I know that this particular song has been used for songfics fifty three billion times, but I couldn't help myself. I was feeling frustrated with my other adlock story, and this appeared. It's shorter than my usual stuff, and it is only a oneshot.
Also, it's a bit darker. Not so much of a happy ending. Not so much of a romance. This was an exercise in writing a story with no dialogue for me, so... no dialogue. Also, not completely canon.
Song used was "Hallelujah," and I wrote to the Rufus Wainwright version.
I heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Sherlock Holmes had never related to people, had never been able to find that level of instant communication and understanding that other people seemed to find so instinctively. Other people- people who weren't him and Mycroft- seemed to know how much was enough, when to push and when not to push, what was offensive and what wasn't. Sherlock could never tell the difference- and since he hated being wrong, he pretended he wasn't.
He pretended he knew how awful and rude he was being, how annoying. Of course he knew, he was doing it on purpose. Sherlock Holmes pretended he didn't care about societal niceties, pretended that the reason he was so off sync with the rest of the world was his apathy toward the lesser human beings.
In his younger years he had learned the painful lesson many times in various locations, and by the time he was ten or so he had given up completely. Trying to be like other people would only get him hurt- and if he wasn't exactly like other people he was either better or worse. And the only way to make being different tolerable was to be better, rather than worse. So from then on, Sherlock Holmes worked to make himself superior, better than, untouchable because of his brilliance and his sheer cold exterior rather than his discomforting inability to comprehend what even the youngest child could practice with only the basest human intuition.
That was what it was, really. Basic human intuition, that Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes didn't have. Sherlock wondered if it made him inhuman, really, but realized soon enough that thoughts such as those were foolish. He was human, a defective human. A freak.
The only way to avoid getting hurt was to make people think he could understand them but just didn't care.
But he did care, of course. That was why he had used drugs even though he knew how stupid it was- because while he was high he was with other people who were also high and there was a community and solidarity- but it was all a lie and they abandoned him too.
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
When Sherlock Holmes met John Watson, the doctor took a few limping steps toward him and over the course of the next few months, did something no one had ever done before. He tried to bridge the strange gap that existed between Sherlock and society, told him clearly what was good and what was a-bit-not-good, yelled at him to consider the living breathing human beings behind the dead bodies.
He tried to humanize Sherlock, and he came closer than anyone had ever before.
Until Sherlock had met Irene Adler.
At first glance, she had been puzzle even more confusing than John Watson or Mrs. Hudson. Why would someone come to meet someone else naked that's not acceptable behavior even I know that one what's happening not acceptable behavior to look at her breasts no not good look at her face now she's speaking she knows who I am what do I do I- John.
At first glance, she was yet another human who he didn't understand, another one who wasn't like him. John seemed confused as well, which made Sherlock sigh internally- it appeared that his trusty comrade wouldn't be able to explain this one to him.
Sherlock's heart didn't stop when one of the Americans gave the order to shoot John. It speed up, beating faster and faster until the pounding of this blood was roaring through his ears and down his spine and fizzing in his brain. He glanced at Irene Adler completely and utterly terrified, defenseless, open.
Their eyes met, and then her eyes moved down and away and he observed her- except Sherlock wasn't observing her he was soaking her in and understanding her completely and for once in his life there was a rush of open instantaneous communication, a melding of minds that hit him suddenly and blazed through his skin and lit his brain so completely. He understood. He had learned the combination. He would save the day.
But there was something- something uncomfortable niggling at the base of his neck and the bottom of his spine. Sherlock didn't get feelings this was different it wasn't him, it was- Irene. He looked at her again, and again she told him what he needed to know.
Giddy on the high of comprehension, Sherlock was triumphant. Everything fell gloriously into place- the combination, the fight, the phone. The freak among men was now a king. He had found someone who was on the same wavelength, the same level. Sherlock Holmes had thought himself alone (for Mycroft now understood, Mycroft had learned the strange games of humans and Sherlock hadn't) but he wasn't.
There was Irene Adler.
