I'm back, with more Adlock!

This was something I was originally opposed to, because with Sherlock I've found I'm able to be more... artistic and really capture the depth of emotion and love/lust that is Adlock. Here, I'm trying something new- a longer Adlock fic, with about five chapters or so. (I know that's what I always say and I end up with 100k+ but I'm 90% sure I mean it this time.)

BEFORE YOU READ: This is really a sort of SEQUEL to another of my Adlock fics- Let's Have Dinner. That is my version of canon, neatly spelled out for you. :) Quite basically, I believe that every time Irene texted Sherlock "let's have dinner" they actually had dinner. (You'll see. Go read it!)

For the record, Burleith is (according to Wikipedia) an upscale neighborhood in Washington D.C.

Enjoy. I have the next chapter done, and will upload it as soon as I'm done with the second chapter, or Saturday, whichever comes first.

ALSO: This is the prologue, which is the only part of the story which is partially in third person present. The rest in is third person past tense.

After he died, Sherlock Holmes sought his redemption in the arms of Irene Adler.

It made perfect sense, to him. Irene Adler had played a part in his downfall, and she would play a part when he rose from the ashes and reclaimed what was his. She was as much a ghost as he was. How strange, that once they had been together and alive and thought themselves immortal.

That was their folly. When they fell so hard they burst into flames, when there was nothing but ash and regret and pain, that was when they truly knew how foolish they had been to ever think themselves gods.

"I thought I might never see you again." Her eyes greedily drink in the features of his face. He can feel the gentle sweep of her gaze on the many bruises that mar his complexion.

"Because the papers say I'm dead?" He quirks up one eyebrow, and she makes a small noise in the back of her throat, a laugh and a moan and sob, as if to say, 'You know me better than that.'

She lets him into the generous flat, turning to find herself trapped against her own door. "Because I knew who you were facing," she whispers. "Sherlock-"

"Moriarty is dead." He lifts a hand to her face, caressing her cheek with the back of his fingers.

"Then why aren't- John, I'm guessing?" The flash of terrible anger on his face confirms her guess.

"And Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade." The names sound like a mantra already, a purpose, a vendetta.

"What do you need from me?" There are many, many things that Sherlock Holmes needs from her. But as any man (for now he is a mere man- Sherlock Holmes has been proven mortal in the most fatal of ways) wishes to prolong the inevitable, Sherlock slants his mouth over Irene's and presses her against the door because it hurts too much to think clearly.

But when he had finished his mission, when he had thrust aside the shroud and walked like Lazarus into the familiar kitchen of 221B Baker Street, his lover remained a specter. It seemed for the best- it had been too easy, too tempting, to give in to the grey softness of anonymity when being dead meant being with Irene Adler.

The last night they are together, Irene cooks a simple meal and afterward they sit together on her couch with identical glasses of crimson wine. "You want me to stay. Here," Sherlock says. His voice takes her back to Karachi, to when they were intertwined under white cotton sheets already feeling the ache of their separation.

Irene smiles at him sadly. "What I want and what I know will happen are two different things, Sherlock." She knows all too well that nothing works out the way it is supposed to. That men and women who think themselves impervious and indestructible can smash to pieces on a sidewalk or lose their heads in a heartbeat.

He looks pained. "It- it makes- I-"

"Shh," she hushes him. "I understand."

He has the look on his face that she now knows means he wants to kiss her. "You are the only one who ever would." He's telling her she's special, she's loved, she's the most important person in the world to him.

And she understands. "I know. When do you leave?" How long does she have with the one person who makes her feel complete? Tu me manques, the French say. You are missing from me. Irene and Sherlock are part of one consciousness and while they can function part, like the two halves of a brain with a severed corpus callosum, it's never quite right when they are apart.

"Tomorrow morning." She watches his throat as he drains his wine glass. There is a scar there that wasn't present two year ago. Or, for that matter, two months ago.

She chooses to make the best of their situation. "Then we have sixteen hours." Irene lets her lips curve up in a slow smile.

Sherlock's eyes flash, and his fingers tighten around the stem of the empty wine glass. "Seventeen. Late morning flight back to England." She doesn't suppose he'll miss the States. London, with all her abysmal weather and smoggy skies, is Sherlock's home. Most days Irene misses England as well, even the dreary rain filled days and the false sun that brightens but does not warm.

"Just- promise me we'll meet again." The words escape her mouth before she can rein them in, but Irene knows that they are not a mistake. They've avoided making any promises. But now Moriarty's network has been successfully disabled and Sherlock can return to his home.

He frowns, turning to her not even aware he's raising his voice. "I thought you understood how dangerous-"

"I do," she interrupts.

"Then...?" Sherlock is, as ever, his remarkably sarcastic self. He drawls the word, extending it to comment on her mental facilities, her state of mind, and quite possibly the girl she kissed in the third grade.

She tries to explain. "I've realized that some things are more important than-"

"Your life?" He is angry at her, for clearly and explicitly stating that she values what they have over her safety. It has always been their deal- they know it, but never acknowledge how much the other means to them.

"I'm already dead," says Irene, as blasé as years as a dominatrix to the highest of high class has made her.

Sherlock clenches his jaw, and she admires the form of his features absently in some corner of her mind. "Not to me." When their eyes meet, she doesn't bother to hide her shock. He followed her lead, and acknowledged it too.

"As long as you live, I will be alive in your memory," Irene whispers, recalling her lover's eyes memorizing every inch of her body, learning it and relearning it again.

And although he never promised aloud, she knows he did silently.

Now, as Sherlock sits in Mycroft's office, loyal John faithfully at his side, it seems as if those two years he was dead are nothing but a dream. If it was a dream, there was surely someone above laughing at it, for what kind of mind weaves the worst nightmares with threads of fantasy?

Hunting down Moriarty's men had not been easy. Finding their secrets was harder. Sherlock supposed he must he must be thankful that for every five men of Moriarty's he found, four would have enough skeletons piled in their closets to earn years of jail time.

But in his time on the run, he had masterminded the deaths of sixteen men and personally killed twenty three.

Twenty three times he had stumbled back to Irene's flat, and twenty three times she accepted him without fear, without judgment. She let him talk as much as he needed to, she let him sleep for three days in her large bed, she let him make love to her over and over again because he needed to forget.

Mycroft smiles thinly at Sherlock. "So, little brother? Has my case captured your interest?"

Sherlock is about to respond in the negative when his mind pulls a particular facet of the conversation to the forefront of his mind. The case is in America, with the American government. Missing documents, possible scandal. In other words, just the place for a dominatrix with a penchant for collecting state secrets.

He sneers at his brother, and rises. "Perhaps. Text me the details."

Let me know what you thought. Again, it is pretty important to the story later on for you to have an understand of what happened in Let's Have Dinner.

This was short, I know, but it is only the prologue. :)

I'll see you later this week! (If you post adlock on tumblr, let me know!)