the previously restrained pulse that was now hammering faster than she would have imagined possible.
"W-what… what are you…" Molly gasped, but that was all she got out before Irene nipped her lips shut, not biting, just hard enough to prevent farther speech. She slowly took Molly's other hand in her free one, holding them both at hip level, a light clutch.
"You know what I'm doing," she replied simply.
A muffled syllable from the other woman strained against her tongue, which was now tracing the edge of Molly's reluctant teeth. It might have been Why, and Irene chose to interpret it as such.
"Because… you need it. You need it as much as I do." The truth of the words sank in slowly, and she let out a low sigh, a whispery stream of breath that passed between them. She pulled back for a moment, looking over the absurdly flushed face of the mortician, at her amazingly bright eyes and her slightly swollen lips.
"But… why…? I'm not him, I'm nothing like him, I—"
"He's never going to want us, Molly… he's never going to want either of us," Irene pointed out almost contemplatively, raising a hand and tucking a loose, damp strand of Molly's hair behind her ear, allowing her fingers to linger around the sensitive area behind her jaw. "You know that as well as I do."
She felt and saw the tiny nod that was given in response.
"A woman can dream, though, can't she?"
"Not a smart woman. And you are a smart woman, Molly Hooper… I can tell. It might not show on the outside… perhaps you aren't clever, but you are smart. You know people, don't you? You know souls… you know hearts… that's what makes you different… you're like his Dr. Watson. I think that's why Sherlock keeps him around, don't you? Because he completes him, in a way… they are awfully sweet together…"
"It—it's not like that," Molly mumbled. "Between them. They're… friends."
"Oh, of course, whatever you say." Irene's wandering fingers moved upwards, tracing Molly's hairline, one long nail cutting across her eyebrow. "But they're still a couple, still a duo… the mind and the heart… sentiment does trip one up, doesn't it? I've never been too much of a one for it, myself… not to say I haven't fallen in love, which is a good deal more than Mr. Holmes can claim, I'm afraid…"
Molly swallowed heavily.
"But you, Miss Hooper, you're human, you're so wonderfully human… the very portrait of one whose life is defined by such a delicate thing as emotion…"
The shorter woman's head tilted slightly, watching Irene. An odd, different look was beginning to fill her face, one that took Irene more time than usual to identify, since it had probably never been directed at her before in her life.
"You're lonely, aren't you?" Molly asked softly, looking a bit afraid to speak the words.
"Lonely? Why ever would I be lonely? I have whomever I need, darling. Even a live-in… assistant like Dr. Watson. Darling Kate. I wonder what would happen if you two were to meet sometime…"
"Why would I…" she trailed off, then took a deep breath and plowed on. "But… she's not… I mean… no offense or anything, but you're… a bit obvious…" The blush on her face darkened impossibly.
"Obvious?" Irene felt defensive, of all things. "Even Sherlock Holmes couldn't read a single thing from me. I'm afraid that the very last thing I am is obvious, Miss Hooper. Many, many adjectives could be used to describe me, and that's not one of them."
Molly was shaking her head. "You… you don't have anyone… of course Sherlock wouldn't be able to read that; he doesn't notice those things… he can't see it, even you can't see it, in yourself. But I can… it's in your eyes… sad eyes…"
Irene didn't react, didn't move. Things were going nowhere like the direction that she had hoped for. Something was burning inside of her—not in her eyes or throat, but somewhere deeper, a hidden place in her chest that she'd sworn to lock away years and years ago.
"Does anyone know you're alive? Does your… Kate know that you're alive, even? Or did you have to cut it off completely? With everyone?"
"I—I'm sorry," Molly said hastily, beginning to turn away though Irene still held her hands. "That was… very rude of me, I shouldn't assume things like that. You'll have to excuse me, I just… lost track of myself there."
Irene reached out without even processing her actions, cupping her hand around the back of Molly's neck and tilting it down slightly, pulling her close so that she could rest her chin on top of her head. She breathed out slowly, feeling Molly quiver as she wrapped her arms around her, placing her hands at the small of her back.
"Thank you," she whispered, her voice low, soft, almost sad. She wasn't sad, though—far from it. Quite the opposite—her head was clearer and lighter than it had been in months, since she first met Sherlock, before that, even. It had been long, so long since someone had seen right through her like that, seen the truths buried so deep that even she had lost track of them.
She was lonely. Horribly lonely.
Molly slowly, tentatively pressed her lips to Irene's bare shoulder, exhaling in the lightest manner possible as, in tiny degrees, she secured her own arms around the scantily clad dominatrix, confirming the tight embrace between the two of them that brought their bodies impossibly close together. She didn't reply at all to Irene's expression of gratitude, instead conveying everything in the gentle motions.
They stayed like that for a few minutes, just holding each other in place, the stillness communicating everything that was better left unspoken, the apologies and condolences over Sherlock, over everything. Neither of them knew quite what had happened, or exactly how things had managed to turn out like this, but neither minded, either. This was okay, for the time being, just this little fragment of shared peace.
Irene finally pulled away, letting Molly go and breaking away from her hold, taking a few steps backwards. "You have work to get back to," she reminded her quietly, voice not sounding anything like her own. The coroner's mouth—the lipstick smeared from where Irene had kissed her—opened as if to object, but the dominatrix didn't so much as look back as she strode out of the room, the door closing behind her with an achingly final bang.