Hello, Adlock shippers.

This is a culmination of two things: a prompt I received AGES ago for an anon that I've been tinkering with. But I was really inspired to write this all in one sitting because of a really, really nice letter from reversodoreflexo.

Takes place in three parts: After Karachi, Karachi, and after the Fall in that order.


In Irene's daily life Karachi is a whisper of a promise that hasn't quite settled into memory or dream. It's hazy edges brush the rumble of normal thoughts, sliding a sliver of ivory flesh into the stream of words as she reads her newspaper. A dark curl falling across a forehead falls next to the change of the lights as her drives through the city.

Life is different in America. The streets are wider, the people seem ruder, and the food is tasteless.

And always, always, Karachi haunts her mind.

Something tells Irene it's him that haunts her mind and not the city where she almost died but she's good at ignoring somethings.

While objectively she agrees that she wholeheartedly deserved to live, certain things make Irene wonder if she deserved to be saved by Sherlock.

Death does not become her.

Sherlock granted her the gift of anonymity and of freedom. But it is freedom to be a specter, a ghost, the freedom to sink into obscurity.

She is no longer the woman who almost brought an entire country to its knees and she hates that she hates that her importance and her will and her job have been taken away from her all by one man.

But she is grateful anyway. Better alive (breathing) and dead (forgotten) than dead (a corpse) and alive (a memory).

The only place where she lives is in Sherlock's mind, in the beautiful palace of thoughts and facts and memories he has stored away.

It makes a slinky smile slip onto her face when she considers that her nude form and the taste of her lips and the feel of her skin are cataloged in Sherlock's mind palace, the only specimens of their kind. An absolute rarity for the man. Perhaps not the jewel of his collection... but perhaps it is.

She likes to imagine that sometimes Sherlock thinks about her and whispers her name in his sleep and stares at his phone wishing it would sigh at him.

Irene Adler wishes that she still felt like Irene Adler. Sometimes it is hard to remember what it felt like to be powerful when everything that had ever protected her is gone.

She wants to be powerful again.

There are urges sometimes, urges to push someone against the wall and tear out their throat and sometimes when she sees a pretty young girl she feels the burning desire to whip her little arse red.

Control has slipped away from Irene, from the woman who has always been in control and this scares her silly.

Eventually her bank accounts are rerouted (courtesy of Sherlock) and she is able to slip back into a semblance of her old life. Every time Irene checks her balance, it makes her bitter.

Once upon a time she was the girl men paid through the nose to spend one night with. Eventually she got rich enough that they didn't always need to pay- in money, anyway. In secrets, always.

That was what had lead her to Moriarty.

The spider in his web who had pulled her in with beautiful partial secrets that had been a temptation and a damnation.

He had planted a story among those she had seduced, trailing breadcrumbs in a circle until she had fallen right into his trap.

And the only way out had been to deliver him Sherlock Holmes on a silver platter.

Simple. Sherlock Holmes was only a man after all.

No he was an angel or a god and either way he was damned to walk the earth and live among mortals he was brilliant and she had never been so aroused in her life.

But Irene was nothing if not a professional. She had one job, and she did it well. All in one fell swoop, she would have held England in the palm of her hand and she would have been free of Moriarty, unless she chose to do business with him again.

And Sherlock Holmes had fooled her plan.

With eyes like quicksilver and ice he had torn her apart with words that burrowed behind her shields and the exploded outward, shattering them. He had found his way to her heart (it had only taken resting the pads of his fingers on the pulse in her wrist and he had traveled in her blood to the source of the pounding in three heartbeats that were a shade to close together) and dissected it like a surgeon.

He did to her what she would have done to him with only the barest hint of regret so she had no right to be hurt and he knew that.

Being on the run had not been fun.

At the same time, she had never felt so alive. The thrill of the chase kept her blood up for a few months until it dawned on her that she was the one being really and truly chased. It only really sunk in, though, when she was awaiting her execution.

The emotions welled up and her fingers trembled as she typed one last text into her beloved phone.

Sherlock was her only regret because there was something that had swelled with potential between them something that she had yearned to acknowledge.

Sherlock Holmes had come to her rescue and swept her away into a hotel in Karachi and nothing had been the same for Irene ever again.

"You saved my life," she told him, arms crossed as she leaned on the door frame of the hotel room.

He gave her a disgusted look. "I didn't think you were one for stating the obvious."

Irene lifted an eyebrow. "Which is my point. You hardly know me."

"So?" He was tense, awkward. Unsure of himself. She could use that.

She smirked and walked toward where he sat on the bed, tugging off his boots. "So there was a reason you did what you did. And I want to know what it is."

The air between them was filling with the kind of warmth that tugged at the space below her navel. Sherlock stood in order to gain the height he had lacked sitting down. He obviously felt more comfortable towering over her, but Irene didn't mind.

Moving forward a step put them nearly chest to chest. She could hear when Sherlock's breath caught in his throat and he swallowed hard.

She smiled. "Was it this?" she asked. Her voice sounded husky to her ears, light as it sank into the distance between them. Slowly, giving him time to pull away, she reached for his hand. The flesh was warm to her touch, the skin existing in the strange space between soft and rough- it was the hand of a man, but there was a delicacy to his fingers that she admired. She curled her fingers around his wrist, checking his pulse.