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
It was something Sherlock had never felt before, the instinctual knowledge that someone would get him and he would get them in return, the feeling that he wasn't alone and defective with a brain that was good for solving murders and nothing else, the knowledge that he and Irene had something, shared something. His faith in her blazed brilliant and desperate- he knew in that instant that he needed Irene Adler like he had never needed anything before. He craved that feeling of notalone he needed it more than he had ever needed drugs.
Now every move Irene Alder made was analyzed and observed and recorded for all posterity in his mind- he would not lose a single moment of her presence, he would rewind it and replay it over and over again and be awash in the comfort and glory. He had won but that didn't really matter at all- but it did because he had proven himself to Irene. He had shown her that how brilliant he was, how glorious, and now she would have no choice but to admire him just as much as he admired her.
Suddenly he could see what he hadn't before: Irene was his opposite and his equal. She used her talents to understand the men and women she seduced, she could understand anyone and everyone, including him. She was special and unique, which made their shared connection better. It added to his 'special' and subtracted from his 'different.' Irene Alder had honored him with her focus, and broke through his shell of alone and freak to find Sherlock Holmes and twine her consciousness with his.
It was terribly foolish, almost as bad as the childhood dreams of pirates and aliens and love. He was so engrossed by her and so preoccupied with trying to hide it that he never saw what came next.
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips, she drew the Hallelujah
Irene Adler trailed her fingers down one arm, and while he was distracted (engrossed enamored) drove a needle into the muscle of his other arm. The drugs raced through his system, immediately clouding the room and distorting his perceptions.
His head flew back when she slapped him- the pain was nothing to the shock, and he gripped the camera phone even tighter. The touch of her hand on his face hadn't been gentle, but it had been kinder than the whip.
The riding crop struck him thrice, the force echoing the drugs and sending him to his knees and then his back. He let go- he submitted to her, and she took away everything he had ever believed in. His mind. Hers. He was no longer the great and unbeatable Sherlock Holmes. The king toppled off his throne, and the god-blessed lost his strength.
The cool leather of the riding crop was caressing his face and neck intimately as he strained against it, rising up and falling back down. Her face was outlined in splashes of fading and brightening lights, and she smiled.
She crooned down at him and Sherlock Holmes accepted it gratefully- she was The Woman Who Beat Him and with his eyes he promised to remember her as such.
And she understood.
And with an exchange of glances- one gloating and one desperate- Sherlock Holmes realized that he hadn't been entirely wrong- Irene Adler knew him inside out after not even twenty minutes and he honored her for it.
Maybe I've been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
Life at 221B Baker Street returned to normal, as if nothing had changed. But Sherlock had changed, Sherlock Holmes was not the same man who had left the building in nothing but a sheet to go to Buckingham Palace.
The sense of disconnect from humanity that had been there before was gone, wonderfully absent, banished further each time his phone gave an orgasmic sigh.
And yet, everything was the same. The same flat, the same bullet holes in the wall, the same John and the same Mrs. Hudson.
But… slowly Sherlock was noticing more, grasping more. Like how John hated green tea and only bought it because it was Mrs. Hudson's favorite. And how Mrs. Hudson fussed over him more after her son in Worchester called. He noticed that John only made dates on nights that Mrs. Hudson was home and able to cook for Sherlock and that Mrs. Hudson would hum along every time Sherlock played a certain song on his violin.
So the next time Sherlock went to the market he got both green and earl grey. The next time Mrs. Hudson's son in Worchester called he asked her to make him breakfast and he ate all of it and told her it was wonderful. He made an effort to learn the names and occupations of John's many girlfriends. He played that particular song for Mrs. Hudson when he needed to think and it didn't matter what he played as long as he was playing something.
Sherlock was happier than he had been for a while- even if things didn't turn out right. (It turned out the green tea wasn't the right brand and Mrs. Hudson was allergic to that one. And he never could keep the girlfriends straight. And that particular song eventually started driving John crazy.)
He wasn't living alone anymore, though. That was enough for Sherlock.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
When Christmas came Sherlock pasted a smile on his face and played the violin and managed to politely refuse antlers. His patience wore thin, however. Again, he got John's girlfriend wrong and then he got confused with Lestrade (aren't you supposed to tell someone when their spouse is being unfaithful I though people got angry about that sort of thing it's lying and lying is bad and it's cheating and cheating is bad and Lestrade should know because his wife is cheating and cheating is bad I think Lestrade is angry why is he angry I was trying to help) and then John ( why is John upset Harry is drinking again we saw her last week and it was obvious I'm sure John is upset but it's the truth people are supposed to want the truth because lying is bad and that was a lie that Harry isn't drinking and now John's upset) and then Molly.