Just the sounds of their breathing. That and the tick of the clock as Irene counted. "Elevated," she purred, stretching up his body. He tensed, but didn't pull away.

"And yours?" he questioned. His voice dipped low and fizzed in her spine.

"Check," suggested Irene. He did so without his hands, pressing his lips to the curve of her neck. She sighed against him.

In only moments his lips were on hers and matching her movements eagerly as he pressed her to him.

It was evident to Irene that Sherlock was inexperienced, that he needed to be guided. But he was a quick study- and had apparently read plenty of books on the subject.

The night was a blur of flesh and hair and gasps that were occasionally punctuated with moments of absolute clarity.

His mouth closing down on her breast.

The first time she saw him flat on his back against the sheets, staring up at her with (worship?) in his eyes.

Sinking down on him.

The sting of teeth in her shoulder as she came and he did too.

The night was trapped in amber, a bubble in the sluggish world. Lying in the arms of this man was a dream, and she was dead and in heaven. There was nothing more that she wanted, nothing she knew she wanted.

When they parted in the morning, they had each discovered new facets of themselves.

When she learned that Sherlock Holmes was dead, Irene was sitting in a cafe. Ironically, because it had reminded her of Speedy's the cafe below Sherlock's flat.

"...Suicide of Fake Genius racks England as famed private detective Sherlock Holmes jumps to his death after being revealed as a fraud-"

Irene whirled, staring at the small screen with huge eyes. There was a video, it seemed, shaky footage of a figure wearing- wearing that coat, his Belstaff, arms wheeling as he plummeted.

She drew in a few shaky breaths. Her heart was beating too fast now, far too fast. It would be a mistake to take in more caffeine. She left her coffee at the table and walked outside.

The tears surprised her.

She had cried when her father had died. But she was crying over the death of Sherlock Holmes.

Her flat seemed... flat. Dull. A bit surreal and two-dimensional. At least she had stocked up on wine- it seemed fitting to pour herself a glass and curl up on her couch.

There was some rerun on the telly, that she stared at while she sipped her wine and thought. It wasn't a breaking inside of herself. No, it was a hollowing. That there had been something that had been a partially filled potential and it was gone.

The doorbell rang.

She ignored it.

Her phone vibrated, buzzing loudly as it twitched on the kitchen counter. She glared at it. It buzzed again.

It seemed like a crime to leave her blanket cocoon for the tile floor of the kitchen. Irene sighed, and set down her wine glass. The phone number was known only by a few people- less now, that Sherlock was dead..

Open your door. -SH

The clatter as the phone hit the floor startled her back into closing her numb fingers, seconds too late. She banged her hip on the couch as she skidded on the floor, running for the door.

And there he stood, her lovely, lovely Sherlock Holmes. His hair was the same, black curls flying everywhere. He was just as tall, just as slim. His face was bruised, and he stood carefully, like one with wounds.

"Irene," he breathed.

She smiled at him. "Sherlock," she replied. Relief was still numbing her body.

They stood staring at each other. "Can I come in?" he asked finally.

"Of course," she said, hastily stepping aside. "Sorry. It's just that I thought you were dead."

"As far as the rest of the world is concerned, I am," Sherlock said sharply. "Can I trust you?"

The door locked with a click and she led him through the flat to the living room. "You already have," she pointed out.

There was a dangerous flash in his eyes. "Can I trust you?" He looks as if he could kill and Irene supposes that it's true. He's just murdered himself, after all, and perhaps his most loyal friend as well.

"Yes," she told him, just as seriously. "John?"

He nodded. "Moriarty had snipers on him and Mrs. Hudson. And Lestrade- did you meet him?"

"I'm familiar with our dear detective inspector," Irene said absentmindedly. "What do you need? Help? Information?"

Sherlock closed his eyes, leaning back onto her sofa. "A place to sleep," he said at last. "Food. And I'll figure out the rest tomorrow."

She stood, walking around the coffee table so that she could sit next to him on the sofa. "Are you alright, Sherlock?"

There was such pain in his eyes as he looked at her. "No," he said honestly. "No, I'm not." He reached out, using one large hand to cup the back of her head and the other to push himself up so that he could take her mouth with his.

This time they lost just as much clothes as was necessary to complete the act. She rode him fast and hard until he came with a strangled groan and she collapsed into him, tucking her head into the space between his neck and his shoulder.

"Whatever it takes, Sherlock," Irene sighed. "Whatever it takes. I'm here."

In the morning when they wake she makes them breakfast and the eat at her little table. There is work to be done and she will help him do it. The feeling is there again, that there is potential in the air between them, that this is a moment that could break into a thousand pieces or become everything her world was meant to be.

She had felt this the last time they parted too. This time, she didn't want to leave him again. Or see him leave her.

It is decided. They will hunt down their prey, those who have driven them to hurt each other and those they love. Moriarty's network will fall.

And they, the two breathing dead, will rise again.

Very short, I know, but I wrote this very quickly.

As always, reviews and comments are lovely and adored both here and on tumblr. The link can be found on my author's page.

Thank you very much for reading! If you enjoyed this, I have several other Adlock stories.