Molly was the worst- everyone was upset with him then and he had only been trying to erase the frustration that came with being wrong so many times. He had to be right about something so he decided he would be right about Molly and do something good. Molly was good, she like someone and liking someone wasn't for him but other people thought it was adorable, like puppies and candy.
Dearest Sherlock, Love Molly. XXX
She meant him. Sherlock hates being wrong, he hates that he was too dense to see it. But all of that anger and loathing (freak freak freak freak) disappears when he hears her coming from his phone. He pulls away from Molly and checks his phone, the goes the mantelpiece and retrieves his Christmas present from Irene Adler.
It is surreal, for Sherlock, to hold the red and black gift in his palm. A sign, from The Woman, a sign that she's been inside his flat. The black cord falls open easily, slinking against his hands in a way that reminds him of her fingers dancing down his arm. He remembers the sweet rush of victory that came with discovering her camera phone that day- a memory he savors.
The residual feeling of warmth and pride dissipates with coldness Sherlock hasn't ever really felt before when he sees the camera phone in his hand again. When he calls Mycroft and says her name for the first time in months, his voice is cold and he isn't sure, but he thinks his heart may be broken.
There was a time you let me know
What was real and going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
Irene Adler died, and Sherlock Holmes went on with his life. There was a different flavor to his loneliness now- the remembrance of longing, the ache for a limb that is no longer there. They said it was better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Sherlock isn't sure if he ever loved Irene Adler, but some days he wishes he never met her and never experienced what she could give him. But most days he's content in his misery and the gaping hole that has been so completely covered it sometimes seems like it was never there at all and everything was a dream.
New Year's Day that changes- Irene Adler rises from the dead and Sherlock Holmes feels cheated. Before she always let him know what was going on in her life through texts- flirty invitations to dinner, yes, but also clues. Where she was, what she was doing, who she was seeing.
Irene Alder had maintained their connection, a gift to the man who needed it desperately. He had cherished each and every text.
As he stalked away from the power plant, he makes a flash decision that he knows will completely change him. He decides to respond, to meet Irene Adler.
He sends her a text that night, and they meet the next day.
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dark was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
It's dark in her luxurious hotel room. They didn't meet at her house, for obvious reasons, and now that they are in a neutral setting, even ground, Sherlock is curiously unable to say what he needs to say.
Irene knows this, and smiles at him delicately. She asks him why he's there and what he needs from her.
Slowly, haltingly, he explains that he needs her like he hasn't needed anyone. He is in the armchair, while she listens from her position, curled up on the couch and clutching a pillow. Her dark blue eyes don't stray from his face as he tells her his story.
He tells her about the thrashings and taunts he endured in childhood (freak freak freak freak) and the gradual realization of his difference and how the only good way to be different was to be better, and how with his mind and his talents being better wasn't very difficult. He shut his emotions behind thick walls and left them there to wither and die.
He tells her how she didn't interest him at all at first and how he thought she was rather pathetic for stripping to meet people in her sitting room. She laughs, and he asks why. Irene refuses to answer just yet, telling him to finish his story. He does, carefully. He can't quite find the words to describe how he felt when they connected afraid he'll feel foolish. He stops talking.
And she starts talking, saying the words his too-full brain couldn't find, describing exactly how he felt without really describing- more like weaving a scene that he had seen once upon a time forever ago and managing to get the exact colors and exact placement of every blade of grass and every cloud until he realizes that she must have been there too.
They fall silent after a while, and Irene stand carefully. She beckons him over, and kisses him full on the mouth. As shocked as Sherlock is, he isn't really because he had known yesterday that this would happen. He holds her carefully, as if she is a fragile as a glass sculpture, and she caresses the side of his face and his arms and his back with a touch so light he hardly feels it at all.
When, finally, they merge and he withdraws and they come together again, it is like nothing Sherlock's ever experienced before. He moves in her and it is glorious, and she is exquisite and every single little things is drowned out and all he can think of his her. She is a part of him or maybe he's a part of her but it doesn't matter which because they (sherlockirene or irenesherlock doesn't matter) are one
They breathe together and whisper to each other and for a short while their world is perfect and unbreakable and eternal.
Maybe there's a God above
But all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
As Sherlock sits in his brother's home, staring in the fire, he feels numb inside. Irene is talking with Mycroft, telling him how she plotted and planned and beat all of them. It was a game.
He was wrong. Sherlock doesn't feel numb, he feels as if his world has been ripped out from under him. He had placed all his faith in one person and they are no longer real, and he is sure that this means he isn't real either. Irene had been his god and his savoir and his angel all in one and now she wasn't any of those.
She was playing the game- filled with anger Sherlock decided he would play too. He would forget the way she had sighed his name when he was moving over her and he would banish from his memory the taste of her skin and the way her hair felt in his hands and the purity he had felt when they had been together because it had been a lie.
She was The Woman he loved and all he had learned from love was how to betray. He would show her- the student becomes the master and the cycle is completed and Sherlock would show Irene Adler that he had loved her in the same way the she had shown him she loved him.
He snarls that she's wrong and then he humiliates her in front of his brother in the same way that she humiliated him. Then he ducks in close and takes her pulse and mocks her further. And finally, finally, he lays her heart bare for all to see and cuts her deeper than she had ever managed to cut him.
It wasn't enough to see her cry, to see her beg. Sherlock realizes that it's true, that the line between love and hate is the finest line in the world because in the moment he hates her he also falls even deeper in love with her. But Sherlock Holmes cannot stand to lose, even to The Woman Who Beat Him Once, and so he crushes her in the only way he knows how.
And it's not cry you can hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
After the events of that June night, Sherlock wasn't sure whether or not he loved or hated Irene Adler. He received his answer several months later when he heard that she had been captured by a terrorist cell in Karachi.
Two nights later he was in Karachi, breathing in hot dusty air and covered head to toe in black cloth. He holds a sword, and is prepared to save Irene Adler's life.
Her eyes meet his and again there is a moment where Sherlock was Irene and Irene was Sherlock and all was comprehended. She ran and he fought and they met up again at Sherlock's hotel room.
That time when they moved with each other tears spilled from Irene's clenched eyelids and fell on his chest, and when he rolled them over and touched her as if she was the most fragile and delicate being he had ever seen, she kissed him hard and cried even harder.
He had been foolish, so long ago, to think that what they had would stay forever green and as unchanging as the sea- it was ephemeral and with the different ways they lived their lives Sherlock knew that Irene would never truly be his. He would be hers, thought. She hadn't redeemed him or saved him or shown him the light- Irene Adler had shown Sherlock himself. (she tells him he is not a freak and she whispers names to him that hurt just as much as the names tossed around back then but in a different way a sad way that makes him want to cry and hold her but he can't do that for long)
Sherlock doesn't need much sleep, but Irene does. He watches her doze quietly and as peacefully as he dreams and wishes that they could be together and happy for the rest of their lives. He would solve crimes and she would help and the two of them and John would live together in the flat until the running around aggravated John's old injury and then they would retire to a farm and raise bees. Or he and Irene would run to Paris and he would teach her French and read to her from books of French poetry. Or they would leave for America and he would teach at some university and she would make good use of her talents. They would be together and happy and everything would be perfect in the way it couldn't be in real life.
He painted a hundred portraits of her and hung them in his mind palace, so he would never forget her face.
They parted with the understanding that they would probably never see each other again, and once more Sherlock felt the creeping cold move up his spine and he heard the way his voice broke when he said her name for the last time.
Irene Alder left for America and Sherlock Holmes returned to England.
The Woman was gone, and a part of Sherlock was gone with her.
I hope you enjoyed this. I know, not as happy as my other Adlock shorts.
If you enjoy Adlock stories, I have four others. Pretty much all better than this one.
ALSO: The last scene, where Sherlock is watching Irene sleep, was partially inspired by a drawing that the lovely Francesca Wayland did for me which you can find on my profile, or on her or my tumblr.
Thank you for reading!